Tonia’s ScribeLife Blog Has Moved

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As of August, 2017, Tonia’s blog has a new name: Spirit Life.

Also, her blog has moved to her author website at www.toniawoolever.com.

Most of the posts Tonia published as ScribeLife have been moved to her author website, so if you have favorites from the past, you can find them all at www.toniawoolever.com/blog/.

Future posts here will be made by both Ron and Tonia concerning Shammah Ministries news or articles connected with what we teach.

 

Resting Between His Shoulders

It’s 6 a.m., and I have settled into a chair near the wide open back door where I can feel the coastal breezes waft in, and hear the first bird songs of the morning. As usual, I have my creamy tea in hand. After greeting the Lord with “Good morning,” I ask, “What do you want us to do today, Lord?” The answer comes, 

“Rest in my love.”

Tears of relief and joy well up. Relief, because I realize I am a little on the weary side this morning. I don’t know how much I need to rest with Him until I hear the words. Joy, because this is the God who saved me and with whom I share life. 

I lean back, and the words of Moses bubble up to the surface of my mind: “The one the Lord loves rests between His shoulders.” This is part of the blessing/destiny Moses spoke over the tribe of Benjamin — the youngest of Israel’s sons, the baby of the family, who forever in my mind and theology represents the child of God. The greater blessing says, “The beloved of the Lord rests secure in Him, for He shields him all day long. And the one the Lord loves rests between His shoulders.” (Deuteronomy 33:12)

I know these words by heart, having claimed them as my own heritage, in faith. And in response to this faith — that the Lord loves it when we lean against Him in childlike faith and presumption of His tender love for us — the Lord has invited me to rest anew in His love. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard this invitation. 

How did I come to faith in this way of being with the Lord? These words, among many others in Scripture, which the Holy Spirit has woven together in my heart over years of seeking to know this God. It is like a garment I wear now, made seamless by Jesus’ invitation, “Come to me, all who are heavy laden, and I will give you rest…” together with His admonition, “Anyone who will not receive the kingdom like a little child will never enter it.” 

The kingdom of God is many marvelous things, and I’m sure I’ve only discovered a fraction of them. But I am quite sure that chief among them is resting between God’s shoulders, enjoying His love, in the un-self-conscious faith of a child who is convinced Daddy loves her.


The topic of being childlike with God, and being established in His love, is a major theme of Tonia’s book, “They Will All Know Me,”
available on Amazon.com and in the Shammah Book Store.

God Keeps Us

Bible-on-deskI once had a dear friend who loved “to keep Christmas.” As the season drew near she would begin preparing for it, cleaning house, rearranging things to make room for a display of her huge nativity collection, shopping for gifts, writing cards, setting her December schedule around activities with friends and at church. By the time December came, Patrice had everything in place, wrapped and done, so she could then tend to keeping Christmas in her favorite way: in private daily devotions to Jesus, special Scriptures and Advent calendar readings; in public church activities with family and friends. She did all this to rebuild in her heart anew each year the childlike sense of anticipation and wonder over Emmanuel, God with us. Patrice loved Jesus with all her heart, and “keeping Christmas” was one of her favorite ways of showing it. Before I knew her I’d never heard the word “keep” used this way, as a reference to how one carefully observes a thing of great importance, preparing for it, attending to it in every detail, giving it priority. To “keep Christmas” meant all that to her, and came to mean that to me. She might remark of someone, “They like Christmas, but they don’t really keep Christmas, you know.”

Against this backdrop, as I studied God’s covenant ways with his people, I noticed something: God uses the word keep in precisely the same way. The began to come on when I read 1 Samuel 2:9, where Hannah says of the Lord:

He keeps the feet of His godly ones… (NAS)

When I first read this I Immediately thought of Patrice and her devotion to observe Christmas. Could “keeps” have the same meaning here? I just had to know, so I looked it up in my trusty Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible.

A Word Study: Shamar

The word “keeps” is the Hebrew word shamar, which means to hedge around something in order to keep, guard, preserve, tend to or be attentive to (i.e. “keep a promise”). Hebrew scholar Spiros Zodhiates says this is an important Hebrew verb appearing 470 times in the Old Testament, the first of which is Genesis 2:15, where it refers to the tending or exercising of great care over the garden in Eden. Zodhiates comments, “In a religious vein, shamar expresses the careful attention which was paid to the obligations of a covenant, to laws or to statutes. Abraham gave orders to his children to ‘keep’ the way of the Lord in Genesis 18:29.”*

When Hannah said, “He keeps the feet of His godly ones,” she was praising Him for watching over the path of His beloved children, ever at work to steer our footsteps into His best will, for our joy and for His glory. I believe the Spirit of the Lord is continually stirring in our hearts to know and do what the Lord wants (which Paul actually says in Philippians 2:13). However, the Lord does this so gently — without a hint of manipulation or encroaching on our freedom — that such guidance can go unnoticed by the inattentive child of God.

The Spirit is always trying to lead you. As one of God’s beloveds, He keeps you, watching personally over every contemplation of your heart and mind, hoping you will be attentive to His presence and guidance. He is ready to help you to what is right, good, and wise in all matters large and small.

“But,” you might say, “I haven’t been keeping devotion to God lately, and Hannah said that He keeps the feet of His ‘godly ones.’ I’m sure I don’t qualify as one of those right now.”

The fact is, you are one of His godly ones if you are in Christ! The Hebrew word underlying this phrase refers to those who are in covenant with God. So while yes, you should absolutely live in an upright and devoted manner with the Lord, your failure to do so doesn’t cause Him to shut down on His faithful devotion to guide you. After all, that would defeat His purpose — He always wants to guide you right back into His ways. Never forget that God’s faithfulness is based upon His character, not yours.

Jesus said to His disciples:

“Abide in my love. If you keep my commands, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love.” (John 15:9-10 NASB)

Here is truth: God is always keeping the feet of His beloved children, watching over them.

Here is truth: God has given us free will to walk where we wish and choose whatever we want.

Here is truth: The one who believes in God’s guidance will be attentive to the Spirit within, and find that guidance always at hand. Keeping God’s ways and commands will keep us in His love. Abundant life is not guaranteed to all who wear the name “Christian”; It is the reward of the yielded, obedient child, who abides in the love of God.

This is the reciprocal covenant life we are offered through Jesus Christ: God tends to our lives with all diligence; we tend to His life with all diligence. This is where life abounds. Shamar is another word among many that has great meaning in the context of covenant relationship — which is exactly what we have with the Lord, through Jesus Christ. (Explained in detail in my new book, They Will All Know Me.) I think I shall add shamar to my Covenant Glossary.

On His side of the equation, God keeps our covenant relationship with all devotion. Let us “keep faith” with Him the same way Patrice kept Christmas.

*Lexical Aids to the Old Testament, Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible, New American Standard Bible, Editor Spiros Zodhiates, Th.D.

Why I’m Excited About The New Book

I know what you’re thinking: “Of course she’s excited about the new book — she wrote it!”

True. But the response we are getting to this book is greater than any other book we have published so far. In fact, I was thrilled when the team who helped me edit the book ordered it by the case-full when it was published, because they wanted to give a copy to everyone they love or mentor. And though they had all each read it, they couldn’t wait to read it again!

I hear people testifying already of how it is plugging into their hunger for something more with God that has eluded them so far. People are finding hope in They Will All Know Me that they can know God and that knowing Him will nourish them in all the ways they have been left hungry.

I don’t say these things to brag on me, I say them to rejoice in the partnership of expression that I believe began in His heart and flowed over into mine, for your sake… because Jesus doesn’t just love you, He LOVES you! He wants to share life with you…. NOW! I believe He wanted this book written to give hope to hungry hearts who have been left malnourished by the current widespread model of church and Christianity, which typically teaches ABOUT God more than how to really KNOW God.

TWAKM Cover FrontEternal life is what Jesus suffered for us to receive, and in John 17:2-3 He defined eternal life as knowing the Father and Jesus Christ. This book is all about the full message of this new life, about not settling for anything less than knowing God in personal experience, and sharing my stories of how I learned to know God so far and how that has changed my heart and life… which it has, like nothing else could

There are oodles of great books out there, and this is just one. But God has a target for every book He stirs one of His children to write, and we pray daily for this one to find HIS target. I often feel the Lord’s love for His people, and I felt it daily in waves as we wrote this book together. I praise the Lord for His unfailing love and His passion to find every possible way to get the word out!

 

Taking Care of Business

Covenant relationship looks like this: if I give of myself to take care of my covenant partner, tending to what is important to them; and they give themselves tending to what is important and needful to me, we are both satisfied! We love well. We have mutual joy. There will be no no lack, no sorrow, no striving. We both have rest in the heart of the other and in all that concerns us. All expressions of rest — such as safety, provision, nurture, love — are met in this kind of relationship.

I’ve learned this more than once in my walk with God, but especially when we were needing to move to the Texas coast in 2013 to be near my parents to help care for them. We needed to find a new home, and I wanted to go out and spend all effort and time finding it NOW. Yet life kept happening, and getting in the way! People kept needing things that stopped us from going at our search full speed ahead. I stewed and fretted some, with the Lord occasionally reassuring me that he had already secured a home for us.

I believed, yet still, in all honesty, it was hard to focus my attention on anything but finding that new home, until one day the Spirit dropped these words into my spirit: “Be about my business, and I will be about yours.” The Lord has a way of saying the one thing that changes everything. He had things we needed to do for him, things with and for people. I wish I had a dollar for every time the Lord has revealed that it isn’t people I am pushing against, it is Him!

The Lord reminded me that I could REST concerning our great need, because He was at work securing it all for us. Meanwhile, He needed me to be about His business in a wholehearted way, tending to the people he wanted to love on through us.

I realized what a perfect relationship this is, this reciprocal covenant love and care. It nips selfishness and self-centeredness in the bud. Joy seldom fails to come when you give of yourself to someone else. One may find some pleasure in giving themselves what they need, but nothing like the pure joy of giving oneself for others.

So, as we waited for our whole lives to be moved and rearranged, tending to my Father’s business produced in me joy, and rest, and hope, and fruitfulness. It was a good season, and my heart relaxed into being fully present for the people in our lives. The Lord was served, the people on His heart were served, and He did indeed secure for us the most delightful, perfect home here on the coast. It all came together in just the right time, and I hate to think of what we might have “settled for” in our own impatience and striving! I am so glad we did not, that he gave us the grace to rest both in what He promised and asked of us in those days.

So be about the Good Lord’s business, and He will always be about yours. That is covenant faithfulness, covenant care, covenant love. That is taking care of business, God’s way.

Beyond the Ten Commandments

My evening was open and free last night, as my husband would be occupied and I had no appointments. I asked the Lord, as I often do, “What would you like to do this evening? What would be a good thing?” The reply came, “Read my Word together.”

A predictable answer, tho certainly not a stock answer. I honestly don’t always pray about what to do with my free time, and when I do I’ve heard many answers, ranging from “go take a bubble bath and pamper” to “let’s go play in the garden” to “let’s go shopping.” So it’s not like God is strict with me about such things. I do always enjoy reading the Scriptures, they nourish me so, and I’ve done too little of that lately.

So what did I do? I got my Bible and sat it on the table beside me, then got out a movie I’d been wanting to watch. And for two hours I watched it with my Bible laying by my side, as if that little conversation never happened. When the movie was over, it was too late and my eyes too tired for anything but sleep.

I went to bed feeling guilty, and awoke knowing I had disappointed my Lord. He did not speak to me harshly, but when I confessed my sin to him, he said, “It was your choice to make. The devil didn’t make you do it. You chose what you really valued last night.” I feel awful, about my choice, my weakness, the fact that I blithely ignored my Lord’s response just to entertain myself, without a backward glance. I walked right past him to that shelf of movies, as if he wasn’t there and hadn’t answered my question. In a way, it horrified me how very easy it was. It is easy because he is, after all, invisible, and because he is always so gentle and gracious to me.

As I ask forgiveness of my Lord, I do so against a backdrop of awareness that some would consider this legalistic behavior on my part. “For goodness’ sake, Toni, it’s not like you broke one of the Ten Commandments!” I hear in my imagination. But here is the truth. What I did was to sin against the intimate love I share with the Lord, against the expectations, hopes and faith we put in one another. I ignored him, and I trampled on his gracious nature and favor, his gentle love for me.

Entertainment isn’t a sin; but acting as if the Lord’s desires matter to me and then ignoring him, is. He is my friend, and I am His. My choice was a sin against the closeness we share and the goodness that is meant to pass between us every day. James 4:17 says it perfectly: “He who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.”

I have been on the receiving end of a moment like this, often enough to know exactly how it feels. In every intimate relationship I have, with husband, son, daughter, friend, I have experienced this kind of treatment. They are all wonderful people, but at times what I needed, expected or hoped for from them didn’t come. I have been ignored, neglected, had promises broken. Have not we all? I never doubt any of these people love me, but in the course of our relationships they have chosen other things over paying attention to me at times that registered enough to hurt, left feeling as if I didn’t matter very much.

And I am guilty of doing this to the ones I love as well. We all do it. We all make choices in moments that feel perfectly innocent; when we are tired or need to tend to self rather than someone else, or somethinGone Astrayg else just captivates – a book, movie, hobby, special event, a work project – that temporarily shoves everything and everyone else to the back of the line. And it is easiest to do this to the ones we know will be most gracious, is it not?
There are sins beyond the Ten Commandments, and they are sins of love. They are sins against love. You won’t find them written on stone, but they should be written in the heart. In my heart, they go something like this:

Thou shalt pay attention to the covenant loves in your life.

Thou shall not break the faith you have invited others to place in you.

Thou shalt be steady in how you treat an intimate; respect, love, and goodness are always due.

Thou shalt live your values, not being a pretender, even in private.

Thou shalt own up to your sins against love, and ask forgiveness for them.

Yes. The fact is that “for goodness’ sake” we must needs love well at all times.

True Passion Marched Past Full Disclosure

In my desire to understand my Lord and the Word of God, I often try to put myself in Cross-Shofar-MantleJesus’ shoes. What was it like to be Jesus, walking the earth as a human? Especially this time of year, or whenever I read the Scriptures concerning the suffering of Christ, I am astounded anew at this fact: Jesus knew exactly what would happen to him before he said yes to it. He made that abundantly clear to his disciples:

“They were on their way up to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way, and the disciples were astonished, while those who followed were afraid. Again he took the Twelve aside and told them what was going to happen to him. “We are going up to Jerusalem,” he said, “and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.” (Mark 10:32-34 NIV)

This wasn’t the first or only time Jesus said things like this. As the days grew closer, he repeatedly warned them of what would happen. This and other passages make it abundantly clear, that Jesus walked towards the cross in FULL DISCLOSURE of what would happen to him. The Father and the Spirit made sure Jesus knew everything. Not the fine print, not mentioned just once, not a “by-the-way” aside whispered to him the day before.

In Jesus’ day the prophets were read in synagogue every Sabbath. Jesus had heard them over and over throughout his life. One day, as he was listening to these scriptures read from the scrolls — perhaps even a time when he was reading — the Spirit begin to whisper to him, “This means you. This is what will happen to you, because YOU are the lamb of God, you are the Passover sacrifice, yours is the blood of the new covenant.”

We cannot know the exact timing, but we do know the most important thing we need to know: by the time this was at hand, Jesus knew it all by heart; that many days or even weeks before, he knew he would be reviled by his peers, leaders, even his family; that he would be betrayed by those closest to him; that he would be brutally flogged within an inch of his life, that he would be spit upon, publicly humiliated and sentenced as a criminal to die by the cruelest means of those days: nailed naked to a public cross in the way of the Roman rulers.

There is no doubt that Jesus had seen this very thing many times. The Romans were fond of leaving the bodies of criminals upon their death crosses to rot and be slowly picked apart by buzzards, as an example to those who might want to come against their kingdom. Therefore, Jesus not only knew the scriptures describing his fate, he had a very current visual image as a personal witness to what would take place. Yet amazingly, he kept walking resolutely towards that moment, passing by every opportunity to say no to it, rebuking his disciples’ denial, deflecting every attempt of his followers to convince him that couldn’t possibly be his fate.

In Bible study classes we often discuss Abraham and Isaac, and the time when God told Abraham to take his only beloved son — the son of God’s own promise — and slay him as the sacrificial lamb unto God. How old was Isaac, my students ask? As a little boy, wouldn’t it have been horrible for his father to do this to him?  But Jewish historian Josephus says that Isaac was a grown man of 25; that Abraham explained what God had asked, then affirmed his commitment to honor and trust God no matter what — which Abraham had no doubt also instilled in his son. Josephus says that Isaac immediately and without question reaffirmed his love for his father and his personal trust in God, and laid down his life willingly. He climbed up on that altar and allowed himself to be bound and entrusted entirely to the will of God, whether life or death. In their case, Abraham had three days to make this journey; Isaac had only immediate notice. Both Isaac and Abraham did what they did in full trust and love for God and one another. In a beautiful prophetic illustration of what would take place centuries later to fulfill God’s covenant with Abraham through the New Covenant, their covenant was tested between a God who would give his only begotten Son and a man who gave his only son, and fulfilled in each case by a son willing to lay down his life in full love, trust and obedience.

So. It is one thing to know that your mission is to die for another; it is quite another to know the gory details for quite some time, and keep your resolve. We tend to focus on his testing in the Garden of Gethsemane, but we forget that Jesus had had many days to ponder something that any human being would struggle with, and he had chosen repeatedly to say yes to this brutal death.

Imagine you receive a note from a terrorist group like ISIS tomorrow that says, “We are holding your family captive; you must turn yourself over to us in exactly ten days, or we will torture and kill them all. Understand that we will torture you and put you to death in the slowest, most painful way possible. But if you give yourself to us for this, we will set your family free to live. There is no other way.”

I love my family dearly, and would say quickly if you ask me, “Yes of course I would lay down my life for them!” But the truth is that in my human weakness, as each day of those 10 days passed I would likely struggle deeply with that decision and can imagine my resolve to save them wavering. Most of us couldn’t really know how the story would end unless we actually faced that moment. I do hope none of us ever have to find out; but it is a worthwhile contemplation because it brings a fresh perspective on what it must have been like for Jesus, as fully human as you and I, subject to the same temptations. He was different from us primarily in his choice to live a life of total obedience and dependence upon the Holy Spirit, a lifestyle whose fruit was a real relationship with his Heavenly Father — something available to us, but pursued by too few. But that’s a different discussion.

Jesus’ love for man was no doubt tested relentlessly as he worked with people who were weak, selfish, unfaithful, behaving in many ways unworthy of the great sacrifice he was about to make. In point of fact, in Mark Chapter 10 above, right after Jesus reveals what he will suffer, James and John blithely asked for positions of honor on his right and left. In other words, they were all full of self-concern. I can only imagine how I would feel: my mind full of images of how I will soon suffer horribly for you, and you, one of my closet friends, responding with, “So when it’s all over do I get first dibs on your favored right hand?” If these men consoled Jesus, encouraged him, tried to strengthen him or show appreciation for what he was about to do, it is not recorded for us in scripture. Yet Jesus responded to these unworthy souls with simple truth, then turned and resolutely kept walking towards the moment he would give these unworthy ones life through the horrible suffering in his human soul and body.

So how did Jesus hold onto His resolve? What was the key to the passion of Christ? I believe it was the sheer joy of knowing the Father. I take this from John 17:3, the great prayer of Jesus before his arrest: “Now this is eternal life, that they may know you.” Knowing the Father had become was the greatest joy of Jesus’ human life, and indeed was for him the very definition of abundant life. He wanted us to have that joy! And loving and understanding his Father’s heart, he knew his Father wanted that relationship, wanted to share life with his people, for he had spoken through the prophet Jeremiah of a New Covenant in which “they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.” He wanted it enough to ask His Son to do this terrible thing, to be the sacrifice, to lay down his life.

This is the prize Jesus was going for: to open the way for us to have relationship with the Father by means of that New Covenant. Jesus had heard Jeremiah 31 in synagogue countless times: “They will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.” So far, Jesus was the only human who had truly tasted the joy of knowing the Father, and it was worth everything. More than anything, Jesus wanted this for us AND the Father.

So when you hear the phrase “the passion of Christ” this Easter season, remember this: Christ’s great passion is His love for you and for his Father, a passion that was reaffirmed repeatedly in the face of full disclosure of what he would suffer. He didn’t just love you on the cross; he didn’t just lay his life down in the moment he gave up his Spirit; he laid down his life every day of his ministry on earth, in every moment of testing in the weeks that led up to the cross. That is the passion of Christ. YOU are the passion of Christ.

Let us live worthy of that passion, my friends. We do that best by living the way He lived, full of the Spirit and living to know His Father, and Our Father.

Bless you as you do, Tonia

Knowing Is Everything

You know you’re in a “season” when weeks go by and the Spirit keeps you focused on the same thing, no matter what you are reading. The work of this season of my life in Christ is to keep speaking to my audience about the importance of knowing God. I do not really know who my audience is these days… But I must be faithful to the source of my joy and keep talking of what we share that is the source of that joy… Knowing Him.

On my side of the equation, it is a terribly flawed relationship. I am far less consistent in my devotion to my Lord and Friend than he deserves. Yet this I know of Him: the right response to every failure of mine is to keep running back to Him, because His gracious self always forgives. He who told us to forgive 7 times 70 (I.e., 490, also known as “too many to count”) does so himself, because there is no hypocrisy in him, not a hint.

So I awaken every day to my ever present Friend and the offer to know Him, and the New Covenant promise to know Him. To live worthy of that great honor is also, I have learned, the means by which every thing promised by Him is realized — the peace, the wisdom, the soul’s rest, the security and safety. These were never designed to be available apart from knowing God, not in any substantial and enduring way.

I saw something new in the Scripture last night about knowing God — that our so-called natural desires, the will to do right or wrong, to crave what is good or what is evil, is either supported or abandoned by the Lord, in response to our actual choices. It is in Romans 1:28, and reading it in the CJB (Complete Jewish Bible) translation made it abundantly clear: “…since they have not considered God worth knowing, God has given them up to worthless ways of thinking; so that they do improper things.”

The immediate context is those who choose to engage in what God considers sexual perversion, but it is surely a general principle as well, an insight into how God works in response to our choices. I have seen ample evidence in the Bible that God essentially gives us what we really want. In fact, My students will verify that I am fond of saying God doesn’t need to come up with a punishment for our sin, he just lets us have what we really want and that choice will eventually punish us by its natural consequences.

So that concept is well established in my mind, but I have never before seen the very inclination towards good or evil connected so clearly to our value or lack of value for knowing God. It is tempting to think we are pretty much on our own when it comes to the inward struggle of choosing right or wrong, but this is not true. Philippians 2:13 negates this idea when it says, “…for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” (NASB).

This I know of God also: he is not quick to give us over to our bad choices. He is long suffering. He is seen repeatedly in Scripture giving his people an incredible number of chances to choose what is right before “giving them over.” Yet, if we stubbornly adhere to a lifestyle of “not considering God worth knowing,” the day will come when God will cease his efforts to turn you towards his heart and totally let you have a life without Him. And there is a terrifying list of possibilities in the verses immediately following Romans 1:28…. All shades of evil character. You don’t want to become that person!

The wonderfully positive side of this truth is that when God sees any movement in your heart and mind towards the desire to know him, his Spirit steps right up and says, “Here, let me help you!”

Why I Read Psalms and Proverbs Every Day

I want to share a sample of the rich food I receive each morning from reading five Psalms and one Proverb. For instance, on the 24th of the month, I read Psalm 116 through Psalm 120, and Proverbs 24. On that day, I am reminded of the following things about God and myself:

Psalm 116:
God hears my voice and my prayers. He has “inclined his ear” to listen to me.
The Lord is gracious, righteous, and compassionate, preserving the simple — like me — from the troubles I tend to get myself into.
The Lord will restore my soul back to a restful state after my mistakes or the actions of others have hurt me or caused me to stumble.
The right response to God’s faithful care is to keep crying out to him in my need, to express my thankfulness, and to keep my promises to him. My community should see how I rely upon him, and I should praise Him publicly.
Bible-garden

Psalm 117: (the shortest psalm in the Bible, at 2 verses!)
We should praise The Lord — along with every nation — because His lovingkindness is great, and His truth will endure forever.

Psalm 118:
I should give thanks to the Lord for his goodness, because his lovingkindness has no end…. it is EVERLASTING.
When I am in distress and call out to the Lord, he will answer me and rescue me, because he is “for me.” Therefore, I need not live in fear. The name of the Lord will protect me from those who would destroy me.

The Lord is my strength, and the song that I sing! Joyful sounds come from the place where I live because of his faithful care and saving actions.
The Lord will discipline me, even strongly, if I need it. (Other Bible verses tell me that the Lord only disciples those he loves and considers true children).
Giving thanks to God opens the gateway to his presence.
The Lord made this day, and it is right for me to rejoice and be glad in it.

The Lord has given us light (that saves us from all darkness).
There is a sacrificial animal to be placed on the altar in my place. (I deserve to die for my sins, but I won’t have to.)

Psalm 119 (the longest psalm in the Bible, at 176 verses!)
Those who live according to God’s ways and who seek God with all their heart, are blessed.
I need to cry out for God to help me become established in his ways. It is good to pray, “Open my eyes!” and “Teach me!” and “Give me understanding!” and “Teach me discernment and knowledge!”
We keep ourselves pure by living according to God’s words. His words are perfect counselors to us.
We avoid sinning against God by treasuring his words…  meditating on them and storing them in the heart.
Real freedom comes from walking in God’s ways.
The earth is full of the Lord’s lovingkindness! He is good, and does good things.
Affliction can be a good teacher.

If God allows affliction to be in my life, it is an act of faithfulness on his part.
When God judges something, His decision is the right thing.
Sometimes we feel like saying to God, “Why do I have to wait on you so long for comfort, and for your justice to be done to those who hurt me, used me, lied about me?”

God teaches us, and His words “are sweeter than honey.” They make us wise.
His words light the way for us, so we don’t need to walk in darkness or ignorance.
When we value God’s commands enough to live by them, we naturally come to hate evil and wrong ways of living.

God always turns his face to look upon those who love His name, and He has mercy on them.
It is good to pray for the Lord to direct my footsteps, and that no sin would rule over me.

If I put God’s promises to the test, it is likely I will end up loving those promises.
The Lord is near, and His compassion is great.
Great peace have those who love God’s laws; they never stumble in life.
All of our ways are known to The Lord.
Sometimes a good prayer is, “I have strayed like a lost sheep. Please come get me.”

Psalm 120
When I call out to God in distress, he answers me!

Psalms reveals the heart of God, while Proverbs provides wisdom for daily living. Take a look:

Proverbs 24

Do not envy wicked people. Do not fret because of them; their hope and light will be snuffed out.
A house (i.e., a LIFE) is built through wisdom, understanding and knowledge, which becomes full of beauty and value.
Possessing knowledge and wisdom makes a man strong and powerful.
You can claim innocence before men about a matter, but God knows the heart.
Wisdom is sweet to the soul, and leads to hopeful future that won’t fail.
Even if a righteous man falls or gets knocked down seven times, he always gets back up. The wicked, however, will be overcome by trouble.
Do not be happy when your enemy falls, or the Lord will disapprove and turn his anger away from him.
Fear the Lord and the king, and don’t join in with rebellious people — because the Lord and the king will bring sudden destruction to bad people.
Judge fairly, without partiality. If you declare a guilty person innocent you will be hated, but if you convict the guilty you will delight others, and be blessed.
Do not bring false accusations against your neighbor, or deceive anyone with your lips.
Do not ever say, “I’ll do to him as he has done to me, I’ll pay him back!”
The fields of lazy people are full of weeds and decay, and such a person will live a life of poverty.

What a rich feast of truth to carry into the day!

Ron taught me this practice when I first came to love God in 1979, and it has never grown old or failed to strengthen and bless my spirit. The 24th day of the month has the largest number of verses because of Psalm 119, but most days it takes 15 minutes or less to read the daily Psalms and Proverbs. They make a great devotional! Every day is different in emphasis, but altogether within the course of a month, I am reinforced in vital truths about God, myself, the world I live in, how to handle relationships, how to pray, how to talk to God, and many other things. I thank God for His Word, and invite you to try this for the coming month!

What’s It Like?

HuggingFor a season in my life with God, he kept before me this question: “What’s it like to be loved by you?”

That question generated a whole new outlook on me and people, and God too. What is it like to be connected to me, to be in my life, to live with ME?

Because we all put a “self” out there for public consumption — but what of our more intimate self? What IS it like to be married to me? To be my daughter, or mother or father…. or friend? And the only honest way to get that question answered — is to ask others. In that season, I also asked the Spirit to open my eyes and reveal the answer to that question, and He did.

That exercise was humbling and life-changing. And while I won’t pretend that I came out of that season perfect by any means, it changed my perspective forever, and that question is never off the table. It’s not on my plate, but it is over there where the salt & pepper sit, always there. Because among all the things I learned in that season, chief among them is that the question and its answer lie at the top of God’s list of what matters most in this life, and the next.

Eventually, the Lord asked this teacher to teach what she learned, and for several seasons of our ministry travels, I shared the message, “What’s It Like To Be Loved By You?” I may write more of these things in the coming days, but for now,

I leave it with you to ponder.

 

 

Jesus Insists On Serving His Own

“Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. So He came to Simon Peter. He said to Him, ‘Lord, do You wash my feet?’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.’ Peter said to Him, ‘Never shall You wash my feet!’ Jesus answered him, ‘If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.'” (John 13:5-8, NASB)

I have heard good sermons on this passage from John, most of which come to the conclusion — and rightly so — that Jesus used this moment as a teaching illustration of how we should humble ourselves and serve one another. Yet I think there is an overlooked message here, the one that would have been most likely the immediate impression that Peter would have experienced in that original context of that moment: that unless you allow The Lord to come close in your lowest needs and moments, and let Him serve you like a menial servant to cleanse and wash and nurture you, you will not truly share life with him.

The tendency in all our various concepts of God is to keep him at a bit of a distance, which seems only right considering his greatness and holiness. He is God, we are human, and this truth easily becomes a stumbling block when God calls us close. Yet the Lord has given us countless indications that he is near, that he knows our thoughts, cares about the most intimate details of our lives.

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I think Peter’s soul absorbed this incredible concept as he watched Jesus wash his feet: “You, Son of God, insist that I must let YOU serve me, even menially and tenderly, in the ways only a servant or close intimate friend would do. This is a condition of our relationship. I already know I must honor and serve you as the Son of God, AND now you say I must offer my lowest needs to you to touch, to cleanse, to bless, to heal. It’s all or nothing. I cannot keep you at a distance. I cannot say to myself, this is too small or too dirty to invite The Lord into. To have any part with you at all, I must see you also in this way, as my friend who serves me in the most humble of moments.”

Ponder that, dear children of God, and let any barriers in your mind fall away so Jesus may love you in all the ways He longs to.

Meant to Live By God’s Voice

“Man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.”  Deuteronomy 8:3, NASB

When Moses spoke these words, he was teaching the people about manna — the commanded bread that fell from heaven every morning to feed them in the wilderness. In fact, he begins by telling the people that God actually led them to the place where they would be humbled by their inability to provide food for themselves, and have to rely on God to be nourished. It was always meant to be this way between us and God.

We were created to live by the word of God — and I am not referring to having a gazillion Bible verses memorized. The Bible is an awesome gift to us, but it is only meant to point us to the Voice of God, by which we are meant to live. We are meant to be guided by His faithful Voice, to know him and walk with him. We are likewise meant to live through the provision of all that Voice commands on our behalf. Jesus did this, and it was the secret of his life and strength as a man on the earth like us.

Two things I’d like you to take away from these thoughts:

  • When you pray, ask the Father to command your life as he wants to give it — to command you, to command His creation to release what you need today. It will please him for you to acknowledge in this way that his Voice is faithful and is meant to provide all the sustenance of your life.
  • When you walk out of your prayer place, you will go out into a world full of voices: the voices of the media, your friends, your books; voices that may have some truth and love in them, but none that will give you life. God won’t allow it, and it is good for you to remember it. Let His Voice be the one you seek to hear, honor and value above all other voices.

This is how you were meant to live, and if you do, you shall REALLY live!

Loving Him together with you,

Tonia

Our Salvation Is A Covenant

Our Passover/Easter season was extra special this year. We enjoyed an elegant, meaningful and joyful Seder meal with several dozen brothers and sisters in Christ on Good Friday, then joined other worshipping friends for a sunrise service and breakfast early Easter morning, and finished at a local church with a celebration of Christ’s resurrection filled with jubilant music, children dancing and baptism of new believers. Thinking back upon it all I realized how covenant-centric it all is…. in a small way we moved from one covenant snapshot to another.

The Seder is a remembrance commanded by God of the Passover protection covenant through which Moses brought God’s people out from their bondage. Tho commemorating a specific event in history, it also foreshadowed the time when God would deliver his children from their cruel bondage to sin in order to bring them into in the Promised Land of sharing life with God.

At the Passover supper Jesus lifted the cup and said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood.” That event concluded with Jesus’ prayer to the Father, a prayer laced with references to the core purpose and result of covenant — “I in you and you in me” — becoming those who share life forever:

I pray also for those who will believe in me through [my disciples’] message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one — I in them and you in me…  (John 17:20-23)

Jesus was motivated by his passion to see us brought into that covenant fellowship, that shared life with God. Our salvation is a covenant, established in God’s heart from before the beginning of time, made between Father and Son, now offered to those who come to trust in the Son and his sacrifice for our sin. And its purpose is to bring us into God’s promise to share life with him, now and forevermore.

 

Do You Believe This?

Blue Morpho Butterfly

“ I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”

So spoke Jesus to Mary in the moments before he raised his beloved Lazarus from the dead. This entire story recorded in John chapter 11 is an occasion of both the greatest demonstration of Jesus’ power through the Holy Spirit and the depth of His human experience.

Jesus plainly established elsewhere that his decision to stay away, allowing Lazarus to die, would have been in obedience to his Father. He had to have known his beloved friends Mary and Martha would be very grieved, yet when speaking to his disciples ahead of the journey, we detect little grief in his words. But that all changes when he comes face-to-face with Mary and Martha and their grief. Now Jesus is “deeply moved in spirit and troubled;” he weeps as he approaches the tomb where Lazarus lay… even after uttering the [above] words to Mary affirming his power over death, even knowing Lazarus will live again shortly and that their grief will turn to joy. Jesus does not look away from their grief, he does not blow it off in a cavalier affirmation of faith, he enters into it with them.

In the human experience, knowing from a distance that an act or event will hurt another has much less impact than personally witnessing their suffering. In this moment Jesus was consumed with compassion for those who had been caused to suffer for a little while in order for the glory of God the Father and the Son to be revealed.

There are many ways to die. Aside from the death of the body, there is death to hope and dreams that comes from profound disappointment in life; there can be a crushing of the spirit by those we love and expect to love us; there is often death to the soul’s self-life when yielding to the will of God results in not having what we deeply desire or need.

Mary needed her beloved Jesus to come and heal her brother. He stayed away. Lazarus needed healing, and died. Thomas and the other disciples died to their need to be safe when they followed Jesus back to the place where the Jews wanted to stone Him [verse 16: “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”] Jesus died to his need to run to Lazarus’ rescue; He definitely died to the need to maintain the good opinion of those he loved by hanging back and allowing them to suffer.

In all these things, Jesus experienced the depths of being human, and when faced with the overwhelming grief and disappointment of Mary, he was troubled to the point of weeping; he entered into and shared her grief. He knew he would be raising Lazarus to life again shortly, so that was not the issue. The issue was that in a moment when God wanted to reveal His awesome power and glory, to show the world that this Son of Man was indeed the Son of God who had power over death, he had to let death come for a little while, to settle in upon their hearts, in order that the glory of death being overcome and overthrown would be full. In short, at times we will taste death on the way to God’s glory being revealed in and around us.

I write to you of these things to make two points. First, let us not shy away from those who grieve, but be willing to enter into their grieving with all compassion. The Lord who gives life lives within us and wants to touch them. Second, let us not be afraid to die. If we die in some way large or small in body, soul or spirit, whether at the hands of people or circumstances or our own foolish ways or in obedience to God’s will — we who have entered into the covenant of Christ can rest in our little tombs briefly while trusting in the One who understands our grief, AND who has the power to resurrect us into life anew.

“ I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”

Knowing Him together with you, Tonia

Rocks In the River

A group of us women gathered for a retreat, and as He is fond of doing, the Lord surrounded us — literally — with the words and images and spiritual realities of what He longed to share with us. In this case, His subject was His living waters. As I prepared to lead the group studies there I knew we would focus on John Chapters 4 and 7, where Jesus speaks of streams of living waters that would flow into and go forth from those who drink of him — but the woman who booked the location for our retreat did not!  We landed in a cabin called Rio Casa — River House, at Tres Rios campground — three rivers — so named because the camp is bordered on three sides by three different rivers. One of those rivers flowed behind our cabin, just below the little hill we were perched on.

We had a glorious time there, in which we studied about the Holy Spirit’s role in our lives, exploring what life is meant to look like when one is a child of God that drinks from His Spirit. In the Lord’s power and faithfulness we all experienced renewal and healing, especially from weariness and wounds of the heart and spirit. We were thoroughly refreshed there, and some would say forever changed.

As we gathered on our final morning to worship the Lord, each of the women were radiant and lovely, full of new hope in the Lord’s love and goodness. As we went around the room and shared our “take-aways,” I rejoice in their new joy, yet knew from many retreat experiences what it would be like to return home and step back into the very things they had needed renewal from. “Lord,” I prayed, “do not let the tiniest part of their time with you be robbed, and please establish them firmly in what you have given them hope in.”

The Holy Spirit then drew us outside for our last half hour together, in view and earshot of the river. The Lord had us close our eyes and just listen. Only one sound broke the peaceful quiet of the morning — the lively waters below us. While the flowing waters were unrippled and silent both upstream and downstream from our cabin, a row of large rocks in the river there forced the water to bubble up and around and over, producing the little rapids and their happy notes. After we listened awhile, soaking up that soothing, playful sound, the Lord said,

“Notice, daughters, that it is the rocks that cause the river to make its music. Without the rocks there would be no sound.”    !!!!!!

We opened our eyes and smiled at each other, thoughts racing and playing across our faces, as what He said sunk in. The bubbly lifesounds we were enjoying were only produced as the water flowed around the rocks, which are OBSTACLES to the flow of the water. We quickly and collectively got the “Aha!” moment of understanding that these rocks represented our troubles, wounds, afflictions, weaknesses or circumstances. The fact that the water only produces its music as it washes over those obstacles, is a metaphor worth pondering. May the smiling Spirit who pointed it out to us at the river reveal its meaning in your life.

As for us, we returned home with fresh streams of living water in us, making our music of joy and thanksgiving to the Lord for the life He brings to flow over and around the rocks in our lives!

New Year, New Book

I love new beginnings, and the change of seasons and times. The Lord uses these things to refresh me and add the extra oomph sometimes needed to break out of old patterns of being. In line with that thought, I am excited to announce the publication of our newest book, Rooted & Established In Love, which invites you to examine anew the roots of your relationship to the Lord. Here’s what the back of the book says:

“Do you experience God’s love and enjoy Him? Do you struggle with “the greatest commandment” to love God with all your might? This book addresses both issues, teaching why and how a believer must be established in a life with Christ based upon God’s way of loving. This timely book explains:
Why you may be dry, frustrusted or weary in your Christian experience due to flawed roots of relationship such as legalism, fear, neediness or spiritual ambition.
Why you need to be firmly rooted in God’s love for you, then grow on to be established in loving God wholeheartedly. Between these “bookends of love” a Christian is meant to know and share life with God in the land of the living.
You can only experience God’s love, and be enabled to love God faithfully in return, with the help of the Holy Spirit, the Father’s amazing gift to His children.
Establishing believers in intimate, satisfying life with God is the primary work of the Holy Spirit and the means by which every promise of abundant life in Christ will be realized.”

This is the first in our ScribeLife Series, smaller books we will be publishing to help you know God in all the ways His priceless Covenant makes possible. At 130 pages, it is a quick but powerful read. This title is available on our website in paperback and e-book formats (for all e-readers) and, of course, wherever you find us.

God bless you to never give up on seeking the love life to which God has invited you!

Tonia

The Great Feast and the Shelter of Faith

Today marks the conclusion of what Jesus’ Jewish culture called “The Great Feast,” or the “Feast of Tabernacles,” a week-long celebration that coincided with the beginning of harvest. God instituted this feast in the law to given to Moses in Leviticus 23, instructing his people to set up and reside in temporary shelters (or sukkah) for a week each year, commencing 5 days after Yom Kippur. In their temporary tabernacles they were to pray, eat festive food with family and friends, read God’s word, and be JOYFUL every day of the feast. No mourning was allowed; fasting was forbidden.

The Bible is rich with references to this feast; it is a frequent backdrop to the life and teaching of Jesus. Like all of God’s special seaons, the Feast of Tabernacles (or Sukkot) illustrates beautiful realities about God and his people. God gave it originally to commemorate the time when the Israelites lived in the terrible wilderness protected only by His faithful provision and presence, so they would never forget his faithfulness and devotion to them there.

God wanted them to always remember that after setting the Israelites free from slavery in Egypt, he ordered Moses to build a tabernacle so that he could “dwell in the midst of” his people. This reveals much about God’s heart to not be a God far off, but to share life with his people.

Rabbinic sages teach that just as God left Heaven and caused His presence to dwell on earth in the midst of their camp, His people will show God that they also leave their homes and dwell with him in the sukkah, the protective shelter of His faithfulness. It is to me a lovely picture of how we meet with God by faith; and how that meeting is meant to be characterized by joy and blessed life.

Eliyahu Kitov writes of observant Jews in The Book of Our Heritage, “When Sukkos comes, and they leave the comfort of their homes to dwell in the shelter of the sukkah, it is then that they feel secure. Their hearts are filled with trust and joy, for they are no longer shielded by the protection of their own roof, but by the shelter of faith and trust in God. One who places his trust in the shadow of the wings of the Shechinah knows no fear at all.” For this reason their sages also call this festival the “shelter of faith,” because to them it represents the shelter of protection which is provided by faith and trust in God.

What worshipping Jews celebrate for just one week of the year is, I believe, a picture of what life (in the heart) is meant to be every day for the children of God who live by faith in Jesus Christ. We are safer in the shelter of God’s faithful love than anything the world offers. Furthermore, God has chosen our hearts for his tabernacle. Whatever else is going on outside, on the inside — where life is shared with God — there should be joy, satisfaction, rest, devotion to God’s word, and continual communion with the amazing and gracious God who chooses to live there.

From heaven’s perspective, this world is a type of wilderness for God’s children, because our sojourn here is temporary while we travel towards a better place, a promised land. But while here, dear believer, your heart is God’s tabernacle, and His heart is your tabernacle. Dwell in the shelter of His love, always, dear people. I am absolutely convinced that this is God’s joy….

Tonia

The Days of Awe

Today we are in the middle of what worshipping Jews call The Days of Awe — the first ten days of every Jewish New Year during which one is meant to spend extra time reading the Scriptures, set aside more time with God, to examine one’s heart and life in the light of God’s ways:

Am I walking rightly with the Lord?  With other people?

Are there any sins I need to confess…. any broken relationships which need to be mended?

It is a time to take stock and make things right, in order that one can be renewed in every way with God and man.

I love it that God made a special season for this; new year, new clean slate of the heart. Christians celebrate Easter and Christmas as a means to honor both the birth of Christ and his sacrificial death and resurrection. As much as I love the traditions surrounding these, I am also being awakened to a beauty and purpose in God’s original appointed seasons prescribed for his people in the Old Testament. These seasons, known as the Feasts of the Lord, are all built around one thing: entering, honoring, knowing and renewing relationship with God.

These God-appointed seasons, described in the 23rd chapter of Leviticus, are meant to be times of turning one’s attention back to the Lord, celebrating and renewing our relationship with him. In addition, the annual observance of God’s seasons provides a natural calendar to educate young ones about the nature of God, our place in his family and a right response to Him.

Though Jewish rabbis added many traditions to these celebrations down through the ages, we need to look back to the beginning and never forget that God himself set up this calendar of celebration, remembrance and renewal. Furthermore, he said that the observance of them was appropriate …. forever. You see, these appointed seasons are not about being Jewish, they are about being God’s people, and we are those people. We are not called to keep Jewish rituals, but we are called to honor God’s heart and ways. My heart has been quickened to learn God’s purposes in these special seasons; this is on my table, so I offer it to you as well.

These Ten Days of Awe began with the first day of God’s New Year on his special calendar, which occurred last Thursday on September 29, originally accompanied by the blowing of trumpets — God’s wake-up call to his tribe (no iPhone alarm clocks then, my friends…) to turn and return their attention to him. The Days of Awe culminate this Saturday, October 8, with the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), which for worshipping Jews is a holy day of fasting, repentance, receiving of forgiveness, and seeking of reconciliation. No work is done on this holiest of days; it is entirely set aside for God and his purposes of the heart.

This was originally the day that the high priest entered the Holy of Holies with the blood of a perfect, spotless lamb and poured it on God’s mercy seat to make atonement for the nation. Then one day, Jesus, the spotless Lamb of God, came once and for all with his blood; He fulfilled and achieved atonement for mankind forever.

So what remains for us in observing this special season? The never-ending need to turn and return to God in our hearts; the need to examine oneself and make things right with God and man in a deliberate way, not subject to the whims of life and occupation and pre-occupations.

All that one might discover through meditating, reflecting and seeking God these 10 days needs to find its resolution and be put to rest. God gives a deadline (the Day of Atonement), not because he’s bent on forcing us into a corner about our sin, but because this adoring Father wants everything dealt with that would steal life and joy, so we can get on with the celebration. Because five days after the Day of Atonement, a huge celebration begins….His prescribed Feast of Tabernacles, a joyous time of enjoying God, family and life’s blessings that his people were asked to celebrate for a full 7 days. God knows how to start a year off right. As his people, it is wise to pay attention; as his children, it is good to honor our Father’s heart for his appointed season.

 

 

Treasure Hunting in the Prophets

Are you one of those reluctant to read the Old Testament prophet books like Jeremiah and Ezekiel, and those pesky little guys like Obadiah and Nahum? Many are, which is the reason I wrote a Bible Study course called “Finding the Heart of God in Every Book of the Bible.” I wanted to entice readers to search for the treasure in every book, namely understanding the heart of God.

Jeremiah had the unfortunate job of warning Judah about the impending overthrow of Jerusalem and exile that was coming because of Israel’s sins against their covenant with God. Most pigeonhole Jeremiah in the “book of judgment” category, but that is a mistake. That opinion is what you get if you only know Jeremiah’s message by sermon osmosis, rumor or drive-by reading. When you read the fine print of Jeremiah, here is what you learn about God:

  • That God suffered hundreds of years before he finally said “Enough!” He was not quick to become angry and judge.
  • Even after the decision to judge his people, his messages warning people of the impending judgment (WAY ahead of it coming) was laced with pleading that if they would change even now, he would relent and not bring the judgment their behavior called for.
  • That when the Lord confirmed his people would be forcibly removed from the Promised Land and taken captive into exile, he said, “But leave marks on the road so you can find your way home again, for I WILL BRING YOU BACK.” He was planning their restoration even in the midst of being forced to punish them.
  • That though God punished his people for violating their covenant to possess their Promised Land, he did not abandon them. Repeatedly he says, “I will be with you… I will go with you… I will watch over you and even bless you in the land of exile if you trust in me and not other gods.” It becomes clear that even while God exercised judgment, He never abandoned the relationship! They lost their promised land, their blessed place, not their connection to God.
  • Even while warning of His judgment nations like Egypt (Chapter 46) where many of his exiles went, God promises that while he brings judgment against the ungodly government and nation, he would keep his people safe: “Jacob [i.e., my people], do not fear, nor be dismayed. I am going to save you and your descendants from the land of their captivity. Jacob (my people) shall return and be undisturbed and secure. Do not fear, for I am with you, and you will be okay while I make an end of that nation.”

Dear people of God, Read the Word! Know your God!

Tonia

A Verb Looking For Its Object

In preparing for my most recent Women’s Retreat, the Holy Spirit taught me something new about surrender. Our normal concept of surrender to God is to give everything up, or lay everything down, abandoning ourselves, yielding entirely to Him — and this is certainly true. “But you don’t finish the sentence,” the Holy Spirit said to me…don’t say, ‘I surrender,’ say ‘I surrender to your love!'”

Yet another occasion to love being taught by the Spirit of Christ….He shows me things and connects things I would never have come up with intellectually or theologically.

Surrender is a relational transaction, always something or someone. Dictionary.com says of the verb surrender that it is used with an object, and means:

  1. to yield (something) to the possession or power of another.
  2. to give (oneself) up to some influence, course, emotion, etc.: He surrendered himself to a life of hardship.
  3. to yield or resign (an office, privilege, etc.) in favor of another.

For a Christian, the true object of our surrender is the Person who is the only truly good being, the unfailing lover, the one who died to give us real life. At a women's retreat.At that women’s retreat in the Michigan woods I asked each woman to fill in her blank at the end of the sentance, “I surrender to ________.”  A sampling of the answers:

  • I surrender to His goodness
  • I surrender to His rest
  • I surrender to His faithfulness
  • I surrender to His peace
  • I surrender to His grace

I invite you to fill in your own blank, and surrender anew to the Lord who asks you to yield all of your life and being to Him, and gives so much more in exchange!

Bless you in knowing your God,

Tonia