Before refrigerators, people used ice houses to preserve their food. Ice houses had thick walls, no windows, and a tightly fitted door. In the winter, when streams and lakes were frozen, large blocks of ice were cut, hauled to the ice houses, and covered with sawdust. Often the ice would last well into the summer.
One man lost a valuable watch while working in an ice house. He searched diligently for it, carefully raking through the sawdust, but didn’t find it. His fellow workers also looked, but their efforts, too, proved futile. A small boy who heard about the fruitless search slipped into the ice house during the noon hour and soon emerged with the watch.
Amazed, the men asked him how he found it.
“I closed the door,” the boy replied, “lay down in the sawdust, and kept very still. Soon I heard the watch ticking.”
Often the question is not whether God is speaking, but whether we are being still enough, and quiet enough, to hear.
Cheers to your listening,
Excerpt taken from Phillip Gunter/Fresh Illustrations for Preaching and Teaching
There will be those who say that God no longer visits men as He did in days of old, but I am not one of them. The God I serve is the great I AM, which means that He is in every moment that we live. He is not confined to the pages of the Bible or the times that they reflect. These too, are the days when God is visiting (and wanting to visit) man(kind).
It is my opinion that what lies ahead for us, and I mean imminent, is a powerful, thurderous, outpouring of the presence of God on men and women. His presence brings release, revelation, fear, awe, miracles, judgment, wonder, and so much more. Could it be possible that the Great I AM would again visit people on Earth?
Could we see Him again like this –
” Now when the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightening and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled and they stood afar off and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die. Moses said to the people, “Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of Him may be before you, that you may not sin. Then the people stood afar off, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was.”
Exodus 20:18-21 ESV
It is possible. But what is also possible is that this account has in it some truths for us. Let’s look into them.
We can say without a shadow of a doubt and support it with scripture, that there is nothing more powerful than the presence of God. Scripture is full of ways that His presence is demonstrated, including the description from Exodus 20. We read of thunder, lightening, splitting of cedars and seas, winds of fury, fainted men and women, fallen armies, foes defeated, miracle provisions, and overwhelming awe. People respond to such power by falling down, bowing down, covering their mouth, and crying out for mercy and forgiveness.
The first truth for us to hold onto from this is – God’s presence is real and powerful and we each must come before Him. None will be excluded.
The second truth to chew on is this – God’s presence brings fear. And if we look more closely at Exodus, we see His presence is intended to bring a level of fear to us in order to motivate us to not sin. When we have the proper “fear of the Lord”, we are gripped by it in a respectful and honoring way, so as to desire to please Him, and that we can demonstrate by choosing to not sin.
Scripture is full of what “the fear of the Lord” produces in us and it is all pleasant, peaceful, amd productive.
But there are those, who are like the guys in Exodus 20, who, out of fear choose stand afar off from God. They really have no desire to get close to that thunderous God, they are afraid of Him, and step away from Him, rather that toward Him like Moses did. They fear His voice, don’t want to hear it and don’t want to enter into God’s presence.
This then, is the third lesson. Out of fear, we can choose to step closer to God’s presence or away from God’s presence. And in these days, I am hearing that call… Step closer to His presence, closer to Him, and allow His presence to work in you all that pleases Him. This is a process of constant surrendering to His presence, but in doing so, in choosing to be with God, we are changed. The fear of the Lord does motivate us to live a life that pleases Him. And, by the way – it is a life of abundant joy, provision, happiness and strength. It is NOT burdensome or even close to boring!
Our final lesson from the account is this.
God is looking for more Moses-type people. By that I mean, those who willing choose to move to the place where God is. Those who intentionally mark their steps toward God and not away from Him. Those whose delight it is to be in His presence, be close to Him and hear what He has to say. Those who are not frightened to come near to this powerful God, because they know Him personally to be loving, just, kind, compassionate, as well as powerful, intimidating and holy. God is calling to those who will as a magnet, be drawn to where God is.
Although the book of Exodus was written in 1440 BC, in it we can find plentiful truths that have weight and significance for today. We can still learn from it and we can still be visited by a powerful God in a very personal way.
That Great I Am, who consumed in fire and smoke that mountain in Sinai where Moses met Him, is the same today. He is calling for us to face our fears and come to Him, admitting our sin, yielding it to Him, and allowing His passionate love to consume us and all of our fear. He is calling us to step near Him. He is drawing us to come closer and trust His powerful, lifechanging fire.
In these days, when God visits men, what will you do?
Perhaps you have heard of this tendency, or perhaps it is more easily recognizable because you have lived it. It is rooted in the neuroscience behind the power of our words and basically says,
” any word we hear, read or speak daily has more truth to us… we don’t care if it is true or false, we believe it.”
Icytales.com “The Power of Words”
Neruoscience supports the power of words, both positive and negative.
Researchers, while monitoring brain responses to auditory and imagined negative words, discovered painful or negative words increase IMP (Implicit Processing). What that means is, negative words release stress and anxiety inducing hormones in subjects. Imagine that now, on a daily basis and its affects upon you, me, us. Those negative words produce not only anxiety and stress in me, but also in the way I see my world. They have built for me the lens through which I see people, events and my world.
” Positive and negative words affect us on a deep psychological level and have significant impact on the outcome of our lives.”
“The Neuroscience Behind Words” – Business Relationship Management Institute
But positive words have effects too, positive effects!
” A single word has the power to influence the expression of genes that regulate physical and emotional stress.”
Dr. Andrew Newberg- “Words Can Change Your Brain”
Dr. Newberg states that exercising positive thoughts can quite literally change one’s reality.
In fact, those positive words and ideas produce not just an illusion of truth, but a positive view of ourselves; and a positive view of ourselves, trains our brain to see good in others, because over time, our brain starts to change. (Dr. Newberg)
There is power in repetition. The more we read, speak or listen to a thing or idea, the more it controls us. Our brain uses repetitive words and phrases to search for meaning and make connections for us. That’s why –
” A repeated weak message is more powerful than a strong message heard only once.”
One single, repeated message can change your mind! (and life)
I know you beleive me. Look into your life and the words that have bombarded you. Look at their affects. Whether it be from a parent, teacher, friend, spouse, pastor…whether it be from the news, government, or CDC. ONE SINGLE, REPEATED MESSAGE CAN CHANGE YOUR MIND.
Words build present and future, but our thoughts are what become our words. That’s why I would like to challenge you to consider your thoughts. Because by exercising consistent, positive thoughts and speech, we change and how we see the world changes.
Therefore, I am calling on you to be intententional about what words you are reading, listening to and speaking. Turn off, shut out, and stop the negative words that have controlled your life. Now is the time. You can do it.
But then, your focus must be shifted to positive words and energy. Here’s a suggestion.
Write these 5 word pairs on a 3×5 card, or post-it. Heck, use several and make more than one. Then place these cards where ever you spend the most time. At your desk, on the bathroom mirror, on the car dash, near the remote control or game controller. Wherever you need to see these positive words repeatedly.
Authentic and Real
Honorable and Admirable
Beautiful and Respectful
Pure and Holy
Merciful and Kind
THESE are the words and thoughts that can change your mind, your outlook and world. These repeated messages will cange the way you see yourself and others. By focusing on the positive, the good, real, honorable, beautiful, pure and kind, we will begin to believe those things. It won’t be an illusion. It is truth.
The influences in our society are repeating ideas and words that are becoming reality to some of us. What a tradegy.
But we hold between our ears the world’s most powerful computer with the ability to reframe reality. Words predict behavior. Words become thoughts. Thoughts become actions. Actions become habits.
Let’s take the first steps to begin retraining our brain – away from the negative, ugly and destructive and turning to the positive, beautiful, and hopefilled.
Now, go get those cards or post-its and start that list. 🙂 Today, a new, repeated message begins, because we are thinking on these things, speaking these things, and watching only these types of things. We are shutting out and turning off all other negative words, ideas and influences. We are choosing to focus on those things that are:
I’d like to give you a visual metaphor that I hope will stay with you as a reminder each time you see these.
Powerlines of all shapes and sizes are scattered throughout the landscape of your life. Have you given much attention to them? Typically they only require our attention when they are not standing as they should, but rather, have been damaged in some way or their line has beed damaged, right?
Those electrical cables suspended between towers or poles provide energy to homes, businesses and everything needing power. They are power lines, they carry power and operate at voltages above 765,000 volts between conductors. That’s alot of power available, alot of power that you and yours are nestled under.
In these lines and supports we have a helpful, spiritual reminder of the power that is always over our heads and avaliable to us. Here’s what I mean –
Those lines represent the Omnipotence of our fearful and loving God, that is always hanging just above our heads. Here’s the meaning of His power, of His “dunamis” that is available to us:
” Dunamis = Strentgh, ability. Inherent power residing in a thing. Power for miracles, moral power, excellence of soul, influence, resources and resting on armies, forces and hosts.”
Strongs G #1411
His power lines are always energized, charged and flowing at full capacity. His power is not low voltage, high voltage or even ultra high voltage. His power created the power and energy in our sun, and it’s temperature is 10,000 degrees F at the surface, and millions of degrees F in the center. His power put those crazy atoms and their electrons orbiting with their energy in every single thing known to man.
Matthew 6:13- … yours is the power, oh Lord
Mark 12:24 – men don’t know the power of God
Luke 4:35 – the power of the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary
Luke 9:1 – Jesus gives us power and authority over all devils and diseases
Luke 10:19 – we have power to tread on serpents
Acts 3:12 – it’s not by might… but by the power of the Spirit
Romans 1:16 – I am not ashamed of the gospel… it is the power of God
Friend, you are nestled under the power lines of God. They are surrounding you. Everywhere you look or find yourself, you will see His power lines. They are over your head and so, so close. (Unless, of course, you are living in a place without electricity, then you won’t see the power lines, but the power will still be there for you.)
But notice please, that those power lines, in order for them to be effective, are supported by structures. Each structure is designed to not only carry the load imposed upon it, but also withstand the elements.
Let’s look at the structure of these two poles first.
These two poles, supporting the power lines can respesent the two pillars needed in our life of:
Prayer – prayer has great power, James 5:16 tell us, and our prayer life supports the power of God in our life. Without the foundation of prayer, our power is not energized.
The Word – His Word is living and active, sharp and powerful. When it is hidden in our hearts and we live by it, the power of God flows in and through us, as does His power. Hebrews 4:12; Psalms 119:9
Our personal prayer life and the time we spend reading, listening to and studying the Bible are the supports in our life we must have in order to experience the fullness of the power of God.
There’s another type of structure that supports these power lines tho’. It is called the tower.
“The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run into it and are safe.”
Jesus is our tower of strength. The Lord, Almighty, is where I run for strength, refreshing, renewal, hope, peace, and happiness. And THAT, dear reader, is the support I must have, to expereince His power in my life. The tower that supports my power is Jesus, and His name alone. There is no other name under heaven….
So let’s put it together,
God’s power for the miraculous, for moral rightness, for influence, healings, excellence and even the release of angel armies is available to us, always. And what sustains, supports, and releases that power is our personal prayer life, bible reading, and finding our refuge in His name.
You see, my friend, you are nestled under His power lines, but it is time for that power to flow in your life and be shared with those around you. The power is there, available and sufficient for any need that you or those near you may face. Jesus is omnipotent, and you are connected to Him. Let His power flow through you.
How then, are your support structures?
Your prayer life? Your personal reading of the Word? Finding your refuge in Him and not other sources or influences in your life?
I pray that everytime you look around and see power poles and power lines, that the Holy Spirit will remind you of these ideas and encourage you to tap into God’s power, allowing Him to flow through you, rather than just be nestled under the powerlines.
Last evening I was sitting on the patio just before sunset, when my vision was filled with hundreds of birds flying overhead, flocked together, and headed the same Southward direction. This was not the first time I have noticed these fancy fliers.
At our previous house, about 8 miles away from here, and 2-3 years ago, is when I first noticed these flocks, seemingly following the sunset. I found that I could darn near set my watch by them, 6:30 PM, October – March. It was then that my curiosity was stirred, but it piqued today, as I gave way to study for an explaination.
Why do they do this? Where are they going? What allows them to do so in such a scheduled way? How does such a large group of birds come together and head the same direction – happily chatting along the way, I might add.
They look something like this, except thousands fly overhead… they just keep coming and chatting. They don’t usually swarm and do fancy manuvers until they are over their roosting spot. My home, isn’t their roosting spot. So, all I see is bunches of squacking birds in the sky.
This is called a “crow murmuration”.
What’s happening is:
The birds are returning to their roosting site. They leave in the morning to feed, and return in the evening. Their roosting and feeding spots can be far from each other.
They fly in circular patterns to confuse predators, but actually their sheer size alone connfuses predators. Hence, this is literally called, “The confusion effect”.
They are flying to find their roosting spot and warmth during the cold winter nights.
These murmurations can number from 100’s to 1,000’s of birds, all flying at sunset.
During these frenzied flight patterns some pretty cool things are actually happening. The birds are exchanging information on feeding sites that they found during the day. But some are making their territorial mating calls – telling their partner where they are. Scientists tell us that birds communicate more intensively during sunrise and sunset. And, they are loud and noisey too!
Crazy, smart and loud birds, right?
How do they know where to go? And what about those birds that migrate 1,000’s of miles, non-stop? How do they do it and know their course? The smart ones, who study such things, tell us that these birds can detect the energy of the Earth’s magnetic field. Built within them, is some sort of navigational compass that helps them to travel long distances.
I remember teaching Life Science years ago, at the middle school level and teaching about the magnetic particles, thought to be in the birds beak. These particles provided a navigational map used in conjunction with the Earth’s magnetic field that kept them on course. These tiny particles are so small, the magnetic pieces in the bird haven’t even been located yet. Scientists aren’t sure where they are.
But the most recent studies tell us that there are proteins in the birds eyes that allow them to visualize magnetic fields. And so, their sense of direction is associated with this field. There is even some research to suggest there may be parts of the birds inner ear that picks up on the currents of magnetism in the Earth’s atmosphere.
So, is the bird equipped with what it needs to navigate in it’s nose, eyes, or ears? We really don’t know for sure.
You know what else we don’t know? We don’t know how their brain processes all this. Scientists don’t know the part of their brain that handles this process and they don’t know how it actually processes these signals which are translated into directions for the birdie. The area of the brain where magnetic directional information is processed is still not clear.
Even the homing ability of the homing pigeon is based on the “map and compass” model – which detects Earth’s magnetic field. That smart lil bird has served as messengers to deliver communication, signals and even compete in long distance races. They too, have an inate homing ability that most often allows it to return to it’s nest, using, you got it, magnetoreception.
So, whether it be in the ophthalmic nerve in the upper beak, a protein in the eye, or a current buzzing in it’s ear, these birds have been created with a device within them, to bring them home, that science does not understand.
Why would we think we are any less than these birds?
“He has set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”
We too, have been created with a device within us, to bring us home, that science does not understand.
We would be wise to learn this lesson from the birds.
This is the classic line, spoken (yelled more like it) by Tom Hanks, in the role of the coach of an all ladies baseball team, the Rockford Peaches. You’ll remember, Evelyn had made a bad throw and takes the loud and very emotional correction of Coach Jimmy when arriving back on the sidelines, and in front of everyone. This, of course, breaks her and she starts crying. The Coach, unable to process her feelings expressed in liquid words then quips, “There’s no crying in baseball.”
Doesn’t she know the rules? How can she cry? That’s not allowed. No matter the crushing feelings, there’s no crying allowed. Every tear, whether liquid words or not, must be stuffed, capped, controlled and shut down. That’s how you play the game!
Well, let’s step back from that great movie of 1992, “A League of Their Own”, and ask, is that how we play the game? Are those the rules that we are trying to live by?
no crying allowed
stuff those emotions
cap those feelings
control that pain
shut down that sensitivity
hide your soul
I recently attended a study that challenged those “rules” afresh for me. In that study, Christina said,
“Emotions are like children. We don’t lock them in the trunk and we don’t let them drive.”
Christina at OasisOC
She went on to include these statements…
” Feelings buried alive will never die” and “You have to feel it to heal it.”
I am telling you, these truths have rocked my world recently. They have challenged the lies and rules that have crept into my thinking that say, “Just suck it up”, “It’ll get better”, “Grow up”, “Take control”, “That’s not spiritual” and so on.
You see, our emotions are God-given. He has them, too. He gave them to us. If we lock them in the trunk and ignore their screaming, we are ignoring what He is saying to us. We are limiting Him. But neither do we allow them to drive our life. Somewhere there is a balance. Somewhere the rules have got to change.
This week, after setting out a while back to study the Psalms again, I had to press the pause button on that study, only a third of the way through the book. Why? There were waaaaaaaaay too many emotions and feelings being shared and I was kinda feeling overwhelmed. David and the other writers were sharing so raw and real, I was having trouble processing it all.
Look at some of these statements –
I was in distress
can you hear my groaning?
their words are unreliable
smooth talking deceivers
my eyes of faith won’t focus anymore
please deal with me gently
they give birth to lies
Lord, you seem so far away
don’t forget me
why have you hidden yourself
everyone lies, everyone flatters. everyone deceives. Nothing but empty talk, smooth talk and double talk. Words are weapons, twisted tongues, lying lips, high minded talk THIS IS JUST 1 PSALM, PSALM 12
Folks, these phrases come directly from the first 12 Psalms. (And there are 150 of them!)
Here too, is a short list of other emotions that we see in the Psalms.
We see clearly raw and ugly emotions expressed and not covered up or locked in the trunk of these writers. What we can learn from them is that our emotions and expression of them comes as no surprise to God nor do they carry judgment or shame from Him. They are our emotions, and it is for us to process them in His truth and mercy and not allow them to be stuffed.
Those emotions are like a check engine light in our cars. We need to discover the issue that is causing the light to come on. Not simply seek to ignore the light. Damage will ensue should we not find out why that emotion is lighting us up. (Thanks again to Christina for this picture)
Jesus is taking us down the path of alignment. He wants our head and our heart to line up. That means our heart must be connected not detatched from feelings and emotions. Therapists call it being “affected”. Allowing yourself to be affected brings your head and heart into agreement.
” I’ve wanted my words and my ways to always agree.”
David, in Psalms17:3
In these days, so many of us are dealing with feelings that are just plain overwhelming and the “rules” that have been engrained into us about the expression of those feelings is becoming unmanagable as well. Well, guess what… who made those rules and why are we playing by them?
We are made for so much more! You were made for authentic, whole, and perfectly aligned body, soul and spirit. But that does not come from playing by the “throw the kids in the trunk” philosophy. Learning to allow the kids/emotions into our car/life and seated in their rightful place is a lasting work that only God, our designer can help us with.
Our emotional God wants to heal in us the cause of that emotion, the actual issue lighting up the check engine button. Why we tend to feel that way, why we respond that way. He wants to take our hand and with us look at it, see it in His truth, and walk away from it free and embraced by His love, peace and purpose.
In our heart is the secret of it all. In our heart lie the secret issues that have led us to believe we cannot express or be free from certain feelings. Buried in our heart are the lies of our shame, fear, lonliness, betrayal and hurt. His truth must shine there and realign our feelings to His truth.
Your Heavenly Father wants you to be healed, whole, and live in the truth of His love. That means being emotional but Spirit led. That means recognizing and admiting those feelings but not letting them drive your life.
Today, you are one conversation with God away from freedom and authenticity, alignment of Spirit and soul. He cares for you, feels for you, longs to see you happy and free, not stiffled or shut down. Please don’t bottle things up anymore. Have that conversation with Him.
And one more thing, there can be crying anywhere your liquid words need expression, even in baseball.
I have been to Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and our local Pechanga Resort Casino, but have never considered the liklihood of my winning big to be motivation enough for me to actually play the odds at any machine or table. I’m a square, I guess, I’ve never even purchased a lottery ticket either. Not like my brother-in-law who is a VIP winner or my sister who generally does pretty good. Guess it’s not in my DNA.
And on that topic of DNA, have you ever seriously considered the actual odds of you being born? Let’s talk about odds.
What are the odds of you being struck dead by a falling coconut? Consider – that hard ole shell of a fruit is about 3 pounds, and falling from say a 35 foot tree. That means it will reach a speed of 49 mph in it’s descent. When it hits you, it is carrying a metric ton of force – that means you will die on the spot. They do kill 150 people worldwide in a year according to a 2002 study.
The odds: 1 in 250 million
How ’bout your odds of finding a 4 leaf clover, or even that rare 5 leaf clover?
The odds: 4 leaf = 1 in 10,000; 5 leaf = 1 in 1,000,000
What are the odds of you being struck by lightening?
Odds: 1 in 500,000
All of these demonstrate crazy odds of happening and yet they happen. Yes, rarely, but they do happen and we have the statistics (and photos) to support them.
Well, back to that DNA related question we asked earlier.
What are the odds of you being born?
Here are the things that must be considered in order to calculate those odds.
The probability of your parents meeting – we could spend time here with hypotheticals, but we know our own parents’ stories. So I will just give you the numbers according to the mathematicians. The odds : 1 in 20,000
Then, the chances that they developed some type of relationship, enough for offspring to result. The odds:1 in 2,000
Next, 1 egg and 1 sperm getting together. A woman possesses 100,000 viable eggs and a man 12 trillion sperm. Considering only childbearing years that makes The odds: 1 in 400 quadtrillion
But we are not done yet. All of your ancestors had to live long enough to reproduce through the generations. That means, accroding to scientists through 150,000 generations!
Each of your ancestors had to be exactly who they were (through the exact same odds making gauntlet) in order to provide the DNA for you to be you. The right sperm and egg meeting for 150,000 generations of reproduction – that means one in 400 quadtrillion times 150,000 generations. The odds: 10 with 2,640,000 zeros!
Now, my precious reader, the odds of all of those steps happening, and you being born are
The odds: 1 in 400 trillion.
Dr. Ali Binazir describes it this way:
“Imagine a city of 2.5 million people (San Diego for example) getting together and each of them rolling a trillion sided dice, and all rolling the same, exact number – say 555,343,279,001!”
Dr. Ali Binzazir – Huffpost.com
Talk about the odds! Whaaaat? How could that be even fathonable?!
Let’s bring it back to you, now. The odds of you being born are what we are talking about. You.
Talk about overcoming the odds. Talk about destiny. Talk about purpose. Talk about value.
You were not an accident. You were an on purpose. Now be encouraged to find and live out that purpose.