Just a Question

But some of the Pharisees said, “Why do you do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” Luke 6:2

Lots of great discoveries are made because someone asks a simple question but sometimes the person asking the question does not really want an answer, they just want to see you squirm.

The Pharisees often tried to trap Jesus with their questions and that was their intent here; they had seen Jesus’ disciples picking and eating grain from the field.  Deuteronomy 23:25 specifically permits plucking grain by hand;  it was the use of harvesting tools that was prohibited.

Jesus, instead of ignoring them, asks them a question.  He asks them a question about The Bible and their own history. Jesus refers to the time when a hungry David took bread from the temple (1 Samuel 21), bread that had been dedicated to God, holy bread.

I love how the living Word, the Word made flesh, uses The Bible to expose their motives and reveal the true state of their hearts to themselves, Jesus already knows what they are thinking.   And that is what The Bible does, as we read it and meditate upon it we learn of a holy God, we see ourselves as we truly are; lost sinners in need of a Savior.  Jesus Himself is the answer to every question of your soul, ask Him your questions.

Just Passing Through…

Now it happened that He (Jesus) was passing through some grainfields on a Sabbath – Luke 6:1

Most of the time when we read of Jesus, He is still; He is teaching, sitting, healing or speaking to a crowd.  Here we see Him passing through on a Sabbath, this is “not the norm” for Jesus and it gives me pause…

Is Jesus just passing through in my life, in my heart, in my home, or, worse, would he just pass unnoticed through my church?

I hope not.  I invited Jesus into my heart, I want Him to make His home there, to dwell and abide with me.  He is ready and willing to abide with me.  What changes must I make to spend time with Him, to allow Him to be “at home” with me.

Would Jesus be welcome to enter my church with His dusty feet and worn robe?  Is my church the kind of place where Jesus would want to sit?  How about His companions, the prostitutes, the tax-collector’s, the beggar’s – what kind of welcome would they experience?  Would Jesus be invited to sit in the front or would He be directed to a more hidden corner, off to the side?

What would Jesus think about what He hears and observes in my home, in my church?

I don’t want a “passing through” Jesus, I want Jesus to take over, to set up camp, to feel welcome and blessed.  I want Jesus to have the keys, to take ownership, to my home, my church, my heart.  How about you?

Happy Anniversary to Us

Today is our 29th Wedding Anniversary.  Yes, I know, most people don’t get too excited about #29; we celebrate 25 or 50 but not 29 so much.  The past 16 months have seen a lot changes in our lives, all good but not always smooth.  I am excited about this anniversary; God has pushed, pulled, nudged and carried us every day for the past 29 years.  He has brought us to a good place to live and a good place in our relationship – it has cost something to get here.  It has not always been easy or fun but it has been worth it.

A blogger I read and  admire is “Insanitybytes”, her blog is titled, See, there’s this thing called biology…”  A recent post dealt with that polarizing subject,  Submission.  Her post, combined with our anniversary has made me think about marriage and my own challenge with understanding and living in Biblical submission to this man God has given me.

My husband and I are both the first-born in each of our families, we are also both strong, opinionated leaders who lived independent lives before being married.   With two determined personalities in one small house someone had to be in charge or our crazy train would have derailed long ago.

Like it or not we are ALL under authority and we all must submit; someone has to be in charge, has to have the last word.  We all have supervisors, teachers,’ bosses, ,police, and government officials that we submit to in order to get our work done and to maintain an orderly society.  In our household, my husband is the authority.  In God’s Biblical design for the family, it is the husband, the male head of the household who has the last word.  And that is the clearest way to explain submission – the Greek word is actually, “hupotasso” which means to place in order, to come under authority; SOMEONE has to lead.

In a Jesus-centered and loving marriage, both husband and wife are equal and both should be able to voice their opinions and thoughts on all matters and both should be always be heard and their opinions seriously considered and discussed.  The wife is accountable to God to honor and respect her husband; the husband is accountable to God to LAY DOWN HIS LIFE  for his wife.  The husband’s calling is much more serious and carries greater responsibility; he is responsible to love and protect her and to sacrifice his own needs and wants for her.

In every marriage, there are disagreements and some of them are serious.  Submission comes into play when couples reach in impasse on these disagreements.  A decision needs to be made.  Whose will or opinion will prevail?  Unless my husband is choosing something that is in clear violation of the Word of God, he decides.  I trust that he has been listening to and seeking God’s will, I accept that he is the God-appointed leader over me, I have faith that God has a plan and purpose and I submit to my husband.  Most disagreements are not about matters that are contrary to God’s Word; we disagree about money, about jobs, about how to discipline (or not discipline) the children.  Even when a husband is not a Christ-follower, the wife is to let him lead the household; she is to submit.

This has not always been easy, in fact there were many times when it was incredibly difficult.  I am grateful that God gave me a husband who truly wants to be a good husband, who wants to do it God’s way and whose intention towards me has always been good.  He has made decisions I did not always agree with and I kept silent as we slogged our way through; some of his decisions were good and right, but, not all in my opinion.  He has respected my opinion and often taken my advice.  We each have our strengths, weaknesses and preferences and are content to let the other lead in their area of strength or preference.  A good example of this was parenting our young kids; I was and am much more patient and able to stay home, dealing with tantrums and endless viewings of Disney classics; he was much more adventurous and took them to the park where they could climb and get muddy.

It has been 29 years of learning, adjusting, discussion, compromise, laughter and tears.  A sense of humor and commitment to making it work, never, NEVER allowing the “D” word, and prayer have sustained us through some pretty tough times; we truly are better together.  Has it gotten easier?  Yes, but there are days we each retreat to our corner of the house, cool off and then re-group, re-visit, discuss again.  And that is key, don’t stay in your corner, be willing to admit to being wrong, to making the first move to reconciliation, to look for the log in your own eye.

I recognize that what has been true for me is not true for everyone ; even in those households where both husband and wife say they are following Jesus. If you are in a situation that is abusive, none of this applies to you – you need to be in a place of safety and your husband needs to be held accountable for his actions.

If you are struggling with your marriage and/or the whole idea of submission, talk to God, search His Word and seek wise, Biblical counsel.  Don’t use your differences of opinion as a loophole to abandon a difficult marriage but as an opportunity for personal growth and closeness to God.  Marriage is not for everyone and it is certainly not easy but, for me, I would do it all again and am hoping for another 29 years!

Happy Anniversary, Honey!

Scars You Cannot See

What did you want to be when you grew up?  At various ages and stages, I wanted to be a model, an airline stewardess, a teacher, a dancer, and a secretary.  It turned out I have been exactly none of those!  Lots of girls my age wanted to be nurses; I knew at an early age that anything medical was not for me.  I cannot stand the sight of blood, it’s difficult for me to be around sick people and I am famously not compassionate; yep, the Gift of Mercy completely bypassed me.

Years ago, my husband had surgery on his knee – it did not go well.  He was in the hospital for two weeks and came home on crutches with the knee swathed in a huge bandage.  He needed help changing the dressings.  As much as I wanted to help, I could not do it.  He had to first manage to cover the wound so I could not see it; then and only then was I able to help him finish the wrapping process.

When a man covered in leprosy comes to Jesus and Jesus touches this man, my stomach twists.  Leprosy or Hansen’s Disease, can cause severe disfiguring skin sores, large lumps and nerve damage.  Damage to the nerves of its victims results in further injury since burns or cuts are not felt, the injuries easily become infected which causes more severe damage and scarring.  Leprosy is not actually as contagious as thought years ago and can be cured with antibiotics.

In Jesus day, the priest was the one who would examine and diagnose the person who suspected leprosy and in that day, it was a death sentence.  The leper was required to shave his head, tear his clothes, and shout, “Unclean, unclean” when approaching people or towns.  A leper could not worship at the temple and was required to live outside the city walls; alone, isolated, unable to work, a leper suffered physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

The leper in Luke 5 comes to Jesus and falls at his feet. He implores Jesus with the words, “Lord, if you are willing, You can make me clean.”  There is so much to learn in these words and in Jesus response to this man:

  • He fell on his face – what better place to be – at the feet of Jesus!  The man totally humbled himself, he held nothing back.  What are the things I think I can handle myself?  Is there a part of me I am holding back from Jesus?
  • He calls him, “Lord” – Jesus is Lord and is worthy of worship!
  • He implores Jesus – he recognized his condition was desperate.  I need to recognize how desperate I am for Jesus ALL the time!  Jesus is the answer to every need, every question. I need to come to Him quickly and often, not just in times of crisis.
  • He understands Jesus right to refuse any request – God is sovereign and nothing happens without His permission.  Sometimes His answer is not what I am hoping or asking for; I need to trust Him to respond with what is best.
  • He believes Jesus is able – Jesus ability is limitless.  I need to approach with confidence in Him, not myself or the urgency or intensity of my need.
  • Jesus touched him – how long had it been since this leper had felt a human touch, seen a kind look on another face?  Jesus knows what I need and can touch the most wounded place in any heart.  How willing am I to extend a hand to someone who is hurting?  To risk rejection or hurt for another’s sake?
  • Jesus was willing – Jesus stands ready to help, to save all who ask and He knows exactly how and when to help.

Jesus heals the leper and sends him away with instructions to tell no one and follow the law by visiting the priest and offering the required sacrifices.  I wonder what the leper’s life was like after his healing.  He probably failed on the “tell no one” part since the next sentence (Luke 5:15) says that crowds were coming for healing so somebody said something for sure!  But how could he keep silent?  He went from a life of daily suffering and torment to a pain-free life of freedom and that is heart of the story, the heart of Jesus right there.  Jesus is willing to take us from a half-life to a whole life in every aspect.

Not all of us carry visible reminders of past injuries.  My husband still has deep, very noticeable scars on his knee, nearly 30 years later they remain.  When the leper in Luke 5 was healed, all of him was healed.  Jesus healed him of all visible wounds and marks, restored any lost fingers and toes, fixed the disfigured face, smoothed out the lumps.  But what about the scars that cannot be seen; the scars on his heart of rejection, fear, loss family and friends, of feelings of uselessness and ugliness.  These scars that you cannot see are universal; not all of us carry scars from physical injuries but all of us are wounded and hurting in some way.   Jesus is willing to heal the deepest wounds of your heart and the scars on your broken spirit; the scars no one can see.  Jesus took the leper from a life of pain to a life of happiness; from barely surviving to thriving; from isolation to crowds and He can take you, too.  Ask Jesus for  what you need, He is listening, He is willing, trust Him for the best answer – not what you want but what you need.  He is Lord.

What Do You See When You Look at the Cross?

Take a moment to listen to this beautiful hymn…

My Story, My Song

It’s a thing of beauty, the cross. It symbolizes our freedom from ourselves. It was a necessary tool used by a skilled Carpenter to build a bridge from us to God.

We see crosses everywhere, especially during Easter. They are decorated, they are displayed, they are worn on our clothes and around our necks.

What do you see when you look at the cross? This thing of beauty is also a terrible thing. Our Savior died a cruel death upon it. The cross wore all of our sin.

There was a moment when God in His holiness could not even look at the cross. “Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?” that is, “MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?” Matthew 27:6 

God looked at…

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Glad I’m unable

Now to Him who is able…Ephesians 3:20

This is the day, this is the time.  No more waiting or hesitation.  This moment will never come again, it cannot be “done over”; it is a once and done moment and in the blink of an eye, the next moment is here.  We are captured by time and there are no guarantees in this life except for the breath I am on in this moment.  What are you hesitating over?  “Don’t put it off, do it now!” Proverbs 6:4 (NLT)

God is so mighty and majestic, awesome in power, abundant in mercy.  If I were to see Him right now my eyeballs would melt right out of their sockets, like the soldiers in the Indiana Jones movie!!  My mind would expand and blow up, it could not absorb His greatness, His light.  I would die, no one can look at God and live.  But God sent Jesus.  The holy one, the promised Son, the image of the invisible God.  Jesus walked among people, they were able to look at Him, touch Him, hear the sound of His voice. “He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.  He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.” Isaiah 53:2 -3  I can see Him through Scripture and that is enough; I know someday I WILL see Him face to face and it will be glorious.  I believe He is my Lord and that God raised Him from the dead and He gives me eternal life.  Do you believe this?  If not, what is holding you back?

God alone is able.  I am completely and totally unable to be or do anything other than who and what God created me to be.  Even in that, my power, strength, stamina, ability, and knowledge is profoundly limited.  Are you self-reliant?  God is showing me I am weak in so many area’s of my life.  But He is teaching me to celebrate and not fear my weaknesses because through them God’s power and life in me is perfected and made strong.  At the same time, I can celebrate my unique personality and talents as gifts from Him, keeping me in balance.  As I listen to His voice, I decrease and He increases.  God is leading me from self-esteem to God-esteem, self-image to God-image, self-confidence to God-confidence.

I am glad I am unable, it is freedom!

One of those days…

Taking a quick walk outside the office it hit me again…God is so majestic and awesome, He created this beautiful world, He makes the sunshine and keeps the sun in its place.  He made the water and the water is sparkling with sunshine.  He made a variety of trees and plants in the world to give shade and beauty; He made it all and it is good.

He has made me able to walk around and enjoy His beauty, to feel the sunshine, to hear the birds.  He put me in this beautiful place.  He gave me a job and a mind to learn.  He gave me a family, people to care about and people who care about me.  He gave me His only Son.  He delights in me. He gives me joy.

He is God and there is no other.

Feeling Foolish

In case you haven’t noticed the world is full of fools.  And, they seem to be multiplying!

Among fools there are several different varieties.  There are fools that are just plain ignorant and don’t know any better.  The “anything for a laugh” fool will go to extremes to get attention, loads of these fools on You Tube and Vine.  Fools have always been around, the Bible has a few stories about fools, Balaam comes to mind here (see Numbers 22 for his story).  And there are the fools who totally deny the existence of God, “The fool said in his heart, “There is no God.”  Psalm 14:1

But who or what is the worst kind of fool?  It is the fool who has made a god according to his or her own design.  “For a fool speaks nonsense, And his heart inclines toward wickedness: To practice ungodliness and to speak error against the Lord, To keep the hungry person unsatisfied And to withhold drink from the thirsty.” Isaiah 32:6 This is the fool who believes that there is a god and perhaps even believes in the God of the Bible.  The fool who lives by a set of rules that is an amalgam of personal feelings, preferences and God’s Word.  The fool who sometimes sits in church Sunday but then does whatever makes her/him feel good Monday through Saturday.   The fool who visits church after church trying to find the “one that fits” instead of the one preaching truth.  The fool whose life is a mess, who keeps on doing the same foolish things over and over and just cannot figure out why their life is a mess.  The arrogant fool who believes that he/she can pick and choose when and how to obey God and that somehow God will not only understand and forgive but bless.  God is so big, so powerful, so omnipotent, He does not fit our mold or conform to our image, we are to allow Him to transform us into His image as He renews our mind.  It is all Him and none of us.

But there is one more kind of fool.  The kind of fool who does not follow the standards and goals of this world.  The kind of fool who has decided to follow Christ fully; who is all in for God and His Word.  The 1 Corinthians 4:10 fool, “We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are prudent in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are distinguished, but we are without honor.

Being a fool is a choice.  Which kind of fool are you?  Which kind do you want to be?  What steps do you need to take to change?  I chose Christ’s fool, the one I want to be, hoping to be more foolish every day!

Risk Analysis

“You know, I got a hunch, fat man. I got a hunch it’s me from here on in. One ball, corner pocket. I mean, that ever happen to you? You know, all of a sudden you feel like you can’t miss? ‘Cause I dreamed about this game, fat man. I dreamed about this game every night on the road. Five ball. You know, this is my table, man. I own it.”

“Fast Eddie” Felson is about to risk it all in the movie, “The Hustler”.  The entire roll of cash, everything he has, in a game of pool against the great “Minnesota Fats”.  I love stories of gamblers, all kinds of gamblers.  The gamblers who risk their lives climbing mountains, gamblers who risk their lives exploring new places, gamblers who risk their reputation to follow a vision.  Many of our great heroes were gamblers – they believed so strongly in their dream, they risked everything to achieve it.  Every gambler makes an assessment of the risks versus the rewards by looking at all the elements of the game as well as each player, sometimes they do this in seconds, sometimes they spend years analyzing.  But then the moment of decision arrives, stay or go, bet or go home, do or not do.

Rahab was a gambler.  She is first mentioned in the Old Testament book of Joshua, and we learn a lot about her in her first appearance: she lives in the city of Jericho, she is a harlot, she allows Joshua’s 2 spies to stay in her house.  She is also a liar, the King of Jericho sent men to find these spies, when they show up at Rahab’s house she admits they were there but says she had sent them away.  In fact, the men were hidden on her roof among the stalks of flax.

When Rahab lied to the King’s men she gambled her own life and the lives of everyone in her house.  Kings had absolute power and there was no democratic process.  What convinced Rahab that the risk of hiding these foreign spies was worth the risk?  The answer is found here:

Now before they lay down, she came up to them on the roof, and said to the men, “I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed.  When we heard it, our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.

Rahab knew the Lord was giving the Israelites the land, she knew the people of Jericho were terrified of them.  She had heard the stories of how God had taken them out of Egypt and given them victory in battle and most importantly, she knew and believed that this God was the one true God the Lord of heaven and earth.

The spies promise to spare her life and the life of her family IF she keeps silent and when they conquer Jericho.  Notice (verse 15) exactly where Rahab lives, “her house was on the city wall, so that she was living on the wall.”  You probably know what happens to Jericho but if not, read Joshua chapter 6.  Rahab ties a scarlet cord to her window to mark and protect her house from the impending invasion.  This red cord was a vivid marker to say, “Here I am” and also to say, “I believe!”

The walls of Jericho fall flat but God preserves and protects Rahab and reminds Joshua of the spies promise to her.  Everything she owns and her fathers family are all spared, Jericho and it’s people are utterly destroyed.

But the story of Rahab does not quite end there, “she has lived in the midst of Israel to this day, for she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.”  Joshua 6:25

Rahab is mentioned again in Matthew 1:5, only one of three women in the genealogy of Jesus, Rahab lives in the midst of Israel to this day.

In Hebrews 11:31, Rahab lived by faith, trusting in God for her life and future, when she welcomed the spies in peace, living in the midst of Israel to this day.

James 2:25 Rahab was justified by her works, gave evidence of her faith, when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way, living in the midst of Israel to this day.

I love this story of a woman who gambled everything for her God.  And not just any woman, a harlot – this identity is used in every mention of her except Matthew.  God wants us to know that Rahab was a woman the world scorned, looked down on, gossiped about, and marginalized but look what God does with and for her!  Her story, her name, she herself, lives on in the lineage of Jesus Christ.

Rahab risked it all for a very great reward – an eternal heritage.  When the Kings men pounded on her door what went through her mind?  Based on her actions, I am sure she thought, “This God will save me.

She was right.  And He is still saving anyone, anywhere, anytime.  Just ask Him.

Header image from: Photo by James Barker. Published on 16 December 2008
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