relationship

God is the only way to peace.

God is the only way to peace.

2 Kings 9

Before we get into the meat of today’s blog, I have to point out this verse because it actually made me laugh out loud: "The guard in the watchtower said [to the king], 'Your Majesty, the rider got there, but he isn’t coming back either. Wait a minute! That one man is driving like he’s crazy—it must be Jehu!'" (vs 20) Ha! It seems there were bad drivers all the way back in Bible times. Either that, or Jehu was a teenager.

Name Game {ex6:3}

Photo © Unsplash/Kyle Glenn

Photo © Unsplash/Kyle Glenn

God revealed himself
to Moses
by a different name
than he had used
with Abraham
and Isaac
and Jacob.

An infinite God
with infinite names,
never failing
to manifest his presence
to the finite—
those who may resonate
for one reason or another
with a particular
moniker.

 

God wants to be with you.

God wants to be with you.

1 Kings 6

Such a simple, straightforward message from God in today’s chapter: He wants to be with you. Period. In fact, the whole purpose of building a temple for the Lord was so that He could personally dwell amongst His people. It has always been the cry of His heart to be close to us: "The word of the Lord came to Solomon: 'As for this temple you are building, if you follow my decrees, observe my laws and keep all my commands and obey them, I will fulfill through you the promise I gave to David your father. And I will live among the Israelites and will not abandon my people Israel.'" (vs 11-13)

God makes friends out of enemies.

God makes friends out of enemies.

1 Kings 5

It must have been quite a privilege to work on building the temple of God. Many tens of thousands of Israelites were involved in the process, as well as some foreigners. This was the little tidbit that caught my eye: "So give orders that cedars of Lebanon be cut for me. My men will work with yours, and I will pay you for your men whatever wages you set. You know that we [Israelites] have no one so skilled in felling timber as the Sidonians." (vs 6)

God sees you as more than a number.

God sees you as more than a number.

2 SAMUEL 24

Perhaps the same question that went through my mind also went through yours as you read this chapter: Why did the Lord get so angry over a census? Clearly, not only was God not pleased with what David had done, but David himself recognized that he had done a bad thing once it was over: "David was conscience-stricken after he had counted the fighting men, and he said to the Lord, 'I have sinned greatly in what I have done. Now, Lord, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.'" (vs 10)

God wants a moment with you.

God wants a moment with you.

2 SAMUEL 23

Friends, applaud. The comedy is finished. —Ludwig van Beethoven

Now I shall go to sleep. Goodnight. —Lord George Byron

Why do you weep? Did you think I was immortal? —King Louis XIV

I’m bored with it all. —Winston Churchill

I have tried so hard to do the right. —President Grover Cleveland

All my possessions for a moment of time. —Queen Elizabeth I

Oh, do not cry. Be good children, and we will all meet in heaven. —President Andrew Jackson

Either that wallpaper goes, or I do. —Oscar Wilde

These statements are all the famous last words of the person who uttered them. You might find some of them surprising. I certainly did. I thought Queen Elizabeth’s utterance was especially insightful. When you come right down to it, you can’t take anything with you. And depending on how you’ve lived and where you’re at in life, you might give everything you have for more time.

God reels us in.

God reels us in.

2 SAMUEL 12

I love things that remind me of my father. Today’s chapter reminded me of the topic of voice inflection that he covered in his Speech classes. He would hand out slips of paper to different students—all with the same phrase, but each indicating a different mood in which to utter the phrase. Then, we would go around the room, each of us saying the same thing—but with very different results. It is true that the actual words comprise only a fraction of communication.

God cannot be managed.

God cannot be managed.

2 SAMUEL 6

Right off the bat, I must confess that I owe a debt of gratitude for the way I look at Uzzah’s story to Eugene Peterson’s insights in his book Leap Over a Wall. If you’d like to read more about the life of David, I highly recommend picking up that book. It helped me see a lot of things in a new way—including the story of Uzzah.

God cares about the things that matter to us.

God cares about the things that matter to us.

1 SAMUEL 1

In 1 Samuel chapter 1, there is an interesting story of a man with two unhappy wives. Both were blessed in different ways, but neither was happy with their blessings. Instead, they wanted what they didn’t have. Hannah, the eventual star of the story, had her husband’s heart and affections. Whenever the family was dining together at the temple, Elkanah gave Hannah "a double portion because he loved her." (vs 5) He showed this affection to her even though she was barren. Of course, Hannah was distraught over the fact that she had no children. For women of that time, a childless existence was usually accompanied with feelings of shame and guilt.

God is just a guy who wants friends.

God is just a guy who wants friends.

JUDGES 6

If you’re one of the people who reads this blog every day but doesn’t necessarily read the Bible chapter that goes with it, I urge you to read Judges 6. I am nearly beside myself with delight at the picture of God in this chapter. The Israelites are at their idol worship once again, when God realizes that there is a man—Gideon—who has a willingness to listen. Even though he has grown up in a home where his father worshiped Baal and Asherah, Gideon is apparently open in his heart to an audience with the Lord.

God wants us to choose.

God wants us to choose.

JOSHUA 24

Here we find Joshua’s famous words to the Israelites: "Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." (vs 14-15)

On Dying in Childbirth {gn35:16-18}

genesis-sacrifice-on-dying-in-childbirth-poem.png

Rachel is a cautionary tale
for every woman
who dreams of having
a baby.

Rachel is a reminder—
just the first in a long, tragic history of reminders—
that choosing to have a child
is dangerous business.

Having a child can kill you.

.                 .                 .

No, having a child will kill you.

The day you give birth
may not be the last day you draw breath,
but you will, at the very least,
wish you were dead
four hundred times
in the first three months alone.

And though you may not realize it immediately,
the woman you were
before that first peculiar cry cleaved the air
is dead and gone—
she will not be seen again.

The woman who emerges in her place
will have a different sort of heart,
one that is permanently divided—
half of it still inside,
half of it rolling, then crawling, then walking around on two legs,
forever on the outside.

She will have a different sort of heart,
one that can be irreparably ruptured by the beautiful moments
     as well as the ugly ones,
one that is no longer impervious to indifference or animus,
one that is no longer her own.

Choosing to have a child is dangerous business.

To make a child in your own image
is to relinquish control of your heart to another being
who may or may not
cherish it.

To make a child in your own image
is to abandon personal rights
for the hope of relationship.

To make a child in your own image
is the genesis of unending sacrifice.

Just ask Rachel.

.                 .                 .

Or God.

 

God has a brag book.

God has a brag book.

JOSHUA 4

My father-in-law is always taking pictures. I think he may have been born with a camera stitched into his hand. Whenever and wherever a few of us are gathered together, you can always count on the camera coming out for a few rounds of pictures. My husband’s life is, quite possibly, the most photo-documented life on the face of the planet. No occasion is too small for a photo.

God honors our heritage.

God honors our heritage.

JOSHUA 3

Having a past is part of what it means to be a human being. And our past life is a rich tapestry of events and experiences that has shaped the way we think about and look at the world around us. So, one of the things I really love about God is that He honors our heritage—where we have come from. He acknowledges our past and finds ways to make connections to it in order to make a connection with us.

God is consistent.

God is consistent.

DEUTERONOMY 34

After the death of Moses, the record in Deuteronomy 34 says this: "Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face." (vs 11)  As I read this, it dawned on me that many of God’s good friends are found in the Old Testament, before the testimony of Jesus.

God wants a future with you.

God wants a future with you.

DEUTERONOMY 29

So, yet again, this chapter opens with a litany of Israel’s history—how they were slaves in Egypt, how God brought them out with signs and wonders, how God cared for them in the desert, and how they defeated all the nations who have come against them thus far. And I’m thinking, how many times have we heard this already? Do the Israelites have short-term memory loss? Why does Moses keep going over this again and again and again?

God is a master of relationships.

God is a master of relationships.

DEUTERONOMY 24

The first year David and I were married, he was not allowed to work whilst we waited for the government to issue him a work visa. (He immigrated from England.) Of course, this was a big financial strain on things. I was working a pretty good, flexible, full-time job, but David — being the hard-working man he is — was fit to be tied over his mandatory unemployment situation. I tried to remind him often that he would soon be working too much and wishing for his "pre-employment" days to come back!

God wants all the things He cannot command.

God wants all the things He cannot command.

DEUTERONOMY 16

I direct an adult volunteer church choir. Some have mused that this is akin to herding cats. An adult volunteer choir is a special sort of group. It is made up of people who love to sing but usually, at least subconsciously, believe they really can’t sing all that well. After all, they’re not "professionals." So they assume they could never achieve a "professional" sort of sound. Consequently, the majority of rehearsal time is spent in trying to persuade them to get themselves out of the way so their voices can do what they intuitively know how to do — sing properly.

He Saw {gn29:31}

genesis-gods-love-he-saw-poem.png

The much-invisible and
       quickly-forgotten
Lord of heaven and earth
       is often like a Mama
       Bear who
saw her cubs being
       mistreated and went
       to war. The fierceness
       of the pain
that pierced God's heart
       when he saw his
       precious
Leah discarded, unwanted,
was surpassed only by
       his resolve to
not let abandonment be
       her habitat, to prove
       that there was Someone
       who
loved her more than life itself.