Thursday, July 31, 2008

"You don't have to be afraid."

Those are the words that pierced my heart as I watched Pastor Greg Laurie speak during a taping of last Sunday’s service at his church, Harvest Christian Fellowship. It was the first Sunday since Pastor Greg and Cathe's oldest son, Christopher, was taken home to be with the Lord as a result of a car accident.

It has to be a nightmare for a parent to lose a child. And yet, our brother in the Lord stood strong as he delivered a message of hope and faith in the midst of his grief.

We may never have to face that kind of trial, but we all find ourselves groping our way through our own shades of darkness at times and Pastor Greg’s encouraging words, because they are words that are true, can help light our way. We really can retain our belief in a good and faithful and holy God even in the face of very difficult trials.

Greg’s strength gave me strength. I pray that his words serve to uphold you when your waves of pain come crashing down, too. I pray that your faith remains no matter what. I pray that you stand strong in our Lord Jesus. I pray that the world sees His light shine through our darkesses and that His light calls to them and tells them that there is a joy and a peace that can only be had in Jesus Christ.

"You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under the grain-measure, but on a lampstand. And it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in Heaven."
Matthew 5:14-16

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Who is God? Part 4

The Rightness of God

The last attribute of God listed in Jeremiah 9:23-24 that we will now look at is His righteousness.

"but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight," says the Lord."
(Jeremiah 9:24)

God tells us in that verse that in this earth, in this world in which we live, in our lives, in each day and through each circumstance we face, He exercises righteousness. And what is righteousness? Simply, He is right.

All the time.

There is nothing that we face, no disappointment, no heartache, no darkness, that He is not, and was not prior to it, aware of it, in control of it and fully right for allowing it to happen.

I hear some gasps. I hear some of you say, “but…but you don’t know what I’ve been through!” Maybe I don’t. And yet I do. We all do in one way or another. We all have faced our dark times and wondered why. We’ve wondered where God was. Was He there at all? Does He know that I’m suffering? Doesn’t He see me?

Oh, yes. He sees you. But make no mistake, He doesn’t see you from afar. He is right next to you. In those moments when you feel most alone, the Lord is sitting with you, weeping with you, sharing in your pain.

It is fully within His power to end the trial at any moment. Or to even have never allowed it to happen at all. But sometimes, instead, He allows it to happen. And He sits with us.


The short of it: I don’t know. The specific reasons most times are on a need to know basis, and it seems that we just don’t need to know.

The long story to the question of why is a grand one. And we each have our own story. But the basic story line goes like this: it is of a righteous God pursuing one who is lost with a love and a fervor that is unmatched. He woos each of us until we are His children. And then the avenue has been opened for Him to speak to our hearts. And so He lovingly teaches us and takes us from immaturity to maturity, from childish and undisciplined to understanding and teachable and usable. He makes us fit to serve in the kingdom of God as we adopt our Father’s attributes of loving kindness, justice and righteousness.

And sometimes we are only quiet enough to hear Him speak to our hearts when we are in the valley.

Alone. Save One.

As you are on your journey with the Lord in this life and you face those hard times and you remember that God is a righteous God, don’t forget that He is not only righteous. He does not exercise that attribute independently from the others. They are always used in conjunction with one another. Along with His righteousness He also shows His lovingkindness and His judgment along with the rest of His eternally-faceted nature that is always good, always faithful and always purposeful and set on our best.

So. There we are. The very tip of beginning to understand Who our God is. We now have the rest of our lives, one day at a time, to try to get to know Him better, to love Him and to serve Him and to glory in our Lord. Will you use this life to glory in things that won’t last, or will you glory in the One Who was, and is, and is to come?

“For they who are according to the flesh mind the things of flesh, but they who are according to the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace..”
(Romans 8:5-6)

“I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days..."
(Deuteronomy 30:19b-20a)

"Jesus said to him, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.."
(John 14:6a)

I so pray that you choose Life.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Precious Time

Well, my boys are off to camp and I am feeling melancholy. It was only about 15 years ago that the picture of them to the right (the profile picture) was taken. Weren’t they adorable? And now my oldest is going to camp as a counselor and the youngest is half way through high school. Where did the time go?

As I pondered that question, I remembered a poem that I had heard back in those days of diapers and tantrums. It helped to put a perspective on the exhaustion I felt at the time. Maybe it will do the same for you.

Wet Oatmeal Kisses by Erma Bombeck

One of these days you'll explode and shout to all the kids, "Why don't you just grow up and act your age!" And they will...

Or, "You guys get outside and find something to do -- without hurting each other and don't slam the door!" And they don't.

You'll straighten their bedrooms until it's all neat and tidy, toys displayed on the shelf, hangers in the closet, animals caged. You'll yell, "Now I want it to stay this way!" And it will...

You will prepare a perfect dinner with a salad that hasn't had all the olives picked out and a cake with no finger traces in the icing and you'll say, "Now this is a meal for company." And you will eat it alone...

You'll yell, "I want complete privacy on the phone. No screaming, Do you hear me?" And no one will answer.

No more plastic tablecloths stained. No more dandelion bouquets. No more iron-on patches. No more wet, knotted shoelaces, muddy boots or rubber bands for ponytails. Imagine.... a lipstick with a point, no babysitters for New Years Eve, washing clothes only once a week, no PTA meetings or silly school plays where your child is a tree, no car pools, blaring stereos or forgotten lunch money. No more Christmas presents made of library paste and toothpicks, no wet oatmeal kisses, no more tooth fairy, no more giggles in the dark, scraped knees to kiss or sticky fingers to clean. Only a voice asking, "Why don't you grow up?" And the silence echoes: "I did".

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Freedom Day

"If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."
2 Chronicles 7:14

My hope is that we, as a nation, would celebrate today by giving thanks for our freedom to the One Who gave it to us.

First, God gave us His Son so that we could have spiritual freedom in Christ. Then God gaves us this land so that we could freely worship Him.

Let us continue to worship Him in all that we do and repent of those things that do not glorify Him.

One person at a time, one day at a time, one prayer of repentance at a time, let's give our hearts back to our Heavenly Father, our Abba Daddy.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

It's a Dog's Life (Or At Least It Should Be)

We have a couple of the cutest, hairiest Lhasa Apsos you’ve ever seen. Actually, we consider them our furry children. The mom, Angel, is about 14 years old, and her son, Jake, is about 12. There is a distinct difference in their temperaments and it is obvious by their behavior which is the boy and which is the girl.

Jake is rough, always filthy from rolling around in the dirt outside, frequently comes in the house with a mouth full of dirt or grass, and when we see the roll of toilet paper unfurled into the hallway with half chewed-up pieces nearby, we know Jake’s had a snack.

Angel, on the other hand, is always clean despite the fact that her hair is mostly white. And she is very timid. Sometimes I'll catch her sitting quietly in a corner or under a table. It is only when she hears someone coming in the door that her guard dog instincts kick in and she’ll start barking until she knows it’s just one of us. And if someone laughs too loud, runs in the house or even pretends to attack me, the mama in her takes over and she tells everyone, “woofbehavewoof!”

She is very sweet, though. She follows me around throughout the day and lays in the same room where I am. And if she hasn’t seen me leave the room, my husband says he watches her as she methodically walks around the house, poking her head into each room looking for me until she finds me. She lazily wags her tail as she walks over to me and we are together again. She knows I love her and I take care of her.

The other day, Angel and I were in the bathroom as I was getting ready to go out. She was getting a drink of water from the dish we keep for them in the room and I was about to turn on the hair dryer. As I did, I looked over at her and thought for sure that her skittish nature would cause her to run from the loud noise.

But she didn’t. I ran the hair dryer while she continued to contentedly drink from her ceramic water dish. The scene immediately brought to my mind a part of Psalm 23.

“Jehovah is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.” Psalm 23:1-2

Just as Angel was able to be relaxed enough to stay in the room and drink her water despite the loud noise because she knew I was near and she trusts me to take care of her, so we are able to relax even in the midst of noise and chaos and even deep trials when we are comforted in the full understanding that our Shepherd is near and we can trust Him to take care of us.

The more we know and trust the faithfulness of our Lord, the more we will be able to rest even while we traverse in the dark shadows of the valley. With confidence and peace we can drink deeply of His refreshing presence no matter what enemies may lurk because we know that the caretaker of our souls keeps watch over us and promises to lead us in the way everlasting.