Thursday, July 28, 2011

2 Samuel 22

Do we know, trust, and praise God like David?  Do yourself a favor...get yourself a cup of coffee (or some other beverage of choice) and sit down to read 2 Samuel 22.

I have a few things to note:  First off, take a peek at his numerous descriptions of the Lord.  Can I say with David that He is my rock, my fortress, my deliverer, my strength, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold, my refuge, my Savior, my lamp, my support, and more?  As a believer in Him, washed in the blood of Jesus and clothed in His righteousness, and one who He has made to be His child by adoption, yes...I can say these things.  Yet so often I identify with the father in Mark 9 who was troubled (in his case, he had a child in need of healing)...after Jesus assured this man that all things are possible for him who believes, he responded with "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!"  That's me crying out too:  Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!  

Next, chew on verses 8-20.  David talks about how he cried out to God when distressed and that God heard him…and not only did He listen to David, he arose on his behalf with zeal.  God is NOT an impersonal being that doesn't care a lick for His creation...He's given His own name to a people that He redeemed with the blood of His own Son, and He is jealous for them.  In verse 8 He's angry and His anger is directed against David's enemies...He shakes heaven and earth, kindles coals, sends out arrows and all kinds of other marvelously violent things until we get to verses 17-18:  "He sent from above, He took me, He drew me out of many watersHe delivered me from my strong enemy, from those who hated me; for they were too strong for me."  This is one of the verses that really stood out to me and I think it was because I was under attack at the time and pretty close to despair.  A few months ago, I was waging war in the realm of what a friend and I came to call the negative nasties of the circumstances were filled with blessings, but my oh my was my mind ever under attack (temptations of bitterness, anger, fear, discouragement, confusion, disappointment, and feelings of inadequacy didn't let up for a period of months).  It became clear that "they were too strong for me" even as I daily gloved up, read God's Word, and prayed.  One day, God lead me to this chapter and encouraged my soul.  And as you can see, months later I am still digesting it with pleasure.

Our enemies may not be the same as David’s…maybe ours are just a bunch of negative nasties in the battlefield of our minds, but we can be assured that our God will arise on our behalf because He’s chosen us before the foundation of the world to be His.  Just like David, our enemies may be too strong for us, but they are not too strong for God who hears us when we cry out to Him in our distress.  We are His workmanship.  We can have the same confidence in God that Paul had when he wrote Phil 1:6 “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”  

The last thing I want to note here is something mentioned in verse 20: "He also brought me out into a broad place; He delivered me because He delighted in me."  I'm one of those people who can beat myself up pretty good.  I KNOW I'm a sinner and that God is holy.  I relate to the "I'm a worm" and "stiffnecked" sort of verses pretty easily so when I get to a verse like this, my first thought is "why in the world would He possibly delight in me?"  It blows my mind.  I frankly have a hard time believing it.  But He does!  He made me....I'm His workmanship.  He's redeemed me and has given me new life in Christ for His glory, a new life that pleases Him and glorifies Him.  And the reason He gives here for delivering me is "because He delighted in me."  

If you are His child, He delights in you too.  He's your rock, your fortress, your deliverer, your strength, your shield and the horn of your salvation, your stronghold, your refuge, your Savior, your lamp, your support, and more.

May God use 2 Samuel 22 to encourage you and me to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus (as we're also encouraged to do in Hebrews 12:1-2)...let us take every thought captive to the One who loves us, gave Himself for us and will continue to zealously arise on our behalf against our enemies because He chose us to be His and He delights in us.  "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief."

Thanks for stopping by,

Monday, July 25, 2011

speak well

Take a look at these comments of a wife to her husband:
"Why are you late again?" (spoken with a sharp accusative tongue)
"I see you still haven't finished the project you said you'd do.  Knowing you, it'll never get done."
"If you don't like they way I cook, why don't you fix dinner from now on!"
With comments like these and many more just like them, how much do you think that husband looks forward to coming home?

Now, take a look at these:
"Honey, welcome home...I can see from your face you had a rough day.  Thank you for taking the weight of the world on your shoulders and working so hard (spoken kindly and with hands massaging his neck).  Wanna talk about it? Can I get you a drink?"
"Projects always seem to take longer than we hope they will when we start them.  I know the need for all the Home Depot trips can be discouraging, but you're a winner...I know you'll persevere!  I'm so proud of you for taking this on when you have so many things competing for your attention.  It means a lot to me.  Thanks Honey."
"Hey Babe, I'm making the menu for next you have anything you want me to make sure I include on it for you?  Would you like some more of those ribs you said you liked a couple weeks ago?"
Do you think these kinds of comments might have a different effect?

True confession:  I like to proofread because I get paid for what comes very naturally for me (being critical).  But as one who wants to grow in Christ-likeness, I have self-consciously worked at restraining my critical thinking and words except in places where there is godly reason for it, and though I have to admit I have a ways to go, I have (by God's grace and with the enabling of the Holy Spirit) made progress and am tasting the sweet fruits of it in my family and friendships. 

How do we talk with our spouse?  How do we talk with our children?   Do we encourage and build up or are we tearing down?  Are we looking to the 20 things that we can say something positive about or harping on the few things that we don't like?  Even when we do need to bring correction, there is a big difference between a razor-edged "Would you pick up your own stinkin' socks?" and a kind "Honey, it would bless me if you put your socks in the hamper." There is much power in our tongue.  God tells us in Proverbs 18:21 that "Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit."  One way or another, if we're talkers, we're going to eat the fruit of how we talk.  Is the general pattern of our words life-giving or life-taking? 

I know this is written simplistically.  But if you are finding your home life to be somewhere in the range of miserable to business-like at best, you just might take an inventory of your speech.  If you note that you tend to be critical and harsh, confess it and seek the forgiveness of your spouse and/or your children and any others you speak that way towards.  Ask God to forgive you and to help you use the tongue He gave you wisely and kindly for His glory.  Commit yourself to look for ways you could bless, encourage, build up, and speak the truth in love, and practice every day.  A barren land can become a beautiful oasis with the introduction of life-giving water.  

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

People of a Second Chance

Q ideas is an internet site that provides a number of videos and materials under the heading "Ideas for the Common Good."  I was introduced last week via a video that two of my pastors posted a link to (well worth watching, you can find the 12 minute presentation on the church's role in ending extreme poverty here).  But after watching THAT video, I hunted around to see what the OTHER "Q talks" looked interesting and stumbled upon an 18 minute interview called "People of a Second Chance" with Ted and Gayle Haggard.  Wow! [updated 3/31/2015...the link to this interview has been changed and also renamed "Embracing Grace".]

Maybe the name Ted Haggard and "Wow" don't seem like they should go together in your mind...maybe the sins of his past have left a bad taste in your mouth and you've written him off as a public figure who has fallen irrevocably from God's good grace. 

For me, it's a beautiful story of a couple that is working together (repenting and forgiving) as they press on to lay hold of Christ Jesus and all that He has laid hold of for them. It's a wonderful part two to the post I wrote yesterday.  They both know they have things behind them to lay aside, to forget from different angles as they give themselves to seek Christ individually and as a couple.  It convicted me, and at the same time the words of grace spoken so clearly by Ted and Gayle encouraged me to want to be among those who repent of my own sins, forgive others of theirs, and move forward in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.  If you can make the time, watch the video...I'm hoping that the message is taken to heart by us all for the glory of our God.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Reaching forward

Phil 3:12-14  "Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."

History is a wonderful account of God's story, His working out His plan in time and space.  Without contradicting the beauty and glory and wonder and necessity of history, it is sometimes a part of reaching forward to forget those things which are behind.  How many of you have heard of the three steps forward, two steps back cycle?  Even though there are setbacks, the overall trend is still one of progress.  But what about the two steps forward, three steps back cycle?  That sounds more like failure than progress and in some arenas of my life, I'm familiar with this. 

About 5 months ago as I meditated on this verse, I thought about how Christ did not lay hold of me so that I can stay in failure cycles...He's my victorious Savior leading me into victory, setting me free where I've been captive, etc.  I started thinking about how in order to press forward, I needed to forget some things or put them behind me (not let them drag me down again).  This has affected areas as dorky as weight loss to matters much more important like relationships. 

How many of us have been hurt in a relationship and allowed bitterness or anger or distrust to skew our vision to the point that anything that person does is eyed by us with suspicion?  Are we forgiving and putting things behind us, pressing forward to greater unity and joy in our relationships?  God makes it clear that He wants us to experience the sweet joy of fellowship and the glory of working together as His body.  The Devil is the one that wants us to stay bitter and angry and to build walls that feel impenetrable.  Who are we going to listen to?  We really ought to repent if we're the offender and forgive if we're the injured...we should give each other the freedom and encouragement to grow and to press forward, to lay hold of Christ.  The Apostle Paul assures us that he was not yet perfected and neither are we...we will sin yet and will be sinned against, but let's deal with it lovingly and quickly and move on.  Paul was serious about pressing forward -- the goal was and still is the prize of the upward call of Christ.  With the joy of the Lord as my strength, I'm serious too.  How about you?

Monday, July 11, 2011

sweet blueberries and a very good day

I was thinking this morning about my family (while weeding the garden) and how I so want us to be like a fruitful garden for the glory of God.  I had just picked a handful of blueberries and gobbled down their pure sweetness.  The strawberries are producing, the zucchini are getting ready to explode, and more yummy things are in process.  I have often thought about the weeding side of gardening and how it pictures our need to pull things like bitterness and anger and hurt and distrust out by the root in our lives.  But today, as I nibbled on tasty blueberries and enjoyed a bit of the harvest, I thought about how I got to do that because there was a day that I planted something good, and God blessed it.  I shared my thoughts with my kiddos at breakfast and we agreed to deliberately look for opportunities to plant blessings in each others lives, to plant words of kindness and encouragement, to look for ways we can take initiative to ease burdens as we become aware of them if we have the ability to do so.  The Lord has graciously blessed our efforts and it's been a really GOOD day! 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


Our pastor preached this past Lord's Day a wonderful sermon titled "And You Shall Not Steal".  In it, he talked about how we ought to desire wealth/property (but not in the "prosperity-gospel-so-we-can-go-on-living-selfishly" sort of fashion).  You can listen to it HERE.

Tonight, I finished reading a book that a friend gave me recently, and in it the author emphasized the importance of what she called "prosperity with a purpose." It isn't wrong to want property and wealth in and of itself...seeking prosperity for the sake of unrestrained selfishness or via ungodly means is wrong, but wealth is desirable to equip you to lovingly meet the needs of others.

Sandwiched in between that double-witnessed message, we got the exciting word earlier today that our friends, Jon and Melissa Maser (who are in the process of adopting a little boy from Ethiopia) got their court date.  Caleb, the little fellow they want to adopt, is now 10 months old and stinkin' cute (I cannot post a picture until they've passed court, but I've seen some pics and cannot wait to be among those who get to smooch his sweet chubby cheeks).  In just 16 days they have been given permission to board a plane and be on their way to meet him for the first time.  God has provided each step of the process as various fees are needed, always giving His people the privilege of being part of this amazing story He is writing into their lives, and the life of this little boy who soon will know the love of a family all his own.  I'm excited to see how He will provide once more as a few thousand dollars are still needed in order to purchase the plane tickets.  We are doing what we can, thankful that we have so that we can give.

I'm letting you know of the need so you can join me in praying for them to trust the One who provides us with all we need to follow where He leads us.  Having been there/done that, so to speak, I know the temptations to anxiety.  I'm also letting you know in case the Lord lays it on your heart to play a part financially.  You can make a donation of any size by visiting their blog and making use of their Paypal button (or you can email Melissa at to find out other methods if another method is preferable to you).  Rachel and Erica have written posts about this too and are doing an Ipad giveaway for those who make donations...see either of their posts to see the details of how to enter...they are also friends of mine and I assure you this is not a scam...they will pass all funds on to the Masers.  Both of their families also adopted from Ethiopia recently and they are excited to help one more orphan lose that status and gain a family who will love him and raise him up to love & serve Jesus.  I'm excited to help too.  If you are as well, please do what you can in the arena's of praying, giving and spreading the word.

Thanks for taking time to stop in,