Thursday, July 30, 2009

Words of Life and Power

"If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don't write, because our culture has no use for it. -Anais Nin (French writer)
I've liked this quote for sometime, now. It also explains why I haven't had a lot to say, lately. While it is true: "writers write," I don't think every thought which comes to my head should be inflicted upon the public at large!

I've done a great deal of talking to God (and some listening, too), through my experiences at youth camp as an adult sponsor, where I was blessed to lead our student's quiet time, as well as on the Galveston Mission Trip for which I had the distinct privilege of writing the daily quiet time devotionals for our group. Both of these opportunities fueled and exercised my passion for helping people spend time in the Word of God.

Maybe that's why the quote up top resonates with my heart. Hebrews 4:12 says,"The word of God is alive and powerful." Only something alive can breathe, cry out or sing, and Scripture does all of these when exposed to a heart and mind that are open to its influence. And certainly our culture has need for all that the Word breathes, all that it cries out to us and sings to our hurting or joyful hearts.

Sometimes I catch myself reading more words about the Bible than the words of the Bible itself. And that's where I miss out on its life-giving attributes. God can use all the words of other writers to enhance my understanding of Scripture, but they don't contain nearly the same power as his words do. Paul tells us the Word is our weapon against Satan and his schemes (Ephesians 6:11,17). By leaning on the words of mortal men and women, I'm merely using a "frog sticker" (as my father-in-law calls his pocket knife) instead of a double-edged sword.

Lest I be guilty of causing you to miss His words for my own, I leave these passages from Psalm 119:89-96 to bless and empower you:

Your eternal word, O Lord, stands firm in heaven. Your faithfulness extends to every generation, as enduring as the earth you created. Your regulations remain true to this day, for everything serves your plans. If your instructions hadn’t sustained me with joy, I would have died in my misery. I will never forget your commandments, for by them you give me life. I am yours; rescue me! For I have worked hard at obeying your commandments. Though the wicked hide along the way to kill me, I will quietly keep my mind on your laws. Even perfection has its limits, but your commands have no limit.

Monday, July 27, 2009

What's For Supper?

I love to cook. I just wish someone else would pick out the menu.

What do you make with 6 cans of tuna, a pound of beef and some frozen ears of corn?

Please don't offer suggestions, I don't think my stomach could take it.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Rats and Sinking Ships

"Like rats leaving a sinking ship." While I certainly never want to bear the label "rat," I've never quite understood why this is intended to be negative or bad simile. Whether it's merely legend or there are scientific evidences to prove that rats really do get off a ship before it will go down into the depths of the sea, I don't really care. Apparently this phenomenon has been observed in the past, and if God gave some innate foreknowledge to these rodents to recognize when to get out of a troubled situation, I've got to say I'm impressed.

Too often, in the Church at large, I think we make plans of our own and then ask God to bless them, rather than first asking Him what he wants us to do so that we and others might be blessed and he'll be honored. I know I've been guilty of that behavior when planning events or even preparing a Bible study. I start at the wrong end.

"God, this is what we're going to do (or study about). Please make it all work out great. Thanks."

I've been under the leadership of others that I thought I saw and/or felt the same thing, too. I looked around and saw trouble, disharmony and confusion, causing me to wonder if God had even been consulted about the idea.

Instead, I believe God's saying, "You know, what you're doing is nice, but what I really wanted was _____. It would have saved you a lot of headache and I'd have been much more pleased and glorified."

So for all those human-inspired plans, for all those self-directed ideas, I hope I will be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and intuitive enough to always be a "rat!"

Monday, July 6, 2009


No one else so completely sold himself to what was evil in the Lord’s sight as Ahab did under the influence of his wife Jezebel. 1 Kings 21:25
I know I've read this sentence before, probably many times, but as I read it today, it was as though I'd never seen it. What horrible legacies - for Ahab and Jezebel.

Ahab, according to this verse, was more completely "sold out" to evil than any other person in history. That means he even beats Hitler for the title of "Most Insane Madman of All Time". Wow. I generally put Adolf at the bottom of the barrel, if you know what I mean. First Kings 16:25 says Omri, Ahab's father, "did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, even more than any of the kings before him." Five verses later in 1 Kings 16:30, Ahab has out-done his dad: "But Ahab son of Omri did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, even more than any of the kings before him." However, none of the succeeding kings of the Northern Kingdom of Israel are recorded by Scripture as being worse than Ahab. In fact, although none of them led Israel back to God, a few are remembered in this way:"He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, but not to the same extent as the kings of Israel who ruled before him" (2 Kings 17:2).

Ahab's legacy - the guy who was committed to evil more than everyone or anyone else.

And then there's Jezebel. I always think of her as the only person Ahab had in his life, and thus, because of loneliness, he was easily influenced by her (besides Elijah, whose job was to tell him how wrong he was). But I read today he had seventy sons (2 Kings 10:1). Clearly, he had some other "relationships" that could have had an impact on his character. Yet, it was her influence to which he submitted. I can't begin to imagine what an overpowering personality she must have had, how domineering and demanding she was. Yet, there's a creepy sense of twisted loyalty to him that must have maintained his attraction to her. Case in point: when Ahab wants a piece of property, she arranges for the owner to be falsely accused and murdered so her husband can take possession of the land. How touching. And I thought I wanted pearls for our wedding anniversary.

For 22 years these two reigned with terror, duplicity and wickedness. It begs the question: "Why would God allow them to be on the throne for so long?" I think the answer is two-fold. First, God sent Elijah and other prophets to redirect Ahab and the kingdom back to himself, but their efforts were declined. Second, while we might want to blame Ahab and Jezebel for all the "bad," they were merely the leaders. The nation chose to follow them. And a nation indulgent in its life of sin will at some point endure the consequences of its behavior. Just as God set the law of gravity in motion, the law of consequences must result, too. True, the same God who set out those laws can supercede them at any time, but it doesn't mean he will or should.

Much has been written about the US's moral decline since the 1950s and Rock n' Roll. The 60s and the introduction of the drug culture, the 70s and the dissolution of the family, the 80s and the advent of parachute pants (Hey, I'm a child of the 80s; they were a great time except for the hair), the 90s and the decay of tradition.... But the truth is we live in a fallen world that has been this way for a long time. Prostitution existed even before Jesus was born. Murder has an ancient history (see Cain and Abel). Abandonment and abuse of family are not new phenomenon.

So while I'd love to see our nation revive to believe and live out the motto of "One Nation Under God," the fact is our Judeo-Christian foundations are rotting away. Not because of one person or party in office, but because sinful humanity exists, corrupting and dismantling the principles of truth and holiness.

So where does that leave us?

I can't "fix" the government, the state, the county, the city, or even my street. But I can fix things at my address and within my heart. When I read about Ahab and Jezebel I can't help but wonder what would be said about me if the pages of Scripture were still being written. I hope it would say: "No one else so completely sold herself to what was right in the Lord’s sight as Julie did under the influence of the Holy Spirit" 1 Ideals 1:1.

God, make that my legacy.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


I really need to do more writing. I've had a collection of thoughts floating around in my brain for half a month, and now they're a discombobulated mess. (I've been looking all week for a chance to use the word discombobulated.) When I get stuck in the hustle and bustle of life and can't find order in my chaos, I find I frequently forget to use and enjoy the outlets God has given me, even hard-wired into me - namely music and writing.

It's like a runner who has forgotten the pleasure of running because he's too concerned about the condition of the track, his shoes and the weather. I've been focusing on the externals and neglecting the outlets for dealing with those externals.

I read a statement this morning in one of those "forward to 10 friends" emails (no, I did not send it on), that actually stuck with me: "I asked God for all things that I might enjoy life. God said, "No, I will give you life, so you may enjoy all things." I don't know that there's a specific biblical reference for this concept, but I think it's realistic enough to be something God might have said. He is the "giver of every good and perfect gift," and Jesus came that we "might have life, and have it abundantly."

In the midst of "doing" life, I sometimes forget about living it. And I really think that looks a little different for everyone, but for me, anyway, it means experiencing his calling and pleasure in doing the things he's ordained and/or gifted me to do. Eric Liddell, of Chariots of Fire fame, told his sister, "when I run I feel His pleasure." When I write, or sing and play the piano, I have that same sensation, and the world comes into clearer focus, too. The problems are pigeon-holed, the uncertainties calmed, and God's size and ability are correctly seen in perspective.

So, thanks for being a part of my outlet, today. I hope you'll enjoy his pleasure sometime today, too.