Archive: September, 2010

She Loved Him Too, by Heidi Avery

On Tuesday I wrote about Martha and how her busy got her into all kinds of trouble with Jesus. If you missed it you can click here to catch up. Today I am revisiting poor, misunderstood Martha because she’s gotten a pretty bad rap and I think she’s earned a little sister love.

Oh how I wish we could see the next scene in the story, don’t you? Did she stop right there and join her sister at the feet of Jesus? How humbling. Or, did she run off in tears back to the kitchen? I can relate to that too. I’m so rooting for her; I’m sure she made the right choice!

But, back to her defense… I don’t think for one second that she intentionally did the wrong thing. In fact, I am certain that she thought she was doing the right the thing. I would bet that she was nervous, yes, but also excited that “she” got to prepare dinner for Jesus! After all, and I speak from experience… a lot of thoughtful care and attention goes into crafting a meal for someone you love. I am sure she reveled at the idea of sitting around the table together breaking bread and conversing about all things biblical. This is when she would watch Him eat what she had lovingly made for Him and hang on His every word. And, after she clears the table, cleans the dishes and puts them away, then she’d get to sit at His feet. I think she must have had it all perfectly planned out in her head.

Let’s get honest, haven’t we all done that? Had the best made plans and yet they just didn’t play out quite as we had hoped? And, haven’t we all put God off, saying… “I just need to get this one thing done and then I’ll get to you.” But, then life took much longer; the job was bigger and more taxing than we had thought. People that were going help didn’t (i.e. Mary) and we just miss our chance. But, does that suggest that we don’t love Him? No… it doesn’t; it just shows that we need a little discipline because we still have a lot to learn. And, isn’t it great news that He’s not finished with us yet?

Now, I am not pointing the finger at Mary either, she absolutely did the right thing. I’m rather just extending a little grace to dear Martha, because just like us she made a mistake and just like us… she loved Him too.

“My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and don’t give up when he corrects you.
For the Lord disciplines those he loves,
and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.

Hebrews 12:5-6

Action-Reaction-Consequence, By Kelli Zaniel

“Stop jumping on the ottoman!” my momma shouts from the kitchen. “It’s dangerous!” Ignoring her warning, my 8 year old, disobedient self proceeds to pull the brown and yellow floral, over-sized ottoman into the center of the room (please don’t scream for the fashion police because hunny that was “in” back then).

I scoot the ottoman out of parental sight and smack dab in front of the fireplace. I talk my baby brother into joining me in my quest to jump up on the ottoman and back down again. Up and down and over again until, “clunk and splat,” happens.

What went “clunk and splat?”

It was my brother’s six year old head banging the edge of the fireplace. A long drawn-out visit to the emergency room and several stitches later, my not so pleased momma sits us down. “I told y’all something bad would happen if you disobeyed me,” she explained.

Have you ever made a bad decision that hurt not only you but someone else?

If you have ever been disobedient you know it looks something like this: instruction–action–reaction–consequence.

Long ago, the children of Israel were all too familiar with this process. God provides specific instruction. Their reaction shows what they believe about God. Obedience= victory, deliverance, and great intimacy with God. Disobedience= defeat, shame, and separation from God.

The town-folk in Jericho were worshipping idols and following the pagan god, Baal for years. As God led the Israelites into the promise land, they were able to defeat the evil forces of Jericho along the way. God’s one instruction– when the walls come down in Jericho you must set apart all the gold, jewels and other fine things for the Lord (see Joshua 7:1).

One man decided to keep some of the “dedicated things” for himself. Did he really think God wouldn’t notice? His disobedience angered God and the whole tribe paid for it with their lives.

Just like the children of Israel, my disobedience came at a heavy price. My elementary school brain processed only the fun and not the consequence. As a result, I got a swift kick in the pants while my brother sported a new red, crusty scab across his forehead. That day I, like the Israelites, received a lesson in disobedience 101.

When God calls us to do something, how we respond affects not only our lives but others too. If we don’t respond in immediate, uninhibited obedience, a life that should have been changed, wasn’t; a person in need of food, didn’t get fed; or a child in need of a family was left alone.

How will we respond today?

“Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them turning, either right or left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study the Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so that you will be sure to obey everything written in it,” (Joshua 1:7-9, NLT).

A Little Mary for My Martha, by Heidi Avery

“As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42

Poor Martha.

She plays a small, busy role in a short, but hugely impacting scene. Aside from inviting Jesus and the disciples into her home she pretty much botches the whole evening. I can relate. I too am a Martha. And, if it had been me that day I likely would have worried about what to feed the Savior seated in my living room. And, I might have been both jealous and frustrated with my sister who was sitting casually at His feet while I did all the work. After all it’s not like she could order take out and it’s not like the bread would bake itself. But, we are talking about Jesus…. you know, the One who turned the water into wine, served the 5000 and healed the sick. Dinner should have been the least of Martha’s concerns; she had the once in a life time opportunity to sit at the feet of Jesus and she blew it big time.

These 5 verses have each one of us girls asking the all important and slightly annoying question…

“Am I a Martha or a Mary?”

A quick examination of our lives reveals the truth. I confess, just like Martha I sometimes miss my opportunity to sit at His feet. I am tackling the urgent from sunrise to sunset. I’ve mastered the pray-as-you-go method and I often get my most intimate time with Him right here in front of the computer. I read online devotions and when I write I hear Him speaking directly into my heart. While this is all good and wonderful, I sense conviction because I know that I am squeezing Him in wherever I can instead of carving out daily time to just sit alone in His presence.

We Martha’s must be cautious. We have to be intentional. To Stop. To Seek Him in the quiet and on our knees. Or we’ll miss it. Miss what you ask?

Pure peace for our worldly journey.

Recognizing Him working in our lives.

Deeper insight into His Holy Word.

A much sweeter intimacy with Him.

Ultimately, we miss His best when we don’t give Him our best. Jesus made it clear when He said “There is only One thing worth being concerned about” Let’s invite a little Mary into our lives and discover it for ourselves.

Broken, Bruised, Better: The Heart God Heals, By Kelli Zaniel

Sometimes brokenness stalks us. It steps on our heels and breathes down our necks. It chases us into dark, lonely corners. Its unforgiving snarls remind us of unspeakable heartbreak we thought we’d forgotten. Seemingly, it’s safer to accept the loss than to pick apart the pain to find the lesson underneath.

Sometimes we look behind us to see how far ahead we are, but it slows us down. Brokenness catches up, drags us through the mud and reminds us of the woman we used to be. A woman with shame written across her face and condemnation smudged over her heart. A woman tied together with only a broken smile.

Other times we escape the self-defeating clutches of brokenness. We see it for what it is—the past. Something, we can’t control. In these moments we see a snapshot of the woman we want to become. A woman who sees herself as God sees her. A woman who is confident God loves her just as she is (see Deut. 23:5).

When we feel the urge to run from the memories of a broken past, we must ask ourselves who are we running to? Are we running into the arms of a mudslinging world or into the healing hands of Jesus?

Our Savior is just around the corner. He stands in front of us with arms extended. He’s calling us by name. He’s challenging us to keep our eyes on him in the midst of our brokenness. He wants to teach us that brokenness…

shatters our will,

ensures our surrender,

recognizes our sin, and

changes our response.

The Bible promises that Jesus will restore us (Ps. 71:20); repair our brokenness (Ps. 34:18); carry our burdens (Matt. 11:28); and give us new hope (Lam. 3:19-20).

The next time we hear the heavy footsteps of brokenness behind us, we must focus on Jesus and sprint towards Him instead. We can’t afford to allow brokenness to lure us down yet another dark alley.

Remember, grace girls glorify God, not their brokenness!

Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter,you will restore my life again;
from the depths of the earth
you will again bring me up.
Ps. 71:20-21


Lord, bend this proud and stiff-necked I, Help me to bow the head and die. That it may no longer be I, But Christ that liveth in me.
-Harold Vaughan

Held In the Grips of God, Kelli Zaniel


What does it mean to be touched by an Almighty God?

A “touched by God moment,” is undeniable, unimaginable, and indescribable. When God allows us to experience His Holy presence, we are never the same. Our mediocre moments are interrupted by His magnificent. God’s love explodes into our lives. It’s transforming. It’s life-changing. We are motivated to become more than the status quo.
This God movement is a sparkle of light shimmering in the midst of a gloomy day. It’s butterflies in your stomach. It’s a roller-coaster rush. Seemingly, the natural collides with the supernatural. Time stands still as creation looks into the eyes of its Creator.
Being held in the grips of God provides security, joy, and significance. We catch a glimpse of His perspective. We see a glimmer of hope.

These teachable moments reactivate us, rearrange us and refine us. Our wordly whine is replaced with a godly shine. Our numbness fades and suddenly we’re in awe of every mountain He’s ever moved. The Word of God that once seemed watered down is now gloriously alive. It speaks to us. It moves through us.

It seems as though we are soaring but our feet never leave the ground. We feel super-human. We want to give up everything for Him. We want to express our head-over-heels love for Him.

He speaks His heavenly agenda into our “me-driven” hearts. It brings meaning. It defines who we are.

A divine touch, a gentle nudge, or a soft whisper can happen anyplace, anywhere, at anytime. Yes girl, you can have a Jesus experience while your elbow high in greasy sink water, carpooling with road rage on your mind, or knee deep in heaping piles of laundry (clean or dirty-take your pick).

That’s one of the great things about God. He recruits unlikely people in unlikely places for Kingdom work. He’s always looking for just the right person for just the right mission.

I certainly don’t have it all figured out, but I know how it feels to be loved by Jesus, held by Jesus and even carried by Jesus. Have you ever been held in His merciful arms? Do you know how it feels to lose yourself in Him? If not please take a minute, bow your head, and boldly make your request known!

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me,” (Phil. 3:12 NIV).

Rejected, by Heidi Avery

Betrayed. Delivered to His enemies. He is blindfolded. Beaten. Stripped down to nothing. Clothed in a scarlet robe; a twisted crown of thorns placed upon his head and a staff in his right hand. Spit at. Mocked. Shouts ring out… “Hail King of the Jews!” Despite the repeated, violent blows to His head with the staff He remains silent to His abusers. And, when they are done He is stripped again, returned to His own clothing and led to the Place of the Skull. Nails pierce His skin. His blood spills. They crucify Him. He bellows out a loud, massive cry, releases His Spirit and breathes His last breath.

 

I’ll be honest. Rejection takes me down. I want everyone to like me, but sometimes they just don’t. I am all too familiar with the quiet brush off and the sting of being cut-off.

 

Have you been there?

 

If I even suspect this is happening I tend to slip into the insecurity of my flesh and dwell there. And, when I deal with this discomfort in every way except laying it at the feet of Jesus I become overwhelmed and completely absorbed with poor, poor me. I minimize His death. I forget that I am the “why” behind it.

 

When I reflect on the torture He endured on my behalf it puts my painful earthly rejection in it’s proper place of insignificance. He gently reminds me… again, that it’s not about me. Truth is, I know nothing about rejection except for what Satan sells me and what my flesh tells me and I’m not buying it any more…

 

I will reject the lies of the enemy when he tries to corrupt my identity.
I will turn my head from what consumes me and trust my heart to the One who loves me.
I will stop trying to protect myself in vain and flee to the refuge of Him who was slain.
I will keep my eyes fixed on eternity instead of being lost in my insecurity.

Will you join me?

 

When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you.
Isaiah 43:2

Grace, Grace, Grace, By Kelli Zaniel


God’s
Redemption
At
Christ’s
Expense

The word Grace is soothing. It’s easy on the ears. It rolls off the tongue. It’s a healing salve that spreads across a wounded heart. It’s freely given–a gift that keeps on giving.

Grace breathes new life into a spiritless soul. It doesn’t keep a record of wrong. It promises not to look backwards. It loves going forwards.

It began on the gentle hill of Calvary’s mount where the lamb was sacrificed, His blood spilled.

For the believer, grace peacefully flows from the outer realms of heaven and pours into our wretched soul.

Grace waits for us. It longs for us. It waits to hear one small word… “yes.”

Grace…
Is bigger than all our sin;
Pardons;
It exceeds our guilt;
Given at Christ’s expense;
Swapped for our unrighteousness;
Humbles us;
Justifies us;
Gives confident hope;
Our strength comes from it;
Basis of our eternal hope; and
Grace is the foundation for forgiveness.

Grace is an unmerited favor toward us. We are undeserving of it but we receive it anyway. We stand firm in it (see 1 Peter 5:12). It overflows to us, the saint; and saves us, the sinner (see Eph. 2:5-8).

It enables us to live worthy of the call (2 Thess. 1:11).

Grace is marvelous, infinite, and matchless!

What does God’s grace mean to you today?

“But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me—and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace,” (1 Cor. 15:10 NLT).

The Home that Jesus Built for Me, By Heidi Avery and Kelli Zaniel

The Bible tells me that Jesus is preparing a very special home just for me,

My mind wanders up high above the sky into the heavens to imagine just what I might see.

Eyes closed tight, no peeking allowed,
Look, there are Noah and the animals up on that cloud!

I see Abraham, Elijah, David and Paul
Will I really get to play with them all?

I begin to hear the loud trumpets ringing,
And the chorus of heavenly Angels are ever so sweetly singing…

“Welcome precious child, we’ve been waiting for you,
Come see your eternal home where there is nothing you can’t do!”

Walk this way child, claim your promises here,
This is ALL for you, there is nothing to fear.

There are 12 marvelous gates, each one made of a single perfect pearl,
I gaze up at their beauty, my mind spins in a whirl.

And the streets, how they sparkle, made of the purest gold,
what an awesome and wonderful sight to behold!

Heaven’s brilliant sky swiftly catches my eye,
Silver lined with diamonds and rubies invite me way up high.

These stones, how they shimmer and shine,
I am so happy I can claim this as mine!

Suddenly, from the distance I feel a familiar warmth drawing me in
Could it be the forgiver of all my sin?

The closer I get, my hands begin to raise,
It IS Him, the face of my God I will forever praise!

You see in heaven, the King of Kings will reign in all His glory,
but that is not the end of this treasured story.

The never-ending water of life is pure and clear as glass,
Every thing God promised has come to pass.

There will be no need for this earthly moon or sun,
We will live in the light provided by the glory of the Holy One,

So keep your eyes closed and imagine God’s grace,
You’ll never know a more majestic place!

In heaven, you are never hungry, thirsty or tired,
Only a child-like heart is required.

God will wipe away the last tear you will ever shed,
There will be no sadness here, find only joy ahead!

Just take hold of your heavenly Father’s right hand
And walk through the gates into this new and glorious land.

I open my eyes as if waking up from a dream
A smile crosses my face and so it may seem, that Jesus and I make a great team!

One day soon those who believe in God will see
the home that Jesus built for you and me!

Simple Pleasures by Heidi Avery

It happens every time. Lush, beautiful, aromatic vines of yellow honeysuckle faithfully transport me to the backyard of my grandparent’s home in Iowa. Sweet honey nectar bursts to life on my 10 year old tongue. I scan the yard and there sits the lifeless tire swing; it begs me to run at it and plunge into its center; my long, black pig tails toss back and forth as I swing.

The hot summer sun sends me inside where the kitchen table is piled with fresh green beans just waiting for my eager little hands to snip off every one of their pointy ends. Then my eyes catch a glimpse of it… the closed door leading to an upstairs mystery of clothing and mementos from years past.

I saunter off to steal a peak and to plot a secret discovery mission, but just as I grip the knob I hear something even more alluring. My ears perk at the methodic sound of the creaking, low-back wooden rocking chair moving against the hard wood floor of the front room. In it sits my grandmother; I crawl onto her lap and into her embrace as she lovingly rocks my sleepy eyes closed. I love it here. This place is a veritable treasure box of simple pleasures.

-Insert hair raising, face scrunching record scratch here-
Violent shaking and pulling followed by whiney high pitched tones rip me from this tender trip down memory lane. My left arm is under a complete and brutal attack by a 4 year old dream stealing princess who is hungry. At the same time a 6 year old antagonizer zips past me, something pink and stuffed clutched tightly in his arms. Trailing behind him is the 8 year old victim wildly chasing and screaming “give me my unicorn!” 

Oh my.

A single question resonates in my heart… “Lord, where are the simple pleasures now?”
It’s then that I envision the seething smile on the face of Satan as he anticipates the chaos in my life rendering me blind to the many simple pleasures that God intended for me to enjoy. John 10:10 reminds me…

“The thief comes only in order to steal, kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).
It may take a very intentional look past my husband’s demanding, stress-filled career alongside our hectic homeschool life to identify the simple pleasures, but they are absolutely there and in precious abundance.
Simple pleasures weave themselves throughout even my most difficult days and they present themselves as perfect blessings from the Lord…

In the quiet, gentle kiss brushed across my face as my husband leaves for work each day.

In the little sleepy angels who fly into the warmth of my bed to snuggle each morning.

In every pride-filled moment of learning and new discovery that homeschooling brings.

In their joyful smiles, bear hugs, butterfly kisses and I love yous that are far too many to count.

In the cherished alone-time with my husband where we share and sort out our daily troubles and triumphs.

And, in the endless family fun… homemade nachos, games, movies and popcorn, snow days, beach days, and more.

All of this enjoyment and comfort is far sweeter and more deeply valued than even those from the summer visits to my grandparents. They are unique and matchless solely because they are born from the beloved gifts that God himself has given only to me.

*Posted in response to Rachel Olsen’s Simple Pleasure Carnival www.rachelolsen.blogspot.com thank you Rachel!!

I Can Get My Own Bread, By Kelli Zaniel

“Then the Lord said to Moses, “Look, I’m going to rain down food from heaven for you. Each day the people can go out and pick up as much food as they need for that day. I will test them in this to see whether or not they will follow my instructions. On the sixth day they will gather food, and when they prepare it, there will be twice as much as usual,” (Ex. 16:4-5, NLT).
In this passage, God is training the people for a life of radical faith. We instinctively resist a style of life in which it is necessary to depend on God each day to supply our needs. Going against this temptation results in “denial of self.” We want to have supplies in advance so we can feel independent. God desires for us to be interdependent.
God wants us to look at Him and really mean it when we say, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Am I looking to receive my daily bread from the Creator? or am I saying, “No thank you God, I don’t need you; I can buy my own bread.”
Lord, help me to lay down more of me and pick up more of you today. Please don’t give me too much or too little. Please just give me what I need according to your glorious riches in Christ Jesus. Thank you for making me your girl!
Page 1 of 212