Walking through uncertainty

Christianity, fear, freedom in Christ, Jesus, spirituality, Uncategorized

Are you waiting on something in your life? Maybe you are waiting to hear an answer or praying for change. It could be a loved one that you are praying for and waiting for the miraculous, because that’s what it’s going to take for real change. Maybe it’s a diagnosis or maybe you’re seeking God’s direction and you have been waiting, eager to hear from Him.

If you are walking through uncertainty, and waiting for an answer in some area of your life, then you may enjoy this. Today’s reading for the devotional, Jesus Calling, really nails what we need to be thinking on when waiting. As you read, picture God saying these truths to you:

I want to be Central in your entire being. When your focus is firmly on Me, My Peace displaces fears and worries. They will encircle you, seeking entrance, so you must stay alert. Let trust and thankfulness stand guard, turning back fear before it can gain a foothold. There is no fear in My Love, which shines on you continually. Sit quietly in My Love-Light, while I bless you with radiant Peace. Turn your whole being to trusting and loving Me.

2 Thessalonians 3:16; 1 John 4:18

photo by christianbook.com

This little devotional book has been a great source for me lately. Do you ever have those days when you want to sit down with your cup of coffee and read the Bible, but you don’t really know where to dive in? This book has one paragraph reading each day. As I’ve been waiting for answers in several areas of my life lately, this devotional give me a great starting point with truths from the Bible, worded as if Jesus Himself is speaking them. It gives additional Scripture references that help you to dig further. Check it out!

No fear of bad news, laughing at the days to come

Christianity, fear, Jesus, joy, mission, righteousness, spirituality

It’s funny how an upcoming event can fill us with conflicting emotions. We are giddy and excited about an upcoming mission to Africa, meanwhile there are bad reports on the news. Below I found joy in what the Psalmist says about bad news:

Praise the LORD.
Blessed are those who fear the LORD,
who find great delight in his commands.

Surely the righteous will never be shaken;
they will be remembered forever.

They will have no fear of bad news;
their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the LORD.
Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear;

They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor,
their righteousness endures forever;
their horn will be lifted high in honor. (excerpts from Psalm 112, emphasis mine)

I have no righteousness on my own, but only because of Jesus’ sacrifice for my sin. Because of that, this Psalm says that I will never be shaken. I don’t have to fear bad news. Keeping my heart steady, trusting in the LORD, I will have no fear. And as the Proverb says, we can laugh at the days to come.

Here’s where the laughing part comes in for me today:

This makes me laugh out loud every time I read it, because I am guilty of complaining and saying some of these very things! It will be great to put life and annoyances in perspective, visiting with missionaries and nationals as we go in a few weeks to experience third world culture again. Do these thoughts feel disconnected to you? That’s what’s going on in my brain today. Wanting to keep my heart steady on the LORD, trusting in Him, and laughing at the days to come!

Freedom from fear

fear, freedom in Christ, Jesus, mission, spirituality

For as long as I can remember, I have struggled with fear. As a believer and Christ-follower, there has been little exception. Fear of the unknown, fear of losing a loved one, fear of going to sleep, fear of what others think….the list goes on and on. Even when I was a teenager, I remember having a sudden onset of fear. Often times this heavy cloud of fear would settle over me out of nowhere, causing me such strong emotion, that I wouldn’t be able to stop crying. Since becoming a Christian 13 years ago, the fears that have plagued me have been more subtle, sometimes masquerading as concerns or worldly wisdom. Sometimes fear will come cunningly, beginning as a subtle feeling of dread that will grow when I don’t actively squash it.

Fear or dread of something bad happening. Has it plagued you?

We are planning a mission overseas later this spring. I was tentative about it at first, even fearful. I talked to my husband, Herschel about it. His advice was surprising but good. He told me that he prays nothing bad would happen. BUT, if it does, he can’t think of a better way to go, than to be obedient to God’s call on your life. This was underscored as I’ve gone through some medical tests over the past month. The results have been inconclusive so far, but the idea that I could have a debilitating disease has caused a surprising response from deep within me! Normally, medical tests like these would paralyze me with fear and dread of the unknown. I would mentally obsess on what might happen. How I might suffer, what if my family suffers, etc. Instead, something wonderful has happened.

Instead of anxiety and fear of something terrible happening, it has freed me! I decided that I can spend the next several months and years with a looming fear of a bad diagnosis. If the bad report never comes, I will have wasted precious time that I can never get back. Instead, it has pushed me to a place of freedom. Freedom to take risks and live life to the fullest!  I want my life to count. When my last breath comes, I want to leave a legacy of freedom and crazy, outrageous faith in Jesus Christ. I want there to be a string of people who have been pulled toward God because of the life I lived. I want my children to have a mom who loved Jesus with abandon. Fear could keep me from that. Comfort has been one of my biggest enemies. I am choosing to get out of my boring comfort zone with walls that have been erected by fear. I’ve decided that to be obedient to Jesus’ calling, I’m going to take His words seriously and not figuratively:

“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? Matthew 16:24-26  

Not that I will take stupid risks because I am not looking to be a martyr. I only want to live a life of freedom from fear, and full of love for my Savior. Interestingly, Jesus says almost the same thing earlier in gospel of Matthew, chapter 10. Maybe he said it twice so we’d hear it.

What would a visitor say?

commitment, Jesus, spirituality

My son, Christian, was telling me about a family that he loves to spend time with. Christian is almost 20 years old, so he really decides where he hangs out when he’s got down time. I was curious what compelled him to spend so much time at this family’s house. He told me that when he is there, he feels the presence of God in a unique way that is hard to describe. One night last week when he spent the night there, he passed through the living room several times, and each time the dad was reading the Bible. It was late in the night, Christian passes through going to the kitchen, and the dad is again reading his Bible. Early the next morning, guess what the dad is doing when Christian peeks out? Yep, reading his Bible.

The dad is a humble and strong man that is respected by our entire family. I found it interesting, the colleration of how Christian experiences peace and God’s presence in a home where God’s word is elevated and devoured as food for a starving man. I was challenged with the question: What behavior characterizes me? Would a visitor see that I’m a woman who treasures Jesus and His word, or am I always on the computer, or  ___________?

Treasure hunting

Jesus, Pentateuch, religion, spirituality

This morning I went on a great treasure hunt! Still groggy-eyed, I was about to settle into my favorite morning chair with a cup of coffee to read the Bible. I’m not a morning person. This means that I don’t want to be greeted before I’ve had at least one cup of coffee, I don’t want eye contact, and I find it especially annoying when perky people talk to me and I’m not awake yet. However, this morning, before I sat down with my mug, Herschel said, “Hey, I’ve got something interesting for you to look for this morning as you read the Bible. Do you know where in Scripture it says that the High Priest has a rope tied around his ankle when entering the Holy of Holies once a year?” For years we have heard pastors teach that on Yom Kippur the Jewish High Priest had a rope tied to his leg so that, if he died, he could be dragged out, since no one else could enter!

Illustration of High Priest by Zely Smeckhov

I remember hearing this taught several times through the years. In Torah, the book of Leviticus prescribes that once a year, there would be the Day of Atonement, the most holy day  of the year for the Jewish people. The Jewish High Priest was to wear specific sacred garments and enter the Most Holy Place of the tabernacle to confess and make atonement for his sin and the sin of all the people.  We see the utter Holiness of God in this passage as Moses records God’s explicit instructions for entering the Holy of Holies. Any person who would enter this Most Holy Place at an unauthorized time or manner would die. (read more in Lev. 16) This is where Herschel’s question came into play. I was certain that I could find the answer if I searched the Bible deeply enough.

I frantically searched through Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy looking for clues. My pulse raced. I get giddy with a challenge to find random facts or passages in the Bible.

After a search through Torah that was fruitless, I went to Google. It turns out that this idea is a myth. The legend of the rope tied to the High Priest’s ankle is not found in the Bible, the Apocrypha, the writings of Josephus, or the Midrashic commentaries of the rabbis.

I found that the myth originally came from a Kabbalah (Jewish Mysticism) commentary, but where it may have gained popularity is from evangelical commentator John Gill, who published it in one of his books, and it’s been told ever since. Interesting….

Here’s what I learned from this: Check my sources. The most well-meaning Bible teacher or pastor (or me!) may state something as fact that is not found in Scripture. It’s a fresh reminder to search and know God’s word well for myself. I am reminded that the Bible is the ultimate truth and my thoughts, beliefs, and actions need to be measured by it.

Proverbs 1 says: My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding— indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.

If you’re curious to check out more on this, see sources below.

http://blog.bibleplaces.com/2009/01/that-rope-around-high-priests-ankle.html  This one explains that it would probably be a violation of Lev. 16:3-4, because God very specifically describes garments that the High Priest is to wear.