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Well Hello Sunshine…

Don’t you just love the sunshine?  There is nothing more beautiful than the sun breaking through the clouds after a storm.  It’s breathtaking. We have many sayings about the sun.  For instance there’s “Well Hello Sunshine” or “Sunshine makes me happy”.  We write songs about it like “You are my sunshine” and “Here comes the sun” or “Sunshine on my shoulder.” There is something about the sun that makes us happy and gives us hope.  But what do we do when the sun isn’t shining?  How do we get through the darkness, the chaos, the emptiness?

God’s word is not just informational its transformational. His word was written for you and me personally. So let’s look at this scripture from a new perspective. Genesis 1:1-4 reads like this. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness.”

God created you and I in much the same way. You were formless and void.  He hovered over us in the waters of a womb forming us in a dark place until the moment he chose to burst forth our lives into the world. We weren’t alone in that dark place but carefully hovered over. Our hope remains in the fact that God is the same yesterday, today and forever according to Hebrews 13:8.

He is teaching us about his power in darkness. Where is the darkness? It is on the face of the deep. In other words, it is on the face of the one in deep darkness. How did He transform it? He said, “Let there be.” Have you ever noticed someone’s face and in that instant you knew they were in deep pain or a very dark place. Our face won’t be able to feel the sun until we allow the Lord to go deep. Our gentle savior will wait on us to allow him into those deep dark places. The hidden places of chaos that we feel trapped in. We have to let there be. We can decide to remain in darkness or let him in.

John 8:12 says, “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” We may not be able to go back and change the past but Christ has unlocked the door to a different future. A new dawn. Country singer Terri Clark’s song “I just want to be mad for awhile” describes a place we can get stuck in. The last two lines of the chorus say “Please don’t make me smile, I just want to be mad for a while.” It’s cute and comical and too often true. We get comfortable and we can even begin to hold fast to it. But darkness can be deceiving. It will lie to us and tell us it’s our friend. We were wronged so we have a right to hold it. And we may very well have been wronged but instead of being our friend it continues to steal life from us and it holds us captive in the darkness of yesterday.

Depression, trauma and tragedy are real and I’m not here to argue or dismiss their reality or severity. I am here to say however that if we “let there be” God can do what only he can do. He needs only to speak and our darkness can break. We have to cling to the truth found in the book of Jeremiah. God has planned for us a hope and a future. He promised in Philippians that the work he began in us he would complete. He won’t leave us there if we are willing to leave it behind. How he leads you is personal to each one of us. We all walk a different journey but our guide should be the same.

As a little girl my father sang in a quartet and traveled from church to church almost every weekend for years. Being on that circuit I learned so many songs that ring in my ears today. One of those was “It always gets the darkest just before daylight.”  Have you ever sat waiting to watch a sunrise? It can be so dark you can feel it. Then almost without detection the black has somewhat softened to a flatter black from the stark sharpness it just eminated, then to almost a very deep blue. Before you know it, light is breaking on the horizon like a aura. It may begin ever so dimly but it most definitely is rising. 

Jesus Christ, our hope, wants to break forth into your darkness and warm your face with his light and warmth.  I hope today you hear the Lord say “Let there be” over you. Let him speak peace to the chaos and lead you out of darkness and into his marvelous light. 

Blessings to you and yours,

Jaime Luce

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Photo by: Universetoday.com

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Confused???

Let’s start with a truth. According to 1 Corinthians 14:33 God is not the author of Confusion. He is however the author of peace. If you are bombarded by vacillating thoughts or struggle with the uncertainty in your decisions between what is right or wrong you are not alone. Many find themselves in this overwhelming place at one time or another.

Elijah, in 1 Kings 18, has gathered all the people of Israel including the prophets of Baal and says, “How long will you falter between two opinions?” This is a whole nation he’s speaking to. This is our nation right now. Not only is this a problem on a national secular level but it is a private and personal problem on the individual and spiritual level.

This very problem is what causes division and the break down of every kind of relational sect. We know that a nation divided against itself can not stand. A couple divided against itself will crumble. A mind divided against itself will cause self-inflicted pain and dissolution.

What causes this? What does this passage teach us?

Elijah takes them all up on the mountain where the altar of the Lord was. This was the place where they offered up their sacrifices to the Lord and the Lord would hear their cry and answer from heaven. Here is the problem. When he gets there, the altar is broken down.

A broken altar will cause confusion every time.

What is an altar? It is the place of prayer and supplication. The place you regularly meet with the Lord. It is your quiet place. The place where you shut out the noise of the outside to be quiet and hear what the Lord would say. It is in this place and in his presence we receive peace, direction and when needed, answers.

Without an altar you are continually bombarded with distractions and differing thoughts and ideas about every possible thing. We like Elijah have to find out that God is not in the wind, the earthquake or the fire. He is the still small voice. The altar is where you clean out the confusion from your heart and mind and wait to hear the answers. It’s wear we can hear his voice.

How does it become broken?

This story shows us that the people had followed after the false Baals and offered their sacrifices to them. This is a picture of how the people who are called by God’s name leave off from their personal time and communion with him to run after the things of the world and whatever is popular at the time. They mock when others try to persuade them that they are going the wrong way or straying too far. They tear down the altar and build new ones to the god’s of this world. They are distracted by the cares of this life. They make the altar the first thing they don’t have time for.

What’s crazy is the prophets of Baal in this chapter harmed themselves to get answers. They cut themselves in an attempt to get answers. They went to extremes to be heard. This is all too familiar to us in this society. People are hurting and confused and this confusion can cause self harm.

But there is a solution. You don’t have to be filled with confusion. You can know the mind and heart of your Father. You can know what good things he has in store for you. You can know what it is to come to him with questions and pain and have him answer and give you direction when you don’t know which way to go.

You do what Elijah did. He repaired the altar that was broken down. (1 Kings 18:30-31) You pick up your stones and one by one you rebuild. You come back into communion with the one true God who knows how to prove who he is to you. He is not intimidated by your questions or struggles. He welcomes the opportunity to show you who he is.

The bonus is that it won’t only be you who see’s God work and answer but all those watching will see. We read in V.39 “Now when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, “The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!””

Living this kind of testimony will give you incredible clarity and strength. After this event Elijah had such supernatural power that he destroyed every false idea that day, took out every false prophet which describes the false words we’ve heard, listened to and believed and then he out ran King Ahab in his chariot.

Our lives are busy and full of every kind of demand. We need His strength to out run our enemy and overcome every lie and hurdle that comes to trip us up.

If you need strength to run your race its found at the altar. So I ask again. How long will you falter between two opinions? You do not have to be confused and tossed to and fro in you mind and in your life. There is a clear and right answer and your Father has it. I like the way the New Living Translations says this in 2 Corinthians 6:2. “For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you. ” Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.”

We are told in Hebrews not to harden our hearts. If you think of your natural heart having hardened arteries you will see this truth. If you don’t soften them your life is on the line. If you continue in your habits it is only a matter of time before the life flow of blood can not get to your heart to keep you alive. It is the same in the spiritual. Let the Lord take out the stoney heart and give you a heart of flesh. Let his blood flow again and bring new life.

He is already there waiting for you. Come to the altar.

Blessings to you and yours,

Jaime Luce

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Above image: Clarity is a two-way street.Getty

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To dream or not to dream…

Photo by Glogster

Frustration is a killer of dreams. How many times have you had a dream of achieving some goal but once you began the process it seemed to take much longer than you imagined. You ran into obstacles and maybe even attempted something that failed leaving you feeling that it was just a pipe dream. You now look at it and think it was unrealistic to dream it in the first place. If you think this way at least you can put some of the pain away and not feel responsible for having not achieved it. If it is someone or something else’s fault than we are off the hook. Or are we?

These kinds of dreams don’t seem to really ever go away. They just seem to bury deeper and deeper into our subconscious and only come out every once in a while as a fleeting memory. The problem is the older we get we revisit them with a new frown thinking that time is running out. “If only” becomes our thought.

While attending my son and daughter-in-loves baby reveal party I had the opportunity to look at the moon through a very high powered telescope. I could see with clarity so many things about the moon likes it’s hills and valleys, it’s craters and seemingly rough terrain. I wanted to just stare and try to take it all in. It seemed as if I could reach out and touch it yet the moon is 239,000 miles from earth. It occurred to me that this is the proper way to see our dreams.

In the book of Genesis God gave Joseph a dream about his position in the future with such clarity that Joseph immediately told his brothers and parents thinking it to be close enough to touch. The clarity of it made it appear as if it was right in front of him. In actuality it was 13 years and a different country away.

Think about this scenario. NASA looks through their highest powered telescopes and see’s the moon. They decide they want to put someone on the moon. They have the vision with focus and clarity. Now what? They have to do as much research as possible about every known element from space and rockets to human ability. They build and go through simulations of trial and error to find problems and solutions. Every possible idea must be tested and all possible candidates forced to go through all physical extremes.

This is the crux of most frustration. We like NASA will go through trials and errors in order to be properly prepared for the dream ahead and all of this takes mountains of time and endurance.

Joseph had to go through betrayal and slavery to build an inner character that would not only forgive his brothers but be prepared to care for them and their families in their time of need. That is a hugely difficult and emotional trial. But God chose him for the job because he knew he could do it. He knew that he would do it.

Can God trust you with that kind of power?

Then Joseph was lied about in the worst way. The end result put him in a dungeon prison when he was guiltless of all charges and had actually acted honorably and ran from the prospect of being involved in a disloyal and sinful act of betrayal. Then while in prison on trumped up charges he is neglected and forgotten after helping those he was imprisoned with.

It may seem unfair but the dream was a big dream. Are you dreaming a big dream. God may have shown you the future through his very clear high powered telescope. It is not a lie. What he showed you is real. Though the vision tarry, wait for it. I like the way the New Living Translation puts it. Habbakkuk 2:3 “The vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If is seems slow in coming, wait patiently for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.”

The waiting is not a waiting time. It is not a wasted time. We are to prepare and learn during the waiting. The waiting serves a great purpose. We may go through trials and errors but those trials and errors are some of the best teachers.

Throw off your frustration like an old garment and remember the dream is for an appointed time and the God who is faithful believes you can do it. He’s given you all that you need for the step you are taking toward it now. When it is time to take the next step you will be ready for that too.

In time, like Joseph, you will get the call out of the prison and into position. To quote a line from “The Patriot”, “Make ready!”, for the dream will surely come to pass.

Blessings to you and yours,

Jaime Luce

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From faith to faith

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

Faith is a common word used by both believers and unbelievers alike. It may or may not be related to anything spiritual. We have somehow taken it’s power and relegated it to a fancy word for hope. I however am of the mindset that faith is far more potent than that.

Jesus never said “Where is your hope?” or “Oh ye of little hope.” I can hope without having any faith so I have often mulled over the possible meaning of the phrase “faith to faith” in Romans 1:17 many times. It is commonly accepted as a phrase about how we grow our faith like a muscle to which I agree though it always seemed lacking in weight to me. No pun intended. We know that the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword (Heb. 4:12), so there seemed to be more here. Something with more grit or substance than stepping up a proverbial latter of Christiendom.

I don’t have the corner on this subject but as I read the verse today I unintentionally had put a pause in the phrase and something happened. I saw it from a different angle. I heard it in a different tone. The scripure reads “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.”(KJV) Paul is making an intense declaration of how we are to live as Christ followers. This is no puny summation. The ending of this verse demands that the beginning carry the same strength.

God’s righteousness is revealed from a place of faith. The beginning of faith is to understand that God is righteous. If you do not believe in his righteousness you have not yet begun your race. Paul ended his journey on this earth saying, “I have fought a good fight. I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.”(2 Tim. 4:7-8) God is Righteous. This is the principle thing.

Our current culture declares loudly that the righteousness of God and his Holy Word are not righteous. Politicians and news media are replete with those who stand in its opposition and call evil good and good evil. This position is not a position of faith and without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). It is dangerous to adopt the worlds definitions and in particular when they are related to Christianity. Faith at it’s root is believing in the righteousness of our Maker. If you had any doubt, He is right. Psalm 145:17 says, “The Lord is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works.” The NRS puts it this way. “The Lord is just in all His ways, and kind in all His doings.” In other words, He’s good all the time and in everything. He’s not wrong.

If you still have doubts all you have to do is look to all that He created. Psalm 19:1 tells us that the heavens declare the glory of God; the skies declare the work of His hands. There is nothing but perfection in every kingdom He made. The vastness and grandeur of space that cannot be found out. The earth and all it’s resources. The sky and oceans and all their expanse. The way all plant life grows and multiplies in it’s season. The animal kingdom and it’s grand diversity. There is nothing made that was made that did not come from Him and it is all good. Every bit of it is right. If anything is wrong it comes from our fallen state.

His righteousness rules supreme. Understanding this is real faith. It is from this spring board that we then go from faith to faith. What is this second faith? This is the journey. You and I will face every kind of afront that will scream “THIS is not right!” And when we find ourselves in this place we have a choice. We must ask ourselves is God righteous? Do we believe in who He is and what He is able to do? Do we have faith?If He can hold the sun, the moon and the stars in their orbit, if He can feed the sparrow when she’s hungry, and if the flower continues to bloom with each new spring then I know He can care for me. He will be righteous and take me through this storm. He will not leave me alone. “He will perfect that which concerns me.” (Psalm 138:8)

I know we face immensely difficult and seemingly impossible situations but this one thing I know. My God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.(Eph. 3:20) What is that power? Christ in us! He who is righteous is in us working. Romans 8:28 says He takes what the enemy meant for evil and uses it for our good when we love Him and are called according to His purpose. It is by this truth then that we can confidently say with Paul, “The just shall live by faith.”

2 Peter 11:8 tells us that we have obtained “like precious faith” through the righteusness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ. Let faith be your footstool for leaping into the righteousness of a just and good God. Let Him give you His peace to do the impossible like Peter and walk on the storm. If we keep our eyes on Jesus we will make it safely to the other side. Don’t have faith in faith. Have faith in God!

Blessings to you and yours,

Jaime Luce

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Communion

I am coming out of a busy time of transition where I had put down the pen for a spell. Though I have never published poetry here I thought it might be a fresh way to re-enter my blog life. I wrote this about two years ago while attending The King’s University in Southlake Texas. My professor wanted us to write an original sonnet. I chose to write a Shakespearian format. Here is what I submitted. I hope you enjoy it.

            What makes your words the bread of life to me?

            It fills my hungry soul and cures my ill.

            Your thoughts rise up the man I ought to be

            and calms the rumbles angst with peace be still. 

            I eat my daily due for strength to live,

            without no man can know the way to go.

            I’m weak and frail with nothing left to give

            except the nourishment that you bestow.

            This manna feeds, no end to its supply,

            daily prepared for each his own demand.

            No need for questions how or even why.

            His pleasures all at his eternal hand.

            This gift of bread was torn and broke with wine

            to offer each the gift to come and dine.

By Jaime Luce

Raising A Child King

A boy becoming a king is the stuff great stories are made of. It isn’t just a fairytale. World history and Scripture record this many times over. Fulin, the Shunzhi Emperor was 5-years old. Elagabalus, the Roman emperor was 15-years old. Tutankhamen, better known as King Tut, was 10-years old. Josiah, King of Judah, was 8-years old and 2 Kings 11 tells the story of the child king Jehoash. After reading this account I couldn’t help but think of the weight of raising our children with kingship in mind.

Revelation 1:5-6 says, “and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” We find no discrimination of age put on these appointments. 

We are living in a world where adult life is hurled through the screens at our children at a pace we can’t seem to keep up with. It is shields up 24/7/365 if you are a parent. It is alarming to realize at the same time, so many are not grounded in a church home. I grew up in the church and I can’t imagine where I would be had that not been the case. We attended church Sunday morning, evening and Wednesday nights. These were just the regular services. Then there were all the children’s and youth activities or special services and events. My best friends were those from my youth group. Life revolved around the house of God.

The Federalist posted and article entitled “Is It Baby Boomers’ Fault Millennials Are Leaving Religion And Less Likely To Go Back?” by Joy Pullmann. Near its end she gave a statistic that said, “Americas with very high levels of religious involvement during their childhood are about 10 times more likely to pray or read with their children (87 percent), attend worship services with them (84 percent), or send them to Sunday school (80 percent).” I could not help but see the validity and power of raising our children in the house of God faithfully as it correlates to this topic.

The age of technology has encroached on all boundaries of our lives changing how we do everything. It has even resulted in changing how church is attended. Many never darken the doors of a church building. Instead we have EChurch. Bibles were books we opened to read. Now its Bible apps on our phone or tablet that never look at us beaconing us to pick it up and read it or show us the proverbial dust indicating we haven’t read it.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m glad we have them. It gives us the ability to watch online when we are unable to attend for travel or illness and have a bible no matter where we go. We can watch services from all over the globe that we could never attend. It is truly a blessed time with no shortage of bread for the hungry but it doesn’t come without a trade off. It begs the question.

How does this affect our children?

To my knowledge there aren’t any online kids services. Even if there were, kids need the interaction and participation you can’t get through a TV screen. You don’t learn what a pastor is and how he cares for his people. You don’t learn what it is to serve the Lord by serving his people. You miss out on the scripture contests and games that made learning about the Lord so fun. Let’s face it. We all need that personal touch after a week of living counter culture. There is a palpable difference in worshiping and praying in agreement with others of like faith for both adults and children.

2 Kings 11 gives us a great pattern. To paraphrase, the mother of the reigning king of Judah had been killed. His mother decided to kill all other heirs and take over herself. The half-sister of the former king took the youngest heir Jehoash and hid him with his nurse in the house of the Lord for six years. This entire time he was being taught by the priest Jehoiada who put a plan in action to protect the heir and crown him king. His plan was successful and Jehoash was crowned king at the tender age of seven.

Three things jumped off the pages to me.

One, if you want your children to rule and reign then raise them in the house of the Lord!

Our identity is found in Christ so if we want our children to know who they are and what their purpose is, then by all means get them into church where they can meet the one who formed them, called them and purposed them.

Second, do not discount or look down on the children just because they are children.

They are valuable and the enemy knows it. Why do we fail so many times to see it? Children have the capacity to be kings. Jeremiah 1:7 says, “But the Lord said to me, ‘Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak.'” Then in Psalm 8:2 it says, “Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have ordained strength, Because of Your enemies, that you may silence the enemy and the avenger.” Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

If we don’t go to be trained how do will we train our children?

Thirdly, in 2 Kings 12:2 it said this. “Jehoash did what was right in the sight of the Lord all the days in which Jehoiada the priest instructed him.”

This child turned man reigned, pleasing God all the days he was instructed and taught by the man of God. I want my children and grandchildren to do well all their days as I am sure you do. Our children are kings in training. Some of them will rule at delicate ages with difficult life circumstances to navigate through. They will need what the church has deposited into them. If they don’t have it they will look to the culture that shifts with the wind for guidance.

Instead of ruling they will be ruled.

The sad commentary is that after the priest died king Jehoash was turned away from following the Lord. It does not matter how old we get. We still need to find ourselves in the house of the Lord learning and leaning on what we are taught. We don’t outgrow our need for the church and His Word. It isn’t just an institution. It’s the family of God. It’s a stronghold of safety.

No house is perfect and no family is without flaws. But the good news is Jesus is the sinless one. He is without blemish or error. He is the rock we build our lives on. Don’t be fooled by the propaganda. Church is not old fashioned, outdated or irrelevant. We need it more than ever. Our child kings need it more than ever.

Make no mistake. There is an enemy who wants to kill the king in them.

Hide them away in the house of the Lord.

 

Blessings to you and yours,

Jaime Luce

 

Photo by Pixabay

Loving the Wartzenalls — Mitch Teemley

Sharing this witty yet wise blog from Mitch Teemley. He’s a writer, film maker and public speaker by his own account but what he doesn’t mention is that he’s great at it! You’ll enjoy this.

Family. A mixture of people we get and don’t get. People we like, and people we would never have chosen to be with if we had a choice. But we don’t. Because they’re family. Right? I haven’t seen my cousin Ralph in 50 years. The moment he hit his teens he chose to stop attending […]

Loving the Wartzenalls — Mitch Teemley