When God’s Love is Hard to See

I finish up Judges wondering why. (Judges 19-21) I see the traveling man and wife, the group from Benjamin’s tribe who wanted to rape that man, and the man who offered them his wife to rape instead. I see the wife raped and abused, dying on the doorstep and the man who didn’t bother to find his wife there until the next morning. I see the war done in vengeance for that crime with no blame to the man who saw no need to protect his wife. I see the tens of thousands of Israelites that died in that war before it was finally won, and the 25,000 + Benjaminites and their families that died for the crime of a few. I see the virgins from Jabesh-gilead whose entire tribe and families were killed, so they could be given, whether they liked it or not, to be wives to the Benjaminites who were left alive. And I see the daughters of Shiloh who were kidnapped for the same purpose. I read it all and I am bothered. Because, really, its hard to read that, especially in God’s own Word, about God’s own people Israel, and see the God of this story as a God of Love. And I finish my reading talking to God in frustration, asking Him why this would happen, why this would be in His Word, and how this applies to my life at all?

And He bids me slow down and chew on these words of His a little longer. And maybe it’s partly for the bother I feel over not being able to see God’s Love easily that God had me read this now. Maybe He wanted me to feel that bother to prompt me to go searching for what the Bible says is the only proof I’ll ever need of God’s Love. Because that is what it made me do. To look through the lens of the truth I’m given in the rest of Scripture. To know that He is a just God as the story attests when He commands the Israelites to war with Benjamin. He is just and sovereign, but He is also Love itself. (1 Jn 4:16) He Loves the world and He cares for its individuals. Just as He sees the sparrow (Mt. 10:29-31) and just as He saw the mother of the people who would become the enemy of His own people, (Gen. 16:13) He saw with Love and cared for each person involved in this story. He cared deeply for that woman dying on the doorstep, for the virgins taken from their families, and for the uncaring husband. And, even though, in that story I do not see them experiencing God’s Love, because of the words of 1 John, I know that each one of them was promised the only true proof of God’s Love whether they accepted it or not.  

From the bother I felt over this story, these words in 1 John that I’ve read time and time again speak volumes:

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

“By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world.” (1 Jn 4:9-10, 13-17)

God’s Love may not be shown to us in the circumstances we experience in life, but the circumstances we go through have nothing to do with the one true demonstration of God’s Love. The only proof necessary for us to have surety in God’s Love is the truth in 1 John 4:9:   

“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.”

It was through this one thing that God did all He needed to show us He truly Loved us, through sending His Son to give us life. He showed me that truth when He died for me, and He showed those Old Testament people that truth in His promise from the beginning (Gen. 3:15) that the Savior was coming. If I can cling to this truth that He died so I could live than nothing else matters. This alone fills life with Love.

“So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us.” (1 Jn. 4:16) I am given all I need to rest here: He Loves me. And every life, no matter how sinful, no matter how battered, has been extended welcome by the God of Love who offered us grace and life.

Blessings to you from me. Would be delighted if you’d give a visit to the blogs of these sweet people at the Five-Minute Friday community writing on the word welcome this week. :)

http://katemotaung.com/2015/01/08/five-minute-friday-welcome-and-a-video/ 

  

My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

When Christmas Preparations are still Unfamiliar

This will be my fourth Christmas since graduating high school, my third since getting married, my second since becoming a mommy. All the talk about the hustle and bustle of Christmas is still so unfamiliar to me.

The Christmas decorations we’ve collected in our couple years of marriage took up a small corner of the china cabinet. It took a few minutes to put them out and I enjoyed each one. We were so excited to get our Christmas tree last year. It folds out easy. I love to watch Amayah play with the bells we hang on it.

We like to make gifts and will probably do our December 23rd run to buy the last gifts. I have two gifts ready, and some homemade gift ideas I’m excited to put together.

I will probably make a couple dishes to take to Christmas parties. I have a replacement idea for Christmas cookies that I can’t wait to make.

We may make a short trip to Oklahoma, but besides that we’ll stay in town.

Christmas preparations still are so enjoyable. And that’s probably because I don’t have many responsibilities, and I’m young, and the preparations are still new and fun to me.

And the hustle bustle talk from every which way seems out of place, and sometimes I wonder if I’m missing something.

But thinking on that makes me stop and see the opportunity I have here in life where Christmas easily seems so much more of a joy than a hustle. I have more time to celebrate the Savior and anticipate the season. Time to enjoy His gift, enjoy my family and savor the memories.

And there is where my preparations are undone, and I find that I am still focusing on the doing. And maybe my busy doing isn’t that Christmas bustle, but a different doing. Still I need that hustle bustle talk.

I do, and I like my doing and I like to think about how I’m doing it for Him. And I become focused on it and again I lose sight of the main thing.

Tchividjian’s statement turned me inside out when I first heard it. He talked about the danger in training our children “to obsess more over their feats for Jesus than over Jesus’ feats for them.” (From the forward to Give Them Grace, by Elise Fitzpatrick) I had thought it a good thing when my feats for Jesus are what I want to focus on the most. But I poured more of myself into my good thing than into the best thing, that of gratefully receiving, celebrating His gift. And I still tend too. 

And God knew how I needed all those reminders that I named out of place, to point me to the gift, to tell me to lay more aside of the giving that I feel so important and just treasure the gift. 

My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

To the God who Gives Story

Sometimes, regardless of how wonderful my life really is, I struggle so to find the motivation to try to dwell as anything other than overwhelmed, confused, lost as to how to do life. But even then, You give story. You create life in me that is used to point to true glory, and I am made a useful piece of Your big story. Because You form the world’s story with the pen of Your grace, a story that had no right to be. Your fingers trace each piece to create the people who never would’ve known life and the beauty You create, without the grace you give. Your grace gives us being and privilege to experience the power of a God who upholds the galaxies with the word of His power. And You give each one out of the billions their own unique story, their own unique way to experience You. Your grace gives orchestration to the stories within the stories within this story of the world. You have planned each note we play and oversee the beauty of it all to display Your glory perfectly and all in grace, grace that makes art, and allows me to be part of it all. Gracefully, lovingly, You’ve weaved us into Your plan to make us a part of Your glory. And here in a confused moment of my story, where You are making yourself the hope and stay to a soul that has none of its own inspiration to hope, I stand blessed, blessed to be here and live this word of the story that is at the mercy of the pen of Your grace. Because even if everything else confuses me, I can hold to the knowledge that this moment I’m living has a purpose in the story to point in some way to You.

I’m linking up to Kate and the Five-Minute Friday community. Please enjoy some sweet inspiration about the word give. :)

http://katemotaung.com/2014/11/27/five-minute-friday-give/ 

My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

Step into the Canvas

Taking much longer than five minutes just to think of how to start this post. Notice is the word of the day at Five Minute Friday. And I am somewhat at a loss to write anything about this as my own because I’ve been so inspired by fellow bloggers today to think on the things God has left in my life to notice. I will simply be sharing thoughts that originated with others today. So, the things God has given today to be noticed: 

To notice the way He’s placed glimpses of His beauty in every part of my day, like all the birds swirling outside my kitchen window today. 

To notice the people He uses to touch my soul, to etch His story of grace into my life and leave me never the same. 

To notice the opportunities He gives to paint the world with the Love that lives in me. He uses the little things.

To notice the ways He’s left for me to live His beauty in my every day, to leave pieces of His beauty in the world around me.

To notice the way He pours grace into my daily life, painting portraits of His Love with every day of my story.

To notice the one Gospel gift He wants most for me to notice, that its grandeur goes so much farther than the day of my salvation, that each moment is an opportunity to step into the canvas of His graceful masterpiece to experience the depths of that gracious Gospel story.    

And quoting one I’ve been so inspired by today, to notice "how He manages it all, with grace and steadiness.“ To notice who He really is, in spite of all I am. 

(I was quoting Katie Reid who’s sweet blog you can read here: http://www.echoesofmyheart.com/tww-blog/the-notice-five-minute-friday-prompt

One more quote to close out. I Love Emily Freeman’s book concept and I’ve never even read it. Art references in this post are inspired by her, and this final thought is hers: To notice ”the art in a quiet word, a hot dinner, a made bed, a grace-filled glance, and a million other ways of experiencing God in the world through the simple human acts of listening, waiting, creating, and showing up.“

(Give her book a look. It’s on my wishlist! Read about it here: http://www.chattingatthesky.com/a-million-little-ways/)

So here’s to noticing, to noticing the grace-handiwork of the God who made me, to seeing Him in the handiwork He graces to be made through me. To stepping full into His canvas of grace. 

And, please, consider yourself invited to speak with some sisters and be refreshed at the Five-Minute Friday community…

http://katemotaung.com/2014/11/20/five-minute-friday-notice/

My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

Stillness in Chaos

Joining with the group to give my Five-minute Friday write on the word still. 

“Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

Stillness. When life is busy. Stillness. When life is full of baby cuddles, kissing boo-boos, fixing lunches, chicken pot pie on the carpet, laundry piles, baby dolls, temper tantrums, Dr. Seuss books, doctor’s appointments, tears, kisses, love, laughter and new life that plants smiles and excitement that won’t go away, and I can’t be still, not now. 

But I hear it again, my need to be still, to still my soul even when I must keep going. Stillness can not always come with silence, not to a mother, not to many who face endless demands. Because I so often wait for the silence to be still and just know He is God over this day and moment and all it holds. But He bids not to wait, to find soul-stillness even in the middle of the sleepy, teary girly falling with the chicken on the carpet.

Because the sin that arises in my heart in that moment can only be used against me if I hold onto it, which I will always do, unless I find stillness in the chaos to know He is and give it to Him. 

And when she was tiny I lost it because I just didn’t think I could do stillness without silence and aloneness, and I waited and waited and I was drained for time with the Savior, and as much as I could try, I was drained for the energy to be a mommy who saw her little one with true joy that can only come from the Spirit. 

And I want so much to learn stillness in chaos. To enjoy my girly with the joy that only comes from stillness. And I’m enjoying her more every day. And I’m so grateful to hold a newborn of my own again soon. Because I want the chance again to go through that stage of life, holding a newborn of my own, with a soul that is still in the chaos of it all. I’m sure I’ll have many bad moments again, with soul and joy not still to know, but I want so badly this chance to look into the face of my own tiny baby again, from eyes that are first set on the Spirit that gives true joy in such a marvelous time of life.   

   

Please visit the Five-minute Friday community at http://katemotaung.com/2014/11/13/five-minute-friday-still/

My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

To Turn the Pages

Five Minute Friday

To turn its pages, to read its words, to know they contain pure truth that can change me, draw me close to the One who exists outside of limitations, of time, or gravity, of space, and failures, who exists outside of all this I am limited by and gives meaning to my being. He goes beyond it all and I am His. And this, my connection to the thoughts of His heart, His words to reach my soul, and yet I do what I do? I see the indifference in my heart that is spoken foul in His Word, and do anything to avoid admitting fault. I make compromise between my ideas and the authority of the Word He so carefully gifted. And in doing so, I’ve thrown His precious gift on the floor to stomp it under foot because I’ve not just made compromise with the authority of these pages, I’ve said no to their power, no to the power of the Word, the One who’s cross I stand at the foot of, where my being lives in the flow of grace.       

This is my Word: Pepper Choplin

Paraphrasing Isaiah 55:10-12

As the snow falls from heaven,
As it comes in swirling showers from the sky, So is my Word.
As the rains bring the water to the earth that is thirsty and dry,
So is my Word.
And the Word of my mouth, it shall not return empty:
It will bless the earth wherever it is heard.
This is my Word.
As the rain brings renewal
And the tender buds begin to come alive,
So is my Word.
Giving seed to the sower,
And the bread to the hungry ‘til
they thrive, So is my Word.
And the Word of my mouth, it shall not
return empty;
It will bless the earth wherever it is heard.
This is my Word.
O Lord, when I am weary,
When I fell the days I’m living are in vain,
My God, help me be faithful to the Word You have given to proclaim.
Proclaim the Word, and you will go out in joy,
And be led forth in peace,
And the hills will break before you into song.
So be faithful, brave and true,
For I will go before you,
And when your earthly journey here is done.
I’ll say well done, well done!
As the snow falls from heaven,
And the rain comes in showers from the sky,
This is my Word.

 

http://katemotaung.com/2014/11/06/five-minute-friday-turn/ 

My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

Uncertainty and the Call of Grace

Five-Minutes:

Go…

Leaving with uncertainty, uncertainty that can hurt. Simply not having something real and true to hold onto can leave so much room for fear. And I give into fear and am reminded that I am a mess who renounced the secure hope He offers for my feeble fears, turned my back on Him to entertain my worries. And He reminds me that I stand before Him again though all unworthy, I’m made worthy. He already bore the temptation of fears just like this, and performed the righteousness that I needed to go on my record for this time. He’s already destroyed the dominion of these fears, and simply because of knowing this, His grace and mercy in this, how is it possible for me to choose fear if I abide in the knowledge that a God of such Love has called me to live in such great grace. 

Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. – Hebrews 2:17-18

How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. – Romans 6:2-4

Please read more of these precious blogs at the Five-minute Friday community:

http://katemotaung.com/2014/10/30/five-minute-friday-and-a-giveaway-day-31-leave/ 

My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

My girlie – Not too excited about halloween… She’s still a cutie though. :)

My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

The Dare to Expose and Embrace the Sinner (even when it hurts)

Five-Minute Friday…

I’ve come across it so many times this week… concerning my walk with God… concerning my parenting…

“Before we can embrace grace, we have to embrace sin.Not celebrate it or wallow in it, just own up to it – so we can accept the forgiveness we desperately need.” – Liz Curtis Higgs

Embrace sin… such a shocking statement, and maybe embrace isn’t exactly the word, yet it gives a good feel for what He seems to be daring me to do when I come across these verses and quotes again and again. 

“Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” – Rm. 5:20-21

Law = increased sin. 

Increased sin = abounding grace. 

And, of course, my sin is not something to celebrate or even to dwell in pity over. It’s something to rebuke, to put off, to turn from in pursuit of God. But, I think He’s telling me that there’s more to it than that. Perhaps I should look the other way in a sense. Because where sin increased, grace abounded. He’s daring me to learn how to embrace the fact that I’m a sinner in need of Him without lessening the battle against the sin.

And not just in my walk with Him. I have to embrace the sinner in all…

“Parents sometimes give children a keepable standard… This non-biblical counsel drives children away from the cross. It doesn’t take grace from God to [keep this standard]… When you fail to hold out God’s standard, you rob your children of the mercy of the gospel.” – Tedd Tripp

And how often I give my girl a keepable standard.

Living in grace involves embracing not only the sinner in me, but embracing the sinner in those around me. I have to be willing to hold truth high enough that it exposes the people around me, especially my daughter as a sinner in need of God’s grace, even when it hurts. I’m taking the dare to learn how to live that out.

Please visit Kate and the rest of the #FMFparty at http://katemotaung.com/2014/10/23/five-minute-friday-and-a-giveaway-day-24-dare/  

 

My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

As Long As He Lives

Been thinking a lot about the five-minute Friday post this week. Here it is. :)

Word prompt: long

As long as my flesh lived I was bound, bound to that which stirred up my passion. I grew the fruit of death. I was slave to law, slave to death. All my love was given to the evil one, and I was unlikeable in every part of my being, disapproved in every way. As long as my flesh lived…

But the Son, the Son took this torn and soiled flesh that I bore and cloaked Himself in it to enter the Father’s presence. The destiny I had been doomed with became the Son’s. Instead of walking into the presence of the One I’ve always wanted the Love of, in complete shame, being disapproved in every nook and cranny of my being, not having anything likable in my own self, my flesh was humbly taken by the Son and my wicked passions earned the shame He bore instead. There before the Father, his head hung low, because cloaked in my flesh, it was as good as fact that the Son had given His Love away to the evil one.

You walked into His presence with everything unlikeable in me and endured the death in your body of my own flesh. You faced death and I was rid of everything unlikeable, but without anything likable. No longer unworthy, I was still not worthy. But then You arose, and in Your new life, You brought with You what would also be mine – the life You had earned with every second of Your life on earth. You earned all worth before the Father and brought from the grave that worth for me. You cover me with Your life and the Father sees me likable in every way. I will dance before you and boldly let you see my every part because you find favor in it all. As long as the Son lives, new life is mine. I praise You for I am made worthy, because You are worthy.

As long as He lives…   

Please visit the five-minute Friday page!

http://katemotaung.com/2014/10/16/five-minute-friday-and-a-giveaway-day-17-long/ 

My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.