Friday, May 27, 2011

Faithful Friday Faves: Jonah

Posted by Lisa Laree at Beer Lahai Roi

I smiled when I realized that this week's book is Jonah.

Who among us doesn't love a story in which the pouty, self-righteous, holier-than-thou gets a just comeuppance?

But how unusual is it that that person is actually God's man of the hour? The 'good guy', so to speak, of the story?

What a treasure the book of Jonah is! Jonah's shortcomings and rebellion did not keep God's purpose from being fulfilled:

When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion upon them and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened. - Jon. 3:10

The people of Nineveh were saved for another generation...and Jonah himself got a personal revelation about how much God values even those who don't know Him.

If God can use Jonah in all of his mess, surely He can use me in the midst of mine.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Faithful Friday Faves: Obadiah

I remember reading Obadiah just after the Iranian hostage crisis and finding myself shocked at the similarities between the description of Edom and the traditions/conditions of the United States...and therefore deeply concerned about the future of our country.

Now, it seems ironic that I am re-reading Obadiah again this week.

Because of the violence against your brother Jacob, you will be covered with shame; you will be destroyed forever. On the day you stood aloof while strangers carried off his wealth and foreigners entered his gates and cast lots for Jerusalem, you were like them. - Obadiah v. 10 - 11

Not making any political statements here...just praying.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Faithful Friday Faves: Amos

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

The little book of Amos is, to put it mildly, a strong word. First to the nations around Israel and Judah...then to Israel and Judah also. I'm not going into the word that Amos spoke, though, because what caught my eye as I read through this is Amos' defense of his message to Amaziah, the priest of Bethel:

"I was neither a prophet nor a prophet's son, but I was a shepherd, and I also took care of sycamore-fig trees. But the LORD took me from tending the flock and said to me, 'Go, prophesy to my people Israel.'" - Amos 7:14-15

There are two pretty amazing things about this verse...first, Amos was, theologically speaking, a nobody. He had no credentials and no credibility, but God called him and sent him out with a message.

The other amazing thing is that Amos went. He left what he knew, where he was comfortable, the normal and the usual, and went to do something totally unfamiliar and prone to ridicule and offense.

Talk about a transition.

How clear was the word of God to Amos before he walked away from the sheep? Did he have angels and trumpets? Did his visions come then or later? Or did he just have that gnawing in his spirit that he could not silence so he HAD to go and speak? Amos doesn't say...but whatever it was, Amos was convinced that it was God. So he went.

Or...maybe Amos wasn't absolutely convinced. Maybe, just maybe, he figured the only way to know if God was really speaking would be to walk it out and see. 'Cause if it wasn't God, he sure wouldn't get very far. But he went anyway.

And his message reached the king.

So...this makes me uncomfortable. Because, if I'm absolutely honest, I LIKE my comfort zone. I DON'T like causing problems and offending folks.

But it is apparent through reading the Scripture that folks who meekly avoided offending people and just hung out where they were comfortable didn't do anything great for God. In fact, they often were the very folks the prophecies decried.

So I'm wondering how Amos' example is going to affect ordinary, unqualified me. Will I let it challenge me to dare to believe that little voice is really God? How will I walk that out if I do?

Friday, May 6, 2011

Friday Faithful Faves: Joel

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

It is an interesting thing to read Laura Ingall's Wilder's On the Banks of Plum Creek, with her eyewitness accounts of the grasshopper plague, and then read the book of Joel and the insect plagues described there.

Even the stench is common to both accounts.

But today, I'm going with the obvious pick from Joel, not because it is the obvious, but because it speaks of what happens when the people return to God after the disaster, which is the encouragement I'm needing at the moment (this is from New King James, because that happened to be sitting on the computer desk):

And it shall come to pass afterward
That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters will prophesy,
Your old men shall dream dreams,
Your young men shall see visions.
And so on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days.
-Joel 2:28-29

One of the most amazing things to come out of this (the devastating tornadoes of April 27) has been the unity of folks working together to help clean up. The denominational tags have been dropped. It may well be that this is the start of a different day among those of us who follow Christ.

And once we finally get past the difference in styles of worship, or particulars of doctrine, and find true unity in Christ, we are aligned for such an outpouring.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Long Way from Normal

It feels artificial to me to go about my business as if life were what it was just two weeks ago.

And that feels hypocritical, because, to a very, very large extent, my life has not changed that much. The power is back, the internet is back...the bass is thumping from The Artists' stereo and dishes are starting to pile in the sink again.

But tonight we visited the funeral home to support dear friends whose adult daughter died in the storms last week. She left her parents' house after one storm had destroyed their back yard and disrupted their power, not aware that she was heading right into the teeth of the worst storm to cross the county.

There are no words to say. You just hug them and hurt with them and pray for strength and grace.

I am documenting the contacts and the needs as they come into the church office; it's not much, but it's my part.

That and prayer.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi.

A week ago today was a devastating weather day in Alabama...just in case it's not news everywhere else.

Firstly, I should say that my family and my home were unscathed. We had a few scary moments when the radar showed rotation heading in our general direction, but as the storms got closer it became clear that they were going to miss us. We had a brief period of small hail, some hard rain and a few really strong wind gusts, but nothing really out of the realm of the usual.

Then the power went out. Every supply line coming into the county went down. It came back on in our neighborhood on Monday morning...4 1/2 days later.

We all laughed at my mother about 5 years ago when she gave me and my siblings all emergency radios...with hand crank power. We made good use of that radio, let me tell you. It was our link with the world at large.

The Princess and her fiance, Prince Charming, decided Thursday evening to go to Grandma's in Indiana. The Artist decided to go with them and, given uncertainty on continued availability of water and cell phones, we convinced her to take her two younger siblings with them. They all crammed into her Honda and left Friday morning. I waved them goodbye, then came back into the house and cried in My Sweet Baboo's arms, both of us praying for their safety. It was so hard to see them all leave together, knowing it was exceptional circumstances and extra hazardous, at least in town where there were no stoplights operating and crazy folks running through the intersections. But they made it there and back, arriving home yesterday afternoon.

And MSB and I were home alone for a long weekend. We worked together on some home projects, planned our meals together (did you know you really can bake a thawed frozen pizza on a charcoal grill?), took walks, looked at the amazing display of stars in the very dark sky, and marveled that we really were ok.

Because so many are not.

I'm not gonna post pictures; they're all over the web and a simple search will yield more devastation anyone can handle. We know people whose houses were destroyed. We have heard amazing stories of folks who attend our church who survived in the midst of the destroyed houses.

And we know some who have people dear to them on the list of folks who did not survive.

All other ministries have stopped at church; disaster relief is what we are doing. My job is searching the data base for the streets in the hard-hit areas, trying to identify if anyone there is connected with the church to make sure they are contacted and helped if necessary. Not that people have to be associated with us for us to help them; we just want to make sure folks who ARE associated with us get help if they need it.

I had a mean dentist appointment this morning (rescheduled from last Thursday) and came home to spend some quality time with warm salt water while I wait for the ugly anesthesia to wear off and was surprised to find the internet operating; it's been down at the house since the power went out. Otherwise, I would be at work hunting addresses and running queries and sending names out to the pastors in the field.

I don't have any easy answers to any of this. I don't know why we were spared while dear friends were not. But I do know this: God loves me and I can trust Him.