Sunday, March 1, 2015


Looking up to heaven through the branches of a 2,000 year old olive tree on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem

It was quite a moment at the Chris Tomlin Love Ran Red concert at the USF Sun Dome. Chris asked the audience to send in questions for him to answer, saying he’d never done this before at a concert. He read and answered several questions, and then he came to this one, “What is your favorite Scripture verse?” He immediately replied, “John 18:6,” and then he went on to explain why. But instantly, I knew why. It had been a favorite verse to me, too, from the moment my foot first touched the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.

As soon then as he had said unto them, I am [he], they went backward, and fell to the ground.--John 18:6

A word study of the ESV English-Greek Reverse Interlinear New Testament reveals, Jesus answered them: “ego eimi” (I AM).

It is evident that it was the power of God that made these 600-plus men fall backward to the ground, but why did it happen when He said, "I am he"? In this verse, the word "he" is italicized. That means that the word "he" was not in the original text but was added by the translators to make the sentence grammatically correct. In this instance, Jesus literally said, "I am." Since Jesus was God manifest in the flesh, His statement of "I am" carried just as much weight as when it was spoken to Moses (Exodus 3:14). This was nothing less than the Almighty God releasing His glory through this powerful statement of "I AM." No wonder these men were knocked to the ground.

Our Israeli tour bus
stopped at the top of the Mount of Olives. As I stepped off the bus, and my foot first touched the Mount of Olives, I became so aware of the holy presence of our Lord. I remembered God's Word in Zechariah 14:4...On that day, His Feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west.

My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ walked here, prayed here, ascended to Heaven here, and one day He will return here, splitting the Mount of Olives like the veil of the temple.

As I begin to walk down the steep incline down the Mount of Olives to the Garden of Gethsemane, my eyes begin to fill with tears for the sweat drops of blood pressed from my Savior as He wept and prayed, My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet, not as I will, but as You will.

Touching the huge olive tree I photographed above, estimated to be over 2,000 years old, I suddenly realize, He could have prayed here that night, beside this very tree. That night when He went further still after asking His disciples to pray with Him for just an hour...the place where Jesus was betrayed with a kiss.

Picturing the scene
from John 18:4-6, Jesus knowing all that was going to happen to Him went out and asked them, Who is it you want?" When Jesus said, "I AM," they drew back and fell to the ground.

I hear my dear Lord saying, "I AM," right here where I am standing now. My God and my Savior Jesus Christ, the great "I AM."

What power knocked 600 armed soldiers to their backs? The God of all creation, El Elyon, the Sovereign and Supreme Most High God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob stood before them in living, breathing flesh and uttered His perfect, divine, and holy name: "I AM!"

Remembering Acts 1:11-12, This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven. Then they returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives.

I will never be the same again...Lord Jesus, open the blocked artery that connects my head to my heart. Open my mind that I may understand the Scriptures, to have Your Feast every day until I see You Face-to-face. In the precious and holy name of Jesus Christ, I pray, amen

Take a few moments
to worship Jesus Christ, Almighty, in this new hymn by Chris Tomlin…
You have no rival
You stand alone
The heavens worship before Your throne
There is no one like You
You have no equal
Your kingdom reigns
Yours is the highest of every name
There is no one like You
We're standing in the presence of Your majesty
Your holy
You alone the sovereign crown of royalty
You're the King of Kings
Our GOD eternal the great I AM
The praise of angels will never end
There is no one like You
Eyes like fire
Face like the sun
A voice like thunder
Who was and is and is to come
I see the holy one, high and exalted
I hide my eyes and I tremble before Him
I tremble before Him
I see the holy one high and exalted
I hide my eyes and I tremble before Him
I tremble, You are...

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Monday, February 23, 2015

IN weakness...broken vessels...

At our Ash Wednesday service, we sang the most anointed song, Broken Vessels (Amazing Grace) by Hillsong Worship…we were all touched by the Holy atmosphere in our worship center and in our hearts as we sang these words together...All these pieces…Broken and scattered…In mercy gathered…Mended and whole…Empty handed…But not forsaken…I've been set free, I've been set free…Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me, I once was lost but now I'm found, was blind but now I see…Oh I can see You now…Oh I can see the love in Your eyes…Laying Yourself down…Raising up the broken to life…You take our failure, You take our weakness, You set Your treasure in jars of clay…So take this heart, Lord, I'll be your vessel…The world to see Your life in me...

As I worshiped at this Ash Wednesday service, the phrase, "IN weakness," came to mind from this Scripture...
2 Corinthians 12:9:

And He has said to me, "My  grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of  Christ may dwell in me.
Amplified: But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me!
Barclay: And he said to me, “My grace is enough for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” So it is with the greatest gladness that I boast in my weaknesses so that the power of Christ may pitch its tent upon me.
ESV:   But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
KJV: And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
NET: But he said to me, "My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." So then, I will boast most gladly about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may reside in me.
NIV: But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.
NJB: but he has answered me, 'My grace is enough for you: for power is at full stretch in weakness.' It is, then, about my weaknesses that I am happiest of all to boast.
NLT: Each time he said, "My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness." So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.
Phillips:  but his reply has been, "My grace is enough for you: for where there is weakness, my power is shown the more completely." Therefore, I have cheerfully made up my mind to be proud of my weaknesses, because they mean a deeper experience of the power of Christ.
Wuest: And He has said to me, and His declaration still stands, My grace is enough for you, for power is moment by moment coming to its full energy and complete operation in the sphere of weakness. Therefore, most gladly will I the rather boast in my weaknesses in order that the power of the Christ [like the Shekinah Glory in the Holy of Holies of the Tent of Meeting] may take up its residence in me [working within me and giving me help].

Young's Literal:  and He said to me, 'Sufficient for thee is My grace, for My power in infirmity is perfected;' most gladly, therefore, will I rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of the Christ may rest on me.
The Message: and then he told me, "My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness." Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. 
A Greek word study of this Scripture reveals that Jesus’ first words are "is sufficient" which places emphasis on our supply of His grace; a truth which gives us encouragement to face difficult times. Jesus' response to Paul follows a chiastic pattern (a literary device in which a sequence of ideas is presented and then repeated in reverse order. The result is a “mirror” effect as the ideas are “reflected” back in a passage. Each idea is connected to its “reflection” by a repeated word, often in a related form...e.g., he came in triumph and in defeat departs) sufficient
     B...for you grace power weakness perfected

"My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect IN weakness.”

IN distresses--circumstances forced upon you, reversals of fortune against your will. This could refer to any situation where you feel trapped. You didn’t plan it or think it would be this way. But there you are, and it’s hard.

IN persecutions--wounds, abuses, painful circumstances, acts of prejudice or exploitation from people because of your Christian faith or your Christian moral commitments. It’s when you are not treated fairly.

Whether IN distresses or persecutions, Corrie Ten Boom encourages us...
Look at self and be distressed,
Look at others and be depressed,
Look at Jesus and you’ll be at rest!

My Daddy, Eston Willis,
kept in his Bible, a copy of the following poem which describes our Master Weaver's plan which includes  weaknesses, insults, distresses, persecutions, difficulties...
My life is but a weaving,
between my Lord and me;
I cannot choose the colors.
He worketh steadily.

Oft times He weaveth sorrow
and I in foolish pride,
Forget He sees the upper
and I the under side.

Not till the loom is silent
and the shuttles cease to fly,
Shall God unroll the canvas
and explain the reason why,

The dark threads are as needful
in the Weaver’s skillful hand,
As the threads of gold and silver,
in the pattern He has planned.

Consider the underside of a handmade tapestry described in this poem. The elaborate coordinated threads on the exterior side of the fabric, woven with precision and creativity, produce a work of art intended by the weaver. The side that will not be seen, however, is a tangled mess of thread, yarn, and knots. How similar to life! Christ uses what appears to be random circumstances with no meaning—simply knots and tangles—and makes something beautiful out of them. Lord Jesus, help me not draw undue attention to myself, even in suffering, knowing that You are at work mending and making whole, raising up the broken to life...IN my weakness...

All these pieces…Broken and scattered…In mercy gathered…Mended and whole…Empty handed…But not forsaken…I've been set free, I've been set free…Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me, I once was lost but now I'm found, was blind but now I see…Oh I can see You now…Oh I can see the love in Your eyes…Laying Yourself down…Raising up the broken to life…You take our failure, You take our weakness, You set Your treasure in jars of clay…So take this heart, Lord, I'll be your vessel…The world to see Your life in me...

Weekly LinkUps...

Sunday, February 15, 2015

trusting Him, resting in the mystery...

Mystery, it's right there in the opening lines of this beautiful hymn by Hillsong United, Oceans...

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the

Ephesians 1:9 (NKJV)--having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself...

Your sovereign hand will be my guide...He knows the end from the beginning...

Isaiah 46:9-10 (NKJV)--Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure...

Psalm 40:1-3 The Message--
I waited and waited and waited for God. At last he looked; finally he listened. He lifted me out of the ditch, pulled me from deep mud. He stood me up on a solid rock to make sure I wouldn’t slip. He taught me how to sing the latest God-song, a praise-song to our God. More and more people are seeing this: they enter the mystery, abandoning themselves to God.

My soul will rest in Your embrace

Matthew 11:28-30...
:  Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will rest you, I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.]  Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls. For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good—not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne. 
Phillips: Come to me, all of you who are weary and over-burdened, and I will give you rest! Put on my yoke and learn from me. For I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
The Message: Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.

My daily relationship with our living Lord Jesus reinforces my belief in the sovereignty of God, that nothing comes into my life that is not filtered through God's hands of love. I believe there are no “accidents.”  I believe that God sees the end from the beginning. He knows me intimately, He knit me together in my mother's womb, one day I will see Him face-to-face and I will know as I am known. It is His plan that’s important, not my desire. I didn't bring myself into this world, and I can’t take myself into heaven. I really don’t know what is best for me or for those I love. I ask God to make me sensitive to the reality that He is in control, and that He is using this--even this--to conform me to the image of His Son. I want that most of all. I train my mind to acknowledge God’s hand in whatever it is I'm living with. I practice words like, “I don’t know,” “I will trust,” “I can’t explain,” “I release it all,” because God is sovereign. He is the beginning, He will be the ending, and in between, by His grace, He lets us be part of His perfect plan, for His glory and for our good. In the meantime, I am trusting Him, resting in the mystery...

Was this encouraging to you? Please feel free to leave a comment in the box below, I'd love to hear from you!

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Thursday, February 12, 2015

where do you come from?

After reading this wonderful blog, I was inspired to write my own, by responding to the same prompt...Where Do You Come From? Once I began to write, the memories come flooding back. It’s such a great exercise in thankfulness...
I come from Ellis Island where the ship, Princess Irene, brought my maternal birth grandparents from Scontrone, Italy, to Chicago in 1906.
I come from an illegal abortionist who refused to abort me at 4 months gestation in 1952.
I come from the Salvation Army hospital in Jacksonville, Florida, where my birthmother placed me for adoption on Friday the 13th of February in 1953.
I come from loving Christian parents who adopted me and took me to church and Sunday School.
I come from chocolate milk before bedtime made with love by my daddy.
I come from cookies and milk after school with my stay-at-home mom.
I come from chocolate milk shakes at the drug store during Sunday afternoon drives.
I come from moving to nine different houses in ten years between 1st grade and 10th grade.
I come from six years of home economics in junior high and high school.
I come from being elected president of the Future Homemakers of America in 9th grade.
I come from being chosen as editor-in-chief of my junior high newspaper.
I come from being honored as “Miss Responsibility” by my junior high principal.
I come from being elected as the first female president of my high school student body.
I come from summer vacations at Indian Shores Beach and Gatlinburg.
But more importantly…
I come from adoptive parents who loved me enough to introduce me to Jesus Christ.
I come from Sunday School and G.A.’s mission groups every week from the cradle roll.
I come from a mom and dad who made sure that we were in the pews every Sunday.
I come from youth pastors who gave all of their time to help me find my way.
I come from Young Life inner city retreats where I learned to see God in unlikely places.
I come from summer G.A. camps where I learned to make s’mores.
I come from singing His praise in the inspirational musical, “Tell It Like It Is.”
I come from His grace and mercies that are new every morning, praise Him.
I come from His Word, which is alive and active in me.
I come from a Heavenly Father who knows what my future holds.
I come from desiring to know Him better and to follow Him more closely.

This is where I come from.
 It made me who I am today. It is molding and shaping every choice that I make now, and in the days to come. Thank God He has been with me all along.

Where do you come from?
Linking up with Bonnie Gray's Beloved Brews Thursdays #SpiritualWhiteSpace

Monday, February 9, 2015

no separation

During a trip to Brevard, North Carolina, we followed a Waterfall Hunting Guide in search of one beautiful waterfall after another. We marveled at the continual washing of water over the rocks, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and yet it continued. In the same way, it is the continual washing of the water of the word of God, over and over, that helps me grow closer to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

As I allow the continual washing of the Word to soak into my heart and mind, I begin to think less of me and my performance and more of Jesus and His performance for me. It
is continually receiving Christ’s words, “It is finished,” into new and deeper parts of my heart every day.

It’s going back to the certainty of my pardon in Christ and hitting the refresh button a thousand times a day. Martin Luther said in his Lectures on Romans, “To progress is always to begin again.” Real spiritual progress requires a daily going backwards. Growing closer to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ does not happen by behaving better, but by believing better--believing in bigger, deeper, brighter ways what Christ has already secured for sinners like me.

The eighth chapter of Romans is one of my favorite passages of Scripture. It beautifully begins with “no condemnation” and marvelously ends with “no separation.”

If Holy Scripture was a ring, and the epistle to the Romans a precious stone, Chapter 8 would be the sparkling point of the jewel.--Philipp Jakob Spener (1635-1705)

Romans 8:1..."no condemnation"...
Amplified: Therefore, [there is] now no condemnation (no adjudging guilty of wrong) for those who are in Christ Jesus, who live [and] walk not after the dictates of the flesh, but after the dictates of the Spirit.
KJV: There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.
Moule: So no adverse sentence is there now, in view of this great fact of our redemption, for those in Christ Jesus.
NLT: So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.
Phillips: No condemnation now hangs over the head of those who are "in" Jesus Christ.
Wuest: Therefore, now, there is not even one bit of condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.
Young's Literal: Not even one therefore now adverse judgment & resultant punishment to those in Christ Jesus
The Message: With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air.
Romans 8:39..."no separation"...
Nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
ICB: nothing above us, nothing below us, or anything else in the whole world will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
KJV:  Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
NLT: Whether we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Phillips: neither a power from on high nor a power from below, nor anything else in God's whole world has any power to separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord!
Wuest: nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Young's Literal: nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The Message: None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.

No condemnation; blessed is the word!
No separation; forever with the Lord,
By His blood He bought us, cleansed our every stain;
With rapture now we'll praise Him.
The Lamb for sinners slain.
- J. Denham Smith

The verdict is final. The case is never going to be re-tried—irrevocable. On that we can rest—we are accepted on the basis of the finished work of Jesus Christ on the Cross.

Take a few moments to allow this Truth to wash over you in this marvelous rendition of Press On by Selah...
when the valley is deep, when the mountain is steep
when the body is weary, when we stumble and fall
when the choices are hard, when we're battered and scarred
when we've spent our resources, when we given our all
in Jesus' name, we press on
in Jesus' name, we press on
Dear Lord, with the prize clear before our eyes,
we find the strength to press on

Was this encouraging to you?
Please feel free to leave a comment in the box below. I’d love to hear from you!

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(in)courager community group 21 Stories of Generosity 31 days of encouragement A Feathered Nest A New Song able absolutely certain abundance mentality acceptance accepted adopted adoptee adoptees adoption all is grace All-Adoptee Growth Group Almighty Alone Yet Not Alone alpha waves Amazon Best Seller Ranked #1 anthology approval Armageddon Ash Wednesday ask atmosphere attitude attune senses author authority baptism Be Still My Soul beautiful beauty Because He Lives Bedouin Dinner beginnings ended beholding believing Believing God Beloved Beth Moore Beth Moore Bible study Bethany Hamilton Bethlehem birth blessed blue Schwinn bicycle book launch Boot Camp Broken Vessels butterfly effect Caesarea called Capernaum care cared cares Central Park centurion Challenger change chosen Chris Tomlin Christ Jesus Christ-centered coffee for your heart Colton Michael Duncan comfort connect-the-dots count it all joy creating change creative creative problem-solving creative thinking creativity critical thinking crown of thorns crowned Dan Brawley Dancing With The Stars darkness dawning deeply loved delight desire determined purpose divergent thinking do the next thing Easter eastern hills education El Shaddai elaboration Elijah Ellis Island Emmanuel emotions empty nest empty tomb encouragement encourager encouragment Ephesians epiphany essay eternity everlasting love Experiencing God extravagant face-to-face faith fasting favor finding patterns fixing our eyes on Jesus flexibility fluency forgiven forgiveness future Garden of Gethsemane Garden Tomb generosity giveaway goal-setting God God is sovereign God with us God's love God's presence God's sovereignty God's will God's Word gospel grace greatly blessed grief Harold Edgerton He lives heal healer healing heart heaven held hemisphericity highly favored His glory His Presence holy ground Holy Spirit hoop skirt of light hope I AM imagination imagine in Christ innermost Inspire Intensive Tutorial intimacy Israel January 28 Jerusalem Jesus Jesus at the center Jesus Christ job interviews John 3:16 Jordan River joy Judean Desert knock know Him known Lamb of God lavish learning life Living Bible location Lord Lord Jesus Christ lose loss love love of God loved Matthew 7:7 Mediterranean Sea Memorial Day memories memory mercies mercy Metropolitan Museum of Art milk drop coronet miscarriage modalities moment in time mother mother and daughter Mount Carmel Mount of Megiddo Mount of Olives Mount Tabor multisensory mysteries mystery Nathaniel National Prayer Breakfast new song New York City nonfiction One Thousand Gifts originality overwhelming obstacles panorama panorama. sovereignty panpharmacon past peace perception periwinkles positive relinquishment power praise prayer present preserve Press On proactive problem solving problem-solving prodigal prodigal son providence Psalm 23 Psalm 37:4 purpose questions redeemed reflecting Rembrandt remembered remembering resting resurrection Rock of Ages Roman Amphitheater Romans Chapter 8 ropes of grace sandwich generation Savior Scripture Sea of Galilee searching secure seek self Sermon on the Mount servant leadership seven habits Shepherd's Fields small thing that makes a big difference snow patterns social media Solomon's Temple soul sovereign sovereignty speak speaker Spirit of Christ STAR format stewardship story Strawberry Fields strength Sulphur Springs sunrise sunset to sunrise synagogue synergistic synergize Tampa targeted selection testimony thankfulness the empty tomb think forward to the future thinking thoughts time timeline timeline template timelines transformation trust trusting Truth Truth of God's Word Twenty-third Psalm unconditional love Under His Wings unforced rhythms of grace Valley of Jezreel vision visualization wait walking waterfalls weakness Western Wall when God ran wife win a free book win/win without Christ I am nothing Word wound writer writing Yardenit You Already Have An A you are free indeed You're Going To Be Okay you're loved Young Life

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