The One-Mile Marker… Is It Time to Quit?

“‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage. I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.” Exodus 6:6   He left the presence of the Lord, repeating the words God had given him several days before. “I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgements”. He hung on to that promise as he got ready to request yet another audience with the King of Egypt. Between you and me – Moses had to be tired of it. When we get to Exodus chapter 9, Israel’s leader had seen God strike Egypt five times with miraculous, awesome wonders, and yet, Pharaoh would not waver. And although God had told him that He himself would harden Pharaoh’s heart, there’s no doubt that pressing on was a hard thing for Moses to do. How much more, Lord? How much will it take for this hard-headed, prideful king to let your people go? How many more wonders do you have to perform until he finally believes? You know exactly what it will take to break him, and yet, you choose this slow, painful path to set us free. Why? Why? True – I may be stretching Moses’ thoughts a bit, but we know that Israel’s leader at the time had serious issues with unbelief. He questioned God’s sovereignty over and over again, while presenting his excuses to defuse the task of leading the Jews out of slavery (Exodus 4). Surely it was hard to go again, and...

Do Your Words Promote Life?

The story of Abigail is found on 1 Samuel 25   Her husband honored his name once again by disrespecting a great man of war – worse yet, the anointed future king of Israel! Nabal, “the fool”, a rich business man, had denied hospitality to David and his men, even though David had blessed his household and offered peace. His folly angered the future king, who prepared his men for war. And then there was Abigail – wisdom and discernment personified. No, seriously. Abigail was the full package: beautiful, resourceful, an innate leader, and wise, very wise. A Proverbs 31 woman on all accounts. She must have been a great manager of her state and a fair employer, since her servants were faithful to warn her of the upcoming doom. Her discernment was better than any weapon of war. Her timing was perfect. Her words, controlled and full of wisdom, atoned for Nabal’s offense. The Bible does not say much about her spirituality, but her words show that she reverenced the God of Israel and followed His leading. At a time when people often act and speak out of anger and impulsiveness, Abigail’s story reminds me of the importance of measuring our circumstances with care, and pausing to seek God’s guidance before acting… or speaking. We all know the consequences of impulsive acts, and are able to quickly assess the damage that actions without restrain cause in a person’s life. As a matter of fact, we often find ourselves putting on the black robe of judgement when people around us make bad decisions that render damaging consequences. But today my heart is particularly burdened by...

God Moves Mountains that You Don’t Even See

The Lord will keep you from all harm— He will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going, both now and forevermore. Psalm 121:7-8 It happened almost 14 years ago, but I remember it as if it was yesterday. She was 13 months old and finally ready to take her first steps. I was on the couch, reading, while she played with books on the bottom shelf of the bookcase. From the corner of my eye, I saw a swift movement, and held my breath while watching her get a hold of the ladder and pull herself up. Ever so slowly, I put my book down and silently moved a little closer to the area where my little explorer stood. She turned around and opened her mouth, in a triumphant smile. She looked at me, stretched her arms and rehearsed her very first steps. One, two, three… and fell into my arms. I picked her up and danced around, squealing in delight. My baby girl was walking! I called hubby, mom, dad, best friend, and the Washington Post. Baby walked! What a joy! Even as I type these words, a smile spreads across my face. Some of my favorite memories rest on the days when my two girls started exploring the world. But those were also the days when I never rested. I seemed to be always on alert, following their every step. As they ventured into their brand-new world of mobility, there were dangers everywhere. It was that marble table in the middle of the library, where I’d envision my baby falling, head-first. Or...

The Iceberg of Success – From Heaven’s Viewpoint

“He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.” Psalm 1:3   The new spring catalog for my favorite Christian bookstore arrived this week. For years I would save the browsing for later, and immediately go to the back cover, where I would find my favorite savings coupons. When it arrived this time however, I poured down another cup of tea and sat at the kitchen island, day dreaming about seeing the cover of my book on one of the catalogs someday. It may never happen, but a girl can always dream, right? As I browsed through the catalog, the names of famous Christian authors paraded before me – some launching new titles, others issuing new editions of beloved best-sellers. Their images on the pages exude success. Their names attract the multitudes everywhere they go. For the most part, their talents are constantly used by God to promote His kingdom. Their names grow as Jesus’ is glorified through their messages. It’s a beautiful thing! Indeed, I love to watch these beautiful men and women of God prospering in their ministries. In a world permeated by self-gratification and shallow values, I know God rejoices in blessing people whose lives are dedicated to making Him known to the lost, and shepherding His sheep. Earlier this week, my husband told me about the picture above. He had seen it on a social media site and its truth called his attention. It describes a theory that has been around for a while, which...

Grace Doesn’t Always Feel Good

This month marks the 5th anniversary of a painful surgery that left an ugly scar on my abdomen and a new understanding of Grace in my heart. I thought I’d share this post, written only weeks after my surgery in 2012. For the Lord God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right. (Psalm 84:11 -NLT) I was gently pressing Vitamin E oil over the bright-red scar on my abdomen. It extended for about 5 inches and it was painful. It hurt to move, to sit down and stand up, to turn around in bed and to take a deep breath. My surgery had only been ten days before and this was the first time I had seen the incision. Vanity chimed in and I frowned at the sight. My daughters sneaked in behind me as I bathed the scar in oil. Their eyes got big when they saw the surgery site. “Wow, mom. It’s sooooo big!” said the oldest in awe. “Does it hurt?” asked the baby. I looked at them and nodded. “Yes, sweetie, it’s big and it hurts.” “I’m sorry, mom,” were the next words from my sympathizing daughters. And that’s when I heard the Spirit whisper within my soul. I turned around and signaled them to get closer. “You don’t have to be sorry, dear. I actually like my scar. I even gave it a name.” “A name?” little one said. “What is it, what is it?” she urged with growing curiosity. “Its name is Grace,” I...

A Word from Jesus… to Someone Who Is Ready to Give Up

Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it. (John 21:6) They had been fishing all night long. As the hours progressed, they each grew tired and discouraged. They had bills to pay and mouths to feed. Yet, not a single fish was caught in their large net. As the morning dawned, a stranger called out from ashore: “Fellows, have you caught any fish”. Their hearts sank as they admitted their unsuccessful trip. “Cast the net on the other side,” He said. As John realized it was the Lord who had asked, excitement built up in their hearts. And fish flooded their net. Have you ever noticed that when Jesus told his discouraged disciples to cast their nets again, it was right at the same old place where they had caught nothing all night long? The same seems to happen with us when we find ourselves in the same barren place for a long time. It could be a disease that lingers… Or a relationship that is deteriorating… It could be long-term unemployment… Or an emotional wound that won’t heal… If we could just get off to a brand new place when we get discouraged, casting our nets again would be an easier thing to do! If we could be a different person, or go somewhere different, or do something different, it might not be so hard to have fresh faith and new encouragement. But it is the same old net that caught...

The Lion, the Bear… And Your Circumstances

Standing at nearly ten-foot-tall, the man must have looked like an armored tank to young David. He wore a helmet of brass upon his head and a coat of scale armor of about 125 pounds of bronze. The bible describes the armor and war tools in details, giving us a vivid picture of Goliath’s fearsome stature and strength. David had come up from Bethlehem with the mere purpose of bringing food to his brothers, who were battling the Philistines in the valley of Elah. But as he arrived at the camp, he heard Goliath’s defiance and blasphemy against Israel’s God. And thus the battle became his. As David goes before Saul to ask permission to fight Goliath, his small stature surprises the king. He was but a boy, compared to the giant. Saul didn’t see how he could win. And then David tells him the story. “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.” (1 Samuel 17:34-37 NASB) WOW. As I read this story for the umpteenth time this morning,...

He Gives Rain… In.Due.Season.

“If you walk in my statutes and observe my commandments and do them,  then I will give you your rains in their season, and the land shall yield its increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. Your threshing shall last to the time of the grape harvest, and the grape harvest shall last to the time for sowing. And you shall eat your bread to the full and dwell in your land securely.” Leviticus 26:3-5 (ESV) – emphasis added The land was vast, and yet, seemingly desolate. A desert of sorts, the people knew that, unlike the Egyptians who had the fertile Nile to irrigate their crops, Israel was solely dependent on the rain season to be able to harvest bountiful crops. When I visited Israel many years ago, I remember listening to the tour guide describing the abundance of its harvest. I had never tasted fresher fruit and vegetables before. Indeed, this tiny piece of land yields some of the most beautiful crops on earth. I find it especially interesting that of all places on the planet, God would choose to place His chosen nation in a land that would completely depend on rain to produce successful harvests. But then again, The Holy God of Israel knew the heart of His people. Had he chosen Egypt as the Promised Land, the people would gladly depend on their own ability to channel the waters of the Nile into their crop beds. Rain would not have been a deal breaker every year, necessarily. However, the success of any given harvest season in Israel did not depend on...

My Gifts to JESUS

I glanced back to the Christmas tree while climbing the stairs on Christmas Eve. The tree skirt was flooded with packages of all sizes. Santa was generous this year. Christmas morning would be filled with joy and laughter. Once again. I realize how very fortunate our children are. How very blessed I am. We have a home. Food on the table. We have numerous Bibles on our bookshelves. We know the Baby in the manger as our Lord and Savior. We have it all. On earth and in Heaven. But I am ashamed to say that my heart attitude does not always reflect the gratitude of a life that is blessed beyond measure. As a matter of fact, my heart attitude stinks sometimes. It’s Christmas morning and I decided to write a letter to Jesus, wrapping each trial and blessing as a gift of thanksgiving to the newborn King. I thought I’d share it with you: Dear Jesus. My Savior. My Lord. I bring you my imperfect heart to the light of your perfection, wrapping each blessing as an offering of praise to you: You gave me love when I was lonely. Hope when I was lost. You gave me a family that loves me and a house that You turned into a home. You give me food on the table each day. I have never known hunger. You’ve given me healing. For my body… and my soul. You’ve given me peace in the midst of valleys, and strength to endure those trials that were too hard to withstand alone. When Isaiah said you would be Immanuel, he declared...

Trusting God… at the Edge of the Unknown

I hadn’t seen her that excited in a long time. Mom moved up and down the stairs, speaking in a hushed tone with whoever was on the other side of the line, striving to hide the details of my birthday surprise. She acted as if I had no idea of her plans. I smiled at the thought of how it does not matter whether our children and four or forty –  They’ll always be little in our eyes. When the time came to leave the house, she approached me with a blindfold. “From now on, you cannot see where you are going,” she said. I hesitantly agreed. There’s very little I hate more than not knowing where I am heading. I don’t like the feeling of dependence on senses other than my sight for the next step. And I am afraid that whoever is holding my arm will pull a prank on me… or let me stomp my foot on a stone… or that I will trip and fall by accident. I know – I am trusting that way. Sigh. But… it was Mom leading the way. Therefore, I extended my arm, took her hand and put on the blindfold. I knew that however uncomfortable the momentary darkness might feel; she would not allow me to fall. And the pleasure and joy I would find when the darkness was lifted, would be worth it all. Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1 – KJV) I don’t know about you, but this blind trust issue gets me every time. And it seems as...