My (Preferred) Alter-Ego (come find me here!)

Get the latest delivered to your inbox

Please note: you must click the link in the verification email from Feedburner to complete your subscription request. If you don't receive an immediate response from Feedburner, you may need to adjust your email spam settings. Subscribe to thoughts in the watchtower by Email

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Revelation 1:6

This started as a facebook status, but I kept thinking of things to add.

Revelation 1:5-6: To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, 6 and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

The Greek word for "made" in verse 6 is poieo, meaning (among other things), "to produce, bear, shoot forth." Jesus wasn't just using pretty language when He told the disciples that He was the Vine and they were the branches, grafted into Himself (John 15:1-8) or when He told Nicodemus that we must be born again (John 3:3-8). He labored unto death, even as a new mother goes into labor, to give birth to -- what? A royal race of kings and priests unto His Father.

"Kings" here is the Greek word basileus and means "leader of the people, prince, commander, lord of the land." We are leaders in our service and in our humility. Jesus taught the disciples this in the same context in which He told them He was the true Vine, by washing their feet (John 13:3-17), and then saying, "If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet."

As kings, we are also called to be commanders in our intercession. The prayers of a man whom God has made righteous is powerful and effective (James 5:15-16). However, intercession is not simply a kingly function; it is the calling of a priest as well. Hebrews tells us that Jesus received an unchangeable priesthood ("unchangeable" here being the Greek word aparabatos meaning "not liable to pass to a successor" -- it's His forever), and as a function of that priesthood He is constantly interceding for us (Hebrews 7:23-25).

"Priests" in Revelation 1:6 is the Greek word hiereus and means "one who offers sacrifices and in general in busied with sacred rites." We know that Jesus made an eternal sacrifice when He offered His own blood for our salvation (Hebrews 9:11-28); however, to function as priests, we must still offer sacrifices to the Lord. Our sacrifices are our bodies (Romans 12:1-2) and our praise, the fruit of our lips (Hebrews 13:15-16).

Jesus did not endure the cross so that we could live our lives unto ourselves. He gave Himself up to an excruciating death for a specific purpose--to give His holy, spiritual DNA to us so that we might be a chose, royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9). As a result, we overcome by His blood and by the word of our testimony (Revelation 12:11). His blood births us into an entirely new bloodline, making us trees of righteousness (Isaiah 61:3) that can bring forth the fruit of the Spirit.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Invitation

In the past three weeks, I have made fudge, snickerdoodles, chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, inside-out Oreos, and a double-batch of divinity. I have stayed up until 2:00 in the morning cleaning my house, washing table linens, and scouring my Christmas china. I have established a mid-sized tree in the corner of my living room, and shoved around other furniture to accommodate said tree. I have scoured shelves to find the perfect Christmas gift, and wrapped/re-wrapped my purchases. I have attended at least three Christmas parties, and played multiple games of "dirty-Santa."

Only today do I have a glimmer of the "Christmas spirit." I finally quieted myself to read this:

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. (Is. 9:6-7)

Set aside the sometimes-loneliness, the busyness, and the stress of celebrating Christmas. What is left still brightly gleaming after thousands of years is that a light shined in the darkness, and the darkness did not understand. Isaiah foretold the coming of the Prince of Peace in the middle of a prophecy about terrible battle. Christmas is about a revolution heralding a Kingdom that will never end. It's about a King walking with blood-stained robes, breaking the yoke of oppression off of His people, loosing captives and bringing justice. Christmas is about a Kingdom.

God's heart has always been about His Kingdom established on earth--Emmanuel...God WITH us. The child in the manger was not His first time to walk on earth with men; instead, it was His progression toward restoring that Kingdom. When wrapping yet another Christmas tie, mug, or picture frame, we should keep in mind that the gifts He ever seeks to cultivate in us are prophecy, healing, tongues, miracles, the discerning of spirits, words of wisdom and words of knowledge. Perhaps, instead of looking for that perfect Christmas present we should concentrate our efforts on giving the gift of sight to the blind, joy to the depressed, hope to the despondant. Perhaps, instead of wishing each other "Merry Christmas" we should greet each other saying, "He shall reign!"

May this weekend remind you of a coming Kingdom, whose humble King daily bears your burdens.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Another Love Story -- Part 6

“God been preparing you and the one He has for you for one another like Isaac and Rebekah. Don’t accept the counterfeit. He will be a man with an apostolic anointing, but don’t put the word ‘apostolic’ in a box. You will not marry this year, but begin to look for it next year. And you will not have to fear rejection anymore.” ~Stranger in hotel, North Carolina, October, 2007

“GOD speaks my love language.”

The thought came crashing through my mind while four sets of arms reached to fold me in an embrace. Soul-wrenching sobs had swollen my eyes shut to the degree that I could barely see the man of God humbly sitting before me, much less know which friends were holding me; but I felt their love as the Lord communicated His healing to deep places in my heart through their touch.

The two years leading up to that night had been marked with hills of faith-stands and deep pockets of depression. The “God, where are You?” question gave way to a, “God, You don’t have to prove Yourself to me” statement that I believed at least occasionally. When I was honest with myself, however, I realized that a great source of pain was in the fact that I would sometimes go for weeks without any physical contact with another human.

In his book, “The Five Love Languages,” Dr. Gary Chapman explores the beautiful variety that God placed in individuals and the way we communicate. Some of us place more value on tokens of appreciation, while others look for kind and thoughtful actions. In me, God placed a deep-seated desire to express affection through hugs, pats on the back, a hand on the shoulder, etc.
Jesus demonstrated His understanding of the need for physical touch when He touched the lepers that He healed. To men and women who had lived their lives with a debilitating and ostracizing disease, that first touch was something they would always remember. However, knowing His compassion to others when He was physically on earth was a cold comfort when I returned to a silent apartment at night. I prayed so often, “God, I know You’re there, but I just can’t feel You.” I never heard a voice speaking back to me; I simply had to remind myself that God is love (1 John 4:8) and that He heard me, even when it felt like He did not.


The night that the Lord set me free had been atypical in so many ways. Some dear friends and I were at a December conference in Missouri. We had been in a powerful service that night, and the Lord had moved in a beautiful way both in us and through us.

Midnight found our group in our customary location—munching on ham, cheese, or peanut butter sandwiches on the second floor lobby of our hotel, right in front of the elevators. We were sharing our experiences from the evening when the doors to the elevators opened and a group of Korean Christians also there for the conference walked out.

The director of our group noticed how they eyed our band of sandwich-eaters with wide grins, and smiled her typical, golden smile. “Won’t you have a sandwich? We have plenty.”
All but one politely declined her offer; he asked if he could come back in just a few minutes, and she assured him we would still be there. The group rounded the corner to disperse into their respective hotel rooms, and we continued discussing the beauty of the Lord and His goodness to us at the conference.

Mr. Lee returned just around the time that I had forgotten he had ever walked by us in the first place. He sat on one of the large ottomans where we had set up camp and asked us what we thought of the conference so far. Conversation flowed as easily as if we had been dear friends for decades, and a chummy camaraderie fell among us.

Before much time had elapsed, Mr. Lee had steered the conversation toward his passion—the nation of Israel. He began speaking with authority on the Jewish people and God’s desire for their nation, and we soon exchanged our physical food for the privilege to crowd around and listen with rapt attention to the words the Lord was speaking to us through him.

Midnight passed into early morning but we gave no thought to bed, convinced that the Lord had orchestrated a divine appointment for us that evening. When Mr. Lee began to show signs that he was about to excuse himself, our director asked him to pray over us as a group. When he concluded praying, a young woman with us knelt before him and asked that he pray over her individually, and in that instant, the entire tone of the evening changed. The heavy presence of the Holy Spirit descended, and we began to physically react to Him manifesting in our midst. In me, this surfaced as an uncontrollable laughter.

I have never laughed the way I laughed that night. In truth, I had always somewhat questioned those who claimed to manifest the Holy Spirit through laughter, deciding privately (I must confess) that it was simply silliness of the flesh coming out. The sobriety of 1 Thessalonians 5:6-8 appealed to me more than the thought of being perceived drunk on the Spirit as the disciples were in Acts 2:25. However, I began to shake with laughter in a manner that I knew was not normal for me, and began realizing that God was beginning to target years of grief with the restoration of His joy.

After at least ten minutes of violent laughter, I was able to regain control of my emotions and sit in the comfortable haze of His presence. I was unsure at that moment of what the Holy Spirit had done in my life, but I knew that I would later mark the evening as the night that everything changed for me.

Then another young woman in our group suggested that Mr. Lee pray over me.

When I walked to kneel before the dear brother in the Lord, I had no expectation to receive anything that could compete with what God had already worked in me. I knew that He had already encountered my heart, and did not believe that Mr. Lee could communicate anything to me that would compare. Thankfully, the Lord ignored my pride and spoke to me through His servant anyway.

The first words from Mr. Lee’s mouth turned the laughter from earlier that night into tears that shook me with just as much intensity.

“The Lord says to you, daughter, you are accepted.”

The room vanished from my awareness as this man who had heard me speak no more than four sentences in the hour since he’d met me began to minister God’s healing to me. In a calm, quiet voice, he began breaking off of me the bondage to fear of man and my striving for acceptance and love. In his prayer, he began countering the sting of countless rejections with the passionate love of God for me. He repented to me on behalf of the men who had abused me, broke off the yoke of others’ expectations and accusations, and blessed me to be free of word curses that others had spoken over me. The entire time he prayed, I heaved with sobs as if I was vomiting something.

When he had finished praying over me and proclaiming the word of the Lord to me, I straightened from the fetal position in which I had curled on the floor and began to back away so that someone else could step forward for him to pray over them. As I was leaning away, Mr. Lee asked, “Could we—could we just hug her for a minute?”

In that moment, I heard the Lord reference every, “God, I can’t feel You!” prayer I had prayed and speak very clearly: I heard you. The God who placed in me the need to be touched honored the faith I had placed in Him when there was no one else around to hug me by surrounding me with love that night in the manner my heart most understood it.

After my friends released me from the hug, I moved back to allow someone else the opportunity to receive from the Lord through Mr. Lee. I leaned back—exhausted—and immediately a shoulder was there to catch me. Although I didn’t realize who it was at first, I finally became aware that I was leaning against JD. In that moment, the Lord spoke to my heart: This is where he’s always been, Chrystal. Loving you. Supporting you. Waiting to catch you when you needed someone.

That was the moment things changed for me. God supernaturally set me free to love again and then put love in my heart for this man who had offered me solid, steady friendship for months. We had a conversation three nights later about the change that had come, but did not officially declare our relationship until we could receive my father’s blessing.

Those first few months of quiet relationship remain precious to me. We were able to get to know one another without worrying about others’ opinions. Our parents knew the deepening that had come in our friendship, but we all also knew that my dad would have the final say on whether or not we could continue to pursue a relationship. He remains an excellent judge of character, and has never been wrong about the men who have come into my life. The fact that he gave an unqualified blessing on our desire to date in March, 2010 brought great peace to my heart–a peace that has marked our relationship. I see so much of him in JD.

That’s pretty much the end of “our story” (though I didn’t tell about the beautiful Christmas present he made for me last year–it involved sneaking all of my pictures off of my computer and putting together a poster-sized collage), with one notable exception: the story of him asking me to marry him last week will come soon =)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Another Love Story -- Part 5

"Isaac is coming! Isaac is on his way. You've waited long, but Isaac will come as God has promised. And the Lord says to get rid of the Ishmael." ~"Reverend T." Mississippi, Spring, 2006

"God, can I have her?"

From what he's told me, JD asked the question one day at work without really expecting an answer. Although both he and his mother had been praying for and about me for several weeks, he had grown accustomed to inscrutable silence on this particular subject. One of the things I have had to learn to trust about JD is that he genuinely hears from the Lord when he says he does; he makes it seem so easy--shutting himself in another room to pray and then coming back within ten minutes with a peace in his heart. I have a tendency to feel more like if I don't wrestle with God until daybreak, I have no business claiming to have heard His voice. Granted, most of the time I'm simply wrestling with my own doubts instead of being obedient.

However, despite JD's apparent ease at hearing from God, the Lord had remained silent on the subject of dating me; which was why on this particular day when He chose to answer JD's question, he had a hard time believing it.

"Can I have her, God?"


"....wait. Yes?"

"Yes. But you're going to have to follow me with it."

The first thing God told him to do was give all of his savings to missions. Within a week of his obedience, someone who did not know him very well (and did not know of his offering) began commenting to me on how generous he was, bringing yet another facet of his personality that I found attractive to my attention.

He used to call me late at night from his parents' home when he would visit them. We would talk for hours. Physical fatigue would cause me to become less guarded and less analytical about what I was saying to him; I was also less insistent that we talk about him instead of me. JD could hear the change come in my voice, and would sometimes ask me if my walls were finally down. If I said they were, he would gently steer the conversation to asking about me--finding out my hopes and dreams, favorite things, failures, successes, heartbreaks, and joys. Half of the time, I would have a very limited or no memory of the conversation the next day. He learned a lot about me during those late-night chats, including my favorite movie ("The Princess Bride"--a love story about Buttercup and Westley).

He was armed with this knowledge and the conviction that God was leading him to pursue me when we had our first "we won't be more than friends" conversation in September. That week while he was out of town on business and we were not in communication, he found "The Princess Bride" on youtube and watched it in 10 minute installments, taking notes along the way.

The movie's plot involves a gap period in which Westley and Buttercup do not see each other for several years. When JD returned home, he wrote a story based on these notes about what happened to Westley during that gap period. He typed it with an old-fashioned font, printed it on legal paper, burned the edges of the paper and rolled the whole thing up as a scroll that he tied with string. I found it later that afternoon nestled among the plants outside my front door. My generous, God-fearing, strong, kind friend also had a thoughtful, tender side--and I just couldn't seem to pull away from him.

In the weeks that followed, I began finding other things waiting for me when I came home from work--lilies (my favorite flower), chocolate, other installments to the story.

One night, he and a friend were driving back from a road trip and he convinced his friend to stop by my apartment on the way home so that he could give me a potted parade rose. It had been a rough day, and the thing that meant the most to me about that night was the hug he gave with the rose. How I needed someone to lean on that night.

The night I realized my heart was starting to open to him was the last Wednesday night in October, 2009. A prophetic evangelist had come to minister to the house of prayer I attend, and we were having special meetings in homes every night that week. JD had started coming to the house of prayer meetings a few weeks prior, but had to be out of town on business again that week (planning to drive home on Wednesday). I told him about the special meeting Wednesday night, but did not think he would come to it because of a prior commitment to the church we both attended. However, he felt like he needed to be with our prayer group Wednesday night, and drove four hours to make it that night.

When he walked in, one of my mentors immediately stood up with a smile on her face and ran across the room to give him a hug. Suddenly, it felt like my life came into focus as I realized how much the friends I had learned to trust respected him. He wasn't some strange guy I couldn't push away despite almost rude behavior on my part (he seemed genuinely surprised later in conversations where I referenced how rude I thought I'd been to him); he was my equal. I fell asleep that night with a smile on my face, thankful for my friend and for the way he made me feel.

God allowed the final cord to my past to sever two days later. The "Isaac" I had laid on the altar two years prior had been sickly at best, but I thank God that he moved JD into my life as a support before I had to accept the "other way" that for so long I had believed was coming would never appear. My heart closed again to love and to trust.

That Sunday afternoon, JD showed up on my doorstep after church claiming to be the visitation committee because I hadn't been there that morning (my house of prayer had a ministry opportunity that afternoon and I had asked to be excused from my responsibilities that morning to prepare for the afternoon). He came in and we made awkward smalltalk until he finally said, "This is going to sound strange to you, but God told me to do it." He then asked for a bowl of water and a towel. When I brought them to him, he led me to sit on the couch.

Kneeling on the floor before me, he cradled my right foot in his hand and began to gently wash my feet. The tears began falling faster than I could wipe them away, but he simply nodded and said, "it's okay." His humble act of service touched a spot in my heart that had hurt for a long time. Together we did a quick cleanout of a box of memories that needed to be shredded and then left to join our house of prayer friends in ministry.

The flowers, chocolates, and Scripture verses on my doorstep began coming again. JD was ever empathetic to the process God through which God was leading me, but he was also convinced that--now that my heart was free--it was only logical we would begin dating soon; which is why when I sat him down near the end of November and told him (more forcefully than ever before) to "Back. Off." My ultimatum: We would either be friends or we would not speak again.

<--back to part 4 on to part 6-->
<--back to the beginning

Monday, November 15, 2010

Another Love Story -- part 4

“God says that He’s preparing an Isaac for you, and that the Holy Spirit will be your Eliezer and will draw the two of you together at the appointed time.” ~”Reverend T” Mississippi, Spring, 2004

JD and I finally unofficially/officially met late one weeknight in 2009 at church. The leadership at the church had decided to construct a new platform, which required tearing out the old one and some closets on either side. Although we spent most of the night working in the same vicinity, we still did not address one another directly. During a dust-filled, exhausting evening, I learned two things about him–his name, and the fact that he was very strong.

Shortly afterwards, his face appeared in a “friends suggestions” box on Facebook. By this time, the Lord had instilled in me a love of networking. I was beginning to come out of my shy phase and to learn to appreciate making new friends and introducing them to my old. This was especially true for people who I didn’t see in the regular rotation of church activities, perhaps because I had spent so many years as the new face in churches and automatically assumed others had as hard of a time getting connected as I had. At any rate, God’s working in me gave me the boldness to send him a friend request; an uncharacteristic action for a girl who had always been the one to sit back and let the man initiate any form of friendship.

When JD accepted my friend request on June 22, 2009, he combined it with a short “hello” message thanking me for adding him and asking how I was. Over the next three days, we exchanged about ten messages centered mainly around Bible study, Jewish tradition, prophecy, and learning Hebrew. By the time he sent me his phone number on Day 3 (he was going out-of-town and did not know how much internet access he would have), I felt like we had always been friends.

I texted him my number on the way to the wedding rehearsal of a dear friend of mine. We texted back and forth throughout the evening, and I discovered that in addition to our love of diving into the Word, we also shared a similar sense of humor. After an extended season of God refining me as gold in the fire, it felt so good to laugh.

JD invited me to attend a Bible study at his house on the first Monday in July. Although I was afraid it would be somewhat awkward (I did not know any of the regular attendees very well), I agreed to go, and again found that he was a humble leader with a wonderful grasp of Scripture. I came away from the evening challenged, inspired–and slightly confused because he and his roommate had exited rapidly at the end of the study carrying a baseball bat and a hammer (I later learned that they had thought someone was trying to break into the roommate’s mother’s house). We had yet to actually talk in person, and I felt an odd mix of disappointment and relief when the night ended without a face to face conversation.

As the days continued to progress, JD and I continued exchanging texts and occasionally talking at Bible study or church. The timeline of those first few months we knew each other has blurred together in my mind like a frame bordering a few shining moments: the Wednesday night late in July when he and some friends spent a night ministering on the streets of New Orleans and the Lord sent me to lock myself in the church and pray for several hours; the following Monday when he returned from a beach trip with his family and dropped a bag of seashells he had collected for me in my lap at Bible study; the sudden pang of shyness I felt upon meeting his sister for the first time that Thursday night; the disconcerting camaraderie I felt later that night when he and I together began ministering to a mutual friend. I was wholly unprepared for the rush of emotions I felt while singing (and thus observing) on the platform the night the Lord filled him with the baptism of the Holy Spirit. My unexpected friend was slowly proving himself to be an equal partner, and it made me nervous and wildly happy all at once.

To my credit, I was very blunt with him about my desire for us to just be friends. I knew that he was beginning to look at me as more than just his friend, and while I loved talking to him and his interest flattered me, my heart was not free. I later learned that he had already spoken to his mother about me and she was praying for both of us; however, at the time he was merely another name on a list of almost two-dozen men the Lord had allowed to walk through my life in a two-year period.

We had our first “we will never be more than friends” conversation mid-September, just before he had to go out of town for several days with his job. For almost a week, we did not communicate at all–and I missed him terribly, but was resolved. For almost two years, I had been Abraham offering my Isaac and longing for the Lord to finally provide another way. I was determined to hold fast to faith. Meanwhile, the Lord was slowly making me Rebekah instead.