Woe is Me!

26 Dec

cam00172I’ve been reading in the book of Isaiah and many of the chapters begin with Woe to _____________.

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary  woe (n.) late 12c., from the interjection, Old English wa!, a common exclamation of lament in many languages (compare Latin , Greek oa, German weh, Lettish wai, Old Irish fe, Welsh gwae, Armenian vay).  And I am lamenting my selfishness today. At the same time I am celebrating God’s faithfulness.

Every once in a while “something” happens to show me how selfish I am deep down inside and God did it again last Thursday night. I made Hot Fudge Sauce for our 5 sons for Christmas and had enough left over for a large jar for me.  Do you notice anything odd about the photograph?  In order to end up with a large jar for me, I had to fill the sons’ jars only 2/3s of the way.  The Holy Spirit convicted me about it over night, and I even tried to rationalize it with Him.  “I did that because the sauce was so hot and I didn’t want the jars to break,” I fudged.

In the morning, I heated up my jar in the microwave and divided it between the sons’ jars. It was exactly enough to fill them all nicely to the top with NOTHING left over.  I was glad I did it, but it was a struggle.

It just goes to show how deeply our selfishness is rooted.  And what a faithful gardener God is to root it out.

For the word of God is living and all-efficient, and much sharper than a double edged sword, and it pierces to the separation of soul and spirit and of joints, marrow and of bones, and judges the reasoning and conscience of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 Aramaic Bible in Plain English

Passionate Purity

22 Jun

IMG_0259_1024Lately, I can’t get God’s passion and purity out of my mind. This photograph that I’ve had on my desktop for a while, keeps me chewing on these concepts.

This afternoon I read this in the Discovery Bible app that I’m test driving for 30 days:

God is all-loving and committed to “giving Himself away” in a covenant-relationship with all who truly receive (serve) Him.  The Lord offers unlimited, personal knowledge of Himself to all through the saving work of the eternal Son (Jesus Christ), as mediated by God the Holy Spirit (cf. Rev 4:8). (Discovery Bible)

He wants to give Himself away to us.  Selah.

This is the passion we find in 1 John 4:8: The one who does not love has not become acquainted with God [does not and never did know Him], for God is love. [He is the originator of love, and it is an enduring attribute of His nature.]

And God is pure. I don’t think I’m messing with the Scriptures when I say, God is purity. He has no sin. He has no grey. He is perfect.

This is the message [of God’s promised revelation] which we have heard from Him and now announce to you, that God is Light [He is holy, His message is truthful, He is perfect in righteousness], and in Him there is no darkness at all [no sin, no wickedness, no imperfection]. 1 John 1:5

And He loves us so, that he wants to purify us, His bride.

Because pure (Gk katharos) crystal is transparent, light shines through even though it is solid.  When God’s life touches people, they are as pure crystal so His glory passes “through” them as a “see-through solid” – a transparent “sea of glass/crystal.” (Discovery Bible)

Makes me want to get down on my knees.

I obstacle. Do you obstacle?

24 May

CAM00070The other day in church I heard the word obstacle used as a verb in Spanish.  You know, “I obstacle, you obstacle, they obstacle, we obstacle.”  It really resonated with me because how often do we obstacle ourselves? Or others?

I work with someone who struggles with her interpersonal relationships and yet she obstacles herself with her thorny personality just like this plant. There are thorns popping out of every vein!

I obstacle myself, my peace, or any remote possibility of moving gracefully through my days when I throw EVERY possible thing to do on my to-do list.  Then my life looks totally unachievable and I feel overwhelmed; I find it impossible to move through life one day at a time.

And so I say to myself (and maybe to you): “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34 (AMP)  I love what Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown say about this–“Every day brings its own cares; and to anticipate is only to double them.”

But we can also look at it this way:  “A voice of one is calling out, “Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness [remove the obstacles]; Make straight and smooth in the desert a highway for our God.” Isaiah 40:3

Clear the way, or panah in Hebrew, means to to turn away, put out of the way, make clear, clear away. “He hears a crier giving orders, by solemn proclamation, to prepare the way of the Lord in the wilderness; to remove all obstructions before Jehovah marching through the desert; through the wild, uninhabited, unpassable country. The idea is taken from the practice of the eastern monarchs, who, whenever they entered upon an expedition, or took a journey, especially through desert and unpractised countries, sent harbingers before them to prepare all things for their passage, and pioneers to open the passes, to level the ways, and to remove all impediments. The officers appointed to superintend such preparations the Latins called stratores.” (Benson Commentary)

So, I guess the moral of the story is to take a look at how we obstacular ourselves instead of collaborating in the clearing the way for Jesus to work in our lives. Or perhaps to look to be stratores rather than obstaculadores.  Yes. I did just make up that word and it means one who creates obstacles. 

Any other thoughts?

 

Belief Induced Obedience

8 May

29_1024Hebrews 3:18-19  And to whom did he swear that they should never enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient?  So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.

I never realized until recently, the relationship between unbelief and disobedience. Conversely, the relationship between belief and obedience are just as strong.

See the mini-word studies below:

unbelief

How much of our disobedience comes from not really taking God’s words seriously and instead deciding that we are the ones to listen to?

At Times Like This

14 Apr
Keep our eyes on our awesome God.

Focusing on God’s awesomeness.

As a tent-making missionary, I’m a curriculum coordinator at an American school in Costa Rica.  As Mike and I are preparing to return to the States after 17 years on the mission field, the first question my co-workers ask is, “Why are you going back NOW?” followed by a list somewhat like this:  “There’s no good candidate to vote for, healthcare’s a mess, and the country is polarized.”  And yes, we also run into conspiracy theorists here and from the states.

I can’t pretend that there are not times when a bit of worry creeps in.  But God.  It’s always “but God,” isn’t it?  But God showed me this passage from Isaiah.

11 For in this way the Lord spoke to me with His strong hand [upon me] and instructed me not to walk in the way of this people [behaving as they do], saying,

12 “You are not to say, ‘It is a conspiracy!’ 
      In regard to all that this people call a conspiracy,
      And you are not to fear what they fear nor be in dread of it.
13 “It is the Lord of hosts whom you are to regard as holy and awesome.
     He shall be your fear,
     He shall be your dread [not man].
14b “Then He shall be a sanctuary [a sacred, indestructible shelter for those who fear and trust Him];  (Isaiah 8:11-14b)

At the time the situation in Israel was terrible–they had an evil King (Ahaz), several countries were ready to pounce on Israel, and there was a spiritual famine and drought in the land.  Fear against these things can put us on crooked courses to preserve our own security, where a believing fear (reverence) preserves us against a disquieting fear of man (M. Henry).

S.T.O.P.

26 Feb
CAM00034

As you can plainly see, I’m having difficulty with the “O” in S.T.O.P..

I recently attended a workshop on executive functions–which just means what you need to do to execute anything.  The acronym we were taught was S.T.O.P..

S = Space

T = Time

O = Objects

P = People

For example, if I’m leaving work and want to stop at the grocery store before a 6:00 appointment, I need to think of the route I want to take (Space), I need to work backwards from 6:00 and think of the drive time to and from the grocery store and determine how much time I can spend at the grocery store (Time).  I also need to think of what I need to bring, like my wallet and passport and what I need to buy (Objects).  And of course, I need to think of Mike’s likes and dislikes when I grocery shop and the person that I’m meeting at 6:00 (People).

I was thinking about executive functions in the spiritual realm.

S = Space – We are pilgrims in this world, just passing through. Our citizenship is in heaven. Psalm 84:5; Hebrews 11:13; 1 Peter 2:11

T = Time – We need to use our time well now, but will soon live in eternity. Ecclesiastes 3:11; Isaiah 57:15; Ephesians 5:16; Colossians 4:5

O = Objects – We hold them lightly and know how to be content with much or little. Acts 2:45; Philippians 4:11; 1 Timothy 6:8

P = People – We treat them as we would like to be treated, loving them unconditionally and giving grace and mercy.  Matthew 7:12; John 13:34

What do you think?

 

 

 

 

 

Obsessed with Isaiah: Chapter 1 ~ Choose Wisely

24 Dec

 

2013-12-30 10.34.20In chapter 1, God speaks to Judah through His prophet, Isaiah, about the choices they’ve made–choices we can make as well.

…The ox knows its owner, and the donkey its master’s crib, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.  v. 3

To know means to know experientially, not just intellectually.  And to understand means to show oneself discerning and consider diligently.  Further, in v. 4 God says that His people have despised the Holy One of Israel.  It sounds–and is–terrible when we read about it and I know I immediately begin to judge the people of Judah, but the better choice is to ask God to investigate my heart and give me a spiritual check up. Am I taking the time to know Him experientially?  To seek Him diligently?

Our choices lead to consequences.  Always.  Since our God is a God of 2nd, 3rd, and 4th chances, He offers us the opportunity to be changed:

Come now, let us reason together says the Lord:  though your sins are as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.  v. 18

Do you hear the love?  The hope of change? To reason together literally means to stand in the sunshine together.  It means to bring our sin to the light.  To be convicted of our sin so we can turn from it.  If we do not choose to reason with God, He will mercifully do what it takes to humble us and bring us back to the path of righteousness.  He says,

I will turn my hand against you and will smelt away your dross as with lye and remove all your alloy.  And I will restore your judges as at the first, and your counselors as at the beginning.  Afterward you shall be called the city of righteousness, the faithful city. v. 26

Selah.