Monthly Archives: March 2014

A Vapor and a Mist

“Now listen you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’  Why, you don not even know what will happen tomorrow.  What is your life?  You are just a vapor and a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.”  James 4:13,14

About a month ago, I was heading down the stairs to head to bed just like I have countless times over the last 15 years in this house.  I don’t know what happened, but about five steps from the bottom and not a lot of space from said step to imposing wall below, I launched.  My head slammed straight into the wall, and I managed to not only get a softball sized knot on my forehead, but also cracked a rib, jammed a couple of digits and twisted my knee.  Not a good idea.

My husband pulled me to my feet while I was still reeling and I stumbled to bed, shaking and dazed.  He was quickly snoring, causing the surreal-ness of the event to be amplified, as if I hadn’t just almost took myself out.  Stream of consciousness thoughts briefly followed.  “I wonder if it’s a concussion.  Should I go to sleep?  What if I don’t wake up?”  Snore.  Then the next thought:  “Am I ready to meet God?”  My answer to my own question, “Yeah.”  Pause.  “Then whatever.”  And then I fell asleep.  There wasn’t any music, no deceased parents calling “walk to the light,” nothing.

I woke up the next morning, still dazed but definitely alive and I thought “maybe it should have been more profound than that if I thought I might go to sleep and not wake up.”  And then I thought that I probably should have been bothered if that was it and I was going to meet Jesus and give an account of my life.

But maybe that’s how quickly we can pass from this life to the next.  It’s probably not like the movies where music is supplied and someone’s life looks so heroic or filled with gusto.  Like the lady in the next community last week whose car got pulled by slush and was smashed by a semi beyond recognition.  Or my friend who had strep and didn’t know it and went to the doctor in the morning and was dead that evening.

mist       So we better be ready because we know not our time.  And the only thing that matters if we are         squared away with God because of personally laying hold of what Jesus did on the cross.  Hopefully when it   is my “time” I have more to say than “Yeah, whatever.”


God, speak to my soul

In Psalm 35:3 David prayed: “God, say to my soul, ‘I am your salvation!'”

speak to my soulI can pray and remind myself that God is my salvation, but David prayed that God would remind his soul of that truth.  God, You are my salvation–not my job, not money, not my health, not my husband, not my friends–You are.  Remind me of that.  Talk to my soul when I am comfortable and complacent to wake me up.  And talk to my soul when I am struggling to overcome stress and trials.  Remind me that it is You that is my shield and buckler and that You fight the fights for me.

Looking at Psalm 35, it seems that David prayed this when he was feeling attacked by physical adversaries, guys like Saul and even his own sons at times.  No matter which way he turned, someone was after him.  Maybe they saw and heard of God’s anointing on his life and instead of helping him get to being king, they tried to stop it.  I don’t have people chasing me around physically, but I feel what David wrote in verse 20 “They do not speak peace, but against those who are quiet in the land they devise words of deceit.  They open wide their mouths against me; they say, ‘Aha, aha!'”

In Nehemiah 13:2 it tells that Moab hired Balaam to curse Israel, yet God turned the curse into a blessing.  That’s what God does.  When others curse us with their mouths and actions, God takes and turns that around for good.  In Balaam’s case, Balak hired him to curse Israel. But God stepped in and used an angel of the Lord and made Balaam’s donkey talk to get his attention and to stop him.

So even when others are against me simply because they are not at peace and they want to stir up strife, God takes and works that for a blessing.  He is my salvation, my peace, my shield and my buckler.

Psalm 35:27-28 praises God for this and so do I: “Let those who delight in My righteousness shout for joy and be glad and say evermore, ‘Great is the Lord, who delights in the welfare of His servant.’  Then my tongue shall tell of Your righteousness and of Your praise all the day long.”

 


The Upward Call

 

upward call

In Philippians 3:14 Paul declared, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

The upward call of God.  God’s been calling out to me all of my life.  It started when I went to a little Vacation Bible School in my farm community when I was 4 years old.  Two ladies came from a distance away to tell anyone who would listen about Jesus.  It was music to my ears as I went back each summer for a week to hear more and more about Jesus.

As I headed off to college, wrestling with God’s demands for my life and fighting it some, He kept wooing and calling me back to His heart.  God surrounded me with great mentors and teachers to show me how to live out this upward call in my adult life.  Maybe it was easier in college and in my twenties to live out a more undistracted focus on Jesus.

But the older I get, it seems harder.  My job sucks out most of my energy, especially people energy.  At the end of the day I want to run from people, not go out and minister to them with my “free time.”  I want to crash and get ready for the next day and the next week.  I don’t want to waste my life and my time, but how do I make all of that happen?

This upward call keeps shouting, crying out, and at times whispering.  How to make much of Jesus as my treasure?  How to make the most of the people time I have around those who don’t know Jesus to get to those who want to know Him?  And how to have time to cultivate good relationships to encourage, spur on and run together with?

What I do know:

  • I need to spend time connecting with God in His Bible and in prayer each day to be connected to Him. I must be led by the Holy Spirit and walk in the Spirit to live out the life of Jesus in me.
  • I can rest in the work God has done and is doing in me so He does what it is He wants in my job, my marriage and through our lives then to others.  He does the work, gives me the strength, the desire and the power to do what it is He wants me to do.
  • Jesus is my treasure and I want to press on to pursue the upward call whatever it looks like at all different decades of my life.

 


Well, glory be!

I’m a visual learner.  I can read something or even hear a speech and be moderately moved by it, but when I see it I get sucked in.  It’s like movies in a big screen theater.  I’m there in the middle of the action.  So as I’ve been reading through the book of Isaiah, it hit me for the first time: Several times it says “the vision of Isaiah, which he saw,” like in Isaiah 1:1, 2:1, and 6:1.  Isaiah actually saw Jesus sitting on His throne, glorified in Heaven, just like John saw in his visions in Revelation 4 and 5.  God didn’t just tell Isaiah a message to go repeat–He showed Him Jesus on His throne, being beaten and crucified in chapter 53 and in His real kingdom of the Millennium in chapters 55-56.  He saw it.

Isaiah saw Jesus’ glory and then went out and preached about it to people who were blind and dull of heart.  Ezekiel saw the glory of the Lord, so he would know how big of a deal it was when the Spirit left the Temple before Babylon destroyed it.  It was probably the worst day in Israel’s history, the glory of God leaving dwelling among them and protecting them.  John saw Jesus’ glory too, so did Peter and Paul.  Paul saw it on the Damascus road and it made him do a big U Turn.  He got beat up for it again and again because people were jealous of him and tried to invalidate his authority.  The road is narrow and few there be that find it, the rest are like Isaiah’s audience: dull and hard hearted.

I’ve been thinking about how seeing God’s glory via seeing Jesus had to have changed Isaiah, John and Paul.  In 2 Corinthians 3:12-18 it talks about how Moses’ face glowed after he was on Mt. Sinai and he had to wear a veil because the people couldn’t look at it.  Then in verse 18 Paul writes that we all have unveiled faces, like Moses and reflect God’s glory like a mirror because we’ve seen God’s glory.  It changes us from one degree of glory to another, through His Holy Spirit.  ‘So how does that work?’  I wonder.  

Well, we see God’s glory through looking at Jesus and it changes us too.  And then we tell others about it.  We can’t look with our physical eyes, but we “see” with our spiritual eyes and with our minds.  In Ephesians 1:17 Paul prayed that God would open the eyes of the Ephesians’ hearts so they could know God and know the hope to which He called them, His riches in the saints, and His incredibly great power that is at work for us who believe.  In 2 Corinthians 4:4-6 Paul wrote about how our minds are veiled by Satan but God shines in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

In my everyday life of work and marriage and life, that really gets grueling at points, I need to see God’s glory in the face of Christ, to be changed by it to become more like Jesus by the Spirit’s work in and through me, and then to communicate it somehow to dull and hard hearted people around me.  When Peter saw Jesus’ glory on the Mount of Transfiguration, he wanted to camp out there.  But Jesus told him they couldn’t, not yet, and they had to go back down to normal life.  Peter had to take that picture of Jesus’ glory to fuel him to live out the rest of his life as a witness for Jesus who would eventually get killed because of it.  

So I can’t just worship and never leave my house and hoard the glory.  It has to fuel me to get off the mountain and on to work.  But I should be different because of it–Not sucked into gossip or revenge or just my own agenda.  It should make me humble and patient, loving and kind.  And I should have a message of hope when the news gives only rotten news.

In 2 Corinthians 11:3 Paul urged them to not get deceived by Satan to be lured away from a sincere and a pure devotion to Christ.  Same for me.  I need to keep gazing on Jesus, to look into His face with the eyes of my heart and my mind as I read Scripture and worship.  It will help me to not lose heart, to stand when the enemy seems to be pouncing, and to be changed to become more like Jesus.  I can’t turn away to other things, even a more marketable Gospel that’s watered down, or to just living life and being a good person.

“We all with unveiled faces beholding the glory of the Lord are being transformed into His image from one degree of glory to another.  For this comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”  2 Corinthians 3:18