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

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Heart of God

Yesterday morning brought one of those unusual God-moments, a touch of love in the midst of my human nonsense. Some will think I am a nut. I am a nut. A nut for the Savior Who loves me no matter what mess I make!

My dietary health has been a challenge the last couple of years. As a result of long ignorance on the diet/immune system connection, my digestive system suffered at the hands of an often unhealthy diet. I’ve been trying to do better since I realized the cause, but admit it is a struggle. Old habits are hard to break.

Yesterday morning I woke up late, and in my hurry I wondered if I could eat cold pizza for breakfast instead of making myself something healthy which would take longer. Wallowing in guilt over that decision, I gingerly asked the Lord if He thought it would be okay for me to eat just one piece of cold pizza.

I heard His Spirit say in a rather formal manner, “I will authorize it… one piece.” I was a little surprised He answered at all, to be honest, and moreso over the permission. Amazed and relieved, I started munching on a slice of cold pizza with my coffee.

After a few bites I thought, this would be better if I heated it! So, I turned on our countertop griddle and attempted to heat the half piece remaining. As I ate the freshly heated half, so much better than the first, I thought to myself, I really want to heat another piece and I’ll just call it breakfast and lunch!

Another guilt wave hit me. I knew the Lord had only ‘authorized’ one piece. But knowing I was going to do it regardless, shamelessly petitioned Him for grace anyway. Again, I was shocked at the generous reply in my spirit, “eat it with your homemade dressing”.

My homemade salad dressing is extra virgin olive oil and apple cider vinegar with spices. That type of vinegar is an excellent detoxing tool. I was surprised and thought, what a good idea! And I was grateful for the grace even though still ashamed.

After pouring some dressing into a little cup for dipping, I went to return the container to the fridge. Before closing the door, I heard the Spirit say, “more”. So, I drizzled more into the cup and headed back to the fridge again.

A second time, I heard the Spirit say, “more”. I obeyed, but as I looked on the growing amount, perhaps a full half cup at this point, I wondered how on earth I was going to eat all of that dressing. Oh no, did He want me to drink it? Detox drinks are made every day with apple cider vinegar. I cringed at the thought. It would serve me right for cheating with pizza for breakfast!

When I finally sat down with my second piece of hot pizza and half cup of dressing, still feeling bad about myself, I struggled to soak as much dressing as I could into each bite. It seemed to be going nowhere fast. I dreaded being convicted to drink it, so I knowingly cheated, pouring the whole amount all over the pizza, most of it dripping off onto the plate. My hope was I would have an excuse to throw it away when I was finished eating!

More guilt. I had become completely nonsensical! Working every angle to get around what I feared would be the Lord’s condemnation and anticipated punishment.

Can you relate? How many times do we do exactly the same, in all types of situations, trying to maneuver ourselves around God?

By this time, I vaguely realized if I’d just cooked myself a couple of eggs, it would have taken less time than all the pizza manipulations! Still more shame washed over me.

When finally I took the last bite and gave up wrestling my conscience over breakfast, I looked down at the plate and saw something that made me gasp… and laugh.

There swimming in a pool of wasted olive oil, vinegar and spices was a blob of pulpy tomato sauce in a very distinct shape. It had oddly formed a perfect heart, looking all the more real with its bright red, fleshy appearance.

The little, lifelike heart in the midst of the mess I’d created whispered a clear reminder of the very real heart of God, of His wish for me to chill out and rest in His love. I laughed and laughed over His cuteness in the midst of my ridiculousness.

He knew the amount of dressing would be overwhelming, knew exactly what I would do… saw all my manipulations, and still waited for the perfect opportunity to show His heart and encourage me not to take myself so seriously.

Now, I know some people think, there is no way God does anything like that. Perhaps you grew up being taught God is as black and white as the words printed on the pages of your Bible. Maybe some stiff adult convinced you He is austere, He doesn’t play! Well, I’m here to tell you, you need to think again!

I’ve seen God’s humor so many times over. Think of how silly and playful so many of us are, we humans. He made us in His image, remember? So, He has a sense of humor, too. Only, unlike most humans, His is combined with purity and love. It is never sarcastic or mean-spirited, and He doesn’t pull pranks. His humor is sweet, cute and innocent.

God knows life has enough difficulty. I believe He interjects moments of humor to give us joy and help us lighten up. Just like how we crave those times with our closest family and friends, I think the Savior wants to share moments of love and laughter with us.

Open your mind, and get to know another side of God today. Draw near to Him, surrender to His love and pray for His Holy Spirit to fill you. Then, watch for Him to give you messages of love… to play with you in ways that let you know He is with you, that He loves you… that you can relax in His presence.

He is just that personal… and extraordinary.

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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.

American Restoration Begins In Us

If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. II Chronicles 7:14

The solar eclipse that traversed across America today had many Bible teachers warning us for weeks. Would it be the day of Christ’s return? Or, more soberly, of God’s pending judgment, if our nation does not turn from the downward slide away from God and His principles? To those questions, I honestly admit I have no answers.

But, what I want us to do is stop for a moment and recognize the core truth in the profound promise above from II Chronicles 7:14. Notice, God did not say, “If all the pagan will turn from their wicked ways, I will heal their land.”

God said, “If My people will do these things… humble and purify themselves and seek Me… I will forgive their sin and heal their land.” If only the people of God do what we are called to do, then His healing and restorative grace falls upon our nation!

My friends, we do not need everyone in America to come to faith and repentance in order to save our country! We so often get caught up blaming non-believers for turning the culture away from God and destroying our nation. But the truth is much simpler and closer to home.

It begins in us! A pure and faithful body of Christ is healing for America. And just as a strong Jerusalem was good for ancient Israel, a strong America is good for the entire world.

May God restore His people… and thus America, and bless her once again. May He continue to use her as a beacon of hope and refuge to people around the world until He returns. May He lift up the hurting children of God all over the world, and make His people worthy to welcome their Savior in the final day.

You and Me Time

Do you have a relationship that is extra special in your life? A spouse, friend or family member, someone you make time for just because you enjoy the relationship and are blessed by it? How does it feel when you have not seen that person in a while? Something is missing, you feel out of sorts or lonely, perhaps… Have you ever had the thought or made the statement to that person, we need ‘you and me time’!?

This morning, as I rose to face the challenges of the day, I said to Jesus, ‘Lord, I don’t know where to begin.’ He said back quickly in my spirit, We need you and Me time.

Isn’t that amazing? He is so personal and loving. He knew the thing I most needed to settle my busy mind and sort my day was to sit in fellowship with Him. I needed to soak in His calming presence and our loving relationship. And He needed it, too. We don’t often think in those terms, but He desires our presence maybe more than we desire His.  He craves ‘you and Me time’ – those loving moments together!

So, with His prompting, I poured a steaming cup of coffee, grabbed my laptop and curled up on the sofa. The first thing I did was play a few worship songs. Godly music so quickly saturates the atmosphere around me and makes it holy. As I respond to the words, and use them to love my Father, Savior, and welcome His Spirit, His presence surrounds me with unconditional love and joy.

Reading and pondering His Word are the next step. It doesn’t have to be more than a verse or two. But getting Scripture inside us arms us against the assault of lies that constantly come from the world every day. Truth from His Word keeps our mind wise to the enemy and lights our steps.

Another thing I do is talk to the Lord, and listen. It is so common to think of prayer as mainly a one-way street. But it is actually a conversation.

When we learn to walk surrendered and filled with the Holy Spirit, we begin hearing the Lord speak to us. To grow our ability to hear Him, we must regularly embrace quiet… and listen. Over time, we begin recognizing His voice. He loves to surprise us at times how clearly His Spirit whispers words of love and guidance into our soul.

So, have you had your ‘You and me time’ with Jesus today?

You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11 NKJV

Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. Revelation 3:20 NLT

The Burden of Pride

In my youth, I remember hearing often the comforting verse, cast your cares upon Him, for He cares for you (I Peter 5:7). The word care was understood to be some type of burden. At the time, in my young mind I thought a burden was only something that caused worry or sorrow.

This morning, the Spirit showed me that pride is as difficult a burden as worry. Maybe more difficult. Pride can be a lion ready to shred others at any provocation.

How quickly do we take offense to the slights of others? All it takes is a short drive down the road to bring out my lion. “She cut me off!” “He raced too fast around me, how dare he!” Pride lurks so close to the surface, it takes next to nothing to have it springing out, claws extended!

Yet, traffic offenses are mostly impersonal. Strangers cutting us off are nothing compared to someone familiar getting in your face and yelling at you in front of others. To fight off the lion in those moments and find grace and forgiveness is truly tough.

What do we do with this care, this burden that could become an out-of-control beast? Paul said cast it upon Christ. The word translated cast in I Peter 5:7 could mean either place it or throw it in Greek. The lion of pride is surely one that needs to be thrown! Don’t wait, or it might catch you with its claws in the process of trying to take someone else out.

The next time you are wounded by someone, and the burden of pride comes roaring out like a lion, throw it quickly upon Jesus! Let Him dissolve it into peace, reminding you He understands pain and humiliation very well, and let Him restore your spirit by filling you with His.

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]