Sunday, August 10, 2008

Monday Morning Cover to Cover

Jason Lezak, anchor on the USA free relay team, just edged out Bernard of France to win gold, and it was an indescribable Olympic moment that we so enjoyed over here. How'd Jason do that? Did you hear us screaming in France, Barrett?

Every Monday morning, there's a few of us who have read the chronological Bible readings for the week and we share what lingers in our hearts as we have listened to His Word, His Voice. Read the questions at the beginning of each paragraph and choose one of the paragraphs below and read what touched me as I read. It's just a method to find our beautiful God on this journey. We read His Word not for answers for all our problems but to connect with The Living Word made flesh who says to each of us this very day: Jeremiah 29:14 - "I will be found by you."

DO WE KNOW THERE IS SOMEONE ALWAYS WITH US?
I wept at a part of the story of SM&A where the braggy King of Babylon saw 4 people in the fire. But King Neb only threw in three. That so jumped out at me and I remembered reading The Braggy King of Babylon to my kids when they were preschoolers. I took them to the Fort Worth Wildlife & Nature Park to read the golden book and act it out---thought they may remember it more that way. My 5-year-old boy Barrett pretended to be the braggy King Neb who was boasting—MINE, MINE as he overlooked a daunting valley. And my 4-year-old Brooke and 3-year-old Blair were chanting “we won’t serve your god.” And then it happened, the King saw 4 people in the fire…and that 4th person is present right here today, right wherever you are. I told my blogging friend, Jean, that HE is present with her precious grandbaby CJ in his hospital bed in Pittsburgh as this adorable little fella waits for a heart transplant. He’s right there with CJ in that hospital bed—smooth those sheets. Go look. You’ll know there’s two in that bed. How else do we make it through intense testing? Please pray for this little guy and his courageous mom & dad, Dawn and Abe.



AM I INQUIRING OF MY GOD WHEN I GET INTO TROUBLE OR INQUIRING OF MAN?
We had a business issue this week turn really sour with unexpected repercussions. We want to trust God—Daniel 3:38—like the age-old story of unashamed wild trust of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the middle of intense testing that I cannot even fathom. While I felt at times this week that I was thrown into a fire, pale in comparison to this story, SM&A were literally thrown into a fire seven times hotter than the normal fire. God is able to do anything…and even if HE does not—Daniel 3:18—we will trust HIM and wrestle through that as Jeremiah did in Jer 20:7 who says: God you deceived me. No, God didn’t deceive. Jeremiah perceived it that way. But as J wrestled with his God---even cursing the day he was born--- J realized God’s Word was like fire shut up in his bones. “A man’s life is not his own.” Jer 10:23. That’s the conclusion where I want to live moment by moment. And a verse I had not known before so spoke to me: “Senseless shepherds don’t inquire of God” about the details of their lives. Some details of our lives were in danger this week and it was so good of my God to let me see this.

AM I HONEST AND BROKEN ASKING FOR JUSTICE?
I’ve thought so many times this week about Jer 10:23, “I know, O Lord, that a man’s life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps.” So why do I try to direct my own steps? I love the authenticity of Jeremiah, not just honest and vulnerable, but a broken man wrestling with God over real “heart issues.” You’ve deceived me Lord. You overpowered me. Everyone mocks me cause of what You did. Jer 20:7. And, then, a shift occurs and J brokenheartedly replies after his honest heart spills out: “Correct me, LORD, but only with justice---not in your anger, lest you reduce me to nothing.” v.24. I proclaim destruction but the forgiving word of the LORD brings me insult. But if I think for a second not to mention or speak Your Name, “Your Word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; I cannot.” The LORD is with me like a Mighty Warrior. Jer20:9. Then, J goes right back to cursing the day he was born in Jer 20:15. “Why did I come out of the womb to see trouble and sorrow and to end my days in shame?” I love his heart, wrestling with humility and brokenness. This guy doesn't have it together.

AM I WALLOWING IN MY MULTITUDE OF SINS OR SMILING IN GRACE THAT my SINS ARE FORGIVEN?
There is something about packing up the memories of my life that make me feel regret over how I missed God so many times in walking with HIM for 33 years. And I read Jer. 14:7 and it is so good to hear “your sins testify against you” but praise God for we know in our heart that HE has done something about my sin and HIS Grace is greater than my sins. I carried you all these years when you couldn’t walk. I know the plans I have for you and your high school boy named Britt---Jer 29:11. A future and a hope for me and for you! And He seemed to say through this reading that He is sending us to another city and “My Eyes are watching over you.” Jer. 24:5,6. Watching over that 17-year-old who is leaving all his friends for uncharted waters where he is a nameless face with about 1,200 pages of summer reading to do in his last week in his childhood home---an impossible goal doled out by the schools. What does God say in these verses: Call. Come. Pray. Seek. I will be found by you in Austin. Jer. 29:14 I’ll bring you back home to Me. We may not have the assignments done; we are going to Austin to find God.

ARE WE LOOKING FOR A LIFE OF EASE?
Seems like someone is always asking Jer 12: 1 “why does the way of the wicked prosper and the faithless live in ease…” So how does the LORD answer Jeremiah? “If you have raced with men on foot, and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan? Jeremiah 12:5.

AM I A GOD NEARBY AND NOT A GOD FARAWAY?
Jeremiah knew how to wrestle with his God. My heart is broken within me…because of your holy words, God. Jer. 23:9 God responds to J. “Am I only a God nearby and not a God far away?” Here’s my paraphrase: Jeremiah, am I near to you on Sunday mornings and when you come to read my Word but far away when you drift in your mind and heart. Far away when you are distant with your husband and critical in your mind about your friends and eager to stiff arm those who ignore you? “Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him?” declares the LORD. I fill the heaven and the earth!

WILL I SPEAK THE WORDS GOD GIVES ME?
There’s been some criticism of the way that I use the Word of God. Maybe I’m wrong. I love the Word of God more than I could ever verbalize cause I am so in love with HIM. His Word is like my oxygen. It’s not my intent to isogete the text and lay it on any problem. It’s not a fix-it book. I have really wrestled with this issue of treating God’s words as holy based on feedback I’ve received. The Bible is not an answer book. We read to connect with the LIVING WORD made flesh who transforms us. Let the one who has My Word speak it faithfully…Is not my Word like fire and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces. Jeremiah 23:28,29. May you be found faithful with The Word that He has given you in your heart…the whispers of His Holy Spirit, our God MOST HIGH. And I end my post with the awestruck call of Ezekiel in Ezek 2:1-3 “Stand up on your feet and I will speak to you. The Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet, and I heard him speaking to me. Son of man, I am sending you. Listen to what I have to say to you. Open your mouth and eat what I give you." What do we need to "let go" of to receive His Words?

21 comments:

Ang baylis 8/10/2008  

I remember learning in Daniel 3 that they didn't even smell like smoke! I love that! “If you have raced with men on foot, and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?... I had to read that several times before I got it. Thanks for explaining it to me in a way that is easy to understand. I think I naturally want a life of ease. I'm so glad we can't hide from God, and that we don't have to because he loves us anyway! He is enthralled with you, Bev! Thank you for inspiring me... again!
Love to you,
Angie xoxo

p.s. Thanks for posting the beautiful picture of CJ. I've been praying for him, too! Such a special little boy!!!

Bev Brandon 8/11/2008  

Ang, I love the verse you wrote about on your blog. And I think you have done more than manage in the thickets of your life. You've honored Him in those times. Yes you have!

annie's eyes 8/11/2008  

I so appreciate the way you breathe in His Word and He is life to you. It is written between every word you write and say. He looks so beautiful on you. I am praying for a smooth transition for you, Bob, and Britt as you move, and patience and energy and peace as you pack. Such an overwhelming task, but He is nearby, waiting for you in every move. Love, Annette

Bev Brandon 8/11/2008  

Annette, thank you for kind words. It is a daunting task to move my household after 33 years here and to move my heart. Pray that I grab God's right hand offer of help to me in Isaiah 41:13. Deeply appreciate your prayers! You have such a way with words and such a way of the heart!

Jean 8/11/2008  

Awwwww, I have to love #1 this week! Thank you, Bev, you are too sweet, and the thought that Jesus is in the bed with CJ is always a comfort to me.

Isa. 43:19 is the verse I have for you this week: "Behold I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert." (NASB) I like King James better, but that Bible is downstairs! And everytime I try to minimize the comment page (to google anything), I lose what I've typed and I'm just feeling too lazy to type it again! I'll be praying for you this week, Bev, as Annette said for a smooth transition for all of you!

Love you!

Jean

Jean 8/11/2008  

Back again! Don't know what version this is, but I love the words:

"Behold, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland."

Isa 43:19

Michelle V 8/11/2008  

Bev,

Beautiful post as always! I love your insights! I am not able to post mine yet because my notes and everything are at home and we are displaced right now. I do know that your point about being honest and broken for justice was something that also stood out to me this week as well!

I'm praying for you all and the only reason I haven't checked on you lately is because I know you don't have time for email right now!

Blessings
Michelle

Nise' 8/11/2008  

That race was awesome! My son and I were on the edge of our seats screaming hoping the neighbors couldn't hear us through the open windows! Last night I read your post last night and had to think about the last paragraph. I loved it that I thought and talked about it with the Lord most of the night and each time I awakened through the night.

Shonda 8/11/2008  

Oh how much you share and how I want to take it all in. That little boy is so precious and is in my prayers as well as his family every day. God is with him.

God is with you too Bev--with every box you pack, with you with every room you clear. He is there. He has plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a hope and a future--you and your family! He loves you!!

I have sought a life of ease. I share about it briefly in what spoke to me in the chronological readings this week. I wanted to hear what the false prophets said, but I had to hear Truth. You can read more about it here.

BTW--I'm having to choose and commit to let go so I can receive HIS words for me...That is lingering in me from this morning's reading.

Much love and blessings to you in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Engrafted by His Grace-

Mary Lou 8/11/2008  

Bev, I was blessed by everything that you wrote. I love the comments the others have made and echo all of thier prayers for you as you pack and as you move. The last paragraph really caught my heart. I don't know what I need to let go so that He can fill my mouth. I am seeking Him as to where and how He wants me to serve in my church. Nothing has pricked my heart yet and so I keep asking. He is speaking to you....do not listen to others.....He is showing Himself to you in His word and ministering to you. He WILL not let go of your hand...He and the Father are holding on to you, you can not be lost. I have prayed before for Him to never let go and to keep my hand in His. My pastor said something yesterday that spoke to me and I realized He will never let go of me since I have entrusted myself to Him. And He will never leave me alone Never alone. That fact is what drew me to Him forty years ago...I felt so alone. Once I asked Him in to my heart and life and put Him on the throne, I have never felt alone again. Even with husband and children....there are things that we have to face and deal with by ourselves...In the middle of the night...it's just you and Him and in some circumstances in life here on earth..it's just you and HIM...He will Never, no never leave you alone. He's been with you all of these years and He's right there with you, helping you pack and He's there with you as you grieve in having to move. He is also already in Austin waiting on you and Bob and Britt. Blessings on your day, sweet Bev.

JnL4God 8/11/2008  

Bev,
Your post is great. I think that is so great that you acted SM&A out with your kids. We did the story a couple of times at church when we taught pre-school. I love that the word is so alive in you it inspires me at least to dig in. I feel your passion for it.
I heard the "you need to let go to receive the new" twice this week - Hum am I supposed to be getting some message here.
I only have a little to post this time, and I'll have it up in a little bit. I'm behind but hope to catch up tomorrow.
The physical move you are doing has got to be unsettling, but all of us that you have met on line are still here in a familiar place to come back to as you adjust to your new physical home.
With Love,
Lynn

Bev Brandon 8/11/2008  

Jean, thank you so so much for asking God for His Word for me and it is! Yes it is! I'll keep it close.
PS - I have not met any of the staff at the high school where we are applying for admission for my son. The high school counselor called out of the blue this afternoon to tell me one word---I'm here to help your family make a "smooth transition." I had a tear come to my eye as I thought how it was you & A's prayer. And that's what she called to say. Oh!

Bev Brandon 8/11/2008  

Michelle, I'll visit soon. Thank you so much for your kind words. God really spoke to me about being not just honest but it's about being honest and broken and justice is His. Thank you for checking on me!

Bev Brandon 8/11/2008  

Nise' I love that you talked with your God as He awakened you---that so touches me! My son and I were so screaming for Jason Lezak last night---in the world of swimming what he pulled off was like incredible.

Bev Brandon 8/11/2008  

I didn't think about God and my boxes so it was a delightful thought for me. We have just packed 200 ready to go for Saturday. Long way to go and I probably won't finish it all in one week packing up 33 years of stuff---trying to live a more simple way in my next chapter. That thought of letting go has been on my mind lately. Love the way you allow your Lord not just to correct you but transform you.

Bev Brandon 8/11/2008  

Mary Lou, thank you very much for your kind words, your gracious words. God is so committed to your joy, to give you His presence in all those moments where we are alone. Thank you for your support!

Bev Brandon 8/11/2008  

Lynn, I don't know if my kids even remember any of those stories they acted out. We'd go a different place every Tuesday and read a book and try to act it out in some little way. The Braggy King of Babylon has always stuck with me. The move is unsettling to me trying to say goodbye to friends of three decades. It's the place where my whole life has been spent and I am wrestling through regrets and failures, looking back on my life. The thought about grace greater than my sin has meant much as my sin testifies against me. And it meant something to me to hear you say you guys will be here for me in midst of the unknown, the unfamiliar. Thanks so much Lynn.

Karen 8/12/2008  

Bev,
I just love how God uses you to touch my heart. Sister, your observations ring throughout my very being. Who do I turn to in times of trouble? How many times do I try and direct my steps? Why am I content to wallow in my past sins as opposed to thanking God every day for covering me with His grace? I love your unbridled enthusiasm for the Word of God. It breaks through the hard parts of my heart and makes me long for the same delight in His Word. And bit by bit, we're getting there.
love,
karen

Laura 8/13/2008  

Saying goodbye is hard...but what a blessing hello is! I'm excited for you and can't wait to hear about all of your new adventures. God is so faithful!Praying you through all of this!

Bev Brandon 8/14/2008  

Karen, And I love how He uses you to touch my heart. And to think we will spend eternity together. Amazing! Simply amazing! And yes, little by little...love you my friend! Annette and I were talking the other day about how your words pierce our hearts.

Bev Brandon 8/14/2008  

Laura, what a gift to me your friendship has been...a gift from God! Your words sink so deeply into my heart - Psalm 51:4. Can't thank you enough for the beautiful God in you pouring out His Beauty.

Praying for Our Friend Joanne Psalm 131:3 Waiting on God. Hope Now. Hope Always.

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I've met some amazing women through blogging. I would love to hear from you. My personal e-mail is:
sixbrandons@gmail.com
I have another blog where I blog daily as a small group of us read through the New Testament this year. It's called A String of Pearls. We carry each other on mats (when we just can't walk anymore) to Jesus and sweet things like that.

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