Friday, May 30, 2008

Let Me Explain

I feel like it's moving day! I have started taking posts from my private blog and settling them in to their new home here. It's so exciting!

As I copy and paste them here as "new posts" I have decided to keep the date and time stamps as they were originally. So, today is the first day in my new home and all of the previous posts will reflect the day that I actually wrote them, not the day I posted them here.

I just felt that I should clarify that.

My Hope

I have to tell you some background on me and blogging. I started reading a few different blogs in the last two or three months. One has been especially inspiring to me. It is the story of Audrey Caroline, as told by her mother, Angie. It is absolutely beautiful in a heart-breaking way. What I love the most about reading Angie's blog is that each time I do, I find myself wanting more. Not more of Angie's blog, but rather, more of Jesus. More of Him and less of me.

My husband and I have just recently reconciled after a year and a half separation. Those months are the most painful healing I have ever experienced and I thank God for bringing us through them. I'm sure there will be more on that later, but for now, I say all that to share the reason I started a blog.

As we grew closer to the day my husband would come home, God made a suggestion. And I'm glad I listened. I told Gary that I wanted us each to start a blog. Something that only the two of us could read. I love to write and felt a strong desire to pour myself out on paper, well, in print anyway. He had also been struggling with feeling like he couldn't make sense of his thoughts and was equally excited about the idea. It was such a blessing. It allowed us to let everything out and share it with each other. I felt like I could finally get to know him deeper. I felt more connected. And on a side note, I felt like he needs to blog more often! (hint, hint.)

Eventually, my writing became more than just sharing myself with Gary. I felt a nudge to open up my blog to others. As I grow closer to the Lord, I feel an overwhelming desire to impact others. If I've learned anything from and about my God, I don't want to be selfish with it. I want to pass it on.

So, I have started a new blog and will soon, with Gary's help (yet another hint, hint), move old posts here to the new one. My old blog with Gary can truly be just between us, and here I can share myself with family, friends, and anyone else God sends this way.

My hope is that if you get to know me, you will know Jesus.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Just As Ugly

I've learned something recently.

It would be easy to just state plainly the lesson that God has taught me but I'm afraid you'd miss the beauty of the work God is doing in my heart. So here's the story behind the lesson.

I was born in, I'm not going to go that far back, although I could. It really does start there. Seriously, I grew up good. I was a good kid. I liked being good. I hated the feeling of being bad. People said I was good. Not other kids, they just said I was a nerd. Which of course meant that they thought I was a good kid. I believed in God, in Jesus, in what He did for me on the cross. I was good. I even believed that I was a sinner and needed God's forgiveness. Wasn't I good? I sure thought so, but I was humble about it.

That was my childhood. At this point in my life, I am not proud of my "good" childhood, I am grateful to God for the gift of my "good" childhood. I can see very clearly now that I was not a good kid because I was good, but because God was good and saw fit, for whatever reason, to protect me from myself as I was growing up.

You see, after my "good" childhood came adulthood. In college, I hung on to my goodness with all of my might. And then came relationships, marriage, mother-hood. Oh, how I clung to my goodness. Little by little, though, God was allowing me to see the truth. I refused to look for awhile. I preferred to see myself in comparison, rather than in honesty. That way I could play the innocent victim role. I even became good at it. But God was persistent. Gentle but persistent.

I found myself up to my eyeballs in the wreckage of someone else's sin. And that's where God let me finally see my own. And you know what? It didn't look any better.

I'm forgiven and I finally have an understanding of just what He's forgiven.

And I have forgiven, because my sin is really just as ugly and detestable as anyone else's.

And if you're reading this and you know me, if you think I'm a good person please understand one thing. That's not me, that's God's grace.

Romans 3 :9-20

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Proud to Say I'm Humbled!

God is amazing. I mean really, really amazing. There aren't words that do Him justice.

I wonder, can anyone know Him, even slightly, and not be completely humbled?

Do you know of His power? Have you read Job? If you have, can you watch lightning in quite the same way? If you haven't, do you have a Bible? You should. Do both, have a Bible and read Job.

Have you read Genesis? Did you notice that He spoke everything into existence? His words have the power to cause things to be that weren't. His mind has the power to imagine these things in the first place. And His breath has the power to give life!

Have you read the gospels? He sent His Son into this world to complete His perfect plan of salvation. Have you heard how many prophesies Jesus fulfilled in His 33 years here? If you have, have you heard what the odds are that His life fulfilled all of those prophesies by chance?

God can do anything. Except sin. Which is how Jesus blood has the power to set us free! Have you read Romans? The wages of sin is death. And we all have sinned. That was my death He died. That was my fate. Leaving this world while God turned His back because He couldn't look at my sin. And then entering into an eternity apart from Him. That was supposed to be me. But He sent His Son instead. His Son was perfect, without sin. He took my punishment for my sin, because He had the power to conquer death and hell. He had the power to take my full punishement upon Himself and yet not be defeated by it.

He is amazing. Really, really amazing.

And I am humbled, because I know who He is. And I know what He's done. And I know He did it for me.

He also did it for you.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A Dedicated Day

I have not been very motivated to clean. This is evidenced by my bathroom, my bedroom, the family room, the computer desk, the wrinkled laundry in the dryer (I assume it's wrinkled, I haven't looked), the laundry in the washer. This list goes on. But the kitchen isn't bad. Scratch that, I just looked over.

Colossians 3:23 "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men."

This is my verse for today. I dedicate this day to God. It will be a day of much cleaning. He has blessed me immeasurably and I will show my gratitude by caring for the things He has given to me.

When you get home, Gary, I hope that our house relfects that.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Sunny and 62

I have so many projects that I am anxious to tackle. Finishing the boy's room wall, painting dresser drawers, starting the girl's room walls, and starting work on a bulletin board.

There are also several projects that I am not anxious to tackle, but anxious to finish. Cleaning, laundry, the usual.

I am also going completely crazy with thoughts that I am excited to blog about. Many, many thoughts. And I mean it, I'm excited about it!

But all of that had to wait. Add to my already-longer-than-my-day to do list - yard work. It called my name today and I answered. It was wonderful. Sunny and 62. My mother's day gifts are happily stretching their roots in planters and several more dandelions are "resting in peace".

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

"Techno" the Robot Dog

My five year old received a robot dog on Christmas Eve. It's really pretty cute. A hard plastic, silver puppy. It makes lots of noise but it is has an "off" switch (which makes it cuter still). My husband made the comment that it was as close as he was going to get to having a dog.

On a side note, Christmas morning, the kids were going to get the news that we were in fact going to get them a puppy. A real puppy. Ironically, the real puppy we gave them turned out to be, well, not real. Did you know dogs can have false pregnancies? Well, they can.

Back to my thoughts about the robot dog.

I was thinking the other day about God and why He created us, knowing that we would invite sin into His paradise, break His heart, evoke His wrath, and need saving by the blood of His only Son.
It reminded me of "Techno", the robot dog. Garrett wanted that robot dog. Once he had it he still wanted a real dog. Why?

Why wasn't "Techno" enough? He was cute. He was fun. He didn't pee on the floor. He didn't bark in the middle of the night...well, once but like I said, he does have that "off" switch.

Why would you want a real dog? They make messes. They make noise. They cost a lot more. They can bite you. And have you felt the pain of losing a dog? Ouch.

What's the appeal? A relationship. It's having a dog that chooses you. Chooses to come to you. Chooses to do all those silly tricks just to please you. Chooses to snuggle under your arm on the couch. There just is no relationship with a dog that only does what it's been programmed to do.

If God had created us so that we wouldn't sin, He would have created robots. We would have done everything He wanted us to do. Just not by our choosing. Instead, He created us to have a relationship with Him. He gave us a free will so that we can choose Him.

He created man in His image (Genesis 1:27). He blessed him and met all his needs, from food to eat (Genesis 2:9) to a helper so man would not be lonely (Genesis 2:18). And He had a relationship with them. Genesis 3:8 says that "the man and his wife heard the Lord God as He was walking in the garden in the cool of the day.." They only heard Him but they knew what they were hearing. Makes me think that it was a sound they were familiar with - God walking in the garden.

And yes, He knew that we would invite sin into the world and make a mess of His creation. But instead of just not creating us at all, He made a way for us to come back to a relationship with Him.

Romans 5:8 "But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners Christ died for us."

John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life."

God could have spared us from the pain of a sinful world by not creating us in the first place. But He choose to create us. To love us and be loved by us. He knew that He would make a way for us to come back to Him and that the temporary suffering of this fallen world will be worth enduring for the promise of eternity with Him.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Today's Menu 5/5

2 Timothy 2:15

"Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth."

I believe in God. My faith is in Jesus Christ. I am a Christian. So, what sets me apart from someone who believes differently from me...unless I study the scriptures God gave me. The truth. I believe in the truth but how do I know the truth if I'm not studying the truth.

Here's what I've been convicted of...

There is absolute truth. It is true whether we believe and accept it or question and reject it. My beliefs mean nothing unless I believe the truth. I am not called to share my beliefs with others, I am called to share the gospel of Christ.

I can not reach the lost by sharing my opinions. As Oprah has said, there are millions of ways, how can just one be right? Well, it's not that there are millions ways but that there are millions of opinions about the way, how can just mine be right? I don't want to share my opinions. I want to share God's truth. If I am blessed enough to know God's truth then I need to be able to open up His Word and share it with others.

So that is what I'm going to do. My beliefs about God have been bouncing around in my head. God has been leading me to open up His Word and study, so that I can be sure my beliefs are founded in scripture. And then I can share His truth instead of my beliefs.

People have questions about God. He has given answers to our questions, His Word. So, in future posts I want to take questions we have and study His Word for answers.

I Peter 3:15 "But in your hearts set aside Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,"

I believe in God's truth and I want to be prepared to give an answer.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Is God a Green-Eyed-Monster?

Jealousy. This is what led Oprah to deny God's Word as truth. She stated that in her late 20's she was sitting in church taking in all that the Baptist minister had to say about God...until, he said that God was a jealous God. She said it didn't sit right with her. She wondered why God would be jealous of her if He was everything His Word says He is.

Now I wonder. If the words of a minister didn't sit right with her, did she sit down with God's Word and search for His truth?

If Oprah's understanding of "a jealous God" was that He was jealous of her, then I must give her credit for recognizing that something was wrong with the statement. But did she go to His Word or trust her feelings? Was the statement wrong or her understanding of it?

I want to do what I wished she had done (what I want to do in my own life and what I want to teach my kids to do in theirs)...I want to open up God's Word to learn the truth. I will not give an answer to Oprah's comment (although I have one) I will search His Word for God's answer to Oprah's comment.

Here's what I find in God's Word...

Exodus 20:5 - Moses is giving the ten commandments to the Israelites. And right there in #2 "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or or worship them; for I am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments."

Exodus 34:14 - God is making a covenant with Israel and promises to do great things for them "wonders never before done in any nation in all the world", and commands that they obey Him, that they "Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God."

With a little study, it is clear that the statement is Biblical. God declares Himself a jealous God. So, what about Oprah's understanding of the statement? Is it Biblical?

She said that it didn't sit right with her. She wondered "If God is everything why is He jealous of me?" I went to the dictionary. There are a few definitions of the word "jealous."

The first of the definitions at were...

1. feeling resentment against someone because of that person's rivalry, success, or advantages (often fol. by of): He was jealous of his rich brother.
2. feeling resentment because of another's success, advantage, etc. (often fol. by of): He was jealous of his brother's wealth.

1) a. Resentful or bitter in rivalry; envious: jealous of the success of others.
b. Inclined to suspect rivalry.
2) Having to do with or arising from feelings of envy, apprehension, or bitterness: jealous thoughts.

If this is the meaning of jealous implied in the statement "Jealous God" then Oprah was right to find that statement troubling. That would be ridiculous for the Creator of everything to be envious of His own creation (made in His likeness, no less, Genesis 1:26) or resent their rivalry (Jesus Himself commands us to be like Him, Matthew 5:48) or any good thing we have (He tells us that "every good and perfect gift is from above." James 1:17). He made us in His image, what can we be that He would envy? He calls us to become like Him, how can He resent us as rivals? Every good and perfect gift is from Him, how can He be jealous of what we have that He has given?

That definition doesn't fit in the context of His Word. He is not jealous of us. In fact, in Galatians 5:20 He tells us that jealousy is an act of the sinful nature. He can't sin, He's perfect and Holy. So, what then does it mean that God is a jealous God.

Here are the other definitions of "jealous"...

3. characterized by or proceeding from suspicious fears or envious resentment: a jealous rage; jealous intrigues.

(God is all-knowing, He has no suspicious fears, He knows...)

4. inclined to or troubled by suspicions or fears of rivalry, unfaithfulness, etc., as in love or aims: a jealous husband.

(Again, He has no suspicions, He knows...)

5. solicitous or vigilant in maintaining or guarding something: The American people are jealous of their freedom.

(Hmmm, guarding something? Sounds like love...)

6. Bible. intolerant of unfaithfulness or rivalry: The Lord is a jealous God.

(Oh. Now that makes sense when inserted in every declaration of jealousy God makes in His Word.)

4)Vigilant in guarding something: We are jealous of our good name.
5)Intolerant of disloyalty or infidelity; autocratic: a jealous God.

It seems that God made a covenant with His people. He claims them as His own and does not tolerate them prostituting themselves to another. God is a jealous God.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Today's Menu 5/1

John 1:32-34

"Then John gave this testimony: 'I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, 'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.' I have seen and I will testify that this is the Son of God'."

I love that John the Baptist recognized that he didn't know anything on his own. He only knew what God revealed to him.

I love riddles and mysteries. I love trying to wrap my head around something and figure out the answer. It's sweetest when I can do so without any hints from someone who already knows the answer. So, I guess what I love is finding the answers to riddles, not the riddles themselves.

The mysteries of God. There is no more amazing or beautiful mystery. But I can't set my mind to figuring it all out. I have to set my mind on Him and ask for the answers. I know nothing that He has not revealed to me.

Thank you, God for all that You've given that I couldn't do on my own. For knowing You at all. For any understanding I have of Your Word. I have no special intelligence or insight by which I've come to find You...You revealed Yourself to me and You open my mind to understand. This is my prayer for my loved ones who don't have a relationship with You. Amen