Monday, October 31, 2011

Day 31 and A Free Printable


We have come to the end of our thirty-one day journey.  When I decided to take on this challenge at the beginning of the month, I had no idea how difficult it was going to be.  I have grown in many ways and at times was stretched to the very limits of my abilities.

God taught me many things this month.  I learned about priorities and time management.  I learned that I write much better late at night, than early in the morning and that it is near impossible to get anything done while my children are awake.

Most importantly, God taught me about Himself.  His amazing and enduring character has become new to me and my faith has grown stronger.  As I looked back through my life for stories to write about, I could see how the different attributes of God were at work at different times.  What an amazing gift that has been.

I hope you have gotten as much out of this journey as I have.  I pray that you have a better understanding of the nature of Yahweh, our Lord.  That what I have written has created a desire in you to draw closer to Elohim, Our Creator.

There is no way that we could learn everything there is to know about God in thirty-one days.  I encourage you to continue to press into Him and to study His unfathomable nature.

As a thank you for spending the month with me, I have created a free printable of the different names of God we have studied.  It should print out as an 8x10.  If you have problems with it, please let me know.  Click here to get the full sized image  Names of God Subway Art



I would love to hear from you, as well.  What has God taught you this month?  Was there one attribute that meant more to you than the rest?  Feel free to share in the comments section below.

This post linked at:

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Day 30: Bread of Life


Well, it has happened again.  I knew it would only be a matter of time before I stumbled upon another obsession.  Something else that has the potential to become an idol in my life.

This time the culprit is bread.  Yes, that is right.  Bread.

A few weeks ago, I was at a home school event with my children.  We met a wonderful family and ended up spending the whole day together.  At lunch time, she pulled out this amazing looking loaf of bread that was obviously homemade.  The peanut butter and jelly sandwich she gave me was the best that I have ever had.  Why?  The bread.  It was amazing and I keep thinking about it.

After further inquiry, I learned that not only did she bake the bread, but she ground the flour herself, as well.  So I have been spending lots of time researching bread and wheat and flour and the nutritional benefits of grinding it yourself. 

I see a grain mill coming into this house in the very near future.  And several 50 lb bags of grain.  Can I just mention how thankful I am that my husband just kinda goes along with my endeavor of the moment?

So what does all of this have to do with God?  Well, everything.  Bread was a primary staple in the ancient world.  It was made from a variety of grains and provided the needed nourishment to sustain life in a difficult environment.

It was so important, that it also figured into various aspects of worship.  The bread of the Presence, consisting of twelve loaves of unleavened bread, symbolized the covenant between God and his people.  Displayed in the temple sanctuary, it served as a constant reminder to the priests and the people that it was God who sustained His people.

When the Israelites were wandering in the desert for forty years, God rained down manna from heaven every morning.  He provided just what they needed for that day.  No more, no less.

God provides for us much in the same way today.  He gives us what we need to get through each day, each moment.  He will be faithful to keep his promise to sustain us both physically and spiritually. 

Yeshua, or Jesus, told his disciples that He was the bread of life.  He said that he was the living bread who came down from heaven and that whoever eats from it will live forever.

"I am the bread of life.  Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert and died.  This is the bread that comes from heaven so that whoever eats it won't die.  I am the living bread that came from heaven.  Whoever eats this bread will live forever.  The bread I will give to bring life to the world is my flesh."  John 6:48-51

Several years ago I tried the popular Atkins diet.  Yes, I lost weight, but at a very high cost.  I was tired, cranky and had absolutely no energy to get through my day. 

When I look back at the times in my life where I have neglected spending time with Jesus, a sort of spiritual Atkins, the outcome was very much the same.  My soul felt empty and I lacked the motivation to fulfill the tasks that God has required of me. 

Lord, please help us remember that just as we need carbohydrates to feed our physical bodies, we also need The Bread of Life, Jesus, to nourish our spiritual bodies.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Day 29: Reflection


What an awesome day it has been.  After teaching a class this morning, my family and I drove out to Madison, VA to visit an adorable country market a friend told us about.  Right now it is cold and raining outside, but inside there is a meatloaf cooking, two loaves of bread rising and an apple pie waiting to go in the oven.  I love autumn!

Here is our reflection for today . . .

Ish, Husband


Your husband is your Maker.  His name is Yahweh Tsebaoth.  Isaiah 62:5.

Lord, you call yourself Ish, Husband to your people.  I am amazed that you use this intimate image to characterize your relationship with us.  Help us, Lord, through the power of your Spirit to be a loving and faithful wife to you.  (Ann Spangler, Names of God Study Bible)

Yahweh Shalom

With perfect peace you will protect those whose minds cannot be changed, because they trust you.  Isaiah 26:3


I know the plans I have for you, declares Yahweh.  They are plans for peace and not disaster, plans to give you a future filled with hope.  Jeremiah 29:11

Friday, October 28, 2011

Day 28: Where My Hope Comes From





Miqweh Yisrael, Hope of Israel.  This name for God is the one that moves me the most.  To me it encompasses all the other character traits into one. 

God is our hope.  Because of Him we can hope for a better future.  We can hope for healing.  We can hope that things will all work out for good, even when circumstances say that they shouldn’t. 

Because of Miqweh Yisrael, we can look forward to the light of morning, even in the darkest of nights.

And most importantly, we have the hope for a life beyond this one - one with no sin, sickness or crying.

At the beginning of this year, I found myself in a place where I was having a crisis of faith.  Doubts as to whether or not my faith was just another man made fable ran around in my head.

During that time, I experienced some of the most empty, hopeless moments of my life.

Without God, without our hope, what is the point of it all?  Without the hope of something better on the other side, why endure all the hardship and pain that comes from being alive?

Since I am a facts person, I sought answers in the book The Case for Christ.  A book written by a former atheist journalist who was looking to prove Christianity wrong.  In the process he became convinced that God was real and that Jesus was crucified and resurrected. 

I too became convinced that what I had believed all my life was more than just a fairy story, but instead cold hard fact.  And my hope returned.

I look back at that time and realize that the hopelessness that I felt is what so many people feel on a daily basis.  I cannot imagine living with that blackness in my heart everyday.

Because of that, it is my desire to share the gift of hope that I have been given with as many people as possible.

I pray that maybe something you have read here has encouraged you to do the same.


Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. 
They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream.
It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall always stay green;
in the year of drought it is not anxious, and does not cease to bear fruit. 
O hope of Israel!  O Lord!
Jeremiah 17:7-8, 13

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Day 27: Turn for the Judges


I have spent more than half of my life standing before judges.  Now, before you conjure up visions of me in a court room on the wrong side of the law, let me explain. 

I am a former “beauty queen.”  Oh, how I hate that term.  I entered my first pageant at the age of twelve and my last at the age of thirty-one. 

Standing before a panel of men and women, while they assign you an arbitrary number based on their perceived value of your worth is a harrowing experience.  One not for the faint of heart. 

I lost more pageants than I won and was told that I was not good enough, or really, that someone else was better more times than I care to admit. 

So often in the world of pageants, the audience and other contestants are completely shocked at the outcome.  When the winner is announced a low rumble goes through the crowd and you see the other girls on stage giving “golf claps” to the winner.

“What were the judges thinking?!” is a familiar refrain heard from the lobby of the auditorium after a pageant.

As humans, though, the outcome will never be perfect because we have chosen an imperfect judging panel.  The very fact that they ARE human is what makes them imperfect.

I used to say that the only perfect pageant would be one judged by God, because He is the only perfect judge.

While I have absolutely no intention of ever standing before an earthly panel of judges again, I know that one day I will stand before Shopet, our ultimate Judge.

When I do, I want to hear “well done, good and faithful servant.”  When God judges me, he is not going to be looking at how pretty my evening gown is or how well I walked during the swimsuit competition. 

No, when I stand before Shopet on the day of judgement, he is not going to see me at all.  If He did, I would be found woefully lacking.  Instead, when He looks at me, He will see me clothed in the most amazing gown of all, Christ’s robes of righteousness.

“I will rejoice greatly in the Lord, My soul will exult in my God, for He has clothed me with garments of salvation; He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with garland and as a bride adorns herself with jewels.” Isaiah 6:10

There is not one of us who can stand before our Judge, Shopet and be found not guilty.  We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  Just one sin in our lives will condemn us forever.  How many have you and I already committed today?

Our only hope is to accept Christ’s free gift of salvation given at the cross.  Some may say that doing so would be too restrictive, because they see Christianity as a set of rules meant to keep them from enjoying life.

Actually, it is the most freeing thing that one can do, because it is no longer about you.  You cannot earn salvation and once you accept it there is nothing that you can do to lose it.

I absolutely love this analogy . . .

One day there was a young women, the daughter of the local judge, who was brought before the court.  Her crime was one that carried the punishment of death.  As she  stood there before her father, he declared her guilty of her crime.  The next thing that happened amazed everyone in the room.  For her father then stepped down from his seat and declared that he would take her punishment for her.  He would die in her place.

And friends, that is exactly what Christ did for us.  He stepped down from His throne and gave His life, so that we might live. 

Have you accepted the gift of eternal life?  Want to know more?  Just click the New Life link at the top of this page.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Day 26: Our Shelter and Refuge


On Sunday afternoon, while visiting North Anna Battlefield Park in nearby Hanover County, VA, Robbie Wood wandered away from his father, his younger autistic brother and his father’s girlfriend. 

Robbie is a nine year old, non-verbal autistic boy.  Hundreds of volunteers and law enforcement officials have joined in the search for Robbie.  It is now Wednesday and he still has not been found.

My heart breaks when I think of how terrified he must be.  The turmoil his family must be experiencing in not knowing Robbie’s whereabouts is just incomprehensible.

When I read today’s name of God, I immediately thought of Robbie.

Maon, Machseh, Magen, Metsuda and Migdal-Oz all speak to the God who promised to watch over us and keep us safe.  He is our Dwelling Place, Refuge, Shield, Fortress, and Strong Tower.

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.
Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge,
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of the night . . .
For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;
they will life you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot upon a stone.”  Psalm 91:1-5, 11-12

We may not know where Robbie is right now, but God sees him and it is my prayer that He is watching over him.

Will you please join me in praying for Robbie’s safety and that he will be reunited with his family soon?

Maon, Machseh, Magen, Metsuda and Migdal-Oz, God Almighty, we come to you now and ask that you provide a dwelling place for little Robbie Wood.  Provide a shelter for him as he faces the elements on his own.  Be his strong tower and his shield.  Cover him with your wings and let him not fear the night.  Send angels to lift him up in their hands, so that he will not suffer harm or injury.

Guide the searchers to the location where Robbie is right now, Lord.  Be with his family.  Give them a peace, a shalom, that only you can give.

In your Holy Name we pray,
Amen


Click here for more information on the search for Robbie.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Day 25: Peace Admist the Chaos





As I stood in my kitchen last Friday morning and surveyed my house, I wrestled with my emotions.  All week I had had a sense of peace and calm.  I wasn’t stressed by the state of my space or all of the things that needed to get cleaned up around the house. 

I didn’t feel pressured by looming deadlines or my ever growing to-do list.  Even though I had been up the past two nights with a sick child, my soul was still quiet and content.

And that bothered me.

I am the type of person who feels like they are being lazy and unproductive if I do not have a million irons in the fire.  So, if I am not stressed out, something must be wrong, right?  I must not be doing what I am supposed to be doing.

My house did not miraculously clean itself (oh, that it would!).  My to-do list did not shrink, actually, it grew.  My children were not all of the sudden nice and congenial to each other all the time.

So what was the difference?

As I stood there praying, I felt God remind me of a conversation I had had with Him over the previous weekend -- a time when my soul was feeling particularly restless.

“Lord, please send me your peace.”

And Yahweh Shalom, the Lord of Peace, answered my prayer.

The Hebrew word shalom has such a richer and more complex meaning than our English word peace.  Our “peace” usually refers to an absence of outward conflict or a state of inner calm.

Shalom encompasses the above, but it is also “wholeness,” “completeness,” “perfection,” “safety,” and wellness.”

When you pray to Yahweh Shalom, you are praying to the source of all peace.  No wonder his Son is called the Prince of Peace.

Yahweh Shalom did not change my circumstances, He filled me with His shalom, a peace that passes all understanding.

Throughout my day, I find myself still trying to trade God’s shalom with the stress and anxiety that I have thrived on for most of my life.

But when I start to feel it creeping back in, I realize that nothing can compare with Yahweh Shalom’s perfect peace.  When I am crowding out His peace, I am actually crowding Him out of my life because He is peace itself. 

He is not “God of Peace” or “God Who Gives Peace," but rather “God is Peace”.

I pray today that Yahweh Shalom will make His presence known to each one of us and that we will be filled with His perfect peace.

With perfect peace you will protect those whose minds cannot be changed, because they trust you.  Isaiah 26:3

Monday, October 24, 2011

Day 24: A Husband's Love


As I watched them walk away arm in arm, I could not believe my eyes.  This guy who told me he loved me, that I was the only one in the world for him -- the same one who had brought me to this party, was now leaving with someone else.  And my heart was broken.  Again.

One of the earliest lessons I learned in my life is that men don’t stay.  They leave.  My father left my mother.  My grandfather divorced my grandmother.  He was her second husband.  My other grandmother had been married six times.  My mother’s boyfriend, the one who wrote me letters telling me how special I was, he left too.

Like so many young girls who are starving for the love of a father, I sought to fill the void with the love of boys.  To each one, I gave a little bit more of my heart.  Many were childish romances, but the heart break when they ended was painful and raw and very real.

In hindsight, I was not mourning the loss of the boy, but rather grieving the fact that no man seemed to love me.  I learned to keep them at arms length and to never let them get too close, because if I did, I could get hurt.  I learned not to trust them, because they tell lies.  I learned that they always leave.

Until I met Steve. 

When we met, I was one messed up individual.  Here was this amazing man who seemed genuinely interested in me.  He told me he loved me.  And instead of enjoying the beginnings of the romance, I was paralyzed with fear. 

What if he leaves me?  What if he is lying?  What if he gets to know me and decides that he is not in love with me anymore? 

I decided to share my fears with him, in the hopes that he would say something to ease them.  And instead of feeling better about it, I grew more fearful that he would leave me because he now knew about all of my insecurities.

Through it all, Steve remained steadfast.  “I love you and I will never leave you,” he would say.  Over and over and over again.  Every time I would doubt.  Every time my fear would creep back in, he would assure me again, “I love you and I will never leave you.”

Until one day, I realized that I did not fear losing him any more.  Little by little, his love had healed my broken heart and tore down all of the walls I had built.  All of my doubts were erased and I basked in the glow of his love.

Eight years later, that love is still growing strong.  I am safe, protected and unconditionally loved.

In the book of Hosea, God or Ish, is depicted as the perfect husband -- loving, forgiving, and faithful, providing for and protecting his people.

Like me, each one of us is broken, looking for something or someone to fill the void; the hole that only God can fill.

Ish promised His people . . .

I will make you my wife forever.  I will be honest and faithful to you.  I will show you my love and compassion.  I will be true to you, my wife.  Then you will know Yahweh.  Hosea 2:19-20.


As wonderful as my husband’s love is, it pales in comparison with God’s love for us.  Steve has remained completely faithful, but we will both still fail in other areas.  He will forget a birthday.  We both forgot our second anniversary.  Mistakes have and will be made.  Quarrels have and will continue to arise.

God never makes mistakes.  Though we may quarrel with Him, He will always be there, patiently waiting our return, like a husband desperate for the love of His wife.

I know that there are those of you who are still waiting to meet that right person here on earth.  Your heart has been broken many times and you may be wondering, like I did, if anyone will ever truly love you.  Will anyone ever stay?

The answer is YES.  God will never leave you.  He loves you and rejoices over you like a bridegroom rejoices over his bride. 

He calls out to you, “I love you and I will never leave you.”  Over and over and over again.  Let that fact penetrate your heart.

He longs for you to draw close to Him and will do what ever it takes to bring you into an enduring relationship with himself.

Let His love tear down your walls and bask in the glow of the fact that Ish, the God of all creation desires an intimate, loving relationship . . .

. . . with you.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Day 23: The Word Became Flesh


In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  

He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  

In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.


He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.  He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.  

Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed his name, he gave the right to become children of God.  John 1:1-5, 10-12

Saw this on another blog this week . . . . just amazing . . .

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Days 22: Reflection


 As we go into this weekend, I encourage you to make time to rest and to spend some quality time with our Abba Father.  Here are some scriptures and prayers that relate to the attributes of God we have studied this week.  Praying that your time with Him is rich and rewarding.

El Kanna, Jealous God

Be careful that you don't forget the promise that Yahweh your Elohim made to you.  Don't make your own carved idols or statues that represent anything Yahweh your Elohim has forbidden.  Yahweh your Elohim is Esh Oklah (Consuming Fire), El Kanna (Jealous God).  Deuteronomy 4:23-24

Can any of us live through a fire that destroys?  Can any of us live through a fire that burns forever?  The person who does what is right and speaks that truth will live.  Isaiah 33:14-15


Yahweh Tsebaoth


Let go of your concerns!  Then you will know that I am Elohim.  I rule the nations.  I rule the earth.  Yahweh Tsebaoth is with us.  The Elohim of Jacob is our stronghold.  Psalm 46:10-11

O Yahweh Tsebaoth, blessed is the person who trusts in you.  Psalm 84:12


Return to me, declares Yahweh Tsebaoth, and I will return to you, says Yahweh Tsebaoth.  Zechariah 1:3

Yahweh Tsebaoth, Lord of Armies, please calm my fear and anxiety.  You know everything that is going on in my life right now.  Please stretch out your hands to save me, and help me to rest in the knowledge that you are with me even in the most frightening of circumstances. (Ann Spangler, Names of God Study Bible)


 Sovereign God

Sovereign God, you have only begun to show me how great and powerful you are.  What kind of god is there in heaven or on earth who can do the deeds and the mighty acts you have done?  Deuteronomy 3:24

Greatness, power, splendor, glory, and majesty are yours Yahweh, because everything in heaven and on earth is yours.  The kingdom is yours, Yahweh, and you are honored as head of all things.  Riches and honor are in front of you.  You rule everything.  You hold power and strength in your hands, and you can make anyone great and strong.  1 Chronicles 29:11-12 

 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Day 21: Entertaining Angels


 

“Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:1-2

As we walked around Baltimore’s Inner Harbor on our first date, a woman approached us.  The state of her hair and clothing screamed the fact that she was homeless and was about to ask us for something.

“Excuse me, can I have some money for food please?” 

My date asked what she wanted to eat.  She pointed to the building behind us and said that she would like some shrimp from back there.

Steve pointed to the two restaurants in front of us, ESPNzone and Hard Rock Cafe.  “Pick one of these,” he said.

When we got into the restaurant he asked for a menu from the bar and told her to pick whatever she wanted off of it.  While we waited for her food, we talked with her about her life.  She had lost her job and her house.  She was living in a shelter in Baltimore County, but had taken the bus to the Harbor to look for food.

We told her we were on our first date.  That we had met at church.  And that God loved her.

As we parted ways, we told her we would be praying for her.

Fifteen months later, as we walked around the Inner Harbor on the day after our wedding, we reminisced about “our” homeless woman.  She had said her name was Whoopi, but it was probably just a nickname due to the state of her hair.  We wondered what had become of her.

Later that day, we were in the basement of our hotel getting the left-overs from our reception heated up.  The hotel restaurant was not officially open yet, but they said they would help us out.

As we waited, Steve felt a tap on his shoulder.  When we turned around, we were completely shocked.

For standing right in front of us was Whoopi. 

Once the three of us got over the shock, she shared that after meeting us her life had turned around.  But just recently things had gotten bad again.  She rejoiced when she heard that we had gotten married and thanked us for praying for her. 

When our food was brought back out to us, we handed her both meals.  As we parted, we again told her that God loved her and we would be praying for her.

The woman who we ministered to on our first date, got to share in our wedding supper.

When ever I think of this story, I am completely blown away.  There is no way that meeting Whoopi again, the day after our wedding, was a coincidence.  The only way to explain it is that it was orchestrated by God.

I admit that I sometimes wonder if Whoopi was an angel, sent by Yahweh Tsebaoth, the Lord of Hosts, to confirm to us that the decision to get married was the right one.  Either way, what happened reminds me of God’s intimate involvement in our lives.

The Lord of Hosts is a title for God that speaks of His rule over every power in the material and spiritual universe.  The term hosts is most often used to describe angelic beings, the cherubim and seraphim.  Yahweh Tsebaoth is so magnificent and powerful that ALL creation serves his purposes.

I can remember a teacher of mine telling a story about when she was young and at the beach.  She had drifted far from the shoreline and was in a dangerous area of the ocean. 

All of the sudden there was a man beside her who took her hand and guided her back to where her parents were on the beach.  When they turned to thank him, he had disappeared and they could find him nowhere.

She believes that Yahweh Tsebaoth sent an angel to save her that day.

The God we serve is mighty and powerful with a heavenly army at His disposal. 

The morning after our wedding, we heard this song in the car while we were driving my husband’s tux back to the store.  We even asked each other if we thought we had ever encountered an angel. 

Be on the look out, because you never know when you, too, may be entertaining angels . . .


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Day 20: Praying to Yahweh Ropheka


It has been a rough two days.  My youngest daughter is very sick and has literally been up almost all night the past two nights.  Could I ask you to please pray to Yahweh Ropheka for her healing?  And that her mother would be able to get some sleep?


I found a beautiful video showcasing some of the names of God that we have studied and some scriptures that go along with it.  Enjoy . . .

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sovereign God, Part 2


My original intention was not to have this be a 2 part blog post, but I came across something that so perfectly illustrated the Sovereignty of God that I just had to share.

Most of you will remember the two American missionaries who were taken hostage in the Philippines in 2002.  Gracia and Martin Burnham had served as missionaries for 17 years when they were taken hostage, along with 18 other people, from the resort where they were spending one night.  They were celebrating their 18th wedding anniversary.



They had been held in captivity for a little over a year, when Martin was killed in a rescue attempt by the Philippine army.  During that year, they never stayed in one place.  They were kept in squalid conditions with very little food to eat.  They witnessed atrocities that were committed by their captors in the name of Allah, including the beheading of the only other American taken hostage.

I think that many of us asked, “why?” when we heard of Martin’s death.  Why would God allow that to happen to a man who had so faithfully served Him all of those years?  Why did God not answer the prayers of the thousands who asked Him for the Burnham’s safe return?

The next part of the story just blows me away. 

Gracia now works with a ministry that ministers to Muslims.  She was able to find 23 of her captors in their prison cells in Manilla where they are serving life sentences.  Many would have taken out their anger and pain on these men.  What did she do when she found them?  

Gracia forgave them.

The men that kept her and her husband hostage for over a year.  Who killed dozens of people.  Who are the reason her husband is dead. 

She forgave them.

I would like to think that my faith would be strong enough to do the same in the same circumstances, but I am not sure.

Those men have now been given bibles in their own language.  Many are attending bible studies on a regular basis.  Three of them have given their lives over to Christ and will someday spend eternity in heaven with the couple they kept in captivity for a year.

God knew.  God is sovereign.  As heart breaking as it is, he took Martin home that day.  Through his death a people group who may otherwise not have heard the gospel of Christ have been reached.

There are so many lessons to be learned from this story.

Lessons on the power of forgiveness in our own lives and the lives of others.

Lessons on the importance of sharing the Gospel with all of the people God puts in our lives, not just the ones that we like or feel comfortable with.

But most importantly lessons on the Sovereignty of God and the importance of trusting him through every difficult situation.

What Satan meant for evil, God used for good.

For more on the Burnham’s amazing story, go here

For another amazing story of forgiveness, go here

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Day 18: Sovereign God


Sovereign God

I can’t seem to get the images out of my mind.  A fiery crash, cars launched into the air, debris everywhere.  It was a race car driver’s wife’s worst nightmare.  I know, because I am one.  Sunday’s crash at the Indy Car race in Las Vegas makes part of me thankful that current circumstances prevent my husband from racing.

Fifteen cars were involved. 

Fourteen drivers survived. 

One did not.

So many questions swirl through the media . . . was the track too fast?  Should they be racing on ovals at speeds over 220 mph?  Who was at fault?

But there are even deeper questions . . . why would God allow this to happen?  why would he leave a wife to raise her two young sons alone?  Where was He?

The easy answer is He was right there at that track.  I’m afraid, though, that there are no easy answers to the question, “why”?

We serve a Sovereign God who does not allow anything to come into our path that He does not filter through His mighty hand. 

A God whose thoughts are not our thoughts and whose ways are not our ways.

When I replayed the footage of the crash, I thought to myself that it was a miracle that more drivers were not seriously injured.  Proof that a merciful God was there.

Why He choose to allow Dan Wheldon to die, we will never know.

When bad things happen we must rely on the promises of our Sovereign God.

“I will not leave you or forsake you”

“I will work all things for good”

“I have appointed a time for everything under the heavens”

I cannot imagine the grief that is being felt by Dan’s widow, family and friends.  Would you please pray for them over the coming weeks and months?  Pray that God would send people to comfort them and that He would give them peace that can only come from Him.


Monday, October 17, 2011

El Kanna, Jealous God


If you asked my family to describe me, in their description they would most certainly say, “obsessive”.  I definitely have a very obsessive personality.  I do not get just a “little” interested in things.  If something new sparks my interest or I come across a new hobby, I can think and speak of nothing else.  If I want to know more about something, I research that topic night and day.

Some examples . . .

When my husband and I first started dating, he asked if I would go roller blading with him.  Now, let me qualify this by saying that I hate roller blading.  I have a fear of heights and the fact that my head is an extra two inches off the ground really freaks me out.  Crazy, I know.  Anyway, before buying the roller blades, I spent two weeks researching them.  I can tell you about every different kind of wheel base, bearings, boot types, etc.  For two weeks I ate, slept and dreamt about roller blades.  Our roller blade date ended with my soon to be hubby wiping blood off my elbows with his shirt.  End roller blade obsession.

The list goes on and on.  The flute that I had to get that-very-day, baby-wearing, spinning, knitting, weaving, any Apple product and don’t even get me started on genealogy.  The research on that one never, ever ends.

If I am honest with myself, though, all of these things become idols in my life.  None of the above things are bad.  In their proper place they can be very good.  It is when they are placed in the center of my life, the place where only El Kanna or Jealous God should be, that they become a problem.

It is when I put all of my thought, all of my time, all of my effort, all of my money into something other than El Kanna that it becomes an idol in my life.  When my identity becomes that of “knitter” or “runner” or “babywearer” or anything other than “child of God”, I have stepped out of God’s will for my life.

I once had a goal and dream that I spent seven years of my life pouring all of my heart and soul into.  I was so single-minded that I could not imagine anything other than achieving that dream.  In hindsight, I can see that it had become my god and that even my prayers were directed towards it. 

In the end, my dream did not come true and I was completely crushed.  I was angry at God.  I knew that He had the power to give me what I wanted and He choose not to do so.  In hindsight, I can see that El Kanna was jealous for me and was not willing to give me something that would take me away from Him.

I heard a great analogy once that goes like this:  Can you imagine being married to someone who didn’t mind if you dated other people?  Most of us would be hurt and would doubt our spouse’s own fidelity and love for us.  Scripture speaks of God’s jealousy in terms of being like a husband’s for his wife when he finds out that she has been unfaithful.

How do we identify the idols in our lives?  Ask yourself these questions:

Do I spend all of my time, energy and resources on something that God created, at the expense of my time with God and my family?

Is my identity wrapped up in something other than being a child of God?

Do I get more joy, comfort and peace from the created than the Creator?

Does this thing draw me closer to God or take me further away?

Other things that can become idols . . . cars, alcohol, sex, drugs, houses, boyfriends and girlfriends, even our own children.

Someone once told me if you want to see what you worship, look at what you have on the back of your car.  If that is true, I worship a cartoon mouse and a little orphan girl who lost her shoe.

Once we have identified our idols, we need to go to El Kanna in prayer and ask him to help us lay them down and learn to worship Him alone.  We need to change our habits and our focus to be completely on Him.  Instead of being a “knitter”, I am a Christian who happens to enjoy knitting.

I have experienced the pain and heart break of having God rip my idol out of my life.  I don’t want to make the same mistake twice, but I know that this is something that I will have to be constantly on the look out for in my life. 

I would much rather willingly hand them over than have them burned up in the fire of El Kanna.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

For You, Dad

Today I am going to take a break from our 31 day journey.  This is a tough one for me.  Seventeen years ago today, I stood beside a hospital bed and held my father's hand for the last time while I said my good-byes.  My life changed forever that day.  God has been so faithful and has kept his promise to make all things work for good for those who love Him.

Below, I have retyped an article that first appeared in Women's World Magazine and was then printed in Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul II.  This article was written by Bill Holton after he interviewed me over the telephone in 1999.

For You, Dad
  
"Here we go!" Dad would say, and I'd climb on his back.  "There! Look! See London Bridge?"

Lying on the floor with his arms outstretched, he was my Superman and together we were weaving our way around make believe clouds.  But like those clouds, my moments with Dad always vanished too quickly -- because there was something stronger than love in Daddy's life, something that was stealing him away.  It was an enemy I would end up fighting when he no longer could . . .

"He's sick," my mother would say when Dad passed out.  "It doesn't mean he doesn't love you."

I knew he did.  He could make us laugh with his funny faces and cartoon drawings.  I loved him, and I wanted to believe Mom still did, too.  As my little brothers and I grew, she explained that Dad hadn't always been "this way."  He was just a little wild when they'd met in high school.  And with his wavy hair and wide smile, I could understand how he'd captured Mom's heart.

But soon he must have been breaking it.  Sometimes we didn't see him for weeks.  One day he called to say he wasn't coming home again.  "I'm not far.  We'll see each on weekends," he said after he'd moved out.  "I'll swing by and get you on Saturday."

Grabbing the phone, Mom said, "No, John, you have to visit them at the house.  I won't let them get into a car with you."

I thought of the commercials I saw on TV -- the ones with the twisted metal and chalk outlines.  And the words Drunk driving kills.  Could that happen to Daddy?  Please God, I'd pray at night, help Daddy get well.  But too often, when he pulled into the driveway, we could smell the booze.

"Daddy, don't drive like that, " I pleaded.  Usually, he tried to shrug off my worries, but once he pulled me close, his eyes heavy with sadness.  "I wish I wasn't like this, " he said.  "I wish I was a good dad."

I wished that, too.  I hated alcohol for what it had done -- to all of us.

At first, I was too embarrassed to tell my friends the truth about my dad.  But as I started to see kids drinking, I couldn't hold back.  "That's why my dad isn't around," I'd say, pointing to the bottles.

All Dad's visit were brief.  In between hugs and kisses, he drew pictures for us, and we crammed in stories about school and friends.  "I'm getting help, " he'd say.  Maybe my brothers, Justin and Jordan, believed it -- but I didn't.  And yet with all my heart I wanted to believe.  I can still feel the rocking porch swing and my father's arm around my shoulder.

"The day you turn sixteen," he once said, "I'm going to buy you a car."  I nuzzled closer to him.  I knew he'd give me the world if he could.  But I understood that no matter how much he wanted to, he couldn't.

Then one night during my senior year of high school, I got a call at the store where I worked part-time.  "Heather?" Mom's voice was strained.  I knew what was coming.  "There's been an accident."

I raced to the hospital; Dad's motorcycle had been hit by a mini-van.  Blood tests shower he'd been drinking and doing drugs that night.  The other driver was fine, thank God.

"I love you, Daddy, "I sobbed, sitting by his bed.  Though he was unconscious, his heart rate monitor quickened at the sound of my voice.  He had found a way to let me know he heard me and he loved me.  But there was something that I had to make sure he knew.  "I forgive you," I choked.

Moments later, he was gone.  A crash killed my father, but his death was not sudden.

Everyone told me I needed to grieve, and for a while I did.  But in a sense, I'd been grieving for my Dad all my life.  Now I needed to do something that would help me feel less powerless against the enemy that had stolen him.

I went to the library to find what I could on substance abuse.  Almost every family is affected . . . children may repeat the patterns, I read.  My heart broke even more.  My father's life hadn't amounted to very much.  Maybe his death could.

Before I knew it, I was standing before a sea of young faces ready to speak, in a presentation called "Drug Free Me."
"People who do drugs and alcohol aren't bad," I began.  "They've just made the wrong choice."  Then I asked the kids to draw pictures of what they wanted to be.  They drew firemen and doctors and astronauts.

"See all those pretty dreams?  The can never come true if you turn to drugs and alcohol."  Their eyes grew wide.

I'm reaching them, I thought.  But I knew it wasn't that simple -- I'd have to keep trying every day if I really wanted to make a difference.

Since then, I've used cartoon characters to get the message to younger kids.  I've organized a tuxedo-stuffing program, sticking statistics on drunk driving into pockets of prom-goers.  And I've joined Mother's Against Drunk Driving and the National Commission on Drunk Driving.

Today, as a college junior, I do presentations at middle and high schools.  I also speak at victim impact panels, sharing stories of loss with people convicted of driving under the influence.  Most people on the panel have lost loved ones to people like my father.  But I was a victim, too, and maybe my story hits harder.

"It's hard to think of a faceless stranger out there you may kill, " I tell the offenders.  "So think about the people you are hurting now -- like a child at home who will miss you forever if you die."

I'd been missing my father long before he was taken for good.  I remember once he said that we, his children, were the only things he'd ever done right in his life.  Daddy, because of you, I'm doing something very right in mine. 




Saturday, October 15, 2011

Day 15: Reflection


We are half way through our journey, so I thought this would be a good time to just have some quiet reflection.  Below you will find a scripture or prayer to go with each name and character trait we have studied so far.  I encourage you to meditate on these as you spend some time alone with God this weekend.

Elohim, The Creator God

Elohim, when I look at your heavens, the creation of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have made - who I am that you should think of me?  Thank you for making me, for placing me in this world, and for calling me along with others to care for it as your servant.  Give me reverence and give me wisdom so that I can do this work in a way that is pleasing to you.

El Roi, The God Who Sees Me

El Roi, even the darkness is not dark to you.  You know everything about me, the light and he dark, the good and the bad.  You know my dreams and my desires, my failings and my fears.  You know the good that I do and the good that I fail to do.  Please come to me today and help me.  Rescue me from dark places and hidden difficulties, and nourish me with your presence so that I, too, may proclaim you as El Roi, the God Who Sees Me.

Yahweh Ropheka, The Lord Who Heals Me

I want to experience your healing grace in my body and my soul.  Please work in me and through me.  As you heal me, please let me glorify you by bringing the knowledge of your healing power to those in need.  Increase my faith and show me how to pray.

El Shadday, God Almighty

Thank you for your great and awesome power.  You never grow weary, you never give up, you always do what you promise no matter what.  Help me today to stop running after the security the world offers, and to start running after your kingdom instead.  Reign over me.  Use me.  Make me single-hearted, intent on one thing, pursuing your will.  And as I do, keep your promise to provide everything that I need.

El Olam, The Eternal God

Yaweh's plan stands firm forever.  Pslam 33:11

My Father wants all those who see the Son and believe in Him to have eternal life.  He wants me to them back to life on the last day.  John 6:40

Abba, Father

The Elohim who is in his holy dwelling place is the Ab of the fatherless and the defender of widows.  Psalm 68:5

As a father has compassion for his children, Yahweh has compassion for those who fear him.  He certainly knows what we are made of.  Psalm 103:13-14

Yahweh Yireh, The Lord Will Provide

Don't ever worry and say, "What are we going to eat?" or "What are we going to drink?" or "What are we going to wear?"  Everyone is concerned about these things, and your heavenly Father certainly know you need all of them.  But first, be concerned about his kingdom and what has his approval.  Then all of these things will be provided for you.  Matthew 6:31-33

Yahweh, Lord

Yahweh is near to those whose hearts are humble.  He saves those whose spirits are crushed.  Psalm 34:18

Yahweh Nissi, The Lord is My Banner

At that time the root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the people to gather around.  The nations will come to him.  His resting place will be glorious.  At that time Adonay will use his power again to recover what remains of his people . . . He will raise a banner for the nations to gather around.  Isaiah 11:10-12

(prayers were taken from Ann Spangler's The Names of God Study Bible).             

Friday, October 14, 2011

Day 14: Yaweh Nissi Part 2


Yesterday we looked at the story of Moses and the Israelites' battle againist the Amalekites.  We learned the importance of holding high the cross of Christ in all of our spiritual battles.

Today I want touch on another important lesson we can learn from this story. 

As Moses held high his staff as he overlooked the battle, his arms grew tired.  At this point he asked two of his most trusted leaders, Aaron and Hur to come along beside him prop up his arms.

When we are facing difficulties or stepping out into a new ministry, it is so important for us to also have people who can hold us up in prayer.

When we attempt to handle it all on our own strength, we grow weary and tired.  When we have trusted friends who will support us through their prayers, we no longer have to bear the burden by ourselves. 

I am definitely not good at sharing the burden.  I tend towards giving people the impression that I am self-sufficient and can handle it all on my own.  I can look back at times in my life where I have not reached out to others and I literally cracked under the pressure. 

Some of this is caused by the influence of our society telling me that I need to be strong and independent.  Most of it is caused by plain ol' pride.  And you know what they say about pride . . .

I have just recently started to reach out to others; asking them if they will pray for me on a regular basis.  The amazing thing . . . most of them already were!  I have gained a sense of peace knowing that I am not in this alone.

What issues are you facing today?  Who will you ask to come along side of you just like Aaron and Hur did for Moses?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Day 13: Yaweh Nissi, The Lord is My Banner


It was a beautiful sunny day as I drove along the tree lined road.  Things were quiet and peaceful all around and in my soul.  All of the sudden that peace was shattered as black hands, hands devoid of all light reached up from under the seat and grabbed me.

I could feel them wrapping tightly around me; pulling and tugging on my body and clothes.  I could see a narrow shaft of light through the trees leading up to heaven.  I fought to get away as I desperately cried out, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!” over and over again. 

And then I woke up.

I have never been so shaken by a dream before in my life.  The only way that I can describe it is that it felt like I was seeing into the spiritual realm and what I saw terrified me.

I had this dream two weeks after returning from the She Speaks conference.  Two weeks after God called me to boldly proclaim His matchless name.  Two weeks after I committed to be faithful to that call.

Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

There is no doubt in my mind that I saw a glimpse of the spiritual battle going on around us.  Satan would love nothing more than to keep us silent.  When we make the decision to be obedient to God and to live radically for him, we can and should expect difficulties to come into our lives.

But, we have a secret weapon against the foe.  His name is Yaweh Nissi, The Lord is My Banner.

Ancient armies carried standards or banners that served as marks of identification and as of symbols that embodied the ideals of the people.  These banners were usually made out of wood or metal and would be fasten to a staff or a long pole.

When Moses faced the Amalekite army after leading the Israelites out of Egypt an amazing thing happened.  Standing on a hill over looking the battlefield, he held his staff high above his head. 

This is the same staff that he threw down before Pharoah, the same one that he held out over the Red Sea.  This staff was more than just a piece of wood, it represented God’s authority.

While the staff was held high, the Israelites were winning the battle.  As Moses grew tired and his arms fell, the tide would turn in the favor of the Amalekites.  When he is no longer able to hold the staff up on his own, he asks two of his leading men, Aaron and Hur to stand beside him and help him hold up his hands.

After defeating the Amalekites, Moses built an altar to Yaweh Nissi, The Lord is My Banner.

We too have a banner to hold high in our spiritual battle against our enemy, the cross of Christ“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38

As frightening as my dream was, there is nothing that the forces of darkness can do to separate us from the love of God because of what Jesus did for us on the cross.  Sure, they can try to scare us.  They can attack from all angles in an effort to silence us. 

But they cannot win . . .

because they have already been defeated.

When faced with spiritual battles, we need to remember to claim the victory that is already ours through Yaweh Nissi, The Lord is Our Banner.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Day 12: Reverence vs Relevance


I once attended a church that had a very young preacher who had a heart for seeing the lost saved.  The church tried very hard to meet people where they were and to be relevant in today’s culture.  They were great at multi-media presentations, catchy sermon titles and fun gimmicks to bring people into the service.

One Sunday, the pastor was very fired up about his message.  In trying to convey how much God loves us, he said, “We have a flippin’ God who flippin’ loves us so very flippin’ much.”  My soul cringed at the coarse way that he spoke of the name of God.  Let’s be honest, flippin’ is a substitute for another word that should in no way be used with the holy name of God.

I have to question, at what point do we sacrifice our reverence for relevance?  How far is too far?  

The name Yaweh, which appears more than 6,800 times in the Old Testament, was considered so sacred to the Israelites it was not even pronounced after the destruction of the temple in AD 70.

Because Yaweh so freely gives the gift of salvation through His son Jesus, it can be easy to forget that He is still the holy, all-powerful I AM WHO I AM

May we never lose our reverence for Yahweh. 

Yaweh who is holy and mighty, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love and mercy, yet just and powerful.

How about you, have you had an experience like mine?  How far do you think it too far?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Day 11: Yaweh Yireh, The Lord Will Provide


As I walked to the car, I prayed over and over, “God, what are we going to do? Please help us.” I had met with the director of my daughter’s preschool about our past due balance. They had been very understanding of our situation, but it was right before Christmas and they needed us to pay our balance in full so that they could make payroll.

What frustrated me so much about the situation we were in is that it was no fault of our own. It wasn’t like my husband was out of work. He was just not getting paid for the work that he was doing. His job had switched over to a new pay system at the beginning of October. There was a glitch in the transition process and since that time we had not been paid. It was now the end of December.

The past few months had been so difficult, worrying about where money was going to come from for groceries, gas and our house payment. We had just enough at this point to get us through the end of the month with a little left over for Christmas presents for the girls. Now it looked like we were going to have to use the Christmas money to pay our back preschool tuition.

I don’t think my mood could have been any blacker as I pulled up to the mailbox. My spirit was crushed and I railed at God, asking Him how much longer we were going to have to live like this and how could He be so unfair. As I sorted through the mail, I saw what looked like a bill from one of our credit card companies. I opened the envelope to find a check in the amount of $325.70. We had overpaid a previous balance and they were sending us a refund.

Can you guess how much we owed to the preschool? Exactly $325. It was like Yaweh Yireh, the Lord Will Provide said, “Here is the money you need and I am going to throw in .70 just to show that I can.”

As I handed the director our payment the next day, I told her, “God wanted you to have this money.” There is no doubt in my mind that God performed a miracle that day. What happened was so incredible that even if I had never had any previous encounters with Him, that one event would have been enough to prove His existence.

As I look back over those difficult months, I can see how Yaweh Yireh provided our NEEDS, again and again. No, we weren’t able to buy fun new toys, new purses or go out to fancy dinners. But those aren’t needs. We always had food (even if it was Chef Boyardee) and shelter. Most importantly we had Him walking with us through every difficult step.

Yaweh Yireh’s method of providing may not always make sense to us. What about the family that does lose their house or the child who will go to bed hungry? For circumstances like these there are no easy answers, except again to look at the life of Abraham. Abraham who willingly obeyed God when He asked him to sacrifice Isaac, the child that he had waited for all of those years. Abraham did not understand what the Lord was asking him, but he trusted Yaweh Yireh to provide.

At the last minute Yaweh Yireh stayed Abraham’s hand and provided a ram for the sacrifice. Thousands of year’s later, less than a mile from where Abraham was willing to obey God in all things on Mount Moriah, Yaweh Yireh again provided a sacrifice, a sacrifice that would meet the greatest need of all of man kind; forgiveness of sins.

This time the sacrifice was His very own son, Jesus Christ.

A Giveaway!

My new favorite resource is The Names of God Study Bible, by Ann Spangler.  It actually has the original Hebrew or Greek name for God listed in the text of the Scriptures.  After studying the names of God, I have found that reading the Bible this way has so much more depth and meaning.  So, I am going to be giving away a copy of this bible at the end of this 31 day series.  I will be randomly drawing from the people who left comments.  Why am I doing this?  Well, I really love this bible and would love to help someone else get a copy.  Also, I would love for this blog to be a community where people could exchange ideas and share experiences.  This is just my way of encouraging you to get the conversation started.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Day 10: My Father's Birthday


He would have been fifty-six years old today.  I cannot believe that it has been seventeen years since I last saw his charming smile, heard his deep voice or felt his arms embrace me.


My plan was to use this space to celebrate my father’s life, but I find myself at a loss for words.  I am reminded of what our pastor said at his funeral, “What good do you say about a man who chose his addictions over his family?”.  The wounds that he inflicted on my young heart still run deep.  I have come to realize, though, that he was a sick man who choose to seek comfort in drugs and alcohol instead of taking his pain to Yahweh Ropheka, the Lord Who Heals.


I view my father’s legacy as one of warning others what not to do with their lives.  Instead of running from God, run to Him.  Instead of abandoning your family, make them your first priority.  Instead of drowning your troubles in a bottle, take them to the only One who can truly take them away.


My father’s life may not have amounted to much, but God has allowed the story of his death to change the lives of people all over the world.

So today, I will celebrate, Abba, God the Father in heaven.

Abba who never leaves or forsakes us.

Abba who loves with an unconditional, everlasting love.

Abba who gives good gifts to His children.

Abba who turns all things to good for those who love Him.

Abba who held a little girl in the palm of His hand and protected her through the storm, who held her in His arms as she cried herself to sleep time and time again and who is continuing to make her broken heart whole again.

So many of us carry scars left by our earthly fathers.  It is my prayer, today, that you too will reach out to your Abba, Father and allow Him to comfort you in the way only a perfect father can.

This post linked at:

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Day 9 and An Awesome Giveaway!


It was one of those moments that every mother dreads.  I stood in my friend Kelly’s driveway balancing a sleeping baby in one arm and a duffle bag in the other.  Abigail is crying because she doesn’t want to leave and Bethany has decided she is going to throw herself down in the middle of the driveway because she wants mac and cheese “right now”.  This is no little temper tantrum.  This is all out screaming, yelling, and kicking.  I actually expected her to start foaming at the mouth she was acting so crazy.

Nothing I said could convince her to get up and get into the van.  All she could focus on was her immediate want and the fact that it wasn’t being met.  She wanted mac and cheese and she wasn’t willing to wait for it.  What she couldn’t understand was that in her protesting she was actually causing herself to have to wait longer for what she wanted.

If we are honest with ourselves, haven’t we all had moments like that with God?  We pray and ask Him for something and all is great when we can see our prayer answered right away.  What happens, though, when it seems like God is not answering our prayer or the prayer is not answered as quickly as we would like?  I know I have definitely had my throw-myself-down-in-middle-of-the-driveway-kicking-and-screaming moments with God. 

What we so often fail to understand is that El Olam, the Eternal God, does not view time the way that we do.  El Olam has no beginning and no end, for Him one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like one day.  God has a perfect time to put into place His perfect plan for our lives.

One of my favorite examples of this comes, again, from the story of Abraham and Sarah.  God promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations.  Abraham was already seventy-five years old when El Olam made this promise to him.  You can imagine that both Abraham and Sarah thought that God would give them an heir very soon.  But they had to wait twenty-five long years before they would see the long hoped for fulfillment of God’s promise. 

During the waiting time they also threw their own little tantrum and decided to take matters into their own hands.  Instead of waiting on God, Sarah gave her servant Hagar to her husband so that he could conceive a child and heir with her.  As we saw on day 4 of our study, this created a huge mess that could have been avoided had they just waited on El Olam, the Eternal God.

My husband heard it explained like this once.  When we are watching a parade go by, we know what has just passed, we see what is right in front of us and we have a glimpse of what is coming.  But El Olam, He is in the blimp above the parade.  He sees it all at one time from beginning to end.  Because of this, He knows exactly when to allow things to enter our lives in order to accomplish His ultimate purposes, that all men should come to know Him and that we would become more like Christ.

So the next time you are tempted to throw yourself down and start yelling for the mac and cheese, remember that El Olam is working His perfect plan for your life and will give you what you need exactly when you need it. 

Background

Olam is a Hebrew word that occurs more than four hundred times in the Hebrew Scriptures.  It is translated as “eternal,” “everlasting,” “forever,” “lasting,” “ever,” or “ancient.”  It refers to the fullness of the experience of time or space.  The title El Olam (El o-LAM), meaning “Eternal God” or “Everlasting God,” appears only four times in Scripture.  The word is applied to God and His laws, promises, covenant, and kingdom. (Ann Spangler, Names of God Study Bible)

Further Study


Genesis 21:25-34

A Giveaway!

My new favorite resource is The Names of God Study Bible, by Ann Spangler.  It actually has the original Hebrew or Greek name for God listed in the text of the Scriptures.  After studying the names of God, I have found that reading the Bible this way has so much more depth and meaning.  So, I am going to be giving away a copy of this bible at the end of this 31 day series.  I will be randomly drawing from the people who left comments.  Why am I doing this?  Well, I really love this bible and would love to help someone else get a copy.  Also, I would love for this blog to be a community where people could exchange ideas and share experiences.  This is just my way of encouraging you to get the conversation started.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Day 8: Do You Know Him?


I posted this to Facebook today, but I thought it was too good not to post here, as well.  As we study the Hebrew names of God it is important for us to remember that God came to earth through His son Jesus.  The video describes Him much better than I ever could.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Day 7: A Wedding Story


El Shadday, God Almighty

As I stood alone on the front steps, cars honked their horns as they flew by the old stone church.  I am sure I was quite the sight, dressed all in white in my Cinderella style wedding dress.  I can even remember someone yelling, “Let the bride in!”.

Inside the church, my bridesmaids were walking up the aisle as my best friend waited for me on the alter.  Outside the church, I was a bundle of nerves as I prepared to make the biggest commitment of my life.


Standing on the altar, in front of family and friends, I made a covenant with my beloved.  I promised to forsake all others, to love him no matter what, to stay with him through the good and bad for the rest of our lives.

A marriage covenant is the biggest commitment that most of us will ever make in this life, but it palls in comparison with the covenant that El Shadday, God Almighty has made with His people.

Genesis 17 tells the story of God making a covenant with Abram.  Abram is old, 100 years old and without children.  God tells him that he is going to be the father of many nations and that kings will come from Abram’s line.  God says, “I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.”  As a sign of this covenant God changes Abram’s name to Abraham.

I love that God reveals himself as El Shadday, God Almighty when he makes this covenant with Abraham.  What God promises is no small task and only an all mighty God is able to follow through on a covenant such as this.

We make promises and break them all the time.  Marriage covenants are made and broken.  I know, because my parents stood on the very same altar I did and took the very same vows only to break them 10 years later.

El Shadday never breaks His promises.  All throughout the bible and human history we see evidence of God following through on the covenants He has made with His people.  We see the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham in the nation of Israel.

The prophet Jeremiah writes, “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord.  But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declared the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts.  And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and brother, saying, “Know the Lord, for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord.  For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

The prophets words are fulfilled in the birth and atoning death of Jesus Christ on the cross.  Through Christ we now have a new covenant with God.  One that we will never be able to break.  God’s words will not be written on tablets as in the old covenants, but rather on our hearts.  There is no longer a need for a faithful remnant to teach the unfaithful majority to know God, for all covenant partners will know Him.

And most importantly, “He will remember our sin no more”.

In the book of Revelation we see another wedding depicted, “Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure.”  This time the bride is us, those who have placed our faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins and the groom is Jesus Christ himself. 

We will forever worship, El Shadday, God Almighty, who in His ultimate wisdom and power kept the covenants that He made with His people at the beginning of all time.

Background


The Hebrew El Shadday (EL shad-DAI), of translated, “God Almighty,” may literally be translated “God, the Mountain One.” Like the mountains themselves, God is seen as strong and unchanging.  El Shadday reveals God not only as the one who creates and maintains the universe but as the one who initiates and maintains a covenant with His people.  (Ann Spangler, The Names of God Study Bible)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Begging Grace


You know how you look at some women and they just seem to have it all together?  Their children always look immaculate with cute outfits and matching hair bows.  Their houses are clean, they never forget a deadline and a hair is never out of place.

I am not one of those women.  Most days I am lucky if I get my own hair brushed, let alone my children's.  My house is messy more days than it is clean and if I can find a matching top and bottom for my children to wear I am ahead of the game.  And let's not even talk about deadlines . . .

Now, throw in the fact that my husband has been gone all week and I feel like I am struggling to keep my head above water.

I share all this to ask that you will give me grace in regards to today's Knowing God blog post. 

Today I ask that you just reflect on the names of God that we have studied this week and ask Him how you can apply what you have learned to your daily life.

I also suggest visiting one or two of my favorite blogs listed over at the right side of this page.

We will be back tomorrow with our regularly scheduled program . . .

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Day 5: Yaweh Ropheka, The Lord Who Heals


“Yaweh is the builder of Jerusalem.  He is the one who gathers the outcasts of Israel together.  He is the Rophe of the brokenhearted.  He is the one who bandages their wounds.” Psalm 147:2-3

I had just been given two pain pills and a dose of Benadryl before we got the news.  Abigail's small body was failing and her doctor needed to see me right away.  My mind desperately tried to focus on the words that the doctor was sharing as my body fought to fall asleep.  “She is very, very sick . . . her lungs are like that of a 25 week old preemie . . . we believe there is an infection in her blood stream . . . she will most likely not make it through the next 72 hours . . . we need you to be prepared to lose her.”

Sunday, March 19th, 2006 was the day that my life changed forever.  I was 25 weeks pregnant with our first child and anxiously awaiting my husband to return from a business trip that had him overseas for the previous month.  I decided to lay down to take a nap before picking him up from the airport.  When I woke up I discovered that my water had broke.  And thus began the most intense roller coaster of emotions I have ever been on in my entire life.

When I first arrived at the hospital, my OBGYN started to comfort me on the loss of my baby.  I was completely stunned.  My baby was still alive!  I politely told her that my God was bigger than her assessment of the situation and that I was trusting in Him for my daughter's life.

It was at this point that I was transferred to a hospital that was better able to care for us.  I laid in that extremely uncomfortable hospital bed for two weeks, all the while praying for the safe delivery of my precious child.  The day came when they were no longer able to safely hold off delivery and Abigail Rose was born via emergency c-section. 

You know how expectant mothers dream of what the moment is going to be like when their baby is born? How they wonder what it is going to be like to hold their child for the first time and gaze into their eyes?  I never got the moment that I had been dreaming about for the past 5 months.  Abigail was wisked away to the NICU immediately after being born.  I barely even got to see her. 

And now, here I was, 8 hours later being told that she would most likely not survive.  As I was wheeled into the NICU to see her for the first time, my senses were bombarded with all of the alarms and noises that are the constant chorus of the place that would become our home for the next 89 days.

Abigail at about two weeks old.

She looked so extremely fragile, barely the size of my hand, just two pounds nine ounces.  Her little body was vibrating from the force of the ventilator that was keeping her alive.  Her eyes were covered to protect them from the bright light that shone down in an effort to help her break down toxic bilirubin.  What I remember most, though, were her legs.  She was kicking them straight up in the air.  I would come to look for those legs each time I walked around the corner as I entered the NICU.  The doctors and nurses said that it was a sign that she was a fighter.

Over the course of the next few days, I sat beside my daughter’s isolette and prayed.  My family prayed.  Friends prayed.  They asked their churches to pray.  Eventually people from all over the country were praying for my daughter.  And Yaweh Ropheka, The Lord Who Heals, heard our prayer.

When Abigail was taken off the ventilator six days after her birth, the doctor said that he had no explanation as to why she was doing so well.  We knew, though, Yaweh Ropheka had heard our prayer.  When they informed us that there was a problem with her heart that would most likely need surgery to repair, we prayed.  The next day, when the cardiologist performed his scan, her heart had been healed.  Yaweh Ropheka had heard our prayer.  When they came to us and told us that her brain was bleeding, we prayed.  The next day the bleeding stopped.  Yaweh Ropheka had heard our prayer.

Time and time again, the Lord looked down upon us with mercy and choose to answer the prayers we prayed for our little girl.  The baby who was not going to make it through the first 72 hours of her life is now an energetic, outgoing five year old who is whizzing through her math lessons and is loving learning to read.  The baby with the damaged lungs who could not breath on her own for the first six months of her life is now the little girl who can belt out a broadway style tune the likes of Barbara Streisand (we’re still working on her pitch).

Proudly displaying her new bible at Awana Cubbies graduation

I do not know why God choose to heal my little girl and why He allows others to perish or to suffer disability.  My heart breaks for the families whose outcomes our not like our own.  But I have no explanation for the survival of my daughter other than Yaweh Ropheka choose to answer the prayers of many and heal her.

Just as Yaweh Ropheka healed my daughter’s physical heart and head, He also works to heal our spiritual hearts and minds.  I carry deep wounds in my heart that were inflicted by my earthly father, but the Great Physician is ever so gently healing those wounds.  A constant litany of negative self-talk runs through my head, the replaying of hurtful things that were said to me and the hurtful things that I say to myself.  God is healing my mind by replacing those falsehoods with the truth of His word.

As a gaze into Abigail’s room while she sleeps under the delicate canopy of purple and green flowers, I sing praises in my heart for the great things that He has done.  I am also inspired to be bold in praying for healing.  Yaweh Ropheka still heals!  I am challenged to pray not just for physical healing for myself and those that I love, but for spiritual healing, as well.

And hopefully I will again be able to say, Yaweh Ropheka heard my prayer.

Background

The Hebrew word rophe means “heal,” “cure,” “restore,” or “make whole.”  Shortly after his people left Egypt for the Promised Land, God revealed himself as Yaweh Ropheka, the Lord Who Heals.  The Hebrew Scriptures indicate that God is the source of all healing.  (Ann Spangler, The Names of God Study Bible)

Further Study: Exodus 15:20-27
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