By DiAne Gates –
It can begin with a thought, a song, a word. Or perhaps an emotional tug that swirls through your heart like a recurring melody that won’t go away. For a moment, a day, maybe much longer. Ever whispering. Ever nudging. Ever growing.
That is, if you listen.
In the beginning, God’s Holy Spirit moved over the dark, formless void of the waters and stirred them in preparation for His magnificent work of creation. This same Spirit now rouses the believer’s heart to accomplish the Lord’s sovereign plan in this age.
Have you experienced this flow of the Spirit that moves through you like a current? How do you respond? Have the crashing tidal waves of life drowned the sound of His whisper and swept you away from the blessing of obedience? Or have you disciplined yourself to be still, to be quiet, and tuned your ear to hear when the Spirit of God stirs your heart?
If you turn away from the Spirit’s prompting, He will find another heart. A heart that desires to please God. Another heart that will do what you refused to do and you will miss the blessing. But if you choose to allow the Spirit to fill you, you will become like a mighty river that swells and grows with purpose and direction under the power of God’s hand.
In 539 B.C., God stirred the heart of Cyrus, King of Persia, just as Isaiah prophesied.
“It is I who says of Cyrus, He is My shepherd! And he will perform all My desire. And he declares of Jerusalem, She will be built and of the temple, Your foundation will be laid” (Isaiah 44:28 NAS).
God called Cyrus by name, one hundred seventy-five years before he was born. His purpose was already anointed and at the appointed time, the Holy Spirit stirred this king’s heart. And Cyrus listened.
He released those Israelites whose hearts were also moved by the Spirit of God to return to Jerusalem to build a house for the Lord God. And Cyrus paid all the building costs.
Then the king went into the treasuries of Babylon and brought out all the vessels that Nebuchadnezzar had removed from God’s temple, before he destroyed and burned Jerusalem in 586 B.C. and Cyrus returned them to the new temple in Jerusalem.
The Book of Ezra records how God moved the heart of this pagan king, the Jewish people, the priests and the Levites to rebuild the House of God and the Holy City of God at the appointed time.
But how about your appointed time? How long has it been since the Spirit of God stirred your heart? To rebuild a broken relationship. To listen for the whisper of the Spirit’s direction to complete God’s plan in your family, your church, or your nation. To anoint you as a conduit to pour out His love, His grace and His mercy on the hurting folks your life touches every day.
The Book of James tells us faith without action is dead faith. To maintain true faith we must be continually stirred, filled and spilled by the Spirit’s work in our hearts.
“For just as the body without the Spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead” (James 2:26 NAS).
By DiAne Gates –
It’s dark and I’m afraid.
What mom or dad hasn’t heard these words? Many times. And what did you say to that frightened child? Be quiet and go to sleep? Did you fuss and tell your child you needed to sleep? Or did you get up, go to your son or daughter and lovingly give them proper comfort and instruction?
But where does a parent go when shadows fall like a shroud and pitch you into the depths of unknown terror?
If you haven’t been there yet, just wait. It will come.
Twenty years ago, my husband had an aneurysm rupture in his leg. Petrifying weeks followed as we waited to see if he would loose his life or his leg. Waited to see if he would be able to work or still have a job. Waited for that time of unequivocal darkness to pass.
Until job loss, heart attacks, financial distress, deaths—all long black tunnels of fear—sucked the light from our lives and plunged us into the inky abyss of anguish. We couldn’t hop over ‘em, dig under ‘em, or run around ‘em. I sobbed, “Abba, Father, it’s so dark and I’m afraid.”
And when I cried, my Father was faithful to hold me, comfort me, and give me His strength. Strength to put one foot in front of the other. One step at a time. And travel with Him through the sightless night back into the light. During that time, I feared I might stumble and die in the process.
But God taught me there were lessons I must learn in the dark. Lessons I can’t see in the bright light of day. Lessons I must learn in the discipline of darkness.
This discipline required me to walk in lock-step with the Lord Jesus, forced me to focus on His face, instead of the things that creak and groan in the night. And reminded me to call out, “Daddy, I’m afraid.”
I only do that when I’m forced to abide behind the sooty curtains of heartache.
God shines the truth of His love on me in the light of day. But in the darkroom of trouble, He develops the knowledge and understanding of my faith in Him. Then I see the profane and unclean things lurking in my mind, things I have refused to acknowledge in times of blessing. I see pitfalls and traps that would have entangled me, had I not slowed my pace and clung to Jesus. And I am convinced it is better to walk with God in the dark than to stand alone in the light.
But as sure as day follows night, turmoil will pass and His light, like the sunrise, will disburse trials and tragedies. I will blossom again, strengthened by His comfort to know when darkness returns all I have to do is cry, “Abba, Father—Daddy— I’m afraid.”
And if you’re His child, He will wrap you in His arms of comfort and carry you through ’til morning. Because He loves you.
“For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Romans 8:15 NAS).
“What time I am afraid I will trust in Thee” (Psalm 56:3 NAS).
By DiAne Gates –
Christmas 2012 is over. The decorations cleaned and stored for next year, and the residue of the season swept into the vacuum, the trash or the washing machine. Tablecloths, dishtowels, and napkins, however need a deeper cleansing. A time and place for them to linger, in a sink filled with hot water and Oxi-Clean to remove the stains inflicted by holiday festivities
If you’re like me, you’ve incurred a few stains during the holidays too. The stain and depression of remembering those not with you at the table or around the tree. The stain of disappointments and failures. Unfulfilled expectations. Relationships gone awry. The stain of guilt and fear of what has been and what’s yet to come.
So what’s next? Do we rush into the New Year, counting the days ‘til Easter, worrying over the state of our nation, our family, our world? Thinking of Resurrection Sunday and spring, attempting to sweep the stains under the carpet of life and just keep on keeping on?
The sun peeked through my window this morning and I found my mind skipping along the precipice of depression. A deep sadness burrowed deep in my soul. ‘Til I heard the Spirit whispering words I have typed throughout the holidays. Born to Die.
Yes, we’ve celebrated the miracle of the virgin birth of God’s Lamb. But that baby, that Lamb was born to die. And the Spirit whispered again—linger here.
Linger at the Cross. Don’t rush to the empty tomb—linger at the foot of the Calvary.
But I don’t like to linger anywhere, much less at the Cross. It’s a hard place. It’s ugly. And it’s uncomfortable. I see so much suffering every day. I’ve grown tired and desensitized to blood and suffering. I am war weary—at home and across the world.
The Spirit said, “all the more reason you must learn to linger at the Cross and contemplate the Lamb, born to die so that you might live in His joy, His peace and His love.”
That old hymn played through the corridors of my mind. “There’s power, power, wonder working power. In the blood of the Lamb.” Then another melody stirred. “There is a fountain, filled with blood, drawn from Immanuel’s veins. And sinners plunged beneath that flood, lose all their guilty stains…”
I thought about those linens soaking in the sink. In the power of Oxi-Clean. All their stains disappearing. A rapid cycle through the washing machine didn’t remove the smudges—they needed soaking. They needed to linger in the power of a stain remover.
The Spirit took my face and turned my eyes to the miraculous power of the blood of Jesus. The power that His blood has to remove all the stains sin has ground into the pages of my life. I needed to linger and soak in that fountain of my Lord’s powerful blood this morning. Every morning and remember the Cross.
Our journey through life on earth is messy. The filth of rebellious choices, a prideful heart, and selfish actions and what-ifs that had clung to my blemished soul and seeped to the surface needed a good soaking—a daily soaking in the deluge that still flows from the Cross.
Stop awhile and ponder the Cross and the love of a Savior—born to die—for you and me. Linger there. Allow the depression and weariness to vaporize in the power of the blood of the Lamb—our Savior, our Lord and soon coming King.
Behold the Lamb!
“And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth. And He came, and He took (the book) out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne…and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb…and they sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy art Thou to take the book and to break its seals; for Thou wast slain, and didst purchase for God with Thy blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. And Thou hast made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth” (Revelation 5:10 NAS).
By DiAne Gates –
Words surround us. Heaped in our ears and piled in stacks under our feet. From hands-free devices, to flat screens TVs. Phones. And books. Zillions of them. A constant barrage of words. All day, every day, and into the night.
But who listens? Does anyone really hear? Anything?
If you’re a parent, you’ve asked these questions concerning your children, your spouse, and probably your friends. So why waste the time and energy to speak?
Because the Lord Jesus Christ gave us the ability to speak and the command to go and tell.
“So Lord, what are we supposed to tell them? And how are we supposed to say it?”
Jesus instructed, “Go and make disciples.”
Preachers go to seminary to learn apologetics—how to present God’s Word to their congregations. I don’t have all those degrees. I’m just a normal person. I don’t know what to say.
How did those first century Christians make disciples? They didn’t have the written word. Yet their numbers multiplied. All they had to share were their experiences. The joy and peace of knowing Jesus after centuries of enduring a bloody altar that didn’t fix sin. The joy of suffering persecution on account of His name, and finally, death in the arena. And the account of their lives and deaths are still an incredible model for us in this twenty-first century.
Perhaps that’s the problem. We have the words but lack the experiences. Maybe, but I think we have the words and different experiences. I think pride and churchiness are the problems that prevent us from sharing our heart.
Fear and pride are the boogers-in-the-woodwork. Fear of what others would think if they really knew what we had done, what had been done to us, or what we really think in the dark recesses of our minds.
So we retreat behind the walls of the church and become clones of one another. Using fancy words. Words without power. Words that do not affect or change the life of another, much less our own.
The cure comes when we recognize the depth of our deception, acknowledge our need for repentance, then share with others how God transformed our life. Sounds easy doesn’t it? It’s not. Being transparent can be painful.
I’m here to use my words today to share a troublesome affliction with you. Not with flowery words that loose us in their trail of sweet sounding emptiness. Just the sorrow of my heart and the love of my Savior.
This Christmas Season has been the most difficult one of my life. Family issues, changing relationships, grief, and coming uncertainties for America, brought about a spiritual battle in me that loomed larger with each passing day. ‘Til I admitted and confessed that terrible word—depression—and fell on my face, crying to my Lord Jesus for help. He answered the groaning of my heart immediately. I’m His child. He picked me up, wrapped me in His comfort and refocused my eyes and heart on His love for me.
The formula is simple but always sure:
My plight + His love and power = His mercy, grace and healing = forgiveness and restoration.
No sin is beyond His ability to forgive. How long has it been since your words have been honest with God? How long has it been since He rescued you? How long has it been since you’ve used your words to tell someone else what God has done for you?
By DiAne Gates –
Mother often recited, “I don’t build fences to keep you in. I build fences to keep bad stuff out.” But it sure felt like I was being detained.
Until I grew up and had my own children.
God sets boundaries for His kids too. Not to hold us captive, but to keep us safe. He’s the great protector, not the cosmic killjoy.
In the late ‘70’s, my kids were third and sixth graders in a public school that became the battleground to guerrilla warfare waged against children in the classroom.
Comments slipped from their mouths, and at first we responded, “They’re just kids.”
One afternoon our third grader retorted, “My teacher says I don’t have to mind you. You’re old. I can do what I feel like doing.”
What teacher in their right mind would tell that to a child? We instructed our daughter, “Your teacher wouldn’t say that. You need to be quiet and listen.”
But other parents voiced the same concerns when their kiddos came home with the same rhetoric. The teacher really taught these lies and the kids acted on her instruction.
We discovered the guidance counselor held classes with every kid, in all grades, each week. The School Board and school allowed this counselor to use a book not approved by the State Text Book Committee. A book not even on the list of books from which they could choose.
We tracked the publication to another school, borrowed it, and called a meeting for the parents of our elementary school. A reporter from a local newspaper, met with us and we previewed the book, DoSo The Dolphin, taught at the elementary school. The middle school taught Total Affective Behavior.
DoSo the Dolphin taught you could do anything you wanted if you had a good reason for doing it. One example in the book was this. “Little Johnny told a lie. But Little Johnny had a very good reason for telling this lie. What would you do if you were Little Johnny?” This lesson encouraged children not to go to their parents for answers, but to come to their “Magic Circle,” group, where they would find understanding. This book was used in grades 1 through 5.
Middle school kids were exposed to survival games—taught to make life and death decisions based on a person’s worth to society. This teaching became known as Situation Ethics. The situation you’re in determines the ethics you use.
The question remains: Is God’s Word truth? Is there absolute truth? Satan asked Eve in the garden, “Did God really say that?” And the blurring continues since that day in the garden.
Fast forward to 2012. We are dealing with high school shootings, drugs, gangs in schools, teen pregnancies, abortions, alarming STD rates, and an overcrowded prison system. We have raised a generation of adults who were taught in schools, “If it feels good, do it.” How can we expect them to have a moral or spiritual compass?
This brainwashed generation is raising children of their own with few, if any, boundaries. Where do we go from here? Are parents and grandparents failing our children and grandchildren in this society? Are we teaching them the Word of God?
God constructed the fence of His Statutes and Ordinances for His children, but His rebellious kids catapult over those walls of protection and find themselves in places they thought would bring freedom and joy, but instead bring destruction.
Were you a student in the classroom during this deceptive teaching or do you know people who were? How did it affect you? Please join the conversation.
“Arise, cry aloud in the night at the beginning of the night watches; Pour out your heart like water before the presence of the Lord; Lift up your hands to Him for the life of your little ones. . .” (Lamentations 2:19 NAS).