Tag: wasteland

By Dr. Deb Waterbury

Have you ever run away from something, and I don’t mean something that might threaten your life?  I mean, has there been a time in your life when you ran because you didn’t want what was in front of you, so you did a 180 and took off like lightening in the opposite direction?

Most of us, if we’ve lived for any length of time, can remember at least one of those times, maybe even more than one.  As Christians, that running most likely involved running from God.  Not too many believers would say that in some way at some time they didn’t run from what God was telling them to do.  After all, there is a little Jonah in all of us.

Abraham Kuyper, the journalist, once wrote,

“Our heart is continually inclined to rebel against the Lord our God.  So ready to rebel, that O, so gladly, were it but for a single day, we would take from His hands the reins of His supreme rule, imagining that we would manage things far better and direct them far more effectively than God.”

What do we do when we find ourselves running?  What do we do when we see someone else running?

If it’s us who’s running, chances are that we don’t even see it.  But if it’s someone that we simply know, either from church or just an acquaintance, we may be tempted to sit in judgment, as if it’s simply their weak constitution or their lax moral integrity that might cause such a detour.  We might simply shake our heads in feigned remorse, thinking, “What is he thinking?  Doesn’t he know that he can’t run from God?”

If it’s a loved one, maybe a child or a spouse or sibling, the pain can be almost immobilizing.  Suddenly all memories of our own course changes are almost non-existent, and the only things we can think are, “What is he doing?  Doesn’t he know that he can’t run from God?”

I don’t know….can we?

Let me remind you of how Jonah did.  In Jonah 1:1, we read:

Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah…

That means that God literally let Jonah know exactly what He was thinking.

Then in verse 2, God said to Jonah,

Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.”

This was not what Jonah expected.  After all, he was the Lord’s prophet.  He was supposed to go and direct his prophecies to the nation of Israel.  He wasn’t supposed to go to Israel’s enemies and prophesy so that they might be saved.  What in the world was God thinking?

Maybe we should think of this in terms that are closer to home.  Maybe the little Jonah in you might sound more like:

“God doesn’t want me in this marriage!  He wants me happy, and I’m not happy here!  What is God thinking?”

Or maybe this:

“God wouldn’t want me to miss out on a better lifestyle.  He says that I will get the desires of my heart, and my heart desires that car or that dress or that house (that I can’t afford).  He wouldn’t keep me from it, would He?  What is God thinking?”

Or maybe our child’s little Jonah says this:

“I’m sick of living under my parents’ thumbs!  God would want me to be independent and do my own thing, no matter who I hurt in the meantime!  He wants me happy, doesn’t He?  What is God thinking?”

The little Jonah in all of us might say slightly different words, but it’s pretty much the same thing.  All of us have listened to the little Jonah some time or another, and we all run for exactly the same reason that Jonah ran.  Verse 3 says,

But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.

The truth is that this running isn’t literally from God, since we, as His children, are always and forever His and in His loving care.  However, what we can and do run from is what the literal translation says is the “face of the Lord.”  Jonah was trying to get as far away from where he would be confronted with all that God is.  When we run, we run from the same thing, which generally means we run from the church or our church family or anything else that might remind us of who God is.

There is a reason that many have called Satan the “travel agent of distraction.”  If he can get us away from the “presence of God” or the “face of God,” then he can also deceive us into thinking that we can get away from it, which consequently keeps us from healing and love and peace.  Warren Wiersbe wrote in his book, Be Amazed,

“It’s possible to be out of the will of God and still have circumstances appear to be working on your behalf.  You might be rebelling against God and still have a false sense of security that includes a good night’s sleep.  However, God in his providence was preparing for Jonah a great fall.”

But the good news is that God always provides a fish, doesn’t He?  He always provides exactly the right storm at exactly the right time so that even though we may be distracted temporarily, we are never permanently lost.

Jesus said in John 6:39,

And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose none of all that he has given me.

If you are running from the face of God today—refusing to go to church, avoiding your Christian friends, finding every excuse in the book for not getting involved with your believing family—genuinely reflect on the little Jonah in you.  God will not lose you, but I can promise you that it is no fun in the belly of the fish!  Bow before the throne of the One who will never leave you nor forsake you and come home.  Unless it is God you are running toward, you’re headed for the storm.

And if it is a loved one who is running from God’s loving face, take heart and never lose hope.  The promise that Jesus gave in John applies to every one of His children.  The fish is coming.  Keep praying and keep your eyes fixed upward.  God will bring him home.

After all, there is a little Jonah is all of us, but there is a great God who owns our hearts!

________________________

To read more from Dr. Deb Waterbury, visit debwaterbury.com

 

 

beach photoBy: Miryea Gist

 

Lately, scrolling through Facebook has become much more than a mindless activity full of relatable photos, memes, and hilarious videos. Instead, I’ve learned to view it as an opportunity to obtain a glimpse into the lives, minds, and hearts of many friends and family members on social media. This morning, during my daily scroll through the incessantly, inordinate Facebook feature otherwise known as “newsfeed,” I came across a post from a young lady that caught my eye and peeked my interest. The post was barely noticeable, only comprised of two words. Yet, those two words shot through my body and into my soul like a burst of electricity. Those two words stayed in my head all day like a catchy tune, and at night, hovered over my mind like a storm cloud. The post came from a young lady who struggles with dysthymia, also known as chronic depression. Those two words were: nobody understands.

 

A love we crave

Biblically speaking, a man’s purpose is to know God, and to spend eternity relishing in the enjoyment of Him. We were created to experience intimacy with the God of the universe, and to spend our days pursuing the knowledge of Him. In light of this, I believe that an inevitable characteristic of this design for humans to know, is a desire to be known. Humans were created to know, and be known by God Himself. Naturally, this desire to be known has been tainted by the fall, and sin has perverted a right desire, into one full of selfish ambition and personal glory. This is wildly evident in today’s culture through a yearning for fame, and an insatiable desire for attention from those of the opposite gender. This yearning to be known is especially evident within this age of technology. We desire so much to be known, that we create various social media as platforms to showcase ourselves. We spend hours upon hours designing boards we feel best represent our style, hobbies, dreams and ambitions, taste in music, movies and food. We tweet our every move in order to keep the world up-to-date on our lives. We take the time to fill out silly questionnaires and “like” different pages so that our friends can know us better. Our human desire to be known is evident in every aspect of our lives.

It can be said—to be known, is to be loved. Or better yet, to be loved, is to be known. We see this truth played out in Matthew 7:23 and John 10:14-15. In Matthew, the Lord rebukes the one who does not belong to Him with the terrifying statement “I never knew you…” while in the gospel of John, Jesus uses the knowledge of His children to claim them as His own stating: “I know my own and my own know me.”

Humans crave an understanding kind of love. A love that knows truly, sincerely, and deeply. A comprehending love, a grasping love—an intimate love that can fathom them. To know God, and to be known by Him is the only redemption.

                  

Fully God, fully man

As I read the words, “nobody understands,” a verse immediately came to mind. No, it wasn’t Psalm 119, nor was it Psalm 139. The verse that came to mind, was the end of Hebrews chapter four, and beginning of Hebrews chapter 5:

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (5) For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness.

In the Old Testament, the duty of a priest was to operate as intercessor between God and the people. He would offer sacrifices on behalf of the people, but also for himself since he too was a sinner. Because of this, the priest was able to show compassion towards the people, since he himself was beset with weakness. Of course, after Christ’s death and resurrection, we are able to have access to the Father and to experience intimacy with Him. Jesus Christ, as the great and final high priest, bridged the gap between a holy God and fallen man.

But we know this. We know God sent his Son to live the life of perfect obedience which we could never attain. We understand that it is only the sinless life and righteousness of Jesus Christ that makes us right before God. Most believers have no problem understanding the fact that Christ was sinless, and this is because we grasp His deity. However, I believe many Christians fail to comprehend the aspect of Christ that legitimized Him as a sacrifice, which is His humanity.

The incarnation of God is an astounding facet of the gospel. As J.I. Packer stated: “Here are two mysteries for the price of one — the plurality of persons within the unity of God, and the union of Godhead and manhood in the person of Jesus. . . . Nothing in fiction is so fantastic as is this truth of the Incarnation.”

We are confident in Christ’s deity, yet oftentimes, we undermine His humanity. Nonetheless, the truth of Jesus’s humanity is to be regarded just as important as the truth of His deity. We know from the Word of God two things to be absolutely sure: Jesus has two natures—God and man. And each nature is full and complete—He is fully God, and fully man (Colossians 2:9, John 1:14, Hebrews 2:14). But what does it mean that Christ was fully man? It simply means this: that Jesus was exposed to all the limitation of man. He required all things you and I require in order to survive… food, drink, and sleep. He was not exempt from the things which confide us, such as gravity, pain, fatigue, and illness. Because He was bound to all the limitations of man, this includes the temptation we experience. He Himself was tempted, as Hebrews says, “in every respect.”

Hopefully this truth will lead the believer to ask the question; why? Why would the God of the universe willingly subject Himself to the limitations of man? The beginning of Hebrews tells us it is so that He can deal gently with the ignorant, and the wayward since He Himself was beset with weakness.

He understands

How beautiful is that? This perfectly holy being chose to subject Himself to temptation in order to deal gently with us. The Creator willingly humbled Himself to walk amongst the creation, so that we might know one who understands. The one who spoke and caused all to be, the one who the wind and the waves obey, the one who commands the tiniest of bacteria, to the greatest of all mammals—He understands. In the God of all creation, we find the greatest love—a sacrificial, sympathetic, and understanding love.

I urge you, never again to be dismayed by the lie designed by Satan to isolate you. The lie that you are alone, and misunderstood. The King of kings understands more than you’re capable of comprehending. What a shame it is to walk through life believing no one understands or cares, and what an offense it is to a God who left His throne to demonstrate how much He does.

_________________________

Miryea attends The Masters College majoring in English with a minor in Bible. With her degree, she plans to teach middle school English as well as continue to enjoy, and further develop her passion for writing. Born and raised in Arizona, she was home schooled from first through twelfth grade, and is the eldest of two.

lisa pic 2By Lisa Blanco

I opened my eyes and blinked a few times. Was she really awake? Was I just hearing her cry in my dream? Am I still asleep? I was stuck in the mommy fog: when you’re wondering which land you’re in, the sleep one or the awake one. The monitor crackled and gave its normal feedback, then I heard it loud and clear. “Mommy, mommy? Mommmiiieeee!”

After trying to rock Adley back to sleep, I finally brought her into our bed. She nuzzled up to me and I smiled. I was sleepy but I always like any alone time I can get with one of the kids, especially if I can sleep at the same time. But then came the gagging.

“Oh it’s okay sweetie,” I said as I sat up.

Gag, gag, I could hear the liquid making its way up.

“Alright, alright, alright,” I always say this gently to the kids when I don’t want them to see me panic on the inside.

Vomit.

After wiping off a few places. I laid back down and Adley was ready to close her eyes and sleep.

Then I heard another monitor.

“Mommy?”

Little Ernie couldn’t go back to sleep, I brought him in on the couch in our room. I kissed him and began to walk back to bed and then I heard the gagging.

“Ernie? Sweetie, are you okay?”

Up came the chunks. Twice, actually. My poor boy is only 3, throwing up is so confusing and terrifying. I still feel this way and I’m 28. I cleaned him up, laid him down and told him that mommy cries when she throws up too.

When my husband woke up with the flu also, items were soaked in puke, and our washer stopped working, I had to take a second. I locked myself in the bathroom to see if God had something to say at this point.

I felt like Moses before a burning bush, called The Flu, and God was telling me to take on the task of caring for his sick people in my house. By myself. And I was saying “oh, I can’t do that.”

“I will be with you.” I remembered he told Moses.

“But, I didn’t sleep last night. The washer doesn’t work. There will be more puke. I can’t do this!” I walked out of the bathroom with about as much faith as Moses started out with.

I really felt this was all about me. Of course this would happen to a mom, I had thought, caged in by the sickness around her and bouncing around from person to person, changing her clothes after getting thrown up on and tossing them in the “we will wash these when the washer works” pile, and trying to entertain the other kids that are healthy and going stir crazy.

I was acting like I had been dealt a bad hand, like my life was a game of cards and this week was just not my week. But God is gracious as always, and revealed to me what flu week is all about.

And I can tell you, that whole week brought more vomit, the virus finally took over me too, but God was with me.

The Lord brought us very low in weakness to show us that he’s the one who cares for our family. He’s the one who brings the sickness and he’s the one who allows it to leave. He brings it in the middle of the night or at nap time. He can allow sickness to stay for a week or 24 hours.

During a family flu, his goodness and mercy are still following us all the days of our life. Our flesh is failing during sickness, but He is our strength and our portion forever, and that is what helps us get up and clean off our sick child. The Lord being our strength, trusting his care in allowing the flu, gives us the hope to make it through a very long day. And when another member of the family announces that their tummy hurts, the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ will be your strength to run them to the toilet in time, or not in time.  And the hope of Heaven where sin and  sickness will one day be no more, will help you get through the moments of mopping the floors, or scrubbing the carpets .

As the season of much sickness sticks with us and invades our homes, remember Who allows the sickness and that he’s the strength and hope for those who trust in His Son.

Now I’m off to drink some Emergan-c. Cheers.

 

Lisa is a stay-at-home mommy blogger who regularly shares how God brings her into closer communion with Him through the joys and challenges of mommy-hood.  You can read more from Lisa on her blog at http://elizabethblanco.blogspot.com/

 

headshotBy Christian Bonner

I wish that the rest of this was going to be my take on all the songs that make me want to get down with my bad self, but it’s not. You see, I have an incredible life. It is full of love from my husband, my children, my family, and friends. We have the ability to be home together almost everyday of the week, and I have the blessing of home schooling my minis. Our needs are taken care of and we laugh. A lot.

But I got derailed.  By that I mean I found myself withdrawn and had a difficult time finding contentment. I wanted to be anywhere but here, maybe start over somewhere new, just me. My husband wasn’t my most favorite person, I had been hurt by some people I trust, I had no patience for my kids, and I couldn’t seem to find peace. I was in one of the deepest funks I’ve ever been. Merriam-Webster defines funk as: a depressed state of mind. (more…)

discipleshipBy Laurel Strasshofer

Not too long ago I was reading the familiar passage many bible translations label as “the call of Peter”. That is how I had always seen it – as that pivotal moment Jesus let Simon Peter know he would no longer be catching fish, but instead would be catching men for the Kingdom. True. It was that: an invitation to a transformed life that would produce fruit impacting eternity! But, on this day, I saw something else here; something my life-worn soul needed so desperately to see. (more…)

 

Spiritual Sahara image

She sits in bible study again this week, and she smiles every time it seems appropriate.  She says “Amen!” with the rest of the ladies when something particularly moving is said, and she answers questions when they are asked of her.

But still she doesn’t feel it.  Still she doesn’t feel anything.

There is a vague recollection, a faint memory of feeling her faith once upon a time.  It seems that she can almost grab onto this long ago heart condition, but then it slips away, more elusive with each passing moment.

What happened to that girl she once knew who was so on fire for Jesus?  Where did she go?  It doesn’t make it any better that everyone else around her seems to be having no problem living in the faith they proclaim.  They cry and laugh and genuinely seem to feel what they believe.  

Life just got in the way, and now she is left with doubt and pain at this Spiritual Sahara Desert which has become her life.

Spiritual Sahara image 3

Have you ever felt this way?  Have you ever entered into seasons of your life where you can only describe your faith as in your head but seldom in your heart?

Are you living in the Spiritual Sahara? 

 (more…)