Childhood Melodies

“Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to him belong, they are weak but He is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me, Yes, Jesus loves me, Yes, Jesus loves me, for the Bible tells me so.”

Patty cake. Three blind mice. Row, row, row your boat. Twinkle, twinkle, little star!

Daddy sang bass, Mama sang tenor — no, actually they didn’t, Daddy sang something in a barbershop quartet but I have no idea what range voice he had.

Mama didn’t sing much. She loved to hear him sing, though, and when I was little and taking piano lessons, Mama taught herself the basics of playing the piano.

Music was always playing in our house, whether on radio or hi-fi (record player with fancy turntable, loadable with multiple vinyl records). Folk music, classics by symphony orchestras, musical movie soundtracks, blues and jazz from New Orleans, boogie woogie, Hits of the 50’s and 60’s, Big Band love songs and war songs — Mama and Daddy had a huge collection of long-play 33’s to choose from.

Or somebody in the house might be singing (who knows who), or playing banjo (daddy), or playing piano (me), or playing violin (brother Bud, aka Harold).

During the summer months when Bud and I spent a lot of time at our grandparents’ farm, Mimi usually had a radio on in the house tuned to a country music station somewhere.

Grand Ole Opry on WSM radio, direct from Nashville! I learned to love the sound of fiddle music, acoustic and slide steel guitar, the thump, thump of a big old bass guitar, the twang twang of ukuleles and mandolins, and lots of hillbilly tunes. Bluegrass. Mountain music. Honky-tonk!

When Mimi and Da bought a black and white television set, they discovered the Louisiana Hayride and Grand Ole Opry were broadcast there, too! Now I could see what my favorite country western music-makers looked like!

Saturday nights brought the memorable Kitty Wells’ “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” or Patsy Cline’s “Walking After Midnight” right into our living room.

I still can’t hear the name Hank Williams without hearing him singing “I Saw the Light.”

In between the vocalists might be the comedy skits of Minnie Pearl, or the amazing strings and pickin’ music of Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys.

Here’s a clip titled Earl’s Breakdown — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FtMdqh3HFBo. It was wonderful then, still wonderful now!

Why did we love music so much?

One practical, earthly reason may have been Daddy’s oldest sister, Aunt Myrtle. She played piano for silent movies! And she sponsored my piano lessons. Myrtle could play like Liberace and she loved for all of us to listen.

There’s another, more spiritual reason, though. Music was Father God’s invention. The Lord sings! The sons of God (angels) sing! Heavens, earth, trees and mountains, even the stars sing!

So when it came to creating human beings, it’s only logical that He’d include a music gene in there somewhere. At least in my own family, I’m sure he did!

“The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.” (Zeph. 3:17)

“When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (Job 38:7)

“Then shall the trees of the wood sing out at the presence of the LORD, because he cometh to judge the earth.” (I Chron. 16:33)

“Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the LORD hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted.” (Isaiah 49:13)

Lies coming down

I shared this word with only a few fellow intercessors back in February, but this week I’ve seen more and more of it coming to pass.

On Monday night February 14, 2022, as I was praying before sleep the Lord showed me ranks of angel warriors with swords drawn and pointed outwards, preparing to attack.

Father God showed me that he has called Time and the warriors are deploying. He is calling an end to the lies and deception that the enemy has been using across America (and the whole world, for that matter).

The spirit behind all the lies and deception is actually the spirit of fear, He said. Fear of being found out, truth revealed, deceptions uncovered, lies that had brought much influence, power and wealth, while hidden.

Over the coming days / weeks / months there will be a battle of God’s warriors against the spirit of fear behind the lies, deception, all the deliberate falsehoods afflicting God’s people — indeed all people.

You won’t actually perceive this battle very well on the earth for a little while, He said, because it is a purely spiritual battle. But you will perceive the results soon as the lies are made obvious. The lies and deception will come down, will end, and the truth will become obvious.

Soon the spiritual battle will descend onto the earth and the natural world will also engage in this battle. Spiritual warriors and prayer warriors will be put to work more fiercely than ever.

So be alert, be aware, watch and keep watching, listen and keep listening. More importantly, pray and keep praying.

Posted 1 April 2022

 

Warrior in Chief

This is going to be long. Hope you will be patient as you read, and also pray as you read.

The other night as I prayed, I asked again, “Who are you, Lord?” He replied, “Chief Warrior. Lead Warrior.” Oh my.

A lengthy conversation ensued with images and descriptions of what those two terms mean. The next morning I did some online study on what those functions look like in the natural world. All of that brought on a great deal more prayer about these functions in the spiritual world, and the conflict going on in the heavenlies today. I began to realize that God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are involved in spiritual warfare a great deal, more than I usually considered.

Leading the army of Israel, Joshua met a man one day who described himself as captain of Jehovah’s army. Joshua asked him, Whose side are you on, ours or theirs? It soon became obvious that this was no ordinary meeting, not an ordinary man or even an ordinary angel – if there is such a thing. It was Jehovah God himself.

“And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant? And the captain of the LORD’S host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest [is] holy. And Joshua did so.” (Joshua 5:14-15 KJV)

Thinking about these things, I asked myself (and the Lord) another question. Is there a difference between Chief Warrior and Lead Warrior? Yes, there is, and God is both.

The Chief Warrior is in overall control of all military branches. This work includes:

— Supporting the overall mission of national security and defense
— Information gathering
— Intelligence receiving
— Decision making
— Strategic planning
— Appointing and delegating authority
— Providing funding, people and materiel to carry out plans
— Giving orders

The Lead Warrior carries out those orders, leading and fighting alongside other warriors.

In America, “The president of the United States is the commander-in-chief of all United States Armed Forces as well as all federalized United States Militia. In this capacity, the president exercises supreme operational command and control over all military personnel and militia members, and has plenary power to launch, direct and supervise military operations, order or authorize the deployment of troops, unilaterally launch nuclear weapons, and form military policy with the Department of Defense and Homeland Security. However, the constitutional ability to declare war is vested only in Congress.” (From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Powers_of_the_president_of_the_United_States)

One notable American Chief Warrior was President Dwight D. Eisenhower. While he had extensive military experience, he never fought in combat. A notable American Lead Warrior was Douglas MacArthur, who fought in combat but was never President.

Several American Presidents did serve in both functions but not simultaneously, including George Washington and Theodore Roosevelt. None served in both capacities at the same time.

However, King Albert I of Belgium did. “King Albert I of Belgium (during WWI) was one of the last Kings to take the risk of joining his men in battle. When Belgium entered the war, King Albert I took personal command of the Belgian army… With him in command the Belgian troops were able to hold off Germany long enough for Britain and France to prepare for their own clash with the Germans. He never stopped fighting with his men… It was said that whenever he was on the front lines the Germans refused to fire on him out of respect for him being the highest ranked commander in harm’s way… At the end of the war, King Albert I led the Army Group Flanders and liberated Belgium. Once Belgium was free King Albert and his family returned to Brussels to a hero’s welcome.” (From https://historycollection.com/7-royal-escort-kings-led-armies-battle/)

I firmly believe that God himself is involved in spiritual warfare a great deal these days, as Chief Warrior AND Lead Warrior. Who do you suppose is winning this global battle?

Battle Array

“SHOCK”. That’s the subtitle of the post I wrote on January 1, 2021. https://estherspetition.wordpress.com/2021/01/01/2021/

“Wait and see. Keep praying,” the Lord told me, and so I have been. Since then:

  1. On the evening of January 1 as I was praying before going to sleep, the Lord gave me a mini-vision of an array of angels dressed in battle armor, thousands upon thousands of them in the heavens. Silent and still they stood arm to arm, facing the earth. Above and behind them a fierce spiritual battle was going on, but these warrior angels weren’t taking part in that battle; they were protecting the earth.
  2. On January 2, the Holy Spirit told me, “It’s coming down.” He showed me the warriors descending from the heavens onto the earth. My prayers became even more intense.
  3. On January 3, he said, “The battle is joined.”
  4. On January 4, he added, “We are now on a war footing.”

After that evening I haven’t heard anything specific from him during my night-time prayers. There’s just a deep sense of continued watchfulness.

Despite having received those words, like so many others I was terribly shocked at what happened at the U.S. Capitol on January 6. I realized that the Lord’s word to me about 2021 was coming to pass.

What will happen next? The Lord hasn’t told me. He may or may not. He just keeps saying, “Wait and see. Keep praying.” This is a spiritual battle and it’s not over.

Jesus wears street clothes

God showed up in street clothes when he came to visit Abraham and Sarah.

Three travelers in the plains of Mamre approached a tent in the heat of the day, the time when people rested from their usual work.

Abraham was sitting in the tent door and when he looked up, there they were — three men, travelers. Tourists? Tradesmen? What did they look like?

Apparently they looked like ordinary travelers, perhaps a little dusty from walking along the road. They all wore the normal street clothes of the day for that part of the world.

But they weren’t ordinary travelers, of course. One of them was Jehovah, God himself. The other two were angels on assignment to destroy Sodom. (Genesis 18:1 – 19:1)

What do you imagine when you think about God’s appearance, or the appearance of angels? Probably not men in street clothes.

It didn’t take much, though, for Abraham to realize that he was talking to the Lord God. He had seen him before. He had heard his voice before (Genesis 12 ff). But he couldn’t have told that by the physical appearance this day.

Jesus showed up in street clothes when he lingered near the tomb to talk to Mary Magdalene. She’d already seen two angels, and she recognized them as angels because of their appearance. This man looked ordinary, a gardener perhaps, Mary thought.

“Why are you crying?” he asked her. She explained as best she could, still not realizing who he was. But he wasn’t an ordinary gardener, of course. It took one more word, “Mary,” from Jesus’s voice for her to recognize the Lord, Jesus resurrected from the dead. (John 20:15)

Jesus showed up in street clothes when he caught up to Cleopas and his friend. Ttraveling from Jerusalem to Emmaus, “It was great while it lasted,” they must have thought as they commiserated.

They’d had high hopes that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah, they explained sadly to the inquisitive stranger. Quite a conversation took place on the remaining walk into town. This well educated stranger really knew the prophecies! And he had a knack for opening the scriptures.

They didn’t realize who he was, this ordinary looking fellow. It took Jesus breaking bread and blessing it for them to recognize him. (Luke 24:30-31)

Jesus showed up in street clothes a few hours later, when he suddenly stood in the middle of the 11 apostles, terrifying them by his appearance. They supposed he was a spirit! I wonder what they imagined a spirit to look like…

Why didn’t they immediately recognize the Lord? Mary Magdalene? Cleopas and his friend? The 11 apostles? Their master, their teacher, the one they had followed and worshiped for so long?

Think about the last time they had seen him. Dirty, bloody, ragged, naked. Broken. Dead. This man was none of those things. He was clean and healthy. Any scars he had were totally healed – he kept those for evidence, I think.

Jesus had taken every punishment I deserved, every sickness or disease I could be afflicted with, every fear and anxiety, every sin and guilt, for me and every other human being on planet earth. Whether physical, mental, emotional or spiritual, he accepted them all as his own.

Then he overcame them. Defeated them. Destroyed their power. The creator of the universe had recreated everything about his own personal appearance, in a moment of time.

Now he looked like, and was, a healthy, confident and knowledgeable adult male. No wonder they didn’t know who he was.

Many artists have painted depictions of Jesus over the centuries. Did you notice — they always seem to paint him in the past tense? Wearing street clothes of ancient Israel?

That’s not how I see him.

I imagine him dressed in ordinary street clothes, a workman’s uniform maybe, or a business suit, or jeans and a t-shirt. Whatever would be appropriate for the place and time, and perhaps the occasion, that’s how I visualize him.

Would you recognize Jesus if he showed up physically at your house, dressed in modern-day street clothes?

“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Heb. 13:2 NASB)

It’s not what you might think

January 25, 2019

“What is going on, Lord?” I asked him very early this morning. I had been praying about the situation in Washington (the shut-down, etc.). His response:

Things are being shaken.
The outer “chaff” is being separated; falling away so the inner core, the heart, can be revealed.

The camouflage, masks, false pretenses are being seen for what they are. They are coming off.

True character, motives and intentions are being revealed.

I am knitting together what should be together.
I am splitting apart what should be apart.
Loyalties are being shifted into proper alignment.

Some who have stood together, not because they wholly agreed but for their own personal agendas, will turn against each other.

Some who have stood apart, not because they wholly disagreed but because of misunderstanding, suspicion or fear, will join forces and strengthen each other.

This battle is not over.

Keep on keeping on

Or, God’s timetable isn’t like ours…

Luke Chapter 1 tells the story of an old man named Zecharias. He was married to an old woman named Elizabeth who was a relative of the Virgin Mary. They lived in the hill country of Judah, exact location unknown.

Both were of the priestly line. They had no children – Elizabeth was barren, and in their culture barrenness was considered a punishment for sin. Yet both were righteous in God’s eyes, and to the best of their ability they continued to worship Him, keeping the law.

Zecharias (and no doubt Elizabeth) had long prayed for a son. But, he was old and she was barren, so it was now impossible. So, was he still praying? He was still faithful to do his job, in any case.

One supposedly ordinary day Zecharias was going about his business, doing his ordinary priestly job. This soon became an other than ordinary day for him, however…

“Now it came about, while he was performing his priestly service before God in the appointed order of his division, according to the custom of the priestly office, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense.” (Luke 1:8, 9)

It was his turn to minister before the golden altar of incense in the Holy Place, possibly for the first time in his priestly service. With so many priests serving in the Temple, entering the Holy Place and kindling the incense upon the golden altar was possibly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared to Zacharias, standing to the right of the altar of incense. The angel gave him an extraordinary message, on this extraordinary day. His prayers had been answered; he and Elizabeth would have a child. And not just an ordinary child, an extraordinary son. He was to give him the name John. Read the chapter for yourself.

Some thoughts about Zecharias:

  • He was old. So was his wife.
  • He was childless, thought by the culture to be a punishment for sin.
  • He was considered by God to be righteous, however. Blameless.
  • He had prayed for a son, starting in the days when having a child was still possible, biologically speaking.
  • He was faithful to his job, his calling, despite that disappointment.
  • He was granted favor, mercy, compassion; an answer to his prayer.
  • His prayer wasn’t answered in an ordinary way, in an ordinary location – an angel came to his job site, while he was doing his job; being faithful to do his job.
  • He was human; he doubted the angel’s message. Considering his age and the length of time he had been praying, that was a quite understandable response.
  • He was corrected but not condemned for his doubt.
  • He wasn’t removed from his ordinary job, or replaced in his extraordinary new job: being a parent. A very old parent!
  • He was granted a device to help him assuage his doubt: silence until the baby was born.

How long have we prayed the same prayer, over, and over, and over? How often have we decided to give up, quit doing this job, quit worshiping, quit praying, quit believing? Until it will take a supernatural, extraordinary miracle for it to happen?

But those do still happen. Zecharias and Elizabeth were just two of many people who received miraculous answers to prayer.

Never quit being faithful to your current assignment. Never quit praying. Never quit believing.

Gideon’s do-nothings

“They also serve… ”

The soldiers were gathered, 32,000 of them! Why did they come?

Gideon was a nobody. Why follow him? Why come when he called?

Read Judges 6-8. Fascinating story. Israel was surrounded and hounded, ridiculed and harassed by her enemies. Things had gotten bad, really bad. Midian, a pagan country to the far southeast of Israel, had overrun everything and everyone. Stealing herds and crops, they were reducing the population to a life of abject poverty and constant fear.

Why? Well, Israel had been warned about idol worship but they had ignored the warnings. They were reaping what they had sowed.

And then God sent an angel to a nobody, the youngest of his family and least of his tribe. Hiding in a winepress, Gideon was trying to thresh enough grain to keep his family from starving, when the angel showed up.

A series of strange events followed, first to convince Gideon that he was indeed God’s choice to rescue his people, and then to convince those people that Gideon wasn’t crazy, that he had indeed heard from God.

Well, he did a good enough job to round up 32,000 fighters! And then God sent 22,700 of those fighters back home. How weird is that?

But the point of my thoughts today is this: those who went home were following God’s will, too. Those 10,000 who were afraid. Those 700 who didn’t do things exactly right. They were willing to fight, but they didn’t have to. Others fought and some of those died, but the battle was won. It was a huge victory! God got the glory.

And those back at home… what did they do?

They probably prayed, we’re not told. They didn’t get any thanks, any awards for valor, any recognition for a job well done. But they obeyed Gideon and God, and their return home was just as necessary as Gideon’s 300-man army.

They were obeying God’s will, too.

Remember that, when it seems like God hasn’t called you to do anything spectacular. “They also serve who only stand and wait.” *

* John Milton, 1655. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/When_I_Consider_How_My_Light_is_Spent

Here are a few more posts about Gideon:

https://estherspetition.wordpress.com/2013/10/19/gideon-man-of-valor/
https://estherspetition.wordpress.com/2013/10/19/gideon-and-the-angel/
https://estherspetition.wordpress.com/2009/09/14/gideons-army/

 

Awaiting angels…

awaitingangelsAnd there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” (Luke 2:8-11)

What is it about shepherds

Photo by Sara Branstetter, April 2008. Used with permission.An angel brought an unusual message to a group of shepherds in the night, somewhere near Bethlehem.  They were watching a flock of sheep who were bedded down in a field, not in a stable or sheep cote.  A little history lesson – sheep were allowed in cultivated fields twice a year, after the fields had been harvested and after the poor of the community had gleaned the fields.  Other times they were elsewhere, either in the hilly uncultivated countryside or in the caves that doubled as stables, where feed and water troughs carved from large stones could be seen (otherwise known as mangers).

In any case, these sheep were in the fields with the shepherds watching them.  One minute they were alone in the darkness, the next minute the night sky lit up with a blast of light.  One minute there were only sheep and shepherds, the next minute an angel was standing beside them.   I don’t know about you, but I would have been terrified too and probably think the world was coming to an end.

Then the angel spoke. The first thing he said, as usual, was “fear not.”  Easier to say than to do!  He delivered his message, a lot of other angels showed up to give a loud and glorious “amen” to the message, and then they all left.

There are several points that struck me about this passage from Luke chapter 2.  One, God has a thing about shepherds.  When he plans a turning point in the history of mankind, you might just find a shepherd in there somewhere.  (Abel, Abraham, Moses, David, etc.)

Second, these shepherds knew what the Messiah coming meant.  No long theological lesson was necessary.  Shepherding might be the lowest position on the economic and social ladders of the day, but these were not ignorant men. Jews for many generations had been waiting for this message.

They weren’t foolish, either.  If the angel said the baby Messiah was somewhere in a Bethlehem feed trough – a stable/cave – wrapped up as newborns always are in swaddling clothes, then he was.  Let’s go see him for ourselves, how many chances do you get like this in a lifetime!

And so they did.  Now, the angel didn’t specifically tell them to go visit, but the hint was pretty broad.  There may have been several babies born in the neighborhood that night but only one would be lying in a feed trough.  That made him a cinch to locate.

The third point has to do with sheep.  Bethlehem is where the sheep for the Temple were raised.  Only sheep raised in Bethlehem could be used for sacrificial animals.  The hillside sheep, the cultivated field sheep, the cave/stable sheep – these were Temple  sheep.  Sheep to be killed and offered as sacrifices for sin fed from that “manger,” the feed trough.  What an appropriate place for the baby Messiah’s first cradle.

In the creation account in Genesis 1, when were the sheep created?  On the 6th day, just just before Adam was created.  Why do you suppose that was?  Well, from what I’ve learned about sheep, they require a shepherd to survive.  Sort of like human beings.

Who was the first shepherd?  I asked that question when teaching Sunday School last week and some said Abel.  After all, Genesis says he kept sheep.  And he sacrificed one of his sheep to God.

But who did God give those sheep to in the first place, to look after? Who taught Abel how to be a shepherd?  Adam and Eve were given that responsibility.  From the very creation, God ordained shepherds.

Jesus, the Lamb of God, slain from the foundation of the world, and Jesus, the Great Shepherd!  There’s a lot about shepherds we can learn from the scriptures.  Father God has a thing about shepherds…