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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Show Me Your Glory

This week's blog is short but packed with reflection. I've been studying "The Message of the Living God" and am in Exodus 33. We can learn so much about God by how he treated and responded to his children, the Israelites. One (of many) verse worth reflecting on is, "The Lord replied, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." (Ex. 33:14) Another word for "rest" is peace. He is saying, "I will quiet you...dispel your anxiety." Do we give him a chance to do that, or are you like me where you run ahead of yourself stressing about this or that?

The next amazing passage is the one when Moses asks God to show himself--"show me your glory," Moses says (Ex 33:18). When God passes in front of Moses what he reveals is his personal character. Scripture says, “And the Lord said, "I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But," he said, "you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live." (Ex 33:19-20)

What God gives his people is a description of himself--not a description of how he looks but how he is. That is counter-cultural, isn’t it? God told Samuel, “The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." (1 Sam. 16:7)

Take some time to really reflect on these verses, asking God to show you how they apply to your relationship with him.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I am Made in the Image of God!

John Newton wrote, “I am not what I might be, I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I wish to be, I am not what I hope to be. But I thank God I am not what I once was, and I can say with the great apostle, "By the grace of God I am what I am.”

The cartoon character, Popeye the sailor man, was famous for always settling and moaning, “I yam what I yam.” We too often grumble, “That’s just the way I am and I will never change.” Throw out the complacent thought if that is in your vocabulary. One of the greatest obstacles to living life as a Christian woman is looking for what’s wrong with us-- our body, our clothes, our relationships, our children, even our friends, and then dwelling on it. “I yam what I yam!”

Grab a hold of this fact: “God made you in his image.” (Genesis 1:27)
That is profound! It means that God used a template of himself to make you like him in many ways. Romans 8:29 also tells us: “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.” That’s not the message our culture promotes, is it?

Growing up, most of society’s messages told us that our physical appearance was most important because the body is a measure of female attractiveness and social success. Women are also expected today to attain the superwoman persona. Add to that any family variables such as high achievement and perfectionism and you can see why we don’t see ourselves as God sees us.

Describe yourself-- first your physical appearance, and then how other people see you. Do you think this description lines up with God’s image of you?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Breaking Free from the Tombs

One of the greatest stories in the Bible is about the man who lived in the tombs—a man possessed with a multitude of demons. Scripture says, “When those tending the pigs saw what had happened, they ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus' feet, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people how the demon-possessed man had been cured.” [Luke 8:34-38] Mary Magdalene is another person delivered from demons—seven of them (Mark 16:9).

Most likely you’d say you’re not demon possessed so these stories do not mean much to you. However, demons represent darkness in our life. Sometimes they come in a package called stress, anxiety, depression, jealousy, pride, and mere pressures of daily life.

When Jesus found the man in the tombs, he saw a loved one in trouble, in bondage, and in need of a savior. We don’t know exactly what happened in his life to bring on such despair, but he was in agony. No one could help … until Jesus. He brought the source of light and broke the chains of bondage. And he will do the same for us if we would only draw close to him and ask him.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Completely Restored

After the fourth flush I picked up the near empty bottle of Windex and then ripped off three squares from the paper towel roll and proceeded to clean up around the toilette boil. After tossing the residue of a gapping emotional wound into the garbage I went back into the living room and sat, numb and oblivious to what television program was playing. Tomorrow will be different, I promised myself. Today is the last day. Despondent, that is what I said every day for the previous fourteen years. It never was the last day…that’s what bulimia does.

“[Jesus] He looked around at them all, and then said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He did so, and his hand was completely restored.” (Luke 6:10, NIV)

Most often when this passage is read (Luke 6:1-11) the focus is on Jesus’s act of healing on the Sabbath and the Pharisee’s reaction. There is one verse—verse 10 which is a story unto itself. It is about a man in the crowd, a man with a shriveled or withered hand. What is interesting about this man is unlike other accounts this man did not run up to Jesus and ask to be healed. Jesus picks him out of the crowd. His motive is to show the Pharisee’s his divine power. He wants to create a stage for himself in front of these unbelieving and conniving Pharisees. Jesus singles out this one man—a recipient of his love, grace and mercy and says, "Stretch out your hand."

Maybe we don’t have a shriveled hand or an eating disorder that needs repair, but we all have our fallen nature—our pride and selfishness that we need to give him. Falleness is all we have. In his mercy Jesus he asks us to give it all to him. Scripture then says this man’s hand was completely restored. God did completely restore me from a deadly eating disorder and from binge drinking—yes completely. Although we’ll never be entirely rid of our sin nature here on earth if we give it to Jesus everyday he can shrink it considerably. We will be completely restored from sin when we get to heaven!

Give him your withered hand and let his strength be demonstrated in your weakness. It’s the only way he can show an unbelieving world his power. “We seek thy face, turn thy face unto us and show us thy glory. Then shall our longing be satisfied, and our peace shall be perfect” (Saint Augustine).