Part 3: Chapter 3 – Day 6: The Song of My Father

Welcome to Day 6 of Part 3‘s Chapter 3 of Arise and Shine. Today, Bettie is sharing a free will offering in a testimony the LORD gifted her through her weakness and need. It testifies to the blossoming staff of Christ’s holiness that leads and comforts us through the valley of the shadow of death, shedding the old for the new, as He calls us into His rest and peace.

Over 20 years ago I had a dream that is still crystal clear in my mind today. In the dream, I was carrying a baby, and walking through a church parking lot. Standing under the awning at the Church’s entrance was an older man who was singing this song:

I will pour on you

the oil of gladness in the morning,

I will pour on you

the oil of my joy.



I will burn off all the dross

Stir up what remains

And I will pour on you

the oil of my joy.

As the man sang, it was the most beautiful voice that I had ever heard, and somehow I knew it was an angel singing God’s own song over me. However, I barely paused to listen and hurried on my way to complete my task. In the dream I returned to the parking lot, still carrying the baby, and as I walked past, the man was still singing the Father’s song over me. And then I awoke.

~~~~~~~~

All these years later, I recognize the voice of my Father calling me to come with Him, to allow Him to pour out His oil over me. He has stilled my busy caring and serving, and I have been brought to a place of rest at His feet.  Yet, even in the resting, the pain and fatigue have threatened to steal every drop of joy that I have known. In the instinctive reaction to physical pain, there are days that my arms are curled into my side, hunching my shoulders and neck into a place of self-protection.

The spasmed fascia in my neck shows how that hunching and curling has contributed to yet more pain. Last week as the physical therapist gave my neck and spine the gentle prodding and stretching that is part of the Myofascial Technique, suddenly I realized my arms were pulling up to my chest as a flaring of Rheumatoid Arthritis pain in my wrists was triggered.  But in that jerking, the Lord of Love brought a release.

“Offer the pain up to Me now,” He invited.  And He reminded me of the word that He has been speaking to me all summer: Incense.

And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. Revelation 5:8 NIV

 Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all God’s people, on the golden altar in front of the throne. The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God’s people, went up before God from the angel’s hand. Revelation 8:3-4 NIV

As I thought about the incense and the prayers of the saints, and as I thought about the anointing oil, neither the incense nor the oil was created without pain. The spices for both were ingredients that were scraped, chiseled or gathered from various trees and herbs. They were then crushed, and pounded, and boiled through a distillation process to remove the dross before they were finally pure enough to be used for the proper purposes. (You can read more in Exodus 20 for the Lord’s specific instructions.)

I have become acquainted with crushing and burning and boiling away the dross of my life.

During the time when that dream was first given, I was deeply burdened and interceding for dear ones in a former church. Some of that intercession was never acknowledged, in fact, it was rejected and spurned.  I returned my prayers back to the Father, and found forgiveness for those who had rejected me.  But I never understood that the pain could be offered as a gift also.

I tucked the pain down deep, moved on, and asked God to show me His next steps in my life. But the explanation of the setting for the dream was never fully understood until just this week when these verses came to mind:

 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because[g] the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:22-27 ESV

Truly, those prayers that I carried felt like a kind of labor pain, Holy Spirit birthed praying. And through all those years of serving and praying, I carried those babies–those prayers–close to my heart. It was a natural, instinctive reaction to the pain that I felt.  But the Lord now whispered a gentle invitation to me from within my place of resting here:

Offer that labor pain, that baby, up to Me now, letting My Holy Spirit carry the incense of your prayers to Me fully. Allow My Holy Spirit to carry what you were never meant to hold onto. The pain is too heavy, it will always leave you hunched and curled. But I will pour my oil of joy on you as you release the incense of your prayers and pain.

“Incense”



The prayers of God’s people

rose

The smoke of incense wafted

behind

The Holy of Holies curtained

between



The priest in anointing oil

covered

Entered the curtained room

unveiling

Cloud of incense fragrance

trailing.



And the Father sang His song over His people.



As the fragrance of our Savior

wafted

the offering of His pain

became

the prayer that rescued our souls.



His blood shed for me.

His pain borne for mine.



My pain and prayers lifted as

offering

Fragrance wafting with Savior’s

joining

Gift of rescue now

delighting.



And the Father sings His song over His people.



My heart now covered in oil

anointing

Enters into His Holiest Heart

releasing

Cloud of incense fragrance

trailing



The oil of HIS joy is pouring.

And while the Father has been singing His song over me, He has been pulling the pain up from those hunched over places. His oil of joy has been seeping into every hunched and curled place.

Are you acquainted with crushing and pounding and hunching and curling?

Could you hear the Father asking of you the same thing He has been asking of me?

Sing with Me here.  The pain and prayers have always been woven together, and I long to hear your voice singing with mine.

From within my own place of weakness here, I offer His song back to Him now, and I ask Him to bring to you the blessing of His oil of joy flowing over you:

Dear Father,

We come before You now confessing our weaknesses and seeing the dross that has accumulated. We long to lay down the pain that has been too heavy for us to carry. Will You open our hunched and curled arms to lift this incense up to Your Holy Spirit to carry now? Thank You for allowing us to join You in the prayers we have carried. Oh, but thank You that You see the weight that was never meant to stay on our shoulders. Receive the offering of this pain now. We give to You the prayers and the pain alike. Pour the oil of Your joy upon us now, as we rest within Your singing love.

In the precious name of Jesus, we pray,

Amen.

Part 3: Chapter 3 – Day 1: He Gives Us More Grace

Welcome to Day 1 of Part 3‘s Chapter 3 of Arise and Shine. Today, Bettie is sharing a free will offering in praise of God opening her eyes to see by faith. By God’s grace, her eyes open to the Promise contained in the budding of her almond tree, in the midst of great pain and affliction. She also invites us to join her in a time of thanksgiving and prayer.

“Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness.”

Luke 11:34 NIV 

This branch is from my Flowering Almond bush:

It has had its share of suffering and disease. At one point, several years ago, I considered removing the whole bush because it continued to die back and shed more leaves than what it was gaining. But the patient gardener in me decided to give it another chance, and pruned away the dead branches one more time. I would have missed out on these beautiful blooms if I had focused solely on the diseased portion of the plant.

And so it is in my own life. Where are my eyes choosing to focus? Where is the light within them?

This week a friend sent me a song, and because it was a reworking of a hymn that was one of my favorites, I went on a search to find the original. In so doing, as often happens with me, the history of the hymn drew my attention just as much as the song itself. Maybe you have heard of Annie Johnson Flint, poet and hymn writer from the early 1900’s? 

Before this search, I had known she lived a life of suffering, and I had known her beautiful work came from a fountain of grace within her.  What I had not known was that her disease was one with which I am well acquainted:

Rheumatoid Arthritis.

But she suffered in the years when there was no relief for pain, and no medicine to halt the crippling effects. Where I might suffer some pain and weakness, and some residual tendon damage, she suffered the full effects of a horrible disfigurement and pain beyond compare. As the disease progressed, she was forced to type out her poems using only her bent knuckles, because her joints had swollen and twisted to a point of uselessness.

What do I know of that kind of uselessness?

How would I have borne that kind of suffering?

In these days of stillness, as the Lord brings fresh convictions to me daily, I know that my heart has so far yet to travel. For you see, Annie Johnson Flint had let the Lord bring the true Light to her eyes.  When the darkness of a cruel disease could have crippled her heart, she chose to let the Light of Christ permeate her soul and body. She chose to let that Light redeem her suffering, and bring forth encouragement that would bless others who were facing darkness.

She chose 
Acceptance in the 
Pruning from her own 
Master Gardener and embraced 
HIS Light in the very place of her suffering.

“For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him” Philippians 1:29 NIV 

He Giveth More Grace (lyrics)

—Annie Johnson Flint

“He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater, He sendeth more strength when the labors increase; To added affliction He addeth His mercy; To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace. 

When we have exhausted our store of endurance, When our strength has failed ere the day is half done, When we reach the end of our hoarded resources, Our Father’s full giving is only begun. 

Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision, Our God ever yearns His resources to share; Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing; The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.

His love has no limit; His grace has no measure. His pow’r has no boundary known unto men; For out of His infinite riches in Jesus, He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again!”

Would you join me in pausing to meditate on the suffering that our Lord bore for us, and join me in prayer?

Dear Lord Jesus,  

I thank you for the suffering that you bore for me. I rejoice in the salvation and grace that you won for me there.

And, now I ask that you would purify my eyes to see the light in my days and the Grace within my own suffering.

May I let you bring Joy from Pain and Beauty from Ashes, And may the Love you have granted sink deep into my soul, body, mind and spirit.

Amen.     

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 (ESV) Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

This post was first published four years ago at: https://bettiegsraseasons.com/2017/03/30/he-gives-us-more-grace/ Since then, Bettie’s health has deteriorated significantly and yet the beauty and life of Christ is flourishing in and through her more and more, as she comforts others with the comfort the LORD is pouring out upon her.

Part 3: Chapter 3: Aaron’s Budding Staff

Welcome to Part 3‘s Chapter 3 of Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is introducing us to Aaron’s budding staff. In the days to come, Anna and Bettie will be adding free will offerings of praise, testifying to the blossoming Word of Life in their hearts and midst, to the bottom of this post.

We read in Numbers 17:10 (ESV): And the Lord said to Moses, “Put back the staff of Aaron before the testimony, to be kept as a sign for the rebels, that you may make an end of their grumblings against me, lest they die.” The budding and blossoming rod was thus placed in the Tabernacle’s tent of meeting – the same tent we shared about in Chapter 2 that was made of goats’ hair, a durable fabric that helped protect the Tabernacle through the long years in the wilderness.

Numbers 17:5 (ESV) speaks of why God made Aaron’s staff to sprout: And the staff of the man whom I choose shall sprout. Thus I will make to cease from me the grumblings of the people of Israel, which they grumble against you.” Some of the Israelites had grumbled about Aaron’s privileged position as a priest and had challenged Moses’ God-given authority.

Anna invites you to join her, as she shares of how God opened her own eyes to see life blossoming, where she least expected it, as the Holy Spirit prompted her to stop pleading in unbelief and to instead start praising Him in the fresh faith He filled her with, as she turned her face toward Him.

When I, the returned Prodigal, first began praying for my own loved ones to come to faith, I prayed in the flesh. I prayed from a place of unbelief, rooted in pride and self. And yet, even in that place, God saw my true desire to know Him in His death and resurrection. 

He honored the tiny mustard seeds of faith – the Word He had fed me since I was a little girl- that lay buried and dormant in my heart. He took them and broke them open unto life. 

Each seed began to unfurl and flourish and bloom, by the power of the Holy Spirit that He poured out upon me, as I sat at His feet. Physically, at first, nothing changed, but spiritually: everything. For, my heart awakened, quickening to the touch of the Holy Spirit. 

As I began to pray, rather than compelling me to plead for my loved ones’ rescue, the Holy Spirit compelled me to arise in thanksgiving and praise. He placed one Promise from God’s Holy Word after another before my eyes and invited me to take His hand and walk into the truth of my loved ones’ salvation in Christ Jesus. And then, He commanded me to look for proof of His Presence at work in them. 

I was astounded to find Him so very present, where I had deemed Him absent. He led me to so much repentance, as I gloried in His power and grace. 

Psalm 105:3 (ESV) Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice!

Through it all, it was as if He was asking me afresh, what He had asked me, right at the start of my walk with Him: “Who do you say that I am, Anna?”

And as He did this, I continually found myself weeping before Him. Why? Because as I lifted up those Promises before Him, I was not just affirming my loved ones’ salvation, I was affirming my own salvation and redemption in the LORD. 

I was shedding my own unbelief, rooted in pride and idolatry. I was taking off the accusations of condemnation I had allowed the enemy to clothe me in, to instead put on my breastplate of righteousness and belonging in Christ. 

I was deflecting the darts of the enemy, as I picked up the shield of faith to declare every human rejection for doing the will of my Heavenly Father, as Christ’s choosing of me to be conformed unto His likeness and to pour out the love and comfort He was pouring into me, out upon others.

I was shaking off the dust of every place that did not receive Jesus in me and putting on the shoes of peace to walk into the knowledge of God’s completion of the good work He had begun in them and in me in each of these places. 

I was laying down the works of the flesh and picking up the sword of truth to speak the Word of completion and wholeness into situations of incompletion and brokenness.

I was putting on my helmet of salvation, as I woke up daily to study and listen to the Word of God, to find God returning the Word to me, when prideful or selfish thoughts threatened to consume me. Instead, I found Christ consuming the dross in me, as each testing I faced proved the gold of His Presence and love in me.

I found myself laying down the thoughts the enemy was feeding me to instead exercise the mind of Christ and praise God for His good and perfect judgments in my life, even where these judgments were causing me such deep pain. It’s then my eyes began to open to see the beautiful grains of truth glistening in my hands.

And now, I know that Christ has been interceding in me, not just for others, but for me too. For, through it all, God has been purifying and cleansing my own heart, as I have prayed for and spoken the Word of God over others. He has been busy making His home in my own heart. 

What I saw as God’s withholding as a child, I am now beginning to receive as His gift to me. When everything looks like it is falling apart, as we pray –  trust me: it is. But only so that it can all fall into alignment, according to the will of the Father in Christ Jesus, in whom every Promise is Yes and Amen. 

For, Christ is inviting us to let go of our worldly peace to receive His peace that passes all understanding. He is inviting us to let Him take off our masks of self-righteousness, that He might reveal the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in His face.

He is inviting us to let Him break open our hearts hardened by sin and rebellion to restore our faith in Him. He is holding out His new heart of flesh to us that we might hear, see and receive Him in ourselves and those He has set before us.

Truly, truly, just like Jesus prophesied over Peter in John 21:18, when I was young, I used to dress myself and walk wherever I wanted, but now that I am older, I am stretching out my hands, and Jesus is dressing me and carrying me where I do not want to go. 

Numbers 16:28 (ESV) And Moses said: “By this you shall know that the Lord has sent me to do all these works, for I have not done them of my own will. 

As I am ending up where I would never have chosen to go of my own accord, I am tasting a love, joy and peace beyond measure in the arms of my Jesus, through every trial that comes my way. By the grace of God, I am getting to know the One who knows me better than I know myself, the One I now experientially know to be faithful to His every Word. 

In returning to my stronghold of hope, He – Jesus – has given me a double portion. He has opened my eyes by faith to see His face reflected in those He has set before me. He has turned me toward Himself, lifting the veil that once covered my face and heart, that I and others might now behold His unfading glory in our midst, as He transforms me, from glory to glory.

I believe, when Aaron’s staff budded, it did so, not to declare Aaron’s superiority above those who were jealous of his setting apart. No, it did so to silence the accusations of the enemy against the elect of God and to remind Aaron’s brothers and sisters that no one comes to the Father, except through the living and breathing Word of God who sets each one of us apart according to His purposes. For, “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.” (Romans 8:33, ESV).

Aaron’s and Moses’ holiness became visible, not just in the budding staff, but also in the incense Moses called Aaron to burn before the LORD amongst his dying people. As he burnt that incense, it brought a halt to the plague killing his rebellious brothers and sisters in the LORD. Faith was rewarded in his people’s obedience to the LORD’s direction, as His rod and staff comforted them in the valley of the shadow of death.

But it was never Aaron’s and Moses’ own perfecting work that halted that plague. As Moses said in Numbers 16:28 (ESV) “By this you shall know that the Lord has sent me to do all these works, for I have not done them of my own will.  It was the Holy Word sprouting in them, as the Word accomplished what He was sent to do. For, whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away (2 Corinthians 3:16, ESV) to reveal Jesus and His holiness in our midst.

Jeremiah 1:11-12 (ESV) And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Jeremiah, what do you see?” And I said, “I see an almond branch.” Then the Lord said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it.”

Isaiah 11:1-5 (ESV) There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear, but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins.

Day 1: He Gives Us More Grace

Day 2: Blossoms of Peace in His Time

Day 3: Break the Night

Day 4: An Irrevocable and Coming Kimgdom

Day 5: Here I Am, Send Me

Day 6: The Song of My Father

Day 7: Beauty for Ashes

Part 3: Chapter 2 – Day 4: Pressed, Shaken, Poured

Welcome to Day 4 of Part 3‘s Chapter 2 of Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is sharing our fourth free will offering of goats’ hair (cursed sin offering) in a poem that testifies to the power of Christ’s intercession through His Body.

As she put the finishing touches to it, her praying sisters affirmed God’s Word afresh in the emails that began pouring in and in the warmth of the Spirit pouring out upon her. May you too feel that warmth of the Holy Spirit pouring out upon you as you read this free will offering today. May God assure you, in whatever you are facing, that you are NEVER alone. May His Spirit continually affirm His Presence with you and His Promise to you that you can never ever be separated from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.

You can also listen to today’s post in the recording below.

Isaiah 61:11 (AMP) For as the earth brings forth its sprouts,
And as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up,
So the Lord God will [most certainly] cause righteousness and justice and praise
To spring up before all the nations [through the power of His word].

PRESSED, SHAKEN, POURED

Oh how it stings
Reflections
Of Your searching
And knowing
In the mirror
I behold
A hardened heart
Bitterness
And unbelief
Sowing.

A storm begins to rage
Which way to turn
A heart divided
In the fear of man
And yet I still
Crave stillness
Still
In My Prince
Of Peace.

Torn every which way
I finally turn
Toward My Prince
To find
His prayers
As incense lifted
My groanings
In a fellowship
Of faith
A Voice is given.

"Blessed is she
Who is not offended
On account of Me,"
I hear Your Voice crying
"For, blessed are
The peacemakers
Those who mourn
The poor in spirit
The contrite
And pure in heart
For, they shall see
Me.

"Sow no longer
To the wind
Reap no longer
A whirlwind of thistles
But join Me now
In My death
And resurrection
Sowing unto peace
A harvest
Of righteousness
In My Spirit
Reaping."

Miles apart
And yet in Spirit One
I now reap
Not what I have
Sown
But what my sisters
In Christ
Have sown
In prayer.

A tent of goats' hair
In wisdom they have spun
My journey
Through the wilderness of sin
In steadfast mercy
Ever covering.

Christ's cursed sin offering
In their bowing knees
Is lifted high
A Voice
Into my wilderness
Now crying.

In Your searching
And knowing, my God
I now see
No longer my sin and pain
But Your loving face
Reflected
Silver pure.

For, this shaking
And pressing
I now know
Is Your steadfast love
Your mercies
New every morning
Shaking and pressing
To lift my chaff of self
To harvest
The Son of God.

For, as You shake
And as You press
My hardened heart
Is broken open
Your gold
Revealing.

Pressed, shaken and poured
Your righteousness
It runneth over
In abundant oil
On my head
In mercy flowing
My mind transforming
Your Word
A lamp
Unto my feet
In flaming oil
Now glowing.

Hemmed in
By thistles
I have met
Your grace
A wide open
Spacious place
In Your face
I AM
Gracing.

My cup
Now runneth over
In the presence
Of my enemies
Your heavenly
Presence
Has set a table for me
In prayers of mercy
Here rising.

Yes! Your goodness
And mercy
Shall follow me
All the days of my life
I'm back home
In the house of My LORD.

Your headship
My chaff has lifted
My idols
And sin are bowing
In the power
Of Your Love
A love that covers over

A multitude of sins.

Part 3: Chapter 2 – Day 2: In the Hollow of His Hands

Welcome to Day 2 of Part 3‘s Chapter 2 of Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is sharing our second free will offering of goats’ hair in a testimony to God’s faithfulness in our faithlessness.

When my parents decided to return to New Zealand, after almost six years as missionaries and church planters in Germany, it meant saying goodbye to the only place I could remember as home. On the eve of our departure, my elementary teacher gave me a goodbye present. A heart-shaped book, composed of threaded pages full of poems, messages, photos and drawings. 

Each classmate had created one page, but the page that is now engraved upon my memory, is my teacher’s. On her page there was a sketch of huge hands, palms wide open, holding a little sparrow.

That first year in New Zealand, I felt so out of place, with my strange accent and different way of speaking and doing things. Seeing my parents struggling with so much too, I shared very little with them, trying hard not to become an added burden to them. But God saw my need and gave me a new friend, who loved the LORD with childlike fervor.

What did her name mean?

Twin

Her name was a derivative of Thomas, a name which “appears to be related to the Greek noun τομη (tome), meaning a cutting or cleaving, which in turn comes from the verb τεμνω (temno), meaning to cut or cleave.” (Source: https://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Thomas.html#.X7x7Hjm0s0M).

It’s only now I see how, just as with the disciple Thomas, God was inviting me to touch the holes in His hands and feet. For, He wanted me to realize that the moment I had responded to the Father’s call to repentance as a little girl, He had bound Himself to me.

The holes in His hands and feet are evidence that (Isaiah 49:16, ESV): “Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.” On that Cross, Christ restored the breach in my walls of salvation. He became my cursed sin offering, bearing the penalty I should have borne, to atone for all my sins: past, present and future.

Although she only stayed for a year, God invited me through this friend to touch His nail-pierced hands and wounded side, to remember that His power is perfected in our weakness. Now, looking back, I can do so.

As a preteen, however, I agreed with the enemy’s doctrines and his accusations against me, and the more I did so, the more I hid in my sin and the more I was bathed in feelings of shame and unworthiness. I had faced rejection from those I loved and trusted most in speaking up for someone who couldn’t speak up for himself, and the enemy used this to feed me accusations of God’s abandonment. In my fear of man above God, I readily agreed to my accuser’s lies. But into all this, God gave me a new friend.

This friend openly shared her weakness with me and God’s nearness to her in it all, inviting me into a deeper walk with God. I remember my hunger and thirst for God growing. I remember moments of worship, where the Spirit of God descended powerfully, overwhelming me in kindness, gentle conviction and stunning grace. I remember the joy of my baptism at 12 years old.

But I also remember the humiliation and sting of rejection I felt, as I saw the response of someone I deeply respected to the Holy Spirit’s anointing upon me and my open confession of sin and weakness. I remember slowly retreating from God’s desire to draw me near, becoming fearful of the cost of the Holy Spirit’s anointing.

I did not recognize the honor God was seeking to bestow on me, in my setting apart, as He called me to bow my knees in humilty, in the confidence of His love and acceptance of me. Instead I chose to fear man’s rejection above my holy God, turning my back on the greatest gift of all.

I remember beginning to numb my pain by retreating from those around me, spending hours with my nose behind books. Then, several years later, I remember the terror that filled me as I committed the sin of masturbation, a sin I was too scared and too ashamed to confess to anyone. It’s then, as I listened to the enemy’s accusations against me more and more, I began to believe I was irredeemable and that God had rejected me for good.

I believe God gifted me that dear friend, who openly boasted in her weakness, to sing His truth over me. When I look back, I see His faithfulness to me in my faithlessness and His desire to uproot my confidence in myself and in the love and approval of man, to reroot me in His love and approval alone.

My new friend is now proof of God’s compassion and mercy to me. Her presence in my life reminds me that God’s mercies are new every morning. Now, I know that in my struggle to come to Jesus, I can cry out to my LORD to save me – again and again- and that He always will. For, He perfects His power in our weakness.

What did my new friend’s name mean?

God is an oath.

In my second year of high school, we moved towns and my father decided to send me to a non-Christian high school. Arriving in that second year at a huge city school, after four years at a little country Christian school, then still accompanied by my brothers and sisters, and now alone, had me feeling insecure and out of place. But even there God continued to sing His truth over me. A classmate welcomed me into her little group of friends.

What was the meaning of her name?

Bold kin or family.

God was reminding me that He is our Abba Father who boldly welcomes outsiders into His outstretched arms.

Months before this major transition and move, God also gave me another friend who would become my very best friend, and still is one of my two best friends today. Amazingly, our new home ended up being only a 5 minute bike-ride away from hers. She became one of our family and I became one of hers.

When I look back, I see God’s love and faithfulness to me in her friendship so much. She (and later her husband and children) never stopped loving me, welcoming me (and my family) into their life and praying for me (and my family) through my long Prodigal journey home. 

Oh don’t get me wrong, she grieved behind closed doors and her heart struggled to understand the path I was on, but she stood by me, being God’s faithfulness to me in my unfaithfulness.

What are the meanings of my best friend’s first and middle names?

Little rock and God is an oath

And what was the meaning of my elementary teacher’s name all those years earlier?

Downey one.

This is a reference to goats’ hair, a material that was once upon a time woven to make the curtains of the tabernacle furnishings. A durable fabric, designed to sustain the frequent moves of the tabernacle through the wilderness. And here again, God’s hand is so beautifully present through my teacher.

In Exodus 35:26 we hear that: “all the women whose heart stirred them up in wisdom spun goats’ hair.” I wouldn’t be surprised if the Holy Spirit had stirred my teacher’s heart up to draw those hands with the sparrow all those years before. 

For, it’s almost as if she was spinning goats’ hair to cover and hide me with Christ, on the eve of my departure into the wilderness. For, even through all those years of unbelief, God never ever took His Holy Spirit from me. He became the cursed sin offering on the Cross for me and my faithfulness in my faithlessness. And each friend who welcomed me into her midst is now physical proof to me that nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.

For, Christ was the hand of sufficient grace in my weakness. He was the hand of compassion, when I turned away in fear and shame. He was the hand of family, my bold kin who claimed me as His no matter where I went. He was the hand of truth, a rock and anchor for my slipping feet, even when I could not see Him. 

And He was the One who gave me eyes of faith to see and behold Him for who He truly is, in His perfect timing, when He had set me exactly where He wanted me, according to His purposes for my life. He has turned and still is turning the enemy’s attacks against me into good.

Now, as I look back, I can remember how He in fact never ever stopped praying through me. For, even as I stopped praying for myself, believing myself irredeemable, I kept praying for others around me – seeing them as worthy of God’s love and grace. 

Now, I know that all who call upon the Name of the LORD are saved, because we are all worthy of God’s love and grace. Not because we deserve it, but because the blood of Jesus does, the blood that was shed to hide us in the righteousness of God. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21, ESV) Yes! Our sinless Jesus “is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7:25) and “if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.” (2 Timothy 2:13, ESV).

And what was the name my parents gave me?

Anna Louise.

These names mean grace and famous warrior. Now, I know that grace and famous warrior is Jesus. For, it’s no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.

Just as Peter, I have discovered that the name Jesus gave me reflects how God desires to build His church. Not by our might, nor by our power, but only ever by the Spirit of the LORD whose power is made perfect in our weakness. 

I believe Peter was called the rock because the moment Peter decided to follow Jesus, Simon (meaning “has heard”) died and Jesus – the Rock – arose in him, in response to him hearing the call of his Heavenly Father. And the gates of hell could never prevail against that. Just as they cannot prevail against any child of God’s.

For in giving our hearts to Jesus, we have died, and our life is hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3). And “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:13-14, ESV).

I now see how God never stops singing the truth over us in every little detail of our life. Through every heartache, loss and trial He reminds us that, just as His eye is upon the tiniest of sparrows, His eye remains on us too. He never leaves or forsakes us. For, all Promises are yes and Amen in Christ Jesus.

“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation. (Isaiah 12:2 KJV) As my Mum – who I had turned into my idol as a child – lay dying, God poured out His Holy Spirit upon me afresh. Then, this Comforter began to bring to remembrance all that Jesus had spoken to me throughout my life. Now, I am arising in the Word of God: no longer acknowledging man, but Christ and His sweet never-forsaking Presence (also in my Mum), and His saving grace for us all.

Celebrate Jesus and Lift the Veil

Come, let’s celebrate the life of Jesus at work in us and our loved ones. Those huge hands, palms wide open, holding that tiny sparrow are His promise to each one of us.

That He sees us and knows us. That He hems us in, from behind and before. That He lays His hand upon us (Psalm 139:5). That wherever we go, His hand guides us and His right hand holds us fast (Psalm 139:9-10). That no one can ever snatch us out of His mighty hand (John 10:29, Isaiah 43:13).

Isaiah 57:15 (ESV) tells us: “For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.

Are there gifts the LORD longs for you to receive in the meaning of place names or the names of people on your and your loved ones’ life journeys thus far? Is He longing to comfort Your heart, as you see His hand in the tiniest of details?

As you read the Scripture below aloud, what word or phrase lingers? 

Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to reveal why it lingers and what God our Father wants us to see, know or do in response to His Word to us.

Isaiah 45:5-6 “I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me, so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting people may know there is none besides me. I am the Lord, and there is no other.”

Part 3: Chapter 1 – Day 7: Sunrise in Vietnam

Welcome to Day 7 of Part 3‘s Chapter 1 of Arise and Shine. Today, Bettie is sharing our final free will offering of incense that she penned in 2016. It is a powerful story of Christ’s intercession at work in her, taking us all on a journey into the heart of God for the beautiful people living in Vietnam.

We pray that your hearts are being so encouraged to continue pressing into Jesus, to see His incense rise in intercession in and through you. Our own hearts are being so encouraged also in sharing old and new testimonies. May praise and worship rise in each one of our hearts and be on our lips as we bow in awe of our mighty God who always lives to make intercession for each one of His children, who never leave His safe hand. May we recognize His face and Presence waiting to be uncovered in those He sets before us and moves us to intercede for.

How did I get to be in that incredible place?  And why am I telling this story now, in the middle of this RA/Fibromyalgia Season of re-learning my place?

Another word-sharing-session with my counselor brought me to the place of remembering.  I told her that I still wanted to be up and doing and walking away my anxieties. I am not finding the PEACE here that I thought I should have attained by now.  So my Counselor asked if I could take a walk through the memory hall of my mind.  The same emotions that were triggered during the actual pleasant times can be triggered again, proven by studies, simply when we remember those times.

Shortly after she proposed a time of remembering, a new Blog-Friend of mine found out that I had taken a God-Planned-Adventure to Vietnam, and she stirred up these very memories when she shared her own Adventures.  Thank you Valerie, at gracewithsilk  for asking to hear about my story!  So today I am walking over the land that a healthier and stronger me was allowed to witness.

I was probably 17 or 18 years old when I had a vision while I was praying. I saw myself in an Asian Village, being so thankful to share in a love that was God-given.  I assumed I would be a Missionary. But my life took a different turn, and decades later, as a stay-at-home Mom, I found myself wrapped up in the story of my Pastor and his Wife, trying to adopt a baby from Cambodia. 

I prayed and agonized with them through a very long and difficult adoption process.  When they returned with their beautiful baby boy, I sat amazed by the pictures in their slideshow.  It looked like the Asian Village in my vision from so long ago.  Tears rolled down my face, as I felt the Lord say that I had been in that village with them through my praying.  Ahh beautiful, I thought.  Now I know why I had that vision. End of Story.

But God’s endings are not the same as ours.  Another decade later, and this time our oldest son took a trip to Vietnam with his new friend.  We didn’t know that a possible marriage with his friend’s sister was in the itinerary.  But again, Jesus finds ways to let a Mama know how to pray.  On the very night of the marriage, half-way around the world, my heart was burdened to pray for my children’s spouses, with an urgency like never before.  So when our son came home and asked us to pray with him so that his new wife could get a VISA to come to America, my heart had already been prepared.

Sunrise over a small village in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam.

Years of praying, and crying, and waiting were finally answered in the spring of 2011, when her VISA was approved.  When we finally met our new daughter-in-law, loving her was easy because my heart had been captivated before she ever set foot in America.

So when she asked me to go with her back to Vietnam for a Family Reunion Party later that fall, I thought my heart would burst.

Breakfast time in Vietnam means noodle soup (not cereal) and tea (not coffee.)
A trip to the market across the street from the family’s house happened daily. Even when I thought I would lose my way, my daughter-in-law held my hand and treated me with honor, so that I knew I was in the safest place I could be.
This Grandma, (51 at the time,) managed to stumble into the flat-bottomed boat for a ride down the river. When God calls out the Adventure, we never know where He will lead us.  As a 17 year old, looking for a future of purpose, I thought I knew what LOVE looked like.  I thought I would be the one teaching those around me what God’s Love looks like.  But HE is the teacher, and HE knows how to plan the future that will bring about HIS Beauty in every place HE leads us.
Sometimes Beauty looks like a small table, child-sized by American standards, set with simple fruit, prepared by the hands of a family that speak a language you cannot understand, opening their hearts for LOVE to be shared.

My journeys now feel large when I can take a day-trip involving a 3 or 4 hour car ride.  But my times for Adventure are not finished.  When I let Jesus plan my journey, whether through chronic illness or healthy travels, HE will set my feet in the good place of HIS choosing: Finding BEAUTY and LOVE each step of the way.

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus”

Ephesians 3:20-21

First published at: https://bettiegsraseasons.com/2016/05/18/sunrise-in-vietnam/

Part 3: Chapter 1 – Day 6: All For Love

Welcome to Day 6 of Part 3‘s Chapter 1 of Arise and Shine. Today, Bettie is sharing a free will offering of incense in a testimony of God’s sufficiency in our intercession in Him, Scriptures and a poem of praise and worship.

May you be blessed in the encouragement and comfort Bettie brings us all in Christ Jesus. Come join us tomorrow for another post from Bettie: a powerful story of answered prayers, taking us all on a journey to the beautiful country and people of Vietnam.

If you feel so led, will you join me in lifting Bettie and her family up in prayer this weekend as she and her husband move in with their daughter and her family. They are saying goodbye to their home of many years to welcome God’s sufficiency for them in this new phase of ongoing surrender, as her husband’s health and hers continues to deteriorate. May God fill us with His precious Word to pray over Bettie and all those He calls us to intercede for in His Name.

The day started out slowly, like most of my days, but I felt Jesus with me. As He had been speaking more words about surrender, I felt that I was listening this time and preparing for what He would take me through. This waiting time to find a medication that would bring the RA back down from an inflamed state felt like it was taking too long for my own time-table. So, I continued to ask Him to uncover more of my own desires for self-sufficiency that still lingered within. As I had been asking my friends for prayer, I thought that I was on the road to acceptance.

Until another small set-back pushed me over the edge, and the tears spilled out.

Many years ago, the Lord took me through a long season of intercession for several friends and family members.  It was a time of deep stretching.  And it became my first lesson in learning that only God’s Grace is sufficient.  The burdens became too heavy for me to carry on my own. I knew that the prayers themselves were being birthed in the Spirit, as words and Scriptures would flood my mind.

Then many years after that, the Lord opened a way for this small town Midwestern girl to travel with my new Vietnamese daughter-in-law by ourselves to Vietnam for a 3 week visit with her family. She had only been in the US for 7 months herself, and I had never been out of the country.  I knew I was in over my head.  I knew that God’s Grace would have to be my sufficiency.

In those seasons, the night-times were places where Jesus often called prayers up from the deepest places of my heart.  Pages and pages of old journals document the hard and the sweet words He spoke through my prayers.  Prophetic and surprising, so many of those prayers were answered in just the way God had asked me to pray.

So when I cried at the self-sufficiency being taken away in this season of Chronic Illness, the Holy Whisper of God surprised me:

This is not a foreign place for you, my daughter. I have prepared you for these days already. You have learned that my Grace is sufficient in every place of prayer. Am I not sufficient for you here?

And suddenly I was whisked back in time, remembering those days . . .

“All For Love”


The words gushed out of my heart

But

The groans and the tears

Fell

On the floor at my feet.



Intercession swirled over my head

And

The pain that another felt

Hurt

My heart like my own



God brought the questions

And

Then God sent His Word

To

Pray the answers



How could I explain the prayers

That

Poured from my belly

And

The longing for which I waited



They are The Apple of Your Eye

Lord

They are The Dearly Loved Ones

For

Whom You spilled Your blood



Months passed and years plodded

On

The prayers kept pouring forth

From

My soul where I carried grief



Bitter turned to sweet!

Prayers found fullness!

Intercession fulfilled!



Even as my singing heart rejoiced

And

Even as the weight was lifted

Yet

A pin had pricked my soul



A bleeding kept pouring forth

From

A hidden chamber in my heart

As

A question lodged still remained



You saw it all my Lord Jesus Christ

And

You carried all those weights

When

I thought I would die underneath



Yours is the only heart fully able

To

Be the true intercessor for us all

Who

Carries the hardest-hearted-sinner



But You ask us to join you there

To

Crawl up into Your lap of love

While

We speak the same words You speak



You want to show us the beauty

That

Only Love Eyes can look upon

And

Only Love spilled out can win



They are the ones

We are the ones

Oh!

I am the one

The apple of Your eye



“In a desert land he found him, in a barren and howling waste. He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye,” Deuteronomy 32:10 NIV

“Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2 NIV

When we see the cross set before us, we look upon the One who shed His own dear blood, and we wonder how. We wonder why.  When all the answers are filled up in only one word: His love led Him there. He took JOY to redeem us back to the heart of His Father.

Have you let Him show you the love He carries for you?

Do you know that you are the apple of His eye?

Dear Lord Jesus,

We do come before you, falling to our knees. How could you have loved us so? We know that we are so hard-hearted, and we must admit that we are filled with our own self-sufficiency. Some days we are so proud of that sufficiency.

Oh, Lord, forgive us for all these ways that we turn away from You. And yet You still love us and call us back to Yourself.

Will you give us glimpses of the depth of Your love? Will you wash away more of our places of pride? And will You fill us with the immeasurable love that only You can bring?

We need You so much. We long to be with you Jesus. We praise You for Your beauty and Glory.

In Your precious name we pray, Amen.

First published at: https://bettiegsraseasons.com/2018/03/26/all-for-love/

Part 3: Chapter 1 – Day 4: A Pleasing Offering

Welcome to Day 4 of Part 3‘s Chapter 1. Today, Anna is sharing a free will offering of incense in Scriptures and a poem God poured out of her, as He began to expose her sinful heart, more and more, through each trigger of trauma. In that place of her weakness, He invited her to release her self-righteousness and self-sufficiency for His all-sufficient grace. She also shares a song she often finds herself singing in her home: a song her mother sung around her, when she was growing up, about the steadfast love and mercy of our LORD.

You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 2:5 (ESV)

As a pleasing aroma I will accept you, when I bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you have been scattered. And I will manifest my holiness among you in the sight of the nations.

Ezekiel 20:41 (ESV)
A Pleasing Offering

What if we saw
Each tear
Each ache
Each unutterable cry
As gifts You ask us bring?

What if our offering
Is all that shame
And all that fear
Would have us hide and turn away?

What if incense sweet
Is not of human strength
But of broken heart
Contrite and bowed here low?

What if depths of me
Met depths of You
In alabaster broken
Poured here at Your Mighty feet?

What if clothed in shame
I stretched to touch
Your garment pure
And power filled me here?

What if all You've ever asked
Is that I come
Just as I am
Broken, in need of my True Friend?

What if Dove descends
And Eagle soars
In all that's broken
True?

LORD, here I am
A sinner
Broken, weak, in desperate need
These gifts I bring to you
My offering, pleasing sweet.

"Child," I hear your Voice
In cloud now raised
My feet here bowed
On Holy ground so pure.

"Arise in Christ
Forgiven, free
See now My face
In Yours."

36 One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table. 37 And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, 38 and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” 40 And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.” “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” 44 Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” 48 And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” 50 And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Luke 7:36-50 (KJV)

41 And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. 42 And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. 43 And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. 44 For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”

Mark 12:41-44 (ESV)

Part 3: Chapter 1 – Day 3: My King, My LORD In Me

Welcome to Day 3 of Part 3‘s Chapter 1. Today, Anna is sharing a free will offering of incense through a Promise from God’s Word, a poem and a photo of flowers her daughter came home with for her on a particularly difficult day. It was truly a gift of God’s kindness, without her realizing it.

My King, My LORD In Me


1 Kings 9:3
I have heard your prayer and your petition. I have set this Temple apart to be holy- this place you have built, where my name will be honored forever. I will always watch over it. For it is dear to my heart.



I cannot see
With eyes of flesh
Am blinded
To all so true, so pure.

But then, Your Spirit falls
Like oil my worship to You released
Fragrant incense to You I raise
My heart, it breaks and pours.

My hands, they lift
My lips, they cry
My heart to You returns
Freed in You, I'm now soaring high.

I cannot see
With eyes of flesh
Am blinded
To all so true, so pure.

But in worship led
My eyes, You open
Riches here reveal
Wealth immeasurable: all in You.

And so my heart, it pours
My hands in kindness reach
My lips in love, You speak
Surrendered, free: My King, My Lord in me.

Part 3: Chapter 1 – Day 2: The Jealous Flames of Love

Welcome to Day 2 of Part 3‘s Chapter 1. Today, Anna is sharing a free will offering of incense through a devotional testimony, including a poem and prayer.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you. Isaiah 43:2 (ESV)

At my baptism, after a long Prodigal journey home, I promised God I would follow Him anywhere, whatever the cost. Little did I realize where He would lead me, mere weeks later. 

Strapped to the altar again
In this obedience
I dread
I'm tethered and taut.

Pouring confession
Of sin and fears
Of horrid pain
In seeping wounds.

Burying myself deep
In shame I cringe
At who I believe I am
A mess, laid bare.

As I began to step out in faith, the enemy hurled accusations at me. As I reached out, confessing my weakness and sins openly before Christian leaders, the enemy worked through them to affirm my old identity. 

What I didn’t yet see was that God was allowing every attack, every rejection and every back turning toward me, for my good. For, every stripping was permitted to humble me in my pride. Tenderly and patiently, Jesus has been laboring in me to uproot my faith in myself and in man, to replant my longings and affections in the good and soft soil of His heart. 

But in my pouring out
You lift my eyes to truth
My striving dies
Your Face to see.

Eyes of love
My face in light cascade
My weak and feeble frame
In warmth You bathe.

The tears now flow
Released in streams
My heart unburdened,
Bare.

Oh no
Not broken mess
But Christ in me
The Eagle freed.

Your Voice
Upon this altar cries
"Sin and shame
Are not your name.

"For not you
But I have chosen
And appointed you
To go and bear much fruit.

"Now go: depart under
A new authority
Be cleansed to see
The pure as pure."

Even as I have repeatedly stumbled in my pride, returning to bow before my idols and muddying my vision (Proverbs 25:26), God has not left my side. Christ has continually moved in to avenge His elect, lovingly training me in righteousness. He has been like He commanded Hosea to be unto Gomer. He has refused to let me go.

He has separated me from my idols, hemmed me in on all sides and showered me in kindness to lead me to repentance. He has been taking the truth of my redemption, my “buying back”, from my head to my heart (Hebrews 10:16). Piece by piece.

Where sacrifice 
Of pain
On altar strapped
To die, I see.

You lift my gaze
To see
Your face
In mine.

In the fear of losing my precious Savior, I followed Him where I, at first, didn’t want to go. For, what He has asked me to do has so often directly contradicted what I think is “right” and “good”. 

But it’s then, in dying to my own thinking and plans to obey His will that I have discovered that He has in fact been taking me where my heart has truly longed to go: deeper and deeper into His searching and knowing. I now know the jealous flames of His love, and the stripping of His Word, have been sent, not to destroy me, but to circumcise my heart and open my eyes to His never-forsaking Presence with me.

All along, He has been leading me into receiving His reputation (Shem) in my humbling, His Name of power and majesty (Yah) in my weakness and His light (nihe’ra) of truth, love and grace in the darkness of my sin and hiding. 

Shem yah nihe'ra 
Your renown, Your Name
Your gold glowing
You're shining bright in me.

No longer I
But Christ in me I see
Your burning coals
My heart and lips have freed.

A JOY
My heart explodes
A waterfall of grace
Splashing on my face

Lifting the weight of my sin, pain and sorrow, through all the stripping and burning, He has been inviting me to celebrate His life and breath at work in me. To believe Him when He says that it is no longer I but He – Christ- who lives in me. To believe Him when He sees that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus and that I may come boldly before the throne of grace in my time of need.

My broken walls
You have rebuilt
Salvation and deliverance
Are in You.

Hemmed in
Your nail-pierced hands
Your palm
Upon my head.

No, I shall not lie
In a bed of shame
But rise to follow You
Into the light.

It is not me, but CHRIST who is yielding up my fleshly desires for His life giving breath. Just like Paul, I can now say (2 Corinthians 1: 9-10 ESV): “Indeed, [I] felt that [I] had received the sentence of death. But that was to make [me] rely not on [myself] but on God who raises the dead. He delivered [me] from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver [me]. On him [I] have set [my] hope that he will deliver [me] again.” 

Those first few sheddings of the old came through horrific trauma triggers. But precisely the gravity of each attack showed me the deep desire of my God to wake me up from my slumber and to set me free. As I cried out to Him, He upheld me and revealed His desire for me to live and move and have my being in Him alone.

At every turn, as I have stumbled and fallen, as I have turned back toward the old, believing in the enemy’s accusations of condemnation against me, above God’s holy Word to me, Christ has defended me. 

He has lifted me up out of the muck and mire of pride, bitterness and self, to set me upon the Rock of His precious Word to me. He has flamed alive His Word in my heart, cauterizing the wounds of each stripping and then pouring out a balm of comfort by His Holy Spirit to restore my body, heart and soul to my First Love – to bring unity in the Sword’s dividing.

For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.” Mark 9:49-50 (ESV)

Recently, He even gave me such a beautiful picture of this process on my finger. I had cut my fingernail too close to the skin and it had become infected and in that infection extra “wild flesh” began to grow because my body began to see the new nail growing as an intruder, triggering an overactive immune system. 

The doctor prescribed a nitrate pen to burn away the “wild flesh” in daily applications, scraping away the loosening “wild flesh” after a week, and then cauterizing the open wound in a fresh burning to avoid new infections. Then, she prescribed a cortisone cream designed to reduce inflammation and the skin’s natural cell division to gently remove the final layers of skin that didn’t belong there.

Now, I see the Great Physician’s loving care in His repeated burning, stripping, burning and balming of my heart in His Word to me. That I am still alive today, when all I wanted was to die through the painful stripping and burning, is a testament to His tender mercies poured out on me and the intercession of His Son rising in and for me. Now, I know the flame of His love isn’t sent to burn and consume us, but to flame alive His Word in our heart and to consume the dross of our idolatry and pride.

As a child, I counted up the cost of following Christ and turned my back on Him, believing He had turned His back on me. Now, hidden in the righteousness of Christ, I have counted up the cost anew, and declare Him worthy of all praise. For I can now say, along with Paul, that all else is rubbish, compared to the surpassing wealth of knowing Christ in His death and resurrection. For His Presence is heaven to me.

No! I will not die
But live to tell
What You: the LORD
Have done.

My lips
You've set apart
From a new heart
Blessings to bestow.

My lamp is shining brightly
On salvation's hill
For I live by faith not in myself
But in the Son of God.

In the One who loved me
And gave Himself for me
Who called me out of darkness
Into His glorious light.

Praise now so often pours forth from my lips and tears stream down my face, as I recognize and acknowledge how God has been showering me in a mercy I do not deserve. 

Oh how my heart now longs for Him to burn ever more brightly in me. I long for Jesus to burn away all dross in me, to make me holy as He is holy. 

And I know He is honoring this yearning that He has sown deep within me. He just keeps exposing and uncovering more and more sin. Burning away more and more dross, so that His sweet incense may be released ever more in and through me.

Do you recognize that longing for holiness in your own heart also, and how it has waned at times also? Do you recognize the struggle to embrace the stripping and flame, as God’s love for you? Will you join me in a prayer of thanksgiving and repentance? Come, let’s praise our Father for His Promise to fulfill the longings He has planted in us. For, He is the strength of our hearts, when our own hearts fail us.

Father, thank You that You are for us and not against us. Thank You for the jealous flames of Your love burning away the dross in us, to draw us ever closer to You. Thank You for the cleansing waters of Your love washing over us, for carrying away our sin and our shame. 

Thank You for sending precious Jesus to be our salvation, our Rock and Redeemer and the Lifter of our head. Thank You that You have promised never to leave or forsake us. Forgive us for all the times we have agreed with the enemy’s accusation that You have abandoned us. We come out of agreement with that now. 

Forgive us also for every time we have clung to the accusations of the enemy against us, rather than coming boldly before the throne of grace in our time of need. We come before You now, just as we are, without one plea, asking You to cleanse us of all unrighteousness by the blood of the pure and spotless Lamb: Your Son, Jesus. 

Thank You for searching and knowing our hearts, for continually leading us to a godly sorrow in repentance – in the changing of our minds – without regret. Thank You for exposing every accusation, every sin, every idol in the stripping for Your fire to consume it. Thank You for restoring unto us the joy of our salvation and for choosing not to take away Your Holy Spirit from us.

Thank You for the stripping back You have ordained, not to harm us, but to heal us: to exchange our heart of stone for Your tender heart of flesh. Thank You for Your sweet mercy, Your longsuffering and compassion toward us. Thank You for the blessing of Your sweet Presence in the flames.

Thank You that though our flesh is so very weak, YOUR Spirit in us is so very strong. Thank You for, again and again, leading us to deny our flesh and sow into the Spirit. Thank You for giving us a hunger and thirst for Your Word that nothing else will ever be able to satisfy our hunger and thirst, but You. Thank You for filling us with Your Son: with an all-consuming fire to love, honor and obey You at all costs.

Thank You for leading us to pour out our hearts to You, to give You our pain and our deepest longings, to bring our whole heart to You. Thank You for teaching us to lay all down before You, for opening our eyes and ears to Your pure Word rising in us. Thank You that strong in You, we shall resist the devil, causing him to flee from us

Father, thank You, that hidden in the righteousness of Christ, we can count it all joy, when we meet trials of various kinds, for we know that the testing of our faith is producing steadfastness in us. Thank You that steadfastness shall have its full effect in us, that in You we may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. Thank You for the gift of Your Presence in every humbling, for leading us to release everything and everyone into Your hands to receive You.

Thank You that we are born again into a living hope, with an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for us. Thank You for teaching us to rejoice in this truth, though now for a little while, we have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of our faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Thank You for causing us to humble ourselves before You, that others are now beginning to see, no longer us, but the light of Jesus and His face shining upon them. Thank You that You have drawn us – Your royal priesthood – out of darkness into Your glorious light. In Jesus’ mighty Name, Amen.