20 August 2013

Little Trophies

In the Spring, Hannah came home with a package of kitchen gloves. Inside, there was a packet of seeds. Zinnia seeds.

I had every intention of expanding my gardening "hobby" this year, but it was hard to get out there. Gardening is so closely tied to my Mom, and in April I just wasn't there. 

Then, these seeds showed up. 

I wasn't sure what a Zinnia was, and I didn't know the first thing about putting a seed in the ground, but one day I just knew I had to take this step of faith. That's what it was, you see? It was a step of faith.

Did I have the faith... be outside? put a seed in the ground? trust God with all the unknowns?

There was a lot riding on that little packet of seeds.

Well, it took until May for me to get outside. There were still serious questions about the ministry. Getting down on my hands and knees was still an unknown (certain health conditions make that challening), but Grief, Pain, and Fear were not going to be allowed to rule over me. Being stubborn can be a virtue.

There were a lot of things that had to happen in my little garden, before those seeds could be sown, but that is for another post. What matters is that I did it. I got them in the ground. I learned several things along the way, and I successfully planted my first seeds ever in the earth. 

Major life-changing event!

And, when I look at my Zinnias today, tall and strong and blooming in full color, I see little trophies. They are my trophies. I overcame Grief. I overcame Fear. I overcame Pain. And, they are my reward.

I love that the Zinnia that suffered the most is also the tallest.
I would love to show you my Zinnia album on Facebook. Click Here.

11 August 2013

I'm Ignoring You

ig•nore |ig•nor•ing
1:  to refuse to take notice of
2:  to reject

It's generally considered rude to ignore someone, but I have a hit list of enemies who are regular visitors, and they don't deserve my attention.

Be it heartache or body ache, Pain demands my attention every day. He relentlessly strives to incapacitate me, until I finally open the door to Courage

Fear is insatiable. And, sneaky. Usually, I don't even know she's here, until I suddenly realize my hands and feet and spirit are all bound-up in chains. Fear wants to control everything I say and do, and she doesn't take, "NO!" for an answer, no matter how emphatically I shout. Love conquers Fear, though, and Faith breaks me lose from those chains.

Without Courage, I am helpless against the forces of Insecurity. Once he has me in his grip, I am an easy prey for Pride.

He is the most insidious of them all. He seeps into every pore, and the only way to be free is by a thorough cleansing at the Cross. Humility will lead me there.

Faith can defeat Unbelief with a single blow, but when I have made room for Unbelief in my heart, I lock the door to Faith. This is when I count on Hope. She can unlock that door. 

Courage. Love. Faith. Humility. Hope. I cannot imagine life without them. And, they are all courtesy of Christ, who is my all in all. All I need, all the time.

09 August 2013

Why Israel?

I asked my friend Roaming Chile, aka CariƱo Casas, a Christian minister and photojournalist who reports via her blog on the Middle East, to write a guest post that answers the question: Why Israel? 

Why the church should stand with Israel

At the end of May, the Family Research Council held their annual Watchmen on the Wall gathering in Washington D.C. Watchmen on the Wall is a ministry to pastors, and the meeting was their annual briefing on issues important to believers. They had a load of speakers, and videos of most of the talks are online.

One of this year’s speakers was author and analyst Joel Rosenberg.

Rosenberg’s address to the pastors was spot on. The video of his talk is embedded below.

What encouraged me from the start was Rosenberg’s reminder that God loved the whole world, including the Palestinians, Egyptians, Jordanians, Lebanese, Syrians, etc. It is the same message the LORD has impressed upon me about remembering Ishmael.

Rosenberg’s reasons why Christians are supposed to stand with Israel…

Visit Roaming Chile's to view her photo gallery

Jesus is the Jewish messiah and 
soon we will be standing with him face to face
Jesus came to Israel the first time, to the house of Israel. He’s coming back to where? Israel, Jerusalem. He’s going to rule from Jerusalem.

While Israel rejected Jesus, Rosenberg reminds us that the rejection of Messiah was prophesied (Psalm 118,Daniel 9) and that it didn’t close doors to Gospel (as evidenced by the New Testament writers as well as today’s believing Jews. Rosenberg himself is a Jewish believer in Jesus).

Rosenberg addresses the believers who don’t believe modern Israel is fulfillment of prophesy. He points to the progression in Ezekiel 37, the valley of the dry bones. The LORD himself says the bones are the whole house of Israel. The bones are reassembled, bodies regenerated, but at first “there was no breath in them.”

The physical restoration of Israel precedes its spiritual restoration, Rosenberg says.

It’s been reported that when Israel was reborn in 1948, there were a dozen Jews in the Land who believed Yeshua is the Messiah of Israel. Today, it is estimated that there are 20,000. (Worldwide, estimates range from 350,000 to a million) We are to be making disciples of all nations (including Israel)

Rosenberg reminds we are to be preaching the Gospel (see Romans 1, 1 Corinthians 15) without fear and compromise, lovingly, kindly, clearly. To whom? Jesus says in Acts 1, “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” So to Israel and beyond.

Yes, Israel is a chosen nation. “We were chosen, but we have to chose Him back,” Rosenberg says as a Jew. “We have to choose Jesus as the Messiah, and you [believers] need to tell us [Jews] about Him.”

Christians have come up with excuses for not telling Jews about their Messiah. Rosenberg uses his experiences in Sunday school to address those excuses.
“She [Bible school teacher] didn’t say, ‘You’ve got a special ticket to heaven. You don’t need Jesus.’ She understood the gospel and she shared it with just like she’d share it with anybody else. She didn’t target me. She just loved me and told me the truth.

“She didn’t say, ‘Well, you’re too stupid to understand; your team never got it so we’re not even going to share it with you. You’ve got hardened heart. I can show you the text.’ She didn’t say those things.

“Or she didn’t say, ‘We really want to bless you. We bless Israel. We’re sending money to Israel. We’re taking tours to Israel. But don’t worry, little Joel Rosenberg. We’re are not going to tell you about Jesus. We will make you that commitment.’ She didn’t say that, and I thank God.”

Back in Ezekiel 37, God tells Ezekiel to order the four winds to breathe life into the regenerated bodies. Rosenberg says the four winds speak of the gentile world, of believers in Jesus from all over the world communicating the gospel to the Jews, showing — not just telling of — the love of Jesus.

We are heading toward a Romans 11:26 
world, where all Israel will be saved
The eyes of those on earth to see Jesus’ return will be opened to recognize Messiah and they will mourn the one that was pierced (Zechariah 12:10). All Israel will be saved, says Pharisee Paul in Romans 11.

The job of the church, Rosenberg says, is to be sowing seeds now, being faithful now, whether we see fruit or not. We must not fall into the trap of bitterness that reformer Martin Luther fell into. “Luther initially preached tolerance towards the Jewish people, convinced that the reason they had never converted to Christianity was that they were discriminated against, or had never heard the Gospel of Christ,” one website says. “However, after his overtures to Jews failed to convince Jewish people to adopt Christianity, he began preaching that the Jews were set in evil, anti-Christian ways, and needed to be expelled from German politics.” (Here’s one analysis of Luther’s writings concerning the Jews.)

The Abrahamic Covenant of Genesis 12:1-2

We are to bless the nation of Israel because God wants us to bless them, Rosenberg reminds us. Those who bless will be blessed. Those who curse, abandon Israel will be cursed.

“There is a danger to our country if we abandon Israel, if we turn on Israel,” Rosenberg says. “We are in enough trouble fiscally, but more importantly morally and spiritually. This is not a good time to add the abandonment, rejection, betrayal of Israel to our national sins.”

The United States is already ripe for judgment, Rosenberg points out, using just abortion statistics to make the point.

The number of abortions performed since its legalization in 1973 are approaching 60 million. That’s 10 times the amount of people the Nazis murdered. Germany was judged. What kind of judgment awaits our nation? Rosenberg asks. Turning on Israel could be the proverbial straw that breaks the camels back.

“If we reject, abandon, betray Israel also, I think that’s curtains,” he says. “And not because Israel is righteous. Let me be clear about that.”

Rosenberg goes on to say that though Israel is unrepentant as a whole, its leaders do not know Jesus as Messiah, we love them because Jesus first loved us. Not because they’re doing everything right.

“These are important times,” Rosenberg said in closing. “The Church is splitting over the nation of Israel. It has for years, and it will get worse. The world is turning against the nation of Israel. And the question is ‘What will you and your congregation do?’ We have to get this Biblically right, because we’re going stand before Jesus very soon.”

04 August 2013

Sometimes, a Mess is Joan of Arc

You were twelve, and you were very serious.

Over the years, I realized the reason for your decision was more unction of the Holy Spirit than even you understood at the time. 

Your passion for purity wasn't a passing fad. Others took those vows with you, and then left you standing alone. I know their compromise hurt. They said they had your back—then laid down their swords and gave up. Surrendered to the Enemy. 

There is no place more lonely than a battlefield. 

And, loneliness amplifies the chorus of discouragement and despair. It is tempting to forget why you agreed to this battle. The faith that got you this far has grown stale. Looking over your shoulder, you see everyone who quit, going on with life. They don't look so bad off, do they? They survived, didn't they? Is it really so bad to decide this isn't my fight? Resistance seems futile. 

Dearest girl, I don't want to put on you the burden of saving France. You don't have to be Joan of Arc. Being you is quite enough. And, hard enough.

I just want to remind you that, like Joan, you are fighting a holy war. You are no lady in waiting. You are a warrior. God is not testing you; He is asking you to trust Him. You've taken a stand for righteousness—a very public stand—and it's not easy. 

You just have to decide if it's still worth it. But, remember: whether you quit or stand your ground, this battle will eventually end. The future, how this ends, will be your testimony. 

Dearest, I know your heart is bruised and your hope has suffered from exposure, but you are more like Joan of Arc than you realize. You're stronger than you think, and maybe more courageous than you know. 

Look up! Do you see? There is another fighting ahead of you. He is not your True Love, but your First Love. He is fighting for you. Going before you. And, He really does have your back.