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Words from Heaven for These Times

Words from Heaven for These Times

Never before has this Scripture meant more to me: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28 NIV).

About twenty years ago God gave me the title for a book and I was given prophetic words by others that I’d write a book for the Last Days. Well, here we are. This is, I believe, that certain book. Coincidentally, it just happens to be ready to be published at this time. I feel this is Heaven’s gift. I am His word-artist, just doing my thing, for such a time as this. “Do not be afraid, I am with you,” says the Lord.



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Surprise! Unwrapping God’s Presence

God came to us as a stranger. Nobody expected to see the Messiah come in the way He came. God fulfilled the prophecies about Himself but not in ways anyone could grasp. Really, not even those closest to Jesus understood who He really was, not until after the resurrection. Even then the realization came slowly.


God in a manger was a scandal. But, what glory it was in reality. If one could fully grasp the significance of the event, the wonder of it . . . well, of course, we cannot.

He hid Himself for our sakes.

And, today, in our personal lives and stories, it seems the same is true. Jesus can, anytime He decides, unveil His awesome power (that glorious Divinity), to prove His presence with us in similar ways He did during the days He wore sandals. He showed His glory through miracles and loving wonders and still does. We long for those times, don’t we?

He lived 30 years without any sign of being anything but an ordinary man. And, for about 3 years only did He unveil the beauty, the wonder, the mystery, of His presence.

I think He lets us miss Him, lets us yearn for answers, watches us grope in the dark for His will—all for good reason. I think it is so that He can surprise us. The favors come on His timetable, though, not ours. He sets us up in situations and circumstances that make us need Him. It is unavoidable, this dependence we have on Him. Yet, in this way, He is continually changing us and wooing us closer. Our faith grows. We begin to see Him more clearly, in places we hadn’t expected to find Him.


God became a crying baby in diapers, for Heaven’s sake. He was truly the Creator of the universe, don’t forget. This is in keeping with His character.


No doubt about it, Jesus enjoyed shocking His friends. He did it often. His first miracle was in the production of an extravagant amount of wine. Imagine the glee on Jesus’ face as he watched the wedding guests laugh and dance. He healed everyone He came across and showed generosity at every turn. His anger surprised folks, too. He turned to stone occasionally—because He couldn’t surprise the religious leaders with His generosity, with His desire to forgive and dazzle people. No, Jesus wanted people to enjoy His presence, not shun His kindness. He wanted to steal hearts, after all—that’s why He came.


I think Jesus graces us with similar miracles today—ones He often never gets the credit for. I have personally experienced quite a few. Even so, I often feel like my prayers are not being heard because I don’t see immediate results. Or I feel confused and unable to make decisions, with what seems like no direction from above. But, if we ask for guidance and we hear crickets, does it mean God isn’t listening? No, I don’t believe that for a second. I have to remind myself, He answers at the perfect time and in the right way. He has always been this way. Above all, He wants us to know He is truly with us. He is present.

 God loves to surprise us.

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When God created the heavens and the earth, He made an especially beautiful, delightful place. He put a lot of thought into its design, its function, its beauty. He planned and dreamed about it with an expectant, loving heart. It turned out to be a paradise.

It wasn’t elaborate with golden streets smooth as glass; nor were there walls with foundations of precious stones. There were no gates made of pearls. This place wasn’t glorious as heaven’s New Jerusalem is described.

In fact, there wasn’t anything majestic about it: no mountains or valleys with breathtaking views like in other parts of the earth. It had no massive and powerful ocean nearby, no windswept desert landscape, no powerful waterfalls from heights of the earth. Rather, it had an enclosed and private feeling to it. This special place was made with a distinct purpose in mind.

It was a garden. God named it “Eden,” which means “delight.” And that’s the kind of place it was.

The great decorator designed and planted everything in it Himself. It was beautiful, teeming with life so green, full of trees and colorful flowers. It had gentle brooks running over rocks, chirping birds, singing creatures, soft velvet carpeted grass, hidden coves under veils of ferns and vines, and gentle breezes carrying aromatic scents. It was blissful.

His delight in beauty was, of course, expressed everywhere on earth and in the universe all around it, but nowhere was it expressed so romantically, so hopefully, than in this garden.

He planted trees and plants bearing fruit. He created water and gave it to the land, carving out brooks and streams to nurture all the life He brought forth. He gave this new world sunshine lighting and warming it. He thought of air, of wind, and He ordered it to be gentle.

The Creator prepared everything, readying the garden just so. Then the big day arrived. Surrounded by His watchful angels, the Lord God knelt down on the ground in the garden. Bending over the soft, rich earth, He took dirt and formed a man in His own image. Breathing into its nostrils, the man came alive. The Lord called him Adam.

Adam was not like the other earthly creatures God made because he was alone, without a mate. Like God. But God saw that all was not good in this regard. Adam should have a mate.


Romantic love. There is nothing more delightful than being in love. If a male and a female have love that is pure, and if they can be together, there is no finer thing on earth. It can be passionate and stronger than death. This kind of love is sweeter than the love between parents and children. It is better than the love between siblings. It is more precious than the love between good friends. It is the best love.

God’s love can be all kinds of relational love. He loves with unconditional, sacrificial love. He loves as a perfect parent who loves His children. He loves as a brother through Jesus. He loves as a friend. And. And, with the strongest and best of all types of love, He loves as a lover in the fullest sense. That’s why He revealed Himself as our Bridegroom. It was His idea, not ours.

He wanted to be in love. He wanted “another” to love. Just like Adam wanted a “someone.” God, who created love, who is love, will not miss out. This special kind of love exists for His sake, as well as ours. However, human “eros” love is but a shadow compared to the original.

When God planned the first garden, He had a long-range plan. He knew how Adam would feel and did feel. He had planned to give Adam a mate all along. A part of Adam would be missing, but it would be in his “other” . . . and God smiled at the very thought of her.

God put Adam in a deep sleep and opened his side, removing one of his ribs. From it He formed Eve, his counterpart, who became Adam’s beautiful mate. She was very much like Adam, but almost opposite in some ways. She was smaller, softer, weaker, in a delicate, fragile sort of way, very sensitive, and extremely lovely. Together, they were complete. They were the image of God.


The Creator had in mind a way to someday find a counterpart, someone to fulfill His desires for love. He would, like Adam, have someone, too. He wouldn’t make her just from dirt, alive from His breath alone, she would come “from “ Him. She would take her place beside Him, to join Him, not just in daily life but in eternal life. His bride would come to be much like Eve. She had been formed from Adam’s side. The Creator’s beloved would be formed from His Spirit, since He was spirit.

The Lord God loved Adam and Eve. They loved Him, and they loved each other, as well. This greatly pleased the Lord.

In the midst of the garden, God gave Adam and Eve two special trees that bore fruit. They ate freely from one of the trees, but from the other one, the Lord forbade them to eat.

It was a matter of love—those two trees. For when they chose to obey their Maker, they truly showed Him their love and trust. And the Lord watched them together and enjoyed their love for each other and their love for Him. But when they disobeyed Him and ate fruit from the tree that was forbidden, everything changed.

The Lord God told them that if they ate from the forbidden tree, they would surely die.

God’s enemy, the fallen angel who had rebelled in heaven, tempted Eve telling her that they would not die if they ate the forbidden fruit, but that if they ate of it they would become like God, knowing good and evil.

Both Adam and Eve ate that fruit in spite of what God had told them. Part of what the devil said was true. Knowing good and evil, the next thing they knew after eating the fruit was that they were naked.

God found them hiding from Him, afraid to death of Him. No longer did they know innocence. They had changed. Everything else changed, too.

That’s when they realized they were cold. They’d never been uncomfortable before. They’d never been afraid before.  Something very bad was happening to them, they feared.

Their intimacy and openness, their nakedness in the presence of their Maker, was gone.  They did not want God to see them like this. They had withdrawn from Him already.

Something terrible, sin, had come between them and the Creator.

They trembled at God’s voice when He called to them, looking for them. “Adam, Eve, where are you?”


The Lord God knew already, knew when He couldn’t find them that they had disobeyed Him. When He found them cowering from Him, He spoke softly yet sternly to them about what He would do to help them.

First, He covered their guilty nakedness with the skins of an animal. This was hard for God to do, for He loved the animal He killed for their sakes. And, He knew, this was only the beginning . . . His children would need to use this bloody ritual of sorts, to be repeated over and over in the days ahead.

Blood sacrifices and offerings would pave the way for something so terrible, and so wonderful, that God kept this part of His plan to save them to Himself.

God came up with a long range plan, a way to cover sin by means of innocent blood. This, He knew, would only cover their shame; one day He would remove it from them. That day would prove His love and faithfulness to them. That day He would enter into death Himself and awake from it, swallowing up death with His life—his innocent blood the price to pay. Afterwards, no longer would anyone die if His life was in them. And, like Adam, who was put into a deep sleep while Eve was formed from him, so, too, God’s holy and innocent Son would be put into “death’s sleep” so that His bride could be formed from Him, made from His very nature and being. This was His secret, His future plan, and the only thing that could comfort Him that sad day when sin and death came to His beloved Adam and Eve.

He knew all the pain, suffering, sickness, sin, evil—even murder—which would follow them and their children. And He knew they would not know Him intimately, nor live in harmony with Him, as they had. Though His heart was full of pain, He gave the orders. They were forcefully driven out of the garden. An angel was commissioned with a heavenly weapon, a sword of fire, to guard the entrance. They were not allowed near the one special tree that gave life anymore. They couldn’t come back into Eden—not for a long, long, time.


The Lord dreamed of another time—He would make good come from all of this. But it wouldn’t be easy. It would cost Him dearly. The tree of life would be carved into the shape of a cross. He’d see to it. It would be love at its best, and hate at its worst. But to display love at its best, He decided it would be worth it.

He wanted a mate—a counterpart. He wanted to be a devoted lover. Yes, after it was all over, it would be worth it.

He could see His bride even now, in His mind’s eye. She was beautiful, pure and holy, like Him. She would love Him completely. He would buy her costly robes of righteousness and adorn her with precious, rare jewels. Not earthly ones. These would be spiritual: refined, priceless gems. He would forever cherish her, would lay down His life for her—O, how he wanted her! She would be His forever. And she would reign with Him. He would cherish her and give her His life. Passion and love would blaze between them for eternity.


Check back soon for Chapter Two: A Garden in Israel

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Why God Came

This is a love story.

The answer to why God came to earth is at once simple and profound. Simple because it takes eyes of faith to see the truth. Profound because it takes eyes of love to see the depths of the matter. God came to earth to save us. But the manner and way He came is what won our hearts to His.

What desire spurred Him on in Creation? What planning and plotting? What sprang to life in God’s own heart the moment He gave Eve to Adam in a garden called Paradise? The seed of His big idea began in that act of love so very long ago. Soon, God will have His own beloved. And, it is us. You and me, each one of us.

He wanted us to be free to choose Him, but how could we choose to love the One we most feared? The Creator and King of the Universe came disguised as a lowly human so that we could see His true reality — the personality and love of God shone through Jesus.

He came to be discovered.

God let us touch Him. See Him. Learn from Him.

He came to give Himself up for us. He gave everything He had for us. He gave everything He was for us.

He came to steal our hearts.

This love story isn’t over … we’re caught up in the midst of it still.



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Jesus Today – What is He up to? Is He in authority in heaven and on earth?

It’s been weeks since I blogged. I paused working on the new book Come and See, leaving off with the voice of Jesus during His first miracle that publicly began His reign as Sovereign over the earth. It was His first public act of supernatural authority. So extravagantly done, it was actually humorous of Him. With joy and ease, Jesus began to take back what Satan had stolen from humankind. I hardly wanted to move on in the story, it moved me so much.

Since then I’ve been engrossed with someone else’s book, a meaty, eloquently and thorough work by biblical historian N.T. Wright titled SIMPLY JESUS: A NEW VISION OF WHO HE WAS, WHAT HE DID, AND WHY HE MATTERS.

What a gift this book is to followers of Jesus or anyone wanting to know the truth about God’s Kingdom and purposes on earth. Wright makes sense of the whole picture, and delves deeply into the meaning and purposes of what God has done from the beginning, until the present, while creating expectation and confidence in what lies ahead. What a timely book this is, not only in my life, but in the life of the Church.  Praise the Holy Spirit in and through this man of excellent learning and profound insight and faith. I smiled while realizing that the novel I wrote called His Kingdom Come, about the days Jesus began His kingly reign, seems to artistically complement Wright’s ideas of what Jesus was all about when He first came and established God’s kingdom on earth. Of course biblical fiction is vastly different than a work of theology and scholarship. But how wonderful it is that God uses our talents and gifts to reveal His ways and purposes so diversely and meaningfully. I believe every believer has their own unique stuff to do, everyone, everywhere. Because this IS the coming of God’s Kingdom — through all of us who are His. We are so connected; we are a working body.

I appreciate how Wright explicitly shows his readers how Jesus is already an active, reigning King. Some people think Jesus is not bringing His Kingdom until He returns to earth in all His glory. Well, the Kingdom has been coming all along and won’t be completely here until we see His face.  Until then, we who belong to Him actually embody Him and are doing his work on earth. He truly is ruling over all things, working in the nations and events of history, as well as in small ways, planting seeds that become movements of grace and change.

It is amazing to realize: God put on flesh and became one of us, fulfilling His own promise to unite heaven and earth. It takes Holy Spirit enabled eyes to see it and participate in it.

Wright put it this way: “When God wants to change the world, he doesn’t send in the tanks. He sends in the meek, the mourners, those who are hungry and thirsty for God’s justice, the peacemakers, and so on. Just as God’s whole style, his chosen way of operating, reflects his generous love, sharing his rule with his human creatures, so the way in which those humans then have to behave if they are to be agents of Jesus’s lordship reflects in its turn the same sense of vulnerable, gentle, but powerful self-giving love. It is because of this that the world has been changed by people like William Wilberforce, campaigning tirelessly to abolish slavery; by Desmond Titu, working and praying not just to end apartheid, but to end it in such a way as to produce a reconciled, forgiving South Africa; by Cicely Saunders, starting a hospice for terminally ill patients ignored by the medical profession and launching a movement that has, within a generation, spread right around the globe.”

Actually, and I know W.T. Wright would probably agree, sometimes God does send in the tanks and heroes, after all, He is in charge. If you haven’t seen the movie Act of Valor – do yourself a favor. God is fighting through heroes, strong, brave soldiers — who pray and who fight with the hearts of lions. I am just saying that God is using people to run the world, just as Satan uses people to fight against God and His purposes. We know, though, who wins in the end.


Jesus will restore all things to their proper order. It will be completely “on earth as it is in Heaven” one day. The way this is coming about, though, has been happening through history, since Jesus walked among us. Since then, He gives us His Spirit to reside within us. We are connected to Him! We only need to be aware of what our own unique participation is as we participate with Him in building His Kingdom.  Each believer has his or her part. As Wright so simply put it: “One small action can start a trend.”

This is how God’s kingdom is being established in our world. I agree with Wright when he says:  “Jesus has all kinds of projects up his sleeve and is simply waiting for faithful people to say their prayers, to read the signs of the times, and to get busy.”

I used to think priests had the job of forgiving sins because they were God’s representatives. When the resurrected Jesus gave the authority to His apostles before leaving for heaven, He gave the profound power and authority to them to forgive people’s sins. Actually, that authority was not just for them, but it was for every single believer who had the job of making disciples of the nations… You see, forgiveness is really a matter of reconciliation with God. Forgiveness, true forgiveness and reconciliation involves real confrontation with what has gone wrong.”

We are about the business of reconciliation. Out the window goes the notion of priests and confessionals. Jesus intended so much.  All along, He wanted to give His followers His own authority and power, because it was to transform everyone and bring change. Jesus wants to bring His light into the dark recesses of hearts and nations through us.

Wright eloquently says it this way: “The poor in spirit will be making the kingdom of heaven happen. The meek will be taking over the earth, so gently that the powerful won’t notice until it’s too late. The peacemakers will be putting the arms manufacturers out of business. Those who are hungry and thirsty for God’s justice will be analyzing government policy and legal rulings and speaking up on behalf of those at the bottom of the pile. The merciful will be surprising everybody by showing that there is a different way to do human relations other than being judgmental, eager to put everyone else down, ‘You are the light of the world,’ said Jesus.’You are the salt of the earth.'”

He announced and stated these things as fact. He invites his hearers, then and now, to join Him in making it happen. Yes, He is in heaven. But at the same time, His presence is in the form of His Spirit inside of us, breathing through our lungs, speaking through our mouths, touching with our hands. He creates through us and heals through us. He is bringing restoration to all things through us. This is, quite simply, what it looks like when Jesus is enthroned.









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The Extravagant Bridegroom (the story of Jesus’ first miracle)

As I promised, here is the next excerpt from the devotional book I’m working on titled COME AND SEE.

In the future I hope to have a separate page for these excerpts, and I’ll let you know when it is in place. That way, you’ll be able to read all the chapters as I get them written.

Just so you know, I have good reason to believe that this particular chapter is very dear to the Lord. So, I hope it ministers to your heart as much as it did to mine.




The Extravagant Bridegroom


He thus revealed his glory,

and his disciples put their faith in him.

John 2:11b



Jesus, Heaven’s Bridegroom . . .


I’d been away from home for several weeks and my mother was glad to see me, although she had no idea how different my life would be from now on. I was to marry the world, it seemed to me. Even though I was prepared to sacrifice everything for her, my bride would be a reluctant one.  I thought this during the wedding ceremony in Cana as I watched the young couple pledge themselves to each other through sacred vows.  I silently prayed mine.


I had traveled to the wedding the day after I asked Nathanael to join us. The timing was perfect. After a month- long fast in the desert, I’d spent a few days in Judea with the prophet sent to prepare my bride for me and now I had several eager men following me. I sat at table with them until my mother put a challenge to me, “They have no wine.”


“What has that to do with me?” My adult son-to-mother tone did little to put her off and the look on her face continued the conversation. I glanced down at my hands, folded on the table in front of me.  I wasn’t about to discuss this in front of the others.


“My hour has not yet come,” I said in a lowered voice. I hoped she’d leave it at that. Instead, she looked from my face to those who sat beside and across from me.


My eyes followed hers and when I saw such open, expectant expressions, I felt overwhelmed. In that moment the idea came to me to make so much wine that our hosts wouldn’t know what to do with all of it. After the week long wedding feast, they’d need to tell the whole town to bring their own containers so they could give it away.


I began to laugh to myself at the thought. My mother wildly gestured to the servants within range. As it was, they were walking towards us with empty pitchers in hand, explaining to a person here and there that they had no more wine to give them.


I stood just as two servers stepped up to us. “Do whatever he tells you to do,” my mother said to them, and then she squeezed my arm to thank me.


“Take me to the water you have stored for the rite of purification.” The reality of the opportunity at hand thrilled me. This had everything to do with me. Who runs out of wine this early in a wedding feast? Since early childhood I had learned to pay attention to what my Father in heaven was doing, to notice things as special invitations to bless people. This was one of those times—of course, this should be my first display of Heaven’s love and power. What better way than at a wedding banquet?  I was beside myself with joy.





No one at the wedding banquet knew that the Divine Bridegroom was a guest there. Nobody realized what surprise the Father in heaven had in store that day. Neither did the two bridegrooms know beforehand what transformation was about to occur. The one just married sat beside his bride at the table, his heart sinking as the wine vessels were drained. The other unrecognized Bridegroom dreamed of his Bride as he quietly watched the wedding ceremony.

This was the setting for Jesus’ first supernatural sign. As with most miracles, this one came out of crises. It wasn’t a life-threatening need. It was a threat to the life of a party. The panic was in the eyes of the bridegroom and his family. It involved shame for them and disappointment for their guests. But was this just cause for Divine intervention?

What might Jesus have thought as he approached the six stone water jars, sitting in a row nearby? According to eyewitnesses, he had just changed his mind. At first, he hadn’t thought the time was right to work do a miracle.

It’s amazing to delve a bit deeper into the symbolism of this wonder he performed. At the start of the meal, the guests were provided with water to spiritually purify themselves before they ate. There was plenty of water left in the jars to serve Jesus’ purpose, but he instructed the servants to fill them to the brim. Then, without any dramatics, he told them to serve the water-become-wine to the headmaster, and then to all the guests.

Here, now, were gallons and gallons of this “purification” water turned into an inebriating beverage. The servants were in awe. The headmaster was puzzled. The bridegroom and his family were relieved and stunned. And all the guests had a good time.

Laughter and dancing faced off with religious legalism!

It is quite telling to think that Jesus’ first miracle was to give people a good time—and extravagance was part of it.  Let’s open our hearts to receive God’s extravagant favor and kindness! Two thousand years later, God’s gifts continue still, repeatedly, in many forms and ways. The Divine Bridegroom hasn’t changed a bit.


What a wonder . . .


Even as believers, sometimes the love of God escapes our grasp simply because it seems too good to be true. Often, we miss the real message and gift of Jesus’ first miracle: God’s extravagant, non-legalistic grace. As Christians, we know that we have been called out of darkness and into the light. Not sure how to respond, we become self-righteously pious, and our faith and love for God becomes a legalistic and idealistic taskmaster. God never intended this to happen.

There is nothing legalistic, boring, or even “religious” about Jesus. That’s not the life he came to bring us. If we truly knew God’s heart, we would realize that he is an extravagant, fun-loving, lively, passionate Person.

“God prefers mercy to sacrifice,” Jesus said, quoting a Scripture he had grown up with. Just what does that mean in our modern-day language? It means that God has a forgiving and loving heart and doesn’t require us to work hard to please him. It means his extravagant love is the religious expression God desires us to experience. It means God wants our hearts to become like his.

Well, what is he like? Look closely at this miracle. What did the Lord do? What was his purpose? How much wine did he make? Have you ever heard the argument that Jesus’ miraculous wine was unfermented? The people of his day would not have been impressed!  Anyone who believes this has completely missed the point.

God doesn’t want us to become drunks, that’s also not his message. He wants only good for us. His message is unmerited, extraordinary love. The reason Jesus performed this miracle was for one reason only—to give the wedding guests a good time. Jesus showed us that God delights to delight us.

Just think about how the Lord gave his all to and for us. This is the God who loves us and wants us to come near. If we would just relax and let him have what he wants. If we would place ourselves upon his breast, breathe deeply and listen intently, then we’d know. He’s crazy in love with us. That’s the truth. He’s not looking for us to perform or abstain from enjoying ourselves thereby pleasing him. This is the message of Jesus’ first miracle: because of his presence, people had a very good time. This is quite telling about his character, don’t you agree?


In your presence is fullness of joy; in your right hand

there are pleasures forevermore.

Psalm 16:11



Just imagine . . .


Enter into the story of the wedding banquet at Cana. Become one of the characters in the story. Watch and experience the miracle. What are Jesus’ reactions—his facial expressions when he sees how surprised the servants are when they witness this miraculous transformation of water to wine?  Watch Jesus as he interacts with the people who, because of him, greatly enjoy themselves. How does Jesus act during the party, especially after the miracle? Can you see him enjoying himself too? What do you think it was like at his table after the miracle. Can you hear laughter? Do you think Jesus might have danced? Ask the Lord to reveal his character, his true self and heart to you.



Journal Exercise  . . .


The wedding in Cana turned into a wonderful celebration with Jesus. Just imagine the banquet in heaven he has been planning for us. The miracle of Jesus transforming water into wine is all about freedom and God’s extravagant surprises he has in store for us. Let this reality sink in: Jesus is a bridegroom. We are, each of us, his bride—and the sum of all believers are his bride. If you love God and want to please him, then you can, in practical ways, follow your love for him. If you have God first in your life and love him above all else, then you can follow that inner leading, because your own heart is in union with God’s. He wants to be your number one love. He’s extravagant in ways you cannot fathom.

Write your thoughts and experiences from this chapter in your journal. What is God saying to you through the story of the wedding in Cana, Jesus’ first miracle, freedom from legalism, and Jesus’ intentions through a profound display of extravagance?



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