Wednesday, September 30, 2009

My Food

I was back in John this morning--John 4:1-42. This text is so rich. Seeing the heart of Jesus--deliberate, kind, compassionate, penetrating--fans a flame within me. We are told in Scripture that God is transforming us--as believers--into the image of His Son. (2 Corinthians 3:18) That means we will have the same motive, desire, and will as our Savior--if we choose to submit.

In this text Jesus' motive is so very clear, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work." (4:34) The will of the Father was literally His nourishment and sustenance. Keeping His gaze set on the Giver of life was His life. And coming into contact with Him spurred spiritual awakening.

He seeks out this Samaritan woman--seemingly defiled if you ask any Jew. And He purposefully converses with her, aiming to point her to truth. He tells her that the Father is seeking true worshippers. Wait a minute, the Father is seeking?! Just think about that. The Father seeks after worshippers. He sought after you. He sought after me. How humbling.

Once she finally "gets it" she runs into the city to tell everyone that she just met the Messiah; and many believe because of her testimony. (4:39) "Evangelism" of the overflow will draw many. Does that make sense? As we truly meet with Christ--as we "get it"--our natural response will be to tell others. He is just that good.

In this day, Lord, enable us to keep our eyes on your will in the moments--the difficult, exciting, lonely, full, messy moments.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

On Fire

Day 9: Revelation 3:14-22

You have to just read this passage to get the full effect, but Jesus basically tells the church in Laodicea that their deeds and motives were lukewarm--rather than hot or cold. Because they were lukewarm He is about to spit them out of His mouth. Ouch.

Their "lukewarmness" (I love making up words by adding "ness" onto the end) was due to their dependence upon material wealth. They had come to believe in their hearts that they did not need anything else--their lives were comfortable. But Jesus informed, "You do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked." (3:17b)

He then called them to repent with earnest heed, that they may be overcomers. Two things I want to meditate upon today from this text:
  1. Is there any aspect of my faith that is lukewarm? Lord, reveal it to me.
    Do you know what lukewarm means in the Greek? Lukewarm. Hmmm. It is synonymous with tepid. Tepid means something is marked by a lack of enthusiasm and conviction. Wow. How goes our enthusiasm for the God of the universe? Have we grown comfortable with His presence or does seeing Him afresh send us to our knees? Do the things that "affect" Him also affect us? Something to ponder.

  2. The second thing that hit me was the very fact that Christ rebuked those who had grown lukewarm. He did not just "spit them out" without warning. He loved them--which He declared in verse 19. Because He loved them He rebuked them. That is the role of a faithful Father--out of his great love He disciplines that His child might stay in the safe, healthy boundaries He created. Thankfully He does the same thing with us today. If He did not love us, then He would not counsel us back to Himself. Thank you, Lord. So as His children, are we going to listen and respond to His Word?

Thinking of my earthly relationships helps me to tangibly grasp this concept. Totally hypothetically speaking--If I walked into the room and my husband was completely indifferent to my presence, how would that make me feel? If he was so familiar with my ways that I no longer kept his gaze, what response would that evoke in me? "I would rather you be hot or cold--to know that I had some effect over you." Oh, that we would never grow so indifferent to the infinite worth and uncontainable glory of God.

Get into His Word and see His face. Enthusiasm will follow.

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Monday, September 28, 2009

Words by Martha Snell Nicholson

On September 14th I wrote a blog entry entitled, "The Gift of a Thorn." In the blog I paraphrased a poem I had heard that I thought was written by Elisabeth Elliot. Today a dear friend forwarded me the original poem actually written by a woman named Martha Snell Nicholson--who lived for nearly three decades as an invalid. This is such an amazing testimony and priceless treasure! Thank you, Natasha!!!

FYI: A mendicant is a "beggar."

I stood a mendicant of God before His royal throne
And begged him for one priceless gift, which I could call my own.
I took the gift from out His hand, but as I would depart
I cried, "But Lord this is a thorn and it has pierced my heart.
This is a strange, a hurtful gift, which Thou hast given me."
He said, "My child, I give good gifts and gave My best to thee."
I took it home and though at first the cruel thorn hurt sore,
As long years passed I learned at last to love it more and more.
I learned He never gives a thorn without this added grace,
He takes the thorn to pin aside the veil which hides His face.

-Martha Snell Nicholson

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Arisen Hope

Yesterday was a rough one. I was riding solo with the kids all day and they were all battling colds--which means they are all so pleasant and cheerful. By the evening I was also feeling like the "bug" was creeping in on me. As I was finally laying down last night, conversing with the Lord, completely exhausted, I thought, "I really want to see Your face, God." Not literally--for I might completely freak out--but from His Word. So this morning I went to the book of John.

After reading the first three chapters which documented the early days of Jesus' ministry, the thing that resonated so loudly was His absolute focus upon the Father's will. Four times He refers to His purpose and His "hour" to come. His eyes were set fully on the will of the Father. He is called the Light that shines in darkness. He is declared the One who will take away the sins and guilt of man. He performed miracles and spoke prophecies. Many followed Him because they were completely intrigued. Yet sadly "men loved darkness rather than light." (3:19)

Why? Why do we as humans prefer spiritual blindness over sight? Why do we not want to look fully at the face of Christ--hear His words and understand His heart? I guess the answer comes back to this physical realm. We love to be in control, setting our own agenda. We love the praise of man and feed on his accolades. We love darkness rather than light.

That is, until we catch a glimpse of His glory.

No other being in history has claimed divinity then defeated death. No one else--out of great love and power--has made a way free man from sin. There is no one else who gives new life to weary bones. But God gives us choice--both in believing and obeying. So what will I choose today? His ways or my own?

Yesterday was rough--nothing majorly life changing, just rough. But as I turned my eyes onto Him--literally got all alone and told Him I couldn't do this day on my own--He reminded me of His character and promises. And hope arose. There is no one like Him.

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sufficient Grace

The day began abruptly,
With cries and whines and "needs."
At 6:50 in the morning,
Making eggs is not my dream.

By 2:30 after noon,
I had just laid down to nap.
It's Sunday I was told--
A day to stop, renew, refresh.

My head had touched the pillow
When through the monitor I heard,
The awakening of my youngest,
Like his sensor sent a word.

"Are you there, God? Do you care?
I'm tired and want a breath."
"My grace will be sufficient;
Keep your eyes on Me for rest."

He strengthened weary bones,
Brought fresh hope amidst the cloud.
His grace will be sufficient--
A promise firm and strong and sound.

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Friday, September 25, 2009


Day 7: Revelation 3:1-6; Mrs. Lotz had us skip a portion. Are you still with me?

One thing I read both yesterday and today in my readings of Revelation was the word "overcome." More specifically, those who "overcome"--or "overcometh" if you read KJV--will be with the Father in paradise for eternity. I was curious, what does it mean to really overcome in this life? Some days I feel far from an overcomer.

So I looked in my "handy-dandy" Strong's Concordance--I've seen way too much Blue's Clues, people--and found that it means "subdue." But I still needed more; something more tangible. Something that could help me when I am juggling the daily tasks of mommyhood and everyone needs 18 things at one time. I discovered that the same word was used in 1 John 5--written by the same John who authored Revelation. So there I went.

In 1 John 5:1-5, we see John bookending this passage with the concept of belief. He does a circular explanation, in a way, and the reader learns that to be an overcomer means that we believe Jesus is the Son of God; and this belief is evidenced by our daily lives.

"How is it evidenced?" you ask. Great question. The answer hinges on love. Jesus says that if we love Him then we will obey Him. That means we choose to forgive when we feel like being bitter. We choose to serve when we feel like being waited upon. We choose to bless with our minds when we feel like tearing someone down. That is love--selflessly flowing from the gracious love of the Father and in the power of His might...not our own.

So do my moments reveal the belief that Jesus is God's Son? That He came to overcome the power of sin and freely gives that gift to me? Or do I act more like a three year old, demanding my desires be met and my rights be fulfilled--still living the "me-life"?

Hmmmm, depends on what time of day you ask me.

Truth is, the demands of life can only be "overcome" by continually bringing our thoughts into captivity to obedience. In Him is freedom.

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

His Vision

I had to leave my kids in the car today. Not for long--don't call the authorities. I had been listening to whining and crying, many irrational requests, and had reached my point of "doneness"--I know it is not a real word, but it fits. So I pulled into my garage, closed the garage door, left the kids belted in their seats, and went inside for just a brief moment in my laundry room--just me and God...and faint demands coming from behind the closed doors.

From our hearts our mouths will speak. "Lord, give me Your vision for these kids."

God has been teaching me so much in the past year and a half about my thought life. What we think will turn into what we do and say. At this moment, when my frustration peaked, my thoughts were not God-honoring. When Christ came to this earth He challenged the heart. Just because our outward man does all the "right" things, does not mean our heart honors Him.

I did unbuckle my kids--for the record it was less than a minute later. They really hadn't changed that much. They weren't saying, "Yes, ma'am; I love you mommy." In fact both their demands and my mental battle continued. But God is faithfully teaching me how to submit to the power of His might, bringing every thought captive to obedience. Thankfully He is graciously patient in the process.

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First Love

Day 6: Revelation 2:1-7, in full force

If you have done any study in Revelation, this may be one portion you remember. This is the section written to the church at Ephesus. Here Jesus commends their hard work and perseverance, their standing for righteousness and rejecting falsities. Then the sobering judgment, "Yet I hold this against you: you have forsaken your first love." (vv. 2-3) He then tells them to repent, "and do the things you did at first." (v. 5b)

These were people "working hard" for the kingdom of Christ. They were defending His name, not growing weary in the process. They were probably meeting together regularly, doing all the "good things" that Christians should do. But something was missing.

I actually thought back to early love in my own life. I remember getting constant butterflies in my stomach and not eating as well, hanging on every written and spoken word of the other, waiting with longing to see them again. Distant past?

Similarly, when we first experience the love of Christ--His great grace and forgiveness--it spurs us as young believers to get to know Him more deeply. I think that's what was missing. No longer were they "sitting at His feet" and listening to His heart; rather they were busy "doing" for His name. (see Luke 10:38-42)

He sees the heart and is acquainted with all of our ways. (Psalm 139:1-4)

I, by nature, like to be busy. Oh how I do not want His assessment of me to be, "But you left your first love." May we as believers serve Him in the overflow of fellowship-with-Him and worship-of-Him.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Day 5: Revelation 1:17-19...pressing on

Here is the thing that hit me through my sleepy mind this morning, "I want to live in the overflow of truly seeing and hearing my Lord." John, when he saw a vision of the Lord, fell to his face in awe. Now the reality is that we will not continually, constantly live in awe--we are too distracted by this life. But as we catch glimpses of His amazing power, our responsive awe is inevitable.

I thought back to a passage in Acts when Peter and John were arrested for their faith. When commanded to stop teaching about Jesus they responded, "We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard." (See Acts 4:1-22)

As we see and hear from the Lord, "evangelism" and "awe" will be a natural response. May we live our days in the overflow.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Unalienable Rights?

Let me set the record straight. I am not anti-America. I am thankful to be in this country. But that said, something has been nagging at me that has caused me to pray for wisdom in understanding, and it goes back to our Declaration of Independence. We read, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."

I completely, fully, agree that all men were created equal. Humans were designed by God to reflect His glory. But it is the statement on "Rights" that has me all tied in knots. I do think that this declaration of unalienable Rights makes for a wonderful society with respect for others as the foundational tenet. I am struggling with a transition to the demanding of rights, more specifically in the life of the follower of Christ.

It seems to me, as believers, we have been called to crucify the self-life. (Galatians 2:20) And rights are directly linked to self--doing what is best for me, what I deserve, etc. But Jesus said, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me." (Luke 9:23) Deny self and crucify rights.

If there were anyone who should have defended His name and His rights to praise, it was Jesus! Yet He said, "And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave-- just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." (Matthew 20:27-28) Become a slave? This is the direct opposite of demanding rights.

I think at times we as believers read passages and take them as our individual rights--that others must treat us a certain way, or else. But this life is between me and God, you and God, an audience of One. If ever we think we have rights to anything, then that may be evidence that our "selves" have not been crucified. It is a daily dying to self. Only the God of this Universe has rights, and He humbled Himself to the point of death on a cross. Who am I to demand anything?

So I ask you as I have been searching my own heart, to what do you think you have a right? I challenge us to bring those mindsets back to the Word, rather than the Declaration of Independence, and pursue holiness rather than happiness. This God of the universe is more than worth it.

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Piercing Within

Day 4 in Revelation--pressing on, questions and all

Wow, I was so tired last night. I try not to do much housekeeping on the weekend--my own little rule for myself--but by Sunday night there is stuff strung from one end of the house to the other. And just looking at it all makes me exhausted. Why should you care? Well, I guess you shouldn't. But understanding my mindset last night upon finally crawling into the bed, may help you appreciate the words I read this morning.

"Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest (the rest of God)..." (Hebrews 4:11a) Hmmmm, rest...remind me again, Lord.

You see I was led to this Hebrews passage because of something I actually read in Revelation this morning. Today's portion was 1:12b-16. In these verses John is describing the vision of Christ that he saw; and he uses a lot of "likes." "He looked like this or that." He had to use a lot of "likes" because seeing an actual vision of the Lord is His glory is completely "other-than" our understanding. John was doing his best to help the reader somewhat envision this view of the glorified Lord.

In verse 16--the verse that led me to Hebrews--he says, "out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword." Light bulbs went off because we had just read a verse in Hebrews yesterday at church that explains this description. Hebrews 4:12, "For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." Nice. One thing I understand.

This sword coming out of the mouth of Christ reflects His actual words. His word--the word, or truth, of God, the scriptures--is living and powerful. It pierces the depths within us as we submit our hearts and minds to it. I wanted to understand more. Why did the writer of Hebrews say this now? So I went back a number of verses. We learn that there is a rest of God that He gives to man--a rest of spirit, a peace within. But this rest can only be entered through belief, i.e. faith.

"They could not enter (into His rest) because of unbelief." (Hebrews 3:19)
"The word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith." (4:2b)
"Those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience." (4:6b)

Then we come to the verse just preceding this description of the word of God, "Let us therefore be diligent (persistent, strive) to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience." (4:11) At this point the writer describes the word of God. Why? Because it is through the word of God we learn how to truly love our Creator and Sustainer.

We will have to know the word, in order to have faith in the word, to then obey the word, and then enter the rest that He has promised in the word. Are you with me? His word is living and powerful. As we submit ourselves to it, and apply it to our lives, then we will enter the rest He gives--the peace that passes understanding.

Thankfully He gives physical rest--my bed was much needed last night--but more than physical He promises a deep spiritual rest to those who believe. Let us dig deep into His Word and stand firm on what He says, even when our feelings may declare otherwise--love the unlovely, forgive those who betray, speak only words that lift. He is that good.

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Blessing in Suffering

Doesn't that blog title just make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Yeah, right.

Day 3: still hangin' with Revelation

Today it was just 1:9-12a. John identifies himself as a "brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ." He is writing while in exile on a prison island named Patmos. The situation of the church is heavy. The Roman empire greatly persecutes anyone who does not confess the emperor as divine. So under these circumstances God spoke to John, instructing him to write down the vision He was going to reveal and to then pass the writings along to the seven churches.

Fairly straight-forward.

It is the backdrop to all of this that gets me. As Americans it is not our fault that we typically do not suffer torture and exile for our faith--and I am not saying that I necessarily want to. But, the expectation of prosperity and popularity and health simply because you or I follow Jesus seems a bit twisted to me.

We read the word "suffer" or "suffering" for righteousness many times throughout the New Testament. Here are just a few:

  • Romans 8:17-18--(if we are children, then we are) heirs--heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. For I (Paul) consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
  • Philippians 1:29--For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake
  • Philippians 3:8--Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ
  • 1 Peter 5:10--But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.

If you think about it, we are following the God-man who was stripped, mocked, spat upon, struck, ripped, and nailed (Matthew 27:27-44). Why do we secretly expect to prosper? Yes, we have a very good God who faithfully provides, protects, and cares meticulously for His own; but often it is through the sufferings of this life that we gain the immeasurable blessing of seeing His face and understanding His gift of unfathomable grace through trial...if we choose to seek after Him.

I want to be a daughter that holds my hands open wide, dies daily to self, letting love be my guide. This earthly life is not the end. There will be a glorious day. May we keep our eyes set firmly on eternal things rather than the temporal tides.


Go to the "Revelation" tab on the right of this page to read all of my related ponderings spurred from a study on Revelation.

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Irrational Requests

The other night I was saying to a few friends that it is the irrationality of my younger children that sometimes baffles me to frustration.

Like when my 3 year old says, "Mommy, I need you to get me some milk right now." "I understand that you want milk, son, but we are driving in the car," I explain clearly and rationally, "and I have no milk to give you." "But I want it right now," he continues, "Will you get it for me?" "Yes," I explain, "I will get you milk when we are home. But right now I cannot get milk for you." "But I want it now," he whines.

They simply do not have the reasoning skills to understand some things; and I have to admit my struggle with irritation in those moments. But then I think, "I bet God looks down at me and thinks the same thing, 'Daughter, I know you want that right now, but it just isn't the time. I see everything and I know exactly what is best for you.'" So do I act like a 3 year old when He says not right now, or do I simply trust?

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For Freedom

Day 2: Me vs. Revelation

So today I read Revelation 1:4-8. It went fairly well as I came out on the other side with only two questions of uncertainty about the text. But if I were to pull one thing that stood out this morning--a place upon which to meditate--it would be verse 5b, "(Jesus Christ) loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood."

Freedom. What does that mean? He says that by His blood we have been set free from our sins. Way back in the beginning mankind chose self over God--imagine that. And the consequence of sin, or the self-life, was death. God's original design did not include dying; death, sickness, and perversion, all entered this world because of rebellion. But out of God's love for His creation, He had a plan of redemption.

I am coming to understand that you cannot have love without choice. God desires that we learn to love--both Him and others--with every ounce of our being. For us to choose love, we must have the option to not love; we cannot be robotic. So He gave us choice. And left to ourselves we will always choose the "me" life--what is best for me, what benefits me, what do I want, etc. In essence we are bound.

He displayed early on, in fact in the garden, that innocent blood must be shed to cover the guilty. This was a foreshadowing of what would come. Jesus was sent by the Father, a perfectly pure Son, to be the unblemished sacrifice for the sins of man...forever. His blood would free us from the penalty of sin--the bondage to self and consequential death. We just have to choose to accept the gift.

Jesus said, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." Then further down, "Whoever commits sin is a slave of sin...if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed." (John 8:31-32, 34, 36) Then in Galatians we read, "Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage." (5:1)

The work of Jesus on the cross has the power to free us from the bondage of sin, we simply have to believe. So my place of pondering today is, does my life show that I believe this to be true? Am I entangled with the self-life or do I allow Him to transform me and love through me, selflessly?



To read the when and why to my Revelation study, go to the blog entry entitled "Disclosure."

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Thursday, September 17, 2009


Today I started a study on the book of Revelation. That's right. And if you are like me at all, just the thought of that brings a slight sigh. I have to admit, in preparation for beginning this study, I had my doubts as to how much God would actually teach me--how proud and ignorant. I have read through Revelation a couple of times but never delved too deep--I mean, lampstands and horses and... is God really going to speak to me through this? And already--day 1, three verses--the answer is yes.

So why don't you walk with me these coming weeks through a workbook of discovery called The Vision of His Glory by Anne Graham Lotz (daughter of Billy Graham). I think He has something to say. :)

Revelation 1:1-3--
In these verses we learn that God gave this revelation to Jesus Christ, the Son, so that He could then reveal it to His servants, namely through the pen of John. He brings this revelation to John, sent by an angel, who then testifies to everything he saw.

OK, did I already lose some of you? "An angel?" you are thinking, "Come on!" Well, throughout the Bible we see God using angels to reveal to mankind that which will soon happen--messengers of God. We also learn of spiritual battles continually waging which we cannot see--an entire series in and of itself. So if you are hung up here then get into the Word and ask God to speak to your spirit. He promises wisdom to those who honestly seek.

Now, back to Revelation--or disclosure from God, otherwise unknown by man. After we learn that John is the one who testifies to the revelation--most likely the same John who walked with Jesus during His earthly ministry, wrote the gospel of John, and the three epistles (1, 2, 3 John)--a beautifully convicting statement is made.

"Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it" (v. 3) So much for my pride. God declares us blessed as we first read, then hear, then actually take to heart, all that John records. "Bless me indeed, Lord, as I set my heart and mind upon You."

As I closed my time in Revelation today I thought, "I want to be verse 3 so that He would do verse 1." You know, prophecy is not only fore-telling the future. The word literally means, "The declaration of that which cannot be known by natural means; it emanates from God and is forth-telling of the will of God; signifying a 'speaking forth of the mind and counsel of God.'" (see Strong's 4394)

God did not reveal this vision to just anyone off the street, He revealed it to one of the few who walked intimately with Jesus Himself--one who loved Him and gave his life for Him. I want to be one who not only reads but hears and then takes to heart the Word of God--one who loves Him wholeheartedly and trusts with abandon.

There is no new revelation--dare we add to or take from His already revealed word. But as we draw close to Him, He will draw close to us, and we will then be more equipped to hear and speak forth His mind and counsel. Wow. Thank you, Lord.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Learned Contentment

I have been thinking on some words of Paul written to Timothy, "Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content." (1 Timothy 6:6-8)

The word "content" is not a natural part of our vocabulary. It means "sufficient"--that this or that is enough for today. Now, there are some things we should not be content with, like our seeking of the Lord--we should always desire to see more of Him--or our sanctification--we should always desire to look more like Him. But when it comes to our material state, Paul challenges us to learn contentment; and it is definitely a learned "thang"--just watch a 2 year, "Mine! More!"

In our natural selves, we always want more stuff because for some reason we think the stuff will satisfy--and it may for a few minutes or even a couple of days. I will be the first to admit that I love some shop therapy. It is a momentary lift to buy a cute, new outfit that fits just perfectly--can I get a witness? But toddlers rub their peanut butter hands on new clothes, and carpets get stained, and money vanishes. Then the same longing comes welling back to the surface. This longing is the innate need to be intimate with our Creator--nothing can fill that gap except Him.

The way we learn contentment is by resting in the sovereignty of God--knowing deep within that He loves His children and works in our lives for our good and His glory. That will be the place of satisfaction in spite of circumstance.

May we pray and intercede for the future, while rejoicing and contented in the present.

For further nourishment: Philippians 4:4-13

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Monday, September 14, 2009

The Gift of a Thorn

I just heard a poem last night by Elisabeth Elliot and this morning I spent a moment trying to find her words online--to no avail. I want to quote from memory the last two lines--not typically a very productive venture. She was speaking on suffering as a gift--the gift of a thorn. At the end of her beautifully convicting explanation she says, "God uses the thorn, to pin back the veil that covers His face."

Read that again and pause for a moment.

What if it's really true, just as the "cloud of witnesses" has testified? What if seeing the face of God, in greater detail and majestic fullness requires our suffering--even our breaking? Don't get me wrong--I, like you, enjoy the seasons that are comfortable, happy, and prosperous, without the pain of a thorn. But more than that, I live and breathe by catching a clearer view of this God that absolutely blows my mind.

True, the trials can be fiery-- hot and smokey. But if the grace found while the thorn pierces our sides, reveals the face of a Father we would not otherwise see, then our joy is spite of circumstances. He is that good! His glory outweighs the trials against our flesh. Our only responsibility is that we look--look into the face of the God who is not arbitrary, who is motivated by His unfailing love, and who is faithful to His promises. We will not be disappointed!

Oh, that we who call ourselves children of the living God, would take the happenings of our lives--both the good and the difficult--as gifts from Him, meant for our good. Therein lies the victory! Keep on, friend.


Just a little tune to get your blood pumpin' today. Turn it up and dance while you look forward to "That Great Day," by Da Truth (that's right "Da" Truth).

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Bound to Freedom

I was doing some light reading in Romans 7 and 8 this morning--yeah, right--asking the Lord to clarify something to my spirit. A verse I have read many times before hit me afresh today.

"Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you." (8:8-9)

To literally live "in the flesh" means that we are slaves to sin--in bondage to sin. One can only go so far "in the flesh" because one is living in their own power. To live "in the Spirit" means we are under the grace of God, by the sacrifice of His Son, the One who overcame death and sin, and have been given the gift of life and freedom from the power of sin.

So many times I think it is a lack of belief--belief that we who have accepted the sacrifice of Christ are indeed dead to sin. Sin no longer has a right. Sin no longer is our master. We simply need to believe. Just a couple of chapters earlier Paul says, "reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts...For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace." (Romans 6:11-14)

Reckon it so.

As individuals "in the Spirit" we have a choice--let sin reign or not. Sin now only has the rights and powers we choose to give it. "How?" you ask, "How do I not let it reign?" I think the answer comes back to our thought lives--bringing every thought captive to obedience. This done only in the power of God Himself.

Freedom and victory are gifts from the God of the universe to those who believe. The question is, have we accepted them.

In His grace, press on.

For further nourishment: Galatians 2:11-21

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Dive In

Those same dead places seem to tempt me. I was just confessing to (agreeing with) the God of this universe. I have some dead places within me--behaviors of my flesh--that, at times, try to act like they are alive. Urrgghhh. It can be so frustrating. Then I was reminded of truth: my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in me, whom I have from God. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) And the same is true for you if you have accepted the sacrifice of Christ as your own.

We are all in process--me, you, our spouses, our neighbors, our parents, our kids, and everyone else we meet on these dusty trails. But if we so choose, we have been giving the resources to step through our moments in the power of Christ Himself. It is not always easy--mainly because we cannot do it in our flesh, but our flesh would really like to try. We are called to crucify our flesh, die daily to ourselves, let go of control, and dive deep into the waters of the Most High.

I read a beautifully convicting illustration by CS Lewis this morning, "This is my endlessly recurrent temptation: to go down to that Sea (referring to God) and there neither dive nor swim nor float, but only dabble and splash, careful not to get out of my depth and holding on to the lifeline which connects me with my things temporal." (The Weight of Glory, p. 184) Wow.

Only when we cut the ties of desire with things temporal, and press deep into that which is eternal, will we experience the abundance Christ died to give. And the thing is that He is infinitely more satisfying than anything this fleeting world, or our dead flesh, has to offer. Let's let go and dive in, loving Him and others with abandon.

For further nourishment: Psalm 113

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Bind Together

I am going to begin teaching a class this Sunday at my church called Wives Renewed (little plug :) and in preparation I went back to the passage in Isaiah that inspired our title.

Spoken after Isaiah reminds the reader of God's vast greatness, Isaiah 40:31 says, "But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint."

So what does it mean to "wait"? This excited me so much! I did a word study and discovered the actual meaning of the word we often avoid. To "wait" means "to bind together; this word stresses the straining of the mind in a certain direction with an expectant attitude." WOW. Are you with me? Let's reread the verse...

"But those who (bind together with) the Lord shall renew their strength." This word translated "wait" does not mean to sit still. This word means to strain our minds toward the Lord, bind ourselves to Him, that HE may strengthen us--mind, body, soul, and spirit.

If we are in need of strength, the answer is sure--bind ourselves to Him. Then allow Him to stretch, convict, break, and transform us into the man or woman that brings Him great glory. He will make us to run and not be weary, walk and not faint. Do you believe?


FYI: Wives Renewed, an 8-week class, Westover Church, Greensboro, NC, beginning Sept. 13, Sundays, 11 a.m. in E204. Hope to see you there!

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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

In the Field

Let me preface everything I am going to say this morning with this disclaimer: I am soooo young in the parenting arena. Anything I say that bears any weight of wisdom is but by the grace of God.

I read an interesting portion of Scripture this morning in Isaiah 3. God is speaking judgment over Jerusalem and Judah due to their heart rebellion from the will and ways of God. He says,

  • The people will be oppressed, every one by another and every one by his neighbor; the child will be insolent toward the elder, and the base toward the honorable. (v. 5, emphasis mine)
  • Jerusalem stumbled, and Judah is fallen, because their tongue and their doings are against the Lord, to provoke the eyes of His glory (v. 8)
  • As for My people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O My people! Those who lead you cause you to err, and destroy the way of your paths. (v.12, emphasis mine)

We do not know the exact situation. We know that many of the women (if not all) were haughty in luxury and oblivious to the oppression of the poor (see vv. 14-23). I won't go here this morning. We know that there is a scrambling for someone to rule--to ease the pains (vv. 6-7). We know that those who remained faithful would be rewarded; but likewise, those who behaved wickedly would be repaid.

But the portion I wanted to focus upon was in regard to children. I thought it was so interesting that twice God mentioned the role of children in this passage of judgment. First He mentioned their rule, then their insolence and oppression.

Again, I am new to the parenting camp. Only five years ago was my oldest child born. Between my three kids, we are mainly dealing with loose teeth, potty training, and young sibling bickering. I am clueless to the pressures of interacting as a parent with middle school hormones and high school rebellion. BUT, God is ever-faithful and graciously gives words of wisdom.

Sometimes it seems that we as parents--myself included--scramble for a ruler, someone to teach us how to handle these kids that can tend toward insolence and oppression. There are a number of "reality" parenting shows and a plethora of books--which can be very helpful! But, our ultimate source for understanding is God Himself.

First, these little people under our care are our mission field. We are called to train them up in the ways of the Lord--and not just on Sundays. After the Lord gave the greatest commandment to His people--to love Him with all their being--He then instructed them to teach His ways diligently to their children--when sitting, walking, lying down, and rising up (Deuteronomy 6:4-9). From morning to night, in all that we do, we are to teach His ways.

Second, this training includes discipline. God rewards obedience--I'm not talking necessarily materially. And He disciplines disobedience--that we might remain within His created boundaries of safety. Likewise, we as parents must discipline disobedience in order that children will rightly learn truths like their need for a Savior, God's amazing grace, and His ever-reaching forgiveness.

Third, none of this can be done in our flesh; it must be of the overflow. If we as parents are not loving our God with all our being, how can we expect our children to love Him rightly. As with all heart evangelism, our words of training must be of the overflow.

May we be people that see our children as gifts from Him, given that we might handle rightly, building a generation that loves deeply this Sovereign God. We will not be perfect, and neither will they--they may even greatly rebel. Thankfully we serve a gracious and merciful God. So in as much as depends upon us, I pray we (I!) walk faithful--in His strength--through our parenting mission field today.

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Monday, September 7, 2009

But Grass

Let's get something straight in our heads, we as humans are but grass, according to the Word of the Lord found in Isaiah 40. Just after God gave grace to King Hezekiah and extended his life, Hezekiah proudly turned back to self-sufficiency. Then the words about our actual existence when left to ourselves, "All flesh is grass...(and) grass withers," at the very breath of the Lord. (40:6, 8)

Sometimes we just need a dose of reality. We have zero strength except that which God has given. And if our strength is solely of our physical, emotional selves, then it cannot take us very far. God alone gives life and strength.

"Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, measured heaven with a span and calculated the dust of the earth in a measure?" (40:12)

Yet we can vainly think we are something apart from Him.

"With whom did He take counsel, and who instructed Him, and taught Him in the path of justice? Who taught Him knowledge, and showed Him the way of understanding?" (40:14)

He alone is God. He alone creates, sustains, and justifies. So what are we to do? We "lift up (our) eyes on high, and see who has created these things (the heavens, the earth, and all that is within), Who brings out their host by number; He calls them by name, by the greatness of His might and the strength of His power; not one is missing." (40:26)

This is the God reigning sovereign on high. Do you trust in Him? The amazing thing is that He wants you and I to fully rest in His majestic hands. "Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand." (41:10)

So let's get something straight: we are hopelessly weak apart from Him--but withering grass. He alone is God; we--thankfully--are not! May we turn our eyes to Him and let Him "make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water." (41:18b)

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"There will be a day"

A song by Jeremy Camp that has been in my head, bringing strength and encouragement. Enjoy..."There will be a day"

Then watch this devotional by Jeremy Camp...

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Saturday, September 5, 2009


One more pondering from today.

Sometimes it can be easier to trust God through the really big things in life rather than in the middle of daily happenings. Am I alone in this? You know. When you are certain that God is absolutely all you have, and you abide solely in Him, His strength seems so apparent. But in the day to day, when the kids are whining, you are late for work, the house is a wreck, and you & your spouse are not on the same page, these moments can prove strangely more difficult to find that place of victory.

Just yesterday in the midst of such craziness, while on my hands and knees scrubbing up the recently spilled lemonade, I asked God, "Do you really renew us like you promise? Even now? In the midst of this sticky floor?" And the quiet answer that came was a resounding, "Yes."

So often we get distracted from the "essentials" by duties that seemingly must be crossed off of our lists. That is why it is the moments that ultimately count--learning to continually abide in Him, doing everything for His glory. "Lord, in this moment, when my feet are sticking to the kitchen floor, I praise You. Guide me and be my strength." As we obey His faithful voice, He will renew...just as He promises.

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I awoke from my sleep this morning in the midst of an interesting dream. At the time of my stirring, I was about to be put on trial in another country for my faith. Though I will spare you the details, it begged the question, "Would I stand for Christ in the face of martyrdom?"

Without coincidence, my recent walk through the book of Daniel took me this morning to chapter 3. This documents the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego when they were saved from the fiery furnace. King Nebuchadnezzar had made a huge golden image that all people had to bow down and worship at the sound of the the threat of death by burning for disobedience.

It became known that these three Israelite men--friends of Daniel--were not bowing when the music played (Certainly, we can assume that Daniel was not bowing either but he did not serve in the same location as his three friends). The three friends were brought before the King for another chance to bow, and their response encourages, "Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up." (3:17, 18) Can't you just feel their trust--unwavering faith?!

King Nebuchadnezzar was so full of anger that he heated the furnace seven times hotter than it was usually heated--are you in a fiery trial that feels seven times hotter than usual? God is greater. So the king threw them into the furnace and God sent His Son to protect them in the midst of the fire. Sometimes we must be in the midst of the fire.

Here is the part that always gets me. Once the king released them from the furnace, he and all the leaders saw that the fire had no power over these men; "the hair of their head was not singed nor were their garments affected, and the smell of fire was not on them." (3:27) They did not even smell like smoke! My husband is a firefighter. Believe me, I know how strong the smell of smoke can be!

This is the power of God Almighty: He can take us into the midst of a fiery trial, and as we place our trust in His sovereign rule, we can escape free from harm. In fact, on the other side of the fire is even greater faith.

So would you stand firm for Christ even in the face of death? Something to ponder, huh?! He is worth our being expendable. Press on.

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Friday, September 4, 2009

Revealer of Secrets

We were flipping through the channels the other night--to no avail, as usual--and saw some scientists who have newly "discovered" that there may be life on Mars. It struck me as so funny, "You know, scientists are really just trying to figure out what God already knows...and designed."

I related this to our own individual relationships with Him--or lack thereof. So often we as humans scurry around, trying to manipulate an answer to our dilemma--lifting rocks, stirring concoctions, watching beakers (OK, so I just wanted to use the word that takes me back to junior high). We do all of this while our God is the omniscient One.

In Daniel chapter 2, once again we see Daniel's heart of trust in this all-knowing God of the universe. King Nebuchadnezzar had experienced a dream that greatly troubled his spirit. He gave a decree that if the wise men of the nation could not make known both the dream and its interpretation, then they would all be destroyed. But they could not do it. So the army began killing the wise men throughout the land--until they reached Daniel.

Daniel asked why the decree was so urgent, and the captain of the guards explained the situation (remember, they did not have the Internet). Daniel then asked the king for some time--which was granted. So he gathered his friends (the same three from chapter 1), and they sought God's mercies concerning the dream. And God revealed to him the secret things--both the dream and its interpretation. Thanksgiving and blessing then flowed from his lips, "Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and might are His." (2:20)

Our God knows all. Not only that, He is love. He desires that we experience the life of abundance that faith brings. As we place our trust in the One who IS, freedom will follow. He is so very good. He is worth the shedding of "non-essentials." He is the revealer of secret things. Trust.

For further nourishment: Read Daniel's full response to God's revelation, Daniel 2:20-23.

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Thursday, September 3, 2009


"Anti-culture's what I'm on..." These are words taken from Lecrae, my favorite Christian rap artist--yes, I believe there is such a thing as Christian - rap - artists. :) These words came to my mind after reading the first chapter of Daniel.

Daniel was taken captive by King Nebuchadnezzar, along with many other young men of Israel. He was told that he and others would train for three years with the end goal of possibly serving before the king. The king gave all the men in training "a daily provision of the king's delicacies and of the wine which he drank" while they studied the language and literature of the Chaldeans.

Then verse 8, "But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself." And three other young Israelite men followed his lead.

He purposed. In spite of him being ripped from his homeland, in spite of being absent from family, in spite of the delicacies before him, he purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself--all because of his love for the Lord and His ways. Wow.

God had set the Israelites apart, and as Christians He has set us apart. So do we blend in with culture, not wanting to stir the waters or cause any trouble? Or do we in love purpose in our hearts that we will not defile ourselves with the delicacies this world has to offer? The choices are innumerable; and we are offered a daily "platter." But God's ways bring ultimate reward.

After ten days of being tested in their request, the four young men that purposed to remain pure "appeared better and fatter in flesh than all the young men who ate the portion of the king's delicacies...As for these four young men, God gave them knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom; and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams...(and the king) found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers who were in all his realm."

God's ways are best. Though there are passing pleasures of this world, nothing will ultimately satisfy like Him. May we be a purposeful people.

For further nourishment: Daniel 1

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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Mediocre to Majestic

I do not want a life of mediocrity. This thought after dusting off a book by Elisabeth Elliot entitled Through Gates of Splendor. Here she accounts the life of Jim Elliot and four others serving as missionaries in Ecuador, including the massacre that took their "sold-out" young lives. As I turned its pages last night, my spirit was encouraged and the thought passed through my mind, "I do not want a life of mediocrity."

To hear the diary entries of this young man, even in his college years, reveals his heart of conviction. He did not want to be occupied with "nonessentials." He says after identifying God's call upon him to go to unreached people, "I only hope that He will let me preach to those who have never heard that name Jesus. What else is worth while in this life? I have heard of nothing better. 'Lord send me!'" These thoughts from a man occupied with essentials.

In my day-to-day of mommyhood to three young children, there can be moments that feel very mediocre, at best. But even in the day-to-day, the apparent mundane can be transformed to majestic as we set our eyes on the essentials. How encouraging to read of Jim's father's devotion in teaching his kids the reality of the Bible. He would sit them down every morning, while they squirmed in their seats, reading the Word, explaining that this Book was to be lived, "and that the life it depicted was a happy and rewarding one." And eventually they got it.

I am a dreamer. God has placed big dreams upon my heart, to be used by Him. And the truth is those big dreams begin today, as a wife and mother to three young, impressionable kids. As Jim Elliot used to say, "Wherever you are, be all there. Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God." May we not settle for mediocrity in our moments of this day.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Mercy in Adversity

Something else struck me yesterday as I meditated on the life of Joseph. It is found in Genesis 39. At this point Joseph is a slave to Potiphar. We see Joseph's heart attitude being one of trust and dependence upon God alone. The Lord had given him great favor in Potiphar's household--making him overseer of everything. Yet he was still faced with temptation.

Potiphar's wife continually begged Joseph to sleep with her--day by day (39:6b-10). But Joseph's response reflected his devotion to the Lord, "How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?" And even though he was walking his days faithful, Potiphar's wife betrayed him out of her rejected anger and accused him of attempted rape. He was then thrown into prison.

What would your response have been? "Why, God, why? What have I done to deserve this? Why me?" whine, whine, whine. Or would your response have been one reflecting trust in the sovereign God, reigning on high? The Lord had a plan--and it included imprisonment.

Our ways are not God's ways. He is so very high above us, yet He graciously reveals Himself to us (in very minuscule doses). And even though prison was included in Joseph's journey, the hope is found in verse 21, "But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison." Are you with me?

THE LORD WAS WITH HIM SHOWING HIM MERCY. And the Lord will be with us, as well.

I don't know where you are on your own adventure with Him. Maybe you find yourself in great adversity, with God's purpose being your breaking in order to bring beauty. Or maybe you are in adversity while you were seemingly walking faithful. Either way, God's will is for our good and for His glory. Rest in this place. Trust Him, friend. He has not forgotten you.

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