Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A guest blogger

I am sure you have heard me comment before that I have a pretty remarkable small group. And it's true, they are all individually and collectively amazing. This past Monday, our closing devotional was shared by one of my favorite people. Not only do I get to gather on Monday nights around the book of Acts with her, but I get to walk life by her side. I get to see firsthand how God is challenging her to go deeper, to step outside of her comfort zone and to share her story and all that God has done, and is doing in her life.

I have never had a "guest blogger" here before, but God has been using her words from Monday night to challenge me. With her permission, I wanted to share.  I pray that God continues to use her words to pierce our hearts and to challenge us all on this journey of faith.

Thanks for sharing Melinda!


Joshua 5:2 "At that time the LORD said to Joshua, 'Make flint knives and circumcise the Israelite men again.'"

Scripture based on Joshua chapters 1-5
To give a little of the background of the story…

Chapter one Moses is now dead and God is admonishing Joshua to take over the leader role. That he will lead them across the Jordan River into the land of Canaan. God reminds Joshua that He has given them every place that Joshua’s foot treads. He tells him over and over again to be strong and courageous because He will not leave nor forsake him.

In chapter 3, Joshua tells the people to follow the Ark of the Covenant and not to lose sight of it. God tells Joshua that He will begin to make him an exalted leader to the Israelites, so they will know that, indeed, God is with Joshua. God will do that by walling up the water of the Jordan as they begin to cross over and will cross on dry ground.

God knows that we have a short memory.  So He tells Joshua to get 12 men from each tribe and to set out memorial stones in the middle of the river, so that every time they see them, they can remember the mighty hand of God.

But God also knows that regardless of all the miracles and wonders He performs, the Israelites still have a hard time not doing things in their own strength.  SO, in chapter 5, God tells Joshua to circumcise all the men. So Joshua makes flint knives and circumcises the whole nation.

Hello?!!!

Joshua, for a split second, had to ask: do what? Why over here, on this side of the river, on enemy territory? You know that circumcising everyone will make us sitting ducks, completely vulnerable and exposed to enemy attacks?

But maybe that’s the point

Joshua does it anyway. Later on in the book of Joshua we learn that they attack and defeat Jericho, Ai, Gibeon and all the rest by the mighty hand and strength of God.

It’s a pretty cool story.

I started to think about how this story really applies to me, to us, since obviously we are not talking about physical circumcision …

Circumcision of your heart is spoken about in the old and new testaments:

Deuteronomy 30:6 says “The LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the hearts of your descendants and you will love Him with all your heart and all your soul, so that you will live.”

Jeremiah 4:4 says “circumcise yourselves to the LORD; remove the foreskin of your hearts, men of Judah and residents of Jerusalem. Otherwise, My wrath will break out like fire and burn with no one to extinguish it because of your evil deeds.”

Then in the New Testament:
Romans 2:29 says “on the contrary, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart - by the Spirit, not the letter. His praise is not from men but from God.”

Phil 3:3 says “for we are the circumcision, the ones who serve by the spirit of God, boast in Christ Jesus, and do not put confidence in the flesh.”

So to put all this together…how do we circumcises our hearts, or better yet, how do we allow how hearts to be circumcised and why do we need to?
I think, we have to be like the men of Israel first, we have to surrender...we have to allow it to happen.

When we do surrender what will be cut away?
I think just like those warriors when they got circumcised, Israelites’ protection was removed. Their whole nation became vulnerable and exposed. So it is with us; we have to allow our protection, our calluses, our walls that have built up from past hurts, our shields or our masks that makes it look like we are fine, to be cut away.

It was only after their circumcision that God was able to move in and among the Israelites to show His strength. 

And the same is with us…When we are not tender-hearted but closed off because we are afraid of being hurt again, or we keep people at arm’s length, or we don’t allow people to know us because maybe we will feel judged, we aren’t allowing God to use us and our past experience for His glory and His honor.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says “…the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who in any kind of affliction through the comfort we ourselves receive form God.” 

So when we have a circumcised heart we can know that God is trustworthy in His promises, that He is with us, He will not leave nor forsake us. We can share our hurts, pains, fears and struggles so that others may be able to see the mighty hand of God working in me and in you.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Meet Bernie

You can't come within 10 feet of my FB page and not know the news already. But just in case you missed it, we got a (shih poo) puppy. I know we are biased, but we think she is pretty darn cute. It's a girl, and yes her name is Bernie. Several of you question our judgment here, but once you meet the girl, it fits! She's a 3 lb. spitfire, but don't let her size deceive you! Her personality fills the room with laughter and over floods it with spunk. And just like any new puppy, with Bernie, there is never a dull moment (unless she is snoozing). Whether it is inquisitively exploring new rooms, or trying to get Kovu and Kiara (the kitties) to do more than just sniff her nose and stare her down, Bernie brings excitement to every bounce she takes. And yes, I do mean bounce. Regardless of her leaving 'doggy heaven' and entering into our world off Lilking, and us diving into her 'I don't want to sleep here without you' nightly routine, I think she is as happy to have us as we are to have her. We might not know the ends and outs of what we are doing, like Cesar Millan (that's the dog whisperer for those of you who don't know) but as for a cat lover turned Bernie fan, I could not ask for a better partner to do and learn this with. And for the record I think we are floating along just fine. So here's to many more rainy days filled with laps around the house, battle wounds from baby teeth that mistakenly take your flesh color hand as her blue and green frog, sunny days with puppy PFDs, the yaks, and paddling on the water with your best friend, puppy snuggles, moments of complete exhaustion, situations where you have more questions than answers, and to many many many cups of strong coffee.

As Sam our 4 year old neighbor suggest: "She needs play dates." So my friends, if you want to see 'the cutest puppy ever' (a quote I stole from a friend, but couldn't agree with more) lets us know. We would love to share her cuteness!




Thursday, July 4, 2013

Freedom


The Declaration of Independence of 1776 is one of the most important documents we hold dear to in the good ‘ole U.S. of A. 

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Our laws and what we believe we celebrate today, the 4th of July, have not always seen eye to eye. It’s taken almost 200 years for slaves to taste freedom, for women to no longer feel inferior, and for African Americans to see that they too are equal. Our fight for every American to taste Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness is far from over. 

In our schools we will continue to fight for those kids who fall through the cracks. In our streets we will continue to battle the disease of apathy towards the homeless. In our offices we will continue to break through the glass ceilings. In our neighborhoods we will  continue to wrestle the beast of discrimination. And in our churches we will continue to work through the tension that regardless of orientation, all who are called by God to serve may find that open door. 

I awoke this morning (way too early for my day off, by the way) with “freedom” on my mind. I tried to convince myself to shut my mind off, to roll over and steal a few more hours of sleep, but soon found myself up and at ‘em.

You know, for some, the American rights we hope to live in each and everyday, may always be an up hill journey. We will struggle with feeling inferior, second class and less than par, but this journey by no means discounts what freedoms we do live in and the cost they demanded. 

As I wrapped my mind around today, Independence day and my little corner of the world, I found my way to Galatians. 

It was in this book of Truth, that I found the reminder of where my true freedom lies. The politics and laws of this country will always provided some limited means to freedom, but as Paul says in Galatians 5:1 it is Christ, my Savior who has truly set us free, and it’s my responsibility to stay in that generous, open handed freedom that will never be restricted by the law.

May we all walk through today with true freedom on our minds.