Sunday, March 30, 2014

Set On You

The Lord did not set his heart on you and choose you because you were anything special, it was simply because he loves you and he keeps his promises.  That’s why.  Understand this….the Lord, your God is indeed God.  He’s not like you.  He’s completely faithful and he keeps his word throughout all time and he recklessly lavishes his love on those who love him and listen to, and do, what he instructs us to do. 

Has the Lord “set his heart on you”?  Has he purposed to love you no matter what you do or who you are? I believe his words from Deuteronomy answer that with a resounding YES!  He has set his heart upon you!  Really?  Why would he DO that?

We are in a season that has always confused me.  That spring feeling is in the air, yet it doesn’t quite seem that winter is willing to let go with its icy grip.  Maybe I’m confused because nature seems to be confused.  Come on, make up your mind, is it spring yet?

 What has also puzzled me is the strange way we focus on our religious tradition of celebrating Easter this time of the year.  My childhood Easter experience was a wild jumble of new clothes, fresh haircuts, Easter eggs, a huge dinner which always required ham (wasn’t that considered unclean?), little marshmallow bunnies, and little chocolates filled with snot.  It also appears that this is one of the two times of the year that Americans feel most compelled to show up at church.

How did a season so pivotal to our faith become so….comical?  How did I allow the commercialism of my culture to draw my attention away from the events of history which actually occurred? 

Jesus was really here!  He actually taught, wept, prayed, laughed and had close relationships with many who wrote about their experiences with him.  He really did tick off some really important religious people who wanted him dead, and who eventually succeeded in setting up a mock trial, getting bogus charges to stick, and brutally torturing him to death.

He really died! There were witnesses who declared him dead.  A medical doctor, named Luke, actually recorded his version of Jesus’ death.  John, a follower of Jesus who was there at the cross recorded that blood and water flowed from his side when he was pierced with a spear by a guard who wanted to make sure he was really dead.  John also states “This report is from an eyewitness giving an accurate account…”

Then Jesus really appeared again!  On the third day after he was declared dead!  And once again, Paul records in a letter, in addition to his own followers, there were hundreds of witnesses who saw him all at once.

He truly ascended while they watched! Jesus’ rightful place has been, and always has been, at the right hand of the Father. 40 days after he rose from the tomb he ascended, once again in the presence of witnesses, into the heavens.  Then, 10 days later…

The Holy Spirit really came upon his followers!  This is the greatest message of the Gospel!  We have the very Spirit of Jesus Christ within us when we believe that what actually happened…actually happened.  All we have to do is believe he did it for one reason. 

His heart is set on you.
-Doug Bishop

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Day 40 | Frivolous

Today we come to the conclusion of a 40 day journey of Love between God and us, and I have to admit…this was hard.  Who can know this Love?  Why do we need to know it?  Why did we spend 40 days focusing on something so….frivolous? 

Paul the apostle wrote a letter to believers in Ephesus and in it he penned a prayer for them which is timeless in its relevancy…

I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.  Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him.  Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.  And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.  May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully.  Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

Understanding the immensity of this Love can only be done by the strength given to us by God.  And it is absolutely necessary in order to be made complete…in life, in power…all from God.  Not study, not service, not good deeds, not going to church.

 What makes us complete is understanding the inconceivable.

He can be yours today.  He will begin to empower you right now.  All you have to do is ask.  This power to begin the process of making you complete is a simple, genuine, humble prayer away.

God, have mercy on me, a sinner.  I can’t possibly understand this Love, but I accept that it exists and I receive it, and you.  Please fill me with it.  Change me by it.  Take hold of me and never let go.  I’m yours and I want you to be mine.  In Jesus’ name, and the power that comes by that name I ask this, Amen.

In his book, “The Furious Longing of God”, Brennan Manning writes,

“. . . put bluntly, God is sheer Being-in-Love and there was never a time when God was not love.  The foundation of the furious longing of God the Father who is the originating Lover, the Son who is the full self-expression of that Love, and the Spirit who is the original and inexhaustible activity of that Love, drawing the created universe into itself.”

Frivolous?  I think not.

We would like to invite you to our night of prayer and praise, Friday, March 21 | 7-8:30 pm at the Knapp Street Campus, 3869 Knapp St.  We will look back at what God has taught us through this journey and we will look ahead to what He has in store for us.  We hope you'll consider joining us.

-Doug Bishop

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Day 39 | A Gentle Whisper

As we continue to find out what it means to seek after and desire God… Take a moment today to read and meditate on this passage in 1 Kings. It is about the prophet Elijah. God had a special word for him to deliver to His people. God needed to meet with Elijah to talk with him: 

1 Kings 19:8-14 

So he (Elijah) got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.  There he went into a cave and spent the night.

And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

 For me this passage speaks to our “desire” for God on a few levels. For extra credit go back and read the beginning of this passage….  Elijah is on the run… running from fear and failure. He is tired and weak. In this moment he actually declares, “I have had enough, take my life.” Exhausted and full of despair, he lays down… hoping to never wake up. He’s in pretty rough shape.

But, God never abandons us. He always meets us in our weakness.

Strengthened he travels forty days and nights to the mountain of God. As I see it, for one purpose only… he desired to see, desired to hear from God.

And God meets him there. Amazing. But here is the thing, He's comes to Elijah in an unexpected way. He comes in a gentle whisper. I love that.

As we desire to meet God, are we finding Him in the places we don't expect? Are we crying out waiting for the thunder, fire, and wind? Missing God whispering in our ear, constantly what we need to hear.

-Matt Stowell

Friday, March 14, 2014

Day 38 | THUD

Imagine yourself in a foreign country for an extended period of time. You can’t understand the language. No matter how hard you work on it, you cannot make yourself comprehend and speak clearly.  After a time, you get the basics, but are never really able to make your mind known. People are nice and they try to help you, and you really want to communicate with them and enjoy their company the way they seem to enjoy one another. However, you always feel apart from even your closest family and friends. It is easier to stay inside yourself. No one really knows you and you know no one other than yourself.  

I’m not really sure, but I think this is what life is like for my twenty-one year old daughter, Kaci.  

Every day. 

And my heart goes THUD. 

Kaci has autism and cognitive disability. She’s been impaired since the day she was born. She is a beautiful child. A resilient, strong, happy girl with a sweet sense of humor. She is affectionate, caring, and sensitive. She loves her family, caregivers, house mates, and friends.  

But, Kaci cannot write her own name, she does not toilet independently, and she has no sense of danger. She’s mostly non-verbal and communicates through a combination of signs, gestures, photos, and one word grunts. She has horribly aggressive episodes that put her and those around her at great risk. She has a seizure disorder and other health issues. 

And my heart goes THUD. 

I scream, cry, and yell at God. How can he allow this vulnerable child to suffer this way? Why does parenting her have to be so difficult and painful? How can I do this for the rest of my life? 

 “Hear my prayer, LORD;   let my cry for help come to you. 
Do not hide your face from me. When I am in distress. 
Turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly.”          
Psalm 102: 1-2

 And His heart goes THUD. 

As a father (or mother) has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers we are dust.  Psalm 103:13-1 

God knows my pain. He watched his son suffer to a depth I cannot fathom.  

There is nothing about Kaci that is a mystery to her Creator. He is inside her head. He knows her. And I have to be okay with that. 

But from everlasting to everlasting. The LORD’S love is with those who fear him,
                    And his righteousness with their children’s children—
With those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.”  Psalm 103:17-18


God, this journey is tiresome. I ache to know my child, to find a way to free her from the prison of her disability. My head knows that you love her more than I, that you know her intimately, that you made no mistake while forming her. Help my heart learn more and more to embrace your perfect plan and rest in your love for Kaci. Amen.

-Sonia Sundberg

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Day 37 | God of Joy

Would you consider yourself joyful? Joy is one God’s greatest gifts to us. Yet, so many of us struggle and carry enormous weights of pain, uncertainty, disappointment, grief, and hurt. However, Jesus loves to restore wounded hearts. Where do you go when your heart is wounded? Is it a place of healing or destruction?
I know where I go…I run. I love to run because this is one of the treasured spaces of life where I experience joy. My sanctuary is a wooded trail where I can run freely and experience the pure pleasure of God in those moments. I have learned sacred lessons on these runs. God teaches, corrects, encourages, consoles, and restores. He enters into the vulnerable places of my heart and He infuses joy.

The trail is a precious opportunity for me to process grief, hurt, disappointment, and fear. They say pastors are supposed to have it all together. But can I let you in on a little secret…we don’t. We doubt, we bleed, we suffer, we feel isolated, we fail, and we are in a healing process just like you. I told my wife recently that there are some days when I wish I was one of those pastors who did not feel. I wish I could close off my heart when I counsel a couple that is on the verge of divorce, sit with a family as they prepare their loved one’s funeral, or console parents whose child has gone astray. I feel these moments so profoundly and they get etched into my heart. The danger I face is that there are times when it is hard for me to experience joy. I love being a pastor, but there are seasons that I travel through life with wounds that steal my joy.

Kay Warren wrote a fantastic book entitled, Choose Joy, and she defines joy powerfully…

Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be all right, and the determined choice to praise God in all things.

I love that. Joy is not something that happens to me. It is not dependent on my circumstances. It is dependent on the condition of my heart. Every moment of my life, good or challenging, is an opportunity to choose joy. I choose to believe that God is good and He is in control.

May God equip us to turn away from the worthless idols of fear, anxiety, despair, and distrust. In the words of the Apostle Paul, may God equip us to turn to Him and,

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus…Philippians 4.4-7

-Dan Wright

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Day 36 | Outrageous Grace

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through.  A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy.  He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd.  So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”   So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”

But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”

Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.   For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”  Luke 19.1-10

Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem where he fully knows what awaits him – arrest, mocking, spit upon, flogged, a torturous crucifixion.  On the way he rolls into the town of Jericho.  A crowd has gathered to see the “Miracle Man” and amongst the curious is a man named Zacchaeus.

Zacchaeus is not just any man in Jericho; he is a tax collector…the chief tax collector.  Being chief tax collector he is well known and very wealthy at the expense of the Jews living in Jericho.

Upon approaching Zacchaeus, Jesus invites himself over to his house rather boldly.  Notice Jesus doesn’t ask Zacchaeus if he can come to his house.  Jesus doesn’t suggest he come to his house.  Jesus says, “I must stay at your house today.”
Zacchaeus enthusiastically and immediately welcomes the One all have come to see.
Given his position as chief tax collector I wonder if anyone has been a guest at Zacchaeus’ house.  Judging from the crowd’s reaction to Jesus hanging out at Zacchaeus’ house makes me wonder if Zacchaeus has even a single friend in this town.
Perhaps this is the reason for Zacchaeus’ eagerness to welcome Jesus into his home.
Whatever the case, it’s clear those in attendance are not happy.  And it’s safe to say they are shocked and even outraged.
What happens next is even more outrageous.
The wealthy tax collector shockingly declares he is giving half his possessions to the poor.  HALF!  What’s more, he promises to pay back four times the amount to anyone he has cheated.  FOUR TIMES!
Nowhere in the account of Luke’s telling of this scene does Jesus lean over and whisper in Zacchaeus’ ear, “Hey buddy…people are quite upset that I’m here with you.  Dude…if I’m going to hang out with you I’m going to need you to do something.  I’m going to need you to change your ways and start fixing all you have broken.  I’m going to need you to show people that my presence in your life is really making a difference.”
Jesus entered into Zacchaeus’ life purely out of an extension of undeserved grace. 
Zacchaeus’ response to this grace was to surrender that which was likely most important to him – his money.
The very thing that enslaved Zacchaeus was now the very thing he was liberated from.
This was not a prerequisite to a relationship with Jesus.  This was the result of beginning a relationship with Jesus.
It’s an outrageous response to outrageous grace.
How are you responding?
- Kevin Baker

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Day 35 | Love Song

Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it. 

Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life…  Deuteronomy 30:11-14, 20 

We often long for discernment in our lives, and we want God to clearly point us in the direction we should go, whether it is in our personal life or in a ministry we are involved in.  But are we taking the time to listen?  Before we jump into another commitment or make a decision, do we ask of Him?   

And perhaps at one point we heard Him speak and we obeyed and jumped into the water and started swimming.  Are we taking the time to rest, to look, to make sure we are swimming in the right direction? 

If you take a bottle of lake water and shake it up, it’s cloudy and you can’t see through it clearly, but if you let it set, after a while the sentiment floats to the bottom and the water becomes clear, and you can see.  Are you taking moments in your life where you are spending time to allow the waters of life to become still and clear? 

The answers to life’s decisions are not out of our reach. Listen, sit still with Him.  It is not up in the heavens, or beyond the sea.  No, the answer is within our very own hearts when we are seeking Him, when we listen to His voice from deep within our soul. 

Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me. 
By day the Lord directs his love,
at night his song is with me—
a prayer to the God of my life.
                     Psalm 42:7-8

 From deep within me, my soul longs for You.
With strong passion I call to You in my troubles.
The yearning is as strong as the powerful forces of the water surrounding me.
Yet above the roar of the rushing waters my voice is heard in prayerful song
As a quiet melody of love from my Savior
Echoes in the night. 

Love Song
My voice sings and my feet dance
To His love song.
My hands reach up, my heart beats the rhythm
Of His love song.
My ears are tuned in and my all responds
To His love song.
My life becomes His Love Song.

Lord, May we seek You with all our heart and with all our soul, may we be still so that the waters of our life reflect You, and our life becomes Your Love Song.  Amen
-Sue Parrott

Monday, March 10, 2014

Day 34 | God of the Process

I often joke with my friends that I’m going to write a book. Usually, the title of the book is dependent on something I am frustrated about. However, one of the insights that came to me (it might seem simple to some people, but to me it felt like a divine epiphany) is that our God is a God of the process. So alas, I have the title of my book, God of the Process 

Let me explain. As we look back in the Bible, we read account after account of failure. However, early on, God chooses men to lead His people and eventually sends a group of people we call the prophets to continue this leading. Even with these God-ordained leaders the people still crumble and fail to follow God’s ways. In His perfect wisdom, God sends one more person to earth, His very own son, Jesus Christ. While on earth, Jesus taught normal, broken people and dealt with the frustrations of leading normal, broken people, eventually leading up to a brutal and humiliating death on the cross.
At the time, it may have seemed like the people of that day had failed, but through the death of Christ something happened. Through Jesus’ death, a process that started long ago came to fruition. Through Jesus’ death, we are now able to look back and see that all of the prophets and leaders of Israel were leading up and foreshadowing this one event in time. Through Jesus’ death we can see that even through all of Israel’s failures, God was working a process for His good, and the good of those He loves. Praise God! There were so many times that I would have just given up and destroyed humanity, but God saw fit to work with us and send a savior instead. 

My question is this, what process might you be in the midst of right now? What journey are you on? This looks different for everyone, but take a look around and think about where God has you right this minute. Is there something He might be doing? Is there something you need to be awakened to? Is there an area you feel like you’re failing in? Take heart, God loves you and desires you so much that he sent His son to die for you. You are part of His grand process, and even though we fall and make mistakes, none of those mistakes can separate us from God’s love. He will begin the good work that He has started in us. He is the God of the Process.

-Jake Houf

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Day 33 | Ridiculous

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”  I Peter 1.8-9

This past August, we expanded our family from five to seven with the addition of two beautiful budgies named Sunny and Ripple. They chatter and sing, whistle and squawk all day long and we have, for the most part, become immune to their noises. We were sitting down to dinner a few weeks ago and I started to pray before we began to eat. Sunny, the most vocal of the birds, was unusually loud with his song…almost to the point of ridiculousness! It seemed like the more I raised my voice, the more animated his song became.  As I was praying, I could feel the tap of the Spirit on my heart and my prayer turned to this: “Lord, I hear You. This tiny creation, designed by You is doing what he was made to do. His contented, bursting-with-joy song is on the verge of annoying it is so exuberant! Please, Lord, cause me to border on outlandish with my praises of You. Let our family seem foolish to the world because of the glorious joy that is a result of You.”

That moment has stuck with me and I ponder.  Do I revel in the joy of my salvation? Am I giddy with gratefulness because of my relationship with the Master of the Universe? Am I filled with praise in every circumstance? Am I in breath-taking awe of this God that I cannot see but that I know? Do I “annoy” others because my lips speak “too often” of my Savior? Can I sing delight-filled songs simply because He created me?
There is an old-time children’s song that my dad taught me as a little girl:

“The birds upon the treetops sing their song;
The angels chant their chorus all day long;
The flowers in the garden blend their hue,
 So why shouldn’t I, why shouldn’t you praise Him too?”
                                                                  ~Hal Wright

Sweet Savior, Thank You. Thank You for Your goodness. Thank You for being the all-wise, all-knowing, all-powerful One. Thank You for the detail and thought that You have put into each of us and for choosing to use us in Your plan. We praise You because You are God. We sing to You because you are the All-in-all. We glorify You because You are. We lift Your name because you are worthy. Help us to be so grateful and mindful and vocal that this world sees us as fools.  Amen.
-Sarah Bennor

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Day 32 | Baseball and Baptism

When Steven left practice that day, the thoughts that occupied his mind where generating very deep emotion.  They were thoughts that led him to a heartfelt prayer.  They were thoughts led him to weep in the privacy of his truck.  In contrast, as I walked home from baseball practice that evening, I’m sure my thoughts were still on baseball or my hopes for supper.    

Steven and I were both coaches in local youth baseball league.  We coached different teams, different age groups on different fields. But with equipment bags over our shoulders and buckets of baseballs in our hands, our paths cross.  Our friendship had been forged from church and baseball, so these types of interactions were common.  We’d chat about our players, our practice routines, or the bad umping we experienced the night before.  That’s night’s chat was no different until the end. But as Steven turned to walk to his truck, he said this, “Hey, I just want you to know that I signed up to get baptized at church.”  “Wow, that’s awesome!” I replied.  “What’s leading you to this?”  He paused with a deep breath and then said fairly quietly, “I just want to be washed clean.”  Caught off guard and probably distracted with hunger pains and thoughts of baseball drills, I honestly had no memory of what I said in response to his comment about his need to be baptized.  Steven, nodded, said good night and wandered to his truck.  I crossed the street and walked home not thinking much more about our conversation.

Weeks later, I stood in the back of the auditorium watching Steven’s baptism and as he told his story, I learned something new.  Apparently, what I said to him that night triggered a very profound event his in life.  As he stood in the baptismal tub, he told the story of our conversation.
Apparently, when he said he wanted to be clean, I shared with him that if he had given his life to Jesus, he had received Jesus’ wonderful gift of salvation. And as a result, he was already clean.  Baptism would be an outward expression of the cleansing that had happened inside.  The truth of that statement rocked him to his core.
 He climbed in his truck and wept because of this new realization of God’s forgiveness.  Steven fully gave his life to Christ in that moment.  He, for the first time, saw himself as spiritually clean.
So, how does this happen?  How does a simple conversation turn into something so spiritually profound and life changing?   Was it because my evangelistic radar was fully in tune to the situation and needs of my friend?  No, not in this moment, I regret.  Is it because I have reached such a level of spiritual maturity that wisdom just spews from my lips in subconscious manner? Not even close!  So, what happens in moments like these?  Here’s my theory.

God knew Steven’s heart, his desires, his struggles, and his questions. He was pursuing a spiritually whole Steven and loved him enough to fill in the gaps in his heart and mind.  The Holy Spirit was working on Steven that night and for some reason, the Spirit wanted me to participate in his pursuit of Steven.  The words I used with Steven that night were not my own.  They couldn’t have been.  They were planted in my mind by God.  I believe that I had no memory of this so I would not be tempted to take credit for God’s work.  Pretty cool how God uses things like baseball, friendships and simple conversations to lead his people to himself.   You see, God didn’t need me in his pursuit of Steven.  He wanted me to experience this with him.  His was not only a gift to Steven but a gift to me.  I got to reflect the deep heart of Christ to Steven.  How cool is that? 
- Phil Niekerk

Friday, March 7, 2014

Day 31 | The Audacious Plan

The Three gathered in the grand hall for one final time.  It was a closed door meeting.    Just three.  Three who would change the course of time.  Three who would determine the path of destiny.  Three who devised a plan to triumph over all other plans. 

Tension snapped in the air like a downed wire, as they gathered around the table.  This was a plan for the ages!   

It had all the makings of a good movie; a reckless rescue mission, drama, death, abandonment, resurrection, life.  But this wasn’t a movie, this WAS life.  Eternal Life.   

Each one turned to the other . . .  

“You will watch Your only Son live in a broken world, die a horrible death on a cross.  You will have to turn Your back on Him.  Are you okay with this?  Are you sure you want to do this for a people who hate you?” 

“You will be a vulnerable baby in a broken world, you will be misunderstood, hated, bruised and afflicted and hung on a cross to die a brutal death?  Are you willing to do this?” 

“You will be called to power this venture, to expend yourself for a people who are unworthy of such love. Do you want to do this?” 

There is no hesitancy, no doubt, no faltering.  A resounding “Yes” echoes down the ages of time. The pain, sorrow and difficulty of the plan would make the ENDING even that much more intoxicating.  

They could hardly contain their joy.  Unbridled pleasure rippled in the room like waves rushing to shore. A roar of laughter burst from the room like a rushing torrent of water and made its way throughout the heavens, pouring into every nook and cranny.  The angels paused in their activities as the merriment washed over them.  They found themselves giggling uncontrollably!  What was happening?  What were they be planning that would cause such contagious beautiful joy?  

The time was finally here!  Could they even wait a moment more to see their elaborate audacious plan carried out?    

All of this . . . this adoption, redemption plan . . . was for their CHILD.  The one they LOVED!  Their masterpiece. Their creation.  The one they have been waiting for, all this time! 

This grand design of theirs would be at great personal cost to each one of them.  But it was of little consequence.  They were ready.   Let it begin . . .  


. . . In the beginning God . . . (Genesis 1:1)

Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes.  God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ.  This is what He wanted to do and it gave Him great pleasure.  Ephesians 1.4-5

 Father, You adopted me and made me Your child.  Jesus, You found me in the depravity of my own making and bought me with Your precious blood. Spirit, You marked me as, Forever Yours.  There are no words.  No language that can ever express the depth of my gratitude.  May my life demonstrate in ways my words cannot, the thankfulness and the depth of my appreciation for what You have done for me!  Amen.
-Kristi Huseby

Broken and Redeemed Blog

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Day 30 | What is God's Currency?

What is the currency of God?  What medium of exchange does he operate in?  Matthew 25 lays out three compelling stories from the lips of Jesus which talk of valuable commodities; oil, silver, and livestock.  All three were the measures of wealth in the time of Jesus’ presence on the earth.  We all have ways of substituting our own agendas into these stories, but I have to ask when I read these,

“What currency does God deal in?”

 Consider Love.

Think of it.  Five of the ten bridesmaids have a love relationship with the bridegroom.  They may all fall asleep, but when they finally awaken at his return, their love for him is still sustained, still burning, and still desiring him.  They are invited into fellowship with the object of their desire, because they know him, and he knows them!  The others, who simply have an intellectual assent to his love for them, but have never entered into intimate fellowship with him, he simply looks at them and says, “Who are you? I don’t know you.”

In the next parable, two of the three servants have understood the desire of the Master for them, they have entered into a loving intimacy with him and they, in turn, “invest” that love they have received from him into others.  The disarming love from the Master flows through them and produces a great harvest which doubles their respective “investments”.  The other servant simply acknowledges the Master’s love for him, but doesn’t reciprocate.  He bottles up the Master’s love and keeps it contained so nobody else benefits from it.  Then he simply attempts to give it back to the Master upon his return. 

In the third parable in Matthew 25, it distinguishes between sheep, who are notoriously dependent upon their shepherd and live in community with each other, and goats which are obstinate, stubborn creatures who are fiercely independent and difficult to manage.  The shepherd comes and separates the sheep, who know and love the voice of their shepherd, from the goats, who are indifferent to his call.

How do we learn to become “lovers of God”?  How do we learn to receive his love for us and to allow it to change us?  He pleads with us all throughout his word to know him!
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.                                                                                                                        Deuteronomy 6.5
“Oh, that we might know the Lord!   Let us press on to know him.  He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of the rains in early spring.”                                                       Hosea 6.3 

This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says:  My love for Mount Zion is passionate and strong; I am consumed with passion for Jerusalem!                                                                                   Zechariah 8.2


Lord, teach us to deal in the currency of your Love.  Make us rich with it, then grant us generous hearts to risk it all for your glory.  Allow us to delight in your pleasure over us as we learn to be as lavish in our love for you and others as you are with yours for us.  Place in all of us a curiosity which compels to seek you with a new determination to truly know you.
-Doug Bishop

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Day 29 | Beware but Be Not Afraid

Exploring the concept of desire has been an intriguing journey for me. The image of God's passion has grown to thrill my heart with the pondering of his pursuit of me. 

"You are precious and special in my sight, and I love you . . ." Isaiah 43: 

We've explored the WHY of God's pursuit of us; the root being Love. I say 'explore' because I don't think we will ever reach fulfillment of understanding. The pondering of this absurd and glorious truth can exhaust eternity. 

Over the past several days a parallel image has sharpened as well; the persistent, competing force of the enemy. 

"The enemy said, I will chase, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil, and my desire will be satisfied on them. I will draw my sword, my hand will destroy them." Exodus 15:9 

The next obvious question is the WHY of the enemy's interest in us? What does this hideous, powerful, creator of evil want with me? With his minions of spirit-servants and generations of humans willing to wreak havoc on his behalf to God's good earth and people, why does he bother with me? 

There are the Sunday School answers:

             He is bent to thwart God's plan of salvation.

             His pride drives him to destroy any and all God has created.

             He hates God and anything and anyone God loves.

 And these are all true. But, I believe there's more. 

Satan is jealous of me. 

He is jealous of my grandmother, gone to Heaven in 1996. He is jealous of my godly mother, gone since 2006. He is jealous of my son who lives for Jesus and my unborn grandson who has yet to choose whose pursuit he will accept. 

Satan is jealous of you. 

He is jealous of the beauty of simple faith, of a believing heart. He is jealous of the affections that flow between the Creator and possessor of all beauty to his children.  

Consider the contrast:

God burns with a holy jealousy for those he does not need but intensely desires.

"For the LORD your God is a consuming fire; he is a jealous God." Deuteronomy 4:24

 Satan is captive to an insatiable lust to destroy those whom he hates.

"Be sober and alert. Your enemy the devil, like a roaring lion, is on the prowl looking for someone to devour." 1 Peter 5:8

Let's be careful here to keep firm to God's truth. These images may be parallel, but they are not equal. God will prevail.

"He rescued me from my strong enemy, from those who hate me, for they were too strong for me." Psalm 18:17

"I continually look to the LORD for help, for he will free my feet from the enemy's net."  Psalm 25:15

 "Indeed, you are my shelter, a strong tower that protects me from the enemy."  Psalm 61:3

"He delivered them from the power of the one who hated them, and rescued them from the power of the enemy."   Psalm 106:10

The enemy is not up to the task in which he is engaged! He will claw and tear in a jealous rage for our hearts, but Jesus has purchased the one-way ticket that binds us to him forever. 

Lover of my soul, thank you for the warnings in your Word. Help me stay alert to this enemy that would have me forget your love and the power it brings. Even more, help me remain focused on your passion for me. Help me see your love more and more clearly. Free me from the snares of the enemy that keep me from reflecting your desire to those in my world. Amen.

- Sonia Sundberg