Posts Categorized: scripture

Indulging in Obedience

 

Matthew 4:3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4But he answered, “It is written,

“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

For two months I have been more intentional about exercise and healthier eating. And for two months my weight has wavered at about the same weight, but never decreased. I have not grown discouraged because I know I am doing the work, but yesterday I asked God why? And he answered.

It is about control. He’s in control, and I am not. Whether it was anorexia or overindulgence, my unhealthy relationship with food has always been all about me. God wants all of me, not just what I choose to give him, and therefore, he is not allowing the needle to move until He matters to me more than results. Will I love him, praise him and obey him if the needle never moves an inch? When I am satisfied with God alone I will no longer be prone to extremes.

Whether food or other addictions, I am convinced and convicted that when God is the center of our universe nothing else satisfies. Jesus rebuked Satan by stating that man doesn’t live by bread alone, but by every word of God. In other words, obedience to God is more important than filling my belly. In the Old Testament story of Babylonian captivity, Daniel and his friends refused to eat the rich food of the king, because God had commanded them not to;he had set them apart. Their obedience was rewarded with better health and position, over those who ate the food. It wasn’t about the food, it was about obeying God. God gives favor in all areas, even in enemy territory when we give control to him.  Trusting that God wants good things for me, I don’t have to take matters into my own hands, which is the starting place of addiction. And, with God in charge I am no longer a slave to food!

Promotion: Crossing the Line of What Ifs

2 Corinthians 3:2 You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; 3being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.…

Ephesians 4:10 He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.) 11And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;…

Completion opens the door for promotion, but it also opens us to rejection. Much of my struggle with depression has stemmed from a desire to say just the right thing and do just the right thing, to please others. And, at the first sign of displeasure, I quit. I bought the lie that the incomplete was safer than risking completion, and therefore, further rejection.

But, in this world rejection is guaranteed. Jesus had more followers leave him, than stick with him! (John 6:67) Just ask Dr. Zeus or Picasso if completion resulted in rejection from man. History is replete with man’s rejection. By not completing what God assigns us to do, we attempt to control the what ifs and disappointments of life. God has brought me into repentance and realization that Jesus, for the joy set before him, completed the cross! How can I not also do the same? God expands our tent as we are faithful. Through completion we draw clearer conclusions about life and base further action on the reality of our beliefs.

I believe that God’s power surges through my writing. His word will not go out and come back void, no matter how imperfect I am. Risking publication, putting these blog posts into a book form to encourage and help a wider audience, who may be grieving and struggling with depression, is scary. I printed out the first draft of the daily devotionals, just before our trip to Texas, and it was like a line drawn in the sand was crossed. I am, heart pounding, deeper into enemy territory than I have ever been before. There is no longer any question that I am a “letter writer”, bolder and more skilled in the gospel message through written form, rather than public speaking. Words open my eyes wider to God, delighting in discovery of his truth, and more resolved in purpose. I’ve shared my journey with you for almost two years, crossing the line of private thought, to encourage you publicly . . . but to reach farther? How can I not share his love and presence through writing?

God has uniquely gifted each of us to share the gospel. Lay claim, in obedience to His will, to His complete work revealed through you.

Standing Between the Grave and Resurrection

John 20:11But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. 12And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”

Death =  How serious God takes sin.

Resurrection = How serious God takes forgiveness.

 

I stand between the tomb and the resurrection. It is so hard for me to not stare into the darkness of the grave expecting to see the mangled body of my son. It is harder for me to look into heaven and see the resurrection power of the Son of God in the life of my son. Our pastor reminded us this morning that the men and women who ran to the empty tomb did not have the full context of what was happening, like we do.

Even with the full implication of the open tomb-death where is your sting -I am like the women headed to the grave to anoint the body. The followers believed that their hopes and dreams were buried with the miracle-working rabbi. No matter how much I have seen of God’s faithfulness, no matter that I myself was dead in my sins and made alive by the love of Christ, the resurrection power is not yet fully at work in me. I don’t believe that resurrection can happen in my circumstances. Heaven is distant and the grave is up close and way too concrete for me to embrace the freedom and power God’s perspective has for me. I am still morning who I thought Jesus was to embrace him right now even though I know he is calling me by name.

Father, you are patient with me. I feel the soil of grief more than the seeds of your presence with me. What is it that you are teaching me about heaven? Open my eyes that I may recognize you, my gardener and savior when you are standing right in front of me! Help me to embrace the resurrection of Jesus so that the fullness of your forgiveness can be revealed in me. Amen.

 

15Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic,b “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 17Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.

A Moment to Cry Out

“His middle name should be Patrick.” Jonathan said as I shared with him he was going to have a baby brother.

I liked the sound of Patrick, it fit well with Daniel. “Why Patrick?” I asked.

“Because your Irish, and this is one lucky baby!” Jonathan declared.

 

I have been insulating myself lately with numbness, but sooner or later the feeling creeps back in. My soul is crying out in anguish today. I miss you desperately my son. The only thing for my brokenness is to climb into my Daddy’s lap and allow him to rock me with the lullaby of scripture.

Psalm 13:5But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. 6I will sing to the LORD, Because He has dealt bountifully with me.

Psalm 69:3 I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched. My eyes fail, looking for my God.. . 13But as for me, my prayer is to you, O LORD. At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness.

Psalm 119:41 …40 Behold, I long for Your precepts; Revive me through Your righteousness. Vav. 41May Your lovingkindnesses also come to me, O LORD, Your salvation according to Your word; 42So I will have an answer for him who reproaches me, For I trust in Your word.…

Jeremiah 31:3 “I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness. 4“Again I will build you and you will be rebuilt, O virgin of Israel! Again you will take up your tambourines, And go forth to the dances of the merrymakers.…

 

Do I Need to Climb Into the Pit to Understand You?

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

John 21:15When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”

 

“I don’t think anyone can understand what I’m going through, unless they have been there.”

“If you want to understand someone you have to walk a mile in their shoes.”

“You have such a good testimony. My faith has never been tested like that.”

 

I have heard statements like this for a long time and I didn’t realize why they make me cringe, until today. I state again, Jesus ate with sinners, but he did not become a sinner to understand our pain. I do not buy the idea that somehow, those who have not been touched in someway by suicide cannot understand my pain and grief. If you are in the flesh, you can understand. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

The effectiveness of our empathy for the broken comes from how closely we are relating to the love of God, not how much we relate to each other. I think I have just rebuffed about every method of psychology we use to address what ails us in that statement. If we really want to counter suicide and depression then we need to love like Jesus. Only then will we feed his sheep, sacrifice for others, take persecution and forgive our enemies.

The closer I draw to the love of my heavenly Father the more I love and am broken hearted for your pain and struggles. And, since there was no separation between Jesus and the love of God he loves us completely! This was the first truth I had to accept when I began walking with Jesus. Scripture is a love note from beginning to end, even the hard parts. From the beginning of creation God has loved us.

When Jesus asks you if you love him, what is your answer?

Romans 11:33

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!

How unsearchable his judgments,

and his paths beyond tracing out!

34“Who has known the mind of the Lord?

Or who has been his counselor?”

35“Who has ever given to God,

that God should repay them?”

36For from him and through him and for him are all things.

To him be the glory forever! Amen.

I see Paul hunched over his writing table, earnestly wrestling with the place where God’s holy and perfect sovereignty meets our free will. “32For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.”

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe 
If you are anything like me, you lean in one direction or the other, but oh the power we will have when we accept the full wildness of who God is. We want Him to be safe, or we want God to be powerful, but we don’t want him to be safe and all powerful at the same time. We try to place a divider between Old and New Testament and treat Him as if he is two separate Gods. Remember, the cross of love was brutal, the scars permanent, and the forgiveness complete. That’s inconceivable! Man meant (acted in our free will) crucifixion for evil, but God meant it for our good. To save many!
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It is uncomfortable being shaped inside the Chrysalis of His hands! It was the same for all the patriarchs!  Joseph’s journey was painful, but he was able to see that God was both sovereign and gave mankind free will. He told his brothers who sold him into slavery, 20“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.” Transformation occurs when we both submit to the sovereignty of God and exercise our free will to obey and glorify Him.

I believe standing in this spot, meditating on the fullness of God’s character is where I accept that he did not cause my son’s death AND His perfect will is working through Jonathan’s death. How can both statements be true? I know this much, I would not be sitting here sharing my story with you. As I reconcile myself to God in the flesh, who used his free will to die for me,  I also open myself to His will for my worst enemy! Many will be saved. That is indisputable. Amen and Amen!

 

Jesus’ Cologne

Breathe in the sweet fragrance of scripture, until

we recognize his scent on humanity.

 

 

Attacked, but Not Powerless

1 Corinthians 16:13 Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. (ESV)

Just ran into a friend fresh in the process of grieving the death of her newborn grandson. She relayed that the enemy was attacking her in the midst of her sorrow with a barrage of doubts and fears that everything that she does is meaningless.

Our enemy is merciless! He is no respecter of grief, depression, or even joy! Some of the seemingly happiest people are under deep attack. Why? No matter whether any of us believe in our creator, Satan does. He hates God, and his goal is to destroy everything God deems beautiful and good. We are the crown joy of God’s creation. As wonderful as nature is, only we are made in the image of Yahweh and receive His breath of life, therefore, we are Satan’s prime target.

Recognizing that Satan will not relent is crucial. Protecting ourselves and gaining ground does not happen by accident. We must guard ourselves, be secure in what we believe to be true, be true to the character God has placed in us, and continue to exercise our spiritual muscles. Warriors train, they listen to the guidance of their commanders, they prepare every day for battle, and they stay alert.

Lord, I am really battle weary today. Help me to rest in your arms tonight and allow you to strengthen my body, mind, and spirit. Amen

 

 

Would You Walk Through The Door?

Philippians1:29For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, 30experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me.

 

You stand in a room filled with doors. Each one opens to a path you could take, but only one leads to the salvation of many people. If you walk through that door you will experience depression, betrayal, abuse, overwhelming loss, constant stress, persecution and die an early death. Would you walk through the door?

Let me know your thoughts.

 

From Cover to Cover

Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

(Special thanks to my cousin, for reminding me of my grandmother’s yearly commitment to reading through the Bible and the words falling afresh on her mind in each year of reading.)

Genesis 1-3

  1. Repeatedly God looks at what is created and observes that it was good, and his final conclusion, very good. (Genesis 1)
    • If it was very good, does that mean the possibility of being bad?
    • Only one thing was not good. “for man to be alone”(Genesis 2)
    • Is it possible that God himself was the light of the world before day 4?
  2. We are to be stewards of every plant and living creature that he has given to us.
    • How am I cultivating a sense of wonder and respect for nature?
  3. I hadn’t noticed before that God “planted” the garden in Eden. He didn’t speak it into existence. (Genesis 2)
  4. No rain. God watered the earth through mist.
  5. God established the boundaries of all things.
  6. The first thing that we noticed when our eyes were opened was that we were naked. We went from no shame to feeling shame for our bodies that God created. (Genesis 3)
  7. Isn’t it interesting that in their eyes being opened to good and evil, that Eve acknowledges that the serpent had deceived her.

Matthew 1

  1. God walked on earth, intimately interacted with his creation from the beginning. He did again through his son Jesus, and he is with us now through the Holy Spirit. The very same Holy Spirit that conceived a child in Mary and rested upon the disciples!
    • Do I live in this power?
  2. God used some pretty rough characters to bring Jesus into the world. Can I see God’s hand in the heritage and lineage of my family?

My Utmost for his Highest

 

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