Monday, June 24, 2013

On Mission: Day One and Two

We arrived safely Saturday night and enjoyed a meal provided by our host church- Rancho Village Baptist Church. We also spent some time getting beds made and meeting some of the other groups. At our location, we have about 75 kids and sponsors. There is another location in Norman that has an additional 120 kids and sponsors. Plus, this is the second LIT Mission trip for the summer. Overall, realize that 400+ pre-teens and leaders have chosen to serve Him this summer. Glory!  

The girls are staying in a room with a church from Wichita Falls while the boys have a small room to themselves. In the girls' room there are 5 girls, 4 leaders which is unusual but even more unusual is the fact that 3 out of the 4 of us have the name Julie!

Sunday was an intense day of final training for us all.  From dealing with the logistics of things to a deep look inward in regards to our own spiritual growth, yesterday was a very rewarding preparation day.  One thing that struck me was how awesome it is to see the body of Christ at work. We all came from different churches and backgrounds, but He is here...alive, active, and at work Niall that is taking place.  It is beautiful the way strangers become family, united by a common Savior. 

Please pray for us today as we go out to 22 different apartment complexes to minister and serve. Pray for the children as they share their testimony, share the gospel and teach about His coming to save.  Satan has already attempted to stop what is happening, but our God is greater and we trust in His perfect will. Please pray for a hedge of protection around us as we go and share. 

I hope to update again tomorrow. Blessings!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Today is the Day

Today is the day.  We are packed and will soon load our bags and supplies and head to Oklahoma to serve Him in that great state.  First thing this morning, the nerves started and I began to go through all the reasons why I might need to stay home.... just kidding, but I think you can relate!  I like being comfortable in my house with my stuff and so forth.

 As I spent some time praying and reading His scriptures, I realized that serving our Savior is not an option.  We are called to minister and care for others around us- all of us- no one is excluded.  Service becomes part of our DNA when we become a child of the King.  This is not as hard as we tend to make it.  Needs abound in our world.  Lonely are across the street as they are across the world.  Hurting people exist in our churches, cities, and sometimes in our own home.  We can serve in areas close and far, but the act of service is not optional.

As I have pondered this, I have grown in excitement and anticipation of this week ahead.  It has been a privilege to be called to go and minister to outside of my comfort zone.  Perhaps as I witness needs that exist a state away, I will come to see the needs that exist within my comfort level.... in my county, in my town, and down my street.  It is my prayer that I will new eyes to see the needs and ears to hear the heartbreak, hands ready to hug, and feet ready to move.  God grant me "newness" in You.

Please pray for us this week!!!  I will update as I can.....


Friday, June 21, 2013

On Mission

Seventeen years ago, I found myself in the hot west Texas heat spending my summer traveling between Lubbock and Amarillo serving in one church after another.  I was a part of a team of three college students that would travel all summer leading youth revivals in a different church each week.  The process leading up to that summer had been tedious and not just due to the training and preparations.  It had been a very emotional decision for me.  I had never been away from my family for such a long period of time, and it meant a summer without work or income.  This particular mission opportunity would allow us to get a portion of what was given in the love offering donations.  However, I had no idea if it would be enough to help me pay for school in the fall.  I loved my family and found it so difficult to consider leaving them with little to no communication over an entire summer.  Remember, this was before cell phones, texting and e-mail.... shocker, I know!  Regardless, I knew that God was leading me to "sacrifice" a summer to be a part of His will and plan.

At the end of the summer, I fell on the alter of a church as tears flooded by being.  I realized that I had been given so much more in that summer of serving than I could have ever given up.  I learned about service, love and unity.  I learned about independence and dependence on Him.  I learned about pains buried so deep and the freedom in healing.  I learned about different families- both in the home and in the church.  I learned about trust and faith by living in constant unknowns.  So many times, people would voice how awesome it was that I had been willing to give of myself for the entire summer....each time, my heart would crack a little.  How could I express the lie in that statement?  The riches of that summer far outweighed my paltry offering.  I felt like the widow who placed all she had in the offering and walked away with the blessing of Christ.

This is partly why Reagan and I have longed for our boys to have the opportunity to serve and minister to others.  We believe, even as children, they can serve and see what a beautiful thing it is to be a part of the service of Christ.  This week, as Caleb reflected on his mission experience of last year, the tears fell.  He gets it.  He gets that lives are changed for eternity and the broken walk away healed. Being even the smallest part of that, is an honor- privilege- and never a sacrifice.

Tomorrow, we will pack up a church van full of bedding, bags and children and head to Oklahoma.  It is my prayer that hearts and minds will be changed - from those being ministered to and those doing the ministry.  Let us not walk away the same, but with a new perspective- an eternal one.  Today, I read this Beth Moore quote, "We are never a more beautiful display of God's splendor than when willing to empty self for the lives of others."  Oh Lord, let us empty and pour ourselves out for you this week!

Please pray for us each time God brings us to mind.  I hope to blog at least a few times while I am there, but I do not know what to expect.  It is my hope to "pack" you in my bag and allow you to journey this week with us.  Please pray for the write words to be spoken, soft hearts, and His Spirit to be at work-even now- preparing the way.  Pray for physical healing for me as I have been battling a cold the past 24 hours and desperately want to feel well.  Please pray for our group to draw closer to each other during the week.

Thank you for your love and support!  Blessings!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

When the Trip is Over

You know that feeling when you have been on a trip and the time comes to return home?  There has been so much fun and joy in your travels that there is a tinge of sadness at going back to "normal" and yet, there is a little joy in it as well as you will be returning to all that you know and all that is familiar.  It is a weird mix, huh?  I feel a little like that today as this is the last post on my study of Abraham.  At the end of his life, I wondered if her reflected on all that God had done in and through him.... did he feel at tinge of sadness at leaving Isaac behind?  Was he overwhelmed by the joy of going "home" to see the God he loved and had served to the best of his human abilities?  Home for so many of us resides in the individuals we love so dearly and I think going to reside with the Father was a returning home to the One Abraham loved most of all.  I hope that the same will be said of me.....

Let's look at Genesis 25....
"Abraham married a second time; his new wife was named Keturah. She gave birth to Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah.... But Abraham gave everything he possessed to Isaac. While he was still living, he gave gifts to the sons he had by his concubines, but then sent them away to the country of the east, putting a good distance between them and his son Isaac. Abraham lived 175 years. Then he took his final breath. He died happy at a ripe old age, full of years, and was buried with his family. His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah in the field of Ephron son of Zohar the Hittite, next to Mamre. It was the field that Abraham had bought from the Hittites. Abraham was buried next to his wife Sarah. After Abraham’s death, God blessed his son Isaac. Isaac lived at Beer Lahai Roi." (Genesis 25:1, 2, 5-11 MSG)

One thing that is a challenge for me, personally, is to realize that Abraham married again.  I think we always picture our faithful leader with his companion for life- Sarah.  However, I also love how Abraham continued living a fruitful life.  He had dearly loved Sarah, and upon her death, it might have been easy to want to "shut down" and stop living.  However, God had purpose in Abraham living another 30 plus years.  My friend, until our last breath is drawn, He has purpose in each day for us.  Never believe the lie from the evil one that your life purpose has been fulfilled or missed.  He determines when our life is complete- HE and HE alone- knows when that will be.  Until that time, continue living!  Continue seeking His purpose for you daily and all that the Father has called you to do.  I think sometimes we live waiting for our divine purpose to arrive, but it is lived out in countless moments of each day.  Live, my friend, a daily life of purpose!!!

Often, as we travel home from a trip, I ask everyone what was their favorite moment of the trip?  What was their least favorite moment?  So, I will ask you the same thing!  On this journey with Abraham, what were your favorite and least favorite moments?

What lesson will you carry with you as your life journey continues?

I am so thankful for the life of Abraham and the faithful life of courage he lived.  In the past weeks, as I felt God leading me down a new path in my life-walk with Him, I needed to be reminded that where He leads, He provides.  Where He leads, is a well planned path for me, and where He leads, is always the right direction. 

Today, I am praying for each of us as we travel His purpose for us in life for direction and peace in the travels.  Thank you for traveling with me.....


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Wife for Isaac

A burden had been growing within Abraham.  While he had much wealth and property, and yet, he did not have a wife for his beloved Isaac.  At that time, it was the parents' responsibility to arrange an appropriate partner for their child. Abraham knew that it was essential for Isaac to marry another of God's chosen people, but this was a challenge as they lived in the land that God had promised them that was surrounded by foreigners.  As a result, he sends one of his most faithful servants to find a wife for his son.  Can you imagine the weight of such a task on the servant?   The following passage is from Genesis 24.....

"The servant said, "I'm the servant of Abraham. God has blessed my master—he's a great man; God has given him sheep and cattle, silver and gold, servants and maidservants, camels and donkeys. And then to top it off, Sarah, my master's wife, gave him a son in her old age and he has passed everything on to his son. My master made me promise, 'Don't get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites in whose land I live. No, go to my father's home, back to my family, and get a wife for my son there.' I said to my master, 'But what if the woman won't come with me?' He said, ' God before whom I've walked faithfully will send his angel with you and he'll make things work out so that you'll bring back a wife for my son from my family, from the house of my father. Then you'll be free from the oath. If you go to my family and they won't give her to you, you will also be free from the oath.' "Well, when I came this very day to the spring, I prayed, ' God, God of my master Abraham, make things turn out well in this task I've been given. I'm standing at this well. When a young woman comes here to draw water and I say to her, Please, give me a sip of water from your jug, and she says, Not only will I give you a drink, I'll also water your camels—let that woman be the wife God has picked out for my master's son.' "I had barely finished offering this prayer, when Rebekah arrived, her jug on her shoulder. She went to the spring and drew water and I said, 'Please, can I have a drink?' She didn't hesitate. She held out her jug and said, 'Drink; and when you're finished I'll also water your camels.' I drank, and she watered the camels. I asked her, 'Whose daughter are you?' She said, 'The daughter of Bethuel whose parents were Nahor and Milcah.' I gave her a ring for her nose, bracelets for her arms, and bowed in worship to God. I praised God, the God of my master Abraham who had led me straight to the door of my master's family to get a wife for his son. "Now, tell me what you are going to do. If you plan to respond with a generous yes, tell me. But if not, tell me plainly so I can figure out what to do next." Laban and Bethuel answered, "This is totally from God. We have no say in the matter, either yes or no. Rebekah is yours: Take her and go; let her be the wife of your master's son, as God has made plain." When Abraham's servant heard their decision, he bowed in worship before God. Then he brought out gifts of silver and gold and clothing and gave them to Rebekah. He also gave expensive gifts to her brother and mother. He and his men had supper and spent the night. But first thing in the morning they were up. He said, "Send me back to my master." (Genesis 24:34-54 MSG)

One thing I love about this lesson is how Abraham's faith had been so contagious that even his servants longed to please the Father!  I believe God longs for all of us to live such passionate lives for the Father that our faith becomes contagious to all who share in our lives.   This servant had been faithful to Abraham, but Abraham had been a faithful witness to him.  So much so, that he seeks wisdom and confirmation from God as to who was the right girl for Isaac.  Then, when Rebekah's family agrees to allow her to leave, the servant bows in worship before God.  My friend, I can only hope that those I work with in various duties and tasks would see such a faith lived out before them.   We must be genuine and real in living the faith and grace we have been given!

Another conviction for me is in how important a Christ believing spouse is for our children.  Isaac having a spouse of the same faith was of desperate importance for Abraham- enough to allow a servant to make such a long journey to find the right girl for his son.  While we no longer arrange the marriages of our children, I still believe that it is important that we impart to our children the qualities that they should seek in a future spouse and pray for them.  From birth, Reagan and I have prayed for the future wives of our sons- that they love God only more than they love our son(s).  I have prayed for ladies of deep faith in the Father who long to serve and live for Him.  Beyond personalities, wealth or looks, my sons need wives who love the Savior they serve.  Unity in HIM will overcome all other differences. 

How about you?

In reflection, is your faith contagious to others around you?  Are there changes you need to make to become increasingly genuine and real in living out your faith?

Do you pray for your children's future spouse?  What do you pray for?

Father, please help me to live an honest life before others so that they might see You reflected in all my actions, words and deeds.  Give me  wisdom to know how best to live that life Father.  I plead before you Father for my sons and the wives You have already chosen for them.  May they be women that love You and long to honor You with their lives.  Allow their love for each other to grow deep and strong.  Please be the cord that binds them together, Father.  Amen.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Just Relax

Sometimes I feel like parenthood is a tennis match going on within the confines of my mind.  Some moments I feel such triumph and victory only to feel the harshness of failure and disappointment soon after.  Trying to train young minds and lead them into understanding and obedience is a daunting task.  Finding balance as a parent seems even harder.

One moment, I feel tremendous victory as my boys eat something healthy and nutritious while the next minute I justify the processed fast-food as a necessary evil.

I pat myself on the back when a son responds, immediately and respectfully, to a corrective action and the next wanting to crawl under a table when the reaction is the opposite.

As a family, we try to monitor the outside influence of television and media and yet, in weak moments, I encourage them to get lost in a show so I can handle some tasks without the constant interruption of needs that only I can fill.

I limit their sweets, but admit to allowing dessert for breakfast on a rare occasion.

Ugh!  The list could go on and on....

I think I am like most parents.  We want to do what is best for our kids.  We try so hard to do all the "right" things, but in reality, it is hard.  It is tiring- nay, exhausting.  We often have to cave to the likes of processed fast food, winging discipline, indulgent television time, and dessert for breakfast. 

Guess what?  It is okay.   We are all there!!!  You are not alone.  I think perfection is highly overrated as most of learn and grow more from our mistakes than we do from our triumphs.  Plus, those victories are sweeter because of all the trials on the journey.

This past weekend, we went camping as a family.  In the process of one day, my boys had swam until the point of exhaustion, played until the point of being filthy and had s'mores smeared from cheek to cheek.   It was fabulous because for just a time, we got to just enjoy them without the confines of strict bedtimes, cleanliness (swimming counts as a bath, right?) and proper meal standards.  It was just fun and relaxed...and, we all survived.

Now, I know that kind of existence can not go on forever.... I mean, baths and bedtimes are a necessary part of life.  But, as parents, allow me to give you permission to do one thing- relax.  Relax, and give yourself the freedom to fail and learn.  Let them have that fast food meal and take the night off. On a rare occasion, let them have the cake for breakfast- they will never forget it!  Yes, we must be parents, but let us stop mentally beating ourselves up.  WE WILL NEVER BE PERFECT, but in our imperfection, we can find joy, peace and promise.  God does the same for us- He sees all our flaws and yet he finds joy while giving us peace and promise. 

What are some areas that you mentally "beat yourself up"?

Has there been a memorable time when you just "relaxed" with your parenting and just enjoyed the moment?

How does it make you feel to know that God sees our imperfection and yet still gives us promise?


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

"Sometime" Moments

"The success of marriage comes not in finding the “right” person, but in the
ability of both partners to adjust to the real person they inevitably realize they
John Fischer
Marriage is a beautiful reflection of our relationship with Christ.  It is a living, breathing thing that can grow and mature into lifelong journey.  It is a promise lived out daily.  It is love in movement.  Sometimes it is a desperate embrace keeping the storms of life at bay.  Sometimes it is the knowing smile that makes joy skip through a heart.  Sometimes it is work and toil in the depth of dedication and commitment.  Sometimes it is the slight touch that screams, "You are treasured."  Marriage is a cornucopia of "sometime" moments that encompass a lifetime of memories.
Abraham and Sarah had truly lived a lifetime together.  There had been times when each had failed the other.  There had been times of great joy and victory.  There had been times of trusting and believing.  There was always love in movement.  They loved, deeply so.

"When Sarah was 127 years old, she died at Kiriath-arba (now called Hebron) in the land of Canaan. There Abraham mourned and wept for her. Then, leaving her body, he said to the Hittite elders, “Here I am, a stranger and a foreigner among you. Please sell me a piece of land so I can give my wife a proper burial.” The Hittites replied to Abraham, “Listen, my lord, you are an honored prince among us. Choose the finest of our tombs and bury her there. No one here will refuse to help you in this way.”... Then Abraham buried his wife, Sarah, there in Canaan, in the cave of Machpelah, near Mamre (also called Hebron). So the field and the cave were transferred from the Hittites to Abraham for use as a permanent burial place." (Genesis 23:1-6, 19, 20 NLT)

Sarah passed.  I cannot fathom the depth of that loss for Abraham.  There marriage had spanned a lifetime together.  Can you imagine the memories and secret stories they had shared?  I think their lives were so entwined that her sudden absence had to feel as though a part of himself was buried in the cave with her.  The wound left behind when she slipped from his life had to be ever so painful.  Loss hurts.  Loss means an end has come.  Loss is inevitable.  Abraham makes a desperate plea to bury his wife near Mamre.  This was not an easy task, and it is indicated that he may have paid double what was reasonable for the burial land.  He, even in her death, was showing love to Sarah.  I wonder what he missed the most?  Her smile?  Reflecting on the memories together?  Her laugh? 

Marriage can be one of the most incredible experiences in a life. Two people who give of themselves- fully- to each other.  Willing to walk all the unknowns ahead, together, always treasuring that you have another to whom you share your day, your dreams, your joys and your sorrows.  God created marriage for this purpose- companionship.  The only relationship that is stronger in His eyes is the one we share with Him.   Marriage is to be a reflection of His love for us- sacrificial, forgiving, and generous.  While marriage will have flaws and hard days, Our Father's love for us is perfect in it's sacrifice, forgiveness and generosity to us.  Marriage should draw us to our Father because His is the cord that ties two together.  He is the Weaver that knits two separate lives into one. 

Today, I will thank God for my life partner in Reagan and the love that they have both lavished on me.  I will thank God for all the "sometime" moments we have been blessed to share and pray expectantly for all the moments still to come.  Today, what about you?

What are "sometime" moments you treasure most?

In what ways has the Father perfectly "weaved" you and your spouse together?

What do you treasure most about your spouse?

What areas can you each improve in your relationship with each other?


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Losing My Cape

"I am Super Kendall!" exclaimed my three year old super hero as he flew out of my bedroom. It brought such a smile to my face as I reflected on the joy and fun of childhood. Within minutes he returned carrying his cape that had fallen off while he "flew" around the house. I did my best to reattach his super-power infused cape, but in just a few short moments, he would return. Over and over we tried, but his cape would not fit or stay attached the way he wanted. It seemed, that Super Kendall was not meant for flying today. 

Sometimes I relate to this situation. I try to become Super Mom by tackling countless tasks all at the same time. I fly through housework, homeschool, and all the tasks involved with my part time job. I study and write as well as send "tweets" and "posts". Deep down inside, however, I am tired. I sometimes feel like my super-power cape just doesn't want to stay attached. In reality, I was never meant to be more than a fragile, falible human. Alone, I cannot do all that this life requires, but in Him, there is no end to all the possibilities. His abilities are as unending as His presence!  I think He longs for me to shed by cape and cling to His capabilities. 

That may mean stopping and praying about what things should be in my life and what should not pull at my attention. It may mean turning somethings down. It could also mean stepping out of my comfort zone into His perfect plan for my life.  No matter what, it will require that I quit trying to attach the cape of my efforts on my shoulders.  Instead, I must trust in His capable plan, will, and authority for my life. 

Is it easy for you to pull the "cape of your personal efforts" off? 

What is the hardest thing for you to entrust into His care?

Is there something that God may mean for you to let go of? A new thing to pick up?

Father, today give us wisdom and discernment regarding all that vies for our attention. Help us to know what is part of Your plan for us and what is not. Give us strength and rest when we are weary and stir a longing for You deep within. We love you, Father!


Saturday, June 8, 2013

Leftover Night

Does your family have a "leftover" night?  On occasion, we pull out all the leftover food in the refrigerator and have one final meal.  It helps clean out the refrigerator and I feel like it prevents any food from going to waste.  It makes one crazy meal though!  No one ends up with the same food on their plate!

Well, this is kind of a "leftover" post.... just a mix of all my crazy thoughts from the week.  You might find something that sounds good to you- even if it is an odd post.

I decided to try and focus on potty training this week as school was complete for us and I didn't have any major commitments this week.  Plus, Kendall is speaking well- in very complete sentences and is physically able to help pull up his pants.  His brothers were potty trained before they were three and I figured it would be easy especially having older brothers to... uh, "watch" and follow their lead.  Boy, was I wrong!  He has been willing to sit on the potty, but doesn't seem to have a clue what to do when sitting there.   I would end up spending a big part of the day cleaning....everything.  So, several other mothers have suggested that I set a timer every 15-30 minutes and take him to the potty.  Now, this sounds like a reasonable suggestion.... except, I am in no way disciplined enough for that.  Insanity, to me, is living by a timer that is going off every 15 to 30 minutes.  I admire any of you who are able to do it, but it just isn't for me.  So, we will keep trying, cleaning and trying.... I am pretty sure that we will be successful before he goes to school... college, that is.

I am also not the "tooth pulling" mom.  I now have two boys in the house loosing teeth and as incredible as it may sound, I have yet to pull a tooth.  I just can't do it.... CANNOT.  Caleb even had one that was barely hanging in his mouth and he asked me to give him relief by pulling the tooth.... I tried, but had to give up.  Poor kid had to pull his own tooth!  As a mom, I can handle blood, stitches, and even sick stomachs.... but, please don't ask me to pull a tooth.  Thankfully, I have a friend from church who is good at "tooth pulling" and I may need to keep her on speed dial during the next few years. (Thanks Shannon!)  This week, Carson fell on a bed and finally lost his last tooth that had been very "wiggly" over the past two weeks.  Yay!  And, I didn't even have to call in reinforcements!

Last night, Kendall prayed a sweet , but unusual prayer.  He prayed, "Jesus, never take you away.  When the snakes come, you destroy them.  Jesus, never take you away..... thank you for the food.  Amen."  It was sweet and funny at the same time.  I became blessed as I thought about his simple words.  He asked Jesus to never leave and for Jesus to never go away.  In time, I hope he will come to see and understand that Jesus will never leave him.  He also asked Jesus to destroy the snakes... I laugh because I hate snakes too!  I may have actually passed that fear on to him, but nothing gets me squeamish more than a snake.... um, besides potty training and tooth pulling.  In Genesis, satan took the form of a snake.... I hope Jesus kills all of satan's attempts to harm as well. 

I rediscovered my treadmill this week!  I know that is not a major thing to most of you, but it is to me.  I used it every day the past 3 days.  I feel better overall and I think that will be helpful as I will be joining Caleb on his mission trip in just 2 weeks!!!  Prayers are so appreciated!  We will be headed north to Oklahoma in the Norman area.

Well, I guess that is about it.   I know it has been random, but that is a picture of my life right now-  good, crazy and a bit random!   What crazy stuff has been going on in your world?  Please share!!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Acts of Sacrifice

“Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you.” (Genesis 22:2 NLT)

Sacrifice.  That word typically does not bring inner joy and peace within, does it?  To be honest, in our culture sacrifice is not something that is highly esteemed.  We tend to want it all in life- even if it isn't best for you.  Oh, you can't afford that new television that "everyone" seems to have- just charge it!   Do you want a new spouse because this person just is too hard to deal with?  Just divorce and start over!  Is this baby not what you had planned right now- too busy, too many plans ahead?  Just arrange an abortion.  The truth is in life, we often look for quick fixes to remedy our problems that seem to require too much sacrifice.  It is a lie from the evil one as in almost every case the consequences require far more "sacrifice" than the original struggle.  Life is about choice and it will always include sacrifice.  In reality, we can't really have it all....

In the past few days, I have been pouring over our family budget as we prepare for this new beginning in our life.  While I have complete peace that we are following God's leading in this decision, it may still require some sacrifice.  These decisions are not fun, and yet, God really spoke to my heart this morning in regards to it all.  He longs for us to be willing to lay it all down at His feet in complete trust that He is sufficient- sufficient to meet all our needs, dreams, and longings.  He is sufficient to endure the pain, challenges and hardships.  He is enough.  It is easy for us to say that when we are in the midst of comfort and peace, but when life requires a sacrifice that cuts and causes pain, do we praise Him?  Abraham faces a similar struggle on his journey of faith....

When they arrived at the place where God had told him to go, Abraham built an altar and arranged the wood on it. Then he tied his son, Isaac, and laid him on the altar on top of the wood. And Abraham picked up the knife to kill his son as a sacrifice. At that moment the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Yes,” Abraham replied. “Here I am!” “Don’t lay a hand on the boy!” the angel said. “Do not hurt him in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.” Then Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in a thicket. So he took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering in place of his son. Abraham named the place Yahweh-Yireh (which means “the Lord will provide”). To this day, people still use that name as a proverb: “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.” (Genesis 22:9-14 NLT)

For even the strongest believers, this is a hard lesson of study.  It makes us wiggle in our church pews because we really want a neat, pretty Christian life that is free of strife and struggle....and, especially sacrifice.  Abraham loved Isaac.  He dearly LOVED Isaac.  Isaac was the child that had been dreamed of and prayed for decades shaded with heartbreak and disappointment.  He was their living miracle.  Abraham, too, had already sacrificed a son that he loved by sending out Ishmael with his mother, Hagar, to live on their own.  It hurt him deeply, but he found solace and joy in the precious life of his dear Isaac.  Then, God asked Abraham to lay Isaac on the alter of sacrifice.  As a parent, everything within me wants to cry out in desperation- "No!, Not my son.... The cost is too much!"  I can't imagine Abraham feeling any less desperation or heartache.  Yet, in faith, he climbed the mountain- the mountain of fear, the mountain of sorrow,and the mountain of conviction.  I think that with each step he took, the realization hit him with full force that he had come to love the miracle more than the miracle-maker.  I can relate- do I love the "miracles" in my life more than the One who allowed them to be?  In the realization of our promised land, we cannot ignore the God who led every step of the way.

In broken obedience, Abraham laid Isaac on the alter.  God never wanted Abraham to have to shed his son's blood, but He wanted to see that Abraham would still walk in faithful obedience- even if it cuts to the core.  Beyond our comfort, beyond our emotions, beyond our physical health, and even beyond our relationships.... beyond it all lies the heartbeat of God longing for us to be willing to travel any journey to reach Him.  He wants our faithful obedience, even if it means desperate sacrifice, to acknowledge that He is truly all that we need- He alone.  Only in the moments when we feel that all is lost, do we truly have the eyes to see that we have all that we ever needed in Him.

What kind of God wants us to sacrifice that deeply?  One that has done that for us.  Our Father held nothing back to bring us redemption, healing and wholeness.  While He stopped Abraham from swinging the knife, He did not stop the swinging of the hammer that brought forth our forgiveness of sins.  He knows sacrifice.  We must never forget that His sacrifice resulted in our healing. 

My friend, sacrifice is hard.  It often hurts, but when we view life from the heavens of eternity- all sacrifice made in obedient faith of Him will be worth it.  He is all we need- truly.  When we come to the place where we fully and completely grasp that dear truth, we will be flooded with thankfulness at the abundance He gives beyond Himself.  He always out-gives our acts of sacrifice.  Always.


Monday, June 3, 2013


In my house, I find many fingerprints.... on the back glass door, on the door frames, in the dusty furniture and even in some leftover birthday cake this morning.   I live in a house with people and they leave "their mark" aka fingerprints on things.  I clean (I really do clean!), but part of life is leaving fingerprints behind.  Truly living leaves marks.

This morning I have thought a great deal about the spiritual mark I leave behind on others?  Are the prints I leave behind encouraging and bring joy?  Do they lead to frustration and hurt?   I read in Genesis 21:22-34 finishing this noteworthy chapter in Abraham's life.  I just couldn't get past verse 22.  Join me.....

"About this time, Abimelech came with Phicol, his army commander, to visit Abraham. “God is obviously with you, helping you in everything you do,” Abimelech said. “Swear to me in God’s name that you will never deceive me, my children, or any of my descendants. I have been loyal to you, so now swear that you will be loyal to me and to this country where you are living as a foreigner.” Abraham replied, “Yes, I swear to it!” Then Abraham complained to Abimelech about a well that Abimelech’s servants had taken by force from Abraham’s servants. “This is the first I’ve heard of it,” Abimelech answered. “I have no idea who is responsible. You have never complained about this before.” Abraham then gave some of his sheep, goats, and cattle to Abimelech, and they made a treaty. But Abraham also took seven additional female lambs and set them off by themselves. Abimelech asked, “Why have you set these seven apart from the others?” Abraham replied, “Please accept these seven lambs to show your agreement that I dug this well.” Then he named the place Beersheba (which means “well of the oath”), because that was where they had sworn the oath. After making their covenant at Beersheba, Abimelech left with Phicol, the commander of his army, and they returned home to the land of the Philistines. Then Abraham planted a tamarisk tree at Beersheba, and there he worshiped the Lord, the Eternal God. And Abraham lived as a foreigner in Philistine country for a long time." (Genesis 21:22-34 NLT)

Much of this passage focuses on the business deal between Abraham and Abimelech, but in verse 22, God spoke to me.  Abimelech says to Abraham, “God is obviously with you, helping you in everything you do."  What an incredible testimony!  Abimelech was not a believer in the one true God, but in seeing Abraham's life, he cannot deny the exist of God.  He sees God so deeply rooted and working in Abraham that he has to exclaim it.  I had the realization that I want God so deeply rooted and working in my life that the spiritual "fingerprints" I leave behind bring focus and glory to my Father.  The memories made, the words expressed, the hugs given, the love shared..... all are seen as an outpouring of His love expressed through me. 

To live such a life, means total dependence on Him by yielding all plans, hopes, dreams, longings, and commitments at His feet.  It means trusting Him to make your paths clear and for His provision along the way.  It's living with an eternal perspective rather than a temporal one.  It is not an easy task in my own strength- nay, impossible... BUT, in Him, all things are possible.  In Him, we can yield and lay down all things to pick up a life of influence that has been perfectly designed for each of us.  A life that leaves behind fingerprints of hope, joy, peace, patience, gentleness and self-control.  Fingerprints that scream out the existence of the one true God.  In the days ahead as I dust and clean away the fingerprints in my hone, let them be a reminder of the lasting fingerprints I can leave behind and of the gracious God that chooses each day to use me.