How Then, Should We Live?

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?  
Who may live on your holy mountain? 
The one whose walk is blameless, 
who does what is righteous, 
who speaks truth from their heart; 
whose tongue utters no slander, 
who does no wrong to a neighbor, 
who despises a vile person but honors those who fear the Lord; 
and does not change their mind; 
who lends money to the poor without interest; 
who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.
Whoever does these things will never be shaken.
Psalm 15

Contentment Found In The Strangest Places

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

It was just this past Sunday evening when it hit me, square between the eyeballs while I was kneeling on the floor of Little A's room.  Sometimes she is awake for these prayers and other times not, but after we close the Bible, I'll plant my knees on the carpet beside her bed and say a prayer, no matter how tired I am, how done, how ready I am to go to bed myself, I do this, and if you think about it, He was not to weary to kneel for us (Luke 22: 39-46).

I'm not going to kid you, I've been struggling with contentment, because after five years, things are a bit lonely, and no matter how many books you read by Elisabeth Elliot, you still want to slip your hand into someone else's and look across the room and see them looking at you and have that conversation in bed at night before you fall asleep, it's ok to be brave, but I think it's even more ok to admit when you want somebody there, but this brings me back to the prayer, the one that Little A is awake for this time, and I just start thanking God for that particular day, a day to:

worship in His place
to serve
to be with friends
to be in nature
to spend time with family

With my thick skull planted into the short nap, I realized just how wonderful God is, it was pretty much the perfect day without me planning it or even realizing it at the time, it was amazing and I didn't even know it until I started this prayer of thanks, so I'm pretty sure Ms. Voskamp's got something going on here.

Go ahead, if it's the end of the day where you are, get out a sheet of paper and write down all the things you did today, the things you were most thankful for and you'll find that, no matter what you're going through right now, God is still, very much amazing.

Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done.  Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.  Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.  Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgements he pronounced, O descendants of Israel his servant, O sons of Jacob, his chosen ones.  He is the Lord our God; his judgments are in all the earth.  He remembers this covenant forever, the word he commanded, for a thousand generations, the covenant he made with Abraham, the oath he swore to Isaac.  He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree, to Israel as an everlasting covenant: to you I will give the land of Canaan as the portion you will inherit.  When they were but few in number, few indeed, and strangers in it, they wandered from nation to nation, from one kingdom to another.  He allowed no man to oppress them; for their sake he rebuked kings: "Do not touch my anointed ones; do my prophets no harm." Sing to the Lord, all the earth; proclaim his salvation day after day.  Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.  For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods.  For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens.  Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy in his dwelling place.  Ascribe to the Lord, O families of nations, ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name.  Bring an offering and come before him; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.  Tremble before him, all the earth!  The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved.  Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let them say among the nations, "The Lord reigns!" Let the sea resound, and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them!  The the trees of the forest will sing, they will sing for joy before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth.  Give thanks to the Lord, for his is good; his love endures forever.  Cry out, "Save us, O God our Savior; gather us and deliver us from the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name, that we may glory in your praise." Praise be to the Lord the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting.  Then all the people said "Amen" and "Praise the Lord."
I Chron. 16: 8-36

When You Are Feeling Overwhelmed

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

I've posted a couple of ideas on Moses recently, and wanted to share some further ruminations, particularly in a season of life where things have felt a little overwhelming.

After Little A and I concluded our evening reading in Exodus a few weeks ago, we read a footnote in her Bible that approximated the number of Israelites led out of Egypt to be 2 million.  Little A laughed and rolled back onto her carpet in the middle of her bedroom, "Moses must have been exhausted!  All that complaining and whining!"  Yep, for all you teachers out there multiply your classroom by about oh, 83,000 and there you have he nation of Israel, leading that crowd, not over, not under, but through the sea, and the whining started even before they could cross...God knew this was a lot for Moses, but God was with him, every day, all the time, fortifying him, just as he is with us, so if you're feeling a little overwhelmed with everything you've got piled on your to-do list (who isn't?), or find yourself in a difficult relationship situation, I have a few suggestions from what I've observed reading about Moses:

1) Eliminate distractions: whether this means taking a little break from social media (what?!) or kindly declining a lunch invitation when you know you must, just do it, you'll save your sanity. Time with God is essential to keeping your peace.  One of my Bible study leaders who came home after a successful career in academia to be a stay-at-home mom to her three children, joked that she had to start every morning on her knees to fortify herself against the troops.  We knew that she was only partly joking.  Motherhood is the front ranks.  Throughout Exodus and Numbers, we see the phrase, "Then the Lord said to Moses."  We aren't able to hear from him until we turn down the noise.

2) Step back and allow others to help you, better yet, ask for help. In the 18th chapter of Exodus, Moses gets a visit from his father-in-law, Jethro, they had a time of fellowship in which Moses recounted God's goodness to his people, which resulted in feasting and sacrificing to the God of Moses.  The next day, "Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening.  When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, "What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?"  Moses explained that he helps them to discern God's laws and decrees when settling disputes.  But Jethro is a believer in delegation (a very wise man) and encourages Moses to teach them the laws and decrees, selecting trustworthy men and appointing them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens, having them serve as judges for the people.  Moses did just as he said, assigning judges to his people.

I realize I'm preaching to the choir here.  I hate asking for help, but whenever I do, I am very rarely turned down, as fellow believers, we are encouraged to bear with one another in love, this is an opportunity in service and in my case, a lesson in humility.

3) Remember that you are human--we all get angry, frustrated, sad, lonely and we make mistakes.  I'm not going to lie to you, the other day I got so frustrated I threw a chair, not at anyone or anything, I was just angry and picked up a large object and threw it on the ground.  Not a good moment for me.  I immediately went to my room and shut my door.  Yes, even at thirty-ahem, I still throw fits but try to go in my room and do it. When  Moses came down from the mountain, heard singing and dancing and saw that the people had set up a golden calf, he got angry, so angry, he busted up the tablets the Lord had written on (Exodus 32:19).  It's ok, God redeems these things too.

4) There will always be haters, but God is the ultimate judge of any of our actions; in Numbers 12, we see the two people closest to Moses, Miriam and Aaron oppose him, they were upset that they couldn't lead right along with Moses and used the subtext of him taking a Cushite wife as doing something outside of God's law (there were no laws against marrying foreign women at this point):

Has the Lord spoken only through Moses?" they asked.  "Hasn't he also spoken through us?" And the Lord heard this.  (Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.)  At once the Lord said to Moses, Aaron and Miriam, "Come out to the Tent of meeting, all three of you."  So the three of them came out.  Then the lord came down in a pillar of cloud; he stood at the entrance to the Tent and summoned Aaron and Miriam.  When both of them stepped forward, he said, "Listen to my words: When a prophet of the Lord is among you, I reveal myself to him in visions, I speak to him in dreams.  But this is not true of my servant Moses; he is faithful in all my house.  With him I speak face to face, clearly and not in riddles; he sees the form of the Lord.  Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?"

Next, it says that the anger of the Lord burned against them, the cloud lifted from above the tent and Miriam was left there, leprous, she was confined outside the camp for seven days then brought back--and no movement by the nation was made until she returned.

Yikes.  As much as our human hearts are prone to speculation, we have to remember that God is the ultimate judge.

Any problems seem daunting right now?  Not sure how to even begin digging out?  The last several days of my devotions have concentrated on resting, abiding, so I'll leave you with this verse from Isaiah 50:10: Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the word of his servant?  Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God.

Scenes From A Family

Saturday, October 4, 2014

We are in NY right now with much cake and more love.
The leaves are beautiful and I am thankful for this time.

Three Lies Women Believe

Monday, September 22, 2014

Creative Commons by erin & camera

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made.  He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?"

The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'"

"You will not certainly die," the serpent said to the woman.  "For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.  She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it." Genesis 3:1-6

1) It was good for food

2) It was pleasing to the eye

3) Desirable for gaining wisdom

I. Perhaps Eve reasoned to herself: Well, it's something I need anyway, I'll wipe this little need that I have right off God's checklist.   I mean, I'm here any way, I'm hungry, it looks yummy, why not? We believe that we can provide something for ourselves, things that God has already promised to provide for us anyway. 

II.  They say a man is visually stimulated.  So are women, just in different ways: go to get a gallon of milk at the grocery store and we've got countless glossy covers that promise a more organized house, a flatter stomach, better-behaved children and a gourmet meal in 30 minutes or less.

That meal, these children, that dining room, they're so beautiful.  But really, those pictures are what happens at photo shoots and when you are retired.

My mom and 91-year-old grandmother went to visit my recently widowed uncle, who, after my aunt's passing, picked up and moved to wilderness country in a county that borders NY state. 

My mother called it her missionary journey.

She described a beautifully landscaped yard done by my uncle: a flower garden, a hand-made rock wall and a new gravel path running up to the house, but the inside was a different story: my aunt had always been the home-maker, mom said there should have been some potpourri or scented candles or something...and I just smiled at the thought of my uncle whose favorite past time is trudging deep into the woods to cut down trees with his chainsaw picking up apple-scented potpourri and candles with descriptions like Midnight Jasmine from Walmart. 

It wouldn't happen. 

We crave those things that are pleasing to the eye, the touch, we know that these things have warmth and character and life, but sometimes they don't, sometimes all they are are just pleasing to the eye.

I think that's why Satan had to pick one of the more "crafty animals" because women are smart, we can usually see through things in about 10 seconds, but not always, because here's the thing: other people's opinions matter too much to us, that is why we need wise counsel, that is why we must bathe ourselves in the Word of God, because, as the author of Hebrews says, it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart, it separates joint and marrow (Hebrews 4:12).  No matter how smart we are, our judgment cannot and should not replace the Word of God. 

III.  I'll admit it, I'm a knowledge gobbler, I love it almost as much as say, chocolate.  Give me a book on sociology, child-rearing, psychology, biology and the human genome, I'll eat it up and feel a tad bit smarter for reading it, nothing wrong with that--right?

We trick ourselves into thinking that if we preform certain tasks, follow certain formulas, we'll gain that wisdom, but what does scripture say, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom."  This means obedience.  I can't stress this enough.  Let us not consider ourselves wise, or even knowledgeable in our own eyes.  Here is our destruction: when we presume to know more than God, more than our Creator who made us and formed us out of man, more than the presence that walks with us and talks with us, more than the Father that says, "Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you. "    

My point is, we cannot and we should not think ourselves smarter than we actually are,  I'm not knocking all the attributes of the Proverbs 31 women: industrious, merciful, joyful, and generous.  But I am calling to task us trying to achieve this goal on our own.

I'll leave you with this picture of God's reward for obedience in Leviticus 26: 3-14

If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the tree their fruit.  Your threshing will continue until grape harvest and the grape harvest will continue until planting, and you will eat all the food you want and live in safety in your land.  I will grant peace in the land, and you will lie down and no one will make you afraid.  I will remove wild beasts form the land, and the sword will not pass through your country.  You will pursue your enemies and they will fall by the sword before you.  Five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand, and your enemies will fall by the sword before you.  I will look on you with favor and make you fruitful and increase your numbers, and I will keep my covenant with you.  You will still be eating last year's harvest when you will have to move out to make room for the new.  I will put my dwelling place among you, and I will not abhor you.  I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people.  I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt so that you would not longer be slaves to the Egyptians; I broke the bars of your yoke and enable you to walk with heads held high.

Now this, is all-sustaining, all-fulfilling and all-wise beauty.

Sometimes You Have to Go to Africa to Get Your Healing

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The circumstances surrounding my separation and divorce were devastating and I think one of the biggest things that compounded the pain of it all was that my ex-husband now lives about a mile down the road.  It is actually a pretty good thing when in comes to co-parenting, but really, the pain of that daily reality dredge up some feelings that are incredibly hard.

All that to say, when I took my second journey to Uganda this summer, I really had no idea what awaited me.  Who am I?  A single mom, living in ATL, trying to figure out the trajectory of my life with a passion for the orphaned.  (Sound a little Moses-like?) But really, why was God sending me back?

I had no idea the healing that awaited me, but I as sat under that spreading tree with Martin that afternoon, and the tears just flowed out of me like water out of a sieve, I didn't know it at the time, but God was putting the final piece of that healing puzzle in place.

Back at home, it took me a few weeks to fully grasp what had happened that day, but I sit back now in awe of how God works, that when we are transparent and willing and say "yes" to Him, then a transformation like no other happens.


When God is asking you to go places, just do it.

When God is asking you make that call, just pick up the phone.

When God is asking you to be brave and do that task one more time, send the e-mail, show up, because you have no idea what's in store for you.

It will be amazing.

As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.  Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them.  Be strong and very courageous.  Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or the let, that you may be successful wherever you go.  Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night , so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.  Then you will be prosperous and successful.  Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
Joshua 1: 5b-9

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