Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!

First of all, I wanted to take a moment to thank each one of you who take time to read my blog; it means a lot to me. 

Secondly, I wanted to share a song that I heard during my Christmas Eve service last night. It echoes the sentimentality of my last post:




Lyrics can be found here: Cry of a Tiny Babe

Enjoy & Merry Christmas,

The part of the story that never makes it into Christmas pagents

There is a part of the Christmas story that doesn't fit into our nicely packaged Nativity scenes.  A part of the story for which no songs are written.  A part of the story that we skip over on our Christmas morning readings.  A part we'd rather not think about...

Yet Scripture includes it, and prophets prophesied about it and it is, in fact, part of the story:

16 When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. 17 Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:
18 
“A voice is heard in Ramah,
    weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
    and refusing to be comforted,
    because they are no more.”
We leave it out because it stands in stark contrast to the joy of the season. It makes us uncomfortable.  There are no warm fuzzies attached to it.  There are no theological statements that make the uncomfortable questions in our minds cease.

But maybe, just maybe, we do ourselves a disservice by leaving it out.  Maybe the sweet, perfect picture we paint ends up excluding the harsh reality of the world that Jesus willing chose to come into. And we could stop and say, "That's not fair.  Why didn't the angel warn all the mothers?  Did God only care for His own son?"  

But we know there is more to the story and that there is a point when God does not spare His own Son and does let Him fully live out the depths of the evilness of this world.  And we forget that Joseph and Mary did, in fact, need to flee.  Immediately before this passage in Matthew 2:13-15 Joseph has to flee in the middle of the night with Mary and Jesus to Egypt. Jesus did not live in a magical bubble where no sadness, fear or pain never crossed His path.  No, God came down in flesh, to live with us, Emmanuel, to share in our burdens, our trails and our pain so we could trust Him, so we could turn to Him in our deepest moments of need, so that we could know that He truly does care:

Hebrews 4:15-16
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

This part of the story shows that God is fully aware of the darkness this world contains.  This part of the story, reminds us that the intersection between humanity & God's full redemption is still being worked out.  This part of the story reminds us that Jesus walked in the real world, our world and that somehow in God's mystery that even in the darkest of nights, Emmanuel, is with us.  It reminds us that there is a reason why Jesus came.  Finally it reminds us that today, in our darkest night, God is with us, and that the last chapter is yet to be written.

In the midst of the Christmas story,
Innocence is lost.
Shining eyes - this world no longer sees.

A cry pierces the silent night,
"God don't you see?"
It echoes on and on...

A sweet baby rests on His mother's chest
as in the chill of the night he is whisked
 away to safety. 
Does He too know that there will be a day
when He says,
"God, why have you forsaken me?"

A cry pierces the silent night,
"God don't you see?"
It echoes on and on...

till it reaches
Calvary.

In Christ,

Giving shouldn't be messy, right?

I'd like to share that I am a charter member of the Bible Gateway Blogger grid.  My blog can be found listed among their recommend blogs and it will be tweeted under #bgbg2.  I've very excited about this opportunity.  Bible Gateway, is a terrific website that I've used since I began blogging.  It's an honor to be connected with them in such a way.  You can also now find me on twitter @lovehisglory.

It's that time of year, where you can hear the tinkling of the Salvation Army bells asking for money for the homeless.  I've walked by those bells, one too many times this year, but today I was determined to be ready.  I made sure I had lots of change in my purse - enough so both of my kids could enjoy putting some money in and hear the sweet thank you of the volunteer.

So off we drove to the grocery store.  As we approached, I saw a lady in a large red winter coat getting ready to cross the street.  She had a filled, black garbage bag in her cart and she pushed it very slowly.  Homeless (I assumed).  I imagined what it would be like to ask her to my home for dinner that night, taking her in under my wing.  Ah, but it was a busy road, no time for that.  So I kept driving.

I had to wait on traffic to get into the parking lot and as I pulled up to a prime parking spot, guess who came slowly walking by?  The lady in the red coat.  As I hopped out of my car, with my kids, I was able to see her a little closer.  If I wanted to, I could actually talk to her.  But what would I say, "Are you homeless?" "Do you want some of the change in my pocket?" Or maybe, I was being presumptuous before.  That's right, she's not homeless, she's just out on a leisurely walk, how silly and rude of me to assume otherwise.

We went through the store, gathering our food, that I knew we could easily afford.  The dessert aisle was filled with bumper to bumper traffic; everyone was getting ready to make sweet things for their loved ones.  We finally finished up our shopping and had to stand in the checkout line.  It was busy today.  And guess who I saw standing near by?  Looking at books.  And talking to herself.  The addition to her black garbage bag, Sunkist soda pop.  Putting all the elements together once again I concluded, yes, she was homeless.  She was inside, probably to stay warm.  But it was almost our turn to checkout and now someone was standing behind us.  And remember, she was talking to herself.  What was I to do?  Go up with my two kids and risk making a scene?  Perhaps the store has a policy preventing the homeless from loitering.  What could I do to help this lady?  Not wanting to risk any uncomfort for the lady (or for me), I decided to do nothing.

I walked out of the store, my ears straining to hear those bells.  I so wanted to drop my coins in - to say that I see the suffering and I want to help with my extra dimes and pennies.  But today, there were no bells.

I headed out to my car and a young man with a gas container was asking the people parked next to me for assistance.  "I ran out of gas, please help me."  I've fallen for this one in the past. Why, in fact, last week, a friend on Facebook stated how she filled a tank with gas and then watched them go in and spend $40 on cigarettes.  This time the fool wouldn't be me.  I walked in a wide circle past, making sure he moved on before he tried to pull a fast one on me...

And I hopped into my warm car, groceries full in the trunk, wondering if I had made a mistake for not turning back.  This lady and man were someone's daughter and son.  Maybe no longer loved or cared for and here I went driving on...  

I wished there had been those bells, tinkling softly, so I could show my children what it means to be generous and to give (without it being messy).

In Christ,

Combating Amnesia of the Soul

The most important question of the universe
is whether the universe is hostile or friendly.
~Einstein

There have been situations in my life that I have spent years praying about.  After years and years of prayer, the answer comes in a moment.  A split second and then it is done.  Sometimes the answer has been exactly what I've wanted, other times it has been far removed from what I wanted.

At the times, however, when the answer has been exceedingly above what I could ever ask or dream, yet too often the moment quickly fades away.  There definitely is no correlation between the amount of time that I prayed about a situation and the amount of time I spend rejoicing over a situation's resolution.  Why is that?  Because often when something "gets resolved" the rest of life has seeped in bringing new crises and new areas where I have doubt and fear of whether the Lord is willing, able and capable of stepping up to help.

The past four years I have been on a reversal of how I pray, what I pray and why I pray.  I'm no where near to understanding it all - that's for sure.  But what I do know is that the starting point has changed.  Instead of starting my prayers from a place of doubting the character of God and His ability to intervene on my behalf, I have switched to starting at a place where I already trust the heart of God now and every moment along the way.  This trust is no longer dependant upon the results of the situation.  Why?

Because my answer to Einstein's most important question of the universe is: that we live in a friendly universe. Because of that, I can trust my heart and my situations to the One who created the universe.  According to His word, He says "A day with the Lord is like a thousand years, and a thousand years is like a day."  These words aren't just words to me anymore, but they are life for the journey.   I've learned that some of the biggest things I've seen the Lord do, things that have lasting sustenance, have not happened in a single moment but rather have been a combination of intricate details He has weaved together over years and years.

The Lord began unraveling things for me several years back when I started The Rock Bowl based on Joshua 4:1-6.  These Scriptures inspired me to make memorial stones for things that I have prayed about.  It was meant to be an opportunity for me to share with my children how God has moved in our lives in real, practical ways.  Now 5 years later as I look back I can see that it has been evidence of His faithfulness to me because I realize that often times I have amnesia; I forget about His goodness and His faithfulness when I am caught in the middle of intense events.

This Rock Bowl has been one of my "prescribed pills" that has helped lessen my amnesia and has helped me to remember His faithfulness when I enter into new situations.  Here are a few rocks that are in my bowl:

 This is one that I absolutely love.  My problem with anger was scary to me.  I didn't know where it came from or why I could get no control of it.  The process of working through this truly was the starting point of my current spiritual journey.

The next rock is for my friend's precious daughter.  My friend was struggling with secondary infertility and we prayed for her and over her body.  Several months after we prayed, my friend was at my house when we became aware of the fact that she was indeed pregnant.  It was one of those goosebump moments, when you know God has arranged it just to let us all know that He was involved.

However, not every rock has a happy earthly ending attached to it.  The largest rock in my bowl bears a precious name to it - Nevaeh.  As you know, this is the name of my niece who passed away.


And this is where I need to stop and breathe.  It would be easy to take this stone out of the bowl because it doesn't have a "happy ending" but remember the purpose, to be a chance to share with my children how God has operated in our lives?  Sometimes we walk around with holes in our hearts, an ache, a place that holds unanswered questions.  Places where we truly saw the hand of God, but yet with our eyes of the moment, we are left empty-handed, not able to understand.  Those are just some of the thoughts that run through my mind as I see this rock.  And then I once again return to the question at the beginning: "Is this a friendly universe or hostile?"

Even in the midst of the confusion, the loss, and the pain, the place where I settle is friendly.  

We have small troubles for a while now, but they are helping us gain an eternal glory that is much greater than the troubles.18 We set our eyes not on what we see but on what we cannot see. What we see will last only a short time, but what we cannot see will last forever. (2 Corinthians 4:18)


In Christ,

Contentment





Philippians 4:12-13 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

I've been reflecting on how to live out this statement.  It seems to me that discontentment runs rampant in our society.  For those who don't "have" what others "have" there is jealousy.  "They" have a better house, a better car, a better marriage, better children.... And if you find yourself in the "have" category you are always waiting for it to be snatched away or you're left wondering "What did I do to get myself into this situation, and when are all the pieces going to drop?"

So as I reflect on this, I realize that there is never going to be a "state" where we have just enough and therefore we will be content.  There are areas in all of our lives with plenty and there are places in all of our lives with want.  So how do we get to the place of contentment, no matter what situation we find ourselves in?

Paul nailed it when he said, "It is THROUGH Christ." Discontentment is rooted in a mistrust of God's heart and it has nothing to do with our situations.  The question asked by the serpent, still rings true in our hearts today, "Is God's heart towards us really good, or is He holding out on us?"

When we recognize that God's heart towards us is GOOD we can be content in whatever situation we find ourselves.  So when we find ourselves in desperate situations, we don't need to compare ourselves to others, and ask "Why me?"  We instead need to stop and look to God.  He is available in every situation.  Scriptures says in:

                                                              Psalm 139
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn,if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. 

There is no darkness to God and in every place He is present.  Jesus tells us that, "Eternal life is knowing the Father and Jesus Christ whom He has sent."  So the beauty of all this, what ties this all together is the presence of Christ in each and every situation.  We need to stop "comparing" ourselves to others and asking, "Why me?" or "Why not me?"  And instead look to Christ knowing that  whether in plenty or in want He is there with us, walking us through and we can experience the eternal life promised for us today.  It's not that tomorrow will be better or worse.  It's that Christ lives in TODAY.

In Christ,
Jaime

The Tension of Grace

I read through the Beatitudes this morning and I was struck by how it parrelled with many thoughts I've been sifting through in my own mind the last couple of weeks:

Matthew 5:3-10

*Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

*Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

*Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

*Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

*Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

*Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

*Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

*Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of God.

When I look back through the front half of these verses I see vulnerability, pain, fear, emptiness, boldness, courage and bravery; in essence I see humanity displayed. 

* Poor in spirit

*Mourning

*Meekness

*Hunger and thirsting

*Mercy and compassion

*Pure in heart (vulnerability)

*Peacemakers (those who go into hard and difficult places to pave a way for peace)

*Persecution for choosing the right way

These are the attitudes that Jesus calls blessed.  These are the empty, human places in all of our hearts that make space for God.  The second half of these verses show that it is in these empty places that God is going to come in and fill.  But what is not answered for us in these verses is the how and the when.  Just that it is.  

As I've ministered to individuals over the last 9 years I've found many sitting at the front end of these verses: those poor in spirit from traumatic pain in their past.  Those mourning because of lost dreams whether spiritual, emotional or relational.  Those hunger and thirsting for a deeper reality of God.  Those showing mercy over and over to loved ones and only left feeling hurt by the brunt of rejection.  And do you know how they often feel spiritually in these moments?  The answer is not "blessed."  The answer often is shame, fear, guilt and doubt.  They feel shame that they do not have enough "faith", guilt that their lack of faith has caused these situations to take place.  Frustration that they have a nagging need in their heart for more of God and that they haven't found "satisfaction."  But according to Jesus, these are not the emotions people have to feel during these seasons, they should instead feel "blessed"? 

What exactly is meant by "blessed?"  Is it a feeling? Is it an emotion?  As I stop to step back and look at it I don't think it is either.  Rather, I see it as a protective truth, that people should be able to tuck their minds into when they are in the midst of the first part of these truths.  Because the journey from part 1 of the verses to part 2 can take time and it can be painful and the only way to make it to the other side is by trusting God's heart.  But sadly, what has often been taught to people living in the midst of the first half is that God is disappointed in them, or He wants them to get their act together and so in their very deepest moment of need they end up turning to themselves to try and fix themselves instead of to God to receive the blessed truth of His healing grace in their deepest time of need.

I can give you one example from my own life.  When my niece, Nevaeh died - I "held it together" for a half year.  I knew that she was in heaven and because of that fact, I had "learned" that it wasn't really right for Christians to mourn.  The result of trying to ignore my humanity was that it began to reek havoc in my life. I became filled with fear, anxiety and depression.  It was a struggle to get out of bed every morning and I was in constant fear about my children.  Through a series of events God began to chip away at my religious walls and as I result I began to mourn.  I mourned deeply and I cried out in frustration, fear and pain. It didn't happen all at once.  It happened over a couple of years (and in fact continues to happen), but in each key moment when God put His finger on my heart, I have allowed myself to truly mourn.  And do you know what I received?  Not a pep talk of," Just get your act together."  Not rejection.  Not a lecture from God that I shouldn't question Him or have doubts or fear.  No, what I received was true, lasting, life-giving, healing comfort.  

Beloved, what I see when I look at Jesus, is God breaking through all the barriers, the misconceptions, the lies, the separation that kept us from understanding and accessing His heart and I see Him coming in taking on our humanity and showing us that God is able to meet us in our humanity.  What I don't see is Jesus showing us that humanity is a cinch and if you just try hard enough you will never experience pain.  Jesus wept before Lazurus' tomb, Jesus sweated blood before the cross, Jesus cried out on the cross, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?"  Jesus was not afraid to wear the fullness of humanity: the agony, the doubt, the fear, the loneliness, the rejection and at times the blindness to the hand of God.  Why? Because He knew that there was a second half to it: the place where God meets us and fills in our emptiness:

*theirs is the kingdom of heaven

*they will be comforted

*they will inherit the earth

*they shall obtain mercy

*they shall see God

*they shall be called the children of God

*great is their reward in heaven

There is a place of tension between part 1 and part 2.  And that is where Jesus steps in and gives us His grace,the enabling power of God.  So if you find yourself in the midst of part 1 of these verses I encourage you to hunker into the blessed protection of God.  He is not disappointed in you, He is not waiting for you to get your act together, He is not ashamed of you rather He says, "I've walked this way before you, I will now walk beside you and yes, I will even walk behind you (Psalm 139:5)."  Fear tells you that if you open yourself up like this - to being real and not holding yourself together - you will fall flat on your face and perhaps find out that in fact God isn't real.  But Jesus, says no, if you open yourself up in this way, you will find God and that He is big enough to meet you in your deepest, darkest places of agony and fear.

In Christ,
Jaime

P.S. If you have enjoyed the podcast version of these posts, please take time to rate it on Itunes.  Thanks!

When Christ Comes In




Click here to listen to the Podcast version of this post.

I've slowly been reading through Surprised by Hope by N.T. Wright.  In the beginning of the book, he goes in-depth looking at the reasons why it is intellectually reasonable to believe the resurrection of Jesus Christ is a historically true event.  Pondering the resurrection's reality has caused me to ask the question, "Since this is true, what does it mean for today?" Because, I'll admit that being a "seasoned" Christian, it is easy for me to lose the awe of it and to forget its lasting effect on my day to day life.  But the current needs of my heart have opened wide the door for me to want to grow in my understanding of how this reality of Jesus effects my today.

The other day, I was listening to a sermon titled, Chosen One, that was talking about Jesus visiting the disciples after His resurrection.  As I was listening, I was struck by the similarities between Genesis 3 and how Jesus found the disciples after the resurrection.  In both scenarios, the main characters are hiding - hiding out of fear.  In both situations, it is God Himself who comes and seeks them out.  But instead of a separation taking place as it did in Genesis we see that after the resurrection when Jesus comes in He proclaims, "Peace to you."  

The disciples were hiding in fear and God's immediate response is, "Peace."  How many times do we do the very same thing?  When we are afraid, ashamed we want to go and hide.  Hide in fear, hide in separation, hide thinking that it will somehow make us safe or that our hiding will protect us from an "assumedly" disappointed  God.  But what if we would stop to listen, stop to hear what Jesus and our Father actually have to say to us, "Peace, peace, peace, peace."  I find it completely fascinating that this is indeed the message first proclaimed to us by the angels, "Peace among men in whom He is well pleased."  This is the message that Christ lived out and continued to proclaim after His resurrection, "That there is peace between God and man."  When we allow Jesus to walk through the doors of our hearts, into our places of fear He proclaims peace.  It wasn't just a message for 2,000 years ago, it is a message for today, for our hearts now.  

As I was meditating on these thoughts above, I ran across a song that has since become an anthem for me in this thought process.  It is  called, "Peace is Broken Out" by Ceili Rain.   

(If you get this post via e-mail you'll need to click through to either Youtube or watch it on my website).  

I loved how they intertwined the peace proclaimed by the angels with the larger picture of how that message still rings out into our wide-world problems and into our everyday realities. It shows how we can integrate that truth into the fabric of our lives and how we can share it with our neighbors.

So, beloved, let us remember that peace has broken out.  May you allow Jesus to come through the door of your heart and speak to your fears.  And from that place, may you in turn be invigorated to share the beautiful reality of that peace with your neighbors.

In Christ,
Jaime

A Refreshing Look at Isaiah 55

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 Isaiah 55 contains a variety of verses that probably are very familiar to you.  These verses are usually discussed and remembered in small, separate sections.  While, the individual verses are beautiful and contain beautiful truths when viewed alone, a reading of them side by side reveals God's love in a way that is overwhelmingly beautiful.
Here is the entirety of Isaiah 55:
The Lord says, "All you who are thirsty,
come and drink.
Those of you who do not have money,
come, buy and eat!
Come buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.

2 Why spend your money on something that is not real food?
Why work for something that doesn't really satisfy you?
Listen closely to me, and you will eat what is good;
your soul will enjoy the rich food that satisfies.

3 Come to me and listen;
listen to me so you may live.
I will make an agreement with you that will last forever.
I will give you the blessings I promised to David.
4 I made David a witness of my power for all nations,
a ruler and commander of many nations.

5 You will call for nations that you don't yet know.
And these nations that do not know you will run to you
because of the Lord your God,
because of the Holy One of Israel who honors you."

6 So you should look for the Lord before it is too late;
you should call to him while he is near.
7 The wicked should stop doing wrong,
and they should stop their evil thoughts.
They should return to the Lord so he may have mercy on them.
They should come to our God, because he will freely forgive them.

8 The Lord says, "My thoughts are not like your thoughts.
Your ways are not like my ways.
9 Just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.
10 Rain and snow fall from the sky
and don't return without watering the ground.
They cause the plants to sprout and grow,
making seeds for the farmer
and bread for the people.
11 The same thing is true of the words I speak.
They will not return to me empty.

They make the things happen that I want to happen,
and they succeed in doing what I send them to do.

12 "So you will go out with joy
and be led out in peace.

The mountains and hills will burst into song before you,
and all the trees in the fields will clap their hands.
13 Large cypress trees will grow where thornbushes were.
Myrtle trees will grow where weeds were.
These things will be a reminder of the Lord's promise,
and this reminder will never be destroyed.

This entire passage of Scripture is about Jesus Christ and the amazing beauty and freedom of His love!  That He offers us life, for free, all we have to do is COME!  Throughout this passage, God continually invites us to COME to Him and listen to Him.  The things He is offering to us as a result of coming to Him are good for us, rich and satisfying!

Sandwiched throughout this chapter are additional verses that we as believers today can take as encouragements to what God is doing and wants to do:

You will call for nations that you don't yet know.
And these nations that do not know you will run to you
because of the Lord your God,
because of the Holy One of Israel who honors you.

Beloved, the nations should be running to us!  Let us in confidence, call forth to the nations because God will set them free!

In the middle of this chapter, are the verses: "my thoughts are not your thoughts and my ways are not your ways".  When viewed by themselves, these verses can cause people to be afraid of coming to the Lord in their need, because they think He is saying, "don't question me and you won't understand why such and such has happened."  However, if you view these verses in context, you will see that is a misunderstanding.  God says, "They should come to the Lord, because He will freely forgive them." The point of these verses is that we can come to God and He will freely forgive us.  This incredible idea was, is and always will be GOD's IDEA not our idea.  
So you will go out with joy
and be led out in peace.

Are joy and peace what is leading you in your walk with God right now?  If not, God says they can lead you.  We can't force it, but what I am learning, is that one of the main reasons why I don't experience what God has to offer is because I often have a misunderstanding about His truth and how He operates.  That misunderstanding causes a barrier in my ability to walk in His truth.  When I sit at His beautiful feet and allow His love to change the lie(s) I've been living under, I then begin to live out the freedom He is offering.

Finally, the beauty of the Truth contained in these verses has the ability to bring powerful changes.  "Large cypress trees will grow where thorn bushes were. Myrtle trees will grow where weeds were." Our God is a God of redemption and change.  When He replaces things in our lives He doesn't just bring an equal change, He brings a change that far exceeds the junk that was there before.  So give Him full access, it is worth it!
The reason Isaiah 55 is so beautiful is because it is the GOOD NEWS in God's own words!  Our all-powerful God is wanting to set the nations free and offer His forgiveness without reserve.  We have a message of freedom, life and redemption!  Let's walk in it.

Ruth

Ruth
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to speak at my church on the book of Ruth.  It was a beautiful and humbling time for me.  I was blessed by the attendance of a large group of my friends and family.  Their smiling and tearful faces in the audience were a true blessing to my heart.  I hope that you can take some time to listen to the message that I shared.  Click the link above titled "Ruth" to be taken to the podcast.  It is also available on my webpage www.forhisglory-alone.blogspot.com  in the upper, left-hand corner.

It's also available on iTunes at: http://forhisgloryalone.podomatic.com/rss2.xml

In Christ,

The Intimacy of Grace



Below is a post I wrote awhile ago, but I needed to read it again the other day. so I thought I would share it again.  Enjoy!

This post is dedicated to my former pastor Shane Holden, who plucked his one string guitar, "God loves you, even in your weakness."  Hearing that message over and over again and continuing to carry it in my heart continues to peel off layers of blindness.

I was reading through the story of David and Bathsheba the other day.  This is a well known story, that we've all heard millions of times.  Well, I got to the last verse of this story and a verse, that I never recall hearing before, practically jumped out at me:

2 Samuel 12:25
The Lord loved him, and sent a message by the prophet Nathan; so he named him Jedidiah, because of the Lord.

As I read this, I literally stopped and looked up and then down again to make sure the verse was still there and that reading it was not my imagination.  This verse is talking about Solomon, whom we know is named - Solomon - not Jedidiah.  But here you have the Lord himself sending a message saying for him to be named- Jedidiah.  You kind of think if God said, "Name him this," you would name him that! Knowing that names are significant in the Bible I couldn't wait to find out what it meant and to discover what was happening in the background.

So curiosity got the best of me, and I was led on a wonderfully, exciting journey of discovery.  At the first opportunity I had, I found out that Jedidiah means, "my beloved."  This meaning totally captured my heart.  I then quickly did a search of commentaries to see if anyone else was blown away by it and if they could shed some light on why Solomon is called Solomon and not Jedidiah.  After reading through 7 commentaries, I got a few hints as to what was going on but I still felt like the magnitude of this verse was overlooked.

First, I found out that in 1 Chronicles 22:9 it says,

But you will have a son who will be a man of peace and rest, and I will give him rest from all his enemies on every side. His name will be Solomon, and I will grant Israel peace and quiet during his reign.

So the name, Solomon was also a name that God had given him, thus he is called Solomon not Jedidiah.  Secondly, I found out that Solomon is a fore-running picture of Christ.  Thus, the name Solomon is a picture of Jesus who is our Prince of Peace.  But another commentary brought to light how the name, Jedidiah, was also a prophetic picture of Christ fulfilled in Luke 9:35:

And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.

Finally, a commentary mentioned that perhaps this was a name that Nathan or Bathsheba called him.  When I stepped back from all of it and combined everything together, it all began to dawn on me, Jedidiah was a nickname, a name of intimacy, a name of grace.

Considering that, I was even more blown away by it all; I had to rewind with this in mind and look back at the full story that ends with this verse (you can read it all in 2 Samuel 12).  We have David, a man after God's own heart, fall into sin  that makes The Desperate Housewives look not so desperate.  David sleeps with another man's wife, gets her pregnant, tries to have the husband sleep with her but he won't, then has the man killed.  As you read this, you see opportunity, after opportunity for David to admit what is going on, but he plows on and God allows him to plow forward.  After all this is done, then the Lord comes and speaks to David:

I gave you your master’s house, and your master’s wives into your bosom, and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added as much more. Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight?

You can hear the cry of God in this, as to the why; why did you mistrust My heart and not know that I am generous towards you?  These decisions by David lead to consequences that end up hurting the rest of his kingship and his family line.  In addition, the baby conceived in this mess ends up dying.

Somewhere in this timeline, David ends up writing Psalm 51 which we all know well: "Create in me a clean heart, Oh God, take not thy Holy presence from me..."

The story doesn't end with fear or an unknown answer but it ends, with a gift from God, the gift of Solomon.  A man of peace, a picture of Christ and a daily promise and reminder from God to David and Bathsheba of God's intimate, redeeming love.  You see, I do believe Solomon was called Jedidiah - my beloved - but it was not by "the people" but it was by his family.  Whenever they would say, "Jedidiah" they were reminded that God's answer to David's prayer is - "my beloved."

You see He is a redeeming God, a forgiving God, it is not based upon merit, or upon our actions it is all rooted in His LOVE.  The summary of this chapter is, "The mess you are in, this is not what I intended, this is not what I had planned for you... yet even after all of that I will step in, I will redeem and it will be through my Beloved."

This verse did one more thing for me though.  Over the years, I've heard people say, "We are God's beloved."  While I obviously knew that God loved me, I had been unwilling to take the intimacy of that name, "My beloved" and apply it to myself, as an individual.  You see I had heard that like John, who defines himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved (John 21:20) we too could define ourselves that way.  I also heard others say, that the message Jesus heard as He arose from baptism is the same message that God speaks over our lives, but yet somehow, some way that was not enough for me.

However, after reading 2 Samuel 12:25 it dislodged me and I'm full into being His beloved.  The fact that God himself, tapped Nathan on the shoulder and said, "Let them know, he is my BELOVED," astounded me.  After all the mess, after all the hurt the note that God wraps it all in is, "he is my beloved," and He gives a name, a nickname that is meant to be a daily reminder of His love to not only Solomon but to His whole family that they are loved.

In Christ,


Book Review: Holy Is the Day

A few years ago, I had the privilege of doing a book review on Surprised by Oxford by Carolyn Weber.  I absolutely loved the book and as a result I developed a profound respect for Carolyn as a writer and as a fellow believer.  I began following her blog Pressing Save because I couldn't get enough!  Well, Carolyn just released a new book called Holy is the Day and I had the chance to preview it this summer.

Both of Carolyn's books are composed of reflections on her life.  Holy is the Day, looks at her life as a young believer and as a mother of young children, trying to wrestle out the truth of who God is and what it looks like to live, move and breathe in Him through the reality of our lives.  In this book, Carolyn has once again managed to articulate living reality through words and captured the essence of God's presence seeping into our lives.

If you are a mother, you will relate to most, if not all of her stories; her joys, struggles, fears, exasperation and at times desperation.  But you will also walk away with renewed vision to seek the fingerprints of God in the reality of your daily life (which is a personal theme for my life).

There are many memorable moments: U-turn friends, lunch at the beach and my personal favorite about an exclamation point cloud.

I highly recommend this book and it is entirely possible to read just this book.  But I must state that Carolyn is an amazing author with a beautiful testimony so you will be abundantly blessed if you read both Surprised by Oxford and Holy is the Day.

As the subtitle states, Holy is the Day is a Gift for Living in the Present.

In Christ,


PS I received a draft copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.

Fragmented Endings

My daughter woke up last night with a stomach ache. As we lay on the couch waiting to see if anything developed I was wide awake. In the silence of the hour, my mind was free to wander and it began  processing the history of the last five years. As I finished reflecting, I realized that I have 3 major areas that feel like fragmented endings. It is as if they were once beautiful glass mirrors and they were thrown full force on the ground and shattered. What I am left standing with is a handful of jagged pieces; the remains of seemingly broken dreams. 

I've learned (and continue to learn) to take those pieces to my Lord and I did once again last night. As I did, I had a greater understanding of Scripture and what it means when it says it is living and active. As I reflected on my history in light of Scripture, they were no longer written words rather they were truths embedded in my life: lived, breathed, cried and strained through. I also realized with a greater appreciation that Scripture is like a road map; as you are walking through life, you can easily get disoriented by the events at hand and you look up crying, "Why God?" Then you look at the map of Scripture and you are settled once again by the fact that others have walked this way before you, have had tragedy and failure and yet God remained faithful in love and comfort even through the darkness. 

Hebrews 11:36-40

36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning;[e] they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins,destitute, persecuted and mistreated—38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.

39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. 

Coming out of this five year period, I relate more with the last half of Hebrews 11, emerging with disappointment and loss. But as I stand holding my jagged pieces, the Lord has placed me in fellowship with others that too are holding jagged pieces. In that place, I find myself once again living, breathing and walking out Scripture:  

2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God

And I remember calling over the hundreds of miles to comfort and say, "I'm sorry for your loss. I've been there, too. And even if you can't feel it or see it right now - you are loved."

And I sit in my beautiful church body, feeling loved, refreshed and renewed and I am given a glimpse. Last year they were about to close their doors but God breathed new life on them and allowed them to keep their doors open. As I sit listening, tears running down my cheeks, I remembering my own years of prayers - asking for a place where we could feel at home - and I can see with a tiny glimmer of joy how The Lord took our jagged, fragmented endings and He is continuing to weave them with others to create a beautiful story of redemption. 

As I walk away from it all, I realize this is not the end. That I do not stand alone but rather am part of a beautiful body, the body of Christ. I stand with others,
past, present and future who are walking this journey of life filled by the love of God  indwelling them. As much as we are individuals loved and saved by his grace we only live and breathe as One in Him. Right now we stand incomplete, holding our jagged endings but one day we will all see clearly that: Only together with us would they be made perfect. 


13 Thoughts for 2013: Part 13 The Finale



Romans 14:19

19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.

It is hard for me to believe that this series 13 Thoughts for 2013 began way back in January.  Little did I know when I started it that the Lord was taking me on a journey and that these verses would be progressive stepping stones for me.  The journey through these verses included many tears, sleepless nights and wrestling out these truths in His presence.  I hope that I have emerged refined by the process.

This journey is sealed with a truth that is for the ages: Let us make EVERY effort to lead to peace and the edification of others.

As I was finalizing this post, I came across these thoughts found in Tell it Slant by Eugene Peterson, which seal the process that I have been in over the last 6 months:

Prayer accomplishes with us, within our spirits, deep within our souls, what is later lived out in the circumstances and conditions of our obedience.  A stiff upper lip won't do it.  A fierce resolve won't do it.  An exemplary life won't do it.

Prayer goes beneath the surface and penetrates the heart of the matter... When we pray we willingly participate in what God is doing, without knowing precisely what God is doing, how God is doing it, or when we will know what is going on - if ever (pg.237)

May this prayer by Saint Patrick lead you and guide you as you journey on in Christ:
 As I arise today,
may the strength of God pilot me,
the power of God uphold me,
the wisdom of God guide me.
May the eye of God look before me,
the ear of God hear me,
the word of God speak for me.
May the hand of God protect me,
the way of God lie before me,
the shield of God defend me,
the host of God save me.
May Christ shield me today.
Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit,
Christ when I stand,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
Amen

In Christ,

13 Thoughts for 2013: Part 12 Being Single-minded


Romans 14:17b-18
(God's Kingdom) It’s what God does with your life as he sets it right, puts it together, and completes it with joy. Your task is to single-mindedly serve Christ. Do that and you’ll kill twobirds with one stone: pleasing the God above you and proving your worth to the people around you.

I love the beautiful interchange that takes place in these short two verses.  It starts out letting us know what God's Kingdom is:
  • a work in progress
  • intiated and being completed by God
  • a making of things right
  • being done in joy
It seems so simple yet profound and so often we miss it and instead make it harder than it needs to be.  Once again Paul reminds us that God has started this, God is doing the work and we've been invited to ride along in joy.  Our only task: to SINGLE-MINDEDLY serve Christ.

I just finished The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawerence and I was struck when he said he made it his mission to never think an evil thought and to only think thoughts of love.  If I put that into practice, I think 75% of my thought life would be X'd out and I wouldn't have much to talk about!  But it also jarred me to consider what it means to serve Christ, in my thought life and to truly let the beauty of who He is rule and reign even in the places where no one else can see.  The verse above and Brother Lawerence's example will only result in blessing for ourselves and others.  So as we walk away from this, let us be reminded that:

We have this treasure in clay jars,
so that it may be made clear that this
extraordinary power belongs to God
and does not come from us.
from 2 Corinthians 4


In Christ,

13 Thoughts for 2013: Part 11 Being Changed Inwardly





Romans 14:10-14
So where does that leave you when you criticize a brother? And where does that leave you when you condescend to a sister? I’d say it leaves you looking pretty silly—or worse. Eventually, we’re all going to end up kneeling side by side in the place of judgment, facing God. Your critical and condescending ways aren’t going to improve your position there one bit. Read it for yourself in Scripture:
“As I live and breathe,” God says,
    “every knee will bow before me;
Every tongue will tell the honest truth
    that I and only I am God.”

So tend to your knitting. You’ve got your hands full just taking care of your own life before God.
Forget about deciding what’s right for each other. Here’s what you need to be concerned about: that you don’t get in the way of someone else, making life more difficult than it already is. I’m convinced—Jesus convinced me!—that everything as it is in itself is holy. We, of course, by the way we treat it or talk about it, can contaminate it.

I think all these words are very powerful and can hit us all differently depending upon where we are at but for this post I want to focus on how it challenges us to look inward.

As always, these verses do not stand alone and they are written in the context of what we've already been looking at in the previous 10 posts: That God is challenging us to wake up and join Him on His mission to spread His love to all - even the nobodies.  In the verses above God clearly establishes and reminds us once again that yes, He is God and He has everything in control; that in the end every knee will bow and acknowledge that truth.  I think sometimes as Christians we forget this and we look at places where we see evil reigning and all we want to do it squelch it. 

But these verses state that our hands are full taking care of our own lives.  As we sit before God's word allowing the author and perfecter of our faith full access to our hearts He will bring that change that is needed a change of a heart that can do what God has invited us to do:

Romans 12:17-21
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. 18 If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ 20 No, ‘if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.’ 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Let us take time to sit before His presence looking inward so we can receive the grace we need to love outward. 

In Christ,

Daily Prayer

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