Sunday, December 9, 2012
"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech;night after night they display knowledge...their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world." Psalm 19:1,2,4
Last week I went to the Exploradome at the Bell Museum which is a computer generated planetarium show. Since its near Christmas, I asked the lady doing the show if she knew which star was the star of Bethlehem...I had two reasons: my curious mind and a hope of igniting curiosity in her heart which may lead to curiosity in Christ. She had heard of it, but didn't know any details. Another mom who was with me shared that she had seen a video called the Star of Bethlehem by Rick Larson. In it he "proved" the star was an alignment of two planets, Jupiter and Venus, whereby the brightness from both of them combined made the brightest star. Astronomers now tell us the difference between stars and planets (stars twinkle, planets don't), but to the ancient sky observers, all bright lights were considered stars.
This got my scientific mind excited. Not that God needs proof of His existence and omnipotence, but I LOVE that He has given all of nature to declare His glory. In fact, as I was watching the Exploradome show Psalm 19 kept running through my mind.
I happen to be studying astronomy with my two boys for homeschool. We are all intrigued with this vast universe in which we live, the uniqueness of each planet, the force of the sun and how orderly the whole thing is. It also has really bothered me that something so wonderful has been named after Roman gods. Like God's glory was stolen.
Then it dawned on me, what the gods of Jupiter and Venus "stood" for. The Merriam-Webster definition of Jupiter is "the chief Roman god, god of light, of the sky and weather, and of the state and its welfare and its laws. Venus is "the Roman goddess of love and beauty." How clever of God to use these two planets to make a "star" to declare the birth of His son, Jesus. Who is Jesus if not what these 2 gods combined represent--He is the King of kings ("chief" God), the Light of the world, the one whom the waves (weather) obey, fulfiller of the law which ushered in the new covenant, love incarnate and beauty personified and through whom all beauty is created. This completely redeemed (means to buy back, to change to the better) the fact that the planets are named after the false gods. I like to think it is no accident that it was these 2 specific planets that came together because of the names they carried...all other names/planets would not have represented Jesus as well. (Mercury=a Roman god of commerce, eloquence, travel, cunning, and theft who serves as messenger to the other gods, Mars=the Roman god of war, Saturn= a Roman god of agriculture, Neptune=the Roman god of the sea, Uranus=the sky personified as a god)
God is not mocked and even uses our own faulty understanding to draw us to Him, just like the magi! So I am in wonder at this Christmas time of God's Son and the "star" that declared His glory and I hope you are too!
Here are some youtube links to increase your wonder and declare His glory:
Indescribable by Louie Giglio http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BUtuEOA0WD8
Awe Factor of God by Francis Chan http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Ya12I036lg
Star of Bethlehem by Rick Larson I refer to http://www.bethlehemstar.net
Monday, August 6, 2012
The fruit/berries grow by God's gentle hand...through His rain, the soil nourishing and the nature of the plant abiding in where it is planted to bear the fruit. Doesn't this sound like John 15 about abiding in the vine...fruit is the natural product of abiding. This takes some pressure off to conjure up ministry...fruit in our life MUST come from drinking deep of water that satisfy the soul (His spirit), nourishment from His Word and knowing our calling (what type of plant He created us to be)! Then trust fruit will come out of desire internal to the gifts He has planted in our hearts as we are fed from Him. In the woods, berries literally fall off the bush when they are ripe...this has taught me about timing. God's timing is perfect, fruit comes at the right time and can't be rushed. It requires patience and trust that more is coming when you see those luscious berries turning from creamy white to red to maroon to ever-deepening purple. This is true in our own fruit bearing whether it be internally or externally...wait upon the Lord and trust His timing and expect good fruit from the wait.
Gathering berries is a bit like a treasure hunt...their exact whereabouts is a bit of a mystery. While you can spot a bush yards away, only by stepping closer can you actually observe if there is fruit growing. Then step by step, reach by reach, purple nuggets are collected one by one, sometimes handful by handful. Places that were bountiful in previous years may be barren, and new areas may produce a bumper crop. This is a good reminder that God doesn't work the same way twice...just because He previously blessed an area in my life doesn't mean that that is where to camp assuming more fruit will come in the same way and through the same process...He's way too creative for that! Since He longs for relationship and not religion/routine, He delights in our taking risk in new areas where He is leading and not simply returning to old ways of blessing. As we take steps nearer to the path He is calling you to, He will make the way obvious...the promise of Is. 30:21 "Whether you turn to the right or to the left you will hear a voice behind you saying this is the way walk in it!" AND don't assume by what you see...there have been areas in my berry patch that looked empty of fruit, however, bending over either out of curiosity or from losing my footing and stumbling, has revealed hidden treasures not seen by where I was standing. Much like prayer and humility, surrendering to Jesus gives new perspective blinded to the independent heart. Truly on our knees we can see more!
Once the berries have been collected, there are several ways I love to enjoy them...right out of the bowl, on cereal or pancakes, frozen for future pleasure, made into a pie, the joy of giving them away...some of these are simply savored by me, some of these are enjoyed with others. This is the kingdom of God...nuggets dwelling richly in me and also made sweet through fellowship or simply given away to bless others in their journey. In all of it may He be glorified and may the riches of the kingdom be gathered, savored and multiplied!
You may not be bitten by the berry picking bug that I have, but I hope you ARE simply longing for more fruit in your life. Yes, the fruit is always there for the picking...remember the fields are ripe, but its the workers that are few...I encourage you to keep your eyes on the fruit and not the thorns (what stands in the way of what God has for you). Arm yourself to avoid the buzz of the mosquitoes (the whisper campaign of the enemy), grow up in the robe of righteousness with which Christ has robed you and practice using His mighty armor..it is what will protect you on the battle field for your heart and the hearts of others. There is LIFE and TREASURE to be found step by step if only you would desire it above all. Like the fruit I gather, there would be none if I didn't desire it and invest well to win the battle for berries! The same is true in the Kingdom, take the risk...Go for fruit...Avoid sitting on the sidelines discouraged by the mosquitoes and thorns...Seek your Commander, Engage in the battle, then taste and see that the Lord is good!
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."I am encouraged that the God of hope is the one doing the filling, like the teapot in the picture...He is the rich source, not me having to grasp at something. He is such a kind father and giver of good gifts! And who doesn't want to be filled with joy and peace...sometimes that almost seems too good to be true! The part that I get stuck at is "trust"...sure in my mind I know I can trust Him, but my heart is weak and honestly I think I try to get my life in order, or problems solved first, then when I'm not anxious or stirred up about something, there will be plenty of room for trust. This never happens! Swing and a miss! Trust cannot be circumstance dependent!
I looked up the key words in this beloved verse in the Websters dictionary and rewrote it using the definitions and inserting personal pronouns...this verse took on even deeper meanings, more encouragement and really speaks to my heart...here's what I found:
"May the God of (trust in whom is my confidence) (put in me as much as I can hold, satisfy, feed) me with all (emotions of well being, delight) and (freedom from disquieting/oppressive thoughts, security) as I (place my confidence, depend, hope, am without fear, rely on truth) in Him, so that I may (flow over the brim) with (trust, confidence in Him) by the (authority, physical might, means of supplying energy, influence) of the Holy Spirit."I am challenged by asking myself how much room is there in my heart for the Holy Spirit to supply delight and security so that trust in God would flow over my brim.
able to jump to the wrong conclusion in a single bound!
For two days, when I've been tempted to dwell on tragedies, brokeness or things I simply wish were different for myself or others I love...I have simply said, "no, I will not elevate these...Jesus thank You that You see these and You have the answer. Show me my part if there is one, otherwise I choose to trust You to work all things together for good with Your wisdom and many resources and I ask You to work in that situation, etc." In a way, I am setting Jesus Christ apart to worship Him and not circumstances. And you know what...there is delight and security filling in my heart...hmmm...aren't these "code" words for joy and peace?! The source - the Holy Spirit, the vessel - my heart that chose to empty itself of oppressive thoughts to place my confidence in Him. And the overflow or the flowing over the brim - hopefully my mouth. "For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him." Matt. 12:34-35
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
As I write, it is the middle of June and the lazy days of summer are upon us...lazy, my foot! I have five children clamoring for what to do, can I get a ride here, etc. I find my life anything but lazy and honestly my heart is a bit overwhelmed...how can I meet all these needs and wants?
It dawned on me I am carrying more than is mine to carry. Why do I always go to this place of thinking its all up to me...I can and must come through for all the needs around me! That is quite a burden to live under. Very far from the burden is light and yoke is easy stuff I read Jesus telling me in His Word.
At first, the above verse made me think of the arrogance of Satan before his fall from heaven...wanting to be like God. I was encouraged to tuck this away for my talks around spiritual warfare and God's kingdom at women's events. I was shaking my head at Lucifer's pride and worshipping God for His might, wisdom and wonder. THEN it dawned on me...am I much different? Isn't this the lie whispered in the garden..."the serpent said to the woman, 'For God knows that when you eat of (the fruit) your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God..."
Believe it or not this is the root of the pressure I am feeling this summer! As a mom, I am seeing myself as the one to come through for all my kids' desires, do all character training, encourage life and protect them from the evils of the world. In my heart I am building a kingdom around ME and MY strength! And in this way I am "making myself like God" who is the giver of good things, the fortress to run to in time of need and the one to show the path to life. He is more jealous for my family's hearts and more capable of providing than I ever will be.
To go a bit deeper for my own heart...whenever I have suffered hurt, disappointment or lack, I have spent time going through the facts logically and reaching a conclusion that explained it away. All of this to protect my heart from feeling hurt, because I had no clue what to do with that emotion. So if I could come to an explanation for the "injury", I could avoid the pain and keep my heart pushed down. In a way I was elevating MYSELF (my mind) over a situation and building MY kingdom/throne that I could manage and control, intellectually at least. As an example, I rationalized my father's suicide as him really loving me by leaving life insurance money behind. What kind of explanation is that?! Or when I've had a fall out with a friend, I blame myself for making a mistake in communication which leads to shame. Again, what kind of reason is that?!
The Light has shone on this dark place and I now realize, rationalizing kept me from feeling the hurt, for a while, and it also kept me from running to God and His kingdom for comfort and protection. I set myself up to live apart from His presence and replaced it with my own throne of understanding! YIKES, this sounds so backwards and obvious, but it is so subtle that I am just now having the eyes of my heart opened to this prison I created.
Eventually the heart must speak! That is where the healing, freedom and life is. Not in understanding, but in trusting Jesus enough to run to Him to pour out my heart, wanting comfort and not demanding explanation nor understanding. I now know He will comfort me, bring truth and He is enough for every situation I will face...this is an uncertain world but I have a Rock as a Redeemer and need no fear of what will happen, nor need to control to feel safe!
Hence, my old kingdom is for sale and praise God Jesus' blood has paid for it. He takes it upon Himself so I can be rid of it and runs to me with HIS Kingdom of love, comfort and joy. Not to mention carrying my burdens and my family. I give you all Jesus and help me RUN to you in emotional upset when I am tempted to sit on my throne and rule with understanding. Understanding is a poor scepter when I can live loved as your daughter, a princess, who is radiant and free because of you.
Friday, May 25, 2012
- I am worthy
- I am on high
- I am sovereign
- I am friendly
- I am in sorrow and pain as well as gladness and joy
- I am for you-who can stand against you?!
- I go before you
- I carry you
- I look after you
- I long for you
- I am fullness of life
- I am lovely and kind
- I am redeemer and sustainer
- I am wise
Saturday, March 17, 2012
~C.S. Lewis, the Great Divorce
This quieted my heart as I started to view life as an adventure to live rather than a destination to obtain. My logical side can be very cause and effect/achievement oriented. It challenged my "perfectionism" side with the thought that there is more than one way to travel rather than the pressure of finding the one "correct" path.
All this got me thinking about growth and movement, especially when it relates to growing as a Christian. I used to strive after God through tons of study and reading...if I just obtained enough information, then I would know God or at least be able to mature as a believer. This is all forward movement...constantly adding another rung. While it can be helpful, it is exhausting honestly, if that is the only way to mature. God is opening my eyes to more...
While on vacation to Puerto Rico, I was enjoying the tropical scenery and noticed all the different types of movement that were catching my eye. It was as if God were showing me movement isn't always forward and all types are beautiful and necessary for He is a great God...master of all parts fitting together to make everything lovely.
Here is the list of movement He gave me in relation to spiritual growth:
- vertical--going deep instead of wide (letting truths sink deep into your heart until you "own" them)
- sprawling--like ivy on a wall---fellowship (as lives touch one another and abide in the Vine, the Kingdom grows)
- explosive--like a fish darting for cover (running to God in a storm or danger/uncertainty lurks, fleeing sin, resisting the enemy)
- walking from here to there--like the puppy that joined us on our morning walk (following God one step at a time enjoying His companionship and listening for His voice)
- stationary--like a palm tree blowing in the wind (a time to pause and reflect giving Him the glory, or worship with arms swinging)
- sedentary--like an anemone (they wait for food to come to them and digest it, like us digesting Truth)
- simply being--like a jellyfish floating in the currents (displaying His glory to the world just because we are alive and His unique creation)
- beauty--like a flower (Jesus in us should cause others to stop and enjoy, or inquire about what they see---that's movement in someone else, or should I say the ceasing of movement!)
- waiting--like a tide ebbing and flowing (there is a perfect rhythm to His timing, forward, back a bit, pause; it can seem like you're going nowhere and be a bit frustrating, but if we rest in His arms (the tide), we will end up where the tide is taking us)
- fluid--like water seeping into crevices (allowing God's spirit into all the spaces in our heart)
"For in him we live and move and have our being." Acts 17:28
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
However, we don't always come to the table that's before us, preferring the junk food that's easier to grab---fretting, obsession with politics, busyness, relational issues and the list goes on. For me, this junk food steals my joy, makes me churned up inside and escalates the problems of the world. It’s like trying to solve all the problems first so I can trust and enjoy Jesus. We all know chips and candy do not lead to physical health. So why do we let the spiritual junk food rule our day? It’s like staring at a dark, gloomy mountain of junk that’s too high to climb, when I could be abiding in the vine, enjoying the Son and growing regardless of the world around me.
Perhaps you "eat" from the same place on the buffet, like a picky eater afraid to try something new. Always spending time with God the "same" way is safe but is boring and can feel "stuck"--try something different!
Welcome to God’s buffet---His Word, worship, devotionals, rich fellowship, extended times away/retreats, books to read, really letting go of sin/bitterness/etc., forgiveness, healing, someone to reach out to, opportunities to shine using your gifts, fasting, prayer, listening, dancing, desires He places in your heart…Come to the table and choose a balanced diet. It may take you out of your comfort zone, require self discipline to make time or better choices, or simply recognize a desire for more and a larger vision than going through the routine.
What are you feasting on? Are you tired of your spiritual meals? With the start of 2012, get out of the rut; how about trying something new off of His table? I dare you!!! You will be blessed. And you’ll discover there truly is always MORE!!!