Friday, June 24, 2011


As part of my commitment to missions I am helping support a family whose husband has gone to Mozambique Island for the summer.  Mike will be helping out with some very practical things for the missionary family that my church sponsors over there.  You can read about Mike's adventures here.  He is having wi-fi issues as well as being terribly lonely.  He really needs a lot of support, especially in prayers.  Please prayerfully consider helping in whatever way(s) you can.

Thank you.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


So I've been subscribed to several other blogs lately and most of them appear to be located on WordPress rather than on Blogger. So after much thought and a few recommendations I decided to switch from Blogger to WordPress. I have imported posts from 2 of my three blogs and they can now all be found here under the reflections title. Okay, right now that's mostly because I don't know how to seperate them out yet. Changes may come in the future, but they may not. After all, my on missions ramblings and my reflections on the Bible are all in the same ball park, aren't they? I mean, they are all my musings on God and how He works in my life and yours, right?

Monday, February 7, 2011

I will Praise You in this Storm

Several years ago I was discussing reading the Bible with my pastor.  I was just recovering from a breakdown and he was counseling me.  I told him I had never read through the Bible and as part of my recovery I wanted to draw closer to the Lord and lean on Him.  My plan was to begin at Genesis and read straight through to the end.  Pastor Lee advised me to change my plan.  He advised me to start with the book of Job and then the book of John.  After I read that he would direct me in the next direction I would go.

After reading the first chapter of Job, I thought that Pastor Lee's advice was a little strange.  Why counsel a seriously depressed woman to read a story about a man who loses everything?  After I read the second chapter I was wondering if Pastor Lee was trying to goad me to suicide.  But here's the thing, I completely missed the importance of Job 1:21.

For the last 8 weeks we have been studying Spiritual Warfare in my small group.  Last week we revisited Job 1 & 2.  Last week I learned the secret to surviving Satan's attacks.  Today I had an opportunity to put what I learned into practice.  Let's just say I need more practice.

Do you remember the story? 

Find it here

Wow, pretty intense, eh?  There is so much wrong, so much completely unfair with this story.  Why is it even in the Bible?  Well, I think because it illustrates two very fundamental aspects of Christian character.  Let's take a closer look at this story...

God brought Job to Satan's attention.  Job is a man of wealth and integrity, two attributes that don't normally go together.  He is referred to as blameless and upright, a man who feared God and shunned evil.  Satan accused Job of fearing God solely because of the hedge of protection He had placed around Job.  It is easy to love God when your life is going well, when you have no challenges or heartbreak.  Satan made it a point to bring this to God's attention.  He also made it a point to infer that Job wouldn't worship God if his life wasn't so blessed.  So God gives Satan permission to strike at Satan's possessions and everything Job has.

We all know the story.  Just as a messenger gives Job the bad news about his oxen and donkeys the next messenger comes up.  As that messenger gives him the bad news about his sheep the next messenger comes with bad news regarding his camels.  The bad news comes in like waves, wave after wave of bad news.  Job loses all his oxen, all his donkeys, all his sheep and camels and almost all his servants.  And then the ultimate news, the worst of all... his oldest son's home has collapsed, killing all seven of his sons and all three of his daughters.  Job is left penniless, mourning the loss of his beloved family.  All he has left is the clothing on his back and his wife, a wife who encourages him to curse God, virtually ensuring his death.  If Job is not in the pit of despair I wonder how he can be considered human.  That is a lot of loss to endure all at once.

So here is the first thing that Job teaches us, the first thing that I think is vitally important for good Christian character.  Let's read Job 1:20 and 21 together. 

20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and said: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised."

Wait a minute!  This man just lost virtually everything and he's praising the Lord!  Is he crazy?  Who in his right mind praises God for the devastating losses in their life?  Apparently, Job did.  Job had his priorities right.  He knew that everything he had, all his possessions, all his family, did not belong to him but rather to God.  We cannot claim possession of anything in this life.   NOTHING!  Nothing except the one thing the Lord gifted us with.  The freedom to choose a saving faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord.  As Christians who profess that Jesus is the Lord of our lives we need to praise Him for everything, all the good, all the bad, everything.  I'm not saying that it will be easy.  I am saying it is necessary, even required of us.  God intends those things for our good, no matter how painful and devastating they are at the moment we are immersed in them.  I know because I can say this from experience in my life. 

And the second thing?  Look at Job's friends:

11 When Job's three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. 12 When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. 13 Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.

Job's three friends met together and went to go sympathize with and comfort Job.  They saw that Job's suffering was so great they did not know what to say.  So they sat with him in silence for seven days.  When a friend is going through a calamity, when they are attacked with heartbreak or loss sometimes the best thing we can do for them in just sit in silence.  We don't need to fill the air with empty platitudes, we don't need to help them fix the situation or find reasons.  We just need to be with them, to offer support and comfort with our presence.

There is so much more to this story and so much more we can learn from this but I've already taken a week to write this much.  More is on the way.

I want to close out this blog with a video to one of my all time favorite songs. 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Spiritual Warfare

For the last several weeks my small group Bible Study has been studying Spiritual Warfare.  Now, we know that Satan does not like this.  He does not want us to know his tricks and deceptions.  He does not want us to read the Bible and learn how to overcome his accusations.  Therefore, he will do everything he can to keep me from Bible Study and from fellowship with my friends.  He will do everything he can to keep me from writing here. 

Well, he only partly succeeded.  I have been busy and distracted for a few weeks.  I have been workinng overtime and spending time with family and friends.  And I did not write anything here.  I did compose a couple new blogs in my mind as I walked through the past few weeks.  Some of those blogs will eventually find their way here, some won't.  But I have learned one very important lesson during this time.  I am going to put time to write on my schedule so I write at least a few lines every day.

Meanwhile, here's a picture of the people I spent my time with last weekend.

Okay, okay, technically one of them is a dog.  What can I say? He thinks he's a people.

The goofball pretending to skate on the ice is my daughter.  We are beginning to build a new relationship after not speaking to each other for over 2 years.  God is so good!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Your Love is Outrageous!

I got a dog 10 days ago.  I rescued him from the SPCA.  Kodiak is a mixed breed, part Chow and part Rottweiler.  His fur is red, gold and black with a little touch of white at his muzzle.  He is 8 years old and weighs in at 70 pounds.  He has completely and absolutely stolen my heart.  I fell in love with the first picture I saw of him and it only got worse from there.  I truly believe Kody is a gift from God in so many ways.

I was walking Kody Friday night.  I usually walk him several times a day.  Living on a 5 acre parcel of land I could probably just let him roam but we're not totally fenced in and besides, this gives both of us a little exercise.  So Friday night I was walking him in the evening after dinner.  It was dark out but there was almost a full moon.  The moonlight threw lacy shadows on the ground and gave sounds that crystal clear quality they get after dark.  Because it had been raining the frogs were out croaking from the little ponds and creeks that run alongside the road.  It was beautiful and peaceful and my thoughts were running off with me as they usually do. 

God created the heavens and the earth.  It was supposed to be a sanctuary of peace and beauty for us.  I look at the beauty of nature, the trees, flowers and fields, soaring mountains, the flatness of prairies, the endless horizon of the oceans, and I see God's handiwork in all of them.  I know God intended this as good for us.  I also know He knew Adam and Eve would open the door which would allow sin into the world.  Sin would corrupt and destroy the beauty and peace God intended for us. 

Can you imagine walking in the garden alongside God?  I imagine the garden as lush and green, filled with plants and animals.  It didn't rain yet but the earth was watered through a mist that rose from the ground.  Adam and God walked together in the garden.  I like to think Eve joined them.  I also like to imagine them discussing each day's new discoveries (for Adam and Eve) and Adam's choices for naming the animals.  Was Adam's heart full of joy and gratitude?  Did he truly love God?  Did Eve?  I cannot imagine not loving God deeply and completely in that setting but then, we know they disobeyed God.  We know that Eve allowed the serpent to enthrall her, to distort her thinking, to open her heart to the desire to be more like God.  We also know she shared all of that with Adam.  God drove them from the garden as a result.  He also set in motion His awesome plan for our redemption.

The last few weeks we have been studying the book of Ruth during our worship services.  Ruth is the story of a kinsman-redeemer.  It is a love story, not the romantic one that the story has been changed into over the years but a story of deep, sacrificial love: the love and respect Naomi and Ruth have for each other, Boaz's respect for the young woman who treats her mother-in-law so kindly, and his respect for the levirate laws of the day.  It is also the story of Ruth inspiring Boaz to hesed love.  Nowhere in the book of Ruth does it say that there was a romance between Ruth and Boaz, but I sincerely hope there was. 

I find it fascinating that the quote taken from this story that has been used over and over again to illustrate deep romantic love was actually Ruth speaking to her mother-in-law.  I also find it fascinating that Ruth was not actually a Jewess.  Ruth was from Moab.  The people of Moab were excluded from "the assembly of the Lord" (Deuteronomy 23:3-4) and yet King David was a descendant of Ruth.  Jesus, as we all know, descended from David.  I see the story of Ruth as a love story of God's love for all people.  It is the story of Jesus as our kinsman-redeemer.  It is an illustration of hesed love, of loyal, generous, sacrificial, covenantial love.  The same love the Lord has for us.

I saw Kody's picture on the SPCA website prior to my latest mission trip to Mexico.  His picture touched my heart.  But I knew I would be going to Mexico and it wouldn't be fair to leave him with a dog sitter for four days right after he was adopted.  So I waited.  Not long after my return I checked the website again, he was still there!  I drove to the SPCA to adopt him but  I was dismayed to not find him there.  I asked an attendant if he had found a home and she looked up his records for me.  Apparently Kody had been sick and was transferred to a foster home for recovery.   I spoke with the foster care coordinator and she told me Kody would be available for adoption once he had regained his health.   I waited almost 3 weeks for him to complete his recovery.  Then on Wednesday, November 8th, the foster care coordinator called.  I left work early and drove to the SPCA shelter.  I redeemed Kody from the shelter. 

I live in a house with 6 other people but Kody remains loyal to me.  He is grateful to me for rescuing him from the shelter.  He doesn't know all the details of his adoption, he doesn't know how impatient I was, how long I waited for him or even how close I was to giving up.  He only knows that I brought him home with me, that I have been loving him, feeding him, walking him and playing with him every day.  He knows I took him to the vet to ensure he remains healthy.  He knows I love him.  God sent His son, Jesus, to redeem us.  Jesus walked with us, talked with us and taught us.  Jesus showed us how to love and live.  Jesus is the ultimate illustration of hesed love.  As Christians, we choose to love God and Jesus in return.  We express our gratitude and loyalty to Him and Him alone.  We turn from the other gods in our life and cling to the Lord.  We walk in obedience.

This morning has dawned cold and rainy.  We are in day 2 of an expected 6 or 7 day rainstorm.  Kody and I are going to go for a walk.  We are going to sing praises as we walk.  We are going to express our gratitude for our adoptions, his adoption into a warm and loving home and my adoption into God's family.  Kody smiles at me, he smiles and wags his tail.  He is a happy dog.  I want to express my love and gratitude in an equally visible manner.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

James 1:22 NRSV

22 But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.

On my desk at work I have a calendar with a daily Bible verse.  It is one of those flip calendars that only refer to the date, not the day of the week making it an "eternal" calendar.  This is today's verse.  I am finding it interesting because Brad has been preaching a series on the Sermon on the Mount and he closed out his series a couple of weeks ago with Matthew 7:15-23:

A Tree and Its Fruit

15 "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. 21 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' 23 Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'

Are you saying, "But what does one verse have to do with the other?"  Even if you're not, let me explain. 

Christians will not be saved merely because they never missed church on Sunday mornings.  Christians will not be saved because they went to church most Sunday mornings.  They can attend and/or lead Bible studies, they can tithe, they can feed the hungry, they can build houses for the homeless, this will not guarantee eternal life with God.  What guarantees eternal life with God is the state of your heart as you walk in obedience to the call He has just for you.  The word is your call to obedience to the Lord.  We must listen, we must open our hearts and our minds to Him.  Without Him we are lost, destined to be thrown in the fire.  What better time than right now to adjust our hearts and our attitudes?   Tomorrow may be too late.  Run, headlong, and fling yourself into His arms.  Nestle in and murmur your love to Him.  Live your life in worship to Him.  Praise Him.  OBEY HIM!

Those of you who know me know that I am not sparing myself from these thoughts.  Those activities I listed above...  studying, tithing, building, feeding, those are all activities I participate in.  But if I do them with the wrong motives I will be joining the goats.  I pray my motives are pure.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Attributes of God - God is Omnipotent - Unlimited Power

I've been struggling with this post.  I've started and stopped it at least three times already.  It's not writer's block, it's just that there is so much to say and I am finding my words inadequate.

I wrote previously about God's Eternality and His Faithfulness.  These two attributes are very important to me personally.  But this attribute of God, I believe, should be important to every living being on earth.  Even more important should be the way that the Lord wields His unlimited power.  Mark Galli writes that we long for a God of limitless power because we are very aware of our weaknesses.  That isn't a direct quote but still that statement strikes a chord deep within me. 

What do you think of when you hear the word "power?"  Images that come to mind for me are Niagara Falls, the waves crashing on beach in Pescadero, CA, watching the wind turbines as I drive through the Altamont Pass, and the sound of an engine racing down the street.  These are just a few examples.  Now ponder this...  take all that energy and multiply it by a million, kajillion times.  That amount of power is just a drop in the bucket compared to the power that the Lord has available to Him. 

I praise God for His omnipotence.  With His power He created everything.  The earth, the skys, the sun, moon and stars.  He created Niagara Falls and the beach.  He gave us the technology to build those loud, powerful engines.  He gave us the knowledge and learning to harness power, to cure diseases and build monuments to our follies.  His power is in the storms, the wind, the rains and the snow.  But I never forget this:  His power can also be found in a single, unique snowflake, in a butterfly's wings, in the tiny, yet perfect, toes of a newborn baby.  HIs power can be found in the roof over my head, the food on my table and the clothes on my back.  His power can be found in the richest of homes and it can be found curling around His children who live in San Francisco's Tenderloin District.  God's power has no limits and no boundaries.  Where will you see His power today?