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.

Only Fools Insist

Last night, as our 9 year old son was preparing for bed, he nonchalantly asked “is it ok that I told my teacher at church that there was….a… “situation” this weekend…ya know…that you and dad had a fight….about the mulch?”

Proverbs 20:3

Avoiding a fight is a mark of honor;
 only fools insist on quarreling.

Shock. Embarrassment. Realization that a room full of kids and their teachers now know with certainty that my husband and I acted like fools!

IMG_0879Then I chuckled and promptly relayed the story to my groom.

This morning, during another “situation” with our son (ya know…when you tell him to practice his spelling words on Friday and the test on Monday proves that he didn’t study….at all?!?) God gave me the opportunity to turn my foolishness into a blessing.

As I talked (ok- lectured) about his rebellion; not completing the assigned work, even though it wasn’t fun and he didn’t want to, I compared his lack of integrity to my lack of integrity that he witnessed two days before. A few moments later, as I looked into our son’s weepy blue eyes, I realized he only knew and “shared” (gossiped) half the story. What he didn’t see was his father and I taking a “time out” from each other to confess and repent to our Father for the stubborn pride that compelled us to insist on quarreling over mulch. Yes, mulch. Completely stupid, I know. But, stay with me!!! He didn’t know that a little while later, we came back together to apologize and forgive each other. He didn’t realize that each day both of us need God’s mercy so that we will make the choice to submit to Him- and one another. He didn’t understand that submission isn’t fun and we don’t always want to (even in our 40’s).

But submission is always the right thing to do. It’s right because we say we love God and each other. It’s right because actually loving God means obeying His commands- all of them, whether it’s fun or we feel like it. It’s right because our marriage is designed to reflect the love Jesus (the Bridegroom) gave for the church (His Bride). And when we choose to do what is right, an amazing thing happens; the Holy Spirit enables us to walk with integrity in our lives- and in our marriage…. and our children are blessed as they follow.

Proverbs 20:7

The godly walk with integrity;
  blessed are their children who follow them.

 

Freedom

Galatians 5:13

13 For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature…..

1 Peter 2:16

16 For you are free, yet you are God’s slaves, so don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil.

IMG_4310After an excruciatingly long and demanding homeschool year, I began looking forward, with great anticipation, to some free time in our kids and my schedule. With that in mind, I updated our children’s chore charts, added extra time each day for them to engage in their privileges (TV, Wii, iPad, computer games, etc.) and pushed back their bed times to be more conducive with our new summer hours. I was somewhat surprised however, when my act of generosity was met with “uhgggh….grrrr……we STILL have to do chores?!? We can’t watch TV ALL day??? We can’t stay up ALL night!?!” You would have thought I was a harsh taskmaster, refusing to feed them, and demanding they work 10 hours days in 100% humidity cropping tobacco- for no pay.

Later in the week, as I was chatting with one of our children, she admitted she was still mad at me for taking away “her freedom.” She had expected that during the summer she could do whatever she wanted- whenever she wanted. Was it too much to ask after working hard on her chores and school all year? On the surface, no. But I explained to her that true freedom isn’t the absence of rules or laws, for without any parameters, there would be chaos. I then gave a short lesson about the Israelites constantly sinning against God and His reason for sending the 10 commandments through Moses. It wasn’t because He was being a harsh taskmaster. No! God gave His children laws to provide safe, healthy parameters to live life to the full! He knew that if they lived according to His design, they would experience true freedom, in Him.

And so, as you may have guessed, my parameters for the summer still stand. Sure, I am open to negations, if respectful arguments are brought forward for consideration. But, I refuse to allow our children to live their lives as slaves to sin. Instead, while they are still within our care, I want to train them to become God’s slaves, because I know true freedom is only found by living a life submitted to Him- and His parameters.

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.

Idols

Ezekiel 6

 Again a message came to me from the Lord: “Son of man, turn and face the mountains of Israel and prophesy against them. Proclaim this message from the Sovereign Lord against the mountains of Israel. This is what the Sovereign Lord says to the mountains and hills and to the ravines and valleys: I am about to bring war upon you, and I will smash your pagan shrines. All your altars will be demolished, and your places of worship will be destroyed. I will kill your people in front of your idols.[a] I will lay your corpses in front of your idols and scatter your bones around your altars. Wherever you live there will be desolation, and I will destroy your pagan shrines. Your altars will be demolished, your idols will be smashed, your places of worship will be torn down, and all the religious objects you have made will be destroyed. The place will be littered with corpses, and you will know that I alone am the Lord.

“But I will let a few of my people escape destruction, and they will be scattered among the nations of the world. Then when they are exiled among the nations, they will remember me. They will recognize how hurt I am by their unfaithful hearts and lustful eyes that long for their idols. Then at last they will hate themselves for all their detestable sins. 10 They will know that I alone am the Lord and that I was serious when I said I would bring this calamity on them.

11 “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Clap your hands in horror, and stamp your feet. Cry out because of all the detestable sins the people of Israel have committed. Now they are going to die from war and famine and disease. 12 Disease will strike down those who are far away in exile. War will destroy those who are nearby. And anyone who survives will be killed by famine. So at last I will spend my fury on them. 13 They will know that I am the Lord when their dead lie scattered among their idols and altars on every hill and mountain and under every green tree and every great shade tree—the places where they offered sacrifices to their idols. 14 I will crush them and make their cities desolate from the wilderness in the south to Riblah[b] in the north. Then they will know that I am the Lord.”

 

IMG_2963At a glance, some of the Old Testament seems to portray only an angry, vengeful God. Upon further examination, however, and through the revelation of the Holy Spirit, these passages about God’s judgment illuminate His fierce love for His people. Our God is a jealous God. He created us for Himself. Therefore, He has every right to be angry when we turn our back on Him and devote our lives to the worship of idols.

The idols of today may look different than the carved images referenced in the book of Ezekiel. The heart behind them, however is still the same: rebellion against God through the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life.

At a glance, my life may seem to portray only a perfectly devoted follower of Christ. Upon further examination, however, and through the revelation of the Holy Spirit, one would see that I too can be guilty of worshipping idols.

Each day I have a lengthy list of things to do as a:

Wife

Mother

Home-school Teacher

Marriage Mentor & Teacher

If I’m not submitted to the Lord in them, they will quickly become all consuming, and I will take ownership of every one. Refusing to acknowledge that GOD is the One who placed me in these roles for His purposes and His glory alone will confirm that my soul is worshipping these areas of service- or the people in whom I serve.

So, how do I continue to uncover any hidden idols in my heart?

1)   Read God’s Word

2)   Pray; asking the Holy Spirit to reveal any pagan shrines

Once God has identified the idols, I then have the choice to:

a)   Continue worshipping them

This option will lead to death… not necessarily a physical death, but an emotional and/or spiritual death will occur in my relationship with God -and others. Left abandoned for too long, those relationships will begin to rot away until there is nothing but an empty life “littered with corpses…..”

b)   Clap my hands in horror, stamp my feet and cry out to God to forgive me for these detestable sins!

This option will lead to life and freedom. God will destroy every shrine, and I will escape the destruction that was planned for me. And once again, I will know that HE alone is the Lord and HE alone is worthy of all honor and glory and praise.

Humble Yourself

James 4:4-10

 You adulterers![a] Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. What do you think the Scriptures mean when they say that the spirit God has placed within us is filled with envy?[b]But he gives us even more grace to stand against such evil desires. As the Scriptures say,

“God opposes the proud
 but favors the humble.”[c]

So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.

There are several songs I remember singing as a teenager during youth group meetings at Glenkirk Presbyterian Church in Southern California. One chorus in particular keeps replaying through my mind because, I believe, it’s a principal that God wants to solidify in my heart.

“Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord….”

(echo) “Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord….”

“Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord….”

(echo) “Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord….”

“And He will raise you higher and higher and higher and higher…. And He will raise you higher and higher and higher and higher….”

I, like most of us, like being praised. It’s nice to be acknowledged for all the hard work I do for others. But that desire for recognition is pride…and when I seek that feeling of worthiness from man, woman, or child, God opposes me.

IMG_7616Consider the role of mother. From the moment of conception, the child within is on the take. In order to ensure its survival, the growing fetus needs to take up room inside our bodies to develop and take in nutrients to sustain life. After the child is born it continues to take our time, our energy, our talents – and sometimes even our minds! Motherhood is often a sacrificial, thank-less job.

Not until I became a mother did I realize the sacrifice my mother gave in order to give me life. Most of her efforts went unacknowledged and unappreciated until I was an adult.

Not until I became a Christ follower did I realize the sacrifice my Savior gave in order to give me eternal life in heaven -and life to the full on this earth. Most of His efforts when unacknowledged and unappreciated….. until I began learning how Jesus humbled himself in the sight of the Father over and over and over again. Never once did He seek the praises of man. Instead, He sought only to fulfill the will of the One who sent Him; to give his life as a sacrifice on behalf of those who didn’t deserve it. Yet, in the end, God raised His Son from the dead and lifted Him to the seat of honor, beside His throne.

In His grace and generosity, God promises to do the same for me. As I continue to crucify my flesh and humble myself in the sight of the Lord, He will lift me up in honor. Some of that honor will be for this world, but only to Advance His Kingdom and make His name great. Some will be reserved for the day that I stand before my Father’s throne. And in that moment, the only acknowledgement that will matter will be from the One who created me in my mother’s womb.