Thursday, March 26, 2015

Blind Obedience

"Sometimes obedience is not about the behavior at the moment as much as it is about developing maturity." --Unknown

What must it have been like? I have the end of the story. I can see in a moment (within just a few verses) the outcome. But what must it have been like in the middle of it?

I find the story of my wonderment in Joshua 6:1-27. The Lord comes to Joshua and tells him how they are to defeat Jericho. (vs. 3 -5) Basically, they are to march around the wall of Jericho… one time each day… silently… for 6 days. On the 7th day, they are to march around 7 times, then give a shout.

God had done miraculous things before this point! He had brought the Israelites out of Egypt. He had helped them to conquer before this. He was God and they knew it. He could perform the amazing, the incredible, the miraculous.

He had in the past. So why, in this case, did He tell them to march around the city? Not just once, not twice, but in reality a total of 13 times before He chose to move?

The Bible doesn’t give us the reaction of the people when they were told the plans. In fact, it’s not even clear that the people knew the complete plans.

They marched around the city the 1st day and returned to camp. They did it the 2nd day and returned to camp. For 6 days this was their routine.

I can just imagine what must have gone through the minds of just a few of them.
* “What is Joshua doing?”
* “Did God really tell Him this is what was supposed to happen?”
* “How does He know it was God that was speaking?”
* “Surely God is going to move in a mighty way… what? Back to camp?”
* “Joshua must be crazy! What in the world is he thinking?”

And on and on…

And then imagine day 7, first time around… ready to head back to camp… but no.. around again? And after the 3rd time around beginning the 4th. (Under their breath because remember, they are supposed to be silent.)

* “Are you kidding me? Joshua has really lost his mind now!”
* “I’m tired, can we just sit for awhile and rest? This is absolutely ridiculous!”
* “How many more times?”
* “I’m sure it couldn’t have been God Joshua heard. He has never asked us to do anything like this before.”
* “He can destroy these people without all of this embarrassment. We must be the laughing stock of Jericho by now.”
* “They think we are a bunch of wimps. Look at us, and we call this an army?”
* “They must think we are the biggest losers ever.”

Joshua was being obedient. He was following what he knew God had said, but there was probably grumbling, questioning, and doubting in the camp.

I have personally experienced similar situations. Following in the direction God has spoken, but it seeming to make no sense. The path seeming to be too long. Others around me (and even ourselves) questioning our actions. Doubting this is what God would have. Wondering if we had lost our minds.

I don’t know about you, but when I look at Joshua and the directions he followed… that was blind obedience! It did not make sense. It seemed so much easier to expect God just to come to the scene and perform. And yet, that is not what was asked. God required obedience before He would provide victory.

Joshua knew in the end, if obedience was completed, their victory would be Jericho. I have also been promised in the end, my obedience will bring forth victory. I have not been told exactly what that “victory” is. (I really don’t want Jericho… thanks anyway.)

I can know, however, that there is a reason for the things God is asking of me. It may not even be so much about what is being asked of me as much as what my obedience and trust is maturing and building in me.

I feel at times I am marching around the same spot, day after day, only to return to camp each time. Occasionally it does seem ludicrous, senseless, tiring, and a waste of time. But, victory can not and will not be attained until I complete the full 13 times. I must take each and every step exactly as God has commanded, regardless of how utterly insane it may be.

If I falter, if I lose heart, if I give up, even on that last lap… that would not be obedience, and therefore, would not lead to the victory intended for me.

"Often the last step is the winning step.  The greatest challenge in receiving great things from God is holding on for the last half hour."  ~L.B. Cowman in Streams in the Desert

So, I will not question the directions. I will sandal up for yet another trip around my wall. I will be silent as I walk, careful not to question, to complain, to wonder why… but simply to trust.

I will walk with my head held high, my shoulders square, and my mind settled that this is indeed what God has asked of me.

I will not attempt to rationalize Him, to explain Him, to excuse Him…

I will only state that I am following the directions I have been given. I will march until I am told to shout…  I will take just one more step in obedience.

Blind it may be, but Obedience nonetheless...

Sunday, March 22, 2015

God Speaking: What Might it Look Like?

How does God speak?  When someone says that He spoke to them through a song, what might that look like?

As I was driving, the song "Always" by Kristian Stanfill came on the radio.  As I listened, God's very own Word began to insert itself in my mind all through the song.  This is a snapshot of what that looked like and how I believe that God sometimes speaks to me through music.

(The words in italics are words of the song.  The words bolded are the words that flooded my mind during the song, straight from God's Word.)

My foes are many, they rise against me, But I will hold my ground
"Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord is going to bring to you today." Ex. 14:13 

Troubles surround me, chaos abounding... My soul will rest in You
"Be still and know that I am God." Ps. 46:10

I will not fear the war, I will not fear the storm
"Do not fear, for I am with you, do not be dismayed for I am your God." Is. 41:10a

My help is on the way, my help is on the way 
Oh, my God, He will not delay
My refuge and strength always
"God is our refuge and strength." Ps. 46:1

I will not fear, His promise is true
My God will come through always, always 
"The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still." Ex. 14: 14

I lift my eyes up, my help comes from the Lord.... 
"Where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord" Ps. 121:1b-2a

Did you notice that I was driving?  That means my Bible was not immediately available to reference.  Although each of these references did not come to mind and I've had to look them up for this post, the words of the verses themselves did come to mind!

Are you spending regular time in God's Word so that you would recognize His voice and He could speak to you in the middle of your day, even while you are driving?

I want to be doing it more and more!  I want to be so immersed in His Word that every moment verses (His Word) are coming to mind and I recognize His voice to me personally!

Here is the song in it's entirety...

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

It's Not What You Know... But Who You Know

This is an article I found tucked away. I did not write this and I am not sure of the author. I figured this a fitting way to conclude my personal notes on Psalm 23.

(You can read my Part 1 here... and my Part 2 here.)


There was once a Shakespearean actor who was known everywhere for his one-man show of readings and recitations from the classics. He would always end his performance with a dramatic reading of Psalm 23.

Each night, without exception, as the actor began his recitation - “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want” - the crowd would listen attentively. And then, at the conclusion of the psalm, they would rise in thunderous applause in appreciation of the actor’s incredible ability to bring the verse to life.

But one night, just before the actor was to offer his customary recital of Psalm 23, a young man from the audience spoke up, “Sir, do you mind if tonight I recite Psalm 23?”

The actor was quite taken back by this unusual request, but he allowed the young man to come forward and stand front and center on the stage to recite the psalm, knowing that the ability of this unskilled youth would be no match for his own talent.

With a soft voice, the young man began to recite the words of the psalm.

When he was finished, there was no applause. There was no standing ovation as on other nights. All that could be heard was the sound of weeping. The audience had been so moved by the young man’s recitation that every eye was full of tears.

Amazed by what he had heard, the actor said to the youth, “I don’t understand. I have been performing Psalm 23 for years. I have a lifetime of experience and training, but I have never been able to move an audience as you have tonight. Tell me, what is your secret?”

The young man humbly replied, “Well, sir, you know the psalm… but I know the Shepherd.”

Oh yes, there is a difference!!

What about you?  Do you know the Psalm?  Or do you know the Shepherd?...

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Ps. 23 - Marked Up Part 2

If you remember we left off Part 1 in the middle of verse 4...

Psalm 23 was a passage in my Bible that stayed fairly mark free until the last few years...

Over the past couple of years as my journey has taken me through a very difficult, despairing, and dark season... God has taken this passage and nestled it deep into my heart and soul.  It became my "go to" Scripture during some very difficult days!

The following is how it is now marked up in my Bible...  Part 2  

Ps. 23:4d "...I will fear no evil...."

* Doesn't say there won't be evil, it just promises that I will not need to fear it.  Why?  Read on...

Ps. 23:4e -5  "for You are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.  You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows. 

- No need to fear because He is with me.  He is attending to me, comforting me.  He is making provision for me.  He is covering me.  He is filling me.  Yes, even surrounded by enemies (can be discouragement, despair, depression, condemnation, etc. The enemies of my soul aren't always human flesh and blood.)... He cares for and is with me-- casting away all need to fear.

Ps. 23: 6a "Surely goodness and love (mercy) will follow me..."

* follow = Hebrew word means "to chase"

* Surely = (confidence that it will) goodness and love/mercy will chase me all the days of my life... that must mean...even into today?!
"No matter what comes, goodness and mercy will be in the picture." ~From study "Grace:  An invitation to a way of life~
Are you aware and able to see the companions that are chasing you and accompanying you into your day today?

Goodness. Mercy.  Love.

Ps. 23: 6b "all the days of my life"

Gen. 39: 3 "When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did..."

Gen. 39: 20b-21b "But while Joseph was there in the prison, the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor..."

Gen. 39: 23b " The Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did."

Those same companions accompanied (followed, chased) Joseph into and through his days.  His years.  In prison.  In his exile.  Even there the Lord brought him goodness, mercy, love, favor.

Run freely and confidently into this day knowing full well you are being chased and accompanied by His Goodness.  His Love.  His Mercy.


Ps. 23: 6c "and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."

Is there any part of this that has encouraged or challenged your own heart?

What else do you see in Psalm 23:4-6  that makes it real and applicable for your life today? 

And just curious, are you one to write and make notes in your Bible as well?


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Ps. 23- Marked Up Part 1

For years I knew Psalm 23 as a "go to" passage for someone who might be dying.  Or a passage of Scripture that most everyone knew.  Even Hollywood seemed to use it in their scripts now and then it was so common.

It was a passage in my Bible that stayed fairly mark free.  But not now!

 Over the past couple of years as my journey has taken me through a very difficult, despairing, and dark season... God has taken this passage and nestled it deep into my heart and soul.  It became my "go to" Scripture during some very difficult days!

The following is how it is now marked up in my Bible...
Ps. 23:1  "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want."

* not be in want... This doesn't mean we have no significant requests or needs.  It means being settled.  Settled that He knows my real needs and can be trusted with them.

Ps. 23: 2-3  "He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.  He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake."

* For his name sake...
 Ez. 36:22-32 "This is what the Sovereign Lord says: 'It is not for your sake that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name...  I will show the holiness of my great name...  Then the nations will know that I am the Lord,' declares the Sovereign Lord, 'when I show myself holy through you before their eyes.'" 
---His guiding me to green pastures, quiet waters, restoration of my soul and guiding is not for my own prosperity and glory, but so that in all of those things I can point back to Him and His name/He can be lifted and glorified! 

 Ps. 23: 4a "Even though I walk through..."

* I don't stop or die there but I "walk through"

 Ps. 23: 4b "... the valley of the shadow..."

* for there to be a shadow, there must be light!  Even in this valley He is There!
John 1:4 "In him was life, and that life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it."
--"Christ entered the shadows so that we wouldn't have to ourselves."  ~ Shelia Walsh

Ps. 23:4c "...of death."

* death literal translation here is "deep darkness".

Job 24:17:  darkness that people try to hide in to cover sin.
Ps. 107:10-14:  darkness that accompanies rebellion against God
Jer. 13:16:  darkness of God's judgement
Job. 16:16:  darkness of sadness, despair, depression...
Jer. 2:6:  darkness of physical places like a lonely desert
Job 28:3:  darkness of physical places like a mine shaft
Amos 5:8:  darkest moments of the night
Job. 12:22: He reveals deep things of darkness

Is. 9:2:  predicting coming of Jesus- the one who ultimately dispels spiritual darkness
"The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death (or land of darkness) a light has dawned."
Yes, I do realize we have stopped in the middle of a verse.  (Come on, who does that?)  ;-)   The rest of vs. 4 and the remainder of the Psalm to come in Part 2.
Is there any part of this that has encouraged or challenged your own heart?

What else do you see in Psalm 23:1-4c  that makes it real and applicable for your life today? 

And just curious, are you one to write and make notes in your Bible as well?


Sunday, March 08, 2015

How to Fall... When All Seems Dark

Have you ever...

* received devastating news?
* felt that the world was suddenly closing in around you?
* sensed that the events before you were too much to face?
* felt like darkness was consuming you with no hope of escape?
* felt like you couldn't catch your breath, that the news you just encountered left you gasping for air?

I was reminded of a man that must have felt each one of these things. I know I have felt such things and yet, I can't even begin to imagine facing what this man faced.

The first messenger brought news that the oxen and donkey's had been stolen. The farm hands had all been killed except one. That one was standing before him giving him the news. While this one was still speaking another messenger arrived.

This was the second messenger's words, “The fire of God has fallen from heaven and burned up your sheep and all the shepherds. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.” As if that wasn't enough, while he was still speaking yet another messenger arrived.

The camels had been stolen and the servants killed. This servant messenger was the lone survivor. And what was that on the horizon? While this servant messenger was speaking... still another messenger.

There had been a terrible storm causing a house to collapse. A house that belonged to his oldest son. A house that had all of his children in it having a feast. A house that now contained no survivors... except the messenger now standing before him.

As impossible as this sounds, it really happened. I know this story to be a fact. I have read and heard of this man's story before. Maybe you have too. Did you recognize these events that are recorded in the Bible in the book of Job... about Job (Pronounced "Jobe") ?

As I was reading the first chapter again, something stood out to me. It was so profound I stopped. I couldn't help but stop.

My breath caught in my throat. I re-read the line to make sure I hadn't misinterpreted what my eyes believed they had just read. I could hardly comprehend Job's response.


I would have fallen to the ground in utter grief, in desperation, in overwhelming devastation. I think if any of us were to react in such a way after hearing such news we would understand it. We would not question it. We would probably almost expect it.

What I saw is not what I remembered seeing before. What I saw challenged me.

I saw how Job fell.

After receiving these reports one right after the other, we do know that he fell to the ground. The Bible tells us very clearly that he fell to the ground.

There are now two words that will forever impact how I see Job. Two words, that I pray, will embed so deeply in my own heart that they will now impact how I respond in the face of my worst imaginable circumstances. Two words that caused my reading to stop and my thoughts to center here.

Two words: "In Worship"

After rising and tearing his robe in grief, he shaved his head. He then "fell to the ground in worship."

Job had just received devastating news. I'm sure he felt the world was suddenly closing in around him. I'm sure he wondered if he would be able to face these events.

I can only imagine he sensed that darkness was consuming him with no hope of escape. I have no doubts his breathing became a bit more labored and left him gasping for air as he faced this news.

And in spite of it all... he fell to the ground... in worship.

Oh that my heart might be so trusting of God, His goodness, and His sovereignty. I pray that regardless of what I might face, I, without hesitation, will fall to the ground... in worship.

Have you stopped to consider how you fall?  Especially when all seems dark?... 

(This account can be found in Job 1:13-22)

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Challenged with God's Goodness

So often the goodness of God is mentioned when things are going right. An answer to prayer, health restored, protection noticed... and the words "God is good" slip across the tongue.

Then I am challenged.

Should those same words not pass through the mouth when things don't seem to be going right? Answers to prayers seem silent or even opposed to what was hoped for, continuing illness with no restoration in sight, tragedy strikes...

Do things and situations alter the goodness of God?

Does God simply just do good? or is He good?

In the classic by C.S. Lewis "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe", Aslan represents Jesus. Mr. and Mrs. Beaver begin describing Aslan to the children, and this is part of their conversation:

“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.

“Safe?” said Mr Beaver...; Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.

Jack Modesett Jr. gives this definition of the goodness of God:
"Wise. Loving. Strong. Gracious.
Wise enough to know what's best for me.
Loving enough to want what's best for me.
Strong enough to do what's best for me.
Gracious enough to give me all that goodness would provide."

Ps. 34:8 (NLT) "Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!"

Ps. 145:9 (NLT) "The Lord is good to everyone. He showers compassion on all his creation."

Circumstances of sin and this fallen world do not change the goodness of God.

Being good is not something God does, rather something He is.

Good or bad, ecstatic or tragic... God is Good!

It is part of His character. Just plain who He is... all the time.

God IS Good.

Just recently, a situation came up that was far from ideal.  As I sensed my frustrations rising within me and the tears coming to my eyes... I knew this was a perfect time to put this truth to practice in my heart.

"Even now, in the middle of this...God, You are still good."

The situation still has not resolved itself.  There is a plan B, but it is not what we would have preferred. 

And yet, I wonder, if perhaps the recent events were part of the lesson?  The opportunity to state, in fact, that God is good regardless of the situations that find themselves in my days.

What about you?  Have you ever thought or been challenged to remember the goodness of God, even when it appears that things are not going so well?  Or especially when things aren't going so well?

When was the last time you were reminded and able to say that God is good?  Not finishing the sentence with "when"...  

Instead, just using these three words to sum it all up.  

God IS Good.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Flood, Flowers, Lesson

The day had been long. The week had been long. No matter. Friday had come and I was headed home.

Home to rest. Home to relax. Home to refresh so as to have the strength to do it again the next week.

My mind wandered into nothingness... Just minutes later I would be home.

I came to the top of the hill and instantly my mind jolted to reality. The audible cry that escaped my lips almost startled myself in the silence of the car.


It was gone. Completely under water. The town I had just driven through hours before was now buried. Only roofs were seen. On them I noticed people. A helicopter was hovering in the air. The town was buried in the flooding and the road I was to take to reach my home... gone.

There are a few things I distinctly and vividly remember about the flooding that occurred the summer that I was home from college working.

Cresting the top of the hill only to look down and see nothing of the town that had been there just that morning is one of them. It took me an additional two hours to arrive home that night due to having to find roads passable.

One of the other distinct memories I have are what I call... the flood flowers.


As we were driving to church one morning, I was looking out of the window. This had become a very common practice as we compared the water level to where it had been as it slowly receded.

On our drive I was straining to find the ditches I knew were there. I wondered if it was just a very small taste of what Noah must have felt. Straining, almost as if it required great effort, just to catch one small glimpse of earth beneath the water.

It was then that I saw them. They were some of the smallest and most beautiful flowers I had seen. Springing up, where plain ol' earthy ditches should have been, through the murky water left from the flooding... tiny flowers reaching towards heaven.

I pointed them out to the rest of my family. We were all amazed and wondered at their appearance. In what seemed so devastating, so ugly, so destructive... was rising something so innocent, so simple, so precious.

Their thin stems standing tall seemed to announce determination. Their perfectly formed petals seemed to shout hope. Their bright colors seemed to proclaim life.

We later learned that they were a flower that grows after and in the midst of large flooding. I wish I could recall what they were called. I can't. But I do remember the lesson they taught me.


I have experienced moments of life that can seem so destructive, discouraging, devastating, and overwhelming. That all beauty has become ugly and repulsive, perhaps even nauseating. I have felt as though all hope is lost. There is nothing to salvage, nothing to rebuild, nothing but ruins.

However, If I look, if I wait, if I am willing to see them... they appear. They are there. As I strain to catch just one glimpse, in time, I am not disappointed. My heart flood flowers appear.

God does a planting in the middle of the chaos. Strength is bolstered. Beauty is remembered. Hope is renewed. There is promise of sunshine after the rain. Life springs forth from apparent death. And He provides the reminder in the midst... just for me.

I find that now I am not so amazed and astonished when I see them in my heart, just more assured and comforted. A knowing smile crosses my face and a peace settles deep in my spirit as I look out the window of my soul, gazing upon my heart flood flowers.

For you see, I've learned... that's just the way my God is.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Valentine Lie

In case you hadn't noticed, this weekend ushers us into Valentine's Day.

I am mindful that for some, many perhaps, this does not seem to be a holiday worth celebrating. I am conscious of the fact that some people may find themselves feeling downright miserable.

Of course, this is probably not uttered as much as it is experienced. When others are basking in flowers, chocolates and teddy bears, how could one possibly share of their own disappointments, rejections and loneliness?

A day focused on love and significance to another person somehow so easily gets distorted into meaning one must have a significant other to be celebrated.

You may be a reader today that is feeling lonely. You may feel rejected, wondering what's wrong with you. You may find yourself disappointed... yet again.

Not so long ago my young daughter said the following, "Mom, sometimes girls think they need a boyfriend to feel special."

This broke my heart!

I am saddened as I realize my daughter has learned of this ugly lie that struggles to be passed off as truth. How is it that we so easily find ourselves looking to others to affirm our need for value?

It angers me to think of the energy that it takes to fight this lie. But I will do it. With everything in my being I will stand... and fight.

I know the personal fight within myself that this lie has generated. I know the battle that rages in the depths of my soul as I continue the war to sort truth from deception.

I refuse to let her be swept away in this horrible torrent of looking for and hoping in people to gain her value when that is a great lie.

I invite you to eavesdrop on some of the words we exchanged as we rode in the car together that evening that she shared that thought with me... my beautiful daughter created in the image of God... and I.

You are significant.
"For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs." ~ Zephaniah 3:17(NLT)

You are loved.
"I've never quit loving you and never will. Expect love, love, and more love!" ~ Jer. 31:3 (MSG)

You matter.
"For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life."~ John 3:16 (Amp)

You are never forgotten.
"Behold, I have indelibly imprinted (tattooed a picture of) you on the palm of each of My hands." ~ Is. 49:16 (Amp)

You are never alone.
"Then I said to myself, "Oh, he even sees me in the dark! At night I'm immersed in the light!" ~Ps. 139:11 (MSG)

To each and every reader today... whether you classify yourself as having a significant other or not... may I have the honor and privilege of wishing you a very Happy Valentine's Day...

all because of HIM!

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Searching and Satisfaction

Do you have a favorite food?  You know, that one where your find yourself almost giddy that you get to have it!

Now think dessert...

Do you have a favorite dessert?  You know, that one where you don't even immediately swallow it.  You let it linger and melt in your mouth, absorbing every morsel of sweet goodness from it.  Eating it ever so slowly as to savor every last molecule from every bite... dreading the moment when it will be gone.

Now think God and His Word...

When was the last time you pursued God like that of food/dessert?  When you read His Word, savoring and melting into it?  Where you took in a piece, careful to linger in an effort to absorb every last bit of goodness from it.  Partaking every so slowly, dreading the thought of it ever being gone.   
"O God, you are my God;  I earnestly search for you.  My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water.  You satisfy me more than the richest feast." ~Psalm 63:1,5 NLT

When was the last time you longed for Him with everything in your being?  To thirst for more of Him.  To let Him satisfy more than the richest feast.  ("richest of foods"-NIV)

Have you ever?....
"O taste and see that the Lord [our God] is good! Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man who trusts and takes refuge in Him." ~Ps. 34:8 Amp

 What do you need to do to get to that place of wanting, needing, and desiring Him more than anything else?
"O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more.  I am painfully conscious of my need for further grace.  I am ashamed of my lack of desire.  O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still." ~A.W. Tozer

Take the action and do it!  He promises to satisfy!!!....
"My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food." ~Ps 63:5 ESV

As you seek Him, if you do so with all of your heart, He promises to be found!!
 "If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me." (NLT)
“'When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.' God’s Decree." (MSG)
~ Jer. 29:13

Let the search begin and be renewed... satisfied... in Him!!