Live Like a King

Archive for June 2009

Last night, at Ladies’ Bible Study, I realized something…when rebuking the Pharisees, Jesus twice used the same Scripture. Hosea 6:6 “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.” The first time (in Matthew at least) was when He had dinner at Matthew’s house and the Pharisees were criticizing Him about eating with tax collectors and sinners. I can just imagine His smirk when He says, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick,” then see His face change to a little anger as He says, “But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the “righteous,” but sinners, to repentance. (Matthew 9:12, 13) I added the quotes. If He were alive today, would He have given a little sarcastic lilt to the word “righteous?”

Jesus also used this Scripture in Matthew 12:1-9. Jesus and His disciples are walking to the synagogue and they pass by a grain field. The disciples are hungry and pull off the fat heads of grain and eat as they walk by. Apparently some Pharisees are nearby and they complain to Jesus, “Look, Your disciples are doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath! So Jesus gives them a little history lesson, reminding them of the time David ate the showbread from the Tabernacle and the fact that even priests break the Sabbath by performing their duites. He then says, ““Yet I say to you that in this place there is One greater than the temple. But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

Right after this, He goes into the synagogue and heals a man with a withered hand in the synagogue on the Sabbath, then rebukes the Pharisees again for their anger at His actions. Then they go out and plot to kill Him.

This has had me thinking. I’m not sure if Jesus used this other times. But I do know that the priciples of mercy, not sacrifice are reiterated by Paul in 1 Corithians 13:1-3 “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.”

We can act as “righteous” as we want, but if it is not out of genuine love, God counts it as nothing.

This morning I read the Spunky Homeschool blog and her comments on another article on the supposed disadvantages of homeschooling. While I agree that homeschooling does take a lot of time, effort, and energy I feel it was worth it.

This paragraph cracked me up though:

One disadvantage is the financial burden or hardship it can impose upon a family. It is the responsibility of the parents to purchase the curriculum needed for home schooling where the public school provides it at no charge.

This means parents must purchase books, materials, computer software and other resources in order to teach the lessons. Parents must fund all field trips, outings or special activities. Often, one of the parents must give up his or her job to home school. The loss of a second income in a two-income household can be detrimental. This can be a significant disadvantage and it can disrupt the harmony of the home.

As a former homeschooler (who hopes to return), let me tell you, I hate having my kids in public school. Yes, the days without them were nice and quiet. I could keep the house reasonably clean, cook nicer meals, and work on insurance paperwork without interruption (except from my 3 year old). BUT those positives  are far outweighed by the negatives.

Address the “cost” issue stated above. Almost every day, I received notifications for some type of fundraiser. My older middle school children had to actually sell items. My 8th grader didn’t even have a regular science textbook. Instead she had to access it online. She also had to pay for a vocabulary workbook. Outings and field trips were paid for by me, including the ones that didn’t have an entry fee. I still had to pay for the bus rental. It was frustrating to my kids that I could not afford to purchase books from the book fairs, extra pictures, candy cane pens, yearbooks, etc. for them. It was frustrating for me as well. On top of that, wehad to spend extra for clothes and backpacks and shoes. And don’t forget the projects that I need to purchase items for, like poster board, glue, special paper, about which you are likely not informed about until bedtime.

Another reason I do not like having my kids at public school is that it gives me less time to teach them about their faith. And in some cases, what is taught is directly opposite of what I want my kids to believe (like evolution vs. creationism or sexual behavior).

As for time, I think I’d rather be able to teach my kid throughout the day than have to cram in all the homework in the few hours they are home in the evening. Apparently according the the teachers, I am still supposed to make sure they do their homework and they want me to initial all their agenda books. I’m not off the hook by sending my kids to public school

My 9 year old is bored in school because he grasps concepts quickly, yet he has to wait for the rest of the class. My 7 year old  has been the target of bullying. My 12 year old was hit in the face by another student. My 13 year old had vicious rumors spread about her. Certainly these things would not happen in homeschool.

The bottom line is that both schooling choices have advantages and disadvantages. Each family has to weigh those choices and come up what works best for their particular situation.

My favorite author and blogger, Karen Hancock, wrote a post today that blessed me. She said, “that He’s made me a priest and I can go to Him whenever I want… I think that in particular is something we take for granted. In the age of Israel, people just couldn’t go to God whenever they wanted. Though sometimes God came to them, like with Gideon, usually they had to go to the priest and ask him to talk to God for them. Or if God had said anything to the priest that the person needed to know. Or they had to confess their sins to him and ask him to sacrifice an animal for them. “

We just don’t get it. For much of history, God was Someone who most people were unable to approach. That they had to worship Him from a distance. Only a very few knew Him up close and had an intimate relationship with Him. Why is that?

I think that many people, knowing God had established the sacrifices and the Law were content in just following that. They were content with a distant relationship with Him, living by the rules, just getting by. Those that truly loved Him pressed in to know Him. And He revealed Himself to them.Were they the most faithful to His Laws? I believe they did they best they could but at the same time, being human, they failed. The Law was given to us to show us our sin and need for a savior. David, Moses, Isaiah, Daniel and the other heroes of the Old Testament all knew this. They knew that they could never, ever earn their way to God. They had to throw themselves on His mercy and grace. And they knew that somehow, some way, God would make the ultimate atonement for them.

Sadly, only a few people out of the millions that lived before Christ reached true intimacy with God. Let’s face it, even today, when God isn’t striking people dead for touching the Ark or showing up as a pilar of fire, intimacy with God is a scary thing. Sometimes He shows you things about yourself you don’t want to see. He asks you do hard things, like forgive your enemies and love people you’d rather avoid.

It always brings me to tears thinking about the fact that the God of the Universe, who is the Designer of the very intricate creation wants to be close to me. Too often I push Him away. Many times it is out of fear because I know He will ask hard things of me. Or ask me to give up something I love because He knows it is getting in the way of my destiny. I’m stubborn and rebellious and want things my own way. I rely too much on my own understanding and not enough on His. Many times I think I’m just a big screw up and question His judgment in choosing me or giving me 7 kids.

But He knew what He was getting when He called me. I am not a surprise to Him. That, my friends, makes all the difference.

Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; Blessed is the (wo)man who trusts in Him! Ps. 34:8

Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from destruction, who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renews like the eagle’s. Ps. 103:1-5

Today I received a devotion by Gregory Dickow entitled, “If I just pray of live holy enough, I will get closer to God.” He feels this thought is a works mentality, that if we believe this we are trying to earn our intimacy with God. Instead we need to accept that Jesus lives inside us, that we don’t have “earn” closeness, but that it is a gift.

I think that is all true to a certain extent, but at the same time, James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

Yes, it is true that I am the temple of the Holy Spirit and Jesus dwells inside me, but it is incumbent upon me to draw nearer to Him. I have to make some effort here. Not as a legalistic “I must pray 10 hours per day or fast twice a week” but because I want to be close to Him. In order to do that, I have to spend time in prayer, Bible study and even fasting. I do need to cleanse my hands of my sin and purify my heart because that is pleasing to God and it removeds blocks between us.

I see it as a natural progression…first you make the effort to draw near to God (after all you have to make an effort to get to know your spouse before you start dating), then the sin you were immursed in is not so wonderful looking as it was before. And before long your heart is purified.

No, intimacy with God is certainly not effortless. You definitely do have to work at it. But that doesn’t mean we earn it. It’s already been earned through Jesus and His sacrifice.

In 1 Samuel 30, David is going through a crisis. Arriving back from being kicked out of the Philistines camp where he hid because Saul was after him, David finds that his entire city had been taken captive. Including his two wives and children. His men were quite angry and ready to stone him. Verse 6 says, “Now David was greatly distressed,  for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.

Wow, in the midst of such a crisis, David turned to his relationship with the Lord for strength. Instead of freaking out about the fact that everyone was ready to stone him, he turned to the only One who could help him in that situation.

This morning I woke up in a bad mood. Last night Chris tried to install some window air conditioners that survived the fire because they were in the shed instead of in the house. We don’t have the central air running because the contractor is not finishing the house until we get more money from Liberty Mutual and Liberty Mutual is not giving us more right now. We’ll probably have to wait until after the lawsuit unless something changes. Back to the a/c problem…I have asthma and need it to breathe when it gets very humid. We have a small one running in our bedroom. We thought installing the two smaller ones we have downstairs would work ok, except they didn’t fit. Apparently the new windows are too wide. <sigh>So now I am faced with a summer of hiding in my bedroom because we can’t afford to buy a new A/C unit for downstairs (or the third floor) or pay to finish the central air. Thanks Liberty Mutual. I appreciate all the opportunities for growth that you business practices provide (said with a sarcastic tone).

But when I’m feeling down, frustrated and like I can’t take it anymore (which seems to be more and more frequently) God always reminds me to come up and trust Him. I have to. There is no earthly thing I can do right now to make my situation better. Nothing.

I need to follow after David’s example and strenthen myself in the Lord. He has come through for my family before. We received cash in the mail with a postal address in England when Chris was out of work 8 years ago. He has miraculously provided food, shelter, and other things when we needed it. He has given us favor with people needed to get our house rebuilt. He promises that my children won’t be begging for their supper (I assume that is from strangers since they are constantly begging me for food! LOL). He promises that He will never leave me or forsake me. And the best promise is that whatever earthly struggles I have will fade to insignificance in the world to come. I am certainly not going to remember about the stupid a/c while beholding Jesus’ face. I can get through and perservere because He who is in me is greater than he who is in the world.

So get up, dust yourself off, Dawn, trust God and do the next thing (which happens to be Mt. Laundry).

Peace

Posted on: June 9, 2009

This morning I read a devotional from MorningStar Ministries entitled “Peace on Earth.” It is certainly an appropriate topic for the times we are living in. North Korea has nuclear weapons, Islamic jihadists want to wipe us off the face of the earth, people are unemployed, homeless, sick, and hurting. In my own life, I certainly have enough things to make me drown in a sea of anxiety.

Just a few years ago, I would have been unable to sleep and constantly nauseous. But I have decided that I will NOT live that way. I am not going to walk around constantly cranky, unable to sleep or enjoy my life. Yes, I have my moments, but praise God, I’ve seen Him come through enough for me that I know that He will again.

It came down to a choice, just like so many things in my life and walk. I must CHOOSE to walk in peace and not dwell on all the crises around me. I must meditate on my God and His goodness instead of meditating on whether I will have air conditioning this summer or whether my insurance company will actually pay up.

And I must CHOOSE to act with Christ’s character when faced with the people that Satan is using to induce these crises. I must remember that :

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints– Ephesians 6:10-18

Lord, may I be able to bring glory to Your name during the trials of my life. I know that trials will come, must come. May I learn all that I should through them, constantly drawing closer to you through them, and be more than a conquerer.

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for in YAH, the Lord, is everlasting strength.

I need God’s peace…so many things are in a tumult in my life. Unresolved problems with Liberty Mutual, unfinished house with a deadline fast approaching, an attorney that seems too busy, our finances in disarray, wondering when we can get groceries or if I will be able to spend my birthday money on me (like that last one is really important in the grand scheme of things!). All those things together could crush me under their weight.

I’m not the one to bear them. Because I belong to Jesus. I am His beloved and I do not need to worry. He will work things out and make them right. I believe this.

But my mind likes to wander and try to figure it out. Try to save us myself. Try to make things right and correct mistakes. The problem is that when I try to do that, I make things worse, much worse. And I’m grumpy with everyone around me and have no patience. Even more disturbing, I find my faith level dropping into the sewer pipes like a draining sink. I find myself thinking of where we will live if we lose our house, how will Chris get to work if our van breaks down, what will we do if, if, if.

2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us cast down arguments and every high things that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. My “if, if, if” is trying to overcome what I know about God and His goodness.

I need to replace my “if, if, if” with God’s peace by keeping my mind stayed on Him. Peace in Isaiah 26:3 is written in Hebrew as shalom, shalom. (In Hebrew, when a word or concept is repeated, it means that it is being emphasized. It’s like typing ALL CAPS in internet speak.) Shalom encompasses health, happiness, well-being, peace.

The word “mind” in the Hebrew here means “creative imagination.” My creative imagination should be planning to thank the Lord that He’s gotten us through this time.

The Spirit-Filled Life Bible sums it up like this, “Isaiah’s thought is that he whose creative imagination, the seat of plans and ideas, is firmly founded on the eternal Lord, will enjoy shalom in all its implications.”

That’s my misson for the day.