That Day

March 30, 2010 § Leave a comment

Here is a poem I wrote dated 6-20-2002

That Day

You cried for me that day.
You cried for my waywardness.
You cried for my pain.
You thought of me and You cried.

You prayed for me that day.
You prayed for strength.
You prayed against temptation.
You thought of me and You prayed.

You died for me that day.
You died for my sins.
You died for my freedom.
You thought of me and You died.

You rose for me that day.
You rose for victory.
You rose for reconciliation.
You thought of me and You rose.

You ascended for me that day.
You ascended to prepare for me.
You ascended to send Your Spirit.
You thought of me and You ascended.

Identifying with Jonah

March 29, 2010 § 2 Comments

So, “Jonah was a prophet, ooo-ooo, but he really never got it, sad but true, if you watch him you can spot it, doodlie do, he did not get the point.”  So if you know Veggie Tales and you have seen their movie Jonah, you know the song I just quoted.  However, I often find myself acting in the same way Jonah did.  I clearly understand that God tells us to, ‘”Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.”‘ Mark 16:15  So why do I often do as Jonah did and say I don’t want to and run in the other direction?  Below are some thoughts that came about while the senior pastor at our church was doing a series on Jonah.

How often does God have something for me to do and I go kicking and screaming?  “I don’t want to!” I stamp my foot like my two year old and cross my arms.  “Do I have to?”  I whine like my five year old.  Or even worse I arch my back and wail like my 8 month old.

“Daughter I have given you a story to share.  Share it.”

“But it hurts Lord, I don’t want to!”

“Daughter I have given you that story to bless others.  You prayed that those situations would bring Me glory.”

“But I do I have to share that story God?”

“Daughter I have given you strength beyond your capabilities, I have given you eloquence beyond your understanding, I have given you experiences bigger than yourself that you might share them with others.”

I arch my back and wail….

Then I wonder why God isn’t using me.  How can I be of importance to His kingdom?  What am I to do?  His answer is “go and tell.”  My answer is so often, “no.”

Father forgive me.  Forgive my stubborn stiff necked ways.  Forgive my hard heart that holds my experiences with You tightly.  Forgive my selfishness that doesn’t share Your river of life with those who are aching for it as in the dry and weary land.  Oh Father that I would have a heart like Yours.  That I would lay down my hopes and dreams, my plans, my expectations at Your feet.  Lord that I may say with Your Son, “Not my will, but Yours be done.”  That I would suffer for You.  Not because of my sin, not because of my hard heart, but because I am willing to say no to myself and yes to Your will.  Father prune my vine of the things that distract me from serving You.  Father I trust that as I die to my hopes, my plans, that I will grow like a seed to produce more and more fruit for Your glory and honor.  Sovereign One, as I release my grip on the direction I want and think my life should go, may I rest in knowing You love me, You have plans for me, and You are never out of control.  The pruning makes the plant more beautiful so I pray my life may be more clearly reflective of Your beauty.  The death to myself allows me to bear much fruit and allows others to see You more clearly.  Finally resting in the back seat as You control and direct my life gives me peace, endurance, and joy that in all things that Your name will be honored glorified.

Freedom in Christ…

March 26, 2010 § Leave a comment

So a sweet friend of mine posted on her facebook page the following question:

Are you Free in Jesus Christ? If you are – how did you get there? If not – why are you not there?

Here is an expanded version of my answer to my sweet friend.  By the way, I LOVE it when my brothers and sisters in Christ ask me questions to ponder about Him!

Positionally I am free! When I accepted Jesus as my savior, I was set free from being a slave to sin and death.  Col 2:13-15  However sometimes those old shackles of sin are comfortable. They are what I am used to, they are sickeningly my friends.  Sometimes they are my excuse. I can’t because what will people think, I can’t because I mess up too often. I can’t because I’m not smart enough, pretty enough, whatever enough. I can’t because I know I will mess up and then what will people say.  Sometimes they are my vices, my sin, my mistakes that I think disqualify me from God’s grace or mercy or even His desire to use me.  Sometimes they are just the things I want to do or I think are important, but are not God’s BEST for me.  Sometimes they are my selfish desires and they keep me locked away from God.  Locked away from being used to reach others.  James 4:17

However when I read and dwell on His word, when I confess sin, when I allow God to direct my thinking. 2Cor 10:5  Phil 4:8  His truth can be lived out as freedom in my life. Why? Because my security is in my savior who loves me unconditionally who died for me who has a plan and purpose for my life that will have eternal significance! I Cor. 15:3-4, John 10:10, Jer 29:11,  That means I have purpose every day I have something God intends me to do or say that will matter for all eternity.  That means that God has equipped and prepared me to accomplish His will.  IPet 4:10  That also means that I have value because God chose me, God equips me, God LOVES me…

So, positionally I am free. That work was done of the cross.  Romans 6:18  However daily,let’s be honest, this can be a minute by minute choice I must choose between the chains or the freedom that comes from an intimate relationship with Him. through His word, through prayer, through praise, through fasting, through serving Him in all I say and do. Oh that battle that wages in me that battle not against flesh and blood but against those spiritual forces of darkness. Eph 6:12  Praise God He equips us for the battle!  Eph 6:10-18  Praise God the One who is in me is greater than the one who is in the world!  I John 4:4

The Budding Staff…

March 20, 2010 § Leave a comment

I already mentioned about Israel’s rebellion in Numbers 16.  When three men raised up a rebellion against God’s leaders.  Not only did God allow the earth to swallow them alive, but 250 more were killed with fire from heaven.  Then the next day 14,700 people died from a plague when they accused Moses and Aaron of killing God’s people.  So Moses and Aaron, God’s men, God’s chosen leaders of His people are in a tough place.  You would think that the Earth swallowing people, fire from heaven and a plague that killed 14,700 people would be enough to establish God’s chosen leaders.  (As a side note, Aaron was the one who stopped the plague by making atonement for the people who were rebelling against his authority).

However God does more.  If I were Aaron I could only think of the conflicting emotions coursing through me.  If I am to be in this leadership position, why are God’s people constantly rebelling?  I seriously have to risk my life to make atonement for these people who are rebelling against me?  Why did you pick me anyway God?  Are you sure God you want me?  Why don’t these people I am to lead just get out of my way and let me lead them?  Can you see the hard position he is in?  Can you feel his angst?  He had to be having some doubts and fears.  The fear of God and His mighty power certainly had to be in the back of his mind.  However in the midst of this victory of sorts, when Aaron’s enemies have be defeated by earthquake, fire, and plague, as Aaron may even be grieving the loss of these people, God verifies His choice of spiritual leader.

This takes place in Numbers 17.  I can almost hear the irony in Moses’ voice as he tells each tribal leader to bring his staff to the Tent of Meeting.  Included in the staffs is Aaron’s staff.  So they leave the staffs in the Tent of Meeting in front of the “Testimony” or ark of the covenant.  God says the man whom I choose as Spiritual leader, his staff will sprout so that the grumbling about who is in charge will come to an end.  The amazing thing is Aaron’s staff not only sprouts and buds, but it flowers and produces almonds.  God established His chosen leader.  So do you think that God will not do the same now?  God confirms and establishes His leader in churches, ministries, homes.  I am praying that if you are a leader that you will be encouraged.  I am praying also that you will be a good follower.  That you will honor and respect the authority that God has put in  your life.  God doesn’t put an authority there to lord it over you, but to guide and direct you closer to Him.

May I bloom where He asks me to bloom and may I fertilize and encourage those leaders I am to follow.

You did it…AGAIN.

March 20, 2010 § Leave a comment

So my seven year old has a new mantra…”I hate sin and I wish I never sinned.”  I try to assure her that I feel the same way, but God continues to forgive.  Isn’t that amazing?  That even though we mess up over and over.  Many times in the exact same way, He forgives us!!!

Then there are those Israelites.  I hate to admit it, but I am so much like them…They rebel against God, they receive punishment, they cry out for help, God rescues them, they obey for a while, then they rebel again.  From my perspective, it is hard to believe that God is patient with these chosen people, these children of God.  Seriously the first census at the beginning of Numbers and the second one at the end of Numbers tell us the story clearly…The total number of Israelites after they left Egypt was 603,550.  However over 40 years later at the end of Moses’ life and before they enter the promised land there were only 601,730.  Why were there fewer Israelites?  They rebelled and God punished that rebellion.

Clearly this people was not purposeful in reminding their children much less themselves of what God did for them.  Do you really think that if they taught their kids and reminded themselves that God brought them out of Egypt through miraculous plagues that they would rebel?  In fact they practically plundered Egypt as the final plague caused the Egyptians to beg the Israelites to leave and “here take whatever you want as long as you go.”  What are we thinking when we don’t remind ourselves what God has done for us?  What are we thinking when we don’t tell our kids, our friends, our neighbors, our families what God is doing in our lives?  Or is it that we just don’t always see God when He moves in our lives?  Have we become that spiritually blind that we don’t even acknowledge God when things happen?  Honestly, is it just a weird coincidence or was it God?  We are so ready to say it just happens that way, but most likely it was/is God!

So bottom line…I am thinking the Israelites in the desert have taught me about God’s forgiveness.  He is merciful above and beyond what we deserve! They have also taught me that I need to talk about God in my life.  I need to be willing to share my difficulties so that others can glory in what God did/has done for me.  All of that talking and living so that God’s name is glorified.  I need to talk about God and what He is doing now so that God is relevant to those around me.  We so often see God in the Bible, but forget that the same God is working NOW!

Rebellion, Not again…

March 7, 2010 § Leave a comment

So why am I thinking about rebellion?  Those pesky stiff-necked Israelites did it again…Not long before Miriam and Aaron were speaking out against their brother, Moses.  The Israelites have already accused Moses for bringing them to the desert to die or not feeding them the right food or there is no water…Now in Numbers 16, we have Korah, Abiram, and Dathan.  They were supposed to be leaders of the Israelites as they served God in the tent of meeting.  So in today’s time they were like deacons or elders in the church.  However they were claiming that everyone of the Israelites were holy and so why were Moses and Aaron “setting themselves” above the others.  Their theory sounded good to about 250 other Israelite leaders.  So 253 men are standing against the leaders God had chosen in Moses and Aaron.  So what does God do about this rebellion?  How serious is rebellion to God?  Well, He had the earth swallow Korah, Dathan, Abiram their families and all their possessions.  “They went down alive into the grave, with everything they owned; the earth closed over them and they perished…” Num 16:33  Then the 250 men were consumed by fire.  It gets better though…This act of God didn’t seem to scare the Israelites at all.  In fact the next day they accuse Moses and Aaron of killing the Lord’s people.  As if Moses and Aaron could have sent fire from heaven or cause the earth to swallow up three families…Regardless, the Israelites rebelled against Moses and Aaron and God was sick of it.  He told Moses and Aaron to get away from those assembled against them so he could do away with them, but what did Moses have Aaron do?  He had Aaron intercede for the Israelites by burning incense to make atonement for the people.  Num 16:48 says “He [Aaron] stood between the living and the dead, and the plague stopped.”  However 14,700 people died because of their rebellion.

I’d say God doesn’t like rebellion.  I think he takes rebellion pretty seriously.  If He is willing to use the earth to swallow three families, send fire to destroy 250 men, and send a plague that killed 14,700 people and would have killed more if Aaron wasn’t willing to make atonement for the people, the God is clearly strongly against rebellion.  Oh, my rebellious heart angers God.  My rebellious heart hurts more than just me.  I can often lead others astray.  Look at Dathan, Korah, and Abiram.  Through their rebellion 14,950 people plus their own families were destroyed.  Rebellion is alive and well in me and it angers God.  Oh that I can honor those in authority over me and kick that rebellion out of my heart.

Not only did I realize my own rebellion, but I also realized how I as an authority figure need to stand in the gap when those under my authority rebel.  What I tend to think is they deserve what they get.  They need to learn their lesson.  Moses was just telling God how he couldn’t carry them all the way to the promised land.  If I were Moses I am not sure I would have sent Aaron to make atonement.  I would think that is what they get for rebelling against us.  Instead Moses over and over again intercedes for them.  He stands in the gap instead of getting angry and yelling back, he prays for them, makes atonement for them.  Oh that I could follow Moses’ example.  That I could stand in the gap for those who are fighting against my authority.  What a picture of Christ.  Standing in the gap for our sins as we spit at Him and curse Him.

Father God I pray that Your Spirit will fill me so that I do not rebel against You and the authority in my life.  Lord I also pray that when my authority is being questioned that I can stand in the gap for those who are rebelling against the authority You have given me.  Oh to be a picture of Christ for those I am in authority over and help them turn to You.  Forgive me my rebellion and my unwillingness to stand in the gap.  Thank You for the provision You sent to save us humans from the plague of sin.  Thank You for Your Son Jesus!  Amen.

Humility and Moses…Humility and ME?!

March 5, 2010 § 2 Comments

Numbers 12:3 “Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.”

Seriously?  Wait he was hidden as an infant, but he was raised in the royal household.  I highly doubt humility was taught there.  However, I have to wonder, he was a Hebrew being raised in an Egyptian royal household.  Did his step-siblings tease him or treat him differently?  Was he treated just like his Egyptian step-siblings or was he a second rate family member?  Scriptures don’t tell us, but what they do say, is when Moses was older and watching the Hebrew slaves working he didn’t like how one particular Egyptian slave master was treating them.  So what do you think he does?  He knows he has an in with Pharaoh and goes to talk with him?  No…  He knows he has authority being raised in the royal household as the princess’s son so he yells at the slave master?  No…  He gets so angry he murders the guy and hid him in the sand.  Doesn’t seem too humble to me…I mean seriously, he checks to make sure no one is looking murders the guy and hides him.  However somehow word gets out.  He has to run…Not too humble to me at least not yet…

Moses has to run and hide.  He hides in Midian…You have to wonder if it was in the desert that Moses learned humility.  He was a shepherd for his father-in-law Jethro (as I understand it, ancient Egyptians looked down on shepherds, I mean WAY down).  However aren’t those the moments when we learn humility?  The moments in the desert, when life is hard and things are dry.  When everything is hard and painful things are going on all around us.  When our pretension of control is stripped away and we have to acknowledge that we are not all that.  That there is NOTHING we can do, but pray.  Isn’t it sad that we often have to get to the “end of our rope” before we turn to God in prayer?  Sorry that was a side note, but true none-the-less.  We often allow our pride to run wild, convincing us that we can handle this situation and we will consult God on the difficult things.  Don’t you think that God is the God of the big things as well as the little ones?  Don’t you think God wants us to pray for missing hubcaps as the pastor from my childhood church put it…(Yes Jim, I did listen at least a little ;-).   He is the God of every detail.  He is not just the God of all creation, but the God of the tiniest element.  He is the God who created the smallest molecule and yet knew how it fits perfectly in the vastness of the cosmos.  He is the God who wants us to humble ourselves to Him in the little things as well as the big things.

Moses was also slow of speech in some way.  He was deeply concerned about this deficiency, but God assured him it didn’t make him unfit to serve God.  He still wanted Moses to confront Pharaoh.  When Moses continued in his fears, God gave him a partner in Aaron so that Moses didn’t have to do the public speaking.  Here is where I wonder if Moses was pretty proud.  He was more concerned as I often am about what others will think instead of about what God thinks.  He didn’t want to be laughed at because he talked funny.  How true that is of me, Lord I would love to do ________ (something God is calling me to do), but I can’t because…..I am too busy, I am not smart enough, I don’t have all the answers, I don’t have a degree, my kids are too young, my friends will laugh…Yikes, the excuses that I am willing to make to get out of doing what God is asking me to do.  That humbles me…

So Moses the most humble man on earth, had his moments of not being humble.  Isn’t it great that God sees us in view of His son, in view of our forgiven sin and not in view of our past failures.  Moses this man who clearly fought pride was also the man who got to talk to God face to face.  I can’t seem to separate the idea that Moses’s humility opened the door to his closeness with God.  He talked to God face to face.  Who wouldn’t want to do that and yet when challenged by his brother and sister Moses was humble enough to let God take care of the situation.  I think I would go off and start giving my resume of how God had spoke to me face to face and how God chose me first and how Aaron was only along because I stuttered.  Yet Moses stayed quiet.  He made room for God’s wrath to take care of the situation.  In doing so both his brother and sister were restored to relationship with both God and Moses.  What might happen if we were do this in our relationships.  Be humble enough to let God convict and restore our loved ones.  To not fight for our rights or our point of view or the respect we deserve, but to humble ourselves…to honor God and others above ourselves.  Wouldn’t humility be better?  My pride yells no!!!!  My God in His still small voice says yes it is better.  May I hear that small voice through the cacophony around me.  May that Godly humility draw me into a deep personal and intimate relationship with my God and Savior.

Where Am I?

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