Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Set Apart

Surrounded by Faith, Hope and Charity (the original names of the Three Sisters Mountains) we maneuvered our way through the lava strewn terrain as we mounted the steps of the observatory at the peak of the McKenzie Pass. From our vantage atop the roof of the rock gazebo we gazed for miles and miles in every direction, our hearts filled with wonder and awe at the majesty of God’s handiwork.

I paused for a moment to ponder, “Was that how it was for Rahab, sitting atop the wall of Jericho? Did she gaze out into the distance; not to view God’s creation but rather hoping to catch a glimpse of God’s people, knowing the mighty army of Israel was encamped just over the Jordan?”

My thoughts drifted back to our retreat this past week-end where together we discovered anew the amazing grace of God in the lives of Rahab, Ruth, Tamar and Bathsheba. Of those, I find Rahab the most intriguing.

Rahab, who feared the God Jehovah who had performed such mighty miracles for the children of Israel; Rahab, who welcomed the spies as messengers from that same God; Rahab who hid the spies, confessing that Jehovah was now her God; Rahab asking that she and her entire family be preserved from the coming destruction; Rahab who risked her life in hanging the scarlet cord from her window, announcing to all that her home was set apart. Rahab; the harlot turned heroine.

I realize I would do well to learn from Rahab. How marvelous must the message have seemed to her as she learned of the hope that is given to God’s people.

Oh that I might be swift to welcome into my own life the One who spies out the deep things of God, that He might share them with me if I will but listen. I Corinthians 2 tells us “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea the deep things of God.”

At the risk of her own life, Rahab hid the spies who had brought her the words of God. Do we treasure God’s word? Can we like the Psalmist David proclaim “Thy Word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against thee.” Do we declare his judgments and rejoice in his testimony? Do we meditate on his precepts and obey what he says? Is it a delight or a duty? (Psalm 119:13-16

At the risk of ridicule from her father and mother, brothers and sisters, Rahab established a place where her entire family might find salvation. Her house was set apart, covered by the scarlet cord. What WAS it in Rahab that caused them to believe and come in, that they might be saved? What is it in my house, in your house, that will cause our families to desire the covering of the blood of Christ?

I will let you ponder that as I direct your thoughts to Colossians Chapter 3: “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.”

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Retreat Oct 2008

What a glorious week-end! Twenty-four girls from TFAB (TheFellowship at Bend) gathered together to take part in worship, to hear from God's Word, to pray and to share in a time of fun and fellowship.

I will be posting some thoughts from that retreat later tonight or tomorrow, but for now, enjoy a glimpse into our special time together.

It was fun girls, thanks for a marvelous week-end!

Monday, October 20, 2008

To Showcase His Glory

I confess. I did my fair share of murmuring and complaining last winter. If you were not here or if you are one of those arctic type people who think snow falling in May is actually exciting, then you may not understand. It’s not that I don’t like snow; it’s just that I like to see it come AND go. A few inches in a few days is grand, everyone is excited to see snowmen sprouting up like weeds and who can deny the thrill of watching your grandkids race down the hill on their bright red sleds!

There is nothing more beautiful than waking up to a winter wonderland…in December…or January…or even February. But when the last vestige of snow finally sneaks away the first of May, well, you get the picture.

As you might guess, winter is not my favorite season. I tolerate it. Ask any one of my children in what season I find my greatest joy and they will respond without hesitation, “Autumn”. I absolutely revel in God’s beautiful tapestry of red and yellow, gold and orange, all set against a crisp sky of blue. The kids always cringed when asking me to drive them somewhere in the month of October, knowing full well they would be admonished to “Look at that tree!” Not once, not twice, but multiple times in but a few miles!

This year has been especially striking! From the blazing maples to the shimmering aspens, I cannot recall a year where the color has been more breathtaking. (I’m sure my children are most thankful they are now adults and can drive themselves where they want to go.) How could such exquisite beauty exist in this high desert we call home?

As I pause to try and capture the moment, I find myself thanking my Creator for not only surrounding me with such grandeur, but for creating me with the ability and desire to enjoy it. Yet even in that moment I cannot help but realize that soon the radiant hues of fall will give way to the barren starkness of winter and without warning, my joy is diminished, until…. until God reminded me of His promise in Isaiah 55:

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts, says the Lord.

For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and returns not thither, but waters the earth and makes it bring forth and bud that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater: so shall my word be that goes forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please...

For you shall go out with joy and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the fields shall clap their hands!

Without the snow of winter, there would be no clapping trees of fall. Without the cold dark days of winter, when the earth lies shrouded in silence, there would be no autumn symphony of color to proclaim the glory of our Creator!

So it is in our lives. If it were up to me, I would choose to live each day surrounded by the spectacular and awe inspiring. I would ask that winter never breathe its icy chill upon my soul. But that is not the way of our Lord. It is in the dark, wintery days of our life that He often does His greatest work.

In those times when it seems
all hope is lost,
buried beneath
mounting snowdrifts of doubt
and sorrow.........

it is in those times God is preparing to showcase His glory !

Thursday, October 16, 2008

To Whom Shall We Go

Rough was how they described it. Like sandpaper, grating on the surface of ones soul. Who can listen to it?

Bewildering and perplexing. How can these things be? Even the wise old teacher of Israel could not understand when Jesus talked of spiritual things.

Have you read the words lately? We did, this morning in our Bible study. I challenged the women to read it as a non-believer, as one hearing the words for the first time.

In John Chapter 6 Jesus tells those who have come looking for more bread for their stomachs that they must shift their gaze to the one who IS the bread of life. “Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness and they died.” That is always the way with earthly satisfaction, even of our most basic needs. Ultimately the things of this world cannot sustain us. They may provide momentary satisfaction but we will always be left wanting again and wanting more.

Although he fed the multitudes, Jesus did not come to provide us a lifetime meal ticket. Although he healed the blind and the lame, He did not die on the cross just to heal these earthen vessels that must one day return to dust. His blood was shed, His body was broken for so much more. “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall never hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst…For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks upon the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

This is the great hope! Though my tummy may growl and my bones groan, He will be my sustenance. He will feed the gnawing hunger in my soul, his blood will wash away the cancerous stains of sin which infect my heart. One day, not too far away, I will “Fly Away” as we sang this morning. Mortal will be swallowed up immortal; the temporal will give way to the eternal.

But there is a catch, which is what makes this a hard saying. Jesus said unto them, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink His blood, you have not life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

The choice is there for every man and every woman who comes to the Cross in the road of their life. Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me.” Period. It is the wall no man can scale, the chasm too wide to traverse. No amount of human effort can gain you eternal life. There is only one way. You must receive His broken body and drink of His blood that was shed as an atonement for your sin.

“What must we do to work the works of God”, they asked? “This is the work of God that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”

Many walked away that day. Jesus turned to the twelve disciples and asked “Do you want to go away as well?

Simon Peter answered with words that echo through the ensuing generations, “ Lord, to whom shall we go? You alone have the words of eternal life”.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Reflections on Jeremiah 18

The vessel was beautiful. Soft gentle tones of pale gray and light heather created a delicate background for the vibrant shades of striking violet and midnight blue, which cried out to be seen and appreciated by all who encountered its loveliness. Fine lines of gold and silver adorned the rim and gracefully crafted handle, creating an altogether exquisite piece which begged the question, “Why had it been placed in service in such a common manner?”

But that was the way of the potter, each piece bore an importance all it’s own; be it intended for service to a pauper or a king.

The caller's voice reflected an urgency rarely heard in a time when pottery was so readily available. A vessel was needed! It must be made of the finest clay available; its color must be of the perfect shades, its design perfectly suited to the task at hand. The potter pondered the request as he surveyed his storehouse, confirming that which he already knew. The clay needed to mold such a vessel was not readily available; he had not seen material of that quality in several years. Yet the caller had come to him in desperation and he was not one to refuse the heartfelt need of another.

There was an answer of course, but he had much to consider. Was the risk too great? To create a vessel of such quality was difficult enough when the work was begun from an unused lump of clay, but to recreate…to remove a vessel from service...to melt it down in the fire’s heat…to remold it with intense pressure as it spun round and round on the potter’s wheel…ah, that was another story. Often cracks never present in the first creation would become visible as the potter reworked the clay. No matter how careful one was, always there was a faint hint of the prior hues, which might alter the clays ability to receive the new dye.

Then there was the question of guardianship. Would those who had carefully used and treasured the priceless vessel for so many years be willing to return it to the potter; to recommit it into his skilled hands that he might place it in service anew as he saw fit?

Though it was a painful choice, they had learned well in the years the vessel had served them and so they released it to the potter’s care.

And what of the new guardians? Would they love and protect the vessel yet to be given or would it be seen as common and ordinary, soon to be tossed aside and thoughtlessly neglected once the newness of its presence was gone? Would they see it’s beauty and delight in its loveliness or would they look only for the flaws that were certain to appear with time?

If the Potter knew, He only smiled and went eagerly about His work, for He remembered well the clay He now held in His hands. With the confidence born of one who has spent an eternity making and reshaping vessels that bring glory to their Creator, He set about His task.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


I’m not sure I could have done it. I read Hannah’s story again today in First Samuel and I see a women so desperate, so despondate she is ready to promise the Lord anything. My heart aches for this woman who is so desirous of being a mother she is willing to give up the very son who is the object of her desire. In her despair she petitions the Lord and then, the miracle happens, her barren womb is opened and Samuel is born. That’s where I pause.

If I were Hannah, I think I would have looked for some wiggle room. “God, you didn’t really, literally mean you wanted me to turn over my son to you, did you?” I can hear the arguments I would have made. “Surely he would be of more value to you AFTER I have raised him up. Why don't I turn him over to you in, say, about 20 years, then he can serve you.”

But Hannah was not me. As soon as the child was weaned, she came, not grudgingly, but willingly, to present Samuel for service to the Lord. She understood something that I still at times am challenged by. All that I have is His. Her words in 1 Samuel 1:28 literally read “I have returned him who I obtained by petition”. Returned, given back to the one he has always belonged to.

How could she do it? Could you? Would you? What is most precious in your life: your house, your job, your position, your possessions, your time? If God asks, would you be willing to surrender it to Him?

What do you hold on to most tightly? Do you fear what might happen if you let go? I know I do, sometimes.

How could she do it? How can you? How can I? To know God is to trust God and from Hannah’s prayer I understand, she knew God. Read her words if today you are struggling to trust Him, if it seems all that is precious to you is no longer yours to hold on to. Read, and remember…

“There is none holy as the Lord, for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God. The Lord killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave and bringeth up. The Lord maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up. He raiseth up the poor out of the dust and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s and He hath set the world upon them.”

In remembering, perhaps like Hannah, we too will be able to say, “My heart rejoiceth in the Lord!” as we willingly give back to God that which he has so graciously given to us.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

What Can I Do

Call it the curse of being a “type A” personality, or maybe it is just that I have been a mom for longer than I can remember; whatever the reason, I find I approach God much like the man in John chapter six who said to Jesus, “What shall we do that we might work the works of God”?

Whenever I read a passage of scripture or hear a teaching from the Word I immediately latch onto the “What can I do” portion. It is that which becomes my passion and purpose. Just today I was pondering the last section of Matthew 6. True to form, I considered the lilies of the field and the fowls of the air, but what I zeroed in on was the admonition to “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness”.

I want to have “All those things added unto me.” I want to “Take no thought for tomorrow”. But in my wanting I focus my thoughts back on me; what more can I do!

Could it be that Jesus’ response to the man in John chapter six is the ultimate answer to the dreaded “I” disease. When I am tempted to ask, “What can I do?” Jesus would respond, “Believe on Him who God has sent”.

And so I return to my pondering in Matthew. Who is this God I am called to believe in? He is my Father who knows my every need and has promised that He will provide. He will feed me, He will clothe me, He will take care of my tomorrows. All those things I spend 99.9% of my time worrying about, He looks at and says, “Done Deal!”

Where does that leave me? Gloriously free to spend time with Him, seeking His Kingdom and allowing Him to clothe me in His righteousness as He feeds me with His Word.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Pressing On

Twenty seven years ago I stood before a group of women in Kearny, Nebraska and shared with them the words of Paul in Philippians chapter 3: “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.”

At that time my focus was on how much I thought I had lost and given up to know and follow Jesus. We had walked through some tough financial times and now found ourselves fifteen hundred miles from home as we followed the call of God to serve in a church in the barren plains of Nebraska. The cold winds that blew across that seemingly empty land chilled my bones but they were nothing compared to the cold wind of loneliness and desolation that filled my soul. Surely, we had given up all for Him.

The ensuing years have found us in another place where the winds blow and the snow falls, but in my heart there is a warmth that cannot be quenched. Yes, there have been gains and losses as the years have unfolded, but looking back I understand, like Paul, that it is by walking with the Lord, day after day, month after month, year after year that I am “found in him, not having mine own righteousness…that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.”

I have known the eternal, saving love of Jesus Christ for forty-two years. He has been absolutely faithful as He promised. At the half century mark of life it would be simple for me to somehow believe I have arrived, that my work is finished, that it is time to “hang up my hat” so to speak. How easy it would be just to settle back in my cozy recliner with a good book and my cup of half and half laden hot coffee.

But in that soft, persuasive voice I have come to recognize as His spirit, I know that He is calling me to press on. The race which I am called to run is not a fifty yard dash but a cross country run that will culminate one day in reaching my final destination, “that city whose builder and maker is God”.

So, like Paul, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus”.

This blog is a window into that race. It will be filled with insights from His word that I pray will be an encouragement as you, too, Press On.