KNEE DEEP ~ in the 23rd Psalm


A path sunny

The Living-Word jumped out at me in a way I’d not seen before.

The 23rd Psalm has been my go-to for perhaps twenty-five years. That would be since I was saved. In that time, I’ve always thought ‘paths of righteousness’ would look something like this lovely photo. I thought those paths would have been put there by God for me to follow and they’d have sunlight and birds singing.

Today the words ‘paths of righteousness’ jumped out at me in a new way. They became living words, or rhama words. That is specific words from the Lord that sort of explode in a person’s consciousness and have special meaning. This is something that can happen to any believer, every believer. I think it most often happens during private devotions when reading and meditating in Holy Scripture, or some other devotional literature, or when deeply listening to worship music.

A path trees

Today I saw ‘paths of righteousness’ as paths other Christians have walked, perhaps even blazed…and I have followed in those paths where these righteous brothers and sisters have trodden. They may not always be bucolic paths where songbirds flit here and there filling the air with their song. Those paths could have hills, bumps, ruts, places where stalwart believers stumbled and got up again, places where the enemy lay in wait.

I got saved during a time of conflict in my husband’s family. Neither he nor I came from an idyllic Christian home where hymns were sung and where family members prayed together. This particular Sunday there was a huge and tumultuous family commotion, mostly in the kitchen. People had been running in and out of the house. Voices had been raised. I retreated to the living room to get away from it, started surfing channels, and found Gloria Copeland. She was smart, obviously extremely well versed in the Bible, and she didn’t have big hair. At the end of the program, I put my hands on the television and gave my life to the Lord. That was twenty-five years ago.

So, this morning, I’m thinking who blazed those paths for me? At that time, I didn’t know anything about Christian churches. I kept watching Christian TV and came under Kenneth Copeland Ministries. Kenneth and Gloria have had the greatest influence upon me in my walk with God. They are my parents in the faith. I soon bumped into a local woman who was under their ministry. Lillian and I began sharing cassette and video tapes (the dark-ages of audio and video). I’d go to her house and she’d come to mine, and we’d be so excited about the Lord.

Very soon, I learned that Oral Roberts was Kenneth’s father in the faith and I began listening to Oral Robert’s Ministry teachings. Of course the prime message at ORM is “God is a good.” And Oral always said, “Something good is going to happen to you today.” I took a course in the Holy Spirit from ORM and received a certificate. In those days, they sent you the lessons by snail mail. You returned your answers by mail, and they sent the corrected lesions back to you. Well, we’re talking 24-25 years ago. So, Oral Roberts became my grandfather in the faith.

I wish I could say there was a local minister/ministry, in that time, that blazed a path for me, but I can’t. I lived in an area where almost all of the charismatic churches had had church-splits and none of them had recovered from that. So, Christian television became my lifeline.  I met another woman who believed the Word as I did and Theresa and I also began sharing and praying together. She and I became volunteers in the Protestant Chaplain’s Office at the local Veteran’s Hospital and attended Sunday services there. We also attended a weekly Bible study and a weekly prayer group there.

Back to trail blazers. I soon found Joyce Meyer, who to me is the Mother of Independent Women of Faith. I particularly liked her practical preaching because she didn’t come from a wonderfully serene Christian home. She came from a nonChristian home with turmoil. I said, okay, I can relate to that.  I was then, and still am now, the only member of my immediate family and almost the only member of my large extended family who knows the Lord. My cousin and his wife on the other side of the county are believing Christians, and I am in contact with them electronically.

Today, I live in northeast coastal Florida where I attend Destiny Church. I’m waiting for the church to reopen from Covid 19. I so want to “do church” again.

Who are your spiritual fathers and mothers in the faith? Whose footsteps have you followed? Who has helped to shape your faith?

 

ribbon blue

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CD Cover

Destiny Church Baptisms ~ Jacksonville

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Lead Pastor Chris  Tomlinson w/2 two young women to be baptized

80 Degrees in the Sun in February

Still both young women commented the water was incredibly cold. Well we are Floridians. We enjoy heated pools.

Destiny Bapt 2

The first young lady to take the plunge. “Hold your nose!”

…the church photographer in the foreground

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When the second young woman was baptized the pastor comment on how nice it was she was wearing white. This is a reference to the first century Christian baptisms when new Christians who were making this public commitment wore white.

…church photographer kneeling in foreground

What a happy occasion. I enjoyed this ceremony tremendously. Destiny Church begins a 21-day fast tomorrow. There are many kinds of fasts (limited food, giving up sweets, giving up internet, etc.).

Destiny Church of Jacksonville | 9525 Philips Hwy Jacksonville, FL 32256 | 904-401-1334

Sunday Service: 10:0 am

The Spirit Believes ~ the flesh doubts

Cel Sisterhood Bracelet

The Great Commission

16 But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. 17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. ~ Matthew 28: 16-17, New American Standard Bible [NASB]

These are Scriptures I’ve read many times, over the course of the years I’ve been saved, probably heard it preached from the pulpit or on Christian television shows well over a hundred times.

Last night I attended a Sisterhood Workshop at my church, Celebration Church in Julington Creek, FL. The subject was “Unwavering Resolve: Surrendering to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.” I even got a sisterhood bracelet, pictured above.

We were given a worksheet. So, this morning I sat down with my spiritual notebook and my Bible and looked up the first Scripture they’d given on that worksheet which was Matthew 28: 18-29.

18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, [NASB]

As I usually do, I went up a couple of verses to Matthew 28:16-17 and started reading and something hit me…doubtful. These were the eleven disciples after the resurrection. They’s spent three years with Jesus,  knew He had in fact died on the cross, had been prepared for burial, was sealed in a tomb, and as reported by Mary Magdalene, three days later He was risen.

Here they were seeing the risen Lord, Jesus the Christ, and yet some doubted. When preachers I’d heard over the years got to that verse, they often preached it in a scoffing or judgemental tone. That some of these disciples were at this point somehow spiritually less than or deficient.

Then it hit me with such power…the question…What had changed? How did all these men later become on fire for the Lord? And it came to me, on the Day of Pentecost they were filled with the Holy Spirit.

We need the Holy Spirit to live a life surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus. We need the Holy Spirit to believe. The flesh doubts, the flesh is weak, the flesh is afraid of seeming foolish, the flesh has fear of man, the flesh wants to take control and run the show according to desire or investment in mental ability. There is no use and it makes no sense to castigate ourselves when our flesh doubts. What else would it do???

When that happens, if we want the life of joy and peace and blessing that Jesus offers, we must seek the Holy Spirit and let Him guide us to a better space for ourselves. That place is under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The more we invite the Holy Spirit into our lives, the less we will doubt, the less we will fear, the less we will harshly judge and condemn ourselves. The more we will be free, unbound, joyful, and content in our blessings. The more we will live under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Fireworks Show ~ at Evangel Temple

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My energetic, fun friend Deborah Williams knows almost everything that’s going on in Jacksonville. Well, almost everything that would be of interest to her group of friends (a bunch of seasoned gals to like to kick back, but also want a few laughs now and then).

So, she told me about the pre-holiday fireworks display at Evangel Temple [5755 Ramona Blvd. Jacksonville, FL 32205]. I said, “Yippee doodle, let’s go.” And we did.

It turned out to be the quintessential Fourth of July celebration. Little kids ran around playing with sparkling toys their parents purchased at various booths on the church grounds. Some of the girls turned cartwheels. Deborah and I got steak hamburgers and fries from one of the food trucks in the parking area.

A pastor gave a sermon about freedom in Christ changing one’s life which was appropriate, I thought. There were worship songs and patriotic marches. The young lady who sang the Star Spangle Banner did a wonderful job. Whenever that song is sung, I always wonder if the singer will be able to hit the high notes. She did.

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Then they shot fireworks from the roof of the church. A totally professional extravaganza that seemed to go on and on thrilling everyone, especially the children

Evangel Church bills itself as a vibrant evangelical church in the heart of Jacksonville. They certainly lived up to that.

 

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Celebration Church ~ 20th anniversary

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The main entrance to Celebration Church’s Arena Location

 

Sunday I drove to my church, Celebration Church in Jacksonville. It has four locations in Jacksonville, one in Zimbabwe, and one in Paris. I attend at the arena in the Baymeadows area of Jacksonville. I was in a state of anticipation, as we will be celebrating the church’s  20th anniversary the entire month of November.

On the way to church, I prayed there would be not one pretzel stuffed with spinach and cheese left in the cafe. I got on line, with resolve to purchase only a large coffee. When I got up to the counter there was one spinach and cheese pretzel left. This is absolute proof that the old adage is true, the devil does indeed go to church. [LOL] I took a deep breath, prayed through and got the coffee. Whew!

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What profoundly hit me in Senior Pastor Stovall Weems preaching Sunday was that the church was holy ground, but not just church property (which certainly is sacred space), but, the body of Christ, we are also holy ground. The Kingdom of God on earth is holy ground. I had a revelation in a new and profound way what “kingdom” meant in Biblical terminology, history, culture. I came away with a new understanding of how I am a citizen of the that holy kingdom right here on earth.

I had a deeply insightful revelation of myself as a child of the King. Now, even in the earthly realm, a king can have many children. Solomon did. Many kings of old did. My heavenly Father has billions of children and I am one of them. I’m a daughter of the King. I’m in His family. I am family to the King and this just tickles me and I’ve never felt that before. I have the right to sit at His table…and He’s got a big table. This became more real to me than it ever has before, and it was such an enriching, uplifting, and fun experience.

Pastor Stovall went through a list of things that are holy ground, that perhaps we don’t have enough reverence for. I can’t give you his exact list, but here is my list: communion, water baptism, Christian schools and colleges, Christian radio and TV stations, and yes, yes Christian homes.  My home and the homes of all saints are holy ground and to be treated as such. At the end of the service, Pastor Stovall blessed everyone’s home. This was particularly meaningful to me as I just moved into a new condo. When Pastor Stovall gave the blessing, I felt as if the King was in the sanctuary…His Holy Spirit was…and that my home was indeed blessed, thoroughly blessed.

Celebration Church

 

 

Lenten Season ~ clean it up

House Cleaning

Traditionally, people in the Main Line, Catholic, and Orthodox churches thoroughly clean their houses during Lent. Deep Cleaning. Spring Cleaning. They’re preparing for Holy Week, the remembrance of the scourging and crucifixion of Jesus. The celebration of His resurrection.

My Christian spiritual practice isn’t traditional or Orthodox, yet, I find comfort in tying my spring cleaning to the church Lenten season. There’s something renewing about cleaning the house in preparation for remembrance of the passion and resurrection of Jesus. I can’t help but think about cleaning my mind and my soul as well.

As I’m cleaning, I’m thinking of what I don’t need anymore that’s in good to excellent condition that I can take to Goodwill. My church is collecting food for Easter dinners for families in need and Easter baskets for their children. The church has provided a list of food items to contribute. I already brought to the church canned corn and green beans for a family of six, as well as collard greens (this is the south), boxed instant potatoes and boxed mac ‘n cheese. As far as food stuff, I still have to bring…a boxed pie crust mix, canned pie filling, canned yams, and a $20 supermarket gift certificate for a ham. Then I’ll hit the dollar store and pick up an Easter basket, plastic eggs and individually wrapped candy to go inside the eggs for the kiddies.

I’m glad my church is doing this. This effort on my part makes my Easter a bit brighter. God has blessed me and it feels good passing it along during the Lenten Season. And my house will be a bit cleaner. Which reminds me, I have to get out my vacuum.

 

Talking With Jesus ~ a two way communication

Lion and baby
The Lion of Judah

Talking with Jesus requires an intimate relationship with Him. Most Christians have a first-hand knowledge of this. Obviously Joy Behar and Omarosa do not.

Most Christians, at least to some extent, function in a spiritual arena whereby we talk to God and hear back from Him. That’s billions of us worldwide.

Over the years God had taken me on a journey to greater intimacy with Him. I have grown spiritually to a point where I hear His voice more clearly. As I speak with fellow Christians, they tell me of a similar walk. This is an exciting way to live. I love watching what God is doing in my life. I can’t wait to see what He will do next.

I can’t give any formula for hearing the voice of Jesus. But I would suggest simply asking Him, with sincerity, to speak to you. Another suggestion would be to read the Bible, especially the words in red. A red-letter Bible puts what Jesus has said in red ink. If you read what He’s said, when He speaks to you, you’ll more readily know if it’s Him. He will not speak in a way that is against the Bible. For example, Jesus will never tell you to steal. That is against the instruction of the Bible and Jesus will never speak to a believer in a way that is against what the Bible teaches.

Who is it who actually speaks to us when Jesus speaks? That’s an interesting question and so is the answer. Right now Jesus is in heaven sitting at the right-hand of the Father. Jesus is our High Priest in heaven and He’s making intercession for us. So, if Jesus is doing that, who is speaking to us?

It’s the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of Jesus in the earth today. Jesus was a man (and also deity) but in His physical body He could only be in one place at one time. The Spirit of God, the Counselor is a spirit and can be everywhere at once. Jesus told us in John 16 that it is to our advantage that He goes away for the Comforter will then come to us. The Holy Spirit (the Spirit of Jesus) is the teacher of the church. He is the one who speaks to us with an inner witness, with a whisper in our hearts, or by bringing intense peace in a difficult and painful situation. There are times, perhaps in a dangerous situation, where the “voice” is so loud it’s almost as if it’s audible. Many Christians have sworn it might’ve been audible. “Stop” “Don’t move.” “Don’t get on that plane or train or boat.”

It’s happened that I’ve had several unrelated individuals come up to me separately saying almost the exact same words about a distressing situation in my life. I believe this came about through the power of the Holy Spirit. If I experience extreme peace, then I’m sure it was the Holy Spirit speaking through those people. I’ve had situations I’ve not shared with anyone, and then, out of the blue, some person(s) randomly gave me the answer(s). The Holy Spirit. These things not only make me feel better, they solve problems in my life. Some might say this is coincidence. Well, I love these coincidences I keep having. Please, keep bringing them on Holy Spirit.