Scarred no more

Like many people my age, I have several scars on my body. One large one across my chest is from breast cancer surgery a few years ago. There’s a small one on my upper arm and another small one on my face, both from skin cancer surgery some years before that.

One scar is a faded half-circle from an accident with a kitchen knife as a child – I was trying to slice myself a hunk of cheese and sliced my finger in the process. Another almost forgotten scar is a tiny circular hole on my neck from a BB gun shot as an even younger child, when a childhood pal’s carefully aimed shot bounced off something and hit me instead.

It missed anything vital, thankfully, but it bled like crazy. My playmate ran one way and I ran the other, and we both tried to keep my grandmother and his mom from finding out about it.

This post is about scars, a dream, and a loving God.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Last night I had an interesting dream. In a room somewhere I was standing talking to two men. I had just prayed for both of them to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which they did. Then I heard a voice say, “Now you pray in tongues,” and so I began to do just that. The prayer was directed at just one of those two men.

As I prayed, words began to flow that I knew weren’t my usual prayer language. There was an authority, a sense of commanding something, not just asking for something.

I saw a v-shaped area of the man’s neck and upper chest, scarred from multiple small slashes. My words changed to English as the Lord began to speak to him.

“You have been cut over, and over, and over. You have been attacked and hurt, injured and damaged again and again with small slices and slashes. Now a thick scar has grown over that area, not hiding the injuries, just covering them. The scar doesn’t prevent more attacks, they still come and the scar grows heavier,” he said.

“Today the scar is being healed, soothed, erased and removed. The damage is being reversed.”

I watched in the spirit as the Lord’s hand gently moved over the area, and with each pass of the hand another layer of the scar disappeared. In a few moments the skin was clear, clean, blemish-free and healthy. And supernatural strength was replacing weakness in him, not just on the surface of his body, but deep in his soul and spirit.

At that point I woke up and knew the dream wasn’t just a dream. It was prophetic. I began to intercede and ask the Lord to perform that word.

Somewhere there is someone who is scarred from multiple attacks of the enemy. His (or her) mind, heart, and body have been injured. A protective scar has developed to hide the damage, but the Lord sees it.

And the Lord wants to fill that person with the Holy Spirit and with God’s own creative power, to make them completely whole, healthy and strong in spirit, soul and body.

Amen.

Comfort / Comforter

Comforter ComforterRescuer

What kind of comfort do you need?

The origin of the English word comfort from the Oxford online dictionary: “Middle English (as a noun, in the senses of strengthening, support, consolation; as a verb, in the senses of strengthen, give support, console): from Old French confort (noun) or conforter (verb), from late Latin confortare, strengthen, from com- (expressing intensive force) + Latin fortis, strong. The sense of something producing physical ease arose in the mid 17th century.”

Thus scriptural comfort is a reinforcement of strength – mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical.

In 2 Corinthians 1:4 the Apostle Paul said this about comfort:

  • “who (i.e. the God of all comfort, v. 3) comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” (KJV)
  • “who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (NIV)
  • “who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (NASB)
  • “who comforts and encourages…” (AMP)

Note: The KJV word tribulation in this verse is from the Greek word thlipsis, meaning pressure, oppression, affliction, distress, straits; it’s translated trouble or affliction in other versions.

Comfort here is from the Greek word paraklesis (G3874, noun), defined in Strong’s as meaning:

– a calling near, summons, (esp. for help); importation, supplication, entreaty; exhortation, admonition, encouragement
– consolation, comfort, solace; that which affords comfort or refreshment
– thus of the Messianic salvation (so the Rabbis call the Messiah the consoler, the comforter)
– persuasive discourse, stirring address
– instructive, admonitory, conciliatory, powerful hortatory discourse

John 14:16-17 (NIV) says, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever — the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.”

Advocate here in the NIV is translated Comforter in the King James Version. It is from the Greek word paraklatos (G3875, noun), defined in Strong’s as:

– one who is summoned, called to one’s side, esp. called to one’s aid
– one who pleads another’s cause before a judge, a pleader, counsel for defense, legal assistant, an advocate
– one who pleads another’s cause with one, an intercessor
– of Christ in his exaltation at God’s right hand, pleading with God the Father for the pardon of our sins
– in the widest sense, a helper, succourer, aider, assistant
– of the Holy Spirit destined to take the place of Christ with the apostles (after his ascension to the Father), to lead them to a deeper knowledge of the gospel truth, and give them divine strength needed to enable them to undergo trials and persecutions on behalf of the divine kingdom

John used this word to describe the Holy Spirit. It is translated Comforter in KJV, Advocate in NIV, Helper in NASB, and Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby) in the Amplified Version. He is all that, in every imaginable variation and circumstance.

What kind of comfort did Peter need?

  • Understanding, wisdom, speaking ability, revelation knowledge
  • Angel for a jailbreak…

5 So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him. 6 The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. 7 Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists. 8 Then the angel said to him, “Put on your clothes and sandals.” And Peter did so. “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,” the angel told him. 9 Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision. 10 They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him. (Acts 12:5-8 NIV)

What kind of comfort did Paul need?

  • Understanding, supernatural information, healing from beatings, resurrection from stoning, deliverance from mobs
  • Earthquake for a jailbreak…

25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. 27 The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!” 29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:25-30 NIV)

See the Book of Acts for these and many other examples. Also see I Corinthians 12 for Gifts of the Holy Spirit, i.e. God’s power tools, equipment, supplies, inside information, wisdom and weaponry.

God the Holy Spirit, the believer’s indwelling Comforter / Helper / Assistant / Intercessor / Strengthener does more than just bring emotional calmness and peace of mind which is what most people today tend to think of as comfort, although he certainly does that.

And he isn’t just called alongside to help, he’s INSIDE to help.

So – what kind of comfort do you need?

Holy Spirit, Trail Guide

TrailGuideWho are you, Lord? I asked again recently, recalling other times I’d asked him that.

Trail guide, he answered. The Holy Spirit is your trail guide for the journey you’re taking.

Over the next few days, I thought about that. Now and then I asked him why he used that particular title – I don’t find it in the Bible anywhere, I said. At least, not in those words.

Here’s how our back-and-forth conversation and my meditations went, more or less.

About the trail…

A trail is not a paved road. It doesn’t lead through cities or towns. If you’re taking a trail, it’s because you’re not going through civilized country. It may meander, lead uphill sometimes and downhill sometimes.

A trail is for travel. It makes traveling easier through woods or wilderness. It doesn’t destroy the woods or wilderness, only disturbing them a little. More than a rough path and less than a dirt road, a trail is created by the movement of shod feet, assisted by pulling or cutting away brush that may hinder the going.

A trail is to get somewhere, from point A to point B. It has a purpose. It leads to a definite destination. It may not be the shortest way, but with the trail guide it is the surest way.

About the guide…

He has much experience. He is not an amateur. This work is his lifelong employment. He is well able to teach and train believers to prepare, to travel, and to help others along the way.

The trail guide knows the terrain. He knows the starting and ending points, the length of the trail and the time the journey will take. He is knowledgeable of the seasons, the surroundings, the flora and fauna, and what other travelers you may encounter.

The trail guide applies both facts and wisdom. He plans and prepares ahead of time, gathering appropriate clothing, weapons, tools and supplies. He doesn’t take unnecessary gear. He takes the essentials and knows how to make use of them.

He prepares for unforeseen circumstances with well-designed contingency plans. He is able to protect travelers from sickness or injury, warn against danger, fight off predators, and call for reinforcements if needed. He knows when and where to break the journey with times of rest and replenishment for body, soul and spirit.

After considering all that for a while, I asked another question.

How is the Holy Spirit a trail guide? Normal life is not lived in the wild. Normal people have jobs, routines, families, interests and habit patterns. They live in buildings, drive on paved streets and highways – at least here in America.

You’re only looking at the natural world, the Lord said. Your spirit lives in the supernatural. If you could see with your physical eyes what happens in the spiritual realm, it would make more sense to you. Try looking at the world from my vantage point.

Okay, I will try to do that, I answered. And I have been.

Of course the Holy Spirit is much more than the trail guide, I added to myself. I was thinking of Comforter, teacher, empowerer, the one who reminds us of what Jesus said, and who tells us of things to come. I recalled the scriptures in Genesis where the Holy Spirit was involved in creation of the world.

Yes, the Lord answered my unasked question, but everything he is to you can be wrapped up in this descriptive title – Trail Guide. Think some more about that.

And so I am thinking about it. And about just what sort of trail we’re traveling on these days.

As I meditated on all he described, I recalled how the Holy Spirit guided the apostle Paul in his life. Not just in his missionary work, but in every aspect of his life… the where and when of his birth, his family, Jewish and Roman culture, education as a Pharisee of the Pharisees. His zeal as a persecutor of the church.

The where and when of his encounter with Jesus.

His years of seeming inactivity where zeal had to be refocused, patience instilled and polished. Then his assignment as a church member, evangelist, missionary, pastor. Prisoner.

Not to mention his many travels.

Paul wanted to go places, see people, do things for Jesus. He planned out his own reasonable, logical itinerary. Sometimes his plans weren’t quite right – the Holy Spirit had his own itinerary, his own agenda. He led him to other places, other people, other things to do.

Thinking of all that these last few days, trail guide does seem an appropriate title.

See John 14:26, 16:13; Acts 16:6-10.

Antioch Christians

AntiochAncientCityThe disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.

“Meanwhile, the believers who had been scattered during the persecution after Stephen’s death traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch of Syria. They preached the word of God, but only to Jews.

20 However, some of the believers who went to Antioch from Cyprus and Cyrene began preaching to the Gentiles[f] about the Lord Jesus. 21 The power of the Lord was with them, and a large number of these Gentiles believed and turned to the Lord.

“22 When the church at Jerusalem heard what had happened, they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw this evidence of God’s blessing, he was filled with joy, and he encouraged the believers to stay true to the Lord. 24 Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and strong in faith. And many people were brought to the Lord.

“25 Then Barnabas went on to Tarsus to look for Saul. 26 When he found him, he brought him back to Antioch. Both of them stayed there with the church for a full year, teaching large crowds of people. (It was at Antioch that the believers were first called Christians.)” (Acts 11:19-26, NLT)

Antioch was the Roman capital of Syria and the third greatest city in the Roman Empire after Rome and Alexandria, at the time of Paul and Barnabas. It was located on the banks of the Orontes River and at the junction of two mountain ranges. Antioch had grown to be a major Roman crossroads of civilization and power.

AncientAntiochA metropolis of between 200,000 and 400,000 people at the time of Christ, Antioch was called the Queen of the East, a sophisticated political, commercial, cultural – and religious center. “About five miles distant from the city was the suburb of Daphne, a spot sacred to Apollo and Artemis. This suburb, beautified by groves and fountains, and embellished by the Seleucids and the Romans with temples and baths, was the pleasure resort of the city, and ‘Daphnic morals’ became a by-word.” (BibleHub.com)

This great city was home to many pagan religions and housed many pagan temples. A great deal of money was to be had catering to the frequent traveling worshipers through the area.

At the time of Paul and Barnabas, those religions included Judaism and a new religion initially thought of as an offshoot of Judaism, followers of Jesus Christ – their worshipers enjoying relative peace, being tolerated by the multi-cultural Roman Empire of the day.

The word Christian means “Christ follower, of the household of Christ, or a partisan of Christ.”

But those who called them that didn’t mean it as a compliment, but as an insult. People using that term may never have seen Jesus themselves. They didn’t know him, but obviously they had heard something about him. Things like:

“How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.” (Acts 10:38 NIV)

“And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them.” (Matthew 4:24 KJV)

So, what did the people of Antioch see? They saw the acts of people who did know Jesus, people like Paul and Barnabas.

  • The blind could now see.
  • The deaf could now hear.
  • The dumb could now speak.
  • The crippled were now strong and healthy.
  • Liars no longer lied.
  • Robbers no longer robbed.
  • Cheaters no longer cheated.
  • Idol worshipers no longer worshiped idols.

The people of Antioch no doubt asked, “What happened?” The people who had been changed could answer that question. Jesus happened!

When Jesus saves a person, he inhabits them by way of the Holy Spirit, and he changes their behavior and character from the inside out.  (John 14:23, II Corinthians 5:17)

Now the disciples in Antioch were doing the same things that Jesus had done – healing the sick, casting out demons, cleansing the lepers and raising the dead. Jesus had taught the disciples how to do those things themselves, empowered them and sent them out to do them.

And so they did, in Antioch and elsewhere. Paul’s own testimony includes, “… by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of His Spirit. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ.” (Romans 15:19 NIV)

When the people of Antioch saw believers doing the same things that Jesus the Christ had done, they mockingly called them Christians. Soon enough that insult became a badge of courage.

Because it became obvious that the lives of these new believers were very different from everyone else’s in Antioch. Wouldn’t you think that was wonderful? Well, not if you made your living off of sin… the worship of idols, for example. And so persecution soon followed.

People today may not recognize a Christian the same way Antioch did. While they may see changed habit patterns and changed character, they may not really expect to see today’s believers doing supernatural things.

But Jesus is the same now as he ever was. (Hebrews 13:8) When he is allowed to, he does the same things through his disciples today that he did then. (Matthew 10:7-8, 28:18-20) And more and more around the world, people are seeing those things.

I truly want to be an “Antioch” Christian.

To read more about this key city of the early Christian faith, click on these links:
http://www.pbs.org/empires/peterandpaul/footsteps/footsteps_3_1.html
http://biblehub.com/topical/a/antioch.htm
http://libaniusredux.blogspot.com/2010_05_01_archive.html

Talk With Bette – Radio and Blog

This isn’t my usual type of post in Esther’s Petition. Humor me.

Thinking backwards today, “What’s past is prologue” strikes me as true in many ways. Imagination has been a lifelong friend to me. Walking along hot sandy ditch banks on my grandparents’ farm, passing masses of blackberry briars and kicking up the occasional arrowhead, I imagined cowboy and Indian adventures, or town marshals and cattle rustlers.

Back at home in town, I wandered through the paths at Timrod Park, down one side and up the other of the little stream, all the while imagining cops chasing robbers through the bushes and up the hillside.

Of course there was always a pretty girl somewhere in the story, not always a damsel in distress, though. Often she was the heroine of the drama. She came to the rescue of the injured cowboy, helped out the puzzled policeman, somehow saved the day.

Writing down the stories for myself (and occasionally for the English teacher at school) came natural on those summer days when it was too hot or too rainy to wander around outdoors. I never once imagined writing something that my peers would care to read, however. Not back then.

After school chores in junior high and high school — helping my mother in her executive secretarial work — became an actual job as her paid assistant later on. I learned how to operate office machinery of many kinds, from transcribers to offset press. Turning machine dictation into professional letters and reports was amazingly easy for me. Every secretarial job I had after that made good use of prior office experience.

And writing eventually became part of my business, often composing things for others to sign, others to take credit for. Editing and re-writing polished material for grateful clients, business and political.

After finishing an online college course from UC-Davis, I added a division called Family Memories to my company. Designing and creating personal histories and biographies, I traveled here and there to conduct interviews, take photographs and dig up family trees.

Every bit of that experience became useful in the years I worked as a volunteer interviewing and photographing missionaries, then writing up their stories for international online and print publication.

Nowadays I see the hand of the Lord in all that. Sometimes frustrated, sometimes depressed, sometimes angry at how things weren’t working out the way I had planned for my life, I didn’t always acknowledge that perhaps He had a plan for my life himself.

http://talkwithbette.wordpress.com/2014/06/09/talk-with-bette-radio/

The train of his robe

TrainOfHisRobeIsPeopleJesus-teachingIf you’re a regular reader, you probably wonder if I’ve given up writing posts. No, but in recent weeks I’ve found myself spending more and more time interceding for people, reading and studying about prayer and intercession, as well as keeping in touch with folks here at home and around the world.

Here’s a new post about something that happened the other night…

As I was praying and thinking about various things last night (June 7, 2016), the scripture song “I saw the Lord, he was high and lifted up and his train filled the temple” kept running around in my mind. (Isaiah 6:1)

I thought about articles that I’d read (or written) about his train, i.e. the long trailing hem of his kingly robes, and the idea that it completely filled up the temple. Then the Lord quietly interrupted my thoughts as he is apt to do and said…

“Do you know what I consider my train?”

“What, I asked? Something other than your robe?” So he showed me.

I saw him dressed in ordinary clothes such as Jesus wore on the earth. He just looked sort of like a grandfather surrounded by happy, laughing grandchildren. Small kids were playing around his legs, running around him in circles and tugging on his clothes as he walked, taking careful steps. They were obviously headed somewhere. Outside to a garden, maybe?

Spread out on either side and behind him as far as the eye could see were people of all ages, all races. Young children were the nearest ones to him, but just outside their ranks were teens and pre-teens, young adults and mature adults, smiling, gesturing and chatting with each other as they all kept pace with him.

Strolling along he would reach out and touch first one and then another, pat someone’s head, hug a child close for a moment, shake a hand, always smiling, walking along in a casual but steady gait. Where were they all going? I couldn’t tell and he didn’t say. What he did say was,

“This is my train, really – my children.”

And I realized as I looked closer, there were generations going all the way back to Adam and Eve! While all were his spiritual children, many were the children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren – descendants of others in this tremendous throng.

It was amazing.

After a few moments I asked, “So you don’t actually wear robes with a long train, like a king on earth wears for ceremonial events? Like what Isaiah saw?”

“For formal occasions,” he answered with a chuckle, “but not for every day – it’s hard to get down on the ground to play with the kids, wearing all that…”

And with a wave as if saying “Later,” they continued on their stroll, the happy crowd keeping up with his steps.

As I drifted off to sleep, my mind drifted back many years. I recalled summer days playing outdoors with my own father, grandfather or uncles, several of us cousins laughing and grabbing them around the ankles by their pants legs, trying to pull them down to our level. And they always let us. They always let us.

See something, say something

Opinionated? Pushy? Self-righteous? Nit-picking? Critical? People have described me in these ways, and other ways that aren’t quite so polite. My specific spiritual gifts are teaching, prophecy, and discerning of spirits (as delineated by multiple Gifts surveys over the years). I have a very hard time keeping silent when I see people the Lord cares about going the wrong way because of wrong beliefs or ignorance. So if I rub people the “wrong way,” it’s because the Lord cares and I care, and we want the very best for them that our loving Father has for them. Here’s a post from one of my other blogs that speaks to this situation.

Talk With Bette

How can I demonstrate God’s love? See something, say something, maybe.

SkateboardBoyHe looked to be about 8 years old, the kid focused on the front edge of his skate board as he determinedly rode up and down my street. His track was the pavement in front of several houses on my block.

I stood at the window sipping a cup of coffee, watching his progress as he got the hang of his new gadget.

Back and forth, back and forth he went, the clattering sound of skateboard wheels on the rough pavement reaching into my living room. The expression on his face showed how much he was concentrating – how fast can I go, how fast can I turn, can I do a flip – normal stuff for a kid when there’s no skateboard ramp nearby.

He was still focused down at his feet when the car came up behind…

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