Friday, November 25, 2011

The Most Influential

I recently read the article"Who Is the Most Influential Christian Leader in the US?

It listed many famous men and preachers in our country . . . and of course, some names on the list I was surprised by. Some of the names on this list, some of the most influential people of our faith, don't preach the same gospel I've come to know, learn, and live. But then again, it doesn't say some of the most "faithful" it said, the most influential. That translates to people with the most popularity, the most celebrity, and the most media exposure. These men are considered "influential" because of their celebrity or their power.

What about all of those people who are influential, but go unnoticed?

One of the most famous pastors (and a personal favorite of mine), Chuck Swindoll, wasn't on the list. But I would still consider him influential. I heard him tell a story about his mother. He talked about how much he learned from his mother even when he was just a wild young boy. He can remember her locking herself in the bathroom and hanging a sign on the door something to the effect of "Do not disturb, having my quiet time with Jesus". He talked about how he remembers his mother loving one of their neighbors, bringing her meals, always helping her, and eventually leading her to Christ. He was influenced by His mother's love for Jesus, and love for others. He was influenced by her faithfulness to preach Christ in her actions and words to her family and neighbors. So one of the most influential pastors, was influenced by a woman who would've never made this list.

I think of all of my friends who are raising up the next generation of godly men and women. They may not be leading a church of 40,000, or preaching the gospel to 215 million people, or writing best sellers every year. Their pictures aren't on billboards, their names aren't found on covers of magazine.

Their day is filled with waking up early, changing diapers, making meals, wiping faces, cleaning up messes, disciplining for the hundredth time, snuggling, praying as they rock their child to sleep.

If that's you, you may feel unknown and unnoticed, but be encouraged. You are faithful and influential.

You just might be the momma influencing one of the next "most influential Christian leaders" of our time.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful for Crumbs

A few months ago, I posted about the story in Matthew 15 where the woman begs Jesus to heal her daughter and the disciples are bothered by her.

"And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon." But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, "Send her away, for she is crying out after us." He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." But she came and knelt before him, saying, "Lord, help me." And he answered, "It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs." She said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table." Then Jesus answered her, "O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire." And her daughter was healed instantly." (Matthew 15:21-28)

She begs for just crumbs from the master’s table. Do you hear the desperation in her plea? The hope in her Healer? Knowing that she is not worthy to have her request granted, but believing only Jesus can grant her request.

This Caananite woman recognized she was not a part of chosen Israel, the nation that was set apart, she was a dog, a gentile, a nobody. In her humility, she recognized Jesus was somebody.

This woman recognizes that Jesus is the Son of David. She knows He is powerful. She probably doesn’t have all her theology down or know all of the right answers, but she has heard of His healing power and knows that He is the One who can heal. He is the only one who can free her daughter from oppression.

There is humility, exaltation, faith, and desperation.

Our LORD does not require us to have it all figured out before coming to Him. We do not have to be clean, just a confession of being dirty. We don’t have to be sinless, just honest faith that He is the One without sin. It is not so much about how we ask, but what we believe about the One we’re asking. He is waiting to heal, He is waiting to free us from oppression, if we believe. So comforting.

Our God is like none other. In a time when Gentiles were referred to as dogs, and women even lower than that . . . He grants the request of a Gentile woman.

Jesus is inviting His chosen nation to dine with him and they reject his invitation. This woman is thankful to receive just his crumbs. I love that.

Are you thankful for crumbs from the master’s table? Or do you feel worthy of more? Do you understand that He is the only One who can heal, or do you turn to other things first? Do you understand that we are not Israel, a part of God’s Holy nation? But, because of Israel’s rejection, we are accepted. We are invited to dine at the table, grafted in to the nourishing root.

Today . . . I am thankful for being a part of a much bigger story. I am thankful to be grafted in. I am thankful for crumbs.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Living on Mission

{How do you love and serve, without enabling and hurting?}

I read an article this morning that spurred my thinking on what it means to "be missional".

Years ago, I visited Poverello House and Fresno Rescue Mission each in the same week. They’re literally a block away from each other and they both serve the homeless and desire to help people out of their poverty and/or addiction. During my orientation at Poverello House it was very clear that we are not to talk to, interact with, and limit eye contact with their clients. In other words, prep the food, serve the food, and leave.

Fresno Rescue Mission’s message was quite different. Their message was "That's fine if you want to help in the kitchen, but you know what's better? Take a tray of food, go and sit and have a meal with some of the families."

See the difference? Same type of service, serving the same population, very different intention.

In my own life I’ve had some pain and experience in helping what Jesus would call the “least of these”. Once, we bought a bunch of gifts to “bless” a family and provide for them a wonderful Christmas. We were told this family was in need, very poor, didn’t speak much English, etc. So we wrapped gifts, loaded up the bags, and drove over. We got there to find the father and 4 of his buddies drinking a case of Budweiser on the front lawn in their somewhat new home. When we asked for the “man of the house” he pretended it wasn’t him. My husband whispered to me “do you realize we just completely embarrassed him and disrespected him in front of all of his buddies?” I left feeling terrible, as if we were the “white people to the rescue”.

Although we did bring the kids some new clothes and toys, we also brought shame and humiliation upon the father . . . which I don’t think brought glory to our Father in heaven.

I once had a mother in my classroom that had 4 children, all of whom were exposed to drugs in the womb. She was barely clean and sober, barely surviving. She shared how she did not have a lot of money to buy things or feed her children. I of course offered help. Sent her son home with clothes, with food, etc. One day, I left during my lunch break to run to the store quickly. I look up to see her walking out of the liquor store and lighting up a cigarette from her new pack. Not enough money for food, but enough for booze and a smoke.

Can you hear my pain, confusion, frustration in all of this? I hope that we as the body of Christ don’t (as the article says) “Undertake charitable projects or missions endeavors that make us feel good but don’t actually help those we serve and may actually take away their dignity or foster dependence.”

And yet, I know sometimes we have to be tent makers. Working alongside, for a long time, in hopes that someday we’ll be able to proclaim the gospel. The article also mentions “they do not want to partner with teams or agencies that do not allow evangelism.” Well that would be a public school, right? I have personally seen God penetrate the hard soil of a public school and provide opportunity to share Christ. I had to work for 5 years as a teacher before the LORD opened the door for me to send children home with bibles!

Through all of these experiences, I’ve learned that being missional takes patience, endurance, hope, compassion, and discernment.

In all of this I ask . . .
-How do you help serve, without enabling?
- If we always provide, always give, when will others look to the LORD as their provider?
-How can we let our lights shine in such a way (that it's not just to make us feel good) but to truly GLORIFY our Father in Heaven?
-How do we serve with patience and hope?

Perhaps this is just part of the frustration of finding balance in this. How do you love without worrying about being taken advantage of? How do you serve, without enabling? How do you discern, but not stifle the Holy Spirit? I never want to miss an opportunity to be his hands and feet, but I also don’t want my blessing to keep them from relying on the LORD.

Do I believe God can use all things for good? Yes. Perhaps those who serve meals to the homeless will be able to cultivate relationships and the LORD would open the door for the gospel to be proclaimed! Perhaps those children from the story above will remember a time when these people who love Jesus brought them gifts for no reason and it will point them to their Savior. Perhaps the mother who took all of my donations will be overwhelmed with love and conviction, and that will lead her to repentance.

So in this season when we are thinking more about what it means to live on mission, to be an intentional blessing, my hope is that we would pursue the path Christ has chosen for us, with hope, discernment, and patience, to be His hands and feet to those who are hurting and shine our lights before men!

Monday, November 21, 2011


Thinking of Abigail’s story in 1 Samuel 25.

It says she was “beautiful and discerning, had discretion, and a servant”.

Just one short chapter.
A few short words.
Here’s Abigail’s story.
Her reputation.

I’m wondering and reflecting . . .

If my life story was summed up in one short chapter, what would it say?

If God had to pen words about my character, what would they be?

If your life story was recorded for generations to read,
what would it say?
What is your legacy?
How will you be remembered?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

It's Never Enough

I constantly feel like I can never do enough.
I constantly feel that I’ve missed the mark.
I constantly feel like I’m in the wrong place, wrong job, wrong neighborhood.
I contantly feel like I’m stifling gifts the LORD’s given me or I’m not using them to my fullest capability.

Not to earn God’s love, but in response to it.

Why? Is that normal?
To always feel like you need to do more? You’ve missed the mark?

To think . . .
If I could only foster/adopt all the starving and abused children in this town, then I’d be doing what God wants of me.
If I had people living with me who needed a place to stay, then I wouldn’t feel so guilty about having a 3 bedroom home.
If I could only write a bible study for new Christians, then I could encourage others in the LORD.
If I could only grab that microphone at the stadium and tell my redemption story and share about Jesus, then I would be proclaiming the gospel!

I don’t know why I constantly feel like I’m never doing enough. I’m not faithful enough. I’m not generous enough. I don’t proclaim the gospel enough.

And in the name of enough I don’t listen to the Spirit of God who says enough is enough.
I haven’t asked you to do it all.
I have asked to trust.
To abide.
To obey.
To rest.
To put on His yoke, for it’s easy and light.
To love out of an overflow and to continually seek wisdom and guidance from the Good Shepherd.

So then where does this message of you’re not doing enough come from?
The pit. The Father of Lies. My sin. My pride.
Keeping my eyes focused on the wrong thing . . .
The path, not the Shepherd.
The thirst, not the Fountain.
The hunger, not the Bread.
The circumstance, not the Sovereign

I recognize my sin of not doing enough is actually pride, that His “will be done” is actually dependent upon me. When I constantly feel the need to do things for God, I miss the point. I’m thinking that He needs my help, He needs me to do ___, because after all, if I don’t do it, who will?

Guess what? If I don’t do it, God is still God. His purpose still stands, His will be done. When I feel the need to do activity for God I miss finding rest in Him.

After all, God never speaks to us words of guilt, fear, demand, more. Isn’t it just like the enemy to make us feel guilty when we walk in abundance of blessing and joy? Isn’t it just like the enemy to rob me of my peace and delight, and replace it with doubt, fear, and guilt?? I guess if the enemy can’t confuse me about God’s love, He’ll make me feel guilty for having it.

So when I believe the lie If only I disciple more people, took meals to more people, prayed for more people, etc. I’ll remember this truth: the message of the gospel wasn’t do more. . . it was rest.
Rest in Him.
His promise.
His truth.
For His burden is easy and light.

"I accomplish more when I rest wholly in the labor of Jesus than I do when I frantically try to do the work for Him." AW Tozer

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." (John 10:10)

"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (Romans 8:1)

Friday, November 18, 2011

In Times of Pain & Suffering . . . You Are Our Hope

"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away."

And he who was seated on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." Also he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." (Revelation 21:1-5)

You make ALL things and you will make ALL things new. Trusting you in all things, what is and is to come.

You are the God of ALL comfort, the Christ, the King of Kings, the Healer, the Prince of Peace. Oh that you would heal, comfort, reign with peace over those suffering, hurting, in times of trial and trouble right now. That they would be encouraged and strengthened by the strength of Your might. (Ephesians 6:10)

You're our Shepherd.
You're our Maker.
You're our King.
You're our Inheritance.
You're our Comforter, Healer, Redeemer.

You are able.
You are our Hope.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

My Prayer in Times of Pain & Suffering

Jenn . . . I'm praying this for you. Oh that He would refresh you with His healing power, surprise you with His strength.

Ephesians 3:14-21
"For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen."

HE is able.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

In Times of Pain & Suffering . . . We Are Not

2 Corinthians 4:7-9, 16-18
"But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.

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."

In times of pain and suffering
we are

not crushed.

not in despair.

not forsaken.

Struck down
not destroyed.

We are to keep our eyes on what is unseen
not to lose heart.

We are not alone. He is our shepherd.
He is our Father. We are His children.
Blessed. Redeemed. Made rich. Loved. Renewed. Guaranteed.
We are in distress, but we are not hopeless.

Oh Father that you would renew Jenn's strength daily and remind her that this is not the end! Help her to feel the power of your presence every single day and be renewed by the HOPE of the unseen!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

In Times of Pain & Suffering . . . We Are

When going through trials, pain, suffering . . . who we are doesn't change. We are still in Christ. We are still His children, filled with His spirit, walking in the newness of life. This is our identity now, even in pain, hurt, and misery. The LORD promises these things to us, He speaks them over us, He fills us, loves us, chooses us, reassures us.

He IS still our Shepherd.
We are still His sheep.

Ephesians 1:3-14
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

We are blessed.
Holy & blameless.

Oh Father that you will fill Jenn's mind and aching heart with these truths now! That you would reassure her of your presence, You are her Good Shepherd, the God of all comfort. That you would fill her with your peace, that she would rest in the words you've spoken here. That she would know she is chosen, loved, redeemed, and sealed. Thank you. You are the Healer of our wounds and the healer of our hearts.

Monday, November 14, 2011

In Times of Pain & Suffering . . . He IS

As I sit to write to a friend recovering from brain surgery, I realize nothing I say can comfort. I have no words. So, I look to HIS word, to the One whose name is God of All Comfort . . .

HIS words are better than my words.

Oh that we would listen as HE speaks over us.

Psalm 23
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

He is my Shepherd.
He is my Provider.
He is my Guide.
He is my Sustenance.
He is my Restorer.
He is my Leader.
He is my Comforter.
He is my Protecter.
He prepares.
He anoints.
He Blesses.

He is my God.
He is near.
In times of pain and suffering . . . HE is.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

3 Little Words

{The Biggest Lie in Church}

We all do it.

Say these 3 little words . . .
Write these on people’s facebook status . . .
Send them a note assuring them we will . . .

Praying for you.

What a lie.

Sometimes we say this with good intentions, other times we know we never will.

This morning a friend text me at 4:30am to ask for prayer. I wanted to text back praying for you. But, really? Was I really praying for you at 4:30am?? No.

So I got up. To pray. During my prayer time, the LORD led me to repent of this small, common, well-intentioned lie I tell people all of the time. I confessed my sin, my neglect of prayer, and my apathy of not going to the throne of grace on behalf of others. I wondered . . .

Does this little lie anger God? Grieve Him? Sadden Him?

How often do I actually pray for people when I tell them I’m “praying for you”?

Do we as a people offer prayer more than we actually pray?

Why? Why is the hardest place to be, my prayer place?

Why is it such a struggle to come, rest, listen, confess, praise, petition, and pray

Christ died to reconcile us to have relationship with the Father.
He died to give me a chance to enter in. So why do I stay away?

Why do I neglect my meeting time with the most important One?

“My house shall be called a house of prayer” (Matt 21:13).

“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” (James 4:8)

“As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven. And I said, "O LORD God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father’s house have sinned . . .” (Nehemiah 1:4-6)

“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)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Exhausted, Yet Pursuing

“And Gideon came to the Jordan and crossed over, he and the 300 men who were with him, exhausted yet pursuing.” (Judges 8:4)

Exhausted, yet pursuing. Do you ever feel this way about your relationship with the LORD?

Exhaust: to drain of strength or energy, wear out, or fatigue greatly

Gideon who barely had enough faith to obey just a few chapters before, has been fighting battles on behalf of the Israel, in pursuit of the LORD. His time is not yet up, and so he presses on in obedience, exhausted yet pursuing. I love that.

Have you been praying a prayer for years, exhausted in waiting, exhausted from hoping?

Have you been on a journey that is taking every last bit of energy from you? Worn out, tired, ready to wave the white flag?

Keep pursuing. Don’t give up! And even if you don’t see the rewards this side of heaven, keep pressing on. Tired as you may be, keep pursuing. Soon the battle will be won and the LORD will grant a time of rest.

Fix your eyes on what is unseen.
Run with endurance.
Fight the good fight.
For great is your reward in heaven.

“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)

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6:12)

“Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven . . .” (Matthew 5:12)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Your Best Life Now?

I don’t know why I even go to the “Christian bookstore” anymore. Every time I do, I leave frustrated, hurt, and confused! This week upon my visit, I wandered the aisles (just to see what’s ‘new’) and found a new release from a famous Christian pastor. His previous book was titled “Your Best Life Now” and his new book has the subtitle “How to be happier 7 days a week”.

It made me wonder . . . when did Christianity become “self help”?

Since when is the gospel’s greatest goal “your happiness”?

I read throughout all of scripture and find that the men and women who were devoted to pursuing the LORD experienced a lot of pain and suffering here on earth. Their delight and joy came from knowing that someday, they will see the LORD face to face and be with Him for all eternity.

At what point did Christianity forget that? The goal of the gospel is not happiness. The goal of the gospel is not presents, it's presence.

“The aim of the gospel is not an easy life. It is deeper knowledge of God and deeper trust in God . . . Its goal is my being so in love with Christ and so passionate about his glory that when my suffering can highlight his worth I will bear it ‘gladly’ . . . The goal is not our ease or wealth or safety in this age, but our dependence on Christ and delight in his glory.” (John Piper, God is the Gospel)

So do we come to God to get His gifts? Happiness? Our needs met? OR
Do we come to God to get God? To find delight in Him?

The goal of the gospel is to reconcile us with our Maker, our Heavenly Father, so that we can experience the fullness of JOY for all of eternity! The goal of the gospel is not meant to drive us to delight in anything but God, not temporary happiness, not gifts, but the Giver. The goal of the gospel is not us, it’s Him.

God (not our best life now) is meant to be our exceeding joy. His presence (not temporary happiness here on earth) is meant to be all satisfying.

“Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy hill
and to your dwelling! Then I will go to the altar of God,
 to God my exceeding joy,
and I will praise you with the lyre,
 O God, my God.” (Psalm 43:3-4)

“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


A few months back I went to a meeting for Samaritan Women. It’s a ministry for previously incarcerated women and women recovering from addiction. In this meeting, I met a lady that was previously a Samaritan woman and was now mentoring ladies in the program. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her as she shared her journey and how this ministry affected her. I’d like to say I was captivated by her speech, but I wasn’t.

I couldn’t stop staring at the scars all over her body.
She had slashes all over her arms, dents in her skin, all over.

She soon shared how she grew up abused, both physically and sexually. The man who raised her would violate her and keep her in a chicken coupe. She shared her journey from abuse, to success, to incarceration, to Samaritan women, and then to walking with the LORD. As she was sharing why this ministry is so important and why mentoring is so important, she said something that was so profound. She changed my perspective with just one sentence.

“We all have scars. I just happen to wear mine on the outside”.

All of us have scars, some of us wear them on the outside, most of us wear ours on the inside.

Scars that go unseen, unnoticed.

I’m reminded of a sermon that a former pastor of ours gave on suffering. He was sharing how Christ’s blood is like the healing balm for our wounds. However, once wounds heal, there are still scars. There is a reason they don’t completely disappear.

Our scars remind us of our pain and point us to our Healer.

Our scars are a way to share about our Redeemer and our Savior.
Our scars allow us to boast in Christ alone.

We want to cover up our scars, hide them so no one can see, pretend like nothing is there. The LORD wants us to wear them, as a reminder, as an opportunity to point people to Him and His restoring love. Our scars, our imperfections, our flaws, our hurt, our pain, are all used to bring us into a deeper relationship with the LORD and bring glory to His name.

So when I sit and listen to this woman who has scars all over her body tell of her horrific journey through life, I can’t help but wonder “How did you make it through? How did you survive?”
She says . . . In CHRIST alone.

Or when I sit before my friend who now has half a head of hair and a huge scar across her head and I wonder “How are you sitting up? How are you smiling?”
She says . . . In Christ alone.

Or when I think about my friend who misses her baby boy every single day. Who walks through life in grief and sorrow and I wonder “How are you still standing? How can you walk on? ”
She says . . . In CHRIST alone.

So whether your scars are on the outside or on the inside, let them be a reminder . . .

There is ONE who heals.
There is ONE who restores.
There is ONE who redeems.
There is ONE who makes all things new.

CHRIST alone.

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion—to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified. (Isaiah 61:3)

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Joshua's Strength

There were so many lessons in the book of Joshua-it was hard to read in just one week! I felt like I was trying to drink water from a fire hydrant (or however that saying goes). I have to remind myself that I’m reading differently to see differently. But oh how I wanted to stop and savor every lesson in the book of Joshua!

Here are just a few of my favorite Joshua moments:

Chapter 5: Joshua sees someone he doesn’t recognize. Quickly rises up to confront him, to defend his nation. Soon he recognizes this is no man, it’s an angel of the LORD (preincarnate Christ). He is quick to his knees in humility, quick to worship, and quick to obey.

Chapter 7: He confronts disobedience and the sin of Achan, which led to defeat and death of many Israelites. He responds with quick judgment (stoning him and then burning him, yikes!) so that the name of the LORD is not profaned.

Chapter 10: Joshua cries out to God for help in battle and God answers in a miraculous way-causing the sun to stand still until the nation of Israel took vengeance on their enemies (v.13).

Chapter 18: He confronts and challenges the tribe of Benjamin, calling them into action to go and take what the LORD has promised them! What have you guys been waiting for??? Go get your land!

Chapter 24: Just before his death, he calls them out one last time. Now that the people of Israel know and have experienced God’s faithfulness to His promises . . . a question, a final challenge: So who will you serve? "As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (24:15)

Joshua is a man of action, intention, and great fear and love for the LORD. Joshua was quick to obey, quick to lead, quick to defend, quick to confront, quick to worship, and quick to point others to God’s faithfulness. But, if I am not careful, I’m quick to exalt Joshua rather than the LORD.

Remember chapter 1? The LORD kept telling him, be strong and courageous, do not be afraid.

"Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." (1:6-9)

Kind of makes me wonder . . . perhaps maybe Joshua in his flesh was scared, afraid, weak. Makes me think that it was his obedience and faithfulness that made him strong, a man of action, fearless. It was confidence in the LORD, strength from HIS might that made him the man of battle.

So not only do I learn to be a courageous leader, a defender, protector, worshiper from Joshua . . . I learned that in my weakness, the LORD is made strong. When I obey, when I listen, when I am faithful to the One who is named “Faithful and True” (Revelation 19), I will prosper, I will have favor, I will have success.

Not in Joshua’s own strength, not in my own strength, but in YHWH’s.

"For the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught." (Proverbs 3:26)

"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might." (Ephesians 6:10)