Sunday, February 22, 2009

facing reality

some are like Ananias.
they come to you in your hour of darkness
bringing light and healing and good news.

some are like Barnabas
the "son of consolation."
they come to you
when no one understands how you have changed,
and encourage you to prove yourself.

some are like Hymenaeus, Philetus, or Alexander,
wolves in sheep's clothing.
they fight the Truth,
and they fight you because you proclaim the truth.

some are like John Mark,
abandoning you when the going gets tough
for their own convenience,
for their own comfort,
for their own security.

some are like Demas
and forsake you because they love this world.

some are like Diotrophes.
they reject you
because they love the preeminence.

one is your Shepherd.
He is more than enough.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

i am my Beloved's

i was desperate.

my life had no meaning
and i was being ground into nothing
by the harsh consequences
of my own selfish choices.
darkness surrounded me,
invaded me,
as i learned the unspoken rule
by cruel experience:
and be used.

then one day He came into my life.
oh, i did not love Him.
His light and His purity made me so ashamed,
so aware of the filth that covered me.
and when, newly aware, i tried to purify myself,
i only smeared and worsened the mess.

i resented Him.
who did He think He was,
coming into my life
and increasing my misery?

but He loved me.
i do not know why,
but He loved me
with a pure and unselfish love.
i don't know when i realized
that He wanted to help me,
but time passed
before i was willing to humble myself
and receive His help.

i was desperate,
and finally i wanted a solution.

He took me and washed me.
deeply embedded sin stains vanished.
the memory of them lingered awhile,
then faded as well.

He fed me at His banqueting table,
and His love beautified my life.
His love beautified me.

i loved attending His love feasts
with others whom He had rescued.
He walked with me throughout the day
and watched over me through the night.

i still love the feasts,
and the kinship with the rescued,
but i am in a crisis.

He has enemies,
fierce and violent.
they are armed with flattery and slander and false accusations,
and since they can do nothing to Him,
they attack those whom He loves.

oh, mercy!

i love Him so!
but the attacks bring back the darkness of the past!
they bring the stench of the filth of the past!
His enemies consider me as cattle to be butchered!
they are wolves,
sometimes wolves in sheep's clothing,
looking so innocent
but having a voracious appetite,
ripping me apart!

peace comes.
nothing can separate me from His love.
i will go to the feasts,
even in the presence of enemies.
He will prepare the table before me.
and i will reside with Him
in the home He is preparing for me

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Gift of Wisdom

In the fifth chapter of Created to Be His Help Meet, Debi addresses the question, "How can I possibly be cheerful when my husband is a selfish jerk?" She rightly concludes that our obedience to the Lord is not dependent on our husbands' good behavior. We are accountable to follow His commands no matter what our circumstances. Debi urges her readers to pursue a path of wisdom, which requires God's help.

Repeatedly, the biblical writers urge us to value wisdom above everything else in this world, and they also warn us of the dangers of foolishness.

Two of Solomon's proverbs come to mind:

"The wise woman builds her house,
but the foolish one tears it down with her own hands."

"A gracious woman retains honor."

So when my own dear and usually-loving husband has a bad day and, well, acts like a jerk, I still have a choice of whether I'm going to build up or tear down my house. And I have a choice about whether I will be gracious and honored, or be rude and take the consequences.

The internal struggle comes when I have the choice of obeying God or obeying my instincts when it comes to biblical submission. One time I was listening to the local Christian radio station, and heard a Q&A with Elizabeth Elliot. Someone asked, "What is submission?" She laughed sympathetically. Then she explained that men do not ask what submission means, they don't ask what it means to submit themselves to their employers or to the laws. She had only heard this question from women. Then she defined submission to husbands, "Do what he says."

Do you feel the same revolt welling up within you that I feel? You know that Christian women did not invent the idea of wifely submission! It is God's idea, and even though we don't always understand it, it is a wise and loving idea!

I know a group of women that call themselves "the strong-willed women"--and they think they have some unique virtue because of it. I try not to laugh. Is there a woman on the face of the earth that is not strong-willed?

I have also heard two women claim in an injured tone of voice that they are naturally submissive. Having observed each these women, I know that is not true; if her husband tells her to do something she doesn't want to do, she doesn't believe she understood him correctly, and each sweetly does what she thinks he should have wanted her to do.

But true submission is not natural. Submission is not the same thing as agreement; submission happens when agreement is not happening. And Jesus' submission to the Father is our example, though He agreed with the Father, He still was conflicted when He prayed, "If it be possible, let this cup pass from Me. Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours."

Our submission to our husbands is a testimony of two things. In the letter to the Ephesians, we are told that our submission to our own husbands is a picture of the church's submission to the Lord Jesus Christ. In the apostle Peter's first letter, we are told that Christ's submission to the Father is our example for submission to our husbands.

So with a gentle and quiet spirit, with our trust firmly fixed in our God, with the wisdom that God is so willing to give us, we can respond graciously and nobly to whatever God allows.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

faith power

He could have made Adam and Eve
without the ability to sin.
but He gave them the opportunity to trust,
or not to trust.

He could have given Abraham and Sarah
a child--or a whole tribe of children--
in their youth.
but He didn't.
He gave their faith a chance to grow strong.

He could have sent a little disease--
say, typhoid or yellow fever--
to remove Joseph's brothers
before they could sell him into slavery.
but He didn't.
He gave Joseph a door into great faith
and virtue
and forgiveness.

He could have hit Goliath
with a fatal heart attack
or a bolt of lightening
before he could intimidate God's men.
but He didn't.
He gave a young shepherd
the opportunity to show his faith
by his courage.

He could have made my way easy.
but He didn't.
He has given me the opportunity to trust,
or not to trust.
but by His grace,
i will overcome evil with good
by faith.

He will show mercy.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


weeping may endure for the night,
David wrote,
but joy comes in the morning.

there is a season for grief,
another for dancing.

Job prospers,
and prospers again.

Joseph is enslaved,
and ultimately reigns.

David conquers,
flees royal jealousy,
refuses to avenge himself,
then sees God abase his enemies
and exalt him to the promised throne.

Jesus humbles Himself.
He heals,
He dies and is buried.
but joy comes in the morning
with resurrection power!

i follow Him.
in green pastures,
by still waters,
through the valley of the shadow of death,
in the presence of my enemies.
surely goodness and mercy will follow me
all the days of my life,
and joy will come in the morning.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

thanksgiving produces joy

rejoice evermore.
pray without ceasing.
in everything give thanks.

oh, Lord, grant me the grace to obey You.

Friday, February 6, 2009

a sacrifice of joy

so what did he mean--
the shepherd-king David,
with his sacrifices of joy?

when in pain,
when in anguish,
when afflicted,
when betrayed,
i will praise You.

You are worthy.

Monday, February 2, 2009

A Thankful Spirit

In the third chapter of Created to Be His Help Meet, Debi contrasts "a merry heart vs. a poor-me attitude." She explains that a "downcast, unthankful attitude is a dishonor to God."

This has been one of the hardest weeks of my life, and I have cried a lot. This is extremely unusual for me. I seldom cry. In the midst of the distresses that came into my life, I was comforted to remember that Solomon said that "There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven--A time to weep, and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance." In the middle of all the distress, the Lord reminded me that I have many things for which I can be thankful. He didn't tell me what they were; that was my assignment. It was hard at first. But in time I have thought of quite a few blessings, any one of which outweighs the burdens that I am bearing right now. God Himself, with His great love for me is at the top of the list. In time I found myself content, even though the circumstances didn't change. The contentment was a gift from God, but one that I had to take the time to unwrap.

Oh, there is a time to grieve. But I don't want to wallow in it. No person or relationship or circumstance is perfect. As Edith Schaeffer wrote, "People throw away what they could have by insisting on perfection which they cannot have, and looking for it where they will never find it." The answer to dealing with imperfection is to learn the grace of contentment and thankfulness.

I love this poem that was submitted by Dillon and Patti Bayes to Good Housekeeping in 1994. They won a cruise for Valentine's Day, if my memory serves me correctly, as a result of winning the contest to which they submitted it.

"We gave. . .
when we wanted to receive.
We served. . .
when we wanted to feast.
We shared. . .
when we wanted to keep.
We listened. . .
when we wanted to talk.
We submitted. . .
when we wanted to reign.
We forgave. . .
when we wanted to remember.
We stayed. . .
when we wanted to leave."

That is the foundation and conclusion of contentment.

I can be content for Jesus. He will help me too.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


"O afflicted one,
and not comforted,
Behold, I will set your stones in antimony,
And your foundations I will lay in sapphires.
Moreover, I will make your battlements of rubies,
And your gates of crystal,
And your entire wall of precious stones.
And all your sons will be taught of the LORD,
And the well-being of your sons will be great.
In righteousness you will be established;
You will be far from oppression,
for you will not fear;
And from terror,
for it will not come near you.

If anyone fiercely assails you it will not be from Me.
Whoever assails you will fall because of you.
Behold, I Myself have created the smith who blows
the fire of coals,
And brings out a weapon for its work;
And I have created the destroyer to ruin.
No weapon that is formed against you shall prosper;
And every tongue that accuses you in judgment
you will condemn.

This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD,
And their vindication is from Me,"
declares the LORD.

Isaiah 54:11-17