OTHER WRITINGS

         

 Email:  hendersonct@aol.com

 

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VEAL – AN INTERESTING PARALLEL:

 

You probably know that veal has long been considered an exquisite cuisine for high-end diners in many countries throughout the world.  But, did you know that in order to produce veal for this lucrative worldwide gourmet industry, young calves are chained by the neck in light-less cages measuring just two feet wide?  This severe confinement is intended to make the calves’ meat tender since the animals cannot exercise and their muscles cannot develop, ultimately resulting in leg weakness, lameness, and an inability to stand.  In addition to restricting the animals’ movement and providing no light, veal producers severely limit their calves’ diet, feeding them an all-liquid milk diet that is purposely deficient in iron and fiber. This inadequate diet is intended to produce anemia, further tenderizing the meat and creating the pale colored flesh that is fancied by “gourmets” for their fine dining.  Veal aficionados including a number of renowned chefs subscribe to the belief that the best veal is raised in such arcane conditions of darkness and immobility.

 

Source: International Foundation for the Conservation of Natural Resources

 

Summary:

 

Handlers who constrict and feed only milk to the ones they’ve corralled, do so strictly for their own personal financial benefit.  Bottom-line:  greed.

 

Confined to their handler’s care, milk-fed, weak creatures eventually become a delicacy for the devourer.   Bottom-line: death.

 

Spiritual Comparison:

 

“There will be a period of time when they will not put up with the healthful teaching, but, in accord with their own desires, they will accumulate teachers for themselves to have their ears tickled; and they will turn their ears away from the truth.”  (2 Timothy 4:3, 4)

 

. . . by this time you ought to be teachers, but you seek only someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word over and over again. You want milk, not solid food!  Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.  (Hebrews 5:12-14)

 

“God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” (1 John 1:5-7)

 

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour”  (1 Peter 5-8)

 

“Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”  (Ephesians 6:13)

 

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DRIVING WITH THE TOP DOWN

 

With great anticipation, I headed for the parking garage last night after getting off from work.  It was the first warm evening of spring and my first opportunity to drive the convertible I had purchased this past winter – with the top down!  I had waited for three long, cold wintry months for this moment.   And it had finally arrived!

 

And what an experience it was!  It was everything and more than I expected.  With the evening sun shining all around me; the breeze of the open road wafting through my hair; the spring aromas of new grass, budding trees, daffodils and hyacinths; and beautiful worship music flowing from my CD player . . . I was almost sure I’d died and gone to heaven.   Well, okay, not really . . . but it sure was nice!

 

Nice, that is, until I approached the center of town.  

 

It was at that point the music from the CD player had transitioned from worshipful to strong intercession and warfare, and as I looked about me, I was stirred.  Sitting at a traffic light in the middle of the city with the top down . . . I could see so clearly.  

 

I could see office buildings full of people working late because their careers had become the most important things in their lives.  I could see the door of the corner bar open and close as people went in and out – searching for, but not finding a permanent relief from their anxieties, pain, and loneliness.   I could see the dirty bookstore in the middle of the block hiding within it husbands and fathers bound by pornography and lust.  And I could see teens starved for love and attention, gathered at the bus stop with cigarettes in hand, cursing and yelling at passersby.  

 

I could see lost and dying people who need Jesus.

 

I turned the music up louder and began to pray.  And as I did, I wondered what impact my being there with the top down and the music penetrating the air would have in the spiritual realm.  

 

And God spoke.  

 

“These people and their needs have always been here awaiting your prayers.  They were here in January, in February, in March.  Canvas doesn’t block spiritual vision.  Canvas doesn’t block intercession.

 

When you’re walking in the Spirit, you’ll always see through the canvas.  But when you’re ‘covered up’ with your own daily cares and worldly activities, your spiritual vision is impeded.

 

Walk in the Spirit so you may see what I see, and pray without ceasing.”

 

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EVERYBODY’S GOTTA BE SOMEPLACE, SOMETIME

  

One of my Dad’s favorite quotes is “Everybody’s gotta be someplace, sometime”. Not a statement that’s debatable, is it?  It’s a fact. If you’re not someplace, sometime, then you’re non-existent.

  

I know it may only sound like quibbling over words, but words are important. When we only ascribe the term ‘church’ to weekend gatherings or institutions or groups that have organized themselves as ‘churches’, we miss out on what it means to live as Christ’s body. It gives us a false sense of security to think that by attending a meeting once a week (or twice a week . . . or even every night . . .) that we are participating in God’s church.

  

Conversely I hear people talk about ‘leaving the church’ when they stop attending a specific congregation. But if the church is something we are, not someplace we go, how can we leave it unless we abandon Christ himself? And if I think only of a specific congregation or home group as ‘my’ church, haven’t I separated myself from a host of other brothers and sisters who do not attend the same one I do?

  

The idea that those who gather together on a regular basis in a building . . . . or those who gather together in a home group . . . are the ‘true’ church, the ‘real’ church, or ‘church’ as it should be . . . would be foreign to Jesus. The issue is not where we are at a given time and place, but how we are living in him all week long.

  

Experiencing the joy of authentic fellowship begins when we realize that all our dependence must be centered on Jesus himself. We don’t share fellowship because we need to. We don’t do it to get our needs met. True fellowship can only be known where our dependence upon Christ spills out in our love for others. Knowing the joy and freedom of his life, we can’t help but share it with others. And that’s a healthy contribution to any gathering, isn’t it?

  

Scripture is clear. True life is only found in Jesus. There is life in no other–not even a correct arrangement of Christians in houses or buildings. That’s what Paul meant when he called Jesus the Head of the Church, declaring that it was God’s purpose for him to “have first place in everything.” Our needs are not the focus. His presence living among us daily is.

  

Church life grows out of a group of people who are focused on Jesus. Focus on the church, and you will always be disappointed. Focus on Jesus and you will find him building the church all around you.

 

Everybody’s gotta be someplace, sometime. And as Christians, wherever . . . whenever . . . we are to be disciples of Jesus Christ.

 

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K.O.’d

 

With a grieved heart I was seeking the Lord’s counsel this morning and asked “Why, Father, does it seem you so often move in power in a body of believers, and then almost without any notice, you’ve left the scene?  The party continues, but the power is gone.”

 

His response:  K.O.’d.

 

K.O.’d?

 

And then a phrase I’ve heard time and time again came to my memory:  “pride goeth before the fall”.  “But this is not correct”, He said.  “Read the scripture.”  And on reading Proverbs 16:18, He showed me it wasn’t “pride” that “goeth before the fall”, but rather “a haughty spirit goes before a fall.”  

 

“Pride goeth before destruction.”

 

And then it was as if I could see a wrestling match.  A muscular wrestler was standing in a boxing ring, wearing a shirt emblazoned with the words, “the presence of the Lord”.  He bounced back and forth, pumped up and feeling strong.  He’d won a lot of matches, and he was on top of the world.  He had it “goin’ on”.  And then, in a display of over-confidence and self-importance, he ripped off the shirt, shouting, “I’m the man!”  All of a sudden, an opponent (a haughty spirit) flew across the ring and dove at his legs, knocking him to the ground.  He wasn’t injured, but he lay there, making no attempt to get on his knees, so he could regain his previous stand. After all, it wasn’t his fault he was knocked down.  He didn’t do anything to deserve this.  He’s the man!  How dare someone knock him to the ground!  So he just lay there, refusing to get up.  And vulnerable for the kill, a bigger opponent flew into the ring, pounced its full weight upon him, and drove a knife engraved with the words “pride” into his heart.

 

The Holy Spirit spoke, “Arrogance (a haughty spirit) will knock the legs out from underneath a move of God . . . in a body of believers or even a single believer.  If that body doesn’t quickly get up on its knees in repentance so that it may stand again, pride will be its destruction.”

 

Knocked down and then knocked out.  K.O.’d.

 

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LABOR DAY

 

The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. Labor Day is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

 

I like a good holiday as much as the next person . . . and will take great pleasure in enjoying the festivities of the upcoming 3-day weekend. But as I contemplate the reason for the holiday – a tribute to men for their contribution toward the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country, I’m saddened. This country’s strength, prosperity, and well-being are due to the loving hand of a merciful God . . . the very God who many in this country are working feverishly to ignore and, if it were possible, even eradicate.

 

The word “labor“, when studied in the spiritual sense, provides a sobering commentary for those in this country who want to exclude God and take the glory for themselves. For followers of Jesus Christ, however, to “labor” means something entirely different . . . with rewards that far exceed anything this world could ever offer . . .

 

“Like wild donkeys in the desert, the poor go about their labor of foraging food; the wasteland provides food for their children.” Job 24:5

 

“I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me. I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 2:9-11

 

“What does a man get for all the toil and anxious striving with which he labors under the sun?” Ecclesiastes 2:22

 

“And I saw that all labor and all achievement spring from man’s envy of his neighbor. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” Ecclesiastes 4:4

 

“Naked a man comes from his mother’s womb, and as he comes, so he departs. He takes nothing from his labor that he can carry in his hand.” Ecclesiastes 5:15

 

“Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed and establishes a town by crime! Has not the LORD Almighty determined that the people’s labor is only fuel for the fire, that the nations exhaust themselves for nothing?  For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” Habakkuk 2:12-14

 

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death. The laborer‘s appetite works for him; his hunger drives him on.” Proverbs 16:25-26

 

“Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain.” Psalm 127:1

 

HOWEVER . . .

 

“Blessed are all who fear the LORD, who walk in his ways. You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours.” Psalm 128:1-2

 

“Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58

 

“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me.” Philippians 1:21-22

 

“We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.” Colossians 1:28-29

 

“We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 1:3

 

“(and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe.” 1 Timothy 4:10

 

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WOW!  WHAT AN ANOINTING!

 

As I drove into work the other morning, singing and worshipping to a CD I’d just purchased, the anointing on the music totally overwhelmed me.  My hair was literally standing on end, and out loud I actually spoke the words, “Wow! What an anointing!”  Immediately the Lord spoke, “Really?”  “Just what does it mean to be anointed?”

 

I struggled with an answer.  Powerful?  Gifted?  Unique?  Above the norm spiritually?  To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure, other than I knew how I was feeling at that particular moment –  just blown away by God!  Somehow, though, I knew I hadn’t satisfied Him or myself with my answers.  I’ve also learned whenever He asks me a question like that, there’s something He’s wanting me to know.  

 

So I searched His word and His heart about it and I found my answer.

 

“Take some  . . . of the anointing oil and sprinkle it on Aaron and his garments and on his sons and their garments. Then he and his sons and their garments will be consecrated.”  (Exodus 29:21)

 

“By the anointing oil of his God, He has been dedicated (set apart).  I am the LORD.”  (Leviticus 21:21)

 

“Take the anointing oil and anoint the tabernacle and everything in it; (and by so doing) consecrate it and all its furnishings, and it will be holy (sanctified).”  (Exodus 40:9)

 

The definition of anoint is “to smear, daub, rub”, past tense anointed means “smeared, daubed, rubbed”, and anointing means “the act of smearing, daubing, rubbing”.  The definition of consecrated is “sanctified, blessed, set apart, made holy.”

 

Anointing is the action.  Consecrated is the result.

 

Sometimes we have a tendency to say, “this music is anointed” or “that music isn’t anointed”. But the meditation of your heart – your desire to worship the Lord in any situation – is what “smears the anointing” on any song.  It becomes consecrated (blessed, set apart, made holy) unto the Lord the moment you use it to bring honor to Him.  

 

Even further to that, however, is the trendy catch phrase we’ve been hearing (and using) so often lately.  “Isn’t so-and-so anointed?”  Or “There’s such a powerful anointing on that ministry.”  Or “Oh!  How I wish I had so-and-so’s anointing!”  But if we were speaking accurately, we really should be saying, “Isn’t so-and-so consecrated”?  “Isn’t such-and-such sanctified?”  “That ministry is so consecrated.”  Or “Oh!  I wish I were set apart like he is.”  

 

Hello?????  Aren’t we?

 

“You are to be holy to me because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart . . . to be my own.”  (Leviticus 20:26)

 

“But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”  (1 Corinthians 6:12)

 

 “They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them (set them apart) by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.”  ( John 17:16 – 18 )

 

“Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.”  ( Matthew 10:8 )  Notice the Lord doesn’t limit this command to an elite few.

 

The fact of the matter is, as followers of Christ, we are all set apart unto the Lord.  Powerfully consecrated, powerfully sanctified by the blood of Jesus Christ.  Holy because He is holy. It’s not something someone else has that you should envy or covet.

 

Jesus in you.  Jesus in me.  We are all equally endowed, equally empowered, equally anointed, equally consecrated.  Freely we have all received.  “So then, no more boasting about men (or ministries, pastors, musicians, bands, songs, or sermons).  All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas (Peter) or the world or life or death or the present or the future–all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God. (1 Corinthians 3:20-23)

 

We have the goods.

 

Let’s give ’em out.

 

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A PROPER PERSPECTIVE

 

The Lord says many of my children are taking themselves too seriously and not taking me seriously enough.

 

Some of them are so enmeshed in the natural things – their jobs, their household responsibilities, their children’s sports commitments, their hobbies, their works in my name – that they keep waiting for “things to lighten up” before they step into what I’m calling them to do.  They’re taking them SELVES too seriously and not taking me seriously enough.  I am waiting.

 

Some of them have been gifted in certain areas to glorify me, yet they remain on the sidelines, watching and being wowed by others who ARE operating in their anointing.  They keep seeking more of me, more blessing, more power, more ministry from others, when in fact they are as full of me as they’re going to get.  They’re taking them SELVES too seriously and not taking me seriously enough.  I am waiting.

 

Some of them ARE walking in what I’ve called them to.  But they become frustrated when things don’t go as THEY think they should.  Or when miracles, signs, and wonders DO follow their ministry, they expect praise and recognition from men, saying “my, aren’t you used by God?” and they lose sight of where their anointing comes from and why.  If I can use a donkey, I can use any human being.  

 

Remember, MINE, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is MINE. MINE is the kingdom; I AM exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from ME; I AM the ruler of all things. In MY hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. But WHO ARE YOU that you should be able to give (anything) generously? Everything comes from me, and you have given me only what comes from my hand.  As for all this that you do for my Holy Name, (the songs, the dance, the poetry, the prophetic words, the discernment, the insights, the teachings, the sermons, the healing ministries, the deliverance ministries, the prison ministries, the boldness to witness, etc., etc., etc.), (every bit of) it comes from MY hand, and ALL of it belongs to me. You are (nothing but) aliens and strangers in my sight and your days on earth are like a shadow.  I test the heart and am pleased with integrity. (ALWAYS) acknowledge ME (and NEVER promote yourselves), and serve me with a wholehearted (pure) devotion and with a willing mind, for I DO search every heart and I know every motive behind your thoughts (and actions).

 

The Lord says many of my children are taking themselves too seriously and not taking me seriously enough.  

 

I am waiting.

 

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MISSING A HEADLIGHT?

 

Have you ever been out late at night, driving on one of those open stretches of country road, where the road seems to go on forever and there’s not a vehicle in sight but your own?  Then, in the distance, the faint glimmer of a motorcycle headlight begins to approach from the opposite direction.  As it draws closer, you feel a slight apprehension because it seems to be hugging the center line just a little too closely for your comfort.  It isn’t until it’s about to zip past you that you realize it’s not a motorcycle at all, but an automobile with a burnt-out right headlight.

 

The other night after experiencing this misconception for probably the umpteenth time in my driving career and really never thinking much about it . . . this time the Lord had something to say.

 

“How many of my children are walking through their lives with only half of my light shining forth?  When only half of my light shines forth, the ones in the darkness see you as something other than what you truly are. You are unrecognizable as my own and perceived to be something other than what I have called you to be.  

 

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control – truly let the Spirit lead, guide and direct you so my Light will FULLY shine forth from you to every person who crosses your path.  I have seen you as you worship me with abandon in the sanctuary.  Worship me in the same way in your daily encounters with others.  For I have called you to be the light of the world. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in Heaven.”

 

I was then reminded of something I read not too long ago, and so I share it with you now.

 

THE CHOICE

(Author Unknown)

 

It’s quiet. It’s early. My coffee is hot. The sky is still dark. The world is asleep. The day is coming. In a few moments, the day will arrive. It will roar down the track with the rising of the sun. The stillness of the dawn will be exchanged for the noise of the day. The calm of solitude will be replaced by the pounding pace of the human race. The refuge of the early morning will be invaded by decisions to be made and deadlines to be met. For the next twelve hours, I will be exposed to the day’s demands. It is now that I must make a choice. I’m free to choose. And so I choose.

 

I CHOOSE LOVE.

No occasion justifies hatred; no injustice warrants bitterness. I choose love. Today I will love God and what God loves.

 

I CHOOSE JOY.

I will invite God to be the God of all my circumstances. I will refuse the temptation to be cynical … the tool of the lazy thinker. I will refuse to see people as anything less than human beings, created by God. I will refuse to see any problem as less than an opportunity to see God.

 

I CHOOSE PEACE.

I will live forgiven. I will forgive so that I may live.

 

I CHOOSE PATIENCE.

I will overlook the inconveniences of the world. Instead of cursing the one who takes my place, I’ll invite him to do so. Rather than complain that the wait is too long, I will thank God for a moment to pray. Instead of clenching my fist at new assignments, I will face them with joy and courage.

 

I CHOOSE KINDNESS.

I will be kind to the poor, for they are alone. Kind to the rich, for they are afraid. And kind to the unkind, for such is how God has treated me.

 

I CHOOSE GOODNESS.

I will go without a dollar before I take a dishonest one. I will be overlooked before I will boast. I will confess before I will accuse. I choose goodness.

 

I CHOOSE FAITHFULNESS.

Today I will keep my promises. My debtors will not regret their trust. My spouse, my children, my family and my friends will never have reason to question my love for them.

 

I CHOOSE GENTLENESS.

Nothing is won by force. I choose to be gentle. If I raise my voice, may it be only in praise. If I clench my fist, may it be only in prayer. If I make a demand, may it be only of myself.

 

I CHOOSE SELF-CONTROL.

I am a spiritual being. After this body is dead, my spirit will soar. I choose self-control. I will be drunk only by joy. I will be impassioned only by my faith. I will be influenced and taught only by Christ. I choose self-control.

 

LOVE, JOY, PEACE, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS, and SELF-CONTROL.

To these I commit my day. If I succeed, I will give thanks. If I fail, I will seek His grace. And then, when this day is done, I will place my head on my pillow and rest.  

 

And tomorrow I will choose these things again.

 

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ONE RINGY-DINGY

– A UNIQUE END TO GOSSIP

 

Have you ever encountered a man who, when someone began to gossip about another  Christian brother or sister (even under the guise of a “need for prayer”),  would pick up his cell phone, call the individual and say to the person on the other end, “Hello, my friend.  I have so and so here with me, and they are saying such and such about you.  Hold on a moment while I put them on the line so they can speak directly to you about it.”

 

I haven’t.  Yet.

 

The tongue has great power to set ablaze. It can enflame – either false accusations or truthful encouragement, prideful bombast or humble thanksgiving, bitter hatred or forgiving mercy. Let us consider our speech. Do we use our tongues to build one another up in love, focusing

on the gifts and virtues that another possesses, or do we use our tongues to tear one another down, focusing on the weaknesses and vices that our friends appear to have?  “A slanderer separates intimate friends.” Proverbs 16:28

 

In this age of convenience, with a cell phone in every pocket, perhaps it’s time to think twice before we speak.

 

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THE TREASURE OF ALL TREASURES

 

As I was getting ready for work this morning, Good Morning America was interviewing a gentleman who recently unearthed a large, rare emerald while digging in his own backyard in North Carolina!  A value hasn’t yet been placed on the gem, but judging from the size of it, I’d say this man will be set for life!  I watched in amazement, and then quietly began to wonder if there was anything of worth in my own backyard . . . hmmmm, what did I do with that shovel???

 

But then, at that moment, the Lord quickened to me that I have a treasure far, far greater than any emerald a man could ever find in this earth.  My treasure is also buried in a product of the earth . . . a jar of clay.  Oh, yes!   When He “made his light shine in my heart to give me the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ . . . having this treasure in a jar of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from me!” (2 Corinthians 4:7)  “That I could know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge!” (Colossians 2:2-4)  Think about that!  In the natural, when you find an emerald, you have an emerald.  But within MY treasure there are even more treasures!

 

And then He reminded me that, yes, while the man in North Carolina may be able to bank the money earned from this discovery and very well be “set for life” . . . so too am I “set for life” . . . the life that is truly life! For I have “laid up treasure for myself as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that I may take hold of the life that is truly life.” (1 Timothy 6:18-20)

 

And the very treasure that I have, I will someday see . . . Yes!  Surrounded by the very same kind of gems that the man in North Carolina discovered . . . and more!  “The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst.” (Revelation 21:18-20)  “And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian.  A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled His throne.” (Revelation 4:2-4)  

 

Why?  

 

Because my treasure IS the TREASURE of ALL treasures!

 

I’m rich!!!

 

Could it be that man’s love for jewelry/gems actually comes from a desire that God has planted in us to be in His city?

 

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WITH INTIMACY COMES HEAVENLY VISION

 

The Holy Spirit has really been speaking to me this week about our need for intimacy with Father.  It’s not just because He loves us and wants to spend time with us, it’s because intimate time with the Father is good for us.  

 

As little children, we totter about here and there, doing our thing, and as long as we know Daddy is “in the house”, we feel protected.  We often stand with our heads tilted up, looking up at Daddy, making our petitions known. “Can I do this?  Can I have that?  Would you fix this for me?  Will you make that bad bully go away, Daddy?”  After all, He’s taller than us.  He’s bigger than us.  He can see so much more than we can . . . (he even sees the bullies coming before we do) . . . and there’s comfort in that.  

 

But He wants us to see things from his point-of-view, to see things from a heavenly perspective.  And to do that we need to quit tottering around down here, looking up every so often to make sure He’s still in the room . . . and take the time to “go up there”.  We need to sit in the Father’s lap.

 

When we sit in His lap, we can truly begin to see from a Heavenly perspective – upward looking down – instead of downward always looking up or around.   If He says “we are seated with Him in the Heavenlies”, do you think He meant some day?  No, we are seated with Him now (when we allow ourselves to be).  And when we are seated in the Heavenlies, we will have a heavenly perspective, a heavenly mindset – the mind of the Father – just as Jesus always had the mind of the Father and the desire to accomplish His will.  

 

When the enemy came to Jesus, was He concerned about the weapon being used, the battle, the struggle, the hardship of it?  No.  He was fully God, but also fully man.  He could have had a “manly” focus, an earthly focus, but He didn’t.  He kept His Heavenly focus.  He kept His eyes upon the Father.  His mind was always – ALWAYS – stayed upon His Father – even when they crucified Him!  And we think we have it bad sometimes with our little demonic encounters.  Sometimes I just have to laugh at myself and say “Lord, I know You must be shaking Your head and saying, ‘if she would only focus on Me!!!’”

 

With intimacy comes heavenly vision.  And with heavenly vision, His yoke is always easy and His burden is light.

 

“Worship the LORD your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you, and none will miscarry or be barren in your land. I will give you a full life span. I will send my terror ahead of you and throw into confusion every nation you encounter. I will make all your enemies turn their backs and run.” (Exodus 23:25-27)

 

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WHAT COLOR ARE YOUR LEAVES?

 

This past Saturday, snuggled under my comforter with a mug of hot chocolate, I pulled out our family photographs and began to reminisce about warmer, more colorful times.   As I flipped through pictures of our October vacation in West Virginia, I was awestruck by the beauty of God’s creation and the incredible contrast to my current surroundings.  The photographs showed vivid colors unlike any ever found on a painter’s pallet.  The leaves, once green, were a spectacular blend of fiery yellows, oranges, reds, and magentas . . . a breathtaking demonstration that there is NO artist like our Father!  What the painter’s brush can only imitate, He has created!  

 

Hmmm.  It was a lazy Saturday afternoon.  No commitments, no appointments.  Why not open the encyclopedia and do some research on what actually causes leaves to change their colors?  

 

And as I began to read, the Holy Spirit began to speak.

 

I read that “seasonal conditions (such as a lot of rain or too little rain) cause resulting chemical changes in the leaves, and these conditions are key factors in the timing and coloration of the leaves.”  Similarly, as Christians, there are certain conditions that cause resulting spiritual changes in our lives.  These conditions are key factors as to whether we are walking in His perfect timing and are at peak performance for Him!  (Note:  I really liked the encyclopedia’s example of “a lot of rain or too little rain”!  Send your rain, oh, Lord!)

 

Here in Dayton this fall, we didn’t experience the vivid colors of years past because of the summer drought.  Generally, clear, sunny days and cool nights with temperatures in the 40s bring about the most striking autumn colors.  In the spiritual sense, when we position ourselves in a drought-like situation . . . with little or no prayer or intimacy with the Lord . . . little or no reading of His Word . . . when we quench the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in our lives . . . we, too, will lack His beauty, His brilliance, and His strength.  

 

Three chemicals within the leaves, chlorophyll, carotenoids and anthocyanins, are involved in the annual color change process. As temperatures cool and the days shorten, cells at the base of the leaves disintegrate, blocking passages from the leaves to the branches and causing the chlorophyll to decompose. Chlorophyll is what gives most plants their green color. As the chlorophyll fades (or, in effect, dies), colors in the other pigments, the carotenoids (yellows) and anthocyanins (reds), come to the surface.    And so it is when we die to self . . . when we block fleshly desires from ruling our bodies and allow the Holy Spirit to take control, His character permeates us . . . and the beauty of Christ comes to the surface.

 

Trees with leaves having a preponderance of carotenoids (like beech, birch and willow), turn varying shades of yellow. When anthocyanins predominate (as in the case of many maples, dogwoods and sumac), reds and purples appear. Variations in color from tree to tree, or even from branch to branch, are often caused by stress factors like disease, injury, or unusually wet or dry conditions. These factors contribute to the timing and degree of brilliance of the changing colors.  As followers of Christ, when we fully yield to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to mold us (painful though sometimes that may be), our transformation will be complete.  Just as the Master Artist ordained it, our individual gifts will compliment the needs of the Body and we will radiate the brilliance of Jesus Christ!  There are beautiful variations from Christian to Christian and even church house to church house – and all were created by the Master Artist to compliment each other, so that when we are united in harmony, we are a breathtaking picture to the world!  

 

After the trip when we returned to Dayton from West Virginia, I remember the difference in color was so obvious . . . and disappointing.  Do the lost and hurting have to “drive to West Virginia”, so to speak, to see real beauty?   Or can they just “look across the street”, and see it in full display?  Are those in the midst of “a stark and barren winter”, being drawn to us because we radiate the warmth and beauty of Jesus Christ?

 

I say “Give me your beauty, Lord, for truly there is no artist like you!”  

 

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SAME TOWEL, SAME BASIN

 

In years past, a common way for young families to pinch pennies was through the use of the Saturday night “community” bath, and as a young child, I had the joy of experiencing this weekly ritual on a first-hand basis.

 

I was 9 years old and the oldest of four girls. With a quickly growing family and my father the only one working outside the home, my parents needed to cut corners wherever possible. So to save on water, from Sunday through Friday, the children would take “sink baths”, and on Saturday night, it was bathtub time!  Around 7:00 p.m. Mom would fill the bathtub with hot, soapy water and bathe my two-year old sister, Michelle. I watched longingly, wishing that I could be immersed in that bubbly, clean, luxurious warmth! But after toweling Michelle dry, then in climbed Carla. And then Angie. And then it was my turn. By this point, soap scum floated in little gray mounds on the surface of the water and the temperature was barely lukewarm. But if you ran a little hot water over the top of an Ivory soap bar, fresh bubbles and new warmth made the experience just fine! And I always stepped out clean and fresh.

 

It’s funny how I never worried about the bathwater being dirty. I guess it’s because I knew we were family.

 

This morning, as I was reading a scripture passage I’ve read many times before, this time it brought back the memory of those Saturday night baths. It’s a passage typically explained as a symbol of service, cleansing, and humility, and that’s correct. But something new jumped out at me today … something I’ve never heard or thought about before. The passage is John 13:1-17:

 

It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love. The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet, but my hands and my head as well!” Jesus answered, “A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean. When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

 

Before correlating this to my childhood bath experience, there are several things that caught my attention in this passage. First, here was Jesus, gathered for the last time with his disciples – believers to whom he had ministered and taught many times beforehand. But in his last few hours on the earth, it was not a time of ministry to the lost, but rather to his closest followers.

 

Second, when Jesus responded to Peter, “A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet”, Jesus is making a true statement about conventional etiquette at that time in history – one bathed before coming to a feast, so only his feet made dusty by the walk would need to be washed. In Jerusalem in Jesus’ day, if you were invited to dinner, you would have a complete bath or shower at a fountain before leaving. You would be wearing sandals, and on the way through the streets your feet would become sweaty and covered with road dirt and perhaps even bits of animal dung. So on arrival at the meal, a servant would bring a basin of water and wash your feet before the guests reclined with bare feet around the table. But when Jesus said, “A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet”, the Lord is actually painting a picture of theological truth. Believers and followers of Jesus Christ, “bathed” and cleansed by the Blood of the Lamb, still must walk around in a dirty, “dung-filled” world. And as we do, sometimes we pick up a little dirt or grit that gets “caught between the toes” and hinders our walk with Jesus. We might not even notice it, until a brother or sister in Christ points out that we’ve started limping a bit. And then they minister to us as the Holy Spirit leads and we are cleansed.

 

A time or two, I’ve heard the comment (voiced in disapproval) that “it seems when certain believers come together in fellowship, they always end up ministering to each other.” Is this self-centeredness? No, I don’t think so. I believe it is wisdom. Jesus did it and said, “you should do as I have done for you.” We are called to minister to each other. As James 5:16 says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”

 

Now, to the passage that jogged my childhood memories – verses 4 and 5: “so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.” Think about this for a minute. The same basin and the same towel were used for all of them. The first disciple who Jesus ministered to had the pleasure of fresh, clear water and a clean, soft towel. But as Jesus continued to move from one disciple to the next and then to the next, the water would have become murkier and murkier, growing darker and more discolored with the addition of each foot’s sweat, road dirt, and animal dung. And the towel? Most likely, stained, wet and gritty. Can you imagine, when Jesus finally reached Peter? Perhaps Peter said, “No, Lord, you shall never wash my feet” for another reason! (smile)

 

But, in reality, the feet of many different believers will cross our paths and gather together with us frequently throughout our lives – young feet, old feet, the feet of different races and different incomes, the wealthy and the poor and indigent, the sick, the arrogant, the annoying, the feet of those we love, the feet of those who may have hurt us at one time, the feet of those who are like us and of those who are not like us at all. Whose feet would we be willing to wash? And with whom would we be willing to share the towel and the basin? Jesus showed by his example that we really don’t have a choice in the matter.

 

We are family – the family of God – brothers and sisters in Christ. And before we can share one another’s hurts and struggles, accomplishments and dreams, we must be willing to expose ourselves to each other – dirty feet, calluses and all. Too often we are reluctant for others to know our weaknesses. But, family requires being vulnerable. It means humbling ourselves and not only washing someone else’s “dirty feet”, but being willing to let others wash ours. Family means forgiving one another without any hint of resentment. Family is giving the other the benefit of the doubt, being slow to speak and eager to listen.

 

And when believers are functioning as a unified Body – as a true family, a bridge can be built to our neighbors around us who don’t know the Savior. When a lost world sees servant hood and unity among Christians, they are drawn and want to know more. Unfortunately many times the world doesn’t see any difference when it looks at the Body of Christ. There can be as much distance and alienation among God’s people as there is in the world. What the Christian church needs today is to get reconnected as a Body – to see each other as actual family members – so we can function as God intended. That alone will draw people to Jesus.

 

To be a family, we must be a fundamental part of each other’s lives, even sharing the “same bath water and using the same towel”. And as we look down into the filthy water of the basin, we will see the sin, sickness and bondages that have been sponged away from our brothers, our sisters, and ourselves by the hands of the Lord!

 

Yes, it’s funny how I never worried about the bathwater being dirty. I guess it’s because I knew we were family.

 

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ATOMIC WORSHIP

 

This past Halloween night, my husband and I participated in a 4-hour “Take Back the Night” worship service at the Dayton Convention Center in Dayton, Ohio. And something happened there that night – something unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before.

 

Until now, I’ve kept the experience to myself. It was so unusual, I wasn’t even sure I could explain it properly. And if I was able to verbalize it, the reaction might have been,”and what drug were you on????”

 

But yesterday the Lord brought it all back to me again, and with it came revelation. And now I long to share it with you.

It was about an hour into the service, and the worship leader began to play an instrumental “new” song. As many people came forward and began to dance before the Lord, I had a vision.  It was as though all of us were electrons, vibrating and whirling around the nucleus of an atom. The nucleus was a brilliant, translucent combination of piercingly bright colors and you could almost see the whole of it from the thin, outside edge to the very heart of it, as it throbbed and vibrated, and yet hovered perfectly in the midst of us. At that moment, I responded, “Yes, Lord! Like the nucleus of an atom, I will follow you. I will dance and spin around you as you draw me to you.” And the Lord spoke to me and said, “Watch! There is beauty in this thing.” And immediately the music softened and became a beautiful composition, the refrains of which seemed to flow from the heart of the nucleus in gentle waves like an ocean tide, cradling and bouncing the electrons all around it. Then the Lord spoke again, “Watch! There is also power in this thing.” And immediately the music swelled and intensified to an almost warlike, militant sound, and I could see the electrons fiercely begin to vibrate and spin. The atom itself seemed to intensify in its brilliance, size and strength, moving and spinning with lightening speed, obliterating every sediment and particle in its path, and literally absorbing the space all around it. And then the beauty returned as before . . . and then the power . . . and then the beauty . . . and then the power, all the while the music ebbing and flowing perfectly with the vision.  And with the last note of the song, the vision ended.

 

Yesterday, I did some research and as I discovered a few fascinating facts, the Lord showed me some other things! As you read what follows, I encourage you to do so with a spiritual perspective. Remember that in the vision, I believe the nucleus was the Lord (or even perhaps, more specifically the Father and the Son), the waves radiating from it were the Holy Spirit, and the electrons around it were the Body of Christ (specifically worshippers and intercessors). In combination, all of these things made up a spectacularly beautiful and powerful “atomic entity”.

 

– The word atom comes from the Greek word “atomos”, which means “indivisible”.

 

– Atoms cannot be subdivided, created or destroyed.

 

– An atom is made up of protons, neutrons, and electrons.  Protons and neutrons are in the center of the atom, or the nucleus, and electrons are on the outside, spinning around the nucleus. Why? Because one of the particles in the nucleus (the proton) is positively charged and the electrons surrounding it are negatively charged, and, as a result, they are attracted to each other like a magnet. This is how atoms stay together.

 

“That they may be one as we are one” (John 17:11)

 

-When heat is applied, atoms move faster, and as they move faster, they emit higher-energy light.

 

“Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise from the ends of the earth, you who go down to the sea, and all that is in it, you islands, and all who live in them. Let the desert and its towns raise their voices; let the settlements where Kedar lives rejoice. Let the people of Sela sing for joy; let them shout from the mountaintops. Let them give glory to the LORD and proclaim his praise in the islands. [Then] the LORD will march out like a mighty man, like a warrior he will stir up his zeal; with a shout he will raise the battle cry and will triumph over his enemies.” (Isaiah 42:10-13)

 

-In the three-dimensional dance space occupied by an atom, electrons pair up as they revolve around the nucleus, each spinning on its axis in an opposite direction to its partner — in effect, canceling each other’s spin. But, when the electrons spin together in the same direction, explains physicist Freeman of Northwestern University, this gives rise to a “magnetic moment”, creating the pull of a magnetic field.

 

“He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.” (Psalm 40:3)

 

“And if I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men unto me” (John 12:52)

 

– And one last fact – according to the laws of electricity and magnetism, charged particles in a magnetic field move in a circle.

 

“And see, and, behold, if the daughters of Shiloh come out to dance in dances, then come ye out of the vineyards, and catch you every man his wife of the daughters of Shiloh” (Judges 21:21)

 

In Strong’s reference you will find the above referenced “dances” defined as “Circle Dances”.

 

Strong’s Ref. # 4234

Romanized machowl

Pronounced maw-khole”

from HSN2342; a (round) dance: KJV–dance(-cing).

 

You have probably seen the Jewish dances where the people stand in a circle and link arms – or not – and dance a beautiful, joyful dance.  You’ll notice too in this passage the reference to taking a wife. In these dances, the potential brides would dance in a circle and potential grooms would watch the joyful dancing and then choose their wives.

 

The same word is used in:

 

Jeremiah 31:4: “Again I will build thee, and thou shalt be built, O virgin of Israel: thou shalt again be adorned with thy tabrets, and shalt go forth in the dances of them that make merry.”

 

This scripture refers to Israel as the virgin, which is also translated as bride. And it once again refers to the bride dancing the joyful circle dance.

 

We, as the Church, are the Bride of Christ.

 

And, as an additional point of interest, did you know that in a Jewish wedding the bride circles the groom 3-7 times, showing her new life is to be centered on him.

 

“For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing.” (Luke 15:24-25)

 

Here again Strong’s definition of the word for “dancing” is:

 

Strong’s Ref. # 5525

Romanized choros

Pronounced khor-os’

of uncertain derivation; a ring, i.e. round dance (”choir’)

KJV–dancing.

 

“Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.” (Psalms 37:7)

 

The word “chuwl”; translated here “wait patiently”, can also be translated as “dance in circles”! And it is actually the root word for “machowl”, the bride’s circle dance we first saw in Judges.

 

Strong’s Ref. # 2342

 

Romanized chuwl

Pronounced khool

or chiyl – (kheel); a primitive root; properly, to twist or whirl (in a circular or spiral manner), i.e. (specifically) to dance, to writhe in pain (especially of parturition) or fear; figuratively, to wait, to pervert

KJV–bear, (make to) bring forth, (make to) calve, dance, drive away, fall grievously (with pain), fear, form, great, grieve, (be) grievous, hope, look, make, be in pain, be much (sore) pained, rest, shake, shapen, (be) sorrow(-ful), stay, tarry, travail (with pain), tremble, trust, wait carefully (patiently), be wounded.

 

As you read the above definition, you may be thinking, “what a total contradiction in terms”! “Dance and hope and trust and rest” . . . along side “writhe in pain, fear, grieve, shake, travail, tremble, be wounded” and “wait carefully”? But think about it! This is no contradiction in terms; but rather an incredible, awesome, powerful statement!!!

 

Worship and intercession go hand-in-hand. Beauty and power.

And on a more poetic note, if we think about it, God arranged for us to do the circle dance every day of our lives – automatically. We do not even have to know the steps – and we are doing it; we are doing the circle dance even in our sleep. The earth is spinning on its axis and the sun (and our solar system) is revolving around the center of the galaxy at a speed of half a million miles per hour!

 

In fact, a couple years ago, the Lord spoke to me during another worship service where I had been dancing and worshipping for hours. I was completely worn out and said, “Lord, I just can’t dance another step!” And He replied, “It’s alright, child. Just stand there and hold your hands up – that’s why I created the earth to spin!” How much easier could He have made it for us?

 

So if you’re weary, “It’s alright, child. Just stand there and hold your hands up.”

 

He’ll do all the work.

 

And there will be beauty and power in it.

 

— Cheri Henderson, Email:  hendersonct@aol.com

 

  
 
 
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