Imitation

(Handwritten in my journal on July 18, 2014)

I just had a profound experience reading a blog post entitled, “To My Future Daughter-in-Law.” In it, the author refers to her own infant son as the future daughter-in-law’s husband. I have prayed for my son’s future wife, but I have never considered it in those terms, that he is her husband. Of course, I tell God all the time that I know Bennett is not really mine, but His. This is hard enough. I must confess my immaturity and jealousy here when I consider that another woman will take him from me!

Of course, I know this will happen. I just don’t want to think about those chubby cheeks giving way to rough stubble, or that poochy belly slimming and revealing lean muscle, or his eyes sparkling for any girl besides myself. These things are good and God-ordained, but it hurts to think about it. I need to pray more intentionally that God readies my heart, for this boy is someone’s husband. 

But, this was not the main part of the post that affected me so profoundly. It was this prayer: 

Lord, make him a man among men. A leader among leaders. Make him strong, resilient, brave, loving, and humble. Make him a good man in a storm.

That’s where I totally lost it. I want all these things for my Bennett, and it’s my responsibility to teach him all of it in between shoe-tying and counting. How can I teach these things if I am none of them myself?

I blend in with the crowd, but you, Son, go and lead. 

I am weak, easily beaten down, fearful, selfish, and prideful. I’m panicky in a storm. But you, Son, do as I say, not as I do. 

I totally lost it when I read this prayer, because I know I can’t do it. I went into the shower and nearly choked on the water, I was sobbing so hard. A tearful, snotty, soaking wet mess, I stood naked before God and lamented the irony that I want more children when I am so woefully inadequate in shepherding this one. I cried in fear because I cannot control who my son becomes, even if I WERE strong, resilient, brave, loving, and humble. And God’s answer?

Oh, He’s all grace on this one. I may have no control, but I am far from powerless. I may be weak, but I am not alone: 

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.
(Joshua 1:9)

Lord, make me a woman among women. A leader among leaders. Make me strong, resilient, brave, loving, and humble. Make me a good woman in a storm, a sincere and sold-out follower of Christ, and a leader of others into Your Kingdom. Make me all of these things so that I might be able to say to my children with confidence in You, 

Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.
(1 Corinthians 11:1)

And thank You, Lord, for Your grace and wisdom in giving my children an amazing father who is all the things I am not. I am not alone!

~Amen and Maranatha~







I am on a one-year journey through the book Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster. This month, I am practicing the discipline of Christian meditation, and the experience related in this journal entry came out of meditation on the truths shared in the above-linked post and, most especially, on Joshua 1:9. He’s had me meditating on that verse for days. I hope to share more from my experiences as I journey through the spiritual disciplines over this next year. 
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Letting Pride Be Your Guide

(Nahum 3)

I truly fear for my nation. Surely God’s mercy has a limit. Ask Sodom, Gomorrah, Nineveh. Ask Israel and Judah. Yesterday on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, one of the performances was by a group blatantly encouraging sexual perversion. Some of the men performing were cross-dressers, while the others were dressed in tiny shorts and thigh-high red leather spike-heeled boots. They addressed the audience: “Ladies and gentlemen, and those who have yet to make up their minds.” (Which I find confusing; isn’t the argument that this isn’t a choice? That people are “born this way”?) The song this group sang was all about accepting yourself — whomever you’d like to be, because “it’s beautiful” — so that you can accept others. “Let pride be your guide” seemed to be a climactic moment of the lyrical performance, while “celebrate you to elevate you” was a refrain.

Frankly, this is not about acceptance. It’s not. Many people participating and watching and celebrating this “progressive” performance may think it was, likening it to overcoming racism, but this is not the same thing. This is The Enemy at work. This is The Enemy targeting our children. What a happy topic to discuss with your child over turkey and dressing! “Mom, why is that man wearing red boots?” “Dad, is that a man or a woman?” Essentially, many families were undoubtedly forced to have age-inappropriate discussions that perhaps developed into arguments among the adults in front of the children. I’m thankful that my child wasn’t watching and was much too young to have any idea what he would have seen even if he had been. Who would have thought that the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade would do this, and that NBC would air it into our homes in the morning while all the children are home from school and waiting for Mom to finish cooking?

This is what America has become and is becoming. Later yesterday afternoon, my husband and I went to the Cowboys game because he got some free tickets at work. Susan G. Komen ads were all over the place. This organization is publicly known for its support of Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion business in the country! So by paying for a Cowboys ticket, (which we didn’t, but we did reap the benefits of someone else paying), you are contributing to the death of millions of babies. How quaint.

We are a country with an astronomical divorce rate, with millions struggling with addictions that destroy not only their hosts, but also the families affected. We are a country that disdains children as an inconvenience, tends to kill those that slip through to implantation, and then neglects, abandons, abuses, and intentionally perverts those who actually survive their mothers’ wombs. Even those children born into families determined to follow God and His intolerant ways are sucker-punched by NBC and Macy’s on Thanksgiving morning. How can God possibly stay His hand any longer?

Never mind the idolatry, greed, corruption, and exploitation that’s rampant in the government, in business, in sports and entertainment — our culture is so disgusting, yet we’re continually barraged with patriotic propaganda like unto the message from the cast of “Kinky Boots” yesterday morning: “Let pride be your guide.” (Whatever happened to letting your conscience be your guide? That was bad enough advice on its own, but it at least had a hint of morality to it.)

Pride. America. Old Glory. We should bleed nationalistic pride, right?! We are the land of the free and the home of the brave! More like the land of the licentious and the home of the shameless, like a prostitute spreading her legs under every green tree. Oh America, remember that pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Remember that God is opposed to the proud.

Where will we be, America, if God is opposed to us?

Just ask Nineveh. Sodom, Gomorrah. Think we’re God’s people? Chosen? A Christian nation? God’s country? Then ask Israel and Judah what it was like when God’s mercy ran out. Repent!

Christ-followers: Let us be on our knees every day for our country, and let us be willing to obey Him with humble boldness. My brother recently exhorted me to learn obedience now, while the obeying is easy. What is the cost now? Very little. The time will come — perhaps sooner than we expect — when the price of obeying God is devastatingly high. If we can’t obey now, how will we obey then?

“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign the members of his household!

“Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops. Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.

“Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.

“Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.

“He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.”

~Jesus, quoted in Matthew 10:24-39, emphases mine

Author’s note: 
I know that this post is polarizing and can set many against me, calling me an intolerant bigot. This was not intended to be a blog post, but rather originated as a journal entry very early this morning after I spent time meditating on Nahum 3. I finished the entry with the word, “Repent!” and then closed my journal to pray. Immediately, my spirit became unsettled, and I sensed God telling me to share what I wrote. Literally, what God whispered to me in the darkness, He asked me to proclaim in the light. I am not surprised if this invites hatred, though in my flesh I really hope it won’t. In my flesh, I hope no one notices this post. In the Spirit, though, I know God wanted me to write it because He will use it. Maybe for one, maybe for many, maybe simply as another example of the truth being told and ignored. I don’t know. I do know that I’m obeying what I felt God prodding me to do. May my words encourage you to search your hearts and see if you are in the faith, and to turn to Him.
“Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?” 2 Corinthians 13:5

Broken Nets and Not-so-blind Faith

Matthew 4:18-22 (CJB)

As Yeshua walked by Lake Kinneret, he saw two brothers who were fishermen — Shim‘on, known as Kefa, and his brother Andrew — throwing their net into the lake. Yeshua said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers for men!” At once they left their nets and went with him.

Going on from there, he saw two other brothers — Ya’akov Ben-Zavdai and Yochanan his brother — in the boat with their father Zavdai, repairing their nets; and he called them. At once they left the boat and their father and went with Yeshua.

It helped me a lot to read Luke’s account of this same story, because now I understand the four 100_3217fishermen better. In Matthew’s account, it seemed like Jesus just yelled from the shore at Peter (Kefa) and Andrew as they were fishing to abandon their livelihood and start following Him immediately, and so with James and John (Ya’akov and Yochanan) as well. It was as if these four men didn’t know Jesus from Adam, yet blindly and suddenly decided to devote their lives to Him. Luke gives different details that almost seem to conflict with Matthew’s telling at first glance, but it seems like you can put the stories together and see a fuller, more complete account of what transpired:

  1. Jesus was walking around the lake and saw Peter and Andrew throwing their net into the lake (Matthew 4:18).
  2. [Time passes] and He’s teaching, and crowds are pressing in. He sees 2 boats on the edge of the lake, but the fishermen were washing out their nets. He gets into Peter’s boat and asks him to row out a bit. He teaches from the boat. When He’s done, He tells them to put out their nets. Peter says they did already (see #1), but caught nothing. They obey anyway and their nets begin breaking because of all the fish. They get help from their partners in the other boat. Everyone was amazed including the partners, who happen to be James and John (Luke 5:1-10a).
  3. Jesus invites Peter and Andrew to to follow Him (Matthew 4:19 & Luke 5:10b).
  4. Peter and Andrew leave everything to follow Him (Matthew 4:20; Luke 5:11).
  5. Jesus [and Peter and Andrew] go on together and come upon James and John again. They were repairing their nets with their father. (They were witnesses to Jesus’ teaching and miracles, as Luke tells us, and I infer that their nets are broken because of what happened in Luke 5:6-7.) Jesus calls to them, and they also leave everything (Matthew 4:21-22).

So they witnessed His teaching, experienced His miracles, and got to know Him personally a little before committing their lives to Him. That makes more sense. No blind, dumb idiots here. Also note that Jesus witnessed their long, frustrating, and fruitless day on the water as he preached on land. He let them live it. Unexpectedly, after they’d given up, He met their needs. Their experiences made His miracle that much more meaningful and amazing simply because He (lovingly) allowed them to suffer. If He’d jumped in the boat early in the morning and brought in the fish, it wouldn’t have been the same. He never allows suffering without a reason.

~Maranatha

So Hard to Bear

Matthew 2, CJB (click the link for the full text)

100_3216This is a very thought-provoking passage, although I don’t think I’ve ever viewed it that way — it’s such a familiar story that I guess I never slow down. Writing it out longhand forces me to do just that, and to ponder every word. It’s a series of events presented so factually and succinctly, yet it is a profound picture of God’s sovereignty in politics, in human suffering, and in people’s personal lives. I’ve known this story for as long as I can remember, yet I don’t recall ever being personally affected by it. We’re afforded an omniscient point of view here, yet none of the characters were.

Herod is in great fear of a political threat, and he seeks not God, but His prophecies, and that only enough to take measures to protect himself. He tries to use the Magi as spies, but has to take a different approach when he realizes he’s been deceived. He’s so desperate that he takes a desperate stand.

Mary and Joseph are tending to their infant when unexpected visitors come to worship him. Jesus’ parents had no idea the danger they were in should the Magi obey Herod.

The Magi themselves, Gentile philosophers, never seem to commit to Herod’s plan, and certainly decide to renege when they (all?) receive a warning in a dream. They may have suspected evil, but had no idea what was at stake.

The ones who have my heart, though, are the families of Bethlehem whose homes were invaded and whose infant sons were murdered by Roman soldiers. Surely all they were told was that it was by order of King Herod — how many tried desperately to shush and hide crying babies? How many lied, swearing it was a baby girl, only to have the soldier push them aside, tear back the cloths to reveal the gender, and pierce the baby’s bare chest? Blood and cries and screams. Desperate weeping and angry laments, asking Yahweh, “Why?” Yet it was prophesied.

These little ones murdered for a reason.

A reason I still don’t understand — couldn’t we still have done the whole Messiah thing without this? Yet I overstep — God intended it so. Suffering — the most intense sort of suffering I can imagine as a mother of a one-year-old boy — ordained by God for a purpose I can only begin to reason through. I quickly come to a point where I must say that I do not understand why God would let all these babies die. And then I think of abortion in our day. All these babies are dying, because the supreme liar goes on lying. Why does God allow this? Why don’t these babies get a chance? Yet there must be a purpose.

I wonder how Mary reacted when they found out what happened in Bethlehem after they escaped. Joseph’s dream told them Jesus’ life was in danger, but could she have ever imagined so many little ones would die in His place? Would she have comprehended the devastating irony? And how could she help but feel a sense of guilt that her Son was spared — that they had been warned to escape — just days or perhaps hours before other baby sons were ripped from their mothers’ arms, only to be taken up again lifeless and slick with blood? What a heavy image of horror for Mary to hold in her heart. Yet this is still just the beginning for this young mother.

And what of the young soldiers in Bethlehem following orders? Sure, these Romans often looked at the Hebrews with disdain and disgust, but what horrifying orders to receive! It is one thing to kill a man, even if he is a private citizen, but to silence a screaming infant with the tip of your sword as other soldiers hold back his clawing and terrified parents looking on? Perhaps some disobeyed, showed mercy, passed on, whispered warnings such as Joseph received from God. Sweet stories of survival in the face of certain annihilation. I hope.

Lord, the evil is so hard to bear.

~Maranatha

Legal Rights and Righteousness


Matthew 1:19 (CJB)

Her husband-to-be, Yosef, was a man who did what was right; so he made plans to break the engagement quietly, rather than put her to public shame.

100_3215Joseph is a man who does what is right, so says this verse. How then is righteousness defined? By law — Deut 22:20-24 — the right thing to do is to have Mary, the supposed “harlot” who apparently got herself pregnant by someone else, stoned in her father’s doorway by the men of the city! Yet here, Joseph seeks discretion, intending to extend mercy to the one who had wronged him so profoundly. And this intention, despite his legal rights, is what is truly called “right.” And so he sets the stage for his Son, who will continue to upset the community’s sense of righteousness, pointing to yet a better way. Lord, transform my legalistic and merciless heart. Teach me to be like You.

~Maranatha

YOLO …from my journal

(I pray) that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to (me) a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of (my) heart may be enlightened, so that (I) may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of His glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.
~Adapted from Ephesians 1:17-19a

True and abundant wisdom, and with it, courage.

These things I need, so that I may constantly fight against the idols of this world. My heart is far too weighted by the cares and aspirations of the temporary. I need eternal eyes, truly. I grasp at the tenets of infinity, at the unimaginable fact that I will continue to exist forever, that so much of what I chase after on this earth is a phantom, but I know I don’t truly get it. How much of what I value, of what I work for, of what I pay for will be a regret as I stand at the judgment seat of Christ? And how much will be rewarded by Him as He judges it to be work well done? How much time, money, and energy am I wasting? Will I be ready for Him? It is unhelpful to compare myself to others in this, for we are all afflicted with this same deceptive sickness of the heart that courts finite happiness and incomplete satisfaction. Looking at others makes it worse, even as it makes me temporarily feel better. It’s too easy to see others’ sins and to ignore my own, giving myself a false reassurance that I’m good. Such deception is the sort that leads to damnation. I must compare myself instead to the Holy Scriptures, to push past the rebellious and selfish reactions of my heart to this holiness, reactions which the enemy uses to lead as many as he can to eternal ruin, and assess honestly how I stack up. How faithful am I being with this nanosecond of time that will affect infinity?

Not very: 

Meet the Tettletons

tettletons

Their names are Stephanie, Abby, and Jody, and they need your prayers.

Stephanie and I know each other from middle school, high school, and youth group, but we were never really close (big schools, big church, different groups of friends). We haven’t kept in touch since then, as we moved in opposite directions for college, and then God built our lives in different cities. But, of course, we are Facebook friends, and this is how I know that she and her family very much need your prayers.

Their girl, Abby, is sick. And I’m a total wreck thinking about it. Really. After sending Stephanie a message telling her I’m praying for her, I went to do just that. And now I have a stuffy nose, a throbbing headache, and an aching heart. Here is what I thought and prayed (the small part I wrote down, anyway):

I don’t know how God can bear it. His love for His children is infinitely deeper than a mother’s love for her child, yet He must constantly watch them suffer… I’m totally wrecked right now thinking and praying for Stephanie and Jody Tettleton, whose little girl, Abby, needs a liver transplant. She’s in ICU right now. I don’t think she’s even two years old! Babies are not supposed to suffer like this; mamas and daddies shouldn’t have to watch their little ones in so much pain — bearing the weight of the Fall. It’s too heavy for us — how much more so for the tiny ones? It’s too much. Lord, heal this baby. You are the Great Physician — I lift Abigail Tettleton up to You begging for healing. I ask You also to pour into Stephanie and Jody supernatural peace, strength, and trust in You. You are good; You are so perectly good, even when we’re in the midst of pain. Show Stephanie and Jody, and all the grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles, and cousins how to praise and trust You in this storm. Move mightily, Lord. Do not let the enemy make them feel hopeless or alone, for they are far from it. Our God is the God of Heaven and Earth! Lord, pour out Your blessings on this Family!

Amen.

Although I don’t really know this family, I wept all morning for their hurt. I simply can’t imagine watching your baby in so much physical need. But I do know that God is great, and I know that prayers are made stronger when others join in the chorus. So please, even though you may not know them either, lift them up to the great Healer, for He is more than able!

Heal me, O LORD, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise.
Jeremiah 14:17