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Monthly Archives: October 2015

The Jehovah Java Mug

(Facebook Post 9/25/15)
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My newest coffee cup!

I thought I needed a reminder of who the Lord is and wants to be in my life, so I snatched this mug up when I came across it at the Day Spring Outlet in Siloam Springs, Arkansas, where my daughter is a freshman at John Brown University. Here are the names and definitions on my mug:

Jehovah Nissi – Battle Fighter
Jehovah Jireh – Provider
Jehovah Shalom – Giver of Peace
Jehovah Shammah – Ever Present One
Jehovah Tsidkenn – Our Righteousness
Jehovah Rophe – Healer
Jehovah Rohi – Good Shepherd

I love how The Blue Letter Bible defines each name, providing context and cultural significance as well as scripture references. The names on this mug don’t paint the full picture, but instead provide a concise definition. But the God we serve defies such concise descriptions and we are well served to dig deeper, if we truly want to understand the complex nature and character of God. Follow the link below which provides definitions for every Old Testament name of God.

https://www.blueletterbible.org/study/misc/name_god.cfm

However, to inspire you to get started and give you some idea of the rich meaning of the names of God, here’s how the Blue Letter Bible defines Jehovah:

“Jehovah is translated as “The Existing One” or “Lord.” The chief meaning of Jehovah is derived from the Hebrew word Havah meaning “to be” or “to exist.” It also suggests “to become” or specifically “to become known” – this denotes a God who reveals Himself unceasingly.”

I love that – a God who reveals Himself unceasingly. It gives me hope, not that I will ever completely understand the ways of God, but that He will reveal Himself to me more and more as I struggle through life.

I read where John Piper asked himself what would be the best gift God could give to His children. Piper concluded that of all the things God could choose to bestow upon His children, that His supreme gift could be nothing less than Himself. When you consider the fullness of meaning of the many names of God, to be gifted with the full assurance and comprehension of exactly who God is to you individually is indeed an extravagant gift beyond compare.

Some days I need God the Giver of Peace more than I need God the Battle Fighter. And other days, I need God the Provider most. But the best part is that every single day God gifts me with His full character and nature. I get all of Him every day. And day by day, over weeks, months and years, He reveals more and more of Himself to me – or rather, I finally recognize what He had been showing me about Himself from day one.

So maybe this mug will remind me to open the eyes of my heart and be on the lookout everyday for God to reveal Himself, in all His glory, to me.

 
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Posted by on October 22, 2015 in Faith

 

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To Love is to be Vulnerable – C.S. Lewis

1 John 4:16b “God is love”

Ever considered that God’s heart is just as vulnerable as ours are?

Partial lyrics:
“Love, how many times can a heart break?
Love, how much weight can a soul take?
Love, I don’t know where you ran off to
But love, love, love, I still believe in you.
Yeah, I still believe in you.
I still believe that you’ll come knocking on my door
When I least expect you to
You give me something I can hold
You pull me through, cuz that’s what you do,
That’s what you do love
Yeah, that’s what you do love”

 
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Posted by on October 22, 2015 in Faith, Links, Music

 

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To Step Forward or to Forever Stand Still . . .

From the While We’re Waiting Bereaved Parents Support Page on Facebook September 15, 2015:

“Mystery, ambiguity, uncertainty. These are places where we reach an end of ourselves, places where we have to stop, stop and take off our shoes. If we don’t, the mystery, the ambiguity, the uncertainty will one day prove too much for us. If we must have all our questions answered before we can go forward in our relationship with God, there will come a day when we won’t go forward. It may come at Gethsemane. At Calvary. Or Auschwitz.

Or at the death of a son.

For now we see in a glass darkly, but then face to face, and now we know in part, but then we shall know fully just as we have been fully known (I Corinthians 13:12).

So until then, what?
We feel our way in the dark.
Until we find each other.
We huddle together in the storm.
Wet and shivering, but together.
And maybe in the end it will be our huddling in the storm that gives us more comfort than our understanding of the storm.”

~Ken Gire, The Weathering Grace of God

 
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Posted by on October 22, 2015 in Faith, Grief

 

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A Woman’s Strength

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Posted by on October 22, 2015 in Grief

 

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Suffering & Sanctification

(Facebook Post 9/8/15)

I recently read, FEARLESS, the story of Navy SEAL, Adam Brown, an Arkansas native. Adam wrote the following statement in his journal while deployed. In order to better understand the quote, you should know that Adam overcame an addiction to cocaine in order to become a SEAL.

“I’m not afraid of anything that might happen to me on this Earth because I know no matter what, nothing can take my spirit from me… How much it pains me…to think about not watching my boy excel in life, or giving my little baby girl away in marriage… Buddy, I’ll be there, you’ll feel me there when you steal your first base, smash someone on the football field, make all A’s. I’ll be there for all your achievements. But much more Buddy, I’ll be there for every failure. Remember, I know tears, I know pain and disappointment, and I will be there for you with every drop. You cannot disappoint me. I understand!”

What I like about this quote is not that he tells his son and daughter that he will be there for their big moments, but that he will be there for every failure. I think that’s what Jesus would tell us, “I’ll be there not just for the high points of your life but for every failure. (OK, I like to add in – “not to judge or criticize but to support and encourage”). I imagine Christ saying to us, just as Adam said to his children, “Remember, I know tears. I know pain and disappointment, and I will be there for you with every drop. YOU CANNOT DISAPPOINT ME. I UNDERSTAND!” (No shouting intended – just emphasizing the point).

I don’t know about the rest of you but I do a fair amount of self-criticizing for my failure to do this grieving thing, and every other misstep during life’s trials, well from a Christian perspective.

Today a good friend sent me the following excerpt from “Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No, to Take Control of Your Life” by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend:

“God is free from us. When he does something for us, he does it out of choice. He is not “under compulsion” or guilt or manipulation. He does things, like dying for us, because he wants to. We can rest in his pure love; he has no hidden resentment in what he does. His freedom allows him to love.

Many Bible characters ran into God’s freedom and learned to embrace it. Embracing his freedom and respecting his boundaries, they always deepened their relationship with God. Job had to come to accept the freedom of God to not rescue him when he wanted. Job expressed his anger and dissatisfaction with God, and God rewarded his honesty. But Job did not “make God bad,” in his own mind. In all of his complaining, he did not end his relationship with God. He didn’t understand God, but he allowed God to be himself and did not withdraw his love from him, even when he was very angry with him. This is a real relationship.

In the same way, Paul accepted the boundaries of God. When he planned trips that didn’t work out, Paul accepted the sovereignty of God. He asked God repeatedly for a certain kind of healing that God would not give him. God said, “No, I do not choose to love you in the way that you want right now. I choose to love you with my presence.” Paul did not reject God for setting that boundary.

Jesus was perfected through his suffering (Heb. 5:7-10). In the Garden of Gethsemane, he asked that his cup of suffering pass from him, but God said no. Jesus accepted God’s wishes, submitted to them, and through that “became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him” (Heb. 5:9). If Jesus had not respected God’s boundaries and God’s no. we would all be lost.”

I especially like the part where it describes Job’s response to God’s sovereign plan. It seems as if we equate the fact that Job did not sin or blame God in response to all his trials as saying that he did not struggle with his losses or with God’s sovereign plan – and I guess I expect myself to do the same. But it’s not true. Job did struggle and he desperately wanted an audience with God to plead his case.

And Paul obviously didn’t simply shrug off his request for healing either or he would not have continued to pray for it. He came to terms with God’s decision not to heal him over time. The Bible doesn’t tell us how much time that took but we might consider that Paul may have experienced three seasons of praying for the thorn in his flesh to be removed instead of three individual prayers expressing his request for healing.

We would also do well to bear in mind that Jesus was both fully God and fully human. Maybe his dual deity/humanity allowed him to pray, “Thy will not mine be done”, in one nights time, in spite of his obvious anguish, whereas, we are being made holy and need to allow ourselves more time to come to the same place instead of beating ourselves up for failing to be holy while we are still living out daily the process of sanctification.

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1) Jesus is not looking down from above, shaking his head and uttering sounds of dismay as we struggle our way through our trials. He feels our pain, hurts with us in the struggle, but is not surprised by it, alarmed by it, or disgusted by it. He knew we would respond this way – knew it would take us time to come to terms with his sovereign plan and is far more likely to be heard muttering, “You hang in there, Janet. You hang in there __________, (insert your name here), because you will overcome this through my power in time as the Holy Spirit continues the work of sanctification within you. Keep your eyes on me, and quit worrying about what others think and quit beating yourself up. You are right on track and you bring glory to my name in the midst of your struggle, not just when you come out on the other side of it.” (At least that’s what I think and hope is happening amid the great cloud of witnesses in heaven who are encouraging us to keep fighting the good fight for our faith). That’s my story and I’m sticking with it – today anyway!

 
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Posted by on October 22, 2015 in Books, Faith, Grief

 

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Notes from the Author

Notes from the Author

“Behind the Pages” can be found at the end of Susan May Warren’s book “When I Fall in Love”:

“So often, in the Christian life, when things don’t turn out our as we hope or expect, we feel robbed. . . Frankly, God promises us challenges, so we shouldn’t be surprised when they happen. But how, then, do we cope? Psalm 84:5-7 offers answers:

“Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baka,they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. They go from strength to strength,till each appears before God in Zion.”

“Pilgrimage. The journey…through life, towards heaven. God offers us refreshment in the desert, and places of strength along the way. What if our happiness isn’t only in what is ahead of us…but in embracing the now? In enjoying the moments God has given us, even in the midst of suffering? What if we lived with a mindset of rejoicing in the strength, the springs of today…in order to bear the desert of tomorrow? Perhaps the annoying vices of our loved ones might not be so frustrating. Perhaps our faith wouldn’t seem so starved.”

A word about the cultural reference to the Valley of Baka:

Apparently, the Valley of Baka is likely a symbolic place meaning “a desert place”, “the valley of tears”, “the valley of weeping” or even “the valley of suffering”. So, for those whose strength is in the Lord, as they walk through this life and suffering and tears come their way, God promises they will be strengthened each time they pass through those valleys until they appear before God. I don’t know about you, but that concept encourages me. James said it this way in Chapter 1 verses 3-4, “. . . the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect (mature) and complete, lacking in nothing.” (NASB)

We may not “feel” strong, or even as if we are being strengthen. In fact, I daresay most of us feel pretty weak, pitiful and maybe completely shattered during the fiery trials of life. But miraculously we somehow find ourselves stronger after we’ve passed through the fire, because, of course, the Holy Spirit quietly went about His work within while our distracted and overwhelmed hearts and minds struggled to simply trust and obey.

 
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Posted by on October 22, 2015 in Books, Faith

 

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Sunrise

(Facebook Post 9/6/15)

I recently met this beautiful Mother. She’s a gifted writer and this piece is breathtakingly poignant. Take a moment to read it (by clicking the link in red below), or watch the youtube video of the author reading this piece; you’ll be glad you did!

http://http://iamnotmyskin.blogspot.com/2015/07/sunrise.html

 
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Posted by on October 22, 2015 in Faith, Grief, Links

 

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