Tag Archives: Freedom

There are No Ordinary Moments: Matt, Sara and the Quiet Servants

1 Jan

Well Sister, the calendar page has turned and we find ourselves at the beginning of all new possibilities. 525,600 minutes are stretched between our here and now and the closing pendulum swing of 2015. So much life, so much love, so much everything will happen between now and then.

Life takes such unexpected twists and turns that to even try and anticipate where we might journey or where we will end up when the next 12 months draw to a close seems almost an exercise in futility.

Don’t get me wrong, I love looking out over the unsmudged landscape of 2015 with great expectation and hope of the what to come. I’m one of the geeky types that likes filling in the squares on my new day planner with birthdays and important things I want to remember. I enjoy thinking about things I’d like to do and how accomplishing them might look. But at 50, I’ve finally started to wrap my mind around the truth that I rarely travel the path I imagine. And I mean that in the best way. If I were to be confined by what my finite mind can dream up, I’d miss out on the Divine Adventure. I’d come to the end of the year and all I’d have is what I wanted and Girlfriend, He has so much more in store for us!

I would be so quick to settle for the ordinary when that is just not the life He has planned for His daughters. He wants you and I to live the Extraordinary. If you’ve walked with Jesus a while, you know exactly what I’m talking about and if you’re new to the faith, well hang on Beloved because it’s a wild ride! I say with full and complete certainty that there are no ordinary moments, no mundane actions, no seconds that simply tick by when you’re actively living out your faith. The wind of the Spirit just won’t let us define our days that way.

Every moment we experience after accepting Christ as our Savior contains more than what we see on this temporal planet. Every second is part of the Kingdom timeline and when we ask Jesus to be the Lord of our lives, He makes every minute count. The minutes we rejoice in, the minutes we mourn in and the minutes we see as absolutely nothing special.

But Beloved, our vision can’t be trusted.  Rarely do we see the significance of the moments as they really are.  So we have to know and live, until our faith becomes sight, that our eternity, our life as the redeemed and chosen of God, has already begun. We fight the good fight of faith and we live with our eye, not toward a destination yet to be had, but fixed on a destiny we already possess.

Do we possess it in full? Certainly not. But are we living the eternal life, the Kingdom timeline, the Kairos Moments, in the here and now?

Karios

Based on the authority of God’s Word I believe we are.

1 Timothy 6:11-12

But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

The hard part, O woman of God, can be that “fleeing these things” and “pursuing righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness” may feel like a fight at times but often times it doesn’t really feel like eternal living . . . it feels ordinary.

Extending kindness to someone doesn’t feel like an eternal act. Being steadfast and following through on your commitments might not seem extraordinary. Offering a gentle word to someone who needs to hear it rarely seems heaven altering. But may I be so bold as to tell you, if you are buying into that mindset, you are wrong.

Sister, everything you do,

every minute you live makes a difference . . .to someone.

I got to witness the truth of this up close and personal this past year when God pulled back the veil and letmatt and sara wedding every onlooker glimpse His glory in the life of our precious friends, Matt and Sara. Matt and Sara share their testimonies and the Good News of redemption openly, and it’s with their full permission that I am sharing this small slice of their journey. I don’t overstep my bounds when I tell you, because they would be the first to declare it, that this couple was living life in the pit of sin and if God had not swooped in from heaven in all of His Sovereignty to draw them out . . . they would still be there. What a rescue He orchestrated! What freedom He blessed with! What sweet salvation He granted!

And we might be tempted to think that it all happened in one lightning bolt moment, with a glorious flourish, and a wild roar from the Lion of Judah . . . but we’d be wrong. God sent quiet servants to live life in front of them . . . one moment at a time. To “flee these things” and “pursue” the eternal life to which they were called in the everyday minutes.

The events that occurred, the acts of God that transpired, to bring Matt and Sara to a place of grabbing hold of Jesus were set in motion long before the ones I am describing, but none were more important or more significant than the earthly family He placed Matt in. The faithful ones God sent to do life, tough and difficult life, were placed there directly by the hand of God to influence the generations. It was God who chose to make Lori his aunt and Karl his uncle and to connect them to Sara through him.

And it was God who, many years earlier rescued Karl and Lori from the same pit of sin and transformed their ordinary temporal moments into extraordinary, eternity altering life.

karl and lori blog

Full confession is that Karl and Lori are two of our dearest friends and I might be tempted to describe their walk of faith with glowing terms that neither of them would assign to themselves. They would tell you that they didn’t do anything out of the ordinary and if I know them as well as I think I do, I’m going to go a step further and say that they would begin to outline all the ways they think they fell short over the years. See, fighting the good fight never looks the same from inside the ring.

So while they may have felt that they were just living ordinary lives, from their ringside seats Matt and Sara saw the activity of the Extraordinary. The steadiness of the walk, the gentleness of the faith, the pursuit of the Savior, so obvious that when God prompted them to reach for a hand there was no other choice. And true to their eternal calling, Lori and Karl grabbed hold. God reached out through real and tangible people and pulled Matt and Sara home.

Matt and Karl at Matt's Baptism

Matt and Karl at Matt’s Baptism

Matt and Lori at Matt's Baptism

Matt and Lori at Matt’s Baptism

Matt and Sara at Matt's Baptism

Matt and Sara at Matt’s Baptism

Sara Baptism Testimony

Sara’s Baptism Testimony

Karl, Sara, and Pastor Jerry at Sara's Baptism

Karl, Sara, and Pastor Jerry at Sara’s Baptism

I’ve seen few people burn as hotly or be changed as dramatically as Matt and Sara and I pray with everything I have that they are never satisfied with what they know of Him but they keep seeking His face and chasing His heart.

Sister, Matt and Sara have been liberated from the bondage of sin and live in wild appreciation of their freedom in part because Karl and Lori have taken hold of the eternal life to which they were called. Living life with and for the Savior has become who they are and with their eyes fixed on Him they continue to live moment upon moment in His Name.  God reached down through what our finite eyes may have seen as commonplace, normal, everyday moments and extended His love to the generations.

And Matt and Sara’s legacy was changed. Bondage was exchanged for freedom. Death was redeemed by life and an inheritance fit for a princess was born . . .the life of their sweet Baby Girl changed forever.

Matt and Sara's Baby Girl Due 07/05/2015

Matt and Sara’s Baby Girl
Due 07/05/2015

Can you even take how good God is? Look over that little one, knit together in her momma’s womb, entering into a redeemed heritage. Welcomed with love, not just by her Momma and Daddy, but by the quiet servants who lived one eternal moment after another.

And here we stand Girlfriend, you and I, with our feet firmly planted in the first square of our 2015 day planners. All those moments lay before us. . .every one of them poised to alter eternity . . . how are we going to live them?

creation swap hour glass ribbet

The Engraving of God (Part One)

15 Apr

This blog post is going to have to be broken down into two parts.  It’s got some depth to it and we really need some time in between to chew on the first bit before we try to consider the Dog (yes, the Dog).  The connections that God revealed, and I’m certain there are so many more He is yet to unfold, are just too much to take in while at the same time trying to explain how it hooks to “Life Outside the Tomb” and “The Love Life.”  So, I’m asking for a little stick-to-it-tiveness for these next couple posts.  I think if you will snug up your hiking boots and keep moving up the mountain, you’ll find it to be worth the work.

Eventually, I’m hoping to share with you the way God used our family pet to perform open heart surgery on me.  You know, the kind that separates joints from marrow and divides spirit and soul. Like all my stories do, this one begins quite a while ago, back in May of 2011.  This was the beginning of what I have come to affectionately call my “season of loss.”  It began a period of heart reconstruction that as necessary as it was, has been the most painful of all my life – including the accident in 1993.  I’ve recognized God beckoning me, disciplining me, challenging me, and even sitting me in the corner but this is the first time I have recognized being carved out by His hand.  Engraved by His Holy touch.

That is what I intended to write about today; the lessons of love that God has taught and continues to teach me through losing our beautiful, bossy cocker spaniel–Baby.  That was MY plan.  His is ALWAYS BETTER!

Imagine yourself settled into your favorite reading chair consumed with the material in your hand and suddenly, Someone (capital “S” intended) comes in and hands you a new book.  Same subject but a deeper exploration than you might have anticipated.  That is exactly what happened to me as I began preparing this post.   I sat down with my laptop along with a vague notion of the verses I might reference and God unfolded beauty that I simply wasn’t prepared for.  It’s taken me well over a week to just begin—and I cannot stress “just begin” enough—grabbing hold of it and I’m so praying that I can articulate it with some clarity because it’s just so . . .well, it’s just so Him.

I don’t know if you write in your Bible or not, but I do.  I put question marks beside things that pull at my heart but I don’t understand.  I draw arrows to verse references I feel like connect to one another and in many margins you will find definitions of words my soul has gravitated toward.  After I make these marks and notations, I pray off and on over the verses for God to give me clarity and explain it in terms that even the heart of this very thickheaded woman can understand.  I’m convinced that in His timing, He’ll address each one and if not on this side of Glory, on the other.

Hebrews 1:3 is just such a verse for me and when I originally typed “recognized being carved out by His hand ” it popped into my brain because I remembered the definition I had scrawled in the margin of my Bible beside it years ago. (I wish I would remember to date entries in my Bible so that I would have a tangible reminder of how patiently He works with me when I’m tempted to lose my patience with others!)  I have revisited that definition many times but never really felt I got the significance of it.  Sister, I could not have been more correct!

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory

and the exact representation of his being,

sustaining all things by his powerful word.

After he had provided purification for sins,

he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

Hebrews 1:3 NIV 1984

So I had all these thoughts rolling through my brain about Baby Dog and being carved out and I was trying to come up with a cohesive way to put them on paper.  I jotted Hebrews 1:3 down with the intention of drawing your attention, as He had drawn mine, to “exact representation”  in order to give you the definition of the Greek word before I moved into the bulk of the post.  See, this particular Greek word is only used once in the entire New Testament and since it isn’t a definition I have worked with a lot, I thought I should flip to it in my Bible just to be certain I had the right meaning in my mind.

exact representation

Bunny’s Wonderings

You can see the Bunny paraphrase in the margin:  “to carve; something engraved, cut-in or stamped; refers to Jesus Christ as the perfect expression of the Divine essence.”  I thought, yep, that is exactly what I remembered, but I couldn’t shake the nudge to confirm it further.  So I got out my Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible just to make certain I hadn’t written something down wrong and turned to the Lexical Aids in the back where I located the Greek word and definition:

Charakter:  to carve.  The –er suffix signifies agency, hence the word originally denoted an engraver or engraving tool.  Later it meant the impression itself, usually something engraved, cut in or stamped, a character, letter, mark, sign.  This impression with its particular features was considered as the exact representation of the object whose image it bore.  In the NT, representation, expresses image. Occurs only in Hebrews 1:3, where it is translated “exact representation,” referring to Jesus Christ, who is the perfect expression of the divine essence. (#5917, Pg. 1686, HGKWSB)

I was happy with the accuracy I had noted it with in my Bible, but the thing that caught my attention was the appearance of the Greek word:  Charakter.  Doesn’t that bring a very familiar English word to your mind?  It sure looks like “Character” to me.  And I started to roll over in my mind all the verses that talked about looking like Jesus, living like Jesus, showing Jesus to a watching world, and Him being made perfect in suffering.  I thought about God being much more concerned with developing my character as a Kingdom citizen than the Kingdom work I might do and I decided to look up the origin for the English word.

Character (noun):  the aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing early 14c., from O.Fr. caractere, from L. character, from Gk. kharakter “engraved mark,” from kharassein “to engrave,” from kharax “pointed stake.” Meaning extended by metaphor to “a defining quality.”

I didn’t want to rest on just one source for the origin so I went to one more sight and read down through it.  It gave much the same information but I hadn’t realized that I had stumbled onto a Bible based dictionary and right at the bottom there was an additional note:  Strong’s 2801 with the reference Exodus 32:16.  Now if you’re not familiar with the Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, it’s a wonderful, enormous reference book that lists every occurrence of every word in the King James Bible according to a numerical system that is linked to the definition of the root word.  You can find it online but I prefer my big, old, clunky hard copy.  Not just because I love the feel of the pages but more so because of the hearts that blessed me with it. So I got out my KJV and looked up the verse:

And the tables were the work of God,

and the writing was the writing of God,

graven upon the tables.

Exodus 32:16

Now, certainly the word “graven” is used in other verses, but this verse, according to Strong’s, stands alone.  This particular Hebrew word, harut, is only used one time in the whole Old Testament (sound similar to exact representation?) to describe what appears to be the first recorded account of the writing of God.   The short definition is to engrave.  There are about five other words that mean simply engrave.  So why might God, the Creator of language, have chosen that particular word, to use this single time in the Bible? Might I suggest to you that it is the relationship that it shares with the Hebrew word “herut’ which means liberty and freedom.  My Jewish Study Bible beautifully described it as “there was freedom upon the tablets.”(Pg. 185, JSB-JPS)

So, it seems accurate to me to say that what we have upon the stone tablet, engraved by the Divine Hand, is the perfect expression of His love and His will for His chosen people.   Are you tracking with that?  Little “s” stone is displaying the message of God.  He has carved His Holy character into the stone, by His own Hand, to plainly show Himself and speak freedom to His people.

I know I’m getting long but oh, if we can keep plodding forward, I think He will show us new ground outside the tomb that we want to claim as our own. Read over the following verses and see where your heart lands. (I’m going to add some bold-type and capital letters.)

Exodus 24:12 KJV

And the Lord said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them.

Exodus 32:16 KJV

And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables.

Psalm 118:22 NIV 1984

The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.

Acts 4:11 NIV 1984

This JESUS IS THE STONE that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.

Hebrews 1:3 NIV 1984

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

  • The stone ( Exodus 24:12) engraved, carved out by God, His Word given to His children to display His character (Exodus 32:16).
  • The Stone (Acts 4:11) engraved, carved out by God, the WORD given to His children to display His character (Hebrews 1:3).
  • The stone and The Stone bore the writing, the carving, spoke the Word of the Holy Engraver and expressed His Divine essence:

Perfect Holiness

Perfect Freedom

 Perfect Love

On display for all in Heaven and Earth to see!  The Holy Engraver was shouting love from the MOUNTAIN TOP to the hearts of His children and, Girlfriend, He still is today.  Oh my goodness Beloved, that we could grasp how high, how deep and how long is His love for us.

Engraved by God (Part Two)–Lessons from Baby Dog on the way.  In the meantime, chew on this (no Dog reference intended but it did make me smirk), leave me a comment and let me know if you’re tracking with me.  And I’ve had some questions about following the blog.  On the sidebar, you’ll see “Follow” underneath the calendar.  Just click it and follow the instructions.  Happy to have you along for the ride!!!

Life Outside the Tomb

2 Apr

I have found myself in the last few days residing in a place I don’t often visit.  I am at a loss for words.  Not just a lack of what to say, but really more of a holy hush.  Every Resurrection  season I try to articulate the overwhelming love and gratitude I feel toward Jesus, my fully human and fully Divine Savior, and every season I am woefully inadequate.  How exactly do you put into words what it means to be rescued from yourself by the One who has overcome the world? How do you say thank you for being ushered into the Most Holy Place by the Promise wearing flesh?

I ask these questions of myself as I fully celebrate the Empty Tomb and know that life outside those walls of rock is meant to be lived to the full.   John 10:10 is so clear.  The thief, the prince of the air, seeks to kill and destroy, but our Jesus has dealt him the death blow.   He has purchased life, abundant life, for those who will believe.  (Everything in my heart is shouting Amen!) But even as I engage my mind in the freedom dance my Savior has bought for me this is the question I sit with:  What would I know of the abundant life, what would I see of Him, if I truly began to live life outside the tomb?

If you have been reading the blog you know that I have such love for Rahab and I think, when we consider that the “innkeeper” became the great-great…grandma of the Savior, she illustrates “the inheritance that we cannot conceive or imagine” in living color.  But my kindred affection is not limited to the Old Testament.  No, it crosses over the Covenant line and falls with awe on the head of Mary Magdalene.  Some suppose that she and Rahab shared a common profession, I have no idea if that is fact or historical surmising.  The Scriptures never say what Mary Magdalene did for a living.  But what the Holy Writ does say about her is that she was a tormented, afflicted soul who was held in complete bondage by seven demons and the Savior set her completely free.  Doesn’t that make your heart dance?  The redemption of Rahab and the release of Mary Magadalene – have you ever gazed upon two more beautiful women?

Well, Sister this is what I believe – you and I were meant for that same radiance.  They reflected His grace and His mercy and we, when we dare to live life outside the tomb, will undoubtedly do the same.  Mary Magdalene did not simply say “thanks for the healing!” and go about her life.  Her whole life after meeting Him was consumed by Him.  Think about it.  She followed Him wherever He went.  She was the last at the Cross and the first at the Tomb.  She pursued Him!  She looked for Him!  AND HE WOULD BE FOUND!

Then the disciples went back to their homes. But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb.  And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned and said to him in Aramaic,“Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).  

John 20:10-16

Oh, Girlfriend, please don’t read that last verse too quickly.  Let the moment settle on you.  The One she came to anoint with burial spices, the One she thought she had lost, the One she called LORD was saying her name. . . And as the Shepherd spoke, she recognized His voice.  Put yourself in her sandals as she turned her face to meet His.  Hear His voice say your name and let the comprehension that He KNOWS you flood your heart.  You have to believe that as much as we might want to grab a hold of that moment, anything we can imagine about the love that passed between the two of them, the Healer and the healed, would fall dramatically short.  Does the sight not take your breath away?  That is the first encounter Mary Magdalene had with Jesus outside the Tomb.  She had heard His voice countless times.  She had seen His face daily.  But never like this. And then He entrusted her to be the first to spread the Good News – He is Risen!

See that’s who I want to be.  I want to be the woman who realizes the depth of her healing so profoundly that she refuses to return to her home and stays just a little longer.  I want to be the one who weeps because my heart cannot stand the fact that I am not near Him.  I want to be the one who desires to see Him so badly that I stoop down and strain my eyes in hopes of getting just one more glimpse.  I know that one day He will say my name in Glory, one day He will say your name in Glory.  We will recognize His voice and Beloved when we turn, oh the love that will pass between the Healer and the healed.  But in the meantime Sister, for the redeemed and the released, there is life outside the tomb – abundant life.  Live it to the full Girlfriend.  Live it to the full.

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