A Famine of Truth

Oh, just reading through the prophets makes my heart ache! It makes my heart ache for God as his people fall away from him, reject, and refuse to glorify him. What a great God we have, and how sad it is that his people don’t praise him for the great awesome things he does for us, even just for giving us life, and eternal life.

From Ezekiel to Daniel, they make laws to worship kings who don’t even like their own rules, to people who prostitute themselves to idols and false gods; who were brought into the desert and walled in to hear the tender words of God in Hosea. Droughts and locusts in Joel calling the people to “Rend their hearts!” and now to Amos where even in utter desolation the people STILL will not return to the Lord.

What’s left to take away? How about the very words of true life?

Chapter 8 in Amos says from verse 11 on, “The days are coming” declares the Lord, “when I will send a famine through this land- not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord. Men will stagger from sea to sea and wander from north to east, searching for the word of the Lord, but they will not find it. In that day the lovely young women and strong young men will faint because of thirst.”

I’m not entirely sure what to think about that idea. Just kind of scary to imagine. Sure you might be afraid to be without food, our entire economy and social structure was once built off striving to provide enough for your family so you never have to go hungry. But, imagine going without the word of the Lord. Imagine finely dressed beautiful young women and strong young men, with full stomachs fainting in the streets from thirst for the truth. And we are, internally, aren’t we?

Deuteronomy 8:3 from the Exodus says “He [God] humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”

This which Jesus stated again in Matthew and Luke when being tempted in the desert to turn stones into bread. “Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”

And yet we choose that don’t we? We choose to deprive ourselves of the very words of life. The truth of the hope of salvation and the freedom of forgiveness of sins. The comfort that God will never leave us or forsakes us, or the truth that he keeps our tears in a bottle and perceives our very thoughts from afar. Who loves us despite our past selves and is willing to take on the sins of the world, is willing to come to earth as a baby, and is even willing to promise he will in the first place!

Oh I pray for a renewed hunger for myself, for Christians, and the world for the truth; to know it, understand it, speak it, and love it. That I would memorize it and meditate on it. That I would treasure it and share it! Teach us, oh God, what it means to have the very words of life before us, now that we have tasted and seen that you are good through our very own salvation. May Bibles be opened this Christmas and the Christmas story with our families read and hearts rendered to the Lord! In Jesus’ name- Amen.

Closed doors are open doors.

Being told “no” is tough. Being told “you’re just not cut out for it” stings. We’ve found someone else. You’re just not as qualified as we’d like. You just don’t have what it takes. Words of rejection. It just doesn’t match up to what it feels like when someone tells you yes.

For those who don’t know, I’ve been working two part-time jobs for the past 4 or 5 months… or however long its been. I didn’t even apply for the second one. My boss set me up at a lunch with a heavy-weighted-in and my resume was passed off and an email ended up in my inbox a few months later, followed by a phone call three days after I had lost my other job. Pay increase and a position in the direction I was headed career wise. It didn’t take long to say yes and I had a lot of faith and gratitude; God was with me.

Starting work, my coworker is a believer and is trying to reach out to our other coworkers. Day two and we’re already sharing our testimonies. Things are going well. I meet tons of people and learn a lot; I’m even envisioning my life working for this company. I meeting a lot of people and making a lot of connections. #blessed, right?

Time wars on. The 76 mile trek wears on me. My life starts to look a lot different and my priorities have changed. I have a meeting with a research scientist and on my drive I’m praying “God, if there’s a job with this scientist- I pray you’d let me know.” Before the words even leave my mouth completely, the guy assures me there’s no jobs in that field. “Ok, God. Guess that was pretty clear.” Maybe a week goes by, corn prices drop and people start getting fired (I work for a corn seed company). My supervisor stops in my cubical to check on my work and to give me a heads up on how things are going. She tells me I’m the best intern they’ve ever had, really quick and efficient, but there’s just not any room for full time. She discussed the end of my internship and suggested I start looking for other jobs. “Cool, thanks for letting me know,” I said.

Closed door. I remember driving home I didn’t really think much or pray much, not because I was entirely mad or angry. I don’t think I knew what to feel. I think I was just disappointed. Things are really exciting when God opens doors- its not quite the same when they close.

Pondering this weeks later, that’s where I stopped. Isn’t a closed door just as beneficial as an open one? Isn’t being told no just as helpful as being told yes? If direction is what we’re looking for from the Lord- isn’t either good?

I’d like to reason that it is. And while I can’t dispute or explain quite why being told no feels like rejection, I’d like to suggest an attitude adjustment. We get so disheartened when things don’t work out the way we’d like or initially hope. Sometimes people even doubt or question God because of it. Sure, it’s a little awkward- our pride gets hurt a bit in the process… but that’s all it is then… just pride. Maybe its good it gets a little hurt even once and a while- keeps us humble and weak.

While, I don’t have a lot of bible verses for this one this time- I have a suggestion:

Be encouraged by a “No” just as you would a yes. Be encouraged by a closed door just as you might an open one. 

Proverbs 16:9 says “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” Be encouraged that a sovereign Lord who loved us enough to die for us on a cross has a mighty loving hand in the direction our lives go.

And now, I suppose for me a prayer request or two. Looks like I’m starting to walk in a different direction by joining up by working with our college ministry, God provided health insurance for me with my first job and some extra income to get ahead on my loans so it’ll work out great to transition. The only thing it feels like its in the opposite direction so its kind of intimidating. While God is closing some doors, He’s opening some other neat ones. I might even be able to start reaching out to a group of kids I used to spend a deal of time with again. Lord willing! Thanks for laboring with me in this.

Carry on in faith and love whether the doors are opened or closed or even if it doesn’t feel like there’s a door at all!

-Teresa

Repent and Live!

I finished reading Ezekiel this week, and while most of it was obscure and almost incomprehensible for me, there is one theme I saw over and over which is God’s heart towards his people and sin. One question I think about that I’ve heard from people who doubt God and question him is the idea that God is not good because he sends people to hell or that maybe God even delights in sending people to hell, or at least doesn’t mind. Then those people stray away from God. I mean if God delighted in the death of the wicked, I think I would be hesitant too. Seems a little twisted.

However, that’s actually not how God feels at all.

Ezekiel 18:23-32. You can see that what God delights in, is not in the death of the wicked or unrighteous, but rather he delights in those wicked and unrighteous people repenting.

He asks (vs 23) “Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? […] Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?

Then he goes on to declare about how if righteous people pursue wickedness they will not live, but if the wicked turn from their evil deeds and pursue righteousness they will live... so may we always pursue righteousness! 

And then “Therefore, oh house of Israel, I will judge you, each one according to his ways,” declares the Sovereign Lord, “Repent! Turn away from your offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone. Repent and live!”

God is not concerned with our list of acts of wickedness or righteous deeds. He concerned about our heart of repentance. That we would turn from our offenses and not allow sin to cause our downfall.

I don’t know how you come to the Lord today. Whether you are burdened with guilt from your sins or wallowing in self righteousness and pride, but what God wants for you is to continually come back and turn from your sin, to leave it behind, and to look towards Jesus to give you a new heart and a new spirit.

It’s interesting to think about how these verses apply today since most people think that accepting Christ once is all it takes, as if you don’t have to listen to God’s word any more now that you’re saved. We’re righteous now right, covered by the blood of the lamb? I might encourage you to stop and think about your salvation if you’re not living a life with a repentant attitude. Verse 24 says “But if a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits sin and does the same detestable things the wicked man does, will he live? None of the righteous things he has done will be remembered. Because of the unfaithfulness he is guilty of and because of the sins he has committed, he will die.” Are you a “righteous” man and doing wicked deeds and not looking to Christ and the Holy Spirit to help you overcome? You just may die. And I mean that to question how seriously you’ve taken your salvation and to encourage you to reconsider what you’re living your life for. There will be more hope for a wicked man who repents than that righteous man who continues in wickedness, trusting in his own righteousness (Ezekiel 33:13).

And God pleads with you “Why will you die?!”

So repent, repent and live! And trust in the righteousness of the Lord!

My Mother’s Story

My mom became a member of the our church back in Wisconsin and apart of that was sharing your testimony with the pastor and elders last week. My mom didn’t know quite what to say, so she wrote a prayer poem to the Lord… so I thought I’d share. To know how far my mom has come and all that she has been through… this is only a tiny peek, but I’m so blessed and amazed to have been in her life and apart of this story that it really makes all that I’ve been through worth it. Hope you enjoy my mother’s story.

Lord Jesus when I was little,
I knew just who you were.
Great almighty and powerful,
always willing to hear your word.

I believe you guided my parents,
as they taught me wrong from right.
Sending me to Sunday school,
and praying with me each and every night.

I attended Catholic Church,
I attended Catholic school.
There I learned about you Lord,
and the 12 most important rules.

Often when I attended school and Church,
I was not the happiest there.
I felt like I was being judged,
Like they were not being fair.

So it was then I fell from my Church,
That I attended regularly.
Tried to make it on my own,
and now its no surprise to me.

Yes Lord, I have stumbled,
Struggling through the years.
Looking hard to find you,
knowing you were always near.

Lord I come to you a sinner,
Lord I have made the most terrible mistakes.
Before you Lord I ask forgiveness,
please keep me in your grace.

When asked once how I found you,
the words seemed hard to find.
And then with thought, how it occurred,
the very place and time…

Yes it was in a car ride,
you know going from here to there.
Through the words of my little girl,
she asked me just to share…

When at first she asked me…
Mom, how are you and God today?
Was Christ my Lord and Savior?
Was it clear I knew the way?

I was caught a bit off guard,
Not sure of exactly what to say.
Patiently she heard the explanation,
that I thought of right away.

I assured her, Christ is my Lord,
he has always been in my heart.
That I have always looked to him,
confident that he guided my heart.

It was just then that I began to realize,
that there was so much more that I needed to do,
to make my peace with God,
and my Lord and Savior too.

I needed to make a commitment,
with all my strength and might.
To live each day with the Love of God,
and Christ as my guiding light.

I know that I am human,
and my temptations can be strong.
There will be times I need to pray,
to stay the path I am on.

Lord you are my savior,
its you I want to serve.
Make me your disciple,
help me to learn and teach your word.

Help me to learn your holy book,
search the words each and every day.
Help me to hear the sermon,
and understand this is the only way.

Now I stand before you,
God in the house you have built.
Please let this be my home,
now free from my past sins and guilt.

Lord I give myself to you,
I know you will guide the way.
Lord, each day know that I will seek you,
and give you all the glory each and every day.

Carry on in faith and love,
Teresa

Keeping Wisdom in View.

Somewhere over the last couple of months, maybe after one too many conversations about the need to be upfront and honest with people, I must have decided to give myself permission or find the need to be totally upfront and honest with people.

Sounds great. Until you, unfortunately, stick two people pleasing roommates with one roommate who, I’d say most unfortunately, can’t be pleased and even more so finds great (unhealthy) frustration in misplaced motivation for people pleasing. That’d be… me. What started off as honestly was soon tumulted into fiery insults and bad attitudes… and sooner or later I found myself wedging a huge vice in between some of the greatest friendships I have. What once was pleasant, joyous fellowship was now being choked slowly by frustration and a growing terror. What would happen next if they tried to wake the sleeping bear?

Somewhere a long the way, rebuke was delivered and so began the growing pains.

Do you ever look in the mirror and not like what you see? Try holding a mirror up to your heart once… it was so… disappointing. Oh, I know, I’ve been praying to grow in gentleness… but it was just like- Teresa, who are you?

A dear brother shared a verse with me one Sunday morning “When words are many, sin is not absent; but he who holds his tongue is wise,” he reminded me. Yes. I remember that. I used to have that one memorized and repeat it to myself daily. Now, I couldn’t even remember the reference. (It’s Proverbs 10:19, btw) What happened?

I started flipping through Proverbs and found good conviction and affirmation of my foolishness.

“A man who lacks judgement derides (ridicules, mocks, scoffs) his neighbor, but a man of understanding holds his tongue.”  (11:12)

“A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult.” (12:16)

“Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” (12:18)

“He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.” (13:3)

Oh they go on and on! So why did this all happen?

“A discerning man keeps wisdom in view, but a fool’s eye wanders to the end of the earth.” (17:24)

I stopped keeping wisdom in view. Sure, I was reading the word… trudging slowly through the prophets as I’ve been, maybe flipping to the NT every once and while. But, storing up wisdom? Reading through the Proverbs? Wasn’t doing that. Wasn’t searching for it as for silver or hidden treasure, wasn’t binding it around my neck or writing it on the tablet of my heart. Just being foolish.

So what hope is there for a fool? Well, Jesus for one. He paid for my sin in all of this, painfully, on the cross. So, forgiveness and a hope of sanctification as I pursue him more and more.

“Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who embrace her; those who lay hold of her will be blessed. […] My son, preserve sound judgement and discernment, do not let them out of your sight; they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck. Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble; when you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down your sleep will be sweet. Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared.” (Proverbs 2:13-18, 21-26 NIV)

And so because I do what I do… here’s a song I wrote tonight. “Keeping Wisdom in View”

If I could take back
all that I said
and it could be written
by someone who cared
cared

someone like you
someone like you

I gave up control
and my tongue had its own
and I turned a deaf ear
revealing a fool
fool

and silenced the truth
silenced the truth

Wisdom won’t you come at my gate
I’m ready to let you in
For all of my friends might have thrown me to waste
unless I bind you within
unless I bind you within

My wandering eyes
led me, poor, in disguise
now truth is a witness
to uncover these lies
lies

now how poor am I?
Oh how poor am I.

Wisdom won’t you come at my gate
I’m ready to let you in
For all of my friends might have thrown me to waste
unless I bind you within
unless I bind you within.
Please Jesus, come abide within.

Here’s a link to hear it, for what that’s worth.
http://youtu.be/cJ400KmndOw

Carry on in faith and love, and wisdom!

Teresa

Wonderful Savior

Wonderful Savior
Jesus Christ our Lord,
Who appointed was anointed
For our sake, and love.

I dwell on my sin
What heartache- but grace!
Will lift me again, right out of this grave.

Wonderful Savior
Your Spirit within,
Though scolds me, You embolden me
A sweet, comforting exchange.

I dwell on my sin
That’s been nailed to the tree.
Oh let me hear twice, how far ‘way it must be!

Wonderful Savior
And a Father to lead,
Who is gracious and patient
And loves everlastingly.

I dwell on my sin,
Though led me astray,
Has now brought me here
To remember your grace.

Oh Wonderful Savior,
Oh how worthy of praise.
Thank you, oh thank you for taking my place.
Thank you, oh thank you for loving this soul
in all of your many wonderful ways.

Hibernation.

my obsession has become a dangerous addiction
one that’s tempted to distort my own inhibitions
and i admit i’ve tried on my own will, conviction
couldn’t come soon enough to kill this belabored premonition

i was just trying to take the edge off.

but no one ever mentioned the way up the mountain
was dangerous, heavy, and steep
and that the path to the valley, though catalyzed by folly
was slippery, swift, and sweet.

now i’m not sure which way I’ve been walking.
and i’m not too sure I’m sober to see.

on this long lonely highway, many memories precede
but it’s this damned premonition that keeps on following me.
A truth I say I never wanted to see, but the much greater truth is
I just wish it would be.

And so much has stemmed from this dangerous addiction
One I try to cover with purposeful distorted ambition.
All I’ve caused for this journey is intense intoxication.
I’ve fallen in love with these secrets told to me;
could be just lies, but you see they’ve really just sold me.

and I admit I’ve tried by my own benediction, conviction
couldn’t come soon enough to bury this soul;
so now what I’m suffering is prolonged by agony
in awaiting the future. Unfold.

I was trying to take the edge off-
some lonely miserable existence.
I better hope this is just some terrible mountain climbing experience.
Or that your grace will be there waiting
when Reality sets in to replace my belabored hibernation.

Either way, I am ready now, Lord,
to face the wind and the resistance.

To hell with consistency.

This is my lesson from the past month and a half.

My roommate asked me maybe a couple weeks ago if I thought it was exciting not knowing when I was going to work or get my next paycheck or pay my bills. She didn’t ask it like that… it was more like “Isn’t it kind of fun not being committed and tied down to responsibility?”

I was like:

grumpy cat.

I was at a point where I was starting dislike that whole waiting for the job, picking up strange side jobs, and cleaning up dog poop. That whole “do everything without grumbling or complaining” thing wasn’t working out very well for me. But God helped me see one thing through my discontentment which was what I was putting my hope in: consistency.

Then as I was observing the lives around me it hit me… when is life ever consistent anyway?

What is the point of putting hope in life being consistent? It’s just not. Life’s not stable. It’s ever changing. You get a job, you lose a job; you get a bonus, your car breaks down; people come in your life, they leave your life; someone’s born, they grow up. I think parents probably get what I’m talking about right? It seems like life is more about learning to make adjustments than searching for stability, conformity.

So I say… to hell with consistency. With this world at least. Of course all this points to the longing hope of our hearts for dependency on a rock. The Rock. An I’m not talking about Peter. I’m talking about Jesus.

Hebrews 13:8 says “Jesus Christ is the same today, and yesterday, and forever.”
He who said “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” (Matthew 7:24-27 ESV)

What’s greater about God is that, during this time of teaching… He provided all a long the way. People gave me work when I was out of work, I got my foot in the door of a really great company with an internship, I was able to serve families in my church, I was helped financially a lot, and my courage was restored. God is so merciful. And a good teacher. And a patient  teacher. And consistent. God is consistent.

My roommate (Kitt) and I just listened to this this song and did the hand motions together. It was a special moment.

Here you go:

Carry on in faith in our UNCHANGING God!

-Teresa

Bereavement

I could close my eyes for a while
and when I’d awake I’d see you smile
or maybe the grumblings or your disapprovals
about this town and all of its fools.

I could close my eyes for a while
and remember that spirit lit up like a fire.
Maybe I’d hear you say my name again
and tell you you’d become like a father, my friend.

But when the light pours in and I squint to see
its been a year and all I have is your memory.

If I could close my eyes for a little while
and not remember the pain of this trial
to hope you’re in God’s sweetest grace
because of his truth you did embrace.

But when the light pours in and I struggle to see
at least I have your memory
of that last weak embrace on your dying day.
Until then, I pray we meet again, my friend.

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In memory of Jeff 9/27/13

Captain’s log, stardate 1264.93

Our destination is still working full time, but in the meantime we’ve been witnessing some supernatural activity amongst the family members. Sister’s new boss turns out to be a Christian and is taking her to a bible believing, Jesus loving church, the entire deck is singing Hallelujah. Unfortunately, in attempts to bring the nephews- the spouse is strangely apposed. More prayer is necessary for softening his heart. But the oldest nephew is interested which was of greatest shock. Mom has found a fellow Christian at her work location who is on fire for God. Together they will do a bible study twice a month. Brother was in a tragic car accident, but survived. Recently he’s communicated and expressed guilt and regret for absence from our lives for the last 5+ years. We are corresponding back and forth, praying for gospel opportunities. He’s also healing very quickly. Praying God keeps his heart soft. Other brother has attended church with sister-in-law and family. Praying the church is a church that preaches the gospel and that they grow closer together as a family. Save log for future acknowledgement of the mighty work the Lord does and the prayers He answers in baby steps a long the way.

Psalm 65:5 (NLT)
You faithfully answer our prayers with awesome deeds, O God our savior.
You are the hope of everyone on earth, even those who sail on distant seas.”