It Will Be Well

August 31, 2010 at 1:21 pm (Articles, Attitudes, Godly Living, Trust, Worship) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Posted by Abigail

I’m losing a baby.

My client left the dimly lit counseling room where we’d been talking for the past couple of weeks, still intent on abortion.  There was nothing I could do to change the outcome.  The hardest part was this:  I’d known from the beginning that I was fighting a losing battle.  As soon as I heard the facts stacked up against her I knew that abortion would sound like the overwhelmingly best option.

But even as she walked out, and I ran upstairs to the bathroom and cried, the tears were just a cleansing.  Because God is not dead.  This path I had walked was rugged and hard, discouraging and wearying.  The whole way I was trembling, aware of just how fragile and how stumbling I was.  But I had seen God’s hand.  God’s work.  God’s power.  God’s provision.

Lately, I’ve been walking a lot of these paths.  As I round a bend in my life and I see the valleys stretched out below, I cringe.  I can see the path and I don’t want to walk it.  I’ve walked it before and I know what the end looks like—heartache, failure, confusion, tears.  I hate feeling fragile, wrestling for wisdom and pleading for clarity.  I hate making decisions that seem right, when my heart is torn.  And the lies!  The lies that assault me at the end of these valleys—that the outcome is my fault, that I destroyed what might have been good, that I didn’t do enough, that I was unworthy, that I spoke faulty words, that I have rendered a terrible testimony of the Lord—beat against me like fiery darts.  When I see those valleys loom in the distance, I start looking for short-cuts to avoid that path.

I am a wimp.

Because God is not dead.  The pathway is not about a destination.  There is only one destination of which I am assured—eternity with my Bridegroom.  And this is assured because of the pathway that He walked to purchase my spirit from bondage.  The end of that pathway was death.

Or was it?

Let me tell you a story of humanity.  There came a day when the prophet Elisha passed over to the Gentile city of Shunem.  There he was shown hospitality by a prominent woman.  As time passed, she and her husband built for him a room on the roof of their house.  In his gratitude, Elisha sought for a way to repay her kindness.  Regardless of her wealth, her good marriage, her comfortable circumstances, she lacked one thing: a child.  So Elisha told the Shunamite woman that she would embrace a son.

Her reply?  “Oh no, man of God!  Do not deceive me!”

I can only imagine that this woman’s heart held wounds from years of lack.  Perhaps years of loss.  And as she looked down a path that frightened her, she was afraid of the end.  Because a pathway that might end with joy, also might end with sorrow.

Soon she conceived and gave birth.  And almost as soon, her son suddenly died.

Quietly she laid him on Elisha’s bed and told her husband that she was going to run down to the man of God.  “Why?” her husband asked.  Her only answer:  “Shalom.”  Peace.  It will be well.*

When she came near Elisha, his servant came out to meet her and inquire about her family.  Her only answer, “Shalom.”  Peace.  It will be well.

Then she came to Elisha and flung herself at his feet and her words rushed out in a confused, hurt torrent.  “Did I ask a son from you?  Did I not say, ‘Do not deceive me?’”

In this moment, it seemed that the pathway had ended in death.  Heartache, failure, confusion, tears.  And she had seen it coming.  She had been afraid.  She hadn’t volunteered to walk this pathway.  Hadn’t she said “Don’t deceive me?”

But along the way she had groped for God’s purpose.  She had gone straight to the source.  To others who asked, she said, simply, “Shalom.”  Peace.  It will be well.  Her grief found expression in trust.

God was not dead.  In a dramatic display of power, which proved that it was not Elisha’s staff, nor even Elisha who held life and death, God raised her son.  About eight-hundred years later, He raised His own son.

The destination of these paths was neither death…nor resurrection.  Those were things that happened along the way—for God’s glory.  The destination was trust.

The pathway Jesus walked opened a way to God—through trust.  His example was trust in the Father as He entrusted His soul to a faithful Creator in doing what was right.  And He gave us something in which to trust—a tangible proof that God is with us.

The results of a pathway are in the hands of a Sovereign God.  But we can look at the pathway Christ walked and the power of God in His resurrection and have hope.  We confidently expect that God will bring us through life…and death…and resurrect us to an eternity with Him.  And if this is our eternal destination, why should we fear any path that lies before us?  If God is for us, who can stand against us? Immanuel means “God is with us.”

When my client walked into the clinic asking about abortion, it was an opportunity.  That hard path I dreaded was an opportunity to do what was right—and trust God to do what is right.  And it was not a path I walked alone.  Not a battle lost, the victory just looked different than I assumed.  And the victory belonged to God.  I’m not losing a baby.  The baby isn’t mine.  What God has done never ends at death.  His work goes on.

As I’ve come down what seems to be the end of several hard and painful paths—torn between hope and hopelessness—I’ve wanted to curl up, cover my head and hold as still as possible.  Maybe it won’t hurt.  Maybe I won’t have to see paths like these again.

But I know I will.  My life may be long ahead of me.  Or it may be short.  But the valleys will always loom ahead until I pass through the last valley.  And trust means that I don’t have to fear the valleys, because the Lord is there as well.  I must view them as an opportunity to do what is right—and trust God to do what is right.

He always does.

It will be well.

*The story of Elisha and the Shunamite woman is taken from 2 Kings 4.  According to Keil & Delitzsch (Commentary on the Old Testament, pg 220), the word “Shalom” that the Shunamite woman used means, literally, “Peace.”  It could be used as a simple greeting, but in her case probably denoted more of the concept of “It will be well” or “everthing is fine”—with a goal of politely avoiding questioning.

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Short-Cuts or Straight Paths?

July 9, 2010 at 5:21 pm (Articles, Attitudes, Family, Friends & Ministry, Godly Living, Submission, Vignettes) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

A guest post by Abigail’s dear mother, Marcia

Our caravan consisted of the largest U-Haul available, a pick up pulling a trailer, three other well-packed vehicles, and 7 people.  Estimated loading, departure, arrival times—every detail—had been carefully, thoughtfully planned by my orderly husband. Included in the glove compartment of each vehicle were printed directions to the final destination of that vehicle in case of accidental separation.  The plan:  upon arrival at the new town, the moving van and pick up would take their cargo to the new house.  As leader of the other three vehicles, I was to proceed to a friends’ house where we would all spend the night.  We all understood the plan.

Six hours later, as we neared the exit where the caravan was to separate, I remembered another way I had been taken by the realtor.  A brief wrestling with my thoughts and I decided, “Yes, I’ll take it!  It’s a better way- a short cut!”  Brushing off noble attempts by others in the caravan to convince me to turn right, I confidently turned left.  After all, I knew the short cut.  Obediently, the two other vehicles slowly followed their confident leader.  Within minutes my confidence began to falter. “Surely I should have come to the short cut by now,” I thought.  As I passed the city limit sign for the upcoming town the truth began to haunt me.  In the darkness I had clearly missed my turn. My only choice now was a third road… the long way.  Eight miles of very dark, unfamiliar, and dangerously windy blacktop for one foolish leader and her trusting followers.  A shameful and repentant wife awaited her husband’s return that night.

What was I thinking?  Why did I second guess the plan?  How could my way have been better than the well-planned and communicated, previously tested one of my husband?

The spiritual lesson is so obvious and simple: Follow the directions carefully laid out for me by my loving heavenly Father in His Word.  I cannot simple hit the rewind button and re-tape my daily decisions.  Trusting Him means following His plan the first time…without question, without regret.  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart.  Do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”  Proverbs 3:5,6

Tonight, two and a half years later, I took my husband for a drive…back to the place where I made that rash and prideful decision.  This time I turned the right way and properly followed his old plan to the original destination.  Of course, it wasn’t quite the same, yet in a small way it eased my aching conscience.  My husband, along for a nice ride, had long since forgiven and forgotten my offense.

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It’s Your Turn!

March 17, 2010 at 1:08 am (Announcements, Love, Marriage, Purity, Singleness) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

We’ve spent the last week or so sharing purity stories (in case you hadn’t noticed)…each of us has been walking a path that the Lord has used to teach us the price and value of purity.

Lauren shared that purity in our lives reflects our relationship with the Lord–we’re not supposed to daydream about other lovers, but we’re supposed to love the Lord purely!  She also shared that meeting the “perfect” man wasn’t a signal to lay down her arms and give in–it was actually just a stronger call to keep fighting the battle–even protecting her physical purity during her engagement so that she could give herself entirely to her husband on her wedding day!  And as a married woman, she shared that the same love that inspires “keeping” as a single woman, inspires “giving” as a married woman.

Megan shared the power of God’s redeeming love as the basis for all purity.  With that in mind, pride doesn’t lead us to true purity.  She expressed that purity is far more than physical boundaries–that it begins with a pure mind and heart and humility!  She also shared how God’s powerful love can redeem even our mistakes and sanctify them for our growth and use them for our blessing!  As a wife and mother (with a fifth on the way!), a pure mind and heart are no less important now!

Amy shared that an invaluable secret to protecting “chastity” is godly accountability–particularly parents!  Contentment is an act of trust and the foundation for trust is knowing and understanding God’s character–that He is good and gives good gifts.  Even when “Mr. Right” entered her life, the Lord still had growth planned for her!  And even after her marriage, she has learned that contentment is still an act of trust!  The day we trust the Lord is only the beginning of a life of trusting.

Sarah shared the struggle of learning to balance preparation and training to be a godly wife and mother with the commands to guard her heart and keep her daydreams focused on the Lord.  One day she came to her parents.  “For my entire life you have been grooming me to be a wife and mother.   What am I supposed to do, erase 16 years of brainwashing from my head?”  She also shared the struggle of balancing a godly friendship with the teasing of “helpful friends” and her own desires for a godly husband.  She also shared how we can tend to trust “good things” that the Lord provides, instead of simply trusting the Lord.

Ana Marie shared the importance of filling our lives with the right things–nature abhors a vacuum, and where there is nothing, usually there is plenty of room for stumbling!  She shared the value of a tender conscience and also the power of confessing even motives to her father.  She also shared how necessary it is to guard our brothers–hearts and eyes–in worship to the Lord.

Abigail shared the danger of creating “high ideals” that are often founded in pride instead of in scripture–since they set us up for failure!  God doesn’t promise us our ideal–no matter how we behave.  He just commands us to obey Him.  She also shared the importance of understanding that both marriage and singleness are pure–and glorify God when submitted to Him.   And she shared the the call never changes–regardless of circumstances, pressures or temptations.  Purity must start and end in love–love for the Lord first and then love for His people–all of them.

Now it’s your turn!  We want to hear how the Lord has convicted you and how you’ve responded to the call to purity!  Leave your thoughts and/or post a link(s) to your story in the comments below!

Blessings!

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Part Two: Love and My Heart

March 4, 2010 at 1:46 am (Articles, Attitudes, Godly Living, Love, Marriage, Purity, Singleness, Worship) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Posted by Abigail

The Valentine’s Day just past left me with plenty of fodder for the mental camel I’ve been feeding. Over and over again were the expressions of devotion “You have my heart!” or the pleas “Be mine.” Giving and exchanging of heart-shaped candy and heart-covered cards left impressions of hearts popping out of the heads of every couple I passed. Modern music speaks much of the heart, but the father in Proverbs had some thoughts on the issue, as well. He warned his son of the dangers of impurity, encouraged him to be faithful to the wife of his youth and exhorted “Keep your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

Proverbs describes temptations not unlike our own and speaks of the wisdom of “keeping” what the world would tempt us to give.

>Keep:

The Hebrew word translated “keep” has a lot more depth to it than four letters might imply. It means a conglomeration of watching, maintaining, guarding, protecting, preserving, even concealing or surviving a siege (mostly negative connotation). The word is nearly identical in purpose to the command given in the Garden of Eden, when Adam was placed in the garden to cultivate and “keep” it. (Genesis 2:15) *

Just what was Adam’s task? To keep the soil soft, healthy, bearing good fruit. To protect it from weeds. To cultivate healthy, fruit-bearing plants. Why? To bring God glory.

The Creation story tells us that man and woman were created in God’s image and when we skip to the end we see God’s purpose. “Thou hast created all things and for Thy pleasure they existed and were created.” (Revelation 4:11) God created you a unique woman, in His image, to bring Him glory. You belong to Him, heart, soul, mind and body.

The heart of the matter

To keep, to guard, to maintain, to protect our heart, we’ve got to understand to Whom it belongs. The answer is not “to ourselves.” The answer is not “to our husband (wherever he is and whenever God wills to reveal him to us, etc, etc).” When asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus responded, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind…” (Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27) Over and over, Yahweh complained of Israel’s unfaithfulness. “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.” (Isaiah 29:13) He described the worship issue in graphic language as adultery. In the New Testament, Paul describes our bodies as God’s temples and explains that purity is a worship issue. (1 Corinthians 6:19) “Lust, covetousness, impurity, greed…which amounts to idolatry.” (Colossians 3:5)

God commanded us to love Him. We failed. We chose other gods, other lovers, other things. That’s the story of scripture. Adam and Eve failed to love the Lord with their hearts, minds and souls—instead they sought to know good and evil experientially, they sought knowledge elsewhere and the fellowship between man and God was destroyed. This was the relationship that you and I inherited at birth: enmity with God. But God was never surprised and He was willing to offer His redeeming love to buy us back from slavery to the other things we had pursued. Hosea pictures for us the power of redemption as he buys back his adulterous wife. God demonstrated His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners—enemies of God—He gave His own precious Son to buy us back.

Why am I recounting the gospel story for you? Because when God bought you back, He made you a new creature, able to have intimate fellowship with Him. By the Holy Spirit’s power you are able to love God. “We love Him because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) God created you once, and you belong to Him. Then He bought you back by redeeming love. Is there any question that you belong to Him?

You shall love Yahweh your God with all your heart. The world will never have an accurate view of love because the world does not know God.

The Idols We Serve

Why did Hosea’s wife keep fleeing him and returning to her life of sin and degradation? Didn’t she have exactly what so many Christian girls long for today? A godly, compassionate husband and several beautiful children? Still her heart wandered to fields that did not belong to her, and where her heart wandered, her feet followed. Discontentment, we call it.

Lust. Greed. Covetousness.

God calls it “idolatry.”

The idols of Israel’s unfaithfulness were made of wood, gold and stone—materials that God had created, that were good, that served a purpose–in fact, materials that were used to build His own temple. It wasn’t the materials that caused the idolatry. It was the hearts of the people that sought for something they could touch and feel to complete them. In a similar way, romance, marriage and motherhood are not evil. They have been created by God and are holy—when surrendered to Him. But whenever we pursue, worship or serve our desires—even godly desires—we allow them to usurp the place that only Yahweh can fill.

Discontentment, we call it.

God calls it “idolatry.”

Pursue the dream-giver

You’ve seen the young woman everyone says is “glowing.” She’s the one “in love,” the one everyone watches with whispers and chuckles. Her every thought is to please her lover. She talks about him constantly. She talks to him every chance she gets. She can’t wait to be with him and when she is, her eyes are fixed on his face. She’s like a garden soaking up the spring rain and flourishing. Hosea, the faithful husband, proclaims the Lord’s faithfulness and the refreshment found in His presence. “Let us know, let us press on to know the Lord. His going forth is as certain as the dawn and He will come to us like the spring rain watering the earth.” (Hosea 6:3)

Your heart is like a parched garden—it longs for fulfillment. Your Divine Lover created you to respond to His offer of divine love. Scripture says He jealously desires the spirit that He has made to dwell within us. (James 4:5) The Father in Proverbs says the heart must be diligently kept for from it flows the springs of life. The Father seeks worshipers, Jesus told the Samaritan woman, and He promised her springs of living water—welling up inside of her to eternal life. (John 4:14) Press on to know the Lord and He will come to you—bringing refreshment, bringing life.

In God’s economy, giving is keeping. If you lose your life for Christ, you will gain it for eternity. If you give to the poor, the Lord will repay you. If you want to keep your heart, you must pour it before the Lord. Paul wrote to the Philippians not to be anxious, but to pour everything with prayer and petition and thanksgiving at the feet of Christ. “And,” he promised, “the peace of God that surpasses all comprehension will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7) If you pour your heart, your grief, your struggles, your pain, yourself out in extravagant worship, you will find it guarded, protected and healed. You will find it softened, growing with good things. You will keep your heart. For God’s glory.

Purity and worship

Whenever anxiety enters, when other things vie for your attention, when your biological clock is ticking so loudly it is waking the neighbors or when that godly young man gives a good answer at Bible study, you must keep your heart. You must know it, you must guard it, you must conceal it, you must cultivate it. It’s not that desires are ungodly, but even godly desires must find a place in the kingdom of God. Jesus encouraged His followers to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:25-34) The Father knows what you need before you ask. Above all else, He knows you need Him.

Seize every distraction as a redirection to focus on the Lord. Take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. Seek the Lord.

Jesus blessed the pure in heart. “They shall see God,” He said. (Matthew 5:18) He accepted into His service women at whom others looked askance. Others saw only the scars of the past. Jesus probed into hearts and found them washed clean, restored and redeemed through the prodigal grace of God. ** When a woman of shady reputation poured a vial of expensive perfume over the feet of the Lord, she was pouring out her heart, despite the cold condemnation of those witnessing the act. But Jesus accepted this extravagant worship with the words, “he who is forgiven much, loves much.” (Luke 7:36-50) As forgiven women, let us never forget to love much. Purity is a heart attitude that springs from devotion to Christ.

A “kept” heart is a heart that has chosen the best part—the place at Jesus’ feet.

Part One:  Love and Purity

Part Two:  Love and My Heart

Part Three:  Love and My Brother

Part Four:  Love and Marriage

Part Five:  Love and Matchmaking

Part Six:  Love and Today

* A few interesting uses of the Hebrew words translated “keep/guard”: Gen. 3:24; Gen. 17:10; Gen. 28:15; Gen. 30:31; Ex. 12:25; Ex. 15:26; Ex. 20:6; Ex. 23:20; Lev. 18:26; Num. 6:24; Deu. 5:1; Ps. 12:7; Ps. 25:10; Ps. 34:13; Ps. 78:7; Ps. 89:28; Ps. 91:11; Ps. 105:41 (contains both words); Ps. 119 (uses both interchangeably, repeatedly); Ps. 127:1 (same word used for “keep” and “watchman”); Proverbs; Ecc. 3:6; Is. 26:3; Is. 27:3; Jer. 3:5; Ez. 20:19; Dan. 9:4; Hos. 12:6; Mic. 7:5; Nah. 2:11; Mal. 2:7

** Prodigal (adjective): 1. wastefully or recklessly extravagant. 2. giving or yielding profusely; lavishly abundant. The “prodigal son” was wastefully and recklessly extravagant with his inheritance—an evil thing. Mary of Bethany was lavishly abundant with her worship—a pure thing. God is prodigal with the grace He bestows on us—extravagant, profuse and lavishly abundant. Praise Him!

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What Makes a Husband Jealous?

February 17, 2010 at 1:20 am (His Perspective, Love, Marriage, Purity, Singleness) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

“You shall love Yahweh your God with all your heart, soul and mind,” Yahweh charged Israel in His greatest commandment, but the hearts of the people turned away to foreign gods and their minds strayed to sin and self.  “You have committed adultery against Me,” Yahweh warned.  “I am a jealous God.”  Through the prophet Ezekiel, Yahweh graphically described Israel’s adultery, painting a revolting picture of lewdness and impurity.

To the church of Corinth, Paul wrote as God’s emissary, “I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin.”  (2 Corinthians 11:2)

The adultery Yahweh charged Israel with was in giving to another god what rightly belonged to Him—heart, soul and mind in worship.  Paul’s jealous guard over the purity of the bride of Christ was to preserve their minds in the purity and simplicity of devotion to Christ.  Devotion–the minds of believers rightly belong to Christ.  We tend to think of jealousy as an evil, but Paul speaks of a godly jealousy.  God’s jealousy was over what rightly belonged to Him.  Paul was jealous on behalf of Christ, over what rightly belonged to Him.

As I worked over the post dealing with God’s Will: Your Sanctification, I came head to head with the issue of defrauding—cheating, taking what rightly belongs to another.  With the words “The Lord is the avenger,” I was reminded of the jealous husband’s test in Numbers 5—and the curse upon the woman who had “gone astray into uncleanness.” As I pondered, I began to wonder what would be rightly considered a husband’s?  Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 7 that the wife’s body belongs to her husband, and his body belongs to her.  Wouldn’t it be godly then for a husband and wife to be jealous over each other’s bodies?  What else might they be jealous over?  Each other’s emotions?  Devotion?  Time?  Affection?  Attention?  I’d often considered purity in relationships, but I’d never before thought of it in terms of what would make a husband jealous.  The traditional wedding vows proclaim to “forsake all others, clinging only to you.”  I began to consider the implications of Paul’s words to the churches of his day regarding purity and marriage.  Marriage should not be sought in lustful passion, as the pagans, but in set-apartness and honor.  He warned us not to go beyond and defraud—because God is the avenger.  This warning suggests that, even if no one else ever knows that we have “cheated”—gone beyond what was rightly ours—God knows and we will reap the consequences in our lives and hearts.

Ladies, what I’m proposing is that we carefully consider what rightfully belongs to God as the first step in purity.  “Love Yahweh your God with all your heart, soul and mind.  Worship and serve Yahweh only.”  And we carefully guard and preserve that for Yahweh only.  That we consider what rightfully belongs to those around us.  “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  A sacrificial love, based on Christ’s love for us, offered without thought of gain.  This, too, is worship of God.  And, in purity, that we consider what rightfully belongs only to a husband.  Even if we never marry, there are some things that no one is authorized to claim outside of a marriage covenant.  I propose that we jealously protect and preserve this until such a time as, covenanted in marriage, we can freely and purely pour it out in worship to God.  God is the avenger, because our purity is an integral part of our worship of Him.

These thoughts in mind, Lauren and I constructed a survey to try and help us understand what things would make a husband jealous.  We created a series of hypothetical questions, based on many of the debates/teachings we’d heard regarding “purity” boundaries, placed those situations into a marriage scenario and surveyed 50 men from very different backgrounds and denominations–single men, dating men, courting men, engaged men, married men and men with daughters our ages—without giving an explanation for our questions.  We wanted unbiased feelings from a range of perspectives.  We reasoned that those things which provoked jealousy in a husband are likely to be good indicators of what rightly belongs to a husband only—and therefore what we should be jealously guarding from any man to whom we are not married.

We’ll admit that we were surprised by the clarity the results seemed to cast on “grey areas.”  We’re talking about activities that many youth pastors would advocate as still “chaste” and would leave a “True Love Waits” pledge unbroken.  Many of the men expressed that they were deeply disturbed in considering their wife engaging in many of these activities—few thought “jealous” even covered their feelings on the topic.  God used graphic word-imagery to express Israel’s adultery–to inspire our horror and disgust.  We’ve tried to be as discreet as possible in dealing with these issues, but this is a serious affair.  Impurity should provoke our horror and disgust.  We’re sharing the results with you and we encourage you to consider carefully guarding what these men express as provoking jealousy.  In the areas that are expressed as depending on circumstances, prayerfully, carefully let your actions be guarded by love—focus on the Lord first and what will bring Him glory and then pursue sacrificial love toward your neighbor–what will cause them to focus on the Lord.  The excellent wife does her husband good and not evil all the days of her life, and his heart trusts in her.

See the survey results here:

What Makes a Husband Jealous:  The Survey

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A Lesson From a Rose

May 28, 2009 at 2:49 pm (Attitudes, God's Will, Poetry) (, , , , , , )

lesson-from-a-rose

“I’d like a little rose to place
Upon my dresser in a vase.”
The pleading eyes of amber hues
How could that look a man refuse?
“Just wait a bit,” the father smiled,
While looking fondly on his child.
“When gone are all the wintry snows
We’ll go and pick a perfect rose!”
The child turned her face away,
“I’ll go and pick one anyway.
My father has great things on mind
And though means only to be kind,
Still I have seen the scarlet blooms
And if I do not take one soon
They’ll wither and then turn to slime
Before my father finds the time.”
So saying, she her small steps took
Down to the arbor near the brook.
She gazed long moments at the wall
All covered with the buds still small
And wondered which the blushing sun
Would mark out as the perfect one.
Her dimpled hand reached out to take
The tender bud yet unawake
Still nodding in the morning light
Before the summer kissed it bright.
Into the vase the small flower went
Without the slightest accident
And soon it graced the dresser top.
It never bloomed, but drooped then dropped.
A flower with perfection’s plan
Was ruined by impatient hands.
The father saw the child’s choice
And though he never raised his voice,
He sighed that it should never come
To fullest beauty in the sun.
He’d raised that rose with her in mind
But his love’s gift she’d undermined
And what, if left to him, would be
The perfect bloom of purity,
Because once plucked it withered there
Was never seen in beauty rare.
How often we grasp much too soon
And seize God’s blessings ere they bloom.

Copyright 2005 by Abigail

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His Perspective…On Respect

February 14, 2009 at 1:00 am (His Perspective) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

his-perspective-on-respect

Valentine’s Day conjures up thoughts of red foil, powdered candy hearts, oozing chocolate cakes and over-the-top sentimentalism all wrapped up in a hazy misunderstanding of the word “love.” To the world, love is a feeling, coming and going on the winds of time, age, business and beauty, pronounced in words that pass away and proudly displayed through things destined to perish with the using. The disciple Jesus loved gives those of us who would understand true love a great reminder: “Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in action and truth.” (1 John 3:18 ) English teachers will insist that love is an abstract noun—an idea. Scripture tells us it’s a verb. Sisters, let’s stop just using empty words to express love. Let’s really get active about loving according to the truth of scripture!

Paul, the bond-slave of the Lord, never mentioned flowers or chocolate or candlelight dinners, but he did give some excellent advice for godly love and relationships. “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church…and let the woman see to it that she respect her husband.” (From Ephesians 5:22-33–we really recommend reading the whole passage). In the literal Greek the word for “husband” is really just “man”, plain and simple, and we believe that the respect factor applies to young women under the authority of their fathers, as well. After all, what better way is there to prepare for respecting a husband, some day? Could there be a better way to prove respect for the Lord than to respect the authorities He has placed in our lives?

Some of the men who are seeking to work out this Biblical pattern graciously agreed to help us in digging up some great insights on the issue of respect. We’ve included a few prime quotes below as a sort of appetizer and we’d encourage you to take a look at what they had to say and put your love into action, guided by the truth of God’s word! Just follow the link at the bottom to visit the “Respect” page and see the whole survey! Feel free to share what you find, and don’t be afraid to ask your own men the same questions to discover what honors them and proves to them your love and respect–for God’s glory.

Are candy hearts and red roses wrong? Not at all. They are thoughtful. They are romantic. They are even pleasant. Only to call those things “love” or even “expressions of love” which never even come close to scratching the surface of the love of God, who sacrificed His Son for sinners, is to cheapen a word which should be reserved for gifts of much greater worth. This Valentine’s Day, we challenge you to give more. We challenge you to lavish your man with respect—all year long.


“Biblical respect is the humble, intelligent, joyful response of a wife to God’s placement of authority expressed by esteem for, encouragement of, and submission to her husband’s leadership.”

Shai Linne, Philadelphia, PA


“It is possible to have a surviving relationship without respect because I could choose to love them [wife/sister/daughter] even if they refused to respect me, but to have a really healthy flourishing relationship both must fill their biblical roles.”

–Moriah Day, Altamont, KS, age 16, eldest of 10


“Leaving me would be the highest rejection of my leadership and provision. But in absence of legal separation, complete emotional and relational separation would be basically equivalent.”


–Nathaniel, Tulsa, OK, married to Lauren for 1 year, 4 months and 4 weeks 😉

We hear much about men having a built in need for respect and similarly women having a built in need for love … as if men and women are designed by God with the frailties of tiny egos and frail emotions that need constant stroking by the other lest we suffer the consequences. This is nonsense. Respect and Love in the context of Marriage have everything to do with God given roles and authority structure. Respect and Love are what bring about God’s desire that we use our position selflessly for the benefit of our Spouse.”

–John Day, Altamont, KS married 18+ years, father of three daughters (so far)


“’Love is of God,’ I John 4:7 says. God’s love is not natural to man, as the Scripture continues: ‘everyone who loves has been born of God.’ So husbands are to love, not by human product, but by the love of God. Likewise are wives, according to Titus 2:4, to love their husbands, not by natural love, but God’s love.”

–Glenn Schreiber, Central Illinois, (very happily) married for 18.5 years, father of two daughters


It is the ‘picture’ of Christ and His bride. The relationship for the husband is to love his wife as Christ loves the church. Sacrificial love, a love worth respecting because it is wonderful and it knows the love is acting in the best interest for the wife. How do they differ? The love is the leading action which makes the respecting enjoyable.”


–Gabe Graham, Tulsa, OK, married 5+ years, father of three daughters


“The Bible says that Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. I think this word is a great way of summarizing how a wife is to respect her husband. She treats him as someone who is very important; as someone who she means to serve and obey, and who is worthy of her service. No other person trumps him; he is the #1 person she is meant to help, to love, and to give her time and affections to. What is important to him becomes important to her, simply because he values it. This all comes out of an ultimate desire to serve her Heavenly Lord, because this is His command to her; ultimately, she is serving Him through demonstrating a giving over of her desires to the desires of her husband, and treating him as the authority God has given her.”

John A. Moss, Morgantown, WV, married almost three years, a daughter due in April (!)


“God’s originally-stated purpose for creating mankind was to rule over the earth (Gen. 1:26). His special purpose for man was to cultivate and keep the garden (Gen. 1:26; 2:15) and for woman was for her to be a suitable helper of her husband (Genesis 2:18). It follows that she must learn to help her man. This is the major distinction between the husband and his wife’s roles–he is the leader and she is the helper. More descriptively, he is to be her loving leader and she is to be his reverent helper.”

–Lane, Rural AR, married 31 years, father of Abigail (and Lydia)


Trust and respect can be shattered by failure to grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus.”

Zach Welchman, Arkansas Tech University

We found the answers sometimes surprising, often enlightening, sometimes encouraging, often convicting.   We’d love for you to take a look at the comments and the survey (when you can) and tell us your thoughts!

His Perspective on Respect: The Survey

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Daddy, May I Help You?

February 1, 2009 at 11:34 am (Attitudes, Godly Living, stories) (, , , , , , , , , )

daddy-may-i-help-you

Posted by Abigail

“Daddy, may I help you?”

The wide, blue eyes peer wonderingly up as the father raises his head from underneath the car. “Of course, Son, I would love to have your help. It is my greatest wish for you to learn to do everything that I do.”

“What are you doing, Daddy?” There is a grunt as the father lowers himself under the car once more. The child waits for a moment, watching as his father’s body disappears behind muddy tires and dirt-caked axles. “Daddy, what are you doing?” the child ventures again.

“Wait a little and you’ll see,” comes the father’s muffled response.

“Daddy, did you hear me the first time? When I asked you the first time, didn’t you hear me?” The small boy drops to his knees, poking his head under the car to watch his father.

“Yes, Son, I heard you.”

“Why didn’t you answer me?”

The father raises his head to gaze lovingly into the little boy’s face. “Son, if I tried to explain to you what I am doing now, you wouldn’t understand it. I just want you to wait a little while and then it will all become clear.”

“Daddy,” the child wriggles under the car next to his father. “What can I do? You said I could help you?”

The father reaches past his son to grab a tool. “So I did, Son. But right now you are in my way. It would be most helpful to me if you would just climb back out from under the car and sit down on the pavement to wait.”

“But Daddy, I want to help you!”

“Do you want to help me?” the father’s eyes are keen as he again twists to gaze into his son’s eyes.

The child halts in confusion. “Yes, Daddy, that’s why I’m here.”

“I appreciate it, Son. If you want to help me, I need you to do what I ask of you.”

“But Daddy,” the boy whispers tearfully as he climbs out from under the car. “I want to help you, really and truly help you. Not just sit here and watch you work.”

“Son,” the voice is stern yet gentle. “I am not ready for you yet. Right now you are just in my way, slowing me down. Sit there and wait until I need you–then you will be a big help to me!”

“Just sit here?” He isn’t really intending to whine, but the pitch in his voice displays his dissatisfaction. There is no answer from underneath the jacked-up vehicle. The boy glances out of the garage door at the blue sky and warm sunshine. The he crosses his legs and sits quietly on the floor. A minute passes, then two. He can see his father steadily at work and his hands are itching to be doing something–anything. “Are you ready for me yet, Daddy?” No words–only the steady tapping of the metal tools against the underside of the car. “Daddy?”

“Wait–” the grunt is anything but satisfactory.

The little boy glances out the wide doorway again. The fresh air and sunshine are whispering alluring suggestions–he will hear if his father calls.

“Son, could you hand me that–” there is no answering scramble, no eager voice and smiling eyes as the requested tool is produced. The father raises himself on his elbows. Empty. The garage is empty. So much for the child who wanted to help him. The father sighs, crawls from under the car and reaches for the neglected wrench. He can hear his son’s delighted laughter just outside the door.

“Daddy, are you ready for me yet?” the dirty little feet patter across the pavement and pause by the car.

“Son, I needed you just a minute ago and you weren’t here to help me.”

“I went outside to play while I was waiting. What do you need, Daddy?”

“I already got it myself, Son. You will have to wait again, now.” A tool clattered to the concrete floor, drowning out the last few words.

“Why didn’t you come and call me, Daddy? I would have been happy to help you.” The child bent over again to peer under the car.

“It would have taken me longer to come find you than for me to just do it myself.”

“When will you need me again, Daddy?”

“I am not sure, Son. But if you want to make yourself available to help me when I need it, then you must sit down where you are and wait until I need you again.”

“But Daddy, sitting here isn’t really helping you!” the son pouts as he reseats himself in the sunshine that spills through the high garage windows.

“Son, the definition of helping me is doing whatever I need you to do. Right now I just need you to wait so that you will be available.”

The child watches his father’s legs wriggle as he moves to a new position. “Would you hand me a rag, Son?”

“Oh, but Daddy, the rags are so dirty!”

There is no answer. Only the soft shuffling as the father climbs from under the car and walks toward the plastic sack filled with rags at the far end of the building. He pulls out a long, greasy towel and returns to the car.

“Are you ever going to have something for me to do?” the son moans, playing restlessly with his dirty toes.

“You didn’t want to get me a rag,” comes the quiet response.

“But Daddy, getting a rag is not real work. And it’s dirty. You know I want to help you with the real, hard work.”

The father pushes the towel out from the side of the car. It is covered in new grease stains and the dust of the garage is sticking to it. “Work requires getting dirty, sometimes. You are not ready for the big jobs yet.”

“When will I be ready?” the son asks, anxiously.

“When you become faithful in the little jobs–in waiting.”

“But Daddy, the little jobs aren’t any fun and waiting make my head hurt. Why can’t I be doing something important?

“Son, the little jobs have to be done, and that’s what I need you to do right now. Here, hold these nuts for me.” A hand reaches out from under the car to drop several cold, greasy round objects into the cupped hands of the little boy.

“Daddy, can I put them on or do you want me to put them away in the big jar with all of the bolts?” the boy starts to get up as he speaks, gripping the nuts tightly in his fist.

“No Son, I just took them off of the oil pan–just hold on to them for a minute. I will need to put them back on in a little while.”

“Daddy, may I put them back on?” the child hesitates a moment, deciding whether to remain standing or reseat himself.

“We will see,” comes the response as the father again reaches for the towel. Seeing the movement, the child pushes it toward his father. A nut falls from his hand and rolls under one of the wheels of the car.

“Oh Daddy! I dropped a nut! I’m so sorry! I was only trying to help you!”

“I can get the nut, I believe. But remember, I didn’t ask you to hand me the towel. I appreciate your eagerness, but what I need is obedience. I only asked you to hold the nuts. You dropped one because you did something I didn’t ask you to do.”

“But Daddy, I thought you needed me to help with the small jobs.”

There is a sigh as the father squirms under the far tire to retrieve the lost nut. “I need you to concentrate on doing what I ask you to do, Son, not on whatever you think I need help with.” He places the runaway nut back in his son’s hands. “Now, hold it tightly.” The chubby fingers close over the dirty nut, joining the others, and there is silence for a few minutes as the father works steadily. At last, “Hand me the nuts, Son.”

The child carefully places the nuts, one by one, into the large work-worn hand extended to receive them. “They are all here, Daddy. I didn’t drop any this time.”

“I see that,” the father answers with pleasure. “Good job!”

“How may I help you now, Daddy?”

“Would you like to tighten the nuts?”

“Oh yes!” the child answers eagerly, snatching up the wrench and hurriedly wriggling under the car.

“Son, climb back out from under the car and put that wrench back where you found it.”

“But Daddy, you said I could–”

“Yes, Son, I know,” the father’s voice is reassuring. “But you have the wrong-sized wrench. The one we need is under here with me.”

“Oh,” the sun hands his head as he lays the wrench down again and then worms his way back under the car. He rolls over onto his back and seizes the smaller wrench.

“Son,” comes the father’s voice form just beside him. “Hand me that wrench.”

“Daddy, you will let me tighten the nuts, won’t you? Like you said?” the child clings tightly to the wrench, afraid to let it go.

“Would I deceive you, Son? You must give me that wrench before you can do anything.”

Reluctantly, the boy releases the wrench into his father’s hands.

“Now, use your fingers to tighten each nut.”

“Will I ever get to use the tool, Daddy?”

“Finish tightening them with your fingers, Son.” The voice is firm as the father points to the unfinished work. “Now you may use the wrench, but you must be careful.” Gently the father shows his son how to hold the wrench and helps him tighten several nuts.

“I want to do it by myself.”

“You are not strong enough, Son. You need my help.”

“Please let me try, Daddy. I’m sure I can do it.” the blue eyes gaze up pleadingly at the father.

“You may try, Son, but you will not be able to do it.” the father’s hand drops from the wrench.

Eagerly the son grips the heavy handle and struggles to turn the nut. It doesn’t budge. He grunts and whines and sweats. “I guess it’s tight enough, Daddy,” he pants.

“Let me help you, Son,” the father’s strong hands grip the handle again, turning the nut easily.

“But I was trying to help you,” comes the disappointed whisper.psalm-25

“Help me is correct, but you can’t do it on your own.” The father gives his son a loving squeeze. “Now I need you to climb out from under here and wait until I need you again.”

“Wait, Daddy? Again?” The disappointment is evident.

“Yes, Son. Sit where you are. I will call you when I need you.”

“But Daddy, I am ready now–”

“I will let you know when I am ready for you–but I can’t use you unless you are available and waiting.”

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Faith in His Faithfulness

January 24, 2009 at 7:36 am (Flowers of Thought) (, , , , , , , , )

flowers-of-thought-2

It’s a new year full of new things. But God is still the same. Abraham is now in Abraham’s bosom. Pondering the life of Abraham leaves me in awe of the Lord and His ways. They are too high. I cannot attain to them. He called Abraham from among complete heathens. I see no evidence that Abraham was in any way seeking Yahweh, yet the Lord appeared to Him and called Him and promised to bless Him. Each step of the way, Abraham hesitated and God had to give a little nudge. Abraham’s journey lasted for years before he actually believed God and was reckoned righteous. How does this work? Amazingly, beyond my understanding, the Lord can and does draw people for years sometimes before they finally trust Him. The human mind can devise all kinds of questions: What if Abraham had died before he trusted God? What if Abraham hadn’t gone to the land of Canaan? Does it matter, all these “what ifs”? The point is that God was in control. He drew, knowing precisely when Abraham would finally trust and obey Him wholly. Did He choose Abraham because He knew he would trust or did He know he would trust because He chose him? Does it matter? Did He choose Abraham? Yes. Did Abraham trust God? Yes. Was He fooled or thwarted? Absolutely not. Never. Faith bore immediate fruit in Abraham, though. God made a covenant with him and told him to circumcise his whole household. The same day, it says, Abraham and his son Ishmael and all his household were circumcised. He’d not even yet seen the child of promise, though he’d believed God. And later, when God told him to sacrifice his son, his obedience was immediate. That’s the undeniable mark of those who are “righteous” in the old testament. They obey God. It is the evidence of their faith in Him and His faithfulness.

He who has shown Himself faithful, since the beginning of time, is truly worthy of my faith.

Lord, Thy arm is full of power
To lead or save at any hour.
Thy faithfulness, as proved in past
The steadfast mountains, will outlast.

Thy promise of my soul’s salvation,
More secure than earth’s foundation,
Causes hope that’s staid in Thee
To grow to touch eternity.


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Lessons from Wisdom:The Art of Trust

December 3, 2008 at 7:00 am (Articles, Attitudes, Godly Living, W.O.W.) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Posted by Abigail

art-of-trust

If I met Rahab on the street, I’d likely pass her by without offering admiration—raised in a foreign country, working to support herself as a prostitute, offering protection to God’s spies through lies and deceit (the only way she knew). Yet the scarlet thread of redemption is woven through her story. She recognized God’s power, His ability, His sovereignty and she cast herself entirely on His mercy. In an epic tale of complete destruction, only Rahab and her family were rescued from God’s certain wrath.

Why?

Not because she was beautiful. Not because she was wealthy. Not because she was intelligent or creative or spoke beautifully. Because she trusted Yahweh. Hebrews 11:31 celebrates her alongside Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses, the heroes of the faith. “By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient…”

In this phrase we see Rahab’s trust demonstrated: obedience. Not just a habit of obedience to anyone—an Ella Enchanted sort of docility—but obedience to the One who commanded her reverence. The essence of obedience begins with fearing Yahweh and understanding His power, His beauty and His worthiness. Because Rahab had heard of the mighty deeds of God Almighty, she welcomed His messengers in peace and offered them shelter to the best of her understanding. This might have seemed a foolish thing to the men of Jericho. The King could have discovered her treachery and strung her from the city wall! But for Rahab, the fear of Yahweh was the beginning of wisdom. Her trust wasn’t simple words. “Yahweh, I trust you. I believe in You.” She began with a declaration of her faith, “Yahweh is God of heaven above and earth below.” But her faith worked its way out through her actions, first in hospitality, then in seeking shelter, in obedience to a command and finally in forsaking her past and embracing God’s ways and God’s people. She acted on her reverence for God and trusted Him to work out the details.

She welcomed the spies in peace. (Hebrews 11:31)

Rahab demonstrated true hospitality—in welcoming strangers. We would do well to learn from her, opening our homes, our resources, our safe-places to those who do the Lord’s work, offering them peace. Jesus says, “Whatever you do to the least of my brethren, you’ve done to Me.” Accepting Jesus means accepting His people for fellowship, protection and assistance. Paul said the widow worthy of honor has “shown hospitality” and “washed the saint’s feet.”

Please deliver our lives from death. (Joshua 2:13)

Rahab had heard the Lord deliver His own people from Egypt and had heard how He had sustained them through the wilderness. She had never witnessed His work for herself when she sought His protection. “Faith is the evidence of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” She knew He was able to save her as surely as she knew He was able to give Jericho into the hand of the Israelites. So she stepped out in humility and sought God’s mercy. He gives grace to the humble.

Tie this scarlet cord in your window. (Joshua 2:18)

To obey this command could potentially mark Rahab out for ridicule and danger. At the very least, it might have seemed extraneous. Must she really do something so entirely unusual? Didn’t the spies know where she lived? She obeyed a command to stand out, to mark her house as different, to appear odd. The cord served several purposes—it marked her out to all of God’s people as having received His mercy and it set her apart from the rest of the city. But even greater, it required her to trust and obey. In the end, it was the very cord that saved her. As Hebrews puts it, “All of these gained approval through their faith.” Jesus calls us to obedience as well—not always an obedience that we understand the significance of. Rahab’s obedience is a challenge to us to trust God to have a purpose in every scarlet cord.

Joshua spared Rahab and she has lived among Israel to this very day. (Joshua 6:25)

Without a backward glance, Rahab walked away from her world of wickedness, her life of sin and her heritage of selfishness. When she sought God’s mercy, she sought it with a heart to obey. She joined His people and lived in obedience to His law. Our reaction to God’s mercy should be the same. We have been spared a terrible destruction. We have been bought back from a life of sin and shame and given hope through the scarlet cord of redemption. Someone cares for us, protects us and provides for us. Our reaction should be to seek out what we can do to please Him, and do it with our whole heart! Rahab’s trust in Yahweh left behind her a godly legacy—she was the great-great-grandmother of King David, the trusting poet king, and the ancestor of Christ. Her redemption was a small scarlet thread woven into the heritage of the Redeemer of the world.

god-is-a-shield

Rahab’s trust began with her perception that Yahweh was trustworthy. Because He was trustworthy, she believed that He was able to work through any circumstance and any person for her good. But her trust didn’t end with knowledge. It was not lost in a pile of verbose language. It was living, breathing, active obedience. In the same way, our trust of Yahweh should work its way into our lives. After all, trust is a verb. “Trust in Yahweh and DO GOOD.” (Ps. 37:3)

Read the story:

Rahab the Harlot:A Scarlet Cord of Hope


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Women of Wisdom:A Scarlet Cord of Hope

December 2, 2008 at 10:52 am (W.O.W.) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Posted by Abigail

scarlet-cord

Adapted from Joshua chapters 2-6

Once upon a time a beautiful little Canaanite girl lived in the middle of the bustling metropolis of Jericho, unaware that her home had been promised to another people—by Almighty God Himself. As she grew up she discovered that her beauty earned her first attention, then praise and finally money. Soon she was selling herself to the highest bidder in order to gain independence, stability and a secure future. In her heart of hearts, her happily ever after must have been to finally find someone in whom she could trust—someone who cared for her, would protect her and would provide for her. And each night that she settled into the arms of a paying customer, she must have known she was betraying herself, deceiving herself, living an empty lie. Her beauty could never buy her peace.

Then one day she overheard the rumors—that a slave people had escaped from Egypt accompanied by signs and miracles, had wandered in the wilderness for years and had finally crossed into the land of Canaan, bent on possession. Within days they would arrive at the massive gates of Jericho. The people’s hearts melted with terror, but Rahab’s heart stirred with something more—fear, reverence, hope? Could the powerful God who rained down plagues on the Egyptians and led his people by a pillar of cloud find it in His heart to be merciful?

She knew the two men who had come to her home on the city wall were foreigners and she knew they had come to spy out the city, to measure its walls and to plan its defeat. Perhaps she longed to ask them more about their God—His power, His leadership, His purpose. She also knew they had been spotted, suspected and would soon be traced to her house and arrested. “Hide here,” she whispered breathlessly, shoving aside sheaths of flax from her rooftop. That night she met the soldiers at the door. Trembling between her torn loyalties—her girlhood home or the conquerors God had sent—she became a traitor to the world that had betrayed her and told a lie that could cost her her life. “Yes, those men came here—I didn’t know who they were. They left already. If you hurry, you may catch them yet!” The Lord’s protection stretched down from heaven on the trembling pagan woman as the soldiers listened to her words, believed her lie and left her house in peace.

Sitting in the pale starlight on the roof of her home next to two spies from a foreign country, gazing out across the land promised to someone else, Rahab made her declaration. “I know Yahweh has given this land into your hand.” She gathered her breath and forged her way onward. “We’re all melting in terror after all the things we’ve heard about your God. I know He is the God of heaven above and the earth below.” Then with a last leap of trust, she cast herself on the mercy of God Almighty. “So I beg you to swear to me by Yahweh, since I have protected you, that you will deal with me in truth, that you will save me and my family.”

Had she any reason to trust two strange men? Had she any reason to take the word of men? Hadn’t she been viewed as an object? A beautiful face to be purchased by a few coins. “Deal with me in truth,” she pleaded. “Swear by Yahweh.” Sitting cold and tired on the roof of her house, flax prickling into her legs, tears welling up in her eyes, she had forgotten about being beautiful, about independence or wealth. She sought only one thing—security. And she sought it in the right place. Gazing down at her from on high, God saw her humility, her reverence and her trust and in that moment she was beautiful to Him. When she cast herself on His mercy, she shone will the pure beauty of the saved.

“We swear,” the spies whispered huskily. “If you keep your family in your house and tie this scarlet cord from your window, we swear to protect you when Yahweh gives this city into our hands.” With a few hurried directions, Rahab lowered the men by the scarlet cord, looped it up through the window and left it to hang. Her hands were trembling as she let the end slide through her fingers. What if someone saw the rope and asked her about it? How would she explain to her family why they must stay in the house? What if the Israelites killed her by mistake? What if the spies felt that the word they gave to a foreign woman was worthless? Would the God who had sent them to destroy the land take any notice of her? Would He protect her?

The King’s men returned fruitless in their search for the spies, yet Rahab was never questioned. On their heels came the Israelite army, crossing the Jordan River on dry land and beginning a series of daily marches around the city. For six days Rahab stood watch by her window, her fingers brushing the scarlet cord, waiting, hoping, trusting. On the seventh day the men raised a mighty shout and screams erupted from around her. The ground began to quiver, then shake as a mighty roar swallowed out the Israelite shout. And then the world was ending, crashing down around her in a furious uproar as the clashing of steel signaled that the Israelites had rushed in to attack. Cowering in a corner, she heard voices and dropped her hands from her face. The floor underneath her was cool and firm, the wind rustled softly at the window, tugging at the scarlet cord. She leapt to her feet and rushed to the window, her heart beating furiously as she realized that only her house still stood. Only her house of the entire wall of Jericho, built to defy the largest armies—only her house stood firm—because she trusted in Yahweh.

Voices again and the door crashed open as the two spies rushed in, followed by Israelite soldiers. In a blur of tears and debris, Rahab and her family stumblingly followed them out of the ruins and down to the Israelite camp. As she watched the smoke rising from Jericho and heard the command of the Israelite general to spare no one, no animals and to burn everything, her heart quieted within her. Hadn’t she found Someone to care for her, to protect her, to provide for her? Someone in whom she could trust? Yahweh, Almighty God of heaven and earth had heard her plea for salvation and had reached out to her—a Canaanite harlot.

Rahab’s story goes on to picture the ultimate redemption—from a life of sin, self and destruction, God rebuilt a lasting legacy. She married into God’s chosen people and became the great-great-grandmother of King David, whose seed, it was promised, would rule the nations with a rod of iron. But even more importantly, would bring redemption to every tribe, tongue, people and nation—all those who put their trust in Him: Jesus, the anchor of the scarlet cord of hope.

wow

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Wasted Emotion

November 24, 2008 at 7:43 am (Articles, Attitudes, Godly Living) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Posted by Abigail

Christmas was fast approaching as my friend, Lauryn, and I soaked in the hot tub and dived into one of our typical sort-it-out conversations—this time about emotions. Because we are both very definitely women, and we both very definitely have them. By the time our skin had wrinkled like a soggy walrus we’d concluded that God created us with emotions—in order to worship and enjoy Him. A few days ago, we sat on my bed discussing this nagging issue once again—this time focusing in especially on anxiety, an emotion we find plaguing us both. Because every season in life carries uncertainty. Tomorrow has worries. Over the past several months the Lord has been working in my heart and understanding to reveal to me how anxious I am and how dishonoring to Him my anxiety is.

“Be careful how you walk,” Paul told the Ephesian believers. “Make the most of your time. Don’t get drunk, that’s wasteful.” (Check out Ephesians 5:15-21) Recognizing the wastefulness of getting drunk—or wasted—isn’t particularly foreign or counter-culture. But the point of Paul’s message is so much more than the cry of a teetotaler. “Don’t be wasteful,” he warns us. I find myself glibly pointing out wasted money, wasted time and wasted energy, the whole time spilling out emotional energy that was meant to be poured at the feet of Jesus. My emotions are a stewardship I find much more daunting. The Lord has blessed me with an abundance of emotional energy. What am I supposed to do with it? Paul offers the solution. “Don’t be wasteful, but be filled with the Spirit!”

Solomon speaks in Ecclesiastes of a time for everything: for sorrow, for joy, for death, for life, for love, for hate. My heart flooded with truth when I discovered that there is a time for anxiety. David was anxious because of his sin. When we are at enmity with God, cut off from His mercy, lost to His grace, we ought to be anxious. We ought to worry. We ought to be terrified and afraid. But perfect love casts out fear, and when we have such evidence of love as Christ’s death for us, we find the cure for anxiety in the words of Jesus Himself. “Don’t be anxious about your life…all these things the pagans chase after…You seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness.” He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, will He not also along with Him, graciously give us all things? In Jesus we have everything pertaining to life and godliness.

Jesus redirects us to pursue God’s kingdom. Paul redirects us to gratitude. “Sing! Rejoice! Give thanks!” Look at what the Lord has done for us! He saved us, not on the basis of works we’ve done. We needn’t be anxious about our works! He provides for the birds of the air. He died for us! Won’t He supply all our needs? We needn’t be anxious about our needs. He chose us from before the foundation of the world, that we might walk in Him. He is the beginning and the end. We needn’t worry about the future! Who can bring a charge against us? Jesus is the judge who justifies! We needn’t worry about our salvation. We are secure in Christ. Sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. We have the Spirit. We needn’t waste any more energy on anxiety. God is in control. And we are blessed to be His stewards.

do-not-be-anxious

“What do you do when you’re anxious?” Lauryn and I asked each other. When our hearts start pounding, our thoughts start racing and the emotions seem beyond our control, we’re learning to guide them back to the truth, by the Spirit. We sing. We thank. We pray. We rehearse God’s works. We remember His grace. We cling to His promises. Sometimes we weep. Always we grow.

And always the Lord proves faithful. Always He is in control. Always, through His mercy and peace we survive. We more than survive–we overwhelmingly conquer.

Listen to Lauryn’s original song, “Do Not Be Anxious”. Enjoy!

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All Things Well

November 7, 2008 at 1:33 pm (Poetry) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

abigail

And they were utterly astonished, saying, “He has done all things well; He makes even the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak!” ~Mark 7:37

Dissatisfaction, restless urge
From my weary soul be purged
And with the strength to shout and sing
Stand before the Lord, thy King
What He chooses none can tell
But He doeth all things well.

Doubt and fear, sharp sorrow cease
Be filled instead with heaven’s peace
Peace with God means peace of soul
He comes to make the broken whole
What His plans are, none can tell
But He doeth all things well.

Complaint and bitterness depart
Fill with content, oh broken heart
His load is easy, burden light
And He disperses bonds of night
Of His wisdom none can tell
But He doeth all things well.

Thoughts of self flee from my head
Crown Him in their place instead
Vanish plans to make me great
Kneel before Him. Will to wait.
Of His promise I can tell
He will do it. All is well.

abigails-sig1

copyright 2003

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Understanding “No”

August 11, 2008 at 6:17 am (Flowers of Thought) (, , , , )

I cried myself to sleep the other night and woke up feeling like I’d been hit by a train. Slowly I opened my eyes to discover they were not swollen, and then climbed out of bed to fix an early breakfast. As I worked, the thought came to me: No is not a punishment. The force of this simple statement hit me with the power of a speeding locomotive. No is not a punishment. It’s not a divine spanking when the Lord says “no”. It’s not something to be dreaded. His plans always work out—for the good of those who love Him. For Him to answer my prayers with a “no” should not cause me tears, it should not disturb me or make me miserable. It should bring me peace, knowing that the Lord has heard and answered. And whatever He has is better. Don’t say it tritely. Really listen. I thought what I wanted was good. The Lord said, “No, I’ve got something better in mind. Because you are called according to My purpose.” Where is my cause for sorrow? Where is my excuse for depression? Where is my reason for pitying myself? When the Lord says “no” it is not a punishment, just a redirection. He’s simply blocking me off from the wrong direction and heading me in the right direction again.

Chains fell off my heart and mind. For the first time in a long time I felt completely freed of a burden that had been growing heavier and heavier. Anything to which the Lord says “no” is simply not what He has for me now, and I can accept that joyfully as His loving protection. The rest of the day I floated around on the joy of knowing I am a daughter of the King and my heart is like water in His hands, to turn wherever He wishes.

Later, I passed a picture of a much younger Abigail, reposing placidly on the bookshelf in the library. “Little girl,” I sought to advise the innocent-eyed child. “Life is hard. Living is dangerous. Loving is risky. The only true reward is in the Lord. Pursue Him.”

Lord, may I ever, always be
Content to know Thy will for me.
And when I know Thy will in full
Pursue it gladly, heart and soul.

And when Thy will seems distant still
Remind me, waiting, is Thy will.
And when Thy will is dim or worse
Remind me to pursue Thee first.

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