Boundless Joy

I’ve been really into this song lately called Up In Arms.
The lyrics that hit me the hardest are;

So here I am,
Your love has got me up in arms again,
And this hope won’t let me go
My joy is boundless,
My soul knows its worth
In arms stretching wider
Than my heart could ever fall

Joy is something I think about pretty regularly, as I have experienced a lot of sorrow. Some of the sorrow came from circumstances, but much of it came from an inner sense of emptiness or worthlessness. I admit that even after I started following Jesus I experienced that second kind of sorrow. It has taken much, much longer than I would have liked for me to grasp my value as a daughter of The King. There were so many lies to contend with…. Continue reading “Boundless Joy”

A Body in Motion

My guess is that most people who choose a specific education out of high school hope to be able to use that education in the future. Otherwise, what would the point be in persevering to learn? Really, to learn is to change. If we cannot act upon something we have learned it seems likely the learning will be lost.

So you can imagine my delight to discover that the nine months I spent intensively studying the Bible is already starting to impact my outward life…. Continue reading “A Body in Motion”

A New Redemption Song

This is the place a person expects to feel a lot of emotions. One week before the end of a very intensive 9 month… anything. When the school started I laughed about it being as long as a pregnancy and how I hoped to birth something awesome at the end.  A metaphorical birth, thank you.

Near the beginning of this “pregnancy” (Bible course) I found out what I would be having when it was over- a life as a teacher. But when starting a new life, where does one start? With babies you buy clothes for them to wear, not knowing how much they will swim in the newborn clothes or how quickly they will grow out of them. You set up room in the house for the baby to sleep, not knowing how much or when sleep will occur.  You pick out names, not knowing if what you’ve finally agreed upon with your spouse will actually suite this small human.

I have done those things for a literal baby, only to find everything far different than anyone had prepared for or expected. She only lived 19 hours. I’m not trying to get all depressing on you here, but I just want to give myself some perspective.

We don’t know what will happen next…. Continue reading “A New Redemption Song”

The Unknown God

This post was birthed in the last, but when I finished writing this bit I realized it deserved its own place. Jumping off of thoughts about what might be next, I got caught up in what God is doing in the present to reveal himself.

I’ve discovered, while studying the Bible so in depth, that I have a lot to say. I can suddenly see my own context and the larger context of living… the things that make us human and human for a reason. The why of my existence along with the bigger why of existing for humanity. Not like a tidy religious package, as you might assume, but… well… It’s like Love, for example. Everyone has their perspective on love. When we spend too much time immersed in media and fake intimacy then we stop craving anything deeper,  so to others looking in on ‘media lovers’,  love looks cheap – because it is. It doesn’t cost anything. Others spend time learning that love is a list of rules, lines to not cross, words to not say and so their love might actually look like hate to others because ‘rule lovers’ have taken the idea of preferring the other person and turned it into correcting the other person. There are many other ways to look at love, my point isn’t to point out failures but to give an example of something really big that can be made small…. Continue reading “The Unknown God”

Learning the Steps

I always want to say really epic things when I post. It’s not because epic things aren’t happening that I cannot find the words, it’s because too many things are happening with too little time to process them.

One beautiful thing happened on Friday. Thursday night I saw this video about a dog named Skipboot (and his owner). Skipboot is the most incredibly smart and obedient dog I have ever seen. I was really moved by the dog’s obedience… to be listening so attentively to hear and obey every small step. While watching the video I thought, “I want to be like that with God. I want to hear and obey Him that well.”

The next morning in class we heard teaching on the book of Hosea. In that story are pieces of Hosea’s incredible obedience to God. At the end of class the teacher invited us to spend some time talking to God personally. She turned on music… to be honest I can’t remember what she told us to seek God about! I just remember that when I closed my tired eyes and set my heavy head in my arms I immediately thought of Skipboot and was going to start praying along the lines of God making me more like that dog.

Almost as immediately I got a picture in my mind of dancing with a man, ballroom style…. Continue reading “Learning the Steps”

The Economy of Mercy

Each genre of literature that we pass through as we study the Bible enters a new mini-era of circumstances in my heart and mind. The spiritual lessons I learn correspond.
So you may imagine my being wary to enter into studying the prophets.

Most people love Isaiah. I don’t know why this is, I am one of them. For years Isaiah was the only book in the Bible I felt comfortable reading. I may find out next week why that is so (since we are studying it next week).

What do you think of the prophets?… Continue reading “The Economy of Mercy”

For You, For Me

Today begins the first day of  “fall break”. It’s just a week before diving into the 3rd quarter of SBS but I think it will be just right… just a bit of time to catch up on sleep, stare off into space and do something fun before diving into the Old Testament prophets.

The last week was pretty interesting. Before this week I had gone through a lot of emotional ups and downs but it wasn’t until this week that I felt “breakdown” looming. Yesterday, at (what felt like) the end of my rope I had a kind of epiphany; breakdown and breakthrough look very much the same. Sometimes they are the same.
So yesterday, after very little sleep because of an unhappy stomach I got up around 6am and just went directly to the classroom. I talked to God a little, made a cup of tea and got started on what was a ridiculous amount of homework. Every minute of that time was a battle to keep working. If you can imagine me bleary eyed, sitting before my charts with a pained look on my face- almost getting up out of my seat every five minutes to walk away, but then pushing forward with decidedly irresolute determination.
A few nice friends came in at different points and gave me encouragement.
Push. Push. Push. I actually asked God several times, “Should I keep going?” and He said, “Keep going.”

Then I got to 2 Samuel 7…. Continue reading “For You, For Me”

For Freedom

I have found an important clue to my life in the first 5 books of the Old Testament.

Let’s just ponder the Israelites. They spend 430 years in slavery in Egypt. They multiply while being oppressed. We’re not talking a little light name calling, we’re talking horrible physical labor with guards who have weapons to keep people in line. Then they are delivered from slavery by God through Moses and Aaron. The Hebrews at this time have all grown up in slavery in Egypt. They had likely heard stories about Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, but they may have been like distant fairy tales that meant nothing in the reality of daily toil.

So here God is through Moses with PLAGUES. Pharaoh finds it easy enough to not believe, but this guy is king and thinks himself to be a god.
The Hebrews, on the other hand are just watching while all this crazy stuff happens. Then they are ejected from Egypt and on the road. THEN God parts the Red Sea in front of them (not a puddle), while simultaneously keeping the Egyptian army (who was chasing them by this time) from reaching them. Then He destroys their enemies by allowing the Sea to fold in on them.

All that, plus a lot more, and what do the people do? They complain…. Continue reading “For Freedom”

Know Mo

We’re on the last book in what is known as the Pentateuch. The five books of Moses.

The main character of all of these books is, of course, God. The second main character would really be the people of Israel, from their beginnings with the pagan Abraham to pious Joseph. At the end of Genesis, 70 Israelites go into Egypt to live and when we see them again in Exodus (430 years later), they are so numerous that they frighten the Egyptians who respond by oppressing them.
I have so many questions for God, just within the last sentence of one book and the first sentence of the next.

What I really want to talk about, though, is Moses. Do you know about this guy? You could probably look him up on Wikepedia and read the facts. Yes. Brought up by Pharaoh’s daughter, educated, maybe in line to be Pharaoh one day. Then at the age of 40 he decides to act upon this feeling that’s been growing inside of him. He sees that his people, the Hebrews, are being treated horribly and maybe he realizes that his position makes him a good candidate for emancipating them. Maybe there are whispers in his heart of the call that God will give through him (“Let my people go!”).

Whatever his motives, his actions are rash and he has to run for his life.  Suddenly the man who would be king is an obscure shepherd in Midian. He marries, has kids, settles in. Maybe he thinks of his days in the palace as a dream that he never deserved. Maybe he’s just grateful to be alive and lives daily with a guilt over killing that Egyptian dude.
At the age of 80 he meets God…. Continue reading “Know Mo”

Thus Sayeth

God speaks. This particular truth is one I have known for a long time. I experienced God speaking when I first started following Him at the age of 16. He spoke to me on my front porch while I was smoking a cigarrette. Since then, I have believed He would speak in many important (and “unimportant”) situations.

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The reason that I want to study this truth (this last week I did this specifically while studying Genesis) is not because it is new, but because I am learning this in a deeper way the last year. Several years ago I went through what seemed like a very “silent” time on God’s part. This lasted about 4 years. I’m sure He was not entirely silent, but hearing from Him, be it direction, comfort, correction or discernment, was VERY difficult. Looking back I know the reason, but still it was a confusing and painful experience.

For the last year and a half I have heard A LOT from God. He seems to be speaking all of the time. So when I came to reading Genesis and then deciding on a theme, I immediately thought of “God speaks”. Maybe as a way of girding myself up for any time in the future when I may struggle again with this reality. I find His communication so precious that I don’t ever want to lose it again.

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At the same time, as it is seen in Genesis, God speaks when He chooses. He says what He chooses and to whom He chooses. This is also super important to remember and hang on to. He is not a vending machine for direction or comfort. He is a friend, a master and all those other things that involve relationship….

 

Continue reading “Thus Sayeth”

The Cryptic Apocalyptic

We’re studying Revelation this week. I’m taking a breather right now to digest what we’ve heard in class and read thus far.

Just as the book itself seems to depict layers of the same “event” and from different perspectives, I have had layers of reactions to it and tried to view it from different perspectives. For a book with so much potential to confuse, I love one of the opening statements…

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” Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.” (1:3)

If you’re like me, you just don’t read Revelation ever… except maybe pieces. Over the years I have especially loved chapter 21 which talks about heaven. I have also loved the letters to the churches in the first 3 chapters because there are practical things in there I can relate to. Don’t be lukewarm in your faith, don’t give up, remember that enduring to the end leads to eternal reward… stuff like that…. Continue reading “The Cryptic Apocalyptic”

We Want to See Jesus

First week of the second quarter done!  The main low for the week was that it was possibly more work than we’ve had thus far (is that true?) studying the book of John, but my brain’s inability to engage and work quickly was disappointing to the extreme.
This last year I have learned a lot about how to push myself beyond what I think (thought) I can do but this last week really threw me. So I worked steadily and did not give up, but I also did not finish charting the whole book.

That’s a little sad considering that the book of John is so amazing but here is the high for the week.

God kept showing up. What I saw most clearly in this book is Jesus Himself. I saw him exhausted as he sits by a well in Samaria. When the woman shows up, a sparkle enters his eyes as he knows he will get to reveal himself a bit to her. Then the disciples show up, confused that he’s talking to a Samaritan woman and when she leaves to go tell the people in her village Jesus is awash with excitement- exhaustion forgotten, hunger extinguished- he joyfully anticipates all the people who are about to show up and encounter their Lord…. Continue reading “We Want to See Jesus”

How the Mighty Fall

Yesterday I woke up and felt ready. Unlike many of the days in this last week, I woke up feeling prepared to take the day by the reigns and get things done. I think partly because Saturdays tend to be more rewarding days and because all of the work is followed by a day off.
Who knows why I woke up feeling prepared, but it led me to work out and then high tail it to the classroom. There was a lot to be done.

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Looking back on the day, I think the feeling of preparedness was mainly a head trip. It was a pretty good head trip until things started to go wrong. The class computer wouldn’t get online. Then once I got it to go online, it wouldn’t connect to the printer so that I could print out all the work I had to work on. Thankfully a staff person came in earlier than usual and helped me figure out how to connect my laptop to the printer…. but then this process also took a while because I had to install drivers.

And the clock was ticking…. Continue reading “How the Mighty Fall”

Kingdom of the Heart (part 2)

Each week we have about 100 verses of Psalms as part of our assignment. I started way late yesterday and had just a little over an hour to get the Psalm assignment done. I was  bummed that I’d shoved this into such a tight space, because there is potential for the homework to actually be a really good time with God. So I did the out loud reading and  focused. I moved quickly but purposed to be present and take it all in.

This week we were to read Psalms 10-18. Of those Psalms, 18 is the longest. We’re supposed to read them all aloud, give them new titles, record what kind of Psalm each is and who wrote it and then do a “build” on one of the Psalms. The build is similar to the work we do for the rest of the books of the Bible in that we record observations, details, we interpret an observation and then do some personal application of that interpretation. Psalm 18 is, by far the longest. Clearly, I told myself, I would not be doing a “build” on that one.
But what do you know, that’s the one that impacted me the strongest as I read.

“I love you, O Lord, my strength.”…. Continue reading “Kingdom of the Heart (part 2)”

Kingdom of the Heart (part 1)

This has been a pretty intense week between Staff Conference and the book of Acts. I just barely got my work done and turned in on time, but pushing really hard all week (except for when I fell on my face Friday and struggled to regain motivation) was really worth it. Today I am really grateful and want to share two things I gleaned this week from the Bible. In two parts because it turns out to be a lot of words 🙂

Paul. I’ll be honest, in the past I have not been a big fan of the guy. I have often felt like there was no way I could uphold his standards. I mean, he went immediately from hard core persecuting Christians to proving that Jesus was the Christ in a very short space of time. He’s headed like a freight train in one direction, meets Jesus on the road to Damascus and BAM he’s headed the other way in an equally unstoppable manner.
There is something in Paul’s heart which encourages God to interrupt him and change his course. Paul heard Stephen’s beautiful speech (Acts 7) before the religious leaders killed him and maybe there was even something in Stephen’s face which deeply disturbed Paul. Maybe in his zeal for God he felt he was facing a powerful adversary and he himself needed to strike back with strength against whatever Stephen had. Until he met Stephen’s reason for preaching and realized that Jesus was actually the God he thought he was defending…. Continue reading “Kingdom of the Heart (part 1)”