Sunday, May 13, 2012

Who am I, and who is my family Lord, that You have brought us this far?

August 20th, 2004 is the day I became a mom.  I never aspired to be a mom. Getting married or being a mom would take away from my time with the Lord, I thought, so I really didn’t care about either of the two.  Yet there is nothing like getting in a singles ministry and seeing other girls in full blown crisis mode over the need to get married that will awaken your senses to your own urgency that you didn’t even know you had…to be married.  At times it seemed an all consuming fire to the people around me.  They needed to get married and then of course I thought I did too.  I guess I thought I would get married someday but I was certainly not one of those girls who had her whole wedding planned out as a child.  None of that nonsense for me, I thought!  Maybe it was because I came from a broken home and a dad that needs his own reality show called “15 kids and I lost count”.  Nevertheless, God had a plan for me whether “the Bobster” as I refer to him, was in my life or not.  Marriage was never a pretty picture to me.  As far as examples go the ones I saw made me decide that I really didn’t want to put myself through that. 

Thankfully, I know in my bone and marrow that the Lord is my Father.  It’s not just words on a page to me.  I learned truly that if I was forsaken by the people who should be expected to love me the most that the Lord would never do such a thing.  Tonight I was in the store with Morgan and a scripture from Psalm 91 caught my eye.  I took Morgans sweet little face, stooped down low (not too low as she is catching up with me on height) and recited that passage to her from the well of my soul.  It has meant so much to me.  I stood for a moment and told Morgan about how faithful He has been to me and that even when life has been like really hard the Lord has been hemming me in and leading me on and wooing me closer to His heart.  I began to have a knot well up in my throat and tears began to fall down my face.  I couldn’t even stop it nor blame it on “that time of the month” since I don’t have one of those any more. 

Psalm 27:10 (NIV1984)

10 Though my father and mother forsake me,
the Lord will receive me.

Even during great times of oppression from the enemy, I can speak out one of the psalms of ascents that even if I have been greatly oppressed from my youth , the enemy has not gained the victory over me.  At times I have literally felt that I was in the black dirt and the enemy was plowing over me with intentions of crushing me or making me think nothing would ever grow from what was plowed over…yet through any kind of trenches left in my soul or impressed on my heart or mind, the Lord has allowed my tears and prayers to become seed that was planted and has produced a harvest so that maybe perhaps many will see and hear and put their hope in God.  He is about His children flourishing in their soul whether in a season of trial or maybe a season of rest.  There is purpose in our pain and loss.  Not only has He cut me free from the cords of the wicked, He has made it to where I will not settle for my own children to have to live and see some weak willed woman exist as a victim of circumstance her whole life (what a waste!), because of the Lord and what He has been to me I am anything but weak willed and Lord willing, I want to stay that way.  I praise Him because of His grace that the enemy hasn’t won!

Psalm 129:2-4

New International Version 1984 (NIV1984)

2 they have greatly oppressed me from my youth,
but they have not gained the victory over me.
3 Plowmen have plowed my back
and made their furrows long.
4 But the Lord is righteous;
he has cut me free from the cords of the wicked.

So, I get married and then one morning was praying about having children and again since I decided I wasn’t cut out for it I prayed and was ready for whatever answer the Lord had for me.  I will never forget walking in the bathroom and exclaiming to Rod that I had prayed about the matter and the Lord answered me with the following verse that I had to lookup in that particular homework I was doing:

Isaiah 54:1
[ The Future Glory of Zion ] “Sing, O barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband,” says the LORD.

That was that…I was to have spiritual offspring through teaching and discipling and no biological kids of my own.  Of course Rod brushed it off as he continued to get ready for work.  One thing about me is that there was NO way I could ever picture the scenario in my mind so that must have meant it wasn’t going to be a part of my life.  The thing is the Lord doesn’t give us grace for things that we are not even living out.  We also are still called to walk by faith, not sight, nor feelings. 

I kid you not, a couple of days later I found out I was pregnant.  Like all three times when I found out I was pregnant, I fell to the floor and wailed before the Lord and told Him there was NO WAY I could be a mom!  No way!  Then, as soon as I called and told Rod he quickly and sarcastically reminded me of the “so called word” I had from the Lord as he chuckled.  I had some really hard pregnancies and many of you know that my sweet Shelby Hope is in heaven.  I became a mom the day she was born and the day she died.  I remember the panic when hearing the news that she was not going to live.  Then, holding my child only to release her to the One she belonged to anyway.  I was a steward of her for such a short time, yet it was too my Fathers glory that her life be what it was and every day was written in His book before one day came to pass.  I then began to beg the Lord to not let Isaiah 54:1 hold true for me. 

June 24th, 2005 and 11:38 pm the Lord brought Morgan in this world and praise Him, I was a mom again.  Words can’t describe what it felt like when they put her on my chest.  If I could recreate the moment I would but the Lord allowed feelings to be invoked in me that I didn’t even know I was capable of.  I was smitten to put it lightly and drunk on love for that baby girl.  The Lord has continued to use her life to show me that as much as I love her on a good day, I can’t even fathom a drop in the bucket of His love that surpasses knowledge…for me.  Me.  It’s so humbling.  I also began to feel sorry for some people that I know that never were able to show their children that they were loved.  They are so handicapped in their heart that they just don’t have it to give.  Also, love comes from God and we love because He first loved us…yet if we are not seeking to abide in Him we really have nothing to give to anyone that’s authentic and flowing from His Holy Spirit.  I then knew what it meant that I was the apple of Gods eye because that baby girl sure was and is the apple of my eye.  Whoever touches her is touching the apple of my eye.  Just like several episodes where other kids have been ugly to her (and I’m not saying she is all innocent and never been ugly) I have wanted to snatch them bald headed!  No lie!  The other day even I witnessed how rude little girls can be but it was being dished out to my baby…and I never knew how bad I might want to hate a 7yr old (but only for a minute…wink wink).  I don’t really hate…but I walked out of her school talking outloud to the Lord, thanking Him that part of the work of the Holy Spirit is to restrain and had I not had Him dwelling with me, I would have been on the 10 O’clock news for beating up a 7 year old!  LOL.  I’m kind of kidding.

So, again I never imagined being able to love another child like I do Morgan until July 28th 2011…my baby man child came into this world!  He was as stubborn as can be about getting here and was all about causing trouble.  Of course I asked the Lord over and over what I was going to do with a man child?  Me, the mom of a boy?  How in the world?  His daddy is VERY independent so I was scared from the day I found out about the little mister that he was going to come out being independent of his momma.  He came in this world with some mean little expressions and that boy is as sweet as can be when he gets up in the morning, and when he is around “the ladies”…

He loves his mommy but he is indeed polar opposite from Morgan.  And he has a tude.  No doubt about it!  Yet I am so overtaken with love for him.  I only wish he would quit trying to over achieve and stay a blasted baby for me!  He thinks he is SO big. 

Being a mom has definitely had its challenges.  I can’t tell you how needy I am for Jesus because I really realize in my parenting that apart from Him, I can do nothing.  I’m seeking the Lord over here and trying to live this life out before them the best I can and praying like crazy that they would embrace Christ for themselves and see that He is not just a number on a list of priorities, but that He will be their life and the length of their days, because that is what He is for me. 

I fall SO short, but oh I am so thankful to get to do life with those two.  I kid you not when I told you earlier that I was afraid that marriage and kids would take away from my time with the Lord.  I don’t get to spend as much time as I once did when it was just me and Jesus but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  I have come to know Him more intimately because of them.  There are so many days I am racked with guilt or conviction for being snappy with Morgan that day…I have even been known to wake her up and apologize and she is so gracious. 

Yet my heart does ache for those that want to be a mom, and for whatever reason they aren’t.  Or for those who may have a mom but she’s never been a mom to you.  Or for others whose mom is no longer living…

I pray that the Lord would give you your hearts desires and fill up the places that lack.  I pray that you would come to know Him as El Roi, the God who sees you in your barren land and may He meet with you in that place and provide a well of living water when you feel like you are about to die of thirst in this world that we live in (which is so bent on keeping us discontented).  If your answer doesn’t come in the form you wish it did, I pray that you would have such spiritual offspring that your heart is so full and the people too numerous to count. 

Loving your kids is risky since we don’t know what tomorrow holds, yet what a waste to self-protect and live in fear when we can know the Lord more by loving them heart wide open?

So, today I am thankful for all that they have taught me and how I have learned of the goodness and unconditional love of the Lord because of their sweet lives.

Morgan and Blair, I pray that you will look past mommy’s short-comings and failures and see Jesus the One I so desperately want you to give your life to.  He is so worthy of all of you.  There is no better place to be.  And to my precious Morgan, you are already so much more than your mom has ever been.  Your heart is so tender and sensitive to the Lord.  I pray that when you hear His voice, that like the boy Samuel you would reply, “Here I am Lord!”  Morgan, what I would give to know Him like you do already when I was your age.  I pray you never take your faith for granted and that you take hold of it for yourself…and I pray that for both of you.  The love I have for y’all is something I never knew I was even capable of.  You’ll never know what you mean to me.  But maybe some day you will get a glimpse for yourself. 

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Sunday, May 6, 2012

Up On A Rooftop...splish-ity splish! (How NOT to guard your heart)

2 Samuel 11

Don't you know David probably got to glory and was like Lord, why do you have to use me as an example so much to everyone.  I'm sure he is glad since his faith was made sight, that if his life would still speak to us and perhaps snatch no small few people from the flames of some of the fire they might light the match to in their own life.  So, I'm sure he was good with that!  If there is anyone in the Old Testament that I can relate to it is the man David.  The son of Jesse (whose name means son of man) so just as Jesus is so often referred to the Son of David and the son of man, David was technically the "son of man too".  As hard as I try I can't write something short but I will give it a whirl and if it turns out that I am not so long winded then good!

David was a man of great passion.  He literally went on the heights with the Lord and also ascended unto the depths of sin in his personal life.  The reason why I love him so is that he penned so many of the psalms.  He was a psalter indeed and I relate to him when he just gushes out his heart the best he knows how to articulate it to the Lord.  I'd love to go so many places with this post but instead I am going to stick to the point.

I am a thinker and also a very visual type learner.  When I read a passage I want to mull over it and even try to picture it in my head.  Well, so often I see David depicted as some pale white skinny dude with curly hair.  I'm not sure if those depictions came out of the Renaissance period or what but to me they are very inaccurate.  Here are some vivid descriptions of our main man real quick:


1 Samuel 16:12 (NIV1984)

12 So he sent and had him brought in. He was ruddy, with a fine appearance and handsome features.
Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; he is the one.”

The NET version (which is spot on by the way) says, "So Jesse had him brought in.  Now he was ruddy, with attractive eyes and a handsome appearance." 

I've  heard so many people try to explain the word "ruddy" but to me it just means he had a tan.  Maybe even a sunburn because I seriously doubt he was going to go to the local drug store and get some sunscreen. 

1 Samuel 16:21 (NIV1984)

21 David came to Saul and entered his service. Saul liked him very much, and David became one of his armor-bearers.

He is also described as a warrior and a man who could play the lyre with his hands.  If we had time to detour I would but our David was sent to play the lyre for king Saul (the king that the people had chosen).  At this point David had already been anointed by Samuel as the next king of the people of Israel.  God had rejected Saul because his heart was not loyal to him and chosen a king for Himself.  A king that we can trace Christ's earthly lineage to. 

This was not some weakling we are talking about.  To me I'd have to say he was hott!  Great eyes, tan complexion, I'm sure a very fit and chiseled frame.  A smelly dude that tended to sheep and did a lot of walking and tending.  I love that the Lord always chooses the least likely but that David was a shepherd and Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd.  David was the youngest so of course his dad had him out taking care of the sheep.  It was a lowly job.  Why would he even think Samuel would anoint his baby boy, the youngest.  I love that God went out of His way in His providence to have Samuel pass by all of his brothers with none to anoint as king.  I LOVE that God clearly had a call on Davids life and that He pursued Him while He was going about his work of shepherding.  Gods plans and calling are irrevocable.  It's amazing to me.  Everyone had to wait while David was summoned from the sheep fold.  That encourages me so much whenever I start thinking that I've missed my calling or I may need to help God out a bit by manipulation.  Nope, not the case here.  I wonder if David ever felt like he didn't matter much.  I wonder if he looked up at the heavenlies and asked the Lord, "is this it?"  Is this what I was made for, or is there something greater?  I'm not talking about status or position but a desire that your life would matter a hill of beans.  I wonder if he wrestled those things out under the stars.  God sought after this man with a heart like His.  So, Saul is rejected and yet he is still on the throne.  I'm telling you one thing just like Moses says in Exodus 33 and my condensed version: "Lord, if Your presence doesn't go with me then I don't want to go! period!" 
I have people tell me I am too hard on myself in my relationship with the Lord.  The thing is after almost 15 years of time spent in the word, I CRAVE His presence.  I am not who I need to be without abiding in His word.  Its not just about a chore, a discipline yes...but truly whom have I in heaven but Him really?  Earth has nothing I desire besides Him.  My heart and my flesh are indeed going to fail me...but He isn't.  I can't stay in the Spirit without time spent with Him.  Sure there are days I don't feel like it but He is my reason for living.  I love my kids but they don't fill the need in my soul for Christ and His presence.

So, Saul is rejected and has an evil spirit torment him and someone suggests that he have music played to soothe his soul.  I love music, I really only listen to Christian music but it is so powerful and moves me.  It also comforts me and soothes my soul when things seem to be awry.  So, someones mind gets jogged in Sauls service (sounds sort of like Joseph when he is FINALLY called forth to interpret the kings dream) and David gets summoned to the palace to play for the king.  Don't you know he knew there was a calling and was told he was supposed to be king...but I am sure he wondered how in the world he would get to the place that the prophet of the Lord had anointed him for.  That's the same with me at times.  I feel a certain call but I just don't know how I will get there.  I just have to trust in His sovereignty and continue to walk with Him in the day to day living.

So, press fast forward on the parts we didn't have time to go into.  Lets jump straight to 2 Samuel 11.  We see that David is king and that he is in Jerusalem in the Spring (when most battle took place because the conditions for fighting weren't as if battle isn't ever tough!) So, he stays back instead of doing what he was supposed to be doing.  Somewhere along the way, he bought his own press.  He was at a lofty position  and at this point he probably didn't have much accountability.  I really think that's where we see a lot of moral failure come to play in leadership.  You start to feel above reproach and at times you can become deceived and lose any sense of accountability because after all, you are supposed to set an example.  People are supposed to be able to follow you as you follow Christ.  So, with my speculation I'm just saying David was on a slippery slope and he seems a little bored.

I want to talk about Bathsheba now.  Women are very smart.  I have heard people say so many times, "Oh if those women only knew how they were causing men to lust by the way they dress..."  Well, the thing is they do!  Women have power and they know at times how to wield it.  One thing I want to note about her based on her husband is that I think she was lonely and wanted to feel something anything, she may have been desperate for some passion but she was no dummy.  EVERYONE in Jerusalem and I do mean EVERYONE would have known that David stayed home.  Just like I'm sure as can be that Bathsheba was no innocent bystander.  She knew full well that the king had a good view of the top of the roof she was going to bathe on.  We can clearly site several inferences to the fact that her husband Uriah the Hittite, took his job pretty serious.  To me it would seem that he only cared about his job.  Nothing new from today's workaholic.  No doubt Bathsheba loved her husband but here she is again, alone, with the stark reminder I'm sure that she wasn't wanted.  Maybe somewhere along the way her and her husband had "lost that loving feeling" or maybe it was never there to start with. Even when Uriah was able to go sleep with her, he chose to lay on the floor at the palace instead of going home to have pleasure with his wife.  This is where I am getting into the part about the need to guard our hearts.  So, let's pick back up shall we. 

2 One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “Isn’t this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” 4Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (She had purified herself from her uncleanness.) Then she went back home. 5 The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, “I am pregnant.”

Bathsheba is up on the roof top just a bathing.  Yes, she needed to cleanse herself meaning she had just finished her monthly cycle.  I wonder if she waited and watched to get a glimpse of the king.  I wonder if she imagined herself on his arm.  Someone who had authority, and someone with looks.  There is something women like about a man in power and to a desperate woman it can be a dangerous thing.  How many times have we heard the phrase, "I like a man in uniform"?  This is all speculation but I wonder if she saw him and then ran out to bathe?  The NET version says that Bathsheba was, "very attractive".  So, did she wrestle with her marriage commitment or did she have any secret wars going on in her mind for this king?  It's still me thinking out loud but home girl knew what she was doing.  The enemy is all about seduction and I'm sure she thought because of her beauty that if her husband neglected her then she could find someone that wouldn't. 
WE HAVE GOT TO GUARD OUR HEARTS HERE.  The enemy will kiss you on the cheek and make you think you deserve better, but God's plans were always for one man and one woman until death do they part.  Yet was she desperate to feel wanted and alive or not?

Lets try to hypothetically pick Davids brain for a minute.  He had been sleeping, he didn't go to war and he is just walking out on the rooftop.  Somewhere along the way had his heart grown away from following after the Lord?  I pose that question because times of prosperity have a way of getting to you and allowing you to not have that sense of urgency for God maybe like he had before he took the throne and was constantly on the run from the enemy.  Did he start to coast in his relationship and compromise here and there so much so that he felt entitled to whatever he wanted because after all...he was king.  Suffering and hardship have such a way of purifying our hearts if we let it have its way.  So many times in my life I have had to literally sleep with my bible impressed upon my chest and for no other reason then I just wanted to hold close what is so precious and the closest thing I have to knowing my Lord since after all Jesus was the word made flesh.  So in the dailiness and in all of the things he had to do life was no longer as simple as the days of tending to sheep. 

Instead of stopping and returning to the place where he started to get off track with the Lord, he inquired about Bathsheba and then sent for her.  I'm not a man and can't understand them but he wanted to feel something too because maybe being the king wasn't really all it was chalked up to be.  

He's hott.  She's attractive.  He feels empowered that he could just send for her and then she would come.  She could have said no and she didn't.  She was a willing participant.    They sleep together (at a time when women are very fertile) and she is clearly sent back home and I wonder if he had anything to do with her past those few moments of passion? Or did she use her power only to be used by one in power and then was she tossed aside as if she were just an object of lust and nothing more once he was done with her?  I don't know the exchange that took place but from this passage of scripture I think there is a word to those who are in Christ.  

1.  True lovers of God are capable of all manner of sin!
2.  David needed accountability.  At some point maybe he quit humbling himself.  Maybe he quit reading over the scrolls of Gods word.   As we see in Joshua 1, He could have still been in the word but maybe he was not careful to do what it says.  It's so easy to know and not do.  To be a hearer only or maybe for a time he neglected His word.  It's a dangerous place to be.
3.  If Bathsheba was feeling all of the things I thought up maybe along the way she felt unloved and rejected and decided that she deserved to be happy or wanted.  She may have justified her behavior by what her husband did or didn't do for her.  How many times is that the case with an affair?  You justify your behavior based on your spouses?  First off, marriage does not solve a purity problem.  We need whole hearts before the Lord.  You can't live in all out immorality and then expect that you will calm that monster down once you get married.  Especially when you have already been eating the forbidden fruit.
4.  Bathsheba needed to turn to the Lord instead of learning the hard way that in stepping outside of Gods boundary lines we will ultimately wreak havoc on ourselves.  Sin promises much and delivers little.
5.  Let God be the watchman on the wall of your heart.  As much as she maybe wanted to be loyal to Uriah, maybe in her loneliness she tried not to feel and decided to harden her own heart in efforts to guard herself from allowing Uriah to hurt her.  Guarding your own heart without God being the watchman on the wall...ALWAYS leads to bitterness.  It's like a defense mechanism to self-protect because just maybe you felt like you tried it Gods way and He didn't come through in the way you thought He should.  Bitterness is a root that springs up and defiles many. 
6.  We can not nurse a grudge if that were her situation.  I'm not saying it was.  If you nurse a grudge and continue to feed it it's going to grow until you feel like you may even hate your spouse for good reason.  Then, a sense of entitlement deceives your heart and mind.

Then, as the rest unfolds, her husband is murdered, she has a child and the child dies...Can you even imagine the self-loathing she must have felt?  Can you even imagine the regret and the what-ifs?  I'm sure they never imagined that it would get that out of hand...and they suffered enormously. 

Yet glory to God in the New Testament God called David a man after His own heart.  Even after the adultery and murder God saw his heart and he left word for us that David was no impostor...He was a man after the heart of God.  Yet in that segment of his life he experienced moral failure and bone deep anxiety and consequences.  The enemy is out to steal, kill, and destroy.  Let's be on to Him.  He wants us to profane the name of our God.  Don't let him bait you and ensnare you but sister or brother if you are in that place...start crying out!  Lift up your hands in that pit you are sinking in.  The one with all of the mud and mire and allow Him to come lift you up out of it because you can't get out on your own.  Just like He sacrificed an animal and clothed Adam and Eve in their shame...He was the atonement for your sin and mine.  Not that there aren't consequences but there is such thing as full redemption.  Let Him restore You and then turn back and be a bull horn for others that might be headed down that same slope into the pit.  His mercy truly triumphs judgment.  You are who He says you are no matter how you feel.  That could mean that you preach to yourself when you are tempted that you are a temple of the living God and called and set apart for His purposes...or getting back on those feet, strengthening those legs and weak knees and living out the rest of your days with a heart fully committed to Him.  If You O LORD kept a record of sins, O Lord who could stand?  But with You there is forgiveness therefore You are feared!  Wait for the Lord and in His word...put your hope.  There isn't a time that you bank on the Lord that He won't eventually deliver when it's in His will and nature to do so!
THERE ARE NONE LIKE HIM.  I know no God like Him...No! Not One!

Joshua 1:7-9(NIV1984)

7 Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

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