The fullness of time- how to enjoy the moment during the Christmas season

It has been a day of passing time.

Of crazy moments, of expanding demands and pressing issues, of too much to do and a scarcity of time, as we creep in traffic, climb phone trees, wait our turn to pay, rushing through the mundane and climbing carnal ladders.

We need to be first in line but Christ asks us to go last.

We have demands but Christ asks us to abide in peace.

Worried with impatience and willful; we do what we don’t want to do and fail to do what God’s divinely assigned us to. At sunset we review and see;

We’ve profaned the moment in our haste, blind to the inner mystery of Your working.

Now in stillness we sigh, and release the truth; we covet time for our self.

Living in scarcity we have failed to trust and believed the lie that God’s love could fail to provide the needed. We empty self and open cleansed hands and lift our faces.

Whispering now, all sufficient Spirit have more of me.

Still. Listening. Waiting. Hearts turned and in tune. We hear Love.

Come.

Peace, yes this is You.

Power, yes this is You.

Hope, yes this is You.

Rest, yes this is You.

There is joy, it overcomes weariness in a soul surge of worship.

Spirit overflowing ready now in cooperation.

We go, now yoked to Jesus our Rest, Savior, Beginning and End.

Renewed to serve the Potentate of Time.

Elisabeth Elliot writes in her book- Love has a price tag: Inspiring stories that will open your heart to life’s little miracles, “treating as meaningless that which is freighted with meaning. Treating as common that which is hallowed. Regarding as mere triviality what is really a divine design. Profanity is failure to see the inner mystery.”

If you realize you are profaning time. Hit the reset button with these 3 steps.

Confess and own your bad habits, attitudes, willfull impatience, selfish coveting of minutes and me-time and your fear that God is not sufficient to multiply and provide you daily all that you need to accomplish His purposes.

Cleanse your soul by accepting God’s forgiveness and inviting “Spirit take more of me.” You don’t need a filling of Spirit, you need an emptying of flesh.

Come to Jesus in Cooperation by taking up your cross and following where the Potentate of Time and the Beginning & the End will take you. Try to keep a “moment”dialogue through the day as you encounter your flesh rising up in panic, worry, fear, impatience, or self-coveting. Ask to see the lies you believe that engage a wilfullness to profanity (Failure to see the inner mystery of the moment.) Ask to “rest” in each moment that is a divine appointment. Continually worship with thanksgiving in mundane task, the practice of patience, and sharing the gift of the Christmas spirit which is sacrficial giving. “Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:1-2

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you 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.” Matthew 11:28-30

christmas-is-not-a-time-nor-a-season-but-a-state-of-mind-to-cherish-peace-and-goodwill-to-be-plenteous-in-mercy-is-to-have-the-real-spirit-of-christmas

 

When you walk the road to Emmaus

walk to emmaus

WHEN YOU WALK THE ROAD TO EMMAUS

Luke 24:13-35

Did you hear this alarming news?

46,471: Drug Overdoses Killed More Americans Than Car Crashes or Guns (CNSNews.com)

drugs kill
“Drug overdose deaths are the leading cause of injury death in the United States, ahead of motor vehicle deaths and firearms (deaths),” the Drug Enforcement Agency announced on Wednesday. In 2013, the most recent year for which data is available, 46,471 people in the United States died from drug overdoses, and more than half of those deaths were caused by prescription painkillers and heroin.

It’s alarming.  A serious wake-up call.  Snoozing is no longer an option when you get this kind of news. That someone you knew, loved, shared life with has overdosed and died. That tragedy became personal this past week as our collegiate son lost a friend to an overdose.

Questions immediately arose.  Disturbed, that heroin was that close to my son’s inner circle of life, we confronted him with frank questions. Distressed , we worried if we’d been naïve or distracted-majoring on the minors when the unimaginable of heroin was a real threat to his life and never discussed. Distraught, we grieved for his friend’s family. My troubled heart found a place of comfort from Luke’s account of Resurrection Sunday where two disturbed, distressed and distraught disciples found answers.

The road to Emmaus is a picture of the aftermath of a traumatic experience. 

Times when you think it’s all just a bad dream and you’re going to wake up but instead you find yourself in the reality of an emotional roller coaster ride you never wanted on and can’t get off.  This is the universal journey when death has come—to a person or a job or a marriage, or your good health, or a dream.  Something has died. And it changes the orientation of life.  What do you do now?

The two disciples in Luke’s account began to walk home, trying to make sense of it all. Their hopes of the kingdom of God and in the Messiah they had given up everything to follow were ended in a brutal crucifixion. Jesus was dead and buried.

They wandered home, suspended between yesterday and tomorrow. 

Powerless to prevent the events or change their current situation. Wrung out—emotionally, spiritually and physically—by the troubling “what ifs”. These disciples were in what Richard Rohr calls “liminal space”—a particular spiritual position where human beings hate to be, but where the biblical God is always leading them. The Latin root limen literally means “threshold,” referring to that needed transition when we are moving from one place or one state of being to another. Liminal space usually induces some sort of inner crisis: you have left the tried and true (or it has left you), and you have not yet been able to replace it with anything else.

Biblically this is:
Abraham called to a land he did not yet know.
It is Joseph in the pit or later prison.
It is Jonah in the belly of the whale.
It is David the shepherd anointed to be king.
It is pregnant Mary.
It is blinded Paul.
And it is two disciples on the Emmaus Road.

This journey is a time for overwhelming emotions and dangerous questions. Thank God we have each other!

Like the disciples, when two like-minded friends chose to walk together and talk things out; comfort-that inner strengthening-occurs. They didn’t stride in silence or talk about the weather or anything else but that.  While the experience was still raw and fresh and powerful, unresolved and unhandled they chose to talk with each other about ‘all these things that had happened‘. This open-hearted conversation created a place for Jesus to join in. That is the soul of Christian community that can happen in a home, a coffee café, a corner of campus or the bleachers of a stadium.  It’s an unfixed place where two or more are gathered in His name with open hearts and authentic discussion seeking to discover Jesus and His transforming power. Here power is released for today and hope is given for tomorrow and comfort is received for the past through the Holy Spirit.

Traversing the road between the now and the not-yet it is vital to have a spiritual companion with whom we can freely talk about ‘all these things that have happened’. Whether comforted or challenged, confessing doubt or debating action steps, always we gain a spiritual perspective that causes our hearts to burn within us as we realize Jesus has joined in the midst of these conversations, bring his wisdom and love as we walk the road together.

After the alarming news of my son’s friend who died of an overdose, we gathered together as a family. We talked and assured one another. We prayed and our son joined with his friends and talked and they grieved together and they remembered their friend. And friends went together to the memorial and they talked and they comforted one another and this grieving family and they agreed in the promises of God and believed what was written, “He has risen.” And had hope.

 So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.
HEBREWS 10:24-25

May the Lord Jesus Christ bring you grace and peace in the midst of your Emmaus road.

κοπιάω-a few Greek words define the Sweet Spot

In professional sports, especially football an athlete reaches what’s called the ‘sweet spot’.
It’s that time in his career where his physical strength and ability of a young man intersects with enough years of experience and wisdom to master the game. It’s when quarterbacks can play at the highest level and influence their teams to victory. Think Brady or Rodgers.

brady vs rodgers

The sweet spot.  The harvest. That comes in time after much toil.

You get there after a lot of very hard work.  There’s a word in greek that Paul uses to express this- κοπιάω. Transliteration: kopiaó Phonetic Spelling: (kop-ee-ah’-o). 
Definition:
 I toil, work with effort (of bodily and mental labor alike).
I remember this word by telling myself to “Cope-EE-owl- CopE (like an) owl.”

great_horned_owl_by_bioworkz-d7eh8pz

Kopiaó is the idea that you break a sweat. You’ve worked until it drips and your body and mind have exerted at maximum intensity toward a purpose. It’s that effort in the pursuit of results that produces success. It’s your plan added to consistent effort measured by integrity that produces excellence. It’s knowing you’re weak, and your weaknesses, and your spiritual poverty and your lack of discipline, tendency to wander, chief temptations, and feeling the weariness that comes from the constant toil, and still believing by faith that God with work in you and through you as you trust in Him because He has called you and will equip you and you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength. 
To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me. Col 1:29

The sweet spot is what R. Kent Hughes writes about in the preface of his ‘Preaching The Word‘ commentaries, ‘A Word to Those Who Preach the Word.’ Every year I would read this essay before I began to teach the BSF study and I would often return to it when the Kopiaó had me weary from exertion. I found great encouragement, wisdom and peace in the charge of R. Kent Hughes words so I share this treasure with those who CopE (like an) owl.

Hughes writes, “There are times when I am preaching that I have especially sensed the pleasure of God. I usually become aware of it through the unnatural silence… through which my words sail like arrows. I experience a heightened eloquence, so that the cadence and volume of my voice intensify the truth I am preaching. There is nothing quite like it-the Holy Spirit filling one’s sails, the sense of His pleasure, and the awareness that something is happening among one’s hearers.
What has happened? How do we account for this sense of God’s smile?
The answer has come from the ancient rhetorical categories of logos, ethos and pathos.

Logos– God’s Word. We stand before God’s people to proclaim His Word because we have done our homework. (Kopiaó) We have exegeted the passage, mined the significance of its words in their context & applied sound hermeneutical principles in interpreting the text so that we understand what its words meant to its hearers. We have labored long until we can express in a sentence what the theme of the text is & our outline springs from the text. Then, our preparations will be such that as we preach, we will not be preaching our own thoughts about God’s Word but God’s actual Word, His logos. This is fundamental in pleasing Him.

Ethos-what you are as a person. There is a danger endemic to preaching, which is having your hands and heart cauterized by holy things. Phillip Brooks illustrates it by the analogy of a train conductor who comes to believe that he has been to the places he announces because of his long and loud heralding of them. And that is why Brooks insisted that preaching must be “bringing of truth through personality.” Though we can never perfectly embody the truth we preach, we must be subject to it, long for it, and make it as much a part of our ethos (what we are as a person) as possible. As the puritan William Ames said, “Next to the Scriptures, nothing makes a sermon more to pierce, than when it comes out of the inward affection of the heart without any affectation (design to impress).”
When a preachers ethos backs up his logos, there will be the pleasure of God.

Pathos-personal passion and conviction. David Hume, the Scottish philosopher and skeptic was once challenged as he was seen going to hear George Whitefield preach, “I thought you do not believe in the gospel.” Hume replied, “I don’t, but he does.” Just so! When a preacher believes what he preaches, there will be passion. And this belief and requisite passion will know the smile of God.

The pleasure of God is a matter of logos (the Word), ethos (what you are), and pathos (your passion). As you preach (or teach) the Word may you experience His smile- the Holy Spirit in your sails!” R. Kent Hughes

As the BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) year begins and many dear friends begin again to kopiaó as they teach, lead and attend classes all over the world in The Revelation study, I pray that you may be blessed abundantly as you strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in you to find the sweet spot and feel God’s smile.
To God be the Glory! JLK

I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me. Colossians 1: 25-29

Cartography- a word that gets you where you need to be like Steve Thomason

Cartography- a word that gets you where you need to be- like Steve Thomason

cartographer

I didn’t know what a cartographer was until I looked up the word ‘mapmaker’.  Cartography (from Greek χάρτης khartēs, “map”; and γράφειν graphein, “write”) is the study and practice of making maps. Combining science, aesthetics, and technique, cartography builds on the premise that reality can be modeled in ways that communicate spatial information effectively.

I’ve always thought of life as a journey. God has moved me around a lot, I’ve been scattered and gathered. He’s called me out then shown me the way to go. His word is our map and His Spirit our compass. But often it’s God’s people who help explain the directions.

This year God connected me to “cartographer” Steve Thomason.  His visual art-theology website was like mousing into Disneyworld. Where do you go first? It’s wonderful. It’s deep yet simple. It’s thought provoking teaching from a authentic and vulnerably courageous voice. I’ve learned so much from Steve.  He is a map-writer that communicates spiritual direction effectively. And he’s not afraid if you see things differently – he loves Jesus and he loves God’s people.

Like a map, Steve Thomason points to the direction of exciting things.  Look, over here at what the Bible Project is doing at this video on HOLY.   Or like a Scout he lets you into his personal journal to read his journey notes on the current scenery of how his PhD dissertation-Missional Spirituality in the Suburbs– is going – I can’t wait to refer to him as Dr. Thomason-so cool.  He even lets you into the ‘situation room’ that place we see in the White house on the TV dramas where the top secret stuff is happening. He’s brave enough to let us know he’s ‘living with disagreement and mapping out that conversation’.  Someone pointed him to Brene’ Brown’s TED talk and he put “the power of vulnerability” on the map for me.  Thank you Steve.

We all want maps. I hate wasting time and getting lost, don’t you? We want to know where to go, which way to turn, what’s a seriously dangerous dead end or an exquisitely glorious lookout.  And YOU’VE been somewhere I want to go. We all need to Map-Write more. We all need to be spiritual Cartographers who model ways that communicate the truth of Jesus Christ and the journey of spiritual transformation in Him and tell about the practical places to find it in God’s word or through God’s teachers.

Don’t keep the good news to yourself, be brave and share it.

How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!” Romans 10:14-15

PLEASE, post a comment if you have something to point us to.

 

FURY Book Two ECHO by JL Kelly
FURY book two ECHO by JL Kelly http://amzn.to/1KMrLlv

Now available.

 

Hallelujah is a glorious word to say

Hallelujah is a glorious word to say

Hebrew word halleluyah

Just say it. Hallelujah!

You’ve shouted it once. Remember, on the mountaintop, hands raised in the V of victory exclamation. Blessed so blessed, God is good. All is well. Hallelujahs full of perfect joy. Praiseworthy.

You’ve sung it. Hummed along or belted it out. Heaven’s common language music, earth’s Hallelujah answering back to heaven’s holy, holy, holy. Notes and lyrics penned by one and sung by many. You’ve owned that verse, it was his but it is yours. Poetry undefinable disputable yet explaining the fragile complexity of your soul. And the sinner’s song, sacrilegious and contaminating, broken and yet most pure as Hallelujah is lifted up like a confession.

You’ve also closed your eyes and bowed your head. Finally opened your fist, exhaled sacredly that long held offense to breath out, Hal-le-lu-jah. The sound a welling up, a giving over, a soul-speak kind of surrendering.

I once asked why. And God’s answer to the offended was hallelujah.

Hallelujah. Broken or beautiful. Holy. Hallelujah!

This January it was 30 years since Leonard Cohen released the song now heard on every sing-show, heartbreak episode of a TV series or elevator ride called, “Hallelujah“. He spent years struggling with the lyrics, penning as many as 80 verses “banging my head on the floor and saying ‘I can’t finish this song’ before he was finally able to cut the song down to its recorded version on the 1984 album “Various Positions.” Then his label, CBS Records, refused to release it not realizing that “Hallelujah” would become one of the most haunting and often sung songs in American musical history, versions made famous by Jeff Buckley and sung by Rufus Wainwright in “Shrek”.
k. d. lang, one of the most notable interpreters of “Hallelujah,” talked about listeners responses to the lyrics. “My mom is eighty-eight years old,” said lang. “She lives in a seniors’ apartment and all her friends were like, ‘Oh, I love that song!’ I said, ‘Mom, do they know what the lyrics are about?’ And she goes, ‘I don’t think they listen to the lyrics; I think they just listen to the refrain.’ I think it’s very indicative of spirituality in general, that something as simple as saying ‘hallelujah’ over and over again, really beautifully, can redeem all the verses. “Ultimately,” she concluded, “it’s a piece of music and it belongs to culture. It doesn’t belong to Leonard, it doesn’t belong to me, it doesn’t belong to anybody.”

I agree. Creative work is inspired to be shared. And when it is universal it connects us and we become part of its symphony of story. But it is also extremely personal. It is pieces of us, exposed. And releasing it takes courage because of the vast vulnerability it generates in its exposure, uncertainty and emotional risks to the artist.

My first fiction novel, “Hallelujah, The Psalm of the Offended” just passed its own anniversary as a published work. What took me years to work up the courage to release has been out 2 years. I relate to Cohen’s head banging struggle to finish the piece and cut it loose. The Psalm of the Offended is really my personal story. Not my-story in a biography, but my story in my journey as an offended one as the Lord spoke to me could His answer to the question why be Hallelujah? I went back this past week to update some content to the back of the book and started re-reading it. I know better. I’m my own worst critic. It was painful. I already knew The Psalm of the Offended had a slow start. It’s an epic in scope, there were several places the story could have begun much faster and tied up quicker, but before I could edit a word, I resigned myself to get my fingers off the keyboard and let it “start where it starts and let it finish when it finished.” Just last night a friend said, “please don’t mess with it. I love their story.”
Like Debbie, too many people have told me they love these characters-Cheyenne & Bennett-and want to see more of them in future books even after the slow beginning and the long happy ending.  But others were offended and balked, loudly, about the first cousin crisis-they couldn’t see the forest for the trees. Conflict obviously. And I mean that in a ‘plotting’ way. Try to give me a few believable reasons 2 people can’t be together in this century? Stories need well developed external conflict—ie: some thing that keeps two people apart or the hero from reaching his goal. First cousins worked-see the forest now? probably not but that’s okay, some people just like to look at the trees… sorry, rabbit trail. . .

rabbit trail... 
Readers agree this is a raw,realistic and heartwarming story but I was surprised that some admitted they were immediately prejudiced at the beginning because the family was rich and life seemed perfect and they thought the story was going to be another one of those stories. I smile. I do like to catch you judging and I definitely set you up to get caught with meaningful character development. Plot spoiler, no character is perfect and everybody lies when they’re wearing their mask. Another bit of insider information on writing: You can also expand or shrink a storyworld with several techniques and one of them is to make the characters affluent and widen the playing field. The music industry gave this novel an interesting backdrop playing off the business world of the agents and the global entertainment audience that forced Cheyenne to travel in contrast to the internal world of solitude and inspirational struggle inside the songwriter’s head.

I was also surprised by what people wanted to talk about. I thought those sins would be the hot topic. They weren’t. They’re universal, we’ve all been there. It was the broken a-ha moments. It was Chet in his trailer after New Year’s Eve hitting rock bottom. And the African mother holding her infant son in the back seat of the car. It was Lexi Reed being found, loved and accepted. And Daniel speaking tough truth as he told Cheyenne to take a long walk in the cold and get over herself. It was the complex dynamics of family and the ultimate simplicity of Bennett’s forgiveness.

When people share their thoughts about The Psalm of the Offended with me and their own story of being an offended one, I’m still silently saying, “hallelujah.” The work fulfilled its purpose.  And even though I’d love to go in and tighten this book up with a polishing re-edit, that’s not for this story. It needs to read slow so that it’s hallelujah can haunt you into thinking could God’s answer to your why be Hallelujah too.

If you’d like to read The Psalm of the Offended I’m promoting it for free from June 6 – June 10 on amazon kindle.

Please share the deal with your friends and let me know what you thought of the story.

Grace & Peace

The Psalm of the Offended Book 1 of the Glory Series http://amzn.to/1yppOH1
The Psalm of the Offended Book 1 of the Glory Series http://amzn.to/1yppOH1

 

The Psalm of the Offended is the story of Cheyenne Cooper. Born to sing, her anointed gift of songwriting takes her farther than she ever imagined into the music world. But Cheyenne never wanted fame or fortune, just the forbidden love of one man. Yet her anointed purpose keeps putting more people, places, and problems between the love she longs for and the life God has ordained her to live. She can’t silence the music and she can’t stop the furious pursuing love of God from transforming her through its song. Her epic story spans glorious mountaintops and the dark valleys of the soul that will change your thinking forever. In a world entitled to blessings and unconvinced by religion, Psalm of the Offended is a raw wrestling match of spiritual reality in a tremendously moving story. For anyone searching for the answer to why, For anyone hurt by the tragic happenings of life and aching for healing, For anyone stirred to finally move towards forgiveness and acceptance, For anyone who loves music and is interested in the creative process behind the melody, Psalm of the Offended is a fresh and original perspective on suffering and surrender. This parable is a must read for anyone who has been offended by the all powerful sovereign supremacy of God.

Reviews:

“This book is so much more than a romance novel. It is an inspiration for anyone who struggles to accept the sovereign will of God when life deals out heart-wrenching challenges (and really, isn’t that all of us?). There is not a sugar-coated page in this book, and we come out the better for it. Read “The Psalm of the Offended” and see yourself in this captivating story of longing, self-denial, and heavenly deliverance. ”  ~ Lynn D.

“These characters will hook you fast and you won’t be able to turn the pages fast enough as you read this romantic story of love and loss.  I could not put it down. I was drawn to this powerful family as the love story melted my heart. I would recommend this book to everyone that likes strong characters with a steamy love story and a faith-based background . ” ~ D C

“Excellent read. Fast paced. Couldn’t stop reading to find out how things turned out. Looking forward to J.L. Kelly’s
next book.” ~ J. Lee

 

THRIVE Conference

Thrive

I will be speaking May 8 & 9 at First Baptist Church of Corinth’s Women’s Conference THRIVE teaching on John 15.

“Are you just surviving life? Or maybe you live striving to please God with all you’ve got but with little to show for it. There is a spiritual secret of abundance, joy and power known as abiding.  Don’t miss this opportunity to learn how to abide to thrive.”

3 Sessions will be taught

  • Survival instincts caused by Bad Definitions
  • Striving; the trap of self-sufficiency
  • Abiding the secret of abundance

Bring a friend and attend if you are in the area. 

Comment below if you want more information!

 

Thrive Conference

 

 

Practicing the Presence of God #abideinChrist

practice the presence of God

Over the 40 days after His resurrection, Jesus trained His disciples to practice His presence.
He was with them . . . then He wasn’t.
They were alone then He appeared.
Sometimes they saw Him physically and sometimes they did not recognize Him until He did a familiar action, like break bread or pray, but they began to realize the relationship they had with Jesus would be practiced differently.

He told them He was leaving and sending the Holy Spirit to be their counselor and comforter. He promised always to be with them even if they couldn’t see Him. “Don’t be afraid, Surely I am with you always.” God’s commands are often tied to God’s promises to encourage and strengthen us.

Jesus last two visual teaching moments were about a vineyard and a fishing net but they symbolized the same great truth. Abide with me and I will bring a harvest (of fruit) and an overflowing net (full of fish). Cooperate with me and I will take your willingness and weakness and add it to My will and supernatural power and bring about God’s fullest blessing of influence, responsibility and opportunity to make a mark for the glory of God.

Abiding is the practice of saturating ourselves with God’s word and being in the continual fellowship of God’s presence.  When we fail to abide, a believer becomes captive to his circumstances where thinking is based on emotions of the moment and his actions are based on the impulses of his old nature. Apart from Christ habitual sins easily consume us until they are compulsions repeated addictively that give us a name- greedy, gossip, angry, worried. When our gazes glance away from Christ we get distracted by the things of this world and become afraid by the things we can’t control. And when we realize where we’ve ended up…awareness hits, we’re ashamed and we hide when we really need to turn quickly and return to our loving God.  I love the encouragement from Brother Lawrence in his magnificent little book “The practice of the Presence of God,” and include three things he said about abiding.

On knowing himself and know his God he confessed: “I regard myself as the most wretched of all men, stinking and covered with sores, and as one who has committed all sorts of crimes against his King. Overcome by remorse, I confess all my wickedness to Him, ask His pardon and abandon myself entirely to Him to do with as He will. But this King, filled with goodness and mercy, far from chastising me, lovingly embraces me, makes me eat at His table, serves me with His own hands, gives me the keys of His treasures and treats me as His favorite. He talks with me and is delighted with me in a thousand and one ways; He forgives me and relieves me of my principle bad habits without talking about them; I beg Him to make me according to His heart and always the more weak and despicable I see myself to be, the more beloved I am of God.”
― Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God

On the love of God he gave this truth: “The difficulties of life do not have to be unbearable. It is the way we look at them – through faith or unbelief – that makes them seem so. We must be convinced that our Father is full of love for us and that He only permits trials to come our way for our own good.

Let us occupy ourselves entirely in knowing God. The more we know Him, the more we will desire to know Him. As love increases with knowledge, the more we know God, the more we will truly love Him. We will learn to love Him equally in times of distress or in times of great joy.”
― Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God

On Prayer and meditation he gave this encouragement: “When the mind, for want of being sufficiently reduced by recollection at our first engaging in devotion, has contracted certain bad habits of wandering and dissipation, they are difficult to overcome, and commonly draw us, even against our wills, to the things of the earth.

I believe one remedy for this is to confess our faults, and to humble ourselves before God. I do not advise you to use multiplicity of words in prayer: many words and long discourses being often the occasions of wandering. Hold yourself in prayer before God, like a dumb or paralytic beggar at a rich man’s gate. Let it be your business to keep your mind in the presence of the Lord. If it sometimes wander and withdraw itself from Him, do not much disquiet yourself for that: trouble and disquiet serve rather to distract the mind than to re-collect it: the will must bring it back in tranquility. If you persevere in this manner, God will have pity on you.”
― Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God

I say three but I mean four, on abiding he clarifies: “He does not ask much of us, merely a thought of Him from time to time, a little act of adoration, sometimes to ask for His grace, sometimes to offer Him your sufferings, at other times to thank Him for the graces, past and present, He has bestowed on you, in the midst of your troubles to take solace in Him as often as you can. Lift up your heart to Him during your meals and in company; the least little remembrance will always be the most pleasing to Him. One need not cry out very loudly; He is nearer to us than we think.”
― Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God

To order this Christian classic follow this link:

The Practice of the Presence of God

And watch for how the Fury practices the presence of God in the FURY series books by J.L. Kelly to see abiding in action in a Christian Character.

The FURY Series by J.L. Kelly. An Intense Epic Where Two Worlds Collide.
The FURY Series by J.L. Kelly.
An Intense Epic Where Two Worlds Collide.

Witness Through These Words

Thanks for following along with me this Lent
in the Witness Through These Words blogs.

These 47 Words through Lent gave me a lot to think about each day and I hope they inspired you as God inspired me.
Soli Deo Gloria.

it's a new day choose joy

Remember, Easter is our chance to start a new.
To return to the Lord. To be, renewed.

God became flesh in His Son, Jesus Christ and at the cross, He took all the sin of humanity on himself, bearing it in His body until He became sin and offers us to count sin dead and buried with Him, believing that in the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus came back to life, conquering sin and death in resurrection to give us abundantly life today and eternal life tomorrow.  Believing by faith in this truth we make the great exchange with Jesus and receive His free gift of salvation. Now God no longer sees us as sinners, but as righteous in Christ.

I love how Steve Thomason taught that, “On Easter God hit the massive “Restart” button on the universe”, and we all have a chance for a mighty do-over, to begin fresh, free from guilt and shame and live loved.

I pray that my witness of these words through Lent was a springboard for your own meditations.

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And FURY book two Echo is coming soon.

FURY Book Two ECHO by JL Kelly

ECHO should sound familiar. Book Two of the FURY series resonates with the aftermath of adversity after Jaclyn Cooper’s rescue and return. Recovering in her father’s house, her recent abduction feels like a bomb blast. The initial explosion of Eros leaving concentric circles of destruction. There is wounding shrapnel that leaves scars, explosive heat that burns like anger and a force of energy that leaves her strangely numb even as the nightmares echo like ringing in the ears. Then almost instantaneous there is the mysterious countering blast wind that fills the void with an equal and unstoppable force. Echo proves that God is the FURY of the blast wind, always counterbalancing and equalizing the force of evil in a believer’s life and through the Spirit’s sanctification, causing all things to work together for good.
In Book Two of the FURY series, Jaclyn Cooper is learning to accept the new normal of her life. To heal she must move through the stages of numbness and anger, to choose forgiveness over vengeance and realize the divine deliverance of God’s presence. God. With you there. Yes, even there. In the unimaginable horrible moment when He allowed the worst adversity to come against you.
Echo is the story of sacrifice, rivalry and revenge. It is the recovery process of finding the truth a midst the rumbling distractions of feelings and expectations.
Echo reminds us we all must remember. And in the Hebrew tradition, make present God by rehearsing our story in His story until we find the reality of the truth—God was always with us. Even there. When normal blew up and a new normal was formed.
Echo is the parable of how God turns evil’s wounds into victory’s scars.
FURY Book Two Echo continues the intense epic where two worlds collide in a gripping love story of rescue and redemption.
Echo is an intense and original perspective about the furious healing love of God.

 

Life. Day 47 of Lent. How to feel alive.

Life. Day 47 of Lent. How to feel alive.

i-am-the-resurrection-and-the-life-john-11-25-26

Life. It’s really what it’s all about. Being alive. Feeling alive.
We know death when we see it. Simply it’s the absence of life.
And it makes most oddly uncomfortable.

If you are ever alone and just stop to sit still and be, instead of do,
usually an unsettling awareness begins to form.
It usually gets most people up and moving quickly, because its uncomfortable that feeling, of being aware of who we really are authentically, of being who we are instead of doing something to feel like somebody.

The problem is shame, that dawning awareness that something is wrong with me.

Man’s solution since the fall is to engage our ‘knowledge of good and evil’ to fix this uncomfortable feeling. We don’t like the growing awareness that something is wrong with us so fix #1 is to convince ourselves its not us but someone/something else who has made us feel this way.  Get rid of that someone/something and wa-lah problem solved.  But it’s not…

Fix # 2, we hide.  We cover up this awful awareness. We add on personality to mask the shame. By the time we are teenagers we’ve developed a distinct pattern of coping with this feeling. We are a personality type– each one of us. Hiding is the beginning of the ability to lie to ourselves and believe we can fix the problem our self and so we arm our self with ego and put on the mask of ‘its all good’.

Fix #3, we work to fix it.  To relieve the sensation and hide the truth that something is wrong with us, we set about fixing everything and everyone except the condition worsens, the defenses strengthen, the lie grows stronger and the emptiness grows deeper because fixing it is really just arm wrestling with ourselves. We can’t fix it.

Fix #4, we fill it. To fix this feeling of emptiness because we still believe the lie since we mask the shame, we stuff things into our life to make us ‘feel better’. We find hobbies and habits. We eat and smoke and drink. We enjoy shopping and sex and other temporary pleasures. We seek after power and prosperity. We rule and we control and we get really good at it.  But we never can quite fill our own emptiness.  Because built into this emptiness is a ‘way of knowing’ that makes it very unlikely we will even see our problem, much less agree that the problem exists.

The things that people do that we think of as sinful are a result of this emptiness that can not be filled. No one likes to feel empty.
We all want to feel alive.

We ache, deep, deep down under the false filling and the fixing and the armor of our personality, in the soul we ache to feel alive. This is the problem with the human race, its not just bad behavior we traditionally have called sin, the problem with the human race is emptiness because we are separated from God. We are empty of the thing that makes us most who we are and make us feel fully alive. We are empty, dead inside and it drives us all towards something, anything that will soothe the uncomfortable awareness that something is not right.

“You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you,” Augustine once determined.

And there comes a moment for each of us too, when we realize even though we are faking it and fixing it to feel alive, we are really dead inside. This is why our quest to feel alive is so intense.
Who wants to feel dead? No one wants to feel dead.
And it is this death in me that makes it so uncomfortable, even painful, for me to be alone with me, to just be instead of do.

Jesus died to exchange the life in Him for the death in me.

Jesus said “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10

When people talk with words like redemption and salvation and being saved they are speaking about this exchange. Death for life. Our death for His life, His death so that we can be alive.

Jesus came to offer you this great exchange. To die to forgive me for who I am, not just what I have done.  Jesus death and resurrection sets me free from who I have become- the fixer and filler and faker hiding from my awareness of the dead emptiness inside of me.
Jesus opens the door to make a connection again to the source of life.  Christ says I can be born again. And I must be if I want to live.

I want to live. I want to feel alive.
If you ache to fill that emptiness then tell God, your source of life, the cry of your heart. Receive the free gift of eternal life by faith, trusting in the finished work of Christ death on the cross for you, where He exchanged your sins for His righteousness. Jesus called that being born again. Born again, I am born from the breath of my Father God and not the womb of my mother. This is a spiritual birth and I am reconnected to the source of Life.  Born again we are spiritual men and women again, with the Holy Spirit deposited into our very being.

We are alive!

Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.  He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.'”  But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” John 7:37

The word “innermost being” is the Greek koilos, meaning hole or empty place. It is often translated belly or womb. In Jn 7, Jesus is describing a spiritual empty place in the heart of man, not a physical belly or womb. This empty place is the source of thirst and the divine solution to this hunger/thirst is to fill it with living water from the Holy Spirit.

Born again, we are filled with the Spirit of God. Filled we can overflow with this aliveness and influence others with the love and power of God.

Today, maybe you are a Christian and you still feel that aching emptiness. Maybe you’ve agreed with the faking, filling and fixing that goes on as we try to ‘feel alive’ apart from God in the ‘old man’ style of self-sufficiency.  Maybe you’re still uncomfortable being and only comfortable doing. May I suggest you stop fixating on the outward behaviors of your life and fix your focus on Jesus Himself.

Abide with Christ. And let Him fan into flame that passionate animation of abundant life connected to Him. Abiding allows the Spirit of God to fill us and fulfill us as we find passion and purpose living as we were made to be. Abiding with Christ we are aware of grace instead of shame.  We find love and we realize we are loved exactly as we are as God continues to transform us into what He was ordained for us to be.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

Live loved.

#Silence. Day 46 of #Lent. The tomb of Christ.

Silence. Day 46 of Lent. The tomb of Christ.

hans holbein the-body-of-the-dead-christ

In the silence of Saturday our focus is on the Tomb of Christ.
This is no ordinary grave. It is not a place of corruption, decay and defeat. It is life-giving, a source of power, victory and liberation.
A day between the horror of his sacrificial death and the joy of His resurrection, the day is full of watchful expectation. Just as the Sabbath is our rest and reflection day, our foretaste of our final eternal rest with God, so this silent Saturday is our foretaste of anticipation when mourning is transformed into joy.
The day embodies in the fullest possible sense the meaning of xarmolipi – joyful-sadness, the bittersweet emotion that is the wonder of the holy week.

Saturday is the day of the pre-eminent rest.
Christ observes a Sabbath rest in the tomb. His rest, however, is not inactivity but the fulfillment of the divine will and plan for the salvation of humankind and the cosmos. He who brought all things into being, makes all things new. The re-creation of the world has been accomplished once and for all. Through His incarnation, life and death Christ has filled all things with Himself He has opened a path for all flesh to the resurrection from the dead, since it was not possible that the author of life would be dominated by corruption.

Paul tells us that: “God was in Jesus Christ reconciling the world to Himself” 2 Cor 5:19 Eternal life and light Himself penetrated the depths of Hades. Christ who is the life of all destroyed death by His work on the cross. That is why the Church sings joyously ” Thine be the glory, risen, conquering Son; endless is the victory, thou o’er death hast won.”

The solemn observance of silent Saturday helps us to recall and celebrate the great truth that by faith we are buried with Christ, seeing in Christ’s burial our own burial of all of our sins, of our past life. Our sin is dead and buried with Christ. Like burning a bridge we can’t go back. The victorious life is hindered by the memory and rehearsal of past failures. We can not live the abundant life when we continue to cultivate a root of bitterness over past injustices done to us by others or of our own sins we feel are unforgivable—all must be given over to Jesus today to be good and buried with him. To participate in Christ’s burial is to put away once and for all the old ways of thinking, the former wrong emotions and habits and attitudes toward God and others and our self in order to be completely free from the past to live a new resurrected life. As we choose to live as though buried with Christ, the power of His work on our behalf makes us realize that the memory as well as the influence of former habits has lost its power and is truly dead and buried.

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.”
1 Cor 15:16-17

Live Loved. Believe & become. Intentional. Soul Settled.

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