Let the Waters Rise — August 14, 2017

Let the Waters Rise

Funny how life works, eh? I had the idea for this post when everything was seemingly fine in my life. You know what I mean? Life seemed good. Got my new car, and repaired my new car after a part went bad. 

Then I received some news about a loved one that made my world crash in around me. Sometimes the hardest part about receiving news like that is putting on a face that everything is okay. 

I read Isaiah, and you wouldn’t really think I’d find comfort in these verses, but I do. 

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭43:2‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The verse before this one God says “you are mine”. God, the creator of the universe calls me His daughter. He stops the waters from drowning me, and keeps the fire from burning me. Doesn’t mean the waters won’t come, and the fire won’t rage. It actually means the opposite. 

The fires will come, and the waters will rise, but they won’t harm us or overtake us.

“And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?””

‭‭1 Kings‬ ‭19:11-13‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Elijah had this incredible experience with God. In this passage there’s strong winds, then an earthquake, and if that’s not enough there’s a fire after that! But God wasn’t speaking through any of those things. He was speaking in the calm after the wind, earthquake, and fire. Sometimes we may have strong winds, earthquakes, and fires in our lives that we don’t understand until we hear that whisper. 

The gentle whisper comes after the storm. God will help us understand in His time. We may not be weary running from a queen that wants us dead, like Elijah, but God still speaks to us in our difficult times. 

Head up, because God is in control.  

God bless. 🙂 

Foolish Motives — August 7, 2017

Foolish Motives

In Luke we read a story of a rich man. This rich man had what we call now days “first world problems”. He had so much food and grain to store that his barns were overflowing, so he tore down his barns and built bigger ones. 

Seems logical at first glance, but there is a problem. God responded to this man in Luke and it’s not what we would expect. 

“But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭12:20‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Whoa. God said that, because the man was not helping those in need with what he was blessed with. His motive was selfish. 

How often are our motives driven by selfishness instead of love for others? 

This got me thinking about all the selfless acts the woman in Proverbs 31 does. You see it in many verses, but verses 12 and 20 stick out to me. 

“She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.
She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭31:12, 20‬ ‭ESV‬‬

You see, she does good for her husband, and good for others. 

I think of opportunities I’ve missed to bless people with what I’ve been blessed with. So often we walk past the homeless person, or people collecting for charities and fundraisers and think “they won’t put my money to good use”. Instead we could ask that homeless person of a need they may have and fill that need; whether it be food, hygienic products, clothes, pillow, blankets, and the list can go on. 

God blesses us with so much, and it’s so easy to be like the rich man in Luke 12 instead of the selfless Proverbs 31 woman. 

Which one are you going to be like?  

God bless. 🙂 

Name Change — August 3, 2017

Name Change

In the Bible you see quite a few people change their names. Mostly because God gave them a new name to signify a change of heart or a lesson they had been taught. Others changed their own name; Naomi, for example, changed her name to Mara because she felt like God was punishing her through the deaths of her husband and sons. 

I think of Abram who God changed his name to Abraham in old age signifying that even though he was childless that he will be a father to many. (Genesis 17:5) I think of Jacob who had his name changed to Israel. (Genesis 32: 28)  Simeon to Peter (John 1:42), and many more. 

Names in the Bible have significance. Especially if God changed the persons name. The book of Hosea is no exception. We see that Hosea is told by God to marry a prostitute, Gomer. Gomer means completion, but it doesn’t stop there. 

Gomer’s fathers name meant a double layer of raisin cake. To me that meant nothing until I knew that a raisin cake, in that day, was used as an aphrodisiac that was offered to pagan gods. In other words her fathers name signified lust and pegan worship. 

Yet God uses this woman and Hosea, even the children they had together, to show that God loves us and will tirelessly pursue us. At the end of Hosea you see his children’s names are changed from “no mercy” and “not my people” to “mercy” and “my people”. 

That’s how God pursues us. Even though we give ourselves to different things that don’t honor God, He loves us, buys us back, and tells us to return to our love. 

You’re not too far gone to turn back to the God who loves you restlessly and passionately. 

“And the Lord said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the Lord loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins.” So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer and a lethech of barley. And I said to her, “You must dwell as mine for many days. You shall not play the whore, or belong to another man; so will I also be to you.” For the children of Israel shall dwell many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or pillar, without ephod or household gods.”

‭‭Hosea‬ ‭3:1-4‬ ‭ESV‬‬

God bless. 🙂 

You’re Not Alone — July 14, 2017

You’re Not Alone

When I was single I looked to the day I’d date again so I wouldn’t be lonely. Praying that God would take away the loneliness instead of filling the void. Then I started praying God would fill the void of loneliness in my life. 

Then today I’m talking with a friend. He seemed astonished that God understands what we’re going through. My friend struggles as a single man in his 20s feeling lonely and unwanted. 

It hit me today like a ton of bricks. The Father turned His face away from Jesus when he was on the cross. The single most lonely moment in history. Jesus cried out when it happened, wanting his Father, but knowing he would have to endure the loneliness so he can take our place. 

When you think God doesn’t understand us, it’s quite the opposite. When we think we can’t go to God with our pain and loneliness we forget that He understands better than anyone. 

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭4:15-16‬ ‭ESV‬‬

We can, with respect, go to God boldly with our request and praises. 

What’s holding you back from boldly approaching the throne of grace? 

God bless.  🙂

Missing You — July 3, 2017

Missing You

I’ll be honest. Being in a long distance relationship is tough. The other day Ash and I were planning the next time we can hopefully see each other. Pending that the train tickets and hotel room for him are available. We were saying how we miss each other and discussing plans a few months down the road so distance isn’t a barrier anymore. 

Then last night, as I was laying in bed, my mind was wandering like it normally does. It hit me like a freight train. So often we “miss the text” from God where He says “I miss you”. 

Growing up in the church I heard Jesus loves me all the time. In all honesty it lost the awe that it should inspire. I think Francis Chan in his book Crazy Love puts it into perspective. 

“Recently, out of a desire to grow in my love for God, I decided to spend a few days alone with Him in the woods. 

“Before I left, a friend prayed, ‘God, I know how You’ve wanted this time with Francis…’ Though I didn’t say anything at the time, I secretly thought it was a heretical way to pray and that he was wrong to phrase it that way. I was going to the woods because I wanted more of God. But He’s God; He certainly wouldn’t want more of me! It seemed demeaning to think that God could long for a human being. 

“The more I searched the Scriptures, however, the more I realized my friends prayer was right on, and that my reaction to his prayer indicated how much I still doubted God’s love. My belief in God’s love was still theoretical, not a reality I lived out or experienced.” 

Francis Chan, Crazy Love, excerpt from pages 57&58

Forgive the semi long excerpt. Francis Chan hits it right on the mark. So often we forget that God tells us that He desires a relationship with us. 

God misses us when we’re not spending time with Him. 

It’s seen over and over again in the Bible in the way Christ describes His relationship with us. They’re intimate relationships. A Shepard and sheep, a father and child, a husband and wife. 

All those relationships have such a close bond. Now days most people relate to father and child relationships, or husband and wife. That love and bond is nothing like the love and bond that Christ has/wants with us. 

When you grow up in the church it’s easy to lose sight of the depth of God’s love for us. It’s easy to get caught up in daily life that we neglect our relationship with Christ. 

What can you do to strengthen your relationship with Christ, and remember He desires a relationship with you? 

God bless. 🙂 

Redeeming a Moabitess  — June 2, 2017

Redeeming a Moabitess 

Let me set the stage. Naomi and her husband moved to Moab with their two sons. Her two sons married women from Moab that worshiped the gods of Moab. Ruth was one woman that married to Naomi’s son. 

Eventually Naomi’s husband and two sons died. Leaving them widows. 

Shortly after Naomi decided to move back to be with her people in Judah. Ruth and her sister in law followed, until Naomi tells them to return to their fathers homes. Even after watching her sister in law turn back Ruth refused and followed Naomi to Judah. 

During the years Ruth and Naomi knew each other Ruth wanted to learn more about Naomi’s God. Ruth began to believe in the God of Israel and wanted to serve Him. 

This is why Ruth wanted to stay loyal to Naomi, because of her God. 

Upon return, we see in the book of Ruth, Naomi was very upset and understandably so. She says this when greeted by family and friends in Judah:  

“She said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went away full, and the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi, when the Lord has testified against me and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?””

‭‭Ruth‬ ‭1:20-21‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I wonder, if she realized the events that took place would lead to her daughter in law giving birth to a son that would carry on the lineage of the Messiah, that she would have said those words. If she would’ve said God was dealing bitterly with her. 

I wonder if Naomi realized that her families kinsman redeemer and Ruth would carry on the line that the Messiah would be born through. Ruth didn’t know this either when she was determined to follow Naomi. 

Little did Naomi and Ruth know they were so blessed by God! That God used yet another gentile woman in the line of David. 

How can you live in the knowledge that God could use devastating circumstances to bring His glory years down the road? 

God bless. 🙂 

New Life — May 30, 2017

New Life

This year I decided to try something I’d never done before: grow cucumbers. Actually, I’ve never grown anything before! Let’s just say this process hasn’t gone to plan. 

Three of my four plants have died. 

Naturally, I took to facebook asking my friends more experienced in gardening I could plant new seeds in the pot. After I got the okay to plant new seeds I planted them. 

It made me think about how God gives us a new life. When sin withers away like those cucumbers have done, we’re given a new life, a second chance. God “plants” a new seed” 

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”

‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭5:17‬ ‭NASB‬‬

It’s not easy, and you have to grow, but in the end your new “plant” won’t wither away, much like I’m hoping these plants grow healthy and strong. With our spiritual growth, though, it’s not a guess if you’ll grow. Just keep working to strengthen your relationship with God and you’ll keep growing. 

Are you living like a new creation? 

God bless. 🙂 

Strike a Pose  — May 20, 2017

Strike a Pose 

It astounds me how much emphasis is placed on looking beautiful. Time and time again in the Bible we see the importance of inward beauty. The other day I’m talking with friends, and one is 16. I try to impart wisdom, and encourage the 16 year old. 

The topic of biblical beauty comes up, and I bring up that I could probably count the times physical appearance is brought up in Proverbs 31 on one hand. I was correct. Physical appearance is only brought up twice in the description of this woman. Twice! 

“She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭31:17‬ ‭ESV‬‬ 

She’s strong. That can be emotional, or physical. Based on the work she does, I’m guessing it’s both emotional strength and physical strength. 

But even that’s a stretch because the mother of King Lemuel isn’t defining that as beauty, but a mere observation of how she is strong. 

“She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet. She makes bed coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭31:21-22‬ ‭ESV 

May be two verses but I’m counting it as one because it’s a continuation, I think. 

It’s not even talking about the style of dress. The scarlet would be a warm material, which is practical in the cold. Fine linen and purple in that time represented status. Could be metaphorical to her demeanor, saying she has class and is respectable. However, with her husband being an elder in the city gates she probably had high status which would explain the color of the linen. 

Not once did it say she was a certain size, had a certain skin tone, or hair color. Nothing of that nature. 

Her value, and yours as well, comes from character.  She’s described as a virtuous woman, which means she’s known for her character. This woman is wise, and she’s praised for it. People recognize her for the loving and caring woman she is. 

“An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭31:10‬ ‭ESV‬

Do things that help you remind yourself of your value. Not in an arrogant way, but so you focus on where your value really comes from; instead of the lies of where media tries to tell you where your value comes from. 

God bless. 🙂

Redeeming a Prostitute: Rahab — May 13, 2017

Redeeming a Prostitute: Rahab

This woman, Rahab, in my humble opinion is one of, if not the most understated women of the Bible. You see her name mentioned nearly a dozen times, in seven books of the Bible. Why is she not talked about more? The line of King David, and consequently Jesus, mentions this woman, yet she isn’t talked about much. 
I’m sure you’ve heard the story of how she hid the Israeli spies in her rooftop. (Found in Joshua 2, and you see how she was blessed for her actions in Joshua 6) 

Not too often though, is she talked about as a matriarch in the line of King David. It’s mind blowing to me that God would use a prostitute to carry the line of the Messiah! Does this not blow your mind?! When I first realized this it took “Jesus, friend of sinners” to a whole new level. 

Now, she may or may not have been a prostitute in the way we use the word today. Some scholars suggest the word in the original language may mean “inn keeper”, implying nothing more than she ran an Inn. Others imply the word to mean that she ran a brothel type home for travelers. And, still others think it could mean inn keeper, but being a prostitute would be a part of her job. Personally, if most versions of the bible says prostitute I’ll trust it implies her duties as an inn keeper included prostitution. 

I think people sometimes get uncomfortable talking about a prostitute, and praising her for the good she’s done. God had no problem saying she was a prostitute in the Bible, and I believe there’s a reason for it. Rahab was redeemed and forgiven, in spite of her promiscuous lifestyle. Ultimately in the title she bore we see enormity of God’s love, and mercy. 

Rahab and her family were saved because she believed in the God of Israel. At that moment He became her God. I believe at that point she put away her sinfulness, otherwise she would not have been mentioned in Hebrews 11, affectionately known as the “Hall of Faith”. Only two women commended by name for their faith, and Rahab was one of them!  

I can’t help, but see just how big God’s grace is, when He forgives and commends a woman like that because she changed and followed God. God is quick to forgive and love. That’s the beauty of not erasing the tough parts in our lives, or the parts we don’t want to talk about. 

It’s in those uncomfortable moments and parts of lives where we see God’s love and mercy. Otherwise we wouldn’t see the enormity of God’s love and grace through the life of Rahab. 

How is God’s love and mercy displayed in your life? If you look intentionally I’m sure you’ll see it. 🙂

God bless. 

Not A Good Friday  — April 14, 2017

Not A Good Friday 

Many people who know me can tell you, I am a very empathetic person. I put myself in people’s shoes, and can literally feel sorrow they may feel. Well, any emotion, but sorrow is the one today. 

You see, it was not a Good Friday. Mary wouldn’t say it was a good Friday. I don’t think Jesus’ disciples would’ve said it was a good Friday. 

Jesus was mocked, beaten, tortured, and ultimately killed. How is that good? 

You see. The story doesn’t end there. The story goes on to Easter Sunday, and the days following. Jesus was buried, but didn’t stay buried. His followers claimed, and wrote about experiences they had seeing the risen Jesus, viewing the scars received from the beating He took. They recall meals, walks, and other instances where they interacted with Him after His crucifixion. 

Historically speaking, historians don’t argue if Jesus existed. Even historians that are not Christians say he existed. I like how CS Lewis put it: 

“A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said wouldn’t be a great moral teacher. He’d be either a lunatic on a level with a man who says he’s a poached egg or else he’d be the devil of hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse.”

C S Lewis 

He is a lunatic, a liar, or who he claimed to be. Based on what I know I’ve made my decision. Have you? This holy week we have so much to contemplate, and consider.  I cannot live knowing what I know, and not be changed.

You see. This day signifies a horrible day in history. I scratch my head at calling it “Good Friday”. 

While this day in history was horrible, it also brought the best thing ever. A chance for salvation if we choose to believe. 

Do you believe? Do you live a life that makes people wonder what’s different about you? 

Consider the price paid for your salvation, and thank God for sending His Son to pay our debt. 

🙂 God bless.