Wisdom’s promise of value

Wisdom speaks:

I have taken root in a privileged people, in the Lord’s property, in his inheritance.
I have grown tall as a cedar in Lebanon, as a cypress on Mt. Hermon; I have grown tall as a palm in Engedi, as the rose bushes of Jericho; as a fine olive in the plain, as a plane tree
I have grown tall.
Sirach 24:12-14

 

photo credit www.pfaf

 

 

A cedar of Lebanon – a valuable tree in the middle east. It is used to construct walls of royal houses and temples.

A responsive prayer:

May I grow into a cedar of Lebanon. Lord, make me valued and sought after as a container for the hearts of righteous people and the praise of God.

 

Tomorrow we’ll consider Wisdom’s promise of solidity.

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Defending God. Or not.

Some of the Jews, however, refused to believe and they poisoned the minds of the Gentiles against the brothers. Acts 14:2

Some Jews refused to believe and poisoned the minds of those on the fence. Disbelief (or our petrified belief system) is threatened by possible conversion. It has to protect its boundaries and make sure belief cannot take root. It wears a face, it has a label and its brand must be preeminent. All other “competitors” must be abolished and ruined.

Unlike the God of heaven…

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…who lets other gods, or things take credit for the work he has done. He is so eager for the good of his creation, he waters it with rain, makes crops grow. God causes happiness. He doesn’t withhold goodness because he is not acknowledged. He offers such provision with the hope we will recognize him as the good and loving God he is when we come face to face with him.

…but even then he did not leave you without evidence of himself in the good things he does for you… Acts 14:17

Oh Lord, make me like you, ready to spread goodness and life indiscriminately, for the sake of keeping hope alive in the people you love. Let me rejoice when people acknowledge the good and let me be your face that helps them connect the dots between love shown and your heart. 

With you on the journey,

Debby

Shame off you!

Shame off you!

You have rejected the Word of God and do not think yourselves worthy of eternal life. Acts 13:44-52

Interesting. It’s not God’s judgement, but their own that separates them from eternal life.

Shame based identity, not worthy of good things

 

Debby and her cousin Paula

Debby and her cousin Paula

I have lived from a shame based identity my whole life. It is built into my DNA. Both my parents grew up in homes that were ruled by judgement. My dad’s angrily minimizing. My mom’s righteously rejecting. How could I not be rooted in shame? I remember the baby picture of my cousin and me at 6 weeks, she chubby, healthy looking, me scrawny and spidery looking. And the comments surrounding the comparison, “You weren’t as pretty as Paula, but you were ours.” I was less than, but loved.

The less-than mentality became my identity. Unconsciously I lived from a sense of unworthiness. Within the bubble of my family I was acceptable but outside of the confines of our family system, I didn’t measure up.

As a child when my friends and I would play with our Barbies, I insisted on playing the role of the maid. The servant, behind the scenes who would gather the clothing and the items the other’s needed to play out the scenes their imaginations invented.

This is not a foreshadowing of being a servant for the sake of putting other’s interests above my own. No, I remember the feeling of not being adequate, of not being worthy to join the play. I was less-than even at age seven.

How many times have I rejected the good offered me because I didn’t think I deserved it?

Out of the shame that binds

My less-than-ness had driven me to extremes, had broken me. I was desperate for hope and peace. Thank goodness God intervened! I heard the good news of God’s personal love for me when I was seventeen. My anguish had breached the wall that surrounded my less-than self and made a way for God’s eternal life to enter.

Like Lazarus, who had been given life at Jesus’ word, but was still wrapped in grave clothes, I too have the eternal life of Christ within me and yet am still bound by shame. To a much lesser degree than I once was, thank you Lord, but still tainted by the fear that I am not worthy.

Maybe you can relate to my experience.

How many times have you rejected the good offered to you because you don’t believe you are worthy of it? or it is too good to be true? or you are afraid of disappointment? Come on, let’s take God at God’s word.

Let me help unwrap the grave clothes that bind you.

“You are my beloved child, in whom I am well pleased.”

God is your perfect parent, there is no shame associated in belonging to this family.

You are beloved. Exactly as you are, no comparisons in God’s family photo album.

God is pleased with you. You are not a disappointment, you are invited to join the play.

With you on the journey,
Debby

When the storm is rocking your boat

Thoughts on Matthew 8:23-27

robson-hatsukami-morgan-134756OK, I’ll get in the boat with you. A boat is not my comfort zone. I’m a landlubber, never really lived near the sea. Water is good for drinking and bathing, not for transport, but I’ll risk it to be with you. The boat is small, there’s only room for a few of us. I’m grateful to be counted among the ones who care enough about you to leave behind a comfortable and secure lifestyle and to let the past and identifying relationships have no power over me. You have searched me and admitted me to your fellowship.

And what the heck? I told you I didn’t want to get in the boat. Look at those storm clouds building, the wind rising, the raindrops falling. This little boat cannot withstand the torment of such a storm. We are rocking, water is coming over the sides, there is no hope, even the fishermen among us are afraid. And where are you? Sleeping! Sleeping? Really? How can you sleep through such a tempest? I’m dying here, don’t you care?

jean-pierre-brungs-36491Jesus, wake up, save me, I’m doomed.

Debby, you’ve trusted me with your lifestyle, you’ve trusted me with your identity, will you trust me with your life? I purposely invited you onto this boat to show you were your trust in me is small, where you doubt my power and my love. You bravely entered this place of fear and you wisely came to me when it seemed overwhelming. Trust me now.

His looking into my eyes, speaking these words into my soul, settles the storm raging within me. What else can I do but trust you. I’m glad to be with you, even if it means death.

And then you stand up and tell the wind and the sea to quiet down, your words restrain the storm. You speak and it is still.

Thank you and amen.

Dear friend, if your boat is rocking, run to Jesus with your fear and accusations against him. Let him tenderly show you the ways your trust has failed. His nearness and words will calm you and the storm.

With you on the journey,

Debby

The Invariably Variable Jesus

The Invariably Variable Jesus

Thoughts on Matthew 16:13-19

Who does the world say you are? A good teacher, a religious leader, a whack job.

Who do I say you are? Only the Father can tell me who you are. Father, I sit in the quiet, ready to hear you whisper. Jesus, you are invariably variable. You are to me what I need, all I need.

When I first came to know you, you were Peace. My soul was so unsettled, my identity so fragile and tossed about, I needed the peace that the world cannot give to allow me to get my bearings. Thank you for that.

When I was about to commit spiritual suicide you were Fierce Love, ready to bear my anger so that trust could rise from the ashes.

Who are you today? Companion, friend, enjoyable presence. I feel disrespectful naming you thus. But that is what is whispered and I receive it gladly. I do not know what tomorrow will bring, I do know you will be for me what I need when it appears. Thank you for that.

Simon Peter called you Christ and you blessed him.

You use a play on words in this blessing. There are two variations of the word Peter/Rock in the Greek language. Petros – the masculine form and Petra, the feminine form. Petros is always used to indicate a small piece of a rock such as a person might throw. While Petra is a mass of rock.

“You are Peter and on this rock I will build my church. brina-blum-112497

In the Greek it reads “You are Petros (a small wobbly, easily movable stone) and on this Petra (the unmovable, solid mass of rock) I will build my church.”

Simon Peter called you Christ, today I call you friend. Will you change my small, wobbly, easily movable heart into a solid heart, one capable of building up and encouraging the people you have given me to love? Thank you and amen.

Who is Jesus to you today? Jesus will be who you need/what you need as your day unfolds. Look for him and listen to the Father’s whisper in your heart. 

With you on the journey,

Debby

There is a wolf nipping at your soul

There is a wolf nipping at your soul

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Thoughts on Matthew 7:15-20

Beware of false prophets who appear as sheep, gentle and peaceable but on the inside are ravenous wolves, ready to devour to satisfy their hunger. Beware of those who claim to be forwarding the kingdom, but are in fact forwarding their own agenda.

Of course, the Spirit inspects my soul before looking outward. Oh, Lord, please keep me true. Let the me I present match the me that beats inside my heart and let it be authentic and honoring of your Lordship and the people you love.

Jacob presented himself as his brother in order to steal Esau’s blessing. Isaac was fooled. Barbara pretended to care about me to gather information she could use as power. I naively fell for it. I have offered concern for others as a means to accomplish my goal, forgive me and check me so I do not do this again.

inma-ibanez-24380 cherries.jpgYou have said “we will know them by their fruits.” A cherry tree only grows cherries. Some cherries are rotten, ruined by insect, weather or disease. My hope is to produce “cherries” in accordance with your law of love. My crop is not always bountiful and sometimes my cherries are rotten, tainted by pride, greed, fear. Some are immature, sour to the taste because they have not gathered the sweetness that develops as they remain connected to the tree.

Lord, be the master farmer who tends this cherry tree of yours. Guard me against external harm that would ruin my fruit, and against silent, but deadly disease that seeks to destroy the sweetness of your Spirit’s work. Offer through me life and sweetness.

And teach me to pay attention to the fruit other people’s ministry bears in my life. Does it promote a stronger connection to you? Does it increase the Spirit’s fruit in my heart? Does it move me to love others in word and deed? If so, blessings on that life-bringer. And let me share with them the gift they have given me. If not, grant me the grace to let them go without judgment. Thank you and amen.

Dear friend, learn from my example. Let me be your cherry tree, and let the Lord be the farmer who tends your fruit.

With you on the journey,

Debby

Ego’s death march (I wish)

Ego’s death march (I wish)

photo by Ben White

pray in secret?

Thoughts on Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

Alms, prayer and fasting, all to be done. Done quietly, obediently, without drawing attention to self. Hmm. My prayers are done in the quiet of my heart and home, but then I share them with others in my blog and hope many people read them are are blessed. (In fact, I wish more people read them than are currently doing so.) How do I honor my mission to hear your voice of love and share it with others, and your instruction about praying secretly in my closet?

I guess the key is the motive behind letting your “piety” be seen by others. Jesus describes those whose intention is to show off their piety so that others are impressed by their righteous practices. The impression they make is the reward of their righteousness; it is temporary, not eternal, it corrupts their character rather than purifying it.

My intention is to let your love penetrate my heart, transform it and then to let your light shine through me. I am not perfect in this process. I am a human, tainted by sin, and all I do is touched by the stain. I am a work in progress. The enemy of my soul uses this crack in my vessel to shut me up. Since part of me wants the attention of others, I should not publish my prayers. It is my ego, my selfish ambition driving me, hoping others will think highly of me.

The enemy uses the truth against me and against God’s kingdom. It’s true, my motives are not 100% pure, but I will not be 100% pure until I reach perfection in heaven. So am I to not share the good news of God’s good work in me now? No, I must share it. It is in fact proof of the gospel. God takes an imperfect vessel like me, pours his truth into it and then uses it to encourage other broken vessels to let God love them.

Ego be damned. God is bigger than my selfish ambition. His love overshadows my puny need for attention. God be glorified.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Cor 12:9,10

His power is made perfect in my weakness. Shine, Jesus, shine. Use my impure self to show off your generous grace. And melt my ego in the process. Thank you and amen.

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photo credit: Noah Silliman


Friend, don’t let your tainted motivation keep you from the good God has given you to do. Own your brokenness and your beauty and run the race set before you, even if you limp as you run. 

With you on the journey, Debby