Let’s Pack!

We’re going to take the online road trip on this blog. I believe that this is the best way to go, so that everyone will be on the trip as well!

To recap, God is calling us to come away with Him on a summertime road trip. We’re volunteering to walk out of our jail cells. Remember? He opened the door Himself, and the cost for the key to our cell was His blood. He willingly got that key for us! He died – and all of a sudden the door opened wide! He arose again and wants to be with each one of us. Yay, God!

For some reason, I have stepped one foot outside the door. I have taken His gift and I am His. But I’ve got only half of myself out the door. Can you visualize this?  The breeze is blowing and the door sways back and forth just a little bit. The cell looks inviting enough, with bright lights and what seems like wonderful things.

But when I look closer, things are not what they seem in this cell. The walls are a facade; you can poke your finger right through them. They’re fake. In fact, everything in the place is fake. Canned spray is keeping the air smelling good, a fake “good smell.” These chains that I put on myself are not locked. God is so kind. I cannot take myself out of His Hand! When I became His, I became truly free! But I’m not living like it. So I take these self-made chains off by the authority of The Spirit and in the power of the blood of Christ.

I am very tired of this. This saying I am His and only halfway acting like it. Tired. Of. This.

Are you game? Shall you and I walk the rest of the way out of the cell? God is calling those who believe in Him, those who have already taken His gift of salvation, to completely walk out of the cell and join Him. Jesus is out in the yard, under the huge, green tree, waiting for those who want to go on a summer trip. There’s His Voice, can you hear Him?  “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 

When I walk out of this door, I am walking OUT! With the help of The Spirit, I will not return but will leave it behind.

Goodbye, cell.  Goodbye…no, not goodbye.  Good riddance!

Out in the yard the air is sweet and clean. The breeze blows and under the tree there are people gathered, laughing and talking! It’s exciting to plan and go on a road trip. Jesus is standing among everyone. First, we’re going to pack.

Pack four things. None are optional:

PRAYER – REQUIRED  Jeremiah 32:17 – Pray large, pray lots, pray without ceasing. Every turn, every step, every day. God will show you how. This is the gas in our vehicle. When we run out of gas, things do not go well.

CO-OPERATION – REQUIRED  God is not your genie…He requires your cooperation. He can do anything without you, that much is obvious. Why do you need to do your part? This is because He wants to be with YOU. If He does things magically, where would the relationship be in that? Nowhere, that’s where. Your cooperation is required in order for this trip to be the trip of a lifetime.

BELIEVING – REQUIRED  Those who have asked Christ to be their Lord have already exercised faith. Now, you must take further steps. Don’t stress over this, simply ask God and He will lead you step by step into stronger faith. Believing God is a choice, a way of life, and in order to move along in belief you must pack the next item. 

WEAPON – REQUIRED  You have been given one weapon. The word of God. The Spirit of God will tell you when to use it and how to use it. In order to use it you have to speak it. Pack your Bible, but in order for the trip to be successful, you must read it – and speak it out loud! The enemy can’t read your mind, only God can read your mind. You must speak out loud the word of God. Jesus is our model. He used it against Satan and expects us to do that as well.  

Remember that the things you pack all link together. The more you pray, the more you co-operate; the more you co-operate, the more you believe; the more you believe, the better you can use your weapon. These four link, they zig-zag, they connect in beautiful ways. All four must be packed in order to receive what The Spirit has in store for you this summer.

God is about to create a new work within your heart, and draw you closer to HIMSELF! Pack your “heart-luggage” today.

Scripture to ponder:  Galatians 5:13-26

Today’s weapon:  “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1 

Want To Take An Online Road Trip?

What spiritual season are you in? Are you in a rut, doing the same thing over and over and over? Are you suffering from burnout? Are you zealous right now, with a passion for everything Jesus and everyone knowing Jesus? Or do you just not care for any of it?

As Christians, we go from season to season, from glory to glory, walking along with Christ. Sometimes we move left and right, here and there, continuing on to the best of our abilities in spite of how we feel. And sometimes, we lag waaaaay far behind – on purpose. We find ourselves in a place where we just don’t care. Burnout, boredom, and ambivalence fuel our actions. Sometimes it’s just plain fear.

So I am walking with Jesus and He speeds up. I don’t want to speed up so I start walking slowly, thinking that it will make things different, because hey, Jesus walks with me, right?

Well, doing things my way doesn’t make things better at all, in fact, I find out that it makes things pretty awful.  Yes, Jesus walks with me at my speed as well, and He keeps gently putting His hand around my shoulder saying, “Pick the pace up, now, we’re walking a little bit faster.” 

Do I dare walk faster as I’m told? My insides want to, now if my heart will only tell my feet!

The Holy Spirit told Paul exactly what to write (as usual) in order to put words to what I’m feeling in my heart. God put it perfectly:  “So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!(Boldface type is mine.)  Romans 7:21-25a

The last blog I wrote had the sounds of falling chains all over it.  “My chains are gone, I’ve been set free, my God, my Savior has ransomed me, and like a flood His mercy rains, unending love, Amazing Grace…”  (lyrics by Chris Tomlin.)  Amen and amen!  And now I have willingly allowed another chain to be placed on me; in fact, I hooked the chain up myself. And I see that there is more than one!

Jesus has removed the chains of all of our sins – past, present, and future; He did it from the cross. We have been set free from all of it! Why would we go and put more chains on ourselves? If the cell door is open, why are we still sitting in jail? Do you have a chain that you put on yourself? Or several? What spiritual season are you in right now? How long have you been walking this path? Days, months, years? Are you perpetually in one particular season? Is it “winter” in your season? Are you tired of the winter, and do you long for spring? Questions, questions…but it’s important to answer them.

We must answer them with The Spirit for He is the One Who gives wisdom! If you suffer from depression or are bipolar, I wonder if the chains feel way tighter. Probably not, but it sure seems that they are! It’s hard enough to get through every day, right? Add to that the fact that I am not keeping in step with what I have been told, and it’s really hard not to get in the corner with my blanket and stay in the dark. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt. The answer surely does not lie in that place, I can assure you.

I’ve been led to a place of “getting down and dirty” with Jesus. To allow Him total access, showing me how to cooperate with Him so that these chains I put on myself can be removed. I am yearning for a new walk with my Savior that is deeper and true. And I don’t really want to do this for me any more, I want to do this for others, so that God will be glorified.  I want to melt into the wall and allow Jesus to shine! And along the way, the blessings in my personal walk will be innumerable. Jesus has layers of everything in His kingdom. But I yearn for others to know what I know: God is real, Jesus is real, The Spirit is real…I want you to see Him, too.

So I ask you, is God talking to you as well, are you willing to walk with me this summer as we launch into a new season? Whether or not you suffer from any mental issue – just everyone in general…is The Spirit calling you to new places? Shall we allow the Spirit to take us into the deeper part of the Living Water? To show us how to unlock these self-imposed, rusty chains?

Let me know and we’ll walk as a group online. Email me.  Godsong.ivy@gmail.com

Y’all, God is up to something. Something wonderful. When I sit down to write this, I never know what I will type or what God wants to say, so this comes as quite a surprise to me…a wonderful, exciting surprise!

Anyone for a JoyDance road trip?

Scripture to ponder:  John 5:1-9     

Today’s weapon:  “Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.’”  John 5:8

The Sound of Falling Chains

There we were, all cozy with sin and all.  We were hating what we did but when it came down to it, as soon as the temptation was thrown in our faces we succumbed to it.  Too easily.  In fact, we were such an easy score for the enemy that he didn’t have to make much of an effort. We willingly ate the apples that he offered, over and over again. We took a bite, chewed, and swallowed. We were powerless to stop.

We tried to follow the laws that God gave us. “Do not eat the apples.”  That didn’t work because ink and paper (or chisel and stone) was only part of what we needed.  God showed man that we can not follow rules for the sake of following rules. We do not have the power within us to follow all the rules. For if we break one of them, we break them all.  (See James 2:10)

Not only do we fail at following rules, but in our thinking we can make it better by making more rules to help us follow the main rules. Examples such as, “Do not walk by the apple orchard because you might eat the apples,” and “If you must walk by the apple orchard, turn your face toward Raleigh, and say the Lord’s Prayer.”  “When you must walk by the apple orchard twice in a day, turn your face toward Raleigh and say the Lords Prayer twice each time, for as many times as you pass by, you must pray that many times.”  And so on, and so on.  You can see it in Isaiah 28. Verse 10 says, “For it is: do this, do that, a rule for this, a rule for that; a little here, a little there.”  Read the whole chapter of Isaiah 28.  We are eating apples all day. We don’t have to go by the orchard, either. There’s a roving apple cart.

Then Jesus came along and upset the apple cart.  Not only did He throw the apple cart on it’s side, but He trashed it, He stomped on it, He tore it to pieces, and burned it. The whole apple orchard has been destroyed. Did you hear that sound?  What was that?

The disciples were sucker-punched out of left field.  Jesus is dead.  He said it Himself, “It is finished!”  Over.  Over but not out.

They took His body down from the cross and gave it to Joseph of Arimathea who had the bravery to ask for it.  So Joseph wrapped Jesus up in linen and placed Him in a brand new tomb. They closed it up with a huge stone, sealed it (ha), and put guards there to make sure nobody came anywhere close.

They had no idea, did they? Christ Himself carved out the grave with His finger at creation. He made the tree that the cross was made out of, and made the iron for the nails. God spoke the rock door into existence! And God knew exactly what He was doing then. And He knows exactly what He’s doing now. At this very moment while you’re reading this, His Spirit is standing beside you. Wait, I heard it again. Did you hear that sound?

Anyway, a violent earthquake occurred while the soldiers were standing guard, and an angel of the Lord came down and rolled the stone away.  The guards were frozen with fear as the angel went to the tomb, rolled back the stone, and then sat on it!  Yay; that gives my heart such joy! The angel sat on the stone door! Sitting on the stone speaks volumes. Eternal volumes. Christ has conquered sin and death and now He is sitting down at the right Hand of God the Father. The angel demonstrated what had happened in the heavens.

The guards were terrified of the angel and they “shook and became like dead men.”  Makes sense to me; that would be terrifying. Jesus wasn’t in the tomb anymore. He was up and out of there! No tomb can hold Him. He is God. He willingly gave His life up. Mankind didn’t take His life, it was His decision to give His life – for you and for me.

Christ has risen! Jesus appeared to women first (isn’t God so kind in doing this?) and then they ran and told the disciples. In time, Jesus appeared to them as well and was eating, talking, and being with them. You can be quite sure that hugs and kisses were enjoyed! He told Thomas to touch His Hands, where the nails were, and to touch His side, where the spear was shoved. So He was touchable. He still is touchable. He is real, He is here, He is alive! And right now?  He is real, He is here, and He is alive! And there it is, that same sound.

He is pure love. Everything about Christ is pure, clean, and whole. He is beautiful and His gift to us is indescribable. We do not deserve one bit of His love. But He gives it to us, anyway. It’s like with Adam and Eve. They messed up, and He knew it. But the next day He still showed up! He came to them and called their names. He knew where they were hiding, but His Hand was still stretched out to them in total love.

Amazing, isn’t it? That God would love us that much. Eternally and forevermore. There’s that sound again…can you hear it, too? That’s the sound of falling chains. I hear the sound everywhere. They are falling all over the place. Do you have chains on your heart or in your mind? Cry out to Jesus for help. He is in the business of making everything new! Just call for Him and run into His Arms. The chains that bind you will fall. Only Christ can do this, so grant your heart what it yearns for: to no longer be enslaved to sin and to be reunited with your Creator.

Run to Him because He died for you. He loves you that much. Hallelujah! He is risen! He is risen indeed!

Scripture to ponder:  Matthew 28

Today’s weapon:  “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.”  John 15:9      

The Fullness of The Cross

On Good Friday my heart is full, is your heart full, too?  The very idea that the perfect Son of God would willingly put on skin, come to earth, and die a cruel death so that I can actually be one with Him makes me speechless.  This amazing, holy gift of His death (which I confess that I don’t think about as much as I think about what I get out of this God/me relationship) is packed full of the “amazing grace” that we sing about.  It’s so full that there’s no more room to squeeze anything else in.  Everything is full.  It’s just as Jesus said.  “It is finished.”  Paid. In. Full.

On the cross He took our sins. Every one of them. He bore on Himself our lying, cheating, stealing, gossiping, adultery, porn addiction, alcohol addiction, drug addiction, food addiction, work addiction, child abuse, spousal abuse, elderly abuse, self abuse, bigotry, laziness, bitterness, guilt, fits of rage, murder, impurity, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, quarreling, strife, cliques, arrogance, pretensions, overbearing pride, meanness, self-entitlement, envy, debauchery, hostility, scheming, superstitions…shall I go on?

I figure that just one of the sins on the list above (which isn’t a list of all of them) weighs at least a ton, and when they are all added together the weight would surely be unbearable.  But Christ did bear them, and He did it fully.

He did this for you.  So when you take hold of this gift you have to learn how to live in it…how to grow in it. When a person becomes a Christian he or she isn’t magically and immediately perfect.  Ha.  If you were perfect immediately, for what then would you need God?  The joy is in the journey.  The fullness of the cross is that gift which you have to take on little by little, “from glory to glory.”  Abundant life that’s lived in both large and small steps. New life, pure life, back to “the reason we were all created” life.  He died so that we may live!

If you see a particular sin of yours (or several) in the list above, take time right now, this very minute, to thank Jesus for taking on that sin for you.  The sinless Son of God was the Only One who could take on and remove sin.  And when He paid our debt He killed every one of those sins.  He killed them and they are dead…never to rise again.  Do you believe it?  “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief!”  You have to believe, and the Spirit knows it.  And the Spirit is the One who wants to help you believe.  He’s waiting to hear you ask Him to help you believe that Jesus killed your sins.  Ask and receive the fullness of the cross.

Jesus volunteered to go through the hell of what should be our crucifixion in order that we may be whole.  He made us alive.  That’s why this Friday is “Good.”  The disciples were shocked, hit in the gut.  Even though Jesus had already told them, they could not in their wildest dreams have imagined what was coming next.  Stay tuned.  Sunday is on the way…

Scripture to ponder:  Ephesians 1 

Today’s weapon:  “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”  John 8:36 


The High Cost of Prayer

This blog entry is for those who believe and have confessed that Jesus is LORD.  Those who are bipolar and those who are not.  Those who are depressed and those who are not.  Children of God – no matter who you are or where you live, all those who adore and believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God…

This is Holy Week.  We think of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for our sins and how we are healed by His stripes.  His death was the surgery that gave us life.  Because Christ conquered death and rose again, those who follow Him and accept His free gift can enjoy abundant life both now and forevermore.       

When Jesus yielded His Spirit to death, the curtain around the most holy place of the temple was split – from top to bottom.  Only one person was allowed into the “Holy of Holies,” the High Priest, and he could only enter once a year.  I’m thinking that he probably entered with great fear and trembling.  I would have.

The curtain was quite high; no man could rip it from top to bottom.  Only God could do that. He ripped it just like we would rip a piece of paper.  Now there is no barrier for us to approach God the Father.  God opened up the path Himself.  Now you and I can go straight up to the very high Throne of God!  Do you realize how loving our God is; how merciful and kind to allow His Son to die for people such as us? YAHWEH…how beautiful, how majestic, and how utterly breathtaking is that Name!  Do you know how much it cost to pay for our admittance to the Throne Room?  Because of Jesus, we can go to His Throne and sit, stand, lie down, be at His Feet, and actually hang out with our Creator God.

Jesus has restored us to the place we held in Eden, before we fell for the enemy’s lie.  Because we have His Spirit within us, we can actually listen to God Himself.  And the best part about all of this?  God wants you to be with Him more than you could ever want it!  He really is delighted when His people desire Him.  All day long we take Him for granted, over and over again, day after day after day — and then we get a flash of The Spirit in our brains and BAM! We are right back at His Throne…and I am amazed at the mercy, the grace, the love that puts up with us.  Back and forth and back again…we’re like Billy in “The Family Circus” cartoon; we’re running all over the place.

Tattoo it on your heart.   Let the truth of it penetrate into the marrow of your bones.  Ask God to help you remember this every day for the rest of your life:  it cost Jesus everything to make a way for you to be with God.  Think about it.  If Jesus had not died and paid your bill,  you wouldn’t be able to call on God.  How would that work for you?  It wouldn’t work for you at all.

Take this day during Holy Week to worship God alone.  Just you and Him.  Right now you can worship while you read this post.  Sing Him a love song today with every bit of your heart.  It cost Jesus His life in order for you to have this privilege…let’s do our very best to follow The Spirit of God as He teaches us how to avoid taking prayer for granted.

May God Himself draw you so close to Him today that you hear His Breath…

Scripture to ponder:  Mark 15:33-39

Today’s weapon:  “He Himself bore our sins” in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by His wounds you have been healed.”  1 Peter 2:24         

Christ In Spring

“I wandered lonely as a cloud / that floats on high o’er vales and hills, / When all at once I saw a crowd, / a host, of golden daffodils; / beside the lake, / beneath the trees, / fluttering and dancing in the breeze.”

The beauty of spring is making me think of this famous poem by William Wordsworth.  It is so beautiful outside!  Even though the wind is blowing like crazy, the buds and the blooming of early-arriving plants have made my heart sing.  There are tiny leaves on our trees as they wake up from their winter’s sleep.

My Casablanca lilies are already a foot high!  I am amazed every year how they pop up.  The blooms in the summer are as big as a large salad plate.  They are fragrant and so beautiful. God outdid Himself when He created all of this!

The birds are singing louder and I have already seen one little female with nesting material in her beak, looking to build a nest for the eggs that are on the way.  Gary put our hummingbird feeder up and we’re ready to see the first ones of the season.  We love those little birds.  The males come first and battle it out, claiming their territory and waiting until the females arrive. They’re funny when they battle, spreading their little tails as wide as possible so they can look really big and “scary” to the other one.

Pollen is covering our porch and deck and I think I’ll just wait to clean it up when it’s all fallen. Everything outside has a light yellow hue; it only disappears temporarily after a spring rain. Spring has certainly sprung!

I like to think that in heaven, we’ll be able to sit with Jesus in a huge field of lilies, roses (minus the thorns,) and baby’s breath.  The soil will be soft, the grasses and flowers fragrant.  There will be a light breeze.  The brightness of the glory of God will make everything just the right temperature.  Jesus will lean back on a big rock and tell us stories, the ones that aren’t written down.  The joy in our hearts will be rich and full.  That’s how I see things.

The beauty of the season has captured my heart and makes me want to dance in the yard! Only God could come up with this kind of loveliness.  Heaven is supposed to be more beautiful than this, and I’m thinking that it will be spellbinding.

God spoke all of this into being.  His Word is power and is eternal…and somewhere way, way out there, light is coming forth.  It makes me want to fall at His Feet and tell Him thank you a million times over, just for the joy that He gave my heart when I saw the breeze blow the budding trees today.

It’s great living where there are four seasons!  By the time you get tired of one, here comes another to take it’s place.  It’s never dull, that’s for sure.  The Hand of God is amazing; He is the Ultimate Artist, and knows just how to paint the earth.   I do hope if you’re reading this that you will take time to go outside and take in this springtime beauty.

If you’re swinging up…take into your soul the calm beauty of a gentle breeze and birdsong while you sit quietly in a chair outside.  Allow The Spirit of God to anoint you with the peace that only He can give while you’re covered with the onslaught of spring.

Are you drifting down?  Put your feet on the floor, stand up, and walk outside.  Keep standing while you close your eyes and listen.  God will help you to hear the sounds of nature that call you to rejoice.  Follow the lead of The Spirit of God as He wakes up your heart.

Whether up or down, do this exercise every day.  Allow Christ to bring you healing using the work of God’s Hands…He created all of this just for you!  I think you should blow Him a kiss again, don’t you?

Scripture to ponder:  Song of Songs 2:8-13  

Today’s Weapon:   “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.”  Isaiah 40:8



The Fact Of Joy!

Oooh, don’t you love that word?  Joy!  What does it make you think of?  It usually comes with thoughts of laughter and fun, with carefree twirls in the grass, like when you were little. Twirling so fast, round and round, till you fell over and your head spun.  Joy!  It feels good!

God, the Author of joy, desires to teach his children the facts.  He pours joy out in places of laughter and fun. He also pours joy out in the hard places of life.  It’s true.  Joy is more than a feeling.  Joy is a fact!  

Do you believe God?  He knows how to bring beauty out of ashes.  He knows how to make a rose bloom from the difficult times in your life. He specializes in this, and He desires for us to learn that joy is a fact.  Joy is real and it goes way past the feeling of happiness that’s inside.  It’s deeper than happiness, more clear than laughter.  I see it as warmth inside the soul, surrounded by beautiful music.  Happiness is bright, but joy is gleaming.  That’s how I see it.  You may see it a different way.

Joy is hard to explain.  If you’ve experienced it, then you know what I’m saying.  It’s sweet, it’s holy, it gets inside the bones.

The point is that joy is a gift from God.  Like all of His gifts to us, we have to be willing to receive it.  He gives, but we have to stretch our arms forward, with our hands open, to receive what He offers.  Up or down, manic or depressed, God offers joy.  The joy of The Spirit!  Right now. Right here.  April of 2017.  Will you take this gift of joy in every circumstance?  Will you allow God to penetrate every cell of your body, even in the hardest times, and allow Him to sparkle through you?  Others will see Christ in the joy and be drawn to God’s Light within you.

Pure joy is spelled J-E-S-U-S!

This blog post comes with a bit of homework for anyone who is interested in going into the deep end of the pool of Living Water.  It’s for those who want more than Sunday “church.”  Are you being called into a deeper walk with Christ?  The Spirit always calls us.  Some not only hear His Voice but listen to what He is saying.  Are you listening to The Spirit today?

Take some time to be with Christ today.  Sit down in a quiet place, close your eyes, and be still. Listen.  Allow God time to speak to your heart and remember, it may take a little while, and this may take a few sittings.  Make a list of everything that’s happening in your life right now, both good and bad. Hold the list up to heaven and ask God to show you the joy.  Just those four words:  “Show me the joy.” And He will show you the joy…watch and see.

In time you’ll understand why it’s hard to define or describe.  It goes past feeling into fact! Praise God from whom all blessings flow…

Scripture to ponder:  Psalm 16

Today’s weapon:  “You turned my wailing into dancing, you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy…”   Psalm 30:11