Monday, September 30, 2013

Job's Vulnerability

“And he sat down among the ashes.”Job 2:8b

Job was not scared to be vulnerable with God. His thoughts, his words, and his actions seem to regularly come from a vulnerable place when I read his story. His relationship with God was natural—truer and deeper than anything I have personally experienced.

I think of my fleshly vessel, how I often placate it, nourish it with treats, and give it pleasure at the cost of my walk with God. When it comes to my spirit, I starve it and put it in a corner to be avoided, so hopefully God will not see what I am doing to it. (How foolish!)

Job seemed to surrender to the events of his life with such painful grace. I do not think it was easy for him, which is why I believe he is mentioned in Scripture with high praise along with Noah and Daniel, as men who could only save themselves (and not anyone else) with their own righteousness, if that were possible. (Ezekiel 14:14)

I do not think he rebelled. He did question God’s reasons behind allowing all the bad things to happen, and he did feel sorry for himself. But he came forth as gold because, for one thing, he fed his spirit with the things of God prior to his world turning upside down. His relationship with God was on solid ground, and when Job needed to rest on his faith, he had a mountain of spiritual strength behind him to lean upon. This strength did not come from him, but from the One he had a relationship with, His Savior.

I believe if we nourished our spiritual life with Christ regularly, we would live a full and abundant life, despite the circumstances that come our way. I believe we would have an honest and natural relationship with Christ, in which we could approach Him from our places of vulnerability, just as Job did. I believe our daily activities would be clothed with the heavenly and the view of the world around us would be grounded in the Bible.

Life is not black and white. There is much grey in the in between moments that make up our lifetimes. We do not live in perfection here on earth. Job did not either. He had much to repent of at the end of his story. But what he did right, I believe, was he had a close relationship with God before, during and after his great trial.

Truly, God filled his cup.
Fill my cup, Lord;
I lift it up Lord;
Come and quench this thirsting of my soul.
Bread of Heaven, feed me till I want no more.
Fill my cup, fill it up and make me whole.
From “Fill My Cup, Lord” by Richard Blanchard

Taken in Harmony, CA.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Little by Little

“I will not drive them out from before thee in one year; lest the land become desolate, and the beast of the field multiply against thee. By little and little I will drive them out from before thee, until thou be increased, and inherit the land.”—Exodus 23:39-30

I don't know about you, but sometimes I can get so frustrated praying because that prayer request is not being answered on my time schedule. Above is a good portion of Scripture for me to keep in mind when my frustration level boils too high. I am human and fully admit to my lack of understanding of God's time frame when I don't experience immediate answers. Most of us, as His children, know that God is loving and kind and works all things together for good for those that love Him. (Romans 8:28) And yet, we get frustrated, confused, and easily discouraged if we don't see the answers we are looking for to our prayers right after we pray them.

Then, like a breath of fresh air, God can kindly and gently guide us into the truth of what He's doing by delaying the answer. Like He said to Israel about inheriting the Promised Land in the book of Exodus, this promise's fulfillment was not going to come right away, or even speedily. And He blessed them further with the explanation why, so that they can increase in numbers before they take over the land and so that the beasts of the field would not overrun the desolate land thereby making it uninhabitable for them.

In fact, He was going to approach His promise little by little.

Well, I think the same can be applied to our prayer requests that are Biblical and in His will and yet not answered within our time frames.

This passage above comforts me in this truth. I begin to understand that God is Sovereign and sees the end from the beginning. We do not. He is the Master Potter, molding and shaping us in preparation for our desired answer. We are not. He can change hearts and fertilize the ground upon which our prayer requests can be accomplished. We cannot. He alone knows what He's doing in our lives and in the lives of those around us. However, sometimes, in His precious love and kindness, He lets us get a glimpse behind the scenes. When that happens, I need to purpose to rest in Him for the answers and to never give up praying for the things desired, trusting that He will guide my prayers toward their expected end.

Thank You, Jesus, for Your Word, and the way it equips me to keep pressing on.

“Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.”
Proverbs 13:12

Spokane, WA (June 2013)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Five Minute Friday: She

She, who is my daughter. With her chocolate brown eyes and deep brown curls. With her crinkle nose smiles and her fake whines. With her cuddles in blankets and games of up and down and peek-a-boo. She, who is my daughter, I'm falling in love with everyday. One minute my eyes will be on the computer screen deciphering an email from a co-worker, and the next minute they are resting on my daughter as she plays face down on the carpet in our “office” underneath her blanket—her first fort.

At first, I didn't feel that overwhelming love for her. At first, she felt like an inconvenience, yes one that was wanted, but an inconvenience just the same. But she, who is my daughter, is teaching me what it means to love unconditionally. She, who is my daughter, loves her mommy, and in return, I want to love her as I am meant to. I know this love cannot be without our Divine Savior because only in Him is perfect love. Daily, I take this journey with my daughter, and with our hands intertwined, we will walk toward a more perfect love for one another.

Me and my little girl.
(April 2013)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

He Washes Our Feet

“Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.”—John 13:3-5

I have been meditating on this topic for over two weeks now, believing that this was to be the subject of my next devotion. Time got away from me, though, and what I probably should have written a while ago, I’m only getting to today. I kept thinking, “How am I going to approach this section of Scripture that just shouts from the housetops that Jesus loves us so very much? How can I share with others what has affected me profoundly, when I don’t even have the ability to express all the riches and depth of knowledge I receive from this portion of Scripture? Lord, will You help me?”

And so, I begin to read this passage again and notice very quickly how Jesus had all things in His possession, as well as knew Who He was and where He was going. He draws me to Himself with His cords of love here because He knows He is God, and yet, He humbles Himself to serve His disciples. Since I am His and a disciple, I believe this is like saying He humbles Himself to serve me.

So, does that mean He lays aside His garments, girds Himself with a towel, pours water into a basin and begins to wash my feet, today? I say, absolutely, in a Spiritual sense. I believe Jesus is in Heaven caring so very much about me and my walk in this life. He cares about my sanctification and growth in Him and from time to time He “washes” my feet. He gently and directly goes to the source of what’s making my attitude, my choices, and my thoughts filthy, and cleans it away. Then I begin, again, to walk on this road of life, and He’s there waiting for me to yield to Him “my feet” for the next cleansing that will most certainly be needed. Did not Peter even have to realize that the cleansing cannot come unless we surrender ourselves to Him?

I can’t look at this section of Scripture and not see His overwhelming love and humility toward us, and how that by His example, we are to have the same mind toward others.

“If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.—John 13:14-16

Lord, this is just my small take-a-way from such a glorious passage. Please give those that read this Scripture something uniquely for them. Please show them clearly, just how much you love them, too. In Your Precious and Wonderful Name, Amen. 

Budapest, Hungary
(January 2005)

Monday, September 09, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Red

I know I've written about her before, even on my blog. But her eyes stand out and always will. I can only be in awe of the depth of the look she gave me those years ago, after the “great” flood of Onesti, when my church family went to give a puppet Bible lesson to all the children in her village. She stunned me with her look and behind her was a boy, barely older than her looking off into the distance at just the right moment, when my finger touched the button that set in motion their capture on my camera.

That red sweater. How old was it? Where did it come from? Was it in the dumpster behind one of the many bloc apartment buildings when mom or dad went scavenging for anything of value to keep their family fed? I didn't look that closely, but I imagine it was frayed and filthy, nothing like the beauty of her face … of her innocence.

It was that look in her eyes that captivated me before, and it will always be the look in her eyes that keeps my attention in the years to come. She was beautiful. This little girl. A gypsy. An innocent.

Miora (Conti, Romania)
July 2005

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

I Stand Amazed

“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”Isaiah 53:5

“The blueness of a wound cleanseth away evil: 
so do stripes the inward parts of the belly.”Proverbs 20:30

“Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the passover must be killed.”Luke 22:7

Christ, our Passover Lamb. The One Who was wounded, afflicted, and killed for our healing. When I take a look at that picture, I am deeply moved by Jesus Christ and what He's done for me. He is just so awesome, and I don't mean to use that word with today's casual meaning. I mean awesome as in He is beyond my human comprehension. And yet, in such simple language full of grace and truth, God explains to us in Scripture all He did for us, when He became flesh and blood and at the conclusion of that life here on earth, how that He suffered and died for us.

I stand amazed!

Let me look to Jesus often. He is the One my Christianity is all about. Not forms or traditions, although if those are biblical and bring me closer to the Savior, I believe those have wisdom in them. (Colossians 2:20-23)

A good start for me is to read Isaiah 53, a beautiful passage of scripture that prophecies the coming Savior to man. When I read that passage, I am struck by the section that reads, “We have turned every one to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6b). When I read that in context to all He's done on my behalf, offering me a new start—free and full forgiveness for all my transgressions—not because I have been punished for my sins, but because He has, I stand amazed!

So often though, I know I'm like Peter who denies the Lord, maybe not in words or quite as literally as Peter did when Jesus was betrayed and delivered into the hands of His accusers. It's when I worry, doubt, or disobey my Jesus, etc., that I do deny Him and His power over my circumstances. I think if I go back to Isaiah 53, it will be like that moment after Peter denied Jesus three times and Jesus looked at Peter, in the midst of all His suffering, as if to say, Peter, I love you still. Remember, I told you Satan desired to sift you as wheat. But remember also, I told you I prayed for you, that your faith fail not and that when you are converted, when you acknowledge your error, go and strengthen your brothers and sisters in Christ.

And after that compassionate look of knowing, Peter wept bitterly. He denied his Savior, but his Savior forgives him and loves him still.

Take heart in what you are going through. Put your eyes back onto Jesus. He will never leave or forsake you.

And stand amazed for all He's done for you, all He's doing for you, and all He will do for you.


I stand amazed in the presence
of Jesus the Nazarene,
and wonder how he could love me,
a sinner, condemned, unclean.

He took my sins and my sorrows,
he made them his very own;
he bore the burden to Calvary,
and suffered and died alone.

How marvelous! How wonderful!
And my song shall ever be:
How marvelous! How wonderful
is my Savior's love for me!

(Excerpt from: I Stand Amazed in the Presence by Charles H. Gabriel)

Manito Park Dahlia Garden
Spokane, WA
(August 2007)

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