Boundaries of Love

I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love. To them I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek, and I bent down to feed them. (Hosea 11:4) You don’t love me! You don’t trust me! I remember the words, the phrases I shouted at my parents during my teen years. I was absolutely certain they would prefer me to stay inside the house, talk to no one, do nothing, go nowhere. Surely I had the cruelest parents on earth. The fact those words escaped my lips or that I had those thoughts is ridiculous now. Many years have passed and I know they were protecting me. A parent who sets boundaries for their child loves deeply. Having a child now, I understand. Even at her young age, she has questioned why she cannot do certain things. She asks why I will not let her go to various places. I explain that her father and I are doing our best to keep her safe while also letting her grow. I have to ask her to trust our decisions. A few temper tantrums are worth keeping her protected. She has more freedom, and more safety, within the boundaries we have drawn. I recently read a study which found that, when a playground is surrounded by a fence, children tend to use the entire playground area. Without a fence, children confine themselves to a particular area and will not use the space allotted to them. Fascinating isn’t it? While we may outwardly rebel against the fence, inwardly we are comforted by its presence. In the book...

The Epicenter of Good

I don’t like noise. It hurts my ears, makes my heart race, and jumbles my thoughts. It leads me to cliffs of anxiety and panic, so I tend to slowly back away from the ticking time bomb. And oh-my-gosh, there’s been a lot of noise lately. In the media, around dinner tables, on courthouse lawns, in churches. And I’ve been standing on the sidelines, not because I don’t care or have my own convictions, but because I don’t feel like I need to contribute to the sounding sirens because: 1) I’m not jumping on the bandwagon of “Jesus is coming soon because the world is going to hell in a hand-basket.” Listen, Jesus has always been coming soon—sooner today than yesterday. And the world has always been going to hell because, sadly, too many Christians—Jesus followers—believe what they have to say is more important than what Jesus had and still has to say. 2) I hate dividing lines. I hate picking teams. I hate that I stand here and others stand there. I hate that navigating through this world is hard. But… Jesus drew lines in the sand. And what He divided was the stone thrower (the religious, ahem!) from the one who needed love and acceptance, healing and freedom. Jesus picked teams, a team of twelve whom He’d pour into and teach, correct, lead, challenge, and send out to change the world. A team of ordinary people who wouldn’t always get it right, who’d speak out of turn, who’d act on impulse, who’d deny Him; but they were still His team, chosen to make other disciples, teaching them...

Taking BRAVE Steps into Abundant Living- week 8

So Joshua made peace with them, and made a covenant with them to let them live; and the rulers of the congregation swore to them. And it happened at the end of three days, after they had made a covenant with them, that they heard that they were their neighbors who dwelt near them. Joshua 9:15-16, NKJV The Gibeonites plotted. They schemed. And they devised a plan to secure their freedom. They came to Joshua and the Israelites claiming to be something they weren’t. They told them things that were untrue and staged materials to ensure compassion. Joshua and Israel didn’t see it coming; they’d been duped, deceived by the enemy. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ It was my fourth semester of Old Testament. I sat in the second row, the fourth desk in, inside a room covered from floor to ceiling with painted maps of the nations of Israel, Abraham’s journeys, the Exodus, the divison of the Promised Land and many other pertinent Old Testament happenings. But that week the maps didn’t distract me. My thoughts, eyes, and heart were completely focused on the professor as he stood behind the lectern, tears streaming down his face, and taught through the book of Hosea. I was deeply moved as we took this journey, but wouldn’t completely grasp its true meaning until years later when my own husband would suffer long for my affection and love for him having lived through my deceiving and manipulation. Hosea was a prophet of Yahweh. He served the LORD in ministry from around 755-710 B.C. During his years of service, the nation of Israel, God’s chosen people, experienced...

Suffer Long with a Prostitute

It was my fourth semester of Old Testament. I sat in the second row, fourth desk inside a room covered from floor to ceiling with painted maps of the nations of Israel, Abraham’s journeys, the Exodus, and many other pertinent Old Testament happenings. But that week the maps didn’t distract me. My thoughts, eyes, and heart were completely focused on the professor as he stood behind the lectern, tears streaming down his face, and taught through the book of Hosea. I was deeply moved as we took this journey, but wouldn’t completely grasp its true meaning until years later when my own husband would suffer long for my affection and love for him. Hosea was a prophet of Yahweh. He served the LORD in ministry from around 755-710 B.C. During his years of service, the nation of Israel, God’s chosen people, experienced peace, prosperity, moral corruption, and spiritual ruin. Hosea’s primary focus was to open the blinded spiritual eyes of Israel in hopes that they’d see how they’d violated their covenant relationship with Yahweh. Hosea was called by the LORD to marry a woman who would prostitute herself during their marriage. This woman would give birth to children who may or may not have been his biological offspring. She would disgrace him and bring shame upon their home. But, Hosea wouldn't leave her; instead he'd stand right beside her. He'd not shun her; he'd welcome her home. He'd never hate her; instead he'd love her all the more. If ever there were an example of patience in a martial relationship, Hosea would be the poster child. “But the fruit...

Digging Deep this Christmas, part 2

Good morning dear ones! Are you ready to pull up your shirt sleeves and do a little more digging today in order to find those treasures that lie beneath the surface of Isaiah 7:14? Last week we read from the book of Ezekiel where God’s glory departed from the temple leaving His people because of their sins. We saw in chapter eleven of Ezekiel that yes, God’s glory was gone but His covenant love and promise still remained. God fully intended to return and restore His relationship with His people. Today we’ll see that He did just that…returned for His people. God illustrates His coming back for His people in the book of Hosea. So, grab your shovels and let’s start digging. Hosea is a book full of symbolism. The names in this book, especially in the first few chapters, are very significant to the picture God paints for us. In chapter 1 of Hosea we are introduced to the book’s main characters: ~Hosea, whose name means “salvation,” ~Gomer, Hosea’s wife, whose name means “complete vanishing,” ~Jezreel, their first child, whose name means “God scatters,” ~Lo-ruhamah, their second child, whose name means “not pitied,” ~and Lo-Ammi, their third child, whose name means “not my people.” God told Hosea, a righteous man, to take for himself Gomer as his wife. Gomer would come to be known as a woman of adultery who would cheat on her husband time and time again. Even though God told Hosea the kind of woman his wife would become, Hosea did not waiver in his obedience to the Lord. He took her as his bride...