Archive for January, 2016

Two Brothers + An Over-told Story That Taught Me a New Lesson Pt. 1

January 27th, 2016

Wo! I just read Exodus 31-33ish and it was some stuff that blew my mind! Before diving in I want to note that many of these thoughts are from reading the scripture as well as Matthew Henry’s commentary…so many of these thoughts are paraphrased as my understanding from some of his writings as well as […]

 

Wo! I just read Exodus 31-33ish and it was some stuff that blew my mind! Before diving in I want to note that many of these thoughts are from reading the scripture as well as Matthew Henry’s commentary…so many of these thoughts are paraphrased as my understanding from some of his writings as well as scripture.

In these chapters, God was specifically telling Moses about the very special and honorable and high calling He had for his brother Aaron. Aaron was to be set apart as a high priest and all his sons after him were to have this calling. What a calling on someone’s life! But wow the sequence of events to follow. This first of three posts will summarize the sequence of events and insights gleaned from it.

A little back story is that Aaron had just encountered multiple amazing, undeniable God experiences. As Moses’s brother and right hand man, he literally was used by God to do many of the signs and wonders with his own hands and staff before Egypt – the events that led to Pharaoh letting them leave (Exodus 7). It was Aaron’s staff – not Moses’s – whose staff became a serpent before Pharaoh and swallowed the magicians’ and sorcerers’ serpents up. It was Aaron’s outstretched arms who turned the waters of Egypt to blood, his hands stretched out and brought the plague of frogs and then brought the plague of gnats. He’d just seen God use him to perform miracles, to send plagues against Egypt while also distinctively preserving and sparing the people of Israel, and he’d seen God provide miraculous deliverance leading them with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (Exodus 13), parting the sea (Exodus 14), creating drinkable water out of a rock and providing food in the wilderness (Exodus 17). He also was one of the two holding Moses’s arms up to God and witnessed God’s intervention that led to battle victory over the Amalekites (Exodus 17). And as if that weren’t enough evidence to authenticate God’s existence and power, the entire people of Israel just watched a mountain shake as they audibly heard God speak and call Moses up to the mountain.

So flash forward to the mountain top experience for Moses. While much of the talk would be about the law and instruction regarding the tabernacle, a substantial portion of the conversation concluding Moses’s time up there was about Aaron and how God has a high, specific, and purposeful calling on his life. But meanwhile, the people forgot God and assumed that Moses was gone, so they cried out for Aaron to make a god for them. I should know this story inside and out but was actually surprised at Aaron’s role in the horrible decisions that followed. Did Aaron remind them of God? Did he rebuke them or stutter in his answer? No! The Bible simply records a very willing and participating Aaron who actually led the charge on creating and worshipping the golden calf.

How could someone with such an incredible assurance of God in his life, such previous experience of His goodness and faithfulness, turn so quickly and do something so opposite? So against God? Have you ever found yourself in Aaron’s shoes? Where you have experienced God in a powerful, personal, undeniable way in your life and then found yourself doing the unthinkable? In her book  Arm Yourself Against the Enemy’s Schemes: A Taste of When Godly People Do Ungodly Things, Beth Moore suggests that actually after a personal failure or a spiritual victory is often when we are incredibly vulnerable to fall to an attack of the enemy. So, this is not as surprising as it seems when we know how Satan can attack us… but to the one caught in the schemes and finding themselves in a situation against everything they once stood for, it can totally catch you off guard. If this has never been you, perhaps you have you been like Moses and known an Aaron or an Israelite in your life who has seen or possibly experienced God but chose to chase after other things. I think of a few things about this in particular about Moses and Aaron –

1.) Moses knew of Aaron’s calling, Aaron did not yet know God had this awesome continued plan for Him. Moses was enraged to say the least to learn what was going on when he got back. As a bystander, it can be heartbreaking and enraging to be so sure that God has great things in store for someone you love, they hold so much potential, and then you look and they are drowning in ungodly strongholds.

It can be so heartbreaking and frustrating (especially if their struggles affect you personally) to say the least to come off a mountain top experience with God like Moses and realize how broken the world is. From an experience of everything good, true and right to everything corrupt, twisted and provoking. In much of how Moses responds (some right ways some wrong ways), we see that – as a light for Christ and thus ministers to those we love and influence – our role is to help “expose the greatness of sin”. We can only help reveal the wickedness, but we are helpless to fix it for anyone. The truth we hold  can only help expose, but it cannot fix the situation. Similarly, the Ten Commandments and the law of Moses cannot make us righteous…it can only make us knowledgeable of our sin, but the laws will never cure anyone of sin. The cure for sin is only found in the atonement and acceptance of the mercy and grace of Jesus Christ. (Matt Henry)

2.) Aaron had not yet known God had a high and purposeful calling on his life for his future, BUT he had seen God use him and work in his life. And as the one in the middle of the struggle, sometimes we don’t know of what God has planned and we lack vision for ourselves and do not seek God with all our hearts which leads to abundant opportunities for temptation. Where there is no vision, the people perish (Prov. 29:18). Aaron could have and should have, – and if he would – have stood firm in what He already knew and experienced of and with God, and fled temptation and sought God with all his heart, he most likely would not have gotten lured or wrapped up in something so far off from what God wanted for him. Not to mention his actions led and encouraged many others to go astray.

So here they are – Moses frustrated and enraged, and Aaron leading a charge against everything he’d just witnessed. What’s a brother to do? We’ll look at their responses and some powerful insight on each brother’s situation in the next post.

breaker

And My Shame is Undone.

January 13th, 2016

I started this week off fully aware of my weaknesses in the current roles God has placed me in and determined to fix.them.once.and.for.ALL. They all boil down to getting my act(s) together. Ever feel like you need to do that? I am totally aware of the fact that many women have a lot more on […]

 

I started this week off fully aware of my weaknesses in the current roles God has placed me in and determined to fix.them.once.and.for.ALL. They all boil down to getting my act(s) together. Ever feel like you need to do that? I am totally aware of the fact that many women have a lot more on their plate than I do, but nevertheless the perfectionist in me is still more than unpleased with being less than excellent in my roles and responsibilities.

  • As a wife, I want to know what I am making for meals ahead of time rather than repeating meals out of lack of time to get creative and standing at my fridge with last minute grocery needs. I want the meals to be delicious and healthy. I want my house cleaning to find a consistent medium rather than spic-and-span to it-looks-like-we-threw-a-party. I want to be amazing at serving my husband since he works so hard selflessly serving me.
  • As a serving hand, I want to be helpful and reliable in any roles I have in ministry and in my role as an FRG co-leader.
  • As a friend I want to do my part to love and connect and fill gaps in communication that are my fault.
  • As a photographer, I want to get back  to focussing on and enjoying my passion photography and serving and blessing my clients.
  • And generally, I want to be ahead of my schedule rather than feeling like I am always running to try and catch up. I need time-management and organizational improvement. That should do it for my 2016 goals if I had any! 😉

I have begun reading about realistic organizing and scheduling for women with important but fluid and flexible and ever changing time blocks of availability. I am beginning this journey to improve these things and was feeling accomplished the night before last when I had succeeded in making meals ahead for much of our busy week. Bryan had liked them, was impressed with the change in my norm, and told me he felt like a king. THAT is how I want to treat my husband and I was so encouraged to love and serve him better like that! But it never fails that, because I am still a work in progress, I will always inevitably rest my head at the end of a busy day seeing things that fell through the cracks. I didn’t message her back. I should have prepared more for this. I should have made time to be there for that. I totally forgot about this…how could I forget?!?!

Yesterday, for just a tiny example, I woke up early to spend time with the Lord and prep everything for my day according to my new to-do list. Bags for lunches, ministry items, items to bring over to friends, ingredients for food for our FRG meeting and a photo collage to show-off our troop activities to encourage family involvement, my purse to pay for things, and makeup to put on on-the-go. I made a trek to our post with everything I had noted I needed to bring so that I wouldn’t have to drive an extra hour home and back for anything. I ushered in all of the items I needed to bring to our chapel’s women’s ministry for the day…and soon realized I totally forgot something essential. One of the roles I volunteered recently for was to photograph events for this ministry, and with another separate responsibility in mind, I completely forgot my camera. Like it didn’t even make it onto that list I was so sure was going to make me fool-proof. I swallowed a healthy dose of humility when I informed our ministry leader and received her sweet extension of grace and understanding for my mishap. Inside though I hated feeling like no matter what I tried, I couldn’t seem to avoid screwing something up. I slapped a smile on my face – which stayed there once surrounded by so many fun witty and loving girls in our community. But I couldn’t shake feeling discouraged, disappointed in myself and just aggravated.

It wasn’t until being in the middle of worship at the end of this program that God would prick my heart. Singing a beautiful song, we got to a verse that says:

Where my heart becomes free and my shame is undone
[in] Your presence, Lord

Y’all. I felt tears just roll on down and struggled to sing the words. The Lord was revealing to me something in my heart I needed to bring to Him. My Shame. I new somewhere along the lines I was believing lies that were resulting into inward shame, and I knew that was not what I as a believer in Christ should be continuing in. But I felt stuck.

There wasn’t a moment of time to myself the rest of the day, so this morning it was still on my heart. I began to search for Biblical wisdom and insight and found a really really well-written extensive article on shame in the heart of people. It defines Shame as:

SHAME: the painful emotion caused by a consciousness of guilt or shortcoming or impropriety.

The part that resonated most with me was that there is well-placed shame (or I like to think of it as conviction and a lack of peace) which is the result of doing something or saying something or believing something that dishonors God, and  there is a shame that is misplaced. I knew nothing in my heart sought to intentionally dishonor God in my current actions, and that none of the things that actually made me ashamed were in themselves dishonoring to God. Thus I was dealing with what I had already presumed that morning prior in worship – that I was believing a lie and experiencing misplaced shame. Shame that I had no business feeling, but that brought about conviction on some things that I did in fact need revealed to me so that I could confess and seek God’s grace and forgiveness and redemption for (so my misplaced shame exposed a root of well-placed shame…something I was not living according to God’s truth thus not honoring Him). The article, along with scripture, hit the nail on the head for me –

“much of what makes us feel shame is not that we have brought dishonor to God by our actions, but that we have failed to give the appearance that other people admire….Much of our shame is not God-centered but self-centered. Until we get a handle on this, we will not be able to battle the problem of shame at its root….So in the very act of wanting to avoid shame as the world sees it, they (talking about the people of Corinth but I might as well replace they with I) fell into the very behavior that God counts shameful.”

With so much of this in mind and a clear identification of where my thinking and heart have ventured off the path of God’s truth, I knew what I needed to bring before the throne. If you are experiencing shame of any kind, I highly recommend reading scripture, checking out this article, and praying about it. This is my prayer (below)…and I share it in case it can be one we pray together if you find yourself in a similar situation!

     Lord, I have bought my accuser – the enemy’s – lies. I have shamed myself wrongly and in doing so I did not see the root of my sin which is the vanity of wanting to please or be acceptable to others, the pride of wanting to be perfect (which is a pointless pursuit), and the selfishness of wanting others to think I have it all together. But what glory does it bring You, Father, if I lose sight of my need for You and my depravity apart from You and without Your grace, strength, and ability to be exalted in my weaknesses? 

     Culture says to cover your weaknesses and put up the best front. To seek success, recognition, comfort and/or power. Your Word says to rather boast about our weaknesses and not in our abilities but in You alone. 

     Thank You Lord for not letting my efforts to appear perfect prevail. Thank You for reminding me of my weaknesses (daily) and need of Your sufficient grace and strength and power, that I may not continue to buy lies or pat myself on the back, but instead look up to You, smile, and Praise Your Sweet, Tender, Mighty, Name. 

     Forgive me, Father, for getting this wrong lately. Lord, redeem me back to where my heart needs to be and help me guard my heart and mind from this continually. Thank You for Your Truth, for revealing it to me in the midst of my struggling with lies and for bringing me back to the path walking in Your Truth. I know my weak areas well Lord. You have allowed me to recognize them plainly and publicly that I might not cover (despite my best efforts) or ignore my need for You to work in me and through them. 

     Help me submit and be obedient to You to work in them each step of the way, and may I keep a humble heart having godly humility, selflessly only looking to You, and seeking to honor and glorify You King Jesus!

In Your Name, Amen. 

“God is the giver, and we are the receivers. His richest gifts are bestowed not upon those who do the greatest things, but upon those who accept His abundance and His grace.”

– Hannah Whitall Smith

 

I believe this needs to be a constant reminder in our lives, and I pray we never settle for living in shame! He has come to redeem us, to bring us abundant life and the richest form of freedom. May we not miss out on what He offers us!

shame undone