Thursday, May 31, 2012

Proverbs 31:25

"She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at days to come." Proverbs 31:25 (NIV)

When I read Proverbs 31 earlier today, this verse just jumped out at me. I hadn't really noticed it before. Probably because it's in the midst of a chapter in Scripture I haven't always liked; although it's growing on me as I actually read it for myself instead of just listening to others talk about it. There's something to be said for reading it and studying it for yourself. But, that's something for another post; right now, let's get back to Proverbs 31:25.

"She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at days to come."

The woman talked about here is clothed with strength and dignity. To be clothed means to be covered with something. Strength and dignity cover this woman. They protect her.

A woman clothed with strength and dignity is a woman who is secure in who she is. She knows who God created her to be and rests in that and lives in that. Because of her confidence in who God created her to be she "can laugh at days to come." She doesn't have to worry about the future because she knows it is in God's hands and He will work it all out for her good (Philippians 1:6).

I don't know about you, but that sounds like how I want to live. I want to be the kind of woman described in this verse. And it sounds like a much better way to live than I often do.

"She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at days to come."

Oh God, that is what I want in my life - that is what we want in our lives. Help us to learn to live this way each day.

Sunday, May 27, 2012


For the last few months, I've been wrestling with the concept of a calling from God. What does it mean? What does it look like? Does everyone have one? Or is it something only certain people have? Can you have a calling if you're not in full-time ministry of some kind? Are pastors and missionaries the only ones with callings?

These haven't been easy questions to find answers for. I don't know if I have the answers to all of them yet, or if I ever will. I hear people talking about a colling in such different ways. For some it seems they would say that a calling is only something for specific people that God wants to use while they do something specific. While for others, they would say we all have a calling from God.

As I have worked through this for myself, I've found myself more likely falling into the group that believes we all have a calling from God. Romans 8:28 says, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." To me, that speaks to each of us being called by God for something. For each of us that calling will look different. God makes each of unique - with different gifts, abilities, personalities - and tat means what we do and how we do it will look different from the other people around us.

All of us are called to serve God, but the specifics of how we do that look different for each of us. Some are called to serve in full-time ministry, as a pastor, missionary, etc. Some are called to work at a job that we dont' traditionally think of as ministry and to serve other ways. Each of us does best when we are doing what God has called us to do - not what someone else would tell us we should do.

But, what do we do when we're not completely sure what our calling looks like? We know we've been called to do something, but the details of how to do it aren't yet clear. What if they don't become clear for years? What do we do then?

Those times takes patience. We need to do what we know to do and wait for the rest to be made known to us. But, that waiting isn't a passive, sit back and do nothing, kind of waiting. We need to be using that time to do different things - to try different things that are in line with what we know of our calling. And in that process, we figure out what our calling is and learn to walk it out in our lives. This trying of different things doesn't mean we just seek to be busy, but that we make use of our time in good ways. And it also means we're not afraid to gracefully stop doing things we try that aren't what we should be doing. We don't just quit and leave people hanging, but we don't keep doing them forever either.

The process of figuring out our calling may not always be enjoyable, but it is a process that deepens our relationship with God and grows our dependence on Him. It's not always the most enjoyable process at the time, but staying the course during it is worth it, because the process and the outcome are beautiful things.

As I write this, I feel like I'm writing it to myself in many ways. Reminding myself of all the things I have learned over the last few years as I've felt like God was calling me to something, but not really knowing how if would look exactly. As I've followed what I know of it, I've discovered a clearer picture of what it may be. But, honestly, the best part has been the way it has impacted my relationship with God for the better. That alone makes the process beautiful and worth everything.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

wrestling with God

I came across a quote earlier today. I have no idea who it is from or where I cam across it. But, it stuck with me again when I read it.
Wrestling with God is not a bad thing. It's impossible to wrestle with someone who is far away from you. You can only wrestle with someone who is close to you. Sometimes we interpret it as failure, but I think God sees it as intimacy.
When I read that, I'm reminded of Genesis 32 where Jacob wrestles with a messenger from God all night. That wrestling changed Jacob. He wasn't the same man after He wrestled with God. He walked away with a permanent mark of that night. He was left with a limp that would remind him of that encounter for the rest of his life.

The same thing can happen with us when we wrestle with God. The intimacy with God that comes from that changes us. We don't walk away the same person. We walk away different from those encounters. Like Jacob, we often walk away from those encounters with a limp that will remind us of that encounter as we go through the rest of our lives.

Monday, May 21, 2012

i'll be there

This post started as I was driving home from a weekend away with some friends. The words to one of the songs we were listening to struck me. The lyrics declared someone would be there for someone through everything. I started to think about how for disciples of Christ, that really is something that only God can be. (The song is not a Christian song, so I kind of doubt that the writers of the song would have expected this train of thought to come from their song.)

I'll Be There (Faber Drive)

As I listened to those words I thought about how hard we can often try to be the one who will be there for everything someone we love needs. It's an admirable ideal. But, I think the reality is that we won't always be able to do so. There are times when we will fail to be the one who is there.

But, the good thing is that, as disciples of Christ, we have Someone who is always there. Other people can be there for us, and often they will be. But, the times when they aren't, we still aren't alone.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

the family of God

With Mother's Day approaching I have found my thoughts turning to my Mom and the important place she has in my life. As I thought about that, I started to think about other women in my life who have played a role in making me who I am today. None of them take the place of my Mom, but many of them have poured into me in ways that helped me to grow.

And I think that is how the family of God is supposed to work. Our biological families have a huge role to play, but it shouldn't end with them. The family of God should be a continuation of our biological families.

That continuation is in the good and the bad. And, that does mean, that there will be times when they drive us crazy or hurt us, whether intentionally or unintentionally - because that is what families do. They aren't perfect. They make mistakes. But when something goes wrong, we deal with it. We apologize, forgive, and figure out how to move forward from that point.

As I sit in a coffee shop and write this, I have a continually growing list of women in my life who have poured into me in various ways and have played a role in some way in helping me become who I am today. Some have come alongside as sisters. Some have been youth leaders. Some have been summer camp cabin leaders. Some have been dorm moms when I was at Bible college. Some have been mentors. Some have been pastors. Some have been Bible study leaders. Some have been women I've worked alongside with in ministry opportunities. God has used them in my life, and I'm blessed because of it.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

wrestling with the truth of Scripture

"I don't like that Scripture has that to say."
"I wish that wasn't in the Bible."
"That seems harsh."

Have you ever said things like that after you read something in Scripture? Have you ever read something and been challenged by it, but you wish it wasn't in Scripture and you hadn't read it? Do you have verses or passages, or maybe books, that you wish weren't in Scripture? If you answered "yes" to these questions, would you admit that out loud to another person?

I think if we're honest, we all have things we really wish Scripture didn't say. Whether we would admit it out loud or not. Sometimes Scripture says things that are hard. Or Scripture says things that really get into our business and we don't like it. Even if we know that Scripture is true and good and we need to live according to what it says, I think we all have times when we really wish there were things it didn't say. We know Scripture is God's Word to us, but that doesn't mean it's always easy to read and obey.

I'm in the middle of study on the book of James right now, and he definitely gets in your business. And he's very to the point with what he says. You can't miss his point. Which is a good thing, but sometimes you read something and you really wish he didn't say that. That's the place I've been recently. I've been wrestling with a verse in Scripture that I really wish wasn't there or at least didn't say what it does.

So, what do you do? How do you deal with it when you're faced with something in Scripture that you're really struggling with?

I don't know that there is a certain way to deal with it. As I've wrestled with this verse for the last while, I've come to the conclusion that my best option is to talk to God about it. He knows what His Word says and He's not shocked that we struggle with sometimes. We can go to Him and honestly tell Him we're struggling with what that part of His Word says and we can tell Him why. And then we listen for Him to speak to us. And as we struggle with it, we grow in our relationship with God.

We may never get to the point where we like what it says. The verse or passage may continue to challenge us. But, as we grow in our relationship with God, we learn to trust Him more and more that what He says is for our good, even when we don't like it. And maybe, over time, we grow to see how true and loving and good that hard part of Scripture is.

We can't just throw out parts of Scripture that we don't like - even if we may secretly wish we could. As 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says: "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,  so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." Even when we struggle with what it says, that is true. Sometimes we may just have to declare that we believe that about Scripture we struggle with.

"For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." Hebrews 4:12