When you reach the conclusion to this
chapter you realize that the Shepherd has brought Much-Afraid
to the place of anointing “in readiness for
burial.” As you journey through these pages you’ll
see very clearly this key point:
A life-giving character quality the
Shepherd desires to produce in those of us who follow Him is complete trust.
Your trust in our Lord is inversely
proportional to your fear and your need to be in control of
your life. Only through complete death to yourself can you
abide in complete trust in Jesus.
At the end of this chapter we’ve
included a handout entitled How to
Gain a Good Conscience, a teaching
from the Institute in Basic Life Principles that has proven
valuable to those who desire to be available for our
Father’s purposes. It’s essential that you be clean
with both God and with people in your life so you can continue
on your journey. A person who lacks a good conscience can
“talk Bible”, but a person with a good conscience
speaks glorifying testimony of our Lord’s personal
presence and intervention. We all need to join Paul when he
says, “Indeed, it is because
of this that I make a point of always having a clear conscience
in the sight of both God and man” Acts 24:16).
Chapter 14 The Place of Anointing
1. As it happened; 2. However, when
Much-Afraid and her companions...
The Path of Forgiveness into the Valley of
Loss we covered in the previous chapter is critical to what
Much-Afraid is about to experience. Remember what her life was
like in the Valley of Humiliation? Do you remember how her
family made her a prisoner in her own home and tried to keep
her from leaving the valley with the Shepherd?
The Valley of Loss is your appointed time
to shed all bitterness and resentment toward everyone who has
ever hurt you. If you’ve done this, then you’re
able to recognize that every human being is made in the image
of God and is worth the awesome sacrifice of His Son for each
one of them, including yourself. The Valley of Loss helps you
to see people through the eyes of God, from His heart’s
The heart of our Father encompasses love
that far exceeds human definition. The Hebrew word for
“love” is ahav. It means a passionate love, a wholehearted devotion. The
letters themselves mean “a window into the Father’s
heart.” This is what He desires for you to perceive so
that you can experience life as He intends. This is where real wisdom emanates from
— seeing everything from our
Much-Afraid has now come face to face with
mountains far higher than the Precipice of Injury that had
proved so daunting. Her surroundings weren’t as
important, however, as the changes that had been made in her
own heart to enable her to pass through the Valley of Loss.
Rather than backing off or murmuring in fear, she firmly
pressed on toward the high cliffs. To their great joy and
surprise, there stood the Shepherd waiting beside a chairlift
to the top!
Pause here for a moment to recall your own
personal trials in which, in your wildest imagination, you
never would have contemplated our Father’s particular
intervention that saved the day for you or someone you loved.
Once again He was pleased to reveal His Father heart of love to
encourage you to keep walking the path He’s set for you.
We’ve waited a long time to get to
this point in the book. If you’ve chosen to forgive from
your heart all who have hurt or disappointed you, you have
access to the grace that’s poured out abundantly by God.
While He indeed out of mercy blesses in so many ways the wicked
as well as those who walk in Him, people who choose not to get
through the Valley of Loss will never experience the intimacy
of walking in grateful awareness of His presence.
When we encounter those who are still
imprisoned by an unclean conscience toward others, we grieve
because they don’t know what they’re missing. When
you have a clean conscience the testimonies you’re able
to share as a result of God’s grace ring loud and bold, a
far cry from the vicarious secondhand stories repeated by those
who have yet to walk in the freedom of a clear conscience.
Do you have a clear conscience
toward God and all others? What is hindering you from
humbling yourself to “come clean”?
We are told in Scripture that “out of the heart the mouth speaks.” What has been coming out of your heart lately? Do
your words reveal His grace to you, or are there underlying
chambers filled with self-justification or blame or excuses?
3. However, that passed almost at once...;
4. Much-Afraid stepped into one of the seats...
Total surrender to our Lord is accompanied
by amazing grace from Him. Relinquishing all ill feelings
toward other people enables you to be completely surrendered to
God. You’ll find that freedom, grace and surrender are
intricately connected as your pilgrimage continues upward.
You begin to acquire a vantage point of
understanding people and your past that can never develop until
you’ve passed through the Valley of Loss. You’re
able to no longer regard people through the flesh of your old
nature but through the compassion of the Spirit.
Past hurts, letdowns, and betrayals are
recognized as our Father’s
way of developing Christ-like character in you. When you’ve left behind the
“sting” of those vexing circumstances, you’re
able to appreciate His “severe mercy” toward you.
Painful experiences can be His way of causing you to draw near
to Him in the dependent trust of a child. You can then grip the
promises of His Word as an indispensable means of becoming more
If you decide to resist His means of
developing your character, you’ll have to face that
classroom again. Don’t you want in your heart to move
along “steadily toward the High Places which had looked
impossibly out of reach, supported entirely from above”? That’s what
childlike trust looks like!
Are you still fighting God about
anything? A particular person in your life? Something He wants
you to do? Somewhere He wants you to go?
What will it take for you to
completely surrender? What will you have to leave behind?
5. When at last they stepped out...; 6.
Above were peaks of pure white snow...; 7. It was the
voice of a mighty waterfall...; 8. As they wandered forward...
All around us lays evidence of the beauty
that must have been Eden. In the Garden, our first parents
breathed in the unsullied fragrance of Creation, freely
exulting in God’s divine splendor.
Much-Afraid had been so fixated on
reaching the High Places that she’s missed much of His
handiwork down in the valley she’d left behind.
“Target fixation” can block out all but the goal or
thought that’s consuming you at the moment. You may
believe that your particular target is worth all that focus,
such as a home repair project, a work deadline, or finally
reaching the end of your to-do list.
But you may also be blinding yourself from
the encounters and opportunities that our Shepherd has sent to
you for your personal growth and comfort — companions
sent by Him for that particular moment. Beware of putting tasks
ahead of people!
Sue: Sometimes I get so overwhelmed by
jobs that seem overwhelming, I just need to get out of the
house to free up my senses, even if only for a little while. A
short hike on the nearby bluffs or along the river does wonders
for my senses as I inhale the breezes and marvel at the latest
greenery protruding from the rocky landscape.
Even at the border of the Kingdom of Love
the diverse display of His extravagant creation overtakes
Much-Afraid with wonder. Here eyes are enveloped with bounteous
color, her ears swathed in bird calls and rushing water sounds,
her lungs replenished with pine-scented air. By yielding to the
enchantment all around her, she was able to fully live in the
moment in grateful joy.
When was the last time you stopped
long enough to breathe in the splendor of our Lord’s
creation? Does that concept even appeal to you?
What is preventing you from
immersing yourself for an hour or so in a slice of His outdoor
masterwork? What do you purpose to change so you can be refreshed?
9. At the foot of the cliffs...; 10. As
she listened...; 11. “Much-Afraid” said the
Shepherd’s voice...; 12. She trembled a little...; 13.
“It is the leap...; 14. “Look closer,” he
said again...; 15. Much-Afraid did so...; 16. She gazed and
Much-Afraid is keenly aware of the beauty
around her. Heightened sensitivity is a blessing from the Holy
Spirit to those who take the time to quiet their hearts to
listen to Him. But He’s calling us to more than
appreciation of the beauty in God’s creation. He
generates an awareness to the divine
encounters that fit together
like a fabric being woven around us.
For instance, Sue and I were just
finishing our May-June 2004 newsletter entitled, “Be Warned! Greasy Grace Fuels the Fires
of Hell”. Coincidentally,
David Wilkerson’s prophetic teaching letter arrived in
the mail with the same topic of warning, almost verbatim in
places to ours! It encouraged us that the Spirit is issuing the
same warning from many venues, and that our Father’s
timing of confirmation was so perfect.
Yesterday, we received a newsletter from a
ministry that uses our writings. We were excited by how much of
the relational emphasis they had adapted! An hour later we
received a phone call from an older man who wanted to use some
of our material to teach on the Hebraic roots of the church. He
then asked if we had other information that could deepen his
While we were still talking he went to our
website, praising God for being able to find the very things
for which he’d been searching. He mentioned that he
planned to attend a conference being conducted by the very
ministry from whom we’d just received the newsletter.
God’s divine tapestry being woven around us is what we
These “eyes wide open”
occurrences are like the harmony of all the rivulets that fed
into the rushing waterfall. Our Father works so uniquely in
each of our lives, yet each testimony of His intervention and
grace adds to the torrent of praise that rises up to His
As the Shepherd and Much-Afraid continue
to stand by the waterfall, they are captivated by the beauty of
that water’s abandonment to the will of the Lord:
“Always answering the call, to the lowest place of
all.” This is what we His followers are called to, a call
to such abandonment to Him that nothing can stop us as His
servants to accomplish His will.
How different is this perspective from the
self-serving ‘Name it and
Claim it’ people who demand
that God answer their prayers. When you hear them pray they
sound like they are commanding a subordinate to act on their
Only a heart belief that God owes them could
motivate their commands that He act on their behalf. Prayer
that is couched in arrogant presumption grieves a Shepherd Who
modeled service and death to self on behalf of others.
People who have learned the lesson of
abandonment share a humble and glorifying testimony. Can you
picture the Shepherd standing next to you at the
waterfall’s base, asking “What do you think of this
fall of great waters in the abandonment of self-giving?”
He presents His mind on self-giving in several Gospel passages.
His disciples realized they were being trained up to lead, but
they needed a heart transformation to follow in Jesus’
steps rather than those of the power-flaunting Romans.
Addressing His bickering disciples, Jesus “sat down, summoned the Twelve and
said to them, ‘If anyone wants to be first, he must make himself last of all and servant of all’” (Mark
Jesus warned them against imitating the
tyrant tendencies of Gentile rulers: “But among you, it must not be like that! On
the contrary, whoever among you wants to be a leader must be your servant” (Mark 10:43).
Abandoning self is not a venue for false
humility; rather it’s focusing on the One for whom all
service is given. “If someone
is serving me, let him follow me; wherever I am, my
servant will be there too. My
Father will honor anyone who serves
me” (John 12:26).
Can you see yourself sitting with Jesus as
He delineates what it means to serve others? Think of the most
beautiful scene you can imagine in response to
Much-Afraid’s wonder in the joyous water droplets,
“so utterly abandoned to the ecstasy of giving
themselves...It looks as though they think it is the loveliest
moment in all the world.” In a culture in which loving
yourself and meeting your own needs take precedence, this idea
is truly radical!
Mike: Many years ago at our retreat
center, a group of white boys from Cape Cod spent the weekend
with us. At the same time, a gathering of older black women
from the inner city of Hartford asked to stay in the
women’s dorm for a couple days of prayer and worship.
The boys and their leader and I went out
on the river to go tubing for the day. As I conversed with them
I became aware of how racially prejudiced these boys were.
We got back to the center about an hour
before supper. As we cleaned up and sat around, the older women
took a genuine interest in these boys. Each of these godly
women exhibited such a wonderful kind of love that only years
of self-abandonment could have produced.
After supper I convinced the youth
director to set aside his schedule of planned activities and
just let things roll along. Those boys were changed by the loving
nature of these women who had learned to trust God through all
kinds of trials that living in the inner city produces.
The next day as both groups headed back to
their own worlds, I saw no less than a few boys hugging the
ladies with tears in their youthful eyes.
Is it in your nature to abandon
yourself (your needs, desires, ambitions, time) in order to
give yourself to others?
What kind of attitude shift needs
to be made in your heart so that you can serve with the joy of
the water droplets rather than with the resignation of a
17. “Yes,” answered the
Shepherd...; 18. Again Much-Afraid looked...; 19. Laughing and
shouting at the top of their voices...; 20. At first
sight perhaps the leap does look terrible...
The theme of exuberant joy continues, even
when obstacles that might “dismay” the rushing
waters gives them cause to “swirl triumphantly around and
over the rocks.”
Mike: I can identify with the phrase,
“the next glorious crisis of their self-giving” in
a unique way. Have you ever done a “trust fall”
into the arms of other people? Let me tell you about my first
two falls. During one women’s retreat as they were doing
trust falls off our 5-foot high log, they asked if they could
catch me, a 200-plus pound man. For several years I’d
been conducting retreats incorporating our outdoor confidence
course, but I’d conveniently avoided having to fall into
the arms of anyone!
Yielding to their pleas, I clambered up
onto the log. Now, these ladies didn’t calculate that a
man is heavier in his shoulders while women are heavier in the
stern. I leaned back and fell right through their outstretched
arms, smashing painfully into the packed dirt. It hurt but
nothing was broken.
The following weekend a youth retreat
asked me to join them in trust falls. This time I put the
stronger guys into position to catch my upper torso. I fell
safely and painlessly into their arms. But to “fall with
abandonment” took a lot more courage the second time than
it did the first!
A wonderful fellowship is shared by those
who have learned the abandonment of the waterfall experience
together. Concerns and worries don’t even enter into
their decisions. Like Much-Afraid they regard “every
obstacle...as another object to be overcome and another lovely
That kind of opportunistic view of life
leaves no room for hesitation or shrinking back in light of the
unspeakable joy and glory of seeing God’s grace operate
around you. “Self-giving is
life.” As the waterfall
teaches, “obstacles only add to the joy and glory of the
Keep in mind:
You can never appreciate what the
abandonment of complete trust in our Lord feels like until you
are faced with the opportunity to doubt. The joy of complete trust comes when you’re
confronted with a circumstance that could tempt you to forget
His faithfulness — but you choose to walk in trust
If you can clearly identify with the
exuberant abandonment of the water, keep pressing on with us.
If you can’t identify, stop. Turn to How to Gain
a Good Conscience at the end before
proceeding on with the rest of the chapter. That will make all
the difference as you finish your “anointing for burial.”
Are you a person who is abandoned
to God’s will? If not, what is hindering you? If yes, how
do you find ways to glorify our Lord through testimony?
Describe a situation in which you
were called to give of yourself beyond that which you thought
you could do. How did it turn out?
21. On hearing these words...; 22. It was
not, however, that the sun always shone...
What a delightful part of the journey for
Much-Afraid, spending precious days with the Shepherd as He
walked and talked with her and her companions! Just think about
the “many things about the Kingdom” that He shared
with them, whetting their spiritual appetites for what lay
Did you as a child ever experience that
delicious anticipation that accompanies a long-awaited trip or
activity? It seemed as though that day would never arrive
— yet at the same time, your fantasy thoughts of what it
was going to be like kept you entertained for hours!
But note that even during this exquisite
time for Much-Afraid, clouds and mist showed up to block the
view of gleaming peaks. That. too, was an essential ingredient
to the journey, for the Shepherd exhorted them all to be of
good courage as those who walk by trust, not by sight. See (2
The apostle Peter assures us that we must
keep pressing on in loving and trusting our Lord even though
we’ve not been privileged to see him face to face as he
had. Our trust needs to be exercised to stand firm even when we
don’t see obvious evidence of His intervention in our
lives. His Spirit is faithfully present in tumult as well as in
Think about the ups and downs of
your life. How easy is it for you to recall sunlit times of joy
when clouds of turmoil are swirling around you?
If you had the opportunity to spend
an hour hearing from the heart of Jesus, what would you want
Him to focus on?
23. Every now and again...; 24. On one
such occasion the Shepherd...; 25. Believe steadfastly in what
you have seen...
When God showed us that we were to go to
Israel for three months in 1993, we didn’t even have
money for airfare. But at the last hour in which we could
purchase tickets, an unexpected gift arrived to cover the cost.
We had no savings and, when we returned to the States, we had
to trust on God’s provision as needs arose. Jehovah Jireh, God
our Provider, became much more than a name to us; it became our
way of life.
While we lived in Israel, our Lord would
encourage us by having us find shekels on the sidewalks and
streets. Discovering these shiny dime-size coins filled us with
childlike delight because we know Who had caused them to be
During the past 10 years we’ve
continued to find coins (and even bills!) to confirm His
faithful provision as we walk in obedient trust. On occasions
in which He’s directed us to do something out of the
ordinary, He’s heartened us with coins which turn up in
the most unusual places. Time and again our Father has assured
us that resources would be there when needed.
We included the poem “Step By
Step” in Chapters 2 and3 of this study guide. If you seek
even one step and are willing to take that step, you’ll
never find God’s guidance lacking. Just keep in mind that
He is never obligated to explain why He’s revealing to you that
particular word. Nor should you dig a pit for yourself by
conjecturing where you think He’s leading.
Mike: Sue and I packed up our belongings
in a U-Haul 4 years ago expecting that we were heading for a
mission school near Phoenix, Arizona. During a conference there
a few weeks earlier, the director had invited us to move to the
mission compound to share with the staff the Hebraic
foundations of following Jesus.
Just as we closed up the back of the
truck, we received a call from the director. He sadly reported
that some of the missionaries had invoked a little-known clause
in their charter to overrule his desire for us to come. He
quoted them as saying, “Mike and Sue insist that you
can’t minister to people you don’t love. We
don’t even like these Indians, but we “do
right” by them. We don’t want that couple coming
The director paused a moment then shared
an important piece of information. He sensed that God was protecting us by keeping us away from the bitterness and
squabbling that had plagued the staff for years. In fact, he
and his wife were themselves resigning in order to live among
one of the tribes to teach them the Hebraic foundations.
Since we had friends we were going to
visit along the way in Memphis, we decided to head west anyway.
I asked God to not let us cross the Mississippi without knowing
where we were going. Several friends had been praying for us.
When we arrived in Memphis we received three phone calls. Each
one reported that God had revealed that He wanted us in
We drove into town knowing no one. In
time, though, we began to work among different Native people.
Each one told us that if we’d gone to that mission
that’s so hated by so many Indians, no Native person
would have listened to us. God did protect us!
We want to encourage you with the
Shepherd’s words, “Always go forward along the path
of obedience as far as you know until I intervene, even if it
seems to be leading you where you fear I could never mean you
When is the last time you sought our Lord
for guidance? Did you wait for Him to give it, or did you
pray-and-go, hoping for the best? Did you obey what He revealed
Do you have a testimony like that
of our coins by which our Lord encourages you? What are the
different ways in which He’s directed your path?
26. “Remember, Much-Afraid, what you
have seen”...; 27. Before the curtain closed again...;
28. On the last day they stayed there...; 29. Up there on the
mountaintop...; 30. Putting out his hand...
When you’ve recognized a
God-sighting in your life, you need to remember it so that you
can recount it later. Some people keep journals so that they
won’t forget the details. Much-Afraid picked some
gentians so that she could recount the reality of what occurred
here at the place of anointing before the clouds would cover
the peaks again.
In the 10+ years we’ve been sharing
the Hebraic foundations, many people who once seemed delighted
turned back again to their old ways. Unresolved bitterness most
often was the culprit that defiled our relationship. Sometimes
the pain of losing people we deeply care about can bring about
deep despair. It’s at these times that we recall our stay
in Israel where our Lord showed us the relational priorities of
the earliest Church.
Mike: Sometimes I refresh my determination
to press on by remembering how Sue and I went away to an
ancient monastery on retreat during our last weeks in the Land.
We’d gone there to enjoy the quiet and to confirm with
our Lord what He had shown us. I remember how I’d
wandered about the grounds while Sue rested. I had entered a
little chapel, finding a plain wooden table with a small bowl
of olive oil on it. The Holy Spirit directed me to anoint
different parts of my body to set them apart for His use: my
eyes, ears, mouth, heart, hands, feet. Everything I looked at,
heard, spoke, felt, did, and wherever I went, were to be set
apart for Him. Then He said, “Get your wife and do the
I remember the next morning as we stood in
the cold darkness waiting for the sun to rise over the Judean
hills. As it emerged at our backs, it cast a golden glow on the
field below us. Yet, a massive tree in the middle of the field
remained starkly black. Later, God revealed to us the meaning
of that sign: Our ministry in the US would be like that of
Moses with the Israelites. Circumstances would initially become
rougher for those who embraced the facets that made the
earliest Church intimate and powerful. If and as they
persevered, they would be strengthened in their spirit as they
prepared for His use of them.
I remember asking our Father how I would
provide for Sue and me when we returned to the States. He
answered, “Share this
message, and I will provide for you.” Wanting to be sure that it was Him and not my
imagination, I asked Him for a sign — that we’d receive
a check in the mail from the US that day.
That afternoon when we returned to our
host’s home, there was a letter waiting for us. Seven
days previously the Holy Spirit had urged the sender to leave
work early and go home. A letter which we’d mailed a week
earlier to many old friends had just arrived. Responding to the
Spirit’s nudge, he immediately sent a check for $100 and
mailed it to us. That check arrived at the precise time our
Father knew would fan our trust flames with joyful
Reminding ourselves of the miraculous
God’s sightings from our past is a great means to fend
off despair. Plus, you’re stirred once again to thank the
One in Whose hands your life is lovingly held!
Why not take a moment and see if
you can list 5 God-sightings in your own life.
Does recounting that which our Lord
has done for you come easily? Explain...
31. All around her, in every direction...;
32. In the heart of each flower...
The white-robed hosts of flowers permeated
the air with their fragrant joy. What a glorious picture of
those in Jesus who have passed from this world to the ecstacy
of His presence! We’re told in Hebrews 12:1 that we are
surrounded by a great cloud of faithful followers of Jesus who
have faithfully run the life race set before them and crossed
the line into heaven.
Mike: I like to think that both sets of
our parents are looking down on us as part of that “great
cloud of witnesses.” Do they find joy in how our Lord has
been changing us over the long haul? Are they filled with
delight to see us living for Jesus? Would they be proud of us
if their lives here on earth had been extended?
I can still recall as though it were
yesterday the afternoon we arrived at my Dad’s house in
August, 1978. Sue and I had both come to Christ in 1977, and
I’d just left a 10 year career in the Navy. We were on
our way to seminary in Massachusetts and had stopped by
to stay with my folks for a few days.
I was hardly out of the car when Dad asked
me to join him in the back yard. Looking me in the eye Dad
asked, “Are you doing all this for Jesus and no one
else?” My emphatic “Yes!!!” was met with a
warm smile and his promise that he’d stand with my
decision. The rest of my family couldn’t understand our
determination to follow Jesus. It frightened them. As years
passed, however, not only our parents but other family members
put their trust in the Lord Who promises to change lives!
How would your parents or
grandparents evaluate your life? If they’re alive, have
you asked them lately?
Have you ever asked your parents or
grandparents for input as to changes they think you should make in your life?
What would prevent you from asking?
33. On the utmost pinnacle...; 34. Then
the King told her to kneel...; 35.It seemed to her that a
burning flame...; 36. When she recovered...
We sometimes tend to forget the
awesomeness of the God Who love us. The same Lord Who tenderly
comforts us and graciously forgives us is also the LORD of
Lords Who rules with “utmost
authority and power.”
Before he could walk the path God has
assigned him, the prophet Isaiah underwent the same
commissioning cleansing that Much-Afraid endured. Her lips were
seared by a burning coal plucked off a holy altar with golden
Do you understand the distinctiveness of
that altar? Our Father doesn’t casually purge our lives
of sin. His plans for your life are too weighty for you to
nonchalantly continue with a self-centered focus. Those golden
tongs that grip your particular cleansing coal are lovingly
wielded by One Who fully understands the pain that purging
involves. That's why the process is beautiful in its purpose
but terrible in its pain.
When you choose in obedient trust to walk
through that trial knowing in your heart that the
Shepherd’s arms are carrying you, your yieldedness brings
about a deeper dependence in His strength rather than your own.
Sue: I find that more often than not, the
purging our Lord generally uses on me is through oral rebuke,
correction or admonishment. Like Eve, I can be too quick to act
independent of my husband’s counsel or input, and bring
discord into our marriage through my own foolish willfulness.
Then our Father uses Mike to impress on me what my attitudes
and actions have done to diminish the peace in our home.
Do I enjoy being brought up short? No, but I do
realize that resisting His words via Mike in favor of wanting
to hear “in my spirit from Jesus” misses the
character transformation that our Lord is working. I (and
probably many other wives!) need to see in my husband the
servant-leader He has chosen him to be.
Are you more prone to focus on the
“Abba” aspect of our Lord rather than on His
awesome Kingship? What could be the danger of over-emphasizing
one reality of His character rather than the complete package?
Who in your life does our Father
most often use as His mouthpiece of correction or admonishment?
How do you generally respond to this messenger?
37. When he found that she was
sufficiently recovered...; 38. “Much-Afraid,” the
Following her purging experience,
Much-Afraid’s sensitivity was heightened. The song
bird’s repeated chorus sounded like, “He’s
gotten the victory, Hurrah!”We shouldn’t be
surprised that our Lord uses elements of His creation to convey
messages to His children. We’ve noticed that many Native
Americans are much more sensitive than Europeans to God’s
use of His handiwork to communicate something of Himself.
Mike: For Sue and me, sunsets are a
spectacular sign of His favor on memorable days in our lives.
After we finished a Marriage Encounter weekend in Santa Barbara
in 1974, a weekend that wonderfully changed our lives together,
we were driving back along the Pacific coast in the early
evening. Not only the sky but even the sea was crayon red from
the setting sun’s brilliant rays.
A few years later we were returning to our
motel in the Philippines after being baptized in a New Tribes
Mission village. The evening sky was filled with a magenta
we’d never seen before. It was so unnatural that it was supernatural!
And when we moved into our mobile home a
year ago, a double rainbow gleamed above us, confirming with
His indwelling Spirit that His plan for this move was being
fulfilled. We thrill to see God in His creation, and we delight
in telling others about these colorful touches of His hand.
What “natural wonders”
from our Father’s hands rouse your heart the most?
39. Then with wonderful tenderness...; 40.
It was then that Much-Afraid...; 41. He said very gently...;
42. So they stood in the mist-filled wood...
At last Much-Afraid hears the words
she’s yearned for: the last part of the journey was about
to begin! She’s been given a glimpse of the Kingdom, and
trembles with hope that soon she will leap among its High
But have you noticed that
“soon” in our Lord’s vocabulary and
“soon” in ours don’t often coincide? We like
to think in immediate terms while our Father’s plans
involve a wider purpose. To each of us He whispers, “The
time is not long now.” Yet in the same breath we’re
reminded to “hold fast” and “overcome.”
It’s definitely not an easy slide into eternity!
The Shepherd speaks to Much-Afraid the
very words that have inspired us so often: “I know what you are doing. Look, I have put in
front of you an open door, and no one can shut it.” Our Lord knows what He’s called you to do. His own hand
has personally designed a plan with your name on it. The
doorway to fulfilling that plan stands open — He’s
not hiding it from you! And no one can thwart that purpose by
shutting the door. However, you must choose to cross the
threshold one step at a time.
Your strength comes not only from your
willingness but from your obedient trust — “You
have kept My word.” And, as the Shepherd states, He
regards your yieldedness to His right
and authority as Lord to do with
you as He will: “You have not denied My name.”
I wish Sue and I could say that in the
years we’ve served our Lord, sacrificial love was always
our primary motivation. But that wouldn’t be true! Many
times we’ve been beaten down by demonic forces and by the
betrayal of bitter people. Sometimes it was all we could do to
“obey”, and “not disown” our Lord.
It’s embarrassing to us that we couldn’t have been
more noble in purpose during those times. But our Lord’s
words, “yet you have obeyed...”, is to us His
gentle hand lifting up our bowed heads.
As we near the end of this chapter, we
want to encourage you, “KEEP MOVING FORWARD!”
God’s promises are never behind you, they’re always ahead of you. You
may be going through times of purification for the explicit
purpose to be nobly used during the days of chastisement that are
coming upon this land.
God is doing this for your good, and for
His future use of you. Don’t get hung up on feelings that
you have failed Him. That is Hellenism at its core. Our God
brings course corrections in the sails of our lives to turn us back
to His way of living. “KEEP MOVING FORWARD!”
Are you someone who is known to
“keep on keeping on” with our Lord no matter what
the circumstances? Be honest.
What hinders you from keeping on?
43. A little later they were down...; 44.
He answered her very quietly...; 45. Much-Afraid did not hear
The anointing that Much-Afraid has
experienced in this chapter has prepared Much-Afraid for her
soon-coming burial. Isn’t the real burial that leads to life
found while we are still alive? That’s what Jesus assures
each of us in the following passages.
“He who has found his life will lose
it, and he who has lost his life
for My sake will find it” (Matthew 10:39).
“For whoever wishes to save his life
will lose it; but whoever loses his
life for My sake will find
it” (Matthew 16:25).
“And everyone who has left houses or
brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit
eternal life” (Matthew 19:
“For whoever wishes to save his life
will lose it, but whoever loses his
life for My sake and the gospel’s will
save it” (Mark 8:35).
None of us can truly be alive and free in
Jesus until we are dead to everything we once were. That
includes family and anyone and anything else we hold dear. Yet
this can only be accomplished through His grace. God’s
grace is something you know without doubt that you’ve received.
Through His grace comes complete recognition and worship of
What has been the most painful or
costliest “death to self” for Jesus’ sake
you’ve yet endured?
How would you articulate to others
the way in which God’s grace carried you through that
HOW TO GAIN A GOOD CONSCIENCE
[from the Institute in Basic Life
WHAT IS A GOOD CONSCIENCE?
A good conscience is a healthy conscience.
It is one that is cleared of offenses toward God and toward
man. 1Timothy 1:5: “The goal
of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a
good conscience and a sincere faith.” The goal of a good conscience is summarized in the
Greek word, aproskopos, which is translated, “void of
offense.” Acts 24:16: “So
I strive always to keep my conscience clear (void of offense)
before God and man.”
The term means having nothing for one to
strike against and not causing to stumble. It denotes a smooth
road and metaphorically not leading others into sin by
one’s mode of life. It is a conscience which is not
troubled or distressed by the guilt of offenses.
A good conscience is not stained with guilt
toward God; it is blameless and innocent. Because of our sin
nature, the qualities of a good conscience are only possible as
we have our hearts cleansed by the blood of Christ. Any works
on our own behalf toward God would not gain for us a good
conscience. Hebrews 9:14: “....the
blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself
unblemished to God, cleanses our consciences from acts that
lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!”
A good conscience is one that allows me to
look every person in the eye knowing that not one of them can
point a finger and say, “You wronged me and you never
tried to make it right.”
WHAT DOES A GOOD CONSCIENCE INVOLVE?
2 Corinthians 10:5: “We demolish arguments and every pretension that
sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take
captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
Matthew 12:36: “But
I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of
judgment for every careless word they have spoken.”
2 Corinthians 5:10: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat
of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the
things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”
Jeremiah 17:9-10: “The heart is deceitful above all things and
beyond cure. Who can understand it? I the Lord search the heart
and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct,
according to what his deeds deserve.”
HOW DOES GRACE RELATE TO A GOOD CONSCIENCE?
Grace is not some static quality; it is a
dynamic force from God which gives us the desire and power to
do His will. As you humble yourself in preparing to ask for
forgiveness, God will give you grace. This grace will give you
the desire and the power to ask for forgiveness which will
bring further humbling and further grace. The more grace you
receive, the more power you will have to live as Jesus intends
STEPS TO GAIN A GOOD CONSCIENCE
Introspection is not the way to gain a good
conscience. Through introspection we measure ourselves by what
we think is right or wrong. In the course of reading
Scripture and living the Christian life, the Holy Spirit will
bring to your mind offenses which need to be cleared up. When
these come to your remembrance, you are then to take the steps
to restore a good conscience.
God may bring to mind offenses that you
have committed against any of the following:
( ) God ( ) Your father
( ) Your mother ( ) Your child(ren)
( )Your stepfather ( ) Your stepmother
( ) Your brother(s) ( ) Your sister(s)
( ) Your relative(s) ( ) Your spouse
( ) Your pastor(s) ( )
Your teacher(s) ( )Your neighbor(s) ( )
Your friend(s) ( ) Your employer(s) (
LIST YOUR OFFENSES
It is easy to minimize our offenses, and,
at the same time, blame others or justify what we did.
Therefore, it would be very wise to begin this next step
by asking God to revive our memory.
Psalm 139:23-24: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and
know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive
way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
WHAT DID YOU DO THAT CAUSED OTHERS TO BE
OFFENDED BY YOU?
Did you speak words which were:
List Actions which were:
WHAT ATTITUDES CAUSED YOUR WRONG WORDS OR
The key to asking forgiveness properly is
identifying the wrong attitudes before naming the wrong words
or actions. There are two essential reasons why wrong attitudes
must be confessed before wrong actions. The first reason
is that wrong attitudes are usually more hurtful and offensive
than wrong words or actions. The second reason is that if
the offending attitude is not corrected, the person who is
being asked for forgiveness is instinctively aware that the
same offenses will probably be repeated.
List attitudes which were:
THE IMPORTANCE OF WORKING OUT RESTITUTION
One of the clearest evidences of genuine
repentance is the willingness to make right any damage suffered
by the one whom you wronged. If you stole items, they
must be returned. If you cannot return them, you should pay for
them. If you do not have the money to pay for them, at
least one alternative plan should be offered to the person from
whom you ask forgiveness.
PURPOSE TO ASK FORGIVENESS
God is the One Whom we have offended the
most. If we fail to understand this fact and to act upon it,
God’s blessing will be missing from our lives when we go
to ask forgiveness of others.
Stop and Pray: “O Lord, I have
sinned against You. I now confess my sin of
_____________. I thank You for Your forgiveness and cleansing
me from this sin through the blood of your Son, Jesus
SEPARATE GUILT FROM BLAME
One of the greatest hindrances you may
experience in asking forgiveness is the feeling that the one
you wronged was also guilty. You may even feel that he or
she deserved what you did. It will be your tendency to
magnify the blame which you have toward the one you offended,
just as it will be his or her tendency to magnify the blame
Mixing guilt and blame will not only stop
you from gaining a good conscience, it will also cause
these two spiritual poisons to eat away at your soul and to
reduce the spiritual potential which God has for your life.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT WORDING
The importance of selecting the right words
for your confession cannot be overemphasized. The
prodigal son carefully chose each word. Luke 15:18-19: “I will set out and go back to my father
and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and
against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son;
make me like one of your hired men.”
The words which you choose should focus
only on your part of the offense.
“God has helped me to realize that I
was wrong in (root attitudes and resulting offenses). Would you
Evaluating the wording:
It is concise and to the point. The
longer a confession, the more danger there is for
It does not blame by implying,
“I was wrong, but you were too.”
It does not communicate pride by
statements like “If I was wrong...”
It does not offer excuses such as
“I got angry because I was tired.”
It does not suggest flippancy by
such words as “I’m sorry.”
It does not demand forgiveness, but
instead pleads for it.
It requires a direct answer rather
than a general response.
It calls for a verbal response.
It identifies the basic offense.
DETERMINE WHETHER A PHONE CALL OR A VISIT
The natural tendency at this point is to
simply write a letter in which you ask forgiveness. The
appeal of this wrong method is that it avoids any personal
confrontation. However, the lack of personal contact also
eliminates the possibility of gaining one of the most important
benefits—verbal assurance that you are forgiven.
SELECT THE BEST TIME TO ASK FORGIVENESS
The closer you come to approaching the
person you offended, the more difficult it will probably become
to ask forgiveness. Some common rationalizations that
appear at this time are, “It happened so long
ago.”; “Things have gotten better between
HOW DOES THE PRODIGAL SON REVEAL SPECIAL
INSIGHTS INTO HAVING A GOOD CONSCIENCE?
Christ’s parable about the prodigal
son contains rich insights about the real essence of repentance:
Repentance begins by “coming to our senses.”
Luke 15:17: “When
he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my
father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I
am starving to death!”
Repentance is admitting that
“I have sinned.”
Luke 15:18: “I
will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I
have sinned against heaven and against you.”
Repentance recognizes personal
Luke 15:19: “I
am no longer worthy to be called your son;
Repentance accepts new limitations.
Luke 15:19: “....make
me like one of your hired men.”