Archive for January, 2012

A Five-fold Prayer: Direct Me, Inspect Me, Correct Me, Protect Me, Perfect Me

January 31, 2012
A prayer to God: “Direct Me, Inspect Me, Correct Me, Protect Me, Perfect Me”
On various occasions in the past, I have found myself in a most uncomfortable situation, in a place where I never intended to be. Once again, upon hindsight, I recognize the truth of the statement by Doug Adams:

  “I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”

I recall one particular occasion when I asked myself, “Why am I here? (again!)  How did I get here?” The dialogue continued as I asked, “God, what are you doing? What are you trying to teach me?” I stopped and recognized that God does everything on purpose: Indeed, to everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven (Ecclesiates 3:1). I was also mindful of my “life-verse”, a scripture that has become especially meaningful to me–Romans 8:28:

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

My sister, Cheryl, a retired middle school teacher, reminded me that when I encounter perplexing situations and find myself where I don’t want to be that I should think of those times as “teachable moments.” She shared that God is directly involved in the situation and that He is endeavoring to do one or a combination of five things: “Direct you; Inspect you; Correct you; Protect you; Perfect you.” The words that she shared had a profound impact upon me, as I thought deeply about her comment.

 Later I took those five verbs and formed them into a request, a petition, a prayer to God for me.  I asked God to become the initiator of the action, and I would become the object of his action. I also examined each of the verbs with scriptural illustrations from the Old Testament and New Testament and composed a prayer/psalm inspired by each verb at the end of each section related to each of the five verbs. In writing out my personal application of the scriptures, I also incorporated music related to the verbs as well. All of which I am now sharing on “Dr. J’s Apothecary Shoppe” with one daily entry devoted to each verb over the next five days.

Direct Me—Inspect Me—Correct Me—Protect Me—Perfect Me

I begin my prayer and say, "Lord, direct me. . ."

To more clearly understand the meaning of the word “direct” I went to the Old Testament and the New Testament to see how the term has been used. I found the following definition which is used in the scriptures listed below:

My Five-fold Prayer begins as I ask God to "Direct Me."

        After reading this definition, I immediately thought of a familiar hymn from my childhood and sung countless times down through the years:“Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us”

 Many times when I encounter situations where I need God’s guidance and direction, I recite Proverbs 3:5-6, verses committed to memory more than 40 years ago:

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Another song I recall from childhood days in Gary, Indiana in the 1950s was “Lead Me, Guide Me.” Composed by Doris Akers, one of the most popular gospel songs of that era, “Lead Me, Guide Me” is offered in this version on Imperial Records with the composer singing all the parts.

Another scripture related to the verb “direct” is found in Jeremiah 10:23:

 O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.

 If I had to choose my all-time favorite “old time” gospel song related to this topic, it would be “Order My Steps in Your Word” sung by the Mimi Redd and the Gospel Music Workshops of America Women of Worship:

The following two verses also involving the verb “direct”:

 I Thessalonians 3:11:

Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you.

II Thessalonians 3:5:

And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.

My expounding upon the above scriptures and music inspired this psalm:

Direct Me

Prepare the way, straighten my path, order my steps,           

Shine your light upon me that I may not stumble,

That I may not walk in the light of my own sparks,

But illumine my way with the lamp of your Word.

Lord, direct my heart into the love of God

And into the patient waiting for Jesus Christ.

Raise me up in righteousness and direct all my ways.

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January 26, 2012

Dr. J's Apothecary Shoppe

The headlines joyously revealed the account of the rescue of another miner who had been trapped in a copper mine in Chile. That incident brought to mind  this blog “To the Rescue,” a compilation of scriptures, comments, poetry and music centered on the theme that when we call on God, He will come “To the Rescue.” Just as the Psalmist declares in Psalm 138:3

In the day when I cried out, You answered me, and made me bold with strength in my soul.

I am especially mindful of how God comes to the rescue of those who call on Him, around this time of the year. As we approach Halloween and some of its negative aspects, such as pranks, I recall an incident a friend shared with me when he went to live with a relative in the rural South where there was no indoor plumbing, and everyone used an outdoor…

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To the Rescue Anew

January 26, 2012

Recently we have seen daring acts of bravery that have come to the rescue of those in danger.

Recently as I completed my morning time of meditation and prayer, I came across two similarly related news items that ministered to me and reinforced one of the entries from “Dr. J’s Apothecary Shoppe.” The news items related to individuals who were in serious trouble, and someone came along to rescue them from danger.

 

By now the world is well aware of the daring rescue of American Jessica Buchanan and Poul Hagen Thisted, from Denmark, two Western hostages held captive by Somali pirates in East Africa.  The same Navy Seal Team responsible for the death of Osama bin Laden parachuted under the cover of night and whisked away the two individuals with no casualties to the rescue team.

 

Many people, however, may not be aware of a parallel situation, whereby  Malik Gipson  performed the Heimlich maneuver on his two-year- old brother, Michael, who had swallowed a piece of peppermint candy and began to choke. Initially nothing happened, but Malik had the presence of mind to continue performing the procedure. On the third attempt, Michael coughed out the candy, later prompting Michael to say, “Malik saved my life.”

 

 

These two news accounts captured the essence of the message of a blog post written following a similar rescue operation that captivated the world at the time. Most providentially I had just read “To the Rescue” written in response to the Chilean miners who were rescued after more than two months in the heart of the earth.  Here is a reposting of that blog entry:

 

https://drlej.wordpress.com/tag/chilean-miners-rescue/

 

Urgent Recall Notice: A Different Take

January 24, 2012

Recalls are quite common for defective products, but here is a different take on "An Urgent Recall Notice."

 This morning as I read an email that I received from a friend, I thought of an age-old “problem” but from a different perspective. I decided to post it as a blog entry:

URGENT RECALL NOTICE


Regardless of make or year, all units known as “HUMAN BEINGS” are being recalled by the Manufacturer. This is due to a malfunction in the original prototype unit’s code named “Adam” and “Eve” resulting in the reproduction of the same defect in all subsequent units. This defect is technically termed, “Serious Internal Non-morality,” but more commonly known as “S-I-N.”
Some of the symptoms of the SIN defect:

[a] Loss of direction
[b] Lack of peace and joy
[c] Depression
[d] Foul vocal emissions
[e] Selfishness
[f] Ingratitude
[g] Fearfulness
[h] Rebellion
[i] Jealousy

The Manufacturer is providing factory authorized repair service free of charge to correct the SIN defect.

The Repair Technician, Jesus, has most generously offered to bear the entire burden of the staggering cost of these repairs. To repeat, there is no fee required. The number to call for repair in all areas is: P-R-A-Y-E-R.

Once connected please upload the burden of SIN through the REPENTANCE procedure. Next, download ATONEMENT from the Repair Technician, Jesus, into the heart component of the human unit. No matter how big or small the SIN defect is, Jesus will replace it with:

[a] Love
[b] Joy
[c] Peace
[d] Kindness
[e] Goodness
[f] Faithfulness
[g] Gentleness
[h] Patience
[I] Self-control

Please see the operating manual, the B.I.B.L.E. (BEST Instructions Before Leaving Earth) for further details on the use of these fixes. As an added upgrade, the Manufacturer has made available to all repaired units a facility enabling direct monitoring and assistance from the resident Maintenance Technician, Jesus. Repaired units need only make Him welcome and He will take up residence on the premises.

WARNING: Continuing to operate a human being unit without corrections voids the Manufacturer’s warranty, exposing the unit to dangers and problems too numerous to list.

Thank you for your immediate attention.
  – GOD 
 
P.S. Please assist where possible by notifying others of this important recall notice, and you may contact the Father any time by ‘Knee mail’! 

Because HE Lives! 

As I read the email and smiled with delight, I thought of a poem and a piece of music that I might add to enhance the message.

The section that lists the “fruit of the Spirit” brought to mind “In the Garden of His Presence” where all these fruit abound:

In the Garden of His Presence, fruit of the Spirit abound.

In the Garden of His Presence

For we are fellow workmen (joint promoters,

laborers together) with and for God;

you are God’s garden and vineyard

and field under cultivation,

[you are] God’s building.  

1 Corinthians 3:9 Amplified Bible

 

 

In the garden of His presence, all grace abounds,   

As love overflows from a fountain and resounds          

With joy to quench the thirst wherever there is need.           

Peace flourishes all around, sown from righteous seed.   

Gentleness embraces the ears with no harsh sounds.

Overwhelming goodness of the Father astounds

The heart, as patience and temperance exceed all bounds.          

From this ample harvest every soul God shall feed      

In the garden of His presence.                           

As a fragrant flowering hedge, meekness surrounds  

And thrives all seasons, as the gardener makes his rounds.

Though faithfulness is abundant, we still give heed  

In following wherever the Spirit may lead,  

As we stroll through bountiful vineyards of the grounds         

In the garden of His presence. 

To conclude the message, I recall the plaintive plea of the spiritual, “O Lord, Fix Me” that the soul cries out in its state of disrepair. The spiritual is beautifully choreographed by Alvin Ailey and performed by the members of the Alvin Ailey Dance Ensemble, as part of “Revelations” in the following video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4CXk1mQVCgI

All New Things Begin in Darkness: Transitioning Through Your Dark Night–Personal Poetic Responses–Part 4

January 22, 2012
The darkest hour appears just before the dawning of a new day, as, indeed, all new things begin in darkness.
What follows is the final excerpt from the prophetic word entitled All New Things Begin in Darkness: Transitioning Through Your Dark Night posted as an e-letter by John Paul Jackson, interspersed with original poetry at strategic points, as I read the words of exhortation. This is Part 4 of the message that has been posted over the last few days. Click here to view the message without the poetic inserts:

The secret is this: No matter how dark your transitional time has been, you were always going to make it in God’s book, even during these times when the light has been hidden from you. If God is your Captain, you will survive this year — and the next year and the one after that.       

The reference to God as our “Captain” brought to mind this vernacular piece of poetry                                                                “Sumpn bout to  Happen” with a refrain: “ Yes, Siree Bob, Look out now! I tell you Cap’n”:

 Sump’n’ bout to Happen

For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth

in pain together until now.

And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits     

of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves,

waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.

Romans 8:22-23 (King James Version)

 

My stomach is a growlin; there’s a rumblin in my soul.

Good things keep on happenin, and now I’m on a roll,

Like I been workin in the mines and nearly bout to strike some gold;

I been pressin toward the mark, and I’m bout to reach my goal.

 

Yes, Siree Bob, Look out now! I tell you Cap’n,

I don’t know what it is but sump’n bout to happen!

 

My heart is beatin fast, and my palms is startin to itch.

Watch out good people, I’m bout to strike it rich.

With bases loaded, all I need is one good pitch.

Yes, Siree Bob, Look out now! I tell you Cap’n.

 

I’m lookin like a winner—aint no way I can fail

Cause I pulled two lucky cards: “Collect $200” and “Don’t go to jail.”

And I just can’t wait to run right on home and check the mail.

I don’t know what it is but sump’n bout to happen!

 

I can’t figure it out, but somehow I just know

That God is good and I’m movin and groovin in the flow.

Some folks want me to hang aroun, but I just got to go.

Yes, Siree Bob, Look out now! I tell you Cap’n.

 

Everything is comin together just like someday I knowed it would.

I got this funny kinda feelin and it show nuff feels good.

I’m tryin to make you feel it too—Oh, how I wish I could.

I don’t know what it is but sump’n bout to happen!

 

It’s more than a woozy kinda feelin I’m trying to convey.

Yall may think I’m crazy, but I don’t care what yall say.

I’m like a little boy who can’t wait to greet each new day:

I can’t rightly describe it, but somethin great is on the way.

 

Yes, Siree Bob, Look out now! I tell you Cap’n,

I don’t know what it is but sump’n bout to happen!

 

But for right now, as God transitions you and you walk through intense times of not knowing, don’t lose hope. As the sun rises from behind the peaks and you see life again for the first time in months … you’re going to fall in love all over again. God never leaves His children in the dark. You’ll see.

As I concluded this most inspiring prophetic word, I recognized that you cannot “lose hope” if you are “Anchored in Hope”:

 Anchored in Hope

[Now] we have this [hope] as a sure and steadfast anchor                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   of the soul [it cannot slip and it cannot break down under                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         whoever steps out upon  it–a hope] that reaches farther                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                and enters into [the very certainty of the Presence] within the veil,                                                                                                                   

Hebrews 6:19 [Amplified Bible]                  

 With deepest gratitude for all that I have learned:

That God is so good. As far as I am concerned,

 My heart remains fixed; I continue to seek your face,

Striving to please you, to be faithful to the end.

Despite life’s trials, I press on to reach this place:

No longer a bondslave but esteemed as a friend.

In this time between Passover and Pentecost

We look up, as the fullness of time shall reveal

The King of Glory, before whom all souls shall kneel,

The Kinsman Redeemer sent to redeem the lost.

Watching, waiting, in my heart I have prepared room,

Assured by the promise of the faithful bridegroom.

Looking to see far beyond my limited scope,

I am steadfast– my soul remains anchored in hope. 

Closing Comments:

Music has become an important part of my life. Even as a child, I was fascinated with music, especially song lyrics which seemed so easy to memorize. In the poem “Song Since” I express my love for music from an early age. Some lyrics I did not fully appreciate until later in life, as this stanza reveals:

Some of my songs I sang before I knew

Any of the reasons to cherish them,

Of simple black people, humble and who

Drank in renewed strength from their vintage hymn.

 As a child I have fond memories of singing in the Junior Choir, where I recall “leading” my first song at the age of eight or nine. Actually I did not “sing,” but I narrated the verses while the choir sang the lyrics to “On Christ, the Solid Rock,” a “vintage hymn,” which resounds with “hope”:

My hope is built on nothing less                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

His oath, His covenant, and blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When every earthly prop gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found,
Clothed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne!
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.                               .

As believers we all attempt to navigate through a period of sustained darkness, the dark night of the soul, and many times our lives are sometimes bombarded with negative emotions, three of which are disappointment, discouragement, and despair. While these “three deadly Ds” can have a progressively devastating impact upon a believer, as “Disappointment” can lead to “Discouragement” which can ultimately produce “Despair,” their total toxic effects can be neutralized, as we go to the Word of God. Where we have been disappointed by failed expectations, we can extract positive expectations from the exceeding great and precious promises of the Word. Where we have been discouraged, we can instill courage into our lives from the Word of God, from other believers, or we can, like David, “encourage ourselves in the Lord.” And finally where we have been in despair over situations that have occurred, we can from the Word of God inject into our lives“hope–a joyful, confident expectation of a future good.” Just as the caustic effects of strong acids can be neutralized by adding strong alkaline substances or bases which produce a salt, so we implement the Word of God which is our strong base to totally neutralize the effects of three potentially devastating elements, whereby we “have salt within ourselves.” We also counteract the negative force of unbelief  when we act as Abraham, the father of faith,  who did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God:

Romans 4:17-21 (New King James Version)

17 (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did;

18 who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.”

19 And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb.

20 He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God,

21 and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.

On that hopeful note, I conclude  All New Things Begin in Darkness: Transitioning Through Your Dark Night by John Paul Jackson with personal poetic responses with “On Christ, the Solid Rock,” one of my most memorable hymns from childhood. This rendition is by Avalon, contemporary Christian music group:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NM7vodGhOaE&feature=related

All New Things Begin in Darkness: Transitioning Through Your Dark Night–Personal Poetic Responses–Part 3

January 21, 2012
“All things new begin in darkness,” so says John Paul Jackson.
 

What follows is another  excerpt from the prophetic word entitled All New Things Begin in Darkness: Transitioning Through Your Dark Night posted as an e-letter by John Paul Jackson, interspersed with original poetry at strategic points, as I read the words of exhortation. This is Part 3 of the message which is being posted over the next few days. Click here to view the message without the poetic inserts:

http://www.streamsministries.com/index.php?cat_id=32&page_id=141

 January 21—Part 3

The First Sign of Healing


At some point in all three phases, you finally realize that what you have self-justified (the thing you’ve been trying to hold onto) is actually hindering your destiny, and with this realization, there is often a sense of failure or sorrow or both.

But even here, do not give up hope, because this sense of failure is actually the initial sign of healing: You are on your way out. You have allowed God to remove the blinders, and as He does so, the first tendrils of light become visible again.

 The reference to removing the blinders reminds me of this poem entitled “Blinded Eyes”: 

Blinded Eyes

And their eyes were opened, and they knew him;

and he vanished out of their sight. And they said one to another,

Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked

with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?

Luke 24:31-32

 

On the road to Emmaus, as Christ walked with them,

He opened the Scriptures and the hearts of the two

On their journey seven miles from Jerusalem.

So walk with me, Lord, for your Word alone is true.

On the road to Damascus, one Saul was struck blind.

Thickened scales covered his eyes so he could not see,

But God opened his eyes, reconfigured his mind.

Like Paul, may I see the riches of Christ in me.

Open my understanding and flood it with light.

Widen my comprehension that I also may

Realize that I must first of all lose my sight

And then be washed in the Pool of Siloam each day.

Strike me blind, then open and heal these blinded eyes,

That I may see with new sight and be truly wise.

The closing lines of this poem bring to mind the request spoken in the familiar hymn, “Open My Eyes”:

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&feature=endscreen&v=ZYjr9CsqHvQ

Immediately after this point of despair, everything changes. Here you see the light at the end of the long tunnel. You have hope for a better life, and it is soooooo refreshing. Though you know the rest of the tunnel still lies ahead of you, you see the light at the end, and you know you will make it, even though, up until this point, you were pretty sure you wouldn’t.
So many of us are walking blindly today, because God sees where we’re heading, but we do not. As this is the eighth month already, no doubt you’re aware that transition means things are changing. You can’t get away with the things you got away with before; your Father has asked you to come up higher. He may have asked you to give up the “good” thing in order to give you the best. Times are dark. The way is hidden.

Many times we pray, and God does not answer our prayer in the expected manner, as I express in “We Pray—God Answers.”

 We Pray—God Answers

Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray,

believe that you receive them, and you will have them.

Mark 11:24

We pray, asking to receive and seeking to find.

If we knock, the door shall be opened all our days,

For God answers prayer in one of three sovereign ways:

Sometimes we pray and find that the answer is “yes.

In Christ each promise is “yes” and “amen”,

For God is not a man that He should lie.

He has already spoken—What shall we say then

But give thanks, for when we call Him, He hears each cry.

Other times we find that the answer is “not yet.”

 We need more patience so that after we have done

All the will of God, as sons we might be instilled

With confident assurance given to each one,

 Set as an empty vessel, yet to be fulfilled.

Or God may say, “I have something better in mind.”

Before we abandon hope, feeling left behind,

Though it may seem we cannot pass another test,

But if we stop and think a moment, we will find

God, our all-wise Father, really knows what is best.

The renowned folk artist and minister, Elijah Pierce, completed this painted bas relief woodcarving entitled “The Power of Prayer” in 1960. It is from the private collection courtesy of Keny Galleries, Columbus, Ohio.

A woodcarving depicting the Power of Prayer with Faith as the key that unlocks the doors to God and His Son Jesus Christ.

A woodcarving depicting the Power of Prayer with Faith as the key that unlocks the doors to God and His Son Jesus Christ.

John Starnes offers a powerful rendition of “Prayer is the Key to Heaven” to sum up this section of  All New Things Begin in Darkness: Transitioning Through Your Dark Night by John Paul Jackson with personal poetic responses:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xomn5SMDSlw

All New Things Begin in Darkness: Transitioning Through Your Dark Night–Personal Poetic Responses–Part 2

January 20, 2012

New life begins in darkness, as this germinating seed reveals.

What follows is an excerpt from the prophetic word entitled All New Things Begin in Darkness: Transitioning Through Your Dark Night posted as an e-letter by John Paul Jackson, interspersed with original poetry at strategic points, as I read the words of exhortation. This is Part 2 of a response to the message which will be posted over the next few days. Click here to view the message without the poetic inserts:

http://www.streamsministries.com/index.php?cat_id=32&page_id=141

January 20, 2012  Part 2

Three Levels of Darkness

From pregnancy to creation, from anointing to new days, everything begins in darkness. It has been that way from the first day of creation, and it will continue to the end.

New things begin in darkness. There are three levels, or deep times, of darkness that we encounter on the road to our destiny and true, pure spirituality: the Dark Night of the Wilderness or Desert, the Dark Night of the Soul and the Dark Night of the Spirit. With each one, you will feel like you are immersed in a deeper darkness than you have ever been in before.

This section brought to mind “This Lonesome Valley” a poem that speaks of a similar kind of wilderness experience.

 This Lonesome Valley

Jesus walked this lonesome valley.
He had to walk it by Himself;
O, nobody else could walk it for Him,
He had to walk it by Himself.

You have to walk this lonesome valley.
You have to walk it by yourself;
O, nobody else can walk it for you,
You have to walk it by yourself. 

Traditional hymn

Valley places are always places of testing. . . 

It’s in the valley places that your character is tested.

Apostle Eric L. Warren

Though there is no place where God’s presence does not dwell,

 There is this lonesome valley we all must cross alone.

 The Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness,

 And as a pilgrim, I too go through this barren land.  

Propelled by goodness and mercy as my rearguards,

I am led by the hand of God into a wasteland,

Where I must stand on my own and confront my fears,

As I pass through the valley of the shadow of death,

The dark place where no companion can go with me.

Unsure of all that lies ahead, I hesitate,

But I must follow the Spirit’s call into the unknown:

The narrow way–to walk by faith and not by sight.

Though my path may be unclear, this I know for sure:

If God brought me to it, He will bring me through it.

 

You will see less clearly, if at all, where you thought you were going. You most likely will not understand the purpose of it and why God is allowing you to go through such a dark, difficult time. Depending on what God is after, this time may shake you to your very core.

Whenever I am shaken to the very core of my being, I am reminded that the intense shaking that I am enduring is all part of “The Process”:

The Process                          

“When everything that can be shaken is being shaken,

we must  acknowledge the process . . . trust the process. . .

embrace the process. . . and enjoy the process.”

Dr. Mark Chironna

 

My brethren, count it all joy

when you fall into various trials,

James 1:2

 

What I perceive as failure, God sees as success.

In peace and confidence I know that I will find

Understanding that reveals what God had in mind.

As I pursue truth, I acknowledge the process.

Though adversity seeks to hinder my progress,

Though I may be shaken to the depths of my soul,

If I refuse to give up, I will be made whole.

Because our God is faithful, I trust the process.

God’s heart of compassion forever seeks to bless.

I no longer wrestle but surrender—I yield.

As a soldier I vow to stay on the battlefield.

Though I would shun it, I embrace the process.

Our gracious God is good, despite the strain and stress;

Resting in the Lord, I now enjoy the process.

The statement “trust the process” brings to mind a familiar hymn: “Trust and Obey,” which always has application, no matter the situation:

Closing out this entry is a commentary by William Dyer entitled “Fiery Trials Make Golden Christians.” Dyer (1632-1696) is described as a godly pastor, a man of great piety, and a serious fervent preacher, who was expelled from his church in London during the ‘Great Ejection’ of 1662:

All New Things Begin in Darkness: Transitioning Through Your Dark Night–Personal Poetic Responses

January 19, 2012

Exiting the Cave of Adullam, one transitions from darkness to light.

January 19, 2012

All New Things Begin in Darkness: Transitioning Through Your Dark Night by John Paul Jackson   was a prophetic word written in August, 2008. Originally the two poems based on the Cave of Adullam that were recently posted in a blog were placed with the following word of exhortation. Although we have chronologically moved four years beyond that specific date, believers are ever in transition, and so this word has current application. As I re-read this message, I thought of particular poems that I had written that could be applied at certain points. The following is the prophetic word in its entirety, interspersed with original poetry at strategic points. The message is broken into several parts to be posted over the next few days. Click here to view the message without the poetic inserts:

http://www.streamsministries.com/index.php?cat_id=32&page_id=141

This is a year of transition. 

As this is the eighth month already, no doubt you’re aware that transition means things are changing. If you allow God to move in your life and do what He wants to do, you’ll enjoy the change. And if you don’t … then you won’t, for obvious reasons.

In this e-letter, I would like to talk to you about something that goes hand in hand with transition. It is the hardest part of change, actually, and is what makes change so often difficult.

This introduction brings to mind the location of Gilgal, which Apostle Thamo Naidoo, author of Gilgal :  Biblical Principles Governing Transition into the  Apostolic Reformation, describes in the way:

“Gilgal is the place of constructive preparations or re-formation.  It symbolizes a sensitive and critical place in the life and experience of a people, ministry or nation in the earth.  This is a location in one’s spiritual journey where preparation is made for the next phase in the unfolding plan of God.  A season has been concluded, a new one is about to be ushered in, placing new demands on His people.  It is at Gilgal that the process of reconfiguration must take place.”

                                                                           

Waiting in Gilgal

If a man die, shall he live again?

all the days of my appointed time

will I wait, till my change come.

Job 14:14

Waiting in Gilgal. . . 

In the midnight harbor, place black as a raven,

Yielded and still in this new place of transition,

Seeking to do God’s will, in ready position,

To be launched from here to my desired haven.

 Waiting in Gilgal. . .

Groaning, travailing resounds from this place on earth,

In the birthing room where thoughts rise to the sublime;

Prolonged moments extend toward the fullness of time

Where agony precedes ecstasy in childbirth.

Waiting in Gilgal. . .

To be raised from the tomb, released from the cocoon;

Exhausted, I yearn to escape and touch the sky,

To be freed from these quarters of the butterfly,

Where to be transformed at last can come none too soon. 

Waiting in Gilgal. . .

This place demands sacrifice and obedience:

Not like Saul in Gilgal, foolish and immature,

But like Caleb, who with age, had strength to endure,

Fulfilled all God’s will and claimed his inheritance,

Waiting in Gilgal. . .

Jesus said that whoever loses his life will find it (Matthew 10:39). Growing spiritually is possible only if you’re willing to let go of the old in order to gain the new. In other words, you gain by losing; you give up your life in order to find it.
            But there’s a secret in that. What you need to give up is the thing that’s holding you back. You might think it is good, but it is actually keeping you from your destiny. It is a virus, an infection, a germ that needs eradicating before it can metastasize. If God asks you to give up something, it is only what will destroy you — i.e., this isn’t something you want to keep! 

Here’s the catcher: The in-between time when you’re coming to that conclusion is usually confusing, painful and completely black. You can’t see a thing, and you have no idea where you’re going.
           

Have you felt like that this year … yet? 

Joseph Hurst and God’s Chosen Vessels offer “They that Wait upon the Lord,” as an appropriate song to conclude this first portion of All New Things Begin in Darkness: Transitioning Through Your Dark Night by John Paul Jackson with personal poetic responses.  

The Cave of Adullam: Entering and Exiting

January 17, 2012

The Cave of Adullam can be a place of great learning for those who find themselves in desperate circumstances.

The Bible offers some of the most amazing accounts of radical transformation ever witnessed in the lives of the people of God. One such notable example is recorded in the Old Testament where a group of 400 desperate followers who are “in distress, in debt and discontented” join David in the Cave of Adullam.  When they eventually exit the cave, however, they are transformed into “David’s mighty men.” This account is recorded in I Samuel 22:1-2 and following, which I personalized and identified with in light of my circumstances.  As is often my custom, I personally apply the scriptures as I compose poetry. In this case I composed two poems: one related to the account of a man who entered into the Cave of Adullam and the other related to a man transformed into one of “David’s mighty men” who exited the cave. A Cave of Adullam of My Own

David therefore departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam.

So when his brothers and all his father’s house heard it,

they went down there to him.

2And everyone who was in distress, everyone who was in debt,

and everyone who was discontented gathered to him.

So he became captain over them.

And there were about four hundred men with him.

I Samuel 22:1-2

 

“Your cave can be a good place”

Apostle David Pittman

 

In a place set aside for those who seek to hide,

Where thick darkness tries to hold back the light of day,

In debt, of no reputation, and stripped of pride,

Where obstacles on every side block my pathway;

Divorced from every resource that could comfort me,

Bankrupt and having goods of little or no worth.

Bound by lack, I have forgotten prosperity,

Though assured that seeds sown in the dark womb still give birth.

Distressed and discontented, in despair of life,

I live in a cave of Adullam of my own,

As I attempt to dispel confusion and strife

In this place where I measure how much I have grown.

In my cavern, teach me lessons I need to learn,

That I might also instruct others in return.

 

From  the Cave of Adullam into a Mighty Man 

These are the names of the mighty men whom David had: ….   

2 Samuel 23:8                                                                               

 

Only the cave experience can produce mighty men.”          

 Apostle Eric L. Warren

As I prepare to leave my cave of Adullam,     

I reflect and ask just what lessons did I learn.                                                                                                                                                              

My life is about to take yet another turn.      

While continuing to pursue my destiny,                                                           

But content, I reveal my exit strategy.  

Stripped of pride that I might be clothed in righteousness,   

Unwavering hope has transformed former despair.  

I leave behind the chains of night with no regret.                                                                                                                                                                             

From my life spent in the cave I have much to share.                                                                                                                                                                

Pressing toward a new day to be released from debt,                                                                                                                                                                              

I move beyond the seventh day into the eighth      

And exit the cave as a mighty man of faith.

The copyrighted photograph of the actual Cave of Adullam was taken by Farrell Jenkins, who comments on the passage from I Samuel in  “David escaped to the Cave of Adullam,” an entry in Ferrell’s Travel Blog.

 Shelly Moore Band offers a marvelous remake of the classic hymn “Jesus I Come” which begins with these lines, reminiscent of the cave experience: “Out of my bondage, sorrow and night. . . .”:

Friday, the 13th—but have no fear

January 12, 2012

Some people have a negative reaction to Friday, the 13th, but believers are encouraged to have no fear.

The second Friday in the New Year is actually Friday, the 13th, a day that some react to in a negative way.  Some even have an abnormal fear of Friday, the 13th, actually expressed in the psychological term paraskevidekatriaphobia. While not everyone harbors an ungrounded fear of Friday, the 13th, we cannot deny that fear seems to abound during these intense times. We all recognize that fear is a common and natural emotional response to potential danger, but if not properly addressed, it can become a deadly emotion with serious consequences. Excessive fear can become crippling and impact our daily lives in a negative way. Unbridled fear is a toxic emotion that limits and inhibits. Proverbs 29:25 makes this clear:

The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe.

Fear is a tool of the Enemy used as a barrier to stifle our confidence in God, as it attempts to limit our access to the Father’s throne of grace. Satan tries to instill fear in believers in the same way that a ferocious lion roars, seeking to instill fear that paralyzes its victim, described in I Peter 5:8:

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

It has been said that fear is the only thing that defeats the promises of God. Pastor Rick Warren describes fear as “. . . a self-imposed prison that will keep you from becoming what God intends for you to be.”                                               

The Bible addresses the issue of fear with numerous reminders that as believers we are not to fear. The comforting exhortation to “fear not” or “do not fear” occurs 365 times in the Bible, indicating a daily memo from God that we are to have no fear.

We also find great encouragement in Isaiah 41:10, 13:

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ 

For I, the LORD your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’

When we encounter stressful situations that cause us to respond in fear, we are encouraged to seek the strength to overcome any obstacle that attempts to block our path to success. Again the Psalmist offers this reminder:

Psalm 34:5

I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.

In 1 John 4:18 we find the perfect antidote to fear:

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.

When an individual is “perfected in love” and walks in or demonstrates that love, there no room for fear. The love of God is the key that releases each believer from the bondage of this “self-imposed prison” from which Christ came to set the captives free, as this poem indicates:

Self-imposed Prison

“Fear is a self-imposed prison that will keep you

 from becoming what God intends for you to be.”

— Rick Warren

  There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear,

  because fear involves torment. But he who fears

  has not been made perfect in love.

  I John 4:18

  

This self-imposed prison, not made with bars of steel,

 Nor formed with bricks, yet each subtly constructed wall

 Restricts the mind, scars the soul and cripples the will

 And impounds us to a state of constant free fall.

 Held captive by past mistakes that seek to instill

 Fear: this deadly acronym binds, confines the heart,

 So disguised as “false evidence appearing real”

 Keeps us from being all God intends us to be.

 But Christ, our sovereign Lord, pardoned each life sentence,

 Commuted penalties, declaring not guilty.

 With his blood, having blotted out every offense,

 Displayed undying love: key to set captives free.

 Pure freedom to serve awaits those with ears to hear,

 For perfected love destroys all walls built by fear.

In a previous blog, I also discuss “toxic fear and its antidote—love.”

https://drlej.wordpress.com/2011/02/10/toxic-fear-and-its-antidote-love/

In his book Consider Your Ways, Apostle Eric L. Warren, Founder and Overseer of Equip U Ministries, Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, contrasts a number of positive character qualities or virtues with their corresponding opposite vices. He points out that the opposite of fear is courage, a trait God continually exhorts believers to take upon themselves. Christians are to be bold and take courage, not just on Friday, the 13th but every day of our lives. Friday, the 13th, is just another day to remind us to put on our “no fear gear”, as we walk in the love of God which casts out all fear.

http://gospelrhythms.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/no-fear-in-love.jpg

Everyday we are reminded that "perfect love casts out all fear," for there is no fear in love.

To read about the awesome power of God, an understanding of which should also dispel fear, take a look at

http://www.examiner.com/x-20264-Columbus-Christian-Spirituality-Examiner~y2009m10d12-Massive-ring-around-Saturn-displaying-the-power-of-God

Listen to this powerful rendition of “The Love of God” by contemporary Christian band, MercyMe:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vjj2kZ1qoqw&feature=player_embedded