STREAMS in the WILDERNESS, (Death, the Defeated Enemy)

This week, my husband Mark has been bedridden with a strange virus, a very rare thing for a workaholic man who has never deemed it necessary to call in sick, not even for bronchitis in all his 40 years or employment. As he struggles to regain his strength, I grapple with a full plate as most wives deal with, so much I can barely think.

Despite the stress of swirling woes & ministry calls. Mark’s best friend, Peter called to tell us his father was in the critical care ward in Philadelphia and could we stop to visit.  His condition was deteriorating and Peter knew me to be a prayer warrior who did hospital visitation.

Saturday came and Mark & I drove to Philadelphia where  Peter greeted us in the lobby of Philadelphia Hospital. I hated hospitals, but God always did miracles when I was called to visit.  As we rode the elevator to the upper floors, Peter shared his fear about losing his father. His mother, on the other hand had such faith the actually believe God would bring him home.

Entering the room, Peter’s mom and sister greeted us with hugs. Peter’s father lay motionless and tethered to an oxygen tank. I asked everyone to join hand for God’s presence . The heaviness of the room lightened as I went about to focus my attention on peter’s dad.

“Papa, I’m here. There is nothing to be afraid of. Angels are surrounding you and everything is alright.” I looked into his eyes and stroked his head gently. His shoulders twitched and his eyes darted upwards. Something caught  his attention. I turned to take my guitar out of its case and position my  lyrics book start playing “In the Garden.” A peace settled over the room as Peter’s mom and sister listened to me with their eyes closed. Peter and Mark left the, but I took advantage of the quiet time to comfort and remind “Poppa” that he was encircled by God’s ministering angels.

About a half an hour later, Peter and Mark reentered the room, Poppa was sleeping peacefully and his mom took my hand to thank me for coming. I felt as if I was already a part of the family.

Fast forward, two days later, Peter left a message on our machine that his dad had passed during the night. His sister raved about my beautiful voice and asked if I would sing for the funeral and wake. Funeral services were always in the morning, the worst time to sing and I was in the midst of bronchitis, making it more difficult to be alert. But I wanted to be obedient to minister to Peter’s family.

I set my alarm, waking up early enough for us to arrive at St Catherine’s church, well before everyone came to pay their last respects. I led Mark in a prayer that the spirit of “religion” (legalism): would not interfere with God’s beautiful impartation to the grieving friends and family.

We told the attending priest we were here at the family’s request to share a song for “Poppa”.and he told us to wait for the cantor to direct us. When the cantor arrived and Mark introduced me as the girl who was to sing an original Psalm, he balked.

“Under any other circumstances I would say no, but I guess today, it’s okay.”

I was to sing my song after the Our Father:

Peter’s mother and sister led the procession. Momma sobbed loudly and I could only imagine what she had thought about Jesus not restoring her beloved husband as he did Lazarus. I felt sad, thinking about her staunch words of confession for her husband’s healing when we talked in the hospital. No words are ever adequate to console one grieving a loved one.
I know deep in my heart, Poppa was in the place where I wanted to be!

Stepping onto the stage after father gave communion, I blessed my Heavenly Father for the privilege and opportunity to share Christ with this large group. I had very little amplification and my lungs were still congested, but surprisingly , my voice rang out onto the cavernous church sanctuary, flanked by stained glass windows. I envisioned the inspiration God gave me to compose Psalm 91 immediately after weeping in agony from my daily jaw pain. The message was a balm and appropriate for the group I was no signing to.

Confident words of comfort and hope flowed from me as I reminded them about Jesus calling Himself the resurrection and the life and if they call upon the name of the LORD, they would be saved in time of trouble. Every eye caught mine as my gaze swept the sanctuary. I reminded them that we need not fear in the face of chaos and troubles.

We followed the funeral processing down the road to the mausoleum where Father would give the last prayer and Poppa would be buried. Mama, sobbed uncontrollably. I walked up and stood behind her, kissing her on her check, then gently stroking her neck to calm her. Immediately she stopped and became quiet as I spoke peace and The priest spoke his last respects.
Afterwards, family and friends were invited to join Peter and his family at Branches banquet hall for brunch. A woman rushed up to me.

“My friend sees into the spiritual realm and she said that as you were singing, many cherubim gathered around you as you sang your beautiful song. She said they were chattering gleefully and laughing!”

“Wow!” I  answered. “They were celebrating Papa’s homecoming:” By now, I was drained to say the least, but thankful for a beautiful meal and making a new friendship with one of Peter’s closest lady friends. Once again, My Abba father brought beauty out of ashes and especially peter who was one more step closer to realizing God’s love for him.

Finally at home, resting in bed, I recounted the emotions, conversations and images of the days events, praising God for His exquisite handiwork. Peter’s mom would mourn many weeks for her beloved husband and companion of 50 years. I was humbled to give an invitation to all to accept Christ as the Lord and Savior of their lives!

“I am the resurrection and the life, he who believes in ME will live, even though he dies,” John 11:25. Jesus reminded Mary and Martha who He was. And those who feared and were troubled, “if you make the MOST HIGH your dwelling, even the Lord your refuge, then NO harm shall befall you, ( Psalm 91 9-19) We rest  in the shelter of his wings…in the shadow of the Almighty.

Nowhere is there more the promise of healing than in the midst of emotional sorrow, death or disease.  In the midst of my own physical fragility and helplessness, my Abba Father continually brings streams into the parched wildernesses of. In almost all cases of my hospice ministry, the patient died. With carnal eyes we see the physical effects of disease or disability and we shirk back in horror and or fear of the unknown. With secular human logic and wisdom we deduce who death is…the enemy.  But is death the final and ugly enemy?

I open my mind, eyes and spirit to His grace and wisdom. God has truly imparted to me through all these hospice and funeral experiences that death is the exquisite journey to the glorious next chapter of our lives! Our barren wilderness can be anything from a long, distressing illness, (like my battle with Dystonia)  to struggling with poverty to enduring a disaster like victims of Katrina hurricane or the earthquake in Haiti. Everyone has or will endure some sort of wilderness, but it is merely a test for us to endure and thrive to help others successfully transition to their next level or chapter!
We enter the depths of the supernatural realm, (the Holy of Holies) …only by Faith. Only through faith can we ever ascend that supernatural peace that Paul said passes all understanding!

OUR BROTHER’S KEEPER, (An Argument for Peace)

The first recorded incidence of violence in the Bible was Cain murdering his brother Abel.  When God confronted Cain about his evil deed, “Where is your brother?”

Cain replied, “I don’t know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Since that first crime exploded into jealousy  and unbridled wrath, every conceivable act of violence has erupted, escalating into a spiritual virus threatening the very fiber of marriage, culture  and family life. The coveting of the neighbor’s wife, goods and property has always been the excuse to murder. But what about other reasons for killing, like directing hatred towards a gender, race or religion?

Premeditated murder and/or genocide has always troubled me since a young girl. Though today, I’m a mature woman of faith, having experienced many personal instances of violence towards me, I ponder deeply the seed of hatred bringing forth violence, torture and death. Everyday, the headlines blare of rapes, assassination and genocides worldwide

I set out to sleuth a mysterious deep, unrest in my soul that cannot be quenched.  I was hungry for understanding premeditated killing as a college student studying courses in the humanities.

Mother Teresa’s advocacy of the barbaric murdering of unborn babies was my first focus, then Mahatma Ghandi’s  impassioned advocacy for humane treatment of all people, regardless of their caste. They proved that peaceful protest about human rights was possible. They loved humanity and cared about justice, compassion and protection for the unprotected. As a naive, young believer and college student studying their amazing callings, I knew it was possible to address inhuman injustices with wisdom, grace, and non violent strategies.

More and more atrocities rage everywhere in the world and I wonder how will leaders address the increasing chaos. I needed to make  sense of all the evil and violence, but there were few leaders who followed the ways of Christ, Mahatma or Mother Teresa. The world is a threatening and dangerous place where  violence and murder loom like a black, venomous fog, enveloping civilization. There seems few ways to stop this swirling, seething mass of rage, barbaric murder and uncontrolled greed from destroying us.  Unless a pure and powerful people stand up to the plate, remembering lessons of great leaders and and their mandates, we will destroy ourselves.

Presently, powerful demonic strongholds have overtaken most nations and we stand at the cusp of a planet-wide revolution. How did this happen and how did the minds of the intellectual elite and terroristic leaders become so calloused?

Only through communion and relationship with my Savior and gentle Shepherd, Jesus Christ has my deeply unsettled soul been calmed. Christ is the greatest Prince of Peace, conquering, violence, barbaric torture and the grave. This divine, yet human, Son of God, supernaturally connected to us through His sacrificial passion.  This glorious glimpse gave me a new  perspective and understanding about what His calling entailed, being our brother’s keeper.

He connected with all the broken, fragile people he met, touching them with His presence, His love and His healing. He was all about non violence for the sake of being an example. Surrounded by an angry throng coming to arrest him in the garden of Gethsemane, Peter sought to defend Christ by angrily waving his sword towards Malchus, the high priest’s servant. As Malchus clutched his open, bleeding wound, Jesus, rebuked Peter.

“All who draw the sword shall die by the sword.”

He knew that fighting fire only ignited a roaring pyre ready to devour all.

Jesus compassionately put the severed ear back into place, instantly healing him! What a lesson of mercy and grace in the face of attack and violence.

Mahatma was on to something as he modeled non-violence regarding the peaceful protesting of injustice. There is something supernatural to be said about enduring violence or abuse without striking back.  This meekness; controlled strength, speaks louder than vicious retaliatory actions

I have seen and experienced  many heart-breaking injustices during my own journey.  God has invited me to live under His grace into places of trust, truth and dependence. I’ve rested in comfort and peace even  in the most daunting of circumstances. I remember the many times facing death during serious health trials and seeing others face their own mortality and fragility in critical care units in hospitals.

Since my college graduation, Christ has revealed glimpses of His deity and purpose for His creation, sometimes to endure great suffering, attack and violence. In faithfully chronicling my spiritual growth and addressing my yearnings to understand violence, murders and genocide perpetuate. I hope to model Christ’s meekness and love in the face of attack from my deceived enemy who thinks that brutality is power and control. “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

As I watch God’s beautiful creation fall into the vacuum of deception, lust and unbridled thirst for murder, I see a desperate need for Christ-like wisdom and self control with the intangible weapons of prayer, wisdom and spiritual strategy.

Nehemiah, another great Biblical, spiritual leader had a great love and compassion for his own people, the Jews, who were in great poverty and despair. He was also a humble man  and totally dependent upon God for provision and protection. He was a man of prayer and prostrated Himself before The Lord, asking for mercy and repenting of his own personal sins and the sins of the nation. He had great favor as the King’s cup bearer and was granted permission to start the rebuilding of the walls and temple.

Nehemiah’s two greatest enemies, Tobiah and Sanballat were determined to frustrate and  intimidate the Jews, as well as to kill Nehemiah. But Nehemiah said, “Don’t be afraid of them Remember the Lord who is great and awesome and fight for your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.”
He had wisdom and a strategy to finish the work of God in spite of the threats of evil men who hated the Jews.  Through wise strategy and trust in God’s guidance, Nehemiah commanded half of his troop to work and the other half to defend with their shields, spears, bows and armor.

As the story ends with the successful completion of the rebuilding of the temple and the walls, Nehemiah’s people enjoyed prosperous times under his spiritual guidance. We too will live under the protection of our God and King when we place our trust in Him!

All over the world, God has called his people to prepare for battle with spiritual armament. Today awaits sons and daughters to step out in their callings, clinging to Him in trust and faith and imparting wisdom and guidance. Soon  civil unrest, violence, cataclysm and economic despair. will be worldwide. God’s faithful are already being sought out and opposed, but now is not the time to be fearful and slack.

Supernatural deception in high places shall delude the nations, bringing about the end of the world as we know it today.

We have nothing to fear for Biblical history reminds us that  God’s people have survived and thrived through tribulation and upheaval. Not only must we care for our own, but also the lost and wounded.  The great holocausts prove that there is always a remnant who survived tsunamis.

Let great, divinely instructed leaders rise up and lead against the violent and evil clamor of society.

Will I take up my sword for battle? My  calling is urgent , but my spiritual ammunition is powerful, authoritative prayer and faith in Him who is greater than me. I must find the one lost sheep and bring them back to safe pasture.

What will I do if threatened with death? Like Mother Teresa, I will protect and comfort, the broken, the widows, the little children, the sick. I will command Holy Angels to surround and protect us, just as Jesus had the power to call down legions of angels to lift Him out.

I pray I will not have to be a  part of barbaric bloodshed. I pray that by the touch of my loving hand the wounded and injured will find their way to His bosom. These are fearful times, but we must be sure of our  standing, in our High Tower and Refuge,  Our Mighty God.

We are our brother’s keeper.