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Send Judah First

My husband came in and said he was reading what 2 Chronicles 20.  He said he wonders what Jehoshaphat was thinking….So I started reading I just took some mental notes here they are in blue:

It happened after this that the people of Moab with the people of Ammon, and others with them besides the Ammonites, came to battle against Jehoshaphat. Then some came and told Jehoshaphat, saying, “A great multitude is coming against you from beyond the Sea, from Syria; and they are in Hazazon Tamar” (which is En Gedi). And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. So Judah gathered together to ask help from the Lord; and from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.

I’ve never been in war, but the thought of it is definitely scary, Jehoshaphat was scared, Jehoshaphat was normal.  It says he “set” himself to seek the Lord. Another translation I read said he “resolved” to inquire of the Lord.  This tells me that it was not something he automatically did, but something that he made up in his mind to do. Despite his feelings of fear he sought the Lord and led his people to do the same.  

Then Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord, before the new court,and said: “O Lord God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven, and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations, and in Your hand is there not power and might, so that no one is able to withstand You? Are You not our God, who drove out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel, and gave it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever?

Jehoshaphat starts his prayer out reminding God of who he is.  There’s a lot to be said about being God’s hype man.  Asking God rhetorical questions that He and we clearly know the answers to does two things, maybe more, but here are two:  It let’s God know that we were paying attention to who His Word says He is and it reminds us that He really is who He says He is.  It’s not like you say, “Are you not the One who created the heavens and the Earth”  and He’s like Nah, that wasn’t me…it was my cousin.

And they dwell in it, and have built You a sanctuary in it for Your name, saying, ‘If disaster comes upon us—sword, judgment, pestilence, or famine—we will stand before this temple and in Your presence (for Your name is in this temple), and cry out to You in our affliction, and You will hear and save.

Tells God how his people have honored Him and how much they trust Him, are willing to stand and rely on Him.

10 And now, here are the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir—whom You would not let Israel invade when they came out of the land of Egypt, but they turned from them and did not destroy them— 11 here they are, rewarding us by coming to throw us out of Your possession which You have given us to inherit. 12 O our God, will You not judge them?

Tells God the problem:  the people that you told Israel (your people) not to kill, they obeyed you. Yet those same people who were spared, are here to smash us. Does that make any sense God?  Is it fair?  

For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.”

This is the truth.  Jehosphat said this is all I have, I’ve made up in my mind to seek you when I was scared, I’ve glorified you, I’ve been obedient, I’ve presented the facts.  There is nothing else I can to.  The only thing I can do it keep my eyes on you and look to you for the answer.

13 Now all Judah, with their little ones, their wives, and their children, stood before the Lord.

This seems like one of those moments of awkward silence.

14 Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, in the midst of the assembly. 15 And he said, “Listen, all you of Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you, King Jehoshaphat! Thus says the Lord to you: ‘Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. 16 Tomorrow go down against them. They will surely come up by the Ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the brook before the Wilderness of Jeruel.17 You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you.”

I’m so sorry, sometimes I hesitate to share my thoughts….but my first thought in this situation is who is this guy?  I mean I know who’s son he is and I’m glad he’s a Levite but, how do I know for sure that God is speaking through him right at this moment?  Especially, if I’m King, I have this entire nation (including women and little children) depending on my every move.  This can not be just some random encouragement, people are coming to kill us…hold on LOTS of people are coming to kill us or at the very least make us their slaves.  Not only do I have to cast aside my fear and trust God, but now I have to trust God through the mouth of someone else.  This is getting complicated.

18 And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem bowed before the Lord, worshiping the Lord. 19 Then the Levites of the children of the Kohathites and of the children of the Korahites stood up to praise the Lord God of Israel with voices loud and high.

Jehoshaphat believed.

20 So they rose early in the morning and went out into the Wilderness of Tekoa; and as they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, O Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem: Believe in the Lord your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper.” 21 And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who should sing to the Lord, and who should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army and were saying: “Praise the Lord,For His mercy endures forever.”

Almost the best part: Jehoshaphat proclaimed his faith in God, he also displayed great leadership and spoke to the people in the crowd who were probably a little skeptical like me.  He said Believe in the Lord AND believe His prophets.  He spent sometime encouraging his people then went into action.  Jehoshaphat never had a plan B, he didn’t tell the singers or the praisers to offer up praises and if it started to get too rough, run and hide behind the army.  As far as I know they were to stay  in front  and praise God even if it meant death.

22 Now when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated. 23 For the people of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of Mount Seir to utterly kill and destroy them. And when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they helped to destroy one another.

24 So when Judah came to a place overlooking the wilderness, they looked toward the multitude; and there were their dead bodies, fallen on the earth. No one had escaped.

25 When Jehoshaphat and his people came to take away their spoil, they found among them an abundance of valuables on the dead bodies, and precious jewelry, which they stripped off for themselves, more than they could carry away; and they were three days gathering the spoil because there was so much. 26 And on the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Berachah, for there they blessed the Lord; therefore the name of that place was called The Valley of Berachah until this day. 27 Then they returned, every man of Judah and Jerusalem, with Jehoshaphat in front of them, to go back to Jerusalem with joy, for the Lord had made them rejoice over their enemies. 28 So they came to Jerusalem, with stringed instruments and harps and trumpets, to the house of the Lord. 29 And the fear of God was on all the kingdoms of those countries when they heard that the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel. 30 Then the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet, for his God gave him rest all around.

Obviously the best part of the story:  God came through on behalf of His people.  Notice God never revealed His plan to his people, He pretty much just said, don’t be afraid, position yourselves, but you won’t fight, I’m with you.  Jehoshaphat had to interpret what God wanted him to do by faith.  The people were ready for battle, no one was at home sitting on the couch waiting for God to deliver them.  Even though they didn’t know what to do, they recognized that they were in war and took their active positions.  Even if “active” meant just standing still.

Praise was offered up first because they understood that  even though they were facing the unknown, God was worthy of their praise and able to deliver them from whatever lied ahead.

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What is Peccatophobia?

A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a list of phobias.  The list was quite extensive and for three-quarters of an hour it became my source of entertainment. The “phobia list” contained things I’ve never imagined like:

  • Arachibutyrophobia – Fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth. 
  • Bromidrosiphobia – Fear of body smells.
  • Omphalophobia – Fear of belly buttons.
  • Pteronophobia – Fear of being tickled by feathers.

Then I came to Peccatophobia – the abnormal fear of sinning.  I though Hmm, if the world was diagnosed with even an acute version of this condition how much better would we be?

Think about it. What if every time we got ready to talk behind someone’s back, tell a little “white” lie, esteem ourselves higher than our neighbor, or entertain sexual immorality, this happened?:

Feelings of extreme anxiety, dread and panic comparable to shortness of breath, rapid breathing, irregular heartbeat, extreme sweating, nausea, dry mouth, incapability to articulate words or sentences, dizziness and shaking.

I’m not advocating for the fear of anything, as the bible clearly states, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV).  All I am saying is that there should be something in us that has NO desire to sin.  Murder, Grand Theft Auto and Bank Robbing I think I can safely say most of us have no desire to do those things.

In my personal life God is always turning my attention to the very small and slightest things in my character that need to be worked out.  Things I honestly wish He’d leave alone sometimes.  You know the things you try to justify with the sentence…”Well at least I’m not….” or “Its not as bad as…” or my favorite “That’s just my personality”.

Peccatophia.  I’m reminded that I don’t want ANYTHING in my life that displeases God.  Not the big obvious things and certainly not the tiny secret things.

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This made me cry. Enjoy.

Morning Story and Dilbert

Dilbert

We were the only family with children in the restaurant. I sat Erik in a high chair and noticed everyone was quietly eating and talking. Suddenly, Erik squealed with glee and said, “Hi there.” He pounded his fat baby hands on the high-chair tray. His eyes were wide with excitement and his mouth was bared in a toothless grin. He then, wriggled and giggled with merriment.

I looked around and saw the source of his merriment. It was a man with a tattered rag of a coat; dirty, greasy and worn. His pants were baggy with a zipper at half-mast and his toes poked out of would-be shoes. His shirt was dirty and his hair was uncombed and unwashed. His whiskers were too short to be called a beard and his nose was so varicose it looked like a road map.

We were too far from him to smell, but…

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What are you waiting for?

In prayer this morning I heard, “Wait on the Lord” so I sat there expecting to hear something else. After a few minutes of sitting in silence…. Nothing. I started to open mouth and continue praying and I heard, “No, Wait on the Lord”. Simultaneously, the image of a high end restaurant popped into my head. Complete with a tall, polished, lean waiter carrying a silver platter.

I got it! God was not telling me to Wait; (1. Stay where one is or delay action until a particular time) which is what I was doing.  Nor was he telling me to Wait; (2. Remain in readiness for some purpose) a definition that this walk has made me VERY familiar with. Instead this time,  he was telling me to Wait; (3. To act as a waiter or waitress, by serving)

My prayer changed I began asking, Lord what would you like? What can I do for you today?  What do you need?  My heart was so full and my focus was on pleasing Him.  All day long I was like a little love pistol, loaded and ready to ignite wherever He pointed me. I told my hubby I wanted to go outside and hug people!  I spent extra time talking to those I usually just say “Hi” and “Bye” to and the conversations were very fruitful.  God used me to encourage and uplift today.  On a day when I should have been very tired, I still feel energized.  It’s amazing.

Who knew being willing to serve could be so liberating?  Go ahead, try it what are you waiting for?

Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord.  Psalm 27:14

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Trick or Treat?

For most today is Halloween, at my house it’s hump day.  A regular boring Wednesday, no candy, no costumes, no compromises.

As a family we have chosen not to celebrate Halloween.  Fear, even in its most subtle forms will never be welcomed in our home.  And we’ve been through enough to know that the spirit realm is real and evil is not something to be played with.

My husband and I have 4 children 10 and under (My, that sounds better than the times I used to say 4 children 6 and under).  For the most part my children understand the choices we make and why we make them.  My oldest has always done a very good job of leading the younger children.  Tonight was a little different,  it started around 3:00 she asked, “are we doing anything fun tonight?”  I didn’t quite pick up on her question until I was making dinner and she came in and asked, “did you celebrate Halloween when you were a kid?” “was it fun?” Now, I was aware of what was on her heart.  I answered honestly, “Yes I celebrated Halloween as a child and yes it was fun.”

I went on to tell her the funny things I dressed up as, the time I went to a haunted house and almost peed my pants because I could smell the gas from the chainsaw.  I told her how my mom would drive us to the “rich” part of town so that we could rack up on the King-Sized Snickers.

I also told her about the time my girlfriend and I spent hours decorating sheets of paper with bible scriptures on them to pass out instead of candy.  Even my mom thought I was weird! I was 16 when I had my first conviction about Halloween. I don’t know what sparked it, but I was convinced that everyone who came to my door that night was going to leave believing in Jesus.  The next morning we woke up and saw, I’m sure what was 90% of our lovely scriptures thrown on the grass or lining the streets with rest of the candy wrapper litter.

My daughter is getting to the point where things have to be real to and for her.  I can’t say, “Halloween’s Bad” like I can to my 3 year old and that be the end of it.  She’s dealing with feeling left out, missing out and wanting to experience what the masses and even some of her close christian friends are experiencing.  I understand that and it was written all over her face.

After we talked she walked away and I could tell our talk had not satisfied her.  Sure enough a few minutes later I heard a soft whimpering in the stairway.

I found her and held her. I said I want you to have fun, it hurts my heart that you may not have the opportunity to do some of the things I did as a child, but I am responsible to God for you and this is how I believe God wants our family to live.  We are set apart from certain things.  I held her a little tighter but I could tell she was still not convinced, I let her go and told her to ask God to reveal His plan to her.  She wiped her eyes and agreed.

The night went on like normal, we ate dinner, laughed and talked like we always do.  At bed time my husband requires that the kids read a chapter of Proverbs and do sit ups and push ups.  I told you in yesterday’s post, Running the Race he was a fitness guru!

Right around 8:30 the kids all rushed downstairs eager to share with us what they learned.  My 6 year old summed it up like this, “if you go left you’re wrong, if you go right you’re wrong.  If you make a U- Turn you might be ok just as long as you stay straight!”  I wanted to laugh so hard because I was wondering how he came to that conclusion.  It was so cute but I dare not insult him with laughter because he was serious about this revelation.  Everyone had a turn to share, I finally asked, “Umm, where exactly were you guys reading from?”  My oldest daughter brought clarity to it all.  She read Proverbs 4:25-27 from her Student Bible:

25 Let your eyes look directly forward,
and your gaze be straight before you.
26 Ponder the path of your feet;
then all your ways will be sure.
27 Do not swerve to the right or to the left;
turn your foot away from evil.

She went on to explain that she has look straight ahead and think about the path that her is own path. Not the path of anyone else.  She understands why we don’t celebrate Halloween and she said now she believes she knows what God wants her to do.

Thank you Lord! You are a better parent than I could ever be.  My daughter was content, and I could not have given her that if I tried. What real a”KING-sized” treat. I was touched by her words and understanding and I pray you are too.

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Running The Race

My Husband surprised me with a new pair of Tennis Shoes, yesterday.  SOOO Sweet. Now he’s a fitness guru, he’s Mr. Consistent.  I on the other hand am pretty fit overall but I go through my seasons.  For the last few months I’ve been going to the gym regularly without a problem.   But the next few months ahead will test my diligence….the colder temps, the holidays (yummy), and the kids home from school, lets see what other excuses can I think of? 🙂

What my husband didn’t know, is that by giving me the shoes, he also gave me a little boost.

My mouth said, “Aww, thank you honey.” But my mind was thinking, “Shucks, now I have to keep working out, I cant let these shoes go to waste.”  (Scratch: “Shoes too old” off the excuse list)

God knows sometimes we need a little push.  I’m grateful for the encouragement and the reminder that consistency is the key.

Check out Fringe Girl, her post on running this race really blessed me.  31 Days of Living by Faith, Day 31 – Running The Race.

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Thorns

We often glamorize Christianity…thinking that once we come to Christ or really decide to live our lives for the Savior that life becomes peaches and cream.  Gladly and sadly this is not true.  Our first experience with the Lord can be likened to “the honeymoon phase”  where life is wonderful, we pray, God answers all our prayers, He delivers us, He fulfills us,  He’s this wonderful being that we can’t get enough of.  Early in our walk we spend time reading, attending service, worshiping  fellowshipping, telling everyone we know, etc and etc.  Then for some of us life sets in,  the romance is gone… a prayer or two goes unanswered, we question the presence of “bad things” in our lives and we give up.  For others of us we simply can’t handle the pressure of living right. The persecution from friends, denying our flesh simple pleasures and the burden of having to stay connected with something we can’t see or feel causes us to throw in the towel.  For those of us who chose to stay in this race, our struggles are different. If I can abandon the third person for a moment, I can say the struggle is constant.  Everyday the cares of this world are vying for my attention and everyday I must fight to make sure my first Love is not replaced by anyone or anything.  I know that I am not perfect. I know this race is not a sprint, its a marathon.  I voluntarily abandon my imperfections and I’m so willing to run steady and endure to the end, yet I’m still challenged.  This walk would be so much easier if I was a robot.  If I was programmed to love God, not prone to mistakes or weaknesses.   But we all know Robot Love is not Real Love and just like He said to Paul, He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness”  In many ways my frailty keeps me close to the Throne, it keeps me evaluating and striving for perfection.  As much as I want to abort the pain….like a woman in her third trimester lamenting that she can’t turn back now, I realize that something beautiful must be birthed. My response,   “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Scripture Reference

2 Corinthians 12:1-10

Ecclesiastes 9:11

2 Timothy 4:7

Matthew 24:13

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