The gift of blabbing

There are those skilled with the art of communication: gifted authors and gifted speakers. While my son and I discussed my ability to stand in front of large crowds and speak, he asked me how I could (talk in front of all those people). I paused and said I guess it’s a gift. He responded, God gave you the gift of blabbing. It is so aptly settled any pride issues I might have been harboring. I am inspired by Chris Tiegreen’s communication skills. He writes in a poignant style. In other words, he gets the point across. When I read the following of his, I was inspired to share.

This is for the innumerable people I know suffering and for those I don’t know who may be brought to these words by our loving heavenly Father.

Job 37:13 “He brings the clouds to punish men, or to water his earth and show his love.”

“Elihu’s observation in Job 37:13 is perceptive. The clouds God brings into our lives could be judgment. They could also be mercy. Either way our focus during trials needs to be less about God’s intent than our response. Often, God’s actions have diverse effects on people. His presence can be soothing for one and extremely uncomfortable for another, depending on the prior relationship. His blessings can prompt the gratitude of one or cultivate the corruption of another. Again, it all depends on the prior relationship we have with our Creator. So it is with our trials. In some people, trials illustrate that their worship is genuine and draw them deeper into God. In others, trials drive them away. They will have nothing to do with a God who lets them suffer. In adversity, that middle ground of indifference is taken away. When World War II ended, some people walked away from concentration camps with deeper faith, and some walked away with none. What was the difference? Their prior relationship with God probably had something to do with it. The adversity only highlighted the difference between the genuine and the false. It removed the illusion of lukewarm faith, driving people either to hot or cold extremes. God will bring clouds into your life. Perhaps they are hovering now. Will they be your punishment? Or will they refresh you and show you His love? The answer may be less a matter of His intent than your response. It all depends on how you choose to see them. Let the clouds of adversity drive you int God’s presence. Let them stir a passion in your heart to know Him more deeply and to worship Him more authentically. Do not flee from them. Let them linger long enough to see His mercy fall from heaven in the end. (Chris Tiegreen)

Peace to you,

JOY!

The epicenter of the world

If you google “the center of the world” you will likely find answers such as Felicity, California or Trumball County, Ohio. However, God’s Word states differently. Ezekial 5:5 gives God’s center of the world, “Thus says the Lord God, ‘This is Jerusalem; I have set her at the center of the nations, with lands around her.” God has chosen a city and people to call His own, and it is the Jewish nation of Israel whose pride is Jerusalem. If you have any knowledge of the Middle East or current events you know that this city/nation is the center of debate and a war zone.

Recently while listening to a pastor speak of the remarkable history and miraculous events surrounding Jerusalem. I learned of a new set of “I wills”. I was familiar with the 5 “I Wills” of Satan found in Isaiah, but did not know there were 5 “I Wills” of God given for His people the Jews! In Genesis 12, God states to Father Abraham “And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”

There they are: “I will make you a great nation. I will bless you. I will make your name great. I will bless those who bless you. I will curse those who curse you.” Anyone watching this fledgling group of people who make up less than one percent of the population of the earth knows SOMEONE is FOR Israel. A recent headline in world news quotes a Hamas terrorist speaking of Israel, “Their God changes the direction of our rockets mid-air.”

How exciting it is to realize that in the years since God made this promise to Abraham, His people have not been destroyed. Those against them have been cursed, and those for them have been blessed. Their name is renown, and their contributions to this world have been many (search out the Jewish Noble Prize Winners). God said “I will” and “He has”. Jerusalem is a shining reminder that God keeps His promises.  We should keep an eye on the center of the world.

Burning with me,

JOY!

Thank you, Skip Heitzig, for teaching me the “I Wills” of God.

God’s got this

It’s a rare “God’s got this” day for me. It is one of those days where no status change has occurred, but God through His Word and His teaching has convinced me again He has had me and the whole world in His hands from Genesis and will continue long past Revelation. Through current events and preaching and the infallible Word of God, God has put such peace in my heart. I just know the world is on schedule.

Where did I get this assurance?

Each morning my first hour is spent in The Book and prayer. I read until I find some Word from Him to take me through the day. I admit many days I am back looking for another Word shortly after leaving home, but I leave home with a Word. I ran across a statement from John Piper today that summed up what I think we all have to do. “Get alone with God and preach His Word into your mind until your heart sings with confidence that you are new and cared for.” I realize that is what I do to myself. I preach His Word into my mind until I find peace to face the day. When Jacob wrestled with the angel in Genesis 32 he boldly claimed, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” That idea resonates with me as I spend my time with God each morning. I won’t go until you have blessed me and prepared me to face this day.

In this great assurance I feel at the moment, I want to log up a year’s worth of blogs in Handel fashion, but I know that you wouldn’t relate to them very well. The truth is I am often struck by those who want to sing songs to a heavy heart. And it is to me just as Proverbs 25:20 states, “like one who takes away a garment on a cold day or pours vinegar on a wound.” The weary don’t respond well to “Don’t worry; be happy!” I do want to encourage the weary you can find strength and peace to face this day in Him. Follow Jacob’s lead, and hold on until He blesses you. He does not disappoint (Psalm 22:5).

Burning within Me,

JOY!

Restless

There is an endless pursuit for happiness and fulfillment; this pursuit has taken place throughout history. We are all looking for peace of mind. We want to enjoy life and feel at ease in our spirits. The Shorter Catechism states: “Thou hast formed us for thyself and our hearts are restless till they find rest in thee.” Oh that we would learn and accept that truth in our youth. Some are taught it by godly parents and Christian mentors, but rarely do we internalize this truth until we prove it. We try a myriad of things to bring rest to our longing hearts. One may try education or travel while another may try drugs or relationships, but everyone is trying something to satisfy the thirst within.

While reading Beth Moore’s study “Breaking Free” I learned to pray: Lord, fill all the cracked dryness of my soul with Your living water. Fill my soul with Your bread of life so that I don’t go searching, waiting for something or someone who will not satisfy or bring me peace. I have tasted and seen the Lord is good. (Psalm 34:8) I have also found that no one or nothing brings rest to my heart other than Him.

Today, recognize before the frustration and desperation set in, Jesus is the answer. He is there, and He knows. You can find rest for your soul in Him and Him alone.

Burning within me,

JOY!

O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly;

My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You,

In a dry and weary land where there is no water. Psalm 63:1

Psalm 139

13 For You formed my inward parts;

You wove me in my mother’s womb.

14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

Wonderful are Your works,

And my soul knows it very well.

15 My frame was not hidden from You,

When I was made in secret,

And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;

16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;

And in Your book were all written

The days that were ordained for me,

When as yet there was not one of them.

I am only satisfied in you, Jesus.

I am only satisfied in You.

In a world of empty answers,

You’re the way, the life, the truth,

And I am only satisfied in You. – Only Satisfied

Well put

Proverbs states that a word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. I recently finished reading Dr. Michael Youssef’s “Blindsided: The Radical Islamic Conquest”. In it he quotes Don Feder’s response to a statement Rosie O’Donnell made on “The View”. O’Donnel made this comparison, “Radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam.” Here is Feder’s rebuttal.

Let’s see if I’ve got this straight:

Militant Muslims behead prisoners. Radical Christians oppose embryonic stem-cell research.

Militant Muslims blow themselves up in crowded shopping malls, slaughtering women and children. Radical Christians defend traditional marriage.

Militant Muslims fly planes into buildings; Radical Christians work to protect the sanctity of human life.

Militant Muslims issue fatwas. Radical Christians distribute voter guides.

Yep, I can see the similarities alright.

I am passionate about preparing myself and those I love for the days ahead. This summary was too good not to share.

Dr. Youssef’s book is full of historical facts as well as information linking the Muslim culture and political ideology. It’s an in-depth read if you are interested in learning more about Islam. Dr. Youssef was born in Egypt among an Islamic culture. He has a PhD in Social Anthropology. Therefore, his information is experiential and knowledgeable. Be prepared to read slowly to catch the multitude of data he shares. Also be prepared to be burdened.

Burning within me,

JOY!

Please don’t

Back on my soap box…Teachers are a powerful force. It is rare for a student to question whether what is taught to them is accurate. Especially the young, the young are by nature trusting. Knowing this, those who teach God’s Word to them should take the utmost care to teach truth. James states teachers will incur a stricter judgment. (James 3:1) Matthew, Mark and Luke warn that a man would be better off to have a weight tied around his neck and be thrown into the sea than to cause a little one to stumble. Therefore, if you are teaching God’s Word to children (and this applies to adults as well), take the time to know exactly what the Scripture says. If you are paraphrasing, make sure your words don’t contradict the given Word. Translations of the Bible are numerous so it is well-known you can make similar statements in many ways. However, when your statements don’t follow the order of any translation or add to or subtract from the text, you are teaching falsehood. There are children who will listen to a story read and children who won’t. Telling a story in your own words can bring new light and life, but tell it according to the Book.

We are busy people. Volunteers to work with children are a blessing. Children too are a blessing. Therefore, knowing God has entrusted us with them, let those of us who teach children be diligent to be Bible based and Biblically accurate in our instruction. Our churches should be the last place our kids get our second best. It should also be the last place they need wonder if what is being taught is accurate. I encourage you to be a faithful guardian of the words of His Book.

Burning within me,

JOY!

Riddle answer

I had no comments or replies to yesterday’s riddle. Therefore, I will share the answer. Each is found in a different verse in the Bible.

lamp (Psalm 119:105) fire (Jeremiah 20:9) hammer (Jeremiah 23:29) water (Ephesians 5:26) mirror (James 1:22-25) seed (1 Peter 1:23) sword (Hebrews 4:12, Revelation 1:16, 2:12 and 19:15)

Is this a big hint? Shall I tell at this point? For some reason, I want you to look for yourself. Someone comment and tell me the answer!!!

Burning within me,

JOY!

When the hurt runs deep

Kay Arthur has written a book entitled “When the Hurt Runs Deep”. She speaks of the many stories garnered via social media when she requested people to share their hurts. Some of the stories shared in the book, she knew from firsthand accounts and involvement. One was of a murder-suicide involving a minister of the gospel; Mrs. Arthur spoke at this funeral. Another involved a parent child abuse situation in which Kay set a woman on the road to healing by expressing her anger at what had taken place in her life. She hints at her own deep hurt involving an adult son who does not accept her life style. The stories all spoke of an intense sense of betrayal and a soul deep wound.

Kay starts the book with the story of Joseph from Genesis. She encourages readers to read the story even if they are familiar with it. Joseph knew great hurt. Job too experienced hurt and betrayal as well from his “brotherhood”. People in the Bible who God used greatly, He allowed to suffer intensely.

One observance I have made is that the deepest hurts come from our own inner circle. No one can wound us as our own family and that includes the members of our church family. The betrayal is never greater than when those who should support and love us do the unthinkable. Joseph lived this when his own brothers sold him into slavery. Job lived through his God fearing brethren assuming his sin guilt was the culprit of the horrible turn of events in his life.

There is something to observe in the lives of those God allows intense hurt to touch. God uses the hurt. Joseph was the man who heard God’s warning and prepared the eastern world for famine. Job showed and still shows what part Satan plays in the destruction in our lives. Job also set an example of praying for those who wrongfully accused him.

Often the church does not respond to such pain well. Some choose to use the Word of God as a hammer to pound the wounded with Scripture detailing how they should think and act. Others want to avoid associating with those who hurt because they do not know how to help. Some teach that if you are suffering you have sinned to lead you to this pain compounding the bewilderment and agony.

If you are hurting, know that Christ too suffered betrayal. His family (the Jewish people) had Him crucified. His inner circle denied Him. He knew it all would occur and came to suffer it still. The end result was too important.

If you are in the midst of the deep hurt, these words will not penetrate. I realize you have to be on the other side of the lowest point for this reasoning to spur you on. I also know that one hurt doesn’t prevent you from suffering more. It may be that you find yourself enduring one painful episode and then another or one compounding upon another. The result is that suffering produces Christ likeness. It is awful to think to become like Christ one must suffer, but the New Testament attests to this premise from Matthew to Revelation.

“For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps,” (1 Peter 2:20-21) See the words “called for this purpose”. Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 3:3 about afflictions, “we have been destined for this”.

Your pain does not show that you are unfavored by God or that you have sinned (though you could be suffering justly for sin). It confirms to you that you are His child. Jesus said Himself, “in this world you will have tribulation”.

The true hope lies in His return. The same Paul tells us,”This is a plain indication of God’s righteous judgment so that you will be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering. For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire,” 2 Thessalonians 1:5-7

Peter and Paul both wrote to churches suffering affliction. Their goal was to encourage the believers their situation was to be expected, but the sufferings’ end was glory in Christ’s return. I feel the burden to encourage those I know who are suffering. Some are suffering from health issues, some have broken families and others have had personal assaults. Know in your suffering you can shine for Jesus; He is aware, and there is a judgment day. Know too, you are NEVER alone. Encourage yourself in the Lord, read the Word!

Burning within me,

JOY!

Someone to lift up my head

I have been waiting on God for what seems like so long now. I know it’s been awhile, but I cannot pinpoint a date when I actually started. It wears you thin, waiting that is. Whether you are waiting in a doctor’s office or waiting to hear from a loved one or waiting for God to answer a prayer. The time seems amplified.

Last night I lay down discouraged. I couldn’t read the fiction that usually helps lull me to sleep. I picked up my older Bible, a large letter edition of the International Inductive Study Bible. It was my first inductive study Bible. I turned to Psalms where after having marked all the references to God with a purple triangle I had listed what I learned about God in the margins. One of the first pages listed a phrase which gave me pause. Beside the 3rd Psalm I had written the words “Lifts my head”. The actual verse states: “But you are shield around me, O Lord; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head.” I imagined God placing his hand under my lowered chin and lifting my face to look into His. The imagery and thought were enough to bring peace and hope. What wonderful words the Father has for us. They are timely words. They are life-giving words.

For those who are struggling or waiting, I want to print more of this comforting Psalm for you.

“But you are a shield around me, O Lord; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head. To the Lord I cry aloud, and he answers me from His holy hill. I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.” Psalm 3:3-5

I pray these words are used by God to “lift up your head”.

Burning within me,

JOY!

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