Monthly Archives: July 2011

Judges 14: Acts 18; Jeremiah 27; Matthew 13

It’s been a long week of rewarding work and now the weekend is here. I sip on a chilled glass of white wine on a hot summer’s eve, check the news from my laptop and scroll through the Reuters news agency photos coming in from the Horn of Africa. Photos of emaciated children, scenes of suffering and pain, a mother nursing her baby surrounded by the dead and dying.  Could our circumstances be any more different? I hear the voice of Jesus warning about the last days.

When you see the abomination that causes desolation standing where it does not belong—let the reader understand— then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the roof of his house go down or enter the house to take anything out. Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. How dreadful it will be in those last days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Mark 13:14-17.

I pray for those suffering souls. My heart weeps for their loss and pain. Lives broken. Families with only the most basic of needs destroyed. In reality, I am not responsible for the privilege and wealth for which I have been born into. Stalin’s response to suffering on such a massive scale was,  “A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic.” Jesus sees it differently. Every hair on our heads is numbered. He knows every sparrow that falls. He warns,

No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! Mark 13:32-33

I have been informed of what’s going on in places far away. Jesus has said that the day of his coming is near, and I need to be prepared. I am accountable before God for all that He has poured into my hands. God help me be a good and faithful steward and not be deceived by the wealth I live in. Honestly, I am not sure what all this means, but I do know that to stand by and do nothing is not the answer.

God give me wisdom and obedience out of love for Him. Amen.

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Judges13; Acts 17; Jeremiah 26; Mark 12

In Mark we see the normal bashing of “the teachers of the law”, but then we also see one teacher of the law that understood what Jesus was saying to be true. While the others dismissed Jesus, usually out of jealousy and selfish desire to keep the status quo, this man cared about what was really true, and he found Jesus’s teachings to be consistent with Scripture. While the others were trying to trap Jesus, this man really wanted to learn. I like his question.

28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[e] 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[f] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[g] There is no commandment greater than these.”

32 “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

34 When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”

I wonder if this man was around in Matthew 9 when Jesus told the crowd to go learn what it meant that God desired mercy not sacrifice (from Hosea 6:6).  Or in Matthew 12 when Jesus pointed out that they had not yet learned this (they must not have done their homework.)

In any case, this man asked a really good question, and thanks to him we are reminded about what is the most important.

Love.

Love God with your heart, soul, mind and strength, and love your neighbor.

Like the song says, “It’s all about love.”

If I’m ever wondering about the best thing to do, I need to remember that it’s all about love. If I’m not showing love, I’m probably not doing it right. It’s a good test, really, because I can get so caught up in such complicated things, and they can knock me off course, distract me, and cause me to mis-understand what God wants.

So I need constant reminders: It’s all about love.

Sue

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Judg.12; Acts 16; Jer. 25; Mark 11

I had once asked my husband if he ever considered moving from where we lived and he said no–listing many reasons why he didn’t want to. I was surprised, a very long time later, when he put a few listings under my nose. (One of them being the house we’re buying next week.) When I asked him why the change of heart, he said he was curious to see what was available. In the months that followed, we were surprised to see obstacles removed, doors being opened and many other signs of encouragement.

I remember the February day standing in the yard of the house we’ll one day buy, snow on the ground, looking out across the yard. I remember saying, “God, if you want us here, you’ll make it happen. And I’m going to trust you.”

Some days, the trusting was easier than others.

The short story: after ten months on the market, we got an offer in May and settled last Monday. We moved our things out of our house of ten years. It’s been an emotional journey. I walked out of my former house yesterday, leaving keys and garage remotes on the counter for the new owners whom I had not met. I thought I was done.

I had to drop off cable boxes and equipment at Comcast. The rep there informed me I had to also turn in the telephone modem, which was attached to a ceiling beam in the basement of the house I no longer owned or had keys to. I called our agent and he gave me the buyers’ phone number to make arrangements to get it. I spoke to the wife. She was kind and complimentary of the house, expressing their excitement of raising their children there, of the rooms that seemed decorated for them as if we knew them, for the carpet that was soft under their feet–they wouldn’t change a thing.

“This is an answer to prayer,” she said.

“You’re Christian?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said. She shared a bit of her story. She went on to say how God’s hand had been in this the whole time. I had seen it too, these months leading to now. Her words a confirmation of sorts and a form of closure.

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Mark 11:24 (NIV)

I wondered if he had some larger plan about where we’d live–was he so concerned with those details? From the Dr. Seuss-inspired kid’s room I left behind that is perfect for a new owner’s 9-month-old, to the Tinkerbell room in a next house that captured my 4-year-old’s heart–did those things matter in a divine plan? Weren’t there Bigger Issues more important than these? I am curious to see the unfolding of his plan in our lives.

I don’t think of God as a whimsical, happy-maker wish fulfiller. Instead, these days especially, I am in reverential awe of his power and presence. His work in my life–from the wringing and wrenching of this heart this past year … to a place we’ll call home and raise our kids–I am amazed at his work in the details.

Father, I praise you. Thank you for being with me during the struggle and hard days. Thank you for allowing me personal glimpses into your majesty. Thank you for closure, and new beginnings.

Courtney (66books365)

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Judges 11:12-40; Acts 15; Jeremiah 24; Mark 10

What is a child?

What characterizes most young children?


Simple,

pure,

carefree,

impulsive,

reliant,

and sinful.

 

Many other attributes may come to mind, but overall they are quite the opposite of adults. Adults are more hypocritical, wanting to look good on the outside.

Adults are calculating, intentional, burdened, busy, overcomplicated, and sinful.

 

The disciples saw only the frivolity and disruptions the children brought, not the genuine seeking. They complicated the situation and began to shoo the children away from their precious Master.

Fortunately, Jesus doesn’t miss a thing. Not just drawing the children to himself, but challenging the disciples and generations to follow to examine themselves for how they approach God’s throne. His response —  ” 14But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them,  “Let the children come to me;  do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 15 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” 16And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them. ~Mark 10:14-16~

Amazing. While this speaks specifically of salvation and our humbling before Him to enter His family, the application can go a bit further. Daily we need to surrender to him. Not remaining immature in our faith, but remaining ever reliant on Him. Tucked under His wings, working only through His power, living obediently to His Lordship.

Take some time to watch a young child in a secure family at play and you can’t help seeing the lack of inhibitions and the unrestrained love for parents.

My love for my Father should be so unashamedly exhibited. My reliance so blatant. As a child.

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Judges 10-11:11; Acts 14; Jeremiah 23; Mark 9

I spent this afternoon skipping stones across the Arkansas River in a remote town in Colorado with my two little boys ages 6 and 3.  I was two thousand miles away from all the worries of home and the office.  Mentally, I was even further away than that.  There was nothing I’d rather be doing today than sharing in the joy of my boys as they frolicked barefoot on the bank of the river.  And to think that this was supposed to be an act of sacrifice and service.  After all, I was just killing time with the young ones while my wife and our older children were whitewater rafting.

He took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”  Mark 9:36-37

There are many tough passages wherein Jesus is asking us to sacrifice our time, our comfort, and our resources.  Our natural tendency is to resist.  At least for me, this isn’t one of those passages.  In this instance, Jesus is asking me to do precisely what I would like to do.

Lord Jesus,

Thank you for the glorious gift of children.  Thank you for the sense of purpose they provide me.  Thank you that it is a joy for me to serve them.  Thank you that one way I am able to serve you is simply by being the dad that I am naturally wired to be.

Greg (gmd40187)

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Judg. 9; Acts 13; Jer. 22; Mark 8

To have life is to give it away.

It’s one of the paradoxes of the Christian life. To have control is to surrender it. To admit weakness is to find His strength. Life comes out of death. It’s an idea that has been repeated in my life in the past few days but one that I hope becomes a part of my soul and outward expression.

““If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.  For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.” – Mark 8:34-35

Dallas Willard says this on the subject:

The sayings of Jesus above are most often taken as expressions of some ethereal truth for especially religious people.

Instead, they are mere observations about how life actually works.

As is so often the case with statements of Jesus, they say nothing about what we ought to do. They simply state how things are.

Anything with life in it can flourish only if it abandons itself to what lies beyond it, eventually to be lost as a separate being, though continuing to live on in relation to others.

Life is inner power to reach and life “beyond.”

If I am to live on and experience life to the fullest, I must abandon myself to God. Completely and utterly. I must give him my life if I want to preserve it. There is no use in keeping my life to myself, for myself. To do so is not only selfish and cowardly but according to Christ, but aimless and pointless. To live in abandon is the only way to truly live.

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Judges 8; Acts 12; Jeremiah 21; Mark 7

“But the word of God continued to increase and spread.” (Acts 12: 24)

This account in Acts could not have come at a better time for me.  On August 6, I will be taking my older four children to Haiti on a mission’s trip.  When I heard about the trip, I knew that I was supposed to take my children to share the love of Christ with the Haitian orphans.  I was elated as I thought about the trip and how it would transform our family.  Financial support soared in for us.  We raised money beyond the amount that we need to go on this trip.  Again, I was struck with the certainty that God wants us there.

However, as time gets closer, my old buddy, FEAR, has crept in.  What if something happens to us? What if we get malaria?  Typhoid fever? What if we have a horrible reaction to the vaccines or to the malaria medicine?  What if something happens to my two youngest children while they remain at home with their grandparents?  What if?  What if?? What if???  I am plagued with these!

The enemy is so real.  Satan seeks to steal and to destroy.  The last thing that Satan wants is for our family to go to Haiti and spread the word of God.  He will do whatever he can to try and mess with my mind.  And he has chosen to dredge up my old pattern – anxiety.  When God calls His people, Satan goes on the warpath.  Our family has a target on our backs (although in this case, my target is my mind).  I am comforted though, knowing that God is bigger than the Satan.  God ultimately has the victory.  How thankful I am!

So it is not by accident that my passage for the day is from Acts 12.  God’s word will increase and spread, and Satan truly can’t stop that from happening.  Just like God sent an angel to free Peter from prison so that Peter could keep evangelizing, God will be my Protector and my Defender.  I do not have to fear.  God wants me to cast my anxiety on Him because He cares for me.  How great it is to serve a God so powerful and loving.

Lord, I thank You for Your call to our family to go to Haiti.  May we be lights for You to the people there.  I pray that You would cover our family with the blood of Jesus.  Please bind Satan, Lord, so that he cannot flood my mind with fear.  Lord, You love my children more than I do.  Please hold tightly to them as we embark on this journey for You.  What an honor it is, Lord, to be able to serve You.  I love You, Lord.  In Jesus’ precious name,

Amen

If I may so boldly ask, would you, my friends, please pray for our family?  Our mission’s trip goes from August 6 – August 13.

Suzie (suzielawyer)

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