fruitage of the spirit's journal

Expressions from the Heart

The Author of Our Faith Stories

The Author of Our Faith Stories by Julie McAllen

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb 12:2)

Father, I love your stories. Thank you for the story you tell through me. It is your story, it is our story. Everyone has a story. We praise you for writing our stories.

As a child, God led me to the stories of an oppressed people told through Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. I was drawn to their stories. Now I know, God wrote their stories too. He told me about all of us through them.

We all are captive. We all live in slavery. Our soul’s cry is for freedom. Something stirred in me when I heard Martin speak the words “I have a dream.” My soul awakened when I read Frederick Douglass’ psalms of freedom. I did not hear these words in a church, but I was seeing the Light in the dark faces of these heroes. I did not see their skin. I saw the Spirit of God in whose image they were created.

You give us a story regardless of our upbringing. We receive it and we give it back. Water the earth Lord. You are in our songs, our cinemas, and the words we exchange with one another. I heard the story. Now here I am, your servant and you send me to an oppressed people.

I am no abolitionist, no civil rights leader, it was before my time. But God used what was recent history to me as a child to stir the passion I could connect with as an adult. I am revisiting my childhood heroes. My black Jeremiah, Frederick Douglass, knew the captivity of his mind because of the bondage of his body. God authored that he never let go of HOPE. These things remain: faith, hope and love. I read his words and they mingle with scripture and I know I am hearing the voice of God. And it has been the voice of God all along that has led me here, to minister HOPE. Hope, not to those in physical chains whipped on a plantation, I recognize the enslaved mind. Those who, for whatever reason, can not break free from the invisible chains of oppression that keep them from knowing the freedom of the sons of God. I intercede. Lord, you brought me here. And who am I Lord? Just a voice crying out in the wilderness. And I offer them hope. Jesus, the hope of nations. In your name every knee shall bow.

My life is a circle and I see it Lord. Thank you for my story. Thank you for love and compassion that has no other origin to claim but you alone. You are the Source, and history marches on. One day my own story will inspire another to go to the people you have given to them. We possess all things in you. I can not stop praising you for who you are! I am fearfully and wonderfully made for I am your story. I am HIS STORY!

Thank you Father for my brothers, Martin and Frederick, my sisters, Rosa and Harriet and all those along the road. They inspire me. Lord, you have sent us all into a wilderness to proclaim freedom to the captives. Lord, send me. Send me to the oppressed. Show me them as I pray. Let me know their need. Empower me to heal. It is all for your glory and I gladly participate. To know you, O God, is my greatest story. Chapter after chapter in my book of life unfolds and I am overjoyed in the surrounding presence of your love for me. Of course I am loved, I am your child. What a precious creation I am! You wrote this story. I am here Lord. Let me live it!!

In disaster, people are prone to ask “where is God?” I say He is here among us. He is in the call to 911. He is in the person who brings a blanket, the silent prayer of the one left helpless, and in the angry passion of the one demanding justice.

Martin Luther King, Jr. followed that cry for justice. He prophetically declared he would die for the cause. He understood the defining moment of his life. Harriet Tubman’s moment came when she placed herself between Master and slave claiming a piece of her was running with him. She recognized the connected Spirit we share. As a part of her escaped in that run-away slave, she willingly took the blow meant for him. Jesus, you do this for us. Thank you. When we meet our defining moment it fulfills your word “whoever saves his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” The moment we save our lives, we die.

As King marched on knowing it would be his death, he was responding to the Life within. When we respond to the Everlasting Spirit, it is no longer us writing the script. We begin to walk in the story written about us by a Great Author.

‘Behold, I have come—In the volume of the book it is written of Me—To do Your will, O God.’” (Heb 10:7)

Jesus knew his story. Even so, as his flesh was dying on that cross he cried out, “My God, my God, why has Thou forsaken me?” It is in that darkness we feel most alone, most abandoned and most certainly near death. But morning comes. God did not forsake Jesus, He was with him on that cross. God did not forsake Martin, He was with him dying in Memphis.

In our dark chapters, He is still with us. Look around. He is in someone near to you. Someone is sharing His Light. Open your eyes, He is found in the most unlikely places. Don’t make the mistake of confining Him to church. The body of Christ is no longer nailed to a cross, stop staring at it. He is all around us. We are His hands and feet. What is He calling you to do?

Keep yourself in God’s love, Julie

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January 25, 2010 Posted by | According to Scripture, Expressions, Prayer Requests | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

What was I thinking?

What was I thinking? by Julie McAllen

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “A man is what he thinks about all day long.” His contemporary Henry David Thoreau journaled, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” I know what they were thinking because they both took the time to write it down. I know my own desperate thoughts too well because of the journals I keep also.

December 28, 2009 ….so today, again I pray. I ask God to help me change my thinking on all this….

And with that, God gave me a theme verse to follow in 2010.

5We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Cor 10:5)

My thoughts, not my actions, are those arguments set up against the knowledge of God. I am the one who must take these thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ. Everything begins in the thought realm. God conceived even us there and then created a world in which He was able to declare “it is good.” From good thoughts came good results. That is why I seek my thoughts to be pure. I want my actions to be pure. But are pure actions enough?

Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? (Matt 9:4)

Jesus knows even our thoughts, no wonder He is moving me to purity not in action alone, but to the core of its conception. Jesus wants to move us beyond keeping the law. Further evidence of this is found in his sermon on the mount where Jesus is teaching a people familiar with law. They have already heard the command to “do” good, but as the time nears for the old law covenant to end and the kingdom of a new spiritual law covenant to begin, Jesus prepares them for this same journey.

27″You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ 28But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matt 5:27-28)

God seeks our heart, not just our obedience. Below the surface of our actions, lies the motivation of the heart. So what have you been thinking?

I have always been intrigued by Paul’s discourse in Romans chapter 7 about his own struggles with sin. He admits he does the things he does not wish to do. He is painfully aware of his fallen flesh. Thankfully he follows this with an understanding that he is not condemned for his inability to be perfect. Paul was set free, not by a law he was able to uphold, but by the law of the Spirit of life through Christ Jesus (Ro 8:1-4). The apostle Paul was no perfect man, and rest assured, no one else here is either. James says, “We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.” (James 3:2) It is no accident, then, that Paul’s admission of weakness in Romans chapter 7 is logically followed by a remedy of reasoning in Romans chapter 8 where he advises purity of thought.

“Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. (Ro 8:5)

His conclusion is that we have a choice in the two natures. For those who live (action) by the sin nature have their minds (thoughts) set on what that nature desires. The choice begins in the mind. So Emerson was right after all, a man is what he thinks about all day long. So what are you thinking? What are you praying about? But more importantly, what is God thinking? Have you ever asked God to change your thinking rather than your situation? His thoughts are higher than our thoughts, wouldn’t it be great to know them?

12For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Heb 4:12)

God is alive and asking us, “so…what are ya thinking?” He is not judging actions alone, be they righteous or wicked, He is judging the thoughts and attitudes of our hearts. The simple truth of the matter is that the word of God, like any relationship, is dangerous! It’s going to change us. Maybe that’s why too many of us prefer not even to look into His word. It hurts to have your soul, spirit, joints and marrow penetrated. But an enemy has already found his way in there and told us lies, so the word of God comes to divide and conquer. He wants to win our hearts. Will we let Him? He gives us a choice in the matter because our thoughts can go on one side or the other of that sharp instrument penetrating the mind. Therefore, daily we make decisions on who holds our thoughts captive.

8See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. (Col 2:9)

We choose who to listen to and obey. I have been there SO MANY times and am sure to visit again. What I mean is, I have seen this sword and still made poor choices. Sometimes I live (walk by flesh) according to the thoughts held captive by hollow and deceptive philosophy based on mere human tradition, but I am learning that relief comes when I choose to demolish those arguments and take those thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ. That is walking by the Spirit and setting my mind on what the Spirit desires as Paul advised.

How do we hold a thought captive and bring it to Christ for obedience? If we only pray about what we can see, we’re missing the point. God sees it all already doesn’t He? He asks us to step out of the physical realm and into the Spirit and probes, “where are you?” He knows that too, of course, but He wants us to acknowledge it before Him. For example, here is what some of us have considered as prayer: “God, did you see what that person did to me? Huh? Did ya God? Do you see what I put up with? If you really are there, change this for me! In Jesus’ name, amen.” That is NOT prayer. That’s an eye-witness account. God already knows that person and that situation, you really don’t need to paint a picture of it for the One who sees all. Actually, you’re just aggravating yourself by retelling the story. For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Cor 2:16) Instead of instructing God about what He already sees, ask Him to reveal the mind of Christ in you. That’s when we can put down our own weapons and allow Him to penetrate our minds like a double-edged sword to judge the thoughts and attitudes of our heart. We trust Him with our thoughts, and thank Him for that sword that keeps us separated from the empty words we’ve treasured up from others who speak according to the world. Or do we? Do you ever stubbornly cling to those empty utterances of accusation, doubt, bitterness, or revenge? Why? Don’t you know you’re forgiven? Don’t you know how loved you are? Don’t you know you have power to overcome? If you don’t, you’ve allowed yourself to become an enemy of God in your own thoughts being held captive to the lies. Soon, your actions will confirm it alienating you even further as you lose a grip on the hope held out in the gospel and cling to the deception.

21Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation― 23if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant. (Col 1:21-23)

Fix your thoughts on HOPE that is unseen, not on the problems you can see. When we accept what Jesus did for us, it disarms the thoughts that kill, steal and destroy our hope. Don’t listen to them! If God sees the blood of Christ on you, He’s not listening to the accusations why should you? Do not be deceived by the spirit of the air, empty philosophy, or lies from any false teachings that are not of Christ!

1As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. (Eph 2:1-3)

Yes, we fall prey to the cravings of our sinful nature by following it’s thoughts!

1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God―this is your spiritual act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is―his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Ro 12:1-2)

By God’s mercy, we do have a choice. Our minds can be fixed on what is seen or we can allow our thoughts to be captured by His Sprit for renewal. And from this frame of mind, true acts of worship follow as we recognize our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–not for the world’s pleasures and purposes, but for God alone. It begins in our thoughts.

Now, what was I thinking?

Keep yourself in God’s love, Julie

January 11, 2010 Posted by | According to Scripture, Expressions | , , , , , , | Comments Off on What was I thinking?

   

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