Resist Hate = Embrace Love

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Jesus/John 16:33

Last night, I had a terrible time sleeping. Tossing and turning, I felt unrest in body and soul. I told God, ‘I feel braced for bad news.’

His answering whisper in my soul was from the verse above: ‘In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’

After sleeping less than two hours, I awoke early, still anxious. He led me to a song by Rich Mullins in my inspirational playlist. The words that penetrated my soul went something like this:

There’s bound to come some trouble in this life… hold onto Jesus, hold on tight. He’s been there before and He knows what it’s like. You’ll find He’s there.

After listening to the sweet melody and comforting words of this classic Rich Mullins song, I searched His Spirit as to, ‘what next?’ I felt pressed to switch on the news, something I almost never do, for I don’t watch daytime TV.

The headlines were screaming across several channels: 50+ Dead, 200 injured… over 400 taken to hospitals in Las Vegas. Largest mass shooting in U.S. 

As my mind and emotions struggled to take in the devastating, overwhelming news and images, I realized God had been prepping me all night long. He was one step ahead, leading me, letting me know He was still in control.

God is real. He talks to His kids. He wants us to understand He does not prevent all pain in this world, but He promises to be with us no matter what we face.

 

One of the things we hear a lot these days is the phrase, ‘resist hate’. That is actually good advice. But I find many who proclaim it seem to lack real know-how. You see, to fight a negative, you must replace it with a positive. To resist hate, we must embrace Love.

Love is more than a concept. It comes from somewhere, a very pure, living source, a Person. His name is Jesus, the Creator who made us and gave all for us, Who loves us without end. He is Truth. He IS Love. In His presence, hate cannot survive.

So, connect with the source today. Embrace Love. The world so desperately needs Him.

Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— John 1:12

Advertisements

How Do We Save America?

Long before this blog began over a year ago, and many times since, I have found myself mourning, weeping, crying out to God for America. For some reason, He has pressed into my soul an urgent passion on behalf of what was (and in His eyes, I believe, still is) His country.

As a nation, we reflect Him less now than we did a century and a half ago, when writers like Herman Melville and Alexis de Tocqueville were declaring America distinctly and almost universally “Christian”.

But we still house the majority of God’s people, having the densest population of the followers of Christ/Messiah, Yeshua. So, the influx of non-believers, and the secularization of our culture and laws has still not changed the fact the most Christians in the world live in the U.S.! This land is God’s land, it was founded upon Biblical principles and the hope of religious freedom.

The blessings of being God’s land are obvious. Richest nation in the world, abundant resources, country that has most reached a helping hand to those in need and taken in the majority of the world’s refugees…

But we are slipping, are we not? Many ask why, and in my experience, many believers want to continually point fingers at non-believers. ‘It must be their fault, they come with their pagan ideas and worldly values and are voting out our laws which were based upon God’s Word.’

Maybe that is a little of it. But the greater truth we do not want to face is, churches and people who also call themselves Christian have allowed their teaching and values to become severely diluted with the world’s values. Christian pastors and priests, and parishioners have allowed their churches’ teachings to stray far from the Word of God!

This past Sunday, I attended a service where the speaker did little more than give a speech worthy of a social/political rally instead of a message for God’s people in His house. To be honest, it smacked of rebellion, and I did not hear the name of Jesus except at the end of one prayer. I was more than appalled, and found myself doing spiritual warfare praying during the service, going so far as to rebuke a spirit of revolution that is spreading in our land like a wildfire from hell!

My precious friends and co-believers in Christ, remember the words of Jesus when He said in Matthew: “If your enemy compels you to go with him one mile (carrying his load), go with him two.” (Matt 5:41)

The message of Christ in the New Testament is peace and humble service, not rebellion and revolution! The people of God do not need to ‘rise up’, they need to fall upon their knees in repentance to the Lord, fasting and prayer!

When ministers stand up and teach the whole truth in the Word of God, and we as believers respond and become clean, surrendered to the Lord and filled with His Holy Spirit… then we will be ready to move forward as a mighty army, NOT to war, but to LOVE the non-believing world as Christ loved us. And then, maybe then, who knows what God might do in our land?

JOEL 2:12 “Therefore also now, says the LORD, turn to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: 13 And tear your heart, and not your clothing, and turn to the LORD your God: for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and may change His mind on judgment. 14 Who knows if He will change His course, and leave a blessing instead?

15 Blow the trumpet in the land of God’s people, observe a holy fast, call a solemn assembly: 16 Gather the people, call out the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and babies; let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet. 17 Let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep and let them say, Spare Your people, O LORD, and give not Your heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: saying in the midst of the people, ‘Where is their God’?

18 Then will the LORD be jealous for His land, and pity His people.”

Scripture from: Strong, James. A Complete Bible Reference Study Library (4 in 1): [Illustrated]: KJV Bible (with blogger edits to modernize and clarify), Strongs Concordance & Dictionaries, Lexicon Definitions, and Bible word index (Kindle Locations 83503-83529). Bestbooks. Kindle Edition.

The Center of Land of Promise

Day before yesterday, I let Faith and Fasting friends know I published a book called, Land of Promise. I had to return today to share something that happened yesterday because I’m still shocked by it!

First, know this book continues to surprise me every time I read it. That sounds nuts, but it is true. I know God gave me the information, led me to the research and opened my eyes to things in Scripture I’d never noticed before. But, it is a diversion from very traditional interpretations of some things.

At the heart of it, I believe this book is a realignment onto the center of Scripture: Christ. He is the center. A few teachers/scholars over the years have tried to make the center of the Bible the nation of Israel. But, when we make Messiah the center, the rest of Scripture unfolds correctly.

Okay, now for the really, really strange thing that happened yesterday. I was re-reading the book in my Kindle app. Kindle let me know I was at the 50% mark, exactly halfway through the book.

Guess what I read on the middle section of the middle page of the book, something which I certainly did not/could not have planned! It was this:

“The most important thing I can say is… the Bible is not Israel-centered. Israel, meaning the earthly land. Rather, the Bible is Christ-centered… It is the testimony of how He related to His people, all of His people – Israel of God – before and after the cross. When we get the center point of the Bible wrong, we get everything out of focus… And our interpretations of Scripture suffer because they are faulty from the foundation.”

The weird thing is, that text was something I added at the last minute before I published  the book. I had no idea I’d placed it in the exact center until yesterday. My jaw dropped when I saw it.

I’ve noticed from the beginning the Spirit of God was all over this, it was His project. I pray His people give it a chance although it will challenge long-held thought for some.

I’ve priced the book very low because I just want people to read it. If you know someone who cannot afford it, the ebook can be loaned for 2 weeks by anyone who has purchased a copy. The ebook is $2.99 and the paperback is $7.99 (link below).

God bless!

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss/158-0402283-8285826?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=land+of+promise+garcia

Land of Promise

Dear friends of Faith and Fasting, I am so pleased to announce that after two years of research and writing, my first book, Land of Promise, was published this month on Amazon.com!

This book takes a closer look at Old Testament prophecy and dares to suggest the U.S.A. was in prophecy all along, spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, for one, as a land where God’s people would gather in greater numbers in the last centuries.

It sounds crazy, I know, but the Biblical evidence is surprising and extremely compelling.

Anyway, I wanted you to be among the first to hear about Land of Promise. I’ve printed the Introduction here for you to sample. Have a blessed day!

 

INTRODUCTION

Masterfully and poetically, Isaiah prophesied the most pivotal events in human history. Isaiah foretold of a Redeemer coming to save a rebellious people. He comforted them with word of Redeemer’s long-awaited arrival. He described the suffering of that Servant. Then he promised glorious blessings of the people restored by Redeemer. In the simplest of terms, Isaiah is Messiah-centric.

Isaiah brought his message to life using relational and family concepts like widowhood, barrenness, and marriage. He talked of a new land for the bride, and birth of new children.

This book will eventually focus in on one specific topic of Isaiah’s prophecy. That is, where Isaiah gave descriptions regarding the new land, where the people restored by Redeemer would eventually dwell.

For an introductory glimpse, listen carefully to Isaiah 49:19-20:

19 Your desolate places and the land of your destruction will even now be too small for the inhabitants. 20 The children you will have after you have lost the others, will say… ‘the place is too small for me; give me a place where I can dwell.’

The prophet Isaiah let us know in this short passage that there would be a destroyed land and lost children. The prophecy of destroyed land was fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70 A.D.

He also revealed there would be so many new children that the old land of destruction would become much too small for them. Followers of Christ, having begun in Jerusalem, have grown and spread worldwide. Was that what Isaiah meant when he said the new children would need a bigger place to live, that they would someday cover the whole earth?

In one view, many well-established Bible scholars have insisted the new land Isaiah described is still a future fulfillment after the return of Christ, something God’s people will enjoy only in the Millennium. The Millennium, described briefly in Revelation, is the thousand-year reign of Christ on earth after His return.

But Isaiah’s very detailed descriptions, all the way down to soil content, perfectly match one particular land that exists now.

For many years, without explanation, I was overwhelmingly drawn to read Isaiah. Over and over, when I would pick up the Bible to read or study, I found myself landing in his prophetic chapters.

Each time I came across a mention of the ‘new land’ in Isaiah, I was intrigued and couldn’t help but silently ponder it sounded oddly familiar. The thought nagging my mind was it seemed very similar to United States history and makeup.

Certainly crazy and counter-culture in traditional circles, I barely mentioned my suspicions to anyone. It had long been declared absolute by so many Christian teachers that America is not in prophesy. Still, the prodding in my mind and spirit would not go away.

Finally, one day in the Fall of 2014, the Holy Spirit powerfully moved me to research America, to compare her to each of the descriptions in Isaiah regarding the new land for the followers of Redeemer. I wanted to hold up and thoroughly examine her founding, topography, and more, against every suspect passage in Isaiah.

My research began where Isaiah said the soil of the new land would contain multiple gemstones. With gemstone research as my cornerstone, I spent weeks studying in worldwide databases.

What I unearthed was overwhelming. The United States is saturated with multiple gemstones in her rocks and soil, far beyond any other country in the world.

The information to follow, uncovered over weeks and months, I can only describe as staggering. One by one, exact and distinct matches were found in America to all of Isaiah’s prophetic descriptions of the ‘future’ land until they added up to 100%.

There was no doubt in my mind we were a match. More than that, we were the head-and-shoulders-above-the-rest, single perfect match. Is it possible for such a thing to be a coincidence? Or, were we the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy and scholars had somehow missed it?

By this time, my husband, aware of the growing research, was pushing me to finish. Still, I procrastinated. I’d never written a book. The scope of topics being challenged was overwhelming, and the fear of ridicule crippled me.

It seemed worthless, pointless to take on the traditional thought that has so long dominated. I couldn’t help but think it would be like trying to un-wedge people out of comfortable clay in which they had become practically cemented. And what if I was the wrong one?

Pressing me ever onward, one day the Spirit whispered to me, calculate the odds. What were the odds of one country in all of history being the clear, point-by-point match to every single prophecy of Isaiah’s new land? I had no idea how to calculate odds, but studied and learned.

When I finally put pencil to paper, my mind exploded again. The astronomical odds against one country being the identical match to Isaiah’s prophecy rendered it statistically impossible to have happened by chance. The numbers could not lie. No country could have been a perfect match, except by design.

In spite of this, my internal struggle persisted. I dreaded being labeled just one more pretentious American trying to elevate our far-from-perfect country to the level of ancient Israel.

Bottom line, how could I raise my hand and timidly suggest to an unwelcoming crowd that we might be another promised land right out of Scripture? That we might just be the dirty Cinderella whose foot inexplicably, perfectly, and exclusively fits into the glass slipper?

Regardless, the facts must be shared. The data demands hearing from a wider audience. And more importantly, if I’ve learned anything in life, when the Spirit hands you insight, revelation great or small, it must be proclaimed no matter the implications.

So, I bring you this evidence with timidity. Let’s be honest, it isn’t every day you challenge a paradigm or face down a giant. Still, it comforts me that a boy named David did just that once, and God was glorified in the outcome. And, this time around, there are more than just a few stones.

 

[Land of Promise is available as a Kindle ebook for $2.99, or in paperback for $7.99. To get your copy, click the link below:

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=land+of+promise+valerie+garcia&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Aland+of+promise+valerie+garcia]

Reexamining a Presidential Debate Quote

Hillary Clinton invoked a famous quote in at least two of her speeches now, and it occurred to me to put it into perspective for those who did not recognize the quote or know its true author. The quote is this: “America is great because America is good.”

She was quoting Alexis de Tocqueville, famous 19th century French historian, philosopher, and statesman. The way Hillary used the quote indicated she (or her speech writers) believed it to stand on its own, but I hope she and those who endeavor to lead this country will study more of de Tocqueville’s work, for he clearly and strongly identified his belief as to the source of American goodness. Let me explain.

Alexis de Tocqueville travelled to America in the mid-1800s to learn for himself the reasons for the amazing success of this young nation. Afterward, he wrote a work entitled, Democracy in America, and he went to great lengths to explain why he concluded America was good. Here are some excerpts:

Upon my arrival in the United States the religious aspect of the country was the first thing that struck my attention… 

In America I found (the spirit of religion and the spirit of freedom) were intimately united and that they reigned in common over the same country. 

I do not know whether all Americans have a sincere faith in their religion — for who can search the human heart? But I am certain that they hold it to be indispensable to the maintenance of republican institutions. This opinion is not peculiar to a class of citizens or a party, but it belongs to the whole nation and to every rank of society. 

…there is no country in the world where the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America, and there can be no greater proof of its utility and of its conformity to human nature than that its influence is powerfully felt over the most enlightened and free nation of the earth. 

In the United States, the influence of religion is not confined to the manners, but it extends to the intelligence of the people… 

I sought for the key to the greatness and genius of America in her harbors… her fertile fields and boundless forests; in her rich mines and vast world commerce; in her… institutions of learning. I sought for it in her democratic Congress and in her matchless Constitution. 

Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. 

America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great. 

The Americans combine the notions of Christianity and of liberty so intimately in their minds, that it is impossible to make them conceive the one without the other.

Christianity is the companion of liberty in all its conflicts — the cradle of its infancy, and the divine source of its claims.

To Alexis de Tocqueville’s words, I say, “Amen!”

Hillary was right in repeating his statement, ‘America is great because America is good’. But, American goodness has been connected to something. It came out of unchanging, bedrock, Judeo-Christian values. And, according to de Toqueville, that was the true heart of our greatness.

Final thoughts: within de Tocqueville’s work is a very sober warning. American goodness and greatness are directly linked to Biblical values. Divorce the culture from those values, and we break ourselves away from all that made us great. How long will we stand detached from our foundation? It is something to think about.

Resources:One Nation Under God: Alexis de Tocqueville, pulled June 10, 2016 from http://www.leaderu.com/orgs/cdf/onug/detocq.html

Challenge to the People of God

For anyone who knows Christ, this is a quick, personal challenge burning in my heart today:

Do you find yourself despairing over the atmosphere of our country and the direction she is headed, the division, violence, etc? I know you are praying about it. But, have you fasted yet? Fasting is the ultimate spiritual weapon.

According to Christ, ‘some things are broken only by prayer and fasting.’ So, until we have fasted, the truth is we have not yet even begun to fight.

I wonder what would happen these next few weeks in our nation if all of us fasted for her one meal a week, or more?

Pass it on…

[Do not fast if you know you have a physical ailment that makes it unsafe! See a doctor, if you need to be sure!]

Finger of God Documentary

Spoiler alert: this is going to be a strange post about peculiar events in modern day Christian churches. It is just one possible interpretation of those events. No, this really doesn’t have anything to do with fasting. In fact, it is more about eating – at God’s banquet table.

Recently, we watched an intriguing and powerful documentary called, Finger of God, released in 2007 by Darren Wilson. It is available for instant watch on Netflix, along with several other documentaries by the same filmmaker.

Within the first few minutes, the viewer sees footage from several congregations, where members were miraculously given gold teeth during worship! Okay, I told you this would be strange. He showed clip after clip of the inside of the mouths of these congregants, and there they were: gold teeth! One, sometimes two gold teeth inside each recipient’s mouth.

Another older gentleman, for over 36 years at the time, was finding manna in his palm out of thin air, or inside His Bible by Revelation 2:17 (“to him who is overcoming, I will give to Him hidden manna”). Over and over. Can you imagine standing there, preoccupied and suddenly you feel something in your palm, only to look down and see you are holding a handful of manna? It was so odd, to be honest I found it hard to swallow at first. But I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it.

After pondering these peculiar phenomena for a couple of weeks, I finally took the time to do a little research, searching the Bible online for all references to teeth. Many verses came up, but nothing that jumped out. So I tried ‘tooth’. Again, nothing.

Next, I decided to do a general search for gold, since I was pretty sure a reference for ‘gold teeth’ would not come up. Hundreds of verses came up for ‘gold’, so I set out to scan through them as quickly as possible. I didn’t have much expectation of finding anything, truthfully.

However, it was when I came to Exodus 25 that my spirit went on high alert. In this passage, we find God telling Moses how to build the Ark of the Covenant and the covering for the ark, what we call the mercy seat. Immediately after this, He tells Moses how to build a table to hold the showbread, the symbol of God’s invitation to His table and fellowship.

As God is giving instructions for building the showbread table, His orders include adorning the top of the table in such a way that it appears surrounded with “crowns of gold” (Ex 25:24-25). The table would then hold 12 loaves of bread at all times to represent the 12 tribes of Israel.

Did you hear that? A table with the appearance of  “gold crowns”, to hold the bread that represented fellowship between God and His people! At this point, I was thinking, would God literally bring a pun to life for a purpose?

Reading up a little on the showbread table, I found the following:

“Showbread” also was called “bread of the presence” because it was to be always in the Lord’s presence. The table and the bread were a picture of God’s willingness to fellowship and communion (literally, sharing something in common) with man. It was like an invitation to a meal, an extension of friendship. God was willing for man to enter into His presence to fellowship with Him, and this invitation was always open. 

Jesus came to call sinners to Him, make them right with God, so that they could enjoy everlasting fellowship with God. 

“I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. … Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die.” (John 6:35, 49-50) 

God so desires our fellowship that He was willing to come to earth from heaven as our “bread of life” to give eternal life to all those who would partake in it. At Jesus’ last Passover meal with His disciples, Jesus described Himself as bread again: 

“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat; this is my body.’” (Matthew 26:26) 

Jesus’ broken body is our only access to fellowship with God. Today, we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, or communion, to remember this important truth. And today, as in the day of Moses’ tabernacle, God still desires to have fellowship and sit down for a feast with His people. 

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelations 3:20)

[From: http://the-tabernacle-place.com/articles/what_is_the_tabernacle/tabernacle_table_showbread]

Another snippet lends further insight:

The table symbolizes fellowship. It shows a gesture of friendship, as inviting a friend to share a meal. The table in the tabernacle shows God’s desire for fellowship with us. Jesus was a friend of publicans and sinners because He sat and ate with them at the table. God wishes to satisfy our hunger

[From: http://bibletruth.net/florlane/tabernacle/BREAD~1.HTM]

Now, let’s bring all of this back to the strange phenomena of gold teeth and manna bread on God’s living children. And again, please understand, this is just one possible interpretation.

The New Testament tells us we in Christ are His living temple! God may have been using those peculiar happenings to demonstrate this truth. Perhaps these modern day believers in Christ became His living showbread table, complete with ‘gold crowns’, to hold His manna, His showbread!

If this was His intent, then He revealed us as connected directly to Old Testament Israel, through the symbolic representation of the temple’s showbread table and bread of His people. After all, as the Apostle Paul said, we are the ‘Israel of God’.

Maybe in addition to letting us know we are His people and His living temple, He is gently hinting that through us the world should always feel invited, loved and welcomed into His presence. More specifically, and because I believe filmmaker Darren Wilson has beautifully woven stories of God’s people loving the lost sheep back to Him, this phenomena may have been the perfect opening to the filmmaker’s documentary work. For his work itself is an invitation to fellowship with God, a living symbol of the showbread table.

In summary, without teeth one cannot eat bread. Perhaps God, placing crowns of gold on Christian believers’ teeth and manna in their hands, is reminding us in an incredibly personal and humorously creative way:

1) Christ is the bread of life, 2) He is able to satisfy spiritual hunger, 3) He welcomes all people into His fellowship, and 4) followers of Christ become His living temple beckoning all to His banquet invitation!

Well, regardless if you agree with this interpretation of the phenomena revealed in the documentary, the above summary statements are still true. So, let’s be about our Father’s business, shall we?