Monday, August 20, 2012

Exodus 19:4

 "You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself. "

I'm getting ready to fly.  I used to love to's faster than driving, your legs don't have to be cramped in a seat for 18 hours to get to Oregon from Las Vegas. There are even wonderful little snackies and a soda on the trip!  

Then, 911 happened.  I watched that plane fall from the sky into a field, and she who fears falling and heights began a journey with trepidation.  I get a lot of praying done on flights.  

There was the flight I prayed all the way to be at the side of my Aunt, who died in my arms hours later.  There was the first flight to Texas, to take Layne to see doctors at MD Anderson, in the hopes they would save his life.  There was the final flight home from MD Anderson, when we sobbed the entire way--and prayed for peace and strength to face the children.

I don't think it is any surprise that flight and wings have a lot of space in the Bible.  The Lord talks about lifting us up on wings as eagles to renew our strength.  In Exodus, he says he brought Israel to himself on eagles' wings.  I'm sure that the Israelites who had been in bondage and trudged through a desert for 40 years didn't feel like the trip was as easy as getting on Eagle's wings, but yet, He says he bore them!  

It's easy to forget when things are hard, that God is bearing us ...that He is moving us along to HIM.  He doesn't care if you become vice president of a company.  He cares that you move closer to HIM.  That's His end goal.  

While we are winging our way to the Lord, through all the deserts in our lives, he also protects us.  In Psalm 91, God offers protection under His wings.  So though He wants us to fly ...and be expedient in moving toward him, His wings are also protection for us.

This morning, when you got up for your flight...did you pray?  Spend some time with the Pilot today, and talk about His flight plan for you!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

1John 4:7-12

"Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.  Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love, does not know God, because God is love.  This is how God showed his love among us:  He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love:  not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us."

What does love look like?

If you watch television, you would assume love looks like 2 months salary and glitters.  Or maybe you would think it looks like a mink coat.  In the case of the Gene Simmons family, it looks like new implants!

But the world has totally confused love.  Love is an action.  It is difficult to give.  It is needed at the most inconvenient times, and one who is ready to love must be ready to give it, right then.

Love does not glitter, in fact, sometimes it is downright dirty.  It's a husband, cleaning the toilet for his very pregnant wife, so she doesn't have to bend over.  It is a neighbor, weeding a gardening plot for an elderly friend.  It is a man covered in grease, helping a young mom with her car repairs.  It's dirty and it is inconvenient.

It's also difficult, for you see, we are not just called to love the lovable.  We are called to be loving to those who are not lovable.  We are called to do the least damage and provide the most comfort.  We are called to those who are not like us, and those who have harmed us the most.  Those who make us cry, who make us hurt.  We still have to love them.  When they take, we have to say, "I don't understand you, but I love you."

Love is not fancy.  Love is not bred or dressed up.  Love is raw, it is from heaven, not from our earthly realities.  Love is a basic.  After all, God is love.  Love is a basic ingredient to all good.  It is not meant to be the icing on the cake, it's the flour in the cake.  It's the substance.

This week, love has been two friends coming to hold my hand, and to affirm that God would indeed, always see me as his prized possession.  Love has been a daughter, showing me how to can applesauce (yes, showing Mom!)  Love has been a son, flashing our family sign, and holding me up.  Love has been a neighbor, hugging me, laughing with me.  Love has been a friend, on a long road home, chatting with me and discussing theology (I still have no idea why God mentions election and free will at the same time.)  Love has been a cup of flowers, delivered to my home at an opportune time, with another reminder of who I am...

Love has been burly motorcycle men who paid my way to our yearly event and then fought over who would give me rides at the event.  Love has been my dear classmates, who are welcoming home with open arms and helping me across deep waters.

Love is....  won't you share in the comment section what love has been to YOU this week?

Friday, August 10, 2012

John 10:10

10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and [a]have it abundantly.

A lot of you may know that right now, my life is a bit rocky.  I don't have all the answers...and I don't know all the why's.  I have been here before--where I had nothing BUT my faith to walk upon.  This is not new territory to me.  Given, after so much sadness, after so much loss, I was very weak in the beginning. 

I spent weeks in tears.  I spent days and days crying out to God, "WHY! How could you do this to me yet again?  Have I not done all you have asked?  When I thought, 'No, Lord, this is too much to ask of a person,' I still did all you asked.  I dragged myself from slumber and I put my hand to the wheel every day.  I kept my promises, I kept to my commitments to You and to others, Lord.  How could you allow me to be here, where I cannot keep my commitment to two little my own kids, not due to my own choice?  Why me, Lord?  

I began to see myself as worthless.  I believed that if I had value to God, others in my life who are supposed to represent the Lord would also see that value.  But it was evident that I had no value in that way.  I began to believe the voice that called out to me ...telling me I was without use.  

Yet, in reality, God was IN control.  He is still ON His throne, and if there is one thing I have learned, it is that the Bible is true.  What do we read in God's word about the adversities of life?  We read that the thief comes to steal and kill and destroy...Jesus came to give LIFE.

Therefore, we know from where adversity comes.  We know death, divorce, hate, rape, cancer, these all come from the THIEF--from the author of lies.  The one who tells us that in adversity we should run or give up.  These come from the one who whispers to us "You are worthless.  You are unforgivable."  Our Savior comes to bring LIFE.  He came to heal.  He does not deal in destruction of any type.  He deals in wholeness.  

Anything that is destruction is of the enemy.  Therefore, the hardships I endure and you endure, they are not of God.  We need not question Him and ask "Why did you do this to me."  For He did not.  

However, He can carry us through.  Adversity will come.  It will come from within the family, within the church, from the world.  God is not CAUSING the pain to come upon us.  His tears fall when we are in pain.  He wants to heal, and He CAN heal...but He will begin by healing YOU, in your soul.

So let's not shake our hand at God and say, "How can you do this to me?"  Let's see the source of all things destructive, or that kill, or that destroy as coming from the thief, and his entire reason for existing is to steal our JOY. 

Keep your joy in Christ.  If you have Him within you, you will persevere through this adversity and you will do all you can to heal.  Because that is the character of God, and if He is within you, that is what you will do.  Persevere, as your Savior did.  You will give until there is nothing left to give, laying down your life to let God shine through.  So others will say, "How did she come through that?  How did he forgive that person?  How did that person overcome that habit?"  The whole reason for our life is to take this adversity and to follow the Lord--so that others can see His miracles. 

Miracles come through YOU allowing God to work through you.  Through you not denying what you know the scriptures say you should do.  The world says one thing, but God's word is always true.  

Believe me, I know how hard it is to do what I am suggesting.  But I have had to learn not to believe the lies of the deceiver.  Do I falter?  Yes.  Have I had to do difficult things?  Yes.  I have had to do things to protect that I never wanted to do.  That tore at my soul.  But when asked to provide the truth, I had to provide the truth.  I asked the Lord, "Please take this cup...please..."  I groveled and begged at the foot of the cross.  But God said, "I did not bring this, but you must do the loving thing, and you must do the hard things."  

And in the end, I must love.  Because my Savior first loved me.  I must not deal in destruction, even if it looks pretty and comes in a pretty package, or if it is the easier thing, or costs me all I have.  And I cannot blame God.  I must place the blame where it BELONGS--with the thief.

 "If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it."  Gen 4:7.      

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Job 5:8-9, 16a

"But if it were I, I would appeal to God, I would lay my cause before him. He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted....So the poor have hope..." Job 5:8-9, 16a

Facebook is an amazing thing.  It brings together people who you never met to bring to you just the hope you need for today.  For God knows you intimately and He seeks to touch you.  He can use people you have never met, he can use diseases you have never heard of, and he can use situations you never dreamed of to change you, mold you, and let you know that indeed, you are His.

Today, I was having a "down day" time for applications, business searching, being a "responsible adult."  I began working on the book for Our Journey so that I can begin to speak.  I want to enter into churches, women's groups, men's groups....I want to tell them that Love is not a word, it's an action.  I want them to see that if they are blessed, they need to bless others, if they are in pain, that pain can be blessing to others.  Their lives are meant to reflect Christ.  I want them to see hope.  For that is God.  He is hope.

While I was taking a break, I happened upon Facebook.  There, I saw a lovely post by a woman who was having a terrible day.  She was questioning, where is God?  Does God know my kids have needs I can't meet right now?  Does God know that I'm afraid sometimes?  Does He care?   And her friend pointed out the verse above.  

Now I don't know this wonderful lady.  She is the friend of a friend.  But there, on the obnoxious little tattle-tale bar on the side, came this post.  You never know, if you are open to Him, where or how God will show up!  I don't believe in coincidence.  I think that things happen for a reason, and that God is a master weaver, who can weave into our lives threads from the lives of others.

Just yesterday, a great friend of mine and I were chatting about forgiveness.  We were talking about needing to forgive someone who is not yet done hurting you.  How do you do that?  Does the Lord say only forgive those who deserve it, or whose acts are in the past?  Or are you required, if you are truly Christian, to forgive one who is causing you every day the deepest pain you can imagine?  Perhaps they are gossiping about you.  Perhaps they are looking down on your children and belittling them.  Perhaps they are intimates who are destroying trust.  

That subject turned to Corey Ten Boom, of the Hiding Place.  Corey, for those of you who don't know her, hid Jews in World War II, and she was a Christian.  She paid a terrible price, and she later had one of her tormentors  come to a speaking engagement.  She didn't want to, but she HAD to forgive.  She had to reconcile.  She had to love that person, because Christ had loved her.  I remember hearing that story, and I sobbed like a baby for her.  I thought "How can a person do that?"  

I told my friend that he should read the book and see the movie.  He had never heard of it!  A few moments later he said "Betty, guess what?  I have the book.  It was a gift from someone a while back!  I am going to have to read that!"

There are no coincidences... God wanted that book to be in his hands.  God wanted Job 5 to be posted here.  God knows what He is doing and how He is guiding.  If we humble ourselves, He provides.  He always provides.  

Monday, August 6, 2012

Genesis 3:1-6

    1Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” 2The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; 3but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’” 4The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! 5“For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. 

"Satan got Eve to doubt God by first getting her to doubt herself. 'Eve, my dear, perhaps you misunderstood. Because I can assure you, you won't die.'" — Secure in Heart, p. 151

Boundaries marriage.  Can there be?  Your spouse is your best friend, he is your love, your life.  You are one!  But are there times you must have boundaries?  Yes.

God is first in your life.  He has to be first.  When we put our spouse above God, we make them into idols.  This can be a huge mistake that is easy to make.  I've learned much about boundaries and their importance in the past few months.  

For instance, what if a husband is viewing porn?  He begins to spend a lot of time in his office...alone.  Then one day he says, "I went to this men's conference and I feel I have to share with you..."  Wow.  Can you trust him to never do this again?  OR do you need boundaries?  Do you need to set enforcement in place to protect you, to protect the children, to protect your relationship and to hold him accountable?

What about a spouse who is abusive to you or to your children?  Now this is a sticky one.  Porn is covered in the Bible, you can divorce for infidelity, in fact!  But abuse--is it really covered?  Does a wife have the right to boundaries therein?  Doesn't the Bible say to submit?  Aren't you to protect your spouse?

Yes...and no!  The Bible says first to love the Lord with all your heart, mind and strength.  So God comes first.  His law must be followed, his footsteps are the ones in which we walk.  Not our friends', not our spouses,  not our parents!  

Abusing another person in any way is not permitted in the Bible.  Quite often spouses are told to LOVE one another, to protect, to lay down one's life!  A lot of abuse is very sneaky:

There is the abuse of the one who withholds himself from you, his emotions, her kindness, his money, her affections.
There is the abuse of one who belittles --who constantly reminds you that you are less than them.  
There is the abuse of not honoring you in front of your children.
There is the abuse of holding "I will leave" or "I am divorcing you if you don't..." over your head.  This one is especially horrific when the spouse is a "Christian"...since marriage is to be forever.  Not until it gets hard, forever.
There is physical abuse.
There is abuse of trust (affairs, talking to others about the spouse instead of seeking to go together to counsel, etc.)

Now there is abuse in nearly all marriages.  We do abuse one another--we are human.  We are imperfect.  We say things in anger, we lash out...but consistent patterns that emerge are important to recognize.  It is not submissive to allow someone to make you feel less than, or your children less than...  It is abuse.  It is not submissive to accept nothing while the other person takes.  It is abuse.  It is not submissive to give up your health, physical or mental for another person.  It is abuse.

And you have a right to place a boundary for protection.  God created you with a mind.  He created you with instincts that there is right and wrong.  When we love someone, it is easy to be swayed away from those instincts--it is easy to overlook things that are obvious to others.  It is easy to allow ourselves to be abused.

I'm learning so much the past few weeks.  I have met some amazing women.  I think these woman are so smart, talented, beautiful in the body and the soul--but they often see themselves as worthless.  One in particular, has become a good friend.  She told me that at one point, she truly believed she couldn't cook because her partner constantly belittled her food, and talked about how he was an amazing chef.  Yet, when the relationship was over, she realized, she was a GREAT cook, and a great mom...and she had allowed herself to be demeaned for nearly two years.  She had come to believe what he said.  It has taken another two years for her to believe in herself.

This woman is a professional, a solid member of her community, someone who you would say has all the hallmarks of success.  Yet, she had placed no boundaries to protect her soul from an abuser.  Her Father in heaven loved her, created her with talents with a good heart, with a wise mind.  She had allowed the enemy to whisper in her ear "No, what God tells you is not real.  You are not good at this, and you are terrible at that..."  And she believed those whispers.

What about monetary domination?  What about a spouse who takes his or her check and does for themselves only?  Now, life isn't all about money, but when you look at the checkbook, are the scales somewhat balanced?  Do you shower them with gifts, and do they take, but not return?  Are you dating someone who never buys?  Do they always come up a bit short?    You have a right to protect yourself with boundaries. 

Love, we are told is gentle.  It suffers much...but love that is suffering to the point that you are abused is not okay.  I wish I could take the hands of each of the lovely women in my group, and I wish I could have told them that suffering for Christ is one thing, suffering at the hands of one who denies the Lord through his actions and his abuse is not okay.  It is not expected.  

Do not let Satan whisper in your ear that you are useless, that you are not worthy, that you are less than.  You are a daughter of God.  He created you.  He made you as you are, and He sees you as beautiful.  He has given you instinct, talent, and his soft whispers.  Listen carefully to the small still voice:  "I love you, daughter.  I love you.  You are amazing because I made you so... "