Safe House

For most of us, when we think of a Safe House we think of a spy thriller like the Bourne series. Jason Bourne, government operative goes rogue and for the rest of the series he’s running from and fighting off those who want to take him down for fear of being exposed. At least once in each film Jason finds his way into a safe house, a place where he can get back on his feet, recover from any injuries, and refuel. Or maybe you’re more of a fantasy fan and remember the scene in Lord of the Rings when Frodo Baggins and the rest of the crew run for their lives, eventually finding their way into the Elfin safe haven, Rivendell. Maybe you’re a history buff and remember the historical safe houses of the Underground Railroad, the secret system that transported escaped slaves from Southern plantations to freedom during the 19th century. Or, stories during World War 11 of members of the French Resistance who hid Jews running from Nazi persecution.

img_2311For us, a “safe house” represents one of our most valuable resources, solid gold. We aren’t government operatives, we are however on the front lines of intense spiritual battles. Our war isn’t against flesh and blood but against the powers and principalities.We trust our cause, our armor and our King. We are well equip with sincerity, righteousness, faith which quenches the darts of temptation, blessed assurance, feet shod with peace, and prayer knitting it all together. Our weapon is the sword of the Spirit, which is sharper than a doubled edged sword and used as an instrument of healing for those that are oppressed, down-trodden or just plain stuck. We see an Empire that wages war on the human soul, traumatizing and binding those caught in the cross fire to debilitating lies and vices. We are love warriors and we battle for what our friend, Craig Greenfield calls the upside-down Kingdom. Oh yes! We freely use our gifts and talents, our story, our merrymaking and music, and a win for us is to see healing, reconciliation and restoration. But, sometimes we need a safe house, a place of refuge from the storm.

Over and over in the ancient text we read that the King of kings IS a safe-house for the battered, a sanctuary for all times. In fact, there is a beautiful picture in Psalm 91 of what it looks like to dwell in the shelter of Adonai, the Most High.
It talks of the safety that a baby bird finds under the wings of feather and promises that no disaster or calamity will come near;  for angels will care for and guard us wherever we go.

img_2362We know these words to be true in our hearts mind but also by the evidence demonstrated through the Saints, many of whom we were once strangers to, who continue to offer us refuge along the way. One such community in Australia, has become more than a safe house but a sending house. They have offered us not just a place to heal and recover, but a promise that they will always keep the fire aflame, that they won’t quit in hard times, praying for us with steadfastness and that they will come for us, if we ever fall in the field. And, that is worth more than gold. That is priceless. 

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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.

 

The Season of the Dark Shadow

We all know this fight isn’t against flesh and blood right? Well, this was my reminder.

As it was, while in Sydney, Australia, five months ago I found an unusually large lump on my thyroid. We had only been back from SE Asia for two weeks. My body was well worn from the travel through the seven countries we visited over that two month period. We hit Thailand in the middle of the trip and by that time we were ready for a little break. It was Christmas and we were hoping to spend some time as a family on the beach in Pattaya, catching up with a few friends, resting and refreshing for the next leg of the journey. However, once we arrived we were smacked with the reality of injustice all around us and immediately felt not only the presence but the rule of the spirit of lust. It was massive! And so, we put aside our own personal desires for rest and entered into all that Abba had for us there, being present and fully engaging. Through conversations and interactions with locals, we were given a picture of the state of affairs, exposing the breath of the beasts influence. I felt compelled to write about it and you can read more about that here…  

The enormity of this spirit mixed with the vulnerability of my own past with sexual abuse seemed to trigger anxiety attacks. I’d experience anxiety attacks long ago and knew some technics to deal with them, but these seemed much more severe than previous experiences. We made our way north to be with a community in Pai which offered solace but my heart was weak, I sensed something had been damaged in my inner most being. By Myanmar, my ability to discern and hear from the Lord was cloudy. I felt a spirit of paranoia try to get hold of me but rejected it. Physically I got very sick and was in bed for a few day.

In Singapore, our kinfolk identified a heaviness and laid hands on me to pray for it to be removed. At the time, I believed it was just the weight of seeing so much pain, corruption and injustice. My joy was fading and the prayer encouraged me as my friend Claire reminded me of an initial word that was spoken over our family before we gave everything away and left in the bus five years ago.

IMG_9570"The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you, in his love he will no longer rebuke you. But will rejoice over you with singing." Zeph 3:17

I could just barely make out the still small voice of Abba, whispering “I’m hear still.” I continued to declare God’s goodness, faithfulness and grace to any who would listen, proclaiming the wonder of Christ and the freedom He offers us. Then our family spent a few days with some of our mentors in Indonesia, Ron and Janine Parrish. Bali felt dark and the presence of evil almost suffocated me but the Parrish home was like a safe house and as much as I wanted to go to the beach, I didn’t really want to leave the solace of their home. We did visit a few villages and markets and I distinctly remember seeing from afar a woman who had a large goiter. I remember her vividly because my body shivered and shook briefly as if taking on her condition. I remember the compassion I felt for her and was in awe at her ability to still function in a way that seemed normal.

Anyway, by the time we got back to Australia I was a hot mess. Actually I was a cold mess, as it felt like my internal furnace went out and I could never get warm. Then the lump on my neck appeared. A dear friend in Sydney brought me to see her doctor who eyed the lump and declared it a goiter. She suggested I probably needed to follow-up with an ultrasound.

We went to Bendigo for six weeks to work alongside our friends at Cornerstone Community on a house project. I tried to help, cooking most nights but could never seem to find energy for much more. I struggled with any sort of task that involved going into town or being around to many people (which is not like me). I didn’t want to write and sort of went into coma mode. I would lay in bed for days with Netflix, filling my head with romantic fantasy shows. Which then lead to feelings of shame and isolation. I could feel myself starting to break from reality, longing to live in another time or place. There was a part of me that fought back though and I would cry out, I mean cry out for Abba to heal me, to help me. I knew I was loosing my grip and I felt like I was going crazy yet I knew I wasn’t. I shifted my focus and as long as I was engaged in prayer or worship or conversation about Yeshua I felt alive but as soon as I was alone with my thoughts I was paralyzed.

I told a few close friends and family about my symptoms and asked for prayer but was too embarrassed to send out a mass request. My family was in shock. They didn’t understand the waves of trauma that would rise out of me, the uncontrollable tears, so many tears. They prayed and cared for me the best they could but also were still trying to engage and come alongside our hosts. On top of that Graciana was getting ready to leave the nest. I was useless in helping her make her last preparations, as I couldn’t think beyond my own pain. Then I got a call from the US to come home and help care for my mom.

I wasn’t sure I was fit to help, but the call mustered up in me a furry and I was able to step outside of myself and rise above whatever this crap was that was pulling me down to the pit of hell. I went and for six weeks, I cooked and cared for my mom as well as myself. I was barely better than her and the slow pace of the days actually gave me time to breath and focus, pray and worship. As much as it was helpful for my mom, it was even more life-giving to me. Oh to focus on life! Everyday became about finding harmony, peace and solace. Any disturbance to this harmony evoked a lioness in me that would roar at whomever broke the code. Seriously, you can ask my dad. Even so, the house found harmony and as mom began to return, so did I.

I saw a doctor who did a blood test and an ultrasound on my thyroid. I saw a therapist who worked with Bio-energetic resonance and learned about the benefits of acupuncture, Vit C treatments, diet, etc.. According to all of their tests, I was diagnosed with adrenal fatigue (near failure), a virus in my endocrine system that some call cancer and found that the lump on my thyroid was from heavy metal toxins. Not so bad right? Ha!

I left the US with knowledge about what was physically wrong with me and began a regiment of supplement and diet changes. I learned about ways to care for my adrenals through reducing stressors, rest and heart coherence. However, something was still off deep down. There was a fracture deep in my psyche and my joy was gone.

By the time I made it back to Australia, I was so happy to see my family but the dark shadow was even worse than when I left. My sorrow was intense and the suffering almost unbearable. I kept praying for clarity to understand where it was coming from. Was it some unspoken sin? Was it some deeper area that the Holy Spirit wanted to heal from? Was it my pride? I knew I struggled with spirits of condemnation and shame, I wrestled with them at different times in life, but this was different. It felt like I was chasing a fox. I would glimpse its shadows but then it would be gone. I cried out, “What are you trying to teach me Lord Jesus?”

Then we made our way north, our short-term plan was; a season of rest somewhere warm (seeing as my internal furnace was broken). Then a hint of a dream to build out a bus and prepare for what Abba has next for us. However, the dreaming was stifled by my cloud of internal discord. Despite my efforts to care for my body physically, I continued to manifest new physical problems and the emotional breakdowns began to dominate any moments that my mind weren’t completely focused on Christ.

Then, on a Tuesday morning, I heard a voice that said, “just kill yourself.” I immediately rejected the thought understanding that it was not my own but felt crippled by the blow. That day, we did a few workshops at a school on history and creativity and by the grace of God, I made it through. Then that evening we arrived in Glenrowan. I stumbled into the Duursma home, grateful to be in a safe place. I took a few deep breaths and found my footing enough to share my struggle with my friend Diane. She stated that is was OK for us not to lead their house church that night and just rest, but I assured her that I needed to stay focused on speaking the truth of Yeshua’s love. We worshiped with all of our hearts, shared in community and covenant, taught on the Sons of Thunder and God’s transformational love in their lives.

Then after the service there was an intense time of prayer. Many words were spoken over us but the one that stuck out was a picture of a dark murky lake and a pier that went out into the middle. I was walking to the end of the pier and asked by Abba to step off. I was hesitant but took a step off into what seemed like the abyss. However each time I stepped out a step would appear. And so it was that each time I stepped further into the darkness, God made another step and held my footing. That’s exactly how life seemed to be rolling. Another picture of a freshly pressed key was given. Then Psalm 91 was read over me.

After the service a woman named Michelle came up to me. She said, “I don’t really know you but I feel compelled to pray for you tonight when I go home and when I pray, I mean I really pray. So, tell me everything you need prayer for.” I was shocked but grateful. I told her briefly about my physical aliments but that the thing that really had me bound up with some sort of shift in my inner most being. I couldn’t put my finger on it and it was terrorizing me. She listened and then left. The night continued on with beautiful fellowship and finally our heads hit the pillow. I still couldn’t get warm and my sleep was unsteady but I was filled with a small measure of joy and hope.

In the morning Michelle called and said she had a word for me and let us know she was coming by. She arrived with her notebook and bible and got straight to it. She said that when she saw us five months ago there was such a light and joy beaming from me but this time I looked like the life was zapped out of me and that is why she felt compelled to pray. She said when she had come up to me the night before to ask if she could pray for me that she laid her hand on me and that when she touched me she nearly had to run out of the room because the pain she felt on me was more than she could bear. I began to well up with tears. She said that she went home and spent all night interceding on my behalf and this is what The Lord God Almighty showed her. He gave her I John 4:1 “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”  Then He showed her a great sadness upon me, a deep sorrow, a terribly dark shadow, harrowing pain and anguish, endless sorrow, weeping and gnashing of teeth. I started to weep as that’s exactly how I’d been feeling.

She said God showed her a moment in my near past of an interaction that took place in Thailand between myself and a Thai man. She said he was very unsuspecting, super smiley, friendly and even hospitable. She asked if anyone came to mind? A few interactions came to mind but no one specific. She said this man was a shaman and during our exchange he secretly touched my inner most being with the spirit of death and hades! As soon as she said it, I knew it to be so! That was the voice… “You should just kill yourself.” Then the cold, always feeling cold, and all of the health problems that just popped up suddenly, and then the damage I felt internally but not understanding what could have caused it!! She continued on that throughout the night on multiple occasions she would hear God say, “I see you Jana.” She let me know this wasn’t something I did to myself or deserved and that God was my strong tower, that I would be released from the grips of this spirit and my body would be healed. She asked God for more details on the “how” but he didn’t give her much, just that using the word “stop” whenever I felt the attacked kept coming to mind. She encouraged me to continue to use my voice to declare my inheritance as a daughter of the King of kings. She then said to all of us with great enthusiasm, “start dreaming again and dream big, because when this lifts and your strength is returned that God has much work for you to do!”

Abba is good and faithful and although I’m a little pissed off about the whole thing even happening in the first place, I’m relieved to know that it was nothing more than a lame attempt by the enemy to shake my faith. The little cockroach of a spirit has fled but the residue of damage needs to be dealt with so until I hear more from Abba about my health, I will continue to utilized all of the knowledge and resources that I’ve been given.

I’ve also begun to declare blessing over that shaman. He has no idea what love and grace is coming for him!

And so, here I am in a season of healing, rebuilding and renewal.

I ask that if you are the interceding type that you would direct your prayers towards Psalm 91 for me. Heck, I’ll be praying it for you too!

Here read it for yourself. Read it out loud. Savor it, allow the words to wash over you and offer comfort. Allow the words to build you up and give you strength. And may these words become a reality in our time of need.

“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely He will save you from the fowler’s snare, and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at mid-day. A thousand may fall at your side, then thousand at your right hand but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.

If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will life you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. “Because He loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

IMG_0353"You have as little to fear from an undeserved curse as from the dart of a wren or the swoop of a swallow....Or a cackle of cockatoos" ~Mama J quoting Proverbs‬ ‭

Bonking (aka. Hitting the Wall)

Long distance runners use this term to describe that feeling one gets when mid-run the runner is suddenly fatigued and has a tremendous loss of energy. We’re not talking about the mere cramping of a calf, or the everyday slowing caused by lactic acid build-up, or the deep muscle pain sometimes caused by downhill running. Marathoners used to call bonking “hitting the wall,” but it’s actually a bodily form of sedition. In some form or another, it becomes a collapse of the entire system: body and form, brains and soul.

They say it is because of the the depletion of glycogen stored in the liver and muscles. And, if you search it on-line you’ll find article after article on how to avoided it but the most obvious is to ensure that glycogen levels are high when the exercise begins, maintaining glucose levels during exercise by eating or drinking carbohydrate-rich substances, or by reducing exercise intensity.

We bonk at times spiritually and mentally. Can we apply this idea of avoiding the “bonk” to the real life race we all run? What is the cause and how is it avoided? The word “remember” keeps coming back to me and the following words provide encouragement to keep on running this race.

Hebrews 12:1-3 Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!