Category Archives: Take Him at His Word

Even when the word is a hard one <3

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Sometimes Scripture is perplexing isn’t it?

God certainly did not sugar coat nor did He hire a spin doctor to write out the story of humanity….the fall…the redemption…the good, the bad and the ugly of us all.

And aren’t we thankful?

Because life on planet earth is messy. 

It hurts.

It’s amazing.

It’s moments of joy where you think your heart is going to explode in a thousand million bits of happiness.

And it’s those times when the explosion is so painful you can not even breathe as you view the shards of what used to be your existence.

To be honest…I have been so awe struck in the happy that I failed to look for Jesus in the midst of all the beauty of the moment.

But when I have thought and remembered and learned to worship Him…the joy has been eternally sealed.

And sometimes I have missed Him completely in the shattering of pain and heartache. 

But when I have sought Him in raw brokenness …that pain has also become a place of beauty that exists beyond time and space. 

Today I read a portion of Scripture that places two stories back to back that cause me stop and ponder.

Luke 7:11-17 recounts a day when Jesus and His disciples are passing through a town called Nain. 

There is a funeral procession going along…a widow is burying her only son. 

It says that Jesus’ heart “went out to her.”

He goes over to the coffin…touches it…and the son sits up and starts talking…walks off with his mom…goes home…resumes life.

I marvel at this. 

How many moms all around had begged for the life of their son. 

This mom was done and done with the begging and was burying her hopes and dreams and Jesus just saw her…had compassion…healed…raised the dead.

Why?

That’s what John wanted to know. 

Because bumpered up against this passage is Jesus’ cousin John. 

Rotting in a prison he didn’t deserve.

Because he had spoken out to Herod about some serious sin issues in the palace, he was now on death row. 

And he is hearing from his disciples all the miraculous things Jesus is doing. 

But there he sits. 

Jesus even just randomly raised a dead man without so much as a “if You are willing…” from his mom. 

But John faces death any day. 

Innocent of wrong doing. 

The one who had prepared the way. 

The voice crying out in the wilderness. 

Why?

So he sends his disciples to Jesus with a hard question.

Wow. I thought you were the Messiah. The one who would save us. Was I wrong? Should I be looking for someone else? Because…hello? I am not feeling the love here, Jesus. Where are You for me in my time of need?

And even stranger is Jesus’ response. 

He tells the disciples to go back and report to John how the dead are being raised. 

Go back to that dark prison where John waits for Herod to send his henchman and finish this off…and tell him about all the wonderful things that are happening. 

And after they leave.

THEN…

He praises John to the crowd. 

He tells them how great John is in the Kingdom. 

He doesn’t brag about John to John, see?

He gives John’s testimony to the crowd. 

Can it be that right now, He is watching the faithful who struggle and He is declaring your testimony in the heavenliness?

Can it be when He seems the farthest and the least concerned it is because He is saying…well done…well done, faithful one. 

Can we trust His compassion is there when we don’t feel it?

Can we sit in whatever unjust prison we have been assigned and find strength in His goodness even if we cannot see it? 

We must. 

Like the disciples we must say…this is hard…very hard…but where else can we go?

For it is only in You that we find eternal life. 

Please know…I am praying for many of you who are walking through the darkest and hardest of valleys. 

May you know the sweet presence of God in these days. 

Hold fast to the faith.

He is faithful <3

Just a prayer for those in the path of the storm <3

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Do you know what that is?

That’s the imprint of a butterfly wing on my Gdawg’s bug hunting finger.

He loves to catch them and whether he uses a net…

or his sweet little hands…

he gets the job done.

And don’t worry…

the butterfly lived because he’s just that good…

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pc/Rachel <3

I snapped the picture because I couldn’t believe the perfect imprint of the wings left such an impression on his skin.

I understand about imprints and the way living things can be impressed on us.

We have been to the places impacted by storms being reported in the news today.

Cuba…

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Florida…

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there are people all in the path of that storm who have left an imprint on our hearts.

There are people we have never met whose lives and home and stories are shattered by water and wind.

And those people have left an imprint on God’s heart.

And in the midst of it all we turn to Him because we know He could still any storm.

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Yet sometimes He doesn’t.

And we can ask why…but whether He answers or not…and how could we even understand if He did…

He is still God

He is still Sovereign

And even when we cannot understand, we can know…

He is good…

He is faithful…

and so…

like Job, I bow my head and lift up weak hands.

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And I pray….

Heavenly Father,

We asked you to calm the storm, yet it rages on. Homes are destroyed. Schools no longer stand. Businesses are devastated.

Not just in our own country but along small islands where they already had so little.

Our son-in-law just returned fresh from Haiti with pictures of a man smiling as he was handed keys to his brand new home.

And we hear of the island that is so very poor is now rocked with earthquakes.

We wonder…is the work that was done, now undone?

This world is wearing out Lord.

You said it would.

We see the signs and still think we can manage it with politics and technology and enough forecasting by meterologists and scientists and ideology.

But we can’t.

So we spread out our fallen and broken selves before you.

We ask for mercy Lord.

Mercy for ourselves.

Mercy for those who are walking amongst the rubble of what used to be the place of their existence.

And we pray God for eyes to see beyond the temporal of this world.

We have hearts and minds and souls that long for eternity.

In the pain and sorrow and fallen condition of this world, we pray.

Lead us to Your heart.

Amen <3

Warnings from history <3

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I hope you had a good weekend. 

The past few days of reading in the Chronological Bible have been extremely interesting. 

The commentary between the Old and New Testament has taken me back to my school days and I am remembering how much I enjoyed my World History classes. 

Back when there were fewer players on the grid of “world news” and things moved slowly enough between battles and coups that my tiny mind can take in and stand a chance of remembering names like Alexander the Great and the Roman Empire and such. 

But I am painfully reminded that even back in the years we fondly call “when America was more Christian”…I made absolutely no connection with the timing of the events of Cleopatra and Anthony…the lineage of Caesar who defeated them…and the Roman Empire that took over…and how that set the stage for the birth of Messiah. 

I also was stricken when I read this passage from the commentary about the impact of the Aramaic and other languages replacing the use of Hebrew.

“There was waning interest in reading the Torah…thus the law’s influence itself diminished.”

“Also of significant impact were the Persian beliefs in astrology and the occult. As a result when many Jews read their Scriptures in this post exilic period, they attached special meanings to any passages dealing with demons and angels, or light and darkness. The Torah is gradually being mystified in the eyes of many.”**

The writings of the commentators of this particular chronological Bible I am reading also explain how because of these new interpretations, many sects formed with various ideas.   

This chills me to the core. 

Go back and look at those paragraphs and substitute in some key words for our current age.

Would it look something like this?

There was waning interest in reading the Bible…thus the influence of God’s Word revealed in Scripture diminished. With the abundance of Christian based reading material available through popular authors, people began to use these as the primary basis for understanding and interpreting God’s Word. 

Also of significant impact are the cultural beliefs of our times and influences of pluralistic and new age religions. As a result when many Christians read the Bible, they attach special meanings to certain passages that align with those ways of thinking. The Bible is gradually being tailored to our personal preferences of who God is in our own eyes.

So we divide ourselves off into sects, defending what we believe about the Bible and polarize the Gospel according to our interpretation and war amongst ourselves. 

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Scary as hell itself, isn’t it? 

It makes me ask myself just how much I am allowing the culture of today, the thoughts of those who have watered down the Gospel to meet their agenda and the fear of offending the followers of the god of this current age to color the lens of my spirit as I read God’s Word. 

We have to recognize that when we go to open the pages of Scripture, we have to seek the Holy Spirit to guide us and teach us. Yes, God anoints teachers to guide us, but we do not follow a teacher or a preacher or a denomination or a cause. 

We follow Jesus Christ. He is our real and present Teacher. Always. 

We have to understand that our various translations have come down from others who can read Hebrew and Greek and interpreted as best they could – but we have to dig deeper into the meanings and context behind the passages and not lean on our own understanding of the words we are reading in a native tongue where the meanings of a word or phrase can change over time. 

There are many resources available to turn to so that we can develop a deeper understanding and knowledge about the character and nature of the God who saved us. 

What a powerful warning we can glean from the pages of history. We do not have to make the same mistakes. 

We have a spiritual obligation and responsibility to rightly study God’s Word and apply it to our own lives each and every day. 

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable and useful for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. 1 Timothy 3:16 & 17 NKJV

** The Narrated Bible in Chronological Order; NIV, With Devotional Commentary by F. LaGard Smith; Harvest House Publisher 1984, pg. 1343

 

And all the moms and dads said “Amen!”

This morning one of my devotional readings centered on John 14:15 where Jesus lays out this bit of information in how to follow Him well…

If you love Me…you will keep My commands.

And as any parent knows…yep…that’s what it’s all about.

It isn’t ….

If you keep my commands, I will love you.

Not in healthy parenting.

Not in godly parenting.

Unless things are highly dysfunctional and out of whack in a home, parents love their children even when they don’t particularly like them at a given moment or season.

Even when they are not enjoying them and they joke about putting a “free to a good home” sign around their neck at the next soccer game, most parents would walk through fire for their child.

And we are imperfect and selfish and flawed and broken.

And yet we know that even on their worst days, our children simply cannot run past the tough borders of our love.

How much more God?

Who says…

I love you no matter what.

But if you LOVE ME…you WILL keep my commands.

Because if we truly know Him as He wants us to know Him…

if we really know His heart and His character and His ways.

We will keep them.

We will follow them.

We will walk out our days obeying what He says.

Wanting to do what is right, wanting to not do what is wrong.

Not to show our love…not to earn His love…but because we just will do it since we love Him and truly know His commandments are all good for all of us and for all people.

 

For the long haul <3

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This week on the blog, I have been looking at a passage from Ezra that I came across in my daily reading through the Chronological Bible. 

In Chapter 7 of this book, Ezra has received the blessing of the pagan King Artaxerxes to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple. Ezra is given a letter of passage, provisions and the oomph to insure that the powers that be along the way also contribute to this band of people who are making their way back home. 

The focus of my thoughts though comes from the portion of Scripture found in Chapter 8, verses 21-23.

Because as Ezra and the people were ready to set out across around nine hundred miles…with women and children and elderly people…all they owned…he stopped, dropped and prayed. 

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He proclaimed a fast and cried out to God to protect them as they made their way.

They were toting a fair amount of gold, thanks to the King. 

They were vulnerable.

But they had been bold.

Ezra had told the King he didn’t need an army to go with him and the people. 

Apparently Ezra had boasted in God. 

And it wasn’t because he didn’t believe his God was able that he stopped. 

It was because as he and the people who had settled and made a life now stood with all they knew of their comfort zone behind them and the vast unknown before them, what they knew for sure was…they were vulnerable to attack. 

There were enemies along the way who had great interest in what they could pillage of their treasure and no interest at all in their well fare and safe passage.

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I am thinking this morning of some children I love dearly scattered across this vast country of ours. 

They carry a treasure of eternal value in their sweet little jars of clay. 

There is an enemy that desires nothing more than to sideline and strip them of it. 

He is powerful and crafty and has many agents working at his bidding. 

But I have boasted in my God. 

So this morning, I bend my knee to the God of heaven and I ask Him for safe passage for those I love as they cross the unknown turf of today and head toward the promise of tomorrow. 

Is the Bible relevant to us today?

Oh yes. 

It is indeed. 

Be blessed dear ones.

You are loved and your passage is being covered in prayer today <3