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I…Just…Died

December 25, 2015

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:14,15
It’s Christmas. Yeah, I’m not a huge fan, haven’t been in years. It has pagan roots, yes. But, it does bring family and friends together and bring glory to God, giving thanks for the very standard of love that was shown from the very beginning, giving His only son “that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” A standard, yes. What if that was our standard? God commands us to love. In fact, the Word goes as far to say that, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Mt 22:37-40) And also in Galatians 5:14, “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Tonight I stood here in my empty apartment , worshiping and allowing God to do whatever He wanted to do in that moment. As I sang, You are worthy, You are worthy, You are worthy, I began to cry. You see, 7 years ago I gave my life to Him. I opened the gift of grace, I answered the call, I opened the door…but there has always been something missing. For 7 years there has been an area deep in my heart that was wounded. It was abandoned. It was bruised and left for dead. But tonight…God decided to resurrect something and release something that I never knew was hidden. Commitment. I swallow my pride to admit I have had an issue with commitment. I often questioned where it came from but never waited for an answer. When you seek Him, He will be found! Tonight God spoke out of the dark and lonely candle-lit night in this apartment in Haifa Isarel. He said, forgive him. You see, 17 years ago I ran away from home. I was a teenager looking for intimacy, for hope, for love. I was lost and what I was looking for was also lost. It ended in a battle for my life for 18 months in an abusive relationship…the first man who ever told me he loved me. I saw love as unfaithful, painful, full of regrets and bondage.
Though I never felt like God’s love was like that, tonight, He wanted me to experience His love at a greater measure. In the midst of my battle cry of worship tonight, God spoke again…forgive him. It has been 17 years since I’ve spoken to this man and honestly have forgiven him in my head…but that wasn’t enough. God gave me his number and though I was shaking and nervous, He told me to call. But, Abba, it’s Christmas! Forgive him. But Abba, what if he doesn’t listen? Forgive him. But Abba!! Forgive him. So, I called, sweating, voice shaking and no idea the outcome…and who has the same number after 17 years?!? It doesn’t matter, because what happened tonight was life-changing. Tonight I had the opportunity to forgive a man who emotionally and physically abused me, who I allowed to take away years of my life, who was anything but the standard of love.
Was it hard? The hardest part was hitting the call button on my phone. Can I tell you the aftermath?!? 17 years of freedom and joy and peace and love and dancing, oh yes, there was dancing…suddenly, it was released from the bondage of unforgiveness. You see, God doesn’t desire us to be in bondage, God desires us to be SET FREE in every area of our life.
I write this in my excitement and earnest desire and prayer for you that if there is any gift that you could give someone on this Christmas, that it would be the gift of forgiveness and grace. The forgiveness we received came with a HIGH price. It came with a sacrifice. It came with Jesus/Yeshua crucified. He died for you. He died for me. A part of me just died tonight…but it was only so a larger part of me could LIVE! Hallelujah, thank you Abba!
Release forgiveness today, it will be the greatest joy you could ever experience, dance in, soak in, laugh in and LIVE in. I just did and I want to pray for you because I believe you will. May the Spirit of God dwell in your hearts and give you the power to forgive and the authority to walk in freedom, to release freedom, and to live in freedom. Forgive…because HE HAS FORGIVEN YOU!!!

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Against All Odds

January 20, 2015

Against all odds, God chose the ravens to feed Elijah during the drought.  Ravens are scavenger birds.  They don’t even feed their own young…but GOD.  (1 Kings 17:4-6)

Against all odds, God chose to use a donkey to speak to Balaam.  Last time I checked, donkeys didn’t speak…but God. (Numbers 22:28-30)

Against all odds, Moses led the Israelites away from the Egyptians through the Red Sea.  The Egyptians had them cornered…but God.  (Exodus 14:21-31)

Against all odds, Jesus hung on a tree, was crucified for all of our sins and dead for 3 days…but God raised him from the dead. (Mark 15:33-Mark 16:6)

Against all odds, 6 years ago I was delivered from a life and history of crystal meth addiction, alcoholism and promiscuity.  Without a class, a detox facility or counseling I was set free.  I was suicidal, depressed and without a fight…but God.

Against all odds, my father underwent 2 open heart surgeries followed by a stroke.  They went back in for surgery with him plump full of blood thinners to remove 3 clots on his brain.  The neurosurgeon knew the risk of him bleeding to death…but God brought him through surgery alive and even brought back all mobility in a once paralyzed right side.

2015 has brought some trying times to our family.  What we’re faced with every day, however, isn’t how we’re going to get through the day, it’s how we’re going to respond to it.

Job’s Response

Days before my father went in for surgery I finished studying the book of Job.  One thing that really stuck out to me in this book is in the very first chapter after Job loses his oxen, donkeys, sheep, camels, all his servants, his home and all his children.  Listen to Job’s response:

“Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped.  And he said: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD.’  In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.” (Job 1:20-22)

Job’s response in probably the most painful moment of his life was worship.  That word in the Hebrew means to bow down or prostrate oneself in an act of respect or honor.

I try to imagine what my response would be if I lost everything.  I want to believe that I would have enough faith to worship in that moment.  The moment I found out my dad had a stroke I can’t tell you that I fell to the floor, tore my clothes, shaved my head and worshiped.  My first response was complete shock.  On my way to the hospital that night I was so thankful to have 1 song on repeat in my car from Bethel church in California, Forever.  I sang these lyrics at the top of my lungs, tears streaming down my cheeks, proclaiming the Lamb had overcome and the Lord WOULD overcome in that situation!!  Here are lyrics to part of the song:

“The ground began to shake
The stone was rolled away
His perfect love could not be overcome
Now death where is your sting?
Our resurrected King
Has rendered you defeated

[Chorus:]
(Now) Forever He is glorified
Forever He is lifted high
(And) Forever He is risen
He is alive, He is alive

We sing Hallelujah, we sing Hallelujah
We sing Hallelujah
The Lamb has overcome”

God be Glorified

We will always have trials in our lives.  We will always have the unexpected tragedy creep up on us in the most inopportune moments…but God.

Maybe I’m writing this blog for me more than anyone.  But, maybe you’re going through some trying times.  Maybe God’s promises seem forever far away.  Maybe your hope is lost in a doctor’s report.  Maybe this new year has left you defeated, hopeless, without joy…but God.  Maybe you need to read the beginning of this blog again.

Against ALL ODDS, Jesus left the comforts of Heaven, the perfect communion he had with the Father, to come down to a messed up earth, to minister to a messed up nation, to die a miserable death, to be raised again on the third day so that he could live inside some messed up people so they could receive and give away the Father’s love and the opportunity to accept everlasting life.   Why?  Because He loves us.  What makes you think if He did all that, He won’t do a miracle in your life today?

Every day is a struggle to see my dad the way he is, but every day I have the opportunity to take my eyes off of what I see in the natural and look through the eyes of my Creator.  My God is in the miracle business.  When I forget that, all I have to do is open the bible.  Every miracle in the bible is a testimony of the power that lives in a life that is surrendered to His love and to His will.  That power lives in us!!  I challenge you to put your “God-goggles” on today and your “Eternal-ears” and believe, see, and hear what He has to say and show you when you put your trust in Him.  You have the keys to experience Heaven here and now, the keys to the Kingdom, the keys to see miracles, the keys to perfect peace, love and joy in your life.

Thank You!!!

I want to thank everyone for the calls, texts, facebook messages and prayers.  I know my dad will fully recover one day and my Father in Heaven will get all the glory.  His own doctors say his case was a miracle and if not for a “higher power” he wouldn’t have survived.  May your breakthrough come today as you take your focus off your circumstance and put it on the God of every circumstance in the Mighty All-Powerful name of Jesus.

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“And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.”  John 14:13,14

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I Quit Mininstry

December 25, 2014

Before you judge me after reading my catchy blog title, let me explain something I’ve learned these past few months here in Jerusalem and what has led me to “quit ministry”.

Six months ago I followed a gentle nudge from the Holy Spirit leading me to Jerusalem. I didn’t know what awaited me. I had already given up the “normal church life” in the states to embrace a so-called “fulltime missionary” status. What does that even mean anyway? According to Merriam-Webster a missionary is: a person who is sent to a foreign country to do religious work (such as to convince people to join a religion or to help people who are sick, poor, etc.). Well, who wants to be defined as that?! I’m far from religious and I’m not out to convince anybody of anything, that’s not my job. Now, let’s look at the definition of a ministry: the office, duties, or work of a religious minister. Huh. Once again, definitely not how I would describe my “work”.

So, what do I do? Isn’t that the million dollar question we ask all those that we meet. But, before you ask that to the next person you meet, ask yourself, did people ask Paul what he “did”? What about John the baptist? Did people ask Jesus what he “did”? Something that stuck out about these guys…it wasn’t what they “told people” they did, it was their life that showed people who they were.

My Dream
I had a dream a couple months ago. In my dream I was walking through the streets of Jerusalem. I saw all these people around me, Jew, Arab, foreigner, all of whom needed healing in their lives, needed truth in their lives, needed Jesus in their lives. In my dream however, I was unable to speak. What happened was even greater. As I looked into their eyes, these beams of light were shining from my body. In each beam of light was wrapped a fruit of the spirit. Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Gentleness. Self-Control. As each beam of light hit every individual person, they were immediately changed, conformed into the very fruit that hit them. Whoa.

Dream Come True
Shortly after I had my dream, Jerusalem experienced numerous terrorist attacks. There was a slaughter of Jews in a synagogue, families run over by cars, and an attempted assassination of a rabbi near where I live. It was a tense time in Israel.

I was walking home one evening from Jaffa street, a pretty busy street near the Old City. As I was walking I started noticing the people around me. I noticed fear. I noticed tension. I noticed sadness. The Holy Spirit was allowing me to see into the hurting lives and minds around me. Everything in me wanted to run and hug and love and minister to these people, but something else happened. I was so aware of the Presence I was carrying at that moment. As I became aware, I began to intercede and just smile at the people that walked by. What happened was like in a dream…like the dream I just had. I watched people relax. I watched shoulders drop, walks slow down, even a few smiles in return. I was watching the Holy Spirit do a work that I couldn’t have possibly done any better. And the only thing I was doing was carrying His Presence. His Presence changes everything.

Abide
John 15:5 says, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” The word abide means to stay, remain or to dwell in. The word bear means to carry. So, if we remain in Him and He dwells in us, we will carry fruit…it’s a byproduct of Him in us, not something we can achieve with an agenda…or “ministry”. What convinces people of the Truth isn’t necessarily what we say, it’s who we are.

So, I decided here in Jerusalem that it would be best to “quit ministry” and “start ministering His Presence”. It’s the most fruitful, refreshing, restful, easy “work” I’ve ever done. And, the best part about it is I can do it here in Israel, in America, Africa, Egypt, China, Australia, Brazil, a public bathroom, a bank, a gas station and anywhere in between.

So, ask me what I do here in Israel. I be…He does.

Grandma’s mantle

November 11, 2014

For so long the number 11 has had some strange significance in my life. It’s one of those numbers that I just see all day long and it reminds me that God is with me, loving and protecting me. Today, on November 11th, that number got even more significant in a personal way. My grandmother of 95 years is resting in the arms of her Lord. I want to dedicate this blog to honor a woman of great faith, integrity, love and generosity.

My grandmother has followed the Lord most of her life. From the time I was a small child until this day I have watched her love, serve, honor, sing, pray and give all of herself to bringing Him glory. My grandma prayed for me through all my years of sin and running from God. She NEVER gave up. She reached out to family, friends, neighbors and anyone in the church who needed an ear to talk to, a shoulder to cry on, a warm meal or a smile that could change the atmosphere of a village. She was someone who truly loved unconditionally and prayed for people without ceasing. The miracle of the Lord’s work in my life is truly a fruit of her prayer.

I was so blessed this past summer to spend time with her. Making her soups, praying with her, reading to her or just sitting with her while she slept. Though many times she was too weak to leave her apartment she never failed to stop writing letters to people in prison, love on everyone who walked through the door to visit her and get on her old school corded phone to encourage people all day. She never seemed to complain in all her pain and suffering. She lived a life for others…it wasn’t about her.

My grandmother was such an example of what I hope to live up to, to be more and more like Jesus every day. In the face of death she saw life and fearlessly walked that journey serving others in such love and compassion. It was always about others.

Last Christmas she gave everyone a devotional book and a bookmark with her last dying prayer, 3 John 4 “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children and grandchildren walk in truth.”

I believe as she goes to be with the Lord that she is passing the mantle of prayer on. I would like to ask you to pray, in honor of my grandmother, this scripture over all your family today. I pray that this year the fruit of her prayers would be seen in all the family, friends and neighbors she prayed for. I also pray this for anyone reading this, that the Lord would be faithful to answer every prayer that you are faithful in praying. My life is the fruit of her prayers and I know there is much more to come.

It is hard for me not to be with my family during this time so I would also ask you to pray for them as they are celebrating her life.

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Life’s a Hike

May 24, 2014

I love to hike.  There is probably nothing that I like to do more than to explore new mountaintops, waterfalls, canyons and caves.  Seeing and enjoying God’s creation, disconnecting from the world and hangin with Jesus on a mountainside…yup, that’s my idea of a great day.  Today, God showed me a picture of life…in the form of a hike. 

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The last couple weeks here in Israel I’ve been repeatedly asked the same questions, “What’s next?  What will you do in the US? Where will you be? When will you be back to Israel?”  My answer to you all, I don’t know.  All I do know is that the Lord is calling me aside for a time of resting and seeking Him. 

I have had a difficult time here this last week anxiously approaching the many goodbyes and preparing for this next season…a season with a lot of unknowns.  But, what the Lord showed me this morning gives me a greater excitement for the unknown as I walk in faith knowing He will reveal everything in it’s perfect time.

What I love most about hiking is the reward at the end.  It’s a mountaintop with an incredible view, it’s a waterfall, it’s a cave, or it’s just saying wow, I totally hiked that!  Recently, a few of us hiked a portion of the National Israel Trail. In the picture above, the trail goes from the bottom of the mountain and climbs up to the top…with many crossroads and few trail markers.  It wasn’t what you’d label an “easy” hike.  What kept us going however, was the adventure behind it.  It was the reward at the end of it.  And it was the fellowship in the midst of it.  There was no turning back.  We knew there was a reward at the end.  We were headed to see the ancient ruins in Atlit. 

My walk with the Lord isn’t always an “easy hike”.  Some days I’m on a path where I have no clue if it’s going anywhere.  Some days there is a mountain in my way.  Some days it’s a new trail with little direction.  Some days I’m just plain tired of the hike.  But, then I’m reminded of the reward.  There is the ultimate reward of eternity with Him.  And there is the daily reward of fellowship with Him.  The highest price was paid, His life. The mountaintop reward comes with the pain of hiking up a mountain.  The waterfall reward comes with scaling the steep slopes down a mountain.  The cave reward come with getting really dirty in a really dark place with bats flying circles around your head.  There is always a price to pay, big or small. 

After 9 miles and about 6hrs on the Israel Trail we found ourselves at our reward, the ruins in Atlit…only to find out that it was now a closed military base…boom.  Sometimes the path we are on, God has different plans, different rewards, different challenges.  So, is it time to give up when things aren’t what you expected?  NO, it’s time to embrace the next leg of the journey!  A journey through jelly fish, an elderly nude beach and finally to a beach with iced coffees and big fat juicy hamburgers.  That was our next journey.  A journey that took us another 8 miles through great conversations, awkward naked people moments, and ended with full bellies and a ride back to the top of Mt Carmel, thank you Jesus!

Though I don’t know what lies ahead for me in this next season, I am sure of so many things.  Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”  God has already prepared the way, I am His workmanship.  If I am surrendered to His working, there is no striving, there is only faith.  Faith that says, my God, the Creator of the Universe loves me and has a plan for my life even when I don’t.

I want to encourage you.  If you are in a place of not knowing what lies ahead, embrace it!  So often we miss what’s right in front of us while we worry about next year, next month or even tomorrow.  We are not promised tomorrow.  Give all you can give today. Tell people you love them today.  Don’t miss an opportunity to change the world, a life or just bring a smile into somebody’s moment.  Seek the Lord with everything in you and He will be found.  And He will give you peace in the journey of faith…and probably bless your socks off on the way. 

Barefoot and Blessed,

Jill

 

Saved by grace…from coyotes.

November 27, 2013

There’s nothing like a free day in Israel. Beaches, promenades, markets, train stations, old cities and trails…these are just a few things I like to do on my days off. Most importantly, these days are a time of refreshing, reflecting and resting in Him. A time of solitude and the oh so special quiet that is hard to come by where I live.

After a cloudy morning at the beach I chose to catch a bus to the trails on Mt Carmel before sunset. Knowing the sun would set around 4:30, I knew I had a couple hours to make it to the bottom of the mountain and back before the “wild animals” came out that everyone so intensely warned me about.

As I walked down the mountain I was asking God to meet me. I told Him I didn’t care what it took or where it took me but I wanted to meet Him on that mountain today.

Reaching the bottom of the mountain was so beautiful. I was surrounded by mountains, trees, rock walls, so many animal footprints, birds chirping…it was a paradise in the presence of the Lord.

Taking in God’s incredible creation I was taken aback by the sound of men in the far distance with what sounded something like a cross between a chain saw and a dirt bike. My curiosity led me to walk a little further to see if I could find where and what was going on when the strange noise suddenly got louder, the men were yelling increasingly louder and then what followed was a faint howl.
At this moment the Lord spoke to me. “Jill, turn around, walk up the mountain and don’t look back.” I looked at my clock and saw that it was only 3:13, surely there couldn’t be anything dangerous out this time of day…but I did what I was told. As I turned around and started my walk back up the mountain just seconds later the howling started again, then there was more…and more…and more…and closer…and louder…then I heard the grass moving to my left and to my right. I switched to the video on my iphone and recorded the sound as I suddenly knew I was going to die right there, on the bottom of the mountain where no one knew where I was, mauled by a pack of COYOTES! I wanted so bad to turn around and look to see what I was up against but the Lord quickly said “don’t look back, look to me, don’t look back.”

The nearly 30 minute walk up that mountain, which seemed a lifetime, I could hear the rustling in the tall grass next to me and howls too close for comfort. I came to the conclusion God was going to answer my prayer…I was going to “meet Him” today! It was so hard for me not to turn around, not to look to my left or right where I could hear them literally hunting me…but God really spoke to me at that point. Remember Lot’s wife? (Luke 17:32) She looked back…remember? Pillar of salt…I had the fear of the Lord, a fear that led me to obedience…because the alternative was death. “Look ahead Jill, don’t look back.”

I made it to the top of the mountain and once I hit the sidewalk I never looked back. I knew that God supernaturally protected me. I don’t know how…but I walked through a pack of hungry coyotes following me to the top of a mountain…and I believe only because I listened to the voice of the Lord is why I survived.

What scared me the most about this whole situation wasn’t the coyotes (ok, maybe a little)…but what obedience looks like…what salvation looks like…what victory looks like.

It doesn’t say much about Lot’s wife but her CHOICE of disobedience led to death. Every day we are given choices to be obedient. We are given every warning in the bible and yet somehow we still believe we can live wrong and die right with the excuse of “grace”. Grace isn’t a means to sin! It isn’t a ticket to Heaven while touring hell on the way. Grace isn’t free. Grace gave everything, grace IS everything. Grace is the revelation that someOne loved you so much…when you didn’t even know Them, when you didn’t care about Them, when everything you did was displeasing in Their eyes…grace was the gift you didn’t deserve but it was given to you anyway. Grace is a life given in exchange for what you deserved. Can you see it? SomeOne that gave their LIFE for a wretched sinner like you…and only asks for love in return. Love that looks like obedience. Love that sanctifies. Love that makes us Holy. Love that calls for a surrender but gives eternity in exchange for a surrendered short little life here on earth. Wow, grace.

What does your life look like? What do your choices say about your revelation of grace? Do you know the Father that loves you enough to save you…like REALLY save you, not just from coyotes, but from death? It is a love that I can never fully comprehend or express but fully enjoy living in every day.

If we live in the Spirit, let us walk in the Spirit. Galatians 5:25

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16

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Past Defines Grace

July 22, 2013

Just over a week ago I had the opportunity to see, to feel, to understand the meaning of grace on a whole nother level.  With less than 2 months left in the states before packing my life up in a suitcase and moving to the Middle East, there has been a strong pull in my spirit to see and talk to people I haven’t seen or talked to in years.  People from walks of my life that were very dark, very lost.  People who watched me battle and battled with me, crystal meth, alcohol, promiscuity, depression…to name a few…people who I honestly thought I would never see again.

Nine days ago I heard news that will forever change me, news that hit me like a ton of bricks on so many levels.  As I sat with my friend I hadn’t seen in 10 years, for hours I asked about all our old friends, people we used to hang with, party with, fish with…story after story…they are in prison…they are dead…they are messed up on drugs…they are dead…they are in prison…they are still on meth…they are in prison…they are dead.  I was speechless, I was broken, I was sad, I was mad, I was confused.  It was the longest drive back from Sarasota, FL as I cried, I prayed, I begged God to save them, and I couldn’t help but ask God, why me?  Why was I plucked from a group of 20 people to be set free?  To no longer be in bondage to drugs, to alcohol, to sex?  Why me?  Why not them?

Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God“.  My 7yr old nephew quoted this verse on the phone to me the other night.  Today, I was writing an encouragement letter to someone in prison and quoted this verse…then it hit me…”the GIFT of God”.

Grace, the Greek word charis means kindness, gift, good will.  I did nothing to deserve to be plucked out of a crowd of addicts yet God’s grace, kindness, gift, good will, saved me…why?  Because I did nothing more than receive it.  God is offering this grace to everyone!  Sometimes it takes seeing what God delivered you from to understand the meaning of being set free.  Sometimes you need to see the lack to understand the gain.  Sometimes you need to take a step back to embrace what lies ahead.

I saw for the first time the extraordinary GRACE that God showered over me.  I KNOW God’s grace.  I RECEIVED God’s grace.  Now, what do you do with such great grace?  Walk in grace, share His grace, live in grace, shine His grace.

I thank you Abba for your grace in my life and I plead and beg you for others to receive Your grace right now in Jesus name.  I ask for lives to be saved, bondage to drugs be broken right now, men and women to be set free from sin, from depression, I pray for your mighty Word to penetrate their hearts, your Holy Spirit to envelop them and your grace to fulfill them in the mighty name of Yeshua.

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace

Ephesians 1:7