Monday, July 25, 2011

Humbled to Hunger

“And you shall remember the whole way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD . . . For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land . . . ” (Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 7)

I love Deuteronomy 8 . . . the title of this chapter is “Remember the LORD”. We are to remember what the LORD brings us through and what He is bringing us to.

The LORD humbles us so that we look to Him for provision. And not only provision, but daily sustenance.
That’s exactly what the Israelites had to do in the wilderness . . . depend on God’s provision and His promise (His word) to provide daily nourishment.

Sometimes the trials we face, our wilderness experiences, are to do just that. To remember the LORD, to rely on Him, and look to Him alone.

We are to remember He is our provider in the midst of trial, pain, confusion, and wandering. We are also to remember why we face trials . . . "When I understand that everything happening to me is to make me more Christlike, it solves a great deal of anxiety." –A.W. Tozer.

Once we place our faith in Christ, the rest of our life is being conformed to the image of His Son. Sanctification. Purification. For future glorification.

He is our Refiner. Sometimes we are being refined through fire (Malachi 3:3) and it’s painful! We pray for His will to be done, and then cry out when the fire gets too hot! Other times we are refined through confusion, through waiting, or through hunger.

We are humbled to hunger so that we remember . . . Remember Him as Provider, as Sustainer, as Sanctifier, and King of Glory. We are humbled to hunger for Him alone. We are humbled to remember what He is bringing us to. Glory.

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Eternity into Our Hearts

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

I remember when my father suddenly died of a heart attack when I was 19, I had an immediate question . . .

“So what now?” There has to be more to life? It can’t just be ‘that’s it, you’re done’? There has to be purpose to why my dad existed and why he was gone from this earth in literally a heart beat.

Which led me to believe someone else is in charge of our time on earth. Life isn’t just “create your destiny”, “think positively and your dreams would come true”. I knew moments after this tragedy that something or someone bigger than me existed and controlled the number of days, breaths, and heart beats we have on this earth.

That was the beginning of me understanding eternity. That was the beginning of me learning that God puts eternity into man’s heart-meaning God reveals in us that we will exist long after our days on this earth. We ARE eternal beings, what happens on this earth matters, we do NOT cease to exist after our last breath.

Accepting this reality, that we are eternal beings, was the first step. You see Solomon goes on to say “yet he cannot find out what God has done from beginning to end”. My commentary reads: The Preacher thus realizes that both his desire to understand all of life, as well as the limitations on his ability to do so, have been ordained by God.

I know to live with any integrity at all, I had to confess that sense of “something bigger than me” was God. And after confessing it, pursue it. But you see Solomon’s words are true, my understanding was limited. This is where we get stuck. We may sense there is a God, but because we can’t fully understand Him (or really because we don’t agree with things he’s allowed or done), we reason Him away. Romans 1 calls it “supressing the truth”.

We can’t stand the thought of swallowing our pride and admitting something bigger, something beyond my understanding, is in control. So we accept things much smaller because they make sense to us. We exchange the truth for a lie (Romans 1:25), something more convenient, something more comfortable, something we can wrap our minds around.

Friends, can I encourage you seek out the Truth about who God is? And when you don’t understand, rather than throw it all away in disbelief, humble yourself and worship a God whose “thoughts are not our thoughts, and whose ways are higher than our ways” (Isaiah 55:8-9).

You have heard me say “I lost and earthly father, and gained a Heavenly Father”. The LORD opened my eyes through this tragedy and beckoned me to “Come, follow Him.” However, I know many who have been through similar things and ran the other way, doubting that a good God would allow bad things, so He must not exist.

When in reality, God makes everything beautiful in its time. He uses all things for good, for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

So rather than throw your fist up at God, harden your heart, and run the other way because you don’t understand . . . would you pursue what you know in your heart already? He was, He is, He will be forever and is waiting for you to accept the invitation to spend eternity with Him.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


This weekend we decided to "clean" the house. Our house is usually pretty tidy, but since we were both home on Monday we decided to give our house good deep clean. I'm satisfied with a house that's "clean enough" whereas Santino wants a CLEAN house (as in moving furniture and dusting underneath-not just around, like I usually do). I was firm in believing our house was pretty clean until we started moving things around. I couldn't believe how much dust, cobwebs, and filth we had in our house!

Immediately I thought . . . wow . . . so our house APPEARS clean, but really when you get below the surface, it's a mess!

I immediately thought about the spiritual implications. Don't we do such a good job "appearing" clean, appearing like we've got it all together, appearing like we love those around us, appearing very "religious and holy"? But, we know if people get in and start moving things around, they'd find a mess!

I thought of Jesus' rebuke to the Pharisees:
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness." (Matthew 23:27-28)

I wonder when we'll stop pretending like the mess isn't there? When will we stop focusing on keeping things "tidy" or "clean enough" only to disguise the mess that's within? What if we moved the furniture around to get underneath and clean out those cobwebs? Shined light in the darkness so the mess stops growing? I wonder when we'll enter into relationships that tell us "clean enough isn't good enough"? Who in our life will challenge us to deepen, to keep us from cleaning only on a surface level?

Oh LORD, forbid us to be like the Pharisees! Helps us to be uneasy in hypocrisy and honest about our mess. Keep us from the outward appearance and renew us from within.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The HEART of the Matter

Life is messy. Life is hard. The deeper we go in relationships, the messier it becomes. I’d rather live in the mess than stay on the surface, but in all honesty, jumping into the mess with others can be painful.

I’m writing this as I just spent probably the first 15 minutes of my prayer time in tears, grieving over choices friends have made, people choosing sin over God. I realized in this prayer time, that if I grieve this much over another person choosing sin, how much more does God grieve?

Or an even harder question to ask: What in my life causes the LORD grief?

Our sin not only separates us from God, it grieves Him.

As you read through the Bible, you find so many accounts of people choosing sin, compromising a little here, a little there, to end up far from the LORD or worshipping other gods.

So there is truth, purpose, and love behind the first commandment to have ‘no other gods’ before Him (Exodus 20:3). He is jealous for me. When we have other gods it not only hurts us, it hurts God. These commandments are not restrictive but meant to show us what leads to life and life abundant.

Maybe that’s why the psalmist always talks about “delighting in your commandments”. . . because there is true joy and peace when we live God’s way, according to His precepts and commandments.

So then why do we constantly choose ‘other gods’? The god of drunkenness, relationships, materialism, etc.? Only to prove the proverb “Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.” (Proverbs 26:11)

Why do we chose folly over wisdom? TV over abiding? Beer over God? Death over life?

Can you imagine if all my husband wanted was to spend time with me, love me, help me and I continued to go out and try to find that love somewhere else, with something else? All the while, it’s waiting at home for me.

All this to say our sin (choosing our way instead of God-whether in action or attitude) grieves God, separates us from Him, and brings us pain in the end.

Are we truly living and abiding in that first commandment? No other gods? Is there something bigger than God in your life? Something more important, more “fun”, more comfortable? Something causing a mess in your life?

Let us find these other gods, remove them, repent, and come back to the One True Living God.

The HEART of the matter is this . . . NO OTHER GODS. Choose Him over sin, God and His way of life over our own. Come to the end of self to begin a new life in Him.

Sunday, July 3, 2011


I am on a whole different schedule during summer. I realize it is a gift from the LORD to slow down and spend extended time with Him. I think of my time in the morning as “lingering with the LORD”. Sometimes I spend extended time in prayer, or journaling (which in turn becomes blogging), in study, or in worship. I linger with Him . . . IN Him . . . no agenda, no time frame . . . just abiding.

And after just a few days I feel like a completely different person. I am more joyful (just ask my husband), I am at peace, I am rested . . . oh it’s just amazing. And I always ask myself, why do I have to wait until July to feel this way? Why do I starve myself or nibble on crumbs during the year instead of feasting in abundance?

Busyness. That’s why . . . I’m so busy. And if I’m not busy, I’m tired.

In Ann Voskamp’s book “1000 Gifts” she says “God is the giver of time, and who has time for God?”

If we are so busy in our daily life to sit and enjoy the Bread of Life, is it no wonder we are exhausted, discouraged, and hopeless?

Sometimes my devotional time with the LORD is so rushed; it feels more like grabbing dinner from the drive-thru rather than feasting on the Bread of Life. I ate, I’m full . . . but I’m not satisfied. I’m left feeling malnourished and guilty for not eating right.

Have you ever been there? Just too busy or too tired to linger with the LORD? We can’t truly grow on just 5 or 10 minutes with the LORD every once in a while. It’s better than complete starvation, but it certainly isn’t nourishing enough to make you strong and healthy.

Thinking of my last post from Ecclesiastes 3 (A Time for Everything) and learning from Jesus . . .
He made time to be alone with the LORD and time be in community.
He made time to pull away and time to enter in.
He made time to serve, time to worship, time to pray, time to learn, time to teach, and time to abide.

We should always make time to feast on the Bread of Life and drink from His river of delights (Psalm 36:8).

There should always be time to linger in the LORD.

“Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” (Psalm 34:8)

P.S. Out of curiosity, I looked up the following words in a dictionary. Here are some of the definitions I found:

Busyness: lively but meaningless activity.
Linger: to remain or stay on in a place longer than is usual or expected; to remain alive; continue or persist; to dwell in contemplation, thought, or enjoyment.
Feast: to dwell with gratification or delight