Author Archives: klueh

Judges 6; Acts 10; Jeremiah 19; Mark 5

Sometimes I forget. Like Gideon, I keep my faith hidden and thresh my wheat in the wine press. Like Gideon, I tend to keep expectations low,  dreams limited and focus on getting by. Immediate disappointment is deferred that way, but in His Grace, God’s vision for life is higher than mine. My stale faith and prayers do not limit what God can do. To the contrary, time and time again, He delights in interrupting the normal.

Those interruptions are a gift to the person with the smallest of hopes. Consider the synagogue leader whose daughter is healed, the woman who dares to reach out in the crowd to discretely touch Jesus’s clothing, and the demoniac delivered from the Legion. But for those unable to cope with the fact that they are not in control and life as they know it has been irrevocably altered, the interruptions of God are unwelcome, if not terrifying. I am thinking of the  Gideon’s Midianite and Amalekite neighbors and later the  Gerasene swineherds.

God doesn’t allow me to stay stuck in the past. His ways break through conventions and rules to call me to the unexpected. I prayer that when He calls me to take the next risk, I will be quick to listen and obey as in the case of Cornelius and Peter. His grace enables me to let go of prejudices and old habits that may have served in the past, but will not work today.

Lord, do not allow me to cling to my ability to get it right. Let me hold tightly to the grace to which you have called me by name. Thank you for being my anchor and my hope. Your relentless pursuit of my soul never fails. It’s by the glorious, beautiful name of Jesus that I offer this prayer. Your sufficiency continues to amaze in ways never expected. Amen.

“We have this hope, a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters the inner shrine behind the curtain, where Jesus, a forerunner on our behalf has entered…” Hebrews 6:19-20.

Kathy

 

 

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Filed under 66 Books, Acts, Hebrews, Judges, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Mark

Joshua 11; Psalm 144; Jeremiah 5; Matthew 19

God instructs Joshua to decimate his enemies: hamstring the horses and strike down every breathing enemy–man, woman and child. It’s a blood bath…  the stuff of nightmares. These pages of the Bible leave me with far more questions about God than answers. Where is the God of grace and mercy that I cling to? But who is God if I disregard these pages? I am made in God’s image, not He in mine.

And what would Joshua think of the sanitized bubble that I live in? Perhaps he would be envious; war and violence are realities on television and far from me. Perhaps he would be appalled at my comfortable, complacent living.

David, also a man of war saw the horrors of war first hand and sings this: “Blessed be the Lord, my rock who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle; my rock and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge, who subdues the people under me… I will sing a new song to you, O God; upon a ten-stringed harp I will play to you, the one who gives victory to kings, who rescues his servant David.” Psalm 144:1,2…9,10.

It’s no wonder that the Jews didn’t understand Jesus. They were looking for a warrior king whose hands were dripping with blood and taking revenge. Instead, comes a king who says, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.” Matthew 19:14  They wanted a kingdom that they could see, a kingdom where they would be in power.

Who is this God we serve? He can wipe nations from the face of the earth and yet calls the youngest and weakest to draw near to him. Are we are in a spiritual war that is just as deadly and God spares us the horrors of seeing all that is going on around us? Paul says as much and repeats the message God spoke to Joshua and the people of Israel: “Finally be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:10-12.

Dear Lord, keep me from being complacent and naive in thinking that what I see is all that is going on. May I be ready and not deceived by the evil one. Heal me from distraction and chasing from false idols so that I may be your woman and follow hard after you. 

Kathy

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Filed under 1 Corinthians, 66 Books, Ephesians, Jeremiah, Joshua, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Matthew, Psalms, Uncategorized

Deuteronomy 30; Psalm 119:73-96; Isaiah 57; Matthew 5

After an intense Spring of work, celebrations, weddings, graduations, baby showers and the like, summer came to a slow halt. It started with a road trip to Maine. My sister and I loaded up my  elderly parent’s car with their gear and drove north to get them settled for the summer. They flew in a couple of days later, we had a family reunion and then I had a quiet couple of rainy days with them. And God started to slow me down and start speak to my heart.

It began with a book  about how phones are changing us. I was expecting it to tell me to toss it out, but it didn’t, but I did fall under the conviction that I am distracted because I want to be distracted.  I am not fully convinced that God can satisfy me. Isaiah nails me:

When you cry out, let your collection of idols deliver you! The wind will carry them off, a breath will take them away. But whoever takes refuge in me shall posses the land and inherit my holy mountain. Isaiah 57:13

God continues his relentless pursuit of me. The very first night of a weekly outreach to international students which I help lead I became ill. Ten days and a doctor’s visit later, I am still worn out from coughing, but God has been faithful. He’s been pulling me close to him. He’s given me no choice but to rest and pray.

Prayer isn’t my forte. It’s something that I know that I am supposed to do and it’s supposed to work, but I get much more of a sense of power when I DO. There’s a sense of self importance, a buzz from being busy.  But God’s been working without my physical presence (news flash: the world can go on without me) while allowing me to be part of his work through prayer. I am seeing the world through a different set of eyes and it’s beautiful.

The lessons are about emptying out of self, but not in a Buddhist sense. The Holy Spirit is continually clearing this house of idols and self so that it can be filled with something much better: his presence. It’s a process of replacing old, broken pieces with exquisite furniture.

Left to my own efforts, the process is hopeless. I hear the words of Jesus, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:48. and am intimidated, but not for long. It’s not my goodness nor my power that gets me into the presence of God, it’s the goodness and mercy of Christ. It’s his righteousness that he invites me to assume, that I may enjoy the presence and favor of God.

Lord, Let your steadfast love become my comfort according to the promise to your servant Psalm 119:76. I am yours, save me (v94). Thank you for your goodness, patience, mercy and joy. Amen.

Kathy

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Deuteronomy 16; Psalm 103; Isaiah 43; Revelation 13

Two summers ago,  a friend and I took a California road trip. We drove south along a magnificent stretch of the Pacific Coast High between Monterrey, California and Morro Bay. It felt as if we were driving along the edge of the world. Tall, rocky cliffs overlooked the powerful Pacific Ocean. Life was everywhere: birds, seals, whales, massive schools of fish. At one pullover, a man was perched at the edge of a cliff playing huge bongos. I could be smug and think, “that’s California for you,” but deep down, I was a little jealous.

Here was a man who regardless of his theology, didn’t care a bit what others might think. He was responding to all the beauty with his bongos. We are made to respond to the Creator of all this beauty.

And David gets this. We are made to join all of Creation and praise the author of life:

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name…

The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all. Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, obedient to his spoken word. Bless the Lord, all his hosts, his ministers that do his will. Bless the Lord, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the Lord, O my soul.  Psalm 103:1…19-22.

God understands the language of my heart. I am made to praise him with abandon and yet my words fail me, so I seize hold of Isaiah’s words (taken from Isaiah 43). I  audibly thank God for who He is: the Lord, the only Savior, God, Redeemer, the Creator and Holy One of Israel, my King, my Deliverer. He blots out my transgressions. He has the final say in all of history.

How is it that this God invites me to know Him?  I praise Him for who I am in relation to Him; I am created for his glory, redeemed by Him, and called by Him. I am his possession, precious in his sight, honored and loved by Him. I am his chosen servant and witness.

These words spill over me and fill my heart to almost bursting. I throw my arms upward, breathe deeply and smile. My soul worships and I take joy in his delight.

Lord, keep me from holding back when it comes to worshipping you. Fill my heart and mind with the knowledge of who you are and who you have made me to be. May what  you say about who you are and who you say that I am, take precedence over what the world says. May your joy fill my soul.

Klueh

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Deuteronomy 1; Psalms 81-82; Isaiah 28; 3 John 1

It’s not difficult to adopt the arrogant mindset that I am master of my future and commander of my fate. I may not say it with words, but in my head, I am thinking, “Move over God and let me get things done. I know best.” I am not alone in this. God describes his relationship with the people of Israel:

I said to you, “Have no dread or fear of them. The Lord your God, who goes before you, is the one who will fight for you, just as he did for you in Egypt before your very eyes, and in the wilderness where you saw how the Lord your God carried you, just as one carries a child, all the way that you traveled until you reached this place. But in spite of this, you have no trust in the Lord your God who goes before you on the way to seek out a place fore you to camp, of fire by night, and in cloud by day, to show you the route you should take.  Deuteronomy 1:30-32

The only person I am fooling is myself. Isaiah describes this lack of trust:

Ha! You who hide a plan too deep for the Lord, whose deeds are in the dark and who say, ” Who sees us? Who knows us?’ You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay? Shall the thing made say of its maker, “He did not make me”; or the thing formed say of the one who formed it, “He has no understanding?”  Isaiah 29: 15-16.

The disciple John, the “one whom Jesus loved” describes a different way of living. In his first letter, he uses the term “abide” (NRSV) or “live-in” (NIV) 15 times. Because of this beautiful redundancy, I am getting the message, “ABIDE. LIVE.”   I “abide” in God and he “abides” in me. I may not understand how the process works but I submit the crude clay of my being so  that his hands transform me. I can stop white knuckling my way through life and let go, for God’s will for me will win.

Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. what we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.  1 John 2:2

Lord, help me let go and submit to you molding and shaping.  Forgive me for when I demand that life go my way and that other’s meet my needs. Holy Spirit, live in me and may I live in you. Amen

Klueh

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Numbers 23; Psalms 64-65; Isaiah 13; 1Peter 1

Numbers 23 was written for a people prone to squeezing the life out of living. It’s written for me. Self imposed to-do lists are usually far longer than what can be humanly accomplished in one day, and (I confess) are often, how I define success that day. I joke that I don’t want to miss a thing out of life, but then if left to my own devices,  miss what is most important.

My inclination is to do, not to be. My family knows when I am on this train. Once my daughter looked me square in the eyes and said, “Mom, you’re not here.” And she was right; my brain was chasing the next squirrel up a tree. Somehow, I never catch the squirrel.

God knows that this endless doing never satisfies;  He commands his people to STOP, set themselves apart (consecrate) and rest. He appointed festivals and “holy convocations” and warned the people that if they refused to deny their inclinations that they “would be cut off from the people.” Numbers 23:30.  It seems to me that is exactly what I do to myself, when I refuse to rest in God and keep up my futile chase of doing. All this striving is really a fear that God won’t meet me if I stop my talking, stop my doing.

Enter the Word of God to cleanse, refresh and restore:

You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God.  ‘All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. the grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord endures forever.’ 1Peter 1:23-25

When I stop moving and listen and look, God opens up my heart and does a work within that I don’t understand. His presence fills the restless, greedy places and there is peace:

You visit the earth and water it, you greatly enrich it:  the river of God is full of water; you provide the people with grain, for so you have prepared it. You water its furrows abundantly, settling its ridges, softening it with showers, blessing its growth. You crown the year with your bounty; your wagon tracks overflow with richness. The pastures of the wilderness overflow. The hills gird themselves with joy, the meadows clothe themselves with flocks, the valleys deck themselves with grain, they shout and sing together for joy.  Psalm 65:9-13

The Psalmist describes a place inhabited by a people who are following God. On another level, he describes the human heart, when God is allowed access to the land within.

Lord, you know my inclination to go and do, but you call me to come, be still, and enjoy the Sabbath rest you have prepared for me . Forgive me when I have chosen distraction over you. Thank you for your patient, steady call to come and rest in your presence. Thank you for the healing rain of your grace and the joy that springs up within my soul at you goodness. You are mine and I am yours. Amen.

Kathy

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Numbers 7; Psalms 42-43; Song of Solomon 5; Hebrews 5

I understand longing. It’s this unseen force that calls me to seek out God. I feel it when I wake up in the morning. It’s this desire to know and be known… to understand and be understood, especially when life is swirling with activity, noise and distraction. It’s wanting everything make sense and be well in spite of the injustices of this world. It’s longing to be wrapped in the beauty and presence of God himself.

David captures it, “As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God?” Psalm 42:1-2.

Solomon describes that poignant ache, “I opened to my beloved, but my beloved had turned and was gone; My soul failed me when he spoke. I sought him, but did not find him; I called him, but he gave no answer.” Song of Solomon 5:6

When David doesn’t sense the presence of God, he becomes distraught, “My tears have been may food day and night, while people say to me continually, ‘Where is your God?” Psalm 42:3   

 

Jesus understands all our yearnings, hopes and dreams. He, sinless and one with God, knew the unobstructed presence of God and gave it up on our behalf. Paul writes of the pain, “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, having been designated by God a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.” Hebrews 5:7-10 

In the end, Jesus offered up his life as a prayer, as THE sacrifice. He embraced obedience, tore himself away from God and submitted his life to the rules governing sinful people. His sacrifice broke down the wall of Death that stood between us and God.

So the yearning continues. I feel that magnetic pull towards the one who made me, loves me and gave his very life for me. Emotions, cares, disappointments and my limited understanding of reality may seem to put a veil between God and I, but ultimately, that veil is just a mist. One day, because of Jesus, I will see him face to face and all that yearning for him will be satisfied. The joy that I get a taste of here, will be complete.

Until then, David tells me what to do, “Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God.” Psalm 42:5 and Psalm 43:5

Lord, keep hope fresh in my heart and a song about you on my lips today. Make your joy complete in me in ways only you can do.

Kathy

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