Thursday, April 30, 2009

Wisdom and Pizza

In the ladies' Bible study that I lead once a month, we have been studying Daniel. We began with integrity and we are now talking about end time events. As I have been reading the book of Daniel, I have seen events that happened then, as a foreshadowing of events to come.

Along side of the Daniel study, I have been doing my own personal study on God's covenant with Abraham and how it came to be fulfilled along God's timeline of events. The other day, I just finished reading up through when Moses led the Israelites across the Red Sea and out of slavery in Egypt.

Yesterday, as I began to read the next section of scripture, I just felt a still, small voice telling me instead to read in Ecclesiastes. While I had been reading about the exodus of the Israelites, I was just thinking about how there just seems to be a cycle. Today, we are still doing the same things that people were doing back then. I kept feeling reminded of the verse in Ecclesiastes when Solomon realized that there is nothing new under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 1:5-7 says, "The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises. 6 The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course. 7 All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again."

In II Chronicles 1:7-12, God asks Solomon what he wants. He told Solomon to ask and He would give it to him. Solomon asked for wisdom and knowledge. I could see his wisdom as I read Ecclesiastes yesterday. There really is nothing new under the sun. I really don't view that as a downer, just as wisdom and understanding that the Bible really is true... God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

So today is Thursday... pizza day at the office. Which means that Tony Evans is on the radio when I go to pick up the pizza. When I got in the car today, guess what he was talking about? Wisdom! It was a really great message. In fact, if you want to listen to it, go to http://www.oneplace.com/ministries/The_Alternative/ and listen to the sermon titled "The Blessings of Taking God Seriously" for 4/30/09. Tony said that "Wisdom is the God given ability to perceive the true nature of a thing (what's REALLY going on) and then implement the will of God regarding it (that knowledge)."

In a group that I attend on Tuesday nights, just this week we were talking about overreactions and what's really going on below the surface of that overreaction that we don't realize. Proverbs 2: 4-5 says, "and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, 5 then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God." Tony Evans talked about the fact that silver is under the ground, like a hidden treasure because of its value. It's not on top. You have to be willing to dig for it.

God didn't just give Solomon wisdom. He had to search for it as for hidden treasure. He made a lot of bad decisions. But those bad decisions led to his eyes being opened to wisdom. There really is nothing new under the sun. History is there to teach. You can either learn from it or repeat it.

Wisdom and pizza. What a great combination!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Bingo!!

Remember the story in Mark 9 where there was a demon possessed boy and his father took him to the disciples for them to drive out the demon? The disciples couldn't do it. Then he came to Jesus and asked him to drive out the demon. Jesus did. Later, the disciples asked "Why couldn't we drive it out?" The Lord answered, "This kind can only come out by prayer."


I often used to wonder why the disciples couldn't drive out the demon. Was it because they didn't have enough faith? Did the father not believe? Was it some other reason? What did Jesus mean that this kind can only come out by prayer?


And then, a wise woman helped shed some light on this for me. This wasn't really about the disciples. It was about the father of the boy. He wasn't looking for Jesus... he was looking for a miracle.


Today I was continuing my reading on God's covenant with Abraham that I wrote about a few days ago. I am up to Exodus when God tells Moses to go to Pharoah and tell him to let God's people go. God tells Moses in advance that he is going to harden Pharoah's heart and that he will not let the Israelites go.


And so it goes. Moses and Aaron do what God commands them to do. They perform signs and wonders. But Pharoah's magicians do the same thing, so he doesn't see the big deal and doesn't believe. Eventually, Pharoah asks them to pray for him and for these plagues to stop. God answers and stops. Once the miracle is done, Pharoah hardens his heart again.


It goes on and on like this. The problem? Pharaoh is not looking for God. He's looking for the miracle.


There have been several different things that I have been praying about for a while. And I just keep waiting, and waiting... and waiting. Nothing. Or so it seemed to me. Then the Holy Spirit pressed on my heart to fast and pray. I drug my feet for a while. I have never fasted before. I didn't really know how to do that. And I also wondered if it was just me thinking and not the Holy Spirit. Plus, I just didn't really WANT to fast. I like food. So I asked Lord to confirm to me that this was His prompting and not me.


So there I am, on my way to pick up a yummy pizza last week for lunch, as I do for the staff every Thursday. I always go at 11am to pick it up, which just so happens to be the same time that Tony Evans is on the radio. When I first started listening to him, I thought I was way to "white" to be a Tony Evans fan. But as I listened, I realized he has some really good insights and great sermon illustrations. So I look forward to Thursdays at 11am for more than just the pizza, now. This past week or so, he has been talking about... guess what... fasting! How to do it. Why you should do it, etc.


So I gave in to God and started fasting at lunch time. I started praying about my agenda. "God, here is what I want," basically. Although at the same time, I remembered what the good ol' Tony Evans said... when you fast, you are supposed to fast to seek the face of God, not to get what you want. But there were some things that I really want and I had to confess these true motives to God and ask Him to give me the desires of my heart. Not what my heart desired, but the actual desires. The desire to seek His face rather than the outcome of my specific prayers.


Today, God continued to show his face to me. It was really cool. I didn't hear any new answers to my petitions, BUT God did show me how He works. Wait a second... I asked for x, and God responded not by giving me x but by showing Himself to me. What is unseen to me, is seen by God. He's got everything under control. So I guess I should stop trying to do His job for Him.


I realized that when God told Moses to go to Pharoah and do all of these things, it wasn't for Pharoah's benefit. Pharoah's heart was hard. He was not interested in seeking God's face. I believe all of the signs and wonders were for the benefit of Moses. What God did through Him. Whenever Moses doubted, God would always say "I am the Lord." Exodus 6:1 says... Then the Lord said to Moses, "Now you will see what I will do to Pharoah; Because of my mighty hand, he will let them go." (emphasis mine). Now you will see my mighty hand.


BINGO!

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Shack

They say if you put a frog in a pot of boiling water, it will leap right out to escape the danger.


But if you put a frog in a kettle that is filled with water that is cool and pleasant, and then you gradually heat the kettle until it starts boiling, the frog will not become aware of the threat until it is too late. The frog's survival instincts are geared towards detecting sudden changes.


My mom recently finished reading "The Shack" by William P Young. She asked me if I wanted to read it. I usually read more non-fiction type books and it had been a while since I had read a novel. But I had heard a lot of buzz about the book so I figured I would see what all the hype was about.


My mom had warned me in advance that she didn't agree with some of the book and almost put it down a few times. With that in mind, I began to read.


I was very intrigued by the book as it went along. A few chapters in, the author used a "bad word" and I thought... hmm, that's kind of strange since I thought this was a Christian novel. But I kept reading. The first few chapters were pretty hard to read. But then it got pretty interesting and offered some good analogies, in my opinion. It was a "cool and pleasant" read at that point.


As I went along, I began to see what my mom was talking about. The stove had started to gradually heat up. The main character, Papa (God) started talking about how the church is just an institution but more than just that... I felt like the book was actually saying that the church is a bad thing.... and that the 10 commandments are just a bunch of rules. Etc etc...


True that relationship is the desire of God's heart. But I believe the Bible is more than just a book. It is full of great truths. I don't believe the Law is there just to condemn us, but to show us our great need for redemption of Christ in our lives.


I didn't finish The Shack. There may have been some more good points of the book that I missed... but I just felt like if I did not have a solid foundation and was reading that book, I would have been like a frog, being slowly boiled in a pot of cool and pleasant water.


In these days, as the second coming of Christ is getting closer, I think that Satan is getting nervous. He knows what's coming to him. There are so many subtleties, even in the "Christian" realm that one could be easily and slowly "boiled" by relying on the external... preachers, books, music, etc... instead of truly knowing the one true God of the Bible. Not that these things are bad in and of themselves... the important thing is to know and study the One Who is being preached, written, and sung about by studying the scriptures yourself.


Matthew 22:29 says... Jesus replied, "You are in error because you do not know the scriptures or the power of God."


It's time for lunch. Frog legs anyone? I'll pass.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Muddy Waters

I love the movie Shawshank Redemption. It's been a while since I've seen it but it has a really good story to it. It's about a man named Andy (Tim Robbins) who is sentenced to life in prison. You never really do find out if he actually was guilty or not, but that's not the point. While he's in there, he meets "the only guilty man in Shawshank," a guy named Red (Morgan Freeman). They become quick friends.


Red is known as the man who can get things. When Andy first arrives, he asks Red to get him a tiny little rock hammer that's used to shape rocks. Later he asks for a poster of Rita Hayworth. Unknown to anyone else, during the 20 years that Andy is in prison, every day he slowly starts chiseling away at the wall of his cell with his tiny little rock hammer and he covers the hole with the Rita Hayworth poster. It takes him TWENTY YEARS of chiseling every one of the 365 days of the year to finally break through to the outside. It's quite a fascinating plan to realize at the end all of the things he did over the years to plan his escape.


The part that I can really relate to is his actual escape. Once he crawls through the hole in the wall, he has to crawl through several miles of sewer filled with all kinds of, well, "crap." There is no other way for him to get out other than crawling through it. It was not a fun journey. He got sick along the way and was disgusted and disgusting. But once he worked his way through all the crap, he came out on the other side... a free man.


Was it risky trying to break out of prison? Oh yeah. Was it hard, painful, time consuming work? Sure. Was it worth it? Absolutely!


During this season of my life where I have had to endure so much hurt, so much pain, so much anger, confusion, you name it... it has not been easy at all. It has been the most difficult season in my life that I've ever had to crawl through. When I pray for eyes to see and ears to hear, I have to be ready for what I am about to see and hear. Good thing God is right there with me holding me up as I crawl through the "crap." I have had to learn and acknowledge things about myself that have been difficult. I've had to lay it all out there before God.


I'm not sure what part of the tunnel I've made it to at this point, but I can see that little ray of light shining in at the end. I'm not sure that we ever quite get there entirely in this lifetime... life's a process. But in the end, I am waiting for my reward!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

In the Right Place at the Right Time

'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,'" declares the Lord. 'As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.'" Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV)

During the month of March after our Saturday night service at church, we started doing "connect groups." To start out, there were four different classes to choose from. The one that intrigued me the most was one about the life and hardships of Joseph when his brothers took him and sold him into slavery.

The class was good. The converstation and dialogue was good between everyone who came to that class. I thought it was a great start. But for me, there was something lacking... while we talked about a few things from the story, we never started out with the whole story and what really happened throughout the course of time with Joseph... where he came from... why his brothers did what he did... Although I had heard the story before, it had been a long time. I really needed a refresher.

So, this week I started reading the story of Joseph. I started in Genesis 37. As I started reading, I realized that I really needed some more background. So I went back to read about his father, Jacob. Actually, I went back to Isaac and some to Abraham. But I'll start here with Jacob.

So Jacob had pretty much stolen Esau's blessing by tricking Isaac. So his mom, Rebekah told him he had better flee to her brother, Laban because of what he did. So he did, and then married his two daughters, Leah and Rachel. There is so much that I could write here but I'll just put a little tidbit... he ended up having a bunch of kids between Leah, Rachel, and their concubines. The first son born to him by Rachel was Joseph.

Although stealing Esau's blessing was not the right thing to do, God knew. If that hadn't happened, then he wouldn't have had to flee to Laban and then he wouldn't have married his daughters and Joseph would not have been born.

Fast forward a little bit to when Joseph was 17. The Lord told him in a dream that he would rule over his brothers and they would bow to him. Of course this made them really mad. He was their baby brother and loved by his father because he was born to him from Rachel, the wife that he loved. So they got rid of him quick and sold him to the Egyptians into slavery.

So Joseph is in slavery in Egypt and finds favor with Pharoah and moves up the ranks there. Then he interprets Pharoah's dream from God about a coming famine. So he starts to store up food because he knows what's ahead. But no one else knows so they keep on about their business, spending, not saving...

...reminds me of times today. Now that there is a recession, people are starting to save. Before this, we were all spending, spending, spending...

So then the famine comes and no one has any food, except for Joseph because he's been saving it up. So his brothers find out and come to buy food from the only place there is food. Hmm... what a coincidence. Not knowing it was Joseph, they end up bowing to him because he has been so good to them, giving them food and not charging them for it.

So God was right! Imagine that. Joseph was over his brothers and they did bow down to him. Who would have thunk it? (-:

Genesis 45:5, 7 ...Joseph said to his brothers "And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you....7 but God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance."

I find it so interesting the way that God works. It may not make sense at the moment but in God's timeline, when it all plays out, it's so clear. I think of the time last summer when I was just so worn out. My day consisted of getting up at least 2 hours early to get myself and the boys ready for the day. Then I would leave the house an hour before I had to be to work because I had to drop the boys off at the sitter. I worked all day. The work day ended at 5pm but not for me. It was then back to two separate sitters for the boys which would get me home around 6pm. Now it was time to cook dinner. I usually tried to find quick things to cook so we could eat by 6:30. At 7:30, it was time to clean up the toys, get on the jammies, brush the teeth, read books and get them into bed. 8pm... the boys are in bed. Uh-oh, it's 8:15 and now one of them is getting out of bed. For the next hour I spend my time putting him back in bed. 9:30ish... ah, they are both finally asleep! I am exhausted. So I head to bed and then it starts all over again the next morning.

One recurrent prayer of mine was always, "Lord, please give me some rest!" Well, wouldn't you know it. I woke up one day with the flu. Now how was I going to do all this stuff? I really don't even remember how it all got done, except that a friend came over and helped me. I laid in bed the entire day... resting. I felt so bad there was nothing else I could do BUT rest. Hmm... God, this is not exactly what I meant. But I asked and I received! And guess what... oddly enough, I did feel really nice and rested the next day. Even though I was sick, it was nice to have a day to just lay in my bed and do absolutely nothing. It was just what I needed. God's answers do not always take the form that I think or expect them to.

So back to Joseph. Eventually, his whole family moved to Egypt and lived well during the famine. But then Joseph died and his family was forced into slavery again. They lived there for a long time to the point where the new rulers didn't even know who Joseph was. Backtrack to the covenant that God made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that this family would be numerous and would possess the whole land of Canaan. But they were in Egypt. And not living well in Egypt. They were slaves.

I can just imagine the discouragement and unbelief going on now. Now Abraham was dead, Isaac was dead and Jacob was dead. Seems it would appear to the descendants that God didn't really do what he said he was going to do. In fact, it appeared to be the opposite. They were not living in Canaan at all. They were slaves in Egypt.

In fact, the descendants of Abraham, Issac and Jacob were increasing so much that they were a threat to the Egyptians so the new Pharoah decided he would have all the baby boys killed and only spare the baby girls so that they would stop producing more Hebrews.

Enter Moses onto the scene. He was a baby boy born during this time but the midwife who delivered him lied to Pharoah because they feared God and did not want to kill him. So his mom hid him in the Nile. "Coincidentally," Pharoah's daughter just so happened to go down there to bathe at the same time Moses was at that spot in the Nile. She felt sorry for him and saved him and raised him as her own.

So if Pharoah's daughter had not decided to go down to the Nile to bathe at that precise time, she would have never seen Moses and he probably would have eventually died because he wouldn't have had anything to eat or survive on floating in the Nile. And I haven't been over there, but, uh, I think the Nile is a pretty big body of water. The fact that Moses just happened to be floating at the same place where she bathed just has to be more than a "coincidence."

Fast forward. Guess what? God called Moses to lead the people out of Egypt... the people... the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The convenant is true! They certainly did increase in number. So much so that the Egyptians were afraid and started killing baby boys. And now they were about to be led out, just as God said. But it's like 400 years later...

God's timeline. Things always happen "at just the right time." I'm sure the Hebrews thought they should have gotten to get out of there a lot sooner than 400 years. I'm sure some of them died thinking God's word wasn't true because they never saw it happen. But just because they didn't get to see it... doesn't mean it didn't happen. It did happen. Just not according to their limited, human, understanding. I'm so glad that it's all recorded though so I can see it! It give's me reassurance that God really does know what He's doing. (-:

There is so much more I could say... but this post is already very long so I'll save the rest for another day. (-:

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Welcome to Holland by Emily Perl Kingsley

Again... not my own post but a friend of mine sent this to me and it is such an eloquent description of what it's like to have a special needs child. So I wanted to share...


I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......


When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.


After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."


"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."


But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.


The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.


So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.


It’s just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.


But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."


And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away...because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.


But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.