Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Cross...A Marriage of Sorrow and Joy

 ...sorrowful, yet always rejoicing... 2 Corinthians 6:10

Are you familiar with this holy tension? So was Jesus during His life on earth and as he hung on the cross.

So we fix our eyes on Jesus...who for the joy set before him endured the cross scorning it's shame... Hebrews 12:2

Have you come to realize that suffering is inevitable and used by God for our growth? So it was with Jesus.

...Jesus was perfected through suffering... Hebrews 2:10

...Jesus learned obedience through suffering... Hebrews 5:7-9

That is to say His perfection was proven through his denial of his human desires (flesh) in perfect obedience to the Law to please God and secure our salvation.

...if we follow Jesus, we too have a cross to carry... Matthew 16:24

Enduring our cross (suffering) proves our adoption by God. Suffering tests our faith in order to grow it. 

...if we do not undergo discipline, we are not true sons... Hebrews 12:7-8

...consider it pure joy when you endure trials...which perfect your faith... James 1:2-4

Have you experienced opposition from malicious people and you feel like giving up? Jesus did too.

...consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men so you will not grow weary and lose heart... Hebrews 12:3

So when you are weary of the tension, when your heart is aching from a loss, or your gut is reeling from rejection by your fellow man...remember it's all part of the process on this journey. We are in training. 

Our response to our trials and suffering is where our faith is proven. Will we respond the way our human nature wants to? (retaliate, hold a grudge, give up?) Or will we respond in a way that pleases God? (humbly loving our enemies, forgiving, pressing on)

...that we may share in his holiness...producing a harvest of peace and righteousness for those who have been trained by it... Hebrews 12:10-11

I have failed several tests on my journey. I have been depressed, fearful and anxious. Thankfully, God doesn't give up on us when we fail, He understands since Jesus sympathizes with our weaknesses. 

Because Jesus endured His cross, we can go to Him for cleansing, healing and strength.... Hebrews 4:15-16

I believe that is part of the JOY that He looked to when He was enduring the cross.  

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

What Is God Shaping Them For?

Here is how I described my son in a recent bio: "Ethan is 20 and starting his sophomore year at UW Stout after one year at Northwestern College and one year online through WITC. He landscapes his ice-cream calories away in the summer, and is the perfect blend of dashing, wise, witty and ...redneck. He is pursuing a degree in Engineering Technology."

Here, I present you the 'redneck' part:
{Ethan and my first grand-baby, Bennett}
Along with his handsome and humor genes, Ethan has DNA with mechanical ability, DNA with adventure and DNA with a wee bit of disorderliness {due in part, I'm sure, to his ice-cream burning job keeping him busy from sun-up until sun-down}All that to say, he is wired to tear apart and build stuff.

A long time ago I wrote in my Bible, "Lord, show me my children's giftedness that I may encourage them in your plan for their life!" With some kids their gifts are more obvious than others. If you watch, if you look for them, you will see them. When Ethan was two years old and he heard a truck or tractor on the road, he would run over to the window, press his hands and little nose onto the window and just stand there fixated until it passed by. 

At three, while on his tricycle, he actually ran into the garage because he was watching the wheel go round in front of him. When he was around five years old, his dad gave him ATV magazines and he would share with me how many cc's a honda had. {WHAT??} When he was in early middle school, miniature remomote control cars called Zip Zaps were popular. We often stopped at Radio Shack on the way home from school so he could look and occasionally buy one for $10. ALWAYS, I found them in little parts and pieces in his bedroom. And he continues to investigate and modify. The shed is a larger version of his nightstand drawer that contained the teeny parts of Zip Zaps.

His dad has taught him the nuts and bolts of dis-assembling and rebuilding things bigger. He is continuing to school himself in many areas mechanical...cars, trucks, motorcycles, boats, ATVs, etc.

And I have loved watching the process of his formation, still wondering where his road will lead, trusting God is directing his path. {And now we have this other little boy...}

What obvious gifts do you see or have you seen in your children and grandchildren? 
Isn't it fun participating in God's plan?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

How To Survive A Famine

In June here, abundant waters flowed fast and furious over smooth, river-worn rocks. As the snow melts from the mountaintops, it flows downward and its everywhere, rushing. When I encountered them, I was struck with their power.
In July the waters were lower, and serene. The sound over the rocks had a soothing effect on my soul in contrast to the rushing waters in the same river the month before.  

Upon arrival to Montana today, this third month, I feel disappointed at nearly non-existant waters in places where beautiful sun-reflecting ripples flowed steady last month.  

The water's life is sluggish when there is less. And it loses some of it's lustre. The less water, the less reflection of the sunlight's glory. Less water. Less lustre. Less reflection of glory

Seeing this natural water drying up over the course of the summer months, I found myself thinking, "What if it never replenished?" With the drought plaguing 60% of our nation, and famine in Africa because of years without water...why do I here in this beautiful land, assume (take for granted?) we will receive the water next year for recovery? I pray we do. I have asked God, "Why was I born here in the land of abundance and not there in the land of desperate need?" 

One day a woman came to a well where Jesus was sitting to get her daily water. (I'm so thankful for my faucet!) He offered her Living Water and said if she drank that she would never thirst againJohn 4:7-13 Obviously he wasn't talking about her natural need for water because we all know we cannot go long without it. What He was talking about was His Spirit. If she would put her trust in Jesus, He would give her His very own Life. It is an inner life. We are not born with it, we must come to Jesus to get it. 

Back in the Beginning we had it, the inner Life:
Genesis 2:10 A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters.

In the Garden of Eden, the water was there free for the taking, but when our parents sinned, we  received a curse: Genesis 3:16-19 and we were locked out Genesis 3:23-24 -We left the garden with spiritual famine; we left with withered, dead, lifeless hearts.-

But God, who is rich in mercy made a way in the heart-dead wilderness for us to return to Eternal Life, to be restored to Him! Ephesians 2:4-5 He invited us to the River of Life that flows from the City of God: (Might the current drought cause us to come to the Source of Living Water? Could our physical need here cause us to seek to satisfy a deeper longing?)

Psalm 46:4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.

From the end of the story for those who come to Jesus for the Living Water: Revelation 22:1-5 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.

Jesus offers everyone who comes to Him the Living Water. Have you come to Him and received it? And if you have, are you continuing to replenish daily? Or have you lost your lustre, are you a dim reflection? Either way, Isaiah 55:1-13 offers you free, life-giving, never ending water. Spend some time reading that and asking Him to fill you now, or fill you afresh with His Spirit today. It is free and even if all the wells of earth run dry, your supply will be eternal. 

For further understanding of the curse...and how God turns it into a blessing read my friend Kristis's post here: Hidden Grace