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Archive for the ‘bible’ Category

It’s Friday.  Ah, we made it.

I look out my window and there is a line of intermixed palm trees and monkey tail trees.  Beyond that line is a large cemetery.  It’s constantly busy.  If people aren’t having a service to bury a loved one, then they are sitting around a grave stone enjoying a picnic.  A few of the headstones are surrounded with solar lights, so at night it is very easy to see them from the road.

A few mornings a week my youngest and her pappy take a walk around the cemetery.  They go in search of life; ferrel cats and jungle fowl.  They have named certain ones, and are delighted when they see them.  They always come back with a great story, or a song that they made up as they were walking/running along.

We are still amazed at how the cats and chickens hang out together in the cemetery.  We almost didn’t believe the hubby the first time he came back from a walk across the street, but he has pictures!  Thank you smart phone.  There were clearly roosters strutting along side the cats, and momma hens leading lines of chicks right next to sleepy cats.  One day there was a bunny hopping along the path.  Wow, isn’t this what heaven is supposed to be like?  The lion sitting peacefully next to the lamb?

Two verses come to mind as I think on the seeming peace and tranquility of the cat and chicken hangout.

Romans 12:18 “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”  Hebrews 12:14 “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.”

At time these verses are challenging.  “Really?  Be at peace with EVERYONE?  ALL THE TIME?” or “Oy, Holy? That just takes too much effort,  I give up” may be the response that we want to give.  Ok, maybe it’s just me.  Look again at the first part of that verse.  “Make every effort” is what is says.  “Do your best” is how I read that.  Phew…I know that I’m not perfect, but so does God.  He wants me to try and do my best, knowing that I’m not going to be perfect until I see Him face to face.  Seriously, I feel like a weight it lifted off of my shoulders.

I will try my best to be at peace with everyone, and to strive to be holy.  I’m so thankful for the grace that God shows me when I fail and choose to pick up an offense that isn’t mine or just plain don’t want to forgive.  Thank you God for some silly cats and chickens that give us a fun reminder to live in peace.  Time for a walk across the street.

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Knowing what to share here on the blog is tricky. (I just took down a rather personal post.)  Some times I feel like it would be a really great place to pour my heart out; to see if anyone else feels the same way about things.  Being in ministry with a rather high-profile church makes that tricky.  I don’t want to put anyone’s reputation in jeopardy, and I certainly don’t want people to have any more fuel to add to the fire of the current climate if they take something that I say out of context.

Sometimes though, the burden that comes from being a pastor’s wife and worship leader (less of a worship leader these days) is heavy.  Recently I heard someone say, “Leadership is lonely.”  That is so true.  At times it’s difficult to not be offended by things people say about your husband or your ministry.  I hold on to offenses way longer than my husband.  That leads to isolation and discouragement.  It’s in those times that I know that I must spend time a deeper time with God.  For me that means extra time reading the bible, more time on my knees, and taking every thought captive.  I can easily follow a dark road if I don’t stay keep my thoughts account current.  It’s the only way to allow my Savior to carry the burden of ministry.

Today I grab a go-to verse to carry with me.  I know you’ve read it on my blog before.  It’s Philippians 4:4-9.  It’s in the NIV.  I appreciate how in verse 8 it addresses “brothers AND sisters.”

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

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(S) John 10:40-42  40 Then Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. There he stayed, 41 and many people came to him. They said, “Though John never performed a sign, all that John said about this man was true.” 42 And in that place many believed in Jesus.

(O) Jesus was teaching in Jerusalem when again He was asked to substantiate His claims the He was The Son Of God.  He explained that His miracles where from the hand of God.  He used scripture to back up His actions.  The leaders were not pleased and intended to kill Him.  Jesus slipped away and headed back to where it all started.  He headed back to the Jordan.  Jesus stayed there a while.  Even after his death,  John The Baptist’s words rang true to the people who followed him.  He set the stage for Jesus’ coming and, because he was such a trusted man, his follower’s believed these words in John 1, 29 “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because He was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know Him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that He might be revealed to Israel.”  Thought Jesus never performed a miracle there, the people believed.  It had come full circle.

(A) John the Baptist answered the call that God placed on his life.  He could have taken advantage of the ears that heard and claimed to be the Messiah.  He could have amassed so many more followers.  He could have said what pleased the leaders and probably would have become a very rich man.  Instead he spoke truth.  He never claimed any thing more than this.  “23 John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, ‘I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’  24 Now the Pharisees who had been sent 25 questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”  26 ‘I baptize with water,’ John replied, ‘but among you stands one you do not know. 27 He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.'”  John’s testimony did not change during his entire ministry.  His words rang true and his credibility stood firm.  He lost his life because of it.  He died having completed his call.

Am I doing what God has called me to, or am I spending my time doing everything else?  Do I speak words of truth that draw people to the person of Christ?

(P) Dear Lord,  Thank you for sending Your Son to die for us.  Thank you that we can come before You humbly and ask forgiveness because of the sacrifice of Jesus.  Please help me to see exactly what You want me to complete here on earth.  May my words and actions be ones of truth drawing people to the Grace of Your Son, Jesus.  Amen.

 

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Life Journal: Release

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John the Baptist had a few buddies complain that Jesus was baptizing people on the other side of the Jordan River.  I can only imagine the commiserating going on between John’s followers.  Jesus was honing in on their territory.  He was taking the attention away from his cousin John.  Maybe they weren’t invited to as many dinners, or maybe they had lost their favorite spot along the river.  Perhaps it was that they weren’t the first ones being asked the difficult questions anymore.  Whatever it was I think that it comes down to one basic thing; they were no long everyone’s first choice.

John’s response is what we would hope every great leader’s response to be.  He expresses great joy in the fact that he worked himself out of a job.He tried to explain it to his followers.  There are some jobs that requires one person to set the other person up for success.  God called him to prepare the way for the Messiah.  John did that, and now it was time to step down.  It was time for John to release.

Within the church we don’t always do a good job in the hand off.  We aren’t always told why positions change.  It may cause us to doubt our calling in the first place.  We question our relevancy.  We doubt our worth.  It sets us up for a poor transition where we may not rejoice when we hear our replacement coming.

At times over the last 20 years of ministry I have allowed my value get wrapped up in my work.  There was one particular section of time in my life where I was put in a position of authority that I had longed for.  I loved it everything about that season.  After about two years, things started to shift.  I had less authority as the leadership above me changed.  I didn’t understand why, and no one was giving me any input when I asked for it.  I found that I didn’t sleep well at night because I kept rehashing conversation after conversation and asking God what I had done wrong.  I assumed things.  I stopped living out Philippians 4:8-9, 8 “…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”  I finally pulled it together after I just let everything go.  Every dream, every hope, every desire I had I just put on an “altar” before the LORD.  I stopped asking why I wasn’t allowed to serve as before.  I started asking God how He wanted me to serve.

From time to time I still deal with the pain in the loss of that ministry.  I miss the people who I worked.  I long for another season to serve in that way.  I believe that God will have another opportunity for me.  It’s all in His time.  I believe that my work now is all about the word “know.”  I must dig deeper into God’s word and allow for times of quiet so that I will hear God.  I must come to know God in away that I never have before.  In that process I allow Christ to become greater by understanding my position as a child of God.

 

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Today’s reading in Joel really has me thinking, especially with his use of the word REND.

Rend

Rend Your Heart

12 “Even now,” declares the Lord,
    “return to me with all your heart,
    with fasting and weeping and mourning.”

13 Rend your heart
    and not your garments.
Return to the Lord your God,
    for he is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love,
    and he relents from sending calamity.
14 Who knows? He may turn and relent
    and leave behind a blessing—
grain offerings and drink offerings
    for the Lord your God.

Further down in the passage there is a call to the priests “who minister before the LORD” to gather EVERYONE, and it didn’t matter what the age or status, for a solemn assembly and to fast.   These leaders were to “weep between the temple porch and the altar.”  Through the mouth of Joel God is calling His people out; first and foremost His leaders.  What does this mean for me?

Rending my heart is not a passive act.  It is purposeful.  When I agree to rend myself before God I have to sacrifice.  I have to die to my own will and submit to change.  I am allowing my heart to be torn to shreds and be built back up again by God.

I will have to love  people who I don’t want to love.  I will have to forgive people who I see impossible to forgive.  I will have to say “no” to things that I want to engage in.  I must draw nearer to God’s word and His voice.

How does this rendering affect my relationships?  Will I seem different to people?  Will my family and friends respond differently to me?  What about those who don’t understand my faith?  Will my decision to go deeper with God alienate even more those whom I love?  What about those relationships that have fallen by the wayside due to life’s circumstances?

As I think on this, for me it comes down to two things: I am called to love people, (1 John 3:10) and to pray (1 Thessalonians 5:17).  If these things are not woven into the fabric of me then I need to render my heart.  By rending my heart I will grow to care deeply for those people I am called to love, and I will see prayer as I do breathing.  I cannot live without it.

Looks like I need to spend some serious time between the porch and the altar.

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In reading various commentaries on Joel 2, I came across a really good writing about prayer by evangelist Leonard Ravenhill.  He heart was all about prayer, especially in calling God’s people to pray.  He said,”…when the church of Jesus Christ is prosperous, she never has revival. It’s when she’s poor. Prayer is the language of the poor. “Bow down Thine ear and hear me, for I am poor and needy.”
The self-satisfied don’t need to pray.
The self-sufficient don’t want to pray.
The self-righteous cannot pray.

But the man who realizes,
“I need something outside of anything that’s human at all,”
he wants to bathe his soul in prayer.”He goes on to say, “Read the Acts of the Apostles and all you read about is prayer, prayer, prayer, prayer, prayer. When they had prayed the place was shaken.”  What does this mean for our current circumstances?  As a church we must be all about prayer.

To read the entire writing by Leonard Ravenhill check out this link.  I found it quite challenging.  http://www.ravenhill.org/weeping2.htm

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