Friday, May 31, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Imagine

It's a sunny day. The leaves are glistening with the color of light and shadow, gently swaying in the kindest, loveliest breeze a day can bring. And I sit here on my couch. Learning a new laptop. Trying to write something profound, provocative and even pithy. And why not? Writers do that, right?
My baby girl sits at my feet playing with her toys trying her best to mimic the sounds coming from her toy keyboard. Two. One. The green frog says ribbit … ribbit. And my daughter adds her own sounds, her own music. Her own joy.
Then I imagine us twenty years from now. Will the light brought to the leaves be brighter or duller? Will her words carry the soft sounds of joy like today's wind touches the leaves outside? Will her world be one in which she can carry her dreams to her desired destination as I sit back and marvel at the beauty inside her?
I hope so. I hope she touches the Hand of the One Who created her and walks with Him down the streets of her tomorrow.
My living room window.
Spokane, WA (2013)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Strength of My Life

“The LORD is the strength of my life.”Psalm 27:1b

Sometimes in my Bible reading a portion of Scripture jumps off the page in such a way I can feel God is saying to me, “Child, this is for you.”

Trusting God seems to be a recurring idea lately as I read God’s Word. It’s as if the garden of my heart has so many weeds of doubt that have grown up over the years, that God, through His Word, is slowly removing those weeds and replacing them with the seeds of His truth, namely that I can trust Him.

When I talk about the problems of life with fellow believers, we inevitably conclude that we don’t know how non-believers go through the pains of life without Jesus. That’s not to say Christians are immune to challenging times, but we know we have a God in Heaven Who whispers to our hearts that He is our strength when we do. We don’t face hard times alone.

Sometimes, He doesn’t whisper. It’s as if He has to shout, lovingly so, over the noise of our worries, “Child, don’t you know I will never leave you nor forsake you? Don’t you know my shoulders are large enough to carry your burdens, your worries, so you can stand tall and be confident in Me, not your own strength, not your own circumstances? Don’t you know how much I love you? Come with me for a while and let’s ponder the cross together. See what I did for you there? It is finished, my child. And although you can’t see Me, I sit beside My Father—our Father—in Heaven and pray for you. I love you. Always.”

And in this conversation with my heart, Jesus reminds me in this passage above that He is not just my strength, but the strength of my life. That is, my entire being can and should rest in Him and Him alone.

I take comfort in this precious seed of truth and pray it grows more and more until I can clearly see Him as He is.

Angkor Wat, Cambodia (2000)

Friday, May 17, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Song

See the birds in the sky. Flying above all the cares, all the tragedies and all our sadness.

They soar on the songs of the wind. Higher and higher they go, until at some point, they are out of our vision.

But with them, they carry a vision of our own making. Taking with them the lost moments of the day. The frustrations. The ill will we carry in our hearts.

So, that when they are removed from our sight, we can see clearer than before. We see the present and tomorrow with hope and joyful anticipation that something better will settle into our hearts.

Once the past is removed, the ugly past. The past that we don’t like reflecting on in our soul’s mirror. That past. Once it is removed. We begin to soar, like those birds who carried away our longings.

We start to sing the songs of flight coasting in the air with our wings. But for perfect peace. For perfect soaring, we need to recognize that our wings need to rest under God’s wings.

All because in order for our song to have that perfect pitch, it needs to be yielded, humbled, and settled under the loving wings of our Heavenly Father.

Spokane, WA (2013)

Monday, May 13, 2013

Thou Shouldest Have

“And [Joash the king of Israel] smote thrice, and stayed. And the man of God was wroth with him, and said, Thou shouldest have smitten five or six times; then hadst thou smitten Syria till thou hadst consumed it: whereas now thou shalt smite Syria but thrice.”—2 Kings 13:18-19

It takes great faith to put oneself “out there.” It takes great faith to prove God and wait for His response. It takes great faith to trust Him with our lives.

Just consider this king of Israel. He pleaded with God’s prophet to do something about the coming invasion of Syria. Elisha told him to put his hand upon the bow, and he did that. Then, Elisha told him to open the window eastward. He did that. He was then told to shoot an arrow, and he did that, too. Finally, Elisha said to Joash to take the arrows and smite the ground. There was no explanation as to why he was supposed to do this or for how many times, but just that he should.

He hits the ground three times and stays.

Was this a test of his urgency of how much he truly wanted God’s help? Did he stop because he felt like he looked foolish long enough obeying the prophet of God? Or did he stay because he had some sort of “foolish mercy” (so says Matthew Henry’s Commentary) toward the Syrians?

Whatever the reason, his hesitancy angered the man of God because I believe if the king had showed more faith, courage and/or desire for God’s help, he would have smote the ground more times, and the Syrian army would have been defeated completely.

So often we don’t do the things we should do and vice versa. Paul said it perfectly through the Holy Spirit in verse Romans 7:19. “For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.”  

But we also do the things we should, thankfully, but not with our whole heart thereby missing the opportunity to bring something to its proper end. This is where the verse above sticks because I can see much of this in my own life in the areas of my talents, especially.

He then brought to my mind another wonderful verse in Psalm 78:41 that reminded me that God’s people “limited the Holy One of Israel,” and how we do that in our lives.

God makes each of us for a purpose. That purpose may be to shout about Him from the “rooftops” or to quietly in the shadows of the days, months, and years, to raise a godly family and nurture a godly marriage for a great witness to the world. The purpose could be a number of things at once or various things in the process of time. Whatever His design, we each are designed by God to be used for His glory.

And we should not limit Him. But trust Him. Completely. With our whole heart.

Onesti, Romania (2005)

Friday, May 10, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Comfort

Holy Spirit, the Great Comforter, please be my guide as I attempt to share a precious memory that is only one day old.

Yesterday, my daughter, who is just shy of 10 months old, gave me a gift. It was a gift covered in her smile and wrapped with her squeals of affection. We were resting together on the living room couch—after a long day filled with so much activity. Dishes—as in her bottles—were dirty in the sink but I forced myself to enjoy a restful moment with my daughter.

And it was not found wanting.

I wrapped her with my arms and pulled her close, covered with one of her beautiful blankets. And we spent time cuddling, laughing, kissing and hugging.

At that moment, my heart was sealed with love for my precious daughter.

Inside, my heart was filled with so much comfort, affection and love.

It was precious. My gift, this first Mother’s Day.

Monday, May 06, 2013

In Me is Thine Help

“O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help.”Hosea 13:9

“I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: 
for mine anger is turned away from him.”Hosea 14:4

I love the book of Hosea. It is so rich with God’s love for His people, as these two verses above illustrate. God not only forgives our backsliding, but while we are in that state, He loves us freely, He calls us unto Himself, and He continues to counsel us to buy and/or pursue His wisdom, which is all-encompassing and free. He tends to our fickle souls just as if we were infants, gently nudging us in this direction or another, while we just go along not really noticing or acknowledging His tender care of us. 

Sometimes, He even lets us reap the consequences of our poor choices but with the promise that in Him and in His ways rest our help, healing, and restoration, if we only turn around and look to Him.

O how He loves us!

May we rest in this truth today and forever more.

Hanoi, Vietnam. (2000)

Friday, May 03, 2013

Pearls Before Swine

“Speak not in the ears of a fool: for he will despise the wisdom of thy words.”
Proverbs 23:9

“Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.”Matthew 7:6

Pearls before swine.

Just those three words paint a very strange and descriptive picture, and one that I think is not very pleasant. It leads me to consider how often I go about my conversations with others, hoping to give some godly, Biblical advice, and yet sometimes there is a catch in my spirit that does not give me liberty to do so. I come back to the truths expressed in these verses above. One who does not and will not listen to sound wisdom is one who we ought not to present our understanding.

Isn’t that a strange concept when we are commanded to preach the gospel everywhere and to be a witness? I believe God has given us a guide in these verses, letting us know that not everyone will receive truth, so don’t even try because, in effect, you are casting your pearls of wisdom before the swine, the fool. It’s sad to think there are people in the world, whom God died for, but whom He considers dogs and swine in their understanding. Unable to grasp the truths of His word and apply them to their lives.

And as if that wasn’t a bleak enough picture, He even says the giver of wisdom will be despised by the dogs and swine and that they will do evil to the wisdom giver.

Now, I feel led to say, I believe the Bible teaches that the Gospel should be given to all men, everywhere. Perhaps the truths expressed in these verses above provide a balance by guiding us that not everybody’s mind will be changed. In fact, there are some who we ought not to talk with further beyond the Gospel.

I apply this in my day-to-day dealings with others. How that, sometimes, by casting God’s pearls of wisdom before others, I may be setting myself up to be despised, and possibly injured. And if I do this despite the Holy Spirit’s leading not to, I am at fault, not God. However, if God leads me to say something, that is another story altogether.

It’s not a very nice picture of some people, myself included, as I know I am not always “ready” to hear God’s truth. Thankfully, though, we can trust God’s Holy Spirit to not only lead us and guide us when we should or should not dispense to others what we may have beautifully learned in God’s word, but that He also will help us get ready to hear the truths He’s waiting to tell us.

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: … a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.”—Ecclesiastes 3:1 and 7b

Village of Tescan, Romania. (2004)

Five Minute Friday: Brave

Brave is the sitting back and watching God as He mends the broken pieces of your life back together.

Brave is the letting go and letting Him. We all face these kinds of moments in our every day, but many of us still have pieces of ourselves lost and broken in the wilderness of our past. Brave.

Sit back. Read Scripture and let the verses on the pages of His word mend you, heal you and set you free. That’s what it was like for me. Some forgiveness. Some clarity. Some peace of mind. All to set me on the straight and narrow of the path He had for me since before I was born.

Brave. In the letting go. And letting Him.

Brave is also in the minute details of our lives. Brave was when despite my daughter’s tears and yells of frustration, I kept her in the tub to try and remove the cradle cap from her scalp. Yes, my daughter, I know you don’t like this. Brave was the calmness of my voice, and the whispers of my love through her tears and the continuation of the task we had to get done.

Isn’t that what God’s healing is like? He takes us into places that are uncomfortable. That get us frightened. That make some of us cry inwardly, while some of us yell out uncontrollably. But brave is in the walking down that road with Him anyway. But perhaps, He is the One Who is brave. He walks us through our dark valleys because He knows we must get to the other side.

He is our Brave.

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