The Breath of God

There are several accounts in scripture of God’s breath bringing life. The word for ‘breath’, ‘wind’ and ‘spirit’ are the same in the Old Testament, ruach and pneuma in the New.

It began in the garden, when God created Adam:

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Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. Genesis 2:7

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:26-27

God’s breath is what sets you apart from all of creation – you are a reflection of His image, whether male or female. It’s what gives you an eternal soul, the ability to reason, the desire for order, love, and freewill to choose. Animals don’t carry the same characteristics. They are God’s creation, but they don’t carry God’s image in their DNA, bestowed through this divine breath. Don’t ever let someone tell you, you came from animals – it’s impossible! You have been given life and set apart by the very breath of the living God!

If we fast forward to Pentecost where we see God’s breath again, falling on a room full of disciples as tongues of fire.

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.

Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Acts 2:1-4

We see man being filled with God’s glory once again in the form of the Holy Spirit. That which had been lost in the garden during the fall was restored. We have the ability once again to be filled with God’s presence!

But we aren’t left with just the Spirit alone, as we see God’s breath again.
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 1 Timothy 3:16-17

This breath gives us the Word of life! “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12

The Bible is the only book ever written that is living – it’s alive and always active. You could study it for the entirety of your life without mining all its treasure. But the precious jewels you do find will be yours into all of eternity. How deep you choose to dig and mine is for you to decide.

It’s the only book that can be used as a holy and spiritual weapon effectively. Why else do you think the enemy seeks so diligently to keep it out of the hands of God’s beloved? Why does he seek to stop up our ears and blind our eyes to its treasures? Perhaps it could be because it’s the weapon God has given us to knock him down.

The Bible is also a precise surgical scalpel, ‘dividing soul and spirit’ (Heb 4:12). It divides and reveals that which comes from our own soul and the power of His Spirit. We can do many good things in our own strength and soul power, but the things that will be eternal come from the power of His Spirit. The Bible helps us to distinguish the two.

And there is another breath of God to come:
“And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.” I Thess 2:8

This one gets me the most excited. Picture it with me, Jesus returning triumphantly from heaven on His white horse and overthrowing satan with a mere breath and ultimately destroying him by the glory of His splendor. God’s breath, the very breath that lives in us, has the power to overthrow the wiles of the enemy.

God’s breath gave us life, it gives us His power upon salvation, offers us a living guide book and weapon, and ultimately the power to overcome our adversary. Ah, saint, rest in the power of God’s breath today.

“Lord, it’s Your breath in our lungs, so we pour out our praise to You only!” Great are You Lord, by All sons and Daughters

 

Unveiled Faces

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“Now it was so, when Moses came down from Mount Sinai, that he did not know that the skin of his face shone while he talked with God. So when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him.” Exodus 34:29-30

Being in the presence of God caused Mose’s face to shine with a light that was not of this world. It was evidence of his time basking in the Lord’s light and glory. “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Cor 3:18).

Just as the moon reflects the light of the sun, so are we to shine light into this dark world. The moon only shines when it sees the face of the sun, but goes dark when it’s eclipsed by the earth. How often does my light go out when I allow the world to come between myself and Jesus? I allow flickering screens, jealousies, riches, and selfish gains to eclipse the Son. To the degree I allow the world to eclipse my heart and draw me from the Son, is the degree to which I will shine: full moon, half, crescent. Moses glowed as a result of his time with God, not just his knowledge of who God is. He took the steps of faith to climb the mountain and spend time there, dwelling in God’s presence, seeking His face and glory.

We are to be a reflection of the light of the Son, but how can we do that unless we’ve been transformed by Him first? The light we reflect is to be one of testimony to a dying world, just as John the Baptist “came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.“ Are we seeking to be a light by our own efforts and works, or by the transformation of time dwelt with Jesus? John had been transformed by his time in the wilderness, feeding off the Word of God. The light always testifies to Jesus and the truth of His Word, not man’s ability or bright ideas.

“Moses took his tent and pitched it outside the camp, far from the camp, and called it the tabernacle of meeting. And it came to pass [that] everyone who sought the LORD went out to the tabernacle of meeting which [was] outside the camp.”

“Now Moses used to take a tent and pitch it outside the camp some distance away, calling it the “tent of meeting.” Anyone inquiring of the LORD would go to the tent of meeting outside the camp. And whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people rose and stood at the entrances to their tents, watching Moses until he entered the tent. As Moses went into the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the entrance, while the LORD spoke with Moses. Whenever the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance to the tent, they all stood and worshiped, each at the entrance to their tent.” Exodus 33:7-10

The tent of meeting was open to all, but only a few dared to approach. The majority stood in the doors of their homes, worshipping from afar, safe from the refining fire of the Lord. Only those willing to lay themselves bare before a holy God dared to join to Moses in God’s transformation and reflective light.

Lord, draw me from the safety of my tent into Your refining presence outside the camp, just as You drew Moses and John to be a testimony to the light, let me become a reflection of Your glory to this dark world.

Easter: A teachable moment

IMG_6862As young parents, my husband and I were torn about how to celebrate Easter with our girls. We knew intrinsically that dying eggs and Easter bunnies had nothing to do with Jesus brutal death and resurrection, but we also held sweet family memories of our own childhood Easter celebrations, mostly surrounding dying eggs and early morning egg hunts. So, what was to be done?

I was determined to find a way to bring the two together, committing my angst before the Lord, when *snap*, it came to me! The Lord showed me how to make Easter one of our most memorable teaching moments. Even as our girls age, they look forward to Easter with glee. This post will be dedicated to sharing how we celebrate Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday.

Friday evening, we set aside for dying eggs. We start with a dozen, representing the twelve disciples. We have a thirteenth egg, whom represents Jesus. We begin in Genesis, talking about how we were sinless in the Garden of Eden, much like a brand new egg, pure white and soft inside. When we chose to eat of the apple, we became hardened by sin, much like a hard boiled egg. This is when we boil our dozen eggs.

However, our sin nature doesn’t stop there. What was the first thing Adam and Eve noticed when they became aware of their sin? That’s right! They covered their nakedness. Much like we do: we cover ourselves with all kinds of colors and activities. This is when we begin the egg dying process, discussing the many ways we cover ourselves. Let the Spirit guide you through this part. Brainstorm verses that talk about the ways we cover ourselves and or how we are impacted by our sinful nature. What is our sin nature? What does it lead to?

We generally attend a Good Friday service at our church, where scripture is read about Jesus brutal death and placement in the tomb. We are left feeling somber, realizing just what He suffered on our behalf. When we return home, we take our thirteenth egg, who represents Jesus, still uncooked and white. Jesus who was without sin, was pure, not hardened by sin, and pure white. We re-read about Jesus death and placement in the tomb. But, just as importantly, we read about Judas’ betrayal in Luke 22:1-53 and compare it to Peter’s denial of Jesus, Luke 22:54-62. What was the difference in their response to their betrayal? We take one of the twelve disciples out of the carton – Judas was no longer with Jesus, leaving eleven (Matt 27:1-10)

We read about the burial of Jesus in Luke 23:50-56. Taking our pure white egg, we wrap it in a white paper towel, placing it gently in our mock tomb. IMG_6863

Shut in by a large bolder, until after the Passover, when the spices for His burial would be prepared.

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Sunday morning, when our girls rise, we have them get dressed and come to the kitchen to gather their spices. We have them roll play Mary Magdalene, Salome, and Mary the Mother of James approaching the tomb with their spices to anoint Jesus body, reading Mark 16:1-8.

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This is what they see when they approach our mock tomb.

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We then read about Jesus appearing to Mary Magdalene in Luke 24:1-12, which leaves us with Peter wondering what happened. The last scripture we read is Matthew 28:1-10, where Jesus tells the women, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” At this point, we send them out on their egg hunt, to find the eleven disciples. “Go and gather them in the upper room! Jesus has risen! Just like He said! Go tell them!”

As they find dyed eggs, they gather them in our ‘upper room’.

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As our girls have aged, we’ve added more to the story – including Jesus appearing to two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35) appearing to the disciples, and ascension (Luke 24:36-53). This can all be adapted to meet your child’s attention span and age.

 

Two Trees

AppleTree_v01The LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground–trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Genesis 2:9

For years, it never dawned on me that there were two trees of significance in the Garden of Eden, but I’ve discovered their equal importance.

After Adam and Eve fell for the serpent’s deception and ate of the tree of knowledge, the Lord said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever” (Gen 3:22). After he drove the man out, He placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life (Gen 3:24).

Knowledge can be a very powerful asset, but left to itself, it leads to death. The tree of knowledge has always been pleasing to the eye and easy to eat. It’s brimming branches hang low, so we can fill ourselves to the degree we desire, with either good or evil. But Jesus came to set us free from ourselves and the original deception: you can rule your own destiny…you have no need to be under God’s authority…God doesn’t really love you since He is denying you. . .be the master of your own ship.

(Jesus) Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness–by whose stripes you were healed. 1 Peter 2:24 NKJV

Jesus, being God Himself, willingly submitted Himself to His Father in heaven. “For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.” (John 6:38)

I can know everything there is to know about Jesus without there being a surrendering of my will to His Lordship in my life, which He demonstrated toward His own Father. I can study the Bible for years and say I believe and yet, I can still be spiritually dead in my soul. As James warns, “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder” (James 2:19). Demons know and believe in Jesus, but that accounts for nothing.

Jesus also warns, “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’
Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Matt 7:22-23).

I can know everything there is to know about the President of the United States. I can watch all his speeches, read his books, study his moves, campaign for him, work in his office, share stories about him with others, but does that mean he knows me personally? If I were to try and approach him in public, what would happen? His secret servant agents would likely whisk me away to a small cell.

On the other hand, what if our families knew each other and we exchanged Christmas cards and spent holidays together? Would I not be able to approach him freely? So it is with Jesus. You may work for Him, attend His churches, read His Words, heal and cast out demons in His name, but does He know you? Have you fully surrendered your will to His? Have you allowed your kingdom to go, so His can come in your heart?

As Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” (Gal 2:20) Paul willingly approached the tree of life, being struck down by the flaming sword of death to self. He identified himself in the death of Jesus, as he said, “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. . . I’ve given Him full access to myself. My life is His.”

The tree of knowledge deceives people into believing they are saved without the need of being struck down by the flaming sword of life. The enemy wants nothing more than to keep us from approaching the tree of life. The lie remains the same, “You can have Jesus without the need to surrender yourself.” However, Jesus makes our need clear in Matthew 16:21-25:

“From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”

Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” The temptation to master His own ship. . ‘you don’t have to lay Yourself down’. . .

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.”

I grew up in church, I could tell you the Bible stories and sought to be good and veer from evil. But, I was no different than the Israelites, “The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.” Isaiah 29:13 The Lord convicted me that I had never fully surrendered myself to Him , I had knowledge, but no life.

“Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” Rev 2:7

I look forward to the day when I’ll be able to eat of the Tree of Life in heaven. Until then, I wear a tree necklace to remind myself to not merely seek knowledge, but life. When I study the Bible, I pray the Lord would reveal to me the LIFE that is to be found. If I’m merely looking for knowledge, then I fear I’ll miss the spiritual life Jesus longs to impart to me.

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Heb 4:12)

What about you? Have you approached the Tree of Life, identifying yourself in Jesus death and resurrection? Have you yielded your will to Him? If not, what is preventing you?

The Threshing Floor

2 Chr 3:1 — Then Solomon began to build the house of the LORD at Jerusalem in mount Moriah, where the Lord appeared unto David his father, in the place that David had
prepared in the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.

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The threshing floor holds deep historic and symbolic truth in the life of the believer. In the Old Testament, King David is seen purchasing a threshing floor – a place of separation and sifting, to offer a burnt sacrifice to the Lord (1 Chr.  21:26). David then said, “This is the house of the LORD God, and this is the altar of the burnt offering for Israel.” (1 Chr. 22:1)

The threshing floor was a place of separation – where the wheat kernel was beat, tossed  in the air for the wind to carry away the chaff. The remaining grain fell sifted to the floor, prepared for use. When David inquired about buying the threshing floor, the owner offered to give the land to David at no cost, but David refused, saying, “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen and paid fifty shekels of silver for them (2 Sam 24:24). As David prophesied, the purchased threshing floor became the site of the Temple Mount, which remains today! David paid full price for the land so that he might offer his full self as a sacrifice to the Lord, and later build a temple where the Israelites could separate themselves in worship. The Bible tells us we are the temple of the Lord today, “. . . For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” 2 Cor 6:16

BUT, being a temple of the Lord also opens us to the threshing floor of sanctification – the two are inseparable, one built upon the other. Once we accept the Lord’s atonement for our sins and welcome Him into our heart, the winnowing fork begins its necessary sifting. Our flesh, the chaff, must be separated from the holiness God is working in us, “But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do” (1 Peter 1:16).

In Luke 22:31-32, Jesus says, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”

“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” 1 Peter 1:6-7

When we choose to become the temple of the Lord, we will face various sifting (1 Peter 4:12). The Lord allows us to be tossed, so the chaff in our lives will break free as we fall on Him refined wheat, prepared for use. What a beautiful picture! The temple must come with threshing – they dwell together, which means they will both be present in my life! May I say with a similar heart to David’s, “How could I seek a life in Christ that costs me nothing? No – after all, did Jesus not lay down His own life for me at the expense of Himself?”

To whom shall we go?!

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In John 6:52-71 we see an interesting account of Jesus teaching the disciples a really hard concept to accept. He was telling them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. . .”
“On hearing it, many of his disciples said, ‘This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?’ The scripture tells us that ‘many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. Jesus turned to His most intimate twelve and asked, ‘You do not want to leave too, do you?’
I love Peter’s heart in this moment, knowing he didn’t understand Jesus teaching he looked beyond his own understanding to the man he knew and His character. He turned and said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know you are the Holy One of God.”
Of course, we can look back at these passages with foreknowledge, knowing Jesus is speaking about communion and the need to be identified in His flesh and blood on the cross, which was poured out for our salvation. But, at the time, this sounded like the words of a madman. Why would God want men to become cannibals? It didn’t make sense and went against what they knew of the law. This offense caused many disciples to walk away.
There are going to be times in our life when Jesus will turn to us with the same question, “I know you don’t understand this teaching. I know it seems crazy right now, but you won’t leave me too, will you?” We need to trust that hard teachings may not make sense today, but God will reveal the meaning in time. The question remains, will you walk away because you don’t understand, or will you remain in me, so that I can reveal these things to you in my time?
It was during the dark times of my daughters’ illnesses that I felt this piercing question from the Lord, “Shannon, I know this doesn’t make sense and I know it goes against what you think is right. Nevertheless, you won’t leave me too, will you?”
I chose to join in fellowship with Peter, “Lord, to whom shall I go? You have the words of eternal life and I believe and know you are the Holy One of God. I will choose to trust you!” When pressed by trials, we either walk away under the mounting pressure and confusion or we choose to press in, trusting God’s sovereignty and character.
“If a person is ever going to do anything worthwhile, there will be times when he must risk everything by his leap in the dark. . . Trust completely in God, and when He brings you to a new opportunity of adventure, offering it to you, see that you take it. We act like pagans in a crisis—only one out of an entire crowd is daring enough to invest his faith in the character of God.” – My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers, May 30th, “Yes- But. . . !”

Royalty

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Ever wonder what one gifts to royalty? As we enter this time of Christmas, I’ve found myself wondering, what kind of gifts does Queen Elizabeth receive from her family year after year? What does one give a queen, who appears to have everything?

During my childhood, there was one Christmas that remains clear in my mind. Instead of a tree, that year we chose to put a baby doll surrounded by hay in a wooden rocking cradle passed through the generations. We wrapped lights around our manger and, as the weeks drew closer to Christmas, the presents surrounding our ‘Jesus’ grew.

This year, in an effort to give our girls a similar experience, we created our own manager with a borrowed baby doll and a basket of hay. I printed small pieces of paper kept next to the manager that read, ‘Jesus, I give you. . . ‘ Everyday, we bring prayerful gifts of the heart to our King. What more could our King, who owns everything desire? Isn’t it our fellowship, admiration, praise and love what He ultimately seeks?

So this year, instead of focusing on the presents growing under our Christmas tree, which are plenty, we will seek to focus on the gifts of our hearts, the things we can surrender to our King, Jesus.

What about you? What things are you holding onto that could be released to the only eternal King? What gift can you give Him this season? The manager is available to all. . .

 

 

Where was Jesus?

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In Matthew 6:45-52 after feeding the five thousand we see Jesus ushering the twelve disciples into a boat to go before Him to the other side, to Bethsaida while He dismissed the crowd. “After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray. When evening came, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. About the fourth watch of the night (between three and six o’clock in the morning) he went out to them, but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw him and were terrified.

Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed. . .”
Jesus purposely put the disciples in the boat, knowing the seas may be rough as He went up the mountainside to pray. He was able to see the disciples straining against the oars, and the massive waves crashing upon them. So often we have a hard time believing God ushers us into a boat that will weather storms. We naively believe that once we’re on “Jesus’ team” we will have smooth waters until we’re gently roared into heaven. This wasn’t the case with His most intimate twelve disciples, so why would it be true of us?!
However, did you notice where Jesus was during this storm? He was up on the mountainside, watching and praying! Were the disciples ever really beyond His reach or care as they fought against the massive waves? Not at all! And neither are we. At any given moment, Jesus may appear in the midst of our greatest trials, calming the waves that threaten to crush us. Until He does appear, trust He is on the mountain, watching your every move, praying for you! And when He determines its time to come off the mountain, He will command the waves to be still and immediately take you to the desired destination.
Are we looking for Him with expectancy in the midst of our storm or are we too busy straining at the oars believing our survival will come from our own strength to endure? Keeping above the waves may be necessary, but it’s not our only hope. There is One greater than any wave or storm known to man.
Matthew’s account of the same events shed fresh insight, as there was one who was watching—Peter! “Immediately Jesus said to them, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” 
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” 
“Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him, “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” 
And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
Are the storms we face not designed to have the same effect? Aren’t they ultimately designed to bring us to the same place where we can say whole heartedly, “Truly you are the Son of God” as we see He is the only One who can save?! And the courageous among us may even step out of the boat to meet our Lord, walking on the very waves that caused the hearts of men to fear.

Nine years ago, today

September 11, 2006:

I stood holding my diaper-clad twenty three month old daughter trying hard not to disturb the many wires attached to her small frame as our pediatrician’s words began to wield their way into my consciousness, “Keep praying Shannon. Please don’t stop! I don’t know how to tell you this but Eliza is very sick and I’m afraid she may not survive the transfer to Children’s Hospital.” The fervency of her voice combined with the evident fear in her eyes caused my world to come to an abrupt halt. Looking across the small hospital room I saw Joel slumped over in the bedside chair slowly running his fingers through his hair, seemingly in a far off land navigating his own thoughts. I longed for him to look at me. I willed him in my mind to offer me some source of encouragement, but there was none as he remained frozen in his own world. There was just the eerie, repetitive thumping of Eliza’s heart monitor ringing in my consciousness tying me to the little life she held.
What do I say? Each breath could be Eliza’s last and yet I found myself at a profound loss for words. My mind raced with the many things I longed for her to know and yet the intensity of the moment kept me silent. I held her tighter as if that would keep her from slipping away from this life. Just as quickly as she entered my world, she could depart. She wasn’t mine; she was a gift, a precious gift. Snuggling her close, stroking her wavy blond hair, I whispered quietly in her ear, “Mommy loves you dear one. We love you—please know how much we love you. Jesus loves you, you are His. He will meet you—look for Him love. We will see you there.”
Shattering the moment and demanding attention, Zoe our four-year-old daughter bound into the room, gushing with life as she skirted past the crash cart and overlooked the ominous machines surrounding Eliza. Looking to me for answers I offered a weak smile through my tears. How I wish she didn’t have to see me this way, she’s too young to understand. Sensing the weight of the room, Zoe turned and approached Joel, “Daddy, why sad? What’s wrong with Eliza?”
As quickly as Zoe entered, a good friend who was one of many scattered up and down the hallway bound after her to gather her and Eliza’s twin sister, Robin for an overnight ‘adventure’ at their house. Offering smiles of comfort they quickly departed, leaving an empty space in my heart. I longed to casually walk out of the hospital with the life I knew a few days ago. The sterile hospital walls were falling in on me like a prison, void of all feeling, echoing the lifelessness I felt.
Hearing their departing voices, I found myself jealous of Zoe and Robin’s naivety; to be able to live as a child free from the burden threatening the world I had carefully crafted. Many questions clouded my thoughts. Would they have a sister come tomorrow morning? How would we explain it to them? Just a week ago, Robin and Eliza had been playing together in their own mischievous way. Although they weren’t able to communicate verbally, they had a language of their own, which often led to many crazy antics and torrents of giggles. They were inseparable; although fraternal twins they had always been considered as one. How would Robin live without Eliza?

“Help me to say as Job did, “Lord, you give and take away, but blessed be the name of the Lord.” This truth is going to be the only thing that gets us through this. Blessed be Your Name. It’s the first thing in the Lord’s Prayer; help us to bless Your Name first and foremost regardless of what is happening. My kingdom go, Your kingdom come. Our kingdom is so very fragile and crumbling around us Lord but Yours is eternal, sure and unchanging. May Your will be done, as black as this looks please use it for your glory. Our lives are in Your hands.”

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise–the fruit of lips that confess His name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. -Hebrews 13:15-16

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Beggar of Spirit

beggar

In Matthew chapter five, the very first words Jesus spoke in 5:3 were, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” The Greek word used for poor in this passage is Ptochos, which literally means beggar: one reduced to beggary, asking alms or destitute of wealth. The application intended is that the Kingdom of Heaven is meant for beggars of Spirit, those who come to the Lord with nothing of their own to offer, just themselves, empty of self, begging to be filled with His Spirit and life. A beggar only gets what he needs for each day, needing to return again and again to have their base needs met. They are humble and dependent on another.

After Joel and I graduated from college, I worked as the high school intern at our home church. That summer the students had put together a mission trip to Vancouver, British Columbia to work with Youth With A Mission (YWAM) in the inner-city. The main objective was to see God at work in the most destitute places of the inner-city. We served in homeless shelters, gave roses and prayed for prostitutes on Vancouver’s equivalent of skid-row and lived life as a homeless person for a day. We were sent out in groups without any money or food for a day in the inner-city to experience for ourselves what life was like on the streets. With maps in hand to the local shelters, we were encouraged to eat among the people and to ‘legally’ panhandle to see how people react. I admit it was a very humbling experience. No one was willing to give me money to buy a candy bar from the library’s vending machine. Now granted, my clothes weren’t the most run down and I may have appeared to have no true need, which was true, other than a day of grumbling for food.

It dawned on me as I was studying this passage, that there are true and false beggars in the Kingdom of God. There are many who come to Jesus, longing to get from Him what suits their best interest. They stand on the roadways and byways of God’s eternal highway, begging for this and that, only to reject that which God offers them in response—that which He deems best.

How many of us have given something to a beggar, just to have it rejected? We offer an apple but they truly long for money, or we extend the gospel but they choose their addiction. If this is true, then the opposite is equally applicable. There are beggars who are truly in need and consider whatever they may receive a blessing to behold—they stand with open hands of need, willing to receive. To be a true beggar before the Lord, we have to be willing to accept whatever He may bring to our open hands. Have we shut them? “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” Job 2:10.

Lord, I come to you broken and empty, please fill me with your Spirit, the living water I need to live and breath. I am thirsty, fill me with you. I come to you as a beggar, with nothing, in great need of your strength, power, wisdom and love. Less of me and all of you today, Lord. Beggars can’t be choosers, so help me except what comes from your hands as coming in my own best interest.