Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Tale of Two Houses

Have you ever walked into a home and been at total peace? What about that house made you at peace? Maybe it was that there wasn't any clutter, or there was an inviting smell, or the people who welcomed you in instantly put you at ease? What about that house made you pause and breath?

Have you ever walked in a home at made you ill-at ease? What was it that caused tension? Noise? Smell? Clutter? Confusion?

Imagine with me for a moment two houses side by side. This time our focus isn't so much on what the homes look like, but on what it's inhabitants experience. 

Those who live in one home experience tension, confusion, guilt, shame, addiction, pain, a lack of love and peace, violence, and death. There is a range of depths that the inhabitants experience these things. It could be that they experience mild tension and confusion and violence, all the way to a deeply intense tension, confusion, and violence. Ultimately though, they are experienced. 

The other home is quite different. The second home is one of order, peace, love, affection, fulfillment, clarity, lightness, completeness, joy, calmness, understanding, freedom, and life. I love gardens, and I imagine that this home has a beautiful indoor greenhouse with a little stream, lots of green things, and most wonderful smells. In this home the inhabitants are free to leave, but have no desire to do so.

I know which home I want to live in!!! There's just no question. Not even a moment's hesitation. Seriously. I was reading in the Bible this morning, in Romans, about slavery. Slavery isn't a physical thing I experience, or have ever experienced. According to things I've read still exists today for millions around the world (and I can hardly bear the thought and fall on my knees every time I hear about it). But it isn't something I've experienced, physically. But that isn't what Paul was referring to. He was referring to a spiritual condition. Paul says that we are slaves, either to sin, or to righteousness. We are slaves to God, or to ourselves, and by default to our mortal enemy (Romans 6-7).  When we allow sin to rule in us, to be our slave master, the natural consequences are living in the first home I described. Tension, confusion, guilt, shame, etc. We experience the torment of a slave master with no mercy, no grace. We get beaten down, and are a slave to our own lusts. We can experience this even though we have confessed Christ as Lord. Pause and reflect on a time you've experienced this.

On the other hand, those who's slave master is Christ the Lord experience quite the opposite. I've not known a gentler, kinder, more patient master. who's love knows no end. Those who work and serve in His house are free to leave at any time and experience everything described in the second house, even in the midst of the most trying circumstances. Yet those who truly are His, would never dream of leaving. They experience a life that not many find. Life, love, fulfillment to a depth many only dream of. 

Christy Nockels wrote a song and I love the picture it gives:

So, how does one move from one house to the other? Faith. Belief. Belief in Jesus. Seek Jesus. He says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through me." (John 14:6)

Jesus tells us through the prophet Jeremiah, "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:13)

Jesus says, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:12)

Jesus tells us through Paul, "For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of the Son He loves." (Colossians 1:13)

Kingdom. Gods's Kingdom. His house is a house of great peace, deep joy, and overwhelming love.

The tale of two houses, two kingdoms. Where are you living? In which home are you serving? Which master are you serving? 

Here is a beautiful post giving context to some of the Bible's passages about being bond slave.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

God's Ways Are NOT My Ways: Psalm 42:11

"Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? 
Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God." 
Psalm 42:11 NIV

In the book of John, Jesus tells us we will have trouble in this world. It's a guarantee. On any given day we could probably be able to name several troubles in our own lives, and troubles we see happening around the world. Without even researching, I can say with certainty that the troubles in our world are increasing in intensity and visibility as we get closer to "go time." "Go time" = heaven is coming!! This thought also comes from the Bible. Yet in Psalms, David reminds us (and God does too), that we can put our hope in God, and even praise Him, in the midst of troubles.

Last night I found soul downcast and disturbed. In the same breath, I can't help but say that I had a beautiful day yesterday that was full of blessing, and I wanted for nothing. Yet, as predicted by the Savior, I had troubles. As I went to bed I found myself reacting passive aggressively, and aggressively, to my circumstances. This morning I had clarity about what went down, and was able to see with better perspective how I want to react in the future. I want to be able to react with understanding and JOY. JOY is one of those words that even though we can look it up in the dictionary and quote a definition, it's a word that describes a spiritual thing that will be a little bit elusive until we reach heaven. To fully understand the depth of that word, and be able to fully express with words what it means, is a little bit impossible. BUT, I know that if I find joy in anything other than the Lord, it will be a short-lived emotion! However, my desire is to be filled with Holy-Spirit Joy in the evening. This is infringing on a generational sin! Not only that, but to suggest that it is possible to have JOY past 8pm, God will have to break a law of (my) nature. I'm a tried and true morning person, and my father's daughter. After the dinner dishes are done, I'm toast, ready for bed. To have to do any kind of chores, ready books at any length, be social, is quite difficult for me. YET, I know Jesus was raised from the dead, and so certainly God, if given the opportunity, can fill me with JOY after 8pm. The Lord is gracious and I am been an active participant in JOY in the evening, and I will fight for it to be a regular occurrence.

"Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God." So, putting faith into action, I'm going to be asking the Lord for help in redeeming my 8-11pm part of my life and filling it with JOY. I have every HOPE that it will be accomplished, because I can put my HOPE in the living God. His promises are as good as done. It will take some active participation on my part, and is my new learning target.

I can become an active participant in being filled with JOY in the evening, no matter the circumstances.

Walking by faith,

Saturday, November 28, 2015

God's Ways Are NOT My Ways: 1 Corinthians 13

1 Corinthians 13:1-8a. NIV
"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails."

I've been studying in John recently, and struck by Jesus' words in chapter 6. He claims that He is the bread of life, and that anyone who believes in Him, and comes to Him, will not be be turned away, and will have life. I've experienced this in the desperate times (take that with a grain of salt...we live a very comfortable life), and the times that are not as desperate.  When I come to the Lord who is nearer than a breath, He breathes life to my soul with scripture, with song. I'm reminded of how Aslan breaths life into the cold, lifeless animals in the White Witch's fortress in the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. As I read His word and talked with Him this morning, He revived my soul and brought new perspective.

I came to Him this morning from within a deep rut. I recognized the place instantly, and thankfully recognized that there were hand holds and foot holds, and then the hand of Jesus reached down and I was able to easily step out of the rut. In the past I haven't seen it as such, and the way of escape hasn't always been so easily visible. Of course, in the past I've set up house in the rut and maybe enjoyed being there for a time. Goodness. But this morning was different.

John 6:45 "It is written in the Prophets: 'They will all be taught by God.' Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from Him comes to me."

I sat down with a cup of coffee in the silence of the morning, and even as I spoke my heart to the Father, He directed my mind to the passage in 1 Corinthians, "love is patient." It stilled my heart. As I went to grab my Bible I looked around me. I saw evidence of my family's life. Toys, laundry, books, school books, papers to grade, and grad school application documents. It reminded me that I am just a part of something bigger that was going on around me, and the fact that the needs I have are just some of the many ongoing needs of my family. They will be met, and met best in the loving, life-giving, words of Jesus.

He proclaims, "My love is patient, my love is kind." I was reminded of the times when I've experienced God's patient forgiveness and kindness and my heart softened and was reminded to trust God with my needs. In addition to that, I was reminded that my love for my family is best displayed in patience and kindness. The title of this post speaks of the difference between the ways of God and the ways man. My way is to be self-centered, short-sighted, and self-serving. God's ways are patient, kind, others focused, and everything else we see in the 1 Corinthians passage. God's definition of love in this passage is something He has already lived out time and time again. We see it on display from the very beginning of Genesis, all the way to the very end of Revelation. The magnitude of His fulfillment of this passage is beyond what I, or anyone else, can imagine. This puts my sighings to bed, and with this new perspective I continue on in my day with great HOPE that any need I have is met in the perfect love of God and His Son, Jesus.

I have been subbing for a month now, and everywhere I go I see learning targets. Here are today's learning targets:

I can trust God to meet my every need because His love for me is patient, kind, and on display in an infinite amount of ways.
I can show love that is patient and kind, no matter what the circumstances because it is inspired by the love God has for me.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Adventure 2015-Part 1

Before heading off on the Adventure
This summer our family had the pleasure of planning, and then going on, an adventure. It isn't the first we've gone on, and Lord willing it won't be our last. My husband loves adventures. He's been fulfilling his love of adventuring for years, and it gives him such pleasure to now be taking his family. As his family, the boys and I love experiencing all that he plans. The adventures we've been on thus far have been very planned out and prayed over. Food, shelter, and safety are all the things that he considers, and thus far he's done an amazing job at planning down to the last detail, and the adventure is amazing because of his thoughtfulness. This adventure was no different. Certainly it was more challenging because of the length, as well as what he'd planned for us during this adventure.

The plan for this one was to go to hike in to Duffy Lake and set up base camp. Base camp included the Tajmatent, a kitchen, a laundry line, a food line (to make sure we didn't get crittered), and a fishing gear station. The day after we hiked in the plan was to bushwack to the Pacific Coast Trail at the base of Three-Fingered Jack, climb up and down the mountain, bushwack down to Santiam lake to water up, and then find and hike the train back to Duffy Lake. The next day the plan was to chill by Duffy, fish, and rest our sore and tired muscles, and then the following day to hike out and meet up with grandparents at Black Butte. The plan. The master plan. It took much planning to work out sleep, food, safety, and then stuff like a rubber raft, climbing gear...and put it into four packs while the while being reasonable weight wise. I mean, the youngest is 6 1/2 for pete's sake. He's not a little guy for 6 1/2, but he's not hercules (although I'm pretty sure he think's he is).

Before heading off on our adventure this summer, we had some clear ideas of what we wanted to accomplish. We'd never done this long of a trip before, and we certainly had never climbed a mountain. 

Base Camp

Before we even begun to pack, before we walked out the front door, before we left our car and headed off into the woods, we could have decided that this wasn't what we wanted to do. We could have decided that the things we'd planned were too difficult, or that it wasn't worth the hardship. What we gained from the experience was absolutely priceless, and the views we saw were worth any hardship. One of the lessons I learned from this experience is that I always have a choice to take a challenge or not, and I will always gain wisdom and experience from the challenge, or not. I could have said, "No. I don't think I want to go." I would have not known the difference, but I would have missed so much. There is so much in life that is challenging, but unless we say yes to all that the hardship means, we won't take from it what God has planned for us.

The picture below was taken the morning after we arrived. I walked down to the lake to pump water for the day's adventure, and this beautiful sight met me. This lake is always here. It is always declaring the glory of the Lord. I'm so thankful to have said yes to this adventure so I could partake of this glory. I wonder how many times I've said no to something the Lord would have me do, something hard, and I've missed seeing Him work? I wonder how many times I've missed seeing His glory? I want the answer on my lips to be yes. I want to not shrink back from the hard, but to seek out God's glory in the midst of it. I want the hard to draw me closer to Him, to lean on His mighty strength, and to experience Him at work in me. His thoughts and ways are so much higher than mine (Isaiah 55), and His ways are always for my good (Romans 8). Even the hard ones. I'm so thankful for this adventure and the way it stretched me and our family. We are closer and stronger for it. And we climbed a mountain. It takes my breath away every time I think about it. More about that later...

Early Morning Fog on Duffy Lake

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Words: Jesus' inviting words

John 1:35-39
"The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, 'Look, the lamb of God!' 

When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, 'What do you want?' 

They said, 'Rabbi' (which means Teacher), 'Where are you staying?' 'Come,' he replied, 'and you will see.'" 

First, a declaration by John the Baptist. John, who was filled with the Holy Spirit, carrying out the good works God had prepared for him to do (Eph 2). John who spent his days declaring that the kingdom of God was near, and that the Messiah would soon enter on to the scene. His life was a pouring out of himself as he lifted high the name of God, as he lifted high and exalted the kingdom of God in the face of religious hypocrite, and in the face of those who were sheep without a shepherd. The heavenly anger, and compassion, he must have felt. And to declare..."Look! The lamb of God!" The Messiah! Jesus! His disciples went. They left John. They went to follow, to seek. They declared intention as they asked where he was staying. Jesus simply replied, "Come." This simple conversation. These simple words. This is where it is at.

"Jesus! Where are you? Where are you going? What are you doing?" These are simple questions. Sometimes we seek because we are hungry and thirsty for more than this life has to offer. Sometimes we ask because we are hurt and we want more. Sometimes we ask because we are motivated out of love and we want to walk in obedience.

Sometimes we ask and then we stop listening. Sometimes we ask and we don't like what we hear.

Jesus always responds..."Come, and you will see." He gets our attention. He asks us to continue listening. He invites us to join Him. So, are you listening as someone standing on the outside of the crowd? Are you listening for the moments that interest you? Are you listening and not participating? Or are you listening intently at His feet, with your shoes on, ready to move when He moves? These words are simple, and invite us to come along.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Transition: Would you like some clear words of direction?

Joshua 22:1-
"Then Joshua summoned the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manaseh and said to them, 'You have done all that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded and you have obeyed me in everything I commanded. For a long time now–to this very day–you have no deserted your brothers but have carried out the mission the Lord your God gave you. Now that the Lord your God has given your brothers rest as He promised, return to your homes in the land that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you on the other side of the Jordan. But be very careful to keep the amendment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you; to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to obey His commands, to hold fast to Him and to serve Him with all your heart and all your soul.'

Over the last two weeks I've been reading through Joshua. There are parts of this book that I want to turn my head and look away, and there are parts I jump up and down for and cheer! My understanding of God and the way He works is made clearer every time I read Joshua. My understanding of what it looks like when a servant-leader responds to God, even if the directions are strange or uncomfortable. My own desire and resolve to be obedient, and to listen to the Lord of Hosts (all the way to the end), becomes stronger every time I read this. My faith becomes greater; a faith authored and perfected by Jesus (Heb 12), after all, these accounts were orchestrated by God Himself!

I may go back and write about the beginning of the book, but here I am with about 10 minutes before kiddos wake from naps, and this passage (Joshua 22) spoke to me this morning.


At one point or another, we've encountered this thing. Sometimes it's of our own choosing, sometimes it isn't. There have been two times in the last year and a half when I've encountered this, and those times were highly uncomfortable. I am comfortable when I have understanding and control over my life. I like routine. These things were taken out of my hands. Looking back they were times where I recognize that God patiently waited while I ran in circles briefly, noticed what I was doing, settled before Him... and then we continued on. As I read this passage I noticed that these people, a portion of the tribes of Israel, were in a time of transition. They had spent the last 5 years in obedience to what they'd been called to do, and they were about to be released from that duty. Joshua's words to them spoke to me and gave me insight for the next time I'm in transition. Please take time to read and study this on your own, and take time to soak in what God would have you learn and apply. Here is what ministered to me.

1) Joshua called together these 2 1/2 tribes and began by encouraging them. "You have done all that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded and you have obeyed me in everything I commanded. For a long time now–to this very day–you have not deserted your brothers but have carried out the mission the Lord your God gave you." There have been times when as I'm going through transition, I wonder if there is some reason I'm being called to something different. I wonder at times if I've not fulfilled my duties, or if it's because of disobedience. This does encourage me to ask the Lord, "Have I been faithful? Have I fulfilled the mission you've given me?" I could even ask this of my husband, or those who are close to me. God wanted these tribes to know that they had been obedient, and that they were released from their duties. If you are in a transition that is not of your choosing, and you are wondering about this, I encourage you to settle this in your heart by speaking with God about this, or with those who love and care about you.

2) "Now that the Lord your God has given your brothers rest as He promised, return to your homes in the land that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you on the other side of the Jordan." In this passage God is proclaimed as a promise-keeper. So many other places in the Bible also prove that God fulfills His promise. In addition, very specific directions are given to these tribes. Not always are we given directions like this, which is a fulfillment of a promise given by Moses. Sometimes we are asked to wait patiently for just the next step. In those times, the next direction is all we need. During transition times, there will be times when things are unclear. During these times Phil 4:6-7, Prov 3:5-6, are verses that have been lifelines to remind me not to worry, but to remember that if it really is God who directs my steps, what have I to be anxious about! God is a promise-keeper.

3) "But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you; to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to obey His commands, to hold fast to Him and to serve Him with all your heart and all your soul." For those times when I am hanging on for the next step...just waiting for time to pass until there is a next step revealed, these commands are so clear, so life giving, give hope, and are really all we need. Love God. Be obedient. Obey His commands. Hold fast to Him with. all. your. heart. and. all. your. soul. The end. Do we need anything else? For those moments when I just want to KNOW THE FUTURE, and I'm spinning with questions. Love God. Hold fast to Him. Just obey. Praise the Lord for clear directions like these. Transitions are just that...transitions. They don't last. But sometimes they are so dang hard.

I'd love to hear what transition was hard for you, what scripture God used to help you get through, and if any of these words from Joshua 22 resonate with you! Consider commenting below.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Words: Joshua

Joshua 1:1-11

"After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses' aide: Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them–to the Israelites. I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates–all the Hittite country–to the Great Sea on the west. No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you, do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."

Moses is dead.
Get ready.
I will give I promised.
No one will be able to stand against...
As I was with Moses, so I will be with you...
I will never leave you nor forsake you.
Be strong
Be courageous will lead these people
Be strong and very courageous.
Be careful to obey all the not turn to the right or to the left...
Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth...
meditate on it day and night...
Have I not commanded you?
Be strong and and courageous.
Do not be terrified.
Do not be discouraged.
I am with you.

Joshua had walked with Moses, talked with him, and had been witness to many incredible things. God was about to fulfill a promise spoken years and years before to Abraham, and Joshua was to lead the Israelites into the fulfillment of this promise. The task was daunting. He could have said, "I just can't." He probably was tempted to lay it all down and walk away. These words that God spoke in the ear of this leader are heavy. They are purposeful. They have life and direction, they have power and insight. These words fill my heart, mind, and spirit with courage and purpose. I fall on my knees and ask, "Lord, send me! Almighty God, I am not worthy to be called, but send me!" "Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. " Emmanuel. God with us. Almighty God, with us.

How do these words stir your heart?