“Father, make of me a crisis man. Bring those I contact to decision. Let me not be a milepost on a single road;
make me a fork
, that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.” - Jim Elliot

Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Object of Her Displeasure

It is that time of year, again.  Little birdies are making nests in my back yard.  Made me think of this post from last summer.  Looking forward to spending time in my garden soon.

Jealous Momma

She was ticked.  She kept click-click-clicking.  I looked for a nest but didn't see any.  She was mad.  Territorial.  Jealous.  Since I could not find the object of her displeasure, I continued pruning in my backyard.

Again, click-click-click.  This time she summons a hummingbird.  I am getting a little nervous.  Never having seen the movie "The Birds" but well-knowing what it was about... I pull back and observe the area.  Then I see it.  In the hanging basket above my head.

Object of Her Affection

Four little, tiny blue eggs.  The object of her affection.  She was jealous for these babies.  Ready to scare off any rival.  And it was working.

Not wanting to create an opportunity for abandonment, I left the area so that she might return to her treasure.  But there was no question... because she was not going to abandon these eggs.  They were hers and they would belong to no other.  Not because she didn't want to share them, but she knew that by sharing them... they would die.  It was who she was.  She was the protector of the eggs... and she would fight for their benefit.  For their life.

Refuge Under Her Wings

Finally, she was perched once again on her treasure.  And I wondered to myself why the whole interaction took place.  God, are you speaking to me?  Is there something I am supposed to learn here?

And He reminded me that I had been wondering about what it mean for Him to be a "jealous God" and so He was answering me.  I went into the house and looked up the word "jealous" in the Bible... on Blue Letter Bible.  I soon found out that there were different meanings for the word jealous, but there was one in particular that was used only when describing God.

qanna'- an adjective.  Used only of God.  Used of God not bearing any rival; the severe avenger of departure of himself.  Exodus 20:5, 34:14; Deuteronomy 4:24, 5:9, 6:15.

And I wondered why He would be jealous... but then I realized that He is jealous for me.  Just like that momma bird.  He knows that if I depart from Him that there are dire consequences.  He does not want any rival because He knows I am weak.  I need Him to protect me... to avenge me... if there is one who is tempting me to turn away.   Because apart from Him... I am lost.  I am without boundaries.  Without right or wrong.  Out of His will.  And I have been there... and it ain't pretty.

Listen to my cry, for I am in desperate need; 
rescue me from those who pursue me, for they are too strong for me.
Psalm 142:6

And so now, I wait.  Wait for the little birdies to hatch.  And I find comfort... that God is my avenger...

He will cover you with his feathers,
       and under his wings you will find refuge;
       his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
Psalm 91:4 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

He Is Risen!

 As The New Day Dawns over the Sea of Galilee
photography by Anthony Kaetzel

Early on Sunday morning, 
 as the new day was dawning
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to visit the tomb.

Suddenly there was a great earthquake! 
For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, 
rolled aside the stone, and sat on it.  

His face shone like lightning, 
and his clothing was as white as snow. 

The guards shook with fear when they saw him, 
and they fell into a dead faint.

  Then the angel spoke to the women. 
“Don’t be afraid!” he said. 

“I know you are looking for Jesus, 
who was crucified.  

He isn’t here!

He is risen 
from the dead, just as he said would happen. 

Come, see where his body was lying.
  
And now, go quickly and tell his disciples
 that he has risen from the dead, 
and he is going ahead of you to Galilee. 
 You will see him there. 

Remember what I have told you.”

 The women ran quickly from the tomb. 
They were very frightened but also 
filled with great joy, 
and they rushed to give the disciples the angel’s message. 

Matthew 28:1-8 NLT

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Honestly, I don't want to blog today.
Okay, that's a lie.

Wave Spray at Monterey
 
Judge not, that ye be not judged.
Matthew 7:1 KJV


Honestly, I don't want to blog today.  Okay, that's a lie.  I actually do want to blog, but something light-hearted like "As of Late" and have it focus on our recent trip to see Anthony run the Boston Marathon.  I don't feel like blogging what I feel compelled to blog about, because the words are all clogged up in my head.  And I don't know how to write them down and it's all a jumble.  But I feel compelled... and the Lord has placed two words in my head lately.  One word being obedience.  And the other word being unconditionalUnconditional obedience.  Great. 

And it's not that this post is about unconditional obedience.  It's just that I need to be obedient to God's compulsion upon me to write it.  I'm not sure if it is for any reason except for me to show that I truly am being unconditionally obedient to the Lord.  So, here it goes.

I just started the Bible Study Jonah by Priscilla Shirer.  For those of you unfamiliar with the Bible, there is a book in the Old Testament about a man named Jonah.  It is squeezed in between the books of Obadiah and Micah.  Yes, if you have seen the Veggietales DVD about Jonah... this is the book the DVD was based upon.  (Okay, minus the talking vegetables and all the discussion about cheese curls.)  Anyhoo... the main idea of Priscilla Shirer's study is that Jonah's life was interrupted by God.  And our lives are interrupted by God.  But instead of looking at it as undesirable interruptions we would benefit by viewing them as divine interventions.  What may look like God interrupting our life is actually God working out His plan and our future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

Here's what I don't want to tell you... So far the study hasn't really resonated with me.  Which makes me nervous because I have spoken to my other Bible Study gals and they have been blown away by it.  They are soaking it up.  And so I am wondering... what is wrong with me?  True, it has only been the first week.  I have seen two of the videos.  And Priscilla is right on with what she is talking about.  Totally.  I see this in how God is most definitely weaving the women even at my own Bible Study table.  But the application part of the study... for me personally, isn't hitting it.

And so I wonder if that is because I have done other studies like Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby that have already taught me about how to look where God is working and join Him there... so that I don't see interruptions... just God at work?  Trust me.  Not being holier-than-thou right now.  I am just talking through this... I am just hard pressed to find the interruption right now.  I know I have them. 

And so I asked God to show me what is the current undesired interruption in my life that I should be looking at as a divine intervention.  Ugh.  Again, it would be easier to just be disobedient at this point.  No.  Not really.  So, of course, He showed me.  He answers prayers like that.  And He loves that we trust Him enough to pray to Him like that.

Here it is...  My divine intervention which is being camouflaged as an undesired interruption is...  I am currently being over-critical.  No, really.  More than normal.  Hyper-critical.  Too critical.  Of myself.  Of you.  Of my family.  Of Bible Studies.  And especially of Boston AND Portland toll-booth operators.  (Okay, I'll maybe tell you that story later.  Maybe not.) 

Most likely my current tendency towards my criticalness is due to my Thyroid medication.  (My endocrinologist keeps me hyper-thyroid so any thyroid (cancerous) tissue cannot grow.)  Lucky me, I get to toggle between depression and hyper-criticalness.   I do not offer my medicational discrepancy as an excuse, but as a cause. 

What I am gleaning from all of this... I can look at my critical-craziness as an annoying interruption or receive it as a call to an even deeper reflection.  Perhaps I am being overly critical... but what about?  What things are currently driving me crazy and why? 

Perhaps there could be some discernment in what I call my criticalocity.  But I normally couch my critical thinking with love and grace.  And that is not happening right now.  My criticism is raw and uncensored.  That is why my blogging has been minimal.  And some of my conversations, too.

Well, let it not be said that I fear meta thinking.  It can be a downfall for some, but for me... it is a way of life.  All of this to say, that I am embracing my critical-spirit... asking God to coat it with His Holy Spirit... and begging of Him that I not have to write another post like this...

Siesta Scripture Memory Verse #7 
 
 
p.s. I made up a couple of the words in this post.  It was just kind of fun for me.  Sorry if it bothered you. :)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Be The Branch.

Thinking of you, sister.  (Re-post from May 25, 2010.)

 ...he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear...
Ethiopia 2010 - photography by Anthony Kaetzel

"I know God said He wouldn't give me more than I could bear... I just wish He didn't trust me so much."

And here's the thing... He doesn't.  He doesn't trust you so much.  He trusts Himself. 

No test or temptation that comes your way 
is beyond the course of what others have had to face. 
All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; 
he'll never let you be pushed past your limit; 
he'll always be there to help you come through it. 
1 Corinthians 10:13 The Message

Often we pray that we want to know God better.  Or that we want to be more Christ-like.  And then we are surprised when life suddenly becomes hard... or harder.

Through scripture, we see that God chooses to allow those who love Him and believe in Him to be tested and tempted.  He is not counting on you to bear it by yourself.  To do it on your own.  He is all about bringing you to a place where you think you cannot bear it on your own... so that you will see Him help you come through it.

I don't think God wanted us to concentrate on the phrase, "he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.I think He wanted us to focus on the words, "God will never let you down... he'll always be there."

 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me...

"God wants to chain me down... put a yoke on me."

Nope.  He is saying... as opposed to doing it on your own.  If you take on His yoke... He is going to carry the weight.  He is doing the hard work.  You get to walk along and work with Him and watch how He does it.

 "Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? 
Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. 
I'll show you how to take a real rest. 
Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. 
Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. 
I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. 
Keep company with me and 
you'll learn to live freely and lightly." 
Matthew 11:28-30 The Message

How do we do this?  How do we walk with Him?  Work with Him?  Watch how He does it?

Read the Bible.  Pray.  Do a Bible Study.  Go to church.  Find a godly mentor.  Spend time in God's beauty.  Journal your thoughts.  Read a book by a Christian author.  Listen to praise music... remain in Him.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. 
If a man remains in me and I in him, 
he will bear much fruit; 
apart from me you can do nothing."
John 15:5

YOU = the branch.  Not the vine.  That's His job.  If you are trying to be a branch without the vine... well, that is just not going to work out, is it?  The branch is nourished and strengthened and able to live ONLY dependent on the vine.  And that is how He knows that you will be able to bear it... because you are dependent upon the vine.  Dependent upon Him.

So today when you are facing a temptation or a trial that you think is beyond what you can bear... remember that you are not alone.  You do not need to carry the load on your own.  Stop trying to be the vine.

Be the branch.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Are You Thinking Without Speaking?



It is often that I speak without thinking.
But I'm wondering...
how often do I think without speaking?

How often have I had the words of life to speak to someone... and yet withheld them?  I'm not just talking about witnessing... I'm talking about encouragement and edification.

Let no unwholesome word
proceed from your mouth,

but only such a word
as is good for edification
according to the need
of the moment,

so that it will give grace
to those who hear.

Ephesians 4:29 NASB

Don't miss this part of the verse... "so that it will give grace to those who hear."  When I am presented with an opportunity to edify or encourage someone at the right timing and I withhold those words... will someone else come along and do the work I was called to do?

Therefore encourage one another
and build each other up,
just as in fact you are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV


But encourage one another daily,
as long as it is called Today,
so that none of you may be hardened
by sin's deceitfulness.
Hebrews 3:13 NIV


And let us consider how we may
spur one another on
toward love and good deeds.

Let us not give up meeting together,
as some are in the habit of doing,
but let us encourage one another
and all the more as
you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews 10:24-25 NIV


And so today, I am compelled to encourage you to start speaking... encouraging... edifying... and you might be saying, but I'm too shy or I'm too young or I wouldn't know what to say or it's not my place, but I'm wondering... whose place is it?

Could your words be the balm that a hurting soul needs today? Could your words be the inspiration that someone needs to draw closer to the Lord? Could your words be the strength that someone needs to hear?

I've had to ask myself this question, "Am I thinking without speaking?"  And I have to admit that I've been doing a lot of thinking lately... but not a lot of speaking.  And the longer I go without speaking... the harder it is to speak when I know it is needed.

And I thought if I was going to ask myself... I think I'll ask you, too.  Are you thinking without speaking?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Sculpted From Nothing Into Something.

Monterey Sunset


Celebrating another birthday.  
Thanking God for all the many blessings. 
I couldn't even begin to count them—
any more than I could count the sand of the sea.



"Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; 
you formed me in my mother's womb. 

I thank you, High God—you're breathtaking! 

Body and soul, I am marvelously made! 

I worship in adoration—what a creation! 

You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; 
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, 
how I was sculpted from nothing into something. 

Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; 
all the stages of my life were spread out before you, 
The days of my life all prepared before I'd even lived one day.
 
Your thoughts—how rare, how beautiful! 
 God, I'll never comprehend them! 
I couldn't even begin to count them— 
any more than I could count the sand of the sea. 

Oh, let me rise in the morning and live always with you!"

Psalm 139:13-18 MSG 


Saturday, April 2, 2011

Poison

"That girl is poison..."

A gentle answer turns away wrath
but a harsh word stirs up anger.  
Proverbs 15:1


She sat across from me.  She wore her anger.  She had been wronged by someone.  She vented her displeasure.  She was infuriated.

I waited.  I sat silent.  

Was she justified in her anger?  Yes.  Was she bitter?  Yes.

Did I have permission to speak?  I wasn't sure.

There are times that women come to me and they don't know what to do with their anger.  They want help.  They share their frustration and then ask me to pray and help them to deal with their anger in a godly manner.  They give me permission to speak the truth.  To provide a gentle answer...

But there are other times.  When we vent and we don't want to hear the truth.  We don't grant others permission to speak.  We just want to dump our anger... our indignation... on to someone else.  Because maybe it makes us feel better... and we think the other person can handle our displeasure.  But we need to be aware that when we vent, we are sharing a bitter poison.  And when we don't give them permission to defuse our anger with a gentle word, we may be kindling a fire that is within them.

We need to remember that our words can be like poison.
Or they can be like an antidote. 


A gentle response defuses anger, 
but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire. 
Proverbs 15:1 MSG

Siesta Scripture Memory Verse #7