Monday, March 29, 2010

Sometimes It Feels Like God is Trying to Kill Us!

“Sometimes it feels like God is trying to kill us –when what He is doing is trying to save us—saving us from loving anyone or anything more supremely than HIM!” (my version of something Tim Keller said). I spent most of yesterday asking God forgiveness--this comment so pierced me--I had been whining. I know that whining is just anger squeezed through a tiny hole. And then the Lord reminded me of a devotional I wrote years ago about not wanting to be buried like Moses in the wilderness--because of my demanding spirit which is manifested through angry whining. I only whine because I love MY COMFORT & My AGENDA more than my GLORIOUS FATHER! My comfort has become a counterfeit god in my life—and I often whine when my COMFORT is disturbed!

For several years, whenever I would read about Moses' anger and the consequence of being deprived of entering the Promised Land, I would grieve that my anger, like Moses’, would cost me the Promised Land (I don't mean heaven, but my inheritance in Jesus). This year, when I read through this passage, I saw that Moses’ anger was a symptom of his lack of trust. I had felt sorry for Moses, because I felt his frustration and anger with a rebellious group of people was a justified anger. After all, Moses was frustrated with a people who could actually doubt after witnessing the parting of the Red Sea! Then God showed me that even Moses, a man of great faith (Heb.11:23-29), struggled with trusting God, and this was manifested through his anger. Whenever I am angry, I consider not only the person or circumstance but also the extent that I am not trusting God. I do not want my tombstone in Moab (Deut.34:1,5-6).

Whether it is anger or lack of trust…my grumbling and complaining is a casual despising of God’s Sovereignty—ouch! Forgive me Jesus!

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Do You Know a Modern “Bezalel?”

(An Early Gift for Your Easter Basket!)

When it was time to build the Tabernacle in the Wilderness, Moses didn’t start taking resumes from skilled craftsmen because he knew God had already chosen the man who was the most skilled, gifted and filled with the Spirit of God. The man chosen was “Bezalel” and his name means: “in the shadow of God.” This man operating in “God’s shadow” built a perfect reflection of God’s script (Exodus 31:1-5).

I have been blessed with a modern “Bezalel” who I shared my heart’s vision about an on-line, free Bible study to give to the world—based on my book Free Yourself to Love. I gave him such “rough, inadequate” ideas and he created something that I am reeling in awe about and I couldn’t wait to tell you about it. Wait until you log on and see what Jim Olsen built for the ministry of this message to the world. I want you to know where the “rough draft” came from before you see the incredible work of a modern “Bezalel.”

This study guide was birthed from my preparation for a class I taught on my new book: Free Yourself to Love: The Liberating Power of Forgiveness. To prepare for this class, I decided to comb through every sentence of each chapter to find the nuggets that I couldn’t bear for someone to miss from the chapter. Each week the class received copies of “Jackie’s must have nuggets.” The class I taught was composed of men and women—each week we went through these must-have nuggets, and one of the participants described them as “cliff notes” for Free Yourself to Love. When the class ended, I realized that my “cliff notes” and quotes would help others who would like to work through this book on forgiveness. So I combined the class notes with the questions at the end of each chapter of the book. These notes, quotes, and discussion questions can be used in various venues: Bible study, Book clubs, SS Class, or home study groups.

Also available with these “cliff notes” from the book are DVD clips (each less than 5 minutes each; there are 8 clips for the study—not every chapter has a clip) of my teaching various aspects of the forgiveness message. These clips are available on this site to download—free of charge! The outlines are also free for downloading for your group.

DRUM ROLL!!! Are you ready for this awesome gift? Then go to and see what a “modern” Bezalel created to help take this liberating message to the world. Help us spread the word—click on and go deeper into the heart of having the unoffendable heart of Jesus.

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Monday, February 1, 2010

A Valentine from M & E

Reading through the Bible every year is like a reunion with old friends. Recently I began to tear up realizing that I was going to be “reading” not only a familiar passage but verses that profoundly impacted my life.

“Joseph named his older son Manasseh, for he said, ‘God has made me forget all my troubles and everyone in my father’s family. Joseph named his second son Ephraim, for he said, ‘God has made me fruitful in this land of my grief.’”(Gen.41:51,52)

As I read this verse, the Lord gave me a fresh thought. Fruitfulness in grief (suffering) is possible but not without forgetting—letting go(forgiving) the past. For 18 years I have been wearing a bracelet with the name Ephraim on it. Declaring to all that God can make you “fruitful in suffering.” Now I see that Ephraim is only part of the healing equation. Manasseh--forgetting…letting go…forgiving the past and the people who comprise the painful past—the equation is M & E. Whenever you are facing grief or someone you love is facing grief/suffering—pray for the blessing of Manasseh & Ephraim (Gen. 48:20). When a person suffers, their view of God is sometimes blurred. M & E can help with adjusting one’s view and the person will end up with perfect vision—“50/20” as demonstrated in Genesis 50:20.

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.”

I know that 20/20 is perfect vision physically but 50/20 is perfect vision spiritually.
May the blessing of M & E be a Valentine for your heart this year.

A bonus thought: my life was profoundly impacted by a college professor who taught me the incomparable significance of a consistent, daily growing relationship with Jesus through time in His Word. This college professor was M.E. Cravens. Oh the impact of M.E. in the Word and in life!

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Friends We All Need in 2010!

(Do You Have Friends Like Daniel?)

I was thinking about Daniel, “a man greatly beloved” of God (Daniel 10:11). In Hebrew, “beloved” means not only “great delight” and “great desire” but also “delectable.” Wow, Daniel’s life was actually delectable to God. What amazing favor. Tears filled my eyes because my heart yearned for my own life to be “delectable” to God.

As I looked more closely at Daniel’s life, I read about his three friends, and the Lord showed me something truly exciting. We know Daniel’s friends as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego - the names they were given in captivity in Babylon. Their not-so-famous Hebrew names were Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. As I studied the Hebrew translations and meanings of these names, I discovered what kind of friends Daniel had, the kind we all need: friends who want passionately to follow Jesus.

Hananiah means: The Lord is Gracious
Mishael means: The Lord is my help
Azariah means: Who is Like our God?

Just imagine! Their very names held the messages those friends needed to give one another when all three were cast into the fiery furnace (Daniel 3). Their names described the gracious, incomparable, helping God who showed up in the furnace as the fourth man. The Lord, who walked in the fiery furnace with them, was the embodiment of all three of their names!!!

Do you have friends that remind you that the Lord is gracious (Jehovah-raah), that He is our helper (El Shaddai), and that He is an incomparable God (El Elyon)? As we associate with others, we become a reflection of those with whom we spend time (Amos 3:3; Proverbs 13:20). Can people in your life see that you have been hanging out with friends like those Daniel had?

I want to be like Daniel’s friends.

Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah had their names changed by the Babylonian captors but their captors couldn’t change their hearts - their hearts remained passionately committed to their Incomparable God. I pray that you and I will be a reminder of God’s gracious, incomparable help to those who know us - especially to those who are about to go into a fiery trial.

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