following the path to his heart part 2: meekness

Posted on March 19th, 2020 by mountain girl  |  No Comments »

bread sm

In Matthew 15, we read the story of a Gentile woman who came to Jesus asking Him to heal her daughter. His answer has always made me stop and wonder!

Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!” But He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.”

What?? Why would Jesus respond to her like that? It was probably not strange to those who were standing there–the Jews looked down on foreigners. But this was Jesus! He came for the whole world. He was the one who told the story of the Good Samaritan. He came to break down walls of division, didn’t He?

I am pretty sure Jesus had something up His sleeve. He could have just healed her daughter, or He could have just walked away. But He took the time to have a conversation with her, and to draw out something hidden in her heart…something only He saw.

In Matthew 5, Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Meekness is a prize to Him. I think He looked at that woman in Matthew 15 and glimpsed a gold nugget of meekness hidden in her heart. He chose His words carefully and spoke a sentence that would uncover that hidden nugget. He wanted the whole world to see and remember this woman throughout the ages. It was a sentence that could only reveal either pride or meekness:

“It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.”

What would you do if someone called you a little dog? I wouldn’t like it very much!  I might even be a tiny bit offended.  But God is not afraid to offend the mind to reveal the heart.

And she said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.  Matt 15:25-28 NKJV

She didn’t even skip a beat. She agreed with Him! And she even sounded like she would be happy with the crumbs, like a little dog.

But this lady was smart–she wasn’t going to let pride and offense rob her of what she wanted. She was not interested in making herself great, or attaining status in the eyes of others. Somehow, she knew that just a crumb from Jesus was everything she needed.

Kathryn Kuhlman was a great healing evangelist who lived in a time when women didn’t normally have pulpit ministries.  She was criticized by people who thought she must be out of line. Her answer? “I believe God’s first choice for this ministry was a man, his second choice, too. But no man was willing to pay the price. I was just naive enough to say, ‘Take nothing, and use it.’ And He has been doing that ever since.”

She wasn’t offended and she didn’t respond haughtily or tell her critics to look at the amazing miracles that followed her, or the incredible presence of God that filled her meetings. She carried a treasure too great to bother with offense. She had the crumbs–the gold nuggets of Jesus Himself.

“Take nothing, and use it,” sounds a lot like “Even the little dogs eat the crumbs.” Jesus is looking into hearts to find meekness. He bends the rules of society when He finds what He is looking for.

We might not exactly think of meekness in the right way. It’s not being a doormat, or weak, or unable to stand up for yourself. The word meek (praus) in the NT comes from the military, and relates to horse training. Here is an interesting study I found.

This difficult-to-translate root (pra-) means more than “meek.” Biblical meekness is not weakness but rather refers to exercising God’s strength under His control – i.e. demonstrating power without undue harshness.

[The English term “meek” often lacks this blend–i.e. of gentleness (reserve) and strength.]

“In the New Testament language of Koine Greek the word for humble was ‘praus’. Borrowed from the military, praus related to horse training. The Grecian army would find the wildest horses in the mountains and bring them to be broken in. After months of training, they sorted themselves into categories: some were discarded, some broken and made useful for burden bearing, some were useful for ordinary duty and the fewest of all graduated as war horses. When a horse passed the conditioning required for a war horse, its state was described as ‘praus’. The war horse had ‘power under authority’ or ‘strength under control’. A war horse never ceased to be determined, strong and passionate. However, it learned to bring its nature under discipline. It gave up being wild, unruly, out of control and rebellious. A war horse learned to bring that nature under control. It would now respond to the slightest touch of the rider, stand in the face of canon fire, thunder into battle and stop at a whisper.”

Meekness is not a personality trait, like we usually think of it. It is highly trained, perfectly controlled determination and strength. May we develop the meekness of a trained war horse!

Jesus is leading us in the path of meekness. It is the way to His heart. We must realize the importance of these two things: meekness, and the crumbs He gives us. They are both easy to overlook, to belittle, to think unimportant–but they are precious and necessary to our very life. The woman in Matt. 15 knew that, and because of this, she wasn’t dissuaded or discouraged.

Jesus is the Bread of Heaven. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” Matt. 4:4. Every word He wrote to us, speaks to us, sings over us, reveals to us, drops into our hearts, is what we live by.

He is the Word of God, the Bread of Life (John 6:35). The crumbs He gives to the meek are not second-best. They are bits of Himself. He lets us taste of Him to draw us and make us hungry for more.

following the path to his heart part 1: rest

Posted on March 17th, 2020 by mountain girl  |  No Comments »

Driveway Sm

And (Martha) had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.”

And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:39-42

Finding God’s heart is my greatest desire. Every day I press into it.  Sometimes I get a little tidbit—a fresh revelation from the Bible, a dream, a picture, something from nature—and it keeps me running after Him.

Once in a while, like Martha, I get caught up in worry and anxiety. I get out my personal measuring cups, my T-square, my level, and my scale.

Not long ago I began feeling like I should be farther along than this. I should be feeling His emotions, praying from His heart, partnering with Him, being productive, making myself useful to Him—actually experiencing His heart, not just gleaning little crumbs of it.

I was a little frustrated and talked to a few people about it. I didn’t realize Jesus was listening–and actually, He was the one who had something to say to me.

In the quiet of the woods, He reminded me that I came from His heart, the place where He created me and breathed my spirit into existence. I was born into His heart before I ever existed on earth. It was my very first home.

Jesus died so we could return to the Father’s heart. It is warm and tender and beating with love for us. His heart is not far away–we carry its very DNA in our spirit.

Striving is not the way to His heart. Like Mary, we must simply draw near in the place of trust, rest, and listening.

Psalm 131 gives us a message from David, the man after God’s own heart:

Lord, my heart is meek before you.
I don’t consider myself better than others.
I’m content to not pursue matters that are over my head—
such as your complex mysteries and wonders—
that I’m not yet ready to understand.
I am humbled and quieted in your presence.
Like a contented child who rests on its mother’s lap,
I’m your resting child and my soul is content in you.
O people of God, your time has come to quietly trust,
waiting upon the Lord now and forever. Psalm 131:1-3 TPT

There is a connection between meekness and rest. To be meek is to quiet my soul, to not consider myself better than others, or strive to grasp things that are beyond me. Without meekness, I’m trying to make my own way, instead of following Him.

We might impatiently try to grasp things that make us feel satisfied and give us a sense of accomplishment. We want to measure up, grow up, and get to where He has called us.

Yet, He loves the process! He enjoys us before we ever reach the place He called us to. He is the God of the Treasure Hunt, and He seems to like leaving clues for us. He is the Bread of Life, and He is dropping a trail of breadcrumbs for those who are hungry.

a vision: in the father’s heart

Posted on March 12th, 2020 by mountain girl  |  No Comments »

In the Father's Heart Small

Draw me away! We will run after you. The king has brought me into his chambers. Song of Solomon 1:4

 In My Father’s house (heart) are many mansions (rooms); if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. John 14:2-3

One evening as I sat alone in my dining room, I was suddenly in a vision. I stood just inside a huge room with rounded walls and a high ceiling, like a giant cave. The walls were different shades of red, and candlelight or lamplight flickered and bounced off the walls.

The room was empty, but as I looked across it, I saw one person at the far end. It was Jesus, wearing a long white robe. He didn’t see me, but as He walked back and forth, I could tell He was waiting for someone. He was very purposeful and busy as He waited, and I realized He seemed to be doing the work of a priest, as if going from the altar of incense to the table of showbread, etc., as in the tabernacle.

I wondered why Jesus was here all alone, and I felt a little indignant. Where was everyone, and didn’t they realize Jesus was here? How could no one care enough to be with Him? Then the vision was over.

Afterward, I kept wondering why Jesus was alone, and who He was waiting for. Most of all, I wanted to go back to that room where He was. I ached to be there.

Over the next few months I began to understand the vision, little by little. I realized I had been standing inside the heart of God. It was the chambers of His heart, and it was the chambers of the King, Jesus. He was there making intercession from within the very heart of the Father. I was the one Jesus was waiting for, and the room was empty because it was the place He had prepared for me.

But if He had prepared it for me, I needed to go there again!

For two years I didn’t tell anyone about it, but kept it in my heart. In November last year, a few months after my dream about Jesus and seeking to learn to love like Him, I began to think about the vision. It was like it came out of hibernation, and I thought about it constantly for several days.

I realized the vision was an invitation to a lifestyle. He was asking me to come and stand with Him in the Father’s heart and join in His intercession.  I felt the room was going to be filled with people whose lives were changed and brought into His heart by His and my intercession. This began my journey to know His heart and be joined with Him in His work.

I realized I don’t have to wait for a vision; I can know His heart daily in a way that is more real than a vision. In the vision, I was only an observer—Jesus did not look at me or seem to know I was there. I was just looking in, but He is calling me to enter His heart daily by faith, and partner with Him in experiencing and fulfilling the heart cry of the Father.

I had never known that the Father’s “house” Jesus spoke of could be translated as “heart”.  I never heard that verse spoken of in any way other than a place for us in heaven, yet I felt He was saying this was the place He had prepared for me.

But recently I found this excerpt written by Chaim Bentorah, a Hebrew teacher whose writings I love:

Jesus said in John 14:2: “In my father’s house are many dwelling places. I go to prepare a place for you.” Jesus spoke in the Old Galilean dialect of Aramaic. The Aramaic Bible, Peshitta, uses the word bt which we render as house, yet, like the Hebrew, bt could also be used to express the idea of the place of the heart which is identical to the Hebrew word bayith (house) which is the word used in Psalms 127. Jesus may very well have said: “In my Father’s heart are many rooms.” Only He can build that place in His heart for us. If we try to build that place with all our ministries and monuments to ourselves, our labors are all wasted.

Jesus has prepared a place for each of us to meet with Him, be close to Him, and fulfill our life’s purpose. His heart is a place of intimacy, and it also reverberates with the Father’s heartbeat, which moves us to work arm in arm with Him.  He will show each of us our place in His heart if we seek Him for it.

walking with jesus

Posted on March 9th, 2020 by mountain girl  |  No Comments »

boots2sm

“Who is this coming up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved?” Song of Sol. 8:5

“…You shall diligently keep all these commandments which I command you, to do them, to love the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, and to cleave unto him” Deut. 11:22

Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife” Gen. 2:24

Not long ago, I woke up in the middle of the night and lay there for an hour or so. I think God likes to speak to our spirit in the night, whether we’re asleep or awake (or somewhere in between), so I don’t really mind being up in the night anymore. Instead of tossing and turning, I try to be quiet and just let Him do His thing.

I began to think about walking with Jesus. I don’t usually think of that in the middle of the night, but it just came naturally, so I went with it. How do I walk with Jesus? How does He want me to walk with Him? Is there a practical way to do something that seems so ethereal, this walking with an unseen Person?

I might read a few verses and pray in the morning, but then my tendency is to focus on the daily grind of life and work. After the kids go to school, I want to get my housework done, and any artwork, photography or computer work I have. I might make yogurt or do some farm chores, and I start planning dinner. I end up buzzing through my day like a busy bee going from flower to flower, collecting nectar.

Then, when my work is done, I turn my attention toward Jesus and start tuning in to His presence. I usually go out in the field or the woods, away from distractions. It’s my favorite part of the day, and I drink in all my refreshments together—His presence, the beauty of nature, solitude, fresh air, and physical exercise. I feel invigorated and connected, and I look forward to it all day.

But as I lay there in the night, I realized something was not quite right. Jesus was dropping things in my spirit, and He was saying Step by step. It seemed like He wasn’t down with the hours that didn’t include Him. I envisioned myself taking a step, then He took a step, and we went through our day that way. Then I fell asleep again.

The next morning I was thinking about that, and I remembered how when I was little, my family went to a field day for homeschoolers. I was herded onto a field with other kids I didn’t know, playing games I had never heard of. I was painfully shy and not very good at sports, but it wasn’t too bad, and actually kind of fun–until it came to the Three-Legged Race.

Each child was paired with another, and my partner was a boy about my size. The man who was in charge tied my right leg to the boy’s left leg to make us a “three-legged person”. He told us to hang onto each other, run as fast as we could, and try not to fall down.

I was horrified, first that I was tied to another person (an introvert’s nightmare!), even worse, tied to a boy, but worst of all, we had to run in an extended side-hug.  I got through it, although we were far from winning the race.

Fast-forward 35 years, and now I was finding a gold nugget hidden in that experience! I thought of how I had to hold onto that boy and depend on him, and try to anticipate his direction, speed, and every movement. He had to do the same for me, or we might pull apart and fall down, or bump into each other and get tangled.

It seems like that is how Jesus wants to walk with me. Not apart most of the time, sprinkled with a few times of connection, but joined together, with our arms wrapped around each other. I take a step, He takes a step—we walk through our day together.

When my mind is on Him, I anticipate what His next step might be. I begin to sense what He is thinking and feeling, and I start to align my heart with His. I might not be very good at it (I still like to buzz around), and I might pull away, or take a misstep (or ten) and get tangled. But at least my heart is toward Him, my mind is on Him, and I am learning to lean on Him.

The Shulamite in Song of Solomon 8:5 comes “up from the wilderness, leaning on her beloved”. I imagine their arms wrapped around each other, walking in step together. It’s a “side hug” with Jesus, a three-legged race that is more about how close she sticks than how fast she runs.

The Hebrew word devek gives the sense of being joined together, to adhere fast, to stick, and even to be soldered together.

Deuteronomy 11:22 says“…Love the Lord your God…walk in all his ways, and…cleave (devek) unto him.”

Genesis 2:24: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave (devek) unto his wife.”

God asks us to embrace Him and walk with Him this way. Securely connected, not letting go, holding on tightly. I have heard devek interpreted as a heartfelt hug.

And so, I think Jesus would like us to walk with Him in such a way that we are keeping step with Him, joined right to Him, and holding Him in a warm embrace as we go from flower to flower through our day.

a rare treasure

Posted on March 7th, 2020 by mountain girl  |  No Comments »

Heart Chest Sm

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: …Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself.  There is no commandment greater than these.” Mk 12:28-31

After a dream I had about Jesus in August last year, my thinking began to change. I wanted more than anything to love the way He does, and to love Him more than anything else.

I thought a lot about how to live the first commandment, the Great Commandment. What does it mean to love the Lord with all my heart, soul, and mind? And how do I love others like myself?

I pored over it so much that David finally looked at me and said, “You know, there’s a chapter on that.” I stared at him open-mouthed. The Love Chapter! 1 Corinthians 13. That is exactly why I married him.

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Cor 13:3-7

He gave us this pattern to follow in loving others. A pattern or prototype is something to copy, and Mark 12 also gives us a pattern—You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

As ourselves. I think I understand that. To love others like myself is to be longsuffering and kind, like I am to myself. I’m not rude to myself, I’m not happy when I catch myself messing up, and I believe in myself that I’ll do better next time. 1 Cor 13 shows us that pattern of loving others like ourselves.

But what about loving God? He doesn’t tell us to love Him like we love ourselves. Or like we love our neighbor. No, it has to be a much greater love than that. He doesn’t even say “Love Me like you love your most beloved person in the world”.

What He does say is “Love Me with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.”

That’s not a pattern to copy. That is an original. That is a work of art that cannot be imitated, because it flows from the heart. And that, I think, is the secret of loving God. I must love from the deepest depths of who I am, to give God the love that only I can give, since there is only one of me in the entire world.

I have the sense that God is waiting to see the depth of love that I will give Him. It is almost like He is waiting to be surprised by my love, because it only exists here, in me, and there is no prototype of it in all the history of humanity. Maybe He is waiting and hoping that I might astonish Him with my love.  Or will I just give Him the garden variety of love, with no extra thought or care than any other day?

Can I give Him a love that takes Him by surprise? That overwhelms Him, because of the depth of how deep I reach down and pull it from?

But how often have I scraped my love right off the top and handed it to Him proudly, like cream off the top of the milk? How deep do I reach when I worship Him, when I pray to Him?

Surely He is worthy of me diving down to the bottom of the ocean of my heart, searching to find the treasure chest that has never been unearthed, and swimming back up to the surface carrying my precious pearl of a rare, authentic, and unusual love for Jesus.