Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Perception




There are a lot of skewed perceptions in the story of Job. At the beginning of the story Satan accused God of having a hedge of protection around Job and in chapter 3 we hear Job's perception of that hedge: 

"Why is life given to a man whose path is hidden, whom God has hedged in?"  

God's protection felt like a trap to Job.  He felt fenced in when in reality God was keeping Satan out!

Then there are Job's friends who assume that Job is being punished for sin even though God had just told Satan that he was blameless and upright. I think why they assume that is summed up in 5:27 when Eliphaz says "this is what we have searched out; it is true".  They were so busy gossiping, trying to prove their knowledge and "searching it out" they didn't stop to think that they didn't know the whole story.  Their skewed perception caused pain and led Job to doubt his innocence.  Therefore, in chapter 7 Job is lamenting. 

His physical pain was both drawn-out and agonizing but his greatest struggle was within.  He was having a spiritual crisis and had to deal with the fact God wasn't acting the way that Job always thought God would and should act. God wasn't meeting his expectations.  In Job 7:20 he says,

 "If I have sinned, what have I done to You, Watcher and Keeper of mankind?  Why have You made me Your targetso that I have become a burden to You?"

 He had no knowledge of what was going on in the spiritual realm and thought that God rather than Satan was his tormentor.  He couldn't see the whole picture and therefore thought he was a target for God's wrath and punishment.  In reality, God was watching with silent compassion and Fatherly pride.  God was setting him up for honor and blessing!  

How often is my view distorted?  It is dangerous to think I see the whole picture. I never want to assume I know all of someone else's story and cause them pain.  I want to choose to trust God and act in faith even when it feels like God isn't meeting my expectations! He is, after all, much bigger than I can imagine and can do so much more than I expect. 

Father, today I want to ask that you keep me from skewed perceptions and help me to trust You in the big and small details of life.  Remind me that often you are working behind the scenes in ways that I can't see. Thank you for fencing me in and for being a Watcher and Keeper of mankind, seeing and knowing all!    


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

From Glory To Glory


I've not only heard the phrase, "If it's not one thing, it's another!",  I've declared it many times. The saying is like a curse; a training of the brain to look for and expect bad things. But as I've contemplated it, I've decided the adage is biblical.

2 Corinthians 3:18 says:

 Now all of us, with our faces unveiled, reflect the glory of the Lord as if we are mirrors; and so we are being transformed, metamorphosed, into His same image from one radiance of glory to another, just as the Spirit of the Lord accomplishes it.

  • If it's not one thing...it's another
  • If it's not the Old Covenant (law)....it's the New Covenant (grace!) 
  • If it's not death... it's life
  • If it's not dark....it's light.
  • If it's not ashes...it's beauty (Isaiah 61:3)
God loves restoring and transforming from glory to glory!  It's a process of being transformed, growing in the knowledge of God, growing in relationship with God from an acquaintance, to a deep intimacy, to finally one day seeing Him face to face.  

I'm reminded of the story of Enoch.  We are told in Genesis 5:22-24 that "Enoch walked with God, and was not".  Hebrews 11:5 says "By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him.  Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God".  Enoch lived life well.  Now, this obviously isn't in the Bible, but here's how I imagine it happening:  Enoch walked with God each day learning to know Him in new and exciting ways, choosing to  please God, reflecting His glory.  Then one day God came to Enoch and said something like, "Enoch, you've been transformed so much, gotten to know my character so intimately, that the only thing left is to come see me face to face!"  From glory to glory. From one epiphany to the next. 

Instead of looking for the next bad thing to happen, it's time to train ourselves to look for God's goodness and then mirror it. We should be asking the Holy Spirit to teach us, allowing Him to transform us into a reflection of Him:  from one radiance of glory to another.    "If it's not one thing, it's another!" that may become one of my favorite declarations.  

Wednesday, August 2, 2017


















My sister, Becky Dietz and I were discussing the subject of Job's wife, and she had such great insight I asked her to co-author a blog with me.  I'm glad I did!  Here's the outcome of that collaboration:

Job had a pretty good life.  He was, though not perfect, a man devoted to God.  In fact, in Job 2:3 God Himself said of Job, "No one else on earth is like him, a man of perfect integrity, who fears God and turns away from evil.” His reputation was infallible. Job was a man of wealth and a father to seven sons and three daughters.  His family appeared to have a happy and close relationship. They would have a feast "each on his appointed day" (probably their birthday) and invite each other to the parties.  After the feast, Job would offer a sacrifice in case any of his children had sinned in their hearts. 

Then, one day, God looks upon Job and with pride, and asks Satan the life changing question for Job. "Have you considered my servant Job?" With that simple question, Job loses everything, his animals, servants, and finally his sons and daughters.  Everything, that is, but his wife.

I had never considered before why Satan the accuser chose not to kill Job's wife.  But why kill her if you can use her?  Satan first afflicted Job with painful boils all over his body. Then he attacked Job through the words of his wife, "Why don't you curse God and die?"  Satan knows better than we do how powerful our influence is over our husbands.  Her words are actually suggesting treason against God. "Declare a rebellion and insurrection against God and His kingdom!"  

How many of you wives have ever thought, "I could do this life so much better without my husband!"?  I have. This isn't my own thought--but one the Great Insurrector put in my mind. Satan wants to divide us as husband and wife. Every single girl longs to be married and every married woman longs to do it alone. It's Satan's way of spreading discontent and disunity. (And it has been working for thousands of years!) If our marriages are a picture of Christ & the Church, Satan will do everything in his power to destroy it. 

Even though Job's wife was used by the enemy to try and cause an insurrection against God--and even against their marriage--God used her as part of the restoration process.  When God restored everything to Job, He also gave an increase.  He doubled all he'd owned...everything, that is, except children. He received exactly what he'd lost--7 sons and 3 daughters. But I like to think peace, spicyness, and allure came into his marriage in spades. After all...that's what he named his new daughters!  Job and his wife were the age of grandparents by this time.  That can bring hope into marriages which are in that stage.  I believe the marriage of Job and his wife was completely restored.  I believe it became everything God intended it to be--a picture of Christ & the Church.

*I found this photo here:  https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/87/bf/6e/87bf6e4efc9a4ef954a3d798127823a0--sad-drawings-amazing-pencil-drawings.jpg and would love to give credit to whomever drew it.  If you know the artist please let me know!


Friday, July 7, 2017

God is Good All The Time!




I don't think I'll ever forget it.  I won't tell his story because I don't know much of it and it isn't mine to tell.  But a small bit of the story I think is mine.  He had suffered from illness for awhile, in fact, I believe he was diagnosed just a few months before I found out that I too was being attacked by cancer.  The last Sunday that I saw him was probably his last to attend church before he went home to heaven.  He had been talking to my husband, and I walked up to greet him.  His last words to me were simple but heart felt.  He looked into my eyes and with deep peace simply said, "God is good ALL the time."  I wanted to grab his arm and talk to him.  I wanted to share what God had been teaching me thru my hardships - to truly delight in God no matter the circumstances.  I wanted to hear exactly what God had been teaching him because it was apparent he had learned some lessons as well.  However, I could tell his energy was lagging and that he needed to leave, so I simply agreed with him, God is indeed good all the time.

I saw a quote not long ago by Graham Cooke:

“If you are in mourning, you have the opportunity to worship in the most powerful way possible: lamentation. This worship isn’t done in order to have God remove the pain. It simply recognizes that God stands in the moment with us. Lamentation elevates God in the presence of our enemies. It brings out a side of God that other forms of worship simply cannot touch.”

When I choose to worship God, delight in Him, and give thanks to God in times of hardship, in times of grief and distress I believe it sends a very strong message.  A message that my church friend sent loud and clear.  It is a message that  the world, our church, our youth and children need to hear.  This ability to sincerely declare "God is good!" even during difficult circumstances proclaims to the world that God is worthy of our praise no matter what. It shows our children that God still stands with us and loves us and is truly trustworthy.  It magnifies Him.  This declaration helps people see that He is worth following for a lifetime. I think the enemy is fearful of this kind of worship because it is powerful.  

There is another powerful time of delight and worship that I think brings equally deep fear to the enemy.  A time that makes a very strong statement of God's power, love, strength and glory.  It is a time that seems to make people so uncomfortable that I've seen them gently reprimand others for it.  When God shows up and shows off with power and people declare "this is what God did for me! God is good!" well meaning friends will respond "God is good all the time" as if to say, "don't declare God's goodness during your celebration - it will make those who are going thru hard times feel bad."  (I know that isn't what all who say that mean, but many do!) Frankly, this as a lie of the enemy.  In fact, I think it is because we hesitate to declare God's miracles, His greatness in the good times that our children, our world, and yes, even our church fail to see God's power.  I think it is one reason our youth and young adults don't continue to attend church after they leave home.  Why would they follow a god that they see as powerless and unable?  Those who are grieving, in distress, and floundering NEED to be reminded that God is still in the miracle-working business, they need that hope!  I know I did and our friend reminded me even in his pain.  Let's cut the enemy off at the knees, bring satan to a place of cowering in fear because of our declaration of God's power.

Let's begin to celebrate freely!  Let me declare the works and recount the illustrious acts of the Lord. (Psalm 118:17)   After all, My God IS good ALL THE TIME - yes, even in my celebration.  How sad is it that I hesitate to tell good news because of other's discomfort in declaring God's glory?  Look at God's work in my life! See what He has done!  He is all powerful!  He is my Delight  in good times and bad.  He is Jehovah Rapha - The Lord Who Heals.  He is El Roi - The God Who Sees!  And this time He has seen fit to see me, to heal me!  My doctors were so sure that cancer had again attacked my body that they had plans in motion for treatments after my surgery.  BUT GOD.  On my way to the appointment to see the surgeon after surgery, I received the call that the pathology report showed no cancer.  I believe God healed me.  Since He can see me, work miracles in my life and love me, He can do the same for you -no matter your circumstances.  Just as God walked with our church friend and carried him though his time of illness, God walked with me.  God was good then and He is good now.  Praise HIM!  If I could talk to that friend again, I would thank him for so gently reminding me when he knew I was waiting and hurting -  "God is good ALL the time."

One of my favorite stories in the Bible recently has been the story of Moses in Exodus 33.  Moses was pleading for God's favor for the Israelite people and then he asks God, "Show me Your glory!" God tells Moses to come to the cleft of a rock and  passes before him, protectively covering Moses with His hand until He had passed by.  As God took His hand away Moses could see the back of God.  In Ex. 34:6-7  "Then the Lord passed by in front of him, and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth (faithfulness); keeping mercy and lovingkindness for thousands...."  I've always pictured this in my mind as God solemnly walking past Moses somberly saying "The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate.....".  Then I recently heard it described another way.  Probably much more accurately than I had pictured it.  What if instead of solemnly walking by, God was jumping up and down, dancing - perhaps throwing his hands in the air celebrating Himself as He delightedly declared to Moses, "The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious...!!"   My challenge to you is to not be hesitant to declare God's glory in fear of hurting others, but to be like God Himself, jubilantly celebrating His glory and goodness and thereby encouraging those in pain.







Saturday, January 7, 2017

No More Manna!



 " And the day after the Passover, on that very day, they ate of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain.  And the manna ceased the day after they ate of the produce of the land. And there was no longer manna for the people of Israel, but they ate of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year." Joshua 5:11-12 

Can you imagine what it was like?

The Israelites had seen all but two men of their parent's generation die.  Moses was gone and they had a new leader.  At this point Joshua, with God's leading, had led the people across the Jordan River on dry land - much like Moses had led their parents across the Red Sea.  The people were told to stand 2000 cubits back from the ark (symbolizing God's presence) so that they could see the mighty work of God as He parted the Jordan for them and then cross over on dry ground. This generation had experienced God's supernatural provision all of their lives.  They had a cloud to lead them by day and a pillar of fire by night. The clothing and shoes they had never wore out even though they were wandering in the wilderness (Deuteronomy 29:5) and they had manna to eat!  

Then one day, after having eaten of the produce of the Promised Land they got up the next morning and there was no manna.  I can't help but wonder, were they scared, did they go looking for manna to gather, did they even realize it was gone?  The Bible doesn't tell us.  But I imagine they went out to gather it out of habit and came running back to camp to tell others that it was gone. Manna was a miracle they had grown used to,  but it was never God's best for them.  God's plan had been for the generation before them to leave Egypt travel to  and overtake the Promised Land, eating the fruit of Canaan.  Manna was good, but it was not the BEST that God had intended for them.  Maybe that is why their parents were not satisfied with the manna and grumbled (in Numbers 11).  It wasn't God's best and because of unbelief they had missed out!  Manna was clearly a picture of God's grace and love for the people - yet it still was not all that He had desired for them.   While they had the manna no territory was claimed, they simply survived. They had just enough manna for each day.

But now God was doing something new.  He had given this generation time to mature and prepare; now the enemy was shaking with fear because of God's work. (Joshua 5:1).  Maybe the manna being gone was a reminder from God that the wilderness journey was over.  They needed to learn a new way of relying on God.  Maybe God was saying "we are starting afresh".  God didn't stop the manna until they were able to eat without it.  They were eating Promised Land produce.  A land flowing with milk and honey - a place of overflow rather than "just enough". When they got to the place of stepping out in trust they were able to receive the new, God's best for them.  Coming out of the manna mentality, they were claiming territory in Jericho. God was using them to defeat the enemy.

To get  to the  place of "no more manna", they had to go through circumcision at Gilgal - a  an intimate, painful cutting away of the unnecessary.  A time to renew their covenant with God and step into healing. It was a time to willingly  allow the reproach of Egypt (slavery, bondage, wandering for 40 years) be rolled away by God. After the circumcision, they were then able to celebrate Passover.  

Passover was a reminder of how they were protected from the plague of the firstborn dying and being delivered from judgement.  A celebration of what God had done for them.   
Then, after Passover, after that remembering, no more manna!

The story goes on to tell us that Joshua had an encounter with the preincarnate  Son of God.  ( His identity disclosed by His accepting worship and the command "Loose your shoes from your feet").  Joshua asked the question, "are you for us or against us?"  The answer given is a little unexpected for The Lord simply answers "neither; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come.”  Joshua is given an invitation to worship. “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.  THEN he was given battle plans.  What a journey!  

I think I've been asking God for manna when He wants me to look forward to the fruit of the Promised Land. I want to skip the circumcision, the fighting and the overcoming and jump right to the eating of the fruit!  How easy it is for me to lose sight of the fact that He has a plan for my best.  I want to know not only what the next step is but to see the entire map.  It is so easy to fall into complaining!    Instead God wants me to step into circumcision, an intimate cutting away, a time to renew my relationship with Him. Then the reproach of Egypt can be rolled away even BEFORE the battle is fought or victory is won.  God wants me to have a time of delighting in Him, taking off my shoes to worship before the battle plans are given.  A time to worship with a heart of gratitude.  When I'm desperate to know what the next step is, where we will be, what we will be doing,  when I'm wondering if we'll ever get out of the wilderness, instead of looking for manna I want my focus to be on the ark - standing back far enough to see where He is leading and to see His mighty works but near enough to show my trust by stepping into the river, never doubting always following.  I want to walk by faith not by sight.  No more manna mentality, I want the fruit!  I want to shout and bring down the walls!  

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Worry


Worry is simply imagining our circumstances and our future without God's presence and help.  
It is a result of doubting how valuable we are to God!



Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Rejoice!


Habakkuk 3:17 - 19 (amplified)  says ,

"Though the fig tree does not blossom and there is no fruit on the vines,
Though the yield of the olive fails and the fields produce no food,
Though the flock is cut off from the fold and there are no cattle in the stalls,

Yet I will [choose to] rejoice in the Lord;
I will [choose to] shout in exultation in the [victorious] God of my salvation [deliverance, rescue, victory]!
The Lord God is my strength [my source of courage, my personal bravery, and my invincible army];
 He has made my feet [steady and sure] like hinds' feet And makes me walk [not stand still in terror but to walk forward] and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering, or challenge and responsibility]."



I must choose joy!   I need to choose to celebrate in the Lord.   A negative mindset and complaining can start small, but left unchecked, it  becomes a bad habit.  It is a downward spiral that brings death.  The opposite of that is also true, a mind fixed on the Spirit brings absolute fullness of life; active, vigorous life and peace!  (See Romans 8:6).  My confidence is in God and I should celebrate in that with gratefulness.   I shouldn't overextend my gift of imagination into negative thinking, complaining, or worry but use it creatively for God's glory.  I need to determine to set my mind on the Holy Spirit, come into agreement with Him that ALL things work together for good, to "rejoice in the Lord and shout in exultation in the victorious God of my salvation!"  

Choosing to praise, worship, and rejoice in the Lord during difficult times is a very strong warfare move.  This response of rejoicing confounds the enemy and leads to forward progress, advancement in the kingdom, and victory! 

I need to trust that God is actively working.


I  want to choose Life.  I want to choose Joy!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Singing my Song

"The LORD is my strength and my song;
He has become my salvation"
Psalm 118:14

You, Lord, are my strength:  my power, might, boldness, my firm foundation.

And my song:Forgive my lack of musical knowledge, but I would like to break down at least some of the structure of a song!)

Title:  I carry Your name, I'm made in Your image!!  With Your name, Father, I can declare You to others.
Lyrics:  You are The Word.  You give me words to speak Your truth.
Overture:  You are my beginning (my Alpha!) You are my climb, You heighten my anticipation in life.
Melody:  You are the principle part of my life, You make my life to be filled with beauty.
Harmony:  You not only lead, but you work with me and make me sound good.
Tempo:  You alone decide the timing, Your are the beat, the rhythm of my life.
Chorus/refrain:  You give me structure and are willing to continue to patiently repeat so that I can learn.
Dynamics:  You, Lord, give me a higher level of dynamics and activity.  You lead me to times of being "fortissimo" - strong and loud and yet You also bring me to times of "pianissimo", being soft, quiet, and gentle.  
Verse:  You are the details of my life, my story, my image, my emotions, and my support  You give me insight (You ARE my insight!) and move my story forward.   
Bridge:  You are my connection and build me up.  You give me a new harmonic pattern, You give me contrast and transition, freshness, and new life!
Rest:  You lead me beside still waters and give me rest.
Pitch:  You keep me in tune.
Treble Clef:  You take me to to high mountain tops to meet with You, and give my life joy!
Bass Clef:  You plunge me to the depths of Your love and wisdom and give me strength.
Keys:  You are my most significant chord, my Triad and tonal center.  You are my major notes and also my minor notes to balance out my melody.  
Coda:  You are not only my beginning but you are my end (my Omega!) You expand me.

You have become my salvation:  You are my deliverance, my prosperity, my success, my victory!!

Help me, Father, to sing my Song well! 

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

"Have You Considered..."



  " Have you considered My servant Job?  No one else on earth is like him, a man of perfect integrity, who fears God and turns away from evil." (Job 1:8)

As I read the story of Job again, I began to ask the age-old question of  why God brought Job to Satan's attention.  Why did He??   Satan had been busy roaming about the earth and enters into God's presence when God asks Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job?"  Where was God's protection when he bragged on Job before Satan?   It looks as if God is setting Job up for an attack, so how is God guarding his favored servant, Job, in that?

So I began digging a little. 

 The Bible gives us a little background information on Job before his suffering begins.  It tells us that he is a man of perfect integrity, a man who feared God and turned away from evil.  Job was a family man, a father that showed love and care for his children by offering burnt offerings for them. He was a man of wealth and influence.  In fact, the Bible says "Job was the greatest man among all the people of the east."  I looked up the meaning of "the greatest man" and it can mean that he was the oldest man but it can also mean that he was a man of importance, distinguished, influential.  He was the man who had the greatest influence of all the people in his society! 

 Job's name means "hatred".  I think what Job hated most of all was evil!  God pointed out to Satan in Job 1:8 that he was a man that "turns away from evil".  So, again, I used my handy dandy app and looked up "turns away from evil"  and one definition for cuwr (turns away from) is "to abolish".   So, here's what I think.... Job  was not only a good man who feared God, he was a man who was claiming territory for God.  A father using his influence to claim territory for God at least in the mountain of family - and probably in other mountains as well.  He was abolishing evil!!   He already had Satan's attention.

When God asked Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job?"  He was bragging on Job, delighting in who Job was.  He loved Job deeply!  In God's omniscience, he knew the answer to the  question he posed to Satan was yes!   Yes, Satan HAD considered Job. In fact, Satan immediately responds with information he already knows about Job.  He knew that there was a hedge of protection against Job; how would he know that unless he had already tried attacking him?   I think in essence God was saying, "I KNOW you have considered my servant Job, let's deal with this once and for all."  I think God was calling Satan out on his attempts to take Job out!  

After this, God allowed Satan to attack Job, but put limits in place for Job's protection.  Job was already a man of influence, but God allowed Satan to attack, allowed  the pain and suffering because he wanted to increase his influence even further.  God had a plan for Job's good!  (Romans 8:28).  In fact, the end of the story tells us that the Lord blessed the last part of Job's life more than the first.  He died old, and "full of days" (Job 42:17)  He experienced abundant life, seeing not only his children, but their children to the fourth generation!  

Basically, Job was under hardship not because he had done something wrong, but because he had done something right.  He was living life well, conquering evil. It was hard for Job to see purpose during the hardships, but eventually he was rewarded for his faithfulness.

Next time you feel under attack, consider the possibility that your influence (and blessings!) may be straight ahead!   

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

30!



Did you know that in the Bible 30 is a significant number?  It often symbolizes the beginning of a ministry and God's redemption.  It is the age of maturity, a time that you are ripe for leadership.  Here are a few examples of  30 being used that I found by searching the Bible at biblegateway.com:

•Jesus started His ministry at about the age of 30. (Luke 3:23)
• Elizabeth was 6 months pregnant when the angel came to Mary, so, John the Baptist was about 6 months older than Jesus.   Since Jesus started his ministry at 30, John was probably right at 30 when he came out of the wilderness to prepare the way for Jesus. (Luke 1:36)
• Joseph was 30 years old when he became second in command to Pharaoh in Egypt. (Genesis 41:46)
•Priests did not enter into service until age 30 (Numbers 4:1-3)
• David became King over all of Israel at the age of 30 (2 Samuel 5:4)
•Ezekiel was 30 when the windows of heaven were thrown open and he saw visions of God and began his ministry as a prophet. (Ezekiel 1:1)

It's interesting to me that Joseph was so mistreated right up to the age of 30.
He was sold into slavery by his brothers, falsely accused of rape and thrown into prison. There had to be days he was pretty discouraged and wondering where God was.  His life had been confusing, hard. He was in prison one day and suddenly remembered by a fellow prisoner who commended him to Pharaoh.  The next day Joseph is second in command in Egypt. Instant transformation!

David was anointed king by Samuel at a young age (some believe as young as 8 to 12 years old at his first anointing.) but spent a lot of years waiting to sit on the throne.  He earned Saul's jealousy by simply trusting God.  He faced Saul's rage while working in the king's service and finally had to run and live life as a fugitive before becoming king. He faced many hardships and trials before his coronation.

It is compelling that these men and  others had such a big change in their lives at the age of 30. One minute discouraged, feeling beat down and wondering if anything good could come from their lives then suddenly, in an instant, God steps in with power and authority and completely changes their direction giving them favor, blessing, and power.

Today, my husband and I are celebrating our 30th anniversary.  We've been through some tough times but many more incredible times in our journey as husband and wife.  We've been richly blessed with five remarkable  children and an awesome daughter-in-law.  Together we have watched God work miracle after miracle in our lives.  Yet, we've spent the last few months in a season of uncertainty wondering what will come next in our adventures.  Today I was reminded of the importance of  the number thirty.  I don't know what things lay before us in our 30th year, but I'm convinced they will be incredible!  I'm hoping for that instant transformation, looking for that role of leadership or change of direction.  What will happen?  Only God knows, but I can say with certainty that I'm blessed to be able to face this coming year with Mark!  I love you, Mark Alan.  Happy 30th!!!