Author Archives: klueh

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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Leviticus 20; Psalm 25; Ecclesiastes 3; 1Timothy 5

“I know that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. 

God has done this so that all should stand in awe before him.” Ecclesiastes 3:14

Of all days on the Christian calendar, this is the day to let our jaws drop and stand in awe of the mighty work of God on our behalf. It was from His holiness that the supernatural power of His love overcame broke the chains that sin and death held us prisoner. “Up from the grave he arose,” says the old hymn. The Resurrection changes everything.

I need Easter to remind me of the fundamental truth of my life. All that I am is fundamentally tied to the Resurrection. It is the air I breathe. Without it, I am a vapor that is here one moment, gone the next. With it, I have the joy of knowing that whatever comes my way in this life, I belong to Jesus. I am his and he is mine. His work for me is complete, while his work in me continues

“Consecrate yourselves therefor and be holy, for I am the Lord your God. Keep my statues and observe them since I am the Lord, I sanctify you.”  Leviticus 20:7-8

Lord, from your beauty and holiness, you call me to follow you. You are the Spring rain that falls;  you have cleansed and forgiven me of my sin. You are the coolness that revives what is weary and broken. You bring the freshness of a new day dawning. Your Resurrection bursts through the sorrow, pain and isolation of Good Friday to birth light and life and the song of Easter. Praise you Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Your love endures forever.  Amen

klueh

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Leviticus 5; Psalms 3-4; Proverbs 19; Colossians 3

Leviticus 5 describes a sliding scale for sacrifices; the wealthier the repentant sinner, the more expensive the sacrifice. The sacrifice needed to make a significant economic impact upon the one offering it and the cost of restitution was somewhat dependent upon the infraction (Leviticus 5:16). Sin had a price which took the form of livestock, birds and grain.  Blood flowed continually at the altar. The sin of the people kept the priests busy.

Five times in chapter 5 the author of Leviticus repeats, “…the priest shall make atonement on your behalf for the sin that you have committed, and you shall be forgiven.” Repentance, forgiveness and restitution matter to God, the sinner and the community. The process is physical and burdensome, but also seems limited. What about  sins committed that one might have a blindspot to? What then?

“Who can say ‘I have made my heart clean; I am pure from my sin?’ ” Proverbs 20:9

I am powerless to break the power of sin and death on my life. Guilt is wall between God which I am unable to scale, but God the priest bows low to provide the cleansing sacrifice— lower than one could ever imagine. He sends his pure and sinless Son, Jesus to do what all my personal sacrifices can never do. The blood of Jesus flows so that I am forgiven. Jesus brings the wall down so that I  may stand in the presence of the Holy One of Israel.

Confession and repentance are even more important business in the light of what Jesus did on my behalf. God forgive me for ever taking the sacrifice of his Son for granted.

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross  by Isaac Watts

When I survey wondrous cross,                                                                                                       On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.
See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

Kathy

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