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Sunday, July 31, 2016

So This Is What I Get? Joy?

Chapter Two

It ripped into my Christian home, the disease called "unacceptable," and just slapped my soul’s canvas wildly till I was turned inside out. 

Sometimes a woman’s heart pounds till it bleeds like an open wound.

Sometimes she falls, shaken by seizure and slain on the sidelines where she's watched her husband get swallowed whole.

But she doesn't stay down. She can't; because she's served the name of the Lord long enough to know the sound of His heart drumming, "Onward, Christian soldier;" and because He's served her. 

“Behold," He's said before and says still, "I send an Angel before you to keep you in the way and to bring you into the place I have prepared” (Exodus 23:20). 

His Word is daunting. It’s daunting to hear that wherever I’m following is where it will take angel strength to keep me from running away. 

But, I’m not a deserter. I’m not alone.

When the air is sucked right out of burning lungs, the determination to breathe intensifies; and when a woman’s home is under siege the homemaker in her rises up fiercely. 

“So,” she says as she unties her apron and straps on the ammo, “there’s no other way?” She removes the house shoes, laces up the combat boots, and lets out a “Oo-rah!” any marine would be proud of. “Let’s roll!”

I'm packing truth, faith, hope and I'm aiming to pisteuo.

Let's Roll!

“My angel will go before you and bring you in to the Amorites and the Hittites and the Perizzites and the Canaanites and the Hivites and the Jebusites; and I will cut them off” (Exodus 23:23). He is nearly singing “Onward Christian Soldiers” out loud to me.

“What do I call Him?” I ask, because He is mysterious.

God answers, “My name is in Him.”

“Good enough,” I say. I don’t want to take the mystery out of it. It’s what I call Him, this Exodus angel. 

He speaks with the authority of the Lord, and some say He is the Lord. Everything He says comes from the name that is in Him. And the things He says! He tells me how to fight the -ites—my Canaanites, Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, and Jebusites.

He says it all with wild grin. “Completely smash their strongholds!” He says it without batting an eye.

But I do. I blink hard and wide-eyed. I’m a soldier in the making, and I don’t have a Purple Heart but a red one that beats real blood, and sometimes that blood is like icy fear in my veins.

Thing is, I’ve followed Him this far and I believe all He says about fulfilling my days with blessings so great I wouldn’t believe it if any other name spoke it. 

But it’s not just any name: it’s “My name is in Him.”

And so we go, this angel, tough; and I, not.

He battles odd. He does. The way in is the way out; the battles against the enemies are already won though I watch Him cut them off, and the commands He gives are commands He's fulfilled though I must obey them still.

The way is dangerous, but He tells me to fear Him and then leads me in to the enemies where I enter into His victory. 

I wonder what it’s going to look like, victory like this. Something beautiful. I can’t imagine, not really, not the whole of it. But I’m seeing it little by little-the way in and through

And my soul can visualize what He says is-the desert at my back, the river Euphrates at my front, and the sea at my side.

The Desert at my Back

Yeah, I've seized. I've stopped breathing for the pain then gasped with incredulity, “What? Beware of the Angel? What about the -ites and the earth-shaking roar, ‘Devour!’”

“What about that?” God asks. How like God to answer my question with His question, my incredulity with His credibility.

I want a “real” answer, so I ask again, “What about that -ite battle cry? Do you hear them roar? My skin is shaking!” 

He knows what I really want to know, and draws the answer from me with His questions.

“What about credulity? 

"What about trusting My credibility? 

"What about believing what I know? 

"I am the faithful One.” 

He speaks pisteuo to me. I recognize the words-trust, believe, and faith.

Them’s fightin’ words! It comes unbidden to my mind; but trust, believe, and faith are ammunition for the likes of me. 

The “what about” is all about this-pisteuo.

It's about God, first, believing in what He says-and doing it. It has to be about this.

And it's about me believing in what He  says-and doing it. Pisteuo is a verb.


This Angel, He’s already said what He’s doing about me. 

He’s already said what He’s doing about the enemies. “I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries.” (Exodus 23:22). 

He’s led me in to enemy territory.

He's given me His commands to serve and bow down to Him. This is how I'll completely overthrow the enemies. 

It’s His battle plan, and I 'm learning to do it.

This Angel, he’s tougher than leather and knows how to tan a hide. 

I’m not. I’d rather stay home and bake biscuits. “You’re going to cut off the enemies, right?” I ask Him.

“Yep, and you’re not going to be baking biscuits.” He knows my thoughts. “Saddle up, sweetheart. We’re gonna fetch a cartload of joy for you.”

His words reveal His identity. 

He’s done this before when the stakes were higher. 

He endured the cross-the cross- for the joy set before Him. 

My breath catches. So this is what I get for practicing pisteuo, I think to myself. Joy! 

I obey reverently.

written by: Carolyn-Elizabeth Roehrig

Monday, July 25, 2016

It's Just A Battle Scar

Desert winds whip hard, but the holy whisper is stronger than the wilderness howl.

Sin stings as pelting sand in a desert storm, but I don't feel it much any more. Maybe it's because sin loses it's sting when it's power is denied. 


Something's changed, and I don't think it's the battles. No. What's changed is the way I fight them. 

My posture has changed; the direction I face and the way I lean. 

My strength has changed, too.  

Face the storm, and see the face of the One who is in control of it. When the storm charges and the enemy threatens to thrust you down, lean into the strength of the everlasting arms. 

"The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms; He will thrust out the enemy from before you" (Deuteronomy 33:27).

Powerful Lean

Does it always look like this is true? No; and it doesn't always feel like it's true, either. 

Does it have to? No. Yet, I find that faith changes the way I see the storms. It even changes the way I feel about sin. 

Faith is the substance of things hoped for. It's tangible, real evidence of things not seen. Faith proves hope, and it's not mysterious. 

It's as real as the ground I walk on and the gravity that keeps me upright. 


It's as real as the wounds in Jesus' hands, feet, and side which sin inflicted with the aim to destroy faith, but Jesus used the wounds to build faith in the doubting.

Isn't it possible that the wounds inflicted by sin may become a means by which faith is given? Hope restored?

Didn't Thomas say, "Unless I see the nail marks in His hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe"? 

He did. It's written in the Book of John 20:25.

We're told in the next verse that a week later Jesus said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe."

Thomas responded, "My Lord and my God!"

Something changed for Thomas. Maybe what changed for him is what has changed for me-the way I look at sin.

On the redeemed, sin leaves battle scars, that's all. That's how I see it.

And I imagine that when Thomas began reaching his hand out, he realized that he could not touch the marks left by sin without touching Jesus, the victor over it. 


Sin is denied power when I reach for Jesus. 

The power of sin over me is denied as I love God more than I hate sin.

Oh, I'm aware of sin. Of course, it happens. It leaves it's mark. 

But it left it's mark on the One who stripped it of it's deadly power, and He's the One who marks my life. 

written by: Carolyn-Elizabeth Roehrig

Monday, July 18, 2016

When the Way to the Exit is through the Dust

What It's All About
So, about this Exodus angel who bears the name of God and whose voice we are told to obey. God sends Him, saying, "Behold, I send an Angel before you to keep you in the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared," says the Lord. He continues, "Beware of Him and obey His voice; do not provoke Him, for He will not pardon your transgressions; for My name is in Him. But if you indeed obey His voice and do all that I speak, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries. For My Angel will go before you and bring you in to the Amorites and the Hittites and the Perizzites and the Canaanites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, and I will cut them off" (Exodus 23:20,23). 
The only way to the exit is through the dust.
He leads into battle zones where the enemies wait. He ambushes them. 
He leads further where the Dragon waits. He's ambushed him, though for now it seems the Dragon still breathes hell-fire until, in the heat of daily battles and in the confusion, God Himself may begin to look untrustworthy.
But is this really surprising? 
Doesn't the Dragon hope to confuse trust? 
Isn't that what the snake in Eden did? Didn't he cast doubt on the words worthy of trust which God spoke to Adam and Eve? He did, and nothing's changed.
Still, a sidewinder? In Eden? It doesn't fit.
Or does it?
Maybe what fits has little to do with what I think goes together, but everything to do with what God Himself puts together. And maybe the most trustworthy defense against battlefield confusion is the truth of God's name.

Into Battle
“Why was there a sidewinder with a big mouth in Eden, of all places?” I open my own mouth big, and the question comes out from an empty hole gaping inside my tent. 
“Why don’t I know You better?" I wonder. 
For the moment, I forget about the garden and the sidewinder. I rewind just five days prior, when God divided light from darkness. He who is Light and in whom there is no darkness kept a portion of darkness, I think to myself. 
"Why?" I just don’t understand Him as I thought I did; and oddly I have the battles to thank for this realization.
My canvas is being blown about and shaken. I stutter, “Why? I don’t understand! Who are You anyway?” 
I don’t understand why He kept some of the darkness on the first day and then, five days later, made the creeping serpent. He doesn't like darkness, and He doesn't like the name of the serpent. 
I don't understand why He placed the serpent in Eden on the same day that He created Adam and Eve. “On the same day? Really, God?”
Can I speak to Him like this? I do because I must know who He is, truly, not who I’ve heard others say He is and not who I want Him to be. 
I have to know the truth to know what is trustworthy. 
I have to know what to believe so that my faith is based in reality. 
I have to know what He’s capable of doing in my life because of what He did the first day and the fifth day of creation and unflinchingly said, “It is good.” 
I have to know, so that my hope is founded on what He says is good, not on what I think is good. 
I must know Him true and real; and how to follow His Angel into battle and then exit agreeing with Him, “Yes, it is good!"
The serpent hissed. Eve bit. Adam bit. I wish the serpent was the one who bit because if he bit Eve and bit Adam, then surely they would have seen him for who he is. 
But God wanted them to see who He is; and He wants the same thing for me. It's redeeming. 
The bite was taken out of life itself, but God redeems.
When I bear the unbearable and suffer long, will I sacrifice the breath to say, "It is good?" Will I say it rightly? Will I make the sacrifice and not act as martyr?

I think about the Exodus Angel. 
I think about the battles I'm lead into which can only be won by the Angel of whom God says, "My name is in Him."
The battles must be won. They will be won, and they have been won. This is the way faith and hope talk.
To me, this is what it's about, the urgency for faith and hope. The urgent must find truth to trust, faith to believe, hope to keep no matter what. It’s about finding the exit into God’s heart when the tent door is slapped off. It’s all about where I’ve been led and am led.
There is a word for this: pisteuo. It’s Greek for believe, trust, and never lose hope in the God of salvation or in Christ. 
Pisteuo is a verb, a “doing” word.
I’m learning to pisteuo, and I'm being changed in the practice.
Battles change a person. You either die or live. You either stop believing what you believed before the battles, or you believe it deeper. You either stop hoping what you hoped for before the battles, or you hope bigger.
I am being changed by the battles.
I find exit when the canvas door flaps. The flap sets my heart into unsteady rhythm because I remember what was and what wound in sideways. I step out of myself-exit-and share my soul’s skin and heart with the holy. 
I share my soul with the holy, and say, “God, make it a happy place for You to live.” I’m talking about this tent. "I will do my part to make me a happy place for You.”
"I am in you," He says. I hear Him say it and His words change me from the inside out. I am deep in love in God’s heart.
“I love You so much, God!” I say from the heart, all surprise and bunny trail in backyards and maybe a tad off topic but not really, because if there is one topic I want constant in my life, it’s “I love You so much, God” in every moment. It’s my life’s topic. And pisteuo is my life’s word. True love rejoices in truth.
And that’s pisteuo. 
And that’s love too.

Blue Jeans
It’s mostly all just ordinary one-day-at-a-time life which takes extraordinary faith to live. 
What is faith if not opening our eyes to evidence all around in things so normal that we don’t see them anymore? I live the “God, open my eyes to see things not seen” prayer. 
I must. 
What business do I have hoping for what I can’t see if I don’t live now to see what I can?
So I live the prayer in the kitchen at the sink where a squirt of dish detergent under hot running water turns into a swirling rainbow film that holds air in bubbles. I see air and scoop it up and hold it there. I hold air. And I have business hoping for what I can’t see because of this.
I live the prayer in the laundry room with crimson stains on jeans with scraped knees from rough play on blacktop and earth. The stains are lifted away, and Jesus tells me His blood has lifted the stain of sin away from my soul that runs crimson and has played rough on this earth too.
I live it with string mop in hand as the morning sun stretches across the wood floor, revealing dust and dog hair floating in the air. I catch it all up, and everything that went down yesterday is wiped away in sunlight.
And I live it in my German’s big arms at night when a low whisper stills blow and torn canvas is mended and we believe and trust and hope. Life is born this way months before it’s seen.
I pursue it, this life that is, before it’s seen. And I hope that is because of what is seen.

All this is what it’s all about for me.

written by: Carolyn-Elizabeth Roehrig

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Living Sweet and Free

I found the manuscripts the other day. They were buried in one of the computer files I was cleaning out. Some three years ago I put together a couple books and named them Pisteuo! Connecting with God's Heart. They're sisters. Paintings illustrate one. Songs illustrarate the other. I'm bringing them together.

Chapter One
 What It’s All About
I have some skin in some battles, but I didn’t choose any of this. I’ve made acquaintances with an Exodus angel, and I don’t understand God as I thought I did when the battles were sane, contained, and acceptable. It’s true that some battles—the ones that aren’t labeled—are more accepted and more understood than others.
But some battles are labeled, and the warrior is called by the name of the battle fought. “Unacceptable” battle gives the warrior a disreputable name because, surely, the successful who dress well and have nice homes and hold respectable jobs don’t have the unacceptable addictions to sin and are certainly not genetically or otherwise predisposed to anything on the list of “unacceptable.”
Aren’t we all predisposed to the disease of sin? It’s unease and disease, and it shows up one way or another. It’s soul genetics. 

Desert Tent
Sin is like wind that slaps a tent canvas hard in the force of its blow, and we are the tent. Sometimes the canvas wears it well enough. Unease merely ripples gracefully across the tent’s skin, and sand may side-wind in between the seams, but no one blinks at that. And so the tent is labeled respectable and inviting. 
But snakes side-wind too.
Other times the canvas rips, and the tent is torn ragged till its insides are turned out, and the label is “unacceptable.” Never mind sidewinders. Never mind not blinking till bitten. 

Sandstorms in desert places buffet our souls’ skin raw and make our eyes tear and lash our tents.
This tent has gone down like that raw skin. A woman bends over and stammers as she dodges dislodged tent pegs and watches the canvas get pounded. Her cries go unheard because the storm is deaf and deafening.
Sin is a deafening disease and is deaf to holy cries. It’s a blinding disease and is blind to cries for light. But holy hears, and light sees.
Pay no mind to how you wear sin, acceptable or unacceptable. It still will wear you out because sin is always disease. I’ve worn sin acceptable and not and then wanted to wear nothing but holy, whatever that looks like.
Holy does strange battle. 
Holy leads us deeper in. I know it led me deeper in and led my German husband deeper in. I went further in till it was “Onward Christian Soldiers” strains of refrain. 
Christian soldiers go onward, marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus going on before. 

Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe. 

He marches forward into battle, His banners waving. 

It’s a hymn writ inside canvas skin when all else inside has been turned out and dumped.


This bit of Christian soldier and her strong German have gone forward to an odd battle. We tread where led, where people whose tents just ripple nicely in uneasy breezes dare not tread because they have too much to lose. But it’s the only place left to go when too much has already been lost. 
So we go.
We go into the fields of sin to fight there and flesh out the faith victory. 
Aren’t the battles against sins won the same way the war against the whole of sin was won? Not by the death of sin, but by death to it?
Sin remains the same, but Christ is resurrected. Sin remains death. So die to sin, and be resurrected. Nothing’s changed about it. Only God can lead so strangely. 
God Himself fought to the death, the death of His Son, because only God can resurrect.
“Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe,” as the hymn goes.
The foe? 
Surely sin is foe, but isn’t being alive to it, bowing to it, serving it, the greater foe? 
Didn’t Christ show this when He led to the cross?
Didn't He die there because of sin, so that we may die to sin and not serve it? 
Sin is still breathing foul, but let Jesus’ last breath be mine. 
Let His resurrection be mine. 
Then I will live and breathe-
sweet and free
not because sin is dead in this world,
but because I will fight till I’m dead to sin.

written by: Carolyn-Elizabeth Roehrig

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

A Spiritual "Ooh Rah!"

Fourth of July.

An engagement announcement, "She said yeeeessss!!" And her joyous laughter is caught on video, "I can hardly wait to be your wife!"

A daughter-in-law quietly smiles to herself in the passenger seat, and my son asks what the smile is for. "I'm just thinking about my WIFE shirt," she giggles. She's wearing it today, even though she might have decided on something red, white, and blue. Later I'd see the  Facebook message, "I love being this man's wife. And I also love in-laws who let us nap on their couches and take selfies on their trampoline #teamroehrig

And large patches of sky heavy with storm.

We drove home, my big German hub and me, and I pointed out the pretty fireworks filling sky in the west, "Ooh, that was pretty!" Then He'd point out the fire shooting down to ground in the east, "Hmm, look at the that!"

Well, yeah okay. God's fireworks are bigger; and so is His declaration of independence. He won my independence, declares it on my behalf, and I know there's nothing on earth grand enough or bright enough to celebrate this declaration of independence. But this-fireworks and lightening at the same time? 

Something more than patriotism draws more than ooh' s and aah's from me this year. "You've declared my independence!" If I could look into His eyes this moment, I'm certain I'd see fireworks in them.

"You've declared my independence!" His eyes flash like a flame of fire, catch the colors surrounding His throne, and dance wild over the sea of glass till "aah" becomes a full "Alleluia! Amen! Alleluia!"

I've read about this in Revelation 19. "Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power to the Lord our God!"

Are there fireworks in heaven? If so, then here's what they sound like-"I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, 'Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!'"

My worship is this, "Alleluia! You've declared my independence!"

painting of fireworks and lightening

"The death that I died," He responds, "I died to sin once for all; but the life that I live, I live to God."


FREEDOM from sin and death and the demands of the flesh because "our old man was crucified with Christ Jesus, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin" (Romans 6:6-7).


FREEDOM from waywardness and lies because Jesus declares it, "I am the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6).


FREEDOM from darkness because He is the light.

What to say? Oh, there's an entire freedom conversation to be had. It's written in Romans 6, and He's already said to me, "Likewise, reckon yourself to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Me."

"Aah!" I respond. "Therefore I won't let reign in my mortal body, that I should obey it in its lusts."

Someone ignite a freedom flare!

"And," He adds, "do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourself to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God."

Lightening splits darkness wide. I see it right over there in the east, and everything in me wants to be what He declares I am-to live alive as He declares I am. "Sin shall not have dominion over me!"

We sang the Star-Spangled Banner in the car. "O, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave, o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!"

Fireworks and Flag
A young couple waged spiritual battle all through the night. A blanket thick, dark appeared above their bed. A dark presence intruded. They fought the spiritual war with spiritual warfare. They knew how.

They played worship music in the midnight hours and sent songs praising the beauty of God's holiness to the front lines while they found their voices.

They prayed together-hours of prayer-out loud.

They read God's word aloud-hours through several books and 52 Psalms-till the sky lightened.

They heard their prayers miraculously echoed in the lyrics which played non-stop through the dark, so that prayer and song mingled wild a spiritual "Ooh Rah!" as their courage mounted.

They called mid-morning, "Can we come over?" They napped in the living room, just a couple hours, a woke as refreshed as if they'd had a full night of sleep.

Then they shared the war story with us.

Maybe it began in heaven, the spiritual war, when Lucifer rebelled; and it's going to end in heaven when the declaration of independence is opened and read by the One who is worthy to open the scroll and loose its seals-the Lamb who was slain to give freedom from sin and death.

Till then, God tells us what the fare is for the spiritual war.

It's not flesh and blood weapons, for we don't wrestle against flesh and blood, not even our own. No, because there is no war against what's reckoned already dead. Forget about keeping a dead man down.

We wrestle "against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12).

We rarely see it, but once  in a while God lets us see it a little bit, but only when He has reason.

Once in a while He allows us to know that we're flat dead without Him; then He says something like this-

"Remember the fare for this war;
Remember the belt, the shield, the sword;
Remember My light that shines out of dark."
"I remember," erratically beats from my heart.

Somehow in terror, I stand in peace;
Shaking voice and knocking knees;
Somehow I pray and wield the Sword
"gainst darkest cloud and evilest lord.

"Remember," He says, "remember what counts!"
Courage builds, my spirit mounts-

"I belong to the home of the brave!
"Life is mine; my soul is saved!
"I belong to the land of the free!"
A spiritual Ooh-Rah rises from me.

written by: Carolyn-Elizabeth Roehrig