Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Snakes and Crosses

Have you read Numbers lately?  Most especially Numbers 21:6-9?  It is where the people complained and were visited by poisonous snakes.  It is where, instead of taking the snakes away, God provided Moses with the means to heal the bitten from the fatal poison.God wanted His wayward people to look to His provision for healing and to keep their eyes on His provision, His leader, His power.  Not on their complaints, their needs, their wants but rather on Him.

Would you like to come with me to John 3:14-15 and see how this story prepares us for the Cross?  Yes, for the cross, that bloody piece of wood to which death and sin are nailed and from which our Saviour rose victorious.  Jesus, like His Father, did not provide that which the people asked for but He did so much more!

No earthly, worldly kingdom for the Jews, rather eternal life for all who believe!

No great battles, won victoriously, rather thousands fed from a few loaves and fishes.

No paradise in the desert, but manna from heaven, quail from the seaside, water from rocks, healing from snakes.

No quick and sure answers to many pleading prayers, but small daily blessings.

No easy answers to the challenges faced but quiet assurance of His grace and His peace.

No flashes of great evangelical insight but the wisdom from a child, who believes with his whole being in his friend, his Saviour, his Lord.

God could have chosen anything for the people to look upon in the desert, but He chose a snake on a pole.  To remind them that He wasn't taking away the snakes but their poison.  Ultimately the cross also took away the original poison of sin and replaced it with shining white grace, heavenly acceptance and holy peace.

God could have chosen anything for the people to sacrifice His Lamb upon but He chose to the nail ridden, blood stained cross.  To remind them that He wasn't just here for today but for eternity. That the promises He makes stand forever.  The cross, that sign of horror, was just as abhorrent as a poisonous snake and yet each held the focus of the sinner upon the holy healing hand of God.

Snakes and crosses, thank you Lord for putting our eyes and hearts where they belong upon You!  When the snake bites us with pride and frustration.  When the cross seems far away in the busy of the day.  When just one more thing is the final straw.  When tears fall hot and fears rack deep and we just sink to our knees and cry out Lord! Lord!

God wants us to raise our hearts, our eyes, our prayers to Him.  He wants us looking up at the cross, to remember them looking up at the bronze snake to remove the poison.  To restore us to Him.  To restore us to Him.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Speak Lord

The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”  Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”  1 Samuel 3:10 (NIV)

A child's talking book, the question, Would that sound like the voice of our Lord, Mama?

Birds singing, dogs barking, horses neighing and cows mooing, Can they hear the voice of our Lord, Mama?

Questions with no earthly answer and yet spoken with such a degree of faith and conviction sends me seeking in the Word.  Can we hear the voice of our Lord?  Yes buddy we can, in everything around us.

A slightly scornful look and a slowly spoken question, But Mama, I mean His own voice! Oh, that!  

We sit down and we read Samuel and we read about Moses and when the dove hovered above Jesus with a holy benediction from His Father.  We can hear His voice, we can read it and our imaginations and our faith fills in the sounds.

Only a little faith seeker would want to know what His own voice sounds like while struggling, falling, climbing, seeking Mama waits to feel that voice in her heart and in her soul.

He imagines God calling him by name and believes that he would know his voice.  I imagine what is felt like to hear it for others.  Fearfully, wonderfully, recognized by mind, body and soul.  Recognized by all Creation!  All His Creation.

My little seeker searches for the touch of His Lord in everything.  I search for Him too.  What I find is not what he finds.  Is it because of my grown up hobbles or because of his childlike faith?

I want, I want to seek like he does.  I want, I need to long for that voice like he does, and so I listen.  I wait.  I seek.  I watch his faith grow and I nurture it.  

I never want him to doubt his voice seeking and I never want him to forget that the foundation of his faith is built on that Rock of Jesus.  I want him to feel, no matter where he is, he can quietly in the night say, Speak Lord, I'm listening.

Now, can I still my own grown up soul and mind long enough to hear that call too?  Praying that I can,  for us both.  I too long to hear the voice of Our Lord.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Rebuilding Walls

I was reading in Nehemiah about the rebuilding of Jerusalem's walls.  What an amazing story and what an amazing lesson for us building communities, relationships and rebuilding walls!

There is this thing about walls especially those made of stone or brick.  They have to lock together or they won't be strong. 

Each family, each person important, rich, poor, unknown, named, adult and child, worked on their part of the wall.  BUT each part had to connect to all the others!

Shallum son of Hallohesh, ruler of a half-district of Jerusalem, repaired the next section with the help of his daughters.   Nehemiah 3:12 (NIV)

Think about our lives, our families, our communities.  We all have our own walls to build or rebuild and yet if we are to be truly a part of the fabric of believers and a witness to our communities we have to have our work connect together!  

They weren't building with new freshly cut stones!  These were stones broken down by war, weather and time.  This wasn't a bunch of professionals either. These were families working together knowing their walls protected them, their walls united them, their walls were part of their world.  Taking the stones they could find and carry, the ones that could be used, these families in about 52 days built up the walls to half their height.

They were mocked and laughed at and threatened.  They were told it couldn't work, that's too much effort.  They were told they were crazy to try.  They kept on rebuilding their walls.  They kept at it.  They posted guards.  They probably sang. Shared food and water. They helped carry loads.  Small children, daughters and sons, parents and grand parents, Jews and aliens.  Working together. Their work fitting together.

When I read that I had to go back and read it again.  It amazed me.  What a cooperative effort!  

Sisters and brothers - can we not rebuild the walls of our relationships as believers?  Can we not find ways to fit together, to work together so that we have a testimony of loving cooperation in the Lord?

They worked together.  No one stood up and said, "Your wall isn't good enough!" or "Your section isn't Godly enough."   No one knocked anyone down or their part of the wall either.  I wondered why. It is human nature to be competitive, to want the best wall, the best grade, the best job, the best look.

So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart.  Nehemiah 4:6 (NIV)

They were working together to restore something precious to them all!  What is more precious to us than our testimony and the loving Grace of our Lord?   The builders were not named to glorify their building but to acknowledge that they worked and built. There was no vanity.  There was no my section of wall is greater than yours.  No one celebrated that their part was bigger, better, faster, smarter, had newer stones or that they put more sweat into it.  It was celebrated that they all worked together.

Shouldn't our church and community of believers have that same attitude of rebuilding walls together as we minister not to ourselves but to the community that needs to hear the Gospel most?  Shouldn't our example be one of a people of faith working together?  Each wall piece was slightly unique but alike enough that it fit together, that it was strong together.

I believe that we can be a light in the darkness and that God doesn't really care what our lamp looks like.  As long as the walls hold together and our light shines with the glory of Jesus and the grace of God.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Reaching 600

Happy Mother's Day!  

I was thinking about that while I was writing in my gratitude journal.  My blogging friend Ann Voskamp has so many inspirational links and printables on her blog if you check them out at A Holy Experience.  Her own journey to 1000 and more inspired me to start my own gratitude journal and to make some as gifts.

So I'm writing in my journal, purple cover embossed with the word CREATE and I'm looking at the numbers rising higher and higher of all that I'm thankful for.  All that I'm grateful for.  Almost 600 items, and looking back on them I see how they paint a picture of my life.

What does it mean to save the moments and to recall those things?  It means that when I see blank walls and feel welling tears I have almost 600 things to look back upon and say, Thank you Lord! about! It means one day in the future my son will get that book, and his own we started this spring and see all the little joys which made for great joy in our lives.

It's more than a list of gratitude now though, it has favorite verses listed front and back and a note to my future adult son letting him know about his little book from Mama.

It is the words and the reminder that God is the perfect author of hope and that through faith and love and grace we can find things to be thankful for even on the gray, hazy and sad days.  On this, an imperfect Mother's Day, celebrated by a most imperfect Mama I'm grateful for so much.

Do you gratitude journal? Feel free to share some random items!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Looking in my heart

We each did a painting of a heart -
three hearts for the three of us.

I was in the sunroom, reading through Ezra.  He was looking through his new Bible. We were talking about Jesus, God, Heaven and hearts.  He comes up to me, puts his finger tips on his chest, closes his eyes and drops his head down.

"What are you doing buddy?" I ask in a quiet Mama voice.

"I'm looking in my heart with God, Mama," came the solemn reply

"What did you and God see in your heart?" I asked, awe in my voice.

Looking up, huge smile he says, "Well Mama, God and I saw lots and lots of love!"

When was the last time you bowed your head, touched your hands to your chest, closed your eyes and said, 
" Lord, come with me and look in my heart."?

As I go through my day today, I'm seeking God's holy light upon my heart.  What will we find in those places where the scars are thick and old or in the spots where hurt is new and those where love grows and hope springs up?  I pray that I will find the touch of God.  I pray that you will find the touch of God.

May God's love be with you always, and in all ways!

Monday, May 2, 2011

What were you watching?

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, [and] giving of thanks be made for all men for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.   1 Timothy 2:1-2

Canada has tonight elected a majority and selected a new official opposition, two former leaders have been defeated and we as Christians have a human government moving our country forward.  Do you pray for our leaders?  Do you pray for them to have wisdom, discernment and grace? Do you pray for them to have courage and to listen to the people who chose them?

Canadians are not as vocal and loud about our faith as some of our neighbors in the south.  That is not a fault but an observation.  We are less expressive in many ways and yet we speak loudly in others. Sometimes unexpectedly.  We don't hear candidates speaking of their faith and yet we should as believers support them with our prayers.  Whether we know about their personal relationship with God or not we are instructed to pray for them to lead our country well.  

Listening to the party leaders speaking as winners or as losers and I'm hearing a lot of grace, a lot of support and seeing dignity.  This is a good way for change to start a new season and I'm thankful for it.

We don't often hear the words pray for our leaders and yet we need to provide them with that, just as we would intercede for anyone. What do you pray for when you consider your leaders and your country?