There’s a well nearby. You’ve probably seen it. It’s in a dusty abandoned town. You wonder who used to live here and why they all left.

Many people have traveled by this well on their journeys through life, but either didn’t notice it, decided not to check it out, or tried it but left for some reason. It doesn’t appear that the well has been used in a long time. You are not even sure if the water is good. The top of the water looks unappetizing . . . . disgusting actually – covered in dust, dirt, germs, bugs and grime. Who would even want to use this well or drink its water? You dip your finger in to just taste it anyways as you realize how thirsty you are, but you only taste the stuff on top. Yuck. You’re not drinking that! But your thirst remains.

You decide to move on. . . . to find something more appealing . . . more appetizing . . . more eye-catching and tasty. You heard there was something better down the road. So you turn your back to the well and head off.

I urge you to come back.

Things are not always what they seem.

There is more to this well than the casual observer and wanderer will ever know.

Let me help you draw up the DEEP water from the well. That is where the best water resides – where the cooler, refreshing, life-giving water is. It is not tainted by the dirt, dust, germs or bugs on top of the water. Nothing has touched this deep water except the bucket and cisterns that are allowed to draw deep into it.

Are you that kind of cistern or vessel?

Are you ready to go deep?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Jesus loves me this I know . . .

We ALL know the children's song "Jesus loves me"! We probably can't even count the number of times we have sung that song throughout our lifetime . . . 100 times? 200? 1000? More?

Jesus loves me this I know.
For the Bible tells me so.

Little ones to Him belong.

They are weak, but He is strong.

Yes . . . Jesus loves me.

Yes . . . Jesus loves me.

Yes . . . Jesus loves me.

The Bible tells me so.

I had an interesting conversation with one of my sisters recently. She has been struggling with severe anxiety and depression for several months now, but the Lord has been graciously healing her and is slowly bringing her out of the deepest valley she has ever experienced. She is a woman of the Word - knowing more scripture than I do or could hope to! She has always loved digging into the Word of God and getting to know what it really says and means. Part of her healing process (and just surviving some of this valley) was quoting scriptures every day . . . many times a day . . . that pertained to what she was dealing with. She came to a point where she truly understood the meaning of what Jesus said - "Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God" (Matt. 4:4).

But even though this has been a great source of strength in the past - she came to a point where she just wasn't "feeling" the same relief, peace and comfort that she used to when meditating on and quoting scripture. She wasn't "feeling" the love of God - that Jesus loved her. What happened to the "feelings" that had been associated with these and other scriptures in the past? Why wasn't she "feeling" better. Why weren't the scriptures "working" anymore?

We are "feeling" beings. God beautifully and creatively designed us to be like Him - full of feelings - through our emotions, thoughts, senses and more. These feelings are a blessing and a gift! They allow us to be passionate about things - people, hobbies, friends, spouses, animals, places, etc. They allow us to connect relationally with people - and with God - to be empathetic, to laugh together, cry together, get mad at injustice. However, we can also struggle with this blessing - this part of our created makeup. It can put us into the deepest of depression, the most bitter taste of anger and resentment, the painful place of being unjustly wounded.

So what do we do? . . . . Just stop feeling? Try to control it? How do we keep our feelings in check . . . balanced? Why wasn't my sister able to "feel" better when quoting the scriptures? Doesn't the Word of God have power?

Here's what I am learning (and yes - I am still on this journey too!). This is why I love that children's song we all know by heart.

We were created with body, soul and spirit. These are not separate parts - but are intertwined, overlapping with each other.

Our body encompasses all our physical characteristics - how we look, walk, our hormones, senses, etc. This part is easy for us to see and understand - right? (well - maybe not all of it is easy to understand! :) . . . PMS anyone?!)

Our soul is our mind, will and emotions - the thoughts we think, the internal feelings we feel, the decisions we make. If we are living by our soul - we are living by our emotions (as they go up, down and all around!)

Most of the world lives by/out of their soul. Our society is definitely soul-based. Commercials, advertisements, restaurants, politicians and more - all try to reach us on our soul level ("Buy this - it will make you happy. You need this to make you feel good. Go here . . . do this . . vote for me because . . . You can have it your way - right away - now!" etc). Our society is set up to meet our need to "feel" good . . . to help us get addicted to things that will only temporarily help us feel good. They are VERY good at knowing how to do this and wooing us into their traps. So is Satan! :)

Am I saying that we can't ever do anything that makes us feel good? NO! By no means. Let me continue . . .

The 3rd part of our makeup is our spirit. This is one of the most neglected and misunderstood aspects of our lives. This is why so many of us struggle, day in and day out, with living a peaceful, joyful, balanced life. We have been trying so hard to live just out of our body and soul, and occasionally out of our spirit. We take great care to feed our body and soul (Yes - you are feeding your soul more than you realize!) - but do we do the same with our spirit?

Our spirit is the part of us that, as a Christian, has been redeemed! When you accepted Christ into your life - accepted that free gift of salvation - your spirit was saved and redeemed! It was made pure and righteous before the Father because of what Jesus did for you! Praise the Lord for that!

Many people tell of miraculous transformations right then and there - they were set free from smoking, drugs, addictions, emotions - all sorts of soul-issues. But for many of us - that didn't happen. For many (if not most) people in the church, we have still continued to struggle with our feelings, emotions, addictions, sins, etc. Why? Because our soul was not redeemed - it was our spirit. Our soul still likes many of those things. Our soul still leans towards temptations. Our soul still has issues with emotions, thoughts, feelings, past wounds and experiences. Our soul is also never satisfied. It can be demanding, pushy, bossy, easily hurt or offended and more. It is the voice we hear in our head - loud and clear when we are faced with decisions on a daily basis. It is very self-centered! Many of us are still trying to live out of our soul. So where is our redeemed spirit in all this?

Our spirit is very different from our soul. It is gentle, tender, quiet. It doesn't demand things of us. It is not self-centered or self-demanding like our soul. It doesn't get hurt as easily. It is God-focused and is all about pleasing God! It is our spirit that connects with the Holy Spirit - that helps us to live with the fruit of the spirit - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. It is living by our spirit that can help us have the kind of life we desire - a satisfying life - filled with decisions, actions and feelings that please God - and living in the love of God (our wonderful heavenly Daddy).

Romans 8:5&6 says - "Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace"

So how do we live by the Spirit (and from our spirit)? It's a decision . . . it's an awareness. We have to have our "minds set on what the Spirit desires" and let our mind be "controlled by the Spirit" to truly have life and peace. It is a decision. It's not a feeling.

Too many people are trying to live their lives based on their feelings. We need to change the way we think and start living our lives based on a decision to live by our spirit - to connect with the Holy Spirit (who was sent here to HELP US!). How do we do this?

It's a decision. Will you CHOOSE to have an awareness of God standing right beside you all day long? Will you CHOOSE to live your life to please God and make HIM happy - or to please yourself (your spouse, your boss, your friends) happy? Will you CHOOSE to filter all your decisions in life based on that premise - that decision?

It won't be easy in the beginning - especially if you are used to living by your feelings of the day, of the moment. But it can be done. And just like any other habit we have - with time and consistency - it does get easier! :) It's also alot easier if you are feeding your spirit - "soaking" it (like a sponge) daily (possibly several times a day or throughout the whole day) with the Word of God, worship, and more!

So what does this have to do with "Jesus loves me" you are still asking?

Jesus loves me this I KNOW (not FEEL)
For the BIBLE TELLS me SO (not because I FEEL it).
Little ones to Him belong. (That's US!)
They (we) are WEAK, but HE is STRONG! (Praise the Lord!)

Yes . . . Jesus loves me! (Not because I feel it . . .)
Yes . . . Jesus loves me!
Yes . . . Jesus loves me!
(. . . but because it's TRUE and I CHOOSE to believe it!)

So - my challenge to you today is . . .

Live by the Spirit! Allow your spirit - your gentle, quiet, tender spirit to connect with the Holy Spirit today - and then LISTEN to it! Tell your soul to fall in line with your spirit! :) Let's be a people who are spirit-led instead of soul-led. Let's grasp hold of the truth that Jesus really did die for us to have an ABUNDANT LIFE - full of peace! Let's make a DECISION to honor what Jesus did by CHOOSING to do and believe what He said in God's Word! Let's choose to feed our spirit each and every day . . . all throughout the day!

And it's not based on feelings . . . but on choosing to believe and walk it out.

You can do it! It's an awesome adventure and journey to begin and live! Let me know how it's going for you, and let's keep encouraging each other to live by the Spirit instead of our souls!

And don't forget to have FUN doing it! :) (Trust me - there are AWESOME "feelings" and emotions to experience while living in/by the Spirit!)

As for my sister and why the scriptures didn't seem to be "working" at that time . . . she realized that God was starting to teach her this wonderful principle . . . to base her decisions on the TRUTH of the Word of God . . . not on her "feelings" associated with the Word of God! God is so good! :)

Choose to go deeper today!
Change the way you've been "swimming"!

Lori :)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Twilight - To read/watch or not?

One of the bloggers I occasionally follow recently posted a question to her readers that I was definitely interested in. I was looking forward to reading everyone's comments about this topic - a controversial one within the Christian community (We have alot of "controversial topics" - don't we? Jesus himself was controversial in His time too!). It was on the topic of the books and movie - "Twilight". Here's her post on Praise and Coffee.

Below is my response to her query.

Don't be afraid to go DEEP!

Lori :)

I've been reading the GREATEST love story ever!! I can't get enough of it! It is full of mystery, wars, lust, adultery, betrayal, miracles, death, and more! Have you read it?! . . . If not - you should!! :) It's written by the One who experienced it all Himself!! It's not even fiction (but can read like it!)!!

I have not read the Twilight books or seen the movies. I can feel the tug -the seduction - to see what "all the fuss" is about. I have felt that same tug many times in my life . . . and unfortunately -have given into those tugs one too many times . . . in many areas of life.
Is Twilight evil? Is it wrong? Should we as Christians be reading/watching it? Is it ok to read fictional stories about vampires or witches?. . . . For that matter - Should we be watching The Bachelor? Grey's Anatomy? Soap Operas, murder mystery shows?

I agree - I would probably love the books and the movie. I also loved Dirty Dancing when it came out. I was wooed by Pretty Woman. I thoroughly enjoyed The Holiday. I am a sucker for romance movies and stories. We all are. But here's why . . .

God is the author of romance! This whole thing - this earth - our lives - Jesus coming to earth the first time and dying for us - and His final return to earth (hopefully soon) . . . .it's all about romance! It's all about relationship. It's all about LOVE! He put within each of us the need, the desire for romance - for love - for the most intense and personal love and romance we can imagine!

God didn't just create us FOR love . . . He created us BECAUSE of LOVE. He sent His Son to die for us - to pay for our punishment, our judgment against us - because of LOVE. He has been wooing and calling His church . . . His BRIDE . . . out of LOVE! But His bride has been seduced by another lover. His bride has thought it was ok to be "engaged" but still "just look" at other romances - other things that make us feel good - that look good - that seem good - that the world says are good. Are they good? Are they bad?

Shortly after getting engaged, I was walking with some girlfriends and we passed by some really cute guys. I made a comment about how cute one of them was. My friends were in shock - "Lori! You are engaged!! You can't be looking at other men like that!" :) Well . . . he WAS cute. But that's where it ended. I didn't continue looking. I didn't continue thinking about it. I had made a decision to marry my boyfriend - and it was a done deal in my mind. Are there still cute guys that pass my way? Yes. Are there romantic movies/tv shows that I have watched over the years and enjoyed? Yes. Is it healthy for me to watch them? . . . . hmmm . . .

Over the past couple years I have been more intentionally pursuing the one love relationship that has had the power to transform my life like no other. . . . .my relationship with Jesus, my heavenly Daddy, and the wonderful Holy Spirit. It has been INTENTIONAL! It has been with PASSION! I've made a decision. I have started to notice though, recently, that as I have tried to watch various romantic movies/shows . . . I can feel the Love of my life being sad. It's not that He thinks I won't love Him. It's that He knows that the world's version of Love is only a counterfeit for His TRUE love - His PERFECT love.

Yes - the world's love makes us feel good . . . .temporarily. But we keep seeking after the next venue to experience it again.
God's love is different. Yes - His love makes us feel good - and yes - it makes us want to keep seeking after the next experience of it . . . but here's the difference. . . .

One path leads to death . . . the other leads to life! And life ABUNDANTLY!

Satan is crafty. He's not dumb. As one of the head angels in heaven - he couldn't have been dumb. He has spent decades, centuries, crafting the perfect traps - subtly seducing not just the non-Christians . . . but the Christians as well.

"It seems harmless". "What can it hurt?" "It looks/looked good." "It made me feel good." "I enjoyed it alot". "Did God really say/mean you/I can't . . . ?"

However - He really has been using the same trick since the garden of Eden. . . . . . "Did God really say you must not eat from any tree in the garden?" Satan knew he had Eve when she replied - "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say "You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and YOU MUST NOT TOUCH IT, or you will die."

In actuality . . . God never said anything about not touching it. Satan had won. He had manipulated Eve's thoughts so cleverly - to make her think it was her own - her own decision and idea.

I bet Eve thought the same things about that fruit that we have thought about many other things - otherwise I don't think she would have offered it to her husband. But when the Love of their lives came by . . . their thoughts definitely changed about the fruit! In the light of His perfect love - they knew they had been tricked - they knew they had sinned. They were ashamed.

Being close to a bright light will always cause any dirt to show up more easily. When we are further away from the light (or sitting in darkness) we don't notice any dirt on our clothes/body as much.

I agree with the one poster/blogger who said her mom's philosophy was "When in doubt - throw it out." My hubby has always said "When in doubt - say no."

There is that part of me that wants to read the books. I did read the first Harry Potter book (as i have a friend who is a huge fan). I read a good book about why Christians should read H.P. and how they can use it to witness to others. I do believe in being "in the world but not of the world". Christ spent his time in the homes of tax-collectors, prostitutes, etc. Would Jesus watch H.P. or Twilight? I don't know. But I do know this . . . He would still love all the people who do! He still does!

So - I am not in a position to judge. I am only in a position to do what is right for MY relationship with my future Groom - with my heavenly Daddy - with my Comforter and Friend. Do I always do the right things? Do I make mistakes still? Of course. :) Are there things He will allow others to do and not me? Yes. But there are things others can't do that I still can. We are all unique and different and have such a personally unique relationship with the Lord! So I definitely can't judge! (Judge not - lest ye be judged.)

We become what we think about. We are what we "soak" in. I am constantly asking my kids "what are you soaking in? Is this something you want to soak your minds in?" Because, just like a sponge - when the pressure is on us . . . whatever we have been soaking in is what will come out of us!

I want pure clean water to come out of me! It's rarely totally clean . . . but I'm working in it. Little by little. . . . . decision by decision . . . big or small. I'm getting there. And above all - I just love seeing and feeling the smile on my Savior's face when He sees that I only have eyes for Him . . . by choice! :)

God bless you all and thank you so much for sharing your opinions and insight! I truly appreciate it. I hope this didn't come across judgmental or harsh. I truly just have a passionate love for my Daddy - for Jesus - and I want everyone else to experience the same thing!! It's life-changing and gives FREEDOM!! Jesus doesn't want us to be bound by rules . . . He wants us to live in FREEDOM! Free to love - to live - to enjoy life abundantly!

Blessings to you all!

Lori West :)

Prayer for the nation - and LOVE!

Here is a link to the mp3 recording of the national prayer conference call that happened on Thursday, Septemeber 24th, 2009.

Please listen and pray along for our nation! God loves us - and wants us to return to Him - to be the bride He has created us to be. He wants to hold us close - to let us not just "know" that His heart beats for us - to just "know" that He loves us ("Jesus loves me this I know - for the Bible tells me so") . . . . but He wants us to FEEL His love for us - to FEEL His heart beating for us.

Our hearts are the source of our lives. If our heart were to stop beating - we would die. When we die - we are separated from those still left here on earth -from relationships here.

God's heart (His love) is the source of life for each and every one of us. It is the source of His relationship with us. If His heart (love) stopped beating . . . . the relationship would die. Many people have thought they felt this (to a degree). They do not "feel" or have not "felt" God's heart beating for them. They have all the head knowledge about God - about His love for them - about what He has done for them . . . . but they've never ventured close enough to let God (their heavenly Daddy) HOLD them close . . .hold them close to His chest to FEEL His love for them - to hear and feel His heart beating . . . . just for them. However - His heart has never stopped beating for them. Not yet.

God doesn't need to have a heart to live. He is eternal. He is all-powerful. He doesn't need a heart to live . . . . but He chose to have a heart . . . He chose to love . . . . He chose to let His Son (Jesus) experience what it is like to have a human heart . . . and then to let that human heart die through the choice of sacrificing himself on the cross. Jesus' heart stopped beating. He died. For us. He endured the physical and spiritual separation that comes with death - that comes when a heart stops beating. He did that for us . . . . because He doesn't want us to have to endure it for eternity ourselves! . . . . . and then in His marvelous power . . . He came back to life! He overcame death . . . for us! Once and for all!!

There will come a day when people will no longer have the option of being able to feel God's heart beating for them. There will come a day when His arms will no longer be open - inviting anyone and everyone to come close - to be held by Him - to experience His love - His transforming love. That day is coming soon. God wants you to know - that day is coming soon. For some of you - it's sooner than for others. But for the whole world - it is still coming soon.

His heart's cry is for everyone to know that He is here . . . waiting . . . waiting to hold you and love you - to let you hear and feel His heart beating - to feel His transforming love that will forever change your life . . . if you let Him . . . if you let Him hold you . . . If you choose to stay close to Him - aware of Him - in relationship with Him. . . . .Not just to know "about Him".

I could know all about my husband - where he grew up, what he likes, dislikes, if he's a Republican or Democrat, if he is a morning or night person, how he treats others, etc. But unless I CHOOSE to enter into a relationship with him - a personal, close, intimate, hear-and-feel-his-heart kind of relationship . . . .I will never fully KNOW (through experience) his love - especially his love for me!

THAT is what God wants for everyone. To show them His love - experientially! He's shown it in so many ways . . . and yet we keep asking for more "proof". There comes a point when you just have to make a decision - when you have to choose. . . .

Choose to believe. Choose to get closer to our perfect heavenly Daddy today. His arms are still open . . . . wide open! It doesn't matter what you've done lately (or in the past). He's not afraid of getting dirty! :) The messier the better! :) He just loves holding His kids and loving on them!

As the Beatles put it - "All we need is Love, Love. . . . Love is ALL we need!" :)

Go closer (and deeper) today!

Lori :)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Fast & Pray for our Nation, Muslims & the President

You may already be aware, but just in case you were not - I wanted to pass on this info.

My heart has been heavy for the past couple days after hearing about this. I can feel the urgency to pray. I can't sit silent.

On Friday 9/25/09 Muslims will converge on Washington DC's mall for a national day of prayer. Please pray about this. Please read what Lou Engle, Shirley Dobson, Tony Perkins and others had to say on Lou's website - The Call. Hearing what President Obama has done (in staying silent for the National Day of prayer, but being very vocal and encouraging about Ramadan) just grieves my heart. He is on my heart and in my prayers as well . . . alot.

"The Call" had a national conference call for prayer for this nation and for Muslims tonight - from 7-9:30pm. If you missed it - they will replay it at 11am on Friday morning. You can hear it on the National Day of Prayer website.

If you can - PLEASE fast and pray tomorrow (Friday) - for our nation - for all Muslims - for our President.


Lori :)
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