Saturday, August 6, 2011

Highway to the Danger Zone

Colossians 1:13 (MSG)

"God rescued us from dead-end alleys and dark dungeons. He's set us up in the kingdom of the Son He loves so much, the Son who got us out of the pit we were in..."
As a mother of four young children it is not a rarity that I find myself having to rescue one of my three boys or their little sister from a situation that could lead to danger.  Running with scissors, jumping head first into the shallow end of gramma's pool, eating the end off of a pencil...ya know, those every day things us moms get to experience and some of us remember doing ourselves! I love the above verse in Colossians as I know children, especially my three boys, play act scenes of great imagination of being in dark dungeons and grueling situations with big hairy beasts.  As I watch the innocence of my children in their pretend play I am reminded that as they grow older they will come to realize that life in the spiritual is truly a battle of good versus evil; For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. As a believer, one who has called on the name of the Lord to be saved, I can rest in knowing that Christ made a public spectacle of principalities and triumphed over them when He died on the cross.  That same love I feel when I step in and intervene on behalf of my children's safety is what that took Jesus to the cross.  He had a love so deep for us that He turned back to a place of danger to retrieve us - His beloved.  That is true love.  If there is something that you are trapped in right now, whether it is an addiction, a lifestyle, an inner anger that you can not shake, hurt from being rejected by someone who was supposed to love you unconditionally, let Jesus rescue from that dead-end alley, let Him love you right out of that dark dungeon.  Tell Him right now that you are thankful for rescuing you and walk confidently in His love from this moment forward.
Other scripture references:  Ephesians 6:12; Colossians 2:15

Monday, June 27, 2011

God Became Human

2 Corinthians 5:19&20 - "...God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself...Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us..."

Last night Mark was reading his books for a class he is doing at ECCU on righteousness.  We started talking about 2 Corinthians 5:16 that says, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation..."  But then Mark went on a little further to verses 19 & 20 when a revelation came to me.  God was IN Christ reconciling the world to Himself.  When God sent His Son to be our covering, to become the living mercy seat, the living place of atonment, He also became a human.  God, in Jesus, took on human flesh.  He came into the world as a newborn baby.  We think of that at Christmas and ponder it as an awesome miracle - a virgin birth, Mary being so young and so obedient to God.  But do you ever think about how God had such a desire to be in relationship with us that He became a person - just like you and me?  That He went through the process of humanity of birth to death just to be that much closer to His creation?  It makes me want to bawl like a newborn baby to think of this.  I remember the birth of my son Barrett like it was yesterday. Barrett's birth came only 20 mos. after I had delivered Andrew by Emergency C-Section.  My doctor told me that I would have no more children naturally, that they'd all be C-Section and I needed to wait at least 2 years before getting pregnant again.  To some that would be okay but I knew in my heart that I was called to have 4 children very close in age.  I was determined to believe the report of the Lord and got pregnant again quickly.  Barrett was born naturally in all manners of the word - no drugs - but then whisked off by the doctor claiming he might need to go to NICU because he wasn't calming the way he should.  Well, I told that doctor to give me my baby as I was not receiving anything that went against what God had told me for Barrett's birth.  So they handed me my baby and the minute he heard my voice he calmed down and looked at my face with an awe and love only a mother and baby can feel for eachother.  I weigh this experience in my life against the fact that God also came as a newborn baby just like each of us came into this world - experiencing the loving touch of a mother.  God, in human flesh, felt the tender love of His creation through His creation. He was able to breath in the smell of everything around Him just like a mother gently smells the top of her baby's head.  As a young boy His feet tromped and stomped across the earth that He spoke into existence.  He experienced our humanity to the fullest extent of experience.  I imagine how much He must have enjoyed tasting the food Mary cooked or the feeling of the saw dust after Joseph sanded down a piece of wood.  How exciting it was to be so close to the people He loved so much and desired so much to reconcile unto Himself.  The thrill of hearing the voices of the people saying, "Hosanna, God save now," knowing that shortly He would take up residence in them too through the Holy Spirit.  It makes me love Him more knowing He desired so much to be close to me in a tangible way, enough to become human.  How can I not love Him!? 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Family that Prays Together....

Today I am going to intermingle basic blogging with a book review because the subject matter is too good to just write a book review!

I can remember my mom saying, "the family that prays together, stays together..." so many times in my life that I laugh about it now because I think she was on to something!   Now that I am married with children I can see the tangible benefits of praying together with my children, my husband and even friends.  I pray with my children at times to bring a sense of calming.  Andrew is particularly encouraging to pray with because I can see on his little face that he gets what I'm saying.  He is my child that asks me to pray when something is not feeling quite right or when he is upset about something.  A cute example of his faith came last weekend when we were on a little vacation.  We were at a resort over in Orlando and it just happened that there was a Dental Convention in town.  Irony would have it that we forgot our toothpaste.  We were laughing and talking about it in the elevator and a Dentist overheard us and handed us a tube of toothpaste. Braden piped up right away and said, "he blessed us." Andrew quickly followed, "yeah, he blessed us AND he blessed our teeth!"  That was one of those moments a mom wants to remember forever as it was so innocent and so full of the truth of how simple life can be.  It is one of those moments when you sense that God is doing a good work within your family even when you feel so inadequate to do the job well. 

If you've been in church for any amount of time you have heard time and time again how important it is for husband and wife to pray together.  I read a book recently entitled, Couples Who Pray.  The couple who wrote the book had not always been actively involved in prayer but had discovered after many hours of counseling and hardship that prayer was the one thing that seemed to bridge the gap of their heartaches.  After going around the mountain of bad relationship after bad relationship  both of these people found that it was the lack of their own faith and believing - not approaching the throne in prayer - that caused the troubles they experienced. 

We all need to take a step back and evaluate our prayer life. I have personally had a huge conviction of this in my own life.  Sometimes I find myself waiting for Mark to take the lead and ask me to pray with him and then realize that if the Holy Spirit has convicted my heart to pray as a couple then I need to be the one to speak up and tell Mark.  I've yet to have him shut me down when I ask him to pray with me.  Maybe you are in a relationship where your spouse is not a believer, just start praying for them - it is the Spirit who draws all men unto repentance and makes people seek God.  I've seen this testimony in action with several people I love. It is through our believing prayers (Matthew 21:21 - if you have faith and do not doubt...) that we see our prayer life come alive!  

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Enough to Go Around

Genesis 26:17-22  So Isaac moved away to the Gerar Valley, where he set up their tents and settled down. He reopened the wells his father had dug, which the Philistines had filled in after Abraham’s death. Isaac also restored the names Abraham had given them. Isaac’s servants also dug in the Gerar Valley and discovered a well of fresh water. But then the shepherds from Gerar came and claimed the spring. “This is our water,” they said, and they argued over it with Isaac’s herdsmen. So Isaac named the well Esek (which means “argument”). Isaac’s men then dug another well, but again there was a dispute over it. So Isaac named it Sitnah (which means “hostility”). Abandoning that one, Isaac moved on and dug another well. This time there was no dispute over it, so Isaac named the place Rehoboth (which means “open space”), for he said, “At last the Lord has created enough space for us to prosper in this land.”

An unlikey passage that made for an amazing devotion one morning as I sipped my coffee and waited for a revelation.  I love those moments when God drops a word into your heart from a portion of scripture that you would never imagine He would speak directly to your life.  To get to the story and application...

Isaac had settled in Gerar and goes about his business sowing seed, raising cattle, growing richer and richer as the days went by.  Well, this made the Philistines jealous so they went and filled in the wells which were dug by Abraham's servants (Isaac's daddy).  The King tells Isaac he is too powerful to stay among the people and sends him on his way.  Isaac then moves into the Gerar Valley where he is faced with disgruntled shepards.  No one twittered these shepards that Isaac was coming to pitch a tent and make the valley his home for awhile, it's to reason they were frustrated but it was how they handled their frustration that spoke to me. 

In this story, Isaac prospers so much that the King sends him away.  I was moved by the fact that Isaac faced a group of people who determined to argue with him over the blessing of the fresh water when he was in a land that was able to provide more than enough for everyone who inhabited the region.  They were arguing over the blessing!  I believe that is like many people today.  We don't recognize that there is blessing, according to God's riches in glory, for everyone.  Each one of us is given gifts and abilities in order to serve and encourage others.  Instead of recognizing that God has given to us all an equal measure we decide to argue and walk in accusation towards others. 1 John 3:17 says, "But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?" When we shut up our hearts for love toward others, we're acting as the Philistines who shut up the wells of Isaac's father, which was provision for the people.  God wants us to use our resources to love others, not to argue and dispute over who has the rights to the resources - the Word says, "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights...(James 1:17)." None of anything in this life is for us anyway, it's all meant to be spent for the good of others.

Don't spend life involved in arguments and discord. Rather, get along with what God is calling you to and pray that you are able to spend the resources to bless and not to accuse others of taking what is yours.  There is enough to go around! 

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Go Global...

Matthew 28:19 "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations..."

Recently I was listening to an interview with Joel Houston, Worship Leader for Hillsong Australia.  In his interview he discussed the idea of the Global Church.  I would normally hear something like this and think, "wow, that's is good to reach out and touch the nations with the Gospel..."  and then I would move on and not give it much more thought, simply because I do not feel personally called to serve in the mission field in another country.  But this time when I heard him speaking of getting people to understand that the church is not just this small thing rather a huge conglomoration of people all striving for the same goal.  That we are all here for a purpose and that is to glorify God in ALL the Earth! 

I started really meditating on what the Word says about going out into the world, about ministering.  I started considering the local church.  The local church is just an extension of the Global Church and the Global Church is a beautiful representation of all of creation.  We are created in His image yet we tend to get so caught up in our own image.  We get focused on the image other people see in us.  I believe if we were to start seeing our calling beyond our own forehead we might stop having some of the issues that we face.  I've even found myself wondering over the past several months what it is that makes Hillsong Australia pump out so many CD's, how do they have church services with thousands upon thousands of people, why are they so influential in the Christian community. Then, after I heard Houston discuss this idea of the Global Church, I realized it is that which allows them to be so successful - they have discovered what it means to be the Church.  I'm sure they have their issues and their situations but I'm also certain that their foundations consist of a group of people who are able to see beyond themselves and into the real purpose of our calling - to be used by our Saviour to save a lost and dying World.  If we were to realize what we are really here for we'd stop concerning ourselves with worldly issues - repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community (if that doesn't sound familiar pull out your Bible and look up Galatians 5, I took this from The Message Bible).  Unfortunately, even the local church is riddled with lives that look like this.  Why do we continue to be okay with this in our own lives?  Why are we not aspiring to go global by taking on a more Godly lifestyle - things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity...develop[ing] a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people... find[ing] ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.

I have no doubt if we were to focus more on the World around us and get outside of our own motives and "all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants" we would see such a change in our personal lives and then it would bleed over into our service for Him. 

Something to think about....

Monday, July 19, 2010

My Kitchen is My Classroom

Early morning
Rise and Shine!
I hear the kids yell,
"Is it breakfast time?"

Around the kitchen table
   we gather.
Eggs and bacon
That's all that matters.

We finish up all our yummy grub
and head to the sink for a
Dirty dish scrub.

The big square table sitting on the kitchen floor
is about to transform into so much more.

Crayons, pencils, paints and books,
It's school time here
for all of us Cooks!! kitchen is my classroom!

Happy First Day of School!!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Reckless Abandon

Galatians 2:19-20 (MSG) "What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn't work. So I quit being a "law man" so that I could be God's man. Christ's life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not "mine," but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that."

I love how The Message version translates Galatians 2:19-20.  As women most of us can probably relate to the beginning of this verse well.  We run around trying to "keep rules" working our head off to please God and everyone else - even ourselves - only to find ourselves tired, worn-out, disappointed and frustrated.  Not only do we try to keep the rules but we get mad when other people aren't keeping the rules.  We work hard so why isn't everyone else?  We live completely abandon to the tasks at hand or the people we are trying to impress without giving much thought at all to the Lord's plan.  But I'm here to testify that when we finally realize that we are not going to succeed in anything without giving over our own desires and plans, life will become so much more peaceful!  

That's all. I'm going to let you meditate on that above verse and determine whether or not you are ready to live in reckless abandon to the One who made you instead of the things He made for you.