LEAP DAY G I V E A W A Y. An Algebra honors class where I subbed mathematically picked the winner of the John Eldredge book called "Walking With God."
THE W I N N E R is Annie's Eyes...send me your address, precious friend!
Happy Leap Day, a day added to our calendar in order to keep the calendar year
syncronized with the seasonal year.
I've thought a lot about being "synchronized" myself lately. What I am synchronized with? Last summer, a friend told me that he thought I had synchronized with evil against myself. Beating up on myself for failure. Failure is our friend, an ally. I don't ever want to live synchronized with evil.
Bob ran a marathon, trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon He missed the qualifying time by 15 seconds....that's a blink! When I finally caught up with him, he said: "May we learn more from our failures than we can learn from any victory."
So, here we are synchronized once again on planet earth, thanks to Leap Day. What about my heart? Am I synchronized with truth, living in this present moment--- for it really is all I have, listening to Love's Voice gently prodding and parading in my heart. Psalm 51:6 - Let the truth sink and settle into your hearts.
I'm at a Paula Rinehart conference this weekend....so good, so good! Tonight she said,
"There are parts of my heart
that have never heard the Gospel."
I am reading her new book Better Than My Dreams, Finding What You Long For Where You May Not Think to Look. Sometimes God offers a different sort of wonderful than the one we have in mind. You know, I thought things would end differently in the last chapters of my life. This wasn't what I thought would happen to leave the church we so loved and where we were loved. I wanted to die there. But that's me. What is God's will for my life? That's what I'm asking now.
THIS is wonderful where I am today in my walk with HIM. To be alive, so alive, in this precious present moment is such a gift from HIM. And, I couldn't be any more grateful to my beautiful God this Leap Day. I'm so in love with HIM! So in love! Just can't stop thinking about HIM! Need to go for I hear Him asking me a question...
Friday, February 29, 2008
LEAP DAY G I V E A W A Y. An Algebra honors class where I subbed mathematically picked the winner of the John Eldredge book called "Walking With God."
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
UPDATE..."We are deeply grieved to report the apparent deaths of Muhammad Hadi and Cyd Mizell, Asian Rural Life Development Foundation workers who were kidnapped by gunmen Jan. 26 in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Although we have no confirmation of their deaths, we have received information over the past few days indicating that our two aid workers have been killed.
Hadi, a resident of Kandahar, had served as an ARLDF driver for two years. Known by colleagues as a “kind, loving man,” he was the father of five children, ages 6 to 15.
Mizell, 50, a native of Eureka, Calif., dedicated her life to serving the people of Afghanistan. Since 2005 she had lived in Kandahar, where she taught English to high school students and helped women learn income-producing skills such as sewing and embroidery. She also assisted in other ARLDF-related efforts in the area, which include food-for-work projects, irrigation, rehabilitation, health care and restoration projects. We are thankful for the efforts of local government and other authorities during this crisis. Our prayers are with the families of Hadi and Mizell."
Posted by Bev Brandon @ The Fray at 8:46 PM
Sunday, February 24, 2008
We are so delighted you have joined us. About two dozen of us read the Bible chronologically together. If you have not been able to keep up with the readings in Leviticus, join us this coming week as we delve into Numbers. I would love for you to leave any comment at all today. Share from Leviticus or from your own readings of the Word this week or whatever is on your heart. I will not be commenting back to you on this post as I am working at an academic competition this week with no computer access. See you at the end of the week to announce the winner of the Leap Day Giveaway. Keep on posting your quotes on Leap Day Giveaway for a chance to win.
I took a course in speed reading eons ago. Every time I come to Leviticus in reading the Bible through in a year, I speed read Leviticus or skip it. But not this time! I was so captured by this book and it so totally surprised me. Be holy! For I AM the Lord your God. I am so excited to share with you that I got anything out of Leviticus. That was so encouraging to me---because I think the Holy Spirit is so showing up in my life to make me alive. I’m so grateful! This does not mean I'm spiritual and you're not if you sped read Lev. This so surprised me and has nothing to do with me.
These are just words but they flow from my heart’s desire. One thing that I ask. One thing. And now, like you, I must work out my own salvation with fear and trembling. Be holy, Leviticus says. So what does holiness look like for me and for you this day?
One thing it means is repentance. What lingers in my heart from Leviticus is "Have Mercy on me, O Holy God." Here's eleven thoughts that stirred and shook me from this book that lingers with me. Post a comment or two, even just a phrase, of what your reading of the Scriptures meant to you this week.
GOD IS CALLING YOUR NAME
Leviticus 1:1 says the LORD called to Moses. Fifty times God speaks in this book to Moses face to face. Twenty of the 27 chapters start out with the phrase, “The Lord spoke to Moses... .” I think that gives much reason to really listen if we knew God was going to say something to our face. Just like to Moses, He is calling to us and speaking to us. Wonder what He is saying to you this morning? The Hebrew word for Leviticus means “and He called.”
DO I APPROACH MY GOD ON WHAT I THINK
In Leviticus 10:1-3, Aaron’s two sons did not follow God’s command and God consumed them in fire and said: “Among those who approach Me, I will show myself holy.” We can approach a holy God but it is always on his terms, not ours. Leviticus is "the calling of God's people to minister to God, to minister before God," "Therefore, since we have a great High Priest, let us hold firmly to our faith. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Hebrews 4: 14-16.
SIT IN SILENCE IN OUR SUFFERING
Leviticus 10:3 Aaron remained silent, even though both of his sons fell dead. Whoa. It is so hard to sit in silence in the midst of tragedy. Let the sun go down and sit in our circumstances and listen. In the abundance of words, sin is unavoidable.
REND YOUR HEART NOT YOUR GARMENTS
Fifteen years ago, I reached a dead end in my life, full of despair. God spoke to me through Joel 2:13-14. “Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord, your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and He relents from sending calamity on you. Who knows He may turn and have pity on you and leave behind a blessing.” A priest in Old Testament days was not supposed to tear his garments, somewhat of staging a protest over what God was doing in his life and the life of others. God wants us to examine our hearts. Rend our hearts, back to HIM. Leviticus 10:6 – don’t tear your clothes, Aaron over what God has done in your life, taking your sons. Rend your heart, not your garments. Whatever God is doing with you today, rend rightly and return to HIM. Rend your heart. So what does that look like in you?
IS OUR BEAUTIFUL GOD PLEASED WITH WHAT WE OFFER
Leviticus 10:19 – “Is our God pleased with this offering?” What do we offer HIM this very day that pleases Him? What repentance does He require to make us holy as He is? Offer our suffering. Offer our joys. Offer ourselves. And just like Abraham and Isaac, where’s the wood? What sacrifice do we make to HIM today? Where’s the wood?
HOW DO WE APPROACH GOD 16: 3 "This is how Aaron is to enter the sanctuary area: with a sin offering and to make atonement for himself and his household. Same statement repeated again in Verse 11. Very detailed ceremonious offering. Verse 16, he will make atonement for the Most Holy Place because of the uncleanness and rebellion of the Israelites, whatever their sins have been. Our High Priest is able to sympathize with our weaknesses for He was tempted in every way, just as we are today---yet without sin." Hebrews 4:15. The priest is to make atonement for himself, his household, and the whole community. 16:17.
Is that how I live my life? 16:34 – and it is done as the LORD commands for us who now live in the new covenant. What does God command of me today? Is it of no discussion for me? He commands me to love my neighbors and to love my enemies and I have a few of both. So I will love them. Out of my love for my beautiful God. It cannot come from duty but out of a repentant heart, clean hands. So what does love look like today? It may be action; it may be silence; it may be moving toward my husband, my son; it may be humbling myself and stepping down before a friend putting their interests ahead of mine. IDK. I wonder what Love will look like. I wonder if we will be like 16:34 and do all that the LORD commands us in listening to Love's Voice and living life today?
Leviticus 18:3 Do not do as they do in Egypt or in Canaan or fill in the blank where you live. Don’t conform to this world. Befriend holiness not worldliness. Wonder what that would look like in the world in which we live? The way we walk. The way we talk. The ways we live. “Do not follow their practices.”
WHAT FOOD DO I GIVE TO MY GOD
In Leviticus 20:6, the priests presented to God the offerings, the food of God. Today, we offer HIM our will, His will. “My food is to do the will of HIM Who sent me.” John 4:34.
GOD GIVES REST IN DEEP PLACES IN OUR HEART
Leviticus 23:3 talks of taking a Sabbath, a sacred place for us. God calls to all of us in Matthew 11:28 to those who are weary of rushing and pushing and doing more. “Come to Me all you who are burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." The details of this book that they were to follow were mind boggling, overwhelming to me. How would they remember all these regulations? Set our face like a flint. Set our hearts to follow Christ. He gives rest in those places where we are not.
DO WE KNOW A LIFE OF JUBILEE
Verse 25:13 says to observe the year of Jubilee. Return to your place, your property. God had rescued them and they were free from slavery. Slaves were freed that year. Just as in our own lives, He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of His Beloved Son, in Whom we have redemption and the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:12,13. All things belong to God in the year of Jubilee, their land and their lives.
Posted by Bev Brandon @ The Fray at 11:30 PM
Friday, February 22, 2008
I am engrossed, enmeshed, entranced, enthralled, exhilarated, exasperated, entertained, and excitedly encouraged about what??? Devouring four books all at the same time. And, I am giving away a brand new copy of one of them. Here's my new four favorite friends:
Posted by Bev Brandon @ The Fray at 7:21 PM
Monday, February 18, 2008
There are twenty or so of us who are reading the Bible chronologically together. You can join us at any time. The reading plan is listed on my sidebar. We'll pray for you and walk with you. If you are here just for today, read Exodus 33: 11-23 and see how God favors you and is calling your name. He is saying to all of us on this Monday morning a phrase that makes courage rise up in our hearts. "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." Wonder what it will take today to find His rest, His Presence in our lives?
GOD IS KNOCKING ON your DOOR TO SPEAK with YOU….Exodus 29:42 “For the generations to come, this burnt offering is to be made regularly at the entrance…there I will meet you and speak to you.” Where is it that we go to find our God and meet with Him and speak with Him and He with us? Revelations 3:20 He is knocking on the door of our heart. Will we open that door this moment and let Him in?
OUR BEAUTIFUL GOD DWELLS AMONG US…..Exodus 29: 45, 46 “I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God. They will know that I am the Lord, their God, who brought them out of Egypt, so that I might dwell among them.” I was reading C.S. Lewis today and he talked about “Am I living for the 72 plus years of this life or am I living for forever?” If I am living for “forever,” I look inside of my own heart and look to see what God expects of me this night. I remember what God has brought me out of. And I believe He dwells in me. He dwells among all of us and that is simply awestruck awesome. What can you tell us that your God has brought you out of so that He might dwell among you?
THE FINGERPRINTS of GOD are ON MY LIFE ...Exodus 31:18 God gave to Moses two tablets inscribed by the finger of God. It was the finger of God Who would trace out the course of our actions into ten commands. How do I obey my God? In the New Tesatment, all power has been given to us to fulfill what God has commanded. Ephesians 1:4 says He chose you, He adopted you, and He freely gave you the One he loves. You have redemption and forgiveness and incomparably great power it says in 1:19, working in you. Now it is the finger of God in you pointing to the world, working out His mighty strength in you and through you. What will I do with His Ten Commandments?
DEALING with THE FRIGHTFUL FRAY of OUR HEART…Do we daily take a look at what’s inside the fray of our own heart? Aaron didn’t. He blamed it on the people he led. Blameshifting. Verse 32:22 “Do not be angry, my lord,” Aaron answered. “You know how prone these people are to evil. They said to me, ‘Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.’ So what did Aaron do to stand in the way of the people building idols? What do I do to stand in the way of my friends, my family when they want to stay in the paths of sin. Do I look the other way? But what would it look like to love those who stand in sin? First, I must always look at the log in my own eye. Only then can I move in to love them. So who does God bring to my mind or my path this day who is walking the way of sinners that I may move in to love and not judge them?
WHERE AM I in MY WALK with GOD---is HE my FRIEND?...Exodus 33:11 “The Lord would speak to Moses face to face as a man speaks with his friend.” John Eldredge writes about the stages we go through with our God. First, our lives are shaped by the Potter and we are the clay. We also move to feeling provided for, watched over by the Shepherd caring for His sheep. Then, Eldredge says, many get stuck in the Master and Servant stage where they are committed to obey orders and carry them out. But there’s more intimacy…Father and child--- and children get the run of the house. Then, there is this stage found in 33:11 Friends as we walk together with God in which he says we are companions in a shared mission. We know what is on his heart and He knows ours. There’s another stage to describe the intimacy, Lovers----Bridegroom and Bride. “Teach me your ways so I may know You and continue to find favor with you.” Exodus 33:13. Is God my friend or my judge?
AM I AT REST in DEEP PLACES in MY HEART?....Exodus 33:14 says “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Whenever I see someone who is experiencing God’s Presence in their lives, I want to fall all over them. A couple of years ago, disaster struck and my God so showed up in my life. I can’t tell you how the calamity He brought so came with His Presence as I cried out for Him. It’s been two of the hardest best years of my life. I still long every day for His Presence and rest that only He can give. And every day, He is showing up in ways I could have never imagined. I have a taste and I want so much more. Apart from the Power of God, this could never happen. We can’t conjure up this one. What am I doing that can only be explained in terms of---God did it?
GOD KNOWS your NAME and ADDRESS…..Moses replied in 33:15 that if God’s Presence didn’t go with him, then don’t move them from that spot. How will Moses know that God is pleased with him? Yes, how will we know? To which God replied, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.” Fast forward to this very day…God knows you by name. He is pleased with your life---is He?--- and so He will do the very things you ask in line with His will, His purposes. What pleasures do I want more than the pleasures of my God?
GOD’S HAND COVERS my LIFE and IT’S DARK….Exodus 33:17 The Lord said, there is a place near me where you may stand. I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my Hand. Our beautiful LORD may have His Hand covering our lives, and it may be real dark from His Hand over us shutting out any light, and that makes me weep this morning for that’s where I am. And, one day, we will see His Glory again. In whatever ways He chooses. That’s up to Him. Can’t make it happen in relationships, can’t make it happen in life, but I can hide in the cleft of the Rock. For the mighty waters rise, but we are safe. He is my Hiding Place. Psalm 32: 6, 7 And one day His beauty will pour out of me. Will I let Him pour out on whomever He wants to bless, even my enemies?
Posted by Bev Brandon @ The Fray at 12:20 AM
Saturday, February 16, 2008
I lift up my eyes... where does our help come from?
Exactly three weeks ago today, my precious friend Cyd was kidnapped by gunpoint in Afghanistan. She is a humanitarian aid worker among the poorest of poor giving her life away. Lifting our eyes, holding hope that Cyd will be released by her abductors. Day #21.
This morning when I awakened, I lay in bed pondering the events of this week while reading a disturbingly good book called Mere Christianity and the #7 kept popping in my head. So, there. Whoever is #7, send me your address and I'll send you the beautiful prayer journal.
so our eyes look to the Lord, our God,
till He shows us His Mercy.
Have mercy on me, O God.
Posted by Bev Brandon @ The Fray at 8:36 PM
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Love. Happy Valentine's Day. Much love to you all who have touched my life through your words, His Words, though we've never met. May you long for and find, this Valentine's Day, the beautiful love of your Christ more than anything else...more than a good marriage, more than being a good mom, more than making an impact, more than an undisturbed life, and even more than life itself. For what could we possibly want more than the love of our beautiful Christ? For if we have _____________ (you fill in your blank), but do not have love, we are a noisy gong. Clanging cymbals says the love chapter, I Corinthians 13. And we have nothing. What do you want more than the Love of your Christ?
Lagniappe. Annette reminded me of this word from my childhood that strikes a chord with this New Orleans girl. It's something free for one of you, a little extra for stopping by. For those who comment on this post, I'll draw one name and send you a copy of Debbie Williams' Prayers of My Heart, A Personal Prayer Journal. I will draw one name on Saturday morning.
If I could give you anything this Valentine's Day, I would want to give you a little rest but only our sovereign God can do that. But, here goes, I do want to give you what is called a String of Pearls...
I hope for you that you find His Presence and He gives you rest. (1) For He longs to speak with you face-to-face this Valentine's Day as He would with a friend. (2) He knows you by name and you will find His favor this day, and we ask You, our beautiful God, to teach us your ways that we may find more favor. (3) For to Whom else shall we go; only You hold the words of Life. (4) Your words are not idle words, they are our very life. (5) I would have despaired had I not believed that I would see the Goodness of our Lord in the land of the living. Wait! on the Lord. Take courage. Wait. (6) God acts in behalf of those who wait for Him; we wait for no man, only for you, our big God. (7) Look to the Lord; expect much from Him (8) He longs to have compassion on you this Valentine's Day. (9) In quietness and confidence, may your repentance and rest be fully in Him. (10) For He is singing over you with His extravagant Love, dancing over you. (11) He is reaching down to you on this Valentine's Day to take hold of you if you'll let go of what is in your hand. He's drawing you out of the deep water you are in. He's bringing you to a better place. He is rescuing you because He delights in you. (12) He's recapturing your heart for you've deserted Him for small stuff. (13) He is setting His love and affection on you and chooses you to be His valentine not because of your performance, but because the Lord loves you & keeps His word to you, to bring you out by His Right Hand and redeem you. (14) Cling not to worthless stuff and forfeit the grace that could be yours. (15) Pray to God while He may be found. When the mighty waters rise, they will not reach you. You, O God, are our hiding place. (16) And your Hiding Place is knocking at the door of your heart for your greatest opportunity to know Him is your set of circumstances, not mine. (17) Don't commit your life to a future moment, future happiness but, O God, who is listening, we offer willingly all these things we think in this present moment. (18) God, you are near to the brokenhearted (19) You say, "I will win you back" this moment, again. I have put in front of you an open door. (20) An open door that no man can shut. (21) Turn to Me this moment with all your heart and I will keep on giving you a heart to know Me. (22) Take courage because the Hand of your sovereign God is on you. (23) And His arm is not too short for you this Valentine's Day nor forever. (24) Glory to our Beautiful God in the highest and His valentine peace to you on whom His Favor rests. (25)
1 - Exodus 33:14
2 - Exodus 33:11 ]
3 - Exodus 33:12
4 - John 6:68
5 - Deut 32:47
6 - Psalm 27:13
7 - Isaiah 64:4
8 - Hosea 12:6
9 - Isaiah 30:18
10- Isaiah 30:15
11 - Zephaniah 3:17
12 - Psalm 18:16, 19
13 - Ezekier 14:5
14 - Deuteronomy 7:7,8
15 - Jonah 2:9
16 - Psalm 32:6-11
17 - Revelations 3:19
18 - I Chronicles 29:17
19 - Psalm 34:18
20 - Hosea 2:14, 15
21 - Revelations 3:7
22 - Jeremiah 24:7
23 - Ezra 7:28
24 - Numbers 11:23
25 - Luke 2:44
Posted by Bev Brandon @ The Fray at 1:12 AM
Monday, February 11, 2008
Welcome to Cover to Cover. The Book of Exodus describes the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt and their journey to Mount Sinai. Jacob's descendants will grow from a family of seventy, Gen. 46:27, into a nation of about two million, Exodus 12:37. Their deliverance from bondage symbolizes God's redemption of mankind.
You are so welcome to take a look with us at the pages of Exodus that 24 of us have read together this week. For those of you who have completed the chronological readings of Exodus, leave a long or short comment here and link us up to your blog concerning what stirred in your heart as you read these chapters of centuries ago that apply to 2008. And if you are stopping by my blog to say hello and leave a comment about something else, please do! I'd love to hear from you, especially those who are coming to hear about what God did for the orphans in Thailand through Brooke and Britt. Click on the next post "Today Was the Big Day" to see smiling faces of little ones who have never owned anything of their own---and now they do, thanks to you. Whatever reason you dropped by this morning, I am humbled and honored and hope you leave a thought or two.
In the Book of Exodus, God continues to spend centuries hammering into their heads that there is only one God and He desires right living. Ever since Genesis and an "apple," people are looking to be "like God" and actually live apart from God to make them happy. God designed us to run on Himself and apart from Him, there is no peace, no rest, no joy, no happiness. Look for themes of idolatry and coveting as you read. We read the Bible but it reads us, even this very day.
Dan Allender writes on his website:
We befriend the world whenever we demand that others be what only God has promised to be: faithful and sure. All human relationships, even our most intimate alliances, are temporary and incomplete. When we demand that another person provide safety, certainty, and fulfillment of our deepest desires, we turn from God to an idol for the fulfillment of our needs.
When we turn from God, we inevitably demand of others the very things we miss in our relationship with God. If we don’t know his deep care and protection, then we will insist another human being provide what we lack. That demand is the genesis of lust and murder.
Written centuries ago, written for our present hearts, James 4:1-5 talks about those present desires that battle within us, just like the Israelites. "You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. Don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God?" Are we befriending our world or befriending brokenness of tearing down the idols we've built to make our lives work. Here are some of the truths God was hammering into their heads and hearts, and still hammering centuries later.
USE THINGS NOT PEOPLE
1:14 They made their lives bitter with hard labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their hard labor the Egyptians used them ruthlessly.
DO WHAT GOD SAYS NOT WHAT PEOPLE SAY TO DO
1:17 The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live.
Exodus 2: 6-10
GOD SHOWS UP IN EXODUS AND GOD SHOWS UP TODAY
2:8 Imagine being a slave, yet paid to nurse your own baby, then wean him, and bring him to Pharaoh’s daughter so he can become her son. Oooh! That was God's hand.
LIVING WITH THE REGRET OF PAST MISTAKES
2:12 “Glancing this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. Then Moses was afraid and thought, ‘what I did must have become known. Pharaoh heard and tried to kill Moses so he fled and was invited by his God at a well as he stood up for some women. And he received a wife out of the invitation. One of the first things Moses would do in response to God will be to hide his head out of regret. Moses will learn to live rightly with his regret.
GOD SHOWS UP THROUGH INVITATIONS - Invites Moses to have something to eat."
21 Moses agreed to stay with the man, who gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses in marriage. 22 Zipporah gave birth to a son, and Moses named him Gershom, saying, "I have become an alien in a foreign land."
GOD SEES YOU EVEN THOUGH HE MAY BE SILENT…
3:7,8 The LORD said, "I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey. And verse 14, I AM has sent me to you.
A SIGN THAT IT IS GOD WHO IS WITH YOU
1 Moses answered, "What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, 'The LORD did not appear to you'? Then the LORD said to him, "What is that in your hand?"
"A staff," he replied. The LORD said, "Throw it on the ground." God gave Moses a sign. What signs do we have in our life today that God is with us?
WHO DOES ALL THESE THINGS FOR YOU?
4:10-12 Moses said to the LORD, "O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue."
The LORD said to him, "Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD ? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.
TAKE CARE OF YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES and
DON’T LIVE FOR TOMORROW OR A BETTER DEAL
Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush.
WHERE ARE YOU LOOKING FOR GOD TODAY? HERE I AM
When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, "Moses! Moses!" And Moses said, "Here I am." "Do not come any closer," God said. "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground." Then he said, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob." At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.
NO SHORTCUTS TO GODLINESS
In Chapter 13, it is God's mighty hand that is leading them out of slavery. 13:17 says God didn't lead them by the short way which was about a three-mile straight road, but He led them for forty years, lest they change their minds. He even went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud by day and by night.
MOVE ON IN YOUR FEARS
14:10 The Israelites were TERRIFIED at Pharaoh and cried out, "Leave us alone, God." But in 14:13 Moses comes back to say: Stand firm, See deliverance. God fights for you. Be still. MOVE ON and divide the Red Sea.
OUR PROBLEM IS GOD, NOT MAN
In Chapter 16, God tells the Israelites you are not grumbling against Moses and Aaron, your leaders, but against Me, your God. I will rain down bread from heaven for you. Don't horde. Don't save life for yourself. In Chapter 17:7 is the real question: Is the Lord among us or not? They were testing God!
I can’t imagine being an Israelite and hearing that God wants me for His treasured possession. 19:4 He wants to bring me to Himself, just like He did for the Israelites. And He will drive out the enemies of my soul, 23:29, LITTLE BY LITTLE. It won't happen overnight but it will happen. For He says in the next verse that His Name is in us. How deeply encouraging is that to me in midst of some difficult times here. You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself…you will be my treasured possession if you obey me fully. Oooh, that so makes me want to obey and where do I start? Right in the present fray of my heart with what I am dealing with this present moment. Either I’m self absorbed or God absorbed. If it’s about self, repent. And the commandment I wanted to respond to was in Exodus 20:4– “you shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. That just about takes care of everything in my life, eveything I know about, everything, anything, even good things that take the place of our jealous God!
Exodus 23:20 - “Behold, I am going to send an angel before you to guard you along the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared.” We spend our lives preparing for the places we want to be with our good families, good life. But what about my good friend who sits kidnapped in Afghanistan tonight or Joseph stuck in a dark dungeon for 13 years or the Israelites wandering for 40 or the disciple dying upside down or the blindman estranged from his family and community or fill in the blank. Smooth safe lives? May we all long and live in the places You have prepared for us, o God. God has spent so much time in Genesis and Exodus outlining for this selected group of Jews what is right living with no other gods. Exodus 23:20 has meant so much to me this past year for my God has orchestrated my circumstances to get me to a better place with Him but it’s not where or how I thought I would spend the ending years of my life. It wasn’t what I wanted. But, now, I give up such idols, and want to go with the places He has prepared.
So, how will we live today? Befriending our world, demanding husbands and family and friends to come through for us? Or, moving into our world, broken before a beautiful God leading us all the way, little by little, with nothing more important in our lives than Him. Is your Lord among your life today?
Posted by Bev Brandon @ The Fray at 12:14 AM
Sunday, February 10, 2008
Below is a post from my precious daughter, Brooke, and yes I just pulled it right off her sweet blog. Didn't want you to miss it! Brooke delivered the items you bought for the orphans in Thailand on this very morning. One line she wrote had me just sobbing---the line was this: "many of them don't own their own things." Can you imagine not having one single thing that belongs to you? Well, they do now. Look at this precious baby in the bucket with the very first thing he owns, a ball. Soccer balls, and shirts, and sandals, and...just read on and be blessed! And, even more than that, you brought them something more that they cannot touch but they can taste, a taste of a big God.
This children's home houses 123 kids who are well cared for and are taught many useful things for their future along with the precious gift of God's Word. Along with a trunk I brought back from America filled with goodies (candy, underwear, art supplies, friendship bracelets made by students in Texas, pictures of people who gave money, etc.) I went shopping with my roommate to get the remaining needed items. We laughed a lot as we lugged several overflowing shopping carts through our would-be "Wal-Mart" in Thailand.
KHORP KHUN MAK MAK KHA!!! PRAJAO UAYPHORN KHUN KHA!
THANKS SO MUCH!!! GOD BLESS YOU!! Brooke
Posted by Bev Brandon @ The Fray at 12:00 PM
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
And the verses I keep hearing again and again...
Surrounded by Love - Psalm 125:2
It's my Beautiful God Who is in my Path - Numb 22:34
God's knocking on the door of my heart - Rev 3:20
But, I can't do this cause all I have is 5 loaves & 2 fish - Matt 14:17
God's providing Water in my desert - Isa 43:20
Cease striving - Psalm 46:10
Rest, my beloved - Deut 33:12
Those seven verses just keep showing up everywhere I go over the past year.
I don't pretend to know that I have a word from God. Just because it jumped off the page, doesn't mean it's applicable to my circumstance. So, how do I know? My son is going through the Experiencing God bible study workbook by Henry Blackaby at his high school. Today, when I was teaching his class, I learned that Blackaby said: "If God has spoken to you, you must continue responding to that word until it comes to pass, even if it takes 25 years, like Abram."
You see, I've had a gorgeous generous act happen to me over the weekend. The Fed Ex man left an envelope at my door on Friday. The return address was a Houston bank. Oh NO! I must have screamed, cause my son instantly appeared by my side inquiring, "What is it mommy?" to which I replied: "We are being SUED." Again. It's happened before. I ripped open the unwanted outer envelope to find an inner letter-sized envelope with a yellow post-it note attached that read: "We hope this helps." How can being sued help anyone?? I ripped open that inner envelope and flabbergastedly (no such word) read "International Money Order" at the top. A money order made out to me for $1,000.00. I looked to see what else was in the envelope. Another money order for $1,000. And another money order for $1,000. And another for $1,000. And one more. Five money orders totaling $5,000. Anonymous. I fell to the floor of my study in a pool of instant tears and thanked a very present God in all of this. All of a sudden, I leaped up and ran back to ask my son if I was reading the decimals right...maybe it was $100.00?? No, I had the unfamiliar decimals right. God knew we needed $1,500 by Monday. My husband's current job as a construction supervisor has come to an end with no future contracts on the horizon and it could take weeks or months to sign another contract. I applied to about 25 jobs last week, but made a "typo" on my cell number and we disconnected our landline---so, I'm still unemployed, doing substitute teacher jobs. Pray that my husband and I both would find where God wants us to be.
Smiling, I think my Heavenly Father knew and sent me $1,500. And, I think Jesus, my beautiful Lord, wanted to send $1,500 too. And the Holy Spirit, my Wonderful Counselor, topped it off with another $1,500. And all Three added $500 so I could tithe it away---$5,000. OH! IDK. I'm being playful. I am so overwhelmed on the floor of my carpet over here. God prompted someone to do this unbelievable gesture of Love. Not only cause we needed money for Monday, but because He was surrounding me with His Love, He was standing in my path, knocking on my door, taking my 5 loaves and 2 fish, providing this thirsty mouth with some quenching water, so that I can cease striving once again, and rest as His beloved.
So, I went to my bank to cash the money orders and they said, No Way. They aren't signed. Anonymous. I called the Houston bank and they said that it could be done that way---the person can remain anonymous, no need for their signature. My bank firmly said no again, said it couldn't be cashed, to try another bank tomorrow, and gave specific advice how to do just that. Strange. I am on my way back to another bank in a few minutes. (Don't know how, but the deposit just worked out.)
Meanwhile, maybe you'll see a Fed Ex truck as you drive along today, and if you do, remember that when your God says something twice, maybe He's trying to let you know the matter is firmly decided. I may be wrong. I do know I'll never be struggle free in this life, but I want to wrestle well with my God over those disturbed places in my heart. I do know that this is a very lonely season in my life and this anonymous gift was such an encouragement to me that my beautiful God sees me and surrounds me. And I do know this, I am
Seen by my silent good God.
Surrounded by the Love of my beautiful Christ.
Staggered by His Presence in this, His movement for me, and so grateful to HIM.
Stunned by a secret agent in Houston who has a huge heart for their God & His Kingdom. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to my secret agent, a co-agent of their Christ!
Posted by Bev Brandon @ The Fray at 10:20 PM
Sunday, February 3, 2008
Welcome back to our Monday Morning post where 24 of us join together to comment today about what lingers in our hearts as we have read together the chronological Bible this week Genesis 40-50 and Exodus 1-7 and some readings in I Chronicles 1-7. We’d love for you to leave a comment here about what stirred in your heart this week as we read together the story of Joseph from a braggadocious dreamer to a beautiful trusting heart in a dungeon. Link us up to your own blog where we would LOVE for you to post in length what your God spoke to you from our readings. Feel free to comment on any of the selections. I am only going to comment on Genesis and wait until next week to start my Exodus comments. And if you are visiting and this is new to you, just leave whatever comment is on your heart.
An author who has touched me profoundly wrote:
The purpose of VULNERABILITY:is to “get insight into myself so that I can be a happier person.”
But the purpose of AUTHENTICITY is to “face where I am so that I can be lifted up into the larger story of God and serve his purposes more deeply, more fully in my life.” I Corinthians 8:1 says knowledge just puffs us up but Love is what changes us. Knowledge makes us feel important but love puts us in our rightful place. Our humble hearts help us more than our prideful minds. May we read His Word not just to seek insight to be a better person. May we read His Word and let Him change our interior world to be caught up in His Larger Story---His thoughts, His ways, His purposes. Pouring out His Beauty in a much larger story than just ourselves, our little world. There's something so much bigger than what is happening to me.
Fifteen Thoughts from The Life of Joseph.
GOD KNOWS YOUR ADDRESS
Forgotten in an empty cistern.
Forgotten in an unjust dark dungeon.
13 years go by from cistern to dungeon---age 17 to age 30.
How did God help Joseph when he had no encouragement? There is something BEAUTIFUL in this suffering Joseph has embraced while in prison “for a long time” (40:4) Even the cupbearer who Joseph helped (40:23) forgot, NO—he didn’t give a rip about Joseph. Did Joseph think he would ever be vindicated? Where was his silent God?
MY GOD IS MY SHEPHERD TO THIS VERY DAY
I’m so grateful to my beautiful God for helping me forgive my own brother who violated me I was forced out of my childhood home again and again by violence. Genesis 40:15 - but my God has been my Shepherd all my life to this very day; and my Angel has delivered me from harm all my life. Jesus was my Door. The Message says in Jeremiah 17:16: "God, pick up the pieces. Put me back together again. You are my praise!Listen to how they talk about me: So where's this 'Word of God'? We'd like to see something happen!" I have not run away from being your shepherd to those people you have given me if it is one or one hundred, if it is a big name or no name.
GOD ACTS IN BEHALF OF THOSE WHO WAIT ON HIM –
Isaiah 64:4 God shows up in a dream: 41:16 “God will give Pharaoh the answer God desires—I CANNOT DO IT, replies Joseph. .” WOW. An absent God who didn’t use Joseph’s gift to get him out of jail. Joseph realized his powerlessness, Joseph testifies about Who is in control of his life in the dungeon for 13 years. Joseph entered his suffering just like Job did. So, how did Joseph go from a braggadocious dreamer to a contented captive waiting in the dark? Waiting for man or waiting on a God who was not moving fast?
IN ABUNDANCE OF WORDS, SIN IS UNAVOIDABLE.
Can you imagine after 13 years, you receive an opportunity to send a personal word to the Pharaoh? Verse 40:15 really got to me. Joseph could have made others look really bad for what they unjustly did to him, but all Joseph says is the truth with no defensiveness, no self protection… “I was forcibly carried off from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing to deserve being put in a dungeon.” (40:15). One sentence. Case closed. Joseph silences me in my problems. If I had an audience with like a Pharaoh about how I’ve been served injustice, I would so build my case to prove what??? Joseph was dead to sin, at this point, and alive to his captive God. Even the chief baker was just looking for favorable words only (40:16). Will I only receive favorable words from my friends?
SENDING YOU A MESSAGE OF THE SAME VERSE OVER AND OVER
The thought in 41:32 was chilling to me. The reason that “dreams are given in two forms is that the matter is firmly decided by God.” Whoa.This is intriguing to me when I think of times, like this very day, when God has spoken the same thing twice, even thrice, to me.
LIVING FOR ANOTHER WORLD
From prison to the pinnacle of power. In 41:41, it says: “Make Way!” for Joseph. No one lifts hand or foot w/o word from Joseph This could easily be enjoyed WAY TOO MUCH by deprived Joseph BUT —NO, he wasn’t living for that world, he was living for another world. This guy, who had a very rocky braggy jealous-filled start has turned in to one awesome solid young man. He offers me such hope, such a taste of his God.
ENTER YOUR SUFFERING AND SEARCH FOR GOD THERE
I was touched by the names Joseph gave his sons:”God made me forget troubles of my household”“God made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.” 41:51. Again, it makes me think that Joseph entered his suffering and found His God there…
SUFFERING CHANGED HIS FACE AND HEART
Amazing that it says in 42:3 they couldn’t recognize Joseph…you know, he had been through so much suffering that it must have changed his face. And we know it changed his heart.
NO “FAVORITES” ANYMORE…….NO “LITTLE PEOPLE”
How interesting Jacob said “everything is against me.” in 42:35. I mean, he still had 10 children and Job had none. He still had that hierarchy—I won’t give up Ben who is special to me and he says in v. 38 that Ben is the only one left—what about the other sons? Jacob responded to his sons based on their performance before God. Is that God’s love?
SAME SINS OVER AND OVER EXPECTING CHANGE
Chapter 43 - they need more food and Jacob says to go get more but they argue—Ben has to go with us. Jacob says you should have kept that info from the ruler. Still dealing with deception in his old age. Help me God not to keep dealing with same sins over and over expecting different results.
AFFLICTION INVITES US TO ACKNOWLEDGE FAILURE
Makes me think of 42:21 where the brothers said they were guilty concerning Joseph in that they saw the anguish of his soul and did nothing about it—now the brothers are suffering and affliction has a way of inviting us all to acknowledge our faults which otherwise might remain hidden. So sad the brothers spent their life hiding their guilt.
FOCUS ON PAIN FREE AND WE LIVE ONLY FOR RELIEF
I Chron 4:9 - Jabez' beautiful prayer “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request. I know we cannot live pain free. They were living in a time of war and this so makes me think of my friend Cyd who was abducted in Afghanistan 10 DAYS AGO and may she be kept from harm! Free from pain! So hoping for her safe return!
AUTHENTIC JOSEPH WAS LIFTED UP TO THE LARGER STORY OF GOD
Joseph revealed himself to his brothers. Don’t be distressed. Don’t be angry with yourselves. There was a larger story of God. “It was not you who sent me here, but God." 45:13 – the Glory of God was on Joseph and he wanted his dad to know the honor bestowed on him.
TAKE CARE OF YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES….LEAD A QUIET LIFE….
Gen. 46:28 . As soon as Joseph appeared before Israel, he threw his arms around his father and wept for a long time. I thought it was so interesting that when Joseph was released from prison, he made no attempt to go to his father. I can understand not going to his brothers. Wouldn’t he want his father to know he was alive and see him? It was only because the father and sons showed up. Joseph took care of the responsibilities in front of him. This challenges me in my current dilemma to live a quiet life and take care of my own responsibilities before my God and let God arrange restoration. Again, am I striving to make it happen? However 42:21 shows I must repent of what I am guilty of. Ball is always in my court.
YOU INTENDED HARM; GOD INTENDED GOOD
When the brothers’ message came to Joseph, he wept in deep places and replied: 50:19 “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” How beautiful is that!
ONLY GOD CAN GIVE US A FORGIVING HEART
50:24 God will surely come to your aid. He certainly has for me to help me forgive my brother. I stood at my brother’s grave recently with 4 others as we buried him knowing that I had forgiven him again and again. I forgave him out loud that moment as he was lowered into the ground. I forgive him this moment and forever. I walked away free. I am free.
Saturday, February 2, 2008
Peace flooded my I-45 soul and that was so from my God.
I threw on my tennis shoes, got out of my defunct Pathfinder and sunk into mud up to my ankles. Locked it up, and began my mile trek to the Texaco. A huge white Texas truck pulled off of I-45 and maneuvred the ditch with his 4-wheel drive. With Texas dirt spewing everywhere, he headed straight toward me. My first thought was from Annette's blog history---what if he is an ax murderer? I was already praying so I just stepped up the requests and strained without my glasses to see who was driving. Relief flooded my soul for he looked just like an Aggie.
The HUGE white TEXAS truck (don't ask me what kind, I only know colors) spitted mud at me as it stopped.
Me: Are you an Aggie?
Texas truck guy: YES, MA'AM
Me: I knew it'
Texas truck guy: And you won't believe what I have for you. LOOK what I just bought. And he holds up a brand new package which I don't have a clue what it is.
Me: What is it?
Texas truck guy: A tow strap.
Texas truck guy: I just bought a tow strap and I can get you out of that ditch.
Me: That's unbelievable. When did you buy that thing?
Texas truck guy: About 30 minutes ago, a thought ran through my mind that I didn't have a tow strap and I ought to get one on the way back to Texas A&M so I stopped and bought one.
Me: Son, that's God putting that thought in your brain for me. I think He just showed up.
Texas truck guy: Okay. I can get you out, ma'am and tow you to the station.
W A I T...Do I have to stay in this car for you to tow it? I mean, I don't want to be behind a big white TEXAS truck when I am not in control. It was a lesson in relinquishing control to be towed. Scary but smooth. You have NO CONTROL. It so made me think of my life---I think I am in control and I may be in the driver's seat, but it's God in control if we are living by faith not by sight.
So what's the moral of this story? IDK. You tell me. All weekend in Houston my God had been talking to me about Psalm 46:10 to cease striving and know that He is God and that He will show up in my life. I just spent a week reading in Genesis all about God showing up for people like Hagar in the desert---see right over there, it's water for you in the desert. Isaiah 48:21. All I need to do is ASK, SEEK, KNOCK. Matthew 7:7. Somehow, I want to FIND HIM and do everything I can to find HIM. But He finds us. How arrogant of me to think I can make it happen. I had even just posted about all the ways God shows up from my week's chronological reading, when we don't even expect it. And there He was, once again, on I-45 telling an Aggie to stop and buy a tow strap for me knowing I would need it in 30 minutes. My beautiful God showed up in Madisonville and reminded me once again that I can be still and know that He is God. He was in Houston. He's here in Madisonville. He's in my Pathfinder. He's in my heart.
Posted by Bev Brandon @ The Fray at 7:50 PM