Thursday, June 20, 2013

Anne Graham Lotz, Last Days, and Good Bye Fear!


This past May, Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of evangelist Billy Graham, paid a visit to Israel!  She took time out of her tour schedule to do an evening devotional and meet'n'greet  with some of us in the local Messianic body.   I was very blessed by my time with her and chose to write about it for my June SAVED News submission. 

Check out the article to see how her visit further fanned into flame a work of overcoming fear in these last days,  that the Lord has been doing in my heart since the Pillar of Defense (aka Pillar Cloud) operation last November. 


By Callie Mitchell




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Monday, June 10, 2013

Biblical Eats: Rumbling... Grumbling or Humbling?

Embarking on this journey of studying food passages in the bible, I couldn't pass up the Manna and Quail!  I've been studying this from Exodus 16, Numbers 11, Psalm 106, and 1 Corinthians 10 .  The time of wandering in the Sinai has so many rich lessons.  Expect posts to have running themes from this story in the coming weeks!

***

Anyone with kids knows it true.  Hungry tummies make for cranky little ones.  Babies cry to let Ima (Hebrew for Mama) know its time to eat.  When snacks are delayed, most toddlers are more prone to the belly sprawl tantrum...  you know the one...  the child goes splat on his stomach with flailing  arms and legs.  When we're hungry, we're generally not happy people, no matter the age. 

Well, hungry tummies made for a tribe of cranky desert dwelling Israelis thousands of years ago.

As their tummies rumbled, their hearts grumbled against the Lord, and He was not pleased.

This story often baffles me.  They just witnessed profound moves of the Lord...  the plagues in Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea,  they saw God manifest as a pillar of cloud and fire, and they were given heavenly bread every morning.  

Yet they complained:

"Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic,  but now our appetite is gone. There is nothing at all to look at except this manna."  (Num 11:4-6)

They would rather go back to slavery, for the sake of their stomachs, than walk in the freedom of God.  I have to think that maybe if I ate only bread everyday, I might fall into the sin of complaint, too.  And through this food study, I'm learning just how serious this particular sin truly is.   

God's displeasure with the murmuring was so great that:  

His anger was kindled, and the fire of the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp. (Num 11:1)

Literal. Wrath.

God takes this sin of complaint seriously.  Consider how the Lord equates this sin with idolatry and sexual immorality:  

 Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and stood up to play.” Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents.  Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer.  (1 Cor 10: 7-10)


As I have asked the Lord why He feels so seriously about complaining,  I believe the understanding that He's given me is this:  the sin of complaint is not only on par with idolatry, but it is actually evidence of idolatry operating in the heart!  He is a jealous God!   

Consider the origin of complaint.  It always takes place when elevating the pressures of circumstances above the nature and promises of God.   Allowing anything to become bigger than God removes Him from His place of Lordship in our lives.  That's idolatry. 

Complaining also makes me central within my circumstances.  When I'm complaining about something, its usually because things aren't going the way I think they should.  I am inconvenienced.  Everything is about me and my desires.  If I am in the center, then where is God?   

This sin of complaint is sneaky and creepy.     

Recently, a woman in our congregation asked me how I was managing with my on going health concerns.  In the beginning I was filled with a supernatural joy, and I had a true attitude of thanksgiving.  After round two of CT's came back clear, but lab work came back high, I found myself drifting into apathy. 

Whatever, Lord.  I don't even care anymore.  
  
As I shared this, my friend quickly challenged me to evaluate what that meant about my heart condition.  The Holy Spirit convicted me that my apathy was simply cynicism and bitterness.  I was giving God the silent treatment, but He knows the heart.  He was hearing my silence as complaint.  
 
Complaint can also sneak in is through the guise of authenticity.  This is probably the greatest way our cultural standards have desensitized us to this particular sin.  Being negative isn't being real.  Its just being negative.  

The challenge is that most of us really do want to be honest about where we are in life.  I certainly do.  I have bad days.  I contend with sin.  I am a real person with real struggles.  My faith in the Lord certainly doesn't mean I have to be happy and up all the time, and I certainly don't want to fake it when I'm not.  Most of us want an honest testimony from others and from ourselves. Outsides should match insides; but the Lord is showing me that being cynical, and negative, in essence, complaining about my circumstances, is not a mature way to express disappointment, fears, or frustrations.  

So how does true authenticity in the midst of a desert season look?   Yeshua provides an example. 

In an Olive garden, just before the time He knew He would carry the sins of the world on His perfect sinless shoulders,  Yeshua went before His father in prayer.  With agony so great that His sweat was as blood, He cried out to the Lord:  

“Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.”  (Luke 22:42)

He was authentic and He was real.  He didn't pretend that He wanted to go to the cross.  He didn't pretend that He was happy about atoning for us.  His was totally honest, but His honesty was not in the form of a complaint, rather in a humble expression of pain.   

I don't want to do this, Abba, but I want your will more than anything.  

One key factor that makes Yeshua's dealing with His trial different from that of the Israelis in the Sinai is that He looked beyond His circumstances and He kept His Father central.  His Father met Him in His humility, sending an angel to strengthen him for what was to come next (v. 43).

In the next few weeks I'll be undergoing an Inferior Petrosal Sinus Sampling (IPSS) exam.  This is an invasive procedure that involves running a catheter from my leg into my pituitary gland in order to measure hormone levels.  Nothing about it seems fun.  Although its low risk, I'm a bit freaked out about how they do it, and a little afraid! 

Personally, I'm facing the challenge:  grumble or humble.

We are not promised to have an easy life in this age (John 16:33).  I've certainly been in a desert season for the last few months, wandering around, looking for answers, and the temptation is to complain.  The trap of the enemy is that the sin of complaint will cause separation from God at a time when He is most needed!

Not only that, but the sin of complaint is even damaging to my body!  Every time I complain, I remember my frustrations, relive the stress, and my body responds by releasing more cortisol! Not good for a cushie!*   The destroyer wants to destroy (1 Cor 10:10). 

My tummy is rumbling,  but I can see His heavenly bread manifesting in the morning dew.  I want to fill my hunger with Him.   The manna fast will come to an end, and according to His word, do you know what's next?  A land flowing with milk and honey.   
 

Let's feast together.    
  

Manna?


***

Besides prayer for an uncomplicated procedure, more than anything, I hope that I can walk this out with the same heart as Yeshua, who lives inside of me.  Can you pray for me to have His strength?

I don't want to do this, Abba, but I want your will more than anything.  


 ***
 
*Cushie is the term I'm finding on the blogosphere for people who have been diagnosed with Cushing's Syndrome.   



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Saturday, June 1, 2013

Biblical Eats: The Raven and the Hopeless Widow

I firmly believe the bible has an answer for every problem we could possibly encounter in this present age.  As I've walked through this season of strange health issues, this firm conviction has held true, and proved helpful.  The double edged sword of the Word, has severed a spirit of confusion particularly in the area of food.   This is part one in my journey with the Lord, as I learn more about His heart for my healing and health.   

***

Months have passed now without clear understanding as to what is causing my cortisol and ACTH to be high.  MRIs and CTs have shown normal looking glands, but my labs continue to indicate high hormones.  Without a clear diagnosis, I have been void of a treatment plan from my doctor. 

Feeling trapped by my circumstances and afraid of the possibility of rapid weight gain that is common with Cushing's Syndrome (my tentative diagnosis), hopelessness and fear have tried settle in.  

"Have you considered addressing this with your diet?"  I have heard from many friends, enough that I thought it would be worthwhile to investigate.   The only problem is that I was receiving so much contradictory advice!

The prevailing food concerns of the day are the hormones and anti-biotics found in meats, the gluten in grains, the toxins in pesticides found on fruits and veggies, preservatives in anything pre-packaged.  With all this icky-ness, what on earth do we eat?!? 

Battling with confusion over the issue, I went to the Lord.

Lord, I know confusion is not of You.  Show me what is true. 

And nearly immediately the Lord responded,

You are confused because you are looking to food for your healing, instead of Me. 

Bam.  Idolatry in my heart exposed.

His word came as a bit of a surprise.  In my natural mind, I would have believed the confusion to be more about about the different claims in the articles this research-aholic was reading.  My coping mechanism to stress is to know as much as possible about the issue at hand.  I was steeped in different websites about Cushing's Syndrome, Adrenal Fatigue,  fertility and nutrition, and of course, all the readings about meats and grains.  God sees the heart, though,  and His spirit convicted me that I was searching for a solution outside of Him.   

Repentance, restoring the Lord to His rightful throne,  and then...

Ok, Lord, show me in your word, how I should  be eating and caring for myself.

I petitioned the Lord with this request for several days before He presented me with the first answer, as it pertains to food, but even more than food, He's granting lessons for my heart.

In what I believe to be God's sovereignty, Aviel and I just so happened to be reading the story of the ravens bringing food to Elijah during the drought (see 1 Kings 17).  Several months ago, one of these sneaky Israeli ravens stole Aviel's grilled cheese sandwich in the park. He swooped down, grabbed it and flew off, while we were sitting right there!  With that in recent memory,  it wasn't hard to imagine these birds bringing Elijah breakfast and dinner.  Aviel's little bible did not detail the food that the birds brought, so later that day, I went to my "big bible" (as Aviel calls it) to read the full story.   

Lo and Behold:

The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he would drink from the brook.  1 Kings 17:6  (Italics mine.)

I had to laugh out loud at the Lord's sense of humor.  The two food groups that are are cause for concern in our present culture were provided -- by the Lord -- for Elijah to eat.  

Now, I'm sure Elijah's bread was made with good healthy, maybe even heavenly, grains, and  His meat was likely grass fed goat or sheep.   Farming and processing practices have greatly changed in the thousands of years since this event occurred, and this was also during an extreme food shortage due to a God ordained drought.  With that in mind,  I want to be responsible with how I'm using scripture here as I testify to my personal journey.  This small passage is not something I would build an objective doctrine around as I value rightly dividing the Word of truth (2 Tim 2:15); however, it is something the Lord used to speak to my heart.  
  
As I prayerfully considered this passage, the Lord granted personal revelation.  Where I stand now, I  trust that the Lord was showing me that firstly, I should trust Him to be my provider.  Just as He provided Elijah with the nutrients necessary to survive the famine, He will provide me with the nutrients I need, spiritually and physically, to sustain me through the tribulations of this age.  He is the Bread of Life. 
 
Next, I believe the Lord used this passage to bring awareness of what to eliminate.  Since this passage specifically mentioned the two food groups eliminated in trending diets of our time, I felt He was speaking to me that I should be less concerned about totally eliminating a food group, and more concerned about eliminating a Spirit of Fear.  This is particularly important because cortisol is a stress hormone, and stress is related to anxiety, which is just another way of saying... fear. 

In this same chapter, after the brook dries up, Elijah encounters yet another food dilemma.  The Lord sends him to a widow who is gathering sticks to prepare what she believes to be the last meal she will eat with her son before hopelessly succumbing to starvation.   

“Please bring me a piece of bread in your hand.”  Elijah says to the widow  (v.11).

“As the Lord your God lives, I have no bread, only a handful of flour in the bowl and a little oil in the jar; and behold, I am gathering a few sticks that I may go in and prepare for me and my son, that we may eat it and die.”  She replies (v. 12). 

Then Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go, do as you have said, but make me a little bread cake from it first and bring it out to me, and afterward you may make one for yourself and for your son." (v. 13, bold emphasis mine).  

The rest of the story concludes that the Lord supernaturally sustained her small supply of flour and oil to last for the duration of the drought.  He was her provision, and her solution.  She had nothing to fear. 

Hopelessness is an emotion I have shared with the widow.  In not knowing what is going on with my body, when it will be restored to order, how this will affect our family planning, I have felt real dispair.  This hopelessness is a tool of the enemy to bring death, rather than victory into our lives.   

The word is clear:  
  
Who will separate us from the love of Messiah? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written,

For Your sake we are being put to death all day long;
We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Messiah Yeshua our Lord.  Romans 8:35-39 (Bold emphasis, and Messianic language mine).
   
He is our provision, and He is our solution.   Beloved, whom or what shall we fear?   

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.  1 Cor 10:31

 My First Bible in Pictures by Kenneth N. Taylor pp. 102-103

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Shavuot Party!

Shavuot, or the Feast of Weeks... also known as Pentecost to some, was a joyful event this year! If you are unfamiliar to Shavuot, it is the last of the spring Holy Days on the Hebrew calendar and celebrates the time the Law was given on Mount Sinai. In the Brit Hadasha, it is the time the Holy Spirit was give in Acts 2. For more detailed explainations read this blog post from a few years ago,  and my most article for SAVEDnews, Cheesecake and the Fire of God.

This year I accepted the role of Vod Chagim, which means I am the chair person for our congregation's Holy Day Committee. Not being Jewish,  I'm surprised I was asked to fulfill this role!  Its been a joyful challenge to organize events, since these traditions were not part of my childhood and upbringing.  I've enjoyed learning about the Holy Days, not only from a theological perspective, but also as traditional celebrations. I so greatly see the the Lord's hand in asking me to serve the body this way!

Purim was the first celebration I was responsible for organizing (a giant thanks to Devorah for really heading that one up), and this year's Shavuot feast was the second (thanks to Karen for the help on this one!) So... The three Mitchells celebrated this year's Shavuot feast with our Kehilah (congregation) at the home of some friends! The party focused around an Israeli style BBQ, and a Cheesecake competition!



The Cheesecake competition was one of the highlights of the day. We had two categories: Best Taste and Best Presentation, which were each selected by popular vote.  Like my ballot boxes?  This was great fun because it meant all of us had to *sample* each cheesecake present, and prompting a lot of interaction and conversation between guests.


This year I learned that part of the traditional celebration of Shavuot is for the children to fill baskets with fruit and to wear floral crown - both boys and girls - since this is a harvest celebration. 



Devin spent most of the day outside at the grill with the guys.  Israeli BBQ's consists of tons and tons of meat, of all varieties.


We had wings, kebabs, kevis (lamb), steaks... And inside we had a variety of salads.

 

This is the view of the Israeli landscape that Devin was privileged to view as he worked on the grill.


Stunning.


After lunch, these guys went for a little swim. Pools aren't common in Israel due to our water shortage. The family we visited have this pool for medical purposes, and they blessedly allow us to use it when we visit! It is a special treat!

Thanks for celebrating Shavuot with us!

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Need an Excuse to Eat Cheesecake?
Cheesecake and the Fire of God
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Purim Parties!