Archive | September 2012

Job’s Trials

 

Then the Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job? …’   Job 1:8

“The Bible infers that God always eventually gets His way. But what does that say about Him? God’s favorite planet has experienced a lot of evil over the years. Why hasn’t He stopped it or, at least curbed it? If God’s the boss, is Satan His employee? Let’s look at Job…

Job had it all – money, land, status, family. One day in God’s throne room, Satan broached his disgust over Job’s pious reputation. “The man loves you because you bribe him,” the devil argued. “But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.” God answered, “Job is yours, only don’t lay a finger on his person.” The words were scarcely out of God’s mouth when lightning killed Job’s sheep and shepherds… a Chaldean raiding party plundered the cattle and herdsmen… then a mighty wind collapsed a roof on Job’s children. So we ask, who caused Job’s trials?

At the most basic level, natural forces did – desert winds blew and lightning struck. On the same level, evil people caused Job’s trials – greedy men killed and plundered. On another level, Satan caused Job’s problems – he leaves God’s presence, we scarcely blink, and carnage is everywhere; Satan engineered it all: the fire, the wind, and the sword. But on the deepest level, nothing happened that God did not decree. God permitted what He hated, to accomplish something He loved: the worship of a wiser Job.

Satan’s motive was to wreck Job’s life and mock God. God’s reaction to the devil was merely to lengthen his leash. God’s decree made room for evil to occur, but God didn’t do it. He simply exploited the deliberate evil of wicked people, as well as the impersonal evil of some bad storms without forcing anyone’s hands. How does God pull it off? Welcome to the world of finite human beings trying to comprehend an infinite God!”

Who has a claim against Me? Everything under heaven belongs to Me.  Job 41:11

~Joni and Friends

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Ever felt small?

I’m like to watch Jeopardy, even if I rarely can answer a question. You think if I hear the questions often enough I will improve? Probably not. But it amazes me how bright the competitors are. At least they are bright in the game of Jeopardy. They seem to have so much knowledge stored in their brains that can be retrieved and sent to to the signaling device before the others have a chance to ring in. Too nerve-wracking for me. It’s trivia for the most part. Certainly not life or death questions and answers.

You know about Job. He lived in the land of Uz. The Bible says that he was a just and upright man. At the end of the book of Job, God told him to brace himself like a man. He’s about to volley questions. There was no signaling device and none needed. Job probably stood at attention with his mouth open. Believe me, I would have.

Hit the pause button here. I would not want to trade places with Job in this story. satan has just been given carte blanche control over Job’s livelihood and family to do anything he pleases. I get a shiver up my spine just thinking about it. I would not want to be an experiment in satan’s hands without God controlling him, would you?

But God’s questions show who is the final Authority; not of Jeopardy, but Champion of the Universe. Just read through some of the questions God fired at Job and see if your jaw drops too. (All of God’s questions are found in the last 3 chapters of Job.)

1) Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?  2) Have you entered the storehouses of snow or seen the storehouses of hail?             3) What is the way to the abode of light and where does darkness reside?  4) Where does ice and frost come from?  5) Can you bind the beautiful Pleiades or loose the cords of Orion?  6) Who endowed the heart with wisdom?  7) Who has an arm like God’s and can your voice thunder like His?

Certainly food for thought.

Please read the next blog which is also about Job, written by Joni Eareckson Tada, a great mouthpiece for God.

Every Breath I Take

Ever thought about every breath you take? Me neither. Breathing in and out is a natural response we take for granted. We certainly don’t remember taking our first birth breath outside our mother’s womb. Like Job, I am slowly learning how to not even take the gift of breath for granted. Job spoke from his own experience when he said, “We bring nothing at birth; we take nothing with us at death. The Lord alone gives and takes.” (Job 1:21)

Even if the hearse pulls a U-Haul full of my earthly possessions behind it, I will have no cognizance of it, for where I am going, I will know nothing (Ecclesiastes 9:5, paraphrased). I am not trying to sound morbid, but breath is a gift. And until Jesus returns, death is the enemy who stares us all down until he seizes an opportunity to snuff out our breath.

We had to face the unimaginable when our son died. Suddenly, the scriptures about death and life became very important. The Bible says that the dead know not anything – period. So my son may have been troubled in life, but in death he is at peace. Jesus compares death to sleep (John 11:11) and we comfort one another with these words (1 Thessalonians 4:18).

I look at breathing differently now. Each breath of air is precious and necessary to maintain life and my life should have a point. It should be more than a dash between two dates. God created me for His purpose and I desire, now more than ever before, to know His plan for my life.

Doing what He has designed for me to do will bring us closer to His coming and it gives Him  . . . and therefore, me . . . the greatest pleasure.  Philippians 2:12

Even though I continue to grieve, God is there to console me and to help me press on, spreading His Good News. Along with Job, I can say, “Praise the name of the Lord!”  Job 1:21

~shared from Shattered by Suicide

Because You so loved

God, it’s been a while since I have written to You, but You are almost always on my mind. Lately, I have been longing to see Your heart; to understand Your great love and who You really are. Then I seem to hear You say, “My Dear Daughter, study the cross where My Son died.”                                                        

And that is where I have begun to study . . . study the cross. But Father, such love You have for not only Your Son, but each one of Your children. You “so loved” that “You gave Your only Son” who died a horrible death upon a torturous tree ~ and He did it all for me . . . and you!

As You know, God, I have struggled with the death of our son and why You did not intervene to spare his life. I know You have the power ~ so why didn’t You use it? I read about Your great love that restrained You from yanking Jesus off the cross ~ especially when He cried out for You. What loving father could ignore the pleas of his suffering child? But it appears that You did. Then the reality of Your love hit me so hard, it took my breath away.

Jesus could not see You there beside Him in the thick darkness surrounding the cross, but You were there ~ so close You could have reached out and touched Him. I imagine every cell of Your soul cried out to take His place. I can’t even imagine the deep sobs that must have wracked Your body as You watched the horror Your Son had to endure. No doubt it took all the power of heaven to leave Him there. Didn’t it?

But the bigger picture includes a plan to save all of Your children who have ever lived on this earth. Doesn’t it? You have opened my eyes to this bigger picture. If I apply it to my personal loss and who You are and how much You love . . . to my son, You could have stopped his death along with everyone else’s ~ plus all the pain and suffering in this world. But if You did, how would we ever learn to hate sin? Hate it so much that we never, ever want it to reappear in heaven!

The bigger picture of my son then, is this: In Your endless love and mercy, You chose to save him for eternity rather than keep him alive in this old, beat-up world. You knew that he was living a life of unbearable agony in the hands of our cunning enemy. The contrast between you and satan is so apparent. You are a God who loves! O how much You love! This world doesn’t understand it. Heaven can’t contain it! Eternity will be long enough to explore it . . . and then, we will have just begun.

Thank You, God. Thank You, Jesus. Because You Love, I can love and trust and serve You faithfully until You come.

For God so Loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.       John 3:16

This entry was posted on September 28, 2012. 2 Comments

Cold case prints . . .

                                                                                                                   

. . . but cold enough for the Hound of Heaven

The files are old and the fingerprints are cold…

But nothing ~ ever ~ gets by the Hound of Heaven.

He is always on the case. Always has been. Always will be.

No matter what the enemy tries to do, our All-powerful God

 can see his prints and

 satan will get by with nothing…nada.

God says, “My Child, listen to Me:”

When you were unable to help yourself, just at the right time,

My Son died for you, even though you had turned your back on Me.

Very few people will die to save the life of someone else.

They might die for a good person, but I showed you My great Love when

My Son, Jesus Christ, died for you ~ while you were flogging Him

with your whip of sin.  Romans 5:6, paraphrased

 “…But I will remember your sins no more.”  Isaiah 43:25

This is why the Father loves me: because I freely lay down my life. And so I am free to take it up again. No one takes it from me. I lay it down of my own free will. I have the right to lay it down; I also have the right to take it up again. I received this authority personally from my Father.”  John 10:14, MSG

Whose nails?

 

Whose nails, Lord? Yours or mine?

Yours covered my sin. Mine covered nothing of importance.

Though I picked up my cross to follow You,                                                                                                                                                                                                           

It wasn’t by choice, really. I was just curious .                                                                                                                                                                                                      

And then the enemy put me there to mock You.                                                                                                                                                                                                

He has never stopped mocking You, has he.

 

Thank You for not giving up on me…

Through words alone, You could have done so                                                                                

and no one would blame You…

But you knew my heart…and because You

stayed on that cross for my sins,

I can once again claim You as my risen Savior.

And I will spend all of eternity showing

You how much I truly love You.

~Your grateful Daughters and Sons

 

Cultivating Beauty

Every woman possesses a captivating beauty. Every woman. But for most of us it has been long buried, wounded, and captive. It takes time for it to emerge into wholeness. It needs to be cultivated, restored, set free.

How do we cultivate beauty? How do we become ever more beautiful? By tending to our hearts with great care, as a master gardener tends to her work.

My mother’s sons were angry with me
and made me take care of the vineyards;
my own vineyard I have neglected. (Songs 1:6)

Yes, life is harsh on a woman’s heart. It has been so on your heart. The assault on our beauty is real. But Jesus is urging us now to care for ourselves, watch over our hearts (Prov. 4:23). The world needs your beauty. That is why you are here. Your heart and your beauty are something to be treasured and nourished. And it takes time. Every gardener knows this. In our age of instant makeovers and microwave meals, we don’t like to wait. But a newly planted rose’s presentation in its first year is nothing compared to its second. If properly cared for, its second year’s display doesn’t hold a candle to its third. Gardens need to become established; their roots need to go deep, through summer rains and winter frosts. A garden’s beauty does not diminish with age, rather it takes years for it to become all that it can become.

Our hearts need to feed on beauty to sustain them. We need times of solitude and silence. We need times of refreshment and laughter and rest. We need to listen to the voice of God in our hearts as He tells us what we need.

Contrary to what the world claims, Beauty does not diminish with time; beauty deepens and increases. “Your latter glory will be greater than your former.” True beauty comes from a depth of soul that can only be attained through living many years well.

(Captivating, 144-145), Eldridge

In Reckless Abandon

When Simon Peter realized it was Jesus, he left his buddies to work the fishing nets and dove into the sea.  John 21:7, paraphrased

Peter couldn’t wait for the boat to be rowed to shore where His Master stood. In reckless abandon, he dove into the water and headed for shore. No thought of his clothing, hair and make-up (from a female viewpoint) or whether he could swim in the frigid choppy waves. He had only one thought on his mind ~ he dropped everything to see His Master . . . his best Friend.

Is that what it takes, Lord? Absolute, earnest, utter, even reckless abandonment of myself to drop at Your feet in complete and total surrender of my will? You mean I have to give up everything?

This is not about my emotions or circumstances or surroundings. This is about looking eyeball to eyeball ~ Creator to created ~ and finally realizing there is nothing, positively nothing I value more than being Yours.

I have a desperate need and only You can fill it. So give me the courage to dive headlong toward You. Help me keep my eyes on You, stroke by stroke, until I stand before You, dripping, breathless, but ecstatic. I’m ready. Take my will Lord. It’s Yours.

Love,

Your Daughter

My Dear Daughter,

Of all My disciples, Peter was the most impetuous. He could make Me laugh until My sides hurt! But he grew up from his impetuous and self-centered nature to total abandonment in his love for Me.

I see you standing before Me dripping wet, but your eyes bright with excitement and love. This world is harsh and often brutal with temptations, so do not take your eyes off Me. In My power and strength, I will guide you to where I am.

Love you,

Jesus

~from the book, Shattered by Suicide

DRAFT – “In His Honor” . . . x to re-post?

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For the Love of the Game

My family grew up on sports. In the early years, they had several favorites, but as they grew older and could play together with their dad, golf took center stage. Now the competition was on. Who was going to be first to beat Dad at a round of golf?

As the years rolled by, and more miles separated them, it was a challenge to get together to play, but no surprise; they made it a priority to do that quite often ~ making memories and having fun in a joy they all shared. They still play, but the loss of one who they loved, is keenly felt, and the reminders are there every time they get together for a round of golf.

We are nearing another anniversary of our son’s death. A brother is coming to play in a golf tournament ~ a tournament he would have been playing in, too. There will be laughter, jokes, and pats on the back for a long drive down the fairway. They will also remember, talk about the good times, (the) highlights of all the games they’ve played together, and they will dedicate this game to the one we miss so much.

Dad is going to pay a special visit to his hometown. He may drive down his street or even past his house. He might even circle the place where he once worked. But the purpose of the trip is to buy a little white ball ~ a golf ball souvenir from their favorite golf course, so his brother can place it in his golf ball display case.

Perhaps to some, this may seem frivolous, and certainly a waste of fuel and time. But memories of the one you loved and lost are never wasted. They are cherished and extended and pressed to the heart. It may be about the final score, but more likely, it is about the love of the game, and who you love and share it with.

I believe you’d agree, Lord. You also love the game . . . the game of life where we “play” for life eternal. This is a goal worth playing for, and once attained, I can imagine my family again chasing a little white ball around, but this time ~ aiming for the stars.

I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward.  Philippians 3:14

~from Shattered by Suicide, My Conversations With God After the Tragic Death of My Son

Where do I sit?

 

I don’t like to shop for groceries, but I get hungry so shopping becomes a necessity. Can you relate? Today was such a day. I got my cart and began to find the things on my list when I spotted someone I knew. Smiling a greeting we stopped to chat and catch up on each other’s lives. Time passed quickly, ice cream was melting, but unbeknown to us, we were having a divine appointment.

God does that, you know. What we think is a casual coincidence is not. It’s a divine appointment. Someone once said that a coincidence is God being anonymous. I like that. But God never wastes a moment of His time. He designed for my friend and me to meet in the grocery store today. Why? I do not know. Only He knows for sure, but I was blessed and I think she was too.

We talked about loss and pain and children and jobs and divorce and college and on and on. My friend is a single mom; raising both her children by herself and doing a fine job. She can be proud of her grown sons. She finds herself single once again. Two failed marriages. It must be hard to understand why it seems to happen. I am still working on my first, and I am grateful, so I can’t really relate to her single status, can I?

Those of you who find this subject familiar territory, how do you cope with being single in a world focused on being married or at least in a relationship? If you attend church, where do you sit? If you are invited to parties, do you need to bring someone with you or can you attend alone? Do you have a social life? If you have children at home of any age, are you even allowed a social life?

Since we both attend the same church, it got me thinking after we hugged and parted ways. How does a single person handle church attendance? What if they feel “too alone” to sit in a pew with other families? What if they don’t have single friends who also attend the same church? How do they get comfortable? What if they are shy or don’t feel like they fit in? How does one turn that around?

Since I am not single and have not been for more years than I can count, I am hoping that this may be a burning issue for some of you in cyber land and we can strike up a dialogue. You teach me how to be a single woman, although I have no intentions of using the information for myself, but it is never too late to be informed and perhaps help someone else.

And please post some questions that are a part of your daily world when it comes to managing all your needs including your single status.

 

This entry was posted on September 25, 2012. 2 Comments