Monday, December 27, 2010
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Friday, November 5, 2010
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Thursday, September 30, 2010
In 1 Kings 18 is one of the most spectacular accounts of God displaying His power in all of Scripture. I remember learning this story in Sunday School on a felt board with a cut-out character of Elijah. At that time this was kind of a smack-down, "my-dad-could-beat-your-dad-up" story…but it was what occurred after the show-down on Mount Carmel that I had missed until just this past week.
King Ahab and his wife Jezebel were the rulers over Israel at the time that God called Elijah as a prophet. They were evil. They adamantly opposed God, they made a sport of killing the prophets of the Lord, and they worshiped false gods, Baal in particular.
So, God stages the show-down on Mount Carmel. In order to end a draught that has plagued the land of Israel, He instructs Elijah to ask King Ahab to meet him on top of the mountain with hundreds of the prophets of Baal. Both parties (the Baal-worshipers and Elijah because he's the only prophet of the Lord that Ahab and Jezebel haven't killed yet) bring animals to sacrifice to their gods. Elijah basically says, 'The god who sends fire from heaven to consume the animal sacrifice is the one, true God.' So all day long the Baal-worshipers dance around the altar and call out to Baal and cut themselves and tear their clothes off and do all sorts of other disgusting things, but as 1 Kings 18:29 says, "...there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention."
Then it's Elijah's turn. (Can't you just hear the background music? I loved this part in Sunday School.) Before Elijah calls out to the Lord to send fire, he drenches the altar and the wood with gallons and gallons of water. Then Elijah prays this prayer: "Answer me, O LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again." And immediately fire falls from heaven and incinerates the entire, soaking wet sacrifice. The Baal-worshipers immediately fall to their knees in recognition that Elijah's God is the true and living God. Elijah then seizes and slaughters the prophets of Baal. And the draught ends with a heavy rain.
Now, the best part...this part wasn't on the felt board in Sunday School. :-)
So, Ahab goes back to the palace and tells Jezebel everything that happened on Mount Carmel. Jezebel becomes infuriated, and she threatens Elijah's life.
And, guess what Elijah does? He's just seen one of the most spectacular displays of God's power...God showed up when Elijah called His name in faith. And then, because of the threat of a ticked-off, middle-aged woman, Elijah acts like a complete wimp. He freaks out and runs for his life into the desert. He even asks God to end his life.
If you ask me, Elijah deserves a big spanking from the Lord...or at least a really stern talking-to. He so quickly forgot how big God is...how awesome He is...how the Lord listens to the cries of His people and responds.
But, instead of some harsh punishment, do you know what God does? He sends an angel to Elijah out in the middle of desert...as his faith in the almighty God is faltering and he's despairing his own life...and the angel brings him a picnic lunch. No rebuke. No ridicule of Elijah's cowardly behavior. Just some food. Just some grace for a weary servant.
And I started thinking about all the times that I've deserved that spanking from the Lord. All the times when He's provided a miracle and the next day I'm wondering whether or not He really knows what He's doing when it comes to my life. All the times I have doubted how big He is. All the times I have acted or spoken without any wisdom or consideration whatsoever. And, so many times when I've deserved discipline, He's given me gifts of pure grace instead. I have received SO MANY picnic lunches from the Lord! Because God doesn't want lip service. He's not just interested in fear-driven, rule-following obedience. He desires relationship. Why? Why would He want a relationship with a young woman whose faith falters? A young woman who spends an awful lot of time in the desert?
Because He is a God of incredible, unexpected grace.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Sunday, September 5, 2010
But, first, the story:
God tells Moses what is about to happen at the beginning of the chapter. He gives Moses specific instructions of where to lead the Israelites to set up camp. And then He says this in verse 4: “And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and he will pursue them [the Israelites]. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD." So, He indicates that He’s going to protect the Israelites after He hardens the heart of their greatest enemy, but it’s kind of vague. I’d probably have a few questions before heading out to set up camp if I were Moses.
But Moses obeys without question, and Pharaoh and his best men, horses and chariots begin their pursuit of the Israelites. Verse 10 says, “As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the LORD. They said to Moses, "Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt?...’ Moses answered the people, "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still."
Then, the Lord miraculously parts the Red Sea and the Israelites walk across on dry land with walls of water to their right and to their left. As soon as the Israelites are safely across, God closes the water in on the Egyptians and not one of them survives.
Exodus 15 is a song of celebration for what God has done for the Israelites, and verse 13 captured my attention this week. It says, “In your unfailing love You will lead the people You have redeemed. In Your strength You will guide them to Your holy dwelling.”
Here are a few of the things I was reminded of and have been processing all week:
- God accomplishes great things in my life for His glory. It’s not about me.
- There are so many times on our journey of redemption when God is leading us from one side of Egypt through the Red Sea to a place of freedom. God’s desire for me is freedom.
- When God gives instruction, I’m called to obey without questioning His direction every step of the way.
- I am redeemed, and God is on my side. His purposes for me are good. That reality needs to significantly affect how I live my life day to day.
Shaun and I continue to walk by faith in obedience as we await the arrival of our little girl and trust the Lord for His provision for our family. I can't believe she will be here in just 11 weeks. In the meantime, I thank God for the miracle to carrying her today and for being our Sustainer.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
As we packed up our son's belongings, my heart ached and I could barely swallow. At one point, Shaun and I made eye contact, and I had to look away to avoid becoming hysterical. I just kept thinking, "This really happened? This is my life? Without my son?"
I know they're just things. They are not my baby boy. He's been gone for 15 long months now. They are not even my memories. Those are kept in a sacred place deep inside the heart of a mama and in the recesses of my mind. But they are physical reminders of a life that was...a life that changed my own forever...a life that I can no longer share in.
And so we live in this place of irresolvable tension. It feels like beginning a new chapter with the previous one left unfinished. As we prepare for this little girl to join our family, we celebrate. I praise God for the chance to carry her every, single day. Each time I get to watch my belly dance as she wiggles around. Every time I wake up at 3am to stumble to the bathroom. Every night as her daddy talks to her and kisses my belly. But we welcome our baby girl into our home and our hearts with this ever-present reminder that our family is missing someone...someone I'm missing desperately.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
I listened to a sermon this evening by Bill Hybels, who pastors at Willow Creek Church in Illinois, titled "Grieving with Hope." It was based on 1Thessalonians 4:13: "For we grieve not as those who have no hope."
It was an excellent reminder that, not only did God guarantee that we would walk through horrific circumstances in our lives, but that grief takes time, and in order to be made whole again, we have to give it time. So often I wish I could just "get over it" and stop feeling sad, but that's not how this works.
I would strongly encourage you to listen to this message if you've recently experienced a loss or know someone who has and want to be a great support to them. You can go to willowcreek.org, click on "Watch Messages" on the right-hand side, and find "Grieving with Hope" in the sermons from May 2010. (Sorry, it won't let me link it on here...)
Monday, August 2, 2010
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
But as for me, I will always have hope;
I will praise You more and more.
My mouth will tell of your righteousness,
of Your salvation all days long,
though I know not its measure.
I will come and proclaim Your mighty acts, O Sovereign Lord;
I will proclaim Your righteousness, Yours alone.
Since my youth, O God, You have taught me,
and to this day I declare Your marvelous deeds.
Even when I am old and gray,
do not forsake me, O God,
'til I declare Your power to the next generation,
Your might to all who are to come.
Your righteousness reaches to the skies, O God,
You Who have done great things.
Who, O God, is like You?
Though You have made me see troubles, many and bitter,
You will restore my life again;
from the depths of the earth
You will again bring me up.
You will increase my honor
and comfort me once again.
And, there was absolutely no concerns about this baby whatsoever. The umbilical cord is the right length at this stage with excellent bloodflow. She's a perfectly healthy little girl! She sucked her thumb for almost the entire 45 minutes and had her legs crossed at the ankles like a little lady. :-) As we prepare for this sweet girl's arrival, we prepare in HOPE.
God is so good. Today Shaun and I are celebrating our 4th anniversary. I told a friend this morning that if someone had told me a year ago, in the midst of such heartache, how full our lives would be today, I wouldn't have believed them for a second. Not perfect, but incredibly full. We are blessed.