Friday, November 10, 2017

The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved and Peter

I finished my reading of the Gospel of John this morning and I spent most of it laughing. Yes, I do believe that there are some humorous things in the Bible. God created us in His image, right? If we have a sense of humor, so does He! Let's lighten up, for Peter's sake. (See what I did there?) That being said, I ended my reading of John's words in tears. Let me explain.
Five times in his gospel, the apostle John calls himself, "the disciple whom Jesus loved". Five times! (Jn 13:23, 19:26, 20:2, 21:7, 21:20) He describes all the others by name, but always calls himself, "the disciple whom Jesus loved." By times three, four, and five, I'm saying, "Good Lord John! We get it already! Jesus loved you!" And you know what? That's the thing. John obviously knew and believed with every fiber of his being, that Jesus loved him, and he never missed an opportunity to make sure we all know that. By the way, he also didn't miss the opportunity to make sure we knew that he, the disciple that Jesus loved, outran Peter and reached the empty tomb first. (Jn 20: 3) Because love runs after the beloved.
Maybe it wasn't that John was such a good runner, as it was that Peter didn't run as fast as he could have. Here's where the beginning of my tears began. I wonder if Peter remembered that Jesus said He would see them again, and he was afraid of that very moment. After all, the last's almost unbearable to think of it...last time.... his words...his denial..."I don't know the Man", and "the Lord turned and looked straight at Peter." Straight right through.
When Jesus appeared on the beach, is this why Peter jumped in the water, when the others took the boat to shore? Is this why Jesus had to call him to breakfast, after which He and Peter took a walk on the beach.
At this moment, Peter felt far from being "the disciple that Jesus loved." Maybe the disciple that Jesus was disappointed in? Maybe the disciple that Jesus was angry with? Maybe even the disciple who Jesus didn't love? But, oh! That Jesus!
He didn't rebuke Peter. He didn't scold him. He called Peter by his name and simply asked, "Simon, son of John, do you truly love me more than these?" And again, "do you truly love me?" And a third time, "Do you love me?"
"Lord! You know that I love you! I failed you, but I love you. I sinned, but I love you. I know I disappointed you, but I love you!"
Jesus then said, "Feed my lambs. Take care of my sheep. Feed my sheep." He re-commissioned Peter for ministry. Peter wasn't out of the running to be used for the kingdom, because here's the thing. The thing we need the most is NOT to be perfect but be in love with Jesus. Because love runs after the beloved.
I tried to figure out if I was more like John or Peter. Honestly, I guess I'm a little of both. I know that Jesus loves me, but I need to know it more. I need to know it like John. I need to know it so deep that I can't help but tell everyone that I'm the disciple that Jesus loves. But Peter shows me the depth of being that disciple. With all my faults and failings, Jesus loves so deeply that He forgives and recommissions me for His service. And that's where the tears of thankfulness flowed.
What about you? Are you John or Peter? Either way, my friend, you ARE the disciple Jesus loves.



Saturday, October 07, 2017

Lace up your sandals and travel from Old Testament Bethlehem, to the far country, and back home again. Two widows and a hero will lead the way.

If you have ever loved and lost~
If you have done everything right, but still had things go so wrong~
If you have strayed far from home and are afraid to come back~
If you are seeking purpose in your problems~
Answers in your hardships~
Peace in the middle of your pain~
Comfort in your circumstances~

"Lessons From Ruth: Discovering Your Destiny" will convince you that one decision can change your life, and that your problem is not a set-back, but a set up. Your Kinsman-Redeemer is waiting to show you that everything you have gone through was God's plan all along.

You CAN go home again.
You CAN leave a legacy.
You CAN discover your destiny!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

What DO You Know?

If we're honest, I don't think we like to admit that we ask questions. We especially don't like to admit that we ask questions of God, or about God, right? Somehow it appears much nobler and stronger to say that we believe God one hundred and ten percent, and never question anything. We spout platitudes like, "I don't know the answers, but I know the One Who does".

But what about those times when no one else is around? What about those days when we're alone with God and we can't keep silent any longer and the questions spill out on the floor at His feet?

The world around us gives us plenty to question each day. Why does God allow injustice? Why do such heinous, horrible things advance the cause of evil in our day? Why do bad things happen to good people? Why do people die before their time? Why are babies lost and people murdered and businesses fail? To say nothing of the questions that pose themselves concerning our own situations, trials and tribulations.

A good journalist will ask five questions when sitting down to write a news story. Who? What? When? Where? and Why? I'm having myself a good laugh here, because those are the very questions I ask God. Not everyday, mind you. Some days I try and be strong, buckle up by faith belt and not ask. But other times, man! I can't help but ask! More times than not I get crickets. Zip. Nada.

We ask questions about life and God's plans for us going forward. In many areas of our lives we're living in the dark with a future as clear as mud. Most days, when I hear the silence, I feel that God is saying that I just need to trust Him. I close my Bible and say that's fine and go on with my day. But sometimes, when I ask the questions, and I hear myself say, "I don't know", God says, "What DO you know?"

What DO I know?

I know that God is good.
I know that God has been faithful to me.
I know that Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forevermore.
I know that God loves me.
I know that He has a good plan for my life, one to prosper me and not to harm me.
I know that God will never leave me or forsake me.
I know that God will supply all of my needs according to His riches in glory.
I know that my Heavenly Father knows my needs before I ask.
I know that Jesus died for me and I am forgiven of all of my sins.
I know that it is well with my soul.
I know that I will spend eternity in Heaven with Him.
I know that He who did not spare His only Son, but gave Him up for me, will also freely give me all good things.
I know that He is coming soon and will set all things right in this world.
I know that God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all I could ever ask or think.   
I know that I could go on and on.

Those, and many more, are the things that I know. Those, and many more, are truth. Those, and many more are the answers I can carry with me this day. Maybe the only answers I will get for a long, long time.

The prophet Habakkuk questioned God when the power of Babylon was growing. He questioned God's justice in allowing evil to go unchecked. God's answer to Habakkuk revealed the truths of Who He was and that He certainly knew what He was doing. Because of what he DID know, Habakkuk was able to pen these words:

"Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen 
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior."
(Habakkuk 3: 17-18) 

Like Habakkuk, we may not know the who, what, when, where, or why of our situation today. But because we can call to mind the things about our God that we DO know? We can rejoice in the Lord and be joyful in God our Savior. 

What DO you know today?  


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Coming Out of the Dark

Wow! It has been more than a minute since I've sat down at this keyboard to write "Tuesdays with Jesus". Over a year, for sure; maybe two. What a couple of years it's been! For those of you who don't know, my husband, my dear groom, passed away on January 17, 2015. After a very shocking, short, but hard fought battle with liver cancer, the Lord took him home. I have lived 479 days without him. Just so you don't think I mark those days on my calendar, there's an app for that.

I'm not using that as an excuse for not writing. It was certainly why I haven't written for the last year and a half, but before that, I just didn't write. I don't know why. I just didn't. Right there, is where I want to thank you. I want to thank the ones who emailed, messaged, and approached me in person or on Facebook, to ask when I'm going to start writing again. I heard you. I just turned you off. Thank you to those who are still on that email list to receive my posts every Tuesday morning. Thank you to those who "follow" my posts on the blog faithfully. My numbers never went down. You are still out there. Thank you to that lady in another state, no one I knew, whose private message I found last month, in that "hidden messages" thing on Facebook, asking if I moved the blog somewhere else, because you wanted to read more. You were like the voice of the Lord to me. Thank you!

So here I am. I'm alive. I survived. Some days I even thrived. Others, not so much. But after 479 days, I believe I've learned a few things and I want to share those with you in this first "Tuesdays with Jesus" back.

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God." (2 Corinthians 1: 3-4) 

I've received no small amount of comfort and guidance from the Father of compassion during the troubling times before and after my husband's death. In that verse, He commands me to take that very comfort, and comfort someone else.  So what He has given me, I give to you.

Now, please don't X out of this post or close your email. You may not have suffered the death of your spouse, but that doesn't mean that you've never experienced a loss or great trouble of some other kind. If you're a human being walking sod on planet Earth, you've lost something, you've decided your prayers go unanswered, or you are walking in the dark of some trial right now. What is it they say? You've either had a trial, are in a trial right now, or about to be in a trial soon. So what I have to share is for you, my friend. I know I've been long-winded, and I promise after this week I won't make you read so much, but I had to say all of that to get me here.

Here is what I have learned in the deep places of darkness. Here is the answer to you who say I'm so strong, and how do I do it? First of all, I'm not always strong. I'd be lying if I even tried to make you think I was. This has been the worst, most heartbreaking, gut-wrenching time of my entire life. That being said, I've lived and breathed some foundational truths that have kept me from giving in, giving up or losing my ever-lovin' mind. My prayer is that you will consider making these truths your own, and that they will be the ground beneath your feet when your trial is making you feel like you're standing on quicksand.

Surrender Yes, I said, surrender. Take your problem to the Lord. Pray for your desired outcome. It goes without saying that I wanted Chuck to live. I prayed every single day that the Lord would heal him and that he would live with me for many more years. Of course, I did! But there came a point in time where I had to get down on my knees, sometimes multiple times a day, and say, "Not my will, but Yours be done." I'm talking full wave the white flag surrender. Not surrendering while keeping one hand on the problem. Not having a Plan B. Not my will, but Yours be done. 

Don't be mad if the outcome isn't what you wanted, yearned for, or prayed for. This one piggy-backs off of the first one. If you get angry at God when it doesn't turn out the way you wanted, you never truly surrendered in the first place. I can honestly say that I have never been angry at God for taking my husband home to be with Him. Sad, yes. Lonely, yes. Angry? No. That's how I know that I truly surrendered the outcome to Him. My loving, sovereign, Heavenly Father made His decision, for His reasons, and I accept that. I surrendered. 

Ask God to glorify Himself through what has happened. Ask Him to work out even this thing for your good (Romans 8:28), and for His glory. Ask Him to display His works and make Himself famous through it all. If God doesn't get the fame and the glory for what happened in my life, it was all just some heinous, horrible, random act. I continually ask Him to display the treasures found in darkness, and the immeasurable wealth found in tribulation. It may be your example to others going through a hard time. It may be to provide you with an opportunity to minister to someone who has suffered the same thing that you have. It may be an overwhelming sense of the Holy Spirit's power in your life. It may be that you are now closer to the Lord than you have ever been.     

Look for God's faithfulness specifically to you. I prayed for one specific thing before Chuck died that I never, ever shared with a human being. God was so faithful to answer that prayer above and beyond what I had prayed. He did it so perfectly that to this day, I can't help but smile up at Him in delight and amazement. There was no doubt He answered my prayer. Though I had plenty of opportunity to seek human aid or manipulate the situation, I kept it between me and my God. He answered, and there is not a single doubt in my mind now that He hears and answers my prayers. I'm not advising going it alone all the time. There's just some things that need to stay private between you and your Abba. And when He answers, you'll never doubt His faithfulness to you again. Remember all of the ways He has come through for you in the past, and feed on His faithfulness.

Find promises in the Word that are specific to your situation. Search for those healing Scriptures, those promises of provision, protection, strength, and peace. Read them, write them, and speak them out of your mouth, out loud. God's Word is power. It's alive and active. It's breathed from His very lips. It will renew your mind and replace the lies of the enemy who is whispering defeat in your ear. Jesus said that His Word is Truth (John 17:17). Feed on the certainty of His truth. 

There you have it. This is how I made it. This is how I'm still making it to this very day. 479 days. I haven't done it perfectly. Quite the contrary, I've spent more than a few days as imperfect doing this thing as you can imagine. But underneath me are my Father's everlasting arms and under my feet is the firm foundation of Jesus Christ and His Word. When my feet and my faith fail, He never does, and I go back to these truths over and over again. Aren't you glad He's a God of second chances. And third and fourth......?

I am honored and privileged to give to you what God has given me. I pray this helps you in whatever situation you're in.

"Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk." (Acts 3:6)