Thursday, July 31, 2014

She Speaks 2014

     Earlier in the week, I returned from the She Speaks Conference in North Carolina hosted by Proverbs 31 ministries. It was quite a weekend. It began, as I have found most modern worship events to begin, with music and flashing lights. Since flashing lights and my migraines are not the very best of friends, I started my experience worshiping with head down and eyes closed. But the speakers... oh my. It was well worth the risk. God is doing some seriously powerful things in the lives of many of these ladies.

     Throughout the weekend, He also reaffirmed His specific, clear words to me using almost each and every speaker I heard. I had never heard of many of these names before, due in part to the fact that I am relatively oblivious to anything that does not directly enhance my study of the Word, my homeschooling efforts, or my to-date vain attempts to discern one species of sparrow from the next. In this case, I must say that some of these names did actually penetrate the dense curtain of my preoccupation for a change. God spoke directly through them and confirmed what He has already told me, and so their names are now etched on my heart as sisters that I will someday embrace as we rejoice in our Father's house. Perhaps I will even have those sparrows down pat by then.

     I began the weekend mostly overwhelmed by the sheer mass of lipsticked and high-heeled humanity. I shuffled around in my peasant skirt clutching my standard-issue P31 bag (which, by the way, thankfully saved me from walking about clutching a sheaf of file folders) and tried to look as if I had some idea of what everyone was talking about when they said, "platform" or "hashtag."  After the opening music, I settled in, for Lisa TerKeurst's opening message was on making room for God to set up divine appointments in our schedules. If you have read this meandering blog for any time at all, you will know that God has been, rather loudly and extremely patiently, giving me the same message--and that I have finally begun to hear him.

     Then there was Shaunti Feldhahn speaking on the dire importance of truth and fact checking because it is the Truth that will set people free. Amen! And Christine Caine, a lady I had never heard of from Austrailia, saved me after a day of classes that mainly reminded me of how little I really know about anything but the writing part of the writing industry by reminding us all that if God has called us, He will find us and we do not have to "help" Him at all via self promotion or what-have-you. Which is a relief to me, by the way, since I still at this point did not know what a platform was nor how I was to go about having one. Or standing on one. Or whatever it is that one does with one.

     Suffice to say that I was renewed and encouraged in surprising ways. In a spiritual manner, I was floored to see that the prayers myself and a couple of friends have been sending up for revival are being answered at least in the hearts of some, and that God is working in huge ways in many places that I am not often privileged to see. What an honor that He even allowed me a glimpse! I was also equipped by one Suzie Eller whose class on freelancing made me think, "This I can actually do! Hurrah!" She gave such incredible information and was very helpful. I had an unexpectedly pleasant meeting with a publisher in which we nearly forgot to talk about my book idea (which is not really ready for much exposure at any rate) but instead just enjoyed a little woman-to-woman chat.

     All in all, it was a very exciting and encouraging weekend. God showed up in big ways and honestly gave me the same message He has been giving me for years: Teach my children diligently and keep writing for His glory (trying all the time to put down my pride, of course). I left feeling more than ever the urgency and thrill of my call in Christ, and encouraged that there may be some things I can do a little differently just to keep the old quill sharp. So in that, there may be some changes here in the future. I may--or I may not--revamp this little online journal of mine. I certainly will be working hard on getting the new school year under way for the next week or two. And maybe, just maybe, I will start sending out some feelers and see what kind of feedback I get. If the time is right, if I am faithful to work, and my heart is not too full of ambition, who knows what God will do?

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. 
Proverbs 3:5-7

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. Hebrews 11:8-10
     I don't know about you, but if I am entirely honest, I am not sure what I would do in Abraham's position. God spoke to him and told him to leave his homeland, his father's family, and everything he knew to go... where? Abraham (or Abram as he was actually called at the time) was not sure. God didn't say where; He just said that He would show him. Abraham obeyed, and so we see his name many times in the "Hall of Faith" chapter of Hebrews. He is also called "the father of all who believe," meaning that he is our father in faith if we, too, have faith. 
     It occurs to me as I read through this chapter of Hebrews and through Romans 4 that it was no small faith that Abraham showed with that first act of obedience. Almost everyone else had something to fall back on, some story of the faithfulness of God in the lives of those going before. Noah, perhaps, was the exception, for he also obeyed a strange command, believing God against every shred of evidence that his senses could supply that the building of an enormous boat was simple foolishness. He built anyway, and he saw the reason why later. Abraham also stepped out in faith--literally--following the prompting of God to travel around until God told him, in essence, "Here, right here is the land that I will give to your descendants, who by the way will be exceedingly numerous."  Abraham saw the fulfillment of the promised son even after he and Sarah were long past the age of childbearing. But Abraham did not see the Promised Land owned by anyone of his own blood. He died owning only the tomb he and his wife were buried in. It just struck me that there is something here of dying to the material promise to see the fulfillment of a promise that extends beyond this life! 
     That is, however, not my point. My point is that Abraham's faith for that first act must have been a deeper faith than any I could even begin to know. I have a privilege he did not. I can read and re-read the story of his life, see how God provided a son, descendants, eventually fulfilling the promise of a land belonging to his people. Furthermore, I can see how God sent the flood and saved the faithful, how He delivered his children from bondage in Egypt, how He parted the Red Sea to make a way for them. I can see how He blessed the reigns of the faithful kings and sent punishment for rebellion. I can see how He orchestrated events so that His son would enter the world at the perfect time and the perfect climate for the Gospel to spread once the work was done. When I read of the crucifixion, I already know the end and so I can see the joy that the despairing disciples could not. I can read and read and read of His faithfulness through the ages, His wonders, and His miraculous works. Surely this would give me a stronger, more vibrant faith than Abraham? Surely this being able to see what is behind would give me courage to trust in what lies ahead? 
     I only wish it did. I have all of these incredible documentations of His power and might at my fingertips, and I find that when it comes time for me to obey, I hesitate. I question if I really heard from God or if it was just my imagination. I doubt, I worry, I ponder, I delay.  I am more like Moses, wondering if perhaps He might send someone else, I guess. I do not have the faith of my father, Abraham. But oh, how I long for it.

     Oh my Lord! Please give me great faith, faith that does not need to see or hear Your wonders to obey. I have a puny faith, but I know that You are the giver of all good gifts. I ask that You will increase my faith, not must marginally but in leaps and bounds so that it takes my breath away. Help  me to believe You completely and without hesitation or doubt. Help me to find that You are good because I have already walked out in obedience to Your call. Give me the clarity to understand when I hear from You, the courage to obey, and the faith to follow You no matter where You lead me or what else is going on around me. This is not my country, Lord. Help me not to get too wrapped up in it but to remember that You have called me out of this world, and I sojourn here in temporary housing until that day that You call me to my permanent home with You. Father, I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief! Amen. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

A Contrary Word

And he cried to the man of God who came from Judah, "Thus says the LORD, 'Because you have disobeyed the word of the LORD and have not kept the command that the LORD your God commanded you, but have come back and have eaten bread and drunk water in the place of which he said to you, "Eat no bread and drink no water," your body shall not come to the tomb of your fathers.'"
(1Kings 13:21-22)

     I encourage you to read the entire chapter of 1 Kings 13 today to gain context on my thoughts here. For convenience, it is linked at the top of the page. I have to say that this is one of those passages in the Bible that has always disturbed me. I have always wondered why the prophet of Bethel would deceive the man of God from Judah and also why the man of God was punished by death when he listened to the prophet's words. I still have no understanding of the first question, and perhaps I never will. Why do any of us lie, cheat, steal, often even in the midst of serving God? It is part of the human condition, a part of the curse of sin that corrupts even our best intentions. The answer to the first question likely lies in that fact somewhere.

     Today, however, it is the second question that I want to discuss. Why was the man of God from Judah so severely punished for sharing the prophet's food when he believed the lie? After all, he seemed to be taken in by the prophet's words and was likely trying to be agreeable, accepting an offer of fellowship and hospitality. To my human logic, that does not seem like such a bad thing at all. However, in my most recent reading of this passage, God has given me insight on this in a very personal way because it is what He has been showing me about myself.

     The plain fact is that the unnamed man of God was punished for believing the words of the prophet over the words of God Himself. The first guy--let's call him Prophet One-- had heard from God, but he took the bait when the other guy -- Prophet Two-- claimed that God had given him a contrary word.The whole story has always troubled me, but I saw it with different eyes today. You see, God has recently shown me that I have the same tendencies as Prophet One. I, too, will clearly understand what God is calling me to do, but sometimes I, too, will doubt. I will listen to others who say they have been praying and think that God would have me do this or that instead of standing firm in what I know He has directly told me--and they may well have been, for all I know. I do not believe ill intentions of anyone in these cases. It's just that ultimately I will not answer to people, but to my King. However, the sad fact is, sometimes my desire to please people trumps my desire to please God.

     Often I do not do this with a rebellious spirit but with a sense of confusion, uncertain that perhaps I was really listening. Rather than having confidence that the Spirit of God clearly communicated His will to me, I allow doubt to be planted and grow. Sometimes, I suppose, I think that maybe others have heard Him better than me. Sometimes, though, the reality is that I do not trust enough in God to believe that He can make His will clear to me without  help from anyone else. It looks like, to me, that I am uncertain about myself. The reality, however, is that I am uncertain about my God's ability communicate. It is that old beast, Unbelief, again raising its foul head. When I read about Prophet One,  I see that I, too, have been deceived and by my own heart lead astray. 

     I am so thankful that God has shown me this tendency in myself. I have been asking Him to illuminate the dark areas, the hidden sins and the areas of disobedience that I have overlooked, and He is of course faithful to do so. Thank You, Lord, that You do not allow me to continue comfortably in unbelief! But more still, I am thankful that I have the opportunity to repent and turn away from this other area of unbelief, giving it over and making of it an opportunity to choose to trust and obey my Lord one layer deeper. I am thankful for my Savior, my Advocate and the great High Priest who stands before the Throne of Grace in intercession for my childish and wayward heart.

     God sent to me a Lion as well. He tore me, but He did not slay me utterly. He merely caused the pain of my sin to be felt and He stood over my prostrate form as I lay, in yet another thing dying to myself. But this Lion has tasted death already and overcome it. This Lion of Judah, my Savior and King, will not leave me broken and useless. In His power, I am dying daily, but I also am being remade, constantly raised from the dead and alive to God in Christ. It is in Him and for His glory that these many small deaths must be accomplished, for in each new area that I learn to reject sin, I learn to die to my flesh and walk more and more in the true Life of the Spirit of God. May it be to His glory that I will become less and less a creature of this world and more and more a new creation in Christ, prepared and perfected for His great glory! Praise be to God who makes all things new in His Christ!!

I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day! What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die." Do not be deceived: "Bad company ruins good morals." Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.
(1Co 15:31-34)