Sick of IT!

Numbers 11:18-20

18 “And say to the people, ‘Purify yourselves, for tomorrow you will have meat to eat. You were whining, and the Lord heard you when you cried, “Oh, for some meat! We were better off in Egypt!” Now the Lord will give you meat, and you will have to eat it. 19 And it won’t be for just a day or two, or for five or ten or even twenty. 20 You will eat it for a whole month until you gag and are sick of it. For you have rejected the Lord, who is here among you, and you have whined to him, saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt?”’”

I’m really good at whining. And when I am “sick of it” (whatever IT is) I can cry and cry and cry some more to the Lord- and others.

The current IT has kept me in the desert for several years. The scorching heat and lack of water began when my husband started working for a pharmaceutical company that required frequent travel. Having been through a year of unemployment 5 years ago, we are extremely grateful to have a steady income flowing into our bank account, but the adjustment of being separated has been excruciating at times. And time hasn’t made it easier. It’s just become an uncomfortable routine.

You’d think after a few years of this lifestyle I’d quit whining. Yeah, not so much. My mouth continues to pour out blessings and curses. This is not right.

James 3:10

10 And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!

Thank you Lord for this job.

Thank you for a husband that works long, hard hours to provide for our family.

Thank you God for giving me the strength to train & teach our 4 children.

Thank you Father for the travel rewards our entire family benefits from as we explore Your world.

 

GOD. How much longer are we going to have to live like this?!

Why can’t my husband work close to home like other husbands?!

Why do I have to manage the house and kids by myself?!

Oh for some meat. We were better off in Egypt.

 

Uh….no we weren’t.

The truth is: God brought us out of Egypt. Not only did He deliver us financially- He removed us from the bonds of slavery in many areas of our life during that season of unemployment. He proved Himself to be our El-Shaddai, Jehovah-Jireh, Jehovah-Shamah.

Still, my flesh cries out for more. He’s sending manna & quail (enough to make me gag), but I’m anxious to reach the Promised Land. I’m such a stubborn Israelite.

Yet even in my rebellion, He still loves me.

IMG_4461This morning, as I sat down in the tent of meeting I turned to the bookmarked page in our chronological bible and stared at the page. Silently I whined “I’m soooooo sick of reading about Moses and the Israelites.” As the words from Numbers 11 filled my head, my eyes filled with tears and my soul felt the pang of conviction. I didn’t need to ask, but I did anyway, “Lord, I’ve been whining, haven’t, I?”

Without rejection, without condemnation, my Jehovah- Rohi gently rebuked me and called me back into the shelter of His wings (Psalm 91), beckoning me to trust Him, again..….to trust Him in the midst of the scorching heat of the desert.

So with new mercy today, I will.

Isaiah 41:18

18 I will open up rivers for them on the high plateaus.
 I will give them fountains of water in the valleys.
 I will fill the desert with pools of water.
 Rivers fed by springs will flow across the parched ground.

Foundation

Matthew 7:24-27

24 “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. 25 Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. 26 But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. 27 When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”

For the last few years, we’ve (by that, I mean, my husband!) been repairing cracks in the fireplace and front porch of our home. As the problem persisted, however, we eventually hired a contractor to repair and re-cement the fractured bricks. IMG_4737

Last month, after much prayer and waiting, we decided to go ahead with some other household projects we had been delaying. One of which, was a full kitchen remodel. Our house was built in the 1980’s and the décor and design isn’t necessarily our style. We’ve done numerous upgrades and cosmetic changes to every room of our colonial style home, but I’ve been HGTV-dreaming of bringing our kitchen (aka: my workplace) into the 21st century for 8 years! With sketches and designs in hand, I called our contractor to begin the task of getting estimates. Upon his recommendation, we also decided to call a structural engineer to see if he could fix the chimney and front steps at the same time. I was NOT prepared for what he had to say, after he inspected our property. “Um, ma’am…the front steps and chimney are cracked and settling, but that isn’t the real problem. Your foundation has sunk 1-2 inches and will continue to drop. You can choose not to repair the issue, but eventually, it will pull so far away from the original foundation that it may bring the living room, upstairs bedroom, chimney and front steps crashing down.”

What the what?!?!

If that wasn’t enough of a punch in the gut, the estimate for repairing it WAS.

Dream kitchen budget = $0.00

Foundation repairs = $      (a few more zeros…. and other numbers)

Homeownership. Isn’t it fun?!

In the coming weeks, a team of engineers will descend upon our property in order to drill steel pipes past the sandy soil in our front yard (we live in the Sandhills of NC) until they hit bedrock. Once the jacks are literally cemented into the ground, they will attempt to lift our house back to its original foundation.

During the first several years of our marriage, Doug and I also made some cosmetic and design changes to our relationship. For the short term, they seemed to work- and look good from the outside…but eventually, issues began to resurface and show major cracks in our foundation. What we failed to realize was: our lives- and our marriage was not built on solid rock. And when the rains, floods and winds of sin, neglect and unforgiveness hit, they began to destroy our home.

Thankfully, however, we eventually chose to surrender to the Master Structural Engineer and through the help of a few contractors, we were able to see the cracks, drill down to bedrock, install pillars of Truth and begin to restore our relationship to His original plan. Was it costly? Yep. Moving out of sinking sand not only affected our hearts, minds and souls- it also affected our bank account. But believe me when I tell you- it was completely worth it (let’s hope I say the same thing when I write that check out to the engineers!).

Wait

Isaiah 30:18-21

18 So the Lord must wait for you to come to him
    so he can show you his love and compassion.
For the Lord is a faithful God.
    Blessed are those who wait for his help.

19 O people of Zion, who live in Jerusalem,
  you will weep no more.
He will be gracious if you ask for help.
    He will surely respond to the sound of your cries.

20 Though the Lord gave you adversity for food
  and suffering for drink,
he will still be with you to teach you.
    You will see your teacher with your own eyes.

21 Your own ears will hear him.
  Right behind you a voice will say,
“This is the way you should go,”
    whether to the right or to the left.

I will be the first to admit; I am not a very patient person. Time is often my enemy. I hate to waste it and I hate not knowing if what I’m doing with it is advantageous – or not.

Therefore, I am certain that my current wait time is another opportunity for the Lord to teach me His ways. Some days I’m an honor student, eager to hear His instruction and complete my assignments. Other days I’m a rebellious schoolgirl who would prefer to skip class and do what I want to do!

IMG_6013I, like many, have a dream. Mine is of a home, large enough for our family, our school and our ministry, with lots of land and moving water.

When Doug was laid off in 2010, I assumed the dream was dead. When he started contract work the next year, I began to hope again. When a permanent job offer came along the following year I began daydreaming about all the ways I, like Disney, could make all my dreams come true! After I devised a plan, I tried to convince Doug to buy into it- and when he didn’t immediately comply I began talking with our children about it! Control Freak? Ehem….. yes. Looking back over that season, I now realize that I was looking at my circumstances for the answer, instead of to the One who holds all the answers.

I’ve since repented for not coming to God for help, for being impatient regarding my wait time and for not trusting that HE will make my dream come true in HIS time, if this dream is HIS dream for me. I also apologized to my husband and our children for dragging them into my rebellion.

And so, in this current season, I continue to come to Him

And wait….

And feel His love and compassion

And wait…

And know that He is faithful

And wait…

And cry out for an answer

And wait….

And listen to His teachings

And wait…..

And one day, when it is time, He will say: “this is the way you should go…” And I will obey Him, whether its my dream- or not, because I love Him and I know that He will bless me when I surrender my life- and my dreams to Him.

Isaiah 30:22-26

22 Then you will destroy all your silver idols
  and your precious gold images.
You will throw them out like filthy rags,
    saying to them, “Good riddance!”

23 Then the Lord will bless you with rain at planting time. There will be wonderful harvests and plenty of pastureland for your livestock. 24 The oxen and donkeys that till the ground will eat good grain, its chaff blown away by the wind. 25 In that day, when your enemies are slaughtered and the towers fall, there will be streams of water flowing down every mountain and hill. 26 The moon will be as bright as the sun, and the sun will be seven times brighter—like the light of seven days in one! So it will be when the Lord begins to heal his people and cure the wounds he gave them.

Great Wealth

1 Timothy 6:2-10

Teach these things, Timothy, and encourage everyone to obey them. Some people may contradict our teaching, but these are the wholesome teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. These teachings promote a godly life. Anyone who teaches something different is arrogant and lacks understanding. Such a person has an unhealthy desire to quibble over the meaning of words. This stirs up arguments ending in jealousy, division, slander, and evil suspicions. These people always cause trouble. Their minds are corrupt, and they have turned their backs on the truth. To them, a show of godliness is just a way to become wealthy.

Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.

But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.

I grew up in a stereotypical affluent city in Southern California. Many of the kids I went to school with came from wealthy families who lived in huge houses (they were mansions to me), drove top of the line cars and wore every name brand item that hung on the rack. Unbeknownst to me, my dad made pretty good money back in those days, but like many kids in America, I felt neglected because my parents refused to give me everything my little greedy heart desired. Still, I always had enough food and plenty of clothing…

25 years later, Doug & I are now the parents who are trying to train our children (Proverbs 22:6) to be content.  Fortunately, God’s Word provides all the answers we need. Unfortunately, however, there is much division among biblical teachers & preachers in regards to how God’s truth is to be applied. According to some, we, God’s children are heirs in His Kingdom; therefore, we should have faith for wealth, health and prosperity (just to name a few). Because, after all, God loves His children and wants to bless us…right?

According to Matthew 7:7-11, God DOES love us and wants to give us good gifts, but these gifts are of His Spirit, not treasures that are temporal (Matthew 6:19-21).

So what if all this great wealth is a test for His children, instead of a platform for an inspirational teaching about the accrual of treasure?

Imagine if we, His heirs chose to worship Him by giving 10% to the church to Advance His Kingdom in our communities, nation and throughout the world. Imagine if we also gave above the tithe to others whom God has prompted us to serve. Imagine if we were good stewards and spent less than the numbers on our paycheck each month.  Imagine if we saved for the future. Imagine if we paid cash for big purchases instead of accruing a larger balance on our credit cards. Imagine if we stopped comparing our lives to the Jones’ (whoever they are) in the Kingdom and in the world and choose to be content with what God has given us!

How could those few things change the world for Christ? I can only speak from personal experience and say that it has radically changed my husband’s life and mine. When Doug and I were DINKS (Dual Income No Kids), we made good money, but squandered most of it. When I became a stay-at-home unpaid mom, we were somehow able to live on less money with more people to support. We were able to tithe 10% of our gross income to our local church. We were able to give to others out of an overflow. We were able to sacrifice our wants to get out of credit card debt. We were able to pay cash for unexpected emergencies. And we were able to afford to have a little fun, too.

How were we able? By loving Jesus.

John 14:15-21

15 “If you love me, obey[a] my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate,[b] who will never leave you. 17 He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.[c] 18 No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you. 19 Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live. 20 When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.”

I wish I could say that I am no longer tempted by great wealth. I am. Comparison to the Jones’ can do that to you…but thankfully, as I continue to pursue an attitude of gratitude towards Our Provider by daily surrendering to His will through Worship, Prayer & His Word, I have been able to avoid all kinds of evil.

Father, would you help me know your truth about wealth and how that applies to my life? Thank you for blessing me with the gifts of your Spirit- and for the abundance of food, clothing and material objects we possess. May your Spirit always keep my heart content, whether our bank account dwindles or expands.

Amen

Infinitely More

Ephesians 3:14-20

14 When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father,[a] 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth.[b] 16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

I’ll admit it: when something breaks in our household, it ticks me off! The inconvenience of an item not functioning properly, the amount of time it will take to fix it, and the extra money invested in parts and repairs can sometimes turn me into Oscar the Grouch.

During the last few weeks, however, God has been showing me a different perspective of life’s little inconveniences.

Item #1:

After we installed a new deck, purchased a used hot tub and paid a licensed electrician to wire it, the dang thing wouldn’t turn on! Somehow I knew that God had a lesson in all of it, so I prayed: Lord, please help me not to blame the electrician…let this install somehow be a blessing to him. Would you pleeeeeease miraculously fix the wiring so we don’t have to hire anyone else.”

He didn’t answer my prayer exactly as I asked, but He did send a friend over who switched the wires and POOF! The jets turned on. As the kids (they too had been praying for the Jacuzzi to be miraculously fixed) and I went screaming into the backyard, shouting “Thank you, God! Hallelujah!” our friend smiled, realizing that God had answered our prayers.

infinitely more than we might ask or think…..

(I won’t go into great detail of the leak that started pudding inside the frame of the hot tub a week later…because God sent another friend to fix that in about 2 seconds and the rest of the night we sat encouraging one another, as we all are enduring an extremely busy and difficult season in life).

infinitely more than we might ask or think…..

Item #2:

When the 2nd time in 4 months that our fridge stopped cooling, I had had it! “Lord, would you pleeeease fix this supernaturally- or send us a new one FREE of charge!” After the repairman came to assess the damage, we realized we just needed to replace another part that had worn out. So, I changed my prayer “Lord, let us not have to pay for the repair- at all! (since the same company had worked on it 4 months before, I assumed this was their fault. Boy, was my heart completely wrong.) Two days later, once the part was replaced, the service man turned to Doug and said, “Hey, man- I hope you don’t mind me eavesdropping, but I overheard your family praying together the other day. It encouraged me. Normally, I only pray at meal time- but now I’m praying at other times too!”

“All glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think!”

AND, if that wasn’t enough…..the repairman didn’t charge us for labor- just the part and the service call.

The Rich Fool

Luke 12:13-21

13 Then someone called from the crowd, “Teacher, please tell my brother to divide our father’s estate with me.”

14 Jesus replied, “Friend, who made me a judge over you to decide such things as that?” 15 Then he said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.”

16 Then he told them a story: “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. 17 He said to himself, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’ 18 Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods. 19 And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!”’

20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’

21 “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.”

I’ve heard many a story about families being divided over a relative’s possessions after (sometimes even before) they’ve died. Even when the deceased has given specific instructions in their will, the remaining descendants can feel entitled and their greed can drive them into a bitter court battle over who should get what. The ridiculous thing is, those who inherit will one-day die as well, then who will get everything they fought so hard for?

Jesus told several parables about wealth:

The Rich Fool

The Great Feast

The Shrew Manager

Why was it so important for Him to re-emphasize these life lessons over and over again?

1 Timothy 6:10

10 For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.

Jesus knew that great wealth could be used by the enemy to quickly turn our hearts from grateful to greedy. He also knew that at the bottom of every root of greed is a spirit of PRIDE. Pride is what keeps us from having a right relationship with Him- and a right relationship towards money. As we strive to make more cash, buy more stuff and inherit more family heirlooms we are trying to ensure that WE are always provided for…therefore, WE don’t need to depend on God. As WE continue to produce fine crops and tear down our barns to build bigger ones (aka: houses, garages, attics, sheds, storage units…) WE are storing up earthly treasures at the expense of bankrupting our relationship with the One who provides everything for us.

I have lived at various levels of greed all my life. When I was a child I thought dollar bills grew on trees and credit cards equaled FREE money. I would stomp my feet (sometimes literally) when told “no” after asking my parents to buy me something. As a teenager, when moving from CA to NC I was ticked that my mom didn’t choose the biggest house in the ritziest neighborhood. I resented that I had to earn scholarships for college and take a work-study job to have money to spend. When I got married and was slapped with the real world; taxes, insurance, bills….I just opened up another credit card so I could get whatever my little greedy heart desired.

That is, until God began uprooting my greed…..

He was merciful, and did it over a period of years. First it was tithing, then it was getting out of debt, and then it was giving to others. By the time my husband lost his job- and our sole means of income went with it- I had begun to understand that true riches aren’t based in my possessions, but in the most important relationship I will ever encounter on this earth- or for eternity.

Father,

Thank you for the revelation that YOU are my provider. Not only do you supply me with everything I need to be sustained every day- you pour out your Spirit on me, giving life to my spirit and my soul. Thank you, Lord for continuing to uproot the lies in my life and helping me to seek an eternal inheritance instead of an earthly one. You alone deserve all the glory and praise for filling my life with riches far greater than I could ever strive for.

Amen