Monday, March 31, 2008


I aspire to this:

A woman's heart should be so hidden in Christ that a man should have to seek Him first to find her. -Maya Angelou

Just thought I'd share,

Sunday, March 30, 2008

God Is Greater Than Oversleeping Or Spilled Coffee

That's my mantra for today. God is bigger than the way my day started.

I started a new antihistamine last night. Antihistamines knock the socks off of me every time, so much so that I cannot take them during the day because--no matter what--I WILL fall asleep when I take them. Period. So at 9:00 this morning, there's a kindly knock on my bedroom door: "J, arnth yu suppusd tubby ump?" (Interpreted from the muffled transliteration: Aren't you supposed to be up?) AHHHHHH! Not only am I supposed to be up, I should be walking out the door! I have a class to teach at 9:30 a.m., and it's fifteen minutes away!

This realization is followed by my personal best time for getting presentable, and I am out the door by 9:17 a.m. And I did drive the speed limit. And, I feel, as a personal reward for such restraint at that time*, God turned every light green as I approached. He can be really cool about stuff like this at a moment like that. (Okay, really, this is mercy; just trying to be funny, people!) I pulled into the church parking lot at 9:29 a.m.

But there are still copies of the lesson to be made, and though the levels of adrenaline in my system are REALLY high right now, it would still be good to get a few drops of caffeine in my system. So I start the copier running and dash across the hall, where I try not to trample fellow believers in my attempt to dump into my cup the junk that makes coffee palatable. Then I dash back across the hall, set my cup on the counter and turn to grab my copies. This would be when my bag--also on the counter--decides to shift its center of gravity and redecorate the church, sending the caramel-colored coffee all over the office...oh, and me. AHHHHH!

Off I dash to the restroom to grab feebly insufficient paper towels and return to dab at my mess. Deciding that the coffee was no longer worth the battle, I ask the youth pastor's wife to pray for me and scramble down the hall. Wouldn't you figure that this would be the one week my middle-schoolers decided to turn up on time? But you know, it was still only 9:35 a.m., and they were so relaxed and enjoying themselves, that the class simply began to unfold in a real, communicative way. We slipped straight into prayer time, 'cause one girl already felt comfortable enough to share her request. Usually, this is an environment that I spend 10-15 minutes to creating, but God was way ahead of me this week...and it was wonderful.

And since we saw both grace and mercy in our lesson today, I should point out that the mercy of the green lights mentioned above was counterpointed with this grace: One of the women from my small group apparently got wind of my predicament, and 10 minutes into class, delivered a perfectly souped-up cup of coffee to my class. Now THAT'S grace!

And here's one more little gift given to me today: My entire class drew and decorated a poster with a picture of me, and many kind words. And though I am faceless ("'cause faces are hard, Miss J!"), they painted me in my favorite sweater...the one I was wearing today, ironically. :-) It was kinder and more encouraging than they will ever know. I love those little boogers...

Now in case you missed the lesson this morning, we did a readers' theater of Saul's conversion from two recordings, Acts 9 & 22, followed by an 'ACTION' game, my own personal adaption of Bingo, but of course based on the book we're studying--ACTS. You really should have been there. It was a hoot. And we learned that just as in this story, our class probably includes two kinds of people: those (like Saul) who don't yet know Jesus and are fighting Him; and those (like Ananias) who do know Jesus but don't like what He's calling them to do. And you know what? Neither of them got away with it. When Jesus calls to you, you're gonna respond. Are you listening?

So that was my morning, 9:00 to 10:50 a.m. Whew...I think I'm gonna need a nap.


P.S. Remember a couple of weeks ago when I wasn't prepared for class? Well thankfully, I was already fully prepared for this morning! Could you imagine if I hadn't been? To the praise of His glory!

*This is bad theology and I know it, so don't go getting any ideas or start believing this is true or something silly like that...

(c) 2008

Friday, March 28, 2008

Lost & Found

Sometimes along life's journey, we realize that we've lost somethings. Sometimes we find other things. This is one of those stories...

* All kinds of insecurities
* Hindrances of every sort
* Many physical pains
* Guilt
* Feelings of being out of control
* Many hesitations
* Rolls, and not the yummy kind
* What I affectionately refer to as 'chubby-girl clothes'
* A double chin and extra cheeks

* Confidence
* Unveiled strength
* Joy
* Healing
* Self-control
* All kinds of bones: cheekbones, hip bones, shoulder bones, clavicles, ankle get the idea :-D
* Clothes from the way-more-options area
* Peace
* A better example
* Healthier eating patterns
* Relief

If lost items are located, please do not notify. I tend to like the found ones. :-)

By His grace thus far, and farther,

(c) 2008

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Reflections on Resurrection Week

Here are ideas, quotes, and events from last week as we remembered and celebrated the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

** On the Passover Lamb: The lamb had value, but its value couldn't be applied to the Israelites until it was slain. Only those who applied the blood were passed-over.

** The gospel in a nutshell: I love you; I forgive you; Supper's ready! (referring to the future Wedding Feast of the Lamb)

** If with God all things are possible, then with God all things--even death--are reversible (or [my edit], are overcome-able).

** Jesus did not come to make bad men good; He came to make dead men ALIVE!

** I was teaching on Sunday from Acts 8, where Philip (the deacon) ends up on a road leading from Jerusalem to Gaza to talk to a guy from Ethiopia about the prophet Isaiah (just trying to get all my prepositions in for the day!). Since they discussed Isaiah 53, and since God providentially worked it such that this lesson fell on Resurrection Sunday, I bounced my middle schoolers over to the Old Testament and began teaching them of the 'Suffering Servant' referred to there. Here is something I learned:

Verse 2 puzzled me, so I did some research (read: called my dad). The verse says: He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. I had no idea what this meant, but in my research/phone call, Dad explained. In Jeremiah 36, one branch--the kingly, ruling branch--of David's line was cursed, never to sit on Israel's throne again (see verse 30). Ummmm...that kinda presents a problem since God promised David that his throne would be established forever (2 Samuel 7).

But you know, God's not bothered by the stuff that twists our brains in to pretzels. Here's how Jesus is able to both be a descendant of David's kingly line AND sit on the throne: Joseph, the presumed father of Jesus, was a descendant of this kingly line; Mary, the actual mother of Jesus was a descendant of another branch of David's lineage, one not cursed. Since Jesus was Joseph's presumed son, the law afforded Him all the rights and privileges of Joseph (i.e., the right to sit on David's throne), yet He was preserved from the curse because He is biologically only Mary's child, not Joseph's.

Get it? Way cool stuff, huh? I LOVE how God meets all the requirements and yet works salvation, in so many senses. Reminds me of the end of Romans 3, which teaches us how God can be both just and the justifier!

** In worship Sunday, we sang Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone), In Christ Alone, and My Savior, My God, all songs posted earlier last week as favorites! (My Savior, My God was posted by Sarah.)

** As I sat in a Maundy Thursday service, I pondered how twisted this celebration would be from any other perspective. And I wrote...

The table was covered with a white cloth, a shroud for the symbols of death hidden beneath it. A roomful of people, each celebrating death, celebrating the shroud and its symbols.

A dark day indeed.

They began to replay the final scenes of his life, recounting with joy his final words. Leaders among them retold the story of the execution, notes of happiness tinging their tones. The celebration of this capital punishment so publicly proffered... They even wore the symbols of his death in their ears, on the their fingers, around their necks...

And so, groups like this meet around the world tonight, remembering the one death worth recounting, worth celebrating; sharing the common bond of the blood and the broken body, remembering...

Just thought I'd share...

(c) 2008

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Easter Shoes, 2008 Version

One reader, after reading last year's Easter Shoes, requested a picture of me IN the shoes! Well, a year later (and more than 50 pounds lighter!), here you are!

Easter 2007

Easter 2008

(c) 2008

Ten Things for Tuesday

For reasons both reasonable and un-, I find myself in a testy mood today. And since there is no good reason to spread that lack-of-joy, I've decided that today's post will be...Ten Bible Passages I Love & Why I Love Them! (That's pretty much the opposite of sharing my b.a.[bad attitude], no?) So here we go, in no particular order:

1. Psalm 116:1-9
I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came upon me; I was overcome by trouble and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the LORD: "O LORD, save me!" The LORD is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The LORD protects the simplehearted; when I was in great need, he saved me. Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the LORD has been good to you. For you, O LORD, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the LORD in the land of the living.
This is my testimony, particularly of the period in 2000-2001-ish when I suffered from a clinical depression.

2. Isaiah 40:10-26
See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power, and his arm rules for him. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him. He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.

Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance? Who has understood the mind of the LORD, or instructed him as his counselor? Whom did the LORD consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge or showed him the path of understanding?

Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust. Lebanon is not sufficient for altar fires, nor its animals enough for burnt offerings. Before him all the nations are as nothing; they are regarded by him as worthless and less than nothing. To whom, then, will you compare God? What image will you compare him to?

As for an idol, a craftsman casts it, and a goldsmith overlays it with gold and fashions silver chains for it. A man too poor to present such an offering selects wood that will not rot. He looks for a skilled craftsman to set up an idol that will not topple.

Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood since the earth was founded? He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in. He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing. No sooner are they planted, no sooner are they sown, no sooner do they take root in the ground, than he blows on them and they wither, and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.

"To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?" says the Holy One. Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.
I love how this passage describes the MIGHT and v.a.s.t.n.e.s.s of Yahweh and the itty-bitty-ness of man and his self-exalted nations.

3. Psalm 103:1-14
Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits--who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.

The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel: The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.
Oh how often I have had to fall on the mercy of my God described in this passage.

4. Romans 14:19-23
Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall. So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.
Really, all of chapters 14 & 15. These principles teach me the basis on which I make decisions: Does it lead to peace? Does it build others up? Does it cause my brother to stumble? And most especially, can I do it with a completely clear conscience, or do I have any reservations?

5. Ephesians 1:3-14
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession—to the praise of his glory.
Chosen, loved, predestined, adopted, redeemed, forgiven, entrusted with the mystery of Christ, sealed...all to the praise of His glory! What GRACE!

6. Philippians 4:4-9
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Want peace? Try editing where you focus your mind. These first few verses are also the first ones where God Himself showed me truth from His Word. I was in middle school, working at a camp, doing my 'devotions.' Suddenly, the truth popped out at me: Christ's peace comes when I=Rejoice! + Let my Gentleness be Evident + Reject Anxiety + Present my Requests to God in Prayer! I LOVE formulas like this one! :-)

7. Psalm 27:14
Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.
During a particularly trying period in my life, I learned that waiting and waiting on/for the LORD were two different things. This is a lesson He often reiterates with me; I am often found waiting for Him. This is also a favorite verse of my brother, and he has often sent it to me in moments of need.

8. Psalm 3:5-6 and 4:8
I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me. I will not fear the tens of thousands drawn up against me on every side.
I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.
I combine these two because they were gifted to me by the Spirit after a particularly terrifying visit to the Korean DMZ. I had lived there more than a year, but until that moment, I really didn't understand the danger of living in a war zone. I was truly frightened, despite the brave American and Korean men guarding me. I calmed down and could sleep only when the Lord Himself reassured me in the verses above that He was my guard.

9. Psalm 107:17-22
Some became fools through their rebellious ways and suffered affliction because of their iniquities. They loathed all food and drew near the gates of death. Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He sent forth his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave. Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men. Let them sacrifice thank offerings and tell of his works with songs of joy.
Really, the whole Psalm, but I only included the verses most pertinent to me. It was from this chapter that God taught me that He saves us, not just when problems come upon us, but when bring them upon ourselves, too (as I had at the time I learned this). The four vignettes teach us that sometimes we just encounter trouble, sometimes we bring in on ourselves, and sometimes God sends it (see verse 25), but no matter the source, salvation comes the same way: cry out to the Lord! Isn't He good?!

10. Psalm 138:8
The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O LORD, endures forever—do not abandon the works of your hands.
The semester before I graduated from college found me crying out to God, asking what was next. My path wasn't clear at all, and I didn't know what to do. One day, while reading in a quiet moment, God gave me this verse, which has given me confidence for every future moment: The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me!

Well, you may not be surprised to hear this, but my bad mood has gone! Reflecting on what the Lord has done and has taught me usually does, doesn't it? I have one final favorite verse, one just for you: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)


All verses quoted from the New International Version of the Bible.
All other material (c) 2008.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Good Music Day

Okay, a friend going through chemo just posted the words to another one of my very favorite songs, so I thought I'd share that with you too, but only in text form. I love that this song focuses on what is true, what the Scriptures teach, not on how we feel.

In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song.
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.

What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease,
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song.
This cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm

In Christ alone who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe.
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save.

Till on that cross as Jesus dies,
The wrath of God was satisfied.
For every sin on Him was laid,
Here in the death of Christ I live!

There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain.
Then bursting forth in glorious day,
Up from the grave He rose again.

And as He stands in victory,
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me.
For I am His and He is mine;
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me.
From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.

No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can every pluck me from His hand.
Till He returns or calls me home;
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand!

In Christ Alone
Words and Music by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend
Copyright © 2001 Kingsway Thankyou Music

Blessed Be The Name

You know, as soon as I posted that last entry, I heard one of my very favorite worship songs on the radio. I love this song because the theology is so right. We choose worship, and we can choose it when things are going great and when they are worse than we could have imagined, as Job exemplified.

I so often come back to this place when things seem hard and today was no exception. I choose worship, because my circumstances aren't the issue; the nature and character of God are.

And, since I've learned how to share videos this week, I ran to YouTube so you could appreciate it too. (The video is not the greatest, but the music is still wonderful.) Just for you:


The Conclusion of the Matter

I just returned from my follow-up appointment with the doctor, and it turns out that there are more doctors in my future... It's probably all fine, though there's a possibility I'll need minor surgery. But I left discouraged.

The other day, I was talking with my sister and said something about my body getting revenge for all the abuse it's had to tolerate over the years. Genuinely confused, she asked, "What abuse?" "Well, I've carried a good bit more weight than I should have in my adult years," I replied. Today, those words came back to me as I left the doctor's office.

I'm only just now trying to sort through all this, so I can't promise this will all make sense, but here is what I realized today: I've been assuming that I caused all the weird things my body has done over these past years. I feel that this is somehow payback for something I've done. Somehow, I've come to believe that my health struggles are my fault. And today when I realized that, I also realized that that feeling is probably incorrect.

Now, being overweight does take its toll on your body; I'm not denying that. So some of this stuff may really be mine to own. But so many really odd things have gone wrong with my body over the last decade. I really am the one doctor's don't want to see coming, as the stuff I get stumps most of them. And my body, more and more consistently, reacts in the extreme, taking injury quickly and healing slowly. Even my doctor pointed out that every time I come in, there's a genuine problem; I'm not a hypochondriac. I just keep having really odd reactions.

And today as I left the doctor's office and as all these thoughts flitted through my brain, I realized that--rather than being my fault--most of this stuff is just part of the package that came with this sin-damaged body I was given. You might find that encouraging (it's not your fault); I did not. If I caused all this, as I choose to live healthier and healthier as I have done over the past few years and in earnest for the last 6 months, it seems like these things should begin to fade. I'm only 35 and other than being overweight, I can't think of any of the body-damaging behaviors that I have engaged in: don't smoke, chew, drink, do drugs, 'sun-worship,' or anything else.

But if all of these health problems are just part of the package, what does the other half of my life hold? I already do more than my share to support the medical industry; how much more will I do? Will my body just continue to react more and more strongly (I'm thinking second law of thermodynamics here)?

I won't dwell here--I can't change one hair on my head more or less change the configuration of my immune system--but few a few minutes this afternoon, I found myself struggling. And all the platitudes in the world are ineffectual at this point. I know that I might struggle for the rest of my life or I might never be sick again. I can't know what tomorrow holds, and frankly, as One very wise man once said: Today's trouble is enough. Don't go borrowing tomorrow's (my paraphrase). I know (better than most) that God can, with but a word, heal me instantly and completely. (If you don't know my story or haven't already read Easter Shoes, I encourage you to do so.) And since my ordeal then last nearly 5 years, I also know that He can sustain me through any amount of pain or weariness I may be called to endure.

The Conclusion of the Matter: So I find myself in the only reasonable place to be: at the feet of my Savior...confessing to Him how tired I am of this body I now have and how very grateful I am that He's already promised me another one. His Word, His Spirit, His history, and my own experience teach me that I AM is enough. And I suppose in the end, knowing that I AM is enough, is more than enough; that's all I really need to know. My body may be weary, but my soul can be at rest, for He is.

Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the LORD has been good to you. --Psalm 116:7 NIV


(c) 2008

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Look...Somehow It Came Back!

I can't explain it, but at 1 p.m., I saw only through #1 on my "Ten Things" list. At 4:45 p.m., numbers 2-10 were back! I'm pretty happy since I worked so long on it. Thanks to Sarah for her tips on inserting the video! AND, I think I just figured out how to link a site to a name! Yee-haw! A banner day! :-) Have I mentioned that I am a novice at this kind of stuff?!


I just spent my entire lunch break--one hour--composing my Ten Things for Tuesday, and when I tried to insert a video code, it deleted all but one paragraph and apparently the draft versions too. I'm sorry, but I can't redo was too much. But I would like to know how to insert a video, say from youtube. Can anyone instruct me?

Now, I'm going to try not to cry about what was lost...

Ten Things for Tuesday

Here's what's on my mind this week:

I. I simply love the Chris Tomlin arrangement of Amazing Grace. I weep most every time I hear it; I've heard it twice in three days now... If you aren't familiar with it, know that it is faithful to the original in lyrics (retained completely with bridge/chorus added) and in tune style (different, but still hymn-like). Yet it brings the music to me in a way that is fresh and worshipful, and I love to sing it back to my Savior, who has truly allotted me amazing grace. You may enjoy it here:

II. I don't remember observing the week prior to Easter in any special way when I was growing up, but I have found it helpful as an adult to really try to prepare my heart during this week.

I hate all the trappings of Easter: pastel colors and white shoes and bunny rabbits, etc. But I love pausing to remember how great my sin is, how love and grace were greater still, and how God's power (the power at work in me according to Ephesians!) raised Jesus from the dead, defeating sin and death and raising me to new life with Him! I love this story and I need to pause and remember.

Last year, I observed a (non-food) fast for Lent, something I had never done before. I've begun seeking out Maundy Thursday/Good Friday/preparatory services in the week prior to Easter. I pause especially to consider the condition of my heart and repent of any found sin. I do all this, so that on Easter morning, when we celebrate Him who is the first-born from the dead, I can CELEBRATE! It is the best party ever!

III. Sunday morning in worship I received a rebuke from the Father, and as such things usually are, it was painful.

Just before that, I had taught--or more accurately, tried to teach--my middle school class, and it was a disaster. In an atypical fashion, but for the second week in a row, the guys would not stop cutting up. There were, I believe, two problems:
1.) Spiritual opposition. As at Christmas, I am approaching the time when, more directly and poignantly than at most other times, I dig deep into the Word to layout the gospel in a crystal-clear fashion and offer a chance for a response. And, as at Christmas, I find my efforts thwarted by disruptions. There are clearly students in my class who have not taken Christ as their personal Savior, and my heart is so burdened for them. Sunday, one of my neighbors was visiting, and I am certain that he has never accepted Christ.

2.) This is where the rebuke comes in: I was not as prepared as I should have been. Since the class cut up the week before, I still had most of last week's lesson to teach. So (I'm embarrassed to even type this...), rather than re-preparing--as I should have--I simply reviewed it briefly on Saturday night. I was not fully prepared, and I didn't have a plan in place that would fully engage my students...and when I entered the worship service troubled by the outcome, God's Spirit made it clear that I was at least partly to blame for the meltdown.

It hurt, and it grieved me, particularly as I have almost never had a chance to share Christ with the neighbor who visited, and I didn't get a chance on Sunday either. And even worse, I received a rather harsh (but earned) rebuke a couple of years ago on this topic, when God pulled me out of teaching for a season to remind me that I can't just 'wing it' when teaching God's Word. I may know a lot of it, but if I don't humbly prepare my lesson, I won't know what God wants these listeners to learn on that day. And so, yet again, I must fight my busyness and lazy nature, and do the work God has called me to so that I might not stand in the way of His Word.

IV. I find that I'm a little embarrassed to have shared with you number III. It really is a character flaw that I tend to be a lazy preparer. I guess the good part is, God is making clear that He won't let me remain so. And I'm glad. I've already done so much better than I did several years ago, and though I slipped up last week, God's Spirit corrected me quickly so that I can't slide back into that pattern. And I'm so grateful, as nothing in this world makes me happier than helping someone understand God's truth.

V. Last night in a phone conversation, God resolved an issue that has been weighing heavily on my mind... and it is so good, and I am at such peace about it--and that is clearly a God thing! :-)

VI. A fellow blogger recently commented that if there is anything good in her, it's Jesus, 'cause when 'she' pops out, it's ugly (my paraphrase). I feel exactly the same way. If I let me start peeking out, it is just not pretty. The words of grace I long to speak come out as assault & battery and the gentleness I want to portray becomes a club unleashed. It doesn't take much of 'me' to corrupt my tongue; a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough, no?

VII. I LOVE being an aunt and I so miss being near my niece and nephews! But I am excited to say that I will have TWO more come this fall!! BOTH married sisters are pregnant! YEA GOD! Stories I won't recount here, but suffice it to say, these really are 'God stories.' I am SMILING!

VIII. This is already too long and I'm starting to get bored with myself, so let's see if I can wrap this up quickly...

IX. I should buy stock in the Purell company so I could get at least some of my investment returned to me! Great stuff, hand sanitizer.

X. I would really like to travel somewhere this year. I don't know where, and I have no idea how I would afford it, but it is something I would really like to do. Even better would be to travel internationally again; I so love that! :-)

Finis! Well, if I bored myself, then I probably bored you too, though you certainly had the freedom to quit before now...I'm stuck with me! ;-D Perhaps God will yet 'restore the minutes J's blog has eaten' (rough reference to the book of Joel). Perhaps next time I will have some scintillating news...but don't get your hopes up. ;-)


(c) 2008

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. --Colossians 1:15-20

Friday, March 14, 2008

Something I Probably Shouldn't Share...

You know the saying, confession is good for the soul but bad for the reputation. Well, I probably shouldn't share this, but...

Had a moment yesterday. A brunette-acting-blond moment. It's rather embarrassing, actually. Let me start with my defense. My life is really busy right now, especially at work, and I do feel scattered most of the time, but something like this, well, I can't have dementia yet, can I?

Wednesday, I realized that my follow-up doctor's appointment was Thursday at 11:15 a.m. So I went about arranging to go: informed both bosses and the receptionists, arranged around various work activities, canceled a long-planned lunch with a friend, etc. On Thursday, I was in full-run mode. I was moving and solving from the moment I arrived. At 11:08 a.m., I tore out of the building and rushed to my doctor's office. I arrived at 11:18 a.m. (late, but she always is so I wasn't too worried), signed in, and plunked myself down in the waiting area to read a magazine. My doctor's office is a small, single-doctor office, and I've been going for years, so everyone there knows me by sight (read: there is no anonymity here). A moment after seating myself, the receptionist calls me up to the desk, "Uh, J, your appointment is at 11:15 a.m. on the 20th."

Long pause on my end. "That's next Thursday, isn't it?" "Mmhum," a smile trying to break free from her tightly clasped lips. Me: "Am I the earliest person ever for an appointment?" "Bwahaha..." We both broke out laughing loudly.

All I can say is, I'm glad I'm thirty-five not seventy-five, 'cause they would have sent me in for memory tests in a heartbeat otherwise. Perhaps they should anyway...

A tad embarrassed, but early for once in her life,

(c) 2008

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Just A Note... let you know that I just published an entry, but that is out of order since I started it yesterday. Look for "What Grace Is Mine" a couple of entries back.

Just a's a LONG one! :-)

To the praise of Him alone,

Isn't This So True?

...The best framework for the Lord God to do His most ideal work is when things are absolutely impossible and we feel totally unqualified to handle it. That's His favorite circumstance. Those are His ideal working conditions....Time after time, He brings us to our absolute end and then proves Himself faithful. That, my friend, is not only the story of my life, it's the story of the Bible in a nutshell.

-Charles R. Swindoll
Great Days with the Great Lives

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

What Grace Is Mine

If you were to open up my Bible to Hebrews chapter 10, you would find this note in my Bible:
cf (compare with) my life 1988-1990
Oh what grace is mine!

This note is found next to the following verses:
If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," and again, "The Lord will judge his people." It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (vv. 26-31)

1988-1990 found me in my last two years of high school. The summer before my junior year, my father, then a pastor of a small church, was run out of his church in a most ungracious way for speaking truth. God miraculously provided a full-time job and house for our family of five (we had been living in a parsonage) within weeks.

But it wasn't God's grace at which I found myself looking. I was looking at the fact that God had said "No" to my request.

Some years earlier, I had refined my major prayer list down to two things: God, please don't let my parents die while I am young; and, please don't let my family move before I graduate from high school.

Now, when my father got run out of his church, this necessitated a move. Actually, by God's provision, we moved only about 45 minutes away, to a suburb on the other side of the large city in which we lived. But 45 minutes meant that I had to leave the high school and the status I loved so much.

You see, by 7th grade, I had had enough of this 'loser/unpopular' tag that I had acquired simply by moving into the school district a few years before, so I purposed in my heart to become--if not popular--someone everyone had to respect. This was certainly no holy aspiration; it was more like revenge. And, I accomplished this. I became active in student government and choir, played some sports (badly!), and engaged myself in just about every extracurricular activity available. I became so involved that by my sophomore year of high school, I was part of 13 different academic clubs and was an officer in half of them. And then, at the end of that year, my crowning achievement: I was elected as the vice-president of the most powerful/popular club in the school: SADD. Now this election meant that I would, upon becoming a senior the following year, become president of this club. I could not have been more thrilled. Until we moved.

Another process happened during those years, a change in my heart. You see, during my junior high years, I had become very active in our Youth for Christ club, and actually became fairly active in sharing my faith. But as the years wore on and as this unholy desire took deeper root in my heart, I unknowingly began to walk less and less by the Spirit and more and my in my flesh. By the time my sophomore year ended, I was completely off on my own, coasting in my reputation as a Christian, because it was okay to be a 'Christian' at my school. And then we moved.

At my new, 'hick' high school, it was not okay to be a Christian. Christians were openly ridiculed, and only the gooberiest kids acknowledged Christ. And in my bitterness, I decided that no one had to know that I was a Christian. And so they didn't...

I went through my last two years of high school as 'a good girl' not a Christian. And I all but dared danger to find me.

I struggled so much that first year. I had no friends (I am a very social person, and had always had a strong network of friends). I went from high grades to literally failing classes. I would ask to be excused during classes so I could go to the restroom and burst into tears. I was completely and utterly lost. During this time, one of my teachers was so concerned about me that he sent me to the school counselor. She, of course, had no idea (nor could she, as an unbeliever, understand) that my problem was a spiritual one. I was angry at God, and I knew it. I wanted Him to pay for what He did to me, and somehow I felt my bitterness was payback.

The counselor began to ask all kinds of questions about my home--fighting? abuse? etc.... However, none of those things were true. I came from a good, stable home. They weren't the issue. I was. Finally, she asked me to describe how I felt. This is one of those crystal-clear moments fixed in my mind. "I feel like I'm in a deep pit, and everyone's hand is too short to reach me." And in my mind, I added, "Including God's."

From time to time over those years, I tried to return to God, but I was never willing to do what would have to be done: Humble myself and repent of my sin. And so, I wandered, lost, into my senior year of high school.

The summer before my senior year, some of that old, unholy resolve resurfaced. I decided that I would not let the next year be like the previous one. I would find friends; I would fit in; I would make better grades; I would have fun. And so I did.

My friends were not believers, not one of them. They were, however, party-ers, and so I began to 'fudge the truth' (aka, lying) with my parents and spend the night with lots of my friends, going from their homes to parties and dance clubs. Now here's where the irony comes in. I was very clear that I was a Christian, and I was very clear that God would not let me get away with my sin for too long. I was waiting for Him to catch up with me; I could feel the hunt on, and was terrified. I knew drinking was illegal for me at 16 & 17 years old. I had once heard that some people become alcoholics with their first drink, and I was certain that if I drank, the Holy Spirit would let me reap that consequence. So, I never drank anything other than tap water at these parties. And I learned what anyone who stays sober at these kinds of parties learns: being around a bunch of drunk people is boring. This is when I graduated to dance clubs. At least that was interesting. The great irony here is that I am so pitifully 'white' that dancing is the last thing I should be doing in public, not for any reason.

Several things happened as that year drew to a close, that would be difficult to explain here, but that let me know my period of quiet rebellion was about to be drawn to an end. The Scriptures say that it is the kindness of the Lord that leads us to repentance, and I can testify to that. God was quietly, but unequivocally drawing me to himself.

During that time, I 'happened' to be sitting next to my father during a Sunday morning communion service. (This was atypical for me.) Just to be clear, I was definitely a member of the Body of Christ at this point, and I knew the Scriptures said that you should not take the Lord's supper in an unworthy manner (i.e., a tainted, sinful state). I Corinthians 11 warns us that God judges those who do, some by illness, some by death. I understood that this was nothing to be trifled with, so I passed on the communion plates. In a striking break from normal patterns, my father leaned over to me in the service and asked, in the gentlest of tones, "Is there anything we need to talk about?" I practically jumped! Yes, I replied, there was.

Now, I'm no fool. I was aware that I was about to confess some pretty serious sins to my parents. So I invited them out for dinner that evening. At least they wouldn't kill me in public. During that dinner, I shared with my parents my lies and my acts of rebellion. And they didn't even raise their voices. In what is still the greatest human example in my life of God the Father's grace, my father replied, "We forgive you. We won't punish you; I don't think we could do anything worse to you than God's Spirit has already done." And it was done. I don't know anyone whose parents ever responded to them in this manner when so much blatant, rebellious sin was reported to them, but I do know that it was a Spirit-directed response. Punishment I was prepared for; grace I was not. And so yet again, His Spirit called to me gently...

The job my father received from the Lord following his exit from pastoral ministry was as a full-time Bible and theology professor at a Bible college. Thus, each of his children had opportunity to receive a full college education tuition-free from this school. Since my parents wanted each of us to attend a Bible college for at least one year prior to going elsewhere, this worked out very well...from their perspective. I, on the other hand, knew that I still wasn't fulling submitting to God, and I didn't really want to be around people who were trying to do so.

When this topic came up between my father and me one day, I learned the following: "Your mother and I will still love you, but we won't support you if you don't go to Bible college for at least one year." Now, from where I stand today, this seems reasonable. A parent isn't obligated to pay for whatever education a child wants, and if they are going to pay, then they should have some say in the matter. But at the time, what I understood was this: If I chose to run off to a state school, I would be making a break with my family that I wasn't sure I want to make.

I decided that I could 'tough out' one year at Bible college.

It took me less than two days to find the other rebellious hearts at the school. It was nice to have camaraderie, but it also made me nervous. My rebellion had never been overt or flamboyant; it was secretive. I didn't like stirring the waters, and these guys had already crossed far more lines than I ever planned to. Fortunately, God was way ahead of me.

Within the first few weeks of school, this particular Bible college has a spiritual emphasis week. Chapel time is extended and there are special events all week long to help students focus on where there hearts are before the Lord. So many things pricked at my hardened conscience that week, so many tiny intrusions of God's living Word into my damaged, aching heart.

Toward the end of the week, there was a skit presented which has been duplicated many times in many places. You may have seen it. It involved three people who were driving along and then were in a car accident. All three died, and then found themselves before heaven's gate. (Go with the intent here, as the theology is pretty sketchy.) When asked why God should let them into heaven, two of them were able to say they had believed in Jesus alone, but the third had never heard this. The latter individual was dragged off stage, while yelling at the other two, "Why didn't you ever tell me? How could you not tell me?"

It was at this moment that I began to contemplate all of the people whose lives touched mine during those last two years of high school, but who never once heard one word of Truth cross my lips. And it was as if, as I looked at my hands, that they were stained with blood, not really, but metaphorically*. I had not warned one person of their impending doom. And that guilt--genuine, hard-earned guilt--became the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. At that moment, in the quiet of that service, I repented of my sin and God's forgiveness and love flooded into my heart in such overflowing degrees that even these many years later, I choke up as I recall it. I was so very young when I accepted Christ that there was no particular feeling for me on the day. But this day, I came to understand what so many have experienced when they first repent from their sin--JOY. Unbelievable forgiveness and kindness and hope and love and JOY.

I started out weeping quietly, but by the time they did the only alter call of the week, I was blind from my tears and, I suspect, rather noisy. I stumbled forward to sign my name to a "Pact of the Cross" (or something like that), but my name was completely illegible. I just wanted to express in some way that my face was turned in the complete opposite direction of the previous two years. My heart now faced the cross and my back now faced my self.

As I retreated from the front, still sobbing uncontrollably, I found myself in my father's arms--my human father--and in my hand he placed a note:
3 John 1:4
Love, Dad
This precious passage reads, "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth." (KJV)

That day really was the beginning of a whole new journey for me, one that I share parts of here. Never again have I turned my back on my Savior as I did those last two years of high school.

You know, I still marvel at the grace that was mine. I was already His child, fully aware of the choice I was making, of the rebellion I was pursuing. And even now, I cannot believe that God would so freely and fully forgive me. It is one thing for the neighbor's child to spit in your face; it is a completely different thing--and much more painful--for your own child to do so.

And so we return to Hebrews chapter 10 and a note in my Bible:
cf (compare with) my life 1988-1990
Oh what grace is mine!

If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," and again, "The Lord will judge his people." It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (vv. 26-31)

What grace is mine. And oh, what grace it is!

One final note. A few weeks into my first semester of college, I ran across this verse, which explained two things: 1.) that feeling of being in a pit, unable to be reached by anyone including God which I expressed to my school counselor; and 2.) the sense of blood-guilt* I had as I remembered the many in my high school with whom I had refused to share Christ's gift:
Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save,
nor his ear too dull to hear.
But your iniquities have separated

you from your God;
your sins have hidden his face from you,
so that he will not hear.
For your hands are stained with blood,

your fingers with guilt.
Your lips have spoken lies,
and your tongue mutters wicked things. --Isaiah 59:1-3


(c) 2008

*For more on this concept, see Ezekiel 3:17-21.

Random Thought Wednesday

Here is a frightening peek into my brain:

  • A shower at night always helps me sleep better (HOT in the winter and cool in the summer).
  • Those Croc shoes and their knock-offs that have become so popular (at least around here) remind me of the jelly shoe fad of my early years...and I don't mean that in a positive way! :-p
  • I switched from regular milk to soymilk years ago. It just agrees better with my system.
  • I almost always have (high-fiber!) cereal for breakfast, and I love, but rarely am willing to pay for, fresh blueberries on it. {BTW, I've had blueberries every morning this week! YUM! :-)}
  • I am very relieved to remember that God is in control when I consider our current presidential race, any U.S. political scene, or our status in the international realm.
  • Sometimes I agonize when I hear of the pain or trouble of others--known or unknown. At times, I have to limit how far I open my heart to news or contemplation, or I would just cry all the time. I have often marveled at God's capacity to engage the pain of billions of people. I can barely handle that to which I must be exposed. He certainly is so far greater than we.
  • I haven't been able to go to the gym for weeks now due to some health problems, and I am so missing it! THIS is a God-thing, as I have never liked 'purposeless' exercise before. (By purposeless, I mean, not done in the process of accomplishing something. I loved exercising when it meant hiking through Israel or riding on horseback or helping someone move. But just-because-I-should walking on a treadmill? Ugh!)
  • I always open public restroom doors with a papertowel. Do you know how many people don't wash their hands?! Ick!

Okay, it's now Thursday, so I'm just gonna post this puppy as is....

Hope your Wednesday went more smoothly than mine did! :-D


(c) 2008

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Ten Things for Tuesday

Announcer: And....We're back! With another edition of "Ten Things for Tuesday." Joining us this afternoon is regular contestant and random thinker, ShalomSeeker! Now, onto our ten things, this week formatted as Q&A!
  1. What do you love about blogging? I love getting to put my thoughts in order and getting to share them with others. I really love getting to share insights into God's Word and the things He is teaching me, and blogging allows me to do that!
  2. What do you not like about blogging? That my otherwise-liked template turns all my bullet points and neatly numbered lists into silly-looking flowers.
  3. What's one thing you'd wish for right now? That I could remember all the things I had planned to put into this post.
  4. What's a danger to blogging? Well, Mr. Announcer-Guy, I see two primary dangers for this user. One is that is is completely addictive! The other is that due to the feeling of annonimity that blogging can supply, I might share more than I should.
  5. What's something you always do when blogging? I always smile.
  6. What's something you never do when blogging? I never share my name, location, or information that could identify me or my family and friends.
  7. What's something your readers may not know about your blog? That it and all the comments are public.
  8. What do you fear in the blogosphere? That some crazy person will decide to stalk me, either online or in person. NOTE TO READERS: If you know me personally, please keep my paranoid-self safe by not using my actual name or location. Merci!
  9. What's something that has surprised you about blogging? That it has connected me to so many friends, both old and new. I'm really surprised how much I feel like this little world is a community for me!
  10. What would you wish from your readers? Just a little feedback...comments, opportunity to read their own blogs, etc.
  11. (And now, for the Bonus Round!) What would you wish for each of your readers? That they too may know the peace of God through the death and resurrection of His Son.

And that's all the time we have for today's edition of "Ten Things for Tuesday!" Join us next week, when one reader says, "You WHAT?!"

Blessings, all!

(c) 2008

Saturday, March 8, 2008

The Fear of God

Just a quick note:
I was looking up the 10 commandments for a lesson I'm teaching on Philip the Deacon from Acts 8 (intrigued? Figure out that connection! Or just join me tomorrow morning...), when I ran across this:

Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning." --Exodus 20:20

Note what keeps them(/me) from sinning: the fear of God. I confirmed this when I looked up this phrase elsewhere:
An oracle is within my heart concerning the sinfulness of the wicked: There is no fear of God before his eyes. --Psalm 36:1

And it's quoted in Romans 3:18, as Paul describes how Jews and Gentiles both are equally under sin: There is no fear of God before their eyes.

Psalm 119:11 teaches us that committing God's Word to memory helps to keep us from sinning against God, but it looks like adding a little holy fear (not terror fear) to our lives would help too. When I remember the greatness, the holiness, the power of God, I am far less likely to esteem my own self and ways above His.

Guess I needed reminding... :-)

(c) 2008

Job 40:6-14
Then the LORD spoke to Job out of the storm:
"Brace yourself like a man;

I will question you,
and you shall answer me.
Would you discredit my justice?

Would you condemn me to justify yourself?
Do you have an arm like God's,

and can your voice thunder like his?
Then adorn yourself with glory and splendor,

and clothe yourself in honor and majesty.
Unleash the fury of your wrath,

look at every proud man and bring him low,
look at every proud man and humble him,

crush the wicked where they stand.
Bury them all in the dust together;

shroud their faces in the grave.
Then I myself will admit to you

that your own right hand can save you."

Stepping to His Rhythm

You know, since Tuesday, I've been wanting to post about how amazing it was to see God just open up the floodgates in my discipleship meeting on Tuesday evening. I've never gotten around to it, and now I find my week counterpointed with the disaster of a discipleship meeting I had last night. Ugh.

Firstly, let me tell you that I am the leader of both meetings, and both are with middle/high school students. I love these times, and more often than not, I am amazed at the stuff God puts into my head/mouth. You know the're talking and as you hear yourself sharing verses or illustrations or connections within Scripture, you're more amazed than the hearer at what appears to be wisdom and truth emitting from you! I love it when God's Spirit makes Himself so evident!

And Tuesday evening was just such a time. As we talked, the conversation moved in ways and directions which I hadn't planned for, but fit so perfectly the needs being stated. It was so very obviously God. But last night...oh last night I messed up so badly. It was so very obviously me, and I hate that.

You know, there are moments in life at which you groan inwardly (or in my case, outwardly) when you remember them. They are too awful or embarrassing or stupid of you to even recount. This was one of them. Let's just say that I've worked for years to create a 'safe' relationship with a very hurting and damaged girl, and just as the doors are beginning to crack open--in a moment of complete brain-shut down--I called her out publicly on something she shared with us. Even now, just sharing that much, I feel like crumpling inside and crying outside.

I've asked for her forgiveness, and for my Father's forgiveness in what was obviously a move of the flesh, not the Spirit. But sometimes you have to ask how your education, training, experience, and common sense can all go on vacation, and why do they have to do it at the same time? If even just one had hung around, I wouldn't have made the blunder I did.

Don't misunderstand. I'm not one who believes in beating oneself up after a mistake or a sin. Confess and repent and 'forget those things which are behind, pressing forward'... But today, I just wonder if I will ever again get the chance to speak into this girl's life in the way I had worked to so hard to be able to. I am just so sad and ashamed.

And so I revisit a lesson I long to have mastered: It matters--every day, every moment--that I keep in step with the Spirit, that my heart be tuned as perfectly as it is able to be to the frequency of His. It matters to those I minister to, those I love, and those I don't know but encounter in daily life. And just so you know, it matters to me that you do the same, 'cause I need you. The Body of Christ is each of us, and when we fall out of step, the whole body suffers.

So today, I recommit to stepping to His rhythm. Will you join me?


(c) 2008

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. --Galatians 5:22-25

Friday, March 7, 2008

Asking...and Waiting

I read Psalm 25 last night, and found that my heart cried out with David's....

Remember, O LORD, your great mercy and love,
for they are from of old.
Remember not the sins of my youth

and my rebellious ways;
according to your love remember me,
for you are good, O LORD...
[Because of Your goodness, replace the memory of my sin with your mercy and love.]
My eyes are ever on the LORD,
for only he will release my feet from the snare.
Turn to me and be gracious to me,

for I am lonely and afflicted.
(vv. 6-7, 15-16)

There is something in my life from which only God can free me, and I wait for Him to do so. It is the result of 'the sins of my youth,' but as is often the case, the sin-aftershocks (the ever decreasing degrees of the same sin) and the consequences of this sin reverberate through my life still today. I certainly could have created worse problems for myself (and only by God's mercy did I not do so), but this problem is so wearying...

And so I cry out to my God to deliver me, to bare His mighty right arm on my behalf.

And I wait...


(c) 2008

A promise to Israel of the coming Redeemer. As one grafted in, this is where my hope lies.
Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save,
nor his ear too dull to hear.
But your iniquities have separated

you from your God;
your sins have hidden his face from you,
so that he will not hear...
He saw that there was no one,
he was appalled that there was no one to intervene;
so his own arm worked salvation for him,
and his own righteousness sustained him...
From the west, men will fear the name of the LORD,
and from the rising of the sun, they will revere his glory.
For he will come like a pent-up flood
that the breath of the LORD drives along.
"The Redeemer will come to Zion,

to those in Jacob who repent of their sins,"
declares the LORD.
Isaiah 59:1-2, 16, 19-20

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Just Ran Across This...

Here's a little quote that is making me eat recently uttered words:

One reason we are so harried and hurried is that we make yesterday and tomorrow our business, when all that legitimately concerns us is today. If we really have too much to do, there are some items on the agenda which God did not put there. Let us submit the list to Him and ask Him to indicate which items we must delete. There is always time to do the will of God. If we are too busy to do that, we are too busy. -Elisabeth Elliott

Wowser. The middle part got me, "...If we really have too much to do, there are some items on the agenda which God did not put there..." Might need to reeval my list...


You Can't Get Away With This Stuff

I can't believe one of you astute students of Scripture out there hasn't already nailed me for the error in my post two days ago. I offer my thanks for your graciousness in letting me figure this one out via the direction of the Holy Spirit.

I was reflecting on a conversation I had with a friend on the Moses topic, when something began to niggle at the back of my mind. So last night, I went to Exodus 3 and did a little re-reading. That would be when God gently corrected me. Let me refresh your memory on my blog comment:
I recently recognized something in the life of Moses...You know, he recognized his calling (deliverer of a nation) FORTY YEARS before God actually had him begin moving on that calling...Sometimes, I wonder if my life is going to be like that.

Um, well, it turns out that God has a slightly different take on that story.
The LORD said, "I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. (Exodus 3:7-8)

Do you see it? God was the deliverer! In fact, God, LORD, or a pronoun referring to God occurs over 50 times in this chapter alone! I actually love this so much more! Isn't that exactly true of God? He is the one who delivers us! A favorite verse of mine is found in Psalm 68:20: Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign LORD comes escape from death.

I am so glad that God corrected me on this. As I dug into this, I realized that it is a very basic and fundamental truth to Old Testament theology, as is repeated again and again in verses I should know (at least on the basis of repetition!):
  • I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. --Exodus 20:2
  • I am the LORD who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy. --Leviticus 11:45
  • I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt to be your God. I am the LORD your God. --Numbers 15:41
  • I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. --Deuteronomy 5:6
  • It was the LORD our God himself who brought us and our fathers up out of Egypt, from that land of slavery, and performed those great signs before our eyes. --Joshua 24:17
  • But the LORD, who brought you up out of Egypt with mighty power and outstretched arm, is the one you must worship... --II Kings 17:36
  • I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of Egypt. --Psalm 81:10
  • Now, O Lord our God, who brought your people out of Egypt with a mighty hand and who made for yourself a name that endures to this day... --Daniel 9:15
  • But I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt. You shall acknowledge no God but me, no Savior except me. --Hosea 13:4
  • Hear this word the LORD has spoken against you, O people of Israel—against the whole family I brought up out of Egypt... --Amos 3:1
Well, I guess you can get the point from that sampling of verses from throughout the OT that represent this truth. This is a really important point, for it is on this basis, again and again, that God calls out to Israel. I am your God, the one who brought you out of Egypt. Remember that? That event of which history has never seen its equal? That was Me. I'm the one to whom you owe your allegiance. This is a critical point for them, because up until God sends both the northern and southern nations into captivity, the critical sin-trap for them was idolatry--worshiping gods other that THE God.

It was this calling out of Egypt by God that became the point of issue in this little scenario out of Exodus 32:
When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, "Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don't know what has happened to him." Aaron answered them, "Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me." So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, "These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt."

Can you imagine?!! God has just brought them out of Egypt, out of hundreds of years of suffering, and they suddenly redesign the God who did so into a god? I don't think I'd have wanted to be in heaven at the moment they made this declaration. Can you imagine God's righteous indignation?!

This calling out of Egypt was also part of the foundation for the laws God would establish for them:
  • Do not use dishonest standards when measuring length, weight or quantity. Use honest scales and honest weights, an honest ephah and an honest hin. I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt. --Leviticus 19:35-36
  • Do not profane my holy name. I must be acknowledged as holy by the Israelites. I am the LORD, who makes you holy and who brought you out of Egypt to be your God. I am the LORD. --Leviticus 22:32-33
  • If one of your countrymen becomes poor and is unable to support himself among you...You must not lend him money at interest or sell him food at a profit. I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God. --Leviticus 25:35-38
  • If one of your countrymen becomes poor among you and sells himself to you, do not make him work as a slave. He is to be treated as a hired worker or a temporary resident among you...Because the Israelites are my servants, whom I brought out of Egypt, they must not be sold as slaves. --Leviticus 25:39-42 [Bonus Note: Don't make the Israelites into servants because they are already (My) servants! Cool, huh?]
And it would be on the basis of His calling them out of Egypt that God would later judge them:
  • After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel. Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD and served the Baals. They forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them. They provoked the LORD to anger because they forsook him and served Baal and the Ashtoreths. In his anger against Israel the LORD handed them over to raiders who plundered them. He sold them to their enemies all around, whom they were no longer able to resist. Whenever Israel went out to fight, the hand of the LORD was against them to defeat them, just as he had sworn to them... --Judges 2:10-15
  • Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites... Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the LORD for help. When the Israelites cried to the LORD because of Midian, he sent them a prophet, who said, "This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I brought you up out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. I snatched you from the power of Egypt and from the hand of all your oppressors. I drove them from before you and gave you their land. I said to you, 'I am the LORD your God; do not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you live.' But you have not listened to me." --Judges 6:1, 6-10

So all of this to say... it was really important both that I learn the lesson that it was God who delivered the Israelites from Egypt, and that I correct it here.

And so I would like to reiterate my own comment about my life being like Moses'. I would simply like to be one sent by God, and to be in the front lines as I watch God be the deliverer. I think I'd like to have that front row seat, wouldn't you?

Glad God is my deliverer,

P.S. Here's a freebie: Check out God in Exodus 3:19-20a. God is speaking in His commissioning of Moses: ...But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless a mighty hand compels him. So I will stretch out my hand... Don't we serve a MIGHTY God?!

(c) 2008

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Ten Things for Tuesday

Okay, let's see what all is in my brain right now...
  1. Frankly, I'm trying to get my brain to stop obsessing over my test/surgery last week. I know that whatever He sends my way I can be victorious in through His strength. But I must confess--though I am very grateful for the results of the test--I find myself afraid that at some point in the future I may have to do this again. Without lots of detail, just know that this is not an unreasonable expectation. But my body didn't process the anesthesia properly, despite a triple dose, and the biopsy really hurt, even though I shouldn't have felt anything more than pressure. And this is not the first time my body has done something like that. And so right now, I am trying so hard to choose to believe my theology--God will supply all the strength I need on the day I need it (Philippians 4:13; Matthew 6:34)--and not my heart, which whispers, I can't do this again.

  2. It is almost frightening to me how theraputic blogging/writing is for me! :-)

  3. I am very tired of feeling so ridiculously overburdened at work. I have more responsibilities now than I did at this point last year, and getting through the spring and summer last year about killed me. I grow almost panicky when I think of all that is coming down the pike. I don't think I can even continue to keep up what must be done, more or less what should be done.

  4. Hmmm...looks like what is in my brain is a bunch of burdens/complaints. I'm sorry about that! Let's see what other, more positive things I could share...

  5. I love how technology allows me to connect with friends from long ago! Just today I connected on Facebook with a co-worker/friend from when I taught in S. Korea! Sometimes, however, I get overwhelmed because there are so many people with whom I should keep in contact. Just too blessed, I guess! :-)

  6. On that note, I should add that I am a LOUSY communicator, in terms of keeping up with people. I often think of/pray for others, but I rarely write or call. It just seems overwhelming to me, for reasons I can't explain, and probably couldn't explain even if I could! LOL! :-) However, the welcome in my heart for others never wanes, so I am always genuinely glad to hear from them.

  7. I read a great quote today (prepare for conviction): What are you doing today that shows you are serving the God of the impossible? -Mel Wyma, from an NTM calendar

  8. I have recently lost about 50 lbs., and while I am very grateful for God's grace thus far, I still have a long way to go! Fortunately, I cannot out-reach (or out-girth!) His grace!!!

  9. I recently recognized something in the life of Moses (this may be a re-realization, as I have a tendancy to forget). You know, he recognized his calling (deliverer of a nation) FORTY YEARS before God actually had him begin moving on that calling. And there was a lot of preparation that God squeezed into those 40 years, as is proven by the much-changed person who emerged from the desert. Sometimes, I wonder if my life is going to be like that. This time in my life is very valuable, but perhaps (?) its greatest value still remains to be seen in the place/ministry to which God will call me. Hmmm...this makes sense in my head, but I don't know if it will make sense to you.

  10. Here's an ironic change that years of singleness have wrought: I am far less extroverted than I used to be. In fact, if you are familiar with the Myers-Briggs, I used to be a complete and total 10 on the extrovert scale. I'm guessing that I am only slightly more than half that now. I used to never need time to myself; now I need a fair amount of it. I still LOVE people, though. Good thing, too, as it seems that in addition to God, His Word, and angels, I'll pretty much be spending eternity with a bunch of them! :-)

  11. Bonus: Who uses the word 'wrought' (see #10) anymore to describe anything other than iron? I am such a...freak? ...snob? ...wordsmith? :-)

Well, I find myself slightly relieved to have completed all ten. It was a bit iffy in the middle there. :-) Thanks for joining me for another (probably worthless) Ten Things for Tuesday.

Blessings all!

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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. --II Corinthians 12:9-10

Monday, March 3, 2008

A Constant Victory

Isn't this lovely?

Before the winds that blow do cease,
Teach me to dwell within Thy calm:
Before the pain has passed in peace,
Give me, my God, to sing a psalm.
Let me not lose the chance to prove
The fullness of enabling love.
Oh, love of God, do this for me:
Maintain a constant victory.
--Amy Carmichael, from Rose from Brier (Fort Washington, Penn.: Christian Literature Crusade, 1973), 12.

I'll second that!