Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Paying attention.

Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? ~Hebrews 2

I was reading a blog today where the writer mentioned something that is an extremely common problem for myself, and I believe is a problem for many if not all people. That is, the writer said that he was reading a somewhat familiar passage and something donned on him--but it was something he already knew. It had just gotten lost in some corner of his brain. How well I know that story.

It reminded me of the above passage in Hebrews. I find it no accident that we are reminded many times in Scripture to meditate on God's Word. There is much to be said for constantly recalling God's Words to us and meditating on them and remembering them. It builds faith as it reminds us of God's promises, His faithfulness, His character, His plan, etc. This passage in Hebrews is a very strong reminder to "pay [very close] attention" to the things we have heard in God's Word, for the consequences of drifting away are pretty grim. Even in the short-term, I realize just how many sticky or embarrassing situations I could have saved myself if I simply dwelt on the Word a little more. This is part of why I feel prompted to listen to so much Scripture throughout my day. Not only does it build my faith when I do so, but it tends to keep me out of trouble. After all, it's a little difficult to sin when you're thinking about God (unless you're a pretty hard person, in which case I don't know if there's hope for you).

As long as I live in an imperfect world I will probably have to re-learn things all the time, but in the mean time I hope to do my best to retain the things I have heard from God. I know they will keep my foot from slipping and will bless my life. I will not neglect this great salvation!

Monday, September 19, 2011


Sometimes there are certain words that seem to pop up more than others. It's like something is lurking in the shadows that I'm supposed to find and these recurring words are my clue. So whenever I notice a common theme in stories, verses, or sermons that I encounter, I tend to pay attention. 
Lately the word Hope has been following me around. It literally pops up everywhere. It's one of those words I never really paid much attention to because we use it all the time. "I hope it rains," or, "we're hoping for the best," or "I hope I can find some chocolate before I faint." It often comes with the connotation of uncertainty in our language. It's as if hope has taken on a meaning of chance. Consequently, when I hear someone talking about sharing hope with victims of a disaster or read a verse about hope, I guess that's just how my brain subconsciously interprets it. 
Recently I had one of those "of duh" sort of moments. I suddenly realized, "DUH! that's not what hope is." At least, that's never how the word "hope" is used in the Bible. Certainly not any time I can think of. When God says in Jeremiah 29:11 that He will give you a hope and a future, He surely is not talking about giving you a chance at good future. When the Bible talks about putting your hope in God, it surely is not a thing of uncertainty. After all, with all the uncertainties of life, why would you throw in your lot with more uncertainty? No, in fact, when hope is mentioned in the Bible, it is very much a thing of expectancy and anticipation.
God gives us certain promises in His Word in which we can have expectant hope, knowing He will do what He has promised because He is faithful. It's not a matter of "I hope God comes through," but a matter of "God said He will do this and He will!"
I ordered several things online recently from a certain well-known website using a gift card with which I had been blessed. Since it was a gift, I didn't have to pay for the items--they had already been paid for. All I had to do was use the card to cover the cost of what I needed. Then it was just a matter of waiting for my packages to arrive. I was waiting with an expectant hope and much anticipation! One of my packages took entirely too long to arrive. Eventually it did arrive, but if it had not arrived I would have had every right to write the company and complain and demand they make it right. Even if it wasn't the company's fault things didn't go right, I have a guarantee that they will deliver.
To me this is a perfect example of the hope we have in God's promises. I had redeemed my prize that someone else paid for and now the items were mine. All I had to do is wait for them to arrive. I may have had to put in a little effort to fight for my right if things didn't go as planned, but that would be an exception to the general rule of how things work. So it is with the promises of God. He paid for them. Now it's up to us to take possession of what He has given us. Sometimes it requires a long wait and a lot of patience. Sometimes it takes a bit of a battle to keep the enemy from running interference. But we can know with a confident hope that God does provide what He promises and He will come through for us!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Friendship vs Servanthood

No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.   ~John 15:15

"What are you doing today to serve God?" Ever hear that question? Or have you ever sat and listened to an incredible missionary presentation and wished you could go serve God overseas? I have. When I was younger I'd hear my grandma tell many stories of serving as a missionary in South America, or stories of missionaries she knew. I always felt like in order to be important in God's kingdom you had to be a pastor or a missionary (or, in my case as a girl, the wife of a pastor or missionary). And of course I wanted to be important. But I didn't particularly feel called to be "in the ministry." At least, not in the traditional sense.
I remember the relief I had as I got a little older and realized that God uses people of all vocations, and furthermore He needs people in every walk of life to be useful for Him. I realized that God calls everyone who follows Him to certain tasks. But I still couldn't shake the mindset of servanthood. I would practically beg for God to use me as His servant to do His bidding. I didn't care if He sent me to live in a mud hut and eat strange foods and go through all sorts of hardships. I just wanted to *do* something for God. I wanted to do *anything* for God. But something was missing.

There is nothing wrong with seeking servanthood. The Bible speaks plenty of being a servant. It's associated with humility and selflessness. Paul often refers to himself as a bondservant of Christ--indebted to Him because of the price He paid. But if we get to the point where we seek the service rather than seeking the One we serve, we have swung the proverbial pendulum off-target.

I think Jesus' wording was very precise when He told the disciples they were not just His servants, but His friends. He makes the distinction, and I think we should take note. A servant is concerned only with managing whatever department they are entrusted with. They are list-keepers, so to speak. They have a set regime of tasks to complete in order to fulfill their duty. There is little relationship with "the boss." A friend, on the other hand, has close relationship. A friend serves, but a friend's service is born out of love. There is no pressure to perform in order to maintain a status and get paid. There is only the desire to please. You know what your friend has in mind, their likes and displeasure, and out of your love for your friend you do what you can to please them. Not out of fear of rejection; out of love.
Imagine if your mother when you were a child was so fixated on feeding you and keeping your face and clothes clean and neat and keeping the house clean and neat that that was all she ever talked about and all she ever paid attention to you or had fun with you. Chances are if you had that childhood, you probably don't have very fond memories of it. In contrast, if your mother lets you play in the mud and make a mess in the kitchen once in a while, you will probably grow up with great childhood memories. Why? Because in the first example it's all about the house and the clothes and appearances and keeping rules. In the second example it's about enjoying life together. There is relationship.

That is the friendship vs servanthood distinction. It's about relationship. It's about love and mutual respect. So serve God and serve Him well, but let it all be done out of your love and appreciation for all He's done for you. By the way, He did it for you out of love.

P.S. sorry for the weird background highlighting. I don't know why it's doing that and it won't stop.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

O LORD, Be Gracious to Me

Copied from Bible Gateway in the English Standard Version

Psalm 41

O LORD, Be Gracious to Me
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

1(A) Blessed is the one who considers the poor![a]
(B) In the day of trouble the LORD delivers him;
2the LORD protects him and keeps him alive;
he is called blessed in the land;
you(C) do not give him up to the will of his enemies.
3The LORD sustains him on his sickbed;
in his illness you restore him to full health.[b]
4As for me, I said, "O LORD,(D) be gracious to me;
(E) heal me,[c] for I have sinned against you!"
5My enemies say of me in malice,
"When will he die, and his name perish?"
6And when one comes to see me,(F) he utters empty words,
while his heart gathers iniquity;
when he goes out, he tells it abroad.
7All who hate me whisper together about me;
they imagine the worst for me.[d]
8They say, "A deadly thing is poured out[e] on him;
he will not rise again from where he lies."
9Even my(G) close friend in whom I trusted,
who(H) ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.
10But you, O LORD, be gracious to me,
and raise me up, that I may repay them!
11By this I know that(I) you delight in me:
my enemy will not shout in triumph over me.
12But(J) you have upheld me because of(K) my integrity,
and(L) set me in your presence(M) forever.
13(N) Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting!

Amen and Amen.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

I have calmed and quieted my soul

Sometimes I have a tendency to obsess over things and over-think things. I have to remind myself to keep my mind on the Lord and let Him take care of things for me.

Psalm 131

A Song of(A) Ascents. Of David.
1O LORD, my heart is not(B) lifted up;
my eyes are not(C) raised too high;
I do not(D) occupy myself with things
too great and(E) too marvelous for me.
2But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned(F) child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul within me. 3(G) O Israel, hope in the LORD
from this time forth and forevermore.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

He Will Not Forsake His Saints

One of my favorite passages :)  From the ESV, copied from Bible Gateway

Psalm 37

He Will Not Forsake His Saints
[a] Of David.
1(A) Fret not yourself because of evildoers;
be not(B) envious of wrongdoers!
2For they will soon(C) fade like(D) the grass
and wither(E) like the green herb. 3(F) Trust in the LORD, and do good;
(G) dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.[b]
4(H) Delight yourself in the LORD,
and he will(I) give you the desires of your heart.
5(J) Commit your way to the LORD;
(K) trust in him, and he will act.
6(L) He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
and your justice as(M) the noonday.
7(N) Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;
(O) fret not yourself over the one who(P) prospers in his way,
over the man who carries out evil devices!
8(Q) Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!
(R) Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
9(S) For the evildoers shall be cut off,
but those who wait for the LORD shall(T) inherit the land.
10In(U) just a little while, the wicked will be no more;
though you look carefully at(V) his place, he will not be there.
11But(W) the meek shall inherit the land
and delight themselves in(X) abundant peace.
12The wicked(Y) plots against the righteous
and(Z) gnashes his teeth at him,
13but the Lord(AA) laughs at the wicked,
for he sees that his(AB) day is coming.
14The wicked draw the sword and(AC) bend their bows
to bring down the poor and needy,
to slay those whose(AD) way is upright;
15their sword shall enter their own heart,
and their(AE) bows shall be broken.
16(AF) Better is the little that the righteous has
than the abundance of many wicked.
17For(AG) the arms of the wicked shall be broken,
but the LORD(AH) upholds the righteous.
18The LORD(AI) knows the days of the blameless,
and their(AJ) heritage will remain forever;
19they are not put to shame in evil times;
in(AK) the days of famine they have abundance.
20But the wicked will perish;
the enemies of the LORD are like(AL) the glory of the pastures;
they vanish—like(AM) smoke they vanish away.
21The wicked borrows but does not pay back,
but the righteous(AN) is generous and gives;
22for those blessed by the LORD[c] shall(AO) inherit the land,
but those cursed by him(AP) shall be cut off.
23The(AQ) steps of a man are(AR) established by the LORD,
when he delights in his way;
24(AS) though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong,
for the LORD(AT) upholds his hand.
25I have been young, and now am old,
yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken
or his children(AU) begging for bread.
26He is ever(AV) lending generously,
and his children become a blessing.
27(AW) Turn away from evil and do good;
so shall you(AX) dwell forever.
28For the LORD(AY) loves justice;
he will not forsake his(AZ) saints.
They are preserved forever,
but the children of the wicked shall be(BA) cut off.
29The righteous shall inherit the land
and(BB) dwell upon it forever.
30The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom,
and his tongue speaks justice.
31(BC) The law of his God is in his heart;
his(BD) steps do not slip.
32The wicked(BE) watches for the righteous
and seeks to put him to death.
33The LORD will not(BF) abandon him to his power
or let him(BG) be condemned when he is brought to trial.
34(BH) Wait for the LORD and keep his way,
and he will exalt you to inherit the land;
you will look on(BI) when the wicked are cut off.
35(BJ) I have seen a wicked, ruthless man,
spreading himself like(BK) a green laurel tree.[d]
36But he passed away,[e] and behold,(BL) he was no more;
though I sought him, he could not be found.
37Mark the blameless and behold the upright,
for there is a future for the man of(BM) peace.
38But(BN) transgressors shall be altogether destroyed;
the future of the wicked(BO) shall be cut off.
39(BP) The salvation of the righteous is from the LORD;
he is their stronghold in(BQ) the time of trouble.
40The LORD helps them and(BR) delivers them;
(BS) he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they(BT) take refuge in him.

Friday, March 4, 2011


Last night a friend of mine passed away after a long battle with cancer. It's always hard to know what to say at times like this. For all of us left behind there's always questions of why, and oftentimes no answers. I'm glad to know he's finally whole and gets to bask in the glory of God forever, completely uninhibited by mortal flesh. I'm a bit jealous, too. Not that I so dislike life on earth, but oh to be free from this body and its limitations, to see the most glorious thing--far beyond anything I can begin to comprehend.
When I was younger I often marveled at the apostle Paul's words when he described the battle within between wanting to depart and be with God or to stay on earth and minister to people. I understood the sentiment but it was something my mind couldn't grasp. The thought of dying was scary, as the unknown generally is. I think now I understand. Earth is beautiful like crazy. I love people and I love the smells of spring and the warm sunshine and the gentle snow or a mighty storm. Yet for all Earth's incredible beauty, it is marred with the curse of sin and the pain it brings. Selfishness and pride hang over it like an ugly black stain right in the most obvious place of an otherwise stunning painting.
Heaven, on the other hand, is filled with the glory of God! That may seem a bit of a trite catch-phrase on the surface. But when I think of it... The wonderful feeling of knowing God here on earth-- to the ten-billionth power, and so much more than we can imagine! I daresay we won't even think of silly little things like a sweet summer breeze or the fiery leaves of autumn when all around is awesomeness to end all awesomeness. We'll never tire of singing, "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY!" What a choir that will be! We will finally be where we were meant to be: in the presence of our Maker, Redeemer, Sustainer, Fortress, Strength... there are not enough words to describe it!
So yes, there are a lot of lives Greg touched that will be missing him and I know how hard it is on his family and closest loved-ones. But I can't help but think of him in that glorious place with all the saints that have gone before, and I smile through tears of joy when I think of the moment he finally got to hear those words, "Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into my joy."
Congrats, Greg, on a life well-lived and a victorious crossing of the finish line!

And whenever you think of it, friend, do pray God's special blessing and comfort over the Wallace and Hemmer families and all the lives Greg touched.