Monday, September 29, 2014

October Preview!

Fun things are about to happen over here at Moop and Saba!!! I am doing something I have never done before. I am going to take a topic and write about it for 31 days!  It is my passion to see God clearly so I decided to call my 31 days:  See God!  Hope you will join me on this little adventure starting on October 1!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Tribulum

Man, I am shaking because I can hardly type fast enough to show you what God taught me yesterday!  As you know, I am a word nerd.  I love etymology and the roots of words.  I feel like we could be so much smarter if we simply knew language a little better! 

If you have been around moop and saba for a few years, then you might remember God showing me all about the significance of the threshing floor.  Here are a couple of posts on that... here and here. (This post will be so much more meaningful if you read those first!)  I had no idea so many important biblical events took place at threshing floors

The theme of threshing floor has been on my heart for years and if I had time to write a book or bible study, I think that is what God would call me to write about.  That is why I am so fascinated with what He revealed to me last night.

The idea of end times/tribulation/rapture/being right with God has been extremely heavy on my heart lately.  I believe God is calling His children unto righteousness and making sure there is nothing standing between His heart and theirs.  In my spirit, I feel like a great change is coming either to the world, or just America.  I sense that God (in His MERCY) is going to allow something that will drive our hearts back to him.  He simply can't stand by forever when we legalize things that He has all along called abominations. It breaks His heart and I believe He wants us to recognize our sins and turn from wickedness. He wants to be the true lover of our souls.  He is El Quanna, the jealous God.

I can hear many modern day "John the Baptists" crying out in the desert, saying, "Prepare ye the way of the Lord."  He is coming. Are we ready to behold His face?

I truly want to believe in the pre-trib rapture and when I study everything I can, that is where I tend to land.  But, that doesn't mean that things won't get more difficult before the rapture comes. 

Enter the tribulum.  It is latin for a threshing sledge or threshing board.  It is a wooden board with pieces of rock (probably sharp pieces of flint) driven into the underneath.  A donkey or ox would drag the board across piles of wheat in order to separate the wheat from the chaff...or in other words, the grain from the husk. It pressed or crushed out the edible and useful part from the part that would be burned up later in the fire.

We get our word "tribulation" from this word.  A tribulation is a pressing or crushing of individuals or nations. 

Eric and I have gone through periods of tribulation and trial.  We have been ripped up bit by bit and put into situations of heartache and affliction.  We know now, after experiencing God's mercy, that the purpose of these times wasn't for cruelty but to expose and draw out the parts of us that looked the most like Jesus.  God ripped us up in order to bring out the precious grain that would be able to bless and feed others.  The tribulations were not in vain, but to bring about maturing faith in us and to point to God's glory.  The time of threshing drew us deeper into the love that God has for us.

I believe times of tribulation are ahead. I think God in His mercy wants to draw close to us and knows that He will have to yank away some idols in order to do so.  Perhaps the Great Tribulation will not affect believers, but that doesn't mean we won't have trying times in the near future.

My heartbeat right now is this:  We, as Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, should be repenting of our sins and praying for His mercy to fall on our whatever form that mercy takes.  We are to make things right with not only God but with others as well.  He wants our whole hearts and He isn't beyond using tribulation to bring us straight into that merciful place where we desire Him above everything else.

Blessings.  I truly love you guys.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Ponyboy and that Firstborn Son

While sitting in Mr. Baudino's AP literature class in high school, I had visions of sitting in his chair instead of my own.  I had dreams of being the one to make weeping students memorize Hamlet's 'To Be or Not To Be' Soliloquy or have them scratch out drawings of Huck's adventures.

I had it all mapped out.  I was going to be an English teacher.  Students would come to love literature and realize just how much fun it could be. Years later, I finished my English degree and became certified to teach at the secondary level.

While doing my student teaching, I fell head over heels for my first group of kids.  They were a hilarious bunch of 8th graders who made fun of me when I pronounced their last names incorrectly and smiled sweetly at me as I stumbled my way through my first lessons.

My first unit was on The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton.  It is a coming of age novel set in a world where the Greasers are at war with the Socialites. Ponyboy, the main character, has a lot to learn when the real and broken world is thrown at him at the ripe old age of 14.  As a class, we dissected a poem by Robert Frost referenced in The Outsiders, entitled, "Nothing Gold Can Stay."

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

I loved sharing the unit with kids I had come to love.

And then the sickness began.

My stomach issues would just not let up.  I told Mrs. Davis (the amazing English teacher I was student teaching under) that there was something totally and completely wrong with me.

I think you are pregnant, she said. 

I started taking pregnancy test after pregnancy test but they all came back negative. Eric encouraged me to go see Dr. Cole.  Blood doesn't lie. We were expecting our first baby!

Now God had plans a little different than my own.  I was going to teach for a few years and then have babies and then probably quit to stay home with them.  God said, no.  You are having a baby now and you aren't going to use this degree in the way you think you will. I had that first baby, then a few more over the years because motherhood became my new-found passion. I never looked back and I never regretted not entering the field of teaching. (All hats off to you amazing grateful for your calling and your unending investment into the future generation!)

Enter a couple of nights ago.  I went into that now 8th grade firstborn son's room to throw some clean clothes onto his bed.  He was sitting in his chair, curled up with none other than The Outsiders.  My breath was almost taken away as I marveled at how fast time can fly.  Wasn't it just yesterday that I was teaching that novel and finding out about his arrival? I went back into my room with equal parts joy, hysteria, and nostalgia. 

Hug your babies. Hug them tightly. 

Nothing gold can stay...

Saturday, September 20, 2014

When Sovereignty is all that Remains

While digging through some old things today, I came across these words that Eric wrote 5 years ago. When he wrote them, he had no idea that his father would one day be diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.  This summer, I have fallen even deeper in love with this man of mine as I have watched him be a source of strength and stability for his family through this time of confusion, pain, and heartache. 
Eric still believes what he wrote all those years ago...and leads our family with these principles as well.  I can't get over how blessed I am to call him mine.
Our prayer for Herb is complete healing and restoration of his physical body while here on earth.  We know without a doubt that the Lord can simply speak "BE GONE!" and every single cancer cell will flee his body.  But, we also rest in the fact that God's ways are so much higher than our own.  His sovereign (and good) plan is what enables us to sleep at night and keeps us from despair during the day.  We rest in that matter what that plan looks like.
I thought Eric's words might bring encouragement in whatever you are facing, too.

When Sovereignty is all that remains… An interesting thought isn’t it? One which I spend quite a bit of time thinking on these days. It has been brought close to home in our lives. I have found it opens up our "soul door" for many strong emotions. Fear. Uncertainty. Faithlessness. Abject vulnerability. Anger. Control. Personally, I find my greatest “emotional warring” with God at this place - where His sovereignty invades my life.

It seems over the last several months, God has let me see scripture from this perspective as well. Let me share an example, from the story of Abraham. In Genesis 15, Abraham and God have an interesting discussion.

 Let me summarize: Abraham: God all this stuff is great, but I do not have a son, so how am I going to be a great nation? Right now it looks like a servant in my household will inherit all this.

God: Know this, your servant will not inherit my promise, but a son will inherit everything I will give you. In fact, go outside and look up - your descendants will be like the stars in the sky.

Abraham: God, that sounds great, how can I trust you, because it has not happened yet?

Here is where I want to get, verses 13-16: "Then the LORD told Abram (in a vision), 'You can be sure your descendants will be strangers in a foreign land, and they will be oppressed as slaves for four hundred years. But I will punish the nation that enslaves them, and in the end they will come away with great wealth. (But you will die in peace, at a ripe old age.) After four generations your descendants will return here to this land, when the sin of the Amorites has run its course."

God's response to Abram's question of how do I trust: Sovereignty. My response to God would have been along the lines of "I thought we were talking about making me into a great nation. Is there a better way to spend the next 400 years? Have I messed up what we are doing? What can I do to get a different plan put in place here God?" Abram's response? Silence. In fact, as the remainder of the story unfolds in Genesis, you never read any questioning of this sovereign plan.

We live in a culture and society where the matter of sovereignty can exist as a theological abstract, yet we are able to move about our lives utterly removed from God's sovereignty in our daily lives.

Of course, we occasionally bump into sovereignty here and there, especially when life gets uncomfortable. But once we pull on our “levers of control”, which our rational, technical culture provide us, well then, we can quaintly go back to engaging God as we want. You know, A+B=C. God, I give regularly each month, I expect.....(fill in the blank). Or, God we are seeking you, why won't you remove us from......(fill in the blank). We like the formula of God I do this, therefore, You do this. It is an equation we can count on, trust in, utilize, call upon – in summary: Control.

Reality is this – He is not there, is He? He does not inhabit those equations of control we try to know Him in. God will not be known that way. As Mr. Tumnus says in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, "after all, he isn't a safe Lion."

Let's bring this home. Have you watched a friend or parent waste away with cancer to a former image of themselves? How about losing a sibling or a child to suicide? What about a business failure, or an extended period of being without a job? A friend who betrays deeply? A spouse that cheats, either physically or emotionally? A child that chooses a life of rebellion?

Do we see God's sovereignty in the midst of it, or do we equate that something is "wrong" in our lives and needs fixing? That we have somehow gotten on God's wrong side and we need to pull the proper levers to get this situation changed. Somewhere we have broken the equation, have gotten an 'M' substituted for either the 'A' or the 'B'.

Let me ask this: What if nothing is wrong? What if God's answer is, "know this, I have brought this about so that my glory will be made known in your sickness", or perhaps, "I have you in the desert because this is the season for the desert."

The Psalmist says, “Our God is in the heavens, he does as he pleases,” (Psalm 115:3). Daniel 4:35 states, "All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: 'What have you done?'"

At those times, we come face to face with Yahweh, the Creator of all things. The One who holds all things together. He who sets kings on thrones and deposes them. He who raises up nations and brings them down. He who grants wealth and poverty. He who set the boundaries for the seas and storehouses of snow. He who cares for widows and orphans. He who left His throne to redeem those He loves. He whose kingdom will never end. He who is simply – I AM.

When sovereignty is all that remains, we must be sifted and broken till we are content with God being God and that being enough for us. Why you ask? It is there we find Him.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

When the Heart is Homesick

I pause to take a breath and feel myself longing.  I can't even put into words what I am longing for other than home.  A home I have never been to before.  I look around and know I wasn't made for this.  The stressful schedule, the chemo and radiation aftereffects and heartache, the holding of my breath when I see my Dad's leg so swollen, the beheading of my sisters and brothers....I know deep down plague, pestilence, and pain weren't part of the original design.

Sojourners. Settlers with a place to dwell with no rights of citizenship.  Strangers.  Aliens. Pilgrims.  Visitors.

Do you ever get the eerie feeling that we just don't belong here?

I am homesick.  Sick for a place that won't allow sickness.  Sick for a home that I have never laid eyes on.  Sick for a Savior that made it all possible.

I feel like we are in the end days.  Technically, the end days started during the ministry of Jesus.  But, I feel like we are at the end of the end.  That brings such hope...that home awaits!

It also stirs up something else in this soul. Repentance.  If I truly will see my Father soon, is everything right between us?  Did I steward His money well?  Did I treat His children with grace and kindness? Did I use my gifts and time for His glory instead of trying to make a name for myself?  Did I choose the Spirit over the weak flesh?

I so badly want to run into His arms and hear him whisper, Well Done.

Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) as well as the Shemitah (Jewish Sabbatical Year) begins next Tuesday, September 24th.  This time of year always makes me a little more homesick.  Perhaps this will be the year my faith becomes my eyes.

Rosh Hashanah ushers in a 10 day period of prayer, self examination, and repentance.  You might say, ummm, I am not Jewish and not under the law.  Maybe so, but Jesus was Jewish and Peter under the new covenant said this:  "Dear friends, since you are foreigners and temporary residents [in the world], I'm encouraging you to keep away from the desires of your corrupt nature. These desires constantly attack you." 1 Peter 2:11

May He find us faithful. A few more steps and we just might be there...

Monday, September 15, 2014

Happy 9th!

This big boy is 9. I can hardly stand it. He loves music and I am praying God gives him a heart of worship and the gift to lead others in worship. Sam is such a joy to our family. He keeps us in stitches for sure. We are so thankful God blessed us with him! 

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Counterfeit Garden

My mini garden (aka: front yard landscaping) is a hodgepodge of whatever the previous owner left behind.  Lucky me, that includes Lantana and Gerbera daisies.

I noticed the craziest thing this summer.  Despite our efforts of spraying a bunch of weed killer and laying down fresh mulch, the weeds still come right up.  But what really blew my mind is that the weeds take on the form of whatever they are growing besides.  Right beside the yellow Gerbera daisies sprouted weeds that had very similar leaves and even long yellow flowers!  Right beside our fern thingy came up a weed that looked eerily similar.  Now, since I don't have a green thumb, I really had to get on my hands and knees and sort through what was real and what was counterfeit.

I've contemplated a lot about the Osteens and other Christian leaders that throw in just enough scripture to make their platitudes sound true.  But, what if they are not the real deal?  What if they are just yellow weeds that look like yellow Gerbera daisies?

I have thought about slander and how my words can cast someone in a negative light.  I don't want to do that here.  What I want is to tell all believers to be cautious.  One of the sneakiest places the enemy can show up is the pulpit, mixing just enough truth with lies that he stumps our little minds and knows if it sounds true, then he has us in defeat and chains. It is the very tactic he used on Eve in the garden. It is so imperative that we know our Bible for ourselves, not simply based on what someone tells us on Sunday mornings or a television channel. Get on your hands and knees and sort through what is counterfeit; the Holy Spirit will show you what is real!

I recently read a status update from a friend in college that totally berated evangelicals and my heart just tore.  She loved Jesus big back then.  What along the way has disillusioned her beliefs?  I pray and pray and beg God to show Himself to her in the true way.

I've thought about my own life and how I am thankful I am not in the spotlight where my words and actions can be dissected under a magnifying glass.

But that isn't really the case, is it?  We all are a witness to whether or not God is who He says He is. We are all representing the King and influencing someone.

God is so brave, to enter into us and expect mere humans to be a part of the display of His Kingdom.

So brave.

On my prayer journey, I have felt led to pray for the Saints (hagios: set apart, sacred, different...) to be convicted of hidden and open sins.  I had to start with myself, and it is a continual and daily taste of bile. Why is sin so beautiful and tasteful when you cherish it and yet so hideous when it comes out in the open? Only the light of Christ can show us what sin really looks like on us. Only Jesus can tear down the weeds and implant the true garden.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

All in the Choosing

My memory is short these days.  I joke and say that I gave each kid 25% of my brain and I am now either running on fumes or laughing gas.  Those 4 kids also stole all my amazing athletic ability.  But that's another story.

I have it all planned out.  My looney house, that is.  It is going to look just like the white mansion in the movie, The Notebook.  It will overlook water, of course.  Come see me in a few, ok?

In all seriousness, God takes forgetfulness ummm, seriously.  I am not talking about when I forget to throw in an extra diaper or take out the trash.  Instead, I am referring to forgetting His acts or not being openly thankful when I see Him in action. 

Sproul says, "All that we have and all that we are we owe ultimately to the benevolence of our Creator.  To slight Him by withholding appropriate gratitude is to exalt ourselves and debase Him."  I don't want to have a short memory when it comes to remembering all He has done for me.

Sproul brings up something I had never considered before.  He said that in the story of the ten lepers, most preachers will tell you how when Jesus healed them, only one was grateful.  He calls that nonsense because as a leper, you would have endured not just physical misery but isolation and rejection from all of society as well.

It only makes sense that all ten lepers were grateful!  I can envision them all staring at their cleansed skin, running home to embrace their families! 

Sproul says the difference is that only one leper chose to express his thankfulness.  Only one took the time to actually give thanks.  "Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus' feet, giving him thanks."  (from Luke 17) 

We should take the time to really pause and turn away from whatever holds our attention and offer up thanksgiving.  (Don't you know the thankful leper wanted to run home but instead took the time to praise!)

Make me a woman who remembers and blesses you continually, Father.  Your affection and grace toward me are everlasting.

"If God never grants us another glimpse of His glory in this life, if He never grants us another request, if He never gives us another gift from the abundance of His grace, we still would be obligated to spend the rest of our lives thanking Him for what He already has done.  We have already been blessed enough to be moved daily to thanksgiving.  Nevertheless, God continues to bless us." {from "Does Prayer Change Things? by RC Sproul}