31 Dec

…listen for the footsteps…

footsteps

The sound of God shutting the door.

The sound of the rain on roof.

The animal noises.

The sounds of the story of Noah stick out to me. (So do the smells, but I don’t dwell there too long!)

The sound of the flood waters slapping the side of the ark.

The sounds of people outside the boat.

But today, as I study, as I sit with Noah and his wife inside the hull of their calling I hear a sound I did’t hear before. The footsteps. The footsteps of those that followed Noah into the ministry of His calling. The footsteps that followed Noah as He followed God. The footsteps that followed Noah to Salvation.

…followed Noah…to salvation

Little feet thunder up and down the stairs, and I wonder how one small boy can make the noise of a herd of elephants.

I hear her voice echo down the hallway as she sings in her room. When I pause my typing I can hear her foot tapping on the floor as she belts it out with Jamie Grace via her karaoke Christmas gift.

I can hear their footsteps.

And I know….I know…little ears are listening, little eyes are watching, and those little feet they are following.

I sit in our home still half full of Christmas and full of the sounds of Christmas break. Video games, dogs wrestling, music, laughter….play. Our little ark here in a world flooded with all that seems painful and maddening. Our little ark where God opens the doors (with ideas, callings and studies) and beckons others in to be safe, to learn and be loved on. Our little ark, where little feet are following us…and the weight of the question nearly knocks me over…where are we leading them?

Oh, how I want to say salvation.

…to Jesus…

And sometimes we are. We do.

And sometimes….we don’t.

On the days when the tv echoes into their hearts before a Word from God does. On the days where mama’s temper snaps and all the is gentle and holy is awash in the sound of a mama gone mad. On the days when death calls, checking accounts hemorrhage and life is hard…do they see us run to Jesus, so they can follow us there. I can’t always say yes.

We are a handful of hours from the new year. I think of all the things I’d like to do that would improve our lives, bring glory to God, change the world.

I don’t do resolutions. I set goals. I dream with God. And I look forward to whatever that strike of midnight brings…knowing my King sits on thrown before time started and after it ends. I love the promise of a New Year…a blank slate…the Spirit hovers of the pages yet unturned as God’s plans wait for me. And yet, here I sit.

Footsteps.

Not a moment is lost on God. This reading and Bible study on the precipice of the New Year. He leans in close and whispers to me….listen for the footsteps….

And I think that perhaps 2015 is the year of the footsteps. Of intentionally looking where I am pointing (in life and deed), so that those that follow…our little peanuts and someday grand-peanuts, our friends and family……whoever….will find them selves smack dab in the middle of God’s plans and miracles when they look up to Him on their own.

So here’s my 2015 goal…dream….resolution…hope…thingy… as I walk through the everdayness of my life, and live the highs of teaching/speaking to the lows of the laundry and every moment in between, those footsteps behind me will echo my sweet Jesus’s footsteps in front of me.

08 Oct

More Than A Snake, An Apple & A Bad Day

God calls out

It’s there…in the garden….among the fig leaves that my breath catches in my chest. And I see, maybe for the first time, that this isn’t a story of a snake, an apple and a bad day…this is the story of my God who pursues those He loves with truth.

Where are you? (Genesis 1:9) The Lord’s voice carries through the garden. He calls to the man. His creation. Adam. The one who is hiding.

God doesn’t call to Adam because He can’t find him. God, the heavenly LoJack – nothing lost or stolen, He knew where Adam was.

But did Adam?? Did Adam realize that he was hiding…that he had withdrawn from the Lord or was he too busy trying to make a loin cloth out of fig leaves…no needle, no thread…just the biggest leaves he could grab to cover his sin…his shame…his guilt…his reality.

And I think about all the times God whispers, Where are you? 

When I sleep in on Sunday, when I pick up my remote instead of my Bible, when I drive by the homeless man with a sign, when I dial the phone to ignite the gossip fire…when, when, when…too many whens.

God whispers and I hide.

Adam mentions his nakedness and his fear (v. 10). He has listened to the fork-tongued hiss that plants the weed of doubt in the midst of a garden.

Who told you that you were naked? (v. 11) Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?

Who have you been listening to?  That is the real question He asks, isn’t it?

Whose voice is in your ear, God calls out. Have you listened and obeyed my word or have you believed the lies of another?

How often do we listen to another’s voice…facebook, twitter, the tv, the gossip on the line, the friend that doesn’t point to God in your hour of need or moment of weakness…we listen to lies because they look pleasing and easy. “You deserve more.” “You have every right to be angry.” “You shouldn’t have to wait for what you want.”

God has pointed out the separation, the break in communication, and the sin.

Our God. The God of relationships, points out the sin…the separation…and waits.

In a breath…in the next verse (v. 12)…Adam totally admits that he ate the fruit. But instead of getting of this crazy train at Humble-Thyself-Village and repenting. He blows right on through to It’s-So-Not-My-Fault Landing. A place we all know well.

God calls out our sin, not to condemn us, but to convict us…to bring us back to repentance and back into relationship with Him. God calls out our sin to bring us back to him. God calls out our sin to bring us out of hiding and into the Light. Where are you? Come to me. Return to me.

God calls out

Adam and Eve chose the disobedience…sin was there. And then, they made another choice to blame others…and the gap becomes a chasm….

I told my sweet Bible study ladies last night that I hide in plain sight from God. More like the child’s game of covering your eyes and pretending you are invisible. If I don’t look up God, you won’t see what I’m up to. It never worked for our daughter when she got caught with her hand in the cookie jar and kept RIGHT ON EATING (like I wasn’t there). And it doesn’t work for us.

Allow God to speak into your life….come out from your fig leaves and look His grace in the face. You’ll find that when you answer His Where are you? His answer is Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

03 Aug

When He Hung the Moon

moon meme

Books piled up around me, papers scattered across the desk and floor, my Bible propped up against the laptop keyboard. This is my sweet spot. This place of digging through Scripture…turning words and phrases over and over again. Taking things apart and putting them back together. Somewhere in the digging God begins to whisper. He meets me here.

I am preparing for an Autumn full of the Word. Bible study with our children, Bible co-op with a few homeschool families and a ladies Bible study. And they all begin in the same place…the beginning.

Genesis.

It is easy to blow through the Creation story. Six days. Darkness. Light. Sky. Water. Land. Plants. Sun. Moon. Stars. Fish. Birds. Animals. Man. Rest. Yeah, we got it, right?

Oh but there’s so much there. Always the same, but ever revealing. Like the tides rolling across the beach, bringing up new treasures changing the shape of all it touches. The ebb and flow of life and time….the shift of experience and lens….the rolling of the days that crash into years.

It all flows from these words….from in the beginning…and we can skim over the water….over the Word….and we see only the surface. Missing the depths of love, the layers of existence, the details of our infinite God in His creation. And it’s there, in this delving into the depths. It’s there, lingering in His spoken genesis, that He whispers to me about the moon.

moon The moon...the lesser light to govern the night…. God said “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky…to give light on the earth.” {Genesis 1:14-15} And it’s there I see it…this moon that reflects the sun. This moon that gives light in the darkness…the moon that gives light that does not come from within. The moon that is dark and lifeless on its own…that its beauty, its life….its light are only that which are reflected from the giver of light.

Oh, my friends, we are moons.

We were created to reflect and give light in the dark. But all that we have to give….to reflect…all that makes  us beautiful and lovely…that makes us powerful and seen…..is  not ours. We were made to shine Jesus’s love and light into this world. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. {John 1:4-5}

For when God hung the moon to reflect the sun the Messiah was already named….already on his way. In the beginning was the Word. {John 1:1} When time was set into motion a plan was under way. A plan for salvation and eternity. A plan for love and life. A plan for you….and me.

As sure as the moon was hung to reflect light into our world. We were made to reflect Jesus into our World. All our light….anything lovely in us….comes only from Jesus whose image we bear, whose Spirit we are filled with, whose light we shine.

Over the centuries the moon has been the center of fascination — from religions and celebrations, to navigation and space programs, to poets and painters. It’s light draws us to ponder and picture, to reach and explore. And when we reflect the light that shines in the darkness we draw others to Jesus….we awaken a fascination…a  need to explore and reach…to find and connect.

As we begin to start our ladies Bible study this fall, I’ve spent lots of time pondering themes, curriculum and how life change happens. {you know lil things like changing lives} Then I read this verse….For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory.   {2 Corinthians 1:19}  

Nothing I do affects life change. No, it is a personal relationship with Jesus that changes lives. And so many of us who know Him do no live like we do…we do not internalize His truths…that from in the beginning to the second you read this through eternity God’s promises are fulfilled. And as we learn that…truly come to understand God’s promises…His plan…Jesus…our lives will be one long, sweet, loud Amen. We will be moons reflecting the Son!

27 Dec

Dig Deeper

Why study Scripture?

I could spend hours digging through Scripture. Finding words, definitions, promises, stories….TRUTH. But I have come to realize that so many women (people, really) just don’t get it. Reading the Bible is just staring at words on page…no connection, no love, no life-change….just words on a page. And, oh, if I could only help people get into the Bible and discover God’s love verse-by-verse!!

To that end this past November, “Dig Deeper” was born. An evening of discussing Bible study techniques, sharing tips, tools and apps…and getting into the Word. It was a lovely evening with some wonderful ladies as as we sought to see the Word on the page.

 

Several people on Facebook have asked to see the list of resources we came up with, so here they are. Bookmark them. Use Them. Share Them. Have some that aren’t listed? Please leave them in the comments below for all to share in.

(Oh, and if you are local, please let me know if you’d be interested in attending a Dig Deeper workshop…trying to gauge interest for the spring.)

Free Websites:
Software:
*Logos
*Glo
Apps:
*Logos
*FaithLife Study Bible
*Glo
*Blue Letter Bible
*Elevation Church
*Mars Hill Church
Scripture Memorization:
09 Nov

Yardstick of Truth

yardstick

The words seem to jump off the page and move around in front of me.

…received the message with great eagerness…

…examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true…. {Acts 17:11}

I am struck to the core…almost dumbfounded for a moment…they checked Paul’s words against the Scriptures to see if what he said was true. Paul. Paul who wrote almost a  third of the New Testament. Paul who is our go-to guy for doctrine, law, conduct and more…Paul.

And I begin to wonder how I receive what is taught to me. Am I eager when I listen to a message preached or taught?? Do I take notes, write down references, list my questions and wait with excitement  to hear God’s truth. The answer, sometimes. Sometimes I am eager to hear what the pastor, speaker or teacher is ready to bring. Other times I’m checked out {a million excuses for my brain being somewhere else} or I’m distracted {squirrel!!}.

Eager. I need to work on that.

I’m ashamed to admit to my Jesus that I’m not eager to hear the truth of His love, sacrifice and my need  for Him…at least not all the time.

But there is something bigger about these words jumping off the page. Something convicting…nearly painful.

Do I examine the Scriptures to see if what I’m being “fed” is true? Not just point to the verse in my Bible as someone reads it or plugs it into a sermon or crafts a beautiful paragraph on the pages of the latest book….really check to see if they measure up to the Bible…meanings, context, continuity of the Bible as a whole.

No.  The answer is no.

The Bereans {the people mentioned in Acts 17:11} checked everything against the Scripture (they had) to see if what he was saying was true. Paul. The man of God whose hand penned words that God gave to speak straight into our lives.  Wow!!

Don’t get me wrong. I know that I am supposed to check what Pastors, speakers, teachers, books, etc. say. I do know that, but I don’t practice it enough.

But lately….

Somewhere deep in my soul there are nudges, bumps, alarms and whistles going off….there are things that don’t sit well with me. And I pray…ask…beg…God to help me find the Truth, see the Truth…know the Truth.

And then today, these words begin to come off the page.

 

 

examine…Scripture…true

A reminder…an answer…the Truth is in my hands…those books, speakers, concepts, teachings that grieve my Spirit…it is to this yardstick they have to be held.

Does it hold up?? Is it true?

Not just was the Bible open when they preach, is the verse(s) they are using actually about that subject matter…not some sort of holy Mad Libs where we plug-in verses that have the right words in the sentences.

Not just that they put it up on the screen, but is the really in the Bible {my Bible} where they say it is. What version are they using?

So my stack of books has gotten bigger. These books that are shaping ministries, changing lives and being passed around in frenzied chatter…they’ve got my attention. I’m checking scripture, verifying concepts, and just seeing for myself that they are true.

Am I the only one that gets lax about this? Do you check the sources that are speaking into your life? I mean really check? I encourage you, if you don’t already, please start. We trust so many to speak to us — so many sources — but we need to know that they are worthy of that trust. And even after we know they are worthy of that trust, they are human…mistakes will be made and we need to be so into the Word of God that we can find the Truth and help hold each other accountable.

I want to become a woman who is eager to receive the message that God has to deliver to me {however that comes}. I want to be a woman who measures everything against the yardstick of the Truth!!

 

22 Oct

Give Them Jesus

they need Jesus

“They need Jesus. That’s why we need you.”

She sits just a few feet away, this woman I admire. I look up to. And in casual conversation she says something that strikes a chord somewhere in me.

It is so much more than a reason for asking me to speak at a retreat {which is what the conversation was about}. It is about Jesus. About me.

And then a few days ago, I read this.

Now, I’m restless.

Restless I tell you.

Approachable words filled with Jesus. Words that live, encourage, lead, shape, mold. Can I find those words? No.

But, somewhere deep, God whispers…they are My words….give them My words.

A deep breath….over and over again.

Prayer…over and over again.

Writing. Rewriting. Breathing. Prayer.

Late into the night…struggling to write.

I’m not a speaker, I began to say {to anyone that would listen}, I’m a Bible study teacher. I’m not a woman gifted to stand in front of a crowd and tell them how to live the life of a Christian woman.

And then I felt it…I knew it.  I wasn’t called to be a speaker. Echoes in my head…they need Jesus…give them my words.

I began to craft messages around Bible study — when I dug into the Word I could speak for hours…how interesting, amazing, fulfilling God’s Word is. When we look into the depths of the Bible we find the stories of a loving God who wraps eternity around His beloved and expresses love in ways that will never be paralleled.

 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:1-4

Give them my words…give them Jesus.

The Word is Jesus. When you teach the Bible…when you teach the Word you teach Jesus.

God had already given me everything I needed – a passion for His girls and love for the Bible.

My friend’s words had struck a chord because that chord plays the notes of my soul…what God made me to be….just a Bible teacher.

I struggled with nerves and worries of disappointing God, but I pushed through…obedience became a theme…this was bigger than me, my fears, or my nerves…someone needed to hear Jesus and God presented me with the opportunity to be the bearer of a beautiful gift. It was my choice — as the things of God always are. I could choose to walk away, but no matter how big the butterflies {or vultures} were in my stomach I knew this was going to be a defining moment in my walk with God…in me.

The words of that blog {linked above} ring in my ears like music…calling me…moving me. “We need Jesus.  We are seeking deep spirituality. We are seeking fellow travellers. We are hungry for true community, a place to tell our stories and listen to another, to love well. But above all, point me to Jesus – not to the sale at the mall.” SarahBessey.com

It is an honor and a weight this calling of teaching and bringing Jesus. That I’m looked at as anything more than a flawed and broken girl trying to figure it out seems scary and overwhelming. But when I lean into God, dig into the Bible and just be honest about how beautiful God’s grace is {even in the midst of my messy life} all the pieces fall into place. God is faithful to accomplish His purposes through His word {Isaiah 55:11}.

How can you honor God today?

What step can you take toward finding or stepping toward what He is calling you to do?

How can you bring someone just a little bit of Jesus today?

Father, thank you for Your Word. That in the beat up and worn pages of my Bible I can touch, read, and absorb the majesty of my beloved Creator. Whew. Thank you for making us for a future, for a calling, for being parts of the body of Christ. How blessed we are to carry pieces of Jesus to give to others. Help us to share Your Word, memorize Scripture and share it, study the Bible…Let us be women of the Word because that makes us women of Jesus. Amen.

 

25 Jan

Her Faith is Sprouting

new plant

 

 

 

Uncomfortably perched on her chair she looked ready to bolt any minute. Not quite wanting to be there, but obligation kept her seated. She wasn’t one of “us” and everything about her body language and the way she answered questions said she didn’t want to be.

Yet, she came back.

Week after as we meet for Bible study this beautiful young woman sits among us. She’s heard the gospel. She’s been to church. But she’s not into this God stuff and doesn’t think she wants to be.

Yet, she came back.

Listening. Eyes wide and bright. She didn’t miss a word. Words her puzzle pieces. God is the picture on the box.

We are nothing alike her and I, and yet we are the same. Scarred by human hands and circumstances. Loving and timid. Scared. Hurting.

And in her I see me.

That girl the who wore hurt close to her heart. Hidden. A stranger to grace and divine joy I searched to fill my heart with love.

And so I looked for love in all the wrong places. In men who didn’t know how to love. In men never taught to value a woman. In food. In drink. In bars and old flames. Never finding this thing I wanted. This love I craved.

Instead I found hurt. Heartache. Disrespect. Loneliness. All wrapped up in counterfeit adoration and lies covered in darkness.

But Jesus changed that for me.

He showed me His love so that I could learn to love.

He showered me with grace so I could learn to pour it out.

He showed me my worth in Him so I demand it from those around me.

And here we sit opposite ends of the same couch. Opposite ends of similar walks.

Jesus between us.

Oh how I want for her to know Him. To breathe in the aroma of heavenly love.

I’ve seen her inhale these past few weeks.

And slowly she begins to grow. Like a tender plant just breaking through the soil her leaves small and bright. Her faith is sprouting.

How beautiful it is to watch a woman discover God. To fall in love with Jesus.

Now I am listening, her words grace and renewal to my parched soul. Her prayers of simple faith and unwavering trust teach me to pray in ways long forgotten.

As she grows. I remember.

How easy it is to let time and life erase your memory. Memories of the sweet scent of a Jesus like honeysuckle on a summer evening. Fresh. Delightful. Unmistakable.

And, oh, how I want other opportunities to grow and share with women. Sharing Christ with women is life changing…for them…for me. For us all.

Oh I can’t wait for the day when my Jesus is her Jesus.

When she is a tall, strong flower in God’s garden. Unique. Beautiful. Stretching heavenward for water and Sonlight.

Oh, Father, thank you for the opportunity to be in this Bible study. Thank you for allowing me to meet this beautiful sister and be a traveling companion on her road to you. I can’t wait for the day when she proclaims you as King and Savior! Amen.

 

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