Fearless jumping and the grasshopper basket

About two weeks ago I had a dream while sleeping. I dreamed I was in a house in the Middle East; and as I was moving toward the door to leave the woman of the house came out of the kitchen. In her hands was a basket shaped like a grasshopper. She explained to me that it was a gift, meant for use in folk religion, but she had redefined it and redeemed it for her own Jesus-centered purposes. She said it was a reminder of a prayer strategy. She then took the lid off, which was the grasshopper’s head, and showed me a circle of colors inside the lid. Each color represented a prayer focus. It was really insightful and the hidden nature of the colors was important. The colors were inside the grasshopper and they required revelation in order to understand what they represented.

It was a powerful moment. As I thanked the woman and left the house I knew the wisdom she gave me would be a key to my approach to life in the Middle East for years to come.

Interestingly, later that week a top US military person told me the prayer strategy God gave him for Iraq over the course of two years.

I knew the grasshopper was important in its symbolism so I google-d it. The first and only link I clicked on said the following:

Grasshopper Symbology — The grasshopper is associated with astral travel. They have the ability to leap through time and into space where the true mysteries of life exist. People with this medicine have the wisdom necessary to overcome obstacles efficiently and are able to jump into successful ventures without preparation or planning. When the grasshopper appears to us we are being asked to take a leap of faith and jump forward into a specific area of life without fear. Usually that specific area is one that we have avoided and is often connected to change on a larger scale. This can represent a change in location, relationships, career or just in the way we perceive ourselves.

Grasshoppers can only jump forward….not backward, or sideways. So, when grasshopper shows up he could be reaffirming to you that you are taking the right steps to move forward in your current situation. Or it could be that he is telling you to go ahead and move forward, getting past what is hindering you. This is why grasshopper is the symbol of good luck all over the world. Grasshopper’s ability to connect and understand sound vibrations is why he is also a symbol of your inner voice. he could be telling you to trust yours. *

I read the explanation out loud to a friend nearby. We both opened our eyes wide and laughed substantially: the laugh of discovery, awe, and whoa-God-is-omniscient-eeriness. It felt like the words were exactly for me. There I was sitting in Iraq, the place I’d dreamed and prayed about for 16 years, dreams were materializing; yet, I was on the brink of another sequence of large decisions to LEAP forward WITHOUT FEAR.

That move forward is happening. I am building relationships with people in Iraq that will facilitate my path back here one day.  Moreover, inside me is a prayer strategy, simple, but expanding. There is a rainbow ring of promise around my neck, around my voice, and it will be unveiled. The purposes of heaven will be made manifest in my life and in Iraq’s life.

We are bound for glory to glory, so forward we shall go.

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RE-TRAIN YOUR HEART, start today.

Being avalanched by God’s love is the best thing that ever happened/happens to me. It’s not a one time deal, but a continuous divine comedy of extravagance, surprise, delight, and holy irony. It’s a daily walk of raising my expectations, lifting my eyes, expanding my faith. It’s choices to believe for goodness to show up. It’s opportunities to get under the circumstances or OVER them. (I must choose OVER.) It’s moments when fear is the environment, and my heart yawns in boredom at fear and chooses courageous love instead. That one poke through fear’s atmosphere changes it. My thoughts change the atmosphere. What you behold, you become. If you entertain yourself with fear, anxiety, negativity, and grim matters, you train your heart to focus on those things. Then you wonder why your attentions are drawn to negatives rather than positives. YOU have trained your heart.

It’s time to re-train our hearts. 

Romans says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

RENEW YOUR MIND.

When you renew your mind, the habits of your thinking, what you meditate on, you are better able to recognize God’s will. If you submerge yourself in nightly news full of grisly images and negative statistics, guess what? You are teaching your mind to meditate on those things. There is often a fine line between being informed and being persuaded. It’s one thing to be aware of world events,  it’s another to be persuaded that what the news says is the TRUTH. Truth and fact are different things. The news may be factual. It may relate earthly reality, but it is NOT truth; it does not portray the reality of heaven or JESUS, who IS incarnate Truth.

Re-train your heart.

If you are a follower of Jesus you are a citizen of heaven. You are NOT of this world. Therefore, you should not be first led by earthly circumstances. You should be able to pause and tune your heart to heaven. What is God saying about this particular matter? What does it look like for heaven to come to earth in this particular situation?

Raise your sights. 

Rather than expecting a so-so turn around, expect a magnificent turn around. For example, if you lost $110,000 when the housing market plummeted, believe the money will be restored. Not only that, do not stop at, “Well, maybe I will get some of that back somehow;” approach it with a declaration, “I declare I will not only get what was lost, but a seven-fold return.” This is an example; you may feel God leading you to make a different confident declaration. It’s not based on a formula, it’s based on faith. It’s based on your determination to make your WORDS line up with heaven’s design.

Luke 6:45 says, “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.”

What you speak reveals what is in your heart.

SOOOOOoooooo, RE-TRAIN YOUR HEART. 

There is great authority in your words. When you say someone is “stupid” you are actually agreeing with satan’s lies about someone. When you live in a city others may see as drab, but you say, “It’s lovely” you are actually making a proclamation over your city and calling forth its real identity. Many things are not first visible to the eye, but to the heart.

LOOK FOR THE GOLD. 

In people, places, circumstances, train your heart to look for what is good, to find the gold buried in the ground. Someone may seem altogether mean, but maybe he is really good with animals. Emphasize that. Talk about that. The more you agree with the ways God delights in someone or something, the more you draw that person or place into it’s heavenly design.

Proverbs 25:11 puts the authority of our words thusly,

“A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.”

There is power in your words. You can speak life or death. You can champion someone or degrade someone. You can find a small virtue and water it to grow big and strong, or you can find a large flaw and water it to grow big and strong.

The choice is yours. If you are a follower of Jesus, you should be bringing life to everyone everywhere. And you CAN do this, simply by knowing who God is, who He has designed you to be, and by making choices in what you think about and what you speak about.

You are designed to be a life-giver. Moreover, as you give life to others, you give life to yourself. You will see your environment shift into a happier place and you will be happier too. Besides, it is very liberating to not feel obligated to abide by the world’s outlook or emphases. You must have a different perspective in order to bring a different perspective.

Start today. Ask Holy Spirit to show you how to re-train your heart. Change your wording. Resist the pressure to agree with negative interpretations and gloomy outlooks. Dare to believe for HOPEFUL outcomes. Dare to dream knowing all of heaven is on your side. Dare to see like Elisha’s servant Gehazi saw, and to say the words of Elisha, “”Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” (2 Kings 6:16)

Ask God to show you what is going on behind the scenes. Then agree with heaven’s purposes for a particular situation. If you see a newspaper article about a poor economy in Yemen, you can say silently or aloud, “Yemen, I bless your economy to thrive.” Often agreeing with heaven is as easy as speaking the opposite. When you hear bad news, speak the opposite, think the opposite, believe for the opposite.

You will quickly discover it is fun to dream with God and co-labor with Him to transform your life, and the world.

nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37)

That’s right, NOTHING. The most dark-looking situations can be transformed with light and hope.

You are important.

Your words are important.

YOU, YES YOU, have the ability to transform the world and to bring heaven to earth.

HOORAY!!!!!

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Nutrition for the re-training of your heart:

free downloads: The Invitation to Victory:     http://www.box.com/s/rdxydpmyasr7rq6x51lg

                                  As it is in Heaven:    http://www.box.com/s/3k681ig1xu1hzsxsj568

my and Jesus’ internal playlist

Jesus is the ultimate romancer. I often wish I had an “explode” switch so I could fully erupt the ecstasy of His love which stirs, roars, and renews my insides constantly.

Sometimes I stare at one leaf, shifting from summer’s green to autumn’s yellow and I feel weak in the knees – so beautiful is God. Sometimes I wake up laughing: He’s present. He is always present: in His glory, robed in thunder, bedazzled in wisdom, oozing LOVE. In all things, at all times, I can not be separated from the One who loves me most, knows me most, and supports me most. WOW.

I can not fathom a more beautiful lover or friend.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FiSpsnwZJaM

To top that all off, here’s my friends’ Jess and Samuel’s wedding highlights. They truly have a romance the likes of which the world has never seen. Think about the passion of Jesus and His Bride as you watch it. Enjoy Samuel’s sister’s song “Lovesick” and Samuel’s original song for Jess.

There is a reason all of history culminates in a wedding. The wedding supper of Jesus and His Bride. It’s going to be glorious. I would say “I can’t wait”, but actually I can – simply because there are a whole bunch of nations I intend to bring with me and they haven’t met Jesus yet. It’s going to the biggest wedding ever. Instead of rice or bubbles or flower petals, we’ll throw our “holy” and our crowns at His feet. hahahahahahahaha! Eeeeeeee!

If you want more worship music, free downloads here: http://www.box.net/shared/q5r7kfgujx

“Find My Own Flame”

I’m writing the part of my book in which I began teaching at a community college at 25 years old. I’m thinking about God. I’m thinking about passion. I’m thinking about the ecstasy of love.

I remember being 16 years old and praying for Iraq in puddles of my own tears on my bedroom floor.

In three weeks I get to board a plane and concretely begin my journey to Iraq.

I’m overcome with love for God. My spirit is in a permanent shout of “Eeeeeeeeeeee!”

Blessings as you seek your own “Eeeeeeeeeeee!” hahahaha!

All the money for my Baghdad trip is IN!

Yesterday I was calmly sitting in the back row of the sanctuary at Bethel Church after the service’s end. I was waiting for two friends. In my waiting I noticed on my phone I had a new email. I looked at it. A friend paid the balance needed ($1,350) for my Baghdad trip!!!!! As often happens when I am overcome with the goodness of God, I erupted in laughter. Out-of-control, hysterical, the funniest joke in the world was told, LAUGHTER. My sister Dori looked at me and said, “What?” I could barely speak between my hunched over delirious laughter, “A friend paid the balance for my trip!” I was wide-eyed and grin-full. My sister stared at me from behind her walnut-colored glasses and enlarged her eyes (which incidentally look a lot like mine sometimes, so she gave me a mirror for what my eyes must have looked like). She looked stunned.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! My head between my hands with, “Thank you, Father”  gushing out of my mouth, I felt I was in one of my happiest moments ever. His faithfulness means so much to me. It’s compelling in its love and grandeur.

I will never be satiated in my love for Him. I’m addicted to the One and Only True God. <THANK YOU, FATHER!>

Thank you to everyone who prayed for money to come in, gave money, encouraged me with words, listened to my thoughts about Iraq, hugged me, and believed with me. The journey has been wild, and infinitely wilder it shall become.

If you’d like to know more about my trip, go here:

https://upsidedownbethlehem.wordpress.com/want-to-get-me-to-baghdad/

Master’s degree done!

Something

incredibly wonderfully great

happened today.

I completed my last exam for my Master’s degree in Middle Eastern Cultures and Religions!

Yep. 

I did almost all the coursework at Jerusalem University College during the three years I lived in Israel. Then I left it untouched for two years as I attended Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry in Redding, California. Now, I’ve done the last requirements. Five years after beginning the degree, I am done. hahahahahaha. When the diploma finally arrives in the mail I’m going to massively celebrate. 

This makes Master’s degree number three: one in Religion, one in Counseling, now this one. 

Sometimes I think, “How did this happen? How did I get three Master’s degrees?” Then I remember the prophetic word I got when I was eighteen: “You will get countless degrees.” And I laugh. God saw it all coming. It’s all part of His magnificently gorgeous plan to bring me into my destiny and to transform the Middle East into a garden of His love. 

He’s really smart. And He really is LOVE. 

I adore Him: this Creator King, Father God, Leading Lover. 

Be encouraged. If you have a vision that seems far off and it’s a promise of God, it WILL come to pass. All His promises will chase you as you chase Him. And often the promises chase you even when you don’t chase Him.

He’s faithful. I’m grateful.

As you ponder your own journey, as you meditate on His promises, as you dare to dream, I recommend the following song:  

“Trust” by Kristene Mueller: http://www.box.net/shared/0eq76f8suu3gyi098lvj

Father God loves YOU more than you could ever understand. He is 100% good and 100% trustworthy. Let Him love you to life. Arise and SHINE. Dream bigger. Faith is often spelled “R I S K.” Step out, be courageous; the love that awaits you is worth more than anything. God wants to explode your life with joy, freedom, and hope. He wants you to flourish, thrive, and transform the world. He wants you to fulfill the destiny you are uniquely designed to fill. 

“You have made known to me the path of life;

you will fill me with joy in your presence,

with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”

(Psalm 16:11)

<Thanks for lavishing me with Your pleasure, Father! Thanks for establishing me in You. Thanks for this degree. Thanks for making me a mountain that cannot be shaken. You are my great reward.>

(Here’s a lil’ photo album of some of our field trips while in Israel. Andrea and I spiced up our learning by acting out scenes connected to certain locations, or recruiting our friends to act them out. Enjoy: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.6708360079.15486.862340079&l=121efd75f6&type=1 )