Wednesday, February 28, 2007

God is Love...and it is done.

For God so loved the world that He gave...All this is from God...In this the love of God was made manifest among us, ...In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His son for us. (from today's Daily Light)

God didn't wait for us to love Him or see our need for Him; He didn't wait for some loving spark to ignite our heart and turn it towards Him; He didn't wait for some flicker of interest in us toward Him to draw us to His love; He didn't even wait for us to demonstrate any ability to abide any of His law; He first loved us and gave. He first loved us in our sin and disinterest and self-seeking and disobedience and He sent His Son. He sent His Spirit. He set forth a plan to rescue us and pursued us and won us, when there was "no spark of loving interest in our hearts." He simply loves us because He loves us...because He is love. He is for us because He loves us, not because we've somehow earned His favor. If this was true in the past, it is true today. He loves us and is for us today...whatever the need. like the great salvation in which we stand, the provision for whatever our need is now has already been made. his love has already looked down and planned a way. He has gone before, prepared the course, fought the fight, won it, and now leads us along the way by His righteous right hand. It is done, taken care of, secure. This was true before, is true today, and will be true tomorrow. Before we think to ask or think we know what we need God's love sees, has planned, and has lovingly done whatever it is that will be best and bring Him glory.

My Life is but a weaving

Between my Lord and me;
I cannot choose the colors
He worketh steadily.

Oft times He weaveth sorrow

And I, in foolish pride,
Forget He sees the upper,
And I the under side.

Not til the loom is silent

And the shuttles cease to fly,
Shall God unroll the canvas
And explain the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful

In the Weaver's skillful hand,
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned.

He knows, He loves, He cares,

Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives His very best to those
Who chose to walk with Him. -- Grant Colfax Tullar

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Mary and Martha

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me." But the Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things,but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her." (Luke 10:38-42)

This passage of scripture has always puzzled me. "Martha was distracted with much serving." Aren't we supposed to serve? Did the Lord expect her to welcome him and his followers into their home and not be hospitable? Shouldn't she have expected her sister to help her prepare for their guests? Wasn't it reasonable for Martha to see Mary's choice as selfish and lazy? Isn't doing our duty important to God and equally as honoring to Him as time in prayer and devotion?

Certainly, there is evidence of this in scripture. In the Old Testament we are given an ouline of our duty to God, to each other and there are even provisions made for family members to fulfill the duty left undone or unfinished by others who have died. There are more scriptures about what we do by way of duty than what we do alone in quiet devotion, prayer and bible study. The gist is, we are to live out in our homes, with family members and friends, in service to the church and the needy what we get from God when we are alone with Him.

So why chastise Martha?

I've heard many teachings on this subject and often the lesson we are told to gleen is that we are prone to do too much doing and not enough sitting quietly at the feet of Jesus. This admonition is good and right and true...I just don't think it tells the whole story. We cannot always be (physically) sitting quietly at the feet of Jesus. There is work to be done, others to serve, duties to be performed. I do not see this passage as an admonition to shirk these in favor of the more "spiritual" acts of worship and devotion. I believe the rest of scripture bears out the idea that the faithful carrying out of our duties and responsibilities is important to the Lord. Truly, in God, there is no separation between Spiritual and Natural. Romans 12:1 tells us to present our bodies as living sacrifices, which is our spiritual worship. Our bodies were made to work. We are daily surrounded by people who are in need, and live and work in places that need our bodies to be about the business of the day. It is our spiritual worship to present our bodies to the Lord in doing these tasks. It is also our spiritual worship to present our bodies to God in setting aside time daily to be alone with Him. Both are required. Both are Spiritual.

Take the Proverbs 31 woman, The Woman Who Fears the Lord, for example:

An excellent wife who can find?She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar. She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens. She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong. She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night. She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle. She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet. She makes bed coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple. Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant. Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: "Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all." Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.

This is one busy woman! Far busier than most of us, I would imagine. We don't have to tend to fields, or weave cloth and make clothing, or manage a staff of servants or take our wares to market...on top of cooking and cleaning; caring for and teaching children. And this very busy, very duty-FULL woman is called "excellent", "a woman who fears the Lord", "greatly praised", and "blessed" while Martha is scolded publically and for all time. So again I ask...why?

I think Jesus' response to her holds the key to the real point of contention. "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her." Notice He said "You are anxious and troubled about many things." In that moment, their time together was supposed to be about the what the Lord was teaching, yet Martha was anxious and troubled about other things...about the readiness of the house, the meal, perhaps available seating for their guests (poor Mary was sitting on the floor, if you remember). In His rebuke, the Lord spoke of her heart's attitude, indicating to me that her busyness was not about serving and honoring Him, but something else. What also seems glaringly obvious to me is this: had she been prepared before her guests arrived, she could have done the one thing necessary once the Lord was there.

How many times has this happened to you: You've been busy with other things, you've perhaps been tired or downright lazy and you get to the end of the week and things have piled up and you miss church to catch up? Or you have an event on the weekend and procrastinate all week and wind up spending most of the fellowship time finishing the cooking or tracking down plates or apologizing for certain things being in disarray? Could this be what led up to Martha being "anxious and troubled"? Could she have forsaken her duty and tried to make up for it (perhaps overcompensating in her preparation) at the expense of fellowship with the Lord...dishonoring Him on two counts?

The Proverbs 31 woman was a busy woman, but it seems to me that her faithfulness to God both in her quiet time and her duty is what allowed her to be so busy and still be held up as an example. Her private devotion to the Lord was the foundation upon which her home was built and it was also lived out in faithfully and dutifully serving her husband and family. There was no shirking of one to accomplish the other. She was "Mary" both in the quiet times which are not outlined in this passage AND in the activities that are. She was Mary in her stillness and in her busyness, because her heart was set on worshipping and honoring the Lord.

Friday, February 16, 2007


Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:29-30)

You turned water into wine - how extraordinary
Gave sight to the blind - and still I carry
My own load when you told me
To take your yoke ‘cause yours is easy. (From "Big Enough" by Ayeisha Woods)

I've been listening to "Big Enough" almost non-stop since discovering it yesterday. On the way home from work this one section of the first verse jumped out and smacked me upside the head (which was much needed) and I've just been chewing on it since. The verse she references is familiar. Most people who know anything about scripture at least know of this verse. It is oft quoted. I've quoted it myself, but I never thought about it the way I thought about it yesterday and am thinking about it now.

Take my yoke upon you...and still I carry my own load.

The Lord tells us to take HIS yoke upon us, for it is easy. The big "revelation" that came to me yesterday was this: His yoke is easy. Our yoke is not. When things are hard and burdensome and make us weary, it is very likely because we are carrying our yoke, not His because He says His is easy and light.

You may be thinking "DUH!", and probably rightfully so...but this was fresh perspective to me yesterday. I think I've just always thought that most of the Christian walk is just hard (if you're doing it "right" ha!), and should be, and we just have to bear that. What I didn't think was that the reason it is that way for a great many people, including myself, is because we spend far too much time putting our own yokes on, and hefting them around instead of the Lord's yoke.

There is evidence of this truth in my life. I look at some of the biggest changes the Lord has made in my life and, honestly, they were easy. He spoke, I stepped out in obedience, and step by step (with His yoke upon my shoulders) I cultivated spiritual disciplines, conquered sin, and saw my character change. It wasn't one fell swoop. I didn't leap from no time with the Lord to 2 hours in one day. I didn't change how I handled food overnight. The Lord prepared, laid the foundation, and gave direction; I, in turn, submitted and obeyed and walked in His direction. All of God. All of the same step at a time.

Isn't it kind of God that He doesn't expect us to go from Saul to Paul all at once? Isn't it equally kind that He bears with us when we put that expectation (or yoke) upon ourselves? In those moments He remains steadfast and lovingly says the words He said so long ago...Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Big Enough

I don't wanna box you in
You've been doing big things since the world began
Sometimes I just don't understand that you're big enough
But you're big enough, Jesus

Big things.
They scare me.
I look at them and I look at me and I think, "No way. Not gonna happen. What is now will be tomorrow. Don't even think about things changing. Don't want it. Don't hope for it, you'll only be disappointed."

Nice, huh?

I think "my things" always look big to me, if for no other reason than they are mine. Other's things (which may, in fact be bigger) don't seem as big. For them, I can be full of hope and encouragement and faith. But for my stuff? It's a struggle. Why? I am small and weak. That is truth. I am powerless. But (yay) that realization is not the end of things. It only tells me what I'm thinking about me and that doesn't tell me the whole story, or much of nothin', actually.

So what gives?

Yesterday, I read the story of a young, engaged couple. One currently lies in a hospital bed in a coma. The other, who came to Christ through the friendship of the other, sits at the bedside, praying and hoping for some really big things...things over which she is equally powerless...which are way bigger than mine. When things get hard, this faithful soul asks herself a question her beloved often asked her: "What are you believing about God right now?"

That is a great question!

Things do tend to seem biggest when I am looking at my circumstances through the lens of self. This tends to have a microscopic effect, making small issues seem very large. One upward glance at God, knowing what I know of Him from scripture, has a telescopic effect, making He who is VERY LARGE near enough to see. And my small problems shrink rapidly.

No matter what we look like or think or feel or understand, He IS who He is, who He was, who He's always been. That is more true than anything that goes on in us or around us or happens to us. Living in that is just a matter of what we choose to look on: us/our circumstances through a microscope or God through the telescope of His Word? And, whether we choose to think about what we believe about us or what we know about God.

I don't wanna box you in
You've been doing big things since the world began
Sometimes I just don't understand that you're big enough
But you're big enough, Jesus (From "Big Enough" - Ayiesha Woods)

Thursday, February 8, 2007


You are the salt of the earth... (Matthew 5:13)

I eat sausage for breakfast every morning. It's what I do. I'm just that much of a creature of habit. But I'm not above "spicing" things up a bit sometimes. :) Occassionally, I'll add cheese, or half the sausage and scramble an egg. Nothing big, just a little change now and then. Today, I decided to sprinkle some Tony Chachere's on my sausage. So, I sprinkled away and...whoa...Tony's is some salty! The second sprinkle was considerably less than the first and it was perfect. Just enough to make it different. The moral of the story? A little salt goes a long way!!

Which made me think of the verse above... I think so often, when we think of doing something for people, doing something for God or as unto God, we think BIG. We think it has to be a well-thought out sit down or a grand gesture or huge sacrifice. But we are called salt and I think there is a reason for that.

Salt is in everything. We eat it all day long. It's cooked in our food, we sprinkle it on our food...sparingly, but consistently...a little bit at a time. It seems to me that this applies to our walks and our relationships. We learn the word bit by bit, precept upon precept. We walk in obedience one step at a time. We cultivate friendships through, sometimes short but consistent times together. It is often all we can give...a few minutes here, a few minutes there. But, like salt, it has its effect just the same. And, I believe God honors our little bits here and there and uses them to do the big and great things only He can.

Monday, February 5, 2007

"My" Boaz

I've always loved the Book of Ruth. It was the first book of the Bible I read straight through, a feat accomplished just before I surrendered my life to the Lord. Since that reading, and through various teachings on this little gem of the Old Testament (Mark Dever, John Piper, Alistair Begg) it's become sort of a benchmark for me; what I hope to be as a woman and what I hope for in the man the Lord would bring into my life. I try not to hold too tightly to my notions or the idealized version of Boaz in my head, but more to the general character of the man.

Last year, I met a Boaz. Our first meeting wasn't in a barley field, nor was it filled with kind, exhorting, caring words. We each shyly said "Hello", but a switch in me got flipped (which also, coincidentally stopped my breathing momentarily) this was new and different. I blew it off as simply an intense reaction to a really good pair of shoulders and left it at that. A few months later, there was more contact via e-mail. This time the words were kind and exhorting and caring. I needed to know this man...but how? The answer came, again from outside sources/circumstances, which requested my presence at the office in which this "Boaz" worked. As it happened, I flew up on Valentine's Day. When I saw him for the second time on this symbolic day, my lungs once again momentarily took a break...and we were both wearing red sweaters. ( Awww. ) During the course of my visit, we got to spend some time talking. It was good...really good. I left hoping I'd hear from him again.

A few weeks later, the Lord led me to send out something related to prayer for Hurricane Katrina recovery. As I was sending it, it occurred to me that I should include him on the list. I did. He responded the same day, at length, commenting on what I'd send and thanking me for it. His response was thoughtful, Christ-centered, and kind.

Over the course of the next few months, our correspondence continued and widened in subject from Katrina issues to prayer to holiness and our respective churches. As they unfolded, I found more and more reason to think him a Boaz and more and more similarities between us in terms of priorities and theology. It didn't take long, and I can't really pinpoint the moment, but after a while I came to realize that I was in love. I ached. I yearned. I felt deeply and cared for him in a way that was alltogether new to me.

And I was scared.

Our conversation had been about the Lord, primarily. He'd done nothing, said nothing to indicate that he was interested in anything more than this type of discussion...yet here I was...In Love. I didn't know what to do with this...but I knew it wasn't going away anytime soon.

It's now been almost a year since our first face to face conversation...since our friendship really began...and things are no different. I still regard him as a Boaz. I still hope to be his Ruth. And I still see no reason to think that I will be.

In the beginning, I prayed faithfully for him, about him, for help with my heart, for God's will to be done and discernment for each of us. But then, it just got hard. Painful. Disappointing. So...well...I didn't pray as much.

What the Lord showed me was that, when He says "hope does not disappoint" He means it. Providing the hope is properly placed. I was "hoping" that all my prayin' would prompt some sort of change or action in my friend and make him my Boaz. I didn't see that, so I became discouraged and sorta gave up. But my hope is meant to be in God and His goodness and kindness and sovereignty. He says He is for me. He says He works all things together for my good. He says we plan our way and He directs our steps. So, more of the same from my friend was God's idea of Good. And it needed to be mine, too.

I struggled with that one. But then, I struggle with many things I don't understand and I always have to come back to this reality: "I'm not God!" I can't see everything. I can't know what would be best for me, much less me and any other person. But I can know what God tells me is true and that it is true regardless of my circumstances.

Losing sight of this, though, means misplaced hope and failure to do the one thing we can always do even when we feel we can do nothing else...and that is pray.

So, I begin again to pray, trying to do so as unselfishly as possible. I love this man and I want to be with him, but, because I love Him, I want God's best for him. That might not include me at all and, if that is the case, I need to see it as a mercy for both of us and rejoice with my friend and my brother when God's actual plan unfolds.

The thought of that is not an easy one to swallow. So I hold it up to the Lord, my burden bearer, and hope when and if the time comes to swallow it, He will have made it smaller than it seems today. I trust that He will...and that He will do beyond all I could think or imagine for me and my Boaz, whomever He turns out to be.

Too many thoughts

I've been wanting to update and share some of what the Lord has been doing and saying...but I just don't even know where to start.

Nothing much has changed: I'm still fighting to lose the other half of the weight I need to, my family situation is still challenging, my "Boaz" seems to be choosing another "Ruth" and I seem to be too anxious about it all. The last part is what the Lord has chosen to take issue with...and rightfully so. But, in so doing, He has exposed many heart issues...deep, hidden things and strains of thought that are just ingrained in the fabric of who I am, so much so that they merely seem like fact or logic or nature. Thus, it is difficult to imagine being or thinking or feeling another way. I feel this war of the flesh, literally...physically. But, the Lord is speaking very specifically and consistently which gives me hope that change ... and relief and coming. I hope it's soon!

I will share some of what He's been saying once I figure out where to begin, but the bottom line of all of it is this: God is for me. He orders my steps. He has gone before. He calls where I am, right here, right now, Good. In acceptance (of these truths and His provision today) lieth peace.