Friday, April 30, 2010

He Calls from the Shore...

It’s been a while since I’ve written. This is the busy time of year for my work and in the meantime I’ve been trying to review the text of my book so that it can have the final changes made and go to print. I’m really excited about that because it’s been a pretty big project.

Also, a sale is pending on our house and a world of opportunity is about to open to us. Not to mention the garage sale that I’m trying to organize. Needless to say life has been a little stressful but exciting at the same time. Change can be a challenge but it is good and we feel empowered to move on. Ask me if I’m still empowered three months from now :)

My thoughts are turning to Jesus now and how he spoke to his disciples on countless occasions of the “change” that was coming but they didn’t understand. When he died and didn’t fulfill their expectations as a reigning, conquering king, they went back to the only thing they knew.

In John 21:3 Peter says, “I’m going out to fish…” I wonder if he was thinking that would be a good way to clear his head. Sometimes when I’m trying to hear from the Lord or I have a burden on my heart I will do something menial to clear and calm my mind so I can hear him better. Or maybe he was sulking; Peter must have had the weight of the world on his shoulders knowing how he had betrayed the Lord.

I must say that I absolutely adore this story. It shows the heart of Jesus for his kids as he calls to them from the shore in John 21:5. “Friends…” he calls them. He knew their hearts. He is so gracious to them even knowing how they had completely deserted him in his time of need. There is no condemnation with him, only love for them.

Then Peter doesn’t waste any time jumping out of the boat when he realizes it is Jesus…he just had to make things right and here was his chance. To top it all off, Jesus blesses them with a huge haul of fish and fixes them breakfast! What a heart of love, what poise and grace considering the situation. Jesus then breaks the ice with Peter. I absolutely love the way the Lord convicts us when we’ve offended him. He is so gentle and kind but firm; he is a wonderful, faithful friend.

Jesus restores Peter expressing complete forgiveness and then gives him a mandate. He tells Peter to show his love, by feeding and caring for his sheep. So many times when we have blown it we think we could never do anything for God especially not teaching or speaking to anyone about his word. But when Jesus forgives us, it is as if the sin never happened and he puts us right back on track.

“Follow me!” Jesus adds in John 21:19. This is my encouragement to you today if you have fallen…get up, come to Jesus, repent and be restored. We haven’t any time to sulk and go back to our old ways of doing things. It’s time to rise, follow him and he will show us what to do because change is coming!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Precious Passover

Last night our family celebrated a Passover Seder for Christians. We had a blast! I was amazed at how Atlee enjoyed the 2 and a half hour service (his sister was with her boyfriend bowling, I had forgotten I told her the day before she could go which was a bummer). I found the Haggadah (telling) online and decided to give it a try. I’m sure that it wasn’t totally kosher but we did our best. We had fun working through it as a family.

We were amazed at how even though it was basically a Jewish Seder, Christ was everywhere! We were touched by the way the Jewish ceremony seemed to grieve the Egyptians loss of life so that they could go free. I was also impressed by their prayers for all of God’s children from many nations to be set free from their bondage.

The lighting of the candles was special for me as it represented the presence of God with us. It was good to remember the story of Exodus 12-14 and how God saved them at that time. We were also blessed by the new depth that was brought to us by learning about these customs and how they so beautifully intertwine with our beliefs.

It truly brought to us a new understanding of our Communion celebration. It made us conscience of our sin and ridding ourselves of it. . We drank deeply of the four cups: Sanctification/Freedom, Deliverance, Redemption and Thanksgiving all the while thinking about our Lord and what he has done for us.

Eating the matzah and thinking as they do not only about our deliverance from the slavery of sin but the expectation of what is to come was also very meaningful.

Shopping for our meal was a challenge and if I were to do it again, which we very well may, Lord willing, I would start a day or so in advance. The matzah (unleavened bread) was hard for me to find but apparently I went to the wrong stores so we had to use other cracker things with no yeast. The leg of lamb I found was huge and expensive so we went with the chicken option which was very good.

I loved how the Seder or order of the meal slowed it down and gave us a chance to spend quality time around the table together which is a lost practice in our society. We actually enjoyed our food as we talked about the deeper meanings of each phase of the Seder.

At one part we said together, “Blessed is he who has come in the Name of the Lord” from Ps 118:26, Matt. 21:9, 23:39, Mark 11:9 and other places with joy in our heart knowing that our Messiah has come and will return again!

I also liked how each member of the family had a part to do making it special for everyone. It was good for us to remember that this was a fun family time and we had a new experience that may become a lasting tradition.

While we didn’t have head coverings or the right matzah, food, linens and dishes; all in all it was a special time between God and us.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Niagra! April Fools :)

This morning I awoke to my husband’s alarm clock blaring Steven Curtis Chapman singing… “The rivers deep, the rivers wide, the river’s water is alive…so sink or swim I’m divin’ in.” Then my hubby rolled over and shut it off and a picture popped in my mind of me hanging onto a root, just about to go over Niagra Falls.
No wonder I’m tired!

I knew I was in God's river and the "movie" I was viewing was about what he wants to do in my life and that I needed to let go but I just couldn’t …I was afraid. “What is this root?” I asked the Father, “and why can’t I let go?” Just then Jesus was with me in the river and he gave me perspective…it wasn’t Niagra at all, but just a dip in the river…I felt like a fool.

The root was wrapped tightly around my arm and wrist and Jesus bravely dove into the water to cut it’s tentacles from my arm. He came back up and told me I was free and all I had to do was unwrap it from my wrist. I did so and it came off easier than expected. The root seemed to have a deep hold on me at first but then I realized with Jesus’ help it was a breeze to remove…the root was self-pity and it was holding me back....

I found new strength and courage as I clung to Jesus and we floated down the river. He’s taking me into new water where I am becoming aware of how much he is my only source. Fear and self preservation (which is what self-pity really is) had made the situation look larger than it was but Jesus put things into perspective…nothing is too big for him …he is the Overcomer!

Ezekiel 47:3-12 came to mind where Ezekiel is led into the river that flows from the temple. First he is ankle deep, then knee deep, then up to his waist and finally he is swimming in a river that no one can cross. Then he is led back to the bank of the river. Jesus leads us like this.

Each time Ezekiel is led deeper into the water a “man” is taking measurements. First comes the measurement and then Ezekiel is led deeper. This is how our walk with the Lord is…Jesus measures off our path leading us so far to test us or see if we “measure up” and then if we are ready and willing he takes us to a deeper level. Deeper we go into the pure water that flows from his throne nourishing everything within it and along its banks.

Then this water flows into the salt sea (verse 8) and quenches its thirst with fresh waters causing huge explosions of life to come forth from it… “Swarms of living creatures…large numbers of fish” (verse 9). Where the water flows … “everything will live….” (Again in verse 9).
Life is in the flow but where the water is stalled in the marshes and swamps the water is left salty (see verse 11). Stay in the flow. If life seems to have left you stuck in the mud and thirsty, maybe you have wandered into the swamp!

The river causes the trees along both sides to be strong and hardy, and they bear fruit like clockwork. This fruit is for food and the leaves of the trees are for healing. (Eze 47:12) God provides everything we need and causes us to grow and be healed so we can give to others.
This river is our dwelling place where “…God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6) and we are supplied by the river or power of God with “… everything we need for life and godliness…” (2Peter 1:3).

As I shed the root and clung to the Rock (Jesus), I had new enthusiasm for what the flow of the river would bring and as long as Jesus is with me…I have nothing to fear. He will keep me… “Because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.” (2 Timothy 1:12) He is my life-preserver!