Monday, June 22, 2009

Absorption


This is a fresh read for me today as I ponder all the sickness in the world. This is a re-post of an entry I wrote last winter. I wrote it while Hannah, my middle child, was sick for the fourth time with a high fever. I have re-titled this post, Absorption, due to my overwhelming desire to take her sickness upon myself.
This entry is also a fresh reminder of all Christ has done for us and His desire to absorb our sin and depravity.
Whenever one of my girls is sick, I am consumed with wanting to do whatever I can to make them feel better. Last winter, Hannah, was sick with a 104 fever. I was laying beside her on the couch stroking her head and feeling the heat radiating from her tiny body. All I could think about was wanting to absorb the heat so she wouldn't have to endure the pain. I didn't only want to cover her and care for her, I wanted to take her sickness upon myself. I wanted to heal her from her pain and sickness.
Knowing, I could not absorb it, I did my best to comfort her and reassure her of my love. I wanted her to know, she could trust me to take care of her and in the midst of her pain, I would not leave her. Even though, I was doing all I could do, it simply wasn't enough, for I wanted to heal her, to absorb the pain and take it upon myself.
I wonder if God felt the same way about the Israelites before Jesus came to take it all?
Seeing their sin and depravity He offered a way to cover their sin by sacrifices, burnt offerings and sin offerings. This is referred to as the "old order" or covenant. These sacrifices and offerings were never enough to completely take away sin but it was just enough to temporarily cover their sin.
Here is what occurred to me, I love Hannah so much that my heart's desire in the midst of her sickness was to absorb her pain not just to mask it or cover it.
You see, I was masking the pain with Tylenol and Motrin but as soon as the pain medication would wear off the fever would come back with a vengeance. The giving of Tylenol was the reminder that Hannah was sick.
As she was laying next to me, I wanted to absorb her sickness so I could endure it on her behalf. I wanted to take on her sickness so she wouldn't have to endure it. Although, I held her and comforted her it was not enough to take away her sickness and relieve the consequence of her being sick.
God referred to himself over and over again in Isaiah as Immanuel, God with us. He provided a way for us to be made perfect through the suffering of His one and only son, Yeshua (Jesus).
The name Jesus means, the One who saves. You see, it was out of His great love for us, He came down to dwell among us to reveal to us the truth and to ultimately die for our sins. His desire was to absorb our sin once and for all, so that we could be made perfect though His suffering.
Unlike me, He has the power to absorb our pain and heal the sickness of sin.
He endured a brutal death where every sin I have ever committed or will commit was placed upon him. He took on the punishment and absorbed the consequence of my sin.
He did it because I could not. He not only covers us in our time of need but He ultimately heals us by His death and resurrection on the cross.
He loves me so much that he wasn't satisfied to just cover my sin he wanted to take it upon himself.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

They're Back!

I was weeding this morning in the hot sun. While my three girls were playing in the backyard and as my neighbor's dog was barking at me through the fence the thought came to me, "You have to keep going back to the same place don't you?"

Let me mention here that it has been at least three weeks since I have pulled the weeds on the back hill behind our house. I have gotten busy with other things and have neglected my garden. I have allowed other things to distract me from tending the weeds and now they have grown to the point of becoming unmanageable. 

Where do I begin pulling? It was while asking myself this question that I noticed that the same weeds that I pulled up three weeks ago are back. 

"You have to keep going back to the same place don't you?"

You see it is not enough for me to only tend my garden once a year. I can't just weed once and think that I don't ever have to go back and pull up the same weed twice. 

The soil that produces the weeds is still the same soil. 

The environment the weeds flourish in is still the same. In fact we have gotten a lot of rain which in turn nourishes the soil and encourages the weeds to grow....

You see, I can pull up the weed of Fear but fear will sprout up again. 

I can yank up the weed of anger but given the environment that I live in, it will present itself again.  

I can tend to the weed of jealousy but I can not assume that it's contained for life. 

I find this especially true, when the storms of life pop up. Often times, it is when we face difficulties that we need to be more diligent to tend our garden.  Weeds flourish in the environment of trails and hardship. The soil, our flesh, is the breeding ground but the water of the storm will accelerate and encourage the growth of the weeds.

"You have to keep going back to the same place don't you?"

In the last post, I mentioned some examples of these small weeds. I want to take a moment to mention them to you again. These weeds are fear, jealousy, unforgiveness, anger, pride, control, complacency, bitterness, spirit of entitlement, relying on self rather than relying on God, blame shifting, complaining, selfish ambition, gossiping, vanity, greed.  Again, these sins reside in the heart and often times effect our behavior.

We can't ignore these weeds, in fact the longer we ignore them the bigger they grow and the more noticeable they become to those around us.

When life gets busy we are tempted to ignore the nagging urge to confess our hurt to a mighty God. 

We run from the opportunity to sit still and pray for restoration. 

We mask over our anger with busyness. 

We cover up our control issues with activities. 

We proceed as if we are right with God and don't need to go back to the same place of pain twice. After all, a little unforgiveness never really hurt anyone. 

We do not confess and repent; turning our back to sin and running toward a place of restoration and healing. 

"You have to keep going back to the same place don't you?"

The truth of it is that over time that small weed of unresolved conflict has choked out a beautiful flower called GRACE. 

The small weed of vanity has choked out a beautiful flower called HUMILITY. 

The small weed of blame shifting has choked out a beautiful flower called RESPONSIBILITY.

The small weed of complaining has choked out a beautiful flower called THANKSGIVING. 

What is getting in the way of tending your garden?

"You have to keep going back to the same place don't you?"

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Weeds in my Garden

Life has been so crazy around here. I have noticed that if not put on schedule, against my will I might add, I will flutter here and flutter there with no plan or purpose. Therefore, being unproductive and scattered. I have been spending most of my free-time in Isaiah and would love your prayers concerning the homework. 

I wanted to re-post, Weeds in my Garden, as it is one of my favorite posts. It is a reminder that the heart issues if not dealt with will lead to much bigger behavioral issues. I hope you enjoy the analogy!

One of my favorite things to do in the spring time is to pull the weeds in my garden. There is a satisfaction in knowing that every weed removed makes way for the beautiful flowers that I have planted to flourish.

One thing that I have notice while weeding is that the biggest most noticeable weeds are oftentimes the easiest to remove. The reason being that some of the tallest weeds have the most shallow roots. 

It is the small weeds that are the hardest to pull up. They are the ones that if left unattended will spread and eventually overtake the garden and choke out the beautiful flowers I have planted.

I find that this is the same way with sin. You see the sins that are the most noticeable are often times the easiest sins to identify and turn away from. They are actions that indicate ones heart condition. For example, drunkenness, cussing, wild living, sex outside of marriage, cheating, course joking, fits of rage, lying, stealing, fighting. Just to name a few.

I have found in my personal life that my behavior is an outpouring of what is in my heart. I have also found that it's much easier for me to change my behavior than it is for me to change my heart. Actions are just indicators of one's heart condition toward God.

I want to now talk about the small weeds. The weeds that if left unattended will choke out all the beautiful flowers that the Lord has planted in your life. These sins will also strangle your faith and over take your garden. These small weeds, are often times, the reasons we do what we do. 

Most of the time, these sins go unnoticed to the outsider. They can easily be explained away by the insider. They are dangerous because they are socially acceptable and often times not even recognized for what they are WEEDS (sins)! They go unnoticed and over time wreck our faith and render us useless for the kingdom of God.

What are some examples of these creeping weeds? Fear, anger, jealousy, pride, control, complacency, bitterness, spirit of entitlement, relying on self rather than relying on God, blame shifting, complaining, selfish ambition, gossiping, vanity, greed, just to name a few. These sins reside in the heart and often times effect our behavior.

What are we doing to tend our garden of faith? We need to be diligently asking the Lord to help us identify and pull up these faith choking weeds. We need to expose the heart conditions behind the sin and bring to light the deep roots of unforgiveness, hurt, disappointment, abandonment, abuse, dejection and rejection. We need to surrender to an Almighty, All Powerful, All Knowing God.

What weeds in your garden need tending?

Friday, June 5, 2009

Casting Call For A Play Called Eternity



Life: a series of twists and turns, pinnacles and pitfalls
Life: Illusions vs. Reality
Life: playing a part in a play called Eternity. What is my role? Where do I fit in? Will the Master Conductor of all things, use me to make any real eternal difference? Will the Writer of all things, use my life, which is just a fleeting vapor, a fading flower, to impact His eternal Kingdom?
Reader, Let me ask you some important questions. What is real, What is an illusion? Where does your significance come from?
Has the Lord placed something within your heart that He desires to cultivate?
Do you have a vision or a dream that you believe has come from the Lord. The Lord who has marked off the heavens by the span, and who leads forth the starry host by number and calls them by name, is in complete control of all things.
He works all things in according to His perfect will. If we understand, the power within us is much greater then the power in this world, then we understand there is nothing we can't accomplish to the Glory of God.
But do we get it?
Are we distracted by the things of the world? Do we get all caught up in fleeting things and making a name for ourselves this side of eternity?
Are we living in the illusion that this life is all there is?
Are we living in the illusions of happiness and self-gratification?
Are we distracted by our culture and pursuing beauty, conforming to the likeness of man, imitating the people who are not worth imitating? We are created to imitate God. Therefore, if we do not imitate Him, we will imitate something or someone else.
Are we going to leave anything of significance behind for the next generation?
We are all eternal beings. Rather we have accepted Christ or have rejected Him we will spend eternity somewhere. Can I just encourage you to spend some time pondering your eternal destination and your eternal purpose.
Dear one, we are on! It's time for us to take the eternal stage! It is our time to stand up for Jesus and make a real difference for His eternal kingdom. Are you ready for an adventure. Are you ready to make a real difference for the One who created you for such a time as this!

Casting Call For A Play Called Eternity!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Temper Tantrums and Kisses


He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young. Isaiah 40:11

The only words spoken these past few days have been, "don't touch that", "put that back", "put that down", "stop running", "don't talk to me that way", "don't talk to your sister that way", "don't bite", "don't hit", "stop trying on mommy's clothes", "where's my earrings?","please don't play in mommy's make up!" "Stop irritating your sister." "you need to be concerned with you", "Gracyn, stop screaming!" "Hollen and Hannah, don't poke the lion!" Yes, that is the phrase we have coined for Gracyn our youngest little girl. Also, the biting, hitting and screaming comments apply to her. As I am typing on my laptop, Gray is laying across my lap with her feet up in the air asking for a snack!

Lord, I need your grace today. I need you to lead me gently. I need your strength to get me through this day!

Can you identify? Moments when you feel like you can' t take another step in your own strength.

Moments where you are reminded of your dependancy on the Great Shepard of the flock. Isaiah 40:11, reminds me that He is the Great Shepard of the sheep and that He will lead me gently though this meadow of raising little girls.

In these moments of temper tantrums and kisses He is faithful to carry the burden if I would only take the time to give it to Him.

Notice the wording in this verse. He TENDS His flock like a shepard. He tends to the needs of His people. He supplies all our needs.  Not just in the big things and big moments of life but in the every day moments of raising kids and cleaning house. When we are too worn out, God tells us through the prophet Isaiah, that He carries us close to his heart; that He gently leads those who have young.

The Hebrew word for leads is the word, NAHAL, which means, to lead, to give rest, lead with care, to lead to a watering place or station to cause to rest there. Strongs Exhausted Concordance

Wherever the next bend in the meadow leads, if you are in a season of raising kids or entering a stage of life with no kids, I want to encourage you to surrender to the One who gently leads you through the meadows of life. The Shepard who is faithful to supply all your needs and lead you in the direction He desires for you to go. All that He requires of you is obedience and trust. Trust in Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith. Trust in the One who has measured the the waters in the hollow of his mighty hand.

picture: taken by Rob while we were at Lake Louise in Canada.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Wherever You Go There You Are

This entry is a re-post. If you have read, Wherever You Go There You Are, check back later on this week for some insight on Isaiah. But for now I hope you enjoy, Wherever You Go There You Are.

Then the Lord said to Jacob, "Go back to the land of your fathers and to your relatives and I will be with you." Genesis 31:3
Is the Lord calling you to go back? Is he calling you to stop running from your past and the sins of your youth and embrace forgiveness, restoration and reconciliation?

You see, Jacob fled his family because he had deceived his father, Issac, by pretending to be his brother, Esau, in turn receiving his brother's blessing from his blind father.

Jacob fled in fear of his brother's wrath for his brother had vowed to kill him. I believe he also fled out of shame because he deceived his father to receive the family blessing. If anyone had reason to run it was Jacob. But we see God calling Jacob home.

Can you relate? What is it that you are running from? What is it that the Lord is calling you back to? Is there a moment that comes to mind? A moment that God wants to free you from. Is there a relationship the Lord desires to heal? He calls us to a life of reconciliation. A life of total surrender to the One who has the power and the desire to heal us and restore us to himself. He is the God of second chances. He demonstrated this when he sent his only begotten son to the cross. God was pleased to make all the fullness of himself dwell within Christ and through him to reconcile to himself all things by making peace with us through his blood shed on the cross. Colossians 1: 19, 20

Why is it important to go back? Why can't we just run from our sins and pretend they never happened? Because Christ desires to free us from our sin. He desires to completely heal us from our past. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.

You see un-confessed sin is bondage. It is a root that can become bitter. It is a weed in a garden that will over time choke out all the beautiful flowers the Lord has planted. If not pulled out by the master gardener this weed can take on many forms, bitterness, resentment, anger,jealousy, envy, strife, gossip, fear, self hatred, depression. It is so destructive that it can even cause us physical debilitating pain. But God calls us to a life of freedom. Therefore, whatever hinders a life of freedom must be exposed and pulled out. Are you ready to live a life of freedom? What is holding you back from coming home?

I want to leave you with this thought, Wherever you go there you are. But there is One who has the power to bring you home.