Sunday, December 12, 2010

Fear of the Lord

I am in the middle of reading Edward T. Welch's book, "When People are Big and God is Small: Overcoming Peer Pressure, Codependency, and the Fear of Man."  In Chapter 7, which is called, "Grow in the Lord,"  brings us to the prophet Isaiah.  Welch writes,

" While Job's class in the fear of the Lord was not specifically targeted to the fear of other people, God's instruction to the prophet Isaiah certainly was.  When Isaiah was called by God, he was given a message that guaranteed he would be rejected and physically threatened by others (Isaiah 6:9-14).  There were going to be daily opportunities for him to fear man rather than God.  As a result, it was essential for him to have the fear of the Lord absolutely branded into his heart, because the person who fears God fears nothing else."

Welch takes us to Isaiah 6: 1-8
"In the year of King Uzziah's death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted,
with the train of His robe filling the temple.  Seraphim stood above him, each having
six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet,
and with two he flew.  And one called out to another and said,
'Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts,
The whole earth is full of His glory.'
And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him
who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke, Then I said,
"Woe is me, for I am ruined!
Because I am a man of unclean lips,
And I live among a people of unclean lips;
For my eyes have seen the King the Lord of hosts.'
Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken
from the altar with tongs.  He touched my mouth with it and said, 'Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.'
Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, 'Whom shall I send, and who will go
for Us?' Then I said, 'Here am I.  Send me! He said , 'Go, and tell this people."

Welch continues by saying,
"Then Isaiah did what anybody would do in such a situation.  He forgot about himself and offered
himself as a servant to the living God.  His fear of the Lord expressed by reverential obedience.
This is one of the great blessings of the fear of the Lord.  We think less often about ourselves.
When a heart is being filled with the greatness of God, there is less room for the question,
"What are people going to think of me?"...........
If you have been in the presence of the almighty God, everything that once controlled
both have less power."

Welch ends this section by saying,
"Such awe attracts you to God; it does not repel or leave you feeling shame.  It makes you want to come to him and know him.  When the fear of the Lord matures in you,  Christ becomes irresistible."

I don't know about you but I want to be a fearless person for Christ like Isaiah.  I have said and will continue to say to my King like I told Him back in June 2008, "Here am I.  Send me!"

Monday, November 22, 2010

What Brings You Comfort?

Have you ever been in a cave? We went to the Shasta Caverns several years ago as a family.  It was quite an experience, but yet a little scary.  It's a little scary when you have the tendency to be claustrophobic.  I've toured inside of a mine shaft as well.  The deeper inside the shaft the darker it gets and the light from outside dims and seems farther and farther away.
Have you ever felt as if you're inside an emotional dark cave?  You see the light.  You know the path that leads to the light but no matter what you do, you can't seem to make any progress to the light?  You're in emotional despair.  If one more thing were to happen your cup would runneth over. 
It was one of those days and it felt like I was in an emotional dark cave.  So much was being thrown at me and I had decisions to make that weighed my heart and soul.  Some of the decisions were being made for me but not necessarily the ones that I would of chosen or selected for my life.  You know the truth and you seek the truth but its not giving you the answer YOU want.  In this emotional state I actually told someone, "I wish God would speak to me.  I wish the sky would open up and He would speak to me and tell me what to do."
Hours later at home when I was beginning to get ready for bed I glanced over at my nightstand and started looking at the stack of books that I have there.  I have several stacks.  Each stack has a different level of reading priority.  As I glanced over the books (I read 3-4 books at one time...I am a glutton for punishment) they just didn't seem to fit where I was.  I knew I had to study for that week's Bible study but I was in my cave.  I saw Elyse Fitzpatrick's book, "Steadfast Love" in one of my stacks.  I didn't really know what it was about but I grabbed it only because nothing else in my current reading stack seemed to fit the emotional dark cave I was in.  As I opened the pages and began to read, His grace became so apparent to me.  The words coming off the page were as if I was the one writing them.

Psalm 57
Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge;
in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,
till the storms of destruction pass by.
I cry out to God Most High,
to God who fulfills His purpose for me.
He will send from heaven and save me;
he will put to shame him who tramples on me.
God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness!
My soul is in the midst of lions;
I lie down amid fiery beasts-
the children of man, whose teeth are spears and arrows,
whose tongues are sharp words.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!
Let your glory be over all the earth!
They set a net for my steps;
my soul was bowed down.
They dug a pit in my way,
but they have fallen into it themselves.

My heart is steadfast, O God,
my heart is steadfast!
I will sing and make melody!
Awake, my glory!
Awake, O harp and lyre!
I will awake the dawn!
I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing praises to you among the nations.
For your steadfast love is great to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the clouds.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!
Let your glory be over all the earth!

David wrote this Psalm Elyse's describes, as 'he was running for his life,
hiding in a wilderness, in a cave.'

His grace came pouring out of the pages and onto my soul.  It was as if this book was written for me and only me.  As I put down the book and opened up my Bible study book, in the opening page was

 Psalm 57:2, "I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills His purpose for me." 

The sky opened up and the light shined right on my me and He spoke to me. I asked for Him to speak and He did, right from His Word.   He knew exactly how to comfort me in the midst of my storm and pour out His grace.  He is in the boat with me in the midst of the storm (Mark 4:35-41).

Elyse takes us to the Heidelberg Catechism -

Question 1. What is thy only comfort in life and death?

Answer: That I with body and soul, both in life and death, (a) am not my own, (b) but belong unto my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ; (c) who, with his precious blood, has fully satisfied for all my sins, (d) and delivered me from all the power of the devil; (e) and so preserves me (f) that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; (g) yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, (h) and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, (i) and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him. (j)

This is what gives me comfort. This is what sheds light and grace on my soul.
 What brings you comfort?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

God's Recipe

I love recipes! No really...I seriously do. Recipes saved me when I was first married. I had no idea how to cook so I began with Hamburger Helper and I evolved to recipes. I know how to follow directions well. As we'd spend time with friends and share a meal I would ask for their recipes or ask, "how did you make that?"

I began to venture out and cut out recipes out of magazines that would look and sound good. I loved trying new recipes on friends who would come over for dinner. We'd have friends over and my hubby would ask, "what are you making?" I'd share the fact that I was making a new recipe. The look on his face would be classic. Shock and freight is the mixture I would see on his face. Little did my husband know at that time, I follow directions well.

The last few weeks I've been overwhelmed with this reoccurring message that I see, hear and experience in my Christian life and in the lives I interact with. Do we look at your faith and walk with the Lord like a "recipe"? Is there a list of "ingredients" that you put apply to your life that you feel will result in godliness, righteousness and/or to be pleasing to God? Does this ingredient give you an end result that is pleasing to God? Maybe you don't see it in your life but you look at others from a far and believe if you do the same as they do, this "ingredient" will give you the result that you're seeking for your Christian life.

I remember being in a parenting class with my husband when our first son was under a year old. This parenting class was to prepare us for toddler life. The teachers were talking about the everyday items around the house that you should or not should not allow your children to play with so that when you'd be in someone else's home your child wouldn't think it was a toy. The teachers recommend that you as parents needed to decide what those items were for our individual families because we all would have different preferences. A young father raised his hand and asked, "do you have a list of items for us?" The teachers reiterated that each family needed to figure that out for their family because it's different for each family. The struggle on his face was evident. He wanted a list!

Our flesh fights and yearns for a list of "ingredients" that guarantee us assurance with our God. If we just do these things and apply these actions we are right with God and assured acceptance from Him. This is a lie.

One of the boy's friends was over recently and he asked me a question that lead me to recite to him Ephesians 2:8-9, "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one can boast." It hit me like a ton of bricks...the word "grace" came alive. "Grace" is an undeserved gift; free gift. I can't do anything to gain or attain my faith. Its a free gift from God. No works! I said, NO works I can do. No ingredient or action I apply to my life will obtain faith or favor. It's all God and none of me. That's because so I can't boast or breed pride.

Matthew 22:36 40 "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law? And he said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two depend all the Law and the Prophets."

The Pharisees knew Scripture. They were under the assumption that they had their spiritual life in order and were right with God. They had long list of ingredients that they did and applied everyday but God's recipe wasn't about the ingredients they applied, it was about their hearts. It was about what their hearts yearned and loved. What do you love? What consumes your heart? Love for God? Love for people?

My pastor has been in Romans on Sunday mornings and I continue to see how God used the Law to show the Israelites their need for the ULTIMATE SACRIFICE because they couldn't keep the Law. God doesn't care about what you do....He cares about what you love and is it HIM!? If you love Him what you do follows and it produces godliness. Doing doesn't produce godliness, loving the Creator and who He is in Christ with all your heart, mind, soul and strength does.

John MacArthur says this in his message, "The Glory of the Lord", "In the temple and in the tabernacle, there were no seats. You read the description of the tabernacle, you read the description of the temple, there were no seats nowhere. Why? Because a priest never finished and so he never sat down. Sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice by the millions and they never sat down because it never ever was a finished work. Jesus made one sacrifice and when it was finished He sat down. He sat down. It was over. There was nothing more to do. He finished and sat down. Hebrews 10:12, what a great verse, 'But this man....that is Christ...after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God.' He sat down because HE was finished."

Sister, no need to work any longer. Christ finished the work. God doesn't need our work. He completed it on the cross. What He wants is our hearts. What He wants is your life. What He wants is ALL of your love. Be consumed with what you love more than Him, not what you do for Him. Your love for Him will consume what you do for Him.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Whom Do I Fear?

I have been blessed with the ability to work anywhere as long as I have my laptop and a phone. A printer and a fax helps as well but not always necessary.

Earlier this week, I sat at my dining room table staring at my inbox, three consecutive emails came through that would deliver the news that the three of my files that I have been working on were no longer viable deals which would result in no income for my family for the following month. As each email hit and I opened, the anxiousness and fear began to well up in the pit of my stomach. I could feel the fear moving its way up inch by inch up from my stomach into my throat. I felt the need to throw up, but I didn't. As quickly as I received those emails I received another email from a fellow Christian blogger who just posted a blog on "Fear." I couldn't open the blog post fast enough. Thinking to myself, "I need this right now, Help me Lord! Because I'm beginning to spiral into the pit of fear and worry!"

As I began to read the blog, I grabbed my Bible and look up the Scripture references given.

I opened up to Mark 4: 35 - 41........
"On that day, when evening came, He said to them, 'Let us go over to the other
side.' Leaving the crowd, they took Him along with them in the boat, just as He was;
and other boats were with Him. And there arose a fierce gale of wind,
and the waves were
breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up. Jesus
Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him,
'Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?'
And He got up and rebuked the wind
and said to the sea, 'Hush, be still.' And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. And He said to them, 'Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?' They
became very much afraid and said to one another,
'Who then is this, that even the wind
and the sea obey Him?"

Romans 15:4 says,

"For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope."

I was transposed into the pages of my Bible and God showed me that I was just like the disciples. I was fearful as the waves of the storm were coming over the sides of the boat. I began to fear the threats of this world. I'm not alone! Jesus is with me in the boat, why do I fear? I fear because He's not doing anything to stop the waves from crushing down on me! Why Lord are you doing this? My inner voice is screaming this as my mouth keeps silent. To perfect your faith. Trust me Jesus is saying. But I trust in my flesh, but He wants me to trust in Him. Not when I want the storm to stop but when He is ready to stop the storm from crashing onto me. The Creator who has the ability to calm the sea is in the boat with me and I am fearful of what mere man can do to me?
Matthew 10:28
"Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."

Romans 8: 35
"Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

v.37-39 "But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

I've been reading, studying and leading a group of ladies through the book, "Trusting God" by Jerry Bridges. My boat is being rocked and in the danger of possibly being tipped over but I will not fear because I am HIS and HE is MINE. I will not fear because nothing can separate me from my SAVIOR, LORD JESUS. I will not fear man but I will fear GOD. And whatever storm that comes is to build my FAITH in HIM not in my flesh...and it will prepare me for the day when my FAITH will become SIGHT and I will be made COMPLETE. Thank you JESUS!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

In the Desert.....

What does your desert look like? I think our deserts may look different but I have a feeling that our deserts are quite the same.

I've often thought about Moses and how he spent 40 years in the desert in Midian before the Lord called him to his ministry of leading the Israelites out of Egypt.

Moses lived in Pharaoh's digs for 40 years. He lived in the lap of luxury for his first forty years of life. He was at the top of his game. Was it enough for him? Acts 7:23 tells us, "But when he was approaching the age of forty it entered his mind to visit his brethren the sons of Israel." Was he curious how life was on the other side? Did they know or have something that he was missing as a prince of Egypt? His excursion lead to the death of an Egyptian by his own hands. (Exodus 2:15) He tasted injustice in the life of an Israelite and intervened. He had a heart even than for his people. He yearned for justice but it ended in a way that wasn't in his he ran. He ran into the desert and fled from his life that he knew. Escaping the consequences of his actions. He was able to start anew. His life looked and felt very different from what he knew to be true in Egypt. His fresh start on life was at the bottom of the totem pole as a shepherd in the desert. Not a shepherd of his own flock but even a notch lower working as a shepherd watching someone elses flock.

I don't know first hand what its like to be a shepherd in the desert outside of Egypt but I can imagine what it might of been....long hot days and frigid cold nights alone. Watching, waiting, on guard for predators, decision making that effects your flock.....but the loudest and prominent occurrences is the long periods of time of silence on the outside but how you hear your thoughts arguing with your heart in the inside.

We all experience time in the desert. Whether you like to admit it or not. Like I said before, all our deserts may look different but I think they all are the same. It's what we do and think about when we're in the desert that determines how we come out. What do you feed yourself when you're in the desert? Do you feed yourself TRUTH or do you feed yourself the lies of your thoughts and regrets? The times in the desert are barren and no where else to run but to dig deep into your heart and see what is there. You figure out that you have nothing and nothing to give but yourself which is your soul. You can look back and remember the high life and live the life of regret or you can look around and see how God carried you there to the desert to meet Him. His glory is there in the desert. Do you see it?

Jeremiah 17: 5-10

"Thus says the Lord,

Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind

And makes flesh his strength,

And whose heart turns away from the Lord.

For he will be like a bush in the desert

And will not see when prosperity comes,

But will live in stony wastes in the wilderness,

A land of salt without inhabitant.

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord

And whose trust is the Lord.

For he will be like a tree planted by the water,

That extends its roots by a stream

And will not fear when the heat comes,

But its leaves will be green,

And it will not be anxious in a year of drought

Nor cease to yield fruit."

Numbers 12: 3 tells us that "Moses was very humble , more than any man who was on the face of the earth." Living in the desert for forty years, I can imagine being there can do that to you, but only if you feed yourself the TRUTH. It was in the desolate desert that God was able to get Mose's to be quiet and still. He was able reveal to him his idols and bring him to the depths of his heart and humble him so that Moses could see His glory.

I think of our brother Job. After all he went through and wrestled with, it wasn't till God responded and told him who He truly was. At that point, Job was able to say, "I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees You; there I retract, And I repent in dust and ashes (Job 42:5-6)." After forty years in the desert Moses came out the most humble man on earth. He was able to see God's glory and live, but most of all he was used by His King for HIS GLORY and HIS GLORY alone.

I don't know about you....BUT I don't want to be the bush in the desert that lives in stony waste. I don't want to miss out on seeing HIS GLORY when its before me. I want to be the tree that is green and yields fruit even in the year of drought. To be that tree I need to TRUST when I am sitting in the desert because and realize that God brought me there to rid me of the idols that I held so dear so through the time of drought I can rid the idols from my heart so that I can see HIS GLORY instead.

What do you see in the desert of your life and heart? Are you the tree or the bush?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Undefiled Religion

I am mother of three boys. If you count my husband that's four boys. I'm smiling. Are you smiling? My boys have asked for a little sister throughout the years. As they grow older or should I my husband and I grow older they're asking for a little sister via adoption. Our friends have adopted a little girl from Haiti after the devastating earthquake that occurred there. Since than the boys have beg for us to do the same.
My friend Shanley left for Bombo, Africa on a mission type of trip to help Align Ministries with their blog, website and social media. Their desire was to bring the local needs of the people of Bombo to the world via the Internet and social media so that the people of Bombo, Africa who are in need may be sponsored by others. Shanley has gone to Africa before and had an idea of what to expect when she arrived but her expectations didn't come close to the reality of what is truly going on in Bombo, Africa.
My only way of communicating with Shanley were her daily posts to Facebook. Earlier in the week I woke up to a post of hers basically saying that she was discouraged because she met an eleven year old little girl who suffers with AIDS. Both of her parents have died with AIDS and she is being raised by her grandmother. She travels an hour each way by foot to go to school where they beat her for poor grades and/or lack of payment for her schooling. She has to travel 3 hours by foot each way to pick up her medication for her AIDS. She has sores all over her skin from the disease. Without hesitation I responded that I would sponsor her. All my boys are without disease. I can't imagine this little girl suffering with a disease that had nothing to do with her but yet she is called to suffer with it.
Shanley was brought to tears on how quickly someone responded to sponsor this little girl. I quickly had questions too. Can I get a picture of her? Can we write letters to her? I want her to know that she's not alone and that someone does care. Not just me but Jesus cares! I was told that I cannot communicate with her. They want the locals to know that their needs are being provided by the local church in Bombo not by some American. I will be sponsoring her through Align Ministries.
One of Shanley's observations of being in Bombo is that the believer's faith is so basic. "Childlike" would be an appropriate word for it. They believe in the simple terms of faith. They just BELIEVE.

Matthew 18: 1- 5

"At the time the disciples came to Jesus and said, "Who than is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, "Truly I say to you unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. "Whoever than humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me;"

Whether you are a believer or not, what hill are you willing to die on to make your point OR why you believe or more importantly why don't you believe? God calls you to "humble" yourself. What does that mean to humble yourself? Definition of humble - "to lower your pride or arrogance; to reduce your self sufficiently of; to make meek and submissive." Being stripped of everything you hold dear will make you experience humility quickly. Humility in any form will teach you what you hold close or better yet what you TRUST. What have you lost that you will fight with all your might to win it back? When events or situations in your life aren't going the way you thought or liked, what are you most upset about? That is where you will find your first love, what you trust and what you hope in. Who or what is it? Do you know? Why do we complicate life with all our STUFF? If you were in Bombo, Africa living in a hut with no food and riddled with sores all over your body with a disease given to you by your parents who are no longer are with you....what would you hold dear? Would you be able to say, "I love God with all my heart, mind, soul and strength?" They do. What do they have that we don't? An undefiled religion? They have nothing to give BUT their soul. What will it take for us to give up our idols and just humble ourselves to BELIEVE with "childlike" faith?
The next day I received a picture of Safina. She is so beautiful. We will more than likely never meet or know each other. Her picture will be in my home like there are of my boys. I will provide her with support but also my love & prayers. All she knows is that the church is providing for her....BUT I know she's the little girl God gave me to take care for. My daughter ...SAFINA.

Monday, July 12, 2010


It was like any other weekday morning, we all loaded up into car and I headed off to drop my three boys off at school. I don't know if they ever remembered a time when we didn't listen to one of my favorite pastors on the radio as we drove to school each morning. They just always knew that the radio dial was off limits in the morning.

As we all climbed in at 8am and backed out of the driveway we found out the topic of the series of the week, "Marriage, Divorce & Remarriage." This morning sermon began in the book of Hosea. Hosea wasn't an Old Testament book that I knew very much about nor did I ever really hear anyone preach out of this Old Testament book. It instantly captured my interested to hear about Hosea and how this related to marriage, divorce & remarriage.

Hosea was a prophet. Hosea's ministry was from 755 - 710 B.C. His career spanned the last 6 kings of Israel. God called Hosea to marry Gomer.

"When the Lord first spoke through Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea, 'Go, take to yourself a wife of harlotry and have children of harlotry;.....So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son. And the Lord said to him, "Name him Jezreel;
(Hosea 1: 2-4)

Then she conceived again and gave birth to a daughter. And the Lord said to him, Name Her Lo-ruhamah, for I will no longer have compassion on the house of Israel, that I would ever forgive them. But I will have compassion on the house of Judah and deliver them by the Lord their God, and will not deliver them by bow, sword, battle, horses or horsemen." When she weaned Lo-ruhamah, she conceived and gave birth to a son. And the Lord said, 'Name him Loammi, for you are not my people and I am not your God." (Hosea 1:6-9)

I couldn't believe what I was hearing. God had called this prophet to marry a woman who God knew and foretold possibly to Hosea that she would be an adulteress and not be faithful to him. In either case, Hosea obeyed his God unselfishly without complaint knowing the outcome that awaited him. Gomer left her husband and family and pursued her desires and idols that ruled her heart. She pursued what she believed would satisfy her. We don't know how Gomer got to to this point in detail but I am sure of this, in the beginnings of her pursuits I am sure she never thought she'd end up at a slave auction.
God calls Hosea to pursue his estranged wife and buy her back for 15 shekels of silver and 1 1/2 homers of barley. The total may have equaled 30 pieces of silver which what was the price paid for a common slave.
I thought about several people who I wish could hear this message about forgiveness to repair their marriages. I thought about a couple of ladies I knew at church who were struggling with husband who had committed adultery. I thought of a good friend who left her husband and children to live out her desires ....if only her husband could love her like Hosea did and forgive her and take her back.
I dropped the boys off and said my goodbyes. As I drove back home and I began to process what I was hearing. It hit me and it hit me hard. I made a sharp right turn and it came to me as if someone had just flipped a switch and a light turned on!
This story wasn't only about marriage, remarriage and divorce or was it also about how God loved and pursued an idolatrous Israel....this was about ME! Yes! It's about me and what Christ did for ME! It all makes sense now.....
Before I was a Christian I was a slave....a slave to my sin and my desires. I was just like the adulterous Israel and Gomer,pursing the idols of my heart. When I came to my end with nothing to bring or offer, Christ bought me back. He didn't buy me with silver shekels. Christ bought me back with His blood. He sacrificed His life for ME! He obeyed God to the point of death for His beloved, because of His love for ME! God gave us the beautiful picture of unconditional love of Hosea to Gomer....sacrificial and selfless .... to point us the the ultimate selfless love & sacrifice of His son, Jesus.
"But thanks be to God that though you were slaves to sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness."
Romans 7: 17-18
"For when you were slaves to sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed. For the outcome of those things is death. But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Romans 7:20-23
I cannot look at this portrait without thinking of Gomer. What was she thinking when she stood there being sold as a slave. Her pursuits and desires lead her to this place. Gomer believed the lie that we all believed when we allowed the lies of this world to skew our vision of the truth. When we believe fulfilling our fleshly desires will satisfy us but we wake up continually empty. When we think this place, person or thing will fulfill us ....I just want to try one more time.
I was created for my Groom and He and only He is the only one that can satisfy my soul.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Relationships - Live With Them or Without Them?

There is a saying, "Can't live with them and you can't live without them." Men & Women can say this about each other can't they? In reality, we can easily say that about all relationships. As I walk in faith God is continually showing me the idols of my heart.
I am an only child and from a young age relationship/friendships have always been very important to me. I vividly remember as a young girl that I would put friends first before anything else in my life.
When relationships are good and enjoyable we can say, "can't live without them!" But when they are not going so good is when we say, "can't live with them!" I began reading Paul David Tripp's book, "Relationship - A Mess Worth Making", several weeks ago when I could easily say that I could live with them. As I began reading God was faithful to stir my pot of life and my relationships to show me where my relationships were in the priority list of life. I'm pretty sure we can all say that in all our relationships we will have some degree of disappointments. Tripp writes, " It is clear to you that no relationship ever delivers what you dreamt it could. Your fantasy collides with reality, and reality bites!" Tripp takes the old cliche' and says it this way, "Some of our deepest and most painful hurts have been in relationships. There are times when we wish we could live alone and other times when we are glad we don't."

What I am learning is that I put too much stock in my earthly relationships to dictate my daily emotions or temperature of my attitude. Tripp says, "in the messiness of relationships is that our hearts are revealed, our weaknesses are exposed, and we start coming to the end of ourselves. Only when this happens do we reach out for the help God alone can provide. Weak and needy people finding their hope in Christ's grace are what mark a mature relationship." Tripp continues with, "the very thing we would naturally seek to avoid is what God has chosen to use to make us more like HIM."

This is the part of the book that hit me to the core....

"Each of us is tempted to make relationships the end rather than the means. The primary relationship Adam and Eve were intended to enjoy was their relationship with God. This vertical communion with God would provide the foundation for the horizontal community they were to have with each other. Everything God made pointed Adam and Eve to the primacy of their relationship with Him. All of creation was to function as an arrow pointing to God. But in our sin we tend to treat people and creation as more important. The very things God created to reveal His glory become instead the glory we desire. This is where we see, with C.S. Lewis, that our desires are too weak, not too strong. We settle for the relationships when they were meant to point us to the perfect relational satisfaction found only with God. The irony is that when we reverse the order and elevate creation above Creator, we destroy the relationships God intended - and would have enabled - us to enjoy."

A few years back I renewed my purpose and told God that He was enough. Since than He has been faithful and merciful with me to use the circumstances in my life to show me and purify me so that I can truthfully and honestly say with a pure heart say, "Lord you are enough!"
I know the Psalmist who wrote Psalm 73 knew exactly what I meant and felt...

Psalm 73: 25-26
"Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Are your relationships there to serve you? Or to serve HIM? May we all be able to say like the Psalmist, "besides GOD, I desire nothing on earth."

Friday, April 2, 2010

Which Thief Are You?

The last few days I've been reflecting on the words that Jesus spoke just before he died, "It is Finished!" In that reflection I realize and came across the conversation with the two thieves that are being crucified with Him.
Luke 23: 33-43
"When they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left. But Jesus was saying, 'Father, forgive them; for they don not know what they are doing.' And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves. And the people stood by, looking on. And even the rulers were sneering at Him, saying, 'He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is the Christ of God, His Chosen One.' The soldiers also mocked Him, coming up to Him, offering Him sour wine, and saying, 'If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself!' Now there was also an inscription above Him, "This IS THE KING OF THE JEWS."
One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, 'Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!' But the other answered, and rebuking him said, 'Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.' And he was saying, 'Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!' And He said to him, 'Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.'"

I don't know exactly when or how but the older I get I realize how much less its me in my faith and more God. I realize how much of a sinner I am and how much I don't deserve the gift of salvation which drives me to my knees in humility and make me thank God for the price He paid on the cross for my sins so that I may have eternal life. In other gospels it depicts that both criminals are hurling abuses at Christ. Its commentated that the one began with abuse and after time realized who he was being crucified next to... "God". I have had years to come to this realization when one of the thieves came to this conclusion within hours to realize his depravity and his need for a Saviour.

The two thieves are examples for us of two different types of people in the world. The unbeliever who is blind to their their sin. Who hurls accusations at God with anger of why their life has turned out the way it has and for God to take them out of their dreadful situation ("Save yourself and us!")even though it was a consequence of their sinful life.

Than we have the other person who realizes that when they compare their life next to God's that they are a sinner in need of a Saviour and with only the sacrifice of the Saviour will they inherit eternal life.

Being that today is Good Friday, the day Christ was crucified, may we be reflective as we go into the Easter weekend that it wouldn't be just a time of eating chocolate bunnies and coloring hard boiled eggs BUT it would be a time of reflection of what Christ did for you so that He can say to you, "Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise."

Which thief are you?

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Table In the Wilderness

I was driving home on the freeway a few weeks ago and I was reflecting on my families current financial situation. I began to reflect and pray. I don't ask "why" anymore and I don't negotiate with Him either. But I began to preach truth to myself about who I know God to be.
I have been married 17 years and the majority of my marriage, 14 of the 17 years, we have been self-employed. Being self-employed you always have a sense and know where your provisions come from. More times than not you can see God's hand in bringing provision to you and your family.
Psalm 78 is a depiction of what God did for the Israelites in the desert in the book of Exodus. The psalmist was writing to use the history of Israel to show and teach the graciousness of God even in spite of their ancestors' rebellion and ingratitude.

Psalm 78:6-8
That the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born,
That they may arise and tell them to their children,
That they should put their confidence in God
And not forget the works of God,
But keep His commandments,
And not be like their fathers,
A stubborn and rebellious generation,
A generation that did not prepare its heart
And whose spirit was not faithful to God.
v.10 They did not keep the covenant of God
And refused to walk in His law;
They forgot His deeds
And His miracles that He had shown them.
v.13-15 He divided the sea and caused them to pass through,
And He made the waters stand up like a heap.
Then He led them with the cloud by day
And all the night with a light of fire.
He split the rocks in the wilderness
And gave them abundant drink like the ocean depths.
v.17-19 Yet they still continued to sin against Him,
To rebel against the Most High in the desert.
And in their heart they put God to the test
By asking food according to their desire.
Then they spoke against God;
They said, "Can God prepare a table in the wilderness?
As my exit was nearing I came to this realization and it came over me with joy. I have seen God time and time and time again provide for me and my family....but why do I continue to doubt and question Him and ask Him to do it again? "Can YOU prepare a table in the wilderness?" Why would He stop after so many years of continual provision for us. I won't be like the Israelites who could see God's provision first hand in the desert by God providing manna from heaven, water from a rock and quail dropping in the midst of their camp and they continued to doubt and test Him by asking, "can YOU prepare a table in the wilderness?"
I will remember and believe what He has done in the past and He will continue to do so because that is who He is......
Psalm 78:35
And they remembered that God was their rock,
And the Most High their Redeemer.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

My Hope is in Him

Since my last blog ...literally from the minute I pushed "enter" life has been a series of tests. A series of test that keep asking me you believe what you preach? A series of waves that come and keep coming....wave after wave.

I grew up in Southern California and as a young girl learned to play and swim in the ocean. When you are closer to the shore you can jump over the waves or you can turn your back and let your back take the brunt of the wave. As you feel more confident you venture out farther into the ocean and realize that I can't jump nor turn my back to the wave but I need to make a "judgment call" and figure out what to do next so the impact of the wave doesn't hurt. You desperately try and analyze the situation and these are your choices....a) you can decide to either swim under the wave b) try to swim fast enough to get over the wave before it breaks or c) swim with the wave and ride it the shore. Most of the time you can be out in the ocean and be able to judge the waves and make accurate decisions BUT there are some times when your decision isn't so clear and you make a decision that swim and you swim to make it before the wave breaks but you're too late and you dive into the white water and the tumbling begins. The strength and the power of the wave hits you and it hits you hard.... to the point where it slams you into the sand and than you start to tumble and you don't know which way is up and before you know it another wave hits you before you can take another breath. Sometimes panic starts to set in and you wonder if you'll ever be able to get out of water and come to the top to take a breath ....a breath of relief from the waves that keep hitting you.

I think the Psalmist of Psalm 42 knew what it was like to swim in the ocean of life and know what it was like to try and swim fast enough to not get caught in the white water.

Psalm 42:5 -8
Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why have you become disturbed within me?
Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him
For the help of His presence.
O my God, my soul is in despair within me;
Therefore I remember You from the land of Jordan
And the peaks of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep at the sound of your waterfalls;
All your breakers and Your waves have rolled over me.
The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime;
And His song will be with me in the night,
A prayer to the God of my life.

When you're out in the water of life.....You will swim out far enough to where the waves no longer break. And you'll be able to look back and see the waves (trials) of our life and see how God used those waves to make you more like our Saviour. He uses those waves to teach us about our sinful self and that we need Him. He wants us to put our hope in Him. When we're out there you realize that He was the one that gave you the strength and grace to weather the storm of the beating waves. I will repent of my doubtful ways when I question the waves.

"Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him
The help of my countenance and my God." v.11

Monday, February 22, 2010

Eve is my Sista

Have you ever felt bad for anyone? Who do you think of? I feel bad for Eve...yes Eve from the book of Genesis. She's the one that started this whole mess of the Fall...didn't she? We blame her for "pain in childbirth" and for our struggles with our relationships with our husbands (Genesis 3:16). She's the one that got all of us into this mess with this fallen world.
We are more evolved than she could ever be with our college degrees, life experiences or even street smarts. If we were given the chance we wouldn't of fallen for the lie that the Serpent gave her. No, we never would of fallen for his tricks!

"Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made.
And he said to the woman, "Indeed, has God said, 'You shall not eat from any tree of the garden'?" The woman said to the serpent, "From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, 'You
shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.' " The serpent said to the woman, "You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took
from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. The the eyes
of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked;and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.
I don't think we're any different from our dear friend Eve. Nothing has changed from that day in the garden. I think everyday we make choices of who and what we love by what we hold close and dear. What we think we can live and live without. I think if we were all given the opportunity we'd all fall into the same trap that Eve did. We do everyday....
There's a lie that you believe. Do you know what it is? When you question God when life believe the lie. When you ask, "why me God?" You believe the lie. When you say, "I don't deserve this?" You believe the lie. When God isn't enough and you go searching for something or someone to fill that believe the lie.
Its not until we can say.....
Though the fig tree should not blossom
And there be no fruit on the vines,
Though the yield of the olive should fail
And the fields produce no food,
Though the flock should be cut off from the fold
And there be no cattle in the stalls,
Yet I will exult in the Lord,
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
The Lord God is my strength,
And He has made my feet like hinds' feet,
And makes me walk on my high places.
Habakkuk 3: 17-19
It's when all we want is God....that is when we STOP believing the lies. So learn from our sista Eve....let's not cast our stones at her but let's learn from her....and don't believe the lies the deceiver is trying to feed you.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

What is Your One Thing?

I was driving down the road with my youngest son seating in the front passenger seat. If you were to meet Noah you might say he's shy but if you're alone with Noah you find out pretty quickly that he isn't shy. From the time he got in the car and I asked "how's school today?" it was non-stop talking on his part. He had all of my attention to himself.
A break of silence and than a question came, "Mom if you could do anything in the whole world what would you do?" I really had to think ...there was a long pause in the car. "Let me think about that Noah."
I have a question for you....What is your One Thing? Paul David Tripp posts this question in his book, "A Shelter in the Time of Storm". Paul David Tripp asks, What is the the one thing that your heart craves? What is the one thing that you think would change your life? What is the one thing that you look to for satisfaction, contentment, or peace? What is the one thing that fills your daydreams and commands your sleepy meditations?

Matthew 6:21 says, "for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

Paul David Tripp states, "The spiritual reality for many of us is that the one thing is not the Lord. And the danger in that reality is this: your one thing will control your heart, and whatever controls your heart will exercise inescapable influence over your words, choices, and actions. Your one thing will become that which shapes and directs your responses of the situations and relationships of your daily life. If the Lord isn't your one thing, the thing that is your one thing will be your functional lord.
Here is what you say to yourself when something is your one thing: 'Life has meaning and I have worth only if I have _____________ in my life.' The problem is that the one-thing catalog is virtually endless."

What do you think is on this endless list...let's see! Power, Approval, Comfort, Image, Control, Dependence (someone there to keep you safe), Independence, Inclusion (if a particular social or professional group lets me into their inner ring), Achievement, Prosperity, Work, Religion (if I'm adhering to my religion's codes and accomplished in its activities), Irreligious (totally independent of organized religion and have a self made morality), A person, Family, Helping & Suffering.

Paul David Tripp shares, "in every situation and relationship of your everyday life, there is one-thing war being fought on the turf of your heart. You and I are safe only when the Lord really is the one thing that commands our hearts and controls our actions. There are many things that compete with HIM as the one thing that your heart craves."

As we came around the corner of our home, Noah couldn't stand the silence any longer and had to tell me the answer to his question for him. "Mom, I would invent wings like a bird so I could fly!" I didn't come up with an answer to Noah's question. I wished that I could of answered like King David did in Psalm 27:4, "One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple." King David was known as a man after God's own heart. We know that he wasn't a perfect man by no means but the one thing that he did know and kept in the right perspective was that he was a sinner in need of a His God. He had the right perspective of who he was and who God is. I hope that one day I would be known as a "Woman after God's own heart." Until than I will fight the idols that wage war after my heart and seek after the One Thing - Jesus My Groom.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Some say I'm different, some say I'm more involved at church BUT I say I'm Resolved....
It was like no other Sunday. I was sitting there with my hubby and my three boys at church and I open the church bullentin. Posted was the RESOLVED conference with dates and "needed one more van and adult chaperone." What is this RESOLVED conference and what is it about? Ok...its a college conference and its in Palm Springs,CA. I thought to myself I would love to get away for a few days in Palm Springs. I thought I could take Benjamin my oldest (13 years old at the time), be a chaperone and drive my van. Easy! I lean over to show the bullentin to my hubby and ask, "Can I go to RESOLVED? They need a chaperone and a van. I'll take Benjamin too...what do you think?" A nod of the head and the decision was made. I am going to RESOLVED 08' in 2 weeks.
7:30 am Friday morning we met at church. We're on the road by 8:30am. A car full of young adults. What can I say...but we were having a blast. I was getting to know them and they were getting to know me. Within our 10 hour drive we had nicknames for each other and the van. I had fallen in love with the kids in my car and adopted them all before we even got to Southern California.
We arrived into Palm Springs with not much time to spare. We checked into the hotel to just grab our room keys and throw our bags in the room and than we were off to the Palm Springs Convention Center.
The meeting room's lights were dimming and music was beginning to play. We didn't have the greatest seats but it seemed like no seat was actually a bad seat. The room went dark and the video began. It was a video with a a man standing in the desert and he picks up a SOLD sign out of the ground and throws it and begins to run into the empty field. He's running and running into the desert field. Music is playing and he stops in the middle of this waste land of a desert and starts to dig into the sand. Digging and digging like he was searching for something he'd lost. The video was depicting Matthew 13:44 "The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. The treasure is his salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ. Tears started to well up. The conference begins. The speaker that night, Rick Holland, introduces us to Jonathon Edwards. He was 19 years old when he wrote 70 Resolutions. Resolutions that he live by. He shared with us Resolution #7 "Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life." RESOLVED 08 topic was on Heaven & Hell.
They dismissed us for the night and I asked some of the kids if they wanted to meet some of my friends that were there. I took 4 or 5 of them to the front and on my way there I see a friend of mine that I didn't expect to see from my home church in LA. We hugged and I introduced her to the kids that were with me and she says to them, "I remember her when she was your age?" As I look behind me to look at their response, it hits me! A blink of an eye ago I was them. It was just yesturday that I was in their shoes.
When I was their age, I left everything I had and put my clothes in garbage bags and left my life of sin. I left my boyfriend and all I knew on a Friday and on that Sunday I was at church. I was done believing and living the lies of the world. I wanted the treasure that was buried in that field. My groom and my treasure....Jesus Christ!I remember it vividly ...I prayed and committed to my Groom that He was my "first love."
There wasn't a speaker that I didn't like. I can't remember who said it but one of them said, "you might spend 70 years here on earth but you will spend an eternity somewhere. Where will you spend eternity?" Death was a reality in my life. My mother in law had taken her life just a few months prior. I got to witness first hand what a person does who puts their hope and trust in this world.
I could give you a long list of how RESOLVED impacted me but most of all God used it to show me that I had become "lukewarm" and I had allowed the idols of this world get in the way of my "first love." I want to serve my Groom with my life. We don't know how long we are here for? So I will take on Resolution #7 - "Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life."
So come with me as I go to the desert, like Moses, to meet God and see Him face to face. Go with me up to the mountain, take off your sandels and ask God to reveal His glory. He will put you in the cleft of the rock as He did me and He will put His hand over you and reveal His glory.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Why Oh Why?

Who would of known that a quiet and simple conversation between two friends would have impacted me and encouraged me to the point to blog....
I am convinced that God gives you seasons in life for a reason. Each season has so much to learn in itself. God is so gracious to us by giving us different seasons for different lessons.
The season I was in 11 years ago was being a mom of a 3 year old boy and 6 month old boy. It's a time in your life where taking a shower and getting just a couple of your "to-do's" done is a great day. It's a time in your life when you look forward to a lunch date at McDonald's playground so you can get some adult conversation in with your girlfriend. You have friends but because time is so lean in this season having quality time with many friends is not a reality unless you make the time.
This day 11 years ago I made the time. I had a girl's night out with my friend Julie. We both had to make sure it was after our children's bedtime so we could have uninterrupted time to talk. My husband was home and holding down the fort so I could go have girl's night. Julie made sure by the time I arrived her boys were in bed and asleep. We had so much to cover in so little time.
As I drove to my friend's house I began to pray. Praying that the Lord would give me wisdom. Praying that the Lord would give me words of encouragement. Praying that I would be there to minister to her and her needs. I so desperately wanted my friend to know that she was supported & loved by me.
When I arrived we got right to talking and getting caught up in what was going on in my friend's life. I couldn't get a word in edge wise but that was okay because I hadn't seen my friend filled with so much joy and excitement in such a long time. My friend began to tell me about this Women's retreat she went on and how the pastor of the church spoke to these ladies and shared Isaiah 54:5 with them. "For the your husband is your Maker, Whose name is the Lord of hosts; And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, Who is called the God of all the earth." The pastor shared and exhorted these women to make their groom...their first love their Maker. Their true husband is their God. I began to tear up as I heard the joy and excitement of my friend as she realized through this experience that she had all she needed ...her "Eternal Groom!"
You may be thinking to yourself this such an epiphany? What you don't realize is that my friend was a widow in her late 20's with a 3 year old boy and a baby boy of only a few months. She received a knock on her door at 5am a few months prior to find out that her husband had died in a fire he was trying to put out as a firefighter. At the news of his death her youngest son was only 2 weeks old.
God had a different purpose for me that night. My purpose was to minister to my friend but God's purpose was for ME to be ministered to by my friend. I could see how the Lord had given her HIS grace for all her needs. She was glowing like Moses who had seen God and experienced His glory.
Its been 11 years since that night and I cannot tell you the countless times that I have gone back to that moment in time and have asked myself..."Who is your Groom?" When my husband hadn't met my needs the way I think he should or isn't loving me the way I think he should of think of Julie. When life takes a turn that wasn't expected or wanted...I can hear my friend's voice saying, "Who is your Groom?"
My groom is the Lord, Jesus Christ. He is my eternal Groom. I have an earthly groom but its my eternal Groom who doesn't disappoint. See my Eternal Groom loved me so much that He died for me so that I may have eternal life.
So I ask...Who is your Groom?