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Monthly Archives: April 2011

Springtime…I think it forgot me this year…

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I love Spring. It used to be my fav. But I’m sort of over it this year. My tulips which are normally dancing around right now are scared to peep their little heads out of hiding. One opened this morning but I think it may have just gone back into hiding. It is clearly not the sunniest or warmest spring. So one day we shall wake up….AND BOOM! It will be July 4th and we will have heat.
We have never gone away over spring break. We may leave for a few days but it’s not¬†a good time for us to leave. Especially since Jason’s spring break doesn’t fall on that week. Which by the way… I am going to take this opportunity to brag on him…He just finished an entire year of Greek. Have you ever looked at the Greek language? Well, let’s just say it looks like Greek! This Genius of mine just got an A on the entire class! O My! If you know how many times he said he was going to give up you would understand how exciting it is to be on this side of the class!
So while he was finishing up finals and Malaina was in New York City with Show Choir… Me and the other 3 were trying to be happy for everyone who was in warmer places. We would practice saying, “Good for you”. A hundred times a day. ūüôā
So after a very non exciting week I got a text from my sister who happened to be in one of those places…”I am extending my stay through next week….You wanna come?” Are you kidding me? Yes Please! I will be on the next plane.


So 4 days later I hopped right on that plane and flew down to stay with her for 5 days! What a treat! It was hot. There was nothing to do but enjoy the Sun…Who frankly I had to reintroduce ¬†myself with because of lack of it in the North. I had a little visit with Mr Sun and begged him to stop ignoring us up North. I encouraged him that we will applaud him if he ever decides to show up. But so far…No luck.

We sat in the sand day after day. Taking in the smell and watching the people walk past. It was splendid!

And then in the evening we didn’t cook! Wow!

I had Breakfast with my Beautiful friend Heather who lives here…

Her heart matches her face.
We spent time with Our Aunt Fran and Uncle Wayne. They took us to see the Sun set one night. It was beautiful.

With all of that beauty I was still so ready to get back to see the sweet faces that stayed behind. Distance really does make the heart grow fonder! But it was a nice break in the middle of a dreary spring.
Thanks Cindy for inviting me! I had a wonderful time.
Thanks Jason for encouraging me to go! You are selfless and generous!
Thank you God for granting me safe travels and for smiling your sunny face on me! ūüôā
Spring will come sometime.

I keep hoping today will be the day!

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Arise My Love….

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Happy Easter Friends!¬† It’s a new day….We have been given the resurrection power!!¬†
http://youtu.be/EMHyGh0RgCA

Seriously! That’s powerful stuff!

If God is for me…Why does it feel like he is against me?

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Have you ever asked God…”Why do you hate me?”

I have.

There have been times when I wondered if I had done something to make God really angry with me. Angry enough that he would make everything in my life miserable.

I mean we can talk all day long about his mercy and kindness and love….but sometimes it doesn’t feel like he loves us.

When 10 bad things happen all in row we may ask what we did to deserve such contempt. We wonder.

We might not even know that we’ve done anything at all but it sure feels like God is against us.

And we hear the preacher tell us nice things about God and read blogs and listen to people who tell us how good he is and we wonder why we aren’t experiencing God like that.

Maybe if we were better or had a godly title then he would be good to us too. Maybe everyone is just¬†fibing to us…if they would just be real they would admit that they too think God is fickle. He would like to pound us and if we aren’t careful that’s exactly what he will do.

But maybe it’s like this…I wonder if God is so for us that sometimes it feels like he is opposing us.

I tell my kids all the time…. I am for you! That’s why I’m asking this of you. I want you to be the best you can be so we need to take care of this issue. Sometimes it’s not even because they have done anything that needs correction. Sometimes we ask them to do something to help them grow in responsibility. Or we ask them to wait to stretch them in patience.¬† Maybe we don’t give them everything they ask for because we know it’s not good for them. It’s because we want them to be all they were called to be. We hope they will be responsible citizens of heaven and earth. We ask things of them to help them grow up.

It’s because he is for me….

Romans 8:31….If God is for us, who can be against us?

that sometimes I feel like he is against me.

¬†I Peter 4:5…God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.

Is He For me?

Yes.

Does that mean he doesn’t need to correct me?

Or that I don’t need to grow up?

No.

As long as I breathe on this planet I will need to grow. He is preparing me for another life. The life to come. And so while I should be making strides in the growing up direction I have not yet arrived.

So…I will need to have lessons all along the way.

And if I look at those lessons thinking God hates me  I will become hard and bitter.

God’s word will no longer mean anything to me…because his word is only for those he loves…and I am obviously not one.

I become a victim and victims always need someone to blame. So I turn away from the very one who could heal me and give me all I need.

In Judges after Joshua had led the children of Israel into their promised inheritance, the next generation grows up and forsakes the God of their fathers. Judges 2 says that the Lord’s hand was against his people. He had promised them that if they worshiped other gods he would be against them. Then it says…He raised up judges(or leaders) who saved them out of the hands of their enemies. And they still didn’t listen. Because God had compassion on them he continued to raise up leaders and the people refused to give up their ugly ways. So God finally decided to turn them over to other nations to test Israel and see if they would obey his commands.

God continued to fight for his people even when they refused to recognize him. He can’t seem to get their attention so he¬†measures out ¬†different methods of discipline.

He is for them.

If we are his he is for us!

Even when it doesn’t feel like it.

I would dare say my kids don’t always feel like I am for them. Especially after I have issued out¬†correction¬† to them.

But I love them like Crazy!

And if I, in my imperfect love, know what they need how can I ever doubt that the perfect love of the Father knows exactly what I need. He will go to great lengths to bring us back to himself.

I think maybe his opposition is the very thing that can bring me back.

It is the very thing that I need for growth and maturity.

It’s painful. And I’m not gonna say I love it.

But I need it.

He is for us!

Why can’t I hear you- Part 3

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If we have taken care of sin in the camp and we have been faithful to inquire of our Father but we still can’t hear….what should we do?

There are certainly times that we know our hearts are clean but the way ahead looks foggy and unclear. We have no certain direction for the future. We may only be able to see enough for today. And maybe that’s even a struggle. So we cry out… “show us the way”.¬† But God seems silent.

I wonder if the silence gives us the urgency to press in harder and be more vigilant about hearing him correctly. And sometimes God says wait I am not ready to move yet….so we stand at attention….Waiting.

Is waiting as hard for you as it is me?

O my goodness! When I’m waiting in line behind that person who forgot to bring the tag along with the item….or they have a question that requires the clerk to look through her flyer…and the light pops on for additional help and a phone call is made….and I wait….while others check out in the lanes beside me. It’s all I can do to stay calm without even one eye roll.(that may or may not be visible)

It all seems so trivial as I type because really what’s 30 extra minutes? But at the time it seems like 300 years….and it’s always stretching. I do think I am getting a little bit better at waiting. Sometimes I try to think of other things or distract myself with magazines or browsing the web on my phone. And that usually works but it’s when I’m trying to get out of that store to the next thing I have scheduled that makes me get a little crazy.

And so it is when I am waiting on God to open a door. When I have no agenda but simply to do what he has asked me to do and lay down what he asks me to lay down I am able to rest and smile in the middle of the wait. I can faithfully do the right thing.

Simply saying… “Okay God, I know you’re in control and if this isn’t moving as fast as I think it should….I know you have a different plan. If this is moving me in a completely different direction than I had dreamed….I see it as your hand and even though I don’t¬†understand it, I am moving with you. Bring me a new dream. ¬†And God, if this is the way you want to be glorified in me than no matter what you bring me I want you, more than my own agenda…even if it costs me my life.”

One of the many things I’m struck with is how God gives specific directions for each battle the Israelites faced. He didn’t tell them ahead of time what the next 30 years would look like. He gave them specifics for the day. The last chapters of Joshua God is silent. He allows the Israelites rest from battle. He brings them to a land, gives them their inheritance and lets them rest.
They had been reminded through a theophany (a physical manifestation of God) for years back in the desert. He had led them with a pillar of fire. He had spoken directly to their leader..Now God hasn’t been as visible to the Israelites, But that doesn’t mean he isn’t very involved with them. He is still right there with them.

Joshua exhorts the people in the final chapters… “Be very strong; be careful to obey all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses(their only Bible) without turning aside to the right or to the left. Do not associate with these nations that remain among you; do not invoke the names of their gods or swear by them.¬† You must not serve them or bow down to them. But you are to hold fast(or CLING) to the Lord your God, as you have until now.”23:6-8

God speaks to us through his Word. And God speaks to us through those who teach us His Truth.
Sometimes we are looking for a voice like we were sitting across the table from him. But most times God speaks to us through his Written Word and Through those who teach us his Word. 

Joshua was telling the people the Truth of the Word God had already spoken. God’s truth doesn’t change. Not from month to month, year to year or century to century. His truth remains the same. We can be sure we are following God if we are following his truth… “not turning aside to the right or to the left”.

I love what Joshua reminds them of…. “The Lord has driven out before you great and powerful nations; to this day no one has been able to withstand you. One of you routs a thousand because the Lord your God fights for you, just as he promised. So be very careful to love the Lord your God.” 23:9 -11

GOD FIGHTS FOR YOU! That is so powerful! God is fighting for his own. He may not be speaking in a loud physical voice but if you are walking in his paths and loving him¬†with your heart and soul…¬†he is Fighting for you! Doesn’t that give you confidence?! He is with you!

Joshua finally says my very favorite part of the passage…this is So good!

He says “Now I am about to go the way of the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord you God gave has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed. But….just as every good promise of the Lord your God has come true, so the Lord will bring on you all the evil he has threatened, until he has destroyed you from this good¬†land he has given you. if you violate the covenant¬†of the Lord your God, which he commanded you, and go and serve other gods and bow down to them, the¬†Lord’s anger¬†will burn against you, and you will quickly perish from the good land he has given you.” Joshua 23:14-15

Joshua was reminding them of the faithfulness of God…He has fulfilled EVERY promise!! And then he’s encouraging them “don’t be unfaithful to God”. God is Justice and he will bring about your sure destruction.

That’s the healthy fear of God that we need to embrace. He will be faithful when we love and obey¬†him but he will withdraw his¬†blessing if we turn away from him.

God is still faithful to us today. He loves us and fights for us. He is Mighty to save his people!

My encouragement for you today is this… To hear God’s voice go to his Word. Seek him. Ask him to speak his revealed word to you. What is he saying? Check it with people you trust who also seek God’s face.
He may just say walk faithfully in my commands…just keep doing what you’re doing. Don’t turn away from me. Stay close, in fact, Cling to me. I will show you the way for today.
Sometimes he says, “Today is the day. I will do something new. Hang on to me…this ride is gonna be bumpy.”
And Other times he simply says…”Take your inheritance. Rest in the land I have brought you to. Be faithful to me in the land…Don’t forget me. I will not forget you.”

Father, You are a good and gracious God. You have faithfully led us never forgetting your promises! May we love you more and more each day. Give us a Love for your law. Give us a love for obedience. May we have clear hearing and unveiled eyes to be willing to walk into a new thing if you call us to that. We are your humble servants. We love you and want you near. Thank you for teaching us your ways!
Open our eyes to be fully seeing. Open our ears to hear your voice! We will move when we hear you speak. We wait for you.

Why Can’t I hear you? Part 2

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So Achan’s sin had been dealt with. The cleansing God required of his people¬†is quite radical in our minds. A stoning of an entire family! That was how justice was brought about under the law of Moses.¬† While we don’t advocate this any longer¬†since the shedding of blood has taken care of our sin once and¬† for all by Jesus Christ, we do get a picture of how serious God views sin.¬†

God gives us grace so we will have the freedom to obey.  It is not the freedom to do as we please.

Speaking to sin can be intimidating. I believe scripture gives us at least two reasons we must call it out. But we must be merciful as God has been with us.

 1. If the individual claims to be a believer.

 And

2. If the believer is non repentant.

1 Corinthians 5:12
It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning.

¬†Sometimes we don’t like to call someone else to accountability¬† because then we will have to clean up our own lives… and well, that would be painful. So you sin, I sin, we call it a truce. We slap each other on the back and live in our filth and wonder why our lives lack power and our ears cannot hear God. Sometimes we think if we are confessing it that’s enough. I may go to my friends and confess the same “struggle” week after week, month after month, year after year….but I can’t seem to rid my tent of the sin. Is that enough? If Achan had come and confessed but the sin wasn’t removed was that enough? No. I think sometimes we can make confessions without¬†the Godly sorrow that leads us to true¬†repentance. True repentance is¬†the place¬†we recognize the sin we have buried is costly to our soul and our community…whatever that may be.
We live under grace… but it’s not so we can go on sinning. It’s so we can be freed from the captivity of sin.

Grace combined with the Fear of God helps me to realize my master sees all and he will hold me accountable for my actions. This gives me freedom but keeps me from going my own way…to my own destruction.

When someone has repented, we forgive as we have received forgiveness. When we need repentance for our attitudes and actions we humbly Confess our sin and turn away from it.

The second reason we can’t hear from God is found In Joshua Chapter 9.

So the Israelites have found out why God had removed his blessing. They had taken care of that issue and¬†were pressing¬†on. They were headed to Gibeon. Now the people of Gibeon found out¬†they were headed their way¬†and¬† they were S.C.A.R.E.D! So they dressed some men up to look like they had traveled from miles away. They brought moldy, stale bread. Worn out sacks and old wine skins. They came to trick the Israelites into signing a treaty with them. They said….”We have come from a very distant country because of the fame of the Lord your God.” Joshua 9:9

They proceeded to lie and tell the elders how far they had come and how everything was fresh when they had left home. Joshua 9:14 is the key to our second point…”The men of Israel sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the Lord“.

They didn’t even bother to ask! You’d think after the travesty¬†of losing 36 men and their reputation in the land that they would have¬†wised up. God wanted to direct them. They just forgot to ask which direction to take.

So they sign a peace treaty with these guys who live just miles away from their camp.

How often do I forget to ask directions? I mean really inquire of the Lord. I may throw a prayer up here and there….but ernestly seek the face of God. Pour through the scriptures and spend time silent in his presence as he speaks to me.

 What am I afraid of? Am I too busy? Do I have more important matters to attend to? What keeps us from inquiring?

Do I taste the provisions and in my own wisdom it seems okay to proceed but I completely forget to ask my all-wise and knowing Father for his Direction? 

And so I make a decision based on human reasoning lacking the wisdom that comes from above.

If I inquire seriously of God and he gives me a freedom¬† in my heart knowing that¬†no matter how this turns out he is with me.¬† A clear understanding that I have heard from him. It’s a joy in the middle of trials. Or a peace of mind in the midst of a tough circumstance. It’s clear thinking and sound rest even in the middle of the storm.

Because just as God promised his people long ago…He will not leave us. He will not forsake us.

After numerous battles up until the end of chapter 11 Joshua directed by God was successful in wiping out the enemy. Foe after foe was defeated. God was mighty and powerful and his name was made famous through his servants. But it wasn’t until they learned some valuable lessons of obedience and trust.

Joshua 11:23 (New King James Version)

23 So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the LORD had said to Moses; and Joshua gave it as an inheritance to Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. Then the land rested from war.

An inheritance.¬† It’s¬†right there for us. He is waiting for us to Trust and Obey and walk into the battle with him leading the way. The battle may look different for¬†us¬†then it did for Joshua but we are in a battle every day. Until we receive the final inheritance we must be listening with both ears. Our hearts wide open¬†for full examination. We must have feet¬†quick to act when he moves us.¬†

It’s not always easy…But it will bring about the results we desperately want.

Lord,

Today we seek your face. May we be as Joshua was, on our faces inquiring of you. Give us wisdom that only comes from your hand. We are desperate for your voice. Your touch. Your movement. May you receive all the fame and glory for what you are about to do in and through your servants!

I adore you God of the Jews and now the Savior of Mankind!

Tomorrow I will continue with this topic….Why Can’t I hear you.

Why can’t I hear you? – Part 1

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I am doing something a little different the next 3 days…I will be writing a 3 part blog on this subject. I hope Spring Break has been relaxing for you no matter where you are.

Do you ever wonder if you have a terminal wax build up in your ears?

Like maybe if you could get some help for that you would be able to hear your father’s voice more clearly?

Do you ever wonder why God speaks so clearly to some people and yet you struggle to hear from him?

I think we can all identify a time in our life that God seemed far away. And if he could just drop us a direct line from the clouds we would be able to grab hold of that and Know  we have heard correctly.

I have been reading¬† out¬† of Joshua,the past few weeks.¬† Joshua comes right after the Torah,¬† The law. The first 5 books of the old testament. Joshua was a mighty¬†warrior . God ¬†tells¬†Joshua he should be courageous and strong…¬†he is¬†his Father¬† and he will never leave him.¬† And then God raises up that would be warrior and has him¬† lead those people across the Jordan¬†River. God rolled back the waters and the people passed over to take the land that had been promised to their parents. Up to this point they had been living in the desert eating Manna that was provided to them every day. They literally lived hand to mouth. They only knew complete dependence on God for their daily bread.

So they cross the Jordan, and take Jericho with a mighty victory. You can imagine by now they are confident that God is with them. He has been mighty to save on their behalf. But God gave them strict orders after their march on the city. He instructed them not to take any plunder for themselves but only bring back goods for the treasury offered to God.

One man secretly and greedily decided his desires were more important than God’s command. And so, Achan brought back some gold, silver¬† and a beautiful robe,and hid it under his tent. (Remember this man had been living in the desert all his life. His¬†clothing was tattered. He had nothing to offer his family and here was his chance….can you identify¬† with the temptation of the lust of the eyes? And the pride of life? The greed to take what doesn’t belong to you? Even if God has forbidden it?)

 The Israelites believed they could conquer the entire land because God had been giving them the victory. They trusted that he was with them. So they pressed on to the next town. The men went forth to fight and 36 Israelites were slain through an ambush from men from the city of Ai.

¬†I’m sure many wondered if God had left them. Why wasn’t he acting on their behalf? What was it that they had done to deserve this? And as¬†their leader Joshua was devestated so he ¬†inquired of the Lord. God told Joshua, “there is sin in the camp”. So after figuring out who had sinned, Joshua had Achan bring the stolen goods¬†to him. The Israelites ¬†took Achan and his whole family outside the camp and¬†stoned them.

One man looking out for his own interest affected the entire Israelite camp. One man who decided he knew better than God, caused 36 innocent men to perish. One person who was driven by his own lust brought rebuke on his people.  One  made it difficult for the rest to hear from God. One individual brought shame on the name of God.
After Joshua and the other elders of Israel spent the day on their faces (literally)before God he answered them this.

Joshua 7 -NLT

10 But the Lord said to Joshua, “Get up! Why are you lying on your face like this? 11 Israel has sinned and broken my covenant! They have stolen some of the things that I commanded must be set apart for me. And they have not only stolen them but have lied about it and hidden the things among their own belongings. 12 That is why the Israelites are running from their enemies in defeat. For now Israel itself has been set apart for destruction. I will not remain with you any longer unless you destroy the things among you that were set apart for destruction.

13 “Get up! Command the people to purify themselves in preparation for tomorrow. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Hidden among you, O Israel, are things set apart for the Lord. You will never defeat your enemies until you remove these things from among you.

God had promised to always be with them. He encouraged them calling their leader a mighty warrior and now he’s saying I won’t be with you if you let this sin go unpunished. Not that¬†God had been¬†unfaithful to them. They had been unfaithful to him. In fact 1 had been unfaithful.

Could it be that our lack of hearing God is because of sin that isn’t taken care of in our camps?

What does that mean? Sin can come in all sorts of packages. And we may have trouble recognizing it because of the narratives we have been raised with or a sin that seems common to man.¬† Perhaps we have tried but we just can’t seem to knock it. So we bury it deeper under our tent hoping no one will notice. In fact we may even have trouble calling it sin any longer. ….And…. we continue to struggle with hearing God’s voice…. And…. sometimes it affects innocent people like the rest of Achan’s family….. And…. others around us.

In Joshua 22:20The Israelites remind the tribes¬†of this…Do you remember When Achan son of Zerah acted unfaithfully regarding the devoted things, did not wrath come upon the whole Community of Israel? He was not the only one who died for his sin.

When we sin it affects more then just ourselves.

Maybe Our lack of hearing is coming from something buried much deeper than we can see. Maybe we need to ask God to show us what he wants to uncover in us. And then we must be willling to rid our tents(bodies) of it.

Is there sin in this tent Father? Is there something you want to uncover? Clean it out. Rid me of my disobedience. I want to hear from you more than I want this stuff. Bring your cleansing fire to burn up sin and prepare this heart to hear from you.

Part 2 will talk of a second reason we may have trouble hearing God…

Rags to Riches

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I have been reading through Joshua. I had read the novella by Francine Rivers on Rahab which sparked my interest again to read the story from the Bible.

It is something! How God chose to redeem Rahab, a harlot.

He pulled her out of Jericho, grafted her into his chosen people,and then¬†of all things, positioned her into the ancestral line for his own¬†perfect son to come through. It’s astonishing!

Rahab is really no different then I am. Her sin no greater. Her suitcase of baggage just had a different label. My brand  may have covered it better but I had ugly sin in my heart just as she did. And without someone to save me from myself I would have died in my sins as the walls crumbled in around me.

Rags to Riches…. That’s what it is. A story of a slave¬†to sin who became an heir to the birthright of promise.

Is that your story?

Did you ever think of this?

If you have been¬†adopted into God’s family that’s what it is.

Just like the 2 men who came into the city saved Rahab from¬†impending death…¬†Jesus came for us. He came while we were still entrenched in our sin. While our eyes were blinded by our Jericho. He came in and rescued us.¬† Long before¬†time ¬†began he wrote his name on each¬†of our hearts.

Ephesians 1 (ESV)

3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. 4 Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. 5 God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. 6 So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son.[b] 7 He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. 8 He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.

Adopted in.

No longer are we on the edge of the camp looking in. We are heirs to the throne.

Seriously! Does that make your heart skip? He didn’t have to do that! He didn’t have to save us! But in his Kindness and Mercy he did.

We all our people with a past. But God chose us to be people with a bright hope and a future.

Today I’m giddy about that!

He’s turned the story into a song. My heart sings back to him this praise today!