Monday, March 29, 2010

Barren, Dying and Desolate

The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail." Isaiah 58:11
A sun-scorched land is the way the Lord describes Israel during Isaiah's lifetime. A land that was barren, dying and desolate.
I got to thinking about the term, a sun-scorched land, as it applies to my personal life. When my life fails to bring any real life sustaining water to those around me, it becomes a land that soaks the life out of others.
My life becomes a sun-scorched land when my anger gets in the way of nurturing my girls. When the pressures of keeping up with those around me becomes my priority. When I expect my husband to meet all my emotional needs. When I start chasing after the temporal instead of the eternal. When I fill my time with the pleasures of this world. When my life is about others sacrificing for me instead of me sacrificing for others. When I start to think that this life is all about me. It is at these times that my life becomes a sun-scorched land. A land were the word doesn't overflow from the recesses of my heart. A land that will die if not watered.
Reflection can lead to repentance and change. Reflection puts my life into perspective. It forces my focus to shift from me and unto Him. What is my desire? My desire is to be a woman who walks the road of redemption and doesn't turn around to chase after the former things. A woman that remembers the road she used to frequent and treasures the Lord's redeeming grace. A woman who longs to be comforted by her Savior when the past lures her to turn aside grace and wallow in self pity. A woman who isn't tempted to turn down the road of regret. A woman who walks to bring glory to the Lord alone. A woman who sacrifices her desires and walks the road of bringing life sustaining water to those the Lord puts in her path.
"The Lord will guide me always when I loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free. When I share my food with the hungry. When I cloth the naked and do not turn away my flesh and blood. Then my light will break forth like the dawn and my healing will quickly appear; then my righteousness will go before me and the glory of the LORD will be my rear guard. "If I do away with the yoke of oppression with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if I spend myself in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then my light will rise in the darkness, and my night will be like the noonday. The LORD will guide me always; he will satisfy my needs in this sun-scorched land." Isaiah 58:6,8,11

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Come Home

Post written and posted in February 2009

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 you are running from? What is it the Lord is calling you back to? Is there a moment that comes to mind? A moment 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
Jacob wrestled with God and was given the name Israel; which means one who struggled with God and with men and has overcome. I have heard sermons preached that it was in arrogance that Jacob wrestled. I beg to differ; I believe he wrestled out of desperation. He held on. He pleaded with God to bless him no matter the cost. He wrestled through the pain all the while trusting in God for deliverance from his past. He wouldn't let go.
You know what my biggest fear is. It is that I will miss out on God's blessing in my life because of complacency. It is a fear I could fall out of God's favor because of unconfessed sin and inner rebellion. It is a fear that my life would make no real eternal difference because of my disobedience and fear of going back to the place of pain with my God who has promised to be with me.
I believe Jacob felt the same way, years after stealing Esau's inheritance he wrestled with God for His blessing. He wanted God to bless the inheritance that Jacob already received. Having just his father's blessing wasn't enough for Jacob. He wanted God's blessing.
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?

Wherever you go there you are but there is One who has the power to bring you home.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Stung

I got stung by a bee at a youth retreat. Go ahead and laugh that I would begin this entry with the very interesting fact that I once got stung by a bee. God knows that sometimes a little pain is necessary to get our attention! Let me mention here, I HATE pain! I have no threshold for it! I will do about anything to avoid feeling any physical pain.
Immediately, after being stung the group broke out for a thirty minute "alone" time with God in the woods, alone with about one hundred bees surrounding us at any given time.
Can I just tell you what was going through my mind, "Are you serious! You want me to stay out here in these bee infested woods and try to concentrate on God!"
I want to also mention, this was my first "official" quiet time with God. Needless to say, the Lord had a powerful analogy for me and wanted to get my attention. I had only been a follower of Christ for about four months. I had just graduated from college and jumped right into service by volunteering with Young Life. I had no idea what I was getting into.
Sitting against a tree in the woods for 25 minutes with nothing on my minds but the "bees" surrounding me (funny how you notice them once you've been stung) and the throbbing pain in my arm. A gentle voice spoke, "The intentional sin in your life is like the bees you are so focused on this afternoon. Because of the sin and the painful consequences that go along with the life you are choosing to lead you can not see me working nor hear me speak. Your intentional sin is what is distracting you and causing you pain." "Get your focus off of the sin and unto to me. " "Choose to do right"
I walked in the ways of the world and reaped the painful consequences. It was the painful consequences that eventually led me to Him. I did not completely walk away from some sins thinking they were too big to fully break from. I continued to walk in the ways of the world even after committing my life to the Lord. This was His wake up call, a call out of my life of sin and into a life redeemed by Him, the only one who can change us from the inside out.
I want to remember this intimate moment with my Savior. I want to remember the pit from which He has pulled me.
I am a woman who is Redeemed, Ransomed and Restored!
Is there a sin in your life that is distracting you and keeping you from experiencing freedom in Christ? Is there a sin you are holding onto? Are you reaping the painful consequences of intentional sin? I know how hard it can be to let go of sin. I know the tough decisions that have to be made to turn away from it. I know how hard it is to not be focused on your past life and the sins of your youth but let me tell you what I have experienced. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, the Lord is gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love. I know the intimacy that comes with a redeemed life. I know in our times of brokenness His love is more than enough to sooth our wounds and restore our soul.
It is my prayer, you will return to the Lord and lay your burdens at the foot of the cross. He desires for you to be free from sin.

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:55-56

This is a re-post written in 2009

Friday, March 5, 2010

A Letter


My mom wrote this letter to me September 2002 before the birth of my first daughter, Hollen. She recently found it on her computer and sent it to me as a reminder. This letter is so special to me as I have contemplated many things over the past couple of months.


As you are about to become parents, I wanted to share with you some of my thoughts and feelings about parenthood with you.


Your feelings for your children are something that are hard to describe. Elizabeth, you and Andrew, are the most important things on this earth to me and to your daddy. You will feel this about Hollen. Anything that happens to her, you will feel that it is happening to you, too. Sometimes, you will even feel more deeply about something than she does. You will protect and love her. You will want to give her everything she wants and needs and make things easy for her. You will never want her to feel pain or be hurt. In spite of all of these feelings, children will experience some ups and downs; they will confront some obstacles along the way. All children have strengths and weaknesses. You will have to let Hollen discover hers and make the most of what she has to offer as a person.


I know both you and Andrew are still “growing” and finding out new things about yourselves. Life is an experience that is ever-changing. While both you and Andrew had gifts of being outgoing, athletic, and social, you both were also compassionate, open, and loving people. I noticed the compassion in you when you were a toddler. You were watching a Christmas special on television and I found you crying. Why? Because the other reindeers were being mean to Rudolph!


There were many other things you would have liked to have experienced, but it is never too late to experience them. Look at me, a grandmother, trying to get her college education. Don’t hold Hollen back, let her experience everything, and not be afraid of anything! I have a feeling she will be fearless if she is anything like her mother (well about tangible things anything, it is the unknown that scares you the most!).


Love her, cherish her, and comfort her, and let her know that she has a wealth of love surrounding her. We love you all!


Love,


Mom & Dad



P.S. Other tips that come to mind….If she cries for a lengthy period of time (when you were little, it was a good thing to let babies cry some), you might want to check, she might be hanging upside down outside the bed rails. …never assume she is potty trained when she is standing in the grocery cart (but I don’t think babies are allowed to stand in grocery carts anymore)…..Don’t leave hot liquids on the table when you are in the shower, she might get thirsty and decide to have a sip….Be positive and unafraid.


This is a blog of remembrance. I have found that the most intimate times with the Lord are the times when we feel we can not go one more day in our own strength. Only when we are awakened to our depravity can we experience the all consuming love from the one who loves us wholly and completely. I want my girls to know all that He has done for us. This is a collection of stories documenting our story. My call to remember....