Truth

Go

Abram’s story is one of my favorites. On one side, he amazes me with how he was usually so quick to obey whenever God spoke. On the other side he makes me feel a lot better about myself, trying to bring about God plan in his own way.

One of the earliest mentions of Abram in the Bible is in Genesis 12:1-4. “Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.” Hebrews 11:8-10 also mentions Abraham’s story, “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” How many of us would do that? How many of us would pick up and leave our family, everything we know, and go?And not just go, but go and not know where in the world we were going. We don’t hear of Abram crying or arguing with God. He just went.

In the middle of His obedience God prospered Him. So much so that Abram and his nephew Lot could not continue to dwell together! Genesis 13:6 tells us, “And the land was not able to bear them, that they might dwell together: for their substance was great, so that they could not dwell together.” After He and Lot separated God gave Abram a promise. We hear about this promise in Genesis 13:14-17, “And the Lord said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered. Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee.” God affirmed his promise again to Abram in Genesis 15:1-6. In verse 6 it says, “And he believed in the Lord and he counted it to him for righteousness.” This promise was fulfilled when Sarah conceived and bore Isaac.

Abraham was quick to obey again in Genesis 22:1-18. In this passage God tells Abraham, in verse 2 to “take now thy son, thine only son, whom thou loves, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I tell thee of.” Abraham set off to do what God commanded. In fact, Abraham was so set on his mission that it took and angel to stop him. Oh that we would be so intent on the purpose and plan of God that it would take an angel to restrain us!

God is looking for a people who will trust Him enough to be quick to obey. Not only that, but to obey without question. 1 Kings 2:3 tells us to “observe what the Lord your God requires: Walk in obedience to him, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses. Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go.”

 “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” Psalm 110:9-11

Thoughts, Truth

Made to Soar

“My chains are gone, I’ve been set free. My God, My Savior has ransomed me. And like a flood His mercy rains. Unending love, amazing grace.” © 2006 worshiptogether.com songs, sixsteps Music, Vamos Publishing / Artist: Chris Tomlin

I am not a person given to visions or vivid dreams but as I was leading worship the other day at church I had a flash, a little mini movie, if you will. I was singing Chris Tomlin’s song Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone). As I got to the chorus I saw a majestic eagle in the middle of a field. He was perched in the back of a wire cage with the door standing wide open. Just sitting there.

When wild animals are injured they are sometimes kept among humans for rehabilitation. I have watched many wildlife shows where they release these animals back in to the wild.  There is nothing more thrilling than to see a beautiful creature do what it was created to do and be who it was created to be. You would think it would just take off once given the opportunity, and some do. But others have forgotten what it is to be free.  Once an animal is among humans for a while it can forget what it was made for. It can get used to the status quo. As I saw that mighty eagle in the cage I heard these words. “He doesn’t know he’s free.”

That can be true of so many Christians, myself included. We might know in our heads that we are free. We might have even memorized the verses that tell us so, but in our heart of hearts we are bound. We stand at the door of life, staring longingly at the beauty beyond our cage. Not knowing that all we have to do is walk through it into the freedom Christ won for us with His death and resurrection. John 8:36 says, “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” Did Christ make us free? Yes! Then we are certainly free indeed! Galatians 2:20 tells us “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.”  There is no sickness, no poverty, no disease, No drug or alcohol addiction, no depression, no eating disorder, no fear of man, nor any other form of bondage that can hold us down. We just have to believe what God’s word says on the matter. And not only believe but act on it.

Colossians 2:13-15 gives us this amazing news, “and you being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.” In other words: the enemy has been defeated and humiliated, our chains have been broken, our sins have been forgiven and blotted out. He has flung our prison door wide. The only thing between us and realizing the freedom Christ intends for us is the person we stare at in the mirror every morning. Its time for the Word of God to become real to us. Oh my friends, its time to soar.

“But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up on wings like eagles, they shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

Truth

Use Your Words

My fever. My high blood pressure. My cancer. My poverty. My lack. My, my, my. If you want to claim that stuff, go ahead. But I’m certainly not going to! If we could just understand how important our words are.

Jesus said in Mark 11:23-24 “For assuredly I say unto you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say unto you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” Whoever says. Our words are powerful. Our words are creative. Proverbs 18:20-21 say, “A man’s stomach shall be satisfied with the fruit of his mouth; from the produce of his lips he shall be filled. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat it’s fruit.” What comes out of our mouth directly affects how we will live. If we speak death, doubt, and unbelief; we will eat that fruit. If we dwell on the promises of God. If we speak life, healing, belief; we will eat that fruit. God has so much goodness in store for His children. If we could only comprehend the good things He has laid up for us!

Joshua 1:8 says “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” There is a reason we are instructed to meditate on God’s word. If we meditate on it, what do you think will come out of our mouths when the cares of this life start to squeeze? Yep. The Word. And the Word brings life.

Here are some gems to keep on the tip of your tongue:

Isaiah 40:31 “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not faint.”

Philippians 4:19 “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

Romans 8:37 “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”

Proverbs 1:33 “But whoever listens to me will dwell safely, and will be secure, without fear of evil.”

Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep Him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”

Thoughts, Truth

Choices

Choices. We often think that our choices have no bearing or affect on other people. That our choices only affect ourselves. That is so far from the truth. I was talking with my daughter the other day about how important our choices are. We talked about the story in 1 Samuel 15 in which Saul was instructed to go up against the Amalekites and destroy them. In verse 3 Samuel instructs Saul to, “Attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.” But Saul did not obey. He kept the king of the Amalekites alive and he took the best of the flock to sacrifice to the Lord. Was it wrong that Saul should desire to honor the Lord with a sacrifice? No. But his instructions were to leave nothing of the Amalekites alive.

The key to this whole passage lies in 1 Samuel 15:22 when Samuel tells Saul, “Has the Lord a great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.” Samuel then prophesies to Saul that God will remove him as king, that the kingdom would be ripped from him and given to another. 20 years later, Saul is killed in battle along with his sons and the prophecy is fulfilled. The irony? Saul’s death blow was delivered by an Amalekite. Saul’s disobedience not only affected him and his family, but the ripple affect was felt generations later. Hundreds of years passed before the affects were felt by a woman named Esther. Her people, exiled in Babylon, were threatened by a descendant of the Amalekite king, a murderous man named Haman. Haman took it upon himself to attempt to annihilate the entire the Jewish nation. But for the bravery of Queen Esther, he would have succeeded where Saul failed. Our choices, good and bad, can be felt for generations upon generations.

Contrary to popular opinion, Jesus had a choice when He went to the cross. He said in John 6:38, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent me.” Jesus spent all night in the garden of Gethsemane surrendering His will to the Father’s. Praying for another way to accomplish what God required of Him. If it were not His choice to make, I doubt He would have sweat great drops of blood in making it. If it were just a mindless act for Him it would not have been difficult. He had to choose to go the cross, knowing what would happen to Him. Knowing that his body would be broken for us. Knowing that He would be reviled and ridiculed. And most excruciatingly, that His Father would be required to turn his back on Him as our sin weighed heavy on His shoulders. But still Jesus chose obedience. And in His obedience the ripple effect can be felt 2,000 years later. Jesus’ decision to obey brought millions upon millions into relationship with the Father.

Deuteronomy 30:19-20 says, “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants my live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to him, for He is your life and the length of your days.” Like Saul and Jesus, our decisions will continue to speak long after we are gone. Choose life!

Thoughts, Truth

Take it to Heart

It’s sad when you have to visit your own blog to remember the last time you posted. This year has been one long battle of the mind. In some of my previous blogs I have written about the loss of our baby girl in July 2013. Well, in January 2014 we found out we were expecting again and I am ecstatic to announce that our little Sophia Hope joined our family on September 5th.


God truly will redeem any situation. I can say that because He has done it time and time again in my life. I said last year was a battle because, as anyone who has been pregnant after a loss can tell you, it is hard to keep your mind from going to “that” place. That’s why it is so important to have the word of God hidden in your heart. Our best example in this life is Jesus. He came and lived this life as an ordinary man walking in the power of God. When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, what did he use as his weapon? When Satan taunted him, he responded with God’s word. In Matthew 4:9-11 “Satan said, ‘All this I will give you if you will bow down and worship me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Away from me Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’ Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.” (Side note: It’s interesting to note that Satan offered Jesus the kingdoms of the world. How could Satan offer that if he didn’t have it to give? The earth was under the sway of the wicked one, thanks to Adam, until Jesus bought it back with his death and resurrection.) It is written. If Jesus overcame by the word of God, and His life was meant to be an example for us, then that should be our first line of defense when the fiery darts of the enemy start rushing toward us. It’s called a sword for a reason, use it. But a skilled swordsman doesn’t just whack at things. He learns every aspect of his craft and hits what he aims for. It’s important for us to not just read the Bible. We must know it.

Truth

If Jesus Can Sleep, You Can Too!

On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side.” Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”

Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!” Mark 4:35-40

Jesus and his disciples were going about their way, moving through life as we all do, when a great storm arose. The disciples had been with Jesus. They knew what He was capable of and yet they panicked. They looked to the storm and not to the calmer of the storm. There are things that happen in this life—battles that must be waged and storms that must be faced. 2 Corinthians 5:7 tells us that we “walk by faith, not by sight.” It’s time to get our eyes off of the wind and the waves.  We need to come to the realization that He has already overcome the world. There is nothing He did not accomplish on the cross. He left nothing undone.

There are times in the midst of the battle where all we can do is rest in what He has already done. Please understand, I am in no way advocating “lazy faith” but once everything that needs to be said has been said. And everything that needs to be done has been done—we rest. 1 John 5:14-15 says, “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.” The disciples had Jesus in the boat with them. They walked with Him, they learned from Him and at the first dose of reality they forgot what He taught them. When they woke Him, Jesus rebuked them for their lack of faith—”How is it that you have no faith?” Where was their confidence? They had Jesus with them. We have the Holy Spirit inside of us. To bring what we have learned up to our remembrance. To give us comfort and strength. We need to keep our eyes on Him and as we do that, the waves won’t look so overwhelming.

I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; my flesh will also rest in hope. Psalm 16:8-9

Thoughts, Truth

Bent, Not Broken

This week marks my 16th week of pregnancy. Little Bean is growing right on schedule for his or her September 11th due date. I have found it hard through this pregnancy not to think back to last summer when at 16 weeks we found out the little girl we were expecting had died a week before. So I reminisce, not to grieve, but to wonder at how God has brought us through. Closer. Stronger. More sure of God’s promises and plan than ever.

I find my self pondering on the shepherd boy and future king David—when his father sent him with food for his brothers who were on the front line of battle. As David approached to greet his brothers he heard Goliath—who for 40 days had been berating the Israelite army. As the mocking of the Philistine giant fell on David’s ears, an indignation filled him. In 1 Samuel 17:26 he asked the question, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” We should be just as indignant when anything or anyone seeks to exalt themselves over the word and the promise of the Lord. The Israelites were the army of the Lord, the chosen people. We, however, are literally the children of the one true King. We have been washed in the blood of the Lamb. When Jesus died and rose again He was seated at the right hand of God the Father. Ephesians 2:6 tells us that God “raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”

“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand, stand therefore…” (Ephesians 6:13-14 NKJV) When we stand against an enemy, we stand in His righteousness and authority. There is nothing, absolutely nothing—be it sickness, disease, poverty, addiction, depression, or anything else—that has the right to defy us if we dwell in the secret place mentioned in Psalm 91. When David stood he used what he had and trusted God do the rest. Ephesians 6:10 tell us “to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” When we stand—we stand on what God has already done. He has already provided our healing, our provision, our deliverance, our redemption. So we stand, trusting that God has already provided anything and everything we have need of through the shed blood of His Son, Jesus. So, what do we have? We have the promises of God sure and steadfast. He has never and will never fail. So we we stand—bending but never breaking.

Truth

Identity Crisis

Let me start by saying that God is not the devil. I know what you’re thinking… Duh, I know that! But do you really? I have a feeling that if God could go through an identity crisis He certainly would when people attribute the works of the devil to Him. Jesus said in John 10:10 “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” Steal. Kill. Destroy. Those are the works of an enemy that is out for our very souls. Jesus is the life giver. If sickness comes, be it a cancer diagnosis or a common cold—that comes not from God but from the enemy. If loss comes, through death or failed relationships—again, that is the enemy. Poverty? Lack? Yep, you guessed it. That stinking, lying devil.

It’s amazing how many people can blame God for the terrible things that happen. This past July I was pregnant with a little girl we named Isabel. I should have been due this December but something unthinkable happened. At my 17th week the doctor could not find a heartbeat. As I went through that whole awful experience, never once did I think that God caused it. God is the giver of all good things. James 1:17 tells us that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” Not only does every good and perfect gift come from Him but He has no variation. Which means He never changes. He has been good, He is good, and He always will be good.

There is no scenario that would ever exist in which I as a parent would inflict harm or pain on my children to teach them a lesson. But somehow people get it into their heads that God does that very thing. In Matthew 7:11 Jesus says, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” If I were to paraphrase it would go something like this: if you who are fallible and imperfect can treat your kids well and desire the best for them, how much more would I, your Heavenly Father want for you!

Now can God use the trials and pain to make us and mold us? Can He take the shattered and broken pieces of our lives and make something beautiful out of them? Absolutely. But does He cause them? Absolutely not. We live in a fallen world. A world in which, contrary to popular belief, God is not in control. I will explore that thought in a future blog. But in a nutshell. If He were truly in control He sure is making a mess of things. He put man in authority down here and Adam handed his authority over to satan. Jesus had to go to the cross to win that authority back for us.

So next time you walk through a hardship or temptation, instead of using your mouth to blame God. Use it to declare His word over your life. God intended us to take authority over our situation. He has put all things under our feet.

Truth

Count the Cost

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NKJV)

Have you ever thought—I mean really thought of the price Jesus paid for your redemption? I think sometimes we tend to gloss over what Jesus went through as he hung on the cross. We forget what He had to become to secure our redemption. Jesus knew what His mission was. Not only to remove our sin but to become it. To bring His Father’s creation back into a right relationship with Him.

Jesus came. He left the glory of heaven, stripped himself of deity and became a man with a divine purpose. To give us an example of a human walking in the authority and power of almighty God. He said what the Father said, He did what the Father did. But His ultimate mission was to die. He knew that and He still chose to do it. He knew his blood would have to run down that cross in order for us to be redeemed. He knew that He would have to become every vile thing that the heart of man would ever contemplate. That the sins of every man and woman would be laid to His charge. My sin. Your sin. And He knew that would result in the most painful thing of all. Separation from His Father.

Jesus knew the cost. And as He died He felt it. That loneliness He had never known before as His Father turned His face away from Him. That feeling is something we never need know. He bore the chains so we could be free. He carried our sin so we wouldn’t have to. Jesus saw the bigger picture. That in His death would come life for all those who would believe on Him.

We must make a decision. Do we disregard the price that He paid for us? Or do we acknowledge that He provided for everything we would ever have need of and walk in His footsteps. Laying down our lives for those who do not yet know. We must count the cost, take up our cross and follow Him. This Christian walk is not for the faint of heart. Jesus said in Matthew 10:22, “And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.” He also said in John 15:18, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.” Make a decision friends. Trust God to fill you with His Spirit. That we may walk as He walked—in the grace, power, and authority of almighty God. That we would come to the realization that our sacrifice, however small in comparison to His, will be worth it.

Thoughts, Truth

What You Really Need

About thirteen years ago I was a 22 year-old single woman working in a back office department at a major bank in downtown Seattle. There were many things in life that I was believing for—a husband, a home, and children to name a few. Some people have dreams of a certain profession but for me, nothing I could imagine ever felt more satisfying than first and foremost being a wife and a mom. And I had seen in my mind’s eye how I thought that would happen.

I don’t know where this saying comes from or who said it but I have heard that “if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.” That is so true. I had my future all laid out. At the time I was good friends with a family that had a son my age. His family loved me and we got along well. I had made it up in my mind, not even really having romantic feelings for this young man, that this is what God had in store for me. He was a Christian, I was a Christian. I loved his sisters as my own. I could make this work.

At the time, I was living in Tacoma and commuted to Seattle. I had to catch my bus by 6:00am to make it to work by 8:00am. So I used those two hours for my devotions and prayer time. There was one particular day of devotions that I will never forget. The weekend before, I had spent some time at my friends’ house and the son and I were sitting at the table in the dining room talking. When the dad left the room he dimmed the lights on us. (Smooth, very smooth…)  I rationalized the situation. I settled it in my mind. But that day on the bus God took over. I was beginning to read in the book of Acts. When I got to Acts 3 it hit me like a lightning bolt. The passage begins with Peter and John going to the temple for prayer. As they walked they approached a man who had been lame since birth. As they passed him, he asked them for money. They didn’t have any to give him, instead they told him to “rise up and walk.” And he was healed from that very hour.

As I read that, God spoke to me so clearly. “Ask me for what you want, but don’t be surprised when I give you what you really need.” The lame man thought he knew what he needed—money. But God knew what he really needed—healing, provision. You can make all the plans you want for your life. But ultimately, God has the best plan for you. You can follow your own plan and it will probably be alright but it won’t be His best. I think about what I would have missed if I had followed my own will. I am so grateful I listened to His voice and followed His leading. He truly knows what we really need.