Done-Forever Do-Over

 

In this world, we will face places where we desire a “do-over”—either because of our choices or the decisions of others…

The past will continually attempt to speak into our present and future. But the past should be given voice only in the remembrances of God’s restoration and healing, for He indeed makes “everything new” (Revelation 21:3-5).

Paul couldn’t undo the prior decisions of his life (Philippians 3:7), nor could he change the opinions of those around him (Acts 26:28). He had but one choice—stay focused on the prize (Phil 3:13-14). For him, the work of the cross triumphed over any previous accomplishment or failure (Phil 3:3).

—Regina Franklin

I spent years trying to make “do-overs” in my own strength (I called it “rededication”) but I always ended back up in the same mess. You see looking back I realize that I just wanted the guilt to go away. I wanted the ick of the mistake to fade to the back, but my desire for what caused the ick remained.

I wanted the do-over, but my eyes were still on the wrong prize. I was so very blinded.

My heart still pursued the wrong things from the wrong people. My mind was still full of the same trash and I was not renewing the thoughts that were in it. I asked for clean water but I just dumped into the same old dirty well.

Jesus answered and said to her,

“Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again;

John 4:13

 

It was only in whole surrender at the foot of the cross that the do-over was done-forever. You can’t rededicate something that was never actually dedicated in the first place. It doesn’t matter how much clean water you dump in a dirty well, the dirty well will always contaminate the clean water… you have to empty out the dirty well and it has to be destroyed… then the living water that comes in springs up its own new well of life.

but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst;

but the water that I will give him will become in him

a well of water springing up to eternal life.”

John 4:14

I love the story of the woman at the well… I know her well. I can remember the sound of that Jewish man’s voice as if it were just yesterday that He whispered in my ear and said, “Are you thirsty?”  YES! Yes, I was thirsty. I was so very thirsty. I kept trying to draw water to ease my thirst but it never satisfied. I kept trying to clean up with the clean water that was in my dirty well, but I never was clean… until I said Yes, Lord, I am thirsty! I am thirsty and I am dirty and I cannot get clean.   

“If I do not wash you,

 you have no part with Me.”

John 13:8

So like the woman at the well that day I asked for the water. I asked for the clean fresh water, and just like that woman at the well that day that beautiful sneaky Jewish Rabbi looked at me and set me up for confession…

He said to her, “Go, call your husband and come here.” 

The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.”

Jesus said to her, “You have correctly said, ‘I have no husband’;

for you have had five husbands,

and the one whom you now have is not your husband;

this you have said truly.”

John 4:16-18

You see she couldn’t have this water until her old well was destroyed, it was worthless. It doesn’t matter how much living water you pour into dirty busted up well.. it doesn’t matter how much sod and mud you pack in the cracks or how perfectly you think you have cleaned it up and made it look all pretty again, the water will seep through the cracks and the life will be contaminated with the filth that is still hidden… the well must be destroyed… then the living water that is poured in springs up its own well, a well that will never be contaminated, cracked, or destroyed…

Nor do people put new wine into old wineskins;

otherwise the wineskins burst,

and the wine pours out and the wineskins are ruined;

but they put new wine into fresh wineskins,

and both are preserved.”

Matthew 9:17

You see it was more than confession with this woman at the well… it was also repentance. It was walking away and leaving behind the old well and the old water and coming to the living water and coming to drink from a brand new well.

So the woman left her waterpot,

and went into the city and said to the men, 

“Come, see a man who told me all the things that I have done; 

this is not the Christ, is it?

John 4:28-29

This woman had come to the well in the heat of the day because no one else would be there. She knew she would be ridiculed for who she was… and she carried shame. She was not proud of who she was, or of the things she had done, so she came alone and she came when she hoped no one would be there.

You could say she snuck in the back of the church and sat in the back pew hoping no one would notice her, but at the same time being so very thirsty, after all that’s why she was there, she needed water, she knew that much. She knows that eyes are on her, some knowing who she is and what she has done, but still she is so very thirsty… so she comes to the well hoping for a quick drink then hoping to slip away unnoticed and avoided.

But one day… that beautiful sneaky Jewish Rabbi makes her look someone in the eyes… she expects to see hate and instead she sees hope.

That beautiful sneaky Jewish Teacher leaned up against that old dirty well makes her tell Him all that she has done and this amazing thing happens in confession… confession that is embraced in love and not condemnation… Life!

Living Water pours out from the mouth of God and like a flood it washes the well of the heart clean and destroys that cracked and broken well and fills that empty heart to overflowing with fresh clean living water and that living water springs forth a beautiful pure well that never runs dry… and she never thirsts again.

She leaves her waterpot.

She leaves all the things she used to use to draw some kind of water from that dirty old well that always left her thirsting, she leaves it, and not only does she leave the waterpot, but she leaves the shame she carried with it.

She leaves it all behind and in her new well filled with living water she doesn’t care who knows what she “has done” because she is too excited with who she now is and Who she now knows  and she wants everyone else to have this Living Water and well…

This is the do-over that is done-forever.

Is The Twig To Your Nose

 

Ezekiel chapter 8 breaks my heart every time I read it…

I studied through this chapter last March as I planned a lesson for the Names of God series that I teach in chapel at our homeschool co-op. It broke my heart then… and it breaks it still.

It breaks my heart because I feel the pain in my God’s heart and experience the grief of the Spirit within as I read through that chapter. How it must have broken God’s heart to see the people that He had redeemed mocking Him in such a way. They were committing these abominations in the temple… right under the Holy of Holies… right outside the temple gates… even inside the temple walls.

And He said to me, “Son of man, do you see what they are doing, 

the great abominations which the house of Israel are committing here, 

so that I would be far from My sanctuary?

But yet you will see still greater abominations.”

Ezekiel 8:6

 

Ezekiel is there looking through a hole in the wall right into the heart of the temple and all that he sees is people dressed in priests clothing but practicing things that God has said were wrong and detestable… and they don’t care if it hurts Him… they are going to do it anyway.

This breaks my heart because if Ezekiel were to come to the entrance of the majority of our American churches what would he see at the entrance gate? What would he see as God took him past the entrance gate into the very depths of the hearts of those sitting in the seats of the sanctuary…

Or do you not know

that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you,

whom you have from God,

and that you are not your own?

1 Corinthians 6:19

Would He say again…”Look, look and see why I am so far away from My sanctuary… look and see why My Spirit is not moving in this place and see why they do not feel My presence in their individual lives.”?

 If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness,

we lie and do not practice the truth;

1 John 1:6

So Ezekiel 8 breaks my heart because the things that our God calls abominations are so very prevalent in our American society today and they have even been welcomed in our sanctuaries and as a whole we don’t abhor them… we barely even acknowledge them. And please know that I am not one who limits the “abomination” to homosexuality… just scroll through the pages of the Proverbs and underline abomination and you will clearly see that we are very shallow and prejudiced if we actually think that as long as we don’t struggle with this sin then we have not committed any great sin before the heart of our God.

I see it… I see it everywhere. Most no longer care what God has to say about many things… they will agree that He says it is wrong, but then they will do it any way. We choose our abominations over God. We provoke Him to jealousy and then many even blame Him when they experience the consequences of their choice.

We sit in the sanctuary in our church clothes with our church face and then we walk out the door and then in the walls of our homes and schools and offices and among our “friends” we do everything God abhors… we do the things we have been taught clearly are wrong…

                  and we break His heart… the very heart of the One who redeemed us… the very heart that poured water and blood out after being pierced through by a spear.

We just keep jabbing the spear in a little bit deeper and twisting it around and grace will cover it… right?

For I am afraid that perhaps when I come

I may find you to be not what I wish

and may be found by you to be not what you wish;

that perhaps there will be strife, jealousy, angry tempers, 

disputes, slanders, gossip, arrogance, disturbances; 

I am afraid that when I come again my God may humiliate me before you,

and I may mourn over many of those who have sinned in the past

and not repented

of the impurity, immorality and sensuality which they have practiced.

2 Corinthians 12:20-21

So how many of us have the twig to our nose? How many of us sit in church on Sunday or Wednesday and we walk out the doors and we turn our backs to everything we have heard and everything we know to be true and right and fall prostate before the things of this world with our rear-end to God and basically tell Him to kiss it while we live however we want?

When The Hurt Runs Deep

 

“…when we serve an all-loving, all-powerful God, we have no idea of the good He can weave from the tangled, broken, and frayed threads of our lives.” ~ Kay Arthur (from When The Hurt Runs Deep)

Let me ask you… are you hurting?

Have you been hurt?

Is your heart breaking as you read this… or maybe you have just met someone and you have heard their story… and you shake your head in bewildered confusion as you can’t help but ask… “Why?

If you follow my blog you might have read a story I shared about a child I met this summer… I sat down with this little girl with hopeful expectation of telling of her “how to ask Jesus into her heart”. As I began asking her questions she began to spill out all the abuse and hurt she had suffered from the hands of the ones who were ordained by God to supposed to be protecting and loving her.

As I listened to her story the thought of spewing out the ABC’s of salvation or quoting the Roman Road seemed quite shallow and silly. So instead I just listened and and when a door opened in her conversation I shared how God has told us that we are never alone, and His name is El Roi the God who sees, and I shared with her how to call on Christ , but mainly I just listened.

This girl’s hurt ran deep… and the worst part is she spoke of her hurt in such calmness as though this was just life as it should be… she spoke of it just as if she was telling me what she had for breakfast or what tv shows she liked to watch.

So I spent the next hour and several days just listening to her and loving her… giving her the biggest smile I could every time I caught her eye and praying that God would be able to use what time I had with her to show her His love through me…

I also not long ago heard the story of young girl who had been adopted from overseas. She was older when she was rescued by her American family from this orphanage. So she experienced much abuse. She took the responsibility of doing all she could to protect and care for the younger one’s in the orphanage and she experiences the pain of their hurt and the struggle of carrying her own…

And now here in America, in the safety of her new home, the nightmares are there, and she asks her new mother who bathes her in prayers and the Word… how could God be real if He let that happen to me… and to all the others there. And why did He pick me to leave and leave the others there? As a mother, a parent, how do you answer questions like these?

Kay Arthur’s book When The Hurt Runs Deep will help. She doesn’t shy away from the hard stuff. Real stories of real hurt are addressed in this book and help is given as Kay walks you through the Scriptures.

God has not sugar-coated His word. He has not hidden the ugliness of our fallen world nor the deeds done by sinful man in the depravity of our minds. His word does not pat us on the back with an insincere “there, there”. He gets down in the muck with us and He will grab us under the arm and pull us along and out of our miry pit covered in barbed wire if we will just grab hold of Him and let Him.

He never says it will be easy. He never says it will never hurt. He just says trust Me.

When The Hurt Runs Deep is a book that is meant for you to read with pen in hand. I love a book I can write in. You can see a little about what I am talking about as you look at an excerpt from the first chapter of the book. Or listen to the podcast below.

Now when you get this book in your own hands, and as you read through the book, fill it with your own hurts as you read of the hurts of others. Underline the words of hope and let them resonate on your mind and in your heart. See it through even if you are so mad at God right now for the hurt you have experienced or the hurt that someone you love has experienced. See it through. Write out your anger. Trust me, God can handle it. Lean into Him precious one… Pound your fist against His chest if you need to and cry out in His face if you have to… but lean into Him.

 

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Take Another Little Piece of My Heart

 

Yes, I am still in Ezekiel… and will be for a while.

In my reading and study today my focus was on Ezekiel 6. God is still in the process of giving Ezekiel the instructions he needs to let the people of Israel know why the bad stuff is happening and that it’s going to get worse. That’s the way our God works. He is always perfectly clear with us before He judges us.

He will meet us face to face and eye to why through His Word, through our parents, through our teachers, through our friends, through our circumstance, even through complete strangers, via random conversations, blogs, books, songs, etc. When God’s judgment comes on us it never comes before He is perfectly sure that we perfectly should understand that it is our own disobedience that brought it.

I can tell you that has always been true in my own life…

I am always amazed at how much God will take until He finally has enough. Even with me… and especially with our world. I can think of the times when my heart has been broken or my spirit so angered by the lack of concern of Christ and for the truth and from the wave of sin that can seem to crash upon us at times that a tsunami would look small in comparison… and I can remember crying out that God would send Christ, that He would come now and just show everybody the truth, that He is real, that He will judge, and that they will be left here to deal with the consequences of their actions for choosing the world, flesh, and sin over Him…

but then a slight panic will rush through my veins as for a moment I wonder… wait I have messed up here a lot lately… maybe I’m not saved… maybe I would be left here… and what about that person that my heart is aching over and my prayers are crying out over… Okay God, never mind, don’t listen to me… I’ll wait. Thank you for Your patience and long-suffering with us…

As I read this morning and pondered my own sin, my own pursuit of holiness, and my own desire to live obedient to my God… I got to Ezekiel 6:9-10 and my heart stopped…

Then those of you who escape will remember Me among the nations to which they will be carried captive, how I have been hurt by their adulterous hearts which turned away from Me, and by their eyes which played the harlot after their idols; and they will loathe themselves in their own sight for the evils which they have committed, for all their abominations. Then they will know that I am the Lord; I have not said in vain that I would inflict this disaster on them.

We are such a selfish people. How many times have you experienced the consequences of your sin and had a pity party over it. Only concerned about the way your sin has affected your life… and your heart… and your end of the fellowship with God. I know that can describe my attitude many times…

How often do we stop and remember that our actions have hurt our Father?

Our actions have hurt our Savior.

Our God stands there with open arms, His heart wide open to be broken by us. He stands there and says, “here I am, take it, take another piece of my heart if it makes you feel that good… and when you are done taking… my arms are still here open to love you and draw you back into my embrace”  

 

How long would we allow someone to use us in such a way… I think of myself with my parents and me with my children and we do the same thing… we love in a similar way… but the truth is their always comes a point when enough is enough.

Here in the book of Ezekiel God has had enough.

In the book of Revelation God has had enough.

Sometimes in our own individual lives God has had enough.

I for one am thankful that God reaches a point that He has had enough. The point of enough is when I, like Israel, remember. When I remember I also loathe myself, because I know that what I am enduring is fully deserved and brought on by my very own choices and God in His mercy and grace has said

Enough, you will no longer walk this path and continue to break my heart as I watch you fall deeper and deeper into this pit that you have dug with your own two hands… I am laying a foundation of rock under you and you will hit it, you will hit it hard, you will think you are dying, but in truth I am giving you one more opportunity for life. When you get up on your feet and stand at the bottom of your pit and look up… then you will know that I am the Lord; you will know that this fall was not random and without purpose, but is indeed to save you and those watching you…

Our sin hurts our God.

If it didn’t Satan wouldn’t care if we sinned or not.

He’s really not after your heart… he just wants to use you to break God’s…

Satan can’t trample on the blood of Christ, or put under foot the Son of God, or insult the Spirit of grace… only we can do that.

For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony oftwo or three witnesses.  How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?  

Hebrews 10:26-29

 

Oh Father,

Let not my adulterous heart hurt You… I know that I am prone to wander and my heart and flesh fail You so often, Oh God keep me on a short leash, let me not get to far out of Your sight before You have jerked me back into the safety of Your arms… It is not Your judgments that I fear, but Your heart that I do not ever want to break.

My Jesus it is in Your name I pray,

Amen

My New Challenge

 

Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
(Deuteronomy 6:4-9)

 

Last night was the Awana registration at my church. This past Saturday several on my Awana team attended the Awana leaders conference. Which I highly recommend by the way. It is so very easy for us to forget how important it is to receive training, to see things in a new way, to get new ideas from each other, or simply to be encouraged because you discover you are actually doing somethings right.

Anyway, at the conference one of the speakers went over the verse above. As I listened to the speaker I knew that God wanted me to share this at our Awana parent meeting. It was something that I needed reminded of as well…

If you follow my blog, you possibly read my post from yesterday. If you didn’t just look to the right and click on the Proven Path Ministries link and read “Stop Pointing The Finger At Them” (or click this link).

As the Awana speaker shared he broke Deuteronomy 6:4-9 down and I am going to do that as well, but with a little more detail.

Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. 

Okay: Hear, O Nicole (put your name here, God’s word is personal, remember its a relationship not a religion, go face to face with God, I always replace my name with whoever God is addressing when I am seeking Him for guidance)! The Lord is your God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.

Okay God, what words? What words shall be on my heart? If I need to know what words then I look back… As I begin to scan Deuteronomy 5 I see that it is filled with the Ten Commandments. So I go back to Deuteronomy 5:1 and begin reading… then I get to the very last verse in chp 5 and read…

You shall walk in all the way which the Lord your God has commanded you, that you may live and that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which you will possess.

Deuteronomy 5:33

Now I think, okay God “all the ways which the Lord your God has commanded you” now when Moses delivered this to the people they had the Law only the Law… I have Christ. So what this says to me is that I have the awesome privileged  of not only having the Law on my heart but in my heart. And so I need to go and see what my Lord Jesus has commanded me also.

Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 

Matthew 5:17-19 

Well okay God… I need the whole counsel of God on and in my heart. the Law, the Prophets, and the New Covenant. So I am going to start with Commandment #1 and learn how to obey it… but wait there is more. What were my instructions after you told me to “Hear“?

You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them… Deuteronomy 5:7

Okay God, I am to hear and then I am to teach. Well who am I to teach? And how am I to teach?  I am to teach them to my sons… well I don’t have sons, but I have daughters, so I am to teach my children, I am to teach the generation under me and I am to teach them diligently. What exactly does it mean to teach them diligently God? Diligently in the old testament Hebrew means to sharpen, whet, to be pierced, to teach incisively(penetrating clear and sharp).

For the word of God isliving and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. Hebrews 4:12-13

(it’s nice to be on this side of the cross)

Well okay God, I take my child to church faithfully every Wednesday and twice on Sunday and I make sure they attend every special event… is that not teaching them diligently?

You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house

Oh okay God, I am to hear and to have your Word on my heart and then I am to diligently teach my kids when I sit in my house. Okay got it.

and when you walk by the way

Okay… and also when we walk by the way… so as we do life I am to teach them. As we drive to soccer practice, on our way to school, when we are standing in line at Wal-mart, while sitting in the Playplace at McDonalds… I am to look for opportunities to teach them how your commands apply to their every day life. Like when they get cranky and stubborn in the playplace because I said it was time to leave… that’s a perfect opportunity to remind them that they are to honor me and thier father and obey us. Or when they are playing at school and they want a new game that so-and-so has… a perfect time to teach them that we are not to covet our neighbors things but be content with what we have… okay God keep my eyes open to these opportunities.

and when you lie down

Okay God… bedtime goodnight prayers would be a great time for this… or even at the dinner table. We could just read a Psalm or a Proverb to them and talk about it a bit… Winnie the Pooh and Wiggles are nice and all that but good manners will not help my child stand against the attacks on their soul and mind…

and when you rise up.

alright that’s morning. So we can leave our Sunday school books or awana books or at least one Bible at the breakfast table and read and talk about God that morning and pray for You to help us honor you this day. And on those crazy mornings when we oversleep we can listen to a christian music station on the way to school and we can pick a song we are listening to and discuss how the lyrics line up with what God’s commands and how singing them throughout the day could keep us connected to God…

You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.

Okay, this one is a little confusing… but I think You are wanting me to remember something like

Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father (Colossians 3:17)

and 

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. (Colossians 2:8) 

So before we do it with our hands or let it enter our mind as truth we need to see if it lines up with what You would want us to do or what You say is truth… because Your Word is truth (John 17:17)

You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Okay God. It’s my responsibility to guard my home. Before anyone or anything enters in my home I need to see if it lines up with Your will for me and my family. That means the books we read, the magazines we buy, the internet sites we visit, the tv shows we watch, the friends we have in our home and around our children, the things we allow in our home… they have to be cleared by You first. If I wouldn’t have it in the church I shouldn’t have it in my home…

And what I see God is that no one in my church can fulfill this command but me. My Pastor, my Sunday School teacher, my kids awana leader or Sunday school teacher, they are not there to teach in my home, or along the way, or when I lie down, or when I rise up… (unless of course you are married to the pastor  :-))

So there is only one person who can fulfill this command of Yours in Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and that is me.

Now precious ones, if you did go back and read my post from yesterday you saw how I believe that our nation is where it is because the church, those who profess to know Christ, have not obeyed God’s commands, or walked in His ways, or kept His statutes…

So this is my new challenge to you.

I challenge you right now to stop.

Stop trying to fix whatever you are trying to fix about you.

Stop and focus on just fulfilling this one command of God.

Beginning today Hear the word and put it on your heart. Read Deuteronomy 5&6 at least three times today.

Then go home… don’t make a big announcement… just tonight at the dinner table or at bedtime sit down with those in your home and open the Word. After your reading Deuteronomy 5&6 today is there something you need to talk about or teach your kids about… are their things that need to be removed from your home… a little at a time (don’t go for the book burning, trash all the video games and mags all at once, just purge a little at a time as you teach… that’s how God usually does it in our hearts isn’t it…)

Stop looking at your list of self-improvements you think you need to be a better parent, spouse, christian that you never seem to reach, and just focus on this one command to… Hear and  teach and let the Word of God do what you could never do no matter how hard you tried.

 

 

Stop Pointing The Finger At Them

 

I am currently studying through the book of Ezekiel and teaching through the book of Revelation and also writing the Judgment Scene and Hell Scene for my church’s annual Fall drama, The Judgment Seat… so here’s your fair warning that for the current season my posts might be a little “harsh” for some… but nevertheless bathed in prayer and full of the Word.

I am an American. I am a southern girl, born and bred in the Heart of Dixie Alabama Bible belt. However I did not wrap the Bible around my own waste as the belt of truth until I was twenty-four years old.

So please know that I understand and offer and am bathed in the grace of my God first always and foremost… but I cannot ignore the wrath of God because it is just as much a part of Him and salvation as is His grace. If the wrath of God had not fallen on Christ it would have fallen on me… I am offered grace only because someone else took my fully deserved wrath.

That said…

We are in a political battle at the moment in our nation. Our nation to the reasoning of others is going to Hell in a hand-basket because of the choices of a political party… just pick one depending on which side your own. People who profess to know Christ point at the laws made and the “freedoms” given to certain individuals and we assure ourselves that the wrath of God is going to fall on our nation because of them.

I dare say that I disagree with you…

I believe God’s Word is clear and we who profess to know Christ need to stop pointing the finger at them.

Thus says the Lord God, ‘This is Jerusalem; I have set her at the center of the nations, with lands around her. But she has rebelled against My ordinances more wickedly than the nations and against My statutes more than the lands which surround her; for they have rejected My ordinances and have not walked in My statutes.’ Therefore, thus says the Lord God, ‘Because you have more turmoil than the nations which surround you and have not walked in My statutes, nor observed My ordinances, nor observed the ordinances of the nations which surround you,’ therefore, thus says the Lord God, ‘Behold, I, even I, am against you, and I will execute judgments among you in the sight of the nations.

Ezekiel 5:5-8

 

Now let’s read it again…

 

Thus says the Lord God, ‘This is the church; I have set her at the center of the world, with the lost around her. But she has rebelled against My ordinances more wickedly than the world and against My statutes more than the lost that surround her; for the believers have rejected My ordinances and have not walked in My statutes.’ Therefore, thus says the Lord God, ‘Because you have more turmoil than the world which surround you and have not walked in My statutes, nor observed My ordinances, nor observed the ordinances of the world which surround you,’ therefore, thus says the Lord God, ‘Behold, I, even I, am against you, and I will execute judgments among you in the sight of the lost.

We the church, are supposed to be the light on the hill. Yet we the church have spent the last fifty plus years more engaged in our American goods than our God. We have chosen sports over the spiritual. Money over the mass. Concession over conviction. Sin over sanctification. We the church have found ourselves right back at Romans 2-3. We are either legalistic fist pounders or we are so drunk on the idea of grace that we could care less about our sin grieving our God.

You see God is judging Israel not just because they “knew better but messed up, hey nobody is perfect right?”

He is judging them because He set them at the center of the nations to lead the nations to Him. They were commissioned to be the light of the nations, the salvation of the peoples, they were to show the nations watching them how to get to the One True Living God. So the whole world had their eyes on them for direction…

Now that Israel chose to worship their blessings instead of their Blesser. Now that they chose to point people to idol instead of to God, and now that they were leading people away from God instead of to Him… He had to judge them or all those watching them would be lost and follow their rebellion right into the pits of hell.

So here we are today in the American church.

This is what the lost see.

They see the church tell another person how they will go to hell without Jesus for their sin while they are having sex with whatever person they are dating at the moment, because, well, they are forgiven, so when they feel bad enough about what they are doing they will go to Jesus and pray a prayer and He will forgive them. Or they tell a person that they will go to hell for their one particular sin, because God said it was an abomination, so somehow that makes their sin worse than theirs.

In case you’re wondering what God calls abominations…

There are six things which the Lord hates,
Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him:
Haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
And hands that shed innocent blood,
A heart that devises wicked plans,
Feet that run rapidly to evil,
A false witness who utters lies,
And one who spreads strife among brothers.

Proverbs 6:16-19

For some reason it seems that male/female sex is the sin of choice in America, it’s apparently okay, after all look at all the temptation that surrounds us, God understands we can’t resist, and look how hard it is to say no…. right? Just preach no sex in one hand but stand their with condoms and Valtrex in the other hand.

It seems we will give up any sin but this one. We will love others, we’ll try not to lie, try not to steal, we won’t worship other “gods, we will honor our parents, we’ll go to church, we’ll teach Sunday school, we’ll tithe faithfully… just don’t make me give up my orgasm. Don’t make me resist him or her, after all they will find someone else if I say no, and then I will be alone… because God even though I tell others that You are enough and as long as I have You I am never alone… I really don’t believe that and I don’t really trust You to meet all my needs like Your word says You will.

We want to judge our nation and we want our nation to “act right” but we don’t want any of our individual actions to be judged by anyone and we don’t want anyone pointing out to us when we don’t “act right”. I have to wonder how many of the people who stood in line for an hour to buy a chicken sandwich were having an affair with a co-worker or neighbor or “friend” or shacking up with someone. These actions do not represent traditional marriage anymore than homosexual marriage does.

Go back and read Proverbs 6:16-19 and look at your plans for this week… check your calendar for the month… how many “plans” have you made that honor your God and how many plans have you made that are wicked, and setting your feet to run rapidly to evil… how many lies are you having to speak to make your plans work… and how many innocent eyes might perish if they are watching and follow the way that you go?

Precious one, it is not our political choices that will bring God’s anger upon our nation…

Thus My anger will be spent and I will satisfy My wrath on them, and I will be appeased; then they will know that I, the Lord, have spoken in My zeal when I have spent My wrath upon them. Moreover, I will make you a desolation and a reproach among the nations which surround you, in the sight of all who pass by. So it will be a reproach, a reviling, a warning and an object of horror to the nations who surround you when I execute judgments against you in anger, wrath and raging rebukes. I, the Lord, have spoken.

Ezekiel 5:13-15 

 

God’s anger, wrath, and raging rebukes didn’t come because of Jerusalem’s political choices. It was the apathy, the arrogance, and the abominations of the priest. It was because of the defilement of His temple and His holy name.

Let’s read Ezekiel 5: 5-8 one more time in one more different way…

Thus says the Lord God, ‘This is Nicole; I have set her at the center of her home, family, and community, with the lost around her. But she has rebelled against My ordinances more wickedly than the world and against My statutes more than the lost that surround her; for she who professed to be a believer rejected My ordinances and has not walked in My statutes.’ Therefore, thus says the Lord God, ‘Because you have more turmoil than the world which surround you and have not walked in My statutes, nor observed My ordinances, nor observed the ordinances of the world which surround you,’ therefore, thus says the Lord God, ‘Behold, I, even I, am against you, and I will execute judgments among you in the sight of the lost.

You see that was me.

That is me.

I professed to know Christ… but I lived in great sin. I have fallen at the altar of my God and wept more times than I can count not just over my sin… but over the sin that I encouraged in others… some of those who went down a path much worse than mine… and I helped them get there.

I profess to know Christ now… and know Him I do… but I still sin. I would be a liar if I spoke otherwise  and even worse I would make my God a liar (1 John 1:10) and my God doesn’t lie (Numbers 23:19).

The difference between then and now is that then I pursued sin.

Today I pursue Christ.

Then I sinned much.

Now I sin-less.

Precious one, our political leaders are who they are because our spiritual leaders have been who they have been. The choices of our nation are just a reflection of the choices in our church. The choices of our church are a reflection of the choices in our homes.  The choices of our home are a reflection of the choices in our heart.

 The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good;

and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; 

for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.

Luke 6:45

Stop pointing the finger at them and start pointing the finger at yourself.

 

Do you hate your own sin enough to go boldly before the throne of grace and seek God’s divine power to defeat it (2 Corinthians 10:3-5, 2 Peter 1:3)?

The true grace of God is the divine power to defeat sin and to live a godly life (Titus 2:11-14).

It’s not about self-condemnation… but Spirit-Conviction.

Don’t be the excuse that another has to brush off the call of Christ… be their reason to hear loud and clear (Acts 20:26-28).

 

 

I’m Hoping

 

We toss around words like faith and love all the time. And most of us can describe both with minimal difficulty.

But hope? What in the world is it? And is it really that essential?

Webster defines hope, “to desire with expectation of fulfillment.” To hope is to anticipate. It is more than dreaming, however.

It is possessing within ourselves an expectation that someday there will be the fulfillment of that desire. It will become a reality.

Hope always looks to the future, it’s always on tiptoes. It keeps us going.

It makes a dismal today bearable because it promises a brighter tomorrow. Without hope, something inside all of us dies. . . .

We can live several weeks without food, days without water, and only minutes without oxygen, but without hope—forget it.

~ Swindoll

 

During our summer housing dilemma the word “hope” was used a lot. I mean A LOT. It was in fact used to the point that my husband and I began to sarcastically joke about it when we said it.

Our summer was filled with “well we hope that…” (just fill in the blanks with any house closing term)

The reason why “hope” had become a joke was because  we had no faith in the one’s whose word we were “hoping” in.

When we put our hope in anything or anyone beside our God… we will be disappointed. We lived a summer in disappointment. We lived in this state of disappointment because we simply put our hope in the wrong place. It’s so very easy to do.

You are at the doctor and the doctor says I don’t think it’s cancer… so you put your hope in his word… and then you are slammed with disappointment when you discover he was wrong.

You have a loved one call and say they hope to be their tomorrow… but they never show. You put your hope in them and they failed and now you are disappointed.

What I have learned this summer is that we have to put our hope only in the word of the One who has the power to keep it. There is only One who can do that.

God.

The first time the word hope is used in Scripture is found in Ruth 1:11-13

 But Naomi said, “Return, my daughters. Why should you go with me? Have I yet sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands? Return, my daughters! Go, for I am too old to have a husband. If I said I have hope, if I should even have a husband tonight and also bear sons, would you therefore wait until they were grown?

Ruth is quick  to let her daughter-in-laws know that she could say she has hope in another husband coming along… but it would be an empty hope… putting her hope in a possible second husband and possible sons, when God had not promised her either would be foolish.  She knew if she said as such she would cause her daughter-in-laws a lifetime of disappointment as they hoped in her word.

There is no where is Scripture where God has said “I promise you that I will give you a good husband till death do you part.” I have read the book, it’s not in there. But what He does promise is that He will always be a husband to us, if we put our hope in Him.

For your husband is your Maker,

Whose name is the LORD of hosts;

And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel,

Who is called the God of all the earth.

Isaiah 54:5

If we put our hope in anything or anyone apart from God it is a false hope.

A horse is a false hope for victory;

Nor does it deliver anyone by its great strength

Psalm 33:17

It doesn’t matter how strong the person. How secure the structure. How high the character and integrity of the man… if it’s not the promise of God, the word of God, if your hope is not in God… disappointment will be the result. Yes God will use all the above to do His work, to work out His plan, but He alone is the One to hope in.

Let Your lovingkindness, O Lord, be upon us,

According as we have hoped in You.

Psalm 33:22

My soul, wait in silence for God only,

For my hope is from Him.

Psalm 62:5

I did not too good about waiting in silence this summer. I am after all an American… waiting is not a strong area in my life. I hate red lights, because they make me stop even when nothing is coming. And I have to sit there and watch nothing coming the whole time it is red.

Of course now with the whole “no texting while driving” thing… I can now fill my red light wait with the text.

You see this is how I work.

Doing Nothing. Waiting. I have always been a person who has to be doing something. I need movement… forward motion… let’s please get somewhere with this… Results please!

So the words “I’m hoping so” were very easily and quickly mocked after only a few times of lack of results.

Yes I can soooooo see why Sarai did what she did when waiting on that promised son from God. I cannot condemn her, I have made plenty of messes, probably hurt plenty of feelings, rushed plenty of results, settled for less than God’s best… simply because I would not tolerate the wait any longer.

I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait,

And in His word do I hope.

Psalm 130:5

When you put your hope in the proof of results instead of the promise of God… disappointment and wrong decisions and bad attitudes are sure to follow every time.

God knows that we need hope.

For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD,

‘plans for welfare and not for calamity

to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11

God knows that we need hope. He gave Adam and Eve a promise to hope in at the very beginning. When the curse’s consequences would come and the evidence of their choices and their sin would fall upon them and those they loved… God knew they, we, would need a hope to hold on to or we would seek death to end our misery… but death in death is just an eternal place of misery. So God gave us a promise, a future and a hope, to hold on to.

And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations,

knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 

and perseverance, proven character;

and proven character, hope; 

and hope does not disappoint,

because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts

through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Romans 5:3-5

If we put our hope in hope… we will be disappointed. If we put our hope in man or the things of this world, we will be disappointed. We can buy a lottery ticket and put our hope in it… disappointment will be the result… even when/if you win the lottery… you will discover that hope in financial security still disappoints.

If you put your faith in faith apart from the Word of God, apart from Christ… that faith will disappoint.

If you put your hope in love apart from God… that love will disappoint and you come to believe that even love fails.

The only solid foundation.

The only hope that does not disappoint.

The only Word that alone can be rested upon is that of our God. And my friend any thing we choose to hope in or for outside of the Word will eventually disappoint us if we expect them to bring us joy or peace or happiness.

The promises He has made us and recorded for us in written form are the only one’s we are to hope in. I have learned that hoping in anything added to them usually leads to me getting into a place of fleshly ick that I just do not like to be in.

The worst part was… that we both became sick of “hoping”.

But the thing was, there is nothing in God’s Word that promised us this house, this closing. It looked to us that God had lined it all up… but that was it. We in fact were actually presuming on God’s will.  It looked good to us, it was what we had peace with, so it had to be of God… right?

What I have learned this summer is that I am to hope only in the clear promises of my God given me in His Word. This is what of life He guarantees me. I am not to add to it nor take away from it. This life after all is not about what all I can get out of it before I check out. It is about lifting up my Lord and becoming conformed to His image so that I might be used by Him to draw others into the Kingdom of Light.

Yes, in the end we got the house. We do believe it was right. One reason being that we sleep here. Neither my husband nor I could sleep in our last house. Two hours max and we were awake tossing and turning, looking at the clock, dozing off and on, until finally we just got up. But here we actually rest…

Not sure what that means… if anything… I just know that it is.

 

 

Supper Time

 

Well, last night I cooked my first real meal in our new home. We closed on our house on July 26th and began moving in that day. We had some strong men come from our church and they helped us get most of our belongings over to our new home that following Saturday and then some wonderful women at our church and my mother-in-law prepared some delicious meals for us… so we have thus far survived on their dietary blessings during our settling in time.

I began reading Lorrie Flem’s book “What’s For Dinner, Mom?” before our move around the 1st part of June. However I was surrounded in boxes, all the cook books packed up, because we were supposed to be moving, and well cooking was not at all anything I desired to do in the mess and stress we were living in.

You see cooking stresses me out all by itself.

When my children ask me “What’s for dinner, Mom?” I usually respond with “FOOD!

and if you’re hungry you will eat it no matter what it is”

So the book was closed and then the internet was disconnected and the pots and pans and dishes were packed up as well.

Now we are pretty close to being settled, all our supplied meals have been depleted and eating out quickly loses its “fun” and well you can only have so many bowls of cereal for supper before the husband has finally had it… so I opened up Lorrie’s book again.

I was encouraged.

I was encouraged because I saw that she was just as much a train wreck in the kitchen as I. So after reading the first several chapters I was inspired to prepare a meal for my family and inspired to plan to always prepare meals for my family.

So yesterday morning I layed out the chicken to thaw, Googled a 5 ingredient or less recipe, decided on some sides and was ready to have an answer when my family asked “What’s for dinner?

Then 30 minutes before time to start dinner, I changed my mind on the meal… (yes, see stress, lol)

I saw another recipe, but needed more chicken, so out to the freezer I go, into the microwave defrost the chicken goes, a whole new plan for sides is thrown together, oven is preheating, water is waiting to go to boiling, and I am cooking.

So after only two hand burns, and one hour of prep and cook time, I was able to say, “Supper’s ready

Now Lorrie’s book is filled with tons of ideas and lots of words of encouragement.

 

 

The book is really focused on bulk cooking and utilizing your freezer. I don’t know how well the bulk cooking would work in our home, but she has encouraged me to think about and I just might try it…

However even if the bulk cooking is not for you or your family this book is well worth the read. It did at the very least inspire this woman to enter the kitchen and to begin to see feeding my family as part of my ministry to them instead of something like “Ugh… really why can’t you people just have a sandwich…” 

 

*** I received this product for free from EE Magazine for an honest review

 

 

First Fruits

 

I had forced myself on because of the Googled reassurance:

Pick off all first blooms to ensure subsequent harvests are more plentiful.”

If I ever intended for the everbearing berries to produce heavily throughout the season, I had to choose to sacrifice the first harvest so that all the growth and energy could be more efficiently invested into producing later crops.

So that is what I do:  Trim. Pare. Cut back. 

It’s like a song:

Pick, Prune,  Pluck.

Cut out that which seems good to invest in the best.

That’s what the garden needed in early spring.

And come late summer, looking out into the fall, the calendar, it needs the same.

The law of the garden is the law of life: Early sacrifice for later bounty.

Ann Voskamp

 

It never ceases to amaze me how God gives the “ah-ha” moments to us…

how He gives us the “oh yeh” times in our lives.

I read the above quote this morning and my mind immediately went to the Feast of First Fruits, to the laws and precepts and statutes and commands that God gave the Israelite when He brought them out of Egypt… into the wilderness and began preparing them for the promised land.

 

  “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them,

‘When you enter the land which I am going to give to you and reap its harvest,

then you shall bring in the sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest.'”

Leviticus 23:10

They were to enter the land and they were to plant the seed and they were to work the soil and then when they finally saw the benefits of their work they were to give it away… to the priest… to God. I wonder if they knew? I wonder if they knew that God commanded this because by giving Him this reaping He would ensure them an even greater harvest later? Did they know?

On this side of the cross do we know?

After thousands of years of having the benefit of the truth of God in written form… do we get it?

If we will offer this life…  if we will give God this birth, this body, this day… He ensures us an even greater life later.

Whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it,

and whoever loses his life will preserve it.

Luke 17:33

This morning I also read this from John Piper’s blog digest,

John G. Paton and his wife set sail to the islands in 1858. But this decision didn’t come without criticism. On one account before leaving, a respected elder chided the couple, “You will be eaten by cannibals!” To which Paton responded,

“Mr. Dickson, you are advanced in years now, and your own prospect is soon to be laid in the grave, there to be eaten by worms; I confess to you, that if I can but live and die serving and honoring the Lord Jesus, it will make no difference to me whether I am eaten by Cannibals or by worms.”

Paton didn’t play. He was a courageous man who understood how to do missions when dying is gain. God is sovereign, and Paton knew it. He endured one threat after another and put it all on the line for the glory of Christ.
We have a choice to make very day. We can choose to give our life to God or we can choose to keep it for ourselves. If we keep the first fruits, if we refuse to pluck off what we see is good… we can not receive God’s best. Yes we will get some pleasure from the good. But it won’t last… and then what follows will only get worse… not better.
I agree with Mrs. Voskamp and I too believe that the law of the garden is the law of life.

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above,

coming down from the Father of lights, 

with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. 

In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth,

so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures. 

James 1:17-18

Will you be a first fruit?

Will you sacrifice the things in this world that you deem as good and trust God for the best?

What “good” thing have you been holding on to that you know God has told you to bring to the altar?

Just A Woman

 

You come to the end of your patience. You lose your temper. Then you feel worse.

The last thing you consider yourself to be is a “good mom.” And you think to yourself, It’ll be a miracle if my kids turn out okay.

And – surprisingly – that’s right where God wants to meet you. The place where you admit your powerlessness and your need for Him.

It’s only by God’s grace that any kid grows up to be a force for the kingdom.

You see, there are no perfect kids and no perfect mothers. No matter what you read in blogs, see in magazines, and learn in books. There are sinful kids and sinful moms and dads.

And the only thing greater than both is the grace of God. The God who says “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” The God who loves to forgive, to transform, and empower.

God loves you – not because you are a good mother but just because you are His precious child.

God loves you – not because you’ve mastered all the skills of parenting but because He has.

It’s divine grace that will transform your parenting – not guilt.

It’s grace that will keep you going and serving and scrubbing when you’re exhausted and worn out.

It’s grace that will conquer your feelings of inadequacy and remind you of God’s love for you in Christ.

It’s grace that goes for the heart of your kids, not just their behavior.

~ Trevin Wax

 

I don’t know about you, but I needed to read that today.

The letter is addressed to “Stay-At-Home Mom’s”, but I believe it is accurate for “Every Mom”. It seems like every time I click on my homepage the news feed is letting me know just one more way that I am, or have, or will, scar my children for life. It pushes me into a guilt fest and it’s crazy. I can even experience the same thing as I read Christian blogs and books and magazines.

Yes, I want to learn to be a better wife, a better mother, a better woman of God… but all these above articles have one huge thing in common… they are opinions of mankind.

Not only are they opinions of man, not one of them lives in my life. Not one of them bore my children, or loves my husband, not one of them cleans my house or goes to my job, not one of them walks in my shoes.

I can learn from them.

I can learn from others.

I should.

However, there is only One who does walk in my shoes, loves my husband, bore my children, and does all of life with me… and that is Christ.

I have learned that  everything I need to know to be a better mom, a better wife, a better woman of God is found only in one place, the Word of God. If I keep my nose first buried in this Book, in His news feed, then I am able to better filter the opinions of man. I am able to guiltlessly laugh at some of the things that work for other families that would be an epic fail in my life and home.

I have come to learn in this decade plus walk as a believer, wife, and mother that all I need to know and remember to be better is grace, grace, and more grace, to walk by the Spirit not by the flesh, to rest in forgiveness (received and extended), and to love without exception. If I can simply learn to choose the fruits of the Spirit over the desires of the flesh… well, I believe God will take care of all the rest.

Yes, I will still read the blogs, the books, the mags… and may even glance at the homepage news feed article… but the bottom line is I know that I love my God, my husband, and my children with all that is within me… and I have to trust that love is enough and all the rest will flow out of that love.

I am after all just a woman.

Just a woman who is madly in love with one God, one man, and the children they have given me.

If love lived out was enough for the sin of the world to be covered at the cross, then love lived out most certainly should be enough to cover any scars that I might give my children as I try desperately to raise them in a godly way in this ungodly world.

I have to remember and remind them and myself that I am a work in progress just as they are… but hey, at least we’re in this thing together :-)