Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas 2012

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Everything You Consider Valuable

As I am reading through the One Year Bible which, by the way, is an amazing way to connect with God through His Word, I can't help but notice in today's First Kings 20:1-43 reading today, this spiritual application:  my enemy wants to take away everything I consider valuable. This scenario is the perfect picture of how he does it. This is spiritual warfare at its finest and it's not confined to the Old Testament.  He knows what our "idols" are and he comes and presents a way for us to keep them IF ONLY we will give up something in return.  I have lived this scenario out in my teens, 20's and 30's only I had no idea the "game" he was playing with me although I do remember some conviction of the Spirit which I clearly ignored.

Here's how it goes.  In this story, King Ben-hadad of Aram (modern day Syria) will play the role of Satan (our enemy). The enemy came to besiege Samaria, the capital of Israel.  In verse 3, he sends a message to King Abab of Israel and this is what he says:  "Your silver and gold are mine, and so are your wives and the best of your children!"  Shockingly, in verse 4, King Ahab agrees with him and says, "All right, my lord the king.  All I have is yours!"  WHAT THE HECK?!  Just like that, he was willing to give up his wife, family and all that he had worked for?!  Hello Ahab, whatever happened to the "hide your wife, hide your kids" mentality.  Who is the spiritual leader of your family?!  Jerkface!!! But that's not the end of it.  After the King of Israel agreed to the demands of his enemy, the enemy has the nerve to come back for more.  He sends his 'messengers' and says in vv. 5-6, "I have already demanded that you give me your silver, gold, wives, and children.  But about this time tomorrow I will send my officials to search your palace and the homes of your people.  They will take away everything you consider valuable!"  This is, after-all, Satan's way.  Come for a little, take a lot.  In fact, just take it all.  Steal, kill, destroy.

I am somewhat shocked by how easily and willingly King Ahab gave into the demands for his wife and kids.  But if we were to make a modern day application, this showdown is the same exact epidemic of our day only we've renamed it DIVORCE.  It sounds much better than "all I have is yours, Satan."  But it is the identical battle. Satan has always been after everything that God deemed sacred...marriage, family and worship of the One True God.  And we've all heard the stats that divorce in the church is about the same as those outside the church.  Again, vat the heck?!

I am curious to know what King Ahab was thinking as he "reasoned" whether or not to give into the first demands.  I mean, what did he think he was getting to keep that justified giving up his family.  It probably went something like this. "Well I can still see the kids on weekends and they for sure will be better off and they will still turn out fine and I mean she obviously wasn't my soulmate but surely my real soulmate is out there and by golly I just need to find her and in the mean time I can sure "have fun" LOOKING.  I'm not really happy and I deserve to be happy so if this Ben-hadad dude wants to take my family away, I can always get another one. And I'll still get to exercise my power as king of Israel.  I'll still be king.  So no biggy.  Deal on.

But Satan's demands don't stop.  He doesn't suddenly get a heart and muster up compassion for us.  Not happening.  Ever.  He comes for everything we consider valuable.  Little by little.  But we do have the power to STOP giving into his demands.  I know I am picking on marriage/divorce but any idol can be plugged into the story-line and the outcome would be the same.  What am I willing to give up____________________ in order to hang onto my ____________________.  All idols cost us something.  Don't be naive.  Tribute will be paid.  Most likely, King Ahab's idol was POWER and as long as he could cling to that, he was willing to throw everything else away. " I'll still be king" and with that notion he was convinced that all would be o.k. 

But God is all about defeating our enemy and the vast army that comes against us in order that we would know that He is the LORD." ( v. 13, v. 28)  He wants to demonstrate His power in our lives and  give us victory over idols (anything we exalt in the place of God) instead of us giving in to any more of their demands.   

Lord, help us to recognize our idols and open our eyes to see how we let the enemy of our souls negotiate with us to work out a deal so that we can keep that which is highest in our hearts.  Help us to operate in your strength and fight for that which is truly valuable.  Raise up mighty men to be the spiritual leaders of their homes and fight for their marriages and family. Idols demand tribute.  Let us no longer be duped!!!  Give us hearts to care about everything You consider valuable.

Bottom line:  Spare the sin, destroy the life.  Destroy the sin, spare the life.  God gives us His prescription for the abundant life. We get to choose whether or not to take it.  But it's definitely best not to spare (under any conditions) what God says MUST BE DESTROYED.  Unless of course you don't mind losing EVERYTHING YOU CONSIDER VALUABLE.  Just ask King Ahab. Or better yet, read this passage to see how the enemy works in his oh so subtle ways.  King Ahab of Israel was actually just the king of pride as demonstrated by his actions.  And so am I when I refuse to respond and obey God's directives for me.  I don't need to destroy the "Ben-hadads" of my life.  I'll be king (or queen) and exercise my power and control over them.  RRRRighhhhtttt.  

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Band of Brothers Roadtrip 2012

After praying about where to spend the week after Memorial Day, we decided to visit Mike's family whom we rarely see.  We originally thought we would go to the beach as per usual.  Then thought it might be nice to visit Sophie in Chicago but she already had plans.  So we called the fam and everyone was available and excited and told us to, "Come on!"  It was truly a blessing to pop in on their respective cities and share a couple of meals together and reminisce about the past.  
 Mike and Sam (14 years older) in DeQueen, Arkansas

Kim, Sam's wife.  She is a horse whisperer.

Mike and Stan in Plano, TX

Pam and Stan

In Austin, TX, Sherri (Pat's daughter), me and Pat who was married to Jim, Mike's oldest brother who passed away in 2008

In Houston, TX, Judy was married to Mike's brother John (10 years older) for 9 years before they divorced. He passed away at the age of 36.   John was an attorney and just happened to casually mention to Mike while in high school that if he had it to do over, he would've gone to medical school.  For that reason, Mike decided that he would go to med school.  Only Mike!  Also, he hadn't seen Judy since John's funeral in 1984.  It was such a fun reunion.  Love her!!!

Judy and John's wedding.  Mike was 10.  Stan, Gail, John, Judy, Mike's dad, Jim, Jim Jr, and little Mikey.  not exactly where Sam was?!!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

James One: The Results Are In: JOY!!!

  James 1:2-3  "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

Happy Nu Jeerth!  We all love to embrace the new because it is so freeing to let go of the old!  For the past six months I have been in "learn to persevere" mode so I, for one, was super ready to cross over into 2012 in hopes this particular training period would cease.  God has been working on teaching me how to respond to a lot of different situations (trials of many kinds if you will)  through perseverance training.  It wasn't until October when I finally asked "what are we working on, LORD?", when He responded with this word in my heart:  "perseverance." Then it all made sense. Perseverance training is sort of like a boot camp.  It can be super intense for a season.  But God is relentless and insistent that we stick with Him through it.  Remaining under (Greek word-hupomene) His authority and cooperating with ample grace is our part.  Actually, it's quite simple if you really consider what He is after.  He is after our submission!!!  And He sets us up to succeed. But we must choose to walk His way. Like a wild pony that needs to be broken, trials of many kinds are His way of "breaking" us while teaching us His way of holiness and making us strong in Christ along the way.  Learning to persevere is a big deal to Him as is learning to follow! Glory is at stake and our joy hangs in the balance.  

These are just a few of the trials He used on me. In June, right after we had just celebrated two college graduations within 20 hours of each other with one in Nashville and the other in Chicago....then throw in a canceled flight to Chicago due to weather and add an 8 hour drive instead to the second graduation, I was convinced that my summer would be calm and easy as I was completely ready to sip lemonade in a rocking chair on a porch.  Not. Two weeks later,  my 32 year old nephew who I love, moved in and the LORD allowed him to detox over an 8 day period of a hard core drug addiction in my very home. Honestly, I did not see that one coming!  Probably best!  We didn't know he had not already been delivered from his drug addiction when he moved in.  But the LORD was HUGE and we made Psalm 23 our deliverance verses.....He makes me lie down in green carpet (vs. pastures)...the carpet in the bedroom in which he "layed"  was hunter green so we just changed the wording up a bit to make it our own. God also lead him beside the "still waters" (it rained almost the entire week and his bed was right beside the window). We were making spiritual apps all over the place! God was leading him OUT of his past addiction even though he was flat on his back most of the time.  MAKE NO MISTAKE. Even though he was still, HE WAS BEING LED. This was by far one of the most God-glorifying times I have ever experienced.  I learned of a power of God through this that I had never known.  Boomer, his yellow lab/golden retriever had also moved in with us and several vicious dog fights broke out between him and and our boxer, Boaz.  This alone about drove me nuts! But God was enough for all of us and victory did come to all. PTL! 

Various smaller trials ensued as they tend to do on earth.  But then my dad experienced a sudden illness (sepsis, gallbladder pancreatitis) and nearly died. And after 7 days in the ICU plus 3 regular room days,  his long recovery began with a four week pit-stop in the nursing home.  The trial for me at this point was being "there" for my mom.  The week he got sick, I remember I had nothing written on my calendar. It didn't take long to figure out why God had cleared my schedule that entire week!  She needed support!  Mental, physical, emotional you name it.  But she was a trooper and prayed voraciously for dad.  She was not ready to let him go.  Her real trial began when he came home and she became the numero uno caregiver.  Talk about hard labor.   But she was willing and able although it took a huge toll on her and she was in the thick of her own "trials of many kinds."  But I learned that so much of how we "learn Christ" is also by being subjected to other people's trials.  How we respond to situations and family issues and whatnot is as much our training as our own personal trials.  Frustrated people frustrate people.  Of this we can be sure.  But God was teaching me how not to respond and it is most certainly by taking the "high road." 

Reason to Party!
 Long story, long, Christmas came and we celebrated Jesus' birthday with "His" cake and with way too many presents for ourselves.  Molly and Jason helped me "undeck the halls" the first week of the new year.  All the ornaments had been removed from the tree and I decided to view it one last time before I turned the Christmas lights out.  But, alas, I noticed one last ornament that hadn't been removed. I looked closer and there it was all spelled out in gold----JOY!  I couldn't believe it.  I knew God had made sure Molly left it there just for me.  I asked her if she knew she had left one last ornament on the tree.  She nonchalantly said she thought she had them all.  I said to her, "You won't believe what was left!  It was JOY!!!"  I was sooo excited because I knew God was giving me my end of semester grade.  It wasn't an A.  It was better.  I had gotten a "JOY." In school I was an average student and I didn't necessarily prioritize grades but this was a important to me. Joy does come when we stick it out with Christ.  That's why James tells us to consider "it" before hand.  It's because he knows it's coming!!   We might do well to remember that.