Monday, June 24, 2013

a couple thoughts for a monday morning

do not call conspiracy
everything that these people call
do not fear what they fear,
and do not dread it.
the Lord Almighty is the One you are to regard as holy,
He is the One you are to fear,
He is the One you are to dread,
and He will be a sanctuary...
isaiah 8:12-14

here are a short couple thoughts for a monday morning. mondays are the mornings when i work on our family finances. i never planned on being the finance person in our family... it just worked out that way. if i had the choice, i would be completely ignorant of our finances and not have to continually be faced with how much we need God to move in our lives in this very practical way. but, God had a different plan than mine. as i have said in the past, i am on a journey to learn how to live by faith and not fear in regard to money.

finances are a really small thing in the grand scheme of what we have opportunity to dread and fear. there is so much that clamors for our mental and heart energy. so many things are saying, "look over here! fear me! panic! grasp for control of your life! i am worth your attention!" but no matter what we are facing, even if it is death itself, we do not have to fear what is before us. that is the way of those who don't know Him.

we are to fear the Lord Almighty alone. He is the One we are to fear. He is the One we are to dread. why? because our entire life now and for all eternity is in His hands, and it is His mercy we need to find life. these trials now are a drop in the bucket compared to an eternity with or without Him. no man holds my ultimate destiny - not even if they could make my life here really miserable or even kill me. only God is in ultimate control, and no man, disease, calamity, or type of lack can snatch us from His hand.

He will be a place of safety to those who trust in Him.

i know that i need this place of safety. i am sure that you are needing it too. let us once again let go of fear of anything else but Him and find that rest and safe place in the only One who is deserving of our fear and attention.

still counting gifts to 1000...

892 - 914:

892. beautiful weather.

893. being the featured blog here.

894. You can quiet my noisy thoughts.

895. my husband who really is a very involved dad. i couldn't do this 5 kid thing without him.

896. lots of opportunities to swim this summer with the kids.

897. having the kids around more with school out.

898. homemade strawberry chocolate chip ice cream.

899. selling lots of stuff as i clean out the house and simplify.

900. fresh summer produce.

901. so many friends having babies right now!

902. God doesn't measure my success the way i try to measure my success.

903. learning this imperfect parenting thing and meeting the mercy of God along the way.

904. picking blackberries and making jam.

905. creative ideas in the kitchen.

906. running a couple miles at a time... alone.

907. finding a letter from my dad to me when i was born in his office - reading it in his own handwriting and hearing his voice speak to me in my head. a true gift from heaven.

908. heaven is for real.

909. lots of time in the prayer room with our kids on these summer mornings.

910. tomatoes ripening in my very small garden this year.

911. living by truly breath-taking beautiful lakes.

912. new contacts after wearing my glasses that don't fit right for a week straight. so thankful to be able to see even out of the corner of my eye.

913. several days this june that it is cool enough to use my oven! fresh baked cookies...

914. turning off the a/c in june! unheard of... yay for open windows and lower temperatures.

i am linked up at a holy experience.

if you haven't liked this facebook page, you can in the upper right of this post.  you can also follow this blog or subscribe in a reader.  i would love to keep in better touch with you! 

please leave a link to your list of gifts in the comments and i will come visit your blog as well!  i love to give thanks together.


Saturday, June 22, 2013

for the times when you feel like you've really blown it

lake pic

we were sitting in the car driving back from a lovely summer afternoon at the lake. i gazed out the car window at the rolling hills, lush evergreens, and aqua skies that where sprinkled with fluffy white clouds. my heart pounded and i opened my mouth in a confession, looking out of the corner of my eye at my husband who was driving, "so...iI lost it with the kids this morning. again. and it was all over a lost library book. it's not how i wanted the morning to go."
my eyes looked down at my sandy tanned toes as my heart felt like a ton of bricks filled with a bit of shame and a lot of regret. "when am i ever going to get victory in this area? when am i going to stop having outburst of anger at my kids? i just want to be a good mom... 
click here to read the rest as i share over at 5 minutes for faith about a place of brokenness in my own life. i hope it can encourage you in your own areas of brokenness.


Friday, June 21, 2013

if you ever had a doubt about what God feels about marriage... or what He feels about you

imagine a beautiful woman who just can't stop straying from her husband. the husband is deeply committed and loves her faithfully, but she is so wrapped up in affairs away from home. she even has had children that most people suspect belong to someone else because they don't look like their "father."

imagine this woman hasn't cheated on her husband once, or even twice... but again and again and again. she is more caught up in what everyone else can offer her that she is unaware of what her husband wants to provide for her as security and family. she longs to be noticed and desired - to be the one who turns everyone's head when she walks by. she is insecure, afraid, and damaged from her youth, hiding behind this so-called power and independence. in reality, she is afraid to let her husband into the deep parts of her heart, so she hurts the one who loves her most.

unfortunately, i have known many marriages to fall apart lately because one spouse or the other was unfaithful. sometimes the one who is unfaithful refuses to come back. but even when the unfaithful spouse claims to want to work it out, the husband or wife who have been violated in the covenant often can't get past the pain of the waywardness of the one they loved. a betrayal on the most intimate level is excruciating and devasting, and often we wonder what God's opinion is on the whole matter.

as i wrote in my controversial post on divorce, God has a definite view of divorce in the bible. as i mention there - i am most interested, however, in His view on marriage. marriage is meant to be a picture of His relationship to the people of israel, and really all humanity. His nature is unchanging, so we know how He is towards them doesn't change towards any of us. God longed for people to know His heart and faithful nature, so He called a man named hosea to be a prophet who did the unthinkable - he lived out a prophetic picture of what God intended marriage to be and what He was trying to say to His own wayward people.

it is a powerful message if we can soften our hearts enough to really get it. it is the most beautiful love story, more beautiful than anything fairy tales or hollywood could dream up. it is a story with betrayal, pain, real brokenness, honor, courage, undeserved forgiveness, and redeeming love. it is the lowest point of humanity and the highest point of God colliding. it is a story that could forever change the way you relate to both your spouse and God Himself.

God told hosea that He would make it miserable for His bride to persist in her unfaithfulness. He would basically corner her in her sin - thorns on one side, a wall on another. He would allow the sin she insisted on to become painful and unenjoyable. He would make it very difficult for her to go back to her path of sin easily; very difficult to persist in her unfaithfulness. maybe when it was so difficult to get to the other lovers, she would turn back to her Husband; if not out of love, out of no other option.

"therefore, behold, I will hedge up her way with thorns,
and I will build a wall against her so that she cannot find her paths.
she will pursue her lovers, but she will not overtake them;
and she will seek them, but will not find them.
then she will say, 'i will go back to my first husband,
for it was better for me then than now!'
for she does not know that it was I who gave her the grain,
the new wine and the oil,
and lavished on her silver and gold,  
which they used for baal."

you see, she did not know that all of her provision came from Him. she thought she was making a way for herself. she thought the things, and the men, she gave herself to was making her life more full. she thought that she could exist without her Husband.

"I will also put an end to all her gaiety,
her feasts, her new moons, her sabbaths
and all her festal assemblies.
I will destroy her vines and fig trees,
of which she said, 'these are my wages
which my lovers have given me.'
and I will make them a forest,
and the beasts of the field will devour them.
"I will punish her for the days of the baals
when she used to offer sacrifices to them
and adorn herself with her earrings and jewelry,
and follow her lovers, so that she forgot Me," declares the Lord. 

and so sin would become unenjoyable. ever had something that should be so fun be so miserable because you knew it was wrong? the parties would cease. the profit from the wayward ways would dry up. instead of feeling like a well of provision, her lifestyle would prove to be a trap that she could not climb out of on her own.

can you hear the emotion of God in these words? in reading them aloud i envision tears streaming down the face of the Husband as He slowly and softly lets the words tumble out of His mouth - "so. that. she. forgot. Me..." what painful betrayal. what heartache. if you ever wondered what God thought... or even more, felt about the betrayal of a spouse, you don't have to wonder anymore. He is devastated my friend. He weeps. He has very real emotion, very real grief, very real jealous zeal.

but the part of the story that really grabs my heart is what comes next. the crazy jealous husband makes sense. the fierce emotion that rages when unfaithfulness is discovered, clouding all vision but obsession with the other lovers is something we as humans can relate with whether we have been there ourselves or not. but the tender mercy and absolute kindness that the Lord flows into in the midst of utter pain of rejection is something my feeble attempt at mercy cannot quite wrap my mind around. His response is completely other than anyone or anything i have ever know. the emotion drips off the words of the page and softens even the heart that has built stoney cold walls of protection all around.

"therefore, behold, I will allure her,
bring her into the wilderness
and speak kindly to her.
then I will give her her vineyards from there,
and the valley of achor as a door of hope.
and she will sing there as in the days of her youth,
as in the day when she came up from the land of egypt.
it will come about in that day," declares the Lord,
"that you will call Me Ishi (my husband)
and will no longer call Me Baali. (master)
"for I will remove the names of the baals from her mouth,
so that they will be mentioned by their names no more.
in that day I will also make a covenant for them
with the beasts of the field,
the birds of the sky
and the creeping things of the ground.
and I will abolish the bow, the sword and war from the land,
and will make them lie down in safety.
"I will betroth you to Me forever;
yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice,
in lovingkindness and in compassion,
and I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness.
then you will know the LORD."

in the depths of pain, gazing upon the wretchedness of human depravity, the Lord responds in compassion and allures the one He loves to Himself.

i have heard the wilderness spoken of in many christian circles as that time of barrenness or when God is far off. my friends, the wilderness is the place of encounter! it is the place where the wayward bride is won back - His kindness is what leads to repentance. the wilderness is where she sees a door of hope. hope - that which she obviously lacked if she felt the compulsion to look for love in all the wrong places. the wilderness is where He teaches her to sing again. the wilderness is where her eyes are opened that the Man she once thought of as a cruel Master was really the tender Husband who desired her unlike any of the other lovers ever could.

and the promises that God lays out to israel, the wayward wife who we still haven't seen come back to Him up unto this point of history, are glorious. He says He has made promises to all creation that are tied to her restoration of love to Him. He says that war and unrest will literally cease. He promises betrothal that has both true justice uncompromised, while overflowing with compassion and lovingkindness. and what gets me is He says she will be faithful. the woman who has the town's reputation for unfaithfulness with one day be faithful as He is faithful... and she will know her Husband.

"it will come about in that day that I will respond," declares the Lord.
 "I will respond to the heavens, and they will respond to the earth,
and the earth will respond to the grain, to the new wine and to the oil,
and they will respond to jezreel.
I will sow her for Myself in the land.
I will also have compassion on her who had not obtained compassion,
and I will say to those who were not My people,
'You are My people!'
and they will say, 'You are my God!'" 

and the beautiful crazy thing that gets thrown on the end this passionate poem is a promise of hope for those of us who are not part of the people called israel... those of us who are just as unfaithful and broken and searching, but weren't the descendants of isaac that He originally chose. He said He will have compassion on us too! we were not His, but He will call us His and we will respond that He is ours. in the midst of the beautiful heart-wrenching love story, He reaches out to the one watching in the distant shadows and says, I love you too. come to Me.

and hosea, the hebrew prophet who bore the same name as Jesus who he forshadowed - salvation is from the Lord - had a commission from the Lord: go get your wife back. even when she left with no plan to return, he was to go and take her back as his own.

then the Lord said to me, "go again, love a woman, who is loved by her husband, yet an adulteress, even as the Lord love the sons of israel, though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes."
so i bought her for myself for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer and a half of barley.

fifteen shekels of silver, a homer, and a half of barley is the equivalent of 30 pieces of silver.

30 pieces of silver.

if you ever had a doubt about what God feels about marriage, what God feels about wayward israel (who still do not serve Him or walk in their calling as a people - the whole northern kingdom still scattered across the earth), or what God feels about you, hear me now: in the deepest darkness of human depravity, He was willing to go buy back the one He desired from the beginning.

taking on the likeness of humanity, He humbled Himself to the point of death, death on a cross. for a mere 30 pieces of silver He exchanged His life for the one who desired another and wouldn't, couldn't, be faithful to Him.

this type of love could change a life, a whole people group, forever. He didn't love israel when she was the good wife at home raising the kids, cooking the dinner, adoring her husband... in the worst deception and unfaithful betrayal, when she was unwilling to come back and even show the signs of a repentant heart, He chased after her - running out of the heavenly throne room, down into a dirty stable filled with animals and poop, and up the hill to calvary to the worst death imaginable to
get. her. back. as. His. own.

and this picture of God's union to His people is what marriage was always supposed to be a picture of - a faithful, self-sacrificing yes, even if the other half is saying no. it is redeeming love. it is union with the heart of the Beloved whether we are the one who was betrayed showing mercy or who is the redeemed betrayer. it is forgiveness, kindness, the mercy that draws us unto our Husband forever.

"the heart won in kindness is won forever." allen hood

blog button charis

*selections quoted from hosea chapters 2 and 3

Thursday, June 13, 2013

what i am waiting for

a shoot will come up from the stump of jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him - 
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of power,
the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord - 
and He will delight in the fear of the Lord.

He will not judge by what He sees with His eyes,
or decide by what He hears with His ears;
but with righteousness He will judge the needy,
with justice He will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth;
with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked.
righteousness will be His belt
and faithfulness the sash around His waist.

the wolf will live with the lamb,
the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling together;
and a little child will lead them.
the cow will feed with the bear,
their young will lie down together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
the infant will play near the hole of the cobra,
and the young child put his hand into the viper's nest.
they will neither harm nor destroy 
on My holy mountain, 
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.

in that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to Him, and His place of rest will be glorious. in that day the Lord will reach out His hand a second time to reclaim the remnant that is left of His people from assyria, from lower egypt, from upper egypt, from cush, from elam, from babylonia, from hamath and from the islands of the sea. 

He will raise a banner for the nations
and gather the exiles of israel;
He will assemble the scattered people of judah
from the four quarters of the earth.
ephraim's jealousy will vanish,
and judah's enemies will be cut off;
ephraim will not be jealous of judah,
nor judah hostile toward ephraim.
they will swoop down on the slopes of philistia 
to the west;
together they will plunder the people to the east.
they will lay hands on edom and moab,
and the ammonites will be subject to them.
the Lord will dry up
the gulf of the egyptian sea;
with a scorching wind He will sweep His hand 
over the euphrates river.
He will break it up into seven streams
so that men can cross over in sandals.
there will be a highway for the remnant of His
that is left from assyria,
as there was for israel,
when they came up from egypt.
isaiah 11

this is the day i am waiting for. when we just begin to believe that it is really real... wow! what hope. what an amazing time it will be when He is here again. His place of rest will be glorious...


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

just thinking out loud

good morning friends. i am just going to use the next few moments to process some stuff i am reading in romans "out loud."

let love be without hypocrisy. 
abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.
be devoted to one another in brotherly love; 
give preference to one another in honor; 
not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 
rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, 
contributing to the needs of the saints, 
practicing hospitality.
bless those who persecute you; 
bless and do not curse. 
rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
be of the same mind toward one another; 
do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. 
do not be wise in your own estimation.
never pay back evil for evil to anyone. 
respect what is right in the sight of all men.
if possible, so far as it depends on you, 
be at peace with all men.
never take your own revenge, beloved, 
but leave room for the wrath of God, 
for it is written, "vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord. 
"but if your enemy is hungry, feed him, 
and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; 
or in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head." 
do not be overcome by evil, 
but overcome evil with good.  
romans 12:9-21

you know when you are reading and suddenly your heart slows down on one passage? well, this happened with this one. here are some small thoughts...

we are called to love each other, and as we all know our love is supposed to look like the love of the One we are following. i have heard many call evil "good" and good "evil" in the name of "love," but that isn't love. He never did that. He was consistent and completely and wholly righteous - loving what is right in the sight of the Father. He loved broken people, and then urged them to go and stop sinning - caring for them in both the moment and for their eternity.

"be devoted... give preference... serving the Lord..." servanthood. i find it so interesting that the current trend in churches is to distance ourselves from being a servant. somehow we try to treat being friends of God as entirely different from being servants of God. there is no difference. Jesus served His friends... He served His enemies... He served the ones who were about to betray Him... He served those sent to kill Him... i don't see any separation of servant and friend in Him. in Him, i see it looking like the same thing - if you are a friend, you serve. that is how you even know you are a friend. being a servant is really unto Him, no matter who it is in front of us that we are serving. sure that means we may get walked all over at times; but if we can view it as actually serving the Lord instead of having something to gain in the relationship we are serving in, it will give so much more perspective when our serving may go seemingly unnoticed or with little immediate fruit.

"persevering in hope..." too much to go into on this one. all i will say is if He isn't our Hope, with a capital H, then we are chasing the wind. hope isn't just our personal dreams, it is the Hope that He will return. when Hope in Him is the anchor, we won't be so easily swayed to and fro. i have some "small h" hopes like everyone else. if i try to anchor myself in these, i am sure to be disappointed. He is the One who will never disappoint because He really will come make all the wrong things right.

tribulation, persecution, revenge, enemies - interesting how it is so easy to think we would be faithful if there was a gun to our heads, but we struggle so much with someone simply mistreated us (totally talking to myself here!). sooooo easy to want to make sure the other person makes it right, instead of letting God be the One who makes it right (and that might not be until the Day of the Lord). my guess is most of us aren't anchored enough in the fact that there will be a day when we all stand before Him to give an account for our own lives- the day that He will make all wrong things right - the reality of both eternal reward and eternal punishment. i think if i, myself, could really believe that He will one day judge, then i would be much quicker to forgive. don't i want mercy for both myself and others? but somehow i get so wrapped up in the here and now... i am sure a lot of you do as well. 

one other part that stood out huge to me:
"be of the same mind toward one another; 
do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly."
i think so often we are trying to get in good with the people we think will benefit our own cause, be it they have some sort of influence in leadership or popularity or money, and we ignore those who we consider "lowly." i know i felt convicted when i read this part. it is so easy to think others do this, but each one of us do it. it is easy to even follow and comment more on the "popular" blogs in our particular niche. we all want to feel "important." but that is "being wise in our own estimation." 

last thought - "contributing to the needs of the saints - practicing hospitality." i think sometimes walking in love like Jesus can be so simple that we overlook it for something more grand and noticeable. we all have something to give to help our friend and brother in Christ -  maybe it is $5. maybe it is some extra rice and beans we have in our pantry that we didn't think would be exciting enough to share. maybe it is just an invitation to come over and share a cup of coffee or tea for an hour or two. maybe it is watching the kids of a mom who seems overwhelmed for an hour while she grocery shops alone. what is the need in front of me that may seem so simple i wouldn't think of helping with it? hospitality doesn't have to mean a spotless house and a 5 course meal on pretty dishes. i think so often we look at our own lack and tell ourselves we don't have anything to give to our friends in need because we can't give big exciting looking things. sometimes people are in such need themselves that it is easy to think that someone else should be doing this, and they get disappointed in the "church," instead of realizing it is a call to action for themselves to pour out. we all have something to give towards someone else's need. we all can welcome someone else into our heart and home.

anything in this passage that is speaking to you right now?

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