The Path

There was a family, a mother, father, sister, and brother, bound to one another in blood and a vision to spread a deep and unequivocal love throughout the lands. They ran and ran as fast as they could to as many places as the fingers on their hands.

Then, one day, they stumbled upon a cave. They wandered in, finding many along the way who were hiding in the shadows. They offered light and love to all they met along the way. They followed the path deeper into the cave and finally into a large open cavern. They halted to observe the many openings.

They knew this place for this place had been foretold to them and they knew that it was time for each to take their own path. They were told that this was an important part of their journey. That the individual journeys would strengthen them and they were assured that these paths would one day all wind back together.

They meandered around the opening for quite some time contemplating, praying, putting fears aside and saying goodbye. And then, one day they got up, bid farewell and each entered into their path.

 

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Perfect Love Casts Out Fear

This is a very personal account of an experience had regarding the theme of “the fear of the Lord.” The ancient text says that ‘the fear of the Lord is the beginning of all knowledge.’ I have thought about this concept, talked about it, sung about it, but it was just that, a concept. This account is the story of how the the fear of the Lord moved from a concept to being the very fabric of my being.

img_0582Before I begin, I will tell you that I am simply a layman in my faith walk. I have not gone to seminary, nor do I claim to be a sage or anyone important. However, I have always been aware of the supernatural and I am intimately seeking connectivity with the Creator of the Universe, also known as Lord, God, King of kings, etc.. whom I call Abba (Father), which represents everlasting love. I’m one who has had an awakening to the grace extended by the person of Jesus to commune directly with Abba. He knows my language and speaks to my heart often. It’s very personal and I usually don’t share to much about it. I am just a voice…

In the ancient text (John 1:23) we see an account of John the Baptist, being asked if he is the messiah, if he is a prophet, if he is someone important? His answer is so profound to me. He says, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness...‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’  I am not John, I am not a man, I am not even a prophet. I have become nothing but the breath of God; moving and communicating completely in accordance with Abba's desire.

My friend Neil Beightol says “To be a “voice” is to be nothing but breath, shaped and formed to the desire of the speaker.”

Oh to have such a calling.

img_0998And so it was that I sat alone, well, just me, two pelicans and the Creator of the Universe, on the beach in the Byron Shire, NSW. It was a warm sunny afternoon in July, just a few months after my encounter with the spirit of death and hades.

I humbled myself before Abba Father and began to praise Him, calling out his amazing attributes and declaring his faithfulness. As I prayed and asked for a word I began to stroke the sand in a smooth consistent motion until a blank slate was created. I picked up a nearby stick and held it loosely, fully aware of the tension between wanting to create my own master piece and wanting it to be used as an instrument of communication. As I prayed, my hand was lead to draw what seemed like random lines and then to slowly to connect those lines. What formed was a picture of a mountain and two horses riding swiftly, in unison. Hovering above the mountain and the horses was a very large aggressive lion. The lion was pouncing on the mountain and the horses.

I prayed and waited for the Holy Spirit to offer an explanation but was directed to draw another smaller picture. This time there were three dots that were positioned at the top of the picture, and two large trenches or shields on either side of the drawing with an arrow and a the sun, in the middle. The passage “Thou I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,” came to mind. As I looked it over and prayed I was drawn to the three dots hovering above and recognized them as representing the God head, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and shields were boundaries on either side, with my body being the third shield, opposite the three dots. The arrow and the sun, which sat in the center of the drawing were surrounded on all sides and represented the enemy.

Then I prayed more but was prompted to go home and search the scriptures. So I did, I began to scour any mentions of horses, mountains, sun, or lions. As I prayed and read I was lead to 2 Kings and Hosea. This is what I found…

I believe the mountains represent humanity, specifically those who claim to be children of God. I also think the horses and the sun in the other drawing are connected. Humans have always worshiped the sun, so that seemed like a no brainer, but people have also always highly prized horses. There’s something in the manner of the horse, in its majesty and poise that tends to draws out the pride of man. However, God never intended the horse to be worshiped, only for this incredible creature to draw our praise, admiration and reverence to our Creator.  During the time of King Josiah, the Israelites had embraced “sun” worship.  Out of obedience to God’s direction, righteous Josiah destroyed the remains of idol worship.
 "And Josiah...removed the horses that the kings of Judah had devoted to the sun from the entrance of the house of the Lord...and he burned the chariots of the sun with fire" (2 Kings 23:10a, 11). 

The lion in the picture was fierce and dominate, towering not just above the horses but above the mountains as well. I was terrified by it. My first inclination was to view the lion as the enemy “prowling around, waiting to devour.” However, this lion was not prowling but rather charging, pouncing. So, I prayed and asked who the lion represented. I was led to Hosea 13:7 and believe the lion represents God in his anger towards HIS people.

In this chapter, God basically says, “I’m still your God, the God who saved you out of Egypt. I’m the only real God you’ve ever known. I’m the one and only God who delivers. I took care of you during the wilderness hard times, those years when you had nothing. I took care of you, took care of all your needs, gave you everything you needed. You were spoiled. You thought you didn’t need me. You forgot me. So, “I’ll charge you like a lion, like a leopard stalking in the brush. I’ll jump you like a sow grizzly robbed of her cubs. I’ll rip out your guts. Coyotes will make a meal of you. Crows will clean your bones. I’m going to destroy you, Israel. Who is going to stop me?”

Here read it for yourselves…

Hosea 13

When Ephraim spoke,people trembled; he was exalted in Israel. But he became guilty of Baal worship and died. Now they sin more and more; they make idols for themselves from their silver, cleverly fashioned images, all of them the work of craftsmen. It is said of these people, “They offer human sacrifices! They kiss calf-idols!” 

Therefore they will be like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears, like chaff swirling from a threshing floor, like smoke escaping through a window. “But I have been the Lord your God ever since you came out of Egypt. You shall acknowledge no God but me, no Savior except me. I cared for you in the wilderness, in the land of burning heat. When I fed them, they were satisfied; when they were satisfied, they became proud; then they forgot me. 

So I will be like a lion to them, like a leopard I will lurk by the path. Like a bear robbed of her cubs, I will attack them and rip them open; like a lion I will devour them—a wild animal will tear them apart. 

“You are destroyed, Israel, because you are against me, against your helper. Where is your king, that he may save you? Where are your rulers in all your towns, of whom you said, ‘Give me a king and princes’?  So in my anger I gave you a king, and in my wrath I took him away. The guilt of Ephraim is stored up, his sins are kept on record. Pains as of a woman in childbirth come to him, but he is a child without wisdom; when the time arrives,he doesn’t have the sense to come out of the womb.”

As I read Hosea out loud I began to tremble and shake. My breath shortened as if the air was going out of the room and my heart felt as if it was being snuffed out. I literally fell hard to the floor. A deep weight of despair hovered over me and I could not get up. I was scared and thought, “this is it, I’m all alone, Craig and Banjo are out, and this is it! I’m going to die.” I was freaking out and my tongue was tied, but I was able to cry out for mercy. “Lord have mercy!! Lord have mercy on us all!!”

I cried out and instinctually began to confess my junk. Things flooded my mind that I though were already dealt with, things like my desire for power by dabbling in the paranormal in my youth. And as soon I confessed, it was as if the angel of the Lord took his sword and cut that barnacle off of me. I confessed my warped sense of sexuality that I used to gain power over others in my youth. And as soon as I did, it was as if the angel of the Lord took his sword and cut that barnacle off of me. I confessed my lack of faith. And, I confessed the ways that I had used my words to manipulate and control situations. The prophet Isaiah’s words danced in my mind, “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a person of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” I continued to cry out, “Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy.” I confessed the sins of my people, their lust for power and domination, and the ways that my people use their faith to manipulate and condone their agendas. I saw the idol of narcissism sitting high on a mountain and their were many bowing down. I cried out, “Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy on us all.” And as soon as I did, I watched the angel of the Lord take his sword and in one glorious swoop, cut that idol down, lowering it straight to the ground.

I lay there soaked in tears, time stood still, then, a rush of fresh air and a feeling of relief flooded the room. Slowly the pressure subsided and it was only then that I knew that I wasn’t going to die. I continued weeping quietly, “Lord please have mercy on us.” Then I felt Yeshua’s hand stroke my hair with tenderness reminding me of his blessed assurance.

When I was finally able to rise, I was famished. It felt like I hadn’t eaten in days and I walked into the kitchen and ravished a whole papaya! As my strength returned I exclaimed, “Wow! What in the world am I suppose to do with all of that?!”

“Write” Abba said, “write it down, remember, and warn my people.” And, so Kinfolk! Bride of Christ, if any of this resonates with you, PLEASE I beg you to fall, face down, with an openness to feel/express sincere regret/remorse (repent) and turn your faces back to Him, for only Abba can renew a right spirit.

img_0568I can not explain it any better than this; the fear of the Lord has a whole new meaning now! It’s no longer just scripture, a line in a song or a concept but has been deeply woven into the fabric of my very being! Oh man!!

You see, I have looked in the mirror and seen the disgusting depravity of my very own heart. I have seen wickedness in the hearts of humanity and I have come into intimate contact with darkness. I have felt deep fear from humans and from the powers of principality, but the fear of the Lord… takes it all to a whole new level. God, the Creator of the Universe, the Holy One, the King of kings, Abba my father, is the only one worthy of my fear. And, I am grateful for this perspective. For you see, in my own wilderness I have found such an assuredness that I freely surrender my body, with it’s particular agendas, desires, and even needs, to become one with and indistinguishable from the breath and message of God.

This is what I know… Perfect love, casts out fear.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Author, William D Eisenhower says, “When we assume that the world is the ultimate threat, we give it unwarranted power, for in truth, the world’s threats are temporary. When we expect God to balance the stress of the world, we reduce him to the world’s equal …. As I walk with the Lord, I discover that God poses an ominous threat to my ego, but not to me. He rescues me from my delusions, so he may reveal the truth that sets me free. He casts me down, only to lift me up again. He sits in judgment of my sin, but forgives me nevertheless. Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, but love from the Lord is its completion.”

Yeshua demonstrated love beyond human understanding when he lived out his words, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” With love like that, what is left to fear but God?”

 

Cutting To The Heart

And, you thought being cursed by the spirit of death and hades was bad… Let me tell you, the heart is deceitful above all things and will lie like a dog. Oh! Those stinking self protective and self promoting old habits of the heart that start out subtle and then scream like the wind.

The author of Hebrews writes that ‘What Abba is after is writing His word on our hearts!’ 

This cutting into our heart. Oh man, it hurts and I’m having a hard time sitting still. However, for the love of Yeshua to be authentic in us, it has got to cut to the heart.

Recently my father, Jerry Price, sent me these words of encouragement to keep swimming upstream and a nugget of wisdom regarding spiritual warfare. May you be encouraged and challenged as well.

“God is in charge, I know. There is one thing to consider. The spiritual battle is not about flesh and blood but about principalities and spiritual wickedness & rulers in high places. It’s everywhere & comes in different formats.

*Physical violence where others would do us harm;

*Social marginalizing where others try to isolate us (and Jesus) as something irrelevant;

*Psychological games people play to confuse the believer and create an emotional sense of danger but is nothing more than intimidation to control our hearts & minds;

*A spiritualism that promotes idolatry to replace God and give a person a false sense of hope through prostituting our souls for personal satisfaction;

*An intellectualism that promotes an arrogance that communicates others are less than the one who prides themselves in their ability to debate;

*And a shaming from religious practitioners who would condemn believers for being hypocrites that don’t measure up to standards – in their view – that promotes a twisted sense of perfectionism, which doesn’t need God.

Take all of that and stir things up with Jesus and an upright life, you have spiritual warfare. Because, you see, the motives of the heart are exposed and people will harm us in any way to keep Jesus from being the light of the world.

ALL of the above comes from the darkness of depravity. Thus, the spiritual battles we face can actually be in the recesses of our own minds which is why David prayed for God to ‘search my heart and see if there be any wicked way in me.’

And, this I know, we won’t be able to escape the war if we’re alive in Christ and swimming upstream…. Any old dead fish can float downstream.”

I am finally getting to the end of myself. There is hope in the air and the fog is lifting.

 img_0582Abba, forgive me for allowing my heart to be over taken by weeds of bitter discontent and ego driven victim-stance; for a thistle or two gone to seed can ruin a whole garden in no time. Give me your spirit of discernment to recognize when I am being deceived, thus trading away Your lifelong gift in order to satisfy my short-term appetite. Soften my heart as I reflect on your tender mercy. For in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light that shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. May the light of the world shine bright in my fragile soul. In Jesus name, Amen ‭‭(Hebrews‬ ‭12:14-17‬, John 1:1-5)

Oh! That we would not rest until the heart is totally transformed!! May you be liberated today to investigate the depravity of your own heart. May you seek the great physician in healing areas that paralyze you in being the Kingdom come. And, may the amazing grace offered through Christ’s sacrifice transform you from the inside out.

 

Whose Life Matters

The sun goes down and says goodnight but there is no sleep as the other side of the world wakes up. Wakes up to the cesspool of words that fly off their tongues and onto their screens. Fighting over whose life matters and whose is obsolete.

So, pull your covers up real tight, cause baby, you’re in for the ride of your life. Brother against brother, sister against sister and the age-old wisdom has turned a moldy green.

By your bed, a little light. Oh! To be the light, cause it’s so dark in this crazy fool of a fight. Hate spews as the self-righteous take their seats, praying for the good ol’ days, praying for their riches and power, hiding behind deceit.

And, every sleepy boy and girl, in every bed around the world will find that when they wake, they will fall before the King of kings and he will say, “What is up is down and what is down is up.” Then he will say to some, “The Kingdom is yours,

For I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.”

‘I’m telling you,’ he will say, ‘That whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’

But to others, the King will say, “You’re not welcome.

Because—

I was hungry and you gave me no meal,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
I was homeless and you gave me no bed,
I was shivering and you gave me no clothes,
Sick and in prison, and you never visited.”

Then they are going to argue, ‘what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn’t help?’  And, He will answer them,  “truth is: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.’

The moral of the story: Who are we to judge but, one thing you can be sure of…The Kings people will always love.

Thy Kingdom Come

One beautifully sunny morning in Vietnam.

We were just leaving the beach when a woman, an old woman, carrying big baskets of fruit approached us in hopes of selling her goods but we had just finished lunch, so we smiled, shook our heads no thanks and kept walking.

However, our daughter and son were further behind us and we didn’t see her approach them. So when we turned too look back we were shocked to see our daughter wearing the old woman’s baskets and hat posing as Banjo took her photo. We rush over a little disappointed in our children. To our eyes, it looked as if our kids were exploiting the woman for photo op.

Later however, we found out that the woman actually initiated the process. Apparently, she came up to our kids, took her baskets off her shoulders and thrust it onto Graciana, simultaneously taking her hat off and putting it on Graciana’s head. She snatched Graciana’s camera out of her hand, fumbled around with it for a bit and then handed it to him demanding him to take a photo. This all happened in a matter of seconds and then we turned around.

imageWe obviously didn’t know the backstory so we rushed over thinking surely we should offer her money for this unique photo op. We thanked her and handed her 10,000 dong. Which is about $.50 USD. She took her hat and baskets off of Graciana and we thought the situation was dealt with, but then she began to demand we buy a coconut from her. She took out her machete to cut the coconut and then badgered us to take the coconut. We asked her how much and she mumbled a number we thought was 50,000. Which is above the usual asking price but we thought OK, well just take it and leave. So we handed her the 50,000, she took it but began to shake her head (and her machete) violently. She wrote in the sand 500,000, which is about $22 USD!

Thankfully, by that point, a guard, some of the staff, and our host, saw what was happening and came over to help us deal with the lady. She was angry that they came to our side and waved her machete at them, clenching her fists around the money we had already given her. We all just stood awe as our host dealt with her. She let the woman know that her manipulation was unacceptable and that we weren’t going to pay her. I think we were able to get the 10,000 back but she kept the 50,000. Which was fine, we kept the coconut. She made a sour face and played victim as we all walked away. We left totally bewildered but we weren’t bitter. Honestly the interaction was so swift that we really didn’t have much time to process what was even going on until we walked away.

There was a sadness that came over us for her. What drives an old woman to become a thief? That’s really what laid heavy on our hearts. She was just a sweet little old lady, in the twilight of her life, meant to be enjoying the fruit of her children and grandchildren but here she was stuck in what was probably a long standing cycle of twisted thinking, desperate and demanding. She was roaming this life like a thief in the dark.

It reminded me of another thief, my grandfather. Who was shot (bullet lodging an eighth of an inch from his heart) trying to rob a club in Indianapolis, IN. My father and his twin brother were only 30 days old. I’m sure it wasn’t the first time my paw paw participated in what he would call a “lead pipe synch.” It was just the first time he was caught. It was during is his capture and imprisonment however that his spirit was awakened and he made a decision to change the course of his life. He made a decision to no longer live for himself but for the one who created him. This decision drastically changed the course of my family, this decision and the follow through after gave my family life.

All I could think of after we left this lady was how her con, although sly was so desperate. How I wished I would have had time to catch myself during the interaction to speak truth in love, to let her know that she was wrong for preying on us, but that the deceitfulness in her heart was a burden she didn’t need to carry. I don’t know why or how it all works, this idea of awakening but I do know that I long to see thy kingdom come… And it is during these moments that my heart aches for it most.

Don’t Be Jealous

kinfolkRecently, I was tagged in an Instagram photo of Socialite Barbie, who happened to be appearing in Kinfolk Magazine, which is a trendy hip magazine featuring people doing really cool stuff. Anyway, in the photo Barbie is letting everyone know that she was featured in the magazine and then hashtags a number of things, but most notability she hashtags #humblebrag.

At first I though it was funny (I can laugh at myself) but then, I had a series of events where friends made reference to feeling jealous for the way we travel and the things we get to do and see. Then we performed a house concert and at the break almost every person came up to me to let me know how jealous they were of my family and the life we live. I started to feel a bit bothered by all of the comments but mostly deflated. I almost felt like apologizing or trying to down play our adventures by highlighting the really hard times. Then I started to wonder if I was over reacting and maybe I just needed to lighten up but I couldn’t find rest in it and the more I thought about it the more it all just felt yuck.

Jealousy is nothing new and in some instances it’s actually a positive thing, like a healthy jealousy the lover has for the beloved, or the beautiful kind of jealousy the creator has for his created. But there is an ugly side for sure. Trust me, I have had my own seasons of fighting with feelings of unhealthy jealousy. I have compared my home to others, my financial position, my beauty, my parenting, and more. But, something changed in our perspective when we  began to seek the heart of God in things like justice, purpose, love, and righteousness. Jealousy and comparison just fell out of our vernacular. We started to see miracles, and things that seemed to be offensive or dangerous became opportunities to see the supernatural ways that God is faithful.

None the less, I never want to miss an opportunity for growth so I took another look at my writings and photos and saw a trend. I noticed that I do have a pretty awesome life and I tend to share how awesome it is. I also saw that behind my sharing is a heart longing for others to see that this life we live is not our own but our makers. It’s true nomadic life has allowed us to be in the “front row,” seeing the fabric of humanity knit together in amazing circumstances. We also get to do and see a lot of freaking awesome things on this journey but it comes at a cost. Our security and comfort are constantly compromised and there are days that I can hardly believe we are still alive. But, when I step back and see the Glory of God I can’t help but to shout it out.

I was reading Donald Millers, ‘Searching For God Knows What’ and he wrote about how this old saint named Paul was exhorting his friends telling them they shouldn’t think they were better than other people, and how folks should submit to one another in love, thinking of each other as more important than themselves.

Donald makes a statement in his book that I really resonate with. He says, “Imagine how much a man or woman’s life would be changed if he/she trusted that he/she was loved by God? They could interact with the poor and not show partiality, they could love their spouse easily and not exact them to redeem them, they would be slow to anger because redemption was no longer at stake, they could be wise and giving with their money because money no longer represented points, they could give up on formulaic religion, knowing that checking stuff off a spiritual to-do list was a worthless pursuit, they would have confidence and the ability to laugh at themselves, and they could love people without expecting anything in return. It would be quite beautiful, really.”

I thought long and hard about that. And, honestly this question of what life would look like if we trusted God is core to our families abilities to continue forward. We always come back to this starting point and as much as our natural tendency is to seek the approval of others, and we understand, as Miller says, “people (including ourselves) are biased and really have no idea what is beautiful or ugly to begin with.”

So, back to the #humblebrag hashtag. It’s funny because even as I write this proclamation of really trusting God’s love for me, I sense some eye rolls. But, here’s the thing, I am responsible for my own emotions and the impact they might have on others. I know I can’t control others emotions but, when I feel the impact of others jealousy, I feel bound. I feel robbed of joy and of uninhibited relationship. And, then I realized, that those feelings of jealousy rob both parties. It robs us both!! And, that makes me angry!

But what do we do about it. Blogger,  gives this suggestion. She says, “It helps me to see jealousy as my enemy. You can sit around all day and try to not compare yourself. You can try to keep your blinders on and be grateful for what you have. But when you start to identify jealousy as something that’s attacking you personally, that’s when you start to fight against it more. And that’s when it starts to lose its power.”

And so, back to Paul’s exhortation, We have to work together, yielding to one another in love and thinking of each other as more important than themselves. And yes, if there is a potential that I am practicing “humblepride,” then I need friends to help me by gently showing me, but if jealousy is the heart of the prod then we have to recognize it and fight for each other, extending grace. Because, in the end, that’s what we all want, isn’t it? Amazing Grace. To know we are loved.

PS. By the way, I do find the Socialite Barbie thing quite funny. It all just got me thinking. This is what happens when I start thinking to much. Ha!

 

 

Mothers and Daughters

IMG_6696
My mother, My daughter

“On becoming a daughter and becoming a mother. There is something awesome about pregnancy. Two flesh are one in the purest form. The bond is intense. In the beginning, the connection seems natural, long cuddles, snuggles, total sacrifice of oneself for another.  There is a dance and the child nuzzles back. It is taste of unconditional love.

However, somehow as the child grows older it becomes harder and harder to feel that intense, vulnerable connection. What is this small wall that is beginning to develop? Why when I ask my child for a hug does she reject me? And, why does she have to say my name more than once to get my attention? Where did this conditional love come from? Can we find the purity of birth again?

I sense this distance with my own mother. I love her but it is a rare occasion when I feel the intense connection that I long for. Likewise, I feel the same thing happening between my daughter and myself. I long for the deep, intimate closeness that we had when she was in the womb.

I don’t know if it’s possible to have that feeling on a consistent basis but I will spend the rest of my life trying to find that pure connection again, both with my daughter and with my mother. I love you mom. I love you daughter.” ~Jana Holland, Written in Chicago on an early Sunday morning, January 30, 1999.