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Well Hello Sunshine…

Don’t you just love the sunshine?  There is nothing more beautiful than the sun breaking through the clouds after a storm.  It’s breathtaking. We have many sayings about the sun.  For instance there’s “Well Hello Sunshine” or “Sunshine makes me happy”.  We write songs about it like “You are my sunshine” and “Here comes the sun” or “Sunshine on my shoulder.” There is something about the sun that makes us happy and gives us hope.  But what do we do when the sun isn’t shining?  How do we get through the darkness, the chaos, the emptiness?

God’s word is not just informational its transformational. His word was written for you and me personally. So let’s look at this scripture from a new perspective. Genesis 1:1-4 reads like this. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness.”

God created you and I in much the same way. You were formless and void.  He hovered over us in the waters of a womb forming us in a dark place until the moment he chose to burst forth our lives into the world. We weren’t alone in that dark place but carefully hovered over. Our hope remains in the fact that God is the same yesterday, today and forever according to Hebrews 13:8.

He is teaching us about his power in darkness. Where is the darkness? It is on the face of the deep. In other words, it is on the face of the one in deep darkness. How did He transform it? He said, “Let there be.” Have you ever noticed someone’s face and in that instant you knew they were in deep pain or a very dark place. Our face won’t be able to feel the sun until we allow the Lord to go deep. Our gentle savior will wait on us to allow him into those deep dark places. The hidden places of chaos that we feel trapped in. We have to let there be. We can decide to remain in darkness or let him in.

John 8:12 says, “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” We may not be able to go back and change the past but Christ has unlocked the door to a different future. A new dawn. Country singer Terri Clark’s song “I just want to be mad for awhile” describes a place we can get stuck in. The last two lines of the chorus say “Please don’t make me smile, I just want to be mad for a while.” It’s cute and comical and too often true. We get comfortable and we can even begin to hold fast to it. But darkness can be deceiving. It will lie to us and tell us it’s our friend. We were wronged so we have a right to hold it. And we may very well have been wronged but instead of being our friend it continues to steal life from us and it holds us captive in the darkness of yesterday.

Depression, trauma and tragedy are real and I’m not here to argue or dismiss their reality or severity. I am here to say however that if we “let there be” God can do what only he can do. He needs only to speak and our darkness can break. We have to cling to the truth found in the book of Jeremiah. God has planned for us a hope and a future. He promised in Philippians that the work he began in us he would complete. He won’t leave us there if we are willing to leave it behind. How he leads you is personal to each one of us. We all walk a different journey but our guide should be the same.

As a little girl my father sang in a quartet and traveled from church to church almost every weekend for years. Being on that circuit I learned so many songs that ring in my ears today. One of those was “It always gets the darkest just before daylight.”  Have you ever sat waiting to watch a sunrise? It can be so dark you can feel it. Then almost without detection the black has somewhat softened to a flatter black from the stark sharpness it just eminated, then to almost a very deep blue. Before you know it, light is breaking on the horizon like a aura. It may begin ever so dimly but it most definitely is rising. 

Jesus Christ, our hope, wants to break forth into your darkness and warm your face with his light and warmth.  I hope today you hear the Lord say “Let there be” over you. Let him speak peace to the chaos and lead you out of darkness and into his marvelous light. 

Blessings to you and yours,

Jaime Luce

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Photo by: Universetoday.com

Confused???

Let’s start with a truth. According to 1 Corinthians 14:33 God is not the author of Confusion. He is however the author of peace. If you are bombarded by vacillating thoughts or struggle with the uncertainty in your decisions between what is right or wrong you are not alone. Many find themselves in this overwhelming place at one time or another.

Elijah, in 1 Kings 18, has gathered all the people of Israel including the prophets of Baal and says, “How long will you falter between two opinions?” This is a whole nation he’s speaking to. This is our nation right now. Not only is this a problem on a national secular level but it is a private and personal problem on the individual and spiritual level.

This very problem is what causes division and the break down of every kind of relational sect. We know that a nation divided against itself can not stand. A couple divided against itself will crumble. A mind divided against itself will cause self-inflicted pain and dissolution.

What causes this? What does this passage teach us?

Elijah takes them all up on the mountain where the altar of the Lord was. This was the place where they offered up their sacrifices to the Lord and the Lord would hear their cry and answer from heaven. Here is the problem. When he gets there, the altar is broken down.

A broken altar will cause confusion every time.

What is an altar? It is the place of prayer and supplication. The place you regularly meet with the Lord. It is your quiet place. The place where you shut out the noise of the outside to be quiet and hear what the Lord would say. It is in this place and in his presence we receive peace, direction and when needed, answers.

Without an altar you are continually bombarded with distractions and differing thoughts and ideas about every possible thing. We like Elijah have to find out that God is not in the wind, the earthquake or the fire. He is the still small voice. The altar is where you clean out the confusion from your heart and mind and wait to hear the answers. It’s were we can hear his voice.

How does it become broken?

This story shows us that the people had followed after the false Baals and offered their sacrifices to them. This is a picture of how the people who are called by God’s name leave off from their personal time and communion with him to run after the things of the world and whatever is popular at the time. They mock when others try to persuade them that they are going the wrong way or straying too far. They tear down the altar and build new ones to the god’s of this world. They are distracted by the cares of this life. They make the altar the first thing they don’t have time for.

What’s crazy is the prophets of Baal in this chapter harmed themselves to get answers. They cut themselves in an attempt to get answers. They went to extremes to be heard. This is all too familiar to us in this society. People are hurting and confused and this confusion can cause self harm.

But there is a solution. You don’t have to be filled with confusion. You can know the mind and heart of your Father. You can know what good things he has in store for you. You can know what it is to come to him with questions and pain and have him answer and give you direction when you don’t know which way to go.

You do what Elijah did. He repaired the altar that was broken down. (1 Kings 18:30-31) You pick up your stones and one by one you rebuild. You come back into communion with the one true God who knows how to prove who he is to you. He is not intimidated by your questions or struggles. He welcomes the opportunity to show you who he is.

The bonus is that it won’t only be you who see’s God work and answer but all those watching will see. We read in V.39 “Now when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, “The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!””

Living this kind of testimony will give you incredible clarity and strength. After this event Elijah had such supernatural power that he destroyed every false idea that day, took out every false prophet which describes the false words we’ve heard, listened to and believed and then he out ran King Ahab in his chariot.

Our lives are busy and full of every kind of demand. We need His strength to out run our enemy and overcome every lie and hurdle that comes to trip us up.

If you need strength to run your race its found at the altar. So I ask again. How long will you falter between two opinions? You do not have to be confused and tossed to and fro in your mind and in your life. There is a clear and right answer and your Father has it. I like the way the New Living Translation says this in 2 Corinthians 6:2. “For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you. ” Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.”

We are told in Hebrews not to harden our hearts. If you think of your natural heart having hardened arteries you will see this truth. If you don’t soften them your life is on the line. If you continue in your habits it is only a matter of time before the life flow of blood can not get to your heart to keep you alive. It is the same in the spiritual. Let the Lord take out the stoney heart and give you a heart of flesh. Let his blood flow again and bring new life.

He is already there waiting for you. Come to the altar.

 

Blessings to you and yours,

Jaime Luce

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Above image: Clarity is a two-way street.Getty

 

 

To dream or not to dream…

Photo by Glogster

Frustration is a killer of dreams. How many times have you had a dream of achieving some goal but once you began the process it seemed to take much longer than you imagined. You ran into obstacles and maybe even attempted something that failed leaving you feeling that it was just a pipe dream. You now look at it and think it was unrealistic to dream it in the first place. If you think this way at least you can put some of the pain away and not feel responsible for having not achieved it. If it is someone or something else’s fault than we are off the hook. Or are we?

These kinds of dreams don’t seem to really ever go away. They just seem to bury deeper and deeper into our subconscious and only come out every once in a while as a fleeting memory. The problem is the older we get we revisit them with a new frown thinking that time is running out. “If only” becomes our thought.

While attending my son and daughter-in-loves baby reveal party I had the opportunity to look at the moon through a very high powered telescope. I could see with clarity so many things about the moon likes it’s hills and valleys, it’s craters and seemingly rough terrain. I wanted to just stare and try to take it all in. It seemed as if I could reach out and touch it yet the moon is 239,000 miles from earth. It occurred to me that this is the proper way to see our dreams.

In the book of Genesis God gave Joseph a dream about his position in the future with such clarity that Joseph immediately told his brothers and parents thinking it to be close enough to touch. The clarity of it made it appear as if it was right in front of him. In actuality it was 13 years and a different country away.

Think about this scenario. NASA looks through their highest powered telescopes and see’s the moon. They decide they want to put someone on the moon. They have the vision with focus and clarity. Now what? They have to do as much research as possible about every known element from space and rockets to human ability. They build and go through simulations of trial and error to find problems and solutions. Every possible idea must be tested and all possible candidates forced to go through all physical extremes.

This is the crux of most frustration. We like NASA will go through trials and errors in order to be properly prepared for the dream ahead and all of this takes mountains of time and endurance.

Joseph had to go through betrayal and slavery to build an inner character that would not only forgive his brothers but be prepared to care for them and their families in their time of need. That is a hugely difficult and emotional trial. But God chose him for the job because he knew he could do it. He knew that he would do it.

Can God trust you with that kind of power?

Then Joseph was lied about in the worst way. The end result put him in a dungeon prison when he was guiltless of all charges and had actually acted honorably and ran from the prospect of being involved in a disloyal and sinful act of betrayal. Then while in prison on trumped up charges he is neglected and forgotten after helping those he was imprisoned with.

It may seem unfair but the dream was a big dream. Are you dreaming a big dream. God may have shown you the future through his very clear high powered telescope. It is not a lie. What he showed you is real. Though the vision tarry, wait for it. I like the way the New Living Translation puts it. Habbakkuk 2:3 “The vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If is seems slow in coming, wait patiently for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.”

The waiting is not a waiting time. It is not a wasted time. We are to prepare and learn during the waiting. The waiting serves a great purpose. We may go through trials and errors but those trials and errors are some of the best teachers.

Throw off your frustration like an old garment and remember the dream is for an appointed time and the God who is faithful believes you can do it. He’s given you all that you need for the step you are taking toward it now. When it is time to take the next step you will be ready for that too.

In time, like Joseph, you will get the call out of the prison and into position. To quote a line from “The Patriot”, “Make ready!”, for the dream will surely come to pass.

Blessings to you and yours,

Jaime Luce

From faith to faith

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

Faith is a common word used by both believers and unbelievers alike. It may or may not be related to anything spiritual. We have somehow taken it’s power and relegated it to a fancy word for hope. I however am of the mindset that faith is far more potent than that.

Jesus never said “Where is your hope?” or “Oh ye of little hope.” I can hope without having any faith so I have often mulled over the possible meaning of the phrase “faith to faith” in Romans 1:17 many times. It is commonly accepted as a phrase about how we grow our faith like a muscle to which I agree though it always seemed lacking in weight to me. No pun intended. We know that the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword (Heb. 4:12), so there seemed to be more here. Something with more grit or substance than stepping up a proverbial latter of Christiendom.

I don’t have the corner on this subject but as I read the verse today I unintentionally had put a pause in the phrase and something happened. I saw it from a different angle. I heard it in a different tone. The scripure reads “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.”(KJV) Paul is making an intense declaration of how we are to live as Christ followers. This is no puny summation. The ending of this verse demands that the beginning carry the same strength.

God’s righteousness is revealed from a place of faith. The beginning of faith is to understand that God is righteous. If you do not believe in his righteousness you have not yet begun your race. Paul ended his journey on this earth saying, “I have fought a good fight. I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.”(2 Tim. 4:7-8) God is Righteous. This is the principle thing.

Our current culture declares loudly that the righteousness of God and his Holy Word are not righteous. Politicians and news media are replete with those who stand in its opposition and call evil good and good evil. This position is not a position of faith and without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). It is dangerous to adopt the worlds definitions and in particular when they are related to Christianity. Faith at it’s root is believing in the righteousness of our Maker. If you had any doubt, He is right. Psalm 145:17 says, “The Lord is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works.” The NRS puts it this way. “The Lord is just in all His ways, and kind in all His doings.” In other words, He’s good all the time and in everything. He’s not wrong.

If you still have doubts all you have to do is look to all that He created. Psalm 19:1 tells us that the heavens declare the glory of God; the skies declare the work of His hands. There is nothing but perfection in every kingdom He made. The vastness and grandeur of space that cannot be found out. The earth and all it’s resources. The sky and oceans and all their expanse. The way all plant life grows and multiplies in it’s season. The animal kingdom and it’s grand diversity. There is nothing made that was made that did not come from Him and it is all good. Every bit of it is right. If anything is wrong it comes from our fallen state.

His righteousness rules supreme. Understanding this is real faith. It is from this spring board that we then go from faith to faith. What is this second faith? This is the journey. You and I will face every kind of afront that will scream “THIS is not right!” And when we find ourselves in this place we have a choice. We must ask ourselves is God righteous? Do we believe in who He is and what He is able to do? Do we have faith?If He can hold the sun, the moon and the stars in their orbit, if He can feed the sparrow when she’s hungry, and if the flower continues to bloom with each new spring then I know He can care for me. He will be righteous and take me through this storm. He will not leave me alone. “He will perfect that which concerns me.” (Psalm 138:8)

I know we face immensely difficult and seemingly impossible situations but this one thing I know. My God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.(Eph. 3:20) What is that power? Christ in us! He who is righteous is in us working. Romans 8:28 says He takes what the enemy meant for evil and uses it for our good when we love Him and are called according to His purpose. It is by this truth then that we can confidently say with Paul, “The just shall live by faith.”

2 Peter 11:8 tells us that we have obtained “like precious faith” through the righteusness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ. Let faith be your footstool for leaping into the righteousness of a just and good God. Let Him give you His peace to do the impossible like Peter and walk on the storm. If we keep our eyes on Jesus we will make it safely to the other side. Don’t have faith in faith. Have faith in God!

Blessings to you and yours,

Jaime Luce

Loving the Wartzenalls — Mitch Teemley

Sharing this witty yet wise blog from Mitch Teemley. He’s a writer, film maker and public speaker by his own account but what he doesn’t mention is that he’s great at it! You’ll enjoy this.

Family. A mixture of people we get and don’t get. People we like, and people we would never have chosen to be with if we had a choice. But we don’t. Because they’re family. Right? I haven’t seen my cousin Ralph in 50 years. The moment he hit his teens he chose to stop attending […]

Loving the Wartzenalls — Mitch Teemley

Communion

I am coming out of a busy time of transition where I had put down the pen for a spell. Though I have never published poetry here I thought it might be a fresh way to re-enter my blog life. I wrote this about two years ago while attending The King’s University in Southlake Texas. My professor wanted us to write an original sonnet. I chose to write a Shakespearian format. Here is what I submitted. I hope you enjoy it.

            What makes your words the bread of life to me?

            It fills my hungry soul and cures my ill.

            Your thoughts rise up the man I ought to be

            and calms the rumbles angst with peace be still. 

            I eat my daily due for strength to live,

            without no man can know the way to go.

            I’m weak and frail with nothing left to give

            except the nourishment that you bestow.

            This manna feeds, no end to its supply,

            daily prepared for each his own demand.

            No need for questions how or even why.

            His pleasures all at his eternal hand.

            This gift of bread was torn and broke with wine

            to offer each the gift to come and dine.

By Jaime Luce

THE VALLEY OF DECISION

man wearing red hoodie standing near body of water with view of mountains
Photo by Simon Migaj on Pexels.com

Decisions, decisions. In the words of Joel the prophet, “Multitudes, Multitudes in the valley of decision.” Most decisions are small and are made every day almost without thought. Then there are those that we find ourselves running from or wrestling with that keep us up at night. These are the “valley decisions.” A valley is either the place where you are caught between a rock and a hard place with mountains on every side or a lost place. A place of confusion and disorientation.

The first time I read this passage in Joel 3 my heart sank at the thought of multitudes in a valley of decision. What will they do with Jesus? It both horrifies and compels me. The truth of that still sits with me but today to Lord showed me this passage from a different perspective. This does not nullify its meaning but opens another revelation.

Those who have already made the decision to follow Christ will still find themselves in valleys of decision. These decisions must be made but we see mountains on every side. Fear of the unknown hangs over us like a looming shadow. I have been in this valley several times and as I look back, I see two things it took to move out of the valley which are noted in Joel 3:10. He says, “Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears; Let the weak say, “I am strong.’”

This picture expresses going from the daily routine to a posture of war. First, change your usual tools from routine to a weapon of purpose. You cannot continue as if nothing is different. There is a season for plowing and pruning back. Then there is a season of advancing and taking new ground where you aren’t just plowing the same old ground over and over. Second, while in the valley you may feel small, weak and ill-equipped but you are not to make decisions based on how you feel. You must say “I am strong.” We must not let fear lead. Faith must lead the charge. Gideon, in Judges 6 is a great example. He was threshing wheat in fear, but the angel called him a mighty man of valor signifying he was a warrior not a thresher. He needed different tools and faith instead of fear.

Once we have warred for direction we must charge forward in faith. The just shall live by faith. We cannot remain in a valley of decision. Our indecision is a decision and double mindedness will only take you in circles. This was the case for the children of Israel in the wilderness. They said they wanted to go to the promised land but feared and had no faith seeing themselves as grasshoppers against giants. This led to a 40-year journey of going in circles until Joshua led the faith charge forward.

The good news for those who belong to Jesus is that every valley has a river running through it. He is our source of strength and refreshing. If we will get in the river his current will carry us to the right destination.

Scripture references:

Joel 1-3

Judges 6

Psalm 23 explains this. “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Jaime Luce

Lessons from Joseph… Part 4 The key to your dream

Joseph didn’t go to prison because someone lied about him. Joseph went to prison to interpret a dream for Pharaoh. He had to be there for that exact day. It was the day his own dream had waited on. Can you see it? Joseph had to help someone else with their dream so God could give Joseph his. Joseph now had to serve again but this time his service put him second in command only to Pharaoh. Our dreams are not “get out of jail free cards.” They don’t mean it can finally be all about us, at least not when they are from the Lord. The key to your dream may simply be to serve others. God fulfilled Joseph’s dream by Joseph living to serve another man’s dream.

If your dream doesn’t serve anyone but you it isn’t a dream from God. When Joseph had his dreams as a young man he saw people serving him. This began the test of his character. Could Joseph steward his authority in the way God intended it? Can you? Has God given you a dream? If he has, the dream will test you. Jesus commanded that we love one another and prayed that we would be one as he and the father were. Our assignments, dreams and purpose will always include others. Joseph was lifted to the highest pinnacle, yet his job was to solve Pharaohs problem. He was to make sure everyone else could eat and at the same time build a kingdom not his own. Self-service was nowhere to be found. Joseph knew how to live favored and be held in high regard. His dream didn’t have to teach him that. But being a slave taught him how to serve. Being a prisoner taught him the value of bread and water to those with no means. Being lied on taught him how to handle power with character for he would be in a position that would allow him to take vengeance. Being sold taught him what it was to be a stranger and an outcast. Joseph may have known how to prosper but his dream tested his ability to steward how his dream affected others. Do not be discouraged if you are in your testing time. Keep serving. It will keep you positioned for promise.

Jaime Luce

Lessons from Joseph… Part 3 Timing is everything!

Joseph’s life reveals the power behind timing. When left in a trial that is thrust upon us and not of our own doing, we can become desperate. We begin grasping at things and people we think can change our circumstance. I don’t think Joseph was wrong or let his character lapse, when he asked the butler to remember him. I think he was pushing on every door looking for the one that would open. Wanting out of trouble is never a bad thing. When you are overwhelmed and drowning you will grab hold of anything that floats. But Joseph didn’t get out even one day early for good behavior even though he was running the prison. What’s surprising is that Joseph waited an extra two long years to get out because of incredible favor. Before you quit reading let me explain. Timing is everything. It isn’t just a cliché. I can go to the airport and hold a ticket but if I arrive to early I will sit a wait until the scheduled time. If I arrive to late I have missed my opportunity and have to wait again for the next. I have to arrive prepared and wait for the announcement to board. Even while on the plane, it will not take off until the pilot hears, “You have been cleared for take-off.” Joseph wasn’t late. He was at the airport waiting for a flight out. To him it seemed the flight had been delayed but the truth was that it was right on time. If Joseph would have gotten out of prison even one day earlier, he would have simply remained a slave in a foreign country. He may have been out but his life largely unchanged. His dreams would never have come to pass. Instead of boarding another Boeing, Joseph was about to board Air Force One.

Galatians 6:9 tells us not to become weary of doing good because we will reap if we don’t faint. If you are still in the prison, then work to run it like Joseph did. Don’t waste your testing time. Use it. Show yourself faithful. I know God will. You’re not late and there is a reason. His timing is perfect so don’t grow weary in your well doing. He is faithful who promised.

Jaime Luce

Lessons from Joseph… Part 2 The value of favor

Joseph had his coat stripped twice. His brothers took the first and Potiphar’s wife took the second. The first was taken because of jealousy, and the second was taken because of entitlement. Both reveal envy. If she could not have Joseph she would strip him of his favor again. False accounts were given in both instances. This was done in order to hide the sin inside both the brothers and Potiphar’s wife. Envy lies. Envy steals. Potiphar’s wife thought she could have whatever she wanted. She didn’t earn her position but was close to the one who gave the favor. She relied on her position to demand favors. By her willingness to be unfaithful to her husband who gave her position she showed she did not value her favor from him. But Joseph valued the favor he received and would not abuse it. We’ve heard it said that favor isn’t fair. This was true for both Potiphar’s wife and for Joseph. It wasn’t fair that she received it unworthily and it wasn’t fair that Joseph was punished for valuing it. What we must remember was that even though is wasn’t fair and Potiphar’s wife got away with deception, Joseph’s future was unaltered. Paul said, “The Lord is my helper, I will not fear; what can man do to me?” Heb. 13:6

We must not get caught in the snare of entitlement nor be deterred by it. We press toward our dreams expected end knowing that he who promised is faithful.

Jaime Luce