So much of life is waiting. . .

As a Christian, I am waiting for a lot--for God to do His refining work in me, for Jesus to return, for me to GET how much God loves me and for me to see what He is doing . . .

What to do in the meantime? I have learned much about what the Lord is trying to teach me, tell me and show me through the discipline of daily time spent reading the Bible. So often we make this time harder than it has to be.

This blog was born out of wanting to share what God is showing me and wanting to be an example that daily time with God is not a deep or mysterious thing (well, every once in a while it can be), but simply a time to read scripture and note what jumps out at you that day. We don't have to be scholars or super-holy or ministry leaders to do this. Some days I hit the jackpot and others I come up empty--but only by persevering do I give God the space in which to speak and myself the stillness in which to hear and obey.

As of June of 2017, I've now decided to include parts of our adoption journey, which is, so far, yet another chapter of waiting.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Open Our Eyes

Nearing the end of the book of Matthew, Jesus is heading to Jerusalem for the Passover before His crucifixion. On the way, He meets two blind beggars (Matthew 20:30-34):

And behold, there were two blind men sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was passing by, they cried out, "Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!" The crowd rebuked them, telling them to be silent, but they cried out all the more, "Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!" And stopping, Jesus called them and said, "What do you want me to do for you?" They said to him, "Lord, let our eyes be opened." And Jesus in pity touched their eyes, and immediately they recovered their sight and followed him.

I've always liked this account because I like how the beggars cry out "all the more" after the crowd rebuked them. I've always envied their persistence and their faith that, if Jesus would just hear them, He would heal them.

Today I noticed the sequence of events: The beggars called out to the Lord, asking for their eyes to be opened. Jesus touched their eyes, they recovered their sight, and they followed Him.

It's a lot like the sequence of salvation: We cry out to God for Him to show us Himself. He opens our eyes and hearts to see and believe who He is, and our response should be to follow Him.

Extending the analogy further, even as we are following Christ, there are times when our eyes are shut (or we think they are) and we can't see the next step, or can't understand what God is doing in our life. I think we need to be like the beggars, calling out to the Lord to have mercy on us and to open our eyes to what He is doing. It may not (probably won't) happen right away--who knows how long the beggars had sat by that side of the road, waiting for the Messiah, but Jesus will, in His time, come and open our eyes.

The analogy breaks down a bit in the fact that we need to follow Jesus sometimes even when we can't see where we are going. We need to have faith in who He has already shown Himself to be to us and keep walking, trusting that He will open our eyes to what He wants us to see when the time is right.

Would that I would to be as persistent and shameless as those beggars in seeking the healing of Jesus.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Needing the Gospel Everyday

Friday mornings are a little less rushed for me because I don't exercise on Fridays, so I actually made the time to pray this morning. Sometimes I run out of time for that in the morning, and I have been missing that time with the Lord.

Today's time with Him was a day when I was reminded (and this thought is certainly not original to me) that I need the gospel everyday. There is not a day that passes that I don't sin. Sometimes I start to think more highly of myself that I ought, thinking that I'm getting a handle on some things, or that I'm understanding the Bible better. . . However, my sin, life, and even the Lord Himself have a way of reminding me that, underneath any apparent successes or improvements, I'm still the same sinful creature that is desperate for the grace of God.

Not a Bible verse today, but I was reminded of the line that John Newton says in the movie "Amazing Grace": "I remember two things clearly: I am a great sinner and Christ is a great savior."

Thursday, January 28, 2010

What Do We Want? Deliverance! When Do We Want It? Now!

Continuing in Exodus. Moses and Aaron have just spoken to the enslaved Israelites and told them how the Lord has remembered them and is going to deliver them. Everyone's excited--the people believed and worshiped the Lord (end of Chapter 4). Moses & Aaron head to the Pharaoh to demand that he let the people go. Nope. Pharaoh instead burdens the people with higher and higher requirements on them--no straw to make the bricks, but no lessening of the daily quota.

Reaction of the people (Exodus 5:20-21):

They met Moses and Aaron, who were waiting for them, as they came out from Pharaoh; and they said to them, "The LORD look on you and judge, because you have made us stink in the sight of Pharaoh and his servants, and have put a sword in their hand to kill us."

"Deliverance? Yeah, right. Now it's worse than ever. Time passed since the worship and belief? Doesn't sound like very long in the text--the next day? A few days later?

Moses' response to the Lord (Exodus 5:22-23):

Then Moses turned to the LORD and said, "O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all."

Sometimes we think that we are the only generation to be so impatient--and no doubt e-mail, instant-messaging, and cell phones have contributed to our tendency for instant gratification. However, this story shows me that the desire to have what we want NOW is inherent in being human.

The Israelites wanted a good thing. The Lord had promised them deliverance. Yet, it was not a quick or easy deliverance. If someone knows the time span of all 10 plagues, please let me know. The first one lasted a week, and then there were 9 more. Pharah said "Yes", then "No", and then the whole cycle started again. Even when the Israelites were let go, then they were pursued by the Egyptians. Even after the Egyptian army was destroyed, they had to travel in the desert. They had to fight battles. Then they complained, disobeyed, and denied the goodness of God, and added 40 years to the experience. Were they delivered? Yes. Was it quick? No.

The verse that jumped out at me most was Moses saying to the Lord that He had not delivered His people at all. Moses immediately decided that God had not done what God had promised. So often I don't give God time to work--I pray, and then, if the request is not granted in 24 hours or less, well, then God didn't do it. We are so impatient to want answers yesterday.

On the surface the premise can be discouraging--yes, God sometimes gives specific promises to deliver us from our circumstances. Does He do this quickly? Sometimes. But there are many examples in the Bible of long-term trials: The Israelites in the desert. Joseph in prison. Job. We know the ending of those stories--that deliverance arrives. I need to have faith in my circumstances that deliverance (one way or another) will come, but it's just not here yet!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Will We Turn Aside to See?

Today's portion in Exodus chronicled Moses being called by the Lord. These verses were what I noticed today, from Exodus 3:2-4:

And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. And Moses said, "I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned." When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, "Moses, Moses!" And he said, "Here I am."

Moses noticed the bush, and then decided to "turn aside" to really explore what was happening. He could have just moved on--a job to do, sheep to lead--but he didn't. His attention was caught by something unusual, something not of this world, and he stopped to investigate. Then I like that the verses say that the Lord saw that Moses turned aside, and then God called to him. The sequence wasn't that God called and then Moses looked, but that Moses turned to look at what God was already doing, and then heard the voice of the Lord.

I need to do this as well--to be alert to where God is working. I need to stop and look when something "not-of-this-world" is happening, and then listen and look for God. Sometimes I am so busy listening for the loud "Hey, Edna, over here!" that I probably miss the opportunities to see what God is already doing, and to hear how He wants me to join Him. May we all not miss the "burning bushes" in our midst!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Many are the Plans. . .

. . . in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails (Proverbs 19:21).

I have been thinking about this verse as I read the stories in Genesis and Exodus. One of my favorite stories in the Bible is the story of Joseph, because of how clearly it shows the sovereignty of God and how it encourages me to never give up. Joseph was sold by his brothers into slavery, then falsely accused of rape and put in prison for about two years, and then promised to be remembered to the Pharaoh by a fellow prisoner who was set free, then forgotten, and then finally God orchestrates matters to liberate him. His brothers come back 20 years later, begging for food; Joseph reveals himself to them and they are overcome with guilt and fear. Joseph's reply in Genesis 45:5 and 7 (NIV):

And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. . .But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.

And, more well known, in Genesis 50: 19-20, Joseph reassures his brothers after their father, Jacob, dies:

But Joseph said to them, "Don't be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives."

God was in control all along, and had a purpose and a plan.

Today I read in Exodus 1 and 2 about the birth of Moses, and, again, God is at work. The Pharaoh has declared that all Hebrew male babies be destroyed, because he is afraid that boys grow into men who turn into soldiers to defeat their oppressors. Pharaoh is apparently not worried about the women. Yet, it is the Hebrew midwives who fear the Lord and disobey Pharaoh that help save Moses (and others). It is Moses' mother who hides him for three months, his sister who carries him to the river and then boldly secures for his mother the job of wet nurse, and Pharaoh's daughter who rescues Moses from the river. Women are central to the rescue and preservation of Moses' life. Again, God is working in the details.

These stories are what strengthen my faith when I or my loved ones are the ones who are in the prison for no reason, or who are facing unfair persecution or circumstances. God is indeed working all things together for good (Romans 8:28: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.).

Friday, January 22, 2010

Just Go Away

Here in sunny Houston, reading in Matthew 14 about Jesus feeding the five thousand. I have read this story probably 400 times in my life, and yet, once again, there is a "new" verse included in the narrative. Jesus had gone away to be alone, but the crowds followed Him. He has pity on them and spends the day healing them, but evening is coming. The disciples reason that it's getting late and there's no 7-11 around the corner to grab some nachos, so they decide that Jesus needs to tell the crowd to go home. After all, no one invited them to this place, so they are under no obligation to take care of the people, right? The disciples tell Jesus to send the crowds away. Jesus says, in verse 16:

"They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat."

Um. . . what? Why do we have to give them something to eat? Not my job. Not my problem. These thoughts would be going through my head (and probably coming out my mouth). There are times when people come to my church family and they have needs. Like the disciples, I can look and think "Not my job." That attitude is not a Christlike one and obviously not the way Jesus wants me to view other people.

Then comes the simple idea that "I can't." I can't feed 5000 people. Myself and all the rest of the disciples can't feed 5000 people. Just what are you asking, Jesus? My home group is reading Max Lucado's book "Fearless", and he also talks about this story, reminding us that the disciples didn't have just five loaves and two fish. They had five loaves, two fish, and JESUS.

I have been thinking about that a lot since I read it. So often I look at the needy people around me and, sometimes, in my darkest heart and worst day, wish they would just go away. I feel inadequate to meet their needs and like I won't be able to do it. I have forgotten that it is Jesus that is telling me that they don't need to go away; I need to give them something to eat (not because I necessarily want to, but because He has compassion on them). I have forgotten that I don't have to conjure up food, only to use what I have been given and bring it to Jesus.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Along with the convicting verses, there are verses in the Bible that just seem impossible to believe. Psalm 18 is a Psalm of David, celebrating God's faithfulness to him and to Israel. Verse 19 says:

He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me.

Really? Just because He delighted in David? Does the Lord rescue me just because He delights in me? Did He come to save us because He delights in us? I think that's definitely a huge part of it. Throughout scripture, the Lord wins victories for Israel and saves them to prove His glory and uphold His reputation. The mighty God defeating a huge army with a tiny troop is a glorious thing for all to see.

Salvation is actually a far more glorious thing, but I don't think the world views it in the same way as God parting the Red Sea or making the sun stand still. If all the Lord wanted was to show His glory, it seems that dying on a cross was a roundabout way of doing that. God chose to send Jesus to die for me, for you, because He delights in us:

Hebrews 12:2:
. . . looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

We were the joy set before Him. Really? My brain can't quite grasp that. It's my hope that as I see God, He will continue to help me to understand that and live my life accordingly (and you, too).

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

It's in There

One of the things that I like about reading the Bible is when God reveals both the depth of His Word and the depth of my pride by showing me a verse that I would swear to you was not in that chapter the last time I read it. As if I could remember every verse in the book!

Today's surprise was in Matthew 13:51-52, when Jesus is speaking to the disciples after explaining several parables to them:

"Have you understood all these things?" They said to him, "Yes." And he said to them, "Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old."

Never have I noticed the last part of the verse, about bringing out "what is new and what is old", which the notes in my Bible explain as understanding how the new teachings of Jesus fit with the Old Testament teachings. As judging from my last post, I would be grateful for the ability to synthesize the Old Testament with the New Testament. What did the disciples to do earn the compliment? They came and asked Jesus to explain the parables to them. . . Ah. . .

Monday, January 18, 2010

Trying to Figure it Out

Due to various circumstances, I find myself thinking about Psalm 37:25, and its implications:

I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread.

The author of the Psalm is David. My dilemma is this: Does the Lord promise to meet the physical needs of every believer?

Interpreting Psalms is a bit tricky, because the psalms are meant to be poetry, and, as such, have to be read that way, because they use imagery and metaphor and hyperbole. The footnote in my Bible about this verse also remarks that it is made specifically about the people of Israel, who were living in community as God's chosen people.

The events in Haiti are contributing to my wrestling with this concept. Thousands of people are hungry in Haiti right now. Surely some of them are Christians? Tens of thousands of children starve to death every DAY. Surely some of them have Christian parents? Does the promise apply only to Israel?

What about the New Testament? Jesus tells us to ask for our daily bread. He says to seek first the righteousness of God and the "rest" will be added:

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:31-33)

Does this apply only in the context of living in Christian community? Because if we are living in a community of believers, then we should be providing for the needs of those in our midst. What defines community? Am I not a part of the community of the believers in Kenya? Is this a promise to be realized fully when there is a new heaven and a new earth, because, for now, satan (the little "s" is the middle finger of grammar, for all you fellow John Acuff fans) has some power in the earth?

Or, are followers of Jesus taken care of and I just don't know or believe it--or at least I don't believe the true extent of it?

I would really like some input from anyone out there reading this who has struggled with the same questions.

I fully believe that Jesus wins in the end, and that our spiritual needs are met, and that He will make it all right in the next world. But how do some of those promises apply right now, today?

Sorry, more questions than answers today!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Call a Spade a Spade

The Bible contains lots and lots of verses about loving our enemies, overlooking an offense, and forgiving. However, I think sometimes that Christians can take this to the extreme. By this statement I don't mean that we take the actions of loving, overlooking, or forgiving to an extreme, but that, in the process, we stop calling what is sin "sin," or evil "evil."

Proverbs 17:15:
He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the LORD.

People do wicked things. I do wicked things. We lie, we gossip, we cheat, we seek our own interests. All of those actions are sin. It doesn't help me for you to justify me in my sin. I think the loving, overlooking, and forgiving are so difficult because, to truly do them, we have to acknowledge that we are loving sinful people. We are overlooking wrong. We are forgiving wickedness.

The truth and miracle of the gospel is that Jesus died for wicked sinners--and that is me and that is you. The grace we are given is unmerited, unearned, unfathomable. I think we dull this reality for ourselves and others when we minimize the sin and evil in the world.

Romans 5:7-8:
For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

"Squirrel!" Saturday

Like the dogs in the Pixar movie "Up", I'm having a very distracting Saturday morning. I have a to-do list a mile long, but they are all little things. Problem is, every time I sat down to pray, then I think of just one of those little things I needed to do. I did finally manage to park myself on the sofa, thank goodness!

I'm still reading in Genesis, and I'm at the part where Jacob is setting out on his own with his entourage of 2 wives, many children, and lots and lots of livestock. As he heads out, he runs into Esau, the brother whom he had deceived and who had declared that he would kill Jacob.

Jacob sends forth gifts to appease Esau and ease the way.

The verse that I really liked this morning contained the words Jacob says to Esau when Esau tries to refuse the gifts Jacob is offering (Genesis 33:11):

Please accept my blessing that is brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough." Thus he urged him, and he took it.

To recognize that God has dealt graciously with us, and that most of us have enough physically is a large part of being grateful. I think I was struck by the verse because one of the key concepts that Wess Stafford, the president of Compassion International, talks about is that the opposite of "poverty" is not "wealth", it is "enough".

In light of the earthquake in Haiti and the heartbreaking situation there, it makes it even easier to see that most of us are incredibly blessed in the area of material things, and that it is a privilege to offer a blessing to others out of our wealth.

Friday, January 15, 2010

No Wiggle Room

Reading in Matthew 10 today, and having a hard time staying focused (the Friday morning "I'm just so tired" feeling). I was struck by these verses, spoken by Jesus (Matthew 10:34-39):

"Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."

Many people seem to want to classify Jesus as a good teacher or wise man. Most of us have probably read of heard of C.S. Lewis' reasonings about how Jesus is either a liar, a lunatic, or the Lord, and that there is no room for anything else. In fact, that supposition was one of the factors in my accepting the truth of Jesus. These verses also leave little wiggle room--what would be the perception of a teacher who told his students to love nothing better than him and to give up their lives to follow him? The only legitimacy to these commands are the truth of Jesus as Lord, and the miracle of Christ's resurrection.

"Ouch" verse of the day:

Proverbs 15:28
The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.

All these speech verse could be why Proverbs is not on my top ten books of the Bible. I'm a little scattered this morning--sorry!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Praying or Blaming

Continuing in Genesis, Isaac's son Jacob is now married to both Leah and Rachel. Leah has been given four sons, but Rachel is barren. Genesis 30:1-2:

When Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, she envied her sister. She said to Jacob, "Give me children, or I shall die!" Jacob’s anger was kindled against Rachel, and he said, "Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?"

What was interesting to me was in the study notes of my Bible. It pointed out that Jacob's mother Rebekah had also been barren, but that her husband Isaac had prayed for her:

And Isaac prayed to the LORD for his wife, because she was barren. And the LORD granted his prayer, and Rebekah his wife conceived. (Genesis 25:21)

The whole area of infertility is one fraught with heartache and pain, and I don't want to specifically even discuss the verses as it has to do with God granting or not granting children, but as it has to do with how we react to hard things.

What I noticed was the dynamic between Jacob and Rachel. First, she comes in pretty dramatically, blaming Jacob for her lack of children. Aside from the obvious, Jacob has no more control over conception than does Rachel. He reacts to her with anger and then takes his turn in blame by casting it onto God.

The contrast with what Isaac did in a similar situation was interesting. We don't know if Rebekah came to Isaac upset about not having children--I would assume she did at some point, but it isn't stated in scripture. What scripture shows us is Isaac praying for Rebekah, possibly before she even asks.

The broader application is that, so often when someone blames us for a situation, we react with anger and blame someone/something else in return, which accomplishes nothing. A better choice would be to pray about the problem, taking it to the Lord rather than reacting angrily and with accusations.

My personal application is that I can tend to feel that I need to fix whatever is wrong in a situation. If someone comes to me implying that whatever is wrong is my fault, that whips my control-freak self into a frenzy of activity characterized by bad attitude, some anger, and the tendency to blame. What I need to do is take a deep breath, pray, and then listen to the Lord.

Which is pretty much what we need to do every day, in every situation, always!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

"Ouch" Verse of the Day

Today I was reminded that one of the purposes of scripture is to convict:

2 Timothy 3:16-17: All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man [or woman] of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

I am reading through Proverbs, which I try to do a couple of times a year, and this is the verse that knocked me upside the head this morning:

Proverbs 12:15:
The vexation of a fool is known at once,but the prudent ignores an insult.

As one who often speaks first and thinks later, and often doesn't hesitate to share, loudly, what I am unhappy with at that moment. . . OUCH.

I think I have just found my next memory verse, with the goal of remembering that verse before I open my mouth to share my vexation. Who wants to be vexatious? Or a fool? Not me. Like I said, OUCH.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Despising our Birthright

I continue in Genesis, with the introduction of Jacob and Esau, the sons of Isaac and Rebecca, and the grandsons of Abraham and Sarah. Esau is the older brother, and, as such, would typically be the son who receives the blessing and the birthright from his father, in this case, Isaac, who was also the man through whom all of the nations were to be blessed. However:

Genesis 25: 29-34:
Once when Jacob was cooking stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was exhausted. And Esau said to Jacob, "Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!" (Therefore his name was called Edom). Jacob said, "Sell me your birthright now." 32Esau said, "I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?" Jacob said, "Swear to me now." So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.

My Bible's footnotes talk about what it means that Esau "despised" his birthright. Esau was next in line to be the man through whom the Lord was working out His plan to make Abraham's descendants a great nation--and to be part of the whole line of people leading to Christ. Yet in a moment of hunger, he just throws that blessing away, revealing that Esau did not value what God had promised.

So I started to think about ways that I "despise" the blessings of God. There are times when I feel lonely and His promise to provide for my needs seems far away, and I have traded time with God or the opportunity to see Him work for the quick fix of calling a friend or turning on the TV or eating some chocolate. I think all of us have times of trial when we want to trade the character work that God is doing for relief from the pain, "despising" His promise that He will bless us in our trials and that His glory will be shown.

It's too early on a Monday morning for me to totally understand what God wants to show me through this, but I will be thinking about it and trying to realize when I am throwing away a blessing for a bowl of soup.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

He Can Deal

Reading in Matthew 8:1-3 today, about Jesus healing a man with leprosy:

When he came down from the mountain,great crowds followed him. And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, "Lord, if you will, you can make me clean." And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, "I will; be clean." And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

The footnotes in my Bible (the ESV Study Bible--lots of good info/background) pointed out that Jesus touched the leper to heal him, and touched him without becoming unclean. It's easy for us to miss that point today, but there were scads of laws about people with skin diseases, and people with leprosy were not allowed to touch anyone, not even their family. Jesus did what no one else could do--touch uncleanness and make it pure.

Most of us have never met or seen anyone with leprosy. However, most of us do deal with our own brand of uncleanness, especially in the area of relationships. Lots of us struggle with being needy, clingy, jealous, guarded, controlling, or naive; all symptoms of our sin which frequently damage our relationships. Jesus is the only one who can deal with those "diseases" without becoming unclean--without being hurt, without hurting back, and without rejecting us. If we bring those feelings to Him, He can handle them without it hurting our relationship. He wants us to come to Him with those areas of our life, like the leper came, and ask for healing.

Realistically, our healing usually doesn't come as instantaneously as the leper's did--one of the results of living in between salvation and Jesus' return. But, little by little, God will help us change and help our relationships to become cleaner and cleaner.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Discipline vs. Faith

Today was a "come up empty" kind of day :-). Before I go on, I should qualify that--I believe that there is always something in scripture that we can learn from/ think about/ grow from. However, there are days when we choose to think about something because our mind knows that it's a good principle, and days when concepts/truth/verse leap off the page. "Empty" for me is a day when nothing jumps out at me.

The dilemma: To post or not to post? I am committed to keeping up with this blog and to post regularly. That is the "discipline" side of the equation--to think through what I am reading and to listen to the Lord and be faithful to record that with the hope of encouraging someone else. However, I'm also striving to be authentic and to not post something simply to check it off my list. I want to share what God shows me, and not just dig around for something that might sound good. Therein lies the faith half of the problem--to do that, I must trust that the Lord will show me truth and speak to me. If He doesn't choose to show me something on Tuesday (or if I'm not listening), then. . .no Tuesday post, and I must trust that Wednesday will be better.

Discipline versus faith is one of the key struggles of my Christian walk: Yes, I need to be disciplined to read the Bible and pray. Yet, these verses from Romans 9:15-16 are true as well:

For he says to Moses,"I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy.

God may choose to speak or not speak--and He may choose to work in "my" time of prayer or not. My part of the equation, I think, is to keep seeking and listening and looking for God's truth and His hand.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Revisiting the Golden Rule

Most of us know the Golden Rule from Matthew 7: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Sounds good on paper.

I read that verse again today, in the English Standard Version (ESV--and the version of the Bible I'm currently using):

12"So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

Somehow the different wording made me stop and think more about this verse. Do I really do this? Or am I more likely to reverse the command, and do to others what they have done to me? If they are unfriendly, well, then, I have permission to be unfriendly. If they speak rudely to me, I can speak rudely back. If they hurt me, I can hurt them--or just ignore them.

What am I really supposed to be aiming for? Since I wish that people would be friendly and initiate with me, then I need to say "hi" and invite them to activities. I would like to be treated kindly, so when I am on the phone with CenturyLink or Charter or whatever cable company/phone service, I need to treat the representative kindly (a big struggle for me) and not get snippy with them. I have hurt people and am grateful for grace and forgiveness; thus I must give it.

It always seems to come back to the basics--love God and love others because we have been loved so much and forgiven so much by God.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Whose voice?

Genesis is one of my favorite books in the Bible. I do a plan where I read through the Bible in a year and I was very happy to be finished with the minor prophets and the book of Revelation. Stories about actual people and their lives are more interesting to me than the symbols of end times, and usually I find more applicable verses. That's just me!

Chapter 16 in Genesis is talking about Abram and Sarai. God had told Abram that He would give Sarai and Abram a son--in fact, that Abram's offspring would be as numerous as the stars in the sky. However, Abram and Sarai were old--in their seventies and eighties, and, problem was, it was taking forever--years and years and years. So Sarai comes up with a plan, and shares it with Abram:

1 Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar. 2And Sarai said to Abram, "Behold now, the LORD has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her." And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai.

Whenever I listen to a voice that isn't the Lord's, and any time that I take advice from other people without lining it up with scripture and praying about it, I am at risk of making a decision that is not wise. The Lord uses other people to speak to our lives, and to share wisdom, but I have to be sure and match up their words with what the Bible says, and compare it to what God has told me. Abram didn't do that--he listened to Sarai instead of trusting the Lord to do what He said, and hurt and heartache happened because of that.

Just good reminder for me!