All I see is Jesus

Imagine receiving this email from the Lord in your inbox;

I’ve spent most of your time on earth trying to convince you of my love. We didn’t have that problem when we were together in heaven before I formed you in your mother’s womb. We were great friends and were in constant communication. And I want the same thing with you now.
But it’s so hard to get your attention.
You keep looking at your scars. I’m looking at your wounds. You keep looking at the marks you bear. I’m looking at the testimonies they tell. You keep looking at your sins.
And all I see is Jesus.
I see the wounds he wore to free you, the stripes he bore to heal you, the blood he shed to deliver you. You look at your attire. I look at the righteousness in which you’re clothed.
And all I see is Jesus.
I see the love he has for you. I hear the prayers he prays for you. I see the Comforter he left for you.
You look at your lack and I see the inheritance you have as a joint heir with Jesus.
I have loved you with an everlasting love and have established you in my love.
Don’t look down. It diminishes you.
Don’t look back. It distracts you.
Don’t look east or west. It delays you.
Look to me. Look up. Your face is engraved on the palms of my hands. And I love to see your face because when I look at you,
All I see is Jesus.

Love Always
Your Heavenly Father

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Engrafted into the vine

I love this passage early on in the biblical vine conversation in Isaiah 5:1-5. It demonstrates God’s own faith-in-action plan for us to emulate. In preparation for a good harvest, the vine dresser chooses good ground or a healthy environment for the project. He then builds a fence around it to protect it from earthly predators. He gathers out the stones to give it optimum chance of agricultural success. He then plants the vine, the star of the show. After that he builds a tower, right in the middle. The tower distracts airborne creatures who would otherwise zero in on the vine.
And right away, without waiting for the end of the season or the sight of the expected harvest, he built a wine press to process that harvest.
This is the way to live faith.
Make all preparation, from beginning to end, and walk in the expected manifestation.
This is our God making ready for the realization of his own dream in our lives.
Our only job is to rest and flourish in the life he has already designed.
Let’s look at it some more.
Jesus restated the same process in John 15 when he said, “I am the true vine.” You see, the original vine spoken of in the Hebrew Scripture was the intended bearer of God’s standard, the nation of Israel.
But Jesus bottom lines it. I am the true vine. I’m the real thing. I am come to do what could not be done in any other way, through any other vessel. And my life is the lifeline for you to be likewise. I’m the true vine. My Father is the vine dresser. He’s the one with the original plan. He’s the one with all the right steps in all the right places with the original vision for the perfect outcome.
Imagine the vine. He says we are the branches. So in his Sonship, we are attached, as joint heirs, to the One who will usher us into eternal life, here on earth, and in the prepared hereafter of which he spoke to his disciples.
We are the branches. We are attached to the true vine. But the benefit is much more than physical life. The real benefit is that as we are attached and give permission, the life of the true vine then flows into the branches. The same life. The same essence. The same character. Just as grape vines produce grapes – the essence of the vine…just as apple trees produce apples…just as banana trees produce bananas – the true vine of God, God’s Son Jesus Christ, produces in these saved branches, the character of Jesus Christ.
We become as he is. We love as he loves. We grace as he graces. We dispense mercy as he is merciful.
The fruit of the spirit is the character of Jesus Christ. And it is that character that is produced in us as we remain in the true vine of God.
And all we have to do is remain. Remain. Abide. Relax.
Make ourselves at home in God’s love. This is the vine life:
Being able to rest in him; to allow him to move with his plan in our lives.
Being able to allow him to work out his vision for our lives even when we can’t see and even when it makes no sense.
Being able to walk in it, with grace, when each next step is sheer mystery.
Being able to wait for it – the “exceeding abundantly” thing that he does that we could not possibly have imagined with our finite minds, not even with our soul vision.

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Photo by Henri Guérin on Pexels.com

A song the angels cannot sing

They wish they could.
Their worship is beyond amazing. You’ve heard it without recognizing what it was. You’ve been in worship with 15 people in the congregation and 5 choir members. Singing was good. Worship was pure. But you had to open your eyes and peep. Because Suddenly it sounded like a multitude surrounding you and a multitude above you. Way more than the 20 people you knew to be in the building. And when you peeped it was as you suspected. Angels join in because our worship is irresistible.
They worship God on the regular. But they were created in heaven to worship in heaven.
Their story is different from ours so is their testimony.
So they sing their song but are attracted to the song we sing. Song born out of joy, song born out of passion, song born out of pain and tragedy. Song born out of…
Song based in the overwhelming thanksgiving for redemption and grace; song born out of hearts overcome with love and mercy. Song born out of gratitude for escape, for deliverance, for healing and for memory.
So sing your song. Sing it regularly. Don’t leave anything out. Sing your trials. Sing your victories. Sing your fear. Sing your peace. Sing your tragedy. Sing God’s rescue.
No one in heaven or on earth is equipped to sing your song. Not the right key. Not the right notes. Not the right verses. No where near the right refrain. No one.
God is due your song. He deserves it. He’s worthy of your song.
So throw back your head and let it go. Don’t hesitate. Don’t equivocate. Don’t wait for Sunday or Wednesday.
Sing it now. Sing it loud. Sing it often.
It’s a song the angels cannot sing!
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Amazing

Amazing. It’s one of those super expressive words that is often overused and therefore loses it’s gust or. But I can’t think of anything but Amazing. I use it to describe the grace of God, his willingness to overwhelm us with that which we really don’t deserve. Favor. 

And I’m using it to describe the gracious love of our children who always bless us beyond our understanding. Always. In unexpected ways. Most recently, they took us to Turks and Caicos to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. 

It was wonderful. The time together was wonderful. The company of extended family members who went with us was wonderful. Toni, our eldest, is the visionary and her daughter, Trenae is the executor. Paula and Wanda, middle and youngest, enthusiastically complete the circle in whatever ways are needed. And in the ceremony that Trenae anchored, Toni officiated; Paula offered the prayer and Wanda read her poem written just for the occasion. And my granddaughters, Janiyah, Jourdyn, Jasmine and Jaime read my favorite love poem, Celebration, by Mari Evans. Not to forget, my great grandson, AJ, who was the ring bearer and his father, Arlen, who walked me down the aisle. What a memory!

If you knew our story! If you knew from whence the Lord has brought us! If you knew some of the hurdles we’ve overcome, individually and collectively! If you knew this all began with two 18-year-olds who had no idea they couldn’t make it happen. So we started out with great expectations and an unseen road map to a trail already plotted out by the Lord.

If you knew our story, you’d dance with us and shout out to God for the goodness and grace and mercy he’s afforded us for these 50 years, for these four children and their spouses, for these five grandchildren, two great grandsons…and all those to come.

We are the children God used, and is using, to erase generational curses in our families, to change educational and professional trajectories; we are the children God armed with unreasonable faith to accomplish incredible feats way beyond our imaginations. Sometimes even beyond our realization.

And I write this to encourage anyone who feels as if they’re without hope, who feels they’re stuck in a place without an exit, who feels life will always be just as it is now.

Not so!

Just let the Lord know you’re here for all that he has in store for you and totally open to go wherever he leads and do whatever he instructs.

In the midst of whatever seems to be an awful place, speak out your willingness to hear and be all God has for you. With your whole heart.

God always hears. God always answers. 

God. Is. Amazing. 

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He always helps me pray

He gives me beautiful language and scripture when I pray publicly and gives me encouragement and guidance when I pray privately. He gives me specific words that touch the hearts of specific hearers when I pray publicly and words of love and humor when I pray privately. He gives me spirit pictures when I pray publicly and spirit visions when I pray privately.
He urges me to pray at certain times because prayer is needed at those times. He shows me faces of people to pray for or to call because they need to have their names called or to hear my voice at those moments.
He always helps me pray

He gives me places to go, in that moment, and I run into the right people when I’m obedient.
He gives me words to write, in that moment, and I get past writing blocks when I’m obedient.
He give me subjects to preach and teach at the very moment someone asks me to come.
He always helps me pray.
And he helps you too.

{Excerpted from Have you heard of the Holy Ghost?, available for purchase on walkingworthynow.com.}

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He made me to want it all

God put a strand in me, when he was weaving my fabric, that always wanted it all. I never wanted to feel I was giving less than my all or receiving less than all of God that he has for me. And as I’ve gotten older, the yearning has only gotten deeper. At this age I’m determined that I leave nothing behind when I return to him – that I’ve used every gift and grace and blessed every person I’ve been sent to bless.
So I believe it was at 27 that I began to just cry out for more in my life. Every Sunday, from the moment I got inside the church and long after the service was over. I could not understand the reason. I just know it persisted for weeks. People thought I was crazy. So did I. I’d go to prayer meeting and spend much of the time crying for the Lord to use my life to his glory. I had no idea what I meant. I just know it wouldn’t stop. Until it did. And the desire just continued to grow. I read everything I could get my hands on that encouraged and nurtured my spiritual growth. I listened to every televangelist on the air in those days. And there weren’t that many. I attended every local workshop I could find that promised to answer the questions I hadn’t yet asked; that threatened to satisfy the increasing hunger I was experiencing.
{Excerpted from Have you heard of the Holy Ghost?}

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Jesus loves you. Yaaasssss!

One thing I’ve struggled with all my life is that Christian people I knew didn’t have a sense of being loved by the Lord. We’ve sung Yes Jesus Loves Me as long as I can remember. But I saw people who went to church every Sunday and yet there was that sense of rejection or being unworthy even as the pastor preached about the grace of God.
I had an uncle who always refused communion. That didn’t make any sense to me. The whole point of communion is to remember how the grace of God was poured out with the blood of Jesus Christ on our behalf for the redemption of our sin. It was the very first and the only eternal buy-back and we’re the beneficiaries.
My uncle had accepted the call to preach, but never did. He always quoted, “He who puts his hand to the plow and turns back is not fit for the kingdom.” And even as a little kid, it made me cry to see him shake his head every time the communion plates were passed. And he never took communion for the rest of his life.
He wasn’t the only one who had no clue how much the were loved by the Lord. I preached one Sunday on the love of God and a young lady I’d known her entire life, who’d been in church her entire life, cried big old alligator tears out of her beautiful big eyes. It was as if she were hearing the gospel of Jesus Christ for the very first time.
And she confessed after church that she never really heard that Jesus loved her. She thought he loved the people in the Bible and the more perfect people in our church. But not her. These are the earth shattering moments that should shake our churches every Sunday. Realizing God’s love for us is the only thing that begins transformation in our lives for real. We can work on and display different behavior. But the ache inside us is what fuels the hatred and frustration we exhibit within and outside of the church. That same empty ache is the reason a church can dedicate itself to displays of hatred at any funeral they can in any way connect with homosexuality.
That same empty ache is why Christian politicians can spew hate mongering language in the name of the Lord and believe they’re right.
It is also the reason people in the workplace question our Christianity because of the way we interact with them and the public.
If grace isn’t real then we are the more to be pitied. It is the reason we are who we say we are. And if God’s love isn’t authentic then what are we doing?
It has been my reason for being in ministry – to convince people that God loves each and every one of us individually – that we’re not included in God’s family by association. That’s why the right hand of fellowship is extended to each individual when they make the decision to become a member of the family of God through the church.
Because. Yes. Jesus loves you.

{Excerpted from Mustard Seed Mondayz: weekly faithbytes for a year}

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