Trials: heartbeat of becoming

There are days that everything seems to fall into the place and you’re five minutes ahead of schedule. Your children woke up on the perfect side of the bed because they are listening and obeying without fuss. You got to drink an entire cup of hot coffee. A healthy dinner is cooking in the crockpot. Your keys are exactly where you remember putting them, at the top of your purse. You leave the house fully dressed with your sunglasses. And, you were able to manage 30 minutes of activity without feeling like you were going to pass out. Everyone is healthy and smiling and happy with the world.

Then….

There are days your children wake up crying for no apparent reason, have fits all day, and seem to be deaf. No one in your home is healthy. You warm up your coffee five times in five hours and still haven’t gotten to drink it. Your keys aren’t even in the last three places you might have put them. Your running fifteen minutes behind and you end up leaving the house in your bedroom slippers with no sunglasses. You managed to forget picking up dinner through the drive-thru so leftover mac-n-cheese with microwave hotdogs it is.

We all face days that fall apart, tragedy strikes, tempers flare, meltdowns happen, sickness creeps in, and life is a mess. Faith is not about how to keep these days from happening, it’s about how we respond WHEN these days happen. You can’t keep the world from turning and you can’t keep bad days from happening. So, what are we to do? The only thing we are capable of handling or changing is our own mentality.

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4 (ESV)

I have tried to over-organize my life thinking if everything has a place and a purpose life wouldn’t have any bumps…I was wrong. And, I have tried to let everything go and live in chaos thinking that if my expectations were lower then the bumps in life wouldn’t fill so overwhelming. I was wrong on that too. It isn’t about control or lack of control that makes trials easier. Trials are never easy, it doesn’t matter how much you over or under plan life around them.

I was OCD organized when my husband was deployed for six months and my dad got diagnosed with a brain tumor. The fourteen-hour drive I made every weekend to be with my family had nothing to do with how organized my house was. Nothing stopped life from throwing a curveball and turning my emotions upside down. And, letting go of everything (first pregnancy hormonal changes) while others helped didn’t make having my first baby and parenting my first child any easier and it didn’t stop me from being diagnosed with two autoimmune diseases.

“So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2Corinthians 12:7-10

Life is going to get under your skin no matter what personality type you have, whether you’re 100% on time and organized or 100% go with the flow and messy. I wish I could say with certainty that personality makes a difference and that if you could be more organized or more laid back it would make trials easier, but it doesn’t matter how prepared you are when you face them, they always bring surprises you’re not prepared for or laid back enough for.

Pain, trouble, loss…this life is full of experiences that leave us hurt and broken physically, emotionally, and spiritually. When I’m exhausted or overwhelmed by a situation in life I meditate on the scripture…“I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” (Philipians 4:13) This was my go-to inspirational battle cry for the first 10 years of marriage, kids, jobs, schooling, business, and ministry.

I speak from a very tender place while writing this. My husband has deployed on yet another six-month adventure. It’s never easy to hear the sirens going off in the background warning of the incoming missile while you try and have a happy conversation. My husband laughs it off and explains it away to put me at ease and I laugh it off and talk about other things to put him at ease.

And, while I type this…my vacuum, dryer, and DVD player have all died an untimely death (first world problems). My daughter flooded our downstairs guest bath, garage entry, part of the laundry room, and created a stream through our garage (I’m so grateful it was the downstairs bath!). We are all sick, including our six-week-old puppy who has been having diarrhea all day….yes, I am coughing, sneezing, running a fever and cleaning up boogers and poop…on the hour almost every hour.

I am handling the repair of all our broken and damaged furniture because it took the military eight months to pay us a very tiny fraction of what our items are worth, and the company they hired finally came to pick up a few of the pieces to fix after my husband deployed. I am too far from family to ask for help and the day a new friend offers some, I can’t accept because we are all, well, sick. I am trying to run a business, start a ministry, take care of two kids (6 & 4), handle the house and finances, make friendships, nurture relationships, care for animals, and cope with disease, all on my own.

All this is minor when compared to what some are struggling with…always keeps this in mind when your trials start to get the better of you. Somewhere there is someone handling far worse and they are still putting one foot in front of the other. Now, I am not immune to tragedy, which is major. If I need to talk about faith or relationships I call my mom, my sisters, or my deepest friends. However, when I needed to cope with the struggles of military life, I need someone who has walked the road before me. In this, I turned to a mentor, whose family became dear friends; she passed away unexpectedly just over a year ago.

She had it all figured out. She understood how life worked and nothing ever shifted her from her peace. Don’t get me wrong, she dealt with sickness and struggles like all of us but she always handle them with grace and understanding and I loved learning from her. Now, she is not a phone call away. My mentor, my friend, the one who walked me through marrying into the military and all its responsibilities as a spouse, the one who came to help me and walked me through major tests of endurance. She is gone. I have not met anyone like her and I’m not sure I ever will. She knew down to the marrow of her bones what most of us are still learning to cope with and that is: Trials don’t hinder us. They make us into who we are supposed to be. We shouldn’t be fighting against them. We should be learning from them.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” – James 1:1-4 (NIV)

Consider it pure joy. There as never been a trial that has brought joy to anyone, Job is a prime example. The trial is not what we are to be joyful over but it is what we are about to learn which will bring us closer to God and who he has called us to be. When a day hits where my plans are ruined and I’m left home cleaning up diarrhea and catering to cranky kiddos with no help I ask myself this… What can I learn from this, how can I grow in my faith and as a person?

Typically I know immediately what I can learn. It’s normally what I’m failing at that moment. Whether that is patience, self-sacrifice, long-suffering, joy, love, peace, contentment…the process of gaining the fruit of the spirit is never easy…and each trial we face walks us closer to obtaining the goal of being Christ-like…mature and complete.

“More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” – Romans 5:3-5

Coming out of a trial a better person with better faith and a better perspective, that is what trials are for. We don’t experience trials so that we can experience God’s miracles; though many do have the joy of receiving miracles in their walk of faith, and we benefit from hearing those miracles which increases our faith. We experience trials so we can grow to be more than a sinful sack of dirt destined to live a sad life and die a lonely death.

So often we just want the healing first and the teaching second. I know this is like a slap in the face for some, especially those who want to believe God just wants everyone to be successful and happy all the time. Don’t get me wrong, I am not against the prosperity gospel, because I know our God to be a prosperous God. However, I equally believe in a perspective gospel that say’s God is sovereign and faithful in season and out of season, during seasons of trials and seasons of blessing.

God allowed his own son to walk the most horrific trial known to man, death by the cross. This is how Jesus handled the situation…

“Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorry to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” – Matthew 26: 36-39

WOW, Jesus….ALL MAN and ALL GOD! Did you see what happened? Jesus being all human was sorrowful and troubled. He was upset his disciples didn’t understand the gravity of what was about to happen. Yet he was ALL GOD. He implored his disciples to get with the program, not for his sake but for their own. In the end, he prayed a simple and sweet prayer for the Father’s will to be done. If it’s good enough for Jesus, it’s more than good enough for us…I often find myself praying like this during trials…”Father, please remove this but if it’s not possible to take these circumstances away, let your will be done. I will walk the path you have set before me, give me strength.”

You are no different than Jesus, in fact, we are called to be just like him and to teach others of His ways. You are ALL MAN, but because Jesus went to be with the Father in heaven He sent the HOLY SPIRIT to dwell with you and the Holy Spirit is ALL GOD.

I implore you…stop looking at your trials as if they were sent to defeat and shame you. Start seeing them for what they are truly meant to be, a lesson in the area God needs you to glorify Him most!!!

Satan doesn’t want you focused on the truth. He wants to hinder you and keep you believing that you can never get ahead because you are being held behind by these trials. He wants you stopped before you learn how not to be stopped! Because then, he is rendered powerless and his attacks are non-effective. At the point you look at a trial and scream…YES, LORD – teach me…satan’s hold is left weak and his raging roar against you void.

I don’t want you to stop praying for miracles, because we serve a miraculous and miracle working God. However, I do want you to embrace trials for more than a hindrance; I want you to see them as lessons that push you closer to who God is calling you to be. He placed a special calling on your life, and He knows what you need to accomplish it.

God has already rescued us, he wants to teach us!

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” – 1 Peter 1: 3-9

Trust

Would you keep reading if I told you I could solve ALL your trust issues?

Do you truly trust your spouse? Do you truly trust your brother? Do you truly trust anyone in your life?

Have you ever read through your husband or wives phone while they were in the shower or asleep? Have you cleaned out their car so you can see if they were hiding anything? Have you hacked their email?

I’m here to say that we have all done one or the other, or all of the above to someone. Many people have gone as far as to hire people to watch someone.

Five years into my marriage I learned a valuable secret that I wish I had walked into marriage with. To explain this secret, I need to walk you through my families dynamic growing up.

We were raised on trust. Everything thing we did was backed or lead with trust. We were given many privileges out of trust and kept them out of trust. There are not many 16-year-olds that can say they stayed out until 1 or 2 in the morning with their parent’s approval, no need for permission. I didn’t really grow up with a curfew, I didn’t need one. I communicated and kept my parents trust. They reward that trust with their own trust which afforded me many opportunities that were uncommon for my age. I never had to worry about anyone’s word in my family, if we said it, we kept it. Especially to each other. We were honest and open always.

I took that understanding of how relationships should be into my marriage, but my husband wasn’t raised the same. We butted heads on many levels for quite some time. He constantly felt like he had to earn my trust and to keep it he had many hoops to jump through. Every fight we EVER got in was typically about trust. We were both learning.

After one especially difficult fight over some questionable, in my mind, moments, I finally hit my knees! The conversation went something like this…

“WHY GOD! Why can’t I trust him!!” – “BECAUSE YOU DON’T TRUST ME!” – “WHAT, of course, I do!! You are the Creator, my GOD, I believe in you and trust you with every aspect of my life! – “NO, YOU DON’T.” – “I’ve spent my life loving you, I trust you!” – “THEN WHY DON’T YOU TRUST ME WITH HIM?

I had no answer. The GOD of the Universe had called me out! In my control of the situation, I had taken my trust away from God the Father, the Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit and rested it upon the shoulders of a fallen man who was incapable of bearing such load and it was putting a lot of stress on our marriage.

My husband is as fallen and as broken as I am. He isn’t perfect, he has never tried to be. He was never meant to bear the burden of my trust. He will ultimately fail me at some point, intentionally or unintentionally. He is not GOD. He is prone to sin.

There is a verse in Psalm 19, “vs12 Who can understand his errors? Cleanse thou me from secret faults.” Even with our best intentions, we falter; we lose our temper and act emotionally, and in doing so make irrational decisions in sin we must beg forgiveness for. But, God does not fail like that. He is righteous and good, trustworthy and enduring, honesty and gracious, His mercy endures forever. His answer is not always convenient, or we may not understand, but He never fails us.

Your spouse, your friend, your father or mother, brother or sister…they are made of flesh, with a heart of flesh, and despite our best intentions, WE ALL FAIL each other, even when it is simply a mistake. Like a forgotten email, or phone call, or birthday, or deadline, or even a lie.

If you put your trust into another human, they will leave you broken and hurt. And you will leave them burdened and fretful. Take that responsibility off their shoulders, it was never theirs to bare, and put it back where it belongs…on the one who will never fail you, never leave you, always love you, always perfect Creator, Redeemer, Healer, Friend, your Heavenly Father, GOD – I promise He is strong enough to bare your full trust and will never let you down.

When you have fully surrendered your trust to the one who created you and freed the human you have rested it upon for so long, you will begin to find peace in your relationships and your life.  You will be able to offer grace to those who stumble instead of hurt from pain.

God will hold your trust in the highest regard, he will not slander it or abuse it. By given humans room to fail, we take the pressure off our selves to compensate for that failure and be hurt by it. We need to take the power away from them and put it back where it belongs, where it is safe, in the hands of the one who never fails, Christ Jesus.

STOP putting your trust in another human who will ultimately fail you. Put your trust in God, the one who never fails and free yourself and that person from caring a burden neither of you was designed to bare.

I know that putting this concept into practice is harder than reading it, so…put a penny in your pocket, every time you are tempted to place the burden of trust on another human’s shoulders….pull out that penny and remember…”IN GOD WE TRUST!”

Be Still

Shhh…can you hear the roar of the whisper?

There is a calling you must be attuned too, a purpose that only you can fulfill, a plan that needs your coveted part!

The new year always brings new resolutions; losing weight, gaining muscle, quitting a bad habit, starting a good habit, organizing, becoming debt free, determination, growth, relationship goals! We start by making a promise of following through. We plan and proceed and for 75% of us, fail, then turn around 364 days later and promise to try it again!

I resolve to be still; so that I may find rest, rest in who I am, rest in my jobs, rest in my relationships, rest in my home, rest in my mind and body and spirit. There is less than .001% of women out there, though I have no statistics or study to back it up, that are 100% satisfied in who they are, what they are doing, their looks, their beliefs, their education, or how their life is being spent. We all struggle with one area or another! None of us are living the perfect life, in the perfect body, with the perfect job, and perfect family and friends! We don’t have a perfect house, perfect car, perfect wardrobe, perfect complexion, perfect spouse, perfect kids, perfect personality! And, if for some reason the stars align and its all picture perfect, in less than five minutes there is a dirty something-or-other clogging the view again. (A dirty cup, a load of laundry, a pimple, a deadline, a shaky relationship, a rocky marriage, a sassy kid, a bug-spattered window, a sour attitude, a forgotten task, sickness or disease.) I’m not trying to be disheartening, I’m merely bringing a realistic viewpoint back from a dreamy imaginistic one. When reality hits, it hits hard, and rarely do we fully recover from its swing.

As I have grown from a girl, into a young lady, and now into a grown woman, my faith and my viewpoint have grown with me. Gone are the days of trying to beautify or change what is not changeable, or hope for a million dollars for work on a body that was already fearfully and wonderfully made. I have moved on from weight loss or weight gain for vain and selfish reasons. I do not make goals for myself anymore, for my personal reward or benediction. I have stepped from a place of needing care, into a place of giving it. I am a wife and a mother. I do not desire to be skinny, but I desire to be healthy. I do not desire to be beautiful in feature but desire to be found lovely in grace. I do not desire to be as equipped and as deadly as a superhero but desire to be a strong and immovable force of love as a mother, spouse, and friend. 

While you make your new year resolutions, I implore you to consider a resolution of greater need and value. That you would be still in knowing who you are and who your creator is and that you would find rest in that and begin new growth in peace. The desires of your heart are already known to the one who can fulfill them. The strength you seek cannot be found in your own self-resolve; if it was then, every resolution we have ever made would have been accomplished a hundred times over. This coming year, I want you to be still and know who you are in Christ Jesus, find resolve in how fearfully and wonderfully made you already are, let this guide your discovery of your profound strengths and weakness and let this journey bleed over into your fellow sisters as they too discover all God created them to be in stillness before a mighty and capable God!

This year let your resolution be to be still before God. Lisa Bevere says it best, “God is willing to speak to all who are quite enough to hear. It is just a matter of pausing long enough to hear the Holy Spirit with clarity and then capture his words in strength.”

God be with you and bless you on this journey my fellow sisters in need, in desires, in dreams, in relationships, in marriage, in motherhood, in Christ Jesus! Your purpose on this earth far exceeds your expectations! Be still enough so that you might discover how big Gods’ dream really is for your life, because I guarantee you that yours dreams pale in comparison to His for you!

“He says, ‘Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’ The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” – psalms 46:10-11

Be still and know, be exalted with me as my bride, hear what I have to say to you, my plan for you is greater than you’ve imagined and it is further reaching than you have dreamed. Listen for my voice daughter, find rest before me. My desire is to bring increase to my people and I plan to do it through you. You are my finest and most dangerous weapon dear daughter, beautiful are you to behold and wondrous are your capabilities. Take the charge dear lioness, find peace with your part in my pride, rest in the protection I have provided you. I am your lion, your strong defender, you have no need of fear when you rest in my presence. Put an end to your wonderings my bride, have you not heard my roar! I have called you to come and rest in my presence, why do you still roam the land in despair and fear. I have invited you to rest in my presence and to enjoy my safety. Your strength is needed and your weakness made strong. I have called you with purpose my daughter, you are to be my bride, there is much to be birthed through you. You do not have to wonder alone anymore, come and I will give you rest! You will find your place and your purpose, heed my roar oh daughter of Zion!

From Shaken to Firm

This is it….

I have crawled into my husbands closet with two bibles, two books, a pen and a pencil, and a cup of coffee at 7:02 on a Thursday night.

I feel like the mom in Moms Night Out who’s husband comes home to find her clutching an empty bag of chocolate watching birds on the internet!

I must disclose it was not my intention to emulate a movie.

My husband in his GREAT LOVE for me, took our children to the grocery store to give me some cool down time.

At their exit I grabbed my coffee, computer, and bibles/books desperately seeking a place of quiet from my four month old Great Pyrenees puppy, drying in a round pin after a bath, who was incessantly barking at our four month old cat tauntingly crouched in a chair just outside the cage.

My intention was to retreat to my bedroom, but for some reason I proceed straight through my bedroom and into the bathroom and then straight into my husbands closet!

The only conclusion I can come to as to why I am here is because my subconscious was trying to get as far away from this crazy, noise filled day as possible!

When I am weary my focus goes to God. I’m thankful for this for two reasons. One, safety for others, otherwise I would blow my top. Two, He is the only one who has the answer to every situation I have ever dealt with.

This leads me to why I’ve disclosed such a low moment. JOB.

Not the J-O-B that has us using that four letter word “WORK”.

I’m speaking of JOB the man. The one in the bible that lost everything; who’s wife and friends turned their backs. Job, a man in distress, suffering great loss on every side…death, finances, security, shelter. The one who has torn his clothes, shaved his head, and is sitting in ashes.

Honestly…I’m not sure I have or will ever be in a position of such distress where I would tear my clothes and shave my head. I might not bath for a month, but I wouldn’t strip naked and shave all my hair off. If you heard of someone acting like that, you would say they went all Britney Spears and need “special, white coat” attention.

Job, in all this, never once blames God….however, he did do A LOT of complaining and questioning.

Listen as Job cries out and holds nothing back in Job 10:1-22…

“I loathe my very life; therefore I will give free rein to my complaint and speak out in the bitterness of my soul. I will say to God: Do not condemn me, but tell me what charges you have against me. Does it please you to poorest me, to spurn the work of your hands while you smile on the schemes of the wicked? Do you have eyes of flesh? Do you see as a mortal sees? Are your days like those of a mortal or your years like those of a man, that you must search out my faults though you know that I am not guilty and that no one can resume me from your hand? Your hands shaped me and made me. Will you now turn and destroy me? Remember that you molded me like clay. Will you now turn me to dust again? Did you not pour me out like milk and curdle me like cheese, clothe me with skin and flesh and knit me together with bones and sinews? You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in your providence watched over my spirit. But this is what you concealed in your heart, and I know that this was in your mind: If I sinned, you would be watching me and would not let my offense go unpunished. If I am guilty – woe to me! Even if I am innocent, I cannot lift my head, for I am full of shame and drowned in my affliction. If I hold my head high, you stalk me like a lion and again display your awesome power against me. You bring new witnesses against me and increase your anger toward me; your forces come against me wave upon wave. Why then did you bring me out of the womb? I wish I had died before any eye saw me. If only I had never come into bring, or had been carried straight from the womb to the grave! Are not my few days almost over? Turn away from me so I can have a moment’s joy before I go the place of no return, to the land of gloom and deep shadow, to the land of deepest night, of deep shadow and disorder, where even the light is like darkness.”

So….free speaking Job, lets go of all that rested heavy on his heart.

Have you ever done that?

“Lord, I’m tired, I’m PMS’ING, and at the moment…I can’t figure out for the life of me why I ever decided to have kids, please help them CALM DOWN before I duck tape them to the wall and eat a bucket of ice-cream in front of them!”

“God, you need to do something about this husband you “yoked” me too, because if he doesn’t wise up – I’m going to yank a knot in that donkey’s tale!”

“Father, I am so thankful you gave me this amazing job opportunity BUT if you don’t remove that loud mouth at work I might do something we both will regret.”

Now, I know YOU have NEVER made any complaints to the Lord like that?! Right?

I am ashamed, as was Job, to admit that I have made declarations of complaints before the Lord. Asking Him, begging Him, to withdraw the painfulness of whatever I was experiencing at the time. Honestly, on my worse day I am no where near the painfulness of Job…and if he didn’t have the right to complain before God…why do I?

But, complaining isn’t really the issue…I know I have driven a lot of attention towards it, but it’s not the point I want to rest on. It would be rather religious of me to tell you to not ever have a complaint about something again. Things happen all the time we don’t like and I know that the Lord understands that. For this reason I want to jump ahead in the story…to Chapter 40 where God speaks and Job shuts up!

God responds and tells Job to give an account of why he has questioned God and called himself so just. Job fumbles with regret and humility as God begins to speak, “Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.” (vs 7) God goes on to explain to Job that he has no power and no might and is in fact unjust and sinful. In verse 15 God called Job to look at the behemoth which he made, the behemoths strength and power were far greater than even a raging river and no one can capture him.

In chapter 41 God continues by talking about another creature he called the leviathan…no one could capture him and if someone got close they would not survive or regret their interaction with this animal. This creature has fearsome teeth and a back with rows of shields so tightly sealed together and not even air could pass between them. To top that off God speaks of this creature as having no weaknesses, there was literally no way to defeat him, and that the mighty ran in fear of him.

Why did God go through all the trouble to talk about these fearsome, massive, and dangerous creatures? God was making a point to Job that He was in control and bigger than the scariest situation. Even the fiercest creatures that walked the earth were no match for the one who created them. In short, He was telling Job that absolutely everything was subject to His rule.

Jobs response in chapter 42, verses 1-6 is priceless…”I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscured my counsel without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ My ear had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”

Is the transition from haughty to humble not amazing. It didn’t happen over time, it happened all at once!! God wan’t getting-on-to Job because he was complaining, he got on to Job because he spoke about God in a manner he did not understand. He wanted Job to know how big He was, how powerful he was, how just he was…he wanted Job to know that He had never lost control of any circumstance, no matter how bad it might seem.

I love how my KJV Study Bible sums it up, “God has redirected Job to fall back on the things he knows about God instead of coming up with foolish conclusions about life’s situations.”

When days get rough, when life happens, when we have “Job moments”…we have to fall back on what we know about God……

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” —Jeremiah 29:11

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” —Isaiah 41:10

“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” —2 Timothy 1:7

………………………………

…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. –1 Thessalonians 5:18

In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. — Ephesians 6:16

Loss

What is Loss.  My computer’s dictionary says loss is the fact or process of losing something or someone.  Something or someone!  The loss of something is so superficial.  What are we loosing really?  Hard matter.  Lifeless matter.  A phone, a ring, a piece of paper, a body?   No.  Loss is really a void.  The emptiness of space.  It’s the empty left after the item is gone, that’s loss.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.  For we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-5” (ESV)

We experience loss and in that, that we may turn around and help others who experience loss, and yet I think…The world should stop!  That’s what my heart screams.  A wife lose’s a husband, a mother/father loses a child, a child loses a parent.  I just want to jump out of my car and yell at the vehicles around me… “STOP!  GET OUT! SHOW RESPECT! Don’t you know what just happened, someone has loss…real loss..an emptiness that can never be filled again.  AND YOUR ALL OBLIVIOUS…UNCARING!”  It all plays out so surreally in my head.  The world has to stop, it must stop.  Everything freezes…just like the heart of the person with loss.  And then it doesn’t…nothing does…everything keeps spinning faster and faster.  No one knows, no one understands.  Nothing can compare to the emptiness…the loss…and you get dizzy, everything just keeps moving when you just want everything to freeze so you can catch your breath.

“…the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21 (KJV)

That verse rolls through my mind.  Job was given everything, and from Job everything was taken away.  How do you cope?  EVERYTHING.  Should we find comfort if the fact that only one thing was taken away, and so much else is left?  It doesn’t seem that my heart can fathom the feeling.  I do not know true loss.  But I know what the possibility of loss feels like, but my loss had hope attached.  Hope that everything was fine and in a few days I would find out that the hole beginning to devour my heart would close.   And, in the end, my hope won out and everything returned to normal.  But it doesn’t always happen that way.  Some times that hole get’s bigger and the pit of grief get’s deeper and hope fades away and reality takes it’s place.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. …” 2 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV)

Grace…hope is the beginning of faith….grace is all sufficient. Sufficient means enough; adequate.  It’s all we should need.  Even in our darkest moment, grace steps up….grace builds a web over the hole, it sticks together the hurt and our Lord.  Grace takes the place of hope in that moment of darkness and grief.

“When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.  The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.  Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.  He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.” Psalm 34:17-20 (ESV)

How comforting it is to know that God is near to that hurt.  The emptiness of the loss brings God near….wow!  We all desire to be near God, but are we truly willing to give something up, something that cuts us deeper than a blade, to have him close.  No one choose to have loss, but we all choose to have God near.  It’s why we have chosen the Christian faith.  Right?  My Husband, my children…who is first, who do I wish to have near?  I speak from being close to someone who lost just that much…my heart tells me that even though they would give untold riches to spend one more moment with their loved, they would never want them ripped out of the hands of Jesus.  My beloved, my lovey, my lovely…they don’t belong to me…they never have.  I can not greave for something I have not lost…and will never lose….something that has never truly belonged to me; I’m just blessed enough to do life with them.  Faith is believing without seeing…I may not see them one day, but I will never lose them.   I can not grieve for the person who is gone knowing they are in the hand of Jesus.  I grieve for those left behind.  I would grieve for myself….that is where grief hits harder than a 90mph curve ball.  Selfish, how am I going to manage, what about me grief.  I do not grieve like the world.  I have hope and grace.

 

“Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.”  Thessalonians 4:13-14 

Grief is, by definition of my computer thesaurus: sorrow, misery, sadness, anguish, pain, distress, heartache, heartbreak, agony, torment, affliction, suffering, woe, desolation, dejection, despair; mourning, mournfulness, bereavement, lamentation.  WOW.  So many words make up grief.  A complicated array of emotions all bottled into one moment.  No wonder is consumes us when we have loss.  And yet, Paul tells the church in Thessalonians to have hope because Jesus has already broken the chains of death and those who have died before us we will see again.

A military family would understand this objective view the best.  Your loved one, deploys, which for non-military members means that the person is gone for an extended period of time and is normally across oceans.  It can be as short as one month, or as long as a year. Your communication is normally limited, you may get to talk with them once a week depending on the communication network where they are. You say “see you later” and you try not to cry, you’ll have what seems like “everything” goes wrong moments; you’ll wish you could call them, though you can’t; you pray constantly that you’ll see them again.   You know a taste of loss…they are gone, you can’t see or talk with them, your just waiting…hoping you’ll see them, hear them, touch them again.  You function day to day without them, working out tricks and techniques that will help you get through the time away from them. Then it happens…the day they come home!  You feel like your world just got pieced back together.  There is an overwhelming emotionally wall that’s comes suddenly down the moment you lay eyes on them.  You cry or you laugh, you huge and you kiss.  The separation is over and your together again.

Death is temporary – life everlasting.  We grieve separation, but because of Christ, it is only for a little while.  We wait and function knowing that one day we will be together again….there is grace for the separation and hope for the return.  Praise God that we believe!! We Believe in Jesus, life everlasting.   We do not grieve like the world…we just have to be patient through the separation and thankfully we have grace for that.

“Be Strong and courageous.  Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you.  He will not leave you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 (ESV)

*Penned October 9th, 2014

Purpose Drives Discipline

“For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”  Hebrews 12:11

Lazy.  The first word that comes to mind.  I’m Lazy.  I can excuse my action by exhaustion, disease, kids, life.  If I boil it all down…lazy.  I am hindered and distracted by convenience.  The convenience that comes from technology. The convenience created by super stores.  I am spoiled.  Spoiled by how close they are, by how easy it is to come by items, or look them up.  I have begun to order more items online, which is super awesome for an introvert, no need to even step out my front door.  Our dog food is ordered online. Our cleaning supplies are ordered online.  And, I’m sure our food and possibly clothes will soon follow.  What happened to simple?  Was life ever truly simple?  Or was it all just as complicated but in a different way?

I often read books of facts (not really one for fiction, I leave that to the movies) and come across phrases like, “it was a simpler time back then.”  The age of innovation.  A simpler time?  I don’t classify the age that NASA went to the moon, the first computer was first put to work, the development of the home computer, the creation of TV and later color TV to be a simple time.  All of our technology hit a boom and then suddenly we find ourselves surrounded by amazing creations of convenience.  We can talk to someone across the world within moments with no switchboard operator, no code needed to translate the words. It’s all sent instantly and scientifically by air to outer space and then back again! The words you speak over your cell phone travel farther than it takes you to get to your favorite store.  But what brought about these amazing changes in a very short period of time?

My sister recently said something that has really stuck with me, a profound moment of wisdom; “Purpose Drives Discipline.”  Purpose drove David Packard and Bill Hewlett in 1939 to develop a computer out of their Palo Alto, California garage.  The Vostok program produced the first human in spaceflight history; on April 12, 1961 the Vostok 3KA was launched, sending Soviet Yuri Gagarin into space.   Purpose drove Walt Disney to create Disneyland – a place where families could play together – which opened on July 17, 1955. (Fun fact, did you know that Walt Disney ordered several of David Packard and Bill Hewlett garage computers to use for sound in his cartoons.)   Imagine what life would have been like without people of purpose like John D Rockefeller, Henry Ford, and Andrew Carnegie. They led the oil, car, and metal industry in their time.  They pushed and developed. They had purpose and discipline. They created the monopolies that defined North America.

I’m a movie and cartoon lover.  There is a movie/cartoon that sticks out in my head as I type this letter.  Robots.  It’s a story about a young robot who went to a big city to become an inventor.  As a child robot he would watch the robot inventor he looked up to on TV, and that robot had a saying, “See a need, fill a need.”   That is just another way to say, purpose drives discipline which drives development.  Development may apply to emotional, physical, or mental developments.  You could push yourself to become physically fit or to become more knowledgeable, to create something by writing or engineer a new tool, toy, or cloth.  But without purpose and a lack of discipline you are stuck in the chair you are sitting in now.  Stuck in the same place you have always been.  Your reward is lost. Your purpose undefined.

It is so much easier for me to sit here reading a book about great acts and amazing creations than it is for me to get up and make my dreams and desires a reality.  It takes purpose, a need, to drive the discipline used to fill that need.   And discipline is like a wild horse,  a rare form and hard teacher, but once your through the ache and injury of training (disciplining yourself and the horse to work together) that wild horse becomes something beautiful in form and behavior. Suddenly your gliding with grace and stability, having laid a foundation that will last forever and benefit both horse and rider for years to come.

Simpler times. I don’t think they existed. Not really.  Distractions, though different, were just as common.  But what has changed is the lack of discipline to raise anything but our entertainment.  The Gilded Age, the Age of Innovation, because of such we sit in an Age of Entertainment.  We are so distracted and so misinformed that we’ve lost the very fuel needed to progress forward.  There are few people in this world that leave behind legacies only because they never developed discipline.  They failed, not in life, but in personal responsibility.   Purpose comes in millions of forms.  A mother, a father, a sister or brother, a singer, a designer, a cleaner, an adviser, a preacher…the list goes on.  So you’re a janitor. You have the potential to define and change the career field for everyone that comes behind you.  Find your purpose where you are and make discipline your constant companion and you will be amazed at the legacy, great or small, you could leave behind.   A short time of pain leads to a long time gain.  Find your purpose and develop your discipline; fight for your life!  Pull your head out of fantasy and engage in reality. Watch the development of purpose begin to arise. Then bind with it discipline so that your legacy will be fullness of life in the least and the progress of development for you or others at most.

I leave you with this thought, given by a man who had big dreams, who didn’t care how much he failed, only that he chanced succeeding. “If you can dream it, you can do it!”  – Walt Disney.  We travel to space and we visit other planets and moons.  We fly across country and around the world. We have color tv and talk on cell phones. All these things were once deemed impossible by others of small vision, lack of purpose, and no discipline.  So find your purpose and develop discipline…never give up. You’ll be amazed at what you accomplish even if it feels like you are failing over and over again.  Lead by example.  If you leave no other legacy than that, let the people around you, your kids for example, see your purpose, discipline, and faith.  Perhaps your legacy is a child that will become our next Rockefeller, Einstein, Disney, Reagan, or Trump.  Only you have the power to define your future and the future of those around you.

Purpose drives discipline – discipline drives development – development drives innovation – innovation drives change.  If you can’t find your purpose, give yourself one.  Don’t be afraid of pain, its only temporary.  Be afraid of nothing; no progress, no innovation, no development, no change, no fulfillment, no faith.

“For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”  Hebrews 12:11

LOVE

what is it?

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on it own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

LOVE.  My dictionary on my computer says that love is “an intense feeling of deep affection; a deep romantic or sexual attachment to someone; a great interest and pleasure in something; affectionate greetings conveyed to someone on one’s behalf; a formula for ending an affectionate letter.”  My thesaurus describes love with these words: deep affection, fondness, tenderness, warmth, intimacy, attachment, endearment; devotion, adoration, doting, idolization, worship; passion, ardor, desire, lust, yearning, infatuation, besottedness.

I have a hard time picturing the love in these definitions in relation to the love mentioned in the scripture.  Nowhere does it mention patient and kind.  Our world’s definition of love is regarded as a feeling of romanticism.  It’s short and intense.   Not long-suffering, gracious, or all forgiving.  It seems as dead in our world as something that is given and taken at will, an inanimate object.

The Word of God describes love as though it is alive, something breathing and tangible.  Not a feeling or an emotion as it’s described in the definition above.  The Word is approached as something precious and rare, yet always accessible.  It makes me feel that it stands before me gentle and strong.  It wraps you in a warm blanket on a cold day and yet it can be tossed out in that same cold and stand without a shiver in it’s marrow.  It is described as if it’s all-knowing, all seeing, all encompassing.  It seem bigger than us.  Like it carries some secret knowledge that has been forgotten from generation to generation, only held by a select few who have developed knowledge and understanding, compassion and forgiveness at it’s deepest center.

“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” ~ 1 John 3:16 

LOVE is LIFE.  It is commitment and sacrifice.  Love is covering.  It takes on the personality of each individual and creates in them a place of peace and joy.  It brings with it compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.  It calms anger, and soothes frustration.  It forgives and purposefully forgets.  It doesn’t exist in us.  It is it’s own entity.  A decision to occupy.

“And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all….”
~ 1 Thessalonians 3:12  

It is given and taught by God.  It is something that is able to increase or diminish.  You can choose to feed it or let it starve.   It can become a defining part of who you are or a terrible gaping hole of misfortune.  If thought of as a feeling, instant and short, it will never be anything more than gratification with out sanctification, leaving you lost and hopeless because you settled for an imitation of what life should be.   If humbled and chosen, love is able to set apart the earthly legalities binding us to this world and lift us to a place of comfort and peace, even in hurt and hostility. It covers us in protection and mercy.  Love is a life well lived, a reflection of Jesus Christ.  To truly now how strong and beautiful love is, is to choose it everyday.  To focus on it every moment.  To wrap every person in it as they walk by.  Love is powered by one thing –   Christ in us.   Love can be so large and so mighty that it is impossible to hold onto if we do it in our own strength.  But allowing Jesus to enter with in us and draw on it’s reigns, allows us an opportunity to develop hope and endurance of this race we run.  What better calling do we have than to love one another and share truth in that love.  Our days are not about objects and advancement, but about people and moments.  What sense would it be to live if we had no one to live it with?

“Let brotherly love continue. – Let all that you do be done in love”
  ~ Hebrews 13:1 & 1 Corinthians 16:14 ~ 

A Solitary Road

Sometimes our journey in life can be solitary. Other times it’s so crowded you can’t see your own feet. Life is fluid. It’s always changing.

Take a look deep into the ocean; there is always a current, fish are always swimming, everything is constantly changing; a cycle that is always remaking itself. Even land has its seasons: changing, growing, developing into something new. If you’ve ever seen the devastation after a forest fire you know the desolation that can encompass a vast environment…but wait two years – though it may seem like a long journey, suddenly there is new life, new company, and a new beginning….and when it returns it has the possibility to be even more beautiful than before.

Faith…our journey alone and our journey with others is always ebb and flow. At one moment you are surrounded, you’re enjoying the journey with the people on your level – the next your alone, starting a solo journey of growth – and, still others are ones of devastation when the people that surround you are there to plant new life within you – even still there are times that you are the one that meets a solo journeyer on the road of life that you are to water and grow.

Your journey has a purpose. Even in the black after a forest fire, life lingers. Even when there is no one to take the journey with you there is growth.

Look at the story of Elijah. He was a mighty prophet for the Lord; a wonderful example of our journey with God, ourself, and others.

1 King 17:1 ~ we find Elijah prophesying,

“As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew or rain these years, except at my word.”

Can you imagine prophesying for the Lord!? He gives you instruction as clear as the words your reading right now! WHAT AN AMAZING AND TERRIFYING EXPERIENCE! Just after Elijah prophesy’s the Lord speaks to Elijah…

“Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “Get away from here and turn eastward, and hide by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. And it will be that you shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there. So he went and did according to the word of the Lord, for he went and stayed by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook. And it happened after a while that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land.” 1 King 17: 2-7

His journey went solo, completely dependent on God, no one to uplift him or feed him. A lonely road you might say, but it wasn’t. He was fully reliant on God and God was always with him, meeting his needs and providing for him. Sometimes our roads, for whatever reason, are suddenly solo. We feel like we are alone, with no one to feed us or up lift us. But if you look hard enough at the situation, you will always see the hand of God, no matter how desolate the road feels. Keep your focus, keep your faith, God will not fail you; he may be pushing you to grow, separating you out to teach you something that is “soul-ly” yours!

Elijah’s journey is about to change, he needs someone and God puts that person in his path.

“The word of the Lord came to him, saying, “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. See, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.” 1 King 17: 8

So Elijah’s journey changes. The Lord commands a widow to provide for him. Now his journey encompasses someone who is there to feed and uplift him. God brought the two roads together for this time that she may feed and water Elijah. Sometimes our journeys are solo, and other times our journey is met by someone who is there to feed us when we need it most. God it the author of our lives and we have to trust his hand, even when we are uncertain of our path. – The widow was there to feed Elijah but soon the story changes.

“So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, indeed a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, “Please bring me a little water in a cup, that I may drink.” And as she was going to get it, he called to her and said, “Please bring me a morsel of bread in your hand. So she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I do not have bread, only a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil in a jar; and see, I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die.” 1 King 17: 10-12

What a gloomy situation. The widow God chose to feed Elijah couldn’t survive even on her own. Her sacrifice to serve another was her greatest sacrifice of all, her and her son’s life. You never know what the person sent to encourage you is going through themselves. Always be thankful for what God brings to your table, no matter how small it may be. – There is about to be a huge turn around, however. Suddenly the person sent to serve Elijah is the one who will be needing something.

“And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son. For thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the Lord sends rain on the earth. So she went away and did according to the word of Elijah; and she and he and her household ate for many days. The bin of flour was not used up, nor did the jar of oil run dry, according to the word of the Lord which He spoke by Elijah.” 1 King 17:13-15

Her obedience to serve brought a blessing upon her home. The Lord feed them for many days. Your journey with yourself and others is guided by your obedience and faith. But we don’t have an audible voice telling us where to go, which path to take, and who to speak to; we have to believe by faith the people put into our lives are there for that season for a reason. We push people away because of insecurities, because of hurt, or because we are overwhelmed. Sometimes they may be the people we need the most. But, sometimes relationship slip away and we fight for a little while to keep them going, but ultimately they end, no reason given. We have to learn to walk away, having faith that the Lord is in that too.

Ok – so here comes the big change – a role reversal. Suddenly the woman providing the care needs care!

“Now it happened after these things that the son of the woman who owned the house became sick. And his sickness was so serious that there was no breath left in him. So she said to Elijah, “what have I to do with you, O man of God? Have you come to me to bring my sin to remembrance, and to kill my son? And he said to her, “Give me your son.” So he took him on his own bed. Then he cried out to the Lord and said, “O Lord my God, have you also brought tragedy on the widow with whom I lodge, by killing her son? And he stretched himself out on the child three times, and cried out to the Lord and said, “O Lord my God, I pray, Let this child’s soul come back to him,.” Then the Lord heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came back to him, and he revived. And Elijah took the child and brought him down from the upper room into the house, and gave him to his mother. And Elijah said, “See, your son lives!” Then the woman said to Elijah, “Now by this I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth.” 1 King 17: 17-24

How the tables turned! Now Elijah was uplifting the woman. Your journey crosses paths with people that are there to help you and other time you are there to help those who paths you cross. And, sometimes you are there to help each other!

What a journey…from solo, to need, to help. Elijah’s journey crossed all paths. From masses to the individual. No matter where your journey is at, your call is to have HOPE, and by HOPE ~ FAITH. Your journey may seem crowded, or lonely, extremely needy or extremely needed. No matter where you are, learn to listen to the Holy Spirit, so that you can give and accept help, and so you can grow in and rely on God.

IT is WELL

A miracle and a tragedy.  2 Kings 4:8 introduces us to the Shunammite woman, well to do, but childless.  Elisha often came through her town and she urged him to stay and eat, so whenever he went the way of her house he always ate.  Elisha came so frequently that the woman had a room added to her home just for him.  Elisha was very thankful and asked the woman what she needed.  This is what transpired between them.

Then he said to Gehazi his servant, “Call this Shunammite woman.” When he had called her, she stood before him.  And he said to him, “Say now to her, ‘Look, you have been concerned for us with all this care.  What can I do for you? Do you want me to speak on your behalf to the king or to the commander of the army?'” She answered him, “I dwell among my own people.” 2 King 4: 12-13

This is a beautiful moment to me.  Do you remember King Solomon?  He didn’t ask for riches or power but for wisdom and understanding, and God did so much more for him.  The Shunammite woman didn’t ask to be richer or to have power…she had no purpose to go before the king or the head of the army…she actually had no request at all.  She was content and satisfied in her position.  She had not served the prophet for gain, but out of a servant’s heart because he was a man of God and by serving him she was in fact serving God.  What is so powerful is that she did it with no thought of gain in her heart.

So he said, “What then is to be done for her?”  And Gehazi answered, “Actually, she has no son, and her husband is old.” So he said, “Call her.”  When he had called her, she stood in the doorway.  Then he said, “About this time next year you shall embrace a son.”  And she said, “No, my lord, Man of God, do not lie to your maidservant!” 2 Kings 4: 14-16

This story reminds me of verse six of 1 Timothy chapter six. Every translation says it the same way, “But godliness with contentment is great gain.”  It’s not about being content until you can get everything you want.  It’s about being content despite of everything you want or need.  Those “wants” have no hold over your current existence, and all though some needs are essential to your survival, being content is the key that brings what you need to the surface without you have to do a thing.  The Shunammite woman’s wait for children must have been a long wait because it is pointed out that her husband is very old and implies that, as was tradition in biblical times, she would not keep what was her husbands but it would pass to the next of kin male.  She would essentially be cut out with out a son to lay claim.  However, it doesn’t seem to bother this woman, or if it had, she had come to terms with it a while ago.  She was content with the moment and what she could do in that moment.  All was well.

But the woman conceived, and bore a son when the appointed time had come,  of which Elisha had told her.  And the child grew.  Now it happened one day that he went out to his father, to the reapers.  And he said to his father, “My head, my head!”  So he said to a servant, “Carry him to his mother,”  When he had taken him and brought him to his mother, he sat on her knees till noon, and then died. 2 Kings 4:17-20

At this moment, the woman had a choice.  Get angry or be content.  The power of self-control this woman exhibits is astounding.  Her hope and her future, her gift from God, had just died in her arms.  What transpires next is astounding!

And she went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God, shut the door upon him, and went out.  Then she called to her husband, and said, “Please send me on of the young men and one of the donkeys, that I may run to the man of God and come back.”  So he said, “Why are you going to him today?  It is neither the New Moon nor the Sabbath.” And she said, “It is well.” 2 Kings 4: 21-23

She had already made her choice.  She didn’t succumb to the pain of the loss of her son, give into the anger, or curl up in self-pity.  She saddled up and rode toward her solution.  If you noticed, she didn’t tell anyone that her son had died.  She laid him in a room no one would walk into.  She didn’t even tell her husband what had transpired. Even when he questioned her, she chose to speak in faith, and to ride in faith, despite what society or even her husband thought was out of the norm!  She didn’t put her contentment in a body or a boy, she believed that what God had given her this world could not take away.  She didn’t talk about her problem, she did something about it!  She knew her husband could not help her so she didn’t complain about her problem to him.  She knew that Elisha’s servant couldn’t help her so she didn’t even complain about her problem to him….

Then she saddled the donkey, and said to her servant, “Drive, and go forward; do not slacken the pace for me unless I tell you.”  And so she departed, and went to the man of God at Mount Carmel.  So it was, when the man of God saw her afar off,  that he said to his servant Gehazi, “Look, the Shunammite woman! Please run now to meet her, and say to her, ‘Is it well with you? Is it well with your husband? Is it well with your child?’ ” And she answered, “It is well.”  2 Kings 4: 24-26

PLEASE tell me you are reading and getting this with me.  Again she answered the servant the same as her husband, “it is well”.  Was she lying to him?  No!  She was making a choice not to bring a problem before a person who could do nothing to help her and she was also choosing to speak in faith at the same time.  In Romans 4:16-17 we are told that promises come by faith so that is may be by grace and be guaranteed to all, and that God calls those things that are not, as though they were!  A powerful notion and something this woman instinctively knew.  What was spoken in Romans would come much later in the time line to the story we are learning from here.

Now when she came to the man of God at the hill, she caught him by the feet, but Gehazi came near to push her away.  But the man of God said, “Let her alone; for her soul is in deep distress, and the Lord has hidden it from me, and has not told me.” 2 Kings 4: 27

Wow, the Lord hid from Elisha what the woman was going through.  This story isn’t written into the living Word of God by chance or accident.  This story was put there for us.  This woman showed godly attributes in the mist of a tragic story, that through her tragedy we may learn how to over come our own tragedies, in a way that puts the power into God’s hands so that he may speak those things which aren’t as though they where and provide for us the promises and blessing He always meant us to have!

This woman’s soul was in deep distress, she was hurting and in pain, but she let faith speak for her.  She didn’t let the thoughts in her head drive her but the words of life she would speak with her tongue! In this she paved the path for the power of God to be released into the physical.

So she said, “Did I ask a son of my lord? Did I not say, ‘Do not device me’?” Then he said to Gehazi, “Get yourself ready, and take my staff in you hand, and be on your way.  If you meet anyone, do not greet him; and if anyone greets you, do not answer him, but lay my staff on the face of the child.”  And the mother of the child said, “As the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you.” So he arose and followed her.  Now Gehazi went on ahead of them, and laid the staff on the face of the child; but there was neither voice nor hearing.  Therefore he went back to meet him, and told him saying, “The child has not awakened.”  When Elisha came into the house, there was the child, lying dead on his bed.  He went in therefore, shut the door behind the two of them, and prayed to the Lord. And he went up and lay on the child, and put his mouth on his mouth, his eyes on his eyes, and his hands on his hands;  and he stretched himself out on the child, and the flesh of the child became warm.  He returned and walked back and forth in the house, and again went up and stretched himself out on him; then the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eye.  And he called Gehazi and said, “Call this Shunammite woman.”  So he called her. And when she came in to him, he said, “Pick up you son.”  So she went in, fell at his feet, and bowed to the ground; then she picked up her son and went out.  2 Kings 4:28-36

At the end of this story we know that God gave and restored her son.  The Shunammite woman walked through a horrible tragedy and an amazing miracle.  For what? So that God could teach us through her character and her story.  God knew there would be a day when His spirit would no longer strive with man on earth (Genesis 6:3) and He needed a way to continue to teach us, so that His judgment would not fall so severely upon those who obey His Word and had faithful hearts before Him.

What are the take aways from this story found in 2 Kings 4:8-36?  This…

Get UP – STOP complaining – find CONTENTMENT in your current situation – SERVE others without a thought to gain – and journey in FAITH.  Become an “IT IS WELL” type of person.  You will be amazed at the way it will release the power of God in your life!

Grab a sticky note or a piece of paper and some tape. Write “IT IS WELL! 2 Kings 4:8-36” and stick it to your bathroom mirror, your steering wheel, by the coffee pot, and the corner of your computer at work. Let it be a reminder to stop complaining to your husband, stop complaining to your friends, stop complaining on your job or in your car. Start living the life you desire….A life where triumph or tragedy…IT IS WELL…because you know who to go to, to get things done, the Creator of the Universe! With Him, triumph or tragedy, ALL is WELL!

Fighting the Lies

When Jesus was tempted by satan He is recorded as quoting scripture.

“And the tempter came and said to Him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.’ But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God’.”  -Matthew 4:3-4

Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 8:3.  This scripture comes from the story of Moses while he was leading the people through the wilderness.  While they were hungry and complaining God provided manna from heaven to teach the people a lesson.

“He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” -Deuteronomy 8:3

The Word is God breathed, living-truth and it was left to us through the prophets and people God used.  Every day satan tempts us through thoughts; thoughts that are meant to destroy our calling.  Can you imagine if Jesus had given into the lies satan was telling Him,  He might have never reached the calling God had set before Him to accomplish.  Thankfully Jesus was wise in the Word.

“Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. ‘If you are the Son of God,’ he said, ‘throw yourself down. For it is written: ‘He will command his angels and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’ Jesus answered him, ‘It is also written: Do not put the Lord your God to the test’.” -Matthew 5:5-7

In Revelations 12:7-9 we are told satan would be cast out of heaven with all of his angles.  You don’t get followers like “angles” without being smart in the art of deception.  And his smart deception was given its best go on Jesus when he tried to use scripture against Him.

Satan quoted scripture from Psalm 91: 11-12.  He knew that Jesus’ dwelling place was the Most High God and that no harm would befall him as long as He dwelled in that truth. Yet, he was still allowed to tempt Jesus.  If Jesus had given into the temptation he would have fallen out of that dwelling place but Jesus remained firm in the truth of the Word of God and quoted scripture back to him from Deuteronomy 6:16.

“Fear the Lord your God, serve Him only and take your oaths in His name.  Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you; for the Lord your God, who is among you, is a jealous God and his anger will burn against you, and he will destroy you from the face of the land. Do not test the Lord your God as you did at Massah.” -Deuteronomy 6: 13-16

In the scripture above, God is preparing His people for the land He is about to give them, but there are many important lessons they need to learn.  A major one, one that Jesus firmly represented during His testing under satan, was dwelling under God’s protection. We do this by fearing and serving only God, knowing His commands, and obeying them.  Satan was incredibly deceptive here.  He twisted the Word to try to get Jesus to step out from under that protection, but Jesus knew He didn’t have to test the goodness of the Father.

What satan was doing was trying to use what Jesus knew to deceive Him into sinning against God.  If he could deceive Him then he stood a chance of winning.  If the devil cant tempt you then he is going to try deceiving you into moving off the firm foundation of truth.  Don’t give into him, his lies are there to try to destroy the calling God has placed over your life, just as he tried to do with Jesus and His calling.

“Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. ‘All this I will give you,’ he said, ‘if you will bow down and worship me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'” -Matthew 5:8-12

When satan couldn’t tempt or deceive Jesus he tried to bribe Him out of His calling. And Jesus responded with scripture from Deuteronomy 6:13.

“Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.” – Deuteronomy. 6:13

If you have stood strong this long against his temptation and his deception, most likely satan has moved on to trying to bribe you.  Look at this-worldly treasure…don’t you want to be popular, have people like you, get invited to all the social events they do…if you just do this one disobedient thing all this could be yours, you would finally fit in!  In that moment you could make a decision that would trade the call God has over you (which will one day bring popularity without compromise) and into a deceptive life of compromising over and over again, no longer under Gods’ protection and increase, but headed away from all the blessing God had in store for you.

This doesn’t happen in the physical like it did for Jesus, it happens in our minds and hearts. So how do we set satan to flight and take back the battle ground of our minds?

The simple answer, the same way Jesus did! Through the Word of God!  Every time satan tells you you’re not beautiful, handsome, or well made….the Scripture tells us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14).  Maybe he is telling you your not smart enough, then tell him that your mouth utters wisdom and your tongue speaks what is just (Psalm 37:30).   Whatever lies and deception satan is trying to bring against you, find the scripture to rebuttal it and being speaking it out loud every time that lie pops into your head or heart again!  The devil will try again and again to destroy the hope that is in you, the call God has over your life, but you keep the living Word of God close to your heart and always on your lips and God’s promises will begin to flourish in your life and blessings will begin to flow over you.  The devil will stop telling you those lies because he will have lost the battle ground of your mind, your will, and your emotions!

Find the scripture that sets the truth free in your mind! It won’t be a one time fix, remember, satan came to Jesus over and over again.  However, Jesus stood strong not he Word of His Father and WE CAN TOO!!

FOR EVERY LIE YOU HAVE BEEN GIVEN FIND THE TRUTH IN THE WORD OF GOD

 

 

Worship

I once heard a minister say that worship isn’t the thing we do on a Sunday morning before the message but that worship was something we do everyday. It made me question myself and if I truly understood what worship was. So, I looked up the definition in the Merriam-Webster online dictionary.

Worship
1) chiefly British: a person of importance – used as a title for various official (such as   magistrates and some mayors)
2) reverence offered a divine being or supernatural power; also: an factor of expressing such reverence
3) a form of religious practice with its creed and ritual
extravagant respect of admirations for or devotion to an object of esteem (ex: worship of the dollar)
– Thesaurus: excessive admiration of or devotion to a person (example: the worship of professional athletes who often turn out to be all too fallible)
Synonyms: adulation, deification, hero worship, idolatry, idolization, worshipping (worshiping)
– Related Words: adoration -excessive or slavish admiration or flattery; deference -respect and esteem due a superior or an elder; glorification-to make glorious by bestowing honor, praise, or admiration; reverence; veneration-respect or awe inspired by the dignity, wisdom, dedication, or talent of a person; idealization; romanticization; affection, fancy, favor, fondness, like, liking, love; appreciation, esteem, regard, respect; approval.

 

Looking specifically at number three in the line up, it says, “a form of religious practice with its creed and ritual,” giving the notion that worship is a physical act. After reading this I needed to understand what the scripture had to say about worship.  I entered the word worship into my phone bible app.  It pulled up 116 verse (NIV) in the old testament and 44 verses (NIV) in the new testament with worship in them; I began reading and this is what I learned…

God asked for His people to worship Him only; their sacrifices, burnt offerings, and fellowship offerings were “acts” of worship for God alone!! He say’s in Exodus 34:14, “Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” He says His name is “Jealous” and goes on the say in Deuteronomy 5:9 that He would punish the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generations of those who bowed down and “worshiped” other gods, because God looked at that has hate against him. God placed some pretty strict warnings for those who chose to use their acts of worship with other gods.

In 1 Kings 3:1-14 Solomon worshiped God through offerings and sacrifices. Not in a small way like a couple of doves and maybe a fatted calf but through a thousand sacrifices….it must have taken a long time…to be in a state of worship that long took dedication, commitment, and love. No one does all that unless they truly love something! The Lord saw Solomon by his worship and came to him in a dream, allowing Solomon to ask for whatever he wanted. What if God was willing to do the same for you? What would that look like today? We obviously don’t make a thousand sacrifices on an alter anymore!

So what is worship for us?

Worship is a physical act, it’s not something we do emotionally. It something that requires action. The old testament worship required sacrifice of animals, grains, and incense; offerings brought before the Lord in exchange for forgiveness, blessing, and praise. And, although Jesus did not come to change the law but to fulfill it, His ultimate sacrifice did change how we worship. No longer would we bring animals or grain or incense before a physical alter, now we bring our bodies before God as living sacrifices. We have evolved from physical acts of worship now to spiritual acts of worship. We are called in Romans 12:1-8 to this spiritual act of worship by serving the body of Christ, the church and believers, by using our gifts in proportion with our faith. When you take the time out to pray with someone you are creating an act of worship before the Lord. When you serve your brother or sister in Christ with your gifts, sacrificing of yourself to uplift them, your act is viewed as worship!

For so long, I thought worship was what we did before the service on Sunday mornings, lifting our hands and singing loudly, but that is consider praise and although just as vital it is in-fact the people serving around you in that service that are truly showing act’s of worship. The Apostle Paul urged us in Romans 12:1-8 to offer our bodies as living sacrifices.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, please and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly then you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgement, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gifts is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.” ~ Romans 12:1-8

 

Paul is saying that each one of us has a vital role in the body of Christ. Just like the human body has many parts that help it function as a whole, we as the body of Christ each have a function that helps the body of believers, and we need to use our gifts to serve one another. Using these gifts according to our faith is the spiritual act of worship that is a pleasing aroma to the Lord. Jesus served us by becoming the lamb in place of our sins, drawing God to look upon us as blameless and blessed just as Solomon’s sacrifices found favor with God. Jesus was the act of worship (a service of love) before the thrown of God which brought us under a favorable view with God allowing Him to pour his mercy and blessing over us. Because of this selfless sacrifice we no long have to atone our sins on an alter, but this act also brought us into a relationship with God and under a new state of worshipping Him. Now our bodies in life are a sacrifice of worship. How much better could we show our love to through our actions.

So what is worship today? Worship is the act of serving others and serving is an act of love. Love others, serve them through your gifts…worship God through the works of your hands, words, gifts, and faith. Let your body, your mind, will, and emotions, your actions and deeds, be a living sacrifice of worship to the Lord.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters” ~ Colossians 3:23

Have you truly worshiped God today??

Jealous for God’s Love

1 Corinthians 13. We all know this chapter. It has been taught to us for centuries about how important LOVE is. Recently I understood this chapter very differently. I do not mean to sound completely selfish, but I am jealous for Gods’ LOVE…I want all of it, all the time, all for me! In all honesty, please, take me selfishly! I hope to convince you to be just a selfish!

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I posses to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” (vs. 1-3)

What have I if I do not have the love of God? Many will argue that we have had the love of God all along, why else would He have sent his only Son but that he LOVED the world, and the many would be right! Great is the Love of God! What I seek is that love in all it’s fullness, not just in my salvation, but in everything I am, and everything I do, every way, everyday; His full attention. I am JEALOUS for the love of God.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (vs. 4-7)

Everything falls under LOVE! When you love someone you tend to have more patience with that person, you act kinder toward them, you seek to uplift them and rejoice in their triumphs, you are quicker to control your anger around them, you forgive them more easily, you are protective of them, you trust them above others, your always hopeful for them, you persevere hardship with them. You want the best for them always and give of yourself in every way possible. That kind of love is valuable because every good thing you have to offer comes from that love. Every good thing God has to offer falls under His love and I am jealous for it!

“Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” (vs. 8-12)

All things shall pass away….what is left is love. God’s love and our love. We only understand in part, because we are part physical and part spiritual. One day we will be fully spirit and we will be face to face with LOVE, all encompassing LOVE, our Creator/Redeemer/Savior and His uncompromising LOVE. And what will be our reward?? Most often we hear the scripture from Matthew 6:20, “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” When we hear the phrase “treasure in heaven” we so often think about receiving the crowns spoken of in 1 Peter 5:4 or Revelations 2:10; we think of mansions as mentioned in John 14:2 (KJV). But, if you will, let me redirect your attention…what our physical nature knows to be treasure and what our spirit counts as treasure may indeed be very different things. If the Lord values gold only enough to walk on it, why should we value gold any more than that? What has more value than precious metals or rare jewels? Simply, a four letter word, LOVE. The Creator of all those precious items has something way more valuable to share with you, HIS LOVE, and I am jealous for it!!

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trail because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12 NIV) This crown of life is available only to those who LOVE him. LOVE. We are brought back to that “all encompassing” word, LOVE. What crown of life does the scripture speak of? It doesn’t say it’s a crown of gold and jewels…but of life and what is life without love? Lonely. We all seek love more than anything else! Every human being has desired it, gravitated to it, has been enticed by it, has been ruled over by it, has fallen into it’s grips, has given and accepted it at least once, has endured suffering because of it! Love is the most powerful effect known to physical man. It has changed history, it has taken life and saved life, it has manipulated kingdoms, it has broken and mended hearts. Love leads everything else.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (vs 13)

Faith and Hope are great allies in the kingdom of God for the scripture reminds us that faith is the substance of thing hoped for in Hebrews 11:1 (KJV). By the faith of a mustard seed you can tell a tree to be uprooted and cast itself into the sea and it would have to obey you according to Luke 17:6. These are both powerful in the kingdom of God. Even still, 1 Corinthians 13:13 tells us that the greatest of these is LOVE.

Jesus said the greatest commandment was to LOVE our God and the second like it was to LOVE our neighbors (add scripture reference). For all of this knowledge why would I not want all of God’s love, for it is perfect and every good thing falls under it: my salvation, favor, blessings…

I am jealous for God’s love…I want him to love me greater than all of the rest of his creation. The treasure I want to store up in heaven is his Love for me!!! His outpouring, His blessings, comes from His love!! I need his love more than mansions and crowns, more than gold or jewels! The title I wish to hold is “Most Beloved by God in all Creation” Just as He said that David was a man after his own heart…I want to be most loved by God. I want all of his affection, all of his attention, all of the time!! And, whats more, is he wants that from me!

I am jealous for the Love of God!! I want the depth and breath of it all! And so should you, selfishly and unapologetically. I have my salvation because of His great love and now I am allowed to enter His presence…and I want what He holds above all else…LOVE…I want His love!

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33

Advice

Something people freely give if you want it or not. How do you know when to take it or when to leave it? I struggle knowing which is which. I beg God for guidance. I beg him for wisdom. I beg him to speak. I lay out a fleece in expectant hope that he will make it clear to me what to do! But, what if he already has, what if I missed him because I didn’t want the advice from another person! The Word says, “A simple man believes anything, but a prudent man gives thought to his steps.” (Proverbs 14:15) How do I tell if I should believe what is spoken to me and what I should be prudent in scrutinizing? I’m lost in a place where I don’t want to move until God moves me, and I desperately need him to move me!!

“The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.” – Proverbs 12:15

Sometimes I get in my flesh and think I can figure it out on my own! I get bull-headed about my relationship with God and just want to hear straight from him. And then I remember, there are actually very few times in the bible that God spoke directly to people! He used angles and prophets to teach, and warn, and uplift. He liked to use others to speak for Him! (Thank you Lord for those people!) I desperately want to hear God; through any and every means possible. I want to feel the Holy Spirit and see the Holy Spirit moving. But, my flesh is louder than my spirit sometimes.

“The mocker seeks wisdom and finds none, but knowledge come easily to the discerning.” – Proverbs 14:6

I’ve mocked wisdom that was given in love, and dismissed it as miss-given information. If I was already doing what they were telling me to do then they must have missed it, not me. But, my spirit was checked, and I began to ask God to humble my emotions so that I did not miss what He was trying to tell me, even if it came through someone else.

“Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise.” – Proverbs 19:20

I’ve begged God for the wisdom of Solomon, only to realize that with every blessing or promise comes responsibility. I need to do my part, what God tells me to do in His Word, and then my obedience opens the door for God to move on my behalf. He tells me if I want to be wise and know what to do then I need to ‘listen’ and ‘accept’ the advice!

“Trust in the Lord with all you heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” – Proverbs 3:5-6

So, I humble my self, accept advice, and trust in the Lord to have His hand upon my life and His love wrapped around my soul. I desperately need Him to make my path straight so I trust Him and stop leaning upon my own fleshly understanding.

“For lack of guidance a nation falls, but many advisers make victory sure.” – Proverbs 11:14

Being surround by so many advisors is sometimes overwhelming. Each on has their own advise to give, but when they come together and say much of the same thing you have to question the source. This could very well be the Lord speaking through them and I must humble myself and listen and pray and listen and pray and act on that which the Holy Spirit within me bears witness too. Something King Rehoboam didn’t do. In 1 Kings 12: 6-8 we read where King Rehoboam took the council of many. On one side where the old men that counseled his father and on the other the young men he grew up with. It doesn’t say if they were godly and wise men but it does say he didn’t listen to the older counsel but instead listened to the less experience younger counsel and things turned out very poorly.

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scorers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;…” – Psalm 1:1-6

I know I must surround myself with godly people who delight in the law of the Lord and meditate on it always. And when their advice comes, that I am humble in spirit and body that I may heed that advice and act on it!

“For by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory.” – Proverbs 24:6

Trust & Love

Judges 9 speaks of Abimelech a treacherous brother to the house of Jerubbaal who convinced the people of Shechem to crown him king. There is a parable written within this chapter explaining the false trust placed between Abimelech and the people of Shechem, “…Then said all the trees unto the bramble, Come thou, and reign over us. And the bramble said unto the trees, If in truth ye anoint me king over you, then come and put your trust in my shadow: and if not, let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon.”(Judges 9:14-15)

This story ends badly. Trusting in something outside of God is dangerous and always leads to hurt and pain. Proverbs 3:5 tells us to, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.”

So, what will a different story tell us, a story of trust within God, will it end the same?

David, King of Israel. He had been at war with the Philistines and had battled four descendants from the giants in Gath which fell at the hands of David and his servants. 2 Samuel 22:3 records David’s song of deliverance on the day when the LORD delivered him for all his enemies and from the hand of Saul; he said, “The LORD is my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my savior; thou savest me from violence.”

Trust put into man and the physical aspects of our lives is like playing a game of chance, you have a fifty/fifty chance of a good or bad ending. Putting our trust in God is like having a cheat card in the game of life. Despite our physical situation we know our ultimate ending will be of prosperity and wholeness within the care of a living God!

Another story of unwavering trust is the story of Ruth. She had multiple opportunities to pull away and fall into the comfortable trust of man and fortune, but she chose to push forward through adversity with trust in her mother-in-laws God. Her reward was salvation, not just spiritually speaking but physically speaking. Her husbandman redeemer, Boaz came through for her, and her trust in God paved the way. “The LORD recompense thy work, and full reward be given thee of the LORD GOD of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.” (Ruth 2:12)

What beautiful stories of trust in God and how God came through for them. We saw what happened later in David’s story when he trusted himself to fix a sin instead of God, his whole house fell. And, Ruth’s sister-in-law who went back to her own people, she was never spoken of again, who knows what became of her because she chose to trust in the physical world she knew than in the God of her mother-in-law as Ruth did. Trust in ourselves or the physical aspects of this world only bring destruction to our already difficult situation. While trusting in God brings life and understanding to our difficult situations. The ending may be the same either way. We may be injured, we may lose the only job feeding our family, we may experience the death of a loved one. Physical trust leaves us broken and lonely because it does nothing to fill the void of loss and hurt. Trust in a living God gives us promise of healing and wholeness beyond the physical. It shows us that faith extends past our circumstances and into love.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t trust anyone in your life; what I’m saying is that you should first trust GOD, the giver of life. Taking your focus off God and putting it into the confinement of this world, expecting some one of physical, sinful nature to fill that form of trust will only bring hurt to your heart and soul. Our need of trust can truly only be filled by the living GOD of Israel. Instead of trusting that person, maybe you should simply love them instead. You don’t have to trust someone to love them, but loving them has the potential to bring them into God’s trust, and opens the door for your healing as well as theirs’. No one’s perfect, and someone at some point will fail you. We live in a broken and fallen world of selfishness and greed. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist (excuse the pun) to understand that a person born to sin will sin. So take the pressure of trust off people’s shoulders, they can’t bare the weight, and put it on God because he can. We are redeemed by the belief in Jesus as the Son of GOD and faith in the living GOD of Israel, and one day we will be brought up to them in heaven and made whole and will dwell with them in eternity perfect and sinless. But, until that day comes, we are bound to be hurt by the sinful nature of human beings. Love does not require perfection, in fact it doesn’t require anything at all. Love was designed to be given freely. Trust requires something, Love requires nothing. Put your trust and love in a God that has everything to give and nothing to lose, and return his love to the people who need everything and have nothing to give in return.

“But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee. For thou, LORD, wilt bless the righteous; with favor wilt thou compass him as with a shield.” Psalms 5:11-12

Created

Did you know there was a recent History Channel show that broke down the make-up of DNA. Yes, your DNA; the DNA of man kind and its link to the universe.  According to this show, it would be theoretically impossible for mankind to just have developed but that instead we were created with purpose!  Of course, they believe that we were made by extraterrestrial forces, as in ALIENS. And, I guess in a sense they are right, we were. We were created by an external force, nothing contained by this world, but a being far greater and more powerful than our minds can genuinely wrap around…THE LIVING GOD, the GOD of Israel.

They claim there is a portion of our DNA that aligns with the stars. As I listened to them explain their theories I couldn’t help but think they were on to something…a discovery that could ultimately change their lives and the lives of mankind. As they spoke, they flashed pictures of the pyramids, ancient indian sites, and the stars. They showed sectioned DNA and explained how it had to have been created, that DNA is not a random occurrence. I couldn’t help but cringe and leap with excitement all at the same time.

On one hand I knew they were digging into something deep and amazing. On the other hand I knew their focus was broad and wavering. They were saying there was a God but refusing to say there was a God all at the same time. It seems like all the proof staring us in the face just isn’t enough to convenience us there is a Living God. Many would rather believe that aliens from another planet or galaxy or universe created us…but if you can believe in extraterrestrials…why can’t you believe in a Living God?

Why is it so hard. Most of this world believes in a higher being of some kind. Our genetic makeup desires to believe is something greater than we are. We are drawn to super heroes, people of power, celebrities, kings and Queens, Princes and Princesses, Lords and Ladies. Through out history we idolize people with the birth to glory or the guts to glory. We are drawn to power we can’t possibly posses. We love the idea of a greater being than our own selves. Why is it so hard to believe we were created by One God, the Living God, the God of Israel. The only God who has repeated records of showing up by a physical manner throughout history!?  Can you believe…

…Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth – everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made…”You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from me there is no savior. I have revealed and saved and proclaimed-I, and not some foreign god among you, You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “That I am God.” 
Isaiah 43: 6-7, 10-12