Please Be Ridiculous!

What is faith?  Hebrews 11 describes it as” confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”  I like to think of it as belief in action.

Like Joseph (as in Jesus’ earthly dad, not technicolor dream coat).

Joseph responded repeatedly in obedience every time God directs him…and these are crazy  directions by all earthly understanding!

“Mary, though pregnant, is a virgin.  Marry her!”

“The king of all the land wants to kill your baby.  Leave!”

The king has died go back to Israel…oh wait, there is a bad ruler there. Go to Nazareth!”

do-itThese are NOT normal commands.  Yet, Joseph obeyed.

God would have ensured Jesus’ success as a perfect sacrifice regardless of Joseph – because His love for us is too great.  BUT, Joseph listened and followed God.  He played his part to bring God’s perfect will of how Jesus would come to us.

I want faith that responds to the seemingly ridiculous…

because often the seemingly ridiculous leads to the mirculous!

  • S

 

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Plant the Seeds – It’s all I can do

Timothy’s dad was Greek. This seems like a small nuance of history; yet I find it utterly fascinating and encouraging.

 

Timothy’s dad being Greek means he was not a follower of Christ; he was not a believer.

 

And yet, based on his grandmothers (Lois) and his moms (Eunice) faith he grew up to be a man of great faith (2 timothy 1:5)

 

He walked along side Paul and spread the good news of Christ; he wrote two books of the Bible! And his dad was not a believer.

 

I worry about my Chris, and how his lack of faith will affect our children. He is good man, who loves us all, but he doesn’t know the unending love of Christ and is very factual and self reliant. Vulnerability and love that passes understanding do not come easily to him.

 

Sometimes I worry about silly things, when I should just go to the Word.

 

It is clearly written, after all, God is in me, and so, in my home. Thus, he surrounds Chris and my children daily (whether they like it or not, whether they believe it or not.) We are flooded by His presence through my faith – that is powerful.

 

I also believe faith can move mountains and grow mustard trees, and can defy logical thinking. God is fighting for them through me.

 

Sometimes the weight of that falls heavy. Yet, when I turn to the Word I’m reminded the outcome isn’t mine to determine. I am but a messenger, a fishermen, a farmer, planting seeds.

 

When and where the seeds will take root and produce isn’t up to me, that’s up to my God. My job is much simpler. Plant the seeds in love and when the season is right, they will grow.

 

“He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.” Mark 4:27-28

 

After all, Timothy’s dad was greek.

– J

Wandering in the Desert of Anxiety

I think we can all acknowledge that the Israelites were kind of whiners once they got out of Egypt.

I mean, God literally just took them out of slavery for goodness sake. Then, they start complaining about everything it seems like.

He literally took the Red Sea and parted it in two.  He led them by pillars of fire and smoke. And they’re going to stress and complain about every single detail?

I know I wouldn’t…wait…well, maybe I do.  I know God has it under control.  He may not have parted the sea for me and I haven’t seen any pillars of fire lately, but He has proven over and over again that He has a plan for my life.  He has shown me his power.  He has shown me His love.

responsive-not-perfect-part-4-pocket-fuel-daily-devotional-on-psalm-23-6-1So, why do I worry?  Because I think that is really what the Israelites’ complaining was rooted in – fear and anxiety.  Just like them, I know my God is in control.  Worrying is a waste of time.  And, yet, I am as bad as the Israelites wandering in the desert of anxiety.

I just need to remember, My God has got this…just like every other time.

  • S

But I Linger

I like to tell myself that I always listen and respond to God’s nudges when they come, but when I fall into the trap of believing that, I’m fooling myself.  Ultimately, I am human and thus consistently and constantly fail to fight my inner selfish nature.

Yet, I’m so blessed to have a God that showers me with grace.  There are times He lets me fall because He knows thats what I need and times He gives me no other choice, but to follow His will.

In my journey through Genesis, a different part of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah stuck out to me in this lens.

In Genesis 19, angels had told Lot that Sodom and Gomorrah were going to be destroyed.  So, he needed to get his wife and daughters and leave immediately.

You know what Lot’s response was?

But he lingered. Gen. 19:16

He literally had angels in front of him giving him directions.  And not in a general, you should think about this kind of way, but entire cities are going to be destroyed.  He had even them do a miracle by causing blindness not to long before this….and still he lingered!

You know what God’s response was?

…so the men [angels] seized them [Lot and his family] by the hand, the Lord being merciful to him.

God saw his slow, stubbornness and saved him anyways.  God had the angels seize him by the hand and lead him out anyways.

PD60000979-meme-6-FBEven when we’re slow, reluctant, and stubborn, God shows us mercy and grace.  I wish I could say I didn’t, but there are times when God has to kind of shake me and strong arm me into doing what I know He is calling me to do.  I wish I could say it’s easy to follow His will when you know what it is, but it isn’t.

I know I consistently fall short of the glory of God, which makes the blessings of His love that much more amazing.  How lucky I am to have a Father, serve a God who loves me enough to never give up on me…even when I linger.

  • S

Enough is enough

I think we can all acknowledge that we live in a culture that values stuff, new stuff, more stuff, any stuff.  It can be hard to acknowledge when we have enough when there is a new version of an iPhone every couple months – when your tv, radio, ads on Facebook, everywhere you go is blaring something at you.  That’s why the story of Esau and Jacob’s reunion stuck out to me.

Jacob had ran away and was returning to Esau, but because of their history he wasn’t sure how Esau would respond.  (Check out Genesis for the whole story.)  So, Jacob brings lots of presents to try to smooth his way back into his brother’s good graces.  It wasn’t necessary.

Upon being presented with all the gifts, Esau responded, “I have enough, my brother, keep what you have for yourself.” (Genesis 33:9)

Esau could look at what he had and recognize that it was enough – despite the amazing riches that Jacob presented. ..

Jacob argued, “Please accept my blessing that is brought to you because God has dealt graciously with me and because I h7928a37c8fd7b12651abff1473e5dbfeave enough.” (Genesis 33:11)

Both brothers realized they had enough.  They both realized why they had enough.  They acknowledged that it wasn’t because of themselves, but because their Father had dealt graciously with them – and thus they should be gracious with each other..

The bottom line for them in this whole interaction is that they valued each other more than the stuff. It was about investing in each other, not accumulating or hoarding more.

So, when do we say, “I have enough” and really focus on blessing others through God’s graciousness to us?

  • S

I Can’t Do All Things

I am really blessed to have been raised by two amazing people who love God and me so deeply.  I really did grow up believing that I could do and be absolutely anything I wanted if I was willing to put the work in.  I didn’t fully realize what a rare blessing it was to have that type of support and external belief in you until I became a teacher and was heart broken by the number of kids who are already so broken in spirit by 13 or 14 years old.

Honestly, I still believe this about myself…(well, okay, maybe I couldn’t do anything I wanted…my parents call me grace for a reason…and it’s a sarcastic one – so any ballerina or figure skating dreams I had as a child, I have safely set aside (you are all welcome)).

19593058fc92277214e5b8e71809d44eNow, though, this is largely because of my relationship with Jesus Christ.  I know I would only act in His will through prayerful reflection, so of course I could accomplish what I set out – because of Him though, not me.  So, I can go forth in crazy surety.

It is with this lens that I was reading the story of the Tower of Babel the other day (which is super short and found in Genesis chapter 11).  Basically, all the people work together to build a tower to reach the heavens.

God’s response?  “Now they will be able to do anything…” (verse 6).  And to prevent this, God strikes them all with different languages.  So, now they can no longer communicate and won’t be able to do anything.

My response? Well, why wouldn’t God want them to be able to do anything?  At first reflection, this didn’t mash with my understanding of God’s support of our ability.  After all, Phillippians 4:13 says that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

I spent some time reflecting on these two seemingly conflicting ideas about God’s desires for success for me before I realized my answer.

21ed84a58a427966a882da13f6da0532God does want us to do be able to accomplish great things…with Christ who strengthens us.  He does not want us to think we can accomplish all these things without Him…because any success found without Him is empty of meaning.  In many ways, this is a gift that makes faith easier.  If we could do anything on our own, it would be much harder to have faith in Him.  After all, if we are capable in our own right, there is no need for God.

He wants us to come to Him and rely on Him in faith.  So, no, He doesn’t want us to be able to do it by ourselves, because He wants us to do it with Him.

I love my God, my life partner (and afterlife), the One who wants to do it all with me.

-S

 

In the Midst of It

5bf873a2796a7e5a30aa92e085a2d1a4I am so grateful.  I want to be so grateful.  I love when I come to the end of something and can see how God worked things to come together for good- when I literally can see His promises of goodness fulfilled.  

However, we aren’t really supposed to wait until that point to be grateful.  We should worship in thanksgiving in the midst of it because we know He will grant what He has promised … even if we don’t see it yet.

In Genesis 24, Abraham sent a servant to get a wife for Isaac ~ confident that God would go before the servant and provide.  The servant made a sign with God to know which woman to choose.  When the woman said the words of the signal, the servant praised God.  Then and there – before talking to her father (which would have been essential to closing any marriage agreement).  

Anything could have still gone wrong.  Yet, the servant didn’t wait until he had talked and confirmed with her dad or for all the details to be finalized.  He worshipped and thanked God for the blessing in the midst of it.  He stopped the process midway because he knew God would see it through.  

How often do I do this?  Or do I wait until it’s “safe” to be thankful?

God is so good.  It doesn’t always make sense.  It doesn’t always seem fair, let along pleasant.  But He is good and honest and just…and we can stop midway in the process, uncertain of the details and worship Him in gratefullness because He is in control and will provide according to His promises and His will.

luke145regularSo, let’s stop waiting until the end of a process and start worshipping and thanking Him right in the midst of the process.  Maybe it will be in the midst of a process where the positivie end is in sight like this servant, or maybe it will be in the midst of it when it is painful and dark with no light in sight.  

Any time and all times, I want my soul to sing His praise!  I just have to remember to stop and keep my eyes focused on Him in thanksgiving.

-S