Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Conversation with My Heavenly Father

I have imagined my Heavenly Father coming to my room each morning to have a conversation with me. 

Over a week ago, He was trying to get something across to me, something about seeing His hand in tough situations, having joy in bad times, and the like. And of course, I nodded and grinned and said that I understood and agreed wholeheartedly. Then He sighed (I’m sure) and allowed me to proceed with my day.

This conversation was held over the course of a week where I anticipated having a successful discussion with my oncologist which would lead to the end of my chemo treatments and all such medication. I was quite optimistic that I’d get my way, and I’d be able to breathe easily at the end of the appointment, ready to live a happy life free of side effects, treatments, and doctor appointments. Hmmm.


Things, as you may guess, did not go as planned. No, I shouldn’t go off the chemo or meds. There’s too high a risk of the cancer returning. No, my life was not my own…well, okay, that was what I was hearing, not necessarily what the doctor was saying, but you know how that goes.


Suffice it to say, we came to an understanding. I would go off the chemo for three, maybe six and no more than nine weeks. And during that time, I would go to all sorts of other doctors' appointments eating up all the precious free time I was looking forward to having, and all the world was going to come to an end…. well, again, what I was hearing—not necessarily what the doctor was saying…the world coming to an end, that is.


When the appointment was all over, I wanted nothing more than to cry my woes on someone’s shoulders. So, I hopped into my truck (cattle needed to be attended to irregardless of my emotional situation) and headed for the ranch. 


I figured I would call my dad. He’s always good for a conversation on the woes of my life. Hmm. Either he wasn’t home, or he’d determined not to answer the phone when my number flashed (I mean, really, who wants to listen to a whiner when you’ve got better things to do?) (Love you, Dad…you’re amazing).


So, there was my eldest daughter. She should be home. But an unanswered call was quickly followed by a text stating that she was in class and would catch up with me later (later, of course didn’t come for a couple of days…sigh).


Not wanting to burden anyone else, I turned on my playlist and was struck with the concept of my God right there where I was at, waiting for me to turn to Him, to do just what He’d been trying to tell me all week long, preparing me for the disappointment I’d just faced.


And so, I wept. I cried both for the joy of knowing that my Heavenly Father cared, for the forgiveness He gave me, the smile He sent my way, and for (when it started to click in my brain) what He’d been trying to get me to see: look for His hand in all things.


But He wasn’t quite done.


After doing what I do with cows and calves, then coming home and doing what I do at my computer and my house and my yard, I took some time to watch a video and was thunked on the head by God.


Yup. I’d been looking for someone all day who would listen to my complaint (even though I’d shared it with God in the truck on the way up). I wanted someone to say I was justified in my complaint; I was righteous in my perception of things….and clearly, I was not behaving as God had been instructing me to do. Sigh.


Forgive me, Lord. I’m thick headed and know nothing. I can say, as Job: 


“Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? Therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not.” Job 42:3


I’d like to say I’m a little wiser now…and perhaps I am only in that I’ve been humbled, but….ummm…I know myself too well. Nonetheless, I’m so very thankful for my Heavenly Father Who is quick to teach, quick to correct, and quick to forgive. Who is both merciful and righteous, both gracious and just. Got to love a God like that. Got to love my wonderful Heavenly Father.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

In the Absence of God Is Evil

 “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.”  Isaiah 45:7


I am not intelligent enough to debate theology…well, to debate anything really. And even with the things I do know, the ability to speak with confidence and proper assertion and well laid out thoughts…that type of thing alludes me the moment I’m faced with an opponent, no matter how nice and sweet and kind that person of opposition might be. Expressing myself verbally just isn’t my forte.

In recent conversations, I joked about this lack of intellect and knowledge in the context of debate, stating that the discourse would be nothing other than me trying to debate physical science with Einstein. 


But then I realized that every human, no matter the vastness of his intellect or knowledge are limited by just that, their knowledge. They can’t know what they haven’t read or studied or experienced. And therefore, they cannot compete or debate with God, Who knows all things. And, since God is my God, when I rely on Him for knowledge and understanding and wisdom, I’m better than those super geniuses.


After all, didn’t David say the same thing in Psalm 119:99:


“I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation.”


So what does this have to do with evil?


Well, it’s a subject I’ve been pondering because of my limited life…or rather because I want to live today, I mean really live. Not just exist with the hope of things being better than tomorrow…which seems to be the purpose of enduring the wretched side effects of chemotherapy. 


How do I know that within six months, a year, three years, or five years I won’t die of something other than cancer? How do I know that tomorrow I won’t be struck by a car and killed? 


I don’t.


So, I ponder Matthew 6:34:


“Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”


When I am in excruciating pain such that no pain killer can even knock the edge off it, I’m thinking this moment is pretty dog gone evil. When nausea and weakness is so great that I can’t even sit in the bathroom but lie in my bed until I have relief from vomiting, I’m thinking the day is pretty evil.


Maybe to some, I should endure, because I might extend my life another fifteen, twenty years. And I get that. My mom was given another fifteen years…BY THE LORD!!!!!!!!!


And if, should I choose to endure another round of chemo, will those days of illness be wasted in bed vomiting? Especially when I do have a choice? Okay, some may argue whether I have a choice, but really, all I need to do is cancel the appointment and walk away.


But even in my darkest hour, the Lord my God, King of Kings, my Savior, my Heavenly Father—He was present. Hard to find when I was moaning and thinking how evil life can be, but still…He was there.


I can’t imagine how much more “evil the day” would have been had I not had Him. Had I not had the hope of eternity with Him. Had I not believed He was ultimately in control and that there is nothing…even cancer…that isn’t ultimately for my good because He loves me and knows not only what is best for me, but what I need to experience in order to know Him better--to draw closer to Him, to experience His wonderful, gracious touch, to see His glory.


There can be a million reasons why He has chosen this particular suffering for me. Some of it, I’m sure, has nothing to do with me and everything to do with those who see me, hear me, face me. And all of it to do with bringing Him glory.


Which again, in my small way of thinking, comes back to my choice…at least looking through my eyes--from my small and feeble perspective. Choice to realize that the absence of God is evil, because if I didn’t have faith, if I didn’t know He was with me, all of this I’m going through would be absolute hell.

Thursday, March 3, 2022

No Shortcuts to God

 "The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein." Psalm 24:1

This post begins something new for me. I am trying my hand at 'vlogging' i.e. video blogging. Admittedly, I have a lot to learn about videography (things like the shading a hat will cause 😏) but I hope you can see past my mistakes and are blessed.

https://www.dropbox.com/t/BJpf32zoSJVIFb2W
Hope you watch the video. I have to say that God's hand was in this when the cows ended up on the wrong side of the electric fence....don't worry, they did eventually get to their hay.

https://www.dropbox.com/t/BJpf32zoSJVIFb2W

If you don't have time to watch the video, or prefer to read, I've included my thoughts below.

If you've been around me at all in the last year or so, you've probably heard me talk a lot about knowing God. Some people just look at me like I'm daft. I imagine them thinking, "Ya I know God, so what of it?"

Well, maybe that's uncharitable of me, but it's kinda like when you fall in love and you just can't help talking about how wonderful it is. That's how I feel about knowing God. And so, I am looking through most of what I read with those glasses on...the idea that God wants me to know Him, not just about Him, but really know Him.

"This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob. Selah." Psalm 24:6

When I read this verse, I couldn't help myself. I am a part of that generation that seek God. Just because I have received salvation decades ago, just because I go to church each week and read my Bible daily, does not mean that I automatically become of the generation of them that seek Him. 

Seeking Him requires an earnestness. It's demanding. It requires a deeper investigation than a quick read of Scripture before running into the day. It requires putting to practice what is learned not for outward appearance but for the sake of discovering God in those practices, discovering God through those practices, discovering God because of those practices.

But the last part of that verse really stuck out to me: "that seek thy face, O Jacob."

Why Jacob's face? Well, Jacob is the human side of Israel. When the Old Testament, especially the prophets, talk of Jacob, it is usually referring to the humanness of Israel, their fallen state.

When we dig into the Bible, looking at the stories, God reveals Himself. He shows us His character, His nature, how He longs for us to know Him, really know Him. To seek Jacob's face is to seek to find God in the situations the people of the Old Testament found themselves in. To seek Jacob's face is to search out God's interactions with man and discover how He is revealing Himself to us in these sacred stories that tell of how He worked within the lives of Biblical characters.

To know God, you need to know His chosen people, Israel. It's through them and His working in them, that He reveals His character and His desires and His love.

So, routinely reading the Bible to just check it off your list of duties for the day isn't going to cut it. Attending church because people expect you to or because you want to see your friends, isn't seeking God and isn't likely to bring you into that beautiful love relationship you can have with Him.

Like any relationship, your relationship with God takes work. It takes desire and devotion to the occupation of seeking God in all things.

But when you do it, He will be found. It's what He desires, and He rushes to the person who truly desires to know Him more.

"He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation." Psalm 24:5

Monday, October 11, 2021

Forgiveness

Years ago, one of my daughters got caught doing something bad. We had a conversation and she said, "I'm sorry, will you please forgive me." 

I replied, "Of course." I hugged her and kissed her then I returned to my work singing a song to myself. 

A few minutes later, I hear her feet coming down the hall. "Mommy, where did you learn to forgive?" 

I turned around, called her to my knee and said, "From my Heavenly Father. He has forgiven me of so much, how could I not forgive? He says He'll not call to memory again what He has forgiven. How can I do any less?" 

Satisfied, my daughter went on to play, and I sat in my chair in awe. I wasn't angry with my daughter. I didn't hold a grudge for what she had done. The fellowship had been broken between her and I, and it was restored by a simple act of confession on her part and forgiveness on mine. The act did not change her status. She was still my daughter and would always be my daughter. I love her, but I know she'll likely commit the same wrong again, and yet I am greatly pleased when she comes to me truly repentant, which usually happens in a flood of tears. She is so much like me. 

My Heavenly Father is the same way with me. He forgives each time I ask even though He knows I'll fall again. And He will always love me. I'll always remain His child. 

But He is pleased when I work to restore my fellowship with Him by confessing and repenting, keeping my heart right before Him. He'll always forgive because He promised to and because He loves me. 

I John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 

The Apostle John just finished saying that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from ALL sin. Still, he writes in I John 2:1, "My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous". 

We are cleansed from all our sin. We still sin, but Jesus' blood covers our sin debt...it is on the altar before God forever. Death has no more hold on us. 

 

For one of our trips to Disneyland, I set up a journaling app on the iPad for each of the girls to record their vacation. The app would allow them to put pictures and music to each day along with whatever notes or 'stickers' they'd like. 

I drove (I always do) and coming from the back of the van I heard the song, "The Blood Is Still There." I'd heard it several times already on the trip, so I asked, "Who is playing that song?" 

It was my youngest. She was adding it to her journal (I think she must have added it for each day we were there). She said that it was her favorite song. When I asked her why, she just shrugged her shoulders and said that it was comforting. I'll never forget that. 

Friday, October 8, 2021

After God's Heart

"...I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfill all my will." Acts 13:22b

Have you ever wondered what really made Saul different from David? Have you ever wondered what really made Saul different from David?

Saul was chosen by God to be king. So was David.

Saul was anointed by Samuel. So was David.

The Spirit of God came upon Saul. The Spirit of God moved David to write the psalms.

Saul sinned to save himself. So did David.

But God rejected Saul and called David a man after His own heart. God had given Saul another heart (I Samuel 10:9). So what was the difference?

The elders of Israel saw that Samuel was old and that his sons did not walk in his ways. They looked around at the other nations and saw that those nations were ruled by kings. The time was coming when Samuel would die and Israel would need another ruler.

Samuel was the last judge that led Israel through many difficulties. Each time a judge died, the Israelites fell away from God and did what was right in their own eyes. They would then be led into captivity, God would give them another judge, and they'd be saved. I'm sure the elders looked at their history and decided they didn't want this to happen again, so they'd forgo waiting for God to raise someone up after they'd gotten themselves into trouble. They would start a royal line.

But they were not looking to God. They saw the judges, mere men, instead of God. They assessed the situation and came up with a solution that still left God out of the equation.

God told Samuel to hearken to them and make them a king. He told Samuel the man would be Saul.

Saul was a man of Benjamin, the son of a mighty man of power. Saul was a 'choice young man', in Hebrew bakhur, which refers to a young man of mature age and often implies beauty of form. Saul was a goodly man, which means he was pleasant, agreeable. He might even have been considered upright. We get the picture that he was a cheery person, easy to get along with and kind. Perhaps the most impressive thing about Saul was his height. He stood head and shoulders above anyone else.

In fact, from the outward appearance and surface personality, Saul seemed the perfect pick for a king.

The Israelites wanted leadership. They wanted to show the nations around them that they were not a people to be trampled upon or to be taken advantage of. Saul, from appearances would do nicely. And God gave to them what they wanted.

But Saul had issues. Saul belittled himself:
"Am not I a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel? and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? wherefore then speakest thou to me?" I Samuel 9:21

We might think of this answer reflecting his humility, but humility isn't about thinking of yourself lower than you are. Humility is seeing who you really are, even as God sees you.

I'd venture to say that even at this point, Saul was fearful. Certainly we see his fear through the rest of his life.

To confirm that Saul would be king, God turned him into another man (I Samuel 10:6). He gave Saul another heart (note that I Samuel 10:9 doesn't say a new heart). God gave Saul another will, another understanding, another inner man with a different set of emotions, passions, appetites. Saul's first heart, his original inner man, was not after God's heart, and this would cause him problems.

And the Spirit of God came upon Saul at times then Saul would prophesy.

But Saul had a lacking that made him distinctly different than David. Saul did not trust God. Like the Israelites, Saul put his trust in Samuel, the judge. When Samuel didn't come on time in I Samuel 11, Saul turned to the ritual of sacrifice to draw the people back to him.

Later, Saul again disobeys God and trusts his own wisdom.
"...It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments...." I Samuel 15:11

When Samuel confronted him, Saul admitted his sin, but he didn't ask God to forgive his sin. He asked Samuel to and asked Samuel to join him so that he could worship God. Saul was not interested in a personal relationship with God. He looked to Samuel instead. Saul grew to love his power as king and began to see God as someone to get him out of trouble.


David, on the other hand, loved God. He sought an intimate relationship with Him. His heart was after God's. David gave God the glory for his victories. He was confident in what God could do and that gave him self confidence. He wasn't perfect. He made mistakes and he sinned, but he sought God for forgiveness, not seeking the forgiveness of some spiritual leader. And David accepted the consequences of his sin with a humble heart, seeking God's mercy and passionately desiring God's intimacy once more.

Through my life I've come across many people. Some of them great, some of them small. So with plenty of self-confidence. And some pridefully ashamed of themselves. In studying these two men in the Bible I've asked myself who do I most closely resemble? I suppose I have a bit of both in me.

One thing I do know, I burn inside to know God more. Like Saul, I live in this flesh, but praise be to God, through Jesus Christ, I live by His faith, and I am a new creature.

"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new." II Corinthians 5:17.

I now have a heart after God. My passions, my affections, the essence of my understanding of life, my determinations and resolutions, all these parts of my inner person are after God, desiring to please Him. That is the new creature. That was David's heart.Saul was chosen by God to be king. So was David.Have you ever wondered what really made Saul different from David?

Saul was chosen by God to be king. So was David.

Saul was anointed by Samuel. So was David.

The Spirit of God came upon Saul. The Spirit of God moved David to write the psalms.

Saul sinned to save himself. So did David.

But God rejected Saul and called David a man after His own heart. God had given Saul another heart (I Samuel 10:9). So what was the difference?

The elders of Israel saw that Samuel was old and that his sons did not walk in his ways. They looked around at the other nations and saw that those nations were ruled by kings. The time was coming when Samuel would die and Israel would need another ruler.

Samuel was the last judge that led Israel through many difficulties. Each time a judge died, the Israelites fell away from God and did what was right in their own eyes. They would then be led into captivity, God would give them another judge, and they'd be saved. I'm sure the elders looked at their history and decided they didn't want this to happen again, so they'd forgo waiting for God to raise someone up after they'd gotten themselves into trouble. They would start a royal line.

But they were not looking to God. They saw the judges, mere men, instead of God. They assessed the situation and came up with a solution that still left God out of the equation.

God told Samuel to hearken to them and make them a king. He told Samuel the man would be Saul.

Saul was a man of Benjamin, the son of a mighty man of power. Saul was a 'choice young man', in Hebrew bakhur, which refers to a young man of mature age and often implies beauty of form. Saul was a goodly man, which means he was pleasant, agreeable. He might even have been considered upright. We get the picture that he was a cheery person, easy to get along with and kind. Perhaps the most impressive thing about Saul was his height. He stood head and shoulders above anyone else.

In fact, from the outward appearance and surface personality, Saul seemed the perfect pick for a king.

The Israelites wanted leadership. They wanted to show the nations around them that they were not a people to be trampled upon or to be taken advantage of. Saul, from appearances would do nicely. And God gave to them what they wanted.

But Saul had issues. Saul belittled himself:
"Am not I a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel? and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? wherefore then speakest thou to me?" I Samuel 9:21

We might think of this answer reflecting his humility, but humility isn't about thinking of yourself lower than you are. Humility is seeing who you really are, even as God sees you.

I'd venture to say that even at this point, Saul was fearful. Certainly we see his fear through the rest of his life.

To confirm that Saul would be king, God turned him into another man (I Samuel 10:6). He gave Saul another heart (note that I Samuel 10:9 doesn't say a new heart). God gave Saul another will, another understanding, another inner man with a different set of emotions, passions, appetites. Saul's first heart, his original inner man, was not after God's heart, and this would cause him problems.

And the Spirit of God came upon Saul at times then Saul would prophesy.

But Saul had a lacking that made him distinctly different than David. Saul did not trust God. Like the Israelites, Saul put his trust in Samuel, the judge. When Samuel didn't come on time in I Samuel 11, Saul turned to the ritual of sacrifice to draw the people back to him.

Later, Saul again disobeys God and trusts his own wisdom.
"...It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments...." I Samuel 15:11

When Samuel confronted him, Saul admitted his sin, but he didn't ask God to forgive his sin. He asked Samuel to and asked Samuel to join him so that he could worship God. Saul was not interested in a personal relationship with God. He looked to Samuel instead. Saul grew to love his power as king and began to see God as someone to get him out of trouble.

David, on the other hand, loved God. He sought an intimate relationship with Him. His heart was after God's. David gave God the glory for his victories. He was confident in what God could do and that gave him self confidence. He wasn't perfect. He made mistakes and he sinned, but he sought God for forgiveness, not seeking the forgiveness of some spiritual leader. And David accepted the consequences of his sin with a humble heart, seeking God's mercy and passionately desiring God's intimacy once more.

Through my life I've come across many people. Some of them great, some of them small. So with plenty of self-confidence. And some pridefully ashamed of themselves. In studying these two men in the Bible I've asked myself who do I most closely resemble? I suppose I have a bit of both in me.

One thing I do know, I burn inside to know God more. Like Saul, I live in this flesh, but praise be to God, through Jesus Christ, I live by His faith, and I am a new creature.

"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new." II Corinthians 5:17.

I now have a heart after God. My passions, my affections, the essence of my understanding of life, my determinations and resolutions, all these parts of my inner person are after God, desiring to please Him. That is the new creature. That was David's heart.

Saul was anointed by Samuel. So was David.

The Spirit of God came upon Saul. The Spirit of God moved David to write the psalms.

Saul sinned to save himself. So did David.

But God rejected Saul and called David a man after His own heart. God had given Saul another heart (I Samuel 10:9). So what was the difference?

The elders of Israel saw that Samuel was old and that his sons did not walk in his ways. They looked around at the other nations and saw that those nations were ruled by kings. The time was coming when Samuel would die and Israel would need another ruler.

Samuel was the last judge that led Israel through many difficulties. Each time a judge died, the Israelites fell away from God and did what was right in their own eyes. They would then be led into captivity, God would give them another judge, and they'd be saved. I'm sure the elders looked at their history and decided they didn't want this to happen again, so they'd forgo waiting for God to raise someone up after they'd gotten themselves into trouble. They would start a royal line.

But they were not looking to God. They saw the judges, mere men, instead of God. They assessed the situation and came up with a solution that still left God out of the equation.

God told Samuel to hearken to them and make them a king. He told Samuel the man would be Saul.

Saul was a man of Benjamin, the son of a mighty man of power. Saul was a 'choice young man', in Hebrew bakhur, which refers to a young man of mature age and often implies beauty of form. Saul was a goodly man, which means he was pleasant, agreeable. He might even have been considered upright. We get the picture that he was a cheery person, easy to get along with and kind. Perhaps the most impressive thing about Saul was his height. He stood head and shoulders above anyone else.

In fact, from the outward appearance and surface personality, Saul seemed the perfect pick for a king.

The Israelites wanted leadership. They wanted to show the nations around them that they were not a people to be trampled upon or to be taken advantage of. Saul, from appearances would do nicely. And God gave to them what they wanted.

But Saul had issues. Saul belittled himself:
"Am not I a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel? and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? wherefore then speakest thou to me?" I Samuel 9:21

We might think of this answer reflecting his humility, but humility isn't about thinking of yourself lower than you are. Humility is seeing who you really are, even as God sees you.

I'd venture to say that even at this point, Saul was fearful. Certainly we see his fear through the rest of his life.

To confirm that Saul would be king, God turned him into another man (I Samuel 10:6). He gave Saul another heart (note that I Samuel 10:9 doesn't say a new heart). God gave Saul another will, another understanding, another inner man with a different set of emotions, passions, appetites. Saul's first heart, his original inner man, was not after God's heart, and this would cause him problems.

And the Spirit of God came upon Saul at times then Saul would prophesy.

But Saul had a lacking that made him distinctly different than David. Saul did not trust God. Like the Israelites, Saul put his trust in Samuel, the judge. When Samuel didn't come on time in I Samuel 11, Saul turned to the ritual of sacrifice to draw the people back to him.

Later, Saul again disobeys God and trusts his own wisdom.

"...It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments...." I Samuel 15:11

When Samuel confronted him, Saul admitted his sin, but he didn't ask God to forgive his sin. He asked Samuel to and asked Samuel to join him so that he could worship God. Saul was not interested in a personal relationship with God. He looked to Samuel instead. Saul grew to love his power as king and began to see God as someone to get him out of trouble.

David, on the other hand, loved God. He sought an intimate relationship with Him. He desired the things that God desired. David gave God the glory for his victories. He was confident in what God could do and that gave him self confidence. He wasn't perfect. He made mistakes and he sinned, but he sought God for forgiveness, not seeking the forgiveness of some spiritual leader. And David accepted the consequences of his sin with a humble heart, seeking God's mercy and passionately desiring God's intimacy once more.

The main difference between truly godly people and people who are religious, is their relationship with God. A godly person is one who worships God while enjoying the presence of God. A religious person worships God while enjoying the presence of other men. 

Godly people put their intimate relationship with God ahead of other people. Religious people are concerned with the outward appearance of their faith.

Godly people enjoy fellowshipping with God and prefer to maintain that fellowship over following the crowd. Religious people desire to have the appearance of a relationship with God, will worship to appease or to appeal to God, but fellowship is not attained because the adoration they owe God is placed on the act of worship or on an object of worship other than God. God will not give His glory to another.

"Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee. Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name. My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips: When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches. Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice. My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me." Psalm 63:3-8


Thursday, October 7, 2021

Dressage and My Walk with the Lord

 Psalm 51:9 "Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities." 

I accepted God's gift of salvation as a child of about seven or eight. I don't remember exactly because it was around my birthday. However, I do remember having a great sense of urgency to be sure I was saved. At that young age I hadn't committed murder or adultery or any of those big sins. Yet, I was aware that I was a sinner in need of saving. 

Through my life I kept fairly close to God. Yes, there was times when I listened to the tempting songs of the world and danced to its tune, but in human measurements, I was no wretched sinner. 

And yet, I am. 

But I am a sinner saved by grace. 

There have been moments of great chastening in my life. I look at those spots in shame and humility. I knew better. I grew up in a Bible-believing family with Godly parents and attended church on a regular basis. Even at a young age, I began reading and memorizing Scripture. You'd think that I should have lived a perfect life. But I still live this life in the flesh. 

I know to some people I seem rigid, legalistic, without grace. But those people are blind to the work God is doing within me. Those people do not hear my prayers, "Oh God, I love You. Help me to love You more. Help me to serve You with all of my life. Help me to please You, Lord. " 

They can't see taped on the wall above my laptop are these verses: 

"Lead me, O LORD, in thy righteousness because of mine enemies; make thy way straight before my face." Psalm 5:8 

"Teach me thy way, O LORD, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies." Psalm 27:11 

"Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass." Psalm 37:5 

"Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God?" Psalm 77:13 

"Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known." Psalm 77:19 

I love dressage, the fine art of horseback riding. At its highest level the rider and horse meld together to perform the perfect dance. I love the feeling of that dance. I love the feeling that this 1500 pound beast is submitting to the slightest contraction of my pinky finger muscles or my calf muscles or my abdominal muscles. 

When I ride a horse I've trained to the highest level it can attain, I immerse myself into the movement of the horse, feeling each step, each contraction and stretch of its back muscles, abdominal muscles, jaw muscles, neck muscles, leg muscles...To reach perfection a constant communication and submission must be maintained between myself and the horse.  

  

I strive for the same relationship with God. 

When my mount stiffens its jaw, I need to react with correction to restore the smooth and beautiful movement. When my mount takes a step off pattern, I must redirect it back to the course, sometimes with crop or spur. Sometimes I must ask my horse to lengthen its stride or shorten into collection. Each of these require the horse to listen to my leading. If it doesn't respond with the lightest of touch, then I must increase the "volume" of my leg or hand or weight...sometimes using the touch of a spur or whip.  

  

In my walk with my Lord I sometimes stiffen my jaw. Doing so creates an unpleasant feeling between God and me and steals the beauty of the movement He is asking me to perform. 

Sometimes I become distracted and step off pattern. God often gently puts me back on course, but there have been times when I've refused to go, and He's had to use a "spur" or a "whip" to put me back there. 

But when we are moving together, the picture is beautiful, the feel of union incredible....and that is why I work to rein in my desires that are not consistent with God's will. That is why I willingly submit to correction by Him. That is why I am quick to confess and repent of my faults, because I want to give God that perfect ride. 

I'm still in training and I'm doing my very best to feel the quiver in God's pinky finger on the reins or the tightening of His calf muscle or the tension in His abdominal muscle so that I can perform the pattern of life He has asked me to perform. 

"But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof." Romans 13:14 

Just had to share one more video (because this is so neat).  

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

"Thy Life Shall Be for a Prey unto Thee"

 "For I will surely deliver thee, and thou shalt not fall by the sword, but thy life shall be for a prey unto thee: because thou hast put thy trust in me, saith the LORD." Jeremiah 39:18

Photo by Cole Keister on Unsplash
Ebedmelech, the Ethiopian, had heard the prophecies. He knew what would happen to Jerusalem. He would see firsthand what starvation would drive men to do, what war and death would look like at the hands of the Babylonians. The horrors of living in a besieged city and the collapse of that city would one day destroy a nation. But Ebedmelech had received a promise from God through Jeremiah because he trusted the LORD.

The prophet Jeremiah had been cast into the dungeon for prophesying against the king. Ebedmelech the Ethiopian spoke to King Zedekiah on behalf of Jeremiah, and the king had Ebedmelech rescue Jeremiah, though the prophet remained in the court of the prison. These were the actions of a man of faith. This faith God would reward.

In Jeremiah 21:9 and 38:2, the LORD promises to give those who go with the Chaldeans out of Jerusalem  "his life for a prey, and shall live." 

The pain of hunger, the grief of the death of loved ones, the shame of what one may have committed when under the pressure of the siege (robbery, cannibalism, deceit), and the spiritual grief that their gods nor the LORD Jehovah would not rescue them, would weigh heavy on the survivors of Jerusalem's fall. Some may even wonder why bother to live?

But God, in His great mercy, gave them hope: "Thy life shall be for a prey unto thee." 

God, in this statement, not only promised Ebedmelech that he'd live, but that in living, he would have opportunity to gather the spoils of life, to experience the good things, the valuable things of life here on earth.  It was up to Ebedmelech, and also those individuals that went with the Chaldeans, to make the most out of the life God was mercifully giving back to them. 

Not only did God tell the people there would be some who would be carried away from Jerusalem to Babylon, He told them:

"Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them; take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished." Jeremiah 9:5-7

God's plan for these people, who had chased after other gods and had worked wicked and evil things, included humbling them at the hands of the Chaldean army, but then to have them prosper and live in peace in Babylon.

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end." Jeremiah 29:11

I hear a lot of fear-mongering going on in America today. I see people put their trust in a man, in a government, in a cure, in almost anything but Who can really save them. I hear of Christians planning for some apocalypse by storing up guns and food and medicines. I hear of others hiding their faith for fear of retribution. But rarely do I hear "Trust God".

The Jews were sent into captivity because they had sinned against God by worshiping other gods and committing all the atrocities such worship would cause them to commit. God would humble them because they would not humble themselves.

I hesitate to say that Christian Americans are like the Jews in 590 BC, when the King of Babylon and his army would destroy their homes. However, I do think we should take note of what happened to the Jews at that time so that we can turn away from the sin brought the Jews to their demise and live as God intends us to live. 

We were created for the sole purpose of worshiping God and bringing Him pleasure. This is what we should seek to do in every area of our lives. Even the apostles told their churches to humble themselves (I Peter 5:6) to live peaceable lives (II Corinthians 16:11), to live quiet lives (I Thessalonians 4:11), to not suffer for doing wrong (I Peter 4:15), and to not fear what we will suffer (Revelations 2:10).

I think we are to follow the advice God gave to the Jews going into captivity: build our houses and live in them, plant our gardens and eat from them, give our daughters and sons to marry and have children, teaching them how to worship God in truth and in Spirit. Let God take care of the rest.

"Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive." Jeremiah 29:12-14   

Conversation with My Heavenly Father

I have imagined my Heavenly Father coming to my room each morning to have a conversation with me.  Over a week ago, He was trying to get som...