Thursday, March 31, 2011


Getting three kids to three different schools in the morning requires precision timing.  It's important to take Will to school in time to get back to the house before Audra's bus leaves.  (To avoid making a trip to her school I check to make sure she has her backpack, computer, flute, and lunch.  Also, I just like to say goodbye before she gets on the bus.)  This morning  we I was rushing to get out the door as usual.  My kids inherited their dad's temperament with regard to time.  They don't hurry.  As I was saying "Let's go!" and rushing to make sure Will had his shoes, backpack, lunch and coat, he stopped me and said, "I bet I can set the record for the number of nose flares in one minute."  "Excuse me???"  "Look.  See how fast I can do it."
He doesn't see the flurry of activity.
He doesn't notice the time.
And he expects me to stop and watch him flare his nostrils.

Last week Will informed us that he is the second best-looking boy in the 4th grade at his school.
"Oh, who is the best looking boy?"
"And who told you that you were the second best-looking boy?"

(PS.  I changed the name above to protect the identity of the best-looking boy at school.  There is only one person I know who would name his son Stokely and he lives in Oklahoma.)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Boasting about weaknesses...

My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me...When I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10)

Do you know what your weaknesses are?  We don't like to think about our weaknesses, but they are there whether we see them or not.  Sometimes I see my weaknesses when I read about other people-- the busyness of Martha, the legalism of the Pharisees, the little faith of the disciples.  This week I saw myself in a man named Korah.  He was a leader among the Israelites when they were in the wilderness.  He become discontent and led a rebellion against Moses.

 "You (Moses)have gone too far!  The whole community of Israel has been set apart by the Lord, and he is with all of us.  What right do you have to act as though you are greater than the rest of the Lord's people?"

Now the Bible says that Moses was the most humble person EVER.  Even though God used him to lead millions of people and spoke with him directly, Moses stayed humble.  Moses was just doing the job God gave him to do.  He responded to Korah's attack by saying,

"Does it seem insignificant to you that God has chosen you from among all Israel to be near him so you can serve in the Lord's Tabernacle and stand before the people to minister to them?  Are you now demanding the Priesthood as well?"

God had given Korah a job to do--an important job--but he wasn't content with his assignment.  He had ideas about how other people should be doing what God told them to do.  He questioned the way they did things.  He wanted to be in charge.  Does that sound familiar to you?  It does to me.  God's response to Korah was to open up the earth and swallow him alive.  I do not want to be like Korah!
While I was confessing my critical spirit God answered,

My child, isn't it enough for you to have the ministry I gave you?  Do you have to be in charge of  the music, the scheduling, and the color of the carpet?  Does everything have to be done your way?  How do you know your way is the best way?  Didn't I create people to be unique--with different gifts, tastes, interests, and abilities?  Do you want people to conform to your image or to mine?  Rather than trying to get people to be more like you, you need to try to be more like me. 

(Well, maybe I embellished that a bit with what I thought He would say, but I'm pretty sure I heard Him correctly on the last part.)

I am weak and God knows it.  But he says that he works best through weak people.  He works best through people who know they are not perfect.  He works best through people who rely on his strength instead of their own.  God can deal with my weaknesses.  And if I acknowledge them before others, they will see that even though I am weak, the God in me is strong.

"Lord, conform me to your image.  Other people can't see my attitudes, but you can.  You are not content to judge my actions; you look at my heart.  Search me, O God and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."  (Ps 139-23-24)

Monday, March 28, 2011

An ever present help in times of trouble...

O my people, trust in him at all times.  Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge. (Psalm 62:8)
Today I am burdened by divorce, death, unplanned pregnancy, grief, depression, cancer, persecution, and financial problems... and those are just some of the people on my prayer list.  When I turn on the news I see war, destruction, homelessness, corruption, rape, and nuclear disaster.  And I wonder,  how am I to live in this "adulterous and sinful generation"?  How do I keep from being overwhelmed by what is going on around me?  Where do I run, when everything around me is falling apart?
Psalm 62 says, "Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him."  My hope is not in some vague idea that "everything will turn out okay."  My hope is not in the government to fix everything.  I cannot trust in my bank account to sustain me.  The people around me may not always be there.  I may not always be healthy.
Leaning on those things (good thoughts, health, money, government, other people) is like leaning on a spider's web.  Such is the destiny of all who forget God... What he trusts in is fragile; what he relies on is a spider's web.  He leans on it, but it does not hold. (Job 8:13-15)  If I lean on those things, I will fall.  So what can I trust in?
Trust in the Lord (Psalm 4:5)
Trust in God's unfailing love (Psalm 13:5)
Trust in his holy name (Psalm 33:21)
Trust in his word (Psalm 119:42)
Do not be afraid... for the Lord your God is among you, and he is a great and awesome God. (Deut. 7:21)

(Lord, I am overwhelmed by the pain and suffering around me.  Where can I turn?  Only to you.)
He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming soon."  Amen.  Come, Lord Jesus. (Rev. 22:20)

Friday, March 25, 2011

A God of Timing

(Note: Because I don't usually write every day, I have added an email notification bar on the right hand side of this page.  Please sign up if you would like to receive an email when I've posted something new.)

Here's another story by Susie Rain you need to read.  See how God was working, is working, and will continue to work in and through this man.

TOKYO—Excitement and happiness fill the air. Smiles and laughter abound. Tears of joy well up in some eyes.

More than a week after the onset of Japan’s triple disaster, everyone is ready for something to celebrate. The perfect opportunity for a small group of Japanese Christians comes in a double baptism.

When Shinichi Saito bobs up out of the water, everyone breaks out in applause. 

No one was sure this day would take place. The baptism was originally scheduled for March 12, but that didn’t happen because of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. 

Saito and his wife did not want to wait any longer so the baptism was rescheduled for the following week.

“It’s the only day I could do it,” Saito explains about the urgency he felt. “If we didn’t do it today, I don’t know if I could be spiritually prepared in my heart for all that my work duties demand in the midst of this disaster.”

Saito is a city councilman and works primarily in the volunteer office and with the physically disabled. The day of the earthquake, it was his job to find ways home for the physically disabled because there were no trains running or transport of any kind. Since the quake, his job has shifted to organizing volunteer efforts.

The councilman points out that God is a “God of timing.” Saito says it was providence that he happened to be rolling his wheelchair through the lobby of city hall a few months ago at the same time that a missionary was prayerwalking the building. Saito stopped to find out what the foreigner needed and from there a friendship blossomed that led to a Bible study, a church start and now two baptisms — all in just a few short months. 

Saito feels the timing of everything, including the baptism, has to do with God preparing him for his upcoming duties in this disaster.

“God has put me in a position to help people using resources that most do not have access to,” Saito says. “Now that I am part of the family of God, I have brothers and sisters to call on as volunteers.

“Without even thinking, I can trust the Christian volunteers,” he says, adding that trust and relationships are important in Japanese society. “I can do this because I sense that we are a family. Being a Christian isn’t just a job, we are actually a family, so there’s a level of trust that will help this country rebuild.”

You read yesterday about how the Japanese do not trust people they do not know.  Now you see how God put a Christian in charge of the volunteers in Tokyo. This man can call on other Christians to come in and help his country because he knows he can trust them.  They are family.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

God's hands in Japan

Here's a story from Japan that I thought you should read.  If the Japanese people cannot trust in someone they can see, how can they trust in the One they can't see?

"Just 30 miles from Fukushima Daiichi’s troubled nuclear plant, anyone in the town of Soma, Japan who could evacuate did. But thousands still remain, squeezed into a high school gymnasium serving as a makeshift shelter. 

Children try to play but there’s not much room. Some people sit and stare off into the distance, in a state of shock. Others talk in low murmurs, reliving the horrors of the past two weeks.

Everyone wondered what was going on when an empty bus pulls up outside the shelter and a young, energetic Japanese man jumps out and bounds into the packed gym. The stench of 2,000 people living for days in a confined space startles Koji Imanishi, but it doesn’t deter him from his task — offering a free ride and a place to stay outside of the nuclear danger zone.

Six hundred people gather around the 30-year-old but instead of rushing to get on the bus, they drill him with questions — suspicious of his intentions. Why would a stranger risk his own health by driving into danger to rescue them? Why would anyone offer something for free?

“I am just following God’s leading,” Imanishi answers. “He teaches Christians to show His love.”

The young man assures the group the offer is totally free, no strings attached — all they have to do is get on the bus. After a lot of discussion, 31 people finally decide to board and relocate to Imanishi’s vacant company building just outside of Chiba, about 90 miles away.

The scene didn’t quite play out like Imanishi imagined when the idea first came to him. He envisioned an overflowing bus. But, as he explains, this is the “Japanese way.”

“People do not easily trust here,” he says. “They are suspicious until you create a relationship, even in times of crisis.”

Imanishi first found this shelter two days earlier, when an employee mentioned that some of his friends had not been able to evacuate. Imanishi’s heart ached for their suffering, so he jumped in his small car to rescue them.

The trip was arduous. Because he didn’t have the special government permits needed to travel the expressway, Imanishi drove the back roads, where gas and supplies are scarce.

“It is hard to describe the damage — it’s so massive, but the worst thing I saw was the state of the people,” Imanishi says. “There were thousands in one space. No room to move. It was so cold. 

“I felt in my heart that this was not a place of hope,” Imanishi continues. “I left that first day broken because I could only take three people in my small car.”

Imanishi spent the next day petitioning government offices to send evacuation buses to the shelter. He was told 4,000 people had already been relocated from the area. The needs throughout northeastern Japan are so great right now, he was told, the best thing for the people is to stay put. 

The answer did not satisfy Imanishi, so he prayed. He remembered the fear he felt after the earthquake and knew people in the shelter needed someone to share their pain and fear.

“I just decided to offer assistance by myself,” Imanishi says. “People don’t trust or think about the meaning of the Lord here in Japan. I’m a Christian and the nature of the Lord is to offer assistance and love. 

“I have no money, but I had no choice but to help,” he adds. “I just prayed, ‘Show me the way, Lord.’”

Members of Imanishi’s family and house church rallied to help pull the plan together. One person with government connections lined up permits to travel into the disaster zone. Another found a bus company. Others prepared the empty building for the evacuees. 

“I know it is not much, in the big picture of this situation,” Imanishi says. “But if we can help just one person and let him experience the love of the Lord, then we’ve done our part.”

Imanishi is asking Christians around the world to join his house church in praying that the Japanese will learn to trust in the "free gift" Jesus has to offer.  Pray also that supplies, food, blankets and water make it to the shelters throughout the disaster zone."

(Original article by Susie Rain, imb correspondent)

Have you received God's free gift of salvation?  All you have to do is trust in the one he sent (Jesus) and get on the bus.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Spring means...

Out with the old...

And in with the new...

If your son only wears one pair of shoes you need to check them every now and then for holes.  Don't wait until someone in their class asks them when they are going to get new shoes.  And if at all possible, make sure the new ones are purple because purple shoes are "sick".

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:16-17)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Spring has Sprung

The hillsides blossom with joy... (Psalm 65:32)

 When everything that’s new has bravely surfaced 
Teaching us to breathe 
And what was frozen through is newly purposed 
Turning all things green 
So it is with You 
And how You make me new 
With every season’s change 
And so it will be 
As You are re-creating me 

(From the song "Every Season" by Nichole Nordeman)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Among Thorns

The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things, so no fruit is produced.  (Mark 4:18-19)
According to this verse there are three things than can make us unfruitful.
   -the worries of this life
   -the deceitfulness of wealth
   -the desires for other things

When I desire other things instead of God's kingdom, I am unfruitful.  When my focus is on finding the perfect paint color and the perfect lamp, I am unfruitful.  When I spend my time shopping for things I don't really need, I am unfruitful.  When I worry about money, I am unfruitful.  When I am not content with what I have, I am unfruitful.  When I worry about what is going to happen tomorrow, I am unfruitful.

(But) the seed that fell on good soil represents those who hear and accept God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!
When I hear God's word and put it into practice, I can be fruitful.  When I reach out to my neighbor, I can be fruitful.  When I call a friend, I can be fruitful.  When I trust God to know what I need, I can be fruitful.  When I spend more time on things that matter and less time on things that don't, I can be fruitful.

Don't get choked by the thorns of life--be fruitful!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Touchy Question...

"How many children do you have?" An innocent, yet fully loaded question for me.  My answer depends on who is asking.  Today it was a nurse at my new doctor's office.  I knew that what she was really asking was, "How many live births have you had?"  So I answered, "Four."  Anna's death had nothing to do with my reproductive health so I didn't really want to talk about it.  A visit to the gynecologist is bad enough without adding additional emotional stress.  But later in the interview, the nurse wanted to know the sex and birth years of my children.  That's when I lost it.  I started crying, "I don't have four living children.  One of them died."  Then I kept getting mixed up on all the years when everyone was born and died and the nurse was having trouble understanding so I had to repeat myself--while crying.  Whew!  I was glad when that part of the visit was over!  After I donned my designer gown I decided to calm myself down by reading the copy of my chart that was sitting there.  Boy was I surprised to see that I was allergic to sulfa drugs and that I had had a hysterectomy.  It was not my chart!  I had sent for my Oklahoma records back in January and they sent someone else's records with someone else's name on every page.  BIG MISTAKE.  I called them right away and STRONGLY (notice I did not say rudely) informed them of their error.  They got the fax number and sent the correct records immediately.  I left the other woman's records with the new doctor and I assume she will destroy them or send them back.
  The new doctor is very nice.  When she saw that I had lost a child she said, "Oh, I'm so sorry.  How are you doing with that?"  I told her that in spite of what her nurse might say, I am doing as well as could be expected.  Then she asked why it had been so long since I'd seen a doctor.  I said, "Well, I'm a grown up now and sometimes it's hard to make yourself do things that are good for you."  She laughed and said, "You mean people aren't counting the days until they get to see me?"  I said, "Oh I was counting the days, but not in a good way!"

Funny Story.... Will had a friend spend the night this week.  When I asked them what they wanted for breakfast, Will's friend said, "I don't care what we have, but I don't like strawberries and I don't like cheesecake."
Lucky for him, we hardly ever have strawberry cheesecake for breakfast!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Winning Team

If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels. (Mark 8:38)
Everyone wants to be associated with the winning team.  Sometimes being a Christian can feel like rooting for the Steelers while sitting in the middle of a bunch of Packer fans.  We love our team and are faithful followers, but we keep our mouths closed.  If we cheer for our team we might get dirty looks, negative comments, or even worse.  We are too afraid to take off our coats and show our team colors.
So what should we do?  Do we stay safe and keep our mouths closed?  Do we become Packer fans just because we are surrounded by Packer fans?  NO!  We don't have to be afraid.  We don't have to keep our mouths closed.  Because no matter what it looks like, we know we are on the winning team!!!!!  The Son of Man will come in his Father's glory with the holy angels.  So don't be ashamed of Him in this world.
Be bold.  Be brave.  Cheer for your team!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I can't imagine

I've tried, but I can't.  I can't imagine what it must be like.  I watch the news reports and see the faces of the people, but I can't put myself in their place.  I can't imagine how it would feel to see your home swept out to sea.  I can't imagine what it would be like to wander around searching for your family.  I can't imagine being trapped in rubble.  I can't imagine going to the grocery store and not finding any groceries.  I can't imagine being cold, hungry, and helpless.  I can't imagine trying to sleep in a shelter with hundreds of other people.  I can't imagine surviving an earthquake, a tsunami, and then having to worry about a nuclear explosion.
I crawl into my warm soft bed and think about people sleeping on the cold floor.  I open my pantry full of food and think about people standing in line to buy...anything.  I get in my car and think about the piles and piles of battered cars.  I look at my husband and I see a man on his bicycle riding around showing people a picture of his wife and asking if they've seen her.
Mourn with those who mourn. (Hebrews 12:15)
 "Identification with others in their sorrows is a Christian's privilege and responsibility."  
I can't physically touch the hurting people in Japan, but I can pray.  I can pray for the rescue workers to have strength and endurance as they face an overwhelming task.  I can pray that God would lead rescuers to any survivors who are still waiting to be found.  I can pray for families to be reunited.  I can pray for the missionaries there to know what to do when there is so much to do.  I can pray that the Japanese will lean on the Rock that cannot be shaken.
Will you join me?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Feeling Lucky?

When my sister first called me to tell me about Marc's accident, I began praying for two things--an attitude of gratitude and a different perspective.  I knew that both of those things would help them through this very difficult time.  You saw in the last post (by the way, that is NOT a recent picture) that they both have thankful hearts.   Their gratitude is a direct result of their new perspective.
On Friday the speech therapist came to evaluate Marc.  His speech is fine, but I think she was looking for signs of a head injury so she wanted to make sure he could answer questions appropriately.  The first thing she did was tell him a story about a man who got hit by a delivery truck.  After he was hit, he walked to a nearby convenience store to get help.  While he was in the store, a robber came in and made everyone give him their money.  When she finished the story she asked my brother-in-law, "Was the man in the story lucky?"  Marc answered, "Yep."  It wasn't the answer the therapist expected to hear so she said, "Really?  Why do you think he was lucky?"  "Well, he got hit by a truck and he was able to walk away.  Then he was involved in a robbery and he didn't get shot."  Well, when you look at it that way, that was one lucky guy!
That is probably NOT the answer Marc would have given before all this happened (of course two weeks ago no one would have been asking him questions like that), but it's the answer he has today--because now he has a new perspective.  Now he is thankful to be alive.
I remember sitting at dinner one night several years ago and crying.  I had read Philippians 4:11 which said, "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances," but I was NOT content.    I didn't like my circumstances.  When I looked at my family sitting there, all I could see was the empty chair.   I was only focused on what I didn't have, not on what I had.  Today the empty chair is still there, but now I can see what else is there.  I can see the people who are there rather than focusing on the one who isn't.  I have had to change the way I look at things.  I have had to change my perspective.
It's not easy and it doesn't just happen one time.  It's a decision I make every day.  Sigh.  Just this morning when I opened my dresser drawer, I saw Anna's Baby laying there.  I touched the tangled hair that my sweet daughter stroked thousands of times for comfort.  I caressed the little pink dress that hid a broken body repaired by one of our nurses in Delaware.  And I was overcome with emotion.  I grieved my loss again.  I was tempted to pick up that doll and crawl into bed and cry.  Instead, I closed the drawer and went to fix breakfast for my other three kids.  Do I still get sad?  Yes.  Do I have to stay there?  No.
What is your perspective?  Are you seeing what you have or focusing on what you don't have?  Without having a near death experience, can you be like Marc and feel lucky for being alive?  It's not something that comes easy or naturally, but it is something you can learn.
I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:11-13)

Friday, March 11, 2011

An attitude of gratitude

My brother-in-law (or as I used to call him when he would tickle-torture me, 'the big brother I never wanted') was moved to a rehab hospital yesterday.  He is still in a lot of pain from three surgeries and many broken bones, but he is making progress.  My sister is doing great and is so thankful.  Every day she focuses on something different.  One day she spent the whole day being thankful that his arms weren't broken.  When people would comment about how terrible the accident was, she would say, "Yes it was, but we are so thankful that he can use his arms!"  The day after his third surgery they were both thankful that Marc could drink whatever he wanted.  This morning she was thankful that at the rehab hospital the nurses don't come in at night to take your vital signs so they were able to sleep.
She is thankful for someone volunteering to build a ramp at their house.  She is thankful for the gift cards people have given her so that she doesn't have to cook.  She is thankful that the new hospital is close to home.  She is thankful that our mom did her laundry.  She is thankful for an understanding principal at the school where she teaches.  She is thankful for the snacks that friends have brought her.  She is thankful that her husband is alive!
She could be very angry.  She could be asking why this happened.  She could be depressed.  Instead, she has chosen to be thankful for what she has.  She has chosen to see the good instead of focusing on the bad.  She has chosen the better way.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Who is this man?

If only I could see Jesus, then I would believe.
If only God would do a miracle, then I would believe.
If only God would (fill in the blank), then I would believe.
Really?  Are you sure?
Would you believe God if he led you through your day with a pillar of fire?
Would you believe God if he rained down food from heaven?
Would you believe God if he freed you from slavery and led you across a sea on dry land?
After the ten spies talked the rest of the Israelites out of obeying God and taking possession of the promised land, God said to Moses, "How long will these people treat me with contempt?  Will they never believe me, even after all the miraculous signs I have done among them?  They have all seen my glorious presence and the miraculous signs I performed both in Egypt and in the wilderness, but again and again they have tested me by refusing to listen to my voice."  (Numbers 14:11,22)  
Did you get that?  The Israelites saw God's presence in the fire and in the cloud that led them through the wilderness.  They saw miraculous signs in Egypt and in the desert.  God was with them.  But again and again they refused to listen to Him.  They refused to trust Him.  They refused to believe.

But they are not the only ones.
Jesus' closest friends saw him perform miracles. They walked with him.  They talked with him.  They knew him better than anyone else and yet when they were on the boat in the storm they panicked.  Jesus asked them, "Why are you so afraid?  Do you still have no faith?" (Mark 4:40)  Then he commanded the waves to be still.  When  the disciples saw that Jesus even controlled the wind and waves, they were terrified and cried out, "Who is this man?"(Mk.4:41)
Sometimes we too are surprised by Jesus.  We think we know him and then he does something out of the ordinary.  We think we understand his ways and then he rocks our world and we cry, "Who is this?"  

Jesus traveled around and did many miracles--except in Nazareth.  In his own home town they did not accept him.  And because of their unbelief, he couldn't do any miracles among them except to place his hand on a few sick people and heal them.  And he was amazed at their unbelief. (Mk. 6:5-6)
What about us?  Is Jesus amazed at our unbelief after all these years?  Does he say to us as he said to his disciples, "Do you still have no faith?"  Is our unbelief keeping him from doing miracles among us?

After feeding 5,000 people with 5 loaves and 2 fish, Mark says that the disciples still didn't understand the significance of the miracle because their hearts were too hard to take it in. (Mk. 6:52)
How often is my heart too hard to take in his miracles?  How often do I miss the significance of what he does?
Don't you know or understand even yet?  Are your hearts too hard to take it in?  You have eyes.  Can't you see?  You have ears.  Can't you hear?  Don't you remember anything at all?  (Mk. 8:17-18)
The words of Jesus in Mark 8 sound an awful lot like the words of God in Numbers 14.
I don't know about you, but I don't want to miss out on the promised land.  I don't want to have a hard heart or eyes that fail to see what God is doing.  I want to remember what he has done in the past and be sensitive to what he is doing today.
Do you still have no faith?
What will it take for you to believe?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

How do you feel?

During the Exodus, Moses sent 12 men to spy out the Promised Land before they went in to take possession of it.  These men were well-respected leaders of their tribes of tens of thousands of people.  But how many of these men can you name?  Even if you are familiar with the story, I bet you can't name more than two.  Why do we remember Joshua  and draw a blank on Shammua, Shaphat, and Igal?  Why do we name our sons Caleb and not Palti, Gaddi, or Nahbi?  We only remember the two men who trusted God. Only two men believed that God would do what he promised.  Only two men trusted in what they could not see.  Ten men trusted in their own strength instead of in God.  Ten men are forgotten.
When the spies went into the land, they found that it was exactly the way God had described it--flowing with milk and honey (and very large grapes apparently).  But in spite of its beauty and God's promise, 10 men shrank back.  Their fear kept them from obeying God and taking possession of the land.  God had told them they were his special possession.  God had promised to go with them.  He told them not to be afraid because he would fight for them.  And their response was,
"We can't attack those people.  They are bigger than we are!"
Did they forget the plagues?  Did they forget the angel of death that passed over them?  Leaving Egypt?  Crossing the Red Sea?  Eating manna????  They had seen God's mighty power  and yet when they compared themselves with the people living in the land, they felt like grasshoppers.  Because they "felt" like grasshoppers, they became like grasshoppers--insignificant, small, forgettable.
You are what God says you are--worthy, loved, valuable, precious--not what you feel like.  So be strong and courageous.  Do not tremble or be discouraged!  And if God tells you to do something, don't talk yourself out of it.
Don't live by your feelings.  Live by faith!

Friday, March 4, 2011

A God of Details

Today I received comfort from the book of Numbers.  Have you ever read Numbers?  It's a lot of ...well, numbers!  In chapter 3 God tells Moses "I have taken the Levites from among the Israelites in place of the first male offspring of every Israelite woman.  The Levites are mine, for all the firstborn are mine.  When I struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, I set apart for myself every firstborn in Israel, whether man or animal.  They are to be mine.  I am the Lord."  (Translation:  Every firstborn male is to be set apart as belonging to God, but he will take the whole tribe of Levi as belonging to him instead.  The Levites will serve God and he will be their inheritance.)
In order to complete this redemption Moses had to count the number of Levite males (22,000) and then he had to count the number of firstborn Israelite males (22,273).  When I read that I thought, "Hey neat, that's pretty close to being the same!"  If I were God, I would have just rounded down and called it an even trade.  But God doesn't do that.  Every person counted!  He said, "To redeem the 273 firstborn Israelites who exceed the number of the Levites, collect five shekels for each one."  
So Moses collected the redemption money from those who exceeded the number redeemed by the Levites. He collected silver weighing 1,365 shekels and he gave it to the priest and his sons as was commanded God.
In my journal I actually did the math, 273 extra sons x 5 pieces of silver = 1,365!
God is a God of details.  He knows exactly what is happening and every person counts!
This is comforting today as I ache for my sister and brother-in-law.  He was hit by a FedEx truck last night while riding his bicycle (training for a triathlon).  When I talked to my sister, she wasn't even sure what all was broken, but the injuries are from head to toe.
My sister doesn't know what all is involved, but God does!  He knows every detail of Marc's body.  "Not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it.  And the very hairs on your head are all numbered.  So don't be afraid" (Matt10:29-31) (Translation: No one can get hit by a FedEx truck without God knowing it.  And all your broken bones are numbered.  So don't be afraid).
Proverbs 10:25 doesn't say IF you have storms in this life, it says, WHEN the storms of life come, the wicked are whirled away, but the godly have a lasting foundation.
I am thankful that our family has a rock to stand on during the storms of this life.  We cannot understand WHY these things happen, but we can  trust in the one who knows what is happening and who cares about the details.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

"Marlo, Marlo" or "Lessons I've learned from Mary and Martha"

I love reading the story of Mary and Martha in Luke chapter 11.  I am so like Martha and yet I long to be  like Mary who was always at the feet of Jesus.  In the story Martha starts out good by opening her home to Jesus and inviting him in.  (Jesus the Messiah in MY house?  Yes, yes!  Come in, come in!)  She wanted him there.  She was honored by his presence.  So after he comes in and sits down and begins teaching, what does Martha do?  She starts serving him.  There was much to do and someone had to do it, but she gets so distracted by all the preparations that she doesn't even take the time to listen to Jesus.  God in the flesh is sitting in her living room teaching and she is washing the dishes.  (Sounds like someone I know.)  Eventually her stress builds up and she not only gets mad at her sister, who is sitting at his feet listening to what he says, but she rebukes Jesus himself, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself?  Tell her to help me!"
(Lord,  don't you care that I have to do everything around here?  Don't you care that I teach a class, serve at the food pantry, lead a prayer group, volunteer at the church, and write cards to my friends who are sick?  Well, somebody has to teach Vacation Bible School, bake a cake for the bake sale, volunteer in the lunch room, and organize the next potluck!  I have so much to do.  Don't you care?   Tell someone to help me!)
"Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."
(Marlo, Marlo, don't let your service to me keep you from sitting at my feet.  Don't get so busy that you aren't listening to what I am saying.   There will always be more people to serve, more cards to write, more lessons to prepare, more cakes to bake.  But what you  learn from me can never be taken away from you.)

Later after their brother Lazarus had died, we see Mary once again at the feet of Jesus, but this time she is crying.  "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." When Jesus saw Mary weeping he was deeply moved and he also wept.
Not only are we to listen and learn at the feet of Jesus, but we are to grieve at the feet of Jesus.  Go to him with your pain and your questions.  Fall at his feet and you will find mercy and compassion.

The third time we see Mary at the feet of Jesus is six days before the Passover.  Jesus had come to  a dinner given in his honor.  Martha is again serving, but apparently she is also listening because we don't hear her complaining.  During the dinner, Mary takes a very expensive bottle of perfume and pours in on Jesus' feet and wipes it with her hair.  This sounds unusual to us, but this would have also been unusual to the people who were there.  Why? (1) Oil was usually poured on someone's head as a blessing, not their feet.  (2) A respectable woman would never unbind her hair in public.  And (3) it was the job of the servants to attend to someone's feet.  If Mary had worried about what other people thought, she would never have done what she did.  But she had learned to listen and learn at the feet of Jesus.  She had learned to grieve at the feet of Jesus.  Now her only thought was to worship at the feet of Jesus.  

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet are those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation (Isaiah 52:7)

Choose what is better.  Fall at his feet and listen, grieve, and worship.  What you gain there will not be taken away from you.