Thursday, November 6, 2008

It's like Butta'

"Butter at the Ready"

1Pe 3:15
But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,

A recent prayer of my heart has been to learn how to witness for Christ in the very best way. I am learning so much about Him through studying His Word, learning that we are to share Him with everyone, that I desire to do this and do this well. But, how do I open up and just start talking about spiritual things in a physically focused world? I've tried several times and failed. I've kept my mouth shut and failed. I've prayed this in my heart for both those I am in contact with often and for those with whom I only have a single fleeting moment. Each one, each moment and person, orchestrated by God himself. There are no coincidences. All are divine appointments. So, how am I to handle what I know to be true about God?

This question was at the forefront of my heart and mind when my father came to visit us for the weekend. I had just pulled a steaming hot loaf of banana bread from the oven, a loaf I had made with him in mind. While I pulled out the dense loaf and set it on the cooling rack, my heart echoed this prayer, "How do I share you, Lord?" and the Lord brought something to mind, just for me, just for that time.

Knowing God, nothing is wasted, and it is eternally applicable to any believer's life, so I must share this little lesson that I myself so desperately needed to see. Let me give you a little background...

I have a wonderful homeschooling friend, and more importantly, sister in Christ, who encourages me to bake yummy homemade offerings for my children and husband at least weekly if not, I'm sure she would say, daily. She is an avid baker and does so with ease and enjoyment. I on the other hand, am just newly accustomed to baking things that come out of a box, let alone things that I have to make from flour that comes from a bag! :-)

Along with her baking routine, came another peculiar habit that I was even more unfamiliar with. She keeps her butter on her counter at all times. Now, living in Southeast Florida, I admit that when I first became aware of this practice, I found it rather odd and a little 'old-country' for my tastes, although I admit that I could see the usefulness of having butter on the ready for spreading when one baked as often as she did. I on the other hand, was not in the habit of baking. After all I reasoned, all things baked are far too fattening to be made with regularity, or so I (wrongly) thought at the time. I must admit that as I grew into the wonderfully enjoyable habit of baking with some modest regularity (bi-weekly), it became an obvious benefit to leave my butter out on the counter. Butter left out on the counter in its special container is soft and supple, ready to befit anything that might be enhanced by even the slightest smear of butter. "Butter at the ready", I now call it.

Well, as I was doing my Bible Study for the week and learning about Jesus and how he approached people speaking truth to them with all kindness and gentleness, my attention was drawn to my 'butter at the ready'. Inside its container, the butter was soft and warm, pliable and yielding, ready to be smeared on whatever it might be fit to grace. It was not cold or hard or uninviting, nor were it's corners and edges sharp, but soft and curved with the recent swipes of a butter knife. I pondered my container of butter displayed on my counter and felt a familiarity, it was a picture of my heart. Like this butter, my heart was now yielding, warmed by learning of my Creator's love for me and for even the whole world. No longer was my heart cold and hard, tucked away and not ready for immediate use, unfriendly and unyielding. Now, as it were, it was out, warm, and simply ready, available for use. Its very presence inviting and suggesting of enjoyment. Why? All because of the warmth of Jesus' love.

This scenario didn't come together until my father took a thick piece of freshly baked banana bread in his hand and rather than taking a bite, paused and asked me where my butter was. "Oh man," he said, "This is going to be good! Where's your butter??" "What?" I replied, "That's freshly baked banana bread dad, it's practically cake! You don't need any butter on that." Clearly I jokingly took it as an insult at the time, but quietly, warmly, the Lord whispered, "Give him what he's asked for...". All things come from God. Nothing is wasted or irrelevant. I handed my father a butter knife and pointed to the soft butter in the container on the counter. For the first time, I was wonderfully grateful to have it 'at the ready'. "Oh man, this is perfect!" my dad said, as he spread the soft butter all over his sweet, warm bread. It was already melting into the bread as he finally took his first big bite. He enjoyed his bread immensely. More than he would have without the butter. And as I watched I remembered that the Lord said, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty." Jhn 6:35. Jesus is the bread of life. I am to keep my heart as the butter 'at the ready'.

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

Jhn 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Rom 10:17
So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Jesus was always gracious in his dealings with people. He always spoke spiritual truths, parables, parallel stories and examples of our physical world that exemplified spiritual truth. Some understood, but many did not. But this didn't stop Jesus from speaking the truth in love. God is spirit. His truth is spiritually discerned, but Jesus, in His witness of who God is and how great His love is for us, persisted in speaking the truth to us, even when we couldn't understand it. But what made it palatable? What made it desirable, drawing us in to learn more of Him? His grace and God's love. It is by grace that we are saved. We love Him because He first loved us. It is the love of our Savior that melts our hearts. It is His love that makes the truth delicious, a delicacy to be adored in one's heart. There is nothing sweeter than pure truth, the Word of God. But those who do not yet know God, nor understand His word must be drawn to Him, with love.

1Jo 3:18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

We are to love people with truth. God's Word is truth. Only God's Word can change the lives of men. Therefore, it is His Word that we must share. His Word is not only truth, but full of grace. My heart is melted by His grace and truth, by the presence of the Holy Spirit within me. It is my warmed heart, soft and malleable, that responds to His promptings to live out His truth, to give Him all glory and honor and praise. It is our testimony, how we manifest and express what is in our hearts, that butters the truth, God's Bread of Life. How we live our lives should make others hunger to know where our joy comes from. Our personal story of His goodness in our lives, of the warmth and sweetness of His presence and gentle guiding, makes the truth of His new life more palatable, more desirable, more delicious.

It is His love, the evidence of Him in our life, that we have to butter the Bread of Life as we offer it to others when they ask what it is that we have that is so delightful. "Here, may I offer you a piece of freshly baked bread? Would you like some butter with that?" It's delicious! :-) This should be our ready response. God is so good. We are to bring Him glory and share His goodness with others, in truth and love, just as Jesus did. There is no other source of genuine love or truth than God. God is love. He alone has love to give, true love. And He alone has truth to give. We are benefactors of knowing and melting in this love, of growing in this truth. It is our blessing to spread our thanksgiving and adoration upon God's truth as we share with others what He has done for us. It can't get more real, and it couldn't be more delicious. It's like butta'. My heart is butter for You, Lord. :-) Use me.

1Pe 3:15 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,

Lord, thank you for using my life to teach me Your ways. May I appropriately share these little life lessons, that others may also learn and enjoy what You have shown me. May we all remember that You are the Bread of Life, Jesus, and recall that it is our gracious honor to be soft as butter for You, as we offer Your truth and grace to others that they might "taste and see that the Lord is good" - Psalm 34:8.

Jesus, may all glory and honor and power be yours, my Bread of Life. Amen.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Other Shoe

"Waiting for the other shoe to drop." We've all heard this expression. It is used to say that we know that when one thing happens, it's paired with something else, so we are expecting the second thing because of the first.

Last year, we studied the book of James. James was Jesus' half brother, the son of Mary and Joseph. James didn't believe Jesus was who He said He was until James saw his brother risen from the dead. Then James went on to spend the rest of his life encouraging other believers in the truth. He ultimately gave his life for the truth of salvation through Jesus Christ. This fact makes the book of James all the more poignant and meaningful to me, because it was written by a man who grew up with Jesus, in his own house, who came to thoroughly understand the truth once it was revealed to him. What a rich experience that must have been! James made it his life to further the salvation that Jesus died for, that all might know the grace that is available through the sacrifice of Christ. James lived a life of obedience and sacrifice to further God's truth because of his faith. He knew it was true. It was worth dying for.

But this post is about shoes... isn't it?

We were studying in the book of James how true faith is expressed in actions. What you believe, you do. If you want to know where your beliefs are, look at what you do. What you do reveals what you believe. Ultimately, true faith acts:

Jam 1:22

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

Jam 1:23

Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror

Jam 1:24

and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.

Jam 1:25

But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it–he will be blessed in what he does.

I was thinking on these things throughout my day a few months ago, when I found myself distracted in the grocery store with three young children. Sama was in the grocery cart. Dylan was pushing Jacob in the umbrella stroller. With budgets, menus, choices, children's behavior and time all on my mind, I didn't notice Jacob taking off his flip-flop in the produce department. Further down the isle we were stopped when a little old lady said, "Excuse me, ma'am, but your son dropped his shoe." "Oh! Thank you!" I said, relieved to have it back. As I turned and knelt down in front of Jacob to put his shoe back on, I said to him, "Jacob, you don't want to lose a shoe. What good is just one shoe? We might as well throw away your other shoe because without them both, you don't have any shoes!" Well, you should have heard the gravity with which that statement hit my heart. "Just as faith is worthless without action, you must have both to be effective in this world. To have effective faith, you must obey my Word." Oh my, suddenly it was so clear, just how useless is that one shoe!

Well, now its about 9 months to a year later, and I'm still learning this lesson. And God is still using shoes to demonstrate it in my life. Last week I had a run-in with Sam's shoes and Jacob's shoes in the same day. I bought Sam a new pair of shoes and didn't come home from the store with them. When I realized we'd left them, we immediately went back to the store, sans naptime. Well long story short, we did finally find the shoes I paid for, thankfully. At this point, with everyone up, I had to go to the local grocery store to get the things that the first store didn't have, so on we went to the next store. When we got there, I realized Sam didn't have on any shoes! So on went the new shoes from the previous store. After picking up the last few things at the second store, we unloaded into the van with a one-shoed Jacob. I knew he had taken off his shoe in the cart. I made a mental note to retrieve it and promptly left without it! Once home, with a one-shoed Jacob, back to the second store I went again to get his flop out of the cart in the parking lot. And, thankfully, there it was! I found myself asking again, "What good is just one shoe??" I can tell you. It's no good. Now, Dylan's newest flip-flops are down a shoe. Just one lies in the middle of the dining room floor, very lonely and very useless. Just like my faith, if I don't learn, desire, to obey all that I have been revealed from studying God's holy Word.

Dylan hasn't worn that one shoe out of the house in weeks. He can't find the other one. Every once in a while he'll go around the house with that lone shoe on his foot, limping about. What use is just one shoe? What use is it to say you have faith, but have no deeds or any actions that show others and even yourself, that you believe in the Living God?? What good is it to tell everyone about who Jesus is, which is true, but then go on to act like you don't believe it, which makes it seem untrue. Actions speak louder than words. You have to have the shoe of faith to have effective actions, but without the shoe of actions, your shoe of faith has no pair, no mate that makes it worthwhile or effective to you or anyone else. And isn't that what faith is all about? Something that effects your life and how you live it. Not just talking the talk, but more importantly, walking the walk. Funny how God used shoes to illustrate this lesson...!

Jam 1:26

If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.

Jam 1:27

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Words versus actions. Actions, obedience to God's Word, they are the evidence of a true faith. They are what affects others for Christ.

I pray we find Dylan's missing shoe. I pray that I apply this lesson to my own life and never step out without both the shoe of faith, and the shoe of obedience. If you truly believe it, you will act accordingly, especially before expecting anyone else to take your word for it. I must remember this.

You wouldn't go into battle with just one shoe on, would you? It's not safe! Your steps would not be sure. You wouldn't try to run a race with just one shoe? You won't get very far. And it would hurt! Yet we are called to do both in this new life, to fight the good fight and run the race with endurance. For these, we need both of our shoes. Faith and Obedience.

Help me, Lord, to love and teach my children with both shoes on, the effective pair of faith and obedience. May the next step I take be done in faithful obedience and love for You and Your Word. May I be inspired by the life of James, the brother and willing bond-servant of Jesus Christ.

I'm looking forward to that other shoe dropping, the shoe of action and obedience. After all, what is the next step for a faithful child studying the Word of the Living God? :-)

Thank You, Jesus for Your Word. Your Word is truth.

I love and adoration, Amen.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Bread Enough to Feast On

Today's lessons... God-given, in perfect, child-sized bites:

Today my children and I talked of David and Goliath and my heart cried...
Lord, make me like David.
May I not only faithfully step out on the battlefield, but even after I know my foe is defeated, may I also cut off the head of my enemy, declaring to all that I am not longer under the oppression of such an aggressor. May I be dedicated to public victory!

1Sa 17:23

As he was talking with them, Goliath, the Philistine champion from Gath, stepped out from his lines and shouted his usual defiance, and David heard it.

1Sa 17:45

David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.

1Sa 17:46

This day the Lord will hand you over to me, and I'll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel.

1Sa 17:47

All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord's, and he will give all of you into our hands.”

1Sa 17:48

As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him.

1Sa 17:50

So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.

1Sa 17:51

David ran and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine's sword and drew it from the scabbard. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword.

When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned and ran.

We talked of Zacchaeus and my heart cried...
Lord, make me like Zacchaeus.
May I know my limitations and do what ever it takes to get above my obstacles and make every effort to see you and not miss You. When you call my name, may I also respond like Zacchaeus, repentant and eager to just be right with you above all else.

Luk 19:1

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through.

Luk 19:2

A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy.

Luk 19:3

He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd.

Luk 19:4

So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore‑fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

Luk 19:5

When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”

Luk 19:6

So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

Luk 19:7

All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a ‘sinner.’ ”

Luk 19:8

But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”

Luk 19:9

Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.

Luk 19:10

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”

We talked of the parents bringing their children to Jesus and my heart cried...
May I be so bold as to bring my children to sit on your lap despite what others may say.

Mat 19:13

Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them.

Mat 19:14

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

Mat 19:15

When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.

We talked of football and watched highlights on TV and my heart cried...
Lord, make me like a flag-bearing cheerleader.
May I run into the stadium of life, jubilant and smiling, giving all my effort to exult You, holding your banner up high that Your Name might be displayed with joy and glory.

Exd 17:11

As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning.

Exd 17:12

When Moses' hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset.

Exd 17:13

So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.

Exd 17:14

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.”

Exd 17:15

Moses built an altar and called it The Lord is my Banner.

Exd 17:16

He said, “For hands were lifted up to the throne of the Lord. The Lord will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation.”

Isa 49:22 This is what the Sovereign Lord says: "See, I will beckon to the Gentiles, I will lift up my banner to the peoples; they will bring your sons in their arms and carry your daughters on their shoulders.

Lord, thank You for little lessons that carry me through my day. Each of these lessons, though discussed individually and in unrelated ways, teaches and emphasizes what I long to have in my life. May I be determined and dedicated to You alone, just as Your Word teaches us that David, Zacchaeus, the Godly parents, and Moses were dedicated and determined to follow and live for You alone. Write these qualities on my heart and on the hearts of my children, make them the method of my walk. Thank You, Father. You, and Your Word, are so good. May You be exalted.

With Love, Amen.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Play with your kids throughout the day,
I find you get more done that way. ~ c.s.

That I may fulfill this little snippet I came up with one day,
Lord, hear my prayer:

Lord, let me be a child,
with my children.
Let me play and enjoy,
marvel and wonder,
stop and examine,
listen and learn,
turn and repent,
cry and be comforted,
guided gently by
Your hand along the way.

May I learn to be a child
while my children are still children.
That we may grow together
in the knowledge of You.

May we be joined in this life
through mutual experiences
of Your grace and love,
with great thanksgiving.
For these are the seeds
I wish to sow in the fertile ground
of these youthful hearts.

Make me a little child Lord,
that I may be Yours.
Change me daily, fill me with joy,
with ears to hear and eyes to see
that I may guide those that follow me.
And in your shadow may we rest,
for only there are we safely blessed.

Make me a child Lord,
only Yours.
Embracing Your teaching
upward, higher, ever-reaching.
Needing, wanting, You provide.
Lord, may I leave behind my pride.
Childlike, lowly, much to learn,
fill me Lord, with Your fire to burn.
Lower, lower, higher still
with Your presence, all of me fill.

Make me a child, Lord
innocent and sweet
for all of my desires
You promise to meet.
Nothing have I meaningful to teach
save Your ever-loving hand to reach.
Guide us, carry us, train us still
so that our purposes me may fulfill.

May I be a child Lord,
a little girl with laughter,
may I know the freedom of
a daughter of The King.
Teach me to be just like You
for All in all, my Dad is able.
Bring us to Your wedding table.

Crayons, blocks, books and markers,
may they make us ever sharper,
keener still to look for Thee
for with Your glory we will be.

Let me be a child Lord,
resting in Your arms,
fully dependent and delightfully stable.
Father guide us, as You are able.

Luk 2:40 And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.

Luk 9:47 Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him.

Luk 9:48 Then he said to them, "Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you all-he is the greatest."

Luk 18:17 I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it."

My I grow with my children in wisdom, and may the grace of God be upon us. Thank You, Father. It's good to know You.

Help me to remember what it's like to look up to the counter-top.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Sunrise Skinny Dip

I had the privilege to rise early and walk the beach while on family vacation. I was supposed to go with a friend, but found myself walking with the Lord instead. What started out as lonely became intimate; one on one time with God. I walked and walked, led on by praise and worship music. On that almost deserted beach, I sang out loud and praised the Creator of this most majestic beginning of days. The sun slowly rose over the ocean and I sang and walked basking in the glory of the sunrise. Guided by the music, I loved Him and lifted my hands towards heaven, becoming refreshed and closer to Him with every step. I prayed over those who passed me and watched in wonder as the houses that stood as sentries to this new day glowed, seemingly from within, with the brilliance of the sun's rising. With fiery red and pink and glowing gold, they shown with the glory of the Lord, reflecting what they were simply witness to.

The Lord showed me that I, too, am such a witness. Simply a house on the hill overlooking the vast expanse of ocean, watching, waiting, for the Son's rise. Able only to reflect what is shone upon me and lighted gloriously from within by all that is radiated from the rising of this new dawn. His mercies are new every morning, and we are the temples of the Living God. Houses on the beach, the place where land and water meet like the temporariness of this life and the ongoing expanse of eternity. It is on this ridge, this place of interaction and relationship, that we stand as witnesses to His great new mercies. Lord, may we reflect your Glory with unmasked brilliance and see ourselves as simple as transparent glass.

Onward I walked until it was time to turn around and retrace my steps. Walking now, back toward my family and loved ones, towards interactions with the world and those in it. Returning with the brightness of the sunrise reflecting in my heart. I praised Him and prayed that He would go with me. Lord, give me new eyes, holy words and thoughts. Back I walk, wishing I could only walk towards Him and not have to return. Return I must, but thankfully I go with a heart filled with the joy of praising Him with both heart and voice. Something remains, lingers in my heart, though. Something, a lesson, is missing... what is it...?

I walk back, encountering more people as the morning matures. A couple that passed me in the other direction earlier is long ahead of me. I see them now, in the water, frolicking with reckless abandon. They are giddy with refreshment and free in their play. They are enjoying a morning swim curiously more than normal. The man rises up and dives into the water exposing his nakedness. Startled, I look away and laugh! How childlike and exuberant. How funny and free! Eyes averted, I look down the beach and notice a pile of what looks like, rags. Here's my lesson, THANK YOU, LORD! They've left their clothes behind.

I leave, on this beach, with this new dawn, my own filthy rags of deeds and self. I bathe instead in Your glory and righteousness, Lord. May I walk onward, towards those you have placed in my life. Returning freshly washed, bathed in joy and praise and intimacy with the Creator. The author of this day and of each of us. Our stories written like waves on the shore. Tide lines, marked and remarked with each new day. Lord, may I sparkle with droplets of saltwater. May I be decidedly different after spending time with You, Father. May I leave my filthy rags on the beach and return renewed and refreshed, clothed in righteousness! What a skinny dip! And how fun.
Eph 4:22

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;

Eph 4:23

to be made new in the attitude of your minds;

Eph 4:24

and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Jam 1:21 So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the message God has planted in your hearts, for it is strong enough to save your souls.

May we each remember to daily skinny dip in the pleasure of Your presence Lord. May we come naked, laying aside all that may come between our communion so that nothing may separate us. And may we return refreshed with the taste of saltwater dripping from our lips, in our hair, running down our bodies, and with sand freshly between our toes. May there be no part of us that is not touched by You. For it is not in our own understanding, but in Your power, for Your glory, that we are transformed into Your image. Thank you, Jesus.

With all the love You have given me today and everyday, Amen.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Isaiah 53

Isa 53:1 Who has believed our message? To whom will the Lord reveal his saving power?
Isa 53:2 My servant grew up in the Lord's presence like a tender green shoot, sprouting from a root in dry and sterile ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him.
Isa 53:3 He was despised and rejected-a man of sorrows, acquainted with bitterest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way when he went by. He was despised, and we did not care.
Isa 53:4 Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows[fn1] that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God for his own sins!
Isa 53:5 But he was wounded and crushed for our sins. He was beaten that we might have peace. He was whipped, and we were healed!
Isa 53:6 All of us have strayed away like sheep. We have left God's paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the guilt and sins of us all.
Isa 53:7 He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth.
Isa 53:8 From prison and trial they led him away to his death. But who among the people realized that he was dying for their sins-that he was suffering their punishment?
Isa 53:9 He had done no wrong, and he never deceived anyone. But he was buried like a criminal; he was put in a rich man's grave.
Isa 53:10 But it was the Lord's good plan to crush him and fill him with grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have a multitude of children, many heirs. He will enjoy a long life, and the Lord's plan will prosper in his hands.
Isa 53:11 When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of what he has experienced, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins.
Isa 53:12 I will give him the honors of one who is mighty and great, because he exposed himself to death. He was counted among those who were sinners. He bore the sins of many and interceded for sinners.
Or Yet it was our sicknesses he carried; it was our diseases.

This prophecy was written long before Christ was born, and yet He fulfilled it completely. Read these words about Christ and know Him better.

This is just one way that the Lord shows Himself true and faithful. I am refreshed by His power and faithfulness today. Refreshed by reading His word and knowing it has been fulfilled and that it will be fulfilled in my life, too.

Thank You for Your Word, Lord. Thank You that we may know You better.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

New Mercies

Repeatedly I am convicted by my oft-repeated sins and defeated by my in-ability to live a sinless life in my own strength. But God is so good. Through all that I may encounter, He calls to me. Reminding me that salvation and freedom from sin can be found in Him. He is my Righteousness.

These verses ring true to my heart. They are verses that the Lord has lead me to over and over. Words that I needed to be reminded of again, today.

Lamentations 3:19-42

19 I remember my affliction and my wandering,

the bitterness and the gall.

20 I well remember them,

and my soul is downcast within me.

21 Yet this I call to mind

and therefore I have hope:

22 Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed,

for his compassions never fail.

23 They are new every morning;

great is your faithfulness.

24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;

therefore I will wait for him.”

25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,

to the one who seeks him;

26 it is good to wait quietly

for the salvation of the Lord.

27 It is good for a man to bear the yoke

while he is young.

28 Let him sit alone in silence,

for the Lord has laid it on him.

29 Let him bury his face in the dust—

there may yet be hope.

30 Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him,

and let him be filled with disgrace.

31 For men are not cast off

by the Lord forever.

32 Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,

so great is his unfailing love.

33 For he does not willingly bring affliction

or grief to the children of men.

34 To crush underfoot

all prisoners in the land,

35 to deny a man his rights

before the Most High,

36 to deprive a man of justice—

would not the Lord see such things?

37 Who can speak and have it happen

if the Lord has not decreed it?

38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High

that both calamities and good things come?

39 Why should any living man complain

when punished for his sins?

40 Let us examine our ways and test them,

and let us return to the Lord.

41 Let us lift up our hearts and our hands

to God in heaven, and say:

42 “We have sinned and rebelled

and you have not forgiven....

He has not forgiven only because we have not asked for forgiveness. May we examine our ways and humble ourselves before Him and cling to the hope and knowledge of His unfailing love.

1Jo 1:9

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

1Jo 1:10

If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.

God's mercies are new every morning. Why should any living man complain when punished for his sins? As long as I am alive on this earth, I have hope for God's forgiveness. May I not tarry to seek His face.

This life is not about lamenting mistakes. It is all about learning from them.

He knows me better than I know myself, and He loves me.

Just as much as He loves you.

Thank You, Jesus.

In all appreciation, Amen.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Perfected Imperfection

Thunder shakes the windows. Heavy rain drips from the eaves.

I think back and remember.

In an airport book store, two women talking. We were standing in the 'Religious' book section. I was hoping for some truth to read, praying for guidance. And I heard:

"You know, they say it wasn't a 'perfect' resurrection, because He still had scars...."


It took me two years to digest that whispered comment overheard from two believers, or, non-believers. I have to think it was the latter. Who could consider the resurrection of Jesus imperfect and think themselves truly remade?

Scars. Places of healed flesh ruined in this life. Perceived Imperfection. From the world's perspective, what the Lord has done is imperfect.

But there is true beauty in those scars. Perfected Imperfection. For only love can give one's self wholly. Only love can put another above one's self.

I am refreshed by His scars and for the first time, I see them on the backs of His hands. The nails went all the way through. That's something that took a while to digest.

I am coming to know the extent of His love and provision. It's like rain.

Rain. Falling heavily, washing away the filth in the air. Bringing refreshment and life. What would this world be like without rain? Yet it too could be considered "imperfect".

The first rain came with Noah's flood. Rain brought on by the sins of the world. Sins that a broken-hearted God could no longer contend with. The world needed a new start. So, He gave us one.

Gen 7:4 For after seven more days I will cause it to rain on the earth forty days and forty nights, and I will destroy from the face of the earth all living things that I have made."

It is the same with Christ's scars. We all need a new start.

So with His life, He gave us one.

1Ki 8:35 "When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because they have sinned against You, when they pray toward this place and confess Your name, and turn from their sin because You afflict them,

1Ki 8:36 then hear in heaven, and forgive the sin of Your servants, Your people Israel, that You may teach them the good way in which they should walk; and send rain on Your land which You have given to Your people as an inheritance.

Refreshment, cleansing, renewal. All brought about by the provision of a loving God. To bind that which is broken and thirsty. To sustain that which in itself can not have life on its own.

How could we ever consider rain imperfect? We don't. It's the only source refreshment we know.

But it wasn't so in the beginning of creation. God made this earth perfectly, without rain. The world, once stained with that first choice to doubt God's goodness, has been broken ever since. So, from the beginning, He knew it would need to rain and made it so. From the beginning, He knew we would need new life, and He has made it so through Jesus.

Act 14:17 Nevertheless He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness."

Luk 24:39 Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have."

Jhn 20:27 Then He said to Thomas, "Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand [here], and put [it] into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing."

Now, that which is seemingly imperfect, restores life. Be it rain, or His scars, they are necessary for our survival. His perfect provision for His fallen creation. We all constantly search for perfection. It can only be found in God. With Him, all is "right as rain".

One just exemplifies the other. Evidence of our loving God's provision.

The next time you think on the rain, think of His healing hands and the scars there, even on the backs. How refreshing. What renewal.

Thank You Jesus, for rain. Thank you for your scars. What would this life be like without them?

Thank You, Father, for vision. May You be forever glorified, even in the seemingly imperfect.

You will make it all good in Your perfect time. You alone are Holy.

In gratitude, Amen.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Psalm 95 (Amplified Bible)

Psalm 95

1O COME, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the Rock of our salvation!

2Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to Him with songs of praise!

3For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.

4In His hand are the deep places of the earth; the heights and strength of the hills are His also.

5The sea is His, for He made it; and His hands formed the dry land.

6O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker [in reverent praise and supplication].

7For He is our God and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand. Today, if you will hear His voice,(A)

8Harden not your hearts as at Meribah and as at Massah in the day of temptation in the wilderness,(B)

9When your fathers tried My patience and tested Me, proved Me, and saw My work [of judgment].

10Forty years long was I grieved and disgusted with that generation, and I said, It is a people that do err in their hearts, and they do not approve, acknowledge, or regard My ways.

11Wherefore I swore in My wrath that they would not enter My rest [the land of promise].(C)

Cross references:

  1. Psalm 95:7 : Heb 3:7-11
  2. Psalm 95:8 : Exod 17:1-7; Num 20:1-13; Deut 6:16
  3. Psalm 95:11 : Heb 4:3-11
Let us praise His holy Name with songs! Let us bow down in reverence. Let us seek His will for our lives. Let us be ready to obey. It is all for our benefit. Under His wings we abide in the shelter and protection of the One who loved us more than His life. Where will we find rest away from His love?

Lord, let my heart's prayer resound:
Please give me the wisdom that begins with fear and reverence for You, the All Mighty God, that I might escape Your righteous wrath and hide in Your gracious love. I have so much to learn.

Thank You, Jesus.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Call It What It Is

We can't see God. No one can see His face and live. Yet all around us there is proof, tangible, edible, smellable, sensory proof of His love and grace: the breath you take, the food you eat, the car you drive, the heights we have achieved in medicine, the light in our children's eyes. How did any of it get here? How does it exist?

They are all evidence of God. The world around us was created to express His might and power and His desire to be known by us. He wants us to know Him and He can use any method He chooses for that purpose.

Science can tell us 'How' things happen. But never can it tell us 'Why' or more importantly 'Who'.

That's really what mankind yearns to know isn't it, "Why?" and "Who?".

As Christians, we know 'Who' and each day we get to know Him more personally.

We also know 'Why', and this is what we have the opportunity to express in our actions and reactions to everything in our daily lives.

For instance, I took a shower this morning while my children watched a video. When I came out, my oldest came into my room and said, "Mom, Sam is coloring Jacob with her markers all over the couch."

Drip, drip, drip.

I walked into the living room expecting a tie-dyed couch and multicolored children. A twenty-color pack of markers was scattered all over a section of the couch and down onto the floor. My children were both at least fifteen colors apiece. Blue here, green there, yellow over there, red down the backs of both of their necks.

But Nothing on the couch. Later I found one small spot of orange beneath the melee of markers. One small touch of color on a solid taupe couch.

"It's a miracle!" I exclaimed as I directed and assisted them in putting the caps back on all twenty markers and tucked them back in the package. "A miracle!" I must have said it at least two or three times, because Dylan finally asked me, "Momma, why do you keep saying 'It's a miracle'?"

"Because it is! Look at the markers everywhere, all uncapped and lying on the couch cushions. There isn't a mark anywhere! It is a miracle!" How else can you explain a two year old and a one year old, completely colored from scalp to bellybutton, with not a mark on the platform used for their art?

It had to have been the gracious hand of the Lord. I know He spared me that trial this morning. I know He preserved the integrity of my living room furniture. Hah! How often He doesn't. But either way, it's the Hand of the Lord in my life. All things are used for our edification. So that we might come to know Him more intimately and personally.

That's what this life is, isn't it? Each of us gets our own story of His faithfulness.

It is up to us to tell others about Him. To live like we know Who and Why.

So the next time something inexplicable happens, or even if it seems to have some sort of reasonable explanation, recognize that no manner of logic or reasoning could ever begin to explain 'Why' and 'Who'.

Call it what it is.

Everything, all of it. It is a miracle. Evidence of the Hand of our Awesome God.

He wants to be known by us today. Let us make Him known to others.

Isa 43:10 "You are my witnesses," declares the Lord, "and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me.

Isa 45:3 I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.

Eze 38:23 And so I will show my greatness and my holiness, and I will make myself known in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the LORD.'

Show thyself, Lord. Give us eyes and hearts to see, minds and tongues to speak, to call it what it is.

It is all for Your Glory, because You love us so.


Depending on God

Today is my wedding anniversary! There is much to celebrate because, God is an awesome God, and I just adore my Hubby. :-)

So, in honor of the love and fellowship I am blessed with today and everyday, here is an article by Chuck Smith that speaks of the true expression of our love for our Creator.

Here is the link:

May God write it on our hearts.


Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Balm of Gilead

I have been suffering from a severe sinus infection and congestion for the last 7-10 days. Not only have I been ill, but my children as well.

So, yesterday, with the invitation from a well-meaning friend, I went to an apothecary of sorts. A little herbal pharmacy. There were herbs and salves, teas, books, dried and ground plants of every type. Many of them I had seen before, some I had not. On one of the large glass jars that lined the walls was written, "The Balm of Gilead". Now there was a name I was surprised to find. One whose spiritual implications I recognized, but one that I didn't know truly existed in physical form!

I stopped. And read it again. The Balm of Gilead!

In my mind, I remembered what God's word says about The Balm of Gilead:

Jer 8:22 Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is there no healing for the wound of my people?

In the jar were little dried pods that looked a bit like hollow date pits. They were long and dark and brown. I marveled at them, their purpose, and inclusion amid so many other recognized healing agents. Among all the other glass jars, hundreds of them, in a clearly 'new age' store, was a picture of Christ.

I had ventured there in search for a cure, to learn a few things about natural medicinal remedies. But, a day later, I have learned something far more vital.

You see, my head remembered, but my heart had not. Distracted by the myriad of offerings, I returned the jar to the shelf and went on shopping. After making a few purchases, I left that store and went to another 'all natural' store to complete my collection of remedies. I even went to a third store when I had forgotten a few 'key' ingredients at my first two stops! I purchased teas, vials, oil, and various vitamins of all sorts. Thinking my healing could be bought from a store, I came home and promptly took each and every remedy.

You know what happened? I got worse.

My sickness increased, my throat became unbearably sore and rock hard, my sinuses swelled, my body began to ache. How, I wondered, can I take so many touted remedies and have an increase in illness? I was tired and defeated. Dry and weak, I went to bed and reflected on my experiences of the day.

I remembered seeing that large glass jar and its miraculous label. Then, I thought back to the Balm of Gilead, and who He really is. I realized that I never asked the Lord for His involvement and direction. I had recognized the miracle of there being a physical representation of His healing power on the shelf, but I didn't seek His face. I distractedly forgot my Lord and went on to buy whatever healing was for sale.

Repentant, and very sick, I cried out to the Lord. "Father, please forgive me for not coming first to You, my Jehovah-rapha, my Great Physician. Please forgive me for focusing on the healing power of what You have created, and failing to rely on the presence of my Creator to make it effective. Please heal my heart of its disease, and cleanse my body as well."

This morning I awoke a little healthier. I am still battling my physical illness, but I have gained a spiritual perspective.

You see, God provided something physical, something tangible and real, to teach me a very valuable lesson. It is the lesson of Asa, a king of Judah whose heart was not fully devoted to the Lord.

2Ch 16:12
And in the thirty-ninth year of his reign, Asa became diseased in his feet, and his malady was severe; yet in his disease he did not seek the LORD, but the physicians.
2Ch 16:13
So Asa rested with his fathers; he died in the forty-first year of his reign.
2Ch 16:14
They buried him in his own tomb, which he had made for himself in the City of David; and they laid him in the bed which was filled with spices and various ingredients prepared in a mixture of ointments. They made a very great burning for him.

A mixture of ointments! How ironic. That which could not save his physical life is what accompanied his body in death. He never sought the Lord, but only what man could offer of His creation. He was buried with his folly. How effectively this scripture revealed the folly of my own life.

Now, don't get me wrong. I came home prepared to mix a special tincture for the remedy of my children's ear infections. It was the first time I had taken on the creation of such a concoction on my own and, interestingly enough, it also took overnight. :-)

I was reluctant, to be honest, to put forth the effort. But with the mid-night change of heart the Lord graciously gave me and seeing the product of adding certain healing agents together today, I have in a way become convinced in their effectiveness of being just that, an agent.

Natural remedies are simply things the Lord has created. We are among them, part of that same creation, our origin is God. No salve or herb can make our bodies last forever. Using natural remedies may increase the quality of our lives, but only one thing can guarantee true life, the love and sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

Only a true and vibrant relationship, one with a heart fully devoted to a worthy God, can bring wholeness and wellness. This spiritual truth applies physically because all creation testifies to His faithfulness and His desire to be known by us. Now I know why these natural sources of health are so effective. They were created by the Lord for our physical healing and wellness. They are just an example of how Jesus Christ lives to provide the Way, the Truth, and the Light for our eternal wholeness. God has provided for our spiritual wellness just as He has for our physical bodies. The only reason earthly remedies have any power at all is because they are what God made them to be, examples of God's desire for restoration. It is His will and power that creates or destroys. He alone brings illness or health.

Deu 32:39
'Now see that I, even I, am He,
And there is no God besides Me;
I kill and I make alive;
I wound and I heal;
Nor is there any who can deliver from My hand.

It is He that I need to first approach when I am in need of healing or help. Graciously, He is teaching me this lesson and reminding me that He is always there to warm me, to bind my wounds. He desires such intimacy with us.

Psa 147:3
He heals the brokenhearted
And binds up their wounds.

Thank You Father, for your hand in my life today. Thank you for teaching me so gently and generously that I don't need to go searching for what can bought for relief or nor do I have to rely on self-provision. You are ready to do a great and mighty work in my life. Thank you for the healing knowledge of You, the true Balm of Gilead.

Psalm 103:
Praise for the Lord's Mercies
A Psalm of David.

less the Lord, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:
3 Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
4 Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
5 Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.

6 The Lord executes righteousness
And justice for all who are oppressed.
7 He made known His ways to Moses,
His acts to the children of Israel.
8 The Lord is merciful and gracious,
Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.
9 He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.
10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor punished us according to our iniquities.

11 For as the heavens are high above the earth,
So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
12 As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father pities his children,
So the Lord pities those who fear Him.
14 For He knows our frame;
He remembers that we are dust.

15 As for man, his days are like grass;
As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
16 For the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
And its place remembers it no more.
17 But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting
On those who fear Him,
And His righteousness to children's children,
18 To such as keep His covenant,
And to those who remember His commandments to do them.

19 The Lord has established His throne in heaven,
And His kingdom rules over all.

20 Bless the Lord, you His angels,
Who excel in strength, who do His word,
Heeding the voice of His word.
21 Bless the Lord, all you His hosts,
You ministers of His, who do His pleasure.
22 Bless the Lord, all His works,
In all places of His dominion.

Bless the Lord, O my soul!