Thursday, March 30, 2017

Nine years. {Goodbye.}

I'm telling Moop and Saba goodbye.  Well, for now, anyway, because I can hardly stand goodbyes.  My great Grandpa Pitts would never tell us goodbye; it was more of, "til I see you again."  I guess the hatred of goodbyes runs deep in my generational line.  I have a new site I want to write at and I'll tell you a little about it at the end of this.

This little corner of the world has been such a safe haven for me: jotting down hilarious things growing boys have said, pounding out my grief against the keyboard, starting my photography journey, and writing down what stood out in the Word.  Thanks for being with me these nine years. To me, it has felt like you shared my heart (whether in glee or mourning) and I'm forever grateful.

Some of my most read posts were these about Kiley, one about Herb, and one about marriage. Truth is eternal and they still ring true.  God is in the wilderness.  There is power in prayer, even when the outcome isn't what you desired. And saba.  I should tell you that when I started this blog, I picked words that my toddler kids were saying:  "moop" was milk and "saba" was excuse me.  Little did I know that the Hebrew word for "saba" is satisfied.  Nine years of Jesus stooping down, interceding on my behalf, and gently satisfying me along the way.  Sometimes we don't know the end from the beginning, or we think something means one thing, and He expounds on it totally.  Let Him write all over your story.  He satisfies.

Three of the most read posts...

Seven years after losing my sister.

The Kingdom of Heaven, Hand in Hand.

Marriage in the Wilderness.

I wanted a fresh space, so I created a blog where the end goal will be worship through writing.  I hope to write more on what I'm learning in the Word and even dabble some in memoir work.  If I know anything about our sweet Jesus, He will continue to satisfy over there, as well.

Please, join me at Fresh Wine.

{thanks for sharing this little space with me all these years. big hugs.}



Monday, February 13, 2017

The Found

On the Eve of Saint Valentine's Day, an all encompassing Love caught my sister and held tight.  Her last act nine years ago would have plunged her straight to the depths of hell if actions were the determining factors of one's eternal abode.  But, she was His. And once you belong, you belong forever.

There is no end to being a child of God.  The Son's arms open wide on a wooden cross opened the Father's arms open wide, beckoning ragamuffins to come into perfect intimacy thanks to the perfect substitution.  She ran into that embrace and found herself part of a new kingdom.

I will never endorse her final actions, but I will forever endorse her Savior who continued to hold her as she floundered in a sea of foamy self loathing the enemy had plunged her into.

{You are loved.  Yes, you.}

I will miss Kiley for all of my earthly days.  One day, in a blink, our relationship will be restored because of the Blood.  The blood of Jesus covered her final sin just as it covers my daily sins.  There is a fountain filled with blood and I will daily swim in it, even if only in my mind, for the remembering beckons my true identity, my single source of hope and joy. Are you washed in the blood?

Grace poured out on February 13, 2008.  This day will forever be bittersweet as I traded my beloved sister for a better grasp of what grace is really all about.  I'll forever rest in this:  she was not the lost; she was the found.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017


Walking, walking, everyone walking. When I think of all the current walks, I am reminded of one particular walk on the dusty road that led upward to a hill, a location literally known as, "the place of the skull."

This God-Man named Jesus was without sin. He is the only One who has ever walked a sinless path, with complete focus on His Father's will. Not a single ounce of self entered the walk to Golgotha, only a completely surrendered heart to His Abba.

Talk about someone who had rights. The Son of God wrapped in flesh could have called down legions of angels to stop the madness: the impending asphyxiation of the very Creator who had breathed life into His enemies. Talk about irony. Yes, this One had the right.

But, Kenosis.

The Greek word that stops me in my tracks every single time and reminds me of how little I resemble my Savior. He let go of His rights and clothed Himself in something much bigger: a love for a Father and a love for a people gone astray.


Christ's walk to Calvary was one where He emptied Himself. Made Himself nothing. I'm trying to let that sink in as I see the current day walks.

Give me grace to walk like You did, Jesus.

To walk humbly with my God.

To empty my desires and offer my brokenness to a beautiful, Divine will.

To take up my cross daily and go outside the gates.

Teach me how to walk like this, Lord.


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Establish {Word for 2017}

After much seeking and prayer for most of December, I couldn't land on my word of the year.  I tossed around a few words I thought God might be saying, but I couldn't get a peace about each one. Finally, it all started coming together in a theme, like He usually deals with me.  Verses started jumping off the pages and I realized they were all related.  And then at 10:30 pm on New Year's Eve, it fell into place. Establish.

Isaiah 60:5  "Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and exult, because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you." (I think this is in regards to the city Jerusalem, but I love the word radiant.  I also know that wealth is so much more than money.)

Isaiah 43:19  "Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?  I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert."

Isaiah 60 "Arise, shine, for your light has come....."

Malachi 3:2 "The sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall."

Isaiah 44:26  "I will raise up their ruins..."

1 Kings 18:41 "...for there is a sound of the rushing of rain..."

Galatians 6:9 "And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up."

2 Chronicles 20:20 "Believe in the Lord your God and you will be established, believe in His prophets and you will succeed."

Psalm 90:17  "Let the favor (beauty) of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!"

Psalm 40:2  "He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings."

2016 was harder than I thought.  Sometimes, you are in the warm water that gets hotter and hotter and all the sudden, you are boiling and you don't even know it!  2016 was a lot like that.  Taking it all in, but at some point, you need an intervention!  I think I'm in need of some restoration and I think God knows that!  In some ways, 2016 left me in ruins, and I believe God wants to do some rebuilding. He wants to establish me.  Establish our family.

So, that's what I've landed on for 2017.  Establish.  I have a peace that this is what God is saying and I'm desperate to see His hand move.

I keep thinking that He is still in the business of reversals.  Our God is still a God of reversals. He reversed the edict in Esther's day and kept the Jews alive. He reversed Naomi's bitterness and brought new life instead of death. He reversed the curse of sin via the blood of Jesus.  He still reverses things. Creating life from nothing.  Taking ruins and making some beautiful. Marking us with righteousness instead of wrath.

Establish.  Good ol' Webster's says it means to make firm and stable; create something that is meant to last a long time; put in a favorable position.

The good ol' Hebrew word for establish (at least one of them) is "KUWN" and means to stand firm, to be prepared, to set up, to build, to appoint, to fasten, and to provide.

I'm leaning on God to do the establishing in 2017.  I'm weary and my well is dry.  I'll be faithful to abide and sit at His feet, but I know He is telling me that it will be Him that shows up and does the work...establishes us and the work of our hands.

I have one visual that I think will carry me until I see the fruit of what He is doing.  In Acts, Jesus had ascended into Heaven.  Pentecost had occurred as the Holy Ghost fell on the believers in power.  Peter and John were going to the temple during the hour of prayer.  See this with me...a lame man was being carried to the temple.  They carried him there every single day so he could ask alms.  Daily sustenance was his mantra.  Every day, the lame man sits at the gate that was called "Beautiful."  This gate was 75 feet high, made of the finest Corinthian brass. He went there because he was in need of and expected to receive daily bread, so to speak.  But, he got so much more this day! 

On this day, Peter, filled with the power of Jesus Himself, told the lame man to rise up and walk!  All the people around the temple were in awe and praised God. When doing a word study on the gate called "Beautiful," I was taken aback.  The Greek word for "beautiful" is "horaios" and means coming at the right time, ripeness, good timing, belonging to the right season, etc. Not what I was expecting.  God makes all things beautiful in His time.  I think the words time and beauty are more related than we ever dreamed.  We come to the Beautiful Gate, knowing God is doing the right thing at exactly the right hour.

Faith is the place where you really expect something from God.  That is where you will find me at the beginning of 2017.  The ruins are not rebuilt, but I am believing God for so much more than I could ever ask or imagine.

"Lord, we are sitting at the Beautiful Gate daily, knowing You will provide the amount of grace needed for each day.  But, we are also hopeful for a season of healing and refreshing.  So, touch us.  Tell us to get up and walk.  We are sitting at this gate, knowing the word "beautiful" corresponds with your good timing and your season, your right hour to move.  Bring us favor and a season of flourishing.  Allow us to bloom and to praise."

Establish us in 2017, Lord.  Pour out your beauty upon us as you establish the work of our hands.


Thursday, December 22, 2016

Splatter of Grace {Remembering 2016}

I wrote considerably less in 2016, but I'm not ready to give up the old blog just yet.  It is a place for me to force myself to remember who God was to me each year.  Much of what He said this year was for my heart only (on pages and pages of countless journals.) I cherish a God who wants intimacy with each one of us. I still love writing and I love that it can morph into something different from year to year.  2016 was hard in many ways.  Maybe you, too?  This is my splattering of grace amidst the confusion and hardship.  Perhaps some of these words will meet you where you are.  I hope you know how much I treasure you, dear reader.  My blog isn't fancy.  I'm not well known.  I am perfectly content with that. I hope it is simply a place where you can see Jesus a little more clearly.  I pray blessings over you in 2017, that Jesus would meet you where you are and breathe for you when all air escapes. I pray He is your joy and delight and daily bread and shoulder to cry on and chest to beat against. I pray He is your all.

Some things I hope will stay with me forever...


Surrender to the Brushstrokes

Remembering Kiley Elisabeth

Beavers, Motherhood, and the Art of Building Dams

I am Gentile

Daniel:  How to live as Yahweh's People in an anti-Yahweh World

Ruin (for the Glory of God)

Marriage in the Wilderness

The Mess (A Christmas Post)

Friday, December 9, 2016

The Mess {A Christmas Post}

I had looked forward to yesterday for weeks and weeks.  My mother in law offered to keep Asher while I shopped for the last of my Christmas list.  I treated myself big by hiring my house to be cleaned.  This is a luxury item, and I wanted the feeling of just once, to have a completely clean house.  I felt pampered when I walked in, spoiled even. I sat and sipped hot Tazo Refresh tea, binging on Hallmark Christmas movies.  A house with four boys doesn't stay clean for long, so I was going to live it up for an evening.

Enter 3 am.  Asher, the toddler, who has never thrown up in his entire life, decided to make his vomiting debut.  Since he was bewildered at what was happening, the vomit was everywhere except the toilet.  His bed.  His favorite blankets.  His floor.  The living room floor as he made his way to find me.  And on and on.  His trail of what the chunk is that? became my trail of tears.

I just wanted a pristinely clean home for our family.  For more than a few hours...

I'm reminded this Christmas season over and over of this:  we don't just dwell in messes, we are the mess.  As me and my friend joke, "Man it's hard to be us!"  I think of those trying to move forward in grief, wondering how to celebrate without a father, without a husband.  I think of those struggling with infertility, wanting nothing more than to simply hold the image of God, wrapped against their chests.  I think of those in such excruciating pain that they beg the Almighty to take them home, their words seeming to fall on deaf ears. I think of cancer free people who find new spots, their reprieve from the waiting and praying and medicating lasting mere moments in the grand scheme and story. 

The pain is real.  The mess is real.

I stepped right in it.  You would think after sixteen years of vomit-fest nights, I would have learned to flip a switch before I go traipsing through the house.  But, no, the wet chunks squeezed between my toes, reminding me that I never really will have my act together. In a lot of ways, I always will be a mess.  You might as well engrave it on my gravestone, She was a grace covered mess.

In my mind, I see that God-fleshed baby swaddled in a manger. Growing up with livestock, I know the feeding trough is layered with leftover grain, matted up with saliva and stuck to the sides like glue.  I smell the cattle, donkeys, and sheep, and see the manure caked up on their backsides. The blood and afterbirth soaked the ground, and I wonder if Joseph had anything available to clean Mary up with.  Sometimes we glorify the nativity to such an extent that we overlook just how messy it must have been. 

He was birthed right into our mess. That is Christmas.  We, humanity, are a hopeless and sinful people who can't get out of our messes on our own...goodness, we can't even pay others to get us out of our messes.

We can invite Jesus into the mess called our lives.  He will graciously redeem, but, I can't promise He will always clean up every little thing, at least not while we dwell here on earth.  Sometimes, He is glorified in the mess, the daily allotment of grace to dwell there, to see God there.  Will we choose to see God in the mess this Christmas season?

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Among the Thirsty

I wasn't just thirsty, I was bone-dry, arid, and dried up.  My sister had died and I was in such shock that my loving Heavenly Father let it happen.  A million and one ways He could have intervened.  But, He didn't.  It took years of wrestling with Him--trying to let His sovereignty rest on me like a warm blanket instead of rough me up like the coarsest of sandpaper.

He was good to me those days.  Still is.  He was patient.  Still is.  He's a good Father.

Parched, I locked onto a Christian band who called themselves, "Among the Thirsty."  A certain song daily came on the radio, it's words carrying me one step further in the direction of grace and out of the enslaving muck and mire.  The song "I'd Need a Savior" would play and I would sob, knowing that I would need a Savior to get out of the all-consuming grief that had attached itself like a leach.

I found out today that the band is dissolving.

My parents have more than likely sold their home.  After Christmas, they will say goodbye.  They have lived there almost a decade.  I have no childhood memories housed there and I shouldn't care, but in a sense, this home is sacred.  This is the location where my sister breathed her last, where faith became eyes, where Glory was beheld. It is a home that embraced all who would mourn after her death.  This is a home that is definitely set apart from the rest.

But, it is sold and will fade into the distance, carrying the secrets of my sister's last thoughts with it.

Perhaps the hardest part of grief is that it never really dies.  It cycles around, year after year, morphing into new ache, different ache.  There is grace for each cycle, I have no doubt.  The immediate shock and horror was at times overwhelming, but this new cycle cuts as well:  when all that reminded you of your loved one, for good or bad, seems to die as well.  You just want something tangible to remain to point you to who that person was. But, nothing lasts forever.  Mist and dirt, it all leaves just as easily as it came. 

Except, perhaps for eternity.  Eternity has already been set in our hearts.  There is hope for something new, and one day, we will realize the old never really left, after all.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Marriage in the Wilderness

"And you shall remember the whole way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that He might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not."  Deuteronomy 8:2
Not exactly a verse on marriage, but today, that's where I landed as I was pondering marriage.  A friend asked me to write on the common seven year slump in marriage and to be honest, I don't feel qualified.  The news alert is that you can be married for 18 years and still get in slumps.  If I've learned anything, it's that you have good years and bad years in marriage.  You plod along, knowing that while remaining faithful in a bad year, a good year is most likely right around the corner.
The whole marriage thing takes two unique, God-image-bearing-independents and miraculously makes them one.  God, in His goodness, combines the two to show off a clearer picture of who He is.  He is both strength and beauty.  Warrior and lover.  Adventurer and safe harbor.  Justice and grace.  Thwarter and peace giver.
Being one is mysterious and profound and beautiful...and sometimes frustrating and sigh producing.  Because here's the deal:  if you are one with your husband, and he heads into a spiritual wilderness, you better pack your bags, because you are going with him...and the stay might be longer than you could have ever imagined.
So many things have driven Eric and I into wilderness experiences through our eighteen years of marriage.  Some of the time, we entered hand in hand, like after losing our baby.  Other times, like through the loss of various family members, depression, pride, health issues, work frustrations, running from God, and anxiety, we have run headlong into the barren land, barely leaving our spouse time to pack his/her bags and recognize the season that is about to unfold.
Sometimes, God allows us to enter the wilderness just to know what's in our hearts.  He wants our faith steeled; He wants evidence of obedience, not just lip service. 
Most of the time, when our spouse heads to the wilderness, we really don't want to go.  Who on earth wants to be thrown into a pit?  I think it's here where God whispers that this is one place where we can be faithful to Him, by standing right beside our husband as he wrestles with the hard stuff---as he wrestles with God Himself. Wasn't it Jacob that wrestled with God in a place called Peniel?  Peniel means the face of God.  We know the wrestling allows us to see God's we stand by our spouse faithfully, and pray eyes are opened to behold Him.
So, if your husband is in the wilderness, go dwell there alongside of him.  Love him well and surrender him over to God.  Let loose of your expectations of him.  Pray God is tender and that He will reveal Himself in a fresh way.  Surrender any preconceived notions of how long the experience will last, knowing full well, it could be years.
During this time, your well will run dry.  You are in the desert, after all.  Pray against attacks from the enemy.  Know that your living water is always available in the Word of God.  Spend extra time right there and ask to be content with God filling you, even if no one else is.  Look for the brief sparks of joy and praise Him a little extra in those moments.
Remember the times that your husband loved you well in your wilderness season and trust God that another "good" year of marriage is right around the bend.  And never forget that when you finally get to unpack and settle in the land of promise that you will continue to carry around the lessons learned while in the barren land.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

A Famine for the Word of God

The lie is that the only way to love fully is to exclude the truth.  The lie is that love is love, but it cancels the need for a love so great that the Love laid down His life to cancel the sin.

Satan is crafty, an angel of light is how he manifests himself.  Don't be fooled, he will come in "love," but it won't be the same definition of love that dances across God's holy pages.  It will come as a love void of any need for truth or holiness or repentance.  It will be all-inclusive without any need for heart surgery and heart change.

Don't be fooled.  We are in a famine.  A famine of hearing the Word of God.  A famine of knowing the Word of God for ourselves.

Today, I sense more than any other time in my whole life, the desperation of the hour.  We absolutely must know what God's Word says.

We have a beautiful, gentle, and comforting teacher.  He is the Holy Spirit and He is amazing at making sure all the glory goes to the Son of God, Jesus Christ.  I believe the Holy Spirit delights in showing us truth.  Wisdom is ours for the asking.  Let's dig into the Word and see the heartbeat of God.

Grace allows us to repent.  Grace never excuses us from the need for repentance.  Grace makes us poor in spirit as it shows us our spiritual bankruptcy.  Grace pays the debt and makes us co-heirs with Christ.  Grace calls us to a new standard, "Go, and sin no more."

As Jesus walks across the gospels, we see Him heal.  Love the outcast.  Reveal the Father.  Calm Storms.  Rebuke demons.  Feed thousands.  He is compassion on a mission.

But, Jesus said he is also bringing a sword of division.  He said we are not worthy of Him if we love our father, mother, son, or daughter more than Him.  He said we have a cross to carry.  He even declares woe to particular cities "because they did not repent."  He pronounces them miserable and says judgment is inevitable.  Christ wanted so badly to break their hearts from sin, but instead, he was the one that walked away heart broken.

A gospel that is just love with no repentance is the enemy's gospel.  Christianity that worships the Lamb but not the Lion is only half correct in its theology.

You have to have the Holy Roar of the Lion before you need the tender sacrifice of the Lamb.  God never (ever-ever) accepts sin in a person.  Instead, He covers it by the blood of His One and Only.

Lord, we have lost sight of Who you are.
Feed us, Lord.
We are in a famine, and we are begging you to reach down and feed us.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

A God Who Cherishes the Fetus

While studying God's glory (kabod: weight) I came across Exodus 33.  Don't you love it when God will reveal something fresh and deep with a passage that you just think you understand?

It is the all-famous passage where Moses dares ask God to show him His glory.  Spurgeon says it is the 'greatest request that man could ever make to God':  show me your glory! I love how God doesn't reveal His glory at first, but prepares Moses for what His glory is going to look like.  It is as if God is saying "Number one, it will be seen in my goodness (towb:  goodness, beauty, bounty.)"  "Number two, it will be seen in my name. (the LORD:  Yahweh)"  And Number three, it will be in the fact that I am merciful and gracious to whom I want."  (We see that God's glory is evident not just in his mercy and grace but in His sovereignty over whom and how He wants to exercise that.)

So, God prepares Moses for this weighty thing that is about to occur.  But, who of us can ever really be prepared for His Glory?  God knows that is will knock us dead, so he tells Moses that He is going to allow him to stand on a rock...He will hide Him in the cleft of a rock while His glory passes by.  {Another occurrence of JESUS...can I get an amen?} 
Rock of Ages
Cleft for Me
Let Me Hide Myself in Thee

Do you see?  Our weight must be on the rock that is Jesus for us to behold the weight of God's glory!  We stand on Christ alone. Is your house built on the rock?  He is the chief cornerstone.  1 Corinthians 10:4 says "and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ."  Jesus is our rock. He is our only hope of beholding God's glory and living to tell about it!

Remember how I said the Hebrew word for Glory was Kabod?  Well, I googled it and wouldn't you know it, Satan decided to take the word that pointed to God's character and weight and turn it into something entirely different.  He is the counterfeit and He has tried to steal the very word for glory and turn it into something that might glorify his own evil ways.  I don't recommend looking it up, but Kabod is an online game featuring sexual and adult content.  Satan tries to twist everything, doesn't he?!!

So, back to Exodus 33.  God tells Moses what His glory is going to look like.  One of those things is regarding his mercy and grace.  "I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious and I will show mercy on whom I will show mercy."  (Ex. 33:19b)  What I discovered is that the Hebrew word for mercy there is "racham"  which means compassion or the womb or to cherish the fetus in the womb.

If you have carried a baby for any amount of time, then I know this makes your heart pound.  It stirs something deep inside of me to know that God's mercy towards me is similar to how I have felt towards my unborn babies. 

Each time was no different.  From the moment I saw the line turn on the tests, something changed inside.  I became fierce.  I became consumed with a whole new level of love.  I was willing to freely give up coke, coffee, and fried food while also being willing to swallow horse pills doctors call vitamins.  My dreams and ambitions became different.  I would do whatever was in my power to protect and care for the child inside.  If I had anything to do with it, the child would live and be guarded from anything evil.

I cherished each fetus, looking forward to not only what they were, but what they would become.

I think of a fetus inside of a mother and I think of how utterly vulnerable it is.  It is helpless, totally dependent on the mother for sustenance and life.

God is telling us that His great mercy towards us is that of a mother towards her unborn baby.  He sheds His mercy on us because He dreams of what we can be with His grace.
All I can think about since last night's debate is the blood of 60 million aborted babies that is crying out unto Creator God against our nation.  Genesis 4 tells us that blood cries out.  Genesis 4 tells us that God hears the spilled blood that cries out. Genesis 4 tells us about a curse that results from this innocent blood poured out.
I am undone.  Shaking.  The murder has to stop.
Eric and I are visiting our local pro-life clinic soon to see how we can be actively involved. We need to put to action to what our mouths are spewing.  I don't know what that looks like, but I know it is a simple step of faith in the right direction.
If we lean into Creator's ear, we too, can hear the blood of the innocents crying out.
Jeremiah 19:4-6

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Ruin (for the Glory of God)

Just like Israel in Jeremiah's time, we, the people of America, have committed two sins:  1.  We have forsaken Yahweh, the fountain of living water.  2.  We have dug out cisterns for ourselves that are broken and incapable of holding water. (See Jeremiah 2)

In Palestine, there were three sources of water that went from freshest to nastiest.  These were:
1.  Fresh running water that flowed from a spring that was actually called "living water."
2.  Ground water like from a well.
3.  Runoff water that was collected in cisterns.  Cisterns were pits hewn into limestone and plastered to prevent seepage.  Of course, the pits also collected silt and mosquito larvae because the water was stagnant.

(The above info is from my ESV study bible.)

We have traded the best for the worst, except we are worse off than we thought because our cisterns are broken.  The water has leaked out and all we have to show for it is silt and mosquito infestations.

We aren't just an ungrateful people, we are a foolish people.  We have spit out our living water and are absolutely dying of thirst. We are in desperate need of wisdom, protection, and peace. We are dying as a nation.

In the book of Judges, we find something called the sin cycle.  First, the Israelites would do what was evil in God's sight.  Second, God would allow them to be conquered and oppressed by an enemy.  Third, the people would cry out to God. And fourth, God would send a judge to deliver them.  So, the cycle was:  Apostasy, Servitude, Supplication, and Salvation.

They repeated this cycle for years and years. It proves just how longsuffering our God is.

We Americans are obviously in the apostasy phase.  Apostasy in Hebrew is "meshubah" and means "turning back."  We have abandoned God, revolted against God, been unfaithful to God, and spit on God.

God doesn't have to deal with other nations like He did with His set-apart nation of Israel.  He sets up kingdoms and wipes out kingdoms, whatever brings Him glory.  But, let's just say that God wanted to deal with America like He did Israel.  The next phase is servitude.

That is hard to write and even harder to wrap my brain around.  I have been free my whole 39 years.  I can't even imagine another people group ruling over me or stealing all my food like in Gideon's day.  I can't imagine being denied the freedom to worship in public as I please.

Oh, how we have taken our freedoms for granted. 

I've thought a lot about Nebuchadnezzar and God pouring His mercy out on this pagan King.  God put him in a season of wilderness training where for SEVEN years, the king ate grass like an ox.  He went on like this until he recognized that Yahweh alone is the Most High God.

What if we prayed for that kind of mercy on our land....that God would do whatever it takes to allow evil people to humbly lift their eyes to heaven and worship the Most High?  He is able to humble the evil.  The worst case scenario in our land right now is that God would leave us to ourselves.

We desperately need an intervention, even if it looks like severe mercy.

What if it is the second phase of the sin cycle that will open our land's eyes to KNOWING that Yahweh is the LORD?  What if FOREIGN INVASION is what brings repentance?  What if God giving us over to our enemies is what brings HIM the MOST GLORY?

When God spoke my word for 2016 back in December of 2015, I could hardly believe Him.  He knew I was flabbergasted and gave me repeated scripture as confirmation.  He was very clear and told me that America would be brought to RUIN in 2016.  All I have to do is take a peak at our Presidential candidates and know that He was not kidding one bit.

I'm telling you, tears are falling right now because I love being an American.  I love our land, liberty, and life.  I want so desperately for our boys to grow up with the same freedoms.  But, I have got to remember first and foremost, I am a citizen of Heaven; I belong to Christ's Kingdom above all else.  It is the only kingdom that will never fade.  I must hold America, my beloved nation, with a loose hand, and ask God to show me the bigger picture.

The Glory of GOD is always the bigger picture.

Make Yourself known, Jehovah Sabaoth. If you give us over to our enemies, then give us glimpses of Your glory along the way. If you don't hand us over, then please bring about repentance through another avenue.

In Isaiah 6, God tells the prophet to speak truth, even though the truth would fall on deaf ears, blind eyes, and dull hearts until the day that RUIN overtakes them.  Perhaps ruin is mercy if it allows ears to hear, eyes to see, and hearts to understand.

Don't leave us to ourselves, Lord.  Step down in mercy as we surrender our definition of what that mercy should look like.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

a new season

{written on 10/1.}

He breathed into her.  He bent down and kissed the ditch dweller and made her royal…made her His very own.  He cleaned her up, washed her outside and scrubbed her innards…innards white-washed with His own blood.  How red turns black into white, she will never comprehend; it is the swirling art of grace.

She is new in His sight.  She beholds His face as He breathes out, the fog waltzing through the landscape.  She hears His laughter as the sun rises like a rose on fire.  She closes her eyes and listens to the still small voice, “It is time.”  The season of summer obediently exits and fall takes the stage.  The leaves tumble, the air crisps, the pumpkins orange right up, and the hues beckon her outside to behold a creation in servitude to its Creator.

She ponders, “Why doesn’t everyone want to worship the Rescuer?”  He gives sight to the blind and hearing to the deaf.  He raises the dead straight up, calling decayed bones alive.  He colors her story with more Crayola crayons than can be found in the highest count box.


{She pauses and a tear seeps.}


She weeps at the loss of her friend, the fellow-worshiper.  She presses hard into Rescuer’s chest, not doubting His goodness, but simply not understanding His ways.  The worshiper was still needed here on her planet, at least it seemed that way when she peered into the eyes of his children left behind.

She’s been down this path of questioning and heart-carving before.  She knows surrender puts her in the circle of quiet where sovereignty is shockingly sufficient.  So, she does just that.  She inhales God and exhales her right to know.  Praise erupts as she visualizes her fellow-worshiper at the feet of Rescuer.

The new season is here.  She asks Rescuer to take her hand and allow her to walk so closely to Him that her footsteps start to mirror His own.  “Make me like You,” she timidly whispers.  He throws His head back in sheer bliss, His grin bigger than heaven’s expanse.  She knows down deep, where her spirit makes itself at home, that this is one prayer He will delight in satisfying.

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Light of Invasive Grace

I don't know about you, but I've never thought much about the details of where Jesus first began His ministry.  Where?  Why there?  What happened?  These details matter and set the tone for Who He is and what He is about.

In Matthew 4:12-17, we find that Jesus went to Capernaum, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali.  To us, that probably means nothing; so let's dig a little.  Isaiah prophesied about the land of Zebulun and Naphtali!  He said that one day, there would be no more gloom for those in that land.  He said that those who walk in darkness will see a great light!

Before Zebulun and Naphtali were "lands," they were two of the twelve sons of Israel/Jacob.  Their territory of land was in the northern most part of Israel. They were the furthest away from the Temple. They were highly vulnerable to foreign invasion, and in fact, were invaded by the Assyrians.  The Assyrian culture must have mixed in, because their own Israelite brothers rejected them, thinking them unclean. Through the prophet Isaiah, God acknowledges their anguish.  He knows they have walked in darkness and yet He gives a promise of hope...of light.

Enter Jesus. He begins right there, with the people of Zebulun and Naphtali.  The downcast.  Those that have been in the ruins and remains of invasion.  The forsaken.  The rejects. "The people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned."  Matthew 4:16

When Jesus started his ministry, the first thing we see is light in the darkness.

So, we see a glimpse into why Jesus picked the area of Zebulun and Naphtali to start His ministry.  But, what happened here?  What did he preach first?

REPENT, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. (Mt. 4:17)

Before Jesus did any public miracles...
Before Jesus called any disciples...
Before Jesus instructed us to love God and love others...

Before any of this, the very first word we get is:  repent.

A gospel without repentance is not the gospel.  There is no good news or truth without the light that shows our need for repentance, nor without the repentance that invasive grace demands.

Repent in Greek here is "metanoeo" which means to think differently.  "It is to repent with regret accompanied by a true change of heart toward God.  It signifies a change of mind consequent to the after knowledge indicating regret of the course pursued and resulting in a wiser view of the past and future."  (lexical aids)

This is awesome you guys... to know is "noeo" and after is "meta."

The light has to shine in the darkness in order for us to see as He does.  After He shows us the light, we have the ability to think differently on an issue and turn towards God's heart on the matter...whether it be the initial redemption or the daily sanctification.

When I see the lands of Zebulun and Naphtali in the future, I will remember the Light clothed in invasive grace, beckoning all to repentance.

Lord, we praise You for not leaving us in the darkness. We invite you to shine your light into hidden pockets of darkness, so that we might know and turn away from ourselves and into Your heart of wisdom. It is You we long for.  Only You.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Pack Your Bags; We Are Heading into the Wilderness

A dream...

I was at a party, surrounded by Christian friends.  We had all filled our glasses and were about to take big gulps. I looked over at the pretty clear container that held the party punch and knew instantly it was urine.  I awoke. 

Believers in America, we look like the world.  We have filled our cups to the brim with worldliness and are laughing and having ourselves a merry little time.  We have forgotten that Living Water is ours for the taking.  We could be filling our bodies and spirits with life, but instead we are choosing things that bring death.  Jeremiah 17:13 says "O LORD, the hope of Israel, all who forsake you will be put to shame.  Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust because they have forsaken the LORD, the spring of living water."

When we compromise on Scripture and flow with culture, we are turning our noses up at the Living Water, the only thing that will bring true sustenance. We are opening ourselves up to deceit, temptation, and discipline.  There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuel's veins....we must cling to this fountain that produces life! 

For this reason...well, for a million reasons, the lack of repentance in our land being #1, I believe we are entering the Wilderness.

God is jealous over those that belong to him.  For those of us that are playing the harlot, He is going to intervene. Why?  Because God loves His unfaithful people immensely. Do you think harlot is a strong term?  Read this by John Piper:   " God's eyes, everyone who forsakes the Lord is a whore. There are no religious singles in God's eyes. Everyone is either faithfully married to God or is a prostitute. God made you (not just Israel) for himself. If you get your kicks from somewhere else, you commit great harlotry against God."

We should examine ourselves and ask these questions:  Do we love God more than anything or anyone?  Do we favor Him and delight in Him and put Him above all others?

Hosea was the last prophet God raised up in order to try to get Israel to repent.  God did something unique with this man.  God called him to marry a prostitute. "His marriage is an acted-out parable of God's relation to Israel."  (Piper) Hosea obeyed and the parable unfolded.  Sadly, (like Hosea's wife, Gomer,) Israel refused the love.  Her love affair with sin brought anguishing consequences. Unfaithfulness always brings about God's judgment, even though God longs for something else entirely.

There are some verses in the book of Hosea that I think are possibly the most tender in the whole Bible.  It tells us who God is and how He loves deeply.  He is calling out to His unfaithful wife.  Instead of discarding her or forsaking her, he beckons:

Hosea 2:14-16 (NIV)
14 “Therefore I am now going to allure her;
    I will lead her into the wilderness
    and speak tenderly to her.

15 There I will give her back her vineyards,
    and will make the Valley of Achor[a] a door of hope.
There she will respond[b] as in the days of her youth,
    as in the day she came up out of Egypt.
16 “In that day,” declares the Lord,
    “you will call me ‘my husband’;
    you will no longer call me ‘my master.
I thought about trying to put the below into my own words, but I can't do it justice.  Read and be blessed by John Piper.

"I see in Hosea 2:14–23 at least three things God does for us, his rebellious wife, to win us back; and I see one overriding thing that he wants from us. The first thing he does is woo us tenderly. Verse 14: "Behold, I will allure her and bring her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her." We are all guilty of harlotry. We have loved other lovers more than God. We have gotten our kicks elsewhere. He has been at times an annoying deity. We, like Gomer, were enslaved to a paramour, the world, pleasure, ambition. But God has not cast us off. He promises to take us into the wilderness. He wants to be alone with us. Why? So that he can speak tenderly to us. Literally, the Hebrew says, so that he can speak "to her heart." And when he speaks, he will allure you. He will entice you and woo you. He will say what a lover says to his lady when they walk away from the party into the garden. God wants to talk that way with you. Go with him into the wilderness and listen with your heart. Do not think you are too ugly or too rotten. He knows that his wife is a harlot. That's the meaning of mercy: God is wooing a wife of harlotry.
The second thing God does is promise her hope and safety. Verse 15: "And there I will give her vineyards and make the valley of Achor a door of hope." The valley of Achor is where Israel was first unfaithful to the Lord in the promised land. Just after Israel entered the land, Achan kept the forbidden booty and caused the defeat at Ai. But now God promises that if his harlot will come home, Achor will no longer be a "valley of trouble" (Joshua 7:26), but a door of hope. She will come home to rich vineyards. Verse 18 spells out her hope in more detail: "I will make for you a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the creeping things of the ground, and I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land; and I will make you lie down in safety." If only his estranged wife will come home, she will find a paradise with her husband: he will make a pact even with the animals, lest they do harm; and he will remove all violence and conflict. These are no doubt the words God speaks into the heart of his wife in the lonely place. "It will be so good, so good! Put away your harlotry and come home."

The third thing God does is renew his wife's betrothal and consummate the marriage again in purity. Verses 19, 20: "And I will betroth you to me for ever; I will betroth you to me in righteousness and justice, in steadfast love and mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness; and you shall know the Lord." Three times: I will betroth you; I will betroth you; I will betroth you. "We will go back to the days of our engagement. We will start over. Harlots can start over! We will lay a fresh foundation: righteousness, justice, steadfast love, mercy, faithfulness. Things will not only be good in the paradise around us. Things will also be right between us. These have always been my ways; but now they will be mutual." Yes, even a wife of harlotry can experience a new relationship of righteousness, justice, steadfast love, mercy, and faithfulness with her divine husband.

But the most daring statement of all is the last one in verse 20: "And you shall know the Lord." To see what this means, recall the peculiar use of the word "know" in the Bible. For example, Genesis 4:1, "Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain." And Matthew 1:25, "Joseph knew her [Mary] not until she had borne a son." In the context of a broken marriage being renewed with the fresh vows of betrothal, must not the words, "and you shall know the Lord" (v. 20), mean, you shall enjoy an intimacy like that of the purest sexual intercourse. When the wife of harlotry returns to her husband, he will withhold nothing. He will not keep her at a distance. The fellowship and communion and profoundest union he will give to his prodigal wife when she comes home broken and empty.
This is the gospel story in the Old Testament. This is the meaning of Christmas interpreted seven centuries before Christ. God comes to woo us tenderly to himself; he promises us fullest hope and safety; he starts over with any who will come, and offers us the most intimate and pleasure-filled relationship possible.

And what must we do to qualify? What does he want from us? Verse 16: "In that day, says the Lord, you will call me, 'My husband,' and no longer will you call me, 'My Baal.'" I think the word Baal here has a double meaning. As the next verse shows, it means one of the false gods of Israel's idolatry. So verse 16 means: "You will no longer include me as one of many gods, or many lovers; you will talk to me as your only true God and husband."

But there is another sense of the word Baal. Fifteen times in the Old Testament it simply means "husband," but husband in the sense of owner and lord. The Baals were Israel's hard masters as well as her lovers. In 7:14, for example, the people gashed themselves to try to get benefits from the Baals (just like the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel in 1 Kings 18:28). When Israel chose a Baal for her "significant other," she chose a cruel and merciless lord. So the other (and I think primary) meaning of Hosea 2:16 is: "Relate to me as a loving husband, not as a harsh master or owner. In that day, says the Lord, you will call me 'My husband,' and you will no longer call me 'My Baal.'"

The good news at the end of 1982 is that God wants you to love him warmly as your husband, not just serve him dutifully as your Lord. When you think of your failures in 1982—how little you have read his Word, how burdensome prayer has felt, how many other things of this world have given you more kicks than God—God wants you to remember that his desire to have you back is not based on a na├»ve estimation of your character. The point of Hosea is that God exalts his mercy by not giving up on his wife of harlotry. The good news of Hosea—and of the parable of the prodigal son, and of Christmas—is that God knows we have sold ourselves for a song in 1982, yet he is wooing us into the chambers of his love.

But, please take special notice of this, especially you who tend to keep God at arm's distance from your emotions. According to Hosea 2:16, God does not want you to return to him and say, "Yes, Sir," and set about your duties. He wants you to come into the wilderness, to listen to him speak tenderly, and to respond to him, "My husband." God wants your heart, not just your hands, because if he has your heart, he has everything."
God is about to woo His wife of harlotry. The wilderness is an unknown place, a barren land where it seems like God would never reside. He longs for our whole hearts and is willing to strip away anything that prevents us from freely giving it to Him. 

Whatever we have sold ourselves to, He is wooing us away from.  I've been in the wilderness twice in my life.  In each situation, God wooed the deepest parts of my soul until He had my whole heart...until I could honestly say I desired Him above all else. 
There is coming a time when we will be stripped bare in this land. God will remove every comfortable thing in order to lead us by the hand into the wilderness in order to know Him fully and accurately.  When we long to kick and scream, shaking from the withdrawals of our false gods, we need to remember that God is a good Husband.  He refuses to give up on His unfaithful Bride.  He longs to make her completely and only His.
He takes her out of Egypt.  He strips the yoke of slavery from her wrists, but He doesn't stop there.  He continues to peel off layer by layer of customs that He refuses to be known by.  He takes her by the hand and leads her into the wilderness, where the distractions will be few and where He will have to be enough.

She writhes under His touch.  Her spirit is still angry that He had to do things this way.  Sure, she wanted to know Him, but it was supposed to be on her terms, which meant choice foods and comfortable shelter.  She had dreamed of the day of her rescue, but now that it has come, she mocks Him and tells Him that He could have done things differently.

She doesn't understand that she has entered into a place of intimacy that will be shared with the very One who courts her soul.  It is a honeymoon of sorts, where He will allow her to see the real Him.  He will gently teach her how to love Him.  Adore Him.  Trust Him.

Despite her anger, she starts to see His beauty.  He has provided for her.  He hasn't left her to herself in the ravaged landscape.  There hasn't been a day where she has been discarded or forgotten.  She starts to peer into His heart and she discovers mercy instead of wrath.  But, she is still wary of His chisel, the one that chips away at her stone-hard heart.

Her heart is a mixture of love and distrust.  How can both reside in her innermost frame?  She warily trusts Him enough to allow the chisel once again, and over time, He chips away the layers of her dead heart.  The pain is excruciating, but the sense of relief and wholeness that she feels afterwards makes it worthwhile. 

The Carpenter keeps hacking away at the awkwardly shaped heart of stone until one day, He finds what He was looking for...the innermost and purest part of His one true love.  He gently cradles it in His hands, breathes on it, and laughs out loud when rays of light start to bind up the jagged edges marked by His refiner's tool.

She is blinded by the light.  Could it be?  Beauty starts to emanate from every crevice.  Glory!  Does someone hear her?  Know her?  Love her?

The wilderness has allowed her to trust.  Her heart softens when His voice (that she has so desperately and shockingly started to crave) speaks.  She starts to recognize that she was created for this one love Him and be loved by Him.

She gazes into His pure eyes and tells Him she will go wherever He leads.  The mere thought of even momentarily being out of His embrace is enough to undo her.

So He takes her by the hand.

And she follows, this time with joyful and complete abandon.
{For the whole (Very Amazing) sermon by John Piper,
please click HERE.}

Saturday, September 3, 2016

A Psalm for September

I don't usually post just scripture without adding some commentary, but I felt led to do so.  I was praying a few days ago about the month of September and was led to this Psalm.  This morning, I thought verse 7 was interesting, with the earthquake in the center of our nation.  Perhaps these are words we should cling to this month.

Psalm 18  English Standard Version (ESV)

The Lord Is My Rock and My Fortress

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David, the servant of the Lord, who addressed the words of this song to the Lord on the day when the Lord rescued him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul. He said:

18 I love you, O Lord, my strength.

The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
    my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
    my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
    and I am saved from my enemies.
The cords of death encompassed me;
    the torrents of destruction assailed me;[a]
the cords of Sheol entangled me;
    the snares of death confronted me.
In my distress I called upon the Lord;
    to my God I cried for help.
From his temple he heard my voice,
    and my cry to him reached his ears.
Then the earth reeled and rocked;
    the foundations also of the mountains trembled
    and quaked, because he was angry.

Smoke went up from his nostrils,[b]
    and devouring fire from his mouth;
    glowing coals flamed forth from him.

He bowed the heavens and came down;
    thick darkness was under his feet.

10 He rode on a cherub and flew;
    he came swiftly on the wings of the wind.

11 He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him,
    thick clouds dark with water.

12 Out of the brightness before him
    hailstones and coals of fire broke through his clouds.
13 The Lord also thundered in the heavens,
    and the Most High uttered his voice,
    hailstones and coals of fire.

14 And he sent out his arrows and scattered them;
    he flashed forth lightnings and routed them.

15 Then the channels of the sea were seen,
    and the foundations of the world were laid bare
at your rebuke, O Lord,
    at the blast of the breath of your nostrils.
16 He sent from on high, he took me;
    he drew me out of many waters.

17 He rescued me from my strong enemy
    and from those who hated me,
    for they were too mighty for me.

18 They confronted me in the day of my calamity,
    but the Lord was my support.

19 He brought me out into a broad place;
    he rescued me, because he delighted in me.
20 The Lord dealt with me according to my righteousness;
    according to the cleanness of my hands he rewarded me.

21 For I have kept the ways of the Lord,
    and have not wickedly departed from my God.

22 For all his rules[c] were before me,
    and his statutes I did not put away from me.

23 I was blameless before him,
    and I kept myself from my guilt.

24 So the Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness,
    according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight.
25 With the merciful you show yourself merciful;
    with the blameless man you show yourself blameless;
26 with the purified you show yourself pure;
    and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous.

27 For you save a humble people,
    but the haughty eyes you bring down.

28 For it is you who light my lamp;
    the Lord my God lightens my darkness.

29 For by you I can run against a troop,
    and by my God I can leap over a wall.

30 This God—his way is perfect;[d]
    the word of the Lord proves true;
    he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.
31 For who is God, but the Lord?
    And who is a rock, except our God?—
32 the God who equipped me with strength
    and made my way blameless.

33 He made my feet like the feet of a deer
    and set me secure on the heights.

34 He trains my hands for war,
    so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.

35 You have given me the shield of your salvation,
    and your right hand supported me,
    and your gentleness made me great.

36 You gave a wide place for my steps under me,
    and my feet did not slip.

37 I pursued my enemies and overtook them,
    and did not turn back till they were consumed.

38 I thrust them through, so that they were not able to rise;
    they fell under my feet.

39 For you equipped me with strength for the battle;
    you made those who rise against me sink under me.

40 You made my enemies turn their backs to me,[e]
    and those who hated me I destroyed.

41 They cried for help, but there was none to save;
    they cried to the Lord, but he did not answer them.

42 I beat them fine as dust before the wind;
    I cast them out like the mire of the streets.
43 You delivered me from strife with the people;
    you made me the head of the nations;
    people whom I had not known served me.

44 As soon as they heard of me they obeyed me;
    foreigners came cringing to me.

45 Foreigners lost heart
    and came trembling out of their fortresses.
46 The Lord lives, and blessed be my rock,
    and exalted be the God of my salvation—
47 the God who gave me vengeance
    and subdued peoples under me,
48 who delivered me from my enemies;
    yes, you exalted me above those who rose against me;
    you rescued me from the man of violence.
49 For this I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations,
    and sing to your name.

50 Great salvation he brings to his king,
    and shows steadfast love to his anointed,
    to David and his offspring forever.