Friday, December 7, 2012

Our God...

"will fight for us..."
Nehemiah 4:20
The following true life story is dedicated to my sweet friend, Lottie, who began chemo today to battle ovarian cancer for the third time.  Please keep her and all cancer patients in your prayers.

I love you, Lottie. God be with you every step of the way...



Tuesday, December 4, 2012


"The voice of One, crying in the desert,
Make Way for the Coming of the Lord..."
Matthew: 3:3

Zachariah (his name means "God has not forgotten")!  I love his story.  He, together with Elizabeth, are blessed to be chosen to be the mama and papa of the famous cousin of Jesus, John the Baptist. 

Miracles happened in the lives of Zachariah and Elizabeth.  When I think of that, I think, how "lucky" to use today's language, were they!  They were old and barren and didn't seem to have a chance of having a child.  And then, along comes John.  If I had been Elizabeth, I probably would have wanted to put John in a glass case and be sure he had a "perfect" and pain-free life.  I would have wanted to pick out the perfect wife for him and be sure he lived close enough for me to see my grandchildren, because, of course, he would give me some.  After all, this was the miracle I had prayed for and now that I had it, I would not easily let him go.

But the story of Zachariah and Elizabeth's miracle doesn't unfold like that,  It starts out with Zachariah being struck dumb by the Angel Gabriel because he didn't quite believe what he had been told by this angel from above.  Can we blame him?  After all, how many angels have visited your house lately (at least that you have SEEN)?

If we buy into the "prosperity" gospel of some of the TV preachers of our time, one would think that once God tuned into their need, every little thing that Zachariah and Elizabeth asked for was fulfilled in the birth of this child.  But, in fact, this was only the beginning of a long journey for them, marked with the unmistakable scourge of suffering.

Zachariah and Elizabeth were old by the time God gave them the answer to the prayer they had prayed all of their lives.  And when He finally answered them, they weren't even sure what to make of it.  Can't you just see Zachariah looking around him to see if anybody else had heard what he heard.  He is "dumbfounded" quite literally.  Isn't that just like us?  We are endlessly praying for blessing, and then, blown away when it actually happens!

I wonder sometimes, if I would want to be one of those that God blesses with miracles.  The miracle just doesn't seem to play out the way I would write it.  After all, consider what happened to the miracle of John the Baptist. 

He wanders off into the desert, abandons Mom and Dad, becomes some kind of a religious fanatic, never marries or gives them grandchildren, fails to take on a respectable career, stirs up the masses with his radical call to repentance, makes enemies of the political rulers in town and ends up being murdered ruthlessly for his efforts.  Any illusions that they had that this son would make their lives easier evaporated in the reality that this son of theirs belonged first to God and would not be content to let anyone else, including, Mom and Dad, define his calling.  Do you suppose that this was all easy for them to accept?  I doubt it.  And yet, it is this son of theirs that Jesus blesses with the proclamation that "Not one, born of woman, is greater than John the Baptist!" Matt: 11:11

No the touch of God, the answer to their prayers, the "miracle" of their son, brought to them great blessing and great heartache all at the same time.  Makes me think we need to understand God's miracles are His, not ours. 

Whenever God draws close to us and shares with us His plan, His work, His miracle, we had better be well prepared.  It will most likely involve suffering and dying to ourselves and our own desires.  Maybe that was the biggest part of this miracle.   Zachariah and Elizabeth had come to a place in their lives where they were ready to give all back to God, no matter the cost.  As a mother, I marvel at this.  Part of me wants to say, Yes, Lord.  And part of me wants to say, all but this, Lord...

Maybe I need a little more time before I'm ready for a miracle...

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Kiss the Son...

"Blessed are those who put their trust in Him..."
Psalm 2:12

I am reading a wonderful little book right now by Janet Davis, entitled My Own Worst Enemy.  Janet is a spiritual mentor who focuses primarily on women's issues and growth in their relationship with the Lord.  Her books are very insightful and easy to read - always very rich in application to our lives. 

One of the issues that she explores is the difference between following Jesus out of a sense of duty versus following Jesus out of a passionate, all consuming love for Him - the difference between night and day!  We are so often taught to follow him methodically, ritualistically, out of a sense of duty, as if "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength" is a recipe we are following - 3 cups of heart, 1/2 cup of soul and a pinch of strength equals the exact right ingredients needed to bake up a nice warm batch of love of God!  It is dry and boring and something we will gladly postpone until whenever we get around to it.

Contrast that with so many pictures we see in the Word of God describing an extravagant display of unabashed, passionate love of God. Consider Mary breaking the alabaster jar to anoint Jesus with the precious oil she had saved drop by drop over her lifetime.

Mary doesn't tiptoe into the center of the Pharisees and ask if she might be able to put a drop of two of ointment on Jesus - but only if it's OK with them!  No - she runs to the Savior, weeping and making a scene which would embarrass most of us with her uninhibited display of love for Jesus.  She makes a royal mess of it all by breaking a beautiful, expensive jar and pouring the contents all over the head of this One she adores.  There is oil everywhere, broken pieces mixed in with her tears, because, of course, she cannot stop crying at the feet of Jesus.  She seems to be lost in the moment.  She doesn't even realize everyone is staring at her.  The religious leaders in the room are disdaining her reckless abandonment to the moment.  She is in love with her God.  She doesn't care who's watching.  She is out of her mind with love for this One she has found that is worth it all.  She is sold out to Him.  He owns her.  She belongs to Him.  Let everything else be lost.  She has found the Pearl of Great Price.  The Living, Breathing God of her desire.

Have you ever had such a moment of sold out love for God?  I did.  I remember the exact moment I was "born again" an overused term that often fails to capture the miracle of birth that takes place in a new believer's life. 

I had gone to visit a little church in the new neighborhood I was living in and "just happened" to be there at the end of a time of revival, when the Spirit was flowing unhindred by religious ritual.  I responded to an invitation to come to the altar for prayer.  I was one of many people who went to the altar that day.  The strange thing was, I had been raised in a denomination that never did this kind of thing, so it was brand new to me.  Not one to put myself on display, I did not plan on doing anything but praying quietly at the altar.  But, as I knelt to pray that day, the Spirit of the Lord fell on me with such power that I crumbled weeping uncontrollaby to the floor of the sanctuary.  In that moment, I know I had met my Saviour.  I could not stop crying.  The reality of my sin and my need for a Savior overwhelmed me.  I lost track of everyone around me and stayed at the altar long past the time that was "appropriate".  I finally looked up to see the Pastor kneeling beside me, calling to me, trying to bring me "back" from the edge I had apparently fallen over.  I have no idea how long I was weeping at that altar.  I didn't even care.  I had met my Savior and I didn't even want to come back.

From that day on, I have tried to follow Jesus.  I haven't always succeeded.  I am not a follower of His because I do it so well.  I am because He is faithful.  He holds onto me.  He sustains me.  He loves me.  With all my heart, I hope you find Him as I did.  Fall in love with Jesus.  You will never be the same...