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Amazing Finish!

Check out this link to an amazing win for the Eagles against Master’s College in overtime!!

It was a very happy game since I spent it with the Tutens!  bu-soc tutgame

The Discipline of Remembering

Humans are forgetful, whether it is because we repress the truth to create an alternate reality, avoid emotional triggers or are just too busy.  It is interesting to consider what we forget and what we remember.  Whatever the reason we are forgetful: Forgetful of God’s provision, God’s blessings, God’s answers to prayer.

Ps 103:2 says not to forget any of the Lord’s benefits and yet Is. 43:18 says to forget the past and don’t dwell on it.  So how to reconcile these 2 verses?

The Bible is clear that we are not to forget.  We are to remember because God remembers us first and because he remembers us he actively intervenes on our behalf. We are instructed to remember by hiding the Word in our heart, by gathering together, by sharing His works from one generation to another, by observing the Sabbath, the Lord’s Supper and the feast days.  Memory is an important part of worship. It is a gift of the Holy Spirit.

Remembering is good but like everything, if taken to extremes, can be dangerous.  While it is possible to sin against God by forgetting the past, it is also possible to sin by remembering it in the wrong way! Don’t forget, but don’t dwell or live there.  Nostalgia is something that in and of itself is not a bad thing; but it can become an idol and very unhealthy when it overwhelms life in the present by dwelling on the past experiences and the burden that those events are never going to come again, a kind of paralyzing regret that the best days are history. Because of prior grace the demand for the believer is hope.  The best is yet to come. The future is too important to live in the past. Prior grace demands remembering and living in light of eternity. A theology of the past is critical for the believer.  The past is not for fueling disappointments, regrets, anger or grudges.  The past was not given to us for such a misuse; rather it was given to us by God for gratitude, repentance, faith and wisdom.

Gratitude: We remember history as an ever-growing reservoir of God’s prior grace.  It is for drinking in thankfulness and growing gratitude.

Repentance: We remember when we were separated from the Lord; we are never to forget what we are saved from because it is what leads to joyful living rather than entitlement.

Faith: We remember as a source of faith for the future.  Romans 8:32 says how will God, who did not withhold His son in the past, Not give us all things in the future? When we don’t remember past grace, we don’t trust for future grace.

Wisdom: We can’t learn from what hasn’t happened yet.  We can only learn from the past!

I think I have a pretty good memory and I worked hard to train and exercise it by hiding sections of scripture in my heart.  There are not too many shortcuts, but memory begets memory.  The more I memorized the more I was able to remember.  And the opposite is true.  Repetition every day ingrains the passage (or whatever it is I am memorizing) but when I don’t practice it for awhile I find that what I remembered so well fades away.  Out of sight, out of mind.  I think God knew this about human minds when he established the law, which is why he commands us to remember (by habit and discipline) the Sabbath to keep it holy.  Week in and week out we repeatedly observe the Sabbath to etch on our hearts who God is.  Remembering the Lord’s day regularly helps to remain aware and not to forget. Similarly, rituals, memorials and annual festivals encourage internalization and rehearsal.

There is a hymn, “Come Thou Fount”, that sings about “raising an Ebenezer.”  Ebenezers in the Bible are stones that the Israelites constructed to mark significant battles and places where God met His people. For example, there were a pile of stones by the Jordan River to mark where God parted the water for them for the second time. Ebenezers are monuments to mark occasions when God shows up; they represent a physical reminder of what God has done in the past.  The cross is a constant reminder that God is victorious!

Today, Ebenezers can be everywhere, thanks to social media, jewelry stores, trophies and homes with solid walls.  As we trust God to show up again and again we can post on Facebook and they even send us reminders of our past memories. We can build a charm bracelet with reminders of God’s intervention, we can record our testaments in journals or on blogs, we can make scrapbooks or put our memories in frames. Our Ebenezers help us remember who God is and celebrate His faithfulness and lovingkindness. Our memories can intentionally reveal His presence, even when we didn’t realize it at the time!  They free us to rely on Him today and in all of our tomorrows. Just as God has been faithful in the past, he will continue to bless and strengthen us in our daily lives and every day in the future!

I need this reminder to record my personal history and set up a personal Ebenezer Stone, naming the events and people of my life that demonstrate God’s hand at work through to this day. Remember and give thanks, repent, lean in and grow.

I write this as my own response to the teaching of Jon Lunde in Encouragement Inc. 9/25/16.

The secret of discipleship is to:

  1. recognize grace as a gift without assuming it
  2. receive grace by remembering and reliving prior grace
  3. respond daily to covenantal grace
  4. relying on the Spirit

Life as Thank You #42

carl-mrmDear Carl/Son,

I am so thankful that you are in my life.  This year I am taking the time to write old fashioned thank you notes to the people that I am most grateful for.

I won’t be able to express it well but I want you to know that it meant the world to Jim to “mentor” and build a relationship with you, and then watch you grow (albeit from a distance) into a godly servant and minister.  He was humbled that you and your dad came out for your 21st birthday when he was sick.

I too treasured my time as a junior high director at Christ Church especially because of relationships with students like you that God blessed me with. Thank you for trusting me and allowing me the privilege.

Thank you for your prayers and for staying in relationship with our family over the years. You really became family when you came for Emily’s wedding.  I still look forward to the day when I can meet Lesley and the boys in real life.  You are loved by mom #2. I pray for you all regularly and thank God for you upon every remembrance.

May God continue to meet all your needs beyond all you could ever ask or think all the days of your life.

Love you,

Miriam aka Mom

 

What I did not buy at Target

Sometimes weird things make me ruminate on information perhaps more than I should.  I was at Target when a man came up and wanted to to talk religion with me.  It turns out that he wanted me to buy into his weird cult (World Mission Society Church of God) that believes that there are 2 gods – God the Father and God the Mother.  According to this man’s interpretation of Gal 4:26, Gen. 1:26, 27 and Rev. 22:17 there are 2 gods rather than a Triune Godhead. I argued back, of course, but eventually I told Him that I felt he was deceived and I was not interested in buying what he was selling.  When I looked up information online, I was startled at the size of this cult.  20 new religions start up each year in America; some make it and some last for only a short season.  That is so crazy to me.  But, of course, the guy I talked to thinks he is right and I am brainwashed.  As I read through Revelation with ears to hear I am reminded of how horrible the end is for those who deviate and lead others away from the truth, et al.   How much more we need to actively pursue the truth and diligently live and share the Gospel.

Life as Thank You #41

20140912_201847Dear Kathy,

I am writing old school thank you notes this year to increase my gratitude and let people know how much I value them.  In honor of your birthday today, I thought I would tell you how thankful I am for you.  I am grateful for your intentionality and faithfulness in relationships.   I am thankful for your shepherding heart, your pursuit of spiritual things, your consistency in prayer.

Thank you for keeping track of Jim (and me) since high school.  I love how his relationship with you took a back seat to our own friendship over the years, but how that history created depth and meaning for us.

Thank you for listening, for remembering, and for valuing me even when we  hold differing opinions. I am grateful how you sharpen me and challenge me..  I am thankful for things you have taught me about friendship and for being such a good friend.

May God continue to bless you and Gordon with joy and hope.

With hugs,

Miriam

Happy or Holy or both?!

I am a parent. I want my kids to be happy. I want them to be healthy. I want their needs met. I pray for them to make good decisions and good relationships. What I wrestle with is helping them pursue holiness over their “happiness”, their comfort and well-being.  (And actually their well-being is ultimately a result of their holiness).  I am committed to E. and C. for life; nothing is going to change that relationship.  I had the privilege of giving them life and raising them, providing for and disciplining them and I love them so much. My relationship with my kids allows me a glimpse into the heart of God the Father.

God is my parent. My heavenly father. He is not committed to my happiness in the same way that an earthly parent perhaps is; at least he does not make any mistakes and has no character flaws that would spoil or mess up his job as a parent. He is the ultimate source of my life, he provides for me joyfully, he corrects and disciplines me and he loves me with abandon.   He wants me to be holy. He has no decision making skills are not a result of a seminar, the internet or a book. He does not parent as a reaction to how He was parented.  His decisions are perfect, crafted in wisdom and perfectly timed.

Just as I love to talk with and spend time with my kids God loves to talk with me. I have the privilege of calling Him Father.  What an intimate thought! And God my good father gives me what I need, not necessarily what I want. And quite honestly, I often don’t know what I want! His perspective, together with His lovingkindness, takes everything into account when he answers me. His ability to meet the needs of everyone simultaneously and completely is unfathomable! He sees my life from the topside of the tapestry and I only see the strings and knots of the underside which seems to have no rhyme or reason.

There is a jewish expression “Gamzu” that means “This too” and it is shortened from a phrase that means This too is for the best. Even the most challenging of days, even the frustrations of life in the moment are in God’s control.  I believe that everything God does is for my best interest and His greatest glory. It is Gamzu.  Just saying that in faith puts a new spin on things.  It is a way of acknowledging that God is giving me what I truly need, that he is “gamzuring” my prayers, even if I never understand why.  He is a good father who does not randomly dole out challenges for me to maneuver through.  His parenting guides me every day of my life with goodness and love as my shepherd.

  • financial tension? This too.
  • wayward relationships?  This too
  • cancer and loss of my life partner? gamzu.
  • depression and anxiety? gamzu.

Yes Lord, even if you slay me, I will trust and put my hope in you.  Job 13:15

May I be a godly parent all the days of my life. Amen.

 

No rest for the Lazy

My dad and I were having a fun discussion the other day during the halftime of Clayton’s soccer game.  The clock on the Scoreboard was clicking the time down backward and we started talking about time travel and eternity.  Understand that my dad is the second smartest person I know; my mom is first. Even though our conversation seemed to meander in very random fashion, we did figure out a few stunning facts as we did our calculations:

  • The Sun and the earth are traveling through the galaxy at 43,000 miles per hour
  • The earth is moving at 1.6 million miles a day or 18.5 miles per second (which is like going from CA to NY in 3 minutes)
  • The earth rotates at 1000 mph

Basically we are moving pretty fast and we will never be in the same place again!  That is one big universe and an even bigger God!!!!

The Bible does not directly talk about time travel but it does talk about God and His perfect timetable. The Bible gives us a chance to time travel as it gives us details about the beginning of time and history. It is like a time machine that transports us to another time and place and we experience the world in light of God’s redemptive plan. God also gives glimpses of the future. We also know that God does not experience time as we do and that He granted visions of the future to people like John.  Isn’t that also a form of time travel?!

We are fascinated with time; animals live in the moment but humans, in the image of God, live in light of eternity that God has placed in our hearts.  Albert Einstein discovered that time is affected by motion.  A moving clock does not tick at the same rate as a stationary clock. It is undetectable but it has something to do with velocity and the speed of light.  (Mass increases with velocity which means I am not fat, I am just traveling too fast!) Additionally Einstein determined that if a person traveled faster that the speed of light then he could travel back in time but that this was impossible. Is. 46: 9-10 says

Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.
I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’

One thing is for sure: Jesus opened a portal 2000 year ago and through Him we can make all the wrong things in our past right!

I would even say that we all are time travelers as we live each minute, each hour, each day in light of eternity.  As Moses prayed, “teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom”. One thing is for sure: Jesus opened a portal 2000 year ago.  It is still open and through Him we can make all the wrong things in our past right!

 

Life as Thank You #40

Dear Lorie,

There are very few people who have the amazing blessing to have been friends since birth!  You have shaped my life in more ways than I say.  I am writing old school notes each week to let people know how grateful I am for their place in my life.  In honor of your birthday I thought I would let you know how much I love and admire you.

I am so thankful for our friendship. Some of my best friends are family; that is how I feel about you.  I love our many childhood memories before you left for Ecuador.  And I am so grateful that you moved to Illinois while we were there.  All of the great conversations, the family gatherings, the adventures to American Girl, the homeschooling comaradarie and more.

I have benefitted from your pursuit of knowledge, your drive for excellence in everything you do, your hunger for righteousness and I am grateful and more like the Lord as a result.  I wish we lived closer again; I could use more of your help and expertise in regard to health and well-being!   I am grateful for all the pushes you gave in the past that I needed.  A best friend is someone who inspires you to be all you knew you could be.  Thank you for often being that friend!

Thank you for talking things out with me. I miss our long and meaningful conversations about so many things.

I am grateful for the way you came out and stepped in to minister to Jim while on hospice.  You are incredibly busy and you always make time for me and my family.  Further I am so humbled by the fact that you have been loyal, faithfully loving me for my whole life, in good times and bad, close and far away, carrying my burdens to the throne of Grace.

I am so blessed Lorie by the Wendt and Hastings families.

May God continue to bless you every day for the rest of your life. 

I love you! Happy Birthday!

Miriam

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My prayer struggle

Prayers of a doubting Thomasina

At one time in my life I really believed in the power of prayer. I am not saying that I no longer believe in it but I am much more cautious about what I pray for and I often struggle to believe that God is not capricious in his answers and his timing. One of the long-term residual effects of Jim’s illness and death is that I have a hard time praying. I suppose the inconsistency in answers and the feeling that He is not intervening has created a barrier that blocks the desire to keep company with God. One of my most often prayed prayers in the last 5 years is, “Lord I believe, help my unbelief.” It is hard to even admit that I wrestle with how to pray and with how little I feel I pray when I have been walking with Jesus for so long, but I think it is about time to admit I am anemic.

One of the things I told Emily when we were first walking through the valley and she expressed her difficulty in prayer, specifically for healing, is that I have a hard time asking God to heal someone when He chose not to heal Jim. Instead I pray not for healing but for God’s will to be done and for those involved to lean in and learn from Him. I can say with full integrity that God is there with the brokenhearted, he is the great physician and he grants grace and strength for each day.

I recognize that some prayers are frivolous like praying for a victory in a soccer match or for a parking place as one trolls around a mall at Christmas time. But why does it seem that sometimes God answers to heal and then other times he is seemingly silent. I wish sometimes that it wasn’t so difficult to trust when I don’t get my way. Prayer is not a magical incantation that guarantees a certain result and I wouldn’t want it to be. Instead, I am invited to a conversation where I can tell God what I think should be done in the/my world (albeit selfishly most of the time) and God constantly and gently reminds me of my role in the process. Learning to live on a slant, leaning in and always dependent, knowing that though the journey is never predictable I can be confident that God wants a relationship with me, and He has a wild imagination. His ways are not my ways and his thoughts are not my thoughts. God has a different perspective. His sense of irony, antagonistic spiritual powers and a fallen planet means that my prayers often produce different answers than I expect.

The biggest thing I need to be reminded of is that I am not owed anything. God does not owe me an explanation, an answer, or even to be listened to. I am not entitled to anything. NOTHING! There is nothing I can do to coerce God to do what I want Him to do. Every breath is a gift. Every prayer is submission to God’s will and an intimate encounter with God in the throne room to sense his love and gain his perspective. It doesn’t always happen, in fact it doesn’t happen often enough for me. Every answer is a privilege and responsibility. God who has everything and needs nothing invites those of us who have nothing and need everything to talk and grow close, to experience communion and the depth in the relationship for which we were created.  Prayer is meant to be a joy, as I reflect on the fact that God delights in me and sings over me.

So why does it often feel like work or the lack of sensing God’s presence? I am under the suspicion that when I expect my prayers to change God rather than allow my prayers to soften and change my heart I find His lack of answers frustrating at best.  It is the lack of willingness to defer to His wisdom and will.  Further, I have discovered that the very act of praying, especially when I don’t want to, brings change.  As I start to complain, to argue, to make my request and share my hope I realize that my perspective is myopic and often my thinking is small-minded.  When I enter into God’s presence, he convicts, restores and enlarges my perspective. My posture is restored to a place where I can depend on God and I can be safe, honest and listen.

 

PS – This showed up in the Biola Parent email  – wow!

Someone once encouraged me by sharing, “Prayer is not changing the mind of a stubborn God but rather laying hold of His willingness.” Prayer allows us to participate in and witness first-hand God’s compassion for our needs, our struggles and our desires. We see this over and over in the scriptures: from God to Israel (Exodus 3:6-8), from David’s cries to God (Psalm 40:1-3) and from Jesus to his followers (Matthew 7:7-11). Let’s lift up our prayers this month with hope and faith knowing we serve a loving and willing God.

Life as Thank You 39

Catie,

I am writing thank you notes this year to let people know how much they mean to me.  I want you to know that I am so grateful that you are in my life.  I remember that special day when you and Stephanie came to me at Phantom Ranch and I had the great privilege of helping you join God’s forever family!  And I am so grateful for the opportunity to be able to pour into you those early years of your faith journey.

I am so thankful to God for your physical health and how you leaned in hard to Him during that horrible cancer season of your life. I am so glad we shared that time together; it really cemented a lifelong friendship as we faced hard stuff together from the very start!

I am proud of how you chose to pursue God wholeheartedly even when it wasn’t easy and how you decided so many things for your own spiritual health over the years (mentoring, church, missions, Bible school,etc).  I love that about you!  I am humbled by your trust and your honesty.  Thank you for that same loyalty even when we are separated by the miles and the years.

Thank you for your faithful friendship and prayers on my behalf over the years.  Thank you for coming to visit me, for the handmade ceramics and other special items you have made.  I loved being part of your wedding and meeting people (spiritual family) that I have “known” without ever having met them before.  It is these things that show me you are grateful to have me in your life.

I continue to pray for you and William as you now begin the lifelong journey of parenting together and for your sweet baby. May God always be the center of your life and may his favor rest upon you.

I love you Catie!

Mirmcbz-mrm

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