Monday, August 27, 2012

Dang.... That's Love

 And the Lord said to Moses: “You are going to rest with your ancestors, and these people will soon prostitute themselves to the foreign gods of the land they are entering. They will forsake me and break the covenant I made with them." - Deuteronomy 31:16

 Here it is, Moses is standing before the Lord, his journey with the Isrealites is coming to an end. His life is soon going to be over, and all he has is the promise of being able to look upon the land that the Isrealites are going to inherit. He has just commissioned Joshua to lead the people into the promised land, the land that he himself will not enter. 

What a moment. I can't even imagine what Moses was thinking, feeling, experiencing within this time. Then God says "Hey I know I'm going to give the people this land, and I know right now everything is good. I am their only God, they are focused on me and my gifts... but they will rebel." 

Oh the knot that must have formed in Moses' stomach. To know that the people he had been leading are going to finally receive the promises of God, and yet they are going to turn around and mess it up by turning to other gods. In fact God says "they will prostitute themselves to foreign gods..." that's a deep level of idolatry if you ask me.

But what is so amazing to me in this verse, is that God still takes them into the land...
When the trumpets sounded, the army shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the men gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so everyone charged straight in, and they took the city. They devoted the city to the Lord and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it—men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys- Joshua 6:20-21

God gave Israel the victory! He brought them into the land He had promised their forefathers,  not only did he give them the land, but he allowed them to completely defeat the people. Despite the knowledge of Israel's future rebellion, God still makes good on His promise. 

This completely blows my mind, because it continued to happen all through out the Bible. God promised a savior, a Messiah, and even when people rejected Him, God still used Jesus. Jesus, although beaten, abused, and mocked, still died for us. And even today, as Christ followers, how often do we forget where our salvation comes from? How often do we look at our victories, and triumphs and forget the God who fought the battle for us, and yet during our trials, we cry out and ask where He is.

Yet despite all of this, God still Loves us... He not only loves us, He continues to pour out grace and mercy on us day after day. We wake up with breath in our lungs, the very breath of God moving in and out of our bodies... Dang that's love... We are no longer under condemnation of hell, because Jesus died in our places... That's a BIG love.... We are called children of God, chosen and dearly loved by the creator of the Universe... That's Love! 

I am so overwhelmed at times by the sheer beauty and greatness of God's never ending, never changing love for me. The fact that I daily fail Him, and yet He still says to me "come here daughter, I love you, and you are still mine, nothing you can do will change that. And even though you messed up, I still want to use you. Do you see what I've placed before you, I know it seems hard, and even impossible, but here's the deal I'm going to do this with you, you aren't alone. And I will give you grace along the way to make it through." 

God Loves you so much! He wants to daily pour out His grace on you, and He has a BIG and amazing purpose for you. He wants to give you His good promises, it just takes a willingness to come before Him and recognize your need for His saving Grace in your life. You my friend are dearly loved.... 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Watch my back, I'm going into battle

One of my very favorite times during the week in South Africa was Discipleship. On Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, we would meet in a house with a group of Africans to have a Bible Study, Small group, whatever you would like to call it. It was encouraging to see people growing in their faith, as well as their understanding of Christ. But I think the thing that struck a chord with my heart the most, was the community, or faith family that was being formed.

As the church, we have tried to supplement the need for community with "small groups" that meet once a week. Sometimes we'll really see a group become a family. They end up spending more than just their once a week meeting together. They become a faith family, praying together, eating together, all as they begin to live out the Acts 2 church. But the majority of groups are a once a week meeting and that's it. This is so sad to me. The church is meant to be a living, breathing, organism that consists of all the parts living together, constantly in communication. We are called to share each other's burdens, to walk along side of each other, and yet this is an area we fail the most. 

It really struck a chord for me today while I was watching the show "Amish: Out of Order", a series about people who have left the Amish community. If you don't know this, I have a secret love of the Amish community, but that's a blog for another day ;). During the show, Mose, one of the main guys the series focus on, was meeting with John a fellow ex-amish. John had invited Mose to meet with him and some of his friends, to help Mose process through some of the issues of his past. 

While the group of men were sitting around the table, Mose was really struggling through this process, when John reached across the table and took his hand. He looked in Mose's eyes and said "we are here, and we will fight this battle for you, if you will let us"... I began to cry, moved by the love and sincerity of this man. Then the question came to my mind "When did the church forget this concept?"  Why don't we look into our brother's and sisters eyes and say "I'm here, I will fight this battle with you, side by side, and if I have to, I will fight it for you." Instead we say "I'll pray for you", and then totally forget to even do that. 

How off track have we gotten? One of my dear friends, Crystal told me once "I need to know how I can pray for you, so that I can be guarding your back as you are going into battle". What a beautiful picture. As brothers and sisters in Christ, we are charging on into battle, knowing the victory is won, but yet we run hand in hand, holding up shields for each other as fiery arrows are being slung into our ranks. But instead we often try to run in alone. "Just me and Jesus, we got this" but that's not how God created us. He created us to be a part of a community, or better yet a part of an army. An army that fights for each other, not just once a week, but daily, hourly, and moment to moment. Paul said it this way 

 "Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.  Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." Galatians 6:1-2

He's saying"Go in and fight along side this person with whatever it is they are dealing with. In this way, you will be obeying the second greatest commandment 'Love your neighbor as yourself'. Get into the dirty and grimy areas of life, don't be afraid of the scary and dark corners. Just get in there and fight!"  

I began to see this develop in the discipleship group I had the privilege to work with this summer. These people began to learn how to live in community, they were learning how to pray for one another, also how to answer each others questions. What a beautiful picture of God's intentions for us. 

My prayer is that we will all learn how to truly live in community, and not only that, but that we will learn how to fight for each other, because dangit we're all fighting a hard battle. And if I don't have my sister watching my back, and if I'm not watching hers, one of us is going to get hit. And we don't do well alone, because that's not how God created us to be...

Sunday, August 5, 2012

A real quick update...

There has been so much going on over the last couple of weeks, that I'm not sure what to tell you about here.... So I figured I would give you a small cap on the good, bad, and ugly ;)

  • There have been so many times that God has challenged me to step up and try something new... Every time I've taken these opportunities, I have been absolutely amazed by God's grace, and provision!
  • The Lord has brought so many women into my path that I have so desired to be able to walk through life with... Perhaps a new ministry path in my future?? (thank you Margie for being my mentor, and walking along with me over the last few years! You're a great example!)
  • I am blessed with amazing family not only back home in MI but also here in South Africa!! 
  • Two naps in one day is great idea!! 
  • God is AMAZING!!! His Mercies are new every morning, and His desire to use us is beautiful and yet scary all at once! 

Ok that was quick and yet I think it got out everything I wanted to communicate! Thank you all for being a part of this journey, I look forward to sharing more in depth stories soon!! Love you all!!