Friday, September 30, 2011

The Unthinkable

My 70 pound lap dog did the unthinkable.  She pooped on my front lawn.  Savannah peered over at me in my helpless estate, trapped on the treadmill, smiled, and took a squat.  I told her she was dead wrong for it, but she proceeded anyway.

And, then she did something else.  She pranced herself a few steps forward and kicked those back legs on the lawn, creating a small airborne concoction of dust, leaves and grass that floated over her stinky treasure.  All the while grinning at me.

Did she really think that was going to cover her stinking new pile of mess?

I think we humans can be just like ol' Savannah girl.  We can grin in the face of sin, cover it the best we know how, and keep on grinning as if we haven't transgressed against the One who bought our very souls.  He has come to set us free from all areas of bondage.  Will we let him, or are we proud of our stinky messes?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Rosh Hashanah

Today is the celebration of the Jewish Feast, Rosh Hashanah.  It started last night and goes on for two days.  If we can grasp Jewish culture better, then we can know our Jewish Savior better.  These feasts were set in place by God for the Israelites to participate in.  While we are under the new covenant, we can still glean so much of God's ways and our own futures if we will be mindful of them!  There are seven total feasts...four in the spring and three in the fall.  The spring feasts have been "fulfilled" in that Jesus has accomplished and brought about the purpose of those feasts.  I always get excited when September rolls around, because it ushers in the fall feasts, which are all only 15 days apart from one another.  I know they point to things that Jesus will fulfill as well! 

If this interests you, you can read what I wrote a few years ago...

fall feasts in general

Rosh Hashanah

And here is another...from someone who knows much more than I do!
awesome feast info!

Happy studying, you little Jewish scholar!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Straightening the Path

God is starting to open my eyes to certain key Hebrew words.  As I look up what something might mean in the Hebrew, I am amazed that I am starting to recognize words from previous passages.  {She can be taught...whoo hoo!}

These are some of the words that are starting to mean something not just to my brain, but to my innermost soul...
leb (heart)
tob (good)
nachalah (inheritance)
qanna (jealous)
simchah (joy)
chesed (mercy)
shub (return)
kabod (glory)

and the newest...yashar (straighten, to make right)

It is like a whole new world for me...I am no scholar...but finding the meanings of Hebrew words is like a treasure hunt that is worth more than anything else I can compare it to!

While in high school, I had one set of verses that trumped everything else:  "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways, acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths."

So, geek that I am, I looked up the Hebrew for "direct."  It is yashar, which means to straighten.  This reminded me of a verse that I have come to love only this past year which is Isaiah 45:2a "I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight..."  Guess what?  Straight means straight!  It is yashar here, as well.

Sometimes I think God tells us the same things over and over again in His word because He knows we are simple minded and need to be reminded.  How many times can He tell us not to be afraid?  Well, apparently, none too many, because it is the most repeated command in the bible.

How many times does He tell us that we only need to sit back, trust and let Him take over the wheel?  We aren't the drivers of this big rig called life!  When will we get that into our simple yet arrogant little minds?  He tells us that if we will trust Him and simply abide with Him...just walk with Him on a daily basis, then He is going to straighten that path that is before us. 

Life is hard.  It is hard to be us.  We live in enemy territory where the roads are curvy and dangerous.  The road signs seem to be written in another language.  When God shows up, He takes that road and straightens it before our very eyes.  He takes the unknown and makes it right.  Straight.  Just.  Peaceful.  Safe.  Fit. 

But He doesn't stop there.  Yes, he grants us wisdom to make wise decisions and follow the straight path regarding the future.   But, what about the times in the past that we haven't trusted and we've made a mess of things?  God is a God of restoration.  He wants to take our mess and turn it around for good.  We only have to repent and relinquish it and fully surrender.  That is amazing...that He can straighten the roads that are not only before us, but that were behind us as well.  There is nothing He can't redeem or straighten out or make right.  Yashar comes from the root word "yasha" which means to deliver.  He can deliver you out of the bondage of the past and put your feet on the straight and narrow!

It seems so simple:  I trust; He straightens.  I am not asked to give some sort of business plan or vision casting on how things might go...I simply relax.  And let the Driver drive. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Allowing the Wheat to Fall

I don't know if I have ever found such a rich topic as the threshing floor in the Bible.  Every time I study it, God shows me more and more!  It is like peeling back the layers of an onion...I can only hope I will grasp its whole significance!  God showed me so much on this subject a few years ago.  This post won't make any sense without reading that first

So, just this week, God is showing me that substitutionary death often takes place on a threshing floor.  Mt. Moriah was the location that encompassed all these things:

1.  Abraham about to offer Isaac when God Himself provided the ram.  Jesus is alluded to as the horn of our salvation since the ram was caught in the thicket by his horns.  This is the place where Jehovah is now Jireh...our very provision.  He allowed a substitutionary death in this place.

2.  David orders a census of the nation and his pride gets him in big trouble.  He would rather place himself at the mercy of God instead of man, but it still costs him 70,000 of his own men to a plague.  He goes to the threshing floor of Araunah and offers a sacrifice on an altar there.  (How awesome is it that this place belongs to a Gentile...a is like preluding the fact that salvation is for all, not just the Jewish people.)  It is the same location where Abraham offered Isaac!  Araunah offered to give him the threshing floor, but David insists on buying it.  He knows that substitutionary death (in this case, an animal) must cost something, or it means nothing. 

3.  Solomon (David's son) builds the temple (everything about this temple points to the coming Jesus) none other than the threshing floor of Araunah...the place where substitutionary death has already occurred twice.  God is saying that it is coming again...for a final the form of Jesus, his beloved Son.

And here is where the light bulbs are finally going off for me.  If I am a New Covenant Believer, then the temple of the Living God is inside of me.  Therefore the very temple in me is built on a threshing floor.  Jesus bought my threshing floor just like David bought Araunah's.  Jesus put His life on the altar and allowed the ultimate sacrifice so that my plague of sin and death might be stopped forever.

Grace bought me.  And it was costly.

Do I live my life worthy of this substitutionary death?  Do I allow constant threshing on my threshing allow the wheat to be separated from the chaff?  To allow the Holy Spirit to do a constant work of sanctification?  To allow Jesus to make me more like Him and less like the world?

Do I allow this?  Or do I pretend that my threshing floor didn't cost Him everything?

I think God is showing me a new way to pray...

"I pray that what is right would be weighted down with your glory (after all the Hebrew word for glory...kabod...means weight) and fall down on the threshing floor as true wheat.  I pray that my family and I would receive true nourishment from what is true instead of ingesting in what might hurt us.  I pray that what is false and unworthy of our time or the gospel would become like chaff on the threshing floor.  I pray that the wind would sweep and carry all chaff away without leaving any trace behind."

I can pray this over so many areas!
*how we spend our time as a family
*our boys' hearts
*my husband's work
*our futures and all decisions
*my own spiritual growth
*the words that come out of our mouths

Thursday, September 22, 2011

More on Waiting...More on Hope

The theme is still strong in the recesses of this thing called heart.
Daring to hope.

Not just for me, but those around me.

If you are right there with me, you will find encouragement in these words:

"Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?"  John 11:40

'Dear friend, you do not have to understand all God's ways of dealing with you.  He does not expect you to understand them.  You do not expect your children to understand everything you do--you simply want them to trust you.  And someday you too will see the glory of God in the things you do not understand.'  JHM (from the devotional Streams in the Desert)

Perhaps she says it best in this post...God has graced her writing like no one else...if you have never read her blog, you are in for sheer soul delight:  when it's hard to keep on hoping

Be blessed today.  God's glory is just around the corner.  Well, perhaps it is now...Lord, give us eyes to see.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The In-Between

I started the Beth Moore Bible study on the life of David.  It was the only study of hers that I haven't done, so I was so excited that our church was offering it.  For whatever reason, I have never really been compelled to study David...which is terribly awful of me, since he is, you know, a man after God's own heart.  You'd think I'd be all over that character like white on rice.

God's been talking to me some about the in-between of life.  I guess while reading about young shepherd boy David being anointed King, it kind of hit me:  he went straight back to tending sheep as if nothing at all had changed.  He wasn't going to become King right away, so he did the next best thing:  take care of what God had already entrusted to him.  In his case, sheep. 

Truth is, the anointing and promise was to help prepare David for what lay ahead.  He needed to keep tending sheep so that he would know how to soon tend after a nation with care and strength. 

But, those years of waiting.  What on earth was going through David's mind?

Have you been anointed for something?  Has God given you a promise?  Does the realization of it seem far off?  What do we do with the in-between...the moments of confusion that lie between the promise and the actualization? 

I have found that God is often silent during these times.  It seems to be the time when I want Him to speak the loudest and in His silence, He seems to be telling me that He wants me to exercise my faith by simply believing what He has already spoken. 

And keep waiting...

I hate the waiting part.  But, the waiting is what enlarges me.  Enlarges my faith.  Forces me to once again curl up in my Father's lap and trust.  Trust seems so easy when He speaks a word over us.  Yes, Lord, I'll take it right now, thank you very much.  But, there is always purpose in the waiting.  The waiting itself seems to provide another journey of increasing trust in the Sovereign One.

How does God deal with you during the in-between?

Sam's Party

All kinds of adorable little kids came to help Sam celebrate!  I think he felt so special...finally having a day that was all about him!  I am so glad you are 6, big boy!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Walmart Greeters and the Lost Art of Caring

I entered Walmart fully aware of all the things that could happen:

A.  Sleezy, middle aged men staring me down like a piece of meat
B.  Frantic, harried women who don't see me or my cart and mow me down
C.  Toddlers throwing temper tantrums when they don't take 'no' very well
D.  all the above

I braced myself, only entering because my newest hog tshirt addition didn't fit around my middle.  shame.

But, the strangest thing happened.  While allowing the older greeter-gentleman to scan my too-tight-shirt so I might make the return, I noticed another older gentleman that was talking to him, dimples on both sides, treating this greeter with respect and joy.  It was such a thing to witness...older men respecting each other...even though they didn't know each other at all.  And then another strange thing happened...another older gentleman came up to the greeter and informed him that yet another older gentleman sitting yonder on the bench was 92!  92 and still that man could drive...wasn't that a thing to behold, said the one man to the other. And then another strange thing happened...the original greeter-gentleman took the time to notice my hog hat and proceeded to take the time to tell me a hog joke.

And there the lot of us were...4 old gentlemen and a hog lady acting as if we were neighbors and had known and loved each other our whole lives.  It felt right.  It felt human.  It felt like it was God's way.

It made me realize that my generation and under have lost the art of caring.  We have lost the art of taking the time to look someone in the eye, smile, say hello, and even tell a hog joke.  We have lost the art of finding the joy in a complete stranger still being able to drive at the age of 92.

Most of us are too busy to even notice that there is a Walmart greeter or that there is an elderly gentleman sitting on the bench.  We are so tied up with our to-do lists and phones and texts and the never ending list of "what's next" that we no longer take the time to notice others.

Forget the tight-around-the-middle-hog-shirt.  This is true shame.

How are we going to care for our neighbors if we don't even take the time to see them?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Happy Birthday Sam

hooray!  you are finally 6 years old!
you have been waiting for this day for a whole year.

you captured my heart from the moment I saw that pregnancy test turn positive
I can't imagine our family without you

{strong and courageous
bold and silly
dramatic and lover of girls
giver of great hugs
builder of towers
favorite youngest brother
momma's baby boy
daddy's good looks
tender heart that longs to be known
bold prayers for your heart's desires
I wouldn't have created you any. other. way.}

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I'm ready for fall, how bout' ya'll?

I have never had a fall wreath.  Ever.  So, this year, I saved up some photog money, marched myself down to Hobby Lobby, grabbed my favorite wreath that was half off, added some pumpkins and other embellishments, and voila, my first fall wreath.  I couldn't be happier.  Imagine my delight when I opened the coffee table (which I never do) and found a fall candle that I had put away last year to use for this fall!  Hello, gratitude!  Now it smells nice around here, too.  How are you getting your house ready for fall?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Door of Hope

I have had a couple of verses on my heart for a couple of weeks.  "Therefore-behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her.  And I will give her the vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope:  and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt."  Hosea 2:14-15

Sometimes we have to enter into some Jewish historical imagery to understand something.  For Americans, it is no problem to pull up an image of 9/11 in our minds.  We vividly see planes heading towards buildings, people jumping, children crying, firemen and rubble, chaos, utter destruction, and a picture of despair.  We can enter into the hopelessness just by seeing one single image.

It was the same way with the Israelites and the Valley of Achor.  Achor means "trouble" or "to cause affliction."  For them, just like us, it was a picture of the harmful effects of sin. Picture this with me:  the Israelites, under the command of Joshua, are defeating the enemies and claiming their promised land.  They are taking the land that God is giving, one battle at a time.  Jericho has just fallen and God has commanded that the silver, gold and all valuables be put into the treasury of the Lord.

Achan, an Israelite, takes matters into his own hands.  Greed and lust consume him as he takes some of the devoted things for himself.  He directly disobeys and he is directly held accountable.  He and all that belongs to him are brought into the Valley of Achor and stoned.  Everything...his wife, children, treasure, oxen, sheep, tent, everything that he had was brought to the valley and stoned.  (I am sure that our post-modern minds are screaming that this isn't fair, but that is how much we whitewash sin these days.)  It was then set on fire.  God wanted the accursed to be destroyed.  He needed his children to know that he didn't take sin lightly.  After the ashes settled, they raised up a great heap of stones...a dreadful visual reminder of the nasty effects of sin.

So why on earth are verses like Isaiah 65:10 so amazing???..."Sharon will become a pasture for flocks, and the valley of Achor a resting place for herds, for my people who seek me." If I understand the Word correctly, the valley of Achor lay between Jericho and Jerusalem.  The Israelites had just conquered Jericho and were in the valley about to continue the conquest, when sin interrupted their journey.  Because of one man's sin, the people lost the battle of Ai.  It seemed as if the door of inheritance had been closed forever.  Was God no longer on their side?  Had He brought them this far just to leave them to themselves?

But, after sin is dealt with, and because of grace, the valley of trouble becomes the door of hope.  They must enter into this valley to claim the promises of God.  Their dead end, where everything seems a loss, the place where they couldn't escape the visual reminder of grief...this is the very place that becomes their door of hope and entrance into the vineyards of promise.

What if God desires the same thing for us?  Hosea 2:14-15 says he is wooing his bride out to a place where he can speak comfortably with her.  "Comfortably" in Hebrew is "leb" which means "heart."  God is getting us to a place where He can literally speak heart to heart with us.  When we experience the God who talks heart to heart, then our valley of trouble, heartache, and disappointment can be redeemed and become our very door of hope and entrance into our inheritance.

God is all about restoration and making all things new.  He can take that very thing that makes you cringe and turn it into a place of rest.   He loves to take the source of calamity and turn it into a source of blessing for us. 

What is the Valley of Achor for you?  I am sure you have your own images that play through your mind.  You probably want to run as far away from this place as possible.  But, what if we allowed God to redeem this place of trouble and turn it into a door of hope?  "It is as if a place distinguished for causing trouble should become as celebrated for producing happiness."  (Barnes)

God wants to turn your place of sorrow into a place of entrance into blessing and promise; joy and restoration.

Monday, September 5, 2011

this day of grace

My heart had been waiting for this morning for 5 months, I think
A morning to slip outside, curl up in a blanket with a cup of coffee
and listen
and see
and smell
and feel
all the grace all around
a moment
to smile as the trees dance to grace notes
and the dog rolls in fresh blades of grass bathed in pure sunlight
with camera around my neck
I prayed to see
and exercise a heart of thanks
all the while pondering that
grace is a synonym for gratitude
could it be that God had left
one single gardenia bloom
just for me
and this day of grace

{i laughed out loud when I saw my sis in law kelli had blogged on the same topic...
hop over there for her eloquent writing}