Along for the Ride


“I’m no Tamar, Brother. I’m a Ruth.”

I had been thinking a lot about Ruth (The Book of Ruth) and Tamar (Genesis 38). Anyone with any sort of romantic bent will sigh a little as they read the Book of Ruth and be somewhat appalled as they read about Tamar. I thought about what it took for both of them to pursue their dream. They both had to prepare themselves. Ruth, washed and anointed herself and put her raiment upon her. Tamar put off her widows clothes, covered her with a veil and wrapped herself. I’m sure at that point, though they were both going through the motions of preparing themselves, what they were about to do still hadn’t quite set in. It wasn’t until each took that first step away from what they had known for many years that reality hit. Ruth, dressed in her best and smelling of perfume, stepped out from her mother-in-laws home, that safe place and started her endless walk down to the threshing floor. Tamar, slipped away from her father’s home wrapped and veiled as a harlot and started her long walk up to Timnath to the side of a dusty road. Ruth the Brave. Tamar the Bold. Each of their stomachs were in knots as they walked toward their destiny. They both were imagining the possible consequences of what they were about to do. Ruth wondered what would happen if Boaz refused her. What if he rebuked her for her forwardness. Tamar blanched at what would happen if Judah discovered who she was or if the men of the town came upon her and treated her as the harlot she was only pretending to be. Then, much sooner than either wanted, they were each in their place and their story would soon unfold. Ruth, waited for darkness and the revelry to end and for the man her future rested on to find a place to sleep. Tamar waited for her father-in-law, the man who had promised her a future but had withheld it from her, to appear as he walked on his way to Timnath.

Scene 3 and the curtain rises.

Darkness had fallen and Boaz had eaten and drunk and his heart was merry. He laid himself down at the end of a heap of corn and was soon asleep. Ruth stepped softly from the shadows, her heart pounding and went to where he slept. Trembling, she uncovered his feet, and laid her down…..Tamar gazed at her father-in-law from behind her veil, terrified at what she was prepared to do…..It was midnight and though it was silent, Boaz awoke, startled and knew he wasn’t alone. He quickly turned himself only to see a woman lying at his feet. He whispered harshly, “Who are you!” Ruth answered breathlessly, “I am Ruth, your handmaid. Cover me with the skirt of your garment and be my protector for you are a near kinsman.” Boaz answered her with great gladness and love and proved to her that he was an honorable man. He set his mind to making her his wife and he did.

Judah went over to the side of the road where Tamar sat. Thinking she was a harlot, Judah said, “Let me have intercourse with you.” For a moment Tamar wondered if she could do this thing, then she remembered the cruelness of her first husband, Judah’s oldest son and how Judah’s next son had simply used her, making sure she didn’t conceive.  She steeled herself and said contemptuously, “What will you pay me?” The bargain was agreed upon. Judah’s staff, seal and cord left for a pledge until payment of a kid from the flock was made. Tamar allowed herself to be used as a harlot and conceived. She got up and went back to her Father’s home, putting away the harlots garb and putting back on her widow’s garment. Tamar had humbled herself to conceive. It had been her law given right to be protected and allowed the chance to conceive after the death of her first husband, but it had been denied her. Tamar was done passively waiting for what she knew was her right. She did what few would do and made sure that her child would never be called a bastard for she had indisputable proof as to who the father was.

Ruth and Tamar. Their stories are so much alike, their braveness, humbleness and boldness, but the thing that struck me was, at the end of the story, Ruth went from lying at Boaz’s feet, to laying in his arms, whereas Tamar knew Judah from behind a veil and when Judah found out who it was he had left his staff, seal and cord with he knew her no more.

It is a day and age to not just be “along for the ride”. Passive service to God will no longer do. Passive “waiting on the blessing” should no longer be the norm. We need to re-look at how we find the will of God for our lives. As Lee Stoneking says, “We need to be aggressive!” We need to push and shake the gates and doors of heaven until we find out what God would have us do. Somehow we need to get off of the “path of least resistance” and out of the “go with the flow”. We need to be bold and have a warrior attitude. Fight for what you feel God has for you! If you must stay behind the veil, then so be it. I will not. I choose to be a Ruth. If I must humble myself, I will, but I will at some point leave the feet of my promise to be in the arms of my promise.

Nancy

Ruth 4:9-22

9. And Boaz said unto the elders, and unto all the people, Ye are witnesses this day, that I have bought all that was Elimelech’s, and all that was Chilion’s and Mahlon’s, of the hand of Naomi.
10. Moreover Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of Mahlon, have I purchased to be my wife, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance, that the name of the dead be not cut off from among his brethren, and from the gate of his place: ye are witnesses this day.
11. And all the people that were in the gate, and the elders, said, We are witnesses. The Lord make the woman that is come into thine house like Rachel and like Leah, which two did build the house of Israel: and do thou worthily in Ephratah, and be famous in Bethlehem:
12. And let thy house be like the house of Pharez, whom Tamar bare unto Judah, of the seed which the Lord shall give thee of this young woman.
13. So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife: and when he went in unto her, the Lord gave her conception, and she bare a son.
14. And the women said unto Naomi, Blessed be the Lord, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman, that his name may be famous in Israel.
15. And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life, and a nourisher of thine old age: for thy daughter in law, which loveth thee, which is better to thee than seven sons, hath born him.
16. And Naomi took the child, and laid it in her bosom, and became nurse unto it.
17. And the women her neighbours gave it a name, saying, There is a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed: he is the father of Jesse, the father of David.
18. Now these are the generations of Pharez: Pharez begat Hezron,
19. And Hezron begat Ram, and Ram begat Amminadab,
20. And Amminadab begat Nahshon, and Nahshon begat Salmon,
21. And Salmon begat Boaz, and Boaz begat Obed,
22. And Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David.

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Crazy Consecration


I was watching a scene, in my mind’s eye of a Christmas many, many years ago. I saw myself watching my family as they bent low toward the floor and a lighted box. Their faces were intent and blank at the same time. Their eyes were fixed on the box, yet there was no engagement with it. I became more and more concerned and finally, I had acknowledged to myself that the Christmas gift to my son of a PlayStation had been a huge mistake. I was deeply disturbed and prayed, asking Jesus what could be done now that it was in the home and the family was completely taken up with playing it. I had cried out to God in my heart and asked for forgiveness for my foolishness and asked for a way of escape. Then, the way God does…I felt that peaceful answer settle down over me. I knew what to do and I didn’t have to wait long for my opportunity. In those days, we often had to run up and down the road for one thing or another, so it wasn’t long before I had my son in the car with me. I asked the question, “If you hadn’t gotten the PlayStation for Christmas, what would you have wanted?” My son answered quickly, without hesitation. “A snowboard.” I responded, “Would you still want one if we could take the PlayStation back?” Again, he did not hesitate, “Sure.” And that was it. The PlayStation got packed up and returned that very day and a snowboard was bought. My son and my daughter became avid snowboarders and didn’t seem to miss the PlayStation.

I was reminded of the PlayStation Christmas one evening after a time of consecrating prayer. It had occurred to me that entertainments take time and prayer of any consequence takes time. It takes time to force your thoughts into submission and focus your spirit on God. It takes time to create an atmosphere of worship. It takes time to come into the presence of God and once in the presence of God, it takes time to communicate and worship as He deserves. Often these sacred times of prayer become a time of consecration and receiving my marching orders from God. I have thought so often since I determined in my heart a while back to make time every day for deep prayer of how different it would have been if God had not gotten a hold of me early in 2012 and convicted me about my different entertainments. I disconnected from cable, got the TV out and now give Facebook only a few minutes at a time compared to the hour or more it used to get.

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Making the Dry Tree Flourish


“Oh great. Ezekiel.”

Now, some of you are going to want to reach through the computer and slap me real hard for what I’m about to own up to…but; here goes. The reason I was disappointed about turning to Ezekiel in my Bible was because I had done what no mature Christian normally does. I NEEDED to be encouraged. I NEEDED to be encouraged so badly that I had asked my Jesus to please speak to me through His Word by me randomly opening my Bible. I knew better, but closed my eyes and opened my bedside Bible. It fell open to…Ezekiel. I was disappointed. You have to understand…I just don’t do this. I normally would just read from where I had left off and look for nuggets of peace and solace there. The reason, I didn’t do that was I had been reading Isaiah and I just wasn’t up to reading what was coming in the next chapter when I had such a need of comforting. When I saw that I had turned to Ezekiel, I’m afraid I sighed. I went ahead and started reading with part of my brain saying, “You knew better.” So, I read…

Ezekiel 17

“1. And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, 2. Son of man, put forth a riddle, and speak a parable unto the house of Israel; 3. And say, Thus saith the Lord God; A great eagle with great wings, longwinged, full of feathers, which had divers colours, came unto Lebanon, and took the highest branch of the cedar: 4. He cropped off the top of his young twigs, and carried it into a land of traffick; he set it in a city of merchants. 5. He took also of the seed of the land, and planted it in a fruitful field; he placed it by great waters, and set it as a willow tree. 6. And it grew, and became a spreading vine of low stature, whose branches turned toward him, and the roots thereof were under him: so it became a vine, and brought forth branches, and shot forth sprigs….”

I was reading but not absorbing. I was tempted to skim, but my conscience wouldn’t allow me. I continued.

“7. There was also another great eagle with great wings and many feathers: and, behold, this vine did bend her roots toward him, and shot forth her branches toward him, that he might water it by the furrows of her plantation .8. It was planted in a good soil by great waters, that it might bring forth branches, and that it might bear fruit, that it might be a goodly vine. 9. Say thou, Thus saith the Lord God; Shall it prosper? shall he not pull up the roots thereof, and cut off the fruit thereof, that it wither? it shall wither in all the leaves of her spring, even without great power or many people to pluck it up by the roots thereof. 10. Yea, behold, being planted, shall it prosper? shall it not utterly wither, when the east wind toucheth it? it shall wither in the furrows where it grew.”

Now, I REALLY didn’t want to continue. I was just so beaten down already, I didn’t think I could bear to read something that made me feel any worse… but; my conscience would not allow me to not take the bitter with the sweet, so…I continued.

“11. Moreover the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, 12. Say now to the rebellious house, Know ye not what these things mean? tell them, Behold, the king of Babylon is come to Jerusalem, and hath taken the king thereof, and the princes thereof, and led them with him to Babylon; 13. And hath taken of the king’s seed, and made a covenant with him, and hath taken an oath of him: he hath also taken the mighty of the land: 14. That the kingdom might be base, that it might not lift itself up, but that by keeping of his covenant it might stand. 15. But he rebelled against him in sending his ambassadors into Egypt, that they might give him horses and much people. Shall he prosper? shall he escape that doeth such things? or shall he break the covenant, and be delivered? 16. As I live, saith the Lord God, surely in the place where the king dwelleth that made him king, whose oath he despised, and whose covenant he brake, even with him in the midst of Babylon he shall die. 17. Neither shall Pharaoh with his mighty army and great company make for him in the war, by casting up mounts, and building forts, to cut off many persons: 18. Seeing he despised the oath by breaking the covenant, when, lo, he had given his hand, and hath done all these things, he shall not escape. 19. Therefore thus saith the Lord God; As I live, surely mine oath that he hath despised, and my covenant that he hath broken, even it will I recompense upon his own head. 20. And I will spread my net upon him, and he shall be taken in my snare, and I will bring him to Babylon, and will plead with him there for his trespass that he hath trespassed against me. 21. And all his fugitives with all his bands shall fall by the sword, and they that remain shall be scattered toward all winds: and ye shall know that I the Lord have spoken it.”

Now, not only was I beaten down and very sad…I was starting to wonder if I had displeased God. I caught myself skipping words in order to rush ahead and past this disturbing scene…but; my conscience wouldn’t let me. I made myself back up and read it again before I continued.

“22.  Thus saith the Lord God; I will also take of the highest branch of the high cedar, and will set it; I will crop off from the top of his young twigs a tender one, and will plant it upon an high mountain and eminent:”

I had to read this a couple of times. It was puzzling to me. Then I read…

“23.  In the mountain of the height of Israel will I plant it: and it shall bring forth boughs, and bear fruit, and be a goodly cedar: and under it shall dwell all fowl of every wing; in the shadow of the branches thereof shall they dwell.”

My heart started to lift…Oh to bear fruit! To be a goodly cedar!

“24. And all the trees of the field shall know that I the Lord have brought down the high tree, have exalted the low tree, have dried up the green tree, and have made the dry tree to flourish: I the Lord have spoken and have done it.”

He will make “the dry tree to flourish:” I had to read it again and again. “…made the dry tree to flourish:” Oh what Beautiful Words!  “I can do this!”,  I thought. “Everything is going to be alright, no matter what the end is, it’s going to be alright!”

For months I had been working on the “force the desert to blossom as the rose” plan, as I call it to my kids and family. I had been privileged to hear Rev Lee Stoneking speak at my daughter’s graduation from Bible college, and the thing that he said that impacted me the most was what he preached from Isaiah 35:1 “The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.” He spoke of “forcing” the desert to blossom as the rose. (I wrote extensively about this in my post, “Rise Up Oh Army of God”.)  God had really gotten a hold of me after this and had been changing me in ways I never would have done on my own. Just the other night, I had been praying about how I felt like I had so far to go and I felt like progress had slowed and I absolutely did not want to chance a stall. I talked to Jesus and said that my program of forcing the desert to blossom was not going to cut it. His ways are so much better that I asked God if HE would “FORCE my desert to blossom”. He is so awesome and His ways are awesome and He would do it RIGHT!  HIS plan would be perfect and the end would be lovely, no matter what it was. Now, here I was, sitting on my bed reading Ezekiel 17 over and over to make sure I got it right. Yes, I’ve been in a dry and thirsty land, but THIS DESERT is GOING to BLOSSOM!

What a GOOD life we have when it’s lived in God!

Nancy

My Husband


“Oh, my Husband, my Mighty God! Where would you have me go? What would you have me do? How would you have me speak?”

I was standing by my seat deep in prayer, when I felt a tap on my arm. I opened my eyes to see a stranger before me. He said, “I wonder if you would mind sharing with me what you are interceding so deeply for?”  I tried to think of a way I could explain to this man of God what I had been praying about. How could I put this thing into words…how could I tell him something so deep…so personal.

It was the first evening of our organization’s General Conference. I was attending it with my daughter, though she had stepped away and was praying for others. I hadn’t really thought we would be able to attend the conference since an unexpected home repair had pretty much wiped out my financial buffer. God kept laying on my heart that we should go until, with less than a week til the conference, during prayer, I thought of how we could manage it. If you have read my previous posts, you have something of an idea of what God has been doing with me these past months and the changes leading up to this evening, that found me standing before God, in deep submission, praying.

I should probably take you back prior to this evening, to a time of consecrating prayer, a time of relinquishing of my will to Jesus, a time of brokenness before God. I had put myself under His protection as my Husband and placed my future and entire trust in His hands. I made a purposeful decision that evening to give God my first love, as my spiritual husband. As I prayed, I thought of how a woman in love speaks to her betrothed. I thought of the Song of Solomon. 1:3. “Because of the savour of thy good ointments thy name is as ointment poured forth, therefore do the virgins love thee. 4. Draw me, we will run after thee: the king hath brought me into his chambers: we will be glad and rejoice in thee, we will remember thy love more than wine: the upright love thee…2:3. As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste. 4. He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love…16. My beloved is mine, and I am his: he feedeth among the lilies. 17. Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, turn, my beloved, and be thou like a roe or a young hart upon the mountains of Bether.”

I spoke to Jesus during this prayer of consecration as the Shulamite woman to King Solomon…I told Him how much I loved Him, how much I desired to please Him, to serve Him, to lavish my love on Him.  As I worshiped, I told Him I wanted my life to please Him, my clothing to please Him, my hair to please Him. I told Him I desired to please Him in Holiness and in submission of my will to His.  In this deep place of prayer, I spoke to God as my Husband, asking Him for protection, provision, comfort and direction.

I looked at the man standing before me and struggled to find the words. I had been praying to God as my Husband, pouring my heart out to Him. I had let myself get distracted with life and with my own desires and had let my first love for Him slip. What use was I to God if I was not sold out to Him? All of the changes that had happened over the past months, all of the promise I was feeling were worth nothing if I wasn’t sold out to God! I knew I needed to place God once again in that honored place in my heart reserved for my spiritual Husband. Finally, I spoke, telling the man of God that I was of no use to God if I wasn’t sold out to Him. Then, after asking me if I had repented about this, he said, “This is what I’m going to do. I’m going to pray with you and God is going to change you and it has already begun. You will see changes over the next few days and as the days pass.” Then he prayed for me and the power of God came down…and God, my spiritual Husband took His rightful first place in my heart once again…and I danced the dance of The Bride.

Isaiah 62

1. For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth.
2. And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name.
3. Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God.
4. Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the Lord delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married.
5. For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee: and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.
6. I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night: ye that make mention of the Lord, keep not silence,
7. And give him no rest, till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth.
8. The Lord hath sworn by his right hand, and by the arm of his strength, Surely I will no more give thy corn to be meat for thine enemies; and the sons of the stranger shall not drink thy wine, for the which thou hast laboured:
9. But they that have gathered it shall eat it, and praise the Lord; and they that have brought it together shall drink it in the courts of my holiness.
10. Go through, go through the gates; prepare ye the way of the people; cast up, cast up the highway; gather out the stones; lift up a standard for the people.
11. Behold, the Lord hath proclaimed unto the end of the world, Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.
12. And they shall call them, The holy people, The redeemed of the Lord: and thou shalt be called, Sought out, A city not forsaken.

Nancy

The Blessing


I was praying this morning, taking my time, like I enjoy doing on my day off. I love sipping on my coffee and talking to Jesus about whatever is on my heart, then I put my coffee down and have that deep communion with the Lord where intercession happens and answers are given and the back-slid are restored and needs are met. What I found myself praying about this morning was; what does my church need to be to cause the hungry soul to be drawn to enter? This got me thinking about the first time I found myself in a Pentecostal church some 35 years ago.  I had come to my first Apostolic service straight from the hippy culture, a single mother with frayed blue jeans, flip-flops and a lot of baggage. I do not remember feeling out-of-place or even wondering about all of the dresses and long hair, but what I do remember is hearing the Word of God preached for the first time. I had always gone to church and had always felt a deep drawing to God. I don’t remember being discontented in the church I was raised in, that is, until I heard the Word of God preached. To make a long story short, I came because I was hungry for God and the anointed preaching of the Word of God made me stay.

I also got thinking about my slow metamorphosis after being filled with the Holy Ghost and baptised in Jesus Name to taking on more and more of the Apostolic look and way of  life. You see, I didn’t care if I blended in or not in those days and I definitely wasn’t going to buy into something without a solid case for it. In other words, I was a hard sell. If I didn’t see it, it wasn’t happening. Slowly though, as I became more Apostolic on the inside, the more I became Apostolic on the outside.

All of this got me thinking about the church today. Time doesn’t stand still and with the increase in our electronic environment and devices, our exposure and our children’s exposure to entertainments and it’s influence has increased. I didn’t have a TV in my home from 1983 until the day 911 happened. That day I went out and got a TV to see what was happening. Then my son, who was a Marine went to Iraq and I watched all the news I could get to follow the war my son was fighting in. One thing led to another and when the cable company came to my rural neighborhood offering free installation, I figured it was time to get off of modem internet service to cable internet. I found it was cheaper to bundle my landline phone and my computer with TV than it was to just have internet and landline, so I ended up with cable TV. I was also given a Kindle for Christmas this last year and started reading more books and got hooked on old detective shows. In other words, when my pastor announced he could not in good conscience sign the UPCI membership card he was required to sign saying he fully believed and preached against worldly entertainments,  I had no words, nor defence. I was deeply troubled. I was Apostolic to the core and love the UPCI church but how could I expect something of my pastor that I had let slip in my own life?  This started a soul-searching in me that went deep. I had to know what and why and how I believed. Every holiness standard I held dear was looked at and inspected and searched out in my heart. I prayed deeply and sought God for myself and my pastor and my church. Then something began to happen. The more I prayed, the more satisfying prayer was and the more I wanted to pray and the more I found time to pray. Then, I discovered a web site called apostoliclive.com where I found I could watch or just listen to the best preaching known to this generation. I developed a new evening routine. I would read my Bible, then watch or listen to anointed preaching on my Kindle and then pray.  I found a place in prayer I had never experienced or known to exist. I described it in my post, “Deep Calleth Unto Deep”. The more I pray in this deep place of prayer, the more I want to pray and the less time I want to give to entertainments. I got rid of my cable TV hookup and put the TV in my storage room.

This brings me back to my prayer this morning. As I thought about the church and what we should be to draw the hungry soul, I realized I’ve come full circle. This way of life isn’t just a list of dos and don’ts, it’s a great blessing!  Those that hunger and thirst for God, will want what we’ve got and we need to lead them to the water and tell them to drink freely!

John 7: “37.  In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.
38.  He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.
39.  (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)”

As Rev Lee Stoneking would say, “T.P. Tried and Proven”.

Meet you in the prayer room!

Nancy

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