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December 3, 2017

The wilderness of tested faith has got to be, without equal, the most enigmatic of journeys a person can ever travel through. Fraught with seeming contradictions and implausible situations, the wilderness season drives us far from the world of thoughts and words into the deep recesses of visceral emotions and actions where faith is rooted. As we were humbled by this breaking process, the Holy Spirit did His redemptive work inside each of us and change began to occur. The hardest lessons we had to endure was learning how to stay at peace in the midst of storms.

In Luke 8:23-25 we read, “But as they were sailing, He fell off to sleep. And a whirlwind revolving from below upwards swept down on the lake, and the boat was filling with water, and they were in great danger. And the disciples came and woke Him, saying, Master, Master, we are perishing! And He, being thoroughly awakened, censured and blamed and rebuked the wind and the raging waves; and they ceased, and there came a calm. And He said to them, [Why are you so fearful?] Where is your faith (your trust, your confidence in Me—in My veracity and My integrity)? And they were seized with alarm and profound and reverent dread, and they marveled, saying to one another, Who then is this, that He commands even wind and sea, and they obey Him?

In this story we read that Jesus faced two storms. One storm came from the wind outside; the other came from the ‘self’ nature inside of His disciples. Jesus’ mastery over both is our lesson for today; maintaining personal peace no matter what storms are swirling about. Like Jesus, we too need to learn how to stay in peaceful trust in the middle of the storm and master our emotions. This is not easy to learn, and we failed many times before we began to see the fruit of victory.

We remember quite clearly one stormy night in October of 2011. We were sleeping under two tarps in the woods and a fierce nor’easter blew in. With howling, gale force winds, we lay awake under our shuddering and blustering tarps; wondering if the four nails holding down our pathetic covering would remain or fail. Failure meant we would have been exposed to the merciless icy wind and rain; a dangerous situation. For many hours, the wind shook the trees and the tarps convulsed ominously while we prayed. We did not know what would happen; but we stayed in faith and Jesus provided His peace to counteract our fear. Even though the wind did not cease for some time, and despite the appearance of imminent failure, the tarps held firm. Our angels were on duty; helping to secure the nails and keep us safe. There is no other plausible explanation for what happened. Fear was our constant companion. However, God was teaching us to stay in peaceful trust in the midst of the storm to diminish the ever-present fear.

Now maintaining peace during bad weather or other traumatic natural events is quite different than maintaining peace when a ‘self’ storm arises. When Jesus was in the boat, He faced both storms at the same time. When ‘self’ arose from deep within the disciples, and burst forth in their volatile words and actions, Jesus had to answer it. His choice was not to react; instead He chose to respond from a place of abiding peace and faith. Unfortunately, few of us today have learned such peaceful trust in the Father. The ‘self’ storms that come raging at us from within or without, have a singularly remarkable ability to destroy our peace. It is not that much different than a sudden thunderstorm on a beautiful warm day or a nor’easter in winter. A ‘self’ storm can arise from nowhere, and wreak havoc on everyone in its path. Being rooted in Jesus, with peaceful emotions, is the only way to remain calm in the midst of these sudden ‘self’ storms and stay in trusting faith.

This lesson is difficult to learn, and hard won, because we all have the ‘self’ nature deceptively lurking within. Many believers have not understood how to be rooted deeply in God’s love, and are consequently vulnerable to these sudden ‘self’ storms. When someone lets their ‘self’ fly, we often react with more ‘self’; like a tornado that sucks up all sorts of debris from the ground and then shoots it out like missiles in all directions. This vortex of ‘self’ and hell combine to destroy everything and everyone around it. Responding to ‘self’ with ‘self’, will inevitably escalate the conflict; making the storm worse and driving peace far away. In reality, it is often our own reaction to ‘self’ that causes us more harm than the storm itself. Believers must master ‘self’ from within, to stay in peaceful trust; rooted in faith even when the ‘self’ storm from without is hurled at us in full strength.

Keep in mind that there are two aspects to abiding peace that we need to comprehend. First, there is internal peace. Internal peace is both a fruit from the Holy Spirit and a choice of our will to look away from all that will distract unto Jesus. Second, there is external peace. External peace is a conscious and deliberate act of the will to not react to situations with ‘self’. Instead, internal peace flows into our outward actions. It is the proactive response of Jesus in the boat. This proactive response takes time and effort to develop and is a mile marker of spiritual maturity. We have to practice this external peace daily. God will bring us tests to observe if we have learned our lessons. He will often allow us to be hated, maligned, misunderstood or even slandered, to give us opportunity to exercise our will to stay in abiding peace. He does this for our benefit. When we maintain peace both internally and externally, He knows we will be safe from the enemy.

If we choose to react from ‘self ‘within and not maintain peace without, we will step out from under the umbrella protection of God’s covering. We will fall into one of satan’s many traps. By reacting negatively, we are giving satan power over us. We are lured to fight him on his own turf, and we will always lose that battle if we take the bait. However, when we stay in abiding peace and don't react with our 'self' nature, we are staying on God's turf; making satan react. The enemy wants us to react; not the other way around. When he reacts, he makes many mistakes. Our enemy has a longstanding pattern of overplaying his hand; especially when he is forced to react to our faith. When we stay at peace, we are saying verbally and nonverbally that we are trusting in God to direct our choices and actions. Our 'self' nature is not in the driver’s seat; we are choosing to let God lead us instead.

In learning this lesson of abiding peace, we have failed many times; reacting more from ‘self’ instead of inviting Jesus into the situation. However, as we have matured, the responsibility for maintaining peace is much greater and the obedience to His lead is much sooner. We cannot continue to react negatively. Spiritual maturity requires a response to others from a place of rooted faith, hope and love. This is peaceful abiding trust.

Recently we had an encounter with a ‘self’ storm that had to do with dream interpretation. Dreams, and the acquired skill to understand these “parables in the night”, are a valuable gift to the body of Christ. As believers we are called to live our lives out of the voice of God. His voice speaks to us in our dreams; when our body is asleep, but our heart is awake. Understanding our dreams is not an easy task. It is the language of the Spirit. We have found great help and comfort in those that have greater knowledge and skill in this area than we do. The late John Paul Jackson and Charity Virkler - Kayembe from Communion with God Ministries are two gifted ministers who have been given great wisdom to understand and comprehend this language of the spirit by night. They have freely shared this wisdom with the body of Christ. We highly recommend both John Paul Jackson and Charity Virkler-Kayembe on their understanding and teaching of dream interpretation. Knowing and understanding the voice of God is not an option.

Now the ‘self’ storm that swirled about regarded Charity, and her 25 years of skill in dream interpretation. This storm caused us angst, pain and perplexity. Now it is important to mention that feelings of pain will always occur when a ‘self’ storm arises. Feelings like this are normal because we are not mannequins; we are humans with emotions. What we do with those emotions is the salient point. This is the lesson of the internal and external peace. Wanda and I talked together trying to process the pain and perplexity; but not really grasping the bigger picture of what triggered the ‘self’ storm. In the midst of our conversation, our eldest daughter, Ida, came to us and said that she just had a series of four dreams and requested our help with interpretation. Ida had not been listening to our conversation. We were stunned at how God was using dreams to help us calm and settle a ‘self’ storm about dream interpretation. Again, the timing was in our favor. All four dream vignettes had the same themes of communication and how it can be twisted by the spirit of leviathan. After hearing Ida’s dreams, using the principles we had learned from Charity Virkler-Kayembe, God was giving us revelation for the ‘self’ storm that had just arisen. It was a stunning answer to the harsh rhetoric from ‘self’, and such a typical God moment. We all laughed, then prayed as a family and had communion.

Now even though God had given us such an awesome answer to this ‘self’ storm, we still had to deal with the temptation to react negatively from the pain. Remember, the feelings of pain are real and valid. Our actions, however, needed to stem from a choice for abiding peace, and not ‘self’. We chose a course of action that was proactive. This would allow us to stay in abiding peace, bring healing to the one who let the ‘self’ storm loose, and honor Jesus. In our immature past, we definitely would have reacted badly to a situation like this. Not now. We do not fall as easily as we once did. When those negative thoughts came, and they will surely come, we made a choice to stand our ground and not react in kind. Instead, we chose a proactive response of faith, hope and love; which is peaceful trust. We will let God work in this situation on His own timetable and in His perfect, loving way. If He asks us to do something specific, we will; but all that we choose to do will flow from our internal abiding peace.

Peace is a major battle strategy to defeat the enemy of our souls, the ‘self’ nature. Through the testing of our faith, we learned how to surrender our ‘self’ nature to Jesus, so He can fill us with His peace. We must be trained how not to react from our ‘self’ nature when ‘self’ storms come. Remember that reactions from ‘self’ will never lead to internal peace and are extremely dangerous. The soul is opened to all sorts of attacks by our enemy when we do so. However, our choice to respond from our internal peace will certainly establish peace around us. The peace that comes from Jesus preserves our soul. It is this abiding peace He won for us through His suffering and death at the cross. Jesus never reacted negatively. He only responded in peace with the Father's love. All of His actions flowed from that abiding internal peace; even those storms of ‘self’, by the Pharisees, which led Him to His crucifixion. As genuine believers, we need to stay in that abiding peace. We honor Jesus and what He won for us when we do so. This is the blessing of the peacemakers, the Sons of God.


Homer and Wanda