God’s people need lifting up. Psalm 28

God’s people need lifting up.

Our thoughts are double minded.  Our souls are restless. Our pasts bear regrets.  Our burdens are heavy. Our battles long.  Our character weak.  Our faith subjective. Our judgment fierce. Our hearts grow cold. God’s people need lifting up.

David understood this as a man and a king. In Psalm 28 he writes, “The LORD is their strength, and He is the saving strength of his anointed. Save thy people, and bless thine inheritance: feed them also, and lift them up forever.”

David taught us first we need to seek God personally – “Unto Thee, O God, do I lift up my soul.”

His Psalms taught us to pray for 5 things for ourselves:

Ps 143 – When I find myself in battle- Revive me

Cause me to remember what God has done in the past. Help me to know I can fight one more day if you wake me in the morning with the counsel of your loving, living voice.  God will deliver and hide us, teach us and show us the way. Where he leads we can follow for the Lord quickens His servants.

Ps 35 – When I need assurance- Reassure me

When I am under persecution, say unto my soul, “I am your salvation.”  Let me hear you say “I’ll save you.”  And my soul shall be joyful in the LORD: it shall rejoice in my salvation.

PS 25 – When I am uncertain- Give me Hope

I lift up my soul to your counsel, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.  To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul; in you I trust, O my God. No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame.

PS 86 – When I am poor and needy- Give me joy

Because of who you are God, forgiving and good, abounding in love, none is like you, O Lord, For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God. Great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths of the grave, a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, merciful, imparter of strength, help and comfort.  You train me and teach me, put me together to be one heart and mind-undivided. What love! Knowing You I am filled with joy.

PS 141 –  When I need protection-Give me faith

I lift up my hands to worship you and call on you for help. Guard my mouth and heart from wickedness. Let me be indifferent towards everything accept your will for me. Set me straight through correction. Threats come but let me fix my eyes on you, O Sovereign LORD. I take refuge that you control all things and take good care of me. Keep me safe from traps and let me pass by safely.

PS 23 – When I am dumber than a sheep- Shepherd me

Lift them up is translated in the NIV, “be their shepherd and carry them forever” To lift God’s people up is to shepherd us forever.  If we are the Good Shepherd’s sheep “I shall not want” for the Shepherd feds and leads us. If we wander, he seeks us.  If we’re scared, he goes first.  He’s with us, even in the darkest moments and when we look back, we see it was only “goodness and mercy”. Our shepherd will never lead us where He cannot care for us.

As a King David also knew there were 3 ways God’s people need to be lifted up:

Living in this world but not of this world, God’s people need to be elevated in character.

More than 3000 times a day the world will try to convince you to follow its ways, put yourself first, gratify your lust, exchange a counterfeit for the truth and take a short cut. We need to be lifted up. Past our disciplined obedience that too often arm-wrestles with ourselves, out of the muck of our shame that never forgives ourselves and get down wind of the stink of our self-righteousness and be lifted up and empowered by God’s Holy Spirit.

We need to be lifted up to love God enough to obey not because we’re afraid of the consequences but because we love God.  We. Love. God.  And devotion requires our faithfulness to his instructions.

Moreover, God’s people need to be prospered in conflict.

When the battle comes, and it will hit you right between the eyes in your mind, we need to be lifted up out of the deception of our senses to remember the truth.  If we forget our helmet, drop our shield, put our barefoot in our big mouth and the combat boot of our enemy is upon our chicken necks, help us grasp hold of the sword of the spirit and speak Your words even if the only thing we can say is, “the Lord is my shepherd” let it be a battle cry.  Lord, lift up your children’s spirits in the day of persecution when our feelings get hurt help us not to fret or worse take vengeance but lift us up on the high road our savior walked of love.  When we hear bad news of cancer or chronic, suffer not the adversary to vex us to despair but lift us up in our weakness to experience Your supernatural strength. When we battle the mysteries of depression, the dark pits of failure, the heartbreak of betrayal, lift up your people’s voices to worship You who both gives and takes away. And if we are called on to die for our faith, may we rally beneath the banner of love that the martyr’s wave from Jordan’s shore and be lifted up by a measure of grace to endure any and all that is temporary for the eternal glory.

Finally, God’s people will be lifted up at last.

God will lift us up eternally. He will lift us up by taking us to a place prepared for us. A place that no eye has seen and no mind can imagine.  A place of glory without sin or its nature. He will lift us up and take us home.  He will lift up these worn out bodies from the grave and raise them to be imperishable.  At last, He will sweep our souls at once to his bosom and embrace us up to glory.

Lift us up. Lift our eyes up to fix on you. Lift our souls up to love you. Lift our prayers up to worship you.

Lift us up be our shepherd and carry us forever.


I wrote this after talking to someone about The Fury series.
I talked with God about why I’m writing, what we’re after in this partnership of story telling and the conclusion was again, to tell the truth in love. Reviewers agree that I am sometimes intense and might not be for readers who are looking for the classic sweet Christian story where characters do everything right. Apologetically my style is to write it real—meaning closer to real life, tackling issues with universal importance in a God honoring way. My characters will never be perfect but they will proclaim to you the love, grace and mercy of a perfect God. When I’m told my writing is intense, it makes me smile- I want to be branded as a Christian writer that writes it real not sweet. Labels like “raw and compelling” also reinforce that I’m finding my audience.  I’ve also been told the Fury is inspiring and that makes me lift my hands and give God the glory.  I held the pen and God directed the strokes.  I believe what we were both after is to communicate how much God loves us. We just can’t hear it said enough.

Here are some answers to a few questions I’ve been getting about Book One Eros.

Your new book is so intense. Why?

I like the ‘what if’ question it wakes me up – God’s people get complacent, we like our comfort zones, we need to be woken up and prepared to put into practice what we know.

But it’s horrible what happens (to Jaclyn) and the bad guy is…really evil.

Evil tends to be really bad- God’s people need to be reminded we have a savior and He came because we’re in a situation and need to be rescued.

But the spiritual battles are really raw and despite the story world, real.

I’m a teacher at heart and the spiritual armor of God (Eph 6) is subtly applied layer by layer throughout the conflict.  It’s the standard tell them, show them, let them, coach them strategy I learned in Christian leadership. We wash, rinse, repeat until we remember how to fight along with the characters.

But this book sounds edgy and I’m looking for a love story

You’ve found one, I wrote the Fury Series to remember that I am loved by God so much that Christ stopped at nothing to save me.  The hero in this story is outstanding, you’ll fall fast for the Fury. Promise.

But I’m not sure I can handle the evil element…I don’t like spooky/scary/suffering

Neither do I, the story isn’t about the details of abuse or the dementedness of an abuser but the battle to be free and believe in the power of God no matter where that battle might take place.  This story is for the captive but it is also for those that answer the call and come to bring the good news of freedom.

My prayer is that you are lifted up by this story.

Read the reviews on The Fury Series


The FURY Series by J.L. Kelly. An Intense Epic Where Two Worlds Collide.
The FURY Series by J.L. Kelly.
An Intense Epic Where Two Worlds Collide.

Fury. How do you imagine fury?

Fury. How do you imagine it?
It’s more than a movie or a book. It’s no myth.
God is furious in his longing for you. This active energy of saving us is His story of love in the story of your life.
Blessed are you sinner so beloved. He is jealous for you.
With great fury.

fury with how do you imagine it

How do you imagine Fury?

To David Ayer it is a Sherman tank that Brad Pitt’s character, Wardaddy, commands in the final push into the European Theatre during World War II in the movie Fury. “Outnumbered and outgunned, and with a rookie soldier thrust into their platoon, Wardaddy and his men face overwhelming odds in their heroic attempts to strike at the heart of Nazi Germany.” Ayer imagines Fury as a war that never ends quietly.  So is fury that quality of honor and courage that is produced in battle?

In Greek and Roman mythology, the Furies were female spirits of justice and vengeance who punished their victims by driving them mad. These angry ones appeared as storm clouds or swarms of insects when the three foul-smelling sisters weren’t dressed as hags. They pursued people who had murdered family members, their fury besot to banish injustice. Perhaps in another story they preyed on Shakespeare’s Macbeth. It’s this character that famously informs us in his guilty unrest that, “Life’s … a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” But Faulkner took that ‘nothing’ line and made it into something. He said in his speech upon being awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for “The Sound and the Fury” that people must write about things that come from the heart, “universal truths.” Otherwise they signify nothing. So fury is then, something telling to be penned into story and sang in a ballad.

It was Rich Mullins in his song The Love of God, who first had me meditating on the fact that Fury could be linked to love when he sang of the ‘wideness in God’s mercy.’ And recently David Crowder sang the words, “He is jealous for me, loves like a hurricane, I am a tree, bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy,” Yes. Oh. How He Loves us. So. Oh…

God is Furious.
That’s how I imagine my Lord. And when I ascribe that attribute to God most people will immediately misunderstand me to be saying God is extremely angry. You link fury to wrath which evokes fear of a coming punishment because deep down we sinners all know we deserve judgment. So a God of fury has made you frown and shake your head. It’s definitely not the attribute you would lift your hands up and rehearse with awed applause in worship. “God you are furious!”

Instead you would choose another attribute from the list He has given to describe Himself. You would humbly whisper, “God is God.” Meditate on, “God is Spirit.” Teach, “God is Light.” Believe, “God is Love.” And then confess, “God is a Consuming Fire, a jealous God.”
And from that very revelation we discover the meaning of Furious morphs. The mere emotion becomes a visual.

We imagine fire.
And you’re back to fear, equating fire to heat, something that could hurt you, and the spiritual are thinking consuming fire-ah, the suffering of the sanctification process when the dross is removed, and others are just hell-bent on imaging fury with punishment.
Read on. I pray.
Begin to imagine energy instead of anger. “The fury of a gathering storm,” is how the Oxford Dictionary of Current English discusses the energy displayed in a natural phenomenon or in someone’s actions.

See this furious God as a gathering storm of energy and action. A marvelous, mysterious, endless energy. A holy pursuing wind. With no beginning and no ending yet intentional in direction. Just step out and face a storm. Feel its strength as it passes over you and moves. Sense its power. Be in awe and humbly understand your human frailty. Realize perhaps that’s why a storm moves in, to give us an occasional object lesson ‘to cease striving and know that I am God.’ A furious active living God who is endlessly pursuing us with a gathering storm of energy. Energy that is enormous in vitality and strength in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus is furious.
And I’m not referring to the two times he turned over tables and drove the self-righteous out of the Temple with whips. Christ is a gathering storm of energy and action. Watch him move to heal the leper. Hear him woo the woman at the well. Taste his wine and eat his bread given to you. Feel him lifting your face up to live forgiven. He engages every sense in His pursuit of us. Isn’t there even a smell of home, and it is named heaven when we come to know Christ.

Rich Mullins sang about
“the reckless raging fury that they call the love of God.”
Reckless? You question.
How reckless for the Creator to give us free will.
Raging? You wonder.
What can separate us from the love of God.
Fury? You understand.
Is not what you imagined it to be.

Love? This kind of furious energetic love is foolish.
“L’amour de Dieu est folie!”
Brennan Manning used to cheer, “The love of God is folly.”
Foolish this fury, to love so much you would die for those who hate you. To the world it is foolishness, not to us Paul preached. This kind of love is powerful. This kind of furious love is enormous enough to take on the wrath of God we fear and bear it in his divine human body upon a cross that there might be atonement. Reconciliation. Union.

God is Furious in His longing for union with us. God longs to love. Seeks. Pursues. It was G.K. Chesterton who first described “the furious love of God” in Christ. This love by its nature seeks union. Father. Son. Holy Spirit. A trinity of three in one. United. To love. With a jealous longing. A furious energy and action in direct opposition to all evil.

Oh? You’ve nodded. Agreed, because I’m back in your comfort zone of linking fury to anger, you’re afraid—of punishment and judgment. And it’s safer to stand with the crowd far from the thundering mountain top of Sinai and tell ‘Moses’ to go on up and hear what God would say. Because that gathering storm of energy and action is scary after all. Smart people don’t face a storm for an object lesson, they take shelter and pray. They obey. All the time.

No we don’t.  We sin. It’s a serious problem. And sin makes us hide. We’re in the cover-up business, I can tell by your designer label.    No, not Michael Kors, I’m talking about Pride or Shame. You’re wearing one or the other. Transparent people are criticized a lot by the way. And judged, another thing we never do, to anyone’s face. We just gossip. A lot. Check your iPhone if you don’t believe me. Or your Facebook. Is everyone’s life really that perfect. Opps, I’m judging. Where were we? Gossiping, yes. And God says He hates gossiping. So we’re also hiding. Yes, sinners hide.

And this furious God asks, “Why are you hiding?”

The proud answer behind their religious masks, “I am not hiding.”  Shame answers with a rebellious tone, “You know why I’m hiding.”

And God steps closer. Holding out a nail scared hand with His invitation. “My beloved, I long for you to know me. Come then my beloved, my lovely one, come, to know me.”

But we’re so busy. Believing. What we think we know. That God might love us but he doesn’t like us. In fact, He might hate us, because we’re doing that thing, you know, that he hates. You are a gossip, remember? See, we get distracted so easily.

And deceived by the counterfeits. Disillusioned by our religion and destroyed in the crucible that is meant to show us that failure isn’t final, it’s just a test to show us what we don’t know about ourselves yet. We’re not as strong as we think we are—another Rich Mullins’ quote. And we’re more loved by God than we could ever imagine.

J.I. Packer said it this way, “What matters supremely is not, in the last analysis, the fact that I know God, but the larger fact which underlies it- the fact that He knows me. There is tremendous relief in knowing that His love to me is utterly realistic, based at every point on prior knowledge of the worst of me, so that no discovery now can disillusion him about me.”

God loves the worst of us. And He is jealous over us. With great Fury. He is provoked from his goodness to love His people and hate our sins, pursuing us with astounding means.  Pursuing us with this marvelous, mysterious, endless jealous energy until the great wrath that was against our sin turns ultimately upon its enemy in judgment.

Motivated by love, this energy and action of God’s furious love is in a battle against our enemy. Satan our ancient foe is also furious.  And very jealous of us. His rage is a fevered poison, a cruel venom of destructive lust. A counterfeit. For the jealousy of the devil is evil, to hate people and love their sins. To deceive, divide, destroy. To imprison with addictions and cause indifference with our habits. To make us want what we don’t need and need what we already have. Yes, universally we all want to be loved and we already are. God loves us. So our mind is a battleground.

And God is furious. Consumed with your salvation. He has come. Settled the sin problem just as He said He would. Given you a choice. To believe. You are known. The very worst about you is known by God. And you are still loved. Engraved into the palm of His hands and never out of God’s mind. And Love hates anything that would come against His beloved. He hates your pride. Your cover up. Your rebellious shame that won’t believe you are forgiven. He hates sin, and we should be afraid because God will judge it with the fierceness of His wrath.

Wrath is what Jesus saves us from. He doesn’t coddle the ragamuffins and say, “It’s alright sinner. Grace to you, I know you’re trying.” The ragamuffin knows the cost paid for the prodigal. He knows that fire is hot and God’s wrath is certain. Jesus sanctifying work isn’t weak or wishy washy. God is holy and He hates sin. Like a father hates a rattlesnake that threatens the safety and life of his child, He crushes its head to protect us. Christ loathes any evil that would pull people down to a godless eternity and it is this furious love for us that prompts God to hate sin with such a vengeance. The furious love of God longs for us to understand this truth. Sin separates us from God. And God in His fury sent Jesus to reconcile us back to Him. Atonement. Union. Peace. A battle fought and won. And the wooing of the Spirit says worship now.
God is furious in His love for you.

God is furious. How do you imagine it now?
With every sense.
Fury. It’s more than a movie or a book.
It’s no myth. It’s His story of love in the story of your life.
Blessed are you sinner so beloved. He is jealous for you.
With great fury.

fury is coming

The FURY Series by J.L. Kelly.
An Intense Epic Where Two Worlds Collide.
Despite the power of evil, FURY is coming. The great collision of opposing forces is made personal in this gripping story of the battlefield where both faith and courage must take their stand. And hope, the very fragrance that comes from the crucible of suffering, gives strength when God allows the unimaginable to happen or calls us to obey without exception.
The Fury Series is the parable of the counterfeit and the crucible.
Sometimes it takes a fire to remove the dross and sometimes it takes a war to make us understand peace.
Evil has held us all, but God is furious, pursuing us with great FURY in this gripping love story of rescue and redemption.
For those who long to break free.
For those who need to be reminded we weren’t created and saved just to survive.
For those in the battle who need to be encouraged by the Spirit’s victorious power.
For those who wait that long to know God remembers them.
The FURY Series is an intense and original perspective about the furious love of God.

FURY book one Available November 2014