Finding God In... MISCARRIAGE

This is a beautiful reblog from a dear sister, Sherry Clair of Hand Me Downs. Please be encouraged!  

In June of 2016 I sat in my car outside a video store praying fervently to the Lord.  I was begging for Him to give me a child.  Not just any child; my child.  The one that just a week before had been growing and thriving inside of me.  “Please, Lord” I whispered “let this one be okay.  Let us have this one, please make the bleeding stop, keep the heart beating and let this baby grow.”  I stayed in my car with my head bowed, pleading for that little life, tears dripping off my chin for about another ten minutes.  I took a few breaths and began to try to put myself back together.  I was wiping my face when a startling thought popped into my head, ‘but what if He doesn’t?

What if He doesn’t?  What would I do then?  I remembered a story from Daniel about three individuals who were facing the same question.  They, however, had an amazing answer.  In the third chapter of Daniel, King Nebuchadnezzar had set up a golden statue.  He was very proud of this and required that every individual must bow before this image.  Now, there were three young Jew’s, they knew the commandments of God forbid this and they refused.  Nebuchadnezzar was not happy about that and told them that they would be cast into a furnace.

A furnace.  This wasn’t a simple time out or jail time or a slap on the wrist.  This was death and not a peaceful one at that!  This was being tossed into hot, scalding, burning, flesh searing flames and suffering until the very end.  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were facing a horrifying life or death situation.  But that didn’t deter them.  They had faith that their Lord would indeed step in and save them.  That He would redeem them and bring them out of the situation.  But what if He didn’t?  What if the Lord didn’t intervene and spare their lives?

Daniel 3:18 provides that answer, “But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the image you set up”.  In essence; absolutely nothing will change.  They would walk into that furnace facing certain death, and even if God did not intervene, they would not falter or be shaken.  So where did that leave me?  What if God didn’t intervene and what if I did lose the pregnancy?

If God didn’t step in then I would be forced to walk into that furnace.  I would be forced to face the biting, stinging, painful flames of grief and loss.  But I wouldn’t be alone!  God says in Hebrews 13:5 “Never will I leave you; Never will I forsake you”.

If God didn’t step in then I would be changed.  Those flames would alter little pieces of me and those pieces would never be the same again.  But God would still be the same!  Hebrews 13:8 states that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever”.  He would be as good, and just and loving as He was before the fire.  His heart towards me would be no different than it was before!

If God didn’t step in then I might break.  I worried that the fire would be too much for me to overcome. I worried that I wasn’t strong enough to endure the overwhelming, seemingly unending and devastating flames.  But God would be there in my weakness!  It would be through my weakness that God’s power would be the most evident.  In 2nd Corinthians 12 the Lord says “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”.  

God didn’t stop King Nebuchadnezzar from throwing the three Jew’s into the furnace.  In fact he was so angered by their response that he demanded the furnace temperature be increased even higher!  He tied them up and had them thrown directly into the flames.  When the king peered into the furnace though he realized that there were no longer three men but four.  There in the midst of the flames, in the furnace hot enough to kill the attendants, who threw the three men in, was the Lord! They emerged from the flames unscathed, not a hair singed or the smell of soot on their clothes.

I prayed, I trusted and I waited.  But God didn’t intervene.  Just like with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego God had allowed me to be flung into the furnace.  For the second time in within just a few short months I had to say goodbye to another baby that I hardly knew but loved fiercely.  I was deep within the flames.  But I knew with every part of my being, that I was not alone in them.  That the Lord was there with me, even when I couldn’t see him through the smoke and when the flames seemed to consume me, He was there.

There will be many times in all of our lives that we will face the furnace.  We will stand at the door of situations that we don’t want to be in.  We will feel the heat rising up to singe our skin.  The flames may look insurmountable and terrifying.  With fear and worry coursing through us we will call out to God to help us, in our faith we will look to Him who we trust.  Sometimes He will close the door on that trial before we even have to enter.  Sometimes we will have to go into that furnace.  But if we do, remember who is in those flames with you.

Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father, we are so thankful that you are there through every circumstance with us.  You have said that you will never leave us or forsake us.  Please let us be reminded that no matter how difficult our situation may be that you are nearby.  Help us to remember to lean on your during difficult times and continue to find moments to praise you even in the fire.

Going Number Two

I'm excited to feature another writer today. My sister Alicia Costello has graciously written a wonderful blog for us to enjoy. Please check out her brand-new website too! ~B

My son is 4 years old and 2 months, and this kid is not. potty. trained.

Trust me, it’s not for lack of trying. He took to going number one in the potty fairly well. He goes to the potty every single time to go number one. It’s just, um, number two. He won’t go. No matter how long he is sat on the potty, he won’t do it. The second he gets that Pull-Up back on, he goes. We’ve tried everything. And it’s not only that he won’t go in the potty, but his face is one of no remorse. He’s resolved. He does not care about what we’ve asked him to do. Heck, after changing 4 Pull-Ups today before 2pm, he’s walking around my house literally butt naked because I just don’t have the mental capacity today to change another Pull-Up.

http://

via GIPHY

I’m sure any mom who has potty trained can sympathize. Unless your children are robots, and in that case where do I buy robot children??!!

My husband once said, “I never understood before I had kids why it seemed like every preacher’s story was about their kids. Now I get it. Everything they do preaches to you.”

And God’s never one to waste an opportunity so of course he’s been talking to me through it.

My child has one job: to poop in the potty. We have had many, many talks about this. I have told him he can’t go to big-boy classes at school or church until he poops in the potty. He understands poop goes in the potty. I feel like God has told me, you have one job. You are to go and preach my gospel. Use the tools I’ve given you.

http://

via GIPHY

And like God, I’ve given my child tools. Pull-ups. Access to the potty. And God’s given us tools, although they’re different. He’s given some an extra measure of encouragement, or some a teaching gift, or some a hospitality gift. God’s given me everything I need to do the job he’s asked me to do. And with my kid, I’ve given him everything he needs to do what I asked him to do successfully. And he still won’t do it. In fact, he takes my tools I’ve given him and just poops all over them, which is the opposite of why he has them. And I don’t know if you’re honest enough with yourself to point to a time in your life where you, even you, have taken the tools God has given us to do the exact opposite of what he wants us to do with them. I know I’ve done that more times than I care to remember.

As a mom, the second my kid actually poops in that potty, I will be so relieved and elated, I won’t even care about the years he spent being disobedient. I will just be so happy he’s being obedient now. I’ll just let that preach itself.

http://

via GIPHY

But for now, I’m stuck changing Pull-Up after Pull-up. I get frustrated until I literally take the Pull-Ups away. He couldn’t even go in his pants if he tried. He has no pants. Even the act of taking the Pull-Up away preaches to me on some deeper level. Like, it reminds me of the parable of the talent where Jesus says about the unfruitful servant “even what he has will be taken away from him.” (Matt 25:29)

But, thankfully, unlike me, God is so, so patient. Even if it takes us years, God continues to give us unmerited second chance after unmerited second or third or forth or seventy-ninth chance.

http://

via GIPHY

The Bible says very explicitly that God’s mercies are new every morning. So, consider today a great place to start. Apologize to him, and begin using those tools God gave you to do to accomplish the goals he’s set up just for you. Don’t be afraid of how many days you’ve spent being disobedient, just worry about your obedience today.

Take these next few sentences as your challenge:

I’ve given you the goal. I’ve given you the tools. I can’t move you on to the next season until you start being obedient in this season. I’m ready to go if you are. I’ll be beside you on this journey. I see the way. You don’t have to have it all figured out. Your job is just to trust me and obey. And if you follow me, we’ll go on an adventure together.

Testify

It has been on my heart of late the importance of our testimony. Everyone who is in Christ has one, we know our own stories like the back of our hands... and yet so often we hesitate to share the story of our salvation. Scripture implores us to share our faith. If we know nothing else, no scripture, no verses, no words of wisdom... we still know our own Jesus right? Our testimony is our story- it's our own, personal love story with the Creator. We don't need to be theologians to tell it. We don't need to have massive amounts of scripture memorized to throw at people. We need only the guts to open our mouths and tell it.

Our testimony is one of God's most potent weapons against the enemy. Wielded through the mouths of the ones who lived these salvations, our testimony cannot be stopped. Revelations 12:11 says the word of our testimony conquers Satan himself! It is such an easy yet mighty tool in our arsenal for the kingdom. And yet, still... we do not use it as much as we should. Why?

Shame.

How often, even those of us who are walking in freedom, grace, and mercy hesitate to share what God has done because of the shame that our past still holds over us. Satan just loves to keep us living in the past right? And if it's not shame for what we've done... it's shame for what we didn't do. Anyone out there feel like their testimony isn't worth sharing because it's just not juicy enough? It's not littered with drugs or affairs, abuse or porn... so it's just not worth sharing?

Satan'll take our closed mouths either way. He'll convince us our past is too dark to share or too light to share. I would ask you today, do you view your own testimony through the lens of shame or the lens of victory? What's keeping your mouth shut?

"For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power, love, and self-control. So do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, or of me, His prisoner. Instead, join me in suffering for the gospel by the power of God. He has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not because of our own works, but by His own purpose and by the grace He granted us in Christ Jesus before time eternal. And now He has revealed this grace through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has abolished death and illuminated the way to life and immortality through the gospel, to which I was appointed a preacher, apostle, and teacher.For this reason, even though I suffer as I do, I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him for that day." 2 Timothy 1:6-12 ESV

We have to open our mouths dear ones! We have to share the salvation of Christ in our lives! We don't need a degree, we don't need a long story, we don't need to be saved x-number of months, we don't need to be a speaker, we don't need a juicy story. All we need is to tell what Jesus has done for us. Good, bad, or ugly. Like the woman at the well. Having been saved a hot-minute, she spoke the only testimony she had, which was a whopping eight words. That's it!

"Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, 'He told me all that I ever did.' So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, 'It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.'" John 4: 39-42 ESV

Our testimony is God's tool to use through us. All it needs to do is point people back to Him. He'll take care of the rest. So let us walk unashamed in the salvation He's provided and proclaim it from the rooftops. Whether it's X-rated or a very mild G, all are important, all need spoken... there IS someone who needs to hear yours today. Be brave, be bold, and speak up! Testify!

If you haven't read mine, please do here. I'd you to hear my story and learn about my Jesus!

When All Else Fails... Pray First

Christians in general don't pray enough- at least we don't pray WHEN we should. I've come to the realization that the vast majority of us are just not very timely 'pray-ers'. Sure, we're great at bringing God the big stuff- we're okay at bringing God the little stuff, but I'm not sure how effective we are at bringing God ALL the stuff.... FIRST. Prayer is too often used as a last resort. When all else has failed and we've come to the end of our rope. When everything we can think of and mess with has fallen short. When we are, through multiple instances of personal failure, finally convinced that (maybe, just maybe) it's something that God could take care of. When we find ourselves a long way down a long road to Nowhere and decide that the decisions we've been making are perhaps not the wisest.... Well, you get the idea.

We pray.... finally.

Too often, dear ones... too often we start praying when all else has failed.

Too often we have it backwards. We've missed step one.

Scripture implores us to be in prayer continually- to seek God's favor, grace, mercy, encouragement, advice, healing, wisdom, conviction always. I wrote on this verse last week, but it just keeps coming up- 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." It doesn't say to pray sometimes, or to pray near the middle of a circumstance. Paul doesn't tell us to pray at the finale, when we can think of nothing else to do and we're at the end of ourselves. We're not taught to pray only when we think we need God's help.

God's WILL for us is to pray without ceasing- which by nature implies that we're giving EVERYTHING to God, ALL the time. The beginning, the middle, and the end... and then some more.

Today brothers and sisters, please don't wait until the all else has failed to start praying. Pray first. Pray often. Pray without ceasing. And be assured that the Lord of the heavens, will never fail you!

Keep Your Peace

Recently in church we were discussing the first official offerings the Israelites made in Leviticus. Having received their strict instructions and purified themselves, the new (and first) high priest, Aaron the brother of Moses, spends most of chapter 3 offering the first sacrifices to the Yahweh, the Holy One of Israel. Verse 9:24 shows us that God shows up in a big way and the people rejoice. They fall down in ecstasy and worship. all is well... really, really well. Until the very next verse-

"Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, which he had not commanded them. 2 And fire came out from before the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord.3 Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord has said: ‘Among those who are near me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified.’” And Aaron held his peace. Leviticus 10:1-3

Wow- before anyone knew what had happened, the events turned from celebrations to carnage. Aaron went from proud and excited to what I can only imagine was profound pain, sorrow, and confusion. After all, he just witnessed two of his sons being burned alive by God. Not a visual he would soon forget I bet.

How quickly things can turn 'bad'! How fast the rug can be pulled out from under us... even by God. Especially by God sometimes.

It is indeed a sad story, a truly telling anecdote of how important following God's commands are... often life and death. And yet, the part that struck me the most yesterday were a mere four words.

...Aaron held his peace.

A profound reaction no? Aaron, despite just witnessing what he did... the personal grief, shock, and anger that must have immediately sprung up... HELD his peace. 

This had huge implications for me. First off, it implies he had peace to begin with. It implies he chose to keep it instead of flinging it away, despite and in spite of what circumstances surrounded him. He purposefully KEPT his peace. He didn't lose it, he didn't ignore it was there, he didn't throw it down in fury. He held it... better yet, I imagine he CLUNG to it.

Jesus speaks often of peace, HIs peace that confounds the world. John 14:27, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid."

Aaron had reason to be troubled... and I imagine he was quite afraid in the moment as well. But the peace that God gives- he kept. He held onto. It is a stark picture of the kind of peace God offers us, and even more so what we should do with it.

If circumstances in your life right now are confounding to you. If sorrow or anger, frustration or grief are threatening to overtake your sanity. The peace offered to you is already given by Abba. It needs to be held, clung to, sought after, and kept.

Keep your peace dear ones- if Aaron can do it, so can we!

Spiritual HissyFits

This summer at Camp Barnabas was chock-full of GodStuff, but none more pronounced than what God taught me through our daily devotionals. Camp did 4 days of devos over Jonah– one day for each chapter. Multiply that times 9 weeks of terms and I got a whole ‘lotta Jonah. You’d think for such a short book that I would have run out of material, but God had other plans.  We've got 2 lessons left to go- stay with me! There's SO MUCH good stuff in Jonah! I hope you're learning as much as I am! Click here for lessons one, two, three, and four! YAY! Ninevah's been saved! As we read last time, they all (from top to bottom) repented and mourned. They changed their ways and God relented from His promised destruction. What an awesome thing! What a glorious testament to God's power! What bragging rights Jonah just earned for listening and obeying! I'd be strutting around with bells on proclaiming what a marvelous thing just occurred!

Pretty sure Jonah was too... (4:1-3) "But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry {wait... what?!?!} He prayed to the Lord, "Isn't this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live."

If I didn't know better, I'd say Jonah just threw himself a spiritual hissy-fit. (For being a bit of a fraidy-cat, the man clearly had no worries confronting the God of the universe....yikes!) It is fascinating to me how, at the pinnacle of his success, Jonah is wallowing in his own selfishness; he was actually MAD about God forgiving them! And this from a man who not 2-seconds earlier in the story was himself running away from God. I'm guessing he didn't see the parallels in his own life...

As much as I'd love to point fingers at our wayward prophet's hypocrisy here, three more would be pointing back at me. I'm not going to belabor the obvious point. Rather let's do some self-evaluation-

The question here is this, what "Nivevites' in your life are causing you to stumble and throw a spiritual hissy-fit? Who has done you wrong, or what enemy do you have that has found God... and how do you feel about it? Anyone come to mind? How are you taking the news of their repentance- with skepticism, with joy, with anger (like Jonah), with thanksgiving?

I admit there's been a few over the years that I had a hard time accepting into God's family. It's just the truth. But as we'll read about in the next installment, the problem of dealing with our new family-members lies directly with us... in our hearts, between us and God. Meditate on the following for a bit and search your thoughts (and more pointedly, your behavior!) on them...

Romans 12:9-21 (ESV)

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Start working on that now dear ones- search your heart and get it right with God. Instead of Jonah, use the Ninevites as your example. Hear the word of the Lord and repent, confess, and make it right with Yahweh. I'm right there with you!

When the Worst Teach the Best

This summer at Camp Barnabas was chock-full of GodStuff, but none more pronounced than what God taught me through our daily devotionals. Camp did 4 days of devos over Jonah– one day for each chapter. Multiply that times 9 weeks of terms and I got a whole ‘lotta Jonah. You’d think for such a short book that I would have run out of material, but God had other plans. Click here to read the first, second, and third posts in the #JonahSeries?  

It is no wonder that Jonah ran away from going to Niveveh. These fierce-some people were no strangers to violence- especially against Jews. Without belaboring the point, let's just say they HATED each other- and killed each other as often as possible. God telling Jonah to go evangelize them, saying that his God- Yahweh God- was going to smite them in a few days time, was nothing if not a suicide mission. I liken it to God telling one of us to go deep into the heart of ISIS and letting them know that God (the Hebrew God) is going to wipe them away.

Ummmm... no. We'd be lucky to get past the border without being slaughtered.

And yet, in the third chapter of Jonah, after his 'come-to-Jesus' time in the whale, we see him doing just that. Walking steadfastly into enemy territory- to a people who hate his people, a culture who know nothing of his God, a nation of violent warriors... the worst of the worst. But Jonah proceeds. (You gotta give it to him in the courage department.) The whale spits him out on dry ground and he steps obediently across the border to enemy territory.

Can you feel your pulse quickening? Mine sure does thinking about it.

From chapter 3 verse 3- So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, three days' journey in breadth. Jonah began to go into the city, going a day's journey. And he called out, "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!" And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.

Wait... what? Back up... Just like that? The entire city believed God?

I'm confused. Anyone else?

Let's go back to ISIS- you go in, walking at least a days journey (and I'm sure looking over your shoulder with every step- just waiting for the bullet in your back... or worse), you're still alive and in one piece, you give the message (still alive...), these enemies of God actually listen (still alive).... and the entire population believes you (aaaand, you're still alive!) People this is an astounding story! Think about what it's actually saying. A violent and depraved culture, who is 'bad enough' that God Himself actually takes a personal and active interest in (meditate on that for a second..), hears one man tell them one thing and they believe. They mourn, They repent. They change.

Wow. Just WOW.

How often do we children of God resist the tiny things He's trying to correct in us. Though sin is sin is sin in His eyes, very often we're not exactly dealing with murderers here. Our sin stands the same against the Nivevites- though I imagine ours rank a bit more bland in the sin department. And yet we push against His gentle correction. We tug at the boundaries of what is acceptable. We resist His guidance.

These Nivevites with their violence, hatred, idolatry... you name it... put us to shame too often in the obedience department. I think their utter dropping and repenting of their sins is a huge example to us- not only in their wholeheartedness but in their immediacy. They heard the word and they immediately repented- not the next day, or next week, or 'sometime soon'- they dropped everything and repented, begging God for mercy.

They heard the word and changed.

The worst of the worst is one of the best Biblical examples I can think of to teach the 'best' of us. Surely if the Ninevites can surrender it all to God- in spite of their wickedness- then we as actual children of God can do the same.

If there is something God is trying to correct in you, if there is sin that needs repented of, if there is a word you've been given by God... hear the message and change!

Salvation Situation

This summer at Camp Barnabas was chock-full of GodStuff, but none more pronounced than what God taught me through our daily devotionals. Camp did 4 days of devos over Jonah– one day for each chapter. Multiply that times 9 weeks of terms and I got a whole ‘lotta Jonah. You’d think for such a short book that I would have run out of material, but God had other plans. Go here to read the first and second installments in my #JonahSeries. So we're into chapter 2 of Jonah by now, and I wanted to share something that hit me profoundly during one of our devos this last summer. Although I had always thought of the whale in the Jonah story as one that was sent as punishment for our wayward sailor... a dear friend of mine had always thought of this giant as something completely different.... a savior.

Let's take a look...

Jonah has been thrown overboard, Though the physical storm on the seas immediately stops raging, Jonah's storm is just now beginning. Though the sailor's lives are now safe, Jonah's is now very much in peril. His storm has just started- he's in a pretty bad place. Out in the middle of nowhere, miles from land, sinking like a rock. Death closing in second by second.

Verse 5, "The waters closed in over me to take my life; the deep surrounded me; weeds were wrapped about my head at the roots of the mountains. I went down to the land whose bars closed upon me forever..." Yes, Jonah is most certainly on a fast track to the bottom of the ocean. Certain death.

And then comes along a great beast of the sea, who swallows him whole. And suddenly, though his situation may have become significantly more odoriferous and dark (I mean, let's face it, having personally never been INSIDE a whale before, I cannot speak to the living conditions, but I imagine them as less than ideal) Jonah is ALIVE. He is no longer actively dying. What an unusual turn of events!

Jonah is suddenly smack-dab in the middle of a salvation situation.

Verse 7, "When me life was fainting away, I remembered the Lord, and my prayer came to you, into your holy temple... . But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the Lord."

Jonah's prayer in the belly of that big, 'ol whale, which makes up the entirety of chapter 2, is nothing if not an obvious and immediate recognizing that this fish has saved him. Literally. Though I had not noticed it before, Jonah did immediately. He went from dying to living because of the whale. It wasn't a punishment at all, it was his salvation. As he says in verse 6, "... yet you brought up my life from the pit." I think it's no stretch to think here that not only was God bringing his life out of the pit spiritually, He was very physically bringing a behemoth from the deep to save Jonah's life.

Look back on the storms of death and chaos that have (or still are!) surrounding you. Where is the whale? What does your salvation situation look like? Do you need to reexamine those dark places in your past with a new outlook? Perhaps God sent a big, smelly, fishy, slimy whale to save you. Have you been looking (as I did) at the creature as a punishment or a savior?

Salvation Situations rarely look or feel like we think they will. More often than not there's rot, decay, blood, bones, sweat, and tears involved. But if we look more closely, we see the meager beginnings of change, growth, strength, and renewal. We see life! God often uses unusual saviors for us, I regret that we probably see them in their obvious form instead of the spiritual work they've been sent to do.

Today, take a look back and spend some time thanking God for the whales in your life. Thank Him for the big, slimy, wild, smelly, wet creatures that He sent to save you- swimming miles and miles of treacherous ocean, braving wind and sea while you are stowed safely inside to bring you to a new land. "And the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land."

Mirror Image

I’ve been spending a lot of time with Adam and Eve lately in my studying, and it has struck me over and over again- the imagery of imagery. Genesis 1:27 (ESV) say, "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them." Images are interesting things because they are made to reflect or mimic something else. They are not, in them of themselves, anything but a copy of an original. They are a reflection... an image of something else.

There are references all over the place of images in the Bible. Some are beautiful, most are not. Scripture talks of the Israelites making images of a golden calves, of mice, of tumors, of other gods. In this idolatry, and many more like them, humanity was trying to replicate God.

Time and time again they failed.

Because what they didn't realize and embrace, is that WE are made in His image. Humanity was designed to reflect God's glory. All of creation was designed to show Him off, but WE are made specifically in God Almighty's image.

Colossians 1:15 tells us of another who is the image of God... Christ Jesus. "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation." Unlike humans, I believe this scripture tells less of the physical image of God and more about the nature and character of God. Furthermore, scripture does not stop there. Jesus (as a man) was the image of God and we are called and purposed to be remade in Christ's image, "and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator."

People worship graven images because they do not know the 'real thing'. We can point them to the Real Thing! We are made in God's image, we are called to reflect Jesus (the very image of God). Physically, mentally, emotionally, "in spirit and in truth" we are designed to reflect the image of God and His glory. Wow! What a weighty and marvelous thing.

Today I challenge you to look at your reflection- look hard. Do you see Jesus? Will other see Him? If not, clean up the image dear one! I pray that Jesus' light shines so brightly in you that others can't help but be drawn to your image... His image.

Mirrors reflect perfectly the image within them. A dirty mirror however will mare the image. If we are looking at Christ, and adequately reflecting His image back through us, we must make sure our mirrors are clear. Keep them clean, free of smudges, absent of scratches. Our daily fellowship with Jesus- being in the Word, prayer, worship all contribute to keeping our mirrors bright and shining. "...which is being renewed..." is not a static occurrence, we must continue to push forth, cleaning our mirrors along the way, as we are being transformed more and more into the image of Christ. God will shine out through the clear glass, straight through us and out to the world.

We need to be Christ's mirror image- aim for the perfect image dear ones! We won't attain it all the way on this side of heaven, but you certainly can strive for it. Reflect Him today dear ones, and everyday! Be that image that draws people to worship... not you, but the One within you. The image of the invisible God who is the only One worthy of our praise and adoration. Mirror Jesus!

Identity Theft

My identity was stolen this summer... or so I thought. I was asked to give up my long-time job as a flight nurse, I left willingly.... to another RN job in the hospital. Then I was asked to give that up too. I left willingly, but with a LOT of trepidation. I consider myself I pretty open book, but through this summer, I came to realize just how much of my self-worth, my identity... in short, my ego... was wrapped up in my nursing career. I think it's not necessarily a bad that this is so. After all, many of us have spend years of blood, sweat, tears, (and money!) to get where we are. If you're anything like me I take a lot of pride in my education, my skills, and my experience. For me, nursing is by far the most visceral way I can minister the Gospel of Jesus to people. I very much think that those in the medical field have anointing on their hearts and hands to potentiate the healing of Jesus. It's a Calling just like any other.

I love being a nurse. I love helping people. I love being identified as a healer.

But sometimes God has other plans, other jobs, another identity for us to take on. Because, ultimately what I've been learning is that my identity, the permanent mantle I should carry around, is that I've a servant of God. A bondservant in His kingdom.

We have often read about the term Doulos, from the Greek meaning a bondservant or slave. In ancient times a bondservant was a person who willingly chose to stay as a servant to their master. Of their own free-will, not being bound by pre-conditions or indentured qualifications, these people determined to stay with their master and continue to serve him. For life. And not even really as a 'servant' in the typical sense of the word, they identified themselves as slaves to their master. They chose to belong, to be owned, by their masters; to be exclusively a part of that household and family. Often this decision was marked in a very physical way with a nail through the ear of the servant. This was such common practice that God set forth instructions on how to do this (Exodus 21:5-6). (There is a fascinating and well-researched article on this at Grace To You if you want to read more.)

As Christians, part of that decision involved choosing to come under the household of the Almighty. To belong to His family, putting aside our will, our ideas of how things should go, our very selves. Our own identities were killed and we put on the mantle of our new identity in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). The old has gone, the new has come!

But what of this new 'identity' we find looking back at us in the mirror?

Mine was a nurse... for years. Mine still is a mother, a wife, a daughter, a member of Covenant Baptist Church, etc. etc. But what happens when God takes a part of our identity back? What do we do with that blank space?

What would a servant do when his master no longer wants him to be the gardener and has now placed him as head cook? Or butler? Or toilet cleaner? Is his identity not still a doulos? Is he not still serving the same household? Is his title not still exactly the same?

Too often we hold too tightly to what our identity is. We've grown comfortable in the shoes God's given us to fill.... for a season...

As bondservants in God's kingdom, I imagine that our Master will ask (or make!) us wear many hats of service to Him. It may involved getting transferred into a job that we have no experience in, no schooling for, no skills whatsoever in  (think Gideon, Moses, Joseph...) Because of this we cannot ever allow ourselves to think our identity, our self-worth, our ego- is chained to our current job or parenthood or spouse. You get the idea. Rather our identity is chained to Christ- as a member of His family, under His umbrella and protection, furthering His kingdom.

In the end, I'm learning that what I'm asked to do by God is not nearly important as the fact that I'm actually doing it. My identity is in HIM- as a daughter, a helper, a friend, a servant, a slave to Jesus. I was a nurse for a season, now He's gearing me up for something different. I had to let that part of myself go- that identity. But the amazing thing is that I've learned my true identity never changed, even within this season of change. It remains steadfast and strong.

I am slave to Christ.

 

Matthew 25:23 His master said to him, "Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.