Just Follow the Instructions

From my 2009 Journal. When my three girls were getting ready to live on their own, I gave each of them a homemade cookbook filled with our favorite family recipes. (See below.) What I knew by intuition and experience didn’t always translate onto paper, however. Apparently I did not give precise enough instructions, for I’d frequently get a phone call asking me to clarify an ingredient or procedure.  

In contrast, when God gave instructions to His prophets, He was detailed and precise. One day He spoke the following to Jeremiah:

  1. Stand in the court of the Lord’s house (where and with what posture)
  2. Speak to all the cities of Judah that come to worship there (what to do and to whom)
  3. Speak all the words that I command you to speak; diminish not a word (what to say—precisely, fully, accurately) (26:2)

And so Jeremiah obeyed. But after he finished Step #3, the people, priests, and prophets seized him and threatened to put him to death.

Jeremiah’s response is most interesting and gratifying. He obeyed God out of a peaceful heart because he had already grappled with the fear of the results of his actions.

Be assured, however, that if you put me to death, you will bring the guilt of innocent blood on yourselves and on this city and on those who live in it, for in truth the LORD has sent me to you to speak all these words in your hearing (Jeremiah 26:15 NIV).

My first takeaway is that God’s will was accomplished through Jeremiah’s obedience. Second, obedience does not guarantee comfortable results! (Gulp)

When God gives instructions, He is the expert. He knows the intended outcome as well as the steps to achieving that goal. His instructions are clear and precise. When God speaks, it is in our best interest to listen . . . and obey to the letter.


Intro to Katie’s Cookbook:

Dearest Katie-Bug,

I’ll never forget the day you came into my bedroom early one Saturday morning and announced that pancakes were ready. You were so small, you probably had to stand on a stool to reach all the ingredients. I was astonished. “How did you . . . ?”

“I read the instructions,” you replied.

Up to that time, your classic experiments with ingredients in the kitchen consisted of getting a small mixing bowl, a big spoon, and anything in the cupboard you could find:  a little flour, some sugar, a pinch of various random spices. And when you were satisfied with the results, we would bake the concoction at 350 in a disposable pie tin. Incredibly, sometimes the product was edible! You were so proud of yourself and your creations.

Of my three girls, you were the most interested in what went on in the kitchen—until it came time to clean up, and then you would suddenly declare you had to go to the bathroom; and off you went, conveniently waiting till the task was done. You were most intrigued with the creative part of cooking—like decorating Christmas cookies. Your latest endeavor was decorating a gingerbread house. Remember your attempt at making stroganoff for your dad while I was in California!? But you became a master at turning out perfect macaroni and cheese.

Here are some of our family’s favorite recipes—some yours, some your sisters’ favorites. Keep them safe, for when you get to college, it’ll save you a phone call or two to find out how to make . . . (no, there’s no recipe for making French fries or ice cream!)

May you continue to hone your skills in the kitchen so that you can minister to others, perhaps to your own family some day.

I love you with all my heart,

Mom


Chocolate Chip Scones

1 ¾ cups flour                         1/3 cup butter

3 T sugar                                 1 egg, slightly beaten (reserve some)

2 ½ t baking powder             ½ c chocolate chips

½ t salt                                    4-6 T cream or milk

Combine dry ingredients.

Cut in butter, add egg, choc chips.

Add enough milk so dough leaves sides of bowl.

Knead on floured surface gently 10x

Roll into a circle ½ inch thick

Cut into wedges. Place on ungreased cookie sheet.

Brush with little bit of beaten egg.

400, 10-12 min.

On Divorce

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is divorce-2.jpgFrom my 2009 Journal. Forty to 50 years ago, the topic of divorce in the church caused a lot of angst. The stigma of sin was plastered all over the couple, and the “guilty” parties were shunned. I listened to preachers quote Malachi 2:16 “I hate divorce,” to justify keeping a woman under bondage even to an abusive husband. Unfortunately, those same preachers neglected to preach on the rest of the verse.

“I hate divorce,” says the LORD God of Israel. “I hate it when one of you does such a cruel thing to his wife. Make sure that you do not break your promise to be faithful to your wife” (Malachi 2:16 Good News Translation).

One day I was stunned to read in the book of Jeremiah that God Himself chose to divorce!

I, the Lord, put faithless Israel away and have given her a bill of divorcement, because in her adultery His bride polluted and defiled the land (Jeremiah 3:8-9).

Yes, God hates divorce because He knows its heartaches firsthand. He longs for relationship and connection. He gave Israel repeated opportunities to repent and return to Him before He cut off relationship with Her. He gave them the best and thought they’d not turn away from following Him (v. 19), but they did.

The topic of divorce has many subtopics with a lot of emotional attachments. My main point here is to rail against Scriptural abuse that keeps people in bondage to legalism.

Your thoughts?

Does God Feel Pain?

God touched Jeremiah’s mouth and said, “Behold I have put My words in your mouth.”

From my 2009 Journal. The book of Jeremiah is his story, his testimony of how God spoke to him and called him to action. It includes strong imagery about the relationship between God the Lover and Israel who spurned His love.

  • I broke your bond and yoke to free you, but you shattered and snapped the bonds with Me.
  • I planted you, a choice vine, wholly of pure seed. But you turned into degenerate shoots of wild vine.
  • You wash yourself with much soap, yet your guilt and iniquity are still on you. You’re spotted, dirty and stained.
  • You’re like a female camel or donkey in heat! (Lots of lovers).
  • The images go on and on.

Donkey

God will not interact with everyone the same way. He’s too creative for that. But we can glean principles from Jeremiah’s life, truths that apply to us in this generation. It struck me today that God the Father experienced pain, rejection, and abandonment long before God the Son experienced it on earth. I want to live my life in such a way that I don’t ever cause Him pain, but I’m forever grateful that Jesus took all my pain onto His own body on the cross. 

What’s Your Excuse?

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations (Jeremiah 1:5, NIV).

From my 2009 Journal. Jeremiah was a PK (Preacher’s Kid), for his father was a priest. One day God spoke directly to him—I assume in an audible voice. It’s pretty heady stuff to be chosen by God!

But Jeremiah’s objection to this calling reflected his fears: “Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young” (1:6).

What excuses do I make for not following God’s command: she’s too hard to love; he won’t listen; I can’t because . . . ; I don’t know how; I don’t have time; I don’t have the money. . .

God’s answer to Jeremiah (and to me):  Don’t be afraid because I AM with you.

The antidote to fear is experiencing God’s presence.

I feel a connecting point with Jeremiah. When God called me to the ministry of inner healing prayer, the only reason I said no to my fears and yes to God was because I had a strong sense of His presence. You can read all about that story in our book Diamond Fractal.

Is God Proud or Humble?

From my 2009 Journal. Webster has several definitions for pride including the negative synonyms of “haughty” or “arrogant” or “puffed up.” A proud person in this sense is ego-centric and egotistical. He is like someone strutting around with a blindfold on, thinking he’s a peacock, when all along he’s a naked chicken. If you take his blindfold off, he’ll feel exposed and run for cover. Somehow we’ve attributed a negative connotation to this bird: “proud as a peacock.” But I think the small-minded chicken who coined this phrase was just jealous!

God is not proud according to this definition. “Puffed up” cannot apply to God because He cannot get any bigger.

Is God humble, then?

Humility is having or showing a modest or low estimate of one’s own importance. It is attributing all to someone else of higher rank, and God can’t do that. Humility has no reference point or meaning for God because there is no one higher than He. Humility acknowledges that power and glory belong to a higher power. God IS the higher power.

Pride and humility are terms that are understood because they are relative to a different standard. God is His own standard.

However, a second definition of proud is “a sense of one’s own dignity or worth.” When I look at God, He is a peacock—majestic in all His splendor and worthy of admiration and “oohs” and “aahs.” He’s not showing off. He just IS. Beautiful, magnificent, splendor-filled, majestic, full of awe, unlike any other being in the universe, take-your-breath-away gorgeous.

By Definition #2, we could conclude that He is indeed proud: proud of His creation and having a self-awareness of His true identity.

What do you think?

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Praying for the Sick

From my 2009 Journal. I get a little confused when I hear others pray and teach on prayer for the sick. Chrissy claims the blood of Jesus “by His stripes we are healed” for anyone who is sick and expects instant physical healing. She had a little crisis of faith when her father passed away. One pastor says it’s weak praying to say, “If God wills” because we shouldn’t be asking for healing unless we know it’s His will. What if, he says, the illness is “unto death” and we don’t know the person’s heart? What if he/she needs to let go of rebellion before God wants to heal him/her? How can we ask if we don’t know what to ask for?

Maybe it’s God’s will that all be healed, but Man still has a will and a choice as to how he treats his body, and God is not obligated to override his choices. I can’t ask God to make a person choose something, but I can trust God to know how to get a person’s attention like He did for Jacob or for Jonah.

Somewhere there must be discernment in our prayers for the sick. The biblical author James says to pray for the sick, and the elders of the church should anoint with oil. Should we do this for every sniffle?

Sometimes I think we’re so focused on physical healing, we forget to pray for the spiritual. Jesus often mentioned the faith of the person who asked for healing. The disciples healed many sick after the resurrection. Did they stop to ask if the person wanted healing or what was preventing their healing?

Maybe our prayer for the sick could be, “Reveal to X anything that is preventing his healing, give him courage to face his pain, may God be honored through his responses and reactions, and heal his body if it will give God greater glory.”

I take comfort in the fact that God knows my heart. He can interpret my words and intent and use them for His glory. He knows me well enough to know what I believe and mean.

2020 Update.  I find it interesting to look back at how I struggled 10 years ago. Those questions no longer burn in my heart. It’s not that I have fewer questions; it’s that I’m more content with not knowing all the answers. I just ask and let God sort it out.  This past week a dear friend and prayer warrior had a massive stroke. The church gathered together to pray for her, but our emotions were conflicted. We wanted to see Mary Lee fully restored to health, but we opened our hearts and hands to release her to heaven. We trusted God to do what was best. Today she is dancing with the angels, and I’m okay with God saying no to the cries of our heart to give her physical life back.

photo of woman lying in hospital bed

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Just a Little Talk with Jesus

red ant on green leaf

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From my 2009 Journal. God is SO big—bigger than my puny imagination can handle. I can see Him occupying heaven’s space with earth as His footstool. I feel like an ant in His sight. How does an ant talk to Someone so magnificent?

And Jesus says:

“I know. That’s why I came down to your level and became an ant. We want relationship with you. Why do you make prayer such a chore? Such a to-do list? Such a grocery list? Just talk to Me! I already know what’s on your mind and in your thoughts and in your heart. You don’t have to speak it for Me to know it. But I love having conversation with you. I love it when you tell Me about your day and when you’re worried and why you’re afraid and who you’re concerned about. Just talk. Just tell Me. And if you’d rather draw a picture in your mind, that’s okay too. I love you, you know. You already know you can trust Me. You just need to learn to relax and enjoy Me. You keep saying you need friends. I’m the best friend you’ll ever have!”

Habakkuk’s Struggle

From my 2009 Journal. While reading through the book of Habakkuk, I notice the prophet’s anguished struggle with God’s inaction.

How long, LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save? (1:2 NIV).

 Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? (1:3).

Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrongdoing. Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves? (1:13).

Humans have wrestled with God’s choices from the beginning of time. We try to reconcile our theology of a good and caring God with our perception of His actions or inaction. Why is it so hard to just accept God and His will and His way? I think it’s because we have a built-in need for fairness and justice, and we want control of our world.

What makes you struggle with God?

2020 Update.  Our world is a mess right now, but is it really any different from Habakkuk’s day: violence, injustice, wrongdoing, wickedness. My struggle is not really about what’s going on in the world, but rather what’s going on in my heart. When I ask why questions, I don’t really want an intellectual answer. I want God to fix the pain in my heart so I can be at peace. But it’s a struggle to let go of my own agenda.

man covering face with hands near car trunk

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What should I do today?

lion roaring inside cager

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From my 2009 Journal. Miracle stories in the Bible like Noah and the ark, Israelites crossing the Red Sea, Jericho’s walls, and Jonah’s fish survival occurred at specific times in history, often far apart. I wonder how many thousands of God-stories never get recorded? Miracles happen daily around the world, but they’re not written down for all eternity in a best-seller book. These Bible stories feel larger than life (Elijah and the prophets of Baal, David and Goliath). Is that because they’re the stories of my childhood? They’re like bright spotlights in a dark place. They stand out starkly against the ordinary, the mundane.

I think of Daniel who lived a long life, day in and day out fulfilling his duties, but he has some defining moments, some spotlight experiences, where his character passed the test. Thousands of us live ordinary, daily lives in the kingdom. It’s important what I do today, in the mundane, choosing righteousness, so that when I am tried for my faith, I’ll continue to be who I am in the daily times.

2020 Update. Today I choose to love you even when you judge me for wearing a mask or not. Today I will remain joyful when toilet paper is scarce. Today I refuse to speak ill of your political candidate because I have not walked in his shoes or yours. Today I will remain calm and peaceful when my city’s citizens riot in the streets. Today I will love my husband and take food to a hurting neighbor and pray with a friend. Today I get to choose my attitude and responses when I’m isolated or in a crowd.

What are you going to do today to prepare for tomorrow’s God story?

Do My Job, Not Yours

honeycomb close up detail honey bee

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From my 2009 Journal. I just finished reading a book about a Canadian woman’s saga of her three abortions and how she became an activist for the pro-life movement. The story makes me want to rush out and get involved in her cause . . . but I don’t. God often gives us our passions and our calling based on our own experiences. It’s no accident that I have a ministry to MKs (Missionary Kids). If I should sign up to help the anti-abortion cause, join a feed-the-hungry organization, commit to becoming a leader in  the church youth group, travel overseas as a missionary, and fight for justice on Capitol Hill all at the same time, I’d be rather scattered, unfocused, overworked and useless. I’m not called to do everything. I’m to be obedient to God’s calling on MY life. Each ant or bee has his job description in the colony or hive, and it takes all of us working together to accomplish God’s work in the kingdom. (Did you know there are about 10 different jobs in a beehive?)

Does that mean I should be indifferent to the sanctity of human life? Uncaring about missions? Ignore all needs of poverty? Of course not. But I have limited time and energy and resources, and I’m most effective for the kingdom of God when I focus on my assigned job on God’s team.

What’s your job description in the kingdom?