Tuesday, September 29, 2009

On my heart

Jesus, today I want to wage a holy war against the devil's plans to destroy families. I pray for those whose marriages are on fragile ground. I ask that You tear down the powers and principalities and plans for destruction. I ask for hope where there is none, softness of heart where calluses have hardened, GRACE where only judgment has been, and Your mercy upon those who are suffering. I ask that you would not allow Satan any toehold and that you would take back what he has stolen.

I ask that You take back tender feelings.
I ask that You take back joy.
I ask that You take back laughter.
I ask that You take back hope.
I ask that You take back compassion.
I ask that You take back respect.
I ask that You take back love.

I ask that You take back kindness in every form; I ask that you expand to fill in every gap, become balm for every wound, encourage hearts to hope again, and allow parents to model Your plans for marriage to their children.

I ask You to move mightily.
I wait in expectation.
I thrill to see You move!
I thank you for hearing my prayers.
I love you!

Monday, September 28, 2009

What I learned from Jonah (more than eat your veggies)

Yesterday was part four of a four-part study of Jonah. When the pastor mentioned this, I breathed a sigh of relief. Almost done with Jonah. Jonah just seems so....Sunday School. Yes, he disobeyed God, yes he was swallowed by the big fish, yes God heard his prayer, had the fish chuck him up, and yes, Jonah went and did the thing he should have done in the first place. Yawn.

Really. At first (and second, and third) glance, Jonah almost seems like your classic do-what-you're-told-or-else story. If I didn't believe that the Bible is God's Word (and I do), I might think Jonah's story was designed to get small children to eat their vegetables. Truthfully, I like vegetables, so instead of really listening yesterday, I made my grocery list. Oh, I kept one ear dutifully in the game. I even looked up occasionally, but I was really one big inner yawn.

And then. Pastor got me with the punchline. What he said made me sit straight up, engage both ears, and glance furtively at my husband's notes to be sure I was hearing what I heard. In hindsight, I'll bet he spent four weeks purposely leading up to this point.

The verses (I'll let you read them, I chose the NLT) speak of a whiny, petulant Jonah. A Jonah who, even after having been given the grace of salvation (from the great fish), cannot extend that same grace to the Ninevites. The Ninevites were such a hateful, horrible, violent people that Jonah said he would rather die himself than to see them spared. These people, from the capital of the Assyrian Empire, were known for their heinous torture of captives, and Jonah very likely had known friends, neighbors, loved-ones and even family who had met this gruesome fate. He could not see a single reason for God to spare such an enemy of His people.

And yet.

God wanted to. He wanted not just to spare them, but to save them. He wanted Jonah to go; He wanted to give them a chance to repent, to change their ways, to turn back to God. God was so sweetly loving these awful people that he even included their animals as a reason to spare them. God didn't want to so much as kill the animals in Ninevah.

That was the first punch. Get ready for the 'ol one-two.

Whose Jonah are you? Who is it that has wronged you, or those you love? Who is it that you are so sure that God should wipe off the face of the planet? Who is it that does not deserve the same grace He has so sweetly extended to you?

Yeah. I could name a name or two myself. There are those who have caused so much pain in my life or the lives of those I love that I have been


that God could not, should not love them.

The question is this:

Who am I, the girl to whom so very much grace has been given, to decide where and to whom God should and should not extend that same grace?

And the question is this:

Who are you?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Clean as you go

I was thinking of my friend Carey the other afternoon. I was up to my elbows in cookie baking and the kitchen was a mess. Carey's voice rang in my ear, from waaaay back when, when we were roomates in college. I heard her say, "*CAYG! Clean as you go, Karen!" I smiled at the air and thought (lovingly),

Neat freak.

Somewhere in the middle of a sleepless night it came to me. THIS IS HOW WE NEED TO MAINTAIN OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS.

Then I fell back asleep.

This morning, after getting three kids and one dog out the door, drinking two cups of coffee, returning four text messages, and doing a blogging read-by, I sat down with my bible.

I'm not sure why, but I'm continually amazed when God does this. Today's reading was on this very subject.

No, Jesus did not clean as he went, Carey.

He did tell us to, though. I'm pretty sure the full message would have been lost on me had I not had the very recent experiences of both Carey and God whispering in my ear. I probably would have blown right past the first chunk of John 13:10, which says:

Jesus said to him, "He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean."


I got out some handy references and did a bit of research. Here is what I learned. The words bathed and washed are translated from two different Greek words (I can't figure out how to write them, or I would). The first indicates a religious ceremonial washing, like what was required of the Jews before coming into God's presence. The second, though, is commonly used in New Testament (NT) translation as the word for washing hands or feet.

Work with me, people.

Jesus death on the cross eliminated the need for ceremonial washing (and sacrifice, He being the ultimate sacrifice). Once we are "in Him" (i.e. believers in his death and resurrection for our sins) we are ultimately clean and have open access to God. Our acceptance of Jesus as our Savior effectively cleanses us of ALL our sin and puts us right before God.


We continue to sin. We mess up, fall down, lapse, deviate, offend, wander, transgress on a daily basis. This dirties our hands, so to speak. Practically speaking, it puts distance between us and God.

Are you still with me? Take a deep breath, and ponder for a moment...

Cleaning as you go.

*more on CAYG next time.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Meet me at the pole

Kids around America are praying at their schools' flagpoles this morning. That makes me feel hopeful for this nation for the first time in quite awhile.

This is the verse that keeps coming to my mind:

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. II Chronicles 7:14

America used to be One Nation Under God. Now we are very much One Nation Under gods. The god may be Yahweh, or Budda, or Allah, or money, or our selfish selves and our very own list of I wants. Whatever you god, I think you're short-sighted if you don't see the downhill slide of our great country. It scares me, because I love this place, and I'm proud to be an American. Or I was proud. I'm not so sure anymore.

I didn't go to the pole with the kids this morning, mostly because I wanted a cup of coffee more than I wanted to haul myself out the door extra-early. I will go to my knees though. I will humble myself and pray and seek Yahweh's face and turn from my wicked ways (or do my very best to), and ask God to hear from heaven and forgive my sin and heal. this. land.

I hope you do the same.