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Posts Tagged ‘Bible’

I have always been amazed at the idolatry of the children throughout the Old Testament.

The prophet Isaiah repeatedly mocks them for carving idols to worship out of half a log, and cooking dinner with the other half.  How could anyone think that “god” could save them?

I was sure I could never worship an idol.

Until I discovered I had serious idolatry problems.

The reality:  Sometimes I thought I had to have something to be happy, or fulfilled, or satisfied.

That something could be a thing.  Like a car.  Like my red Mustang convertible.

Or like a house.  Big enough, nice enough.  With a red kitchen.

Or a place.  Like getting to live in Texas again.

Or, most often, a person.  Like my not-yet-husband, when he decided in summer #2 of our 5-year dating relationship that we should take a break.  It was a hard summer.  I lost weight.  I got very little work done.  I cried a lot.

These are idols?  Yep.  Anything that I put higher in my affections than God becomes an idol.  Anything that I think I must have becomes an idol.

We know that God told us not to have any gods higher than him—that is, no idols.  Over and over He reminds us that He is El Elyon, the most high God.  He says these beautiful words to us:

“’To whom will you compare me?   Or who is my equal?’ says the Holy One.  Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens:  Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength,  not one of them is missing. (Isaiah 40:25-26)

Yet we are so like the children of Israel, constructing our own idols, pursuing what we think will satisfy or rescue.

I know.  I just did it again.

Our most common idols are people.  No, not those celebrities—how ridiculous is that!  But the people we love.

Our son is going through a hard time.  I thought he was doing well, making good progress.  But I see he is making some choices I don’t prefer.  My response:  Oh no!  He can’t!  I can’t bear going back to what it used to be like!  I can’t stand for him to not choose God’s best!  I can’t do this.

There he is again—up on the throne of my heart.  His becoming the man God made him to be had become, once again, an idol.

Fortunately, God has given me a very visual response when I become aware of my idolatry, when something or someone replaces God as King of my heart.

I choose to visualize my actually lifting this idol off the throne of my life and placing it on the altar as an offering to God.

It is a powerful picture for me.  This time it took me a little while to make the transaction.  And I have had to do it several times.

But oh the freedom when God is in His rightful place in my life—on the throne, in control.

And my idols?  Still important in my life.  But not an object of worship.

How about you?  Do you have any idols that need to move to the altar?

C2012 Judy Douglass

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Wow!

The doctor kept saying wow!

It was good news! Our son-in-love Nick, who has an auto-immune liver condition that almost killed him over a year ago and for which the only cure is a transplant, just finished his first Mayo check-up in a year. All the reports came back good—equal to or better than a year ago. The doctor’s response: I didn’t expect you to be so healthy.

Our response: Thank You, Lord. Praise God! So grateful!

It was not hard for us to thank God for this Wow!

But my friend Marie—she is young—just got a report that she has colon cancer. Young people aren’t supposed to get colon cancer. Can she say, Thank You, Lord?

Another friend has buried 2 loved ones in the past year. Saying Thank You, Lord has not been easy.

Other friends, for whose prodigal we have prayed, recently called to say their child took her own life. Thank You, Lord?

We know the verses:

“…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (I Thessalonians 5:18)

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation…with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6)

In all circumstances, in every situation: Give thanks.

Easy to do when the news is good. So challenging when the news is not what we want to hear.

How can God ask such a thing? What kind of impossible requirement is that?

The answer is: God is God and God is good.

Sounds simple, glib, out of touch with reality.

But it is true. I know it because God says it. And I have proved it. Over a (now long) lifetime, I have seen it true over and over.

In fact, I have found those two words—Thank You—spoken to God are the key to amazing changes:

God seems bigger. He isn’t bigger–He is already the biggest. But He grows in my understanding and perspective. I begin to grasp that He truly is God—in control of the universe and my life—and He truly is always looking for ways to do good to me.

My heart changes. The fear, anger, confusion lessen and peace grows.

Doors open. The key that is “Thank You” opens my heart and mind to see good that God is doing, to recognize opportunities, to trust God’s love and goodness at a much deeper level.

For years I have practiced saying “Thank You, Lord.” Now, when little or big challenges come, my first response is almost always “Thank You, Lord.” Almost always. Still not easy. But oh how it protects and encourages and frees my heart and my mind.

“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:13)

 

C2011 Judy Douglass

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10 Reasons I Pray

Recently I went to the beach for a 10-day prayer retreat by myself.
A 10-day prayer retreat?  By yourself?
Yes.
But why?  And how can you pray for 10 days?  Well, I love time by myself.  And there are so many people and things to pray for/about. (And I do some other things besides prayer–Bible study and reading and writing.)
The harder question is “Why pray?”  Here are a few of the reasons:
1.      God  Himself desires fellowship with me!!!!!!!!! How can I turn that down!?!

2.    I am so grateful for what God has done for me, so I respond to His love and desire to be with me.

3.    I am desperate–in my own sinfulness, inadequacy, unworthiness. He is the only way to forgiveness and hope and purpose.

4.    When I listen to Him–through His Word, in stillness and quietness–He lavishes love and grace and affirmation on me.  And gives me wisdom and guidance and courage.

5.    The work of God is done on our knees.  Then we go find out what happened.

6.    The task of living the Christ-life is way beyond me–I must go to Him.

7.    I have so many people I want Him to touch–I must keep bringing them to Him.

8.    The world is so dark and lost.  He is the light and the way.

9.    Satan is a roaring lion, seeking to devour, deceive, and destroy. He loves to go after God’s servants, and especially their children. I feel compelled to stand against him, and the best way to do that is kneeling.

10.    I recognize my own total dependence on God for everything in my life and ministry. Prayer is the way I express that dependence and access His provision.

So really, 10 days is hardly enough.  I must, as Paul instructs, pray without ceasing!

c Judy Douglass

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The most oft-quoted Scripture on praying for a nation is probably 2 Chronicles 7:14:  “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

It is good and right to pray for the leaders of our nation, for the governmental agencies, for the people in different arenas of power and influence.  But I believe this verse has much to say to us about the prayer that will bring transformation.

“If my people, who are called by my name,…” If God’s people, those who believe in and trust in and follow Him—we are the key.  Not the President and Congress, or Wall Street, or celebrities.  We should pray for them—they have great influence.  But God has challenged us, His children, to be the keys to healing and change.


“will humble themselves…”
We must honor our God as most high, eternal, all powerful Creator.  And we must bow before Him in complete humility. We must admit that, in ourselves, we can do nothing.

“and pray…” The work of God is done on our knees.  Then we go find out what happened.  Scripture tells us we have not because we ask not.  God delights in our asking.


“and seek my face…”
So often we seek what God will give us, His answers, His blessings—in this case that He will rescue and change our nation.  But he invites us to seek Him.  He is all we really need.  In Him we will find answers and blessings and fellowship and love and grace and mercy and strength.

“and turn from their wicked way…” We have to acknowledge our sin, our failure to live in holiness and purity and the power of God’s Spirit.   We—individually and as His Body–must confess that we have gone our own way. Our Lord pleads for us to turn from our wicked way and return to His perfect way.

And what will our God do?

“I will hear from heaven…” He is listening.  He is waiting.  When we humble ourselves, pray, seek His face and turn from our wicked ways, He will surely hear our cries.

“and I will forgive their sin…” Oh, Lord, thank You for Your great mercy.  What a price Jesus paid that we might be forgiven!  He will wash us clean as individuals and will forgive our corporate sin.

“and will heal their land.” This is where we started—to pray for our nation.  We need healing and transforming.  And it begins with us—His children.  When we meet His requirements, He will do what we are asking for our land.

How hopeful and yet how frightening!  We hold the key.  May we fall on our faces before our God and pray!

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My grandboy Ethan is one happy kid. When I see him, his face lights up. When we play peek-a-boo, he throws his head back in peals of laughter. When he wrestles with his big brothers, his chortles rise from the pile. Glee should be the name of his personal show.

On a recent Wednesday his cold meant he couldn’t go to Bible Study Fellowship with Mom. So he went shopping at Walmart with me. What a time we had!

As we wound through the lanes, his laughter filled the air. Peek-a-boo brought repeated giggles. The animal sound toy I bought him kept us both laughing as we each quacked, barked, neighed, baa’d….

Ethan’s joy was infectious. In each aisle, people turned to see who was making all the noise. And always, they smiled. They said, “What a happy boy.” Some chuckled. Others laughed. No one frowned.

We covered the entire store! Bringing merriment and hilarity to the drudgery of that Wednesday to scores of bored shoppers.

The joy Jesus offers is even better, deeper, truer. Are we infecting people with it wherever we go? Is our joy spilling out and filling up all those in the aisles of our lives?

© 2011 Judy Douglass

en español:  El Día que Llevamos Gozo a Todos en Walmart

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Toyota!

In the 1970’s Toyota’s advertising slogan was “You asked for it.  You got it.  Toyota!”

It became a famous phrase.  I’m sure it helped sell Toyotas.  But it became more famous as a catchphrase for anyone who insisted, against advice and conventional wisdom, on what they wanted, on doing it their way.  When things didn’t turn out, all that was said was, “Toyota!”  (See ad here.)

I’m sure friends and coworkers have said “Toyota” about some of my decisions—and yours!

So has God.

Look at this amazing Toyota verse:  “And He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul.” (Psalm 106:15)

How many times have we begged God for what we want, to do it our way.  Fortunately most of the time He says, ‘No, I have a better idea!”  Sometimes, though, He gives us what we ask for.  But it comes at a high price:  leanness in our souls.  Dryness, emptiness, poverty, weakness—an emaciated spirit life.

God could easily say to us at such times, “You asked for it.  You got it!  Toyota!”

But He doesn’t gloat or reprimand.  Yes, He will send the leanness.  But it is wrapped in amazing grace.  Grace to protect us.  To woo us back to His way.  To give renewed strength and vitality as we learn and grow from the famine we have brought on ourselves.

I’m so grateful for that grace, that redemption of my stubbornness.  But my prayer is that I consistently say, even after telling the Lord my ideas and desires, “Not my way, but Yours, Lord.”

c2010 Judy Douglass

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Guest post by Debby Thompson

Debby Thompson has been on the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ for 36 years, 33 years living overseas.  In 1977, she and her husband Larry went with their infant daughter to live covertly behind the Iron Curtain.  Together with their 3 children, they have lived and served in Poland, Germany and Hungary. The past 18 years she has served as women’s ambassador alongside her husband, Director of Affairs, for the 18 countries of Eastern Europe & Russia.  Recently, they have transferred their leadership to a national couple from Poland.  And yes, she is a grandmother to 4 beautiful little girls!

“To jest chlopak!” (It is a boy!) With that declaration our son, David Lawrence Thompson, Jr. entered the world, April 6, 1979, a hearty 9 pounds, 141/2 ounces. Lying on the cold, hard gurney, I took in my surroundings. I was in a birthing ward in a communist hospital behind the Iron Curtain in Warsaw, Poland.

The long windows revealed that it was an early, cold, spring morning outside.  Around me women were in various stages of the birthing process, some behind curtains, some not. It all looked and felt like something out of a black & white World War II movie.

Only the birth experience itself and the nearness my husband seemed familiar. The language, the equipment, the smells, the sounds, even the dress of the attending medical staff were different. And the procedures were definitely different.  I was thankful to have arranged for a colleague to transport dissolvable stitches from the International Pharmacy in Vienna, having been told that none would be available.

Larry needed to leave; he would return with food & toilet paper, since the hospital could not provide supplies for its patients.  A sister (Polish for nurse) came by and asked it I would like of cup of tea! Definitely. I was keenly aware of how terribly much I missed my mother.  The tea would be soothing. By myself on the gurney, having just given birth in a land so far from my own, my thoughts floated back over the previous few weeks.
Larry and I had searched arduously for a doctor who would allow a husband to be present in the delivery room. Since this was Baby #2, we felt already trained in the method of natural childbirth. However, this was an outlandish request in the communist medical system, and we needed a Polish doctor to grant permission. Finally, and I say finally, 6 weeks before my due date, we found a professor doctor who gave the needed approval.  Though he was not even present and a midwife was just as involved as the attending physician, the professor doctor would later take full credit for the successful delivery.
Why would any woman want to add childbirth to her repertoire of cross-cultural experiences?  A very good question.  My bedrock answer then and now: the will of God.  Years earlier, as a student at Mississippi State University, I became involved with the organization of Campus Crusade for Christ. There I met a group of students who had a smile on their face, a spring in their step and a song in their heart. They were marching to the beat of a different drum and I wanted join their ranks.
Though I knew the Lord, it was in that season that I yielded to God complete control of my life and my future. I determined that Proverbs 3:5-6 would chart my life’s course, no matter what circumstances I was in or what insurmountable challenges I faced.  Larry’s marriage proposal had been, “Will you go with me in helping to reach the world for Christ?” My answer was “yes”-to the Lord, to him, and to a future of pioneer missionary living.
The ramifications of those decisions found me on that gurney in a communist hospital. I was not trying to be a heroine; I was not seeking to be a martyr.  I just wanted to be in the center of God’s will. I was fully convinced that was the safest place to be, and I knew that His will was good, acceptable and perfect. (Romans: 12:2).
A host of factors had led to our prayer-saturated choice. We had a little 3-year-old daughter to consider and we had a home of our own.  Any missionary will agree that, no matter where home is, it is home, even when the address is communist Poland. I did not want to have a baby while living transient out of a suitcase. Desperately I longed to bring our baby home to our home and the modest nursery we had prepared for him.  And that is what we did.

Fast forward to 2007. “What in the world were you thinking?” My son had just become a father & the story of his own birth was being re-visited. This is the son that was the first baby boy to be born to evangelical missionaries behind the Iron Curtain. He will never be able to be President of the United States; our constitution prohibits anyone being born outside its borders from holding that office.  But he will always have typed in his passport “place of birth” Warsaw, Poland. That to me is a very precious treasure. The Polish people are a remarkable people, and our family is supernaturally bonded to their nation.

But his question took me back to my view from the gurney where the cultural differences dominated, where the physical and emotional challenges were as real as my next breath.
There on that gurney, a holy awareness took place. I sensed the Presence of God. He was there with me; I was not alone. In an ocean of the unfamiliar, He was The Familiar. “If I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your Hand will guide me.” He did. (Psalm 139:9-10) “My Presence will go with you and I will give you rest.” He did. (Exodus 32) “In Thy presence is fullness of joy.” (Psalm 16:11)

Even on a gurney.

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I love that many nations set aside a day to say “Thank You” to God, who continues to provide for us in remarkable ways.  I have decided to make sure I am reflecting on God’s goodness to me and my family, so 3 times a day during this upcoming Thanksgiving week I will thank God for one of the specific blessings He has given me.

Here is the list I have, though it is meager compared to God’s great generosity.  I’m sure I will be reminded of many more things to be thankful for and will be on my knees, even on my face, expressing my gratitude.

May you be blessed as you say “Thank You, Lord” for things like this:
1.    God’s relentless pursuit rescued me and redeemed me and restored me.
2.    God sings a love song to me, with one verse telling the good news that Jesus died to give me abundant and eternal life.
3.    God is God–sovereign, and God is good–always looking for ways to do good to me.
4.    When I was a foreigner and alien, God adopted me as a child in His own family.
5.    God remembers that I am dust, and has mercy on me.
6.    Jesus sent His Holy Spirit to live in me and remind me of all that He taught while He was here on earth.
7.    God gives mercy for the past, grace for the present and hope for the future.
8.    I have the most amazing, loving, Christ-like and fun husband in the world.
9.     I love having my delightful children and their spouses as friends!
10.     My grandchildren are beautiful, brilliant and so much fun.
11.     The Holy Spirit comforts, encourages, teaches and empowers—all that I need to live the Christ-life.
12.     The Father has extended an open invitation to talk with Him anytime—about what’s on my heart and His heart.
13.     I have a place to live, clothes to wear, food to eat–more than enough–so I can share with others.
14.     Truth that was embodied in Jesus is transforming my mind via the Spirit.
15.     God asked me to be His partner in building His Kingdom.
16.    I have good health that enables me to keep serving God all over the world!
17.    I get to work with remarkable people who love and follow Jesus.
18.     My church is filled with women and men who are seeking to be True Followers of our Savior.
19.    Many hard things/times in my life have caused me to throw myself completely into the loving arms of my Father.
20.    God doesn’t let me settle for the easy and comfortable, but always calls me to the MORE He has for me.
21.    As long as God leaves me here on earth, He still has a plan to use me to touch lives for Him.

Give thanks!

c2010 Judy Douglass

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The young North Korean woman wept as she told of losing her mother, of coming to Christ while living in China, of her father’s choice to return to North Korea to preach the gospel.  He was arrested and she has no idea if he is alive or not.  Now living in South Korea, she told of her commitment to finish her education, then return to her nation to take the love of Christ to her country—no matter the risk.

We all wept with her.

This is just one of the powerful stories we experienced at the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization in Cape Town, South Africa.  I was there for only the first half, but the constant tweets kept us all informed of every event, session, dialog.  In a few paragraphs I will try to mention a very few highlights and thoughts I came away with.  There is so much more!!

RECONCILING THE WORLD

I loved the theme verse:  God in Christ, reconciling the world to himself—2 Corinthians 5:19.  The fact that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life was reaffirmed—even in our pluralistic world, Christ is the way of reconciliation with God and we are the carriers of that reconciling message.

I am grateful for the call for the Whole Church to take the Whole Gospel to the Whole World.  This embodies all God’s children, men and women, from every continent, working together to fulfill the Great Commission and the Great Commandment  in every corner, in every city, to those who read and those who don’t, to young and old, to rich and poor, to every person!

Each day’s focus enabled us to consider vital realities:  The truth of the gospel.  Reconciliation to God and to each other.   We are making few inroads to world faiths of Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism.   Global priorities include reaching oral learners and urban centers containing most of the people of the world.  Youth and children are the largest population group.   A call to the global church to humility, integrity and simplicity.  The absolute necessity of partnering together.

PROGRESS ON SCRIPTURE TRANSLATION

We celebrated great progress:  Scripture translation is happening at 5 times the speed of just 10 years ago.  Unreached, unengaged people groups of more than 100,000 have dropped from  639 just  5 years ago to 2/3 now engaged, and virtually all of those not engaged have been adopted.   But much more is still to be done, including working on groups of 50,000.

Some of the realities of our world—the move of the church to south and east, the overwhelming prevalence and desperation of extreme poverty, the scourge of slavery and trafficking—were addressed from the platform and in dialog and multiplex sessions.

CONTRIBUTIONS OF WOMEN

I, of course, loved the contributions of a number of women, including Bible exposiition of Ephesians 2 by Ruth Padilla DeBorst,  presentations by Pranitha Timothy (International Justice Mission) of India and Canadian Salvation Army officer Christine MacNeill, emceeing by Brenda Salter-McNeill.   Elke Werner of Germany presented a plenary, calling for a stronger voice for women and premiered a video produced by Synergy Women’s Network, which you can view here.

Another profound moment brought tears to all:  Libby Little, long-time missionary to Afghanistan, told of the recent visit of medical missionaries to their mission and the subsequent murder of the medical team and her husband.  She called us all to be the beautiful aroma of the grace of Christ.

Want to know more?  To participate in the conversation?  Visit www.lausanne.org.

My personal takeaway?  I feel a call to be more radical.  To not settle for the comfortableness of my life.  To use my influence to challenge others to believe God for the more He wants to do in and through them.  To increase the heat and intensity of the Kindling of my life!  To start more fires in hearts and minds!

c 2010 Judy Douglass

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I am on an extended, very full trip and am not finding time to write the post I want to do.  So I am sharing a post from my good friend Barbara Francis.  Be blessed.

 

 

I’ve struggled with envy for as long as I can remember. I envied Wendy Petersmeyer’s flawless long hair in the fourth grade. I was jealous when everybody but me was invited to the end-of-the-year swim party at Betsy Martin’s house when I was finishing the sixth grade.

 

That was child’s play compared to how it has played out in my adult years. I have desired the spiritual gifts and talents others possess which I do not. I have envied other women’s long legs and been jealous of friends’ wealth. When I am in such a state I certainly cannot “rejoice with those who rejoice” and “mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15). Instead, I’m thinking these talented, beautiful, rich ones have had it too good for too long! How ugly is that? Envy has all sorts of cousins, too: gossip, evil speaking, coveting, and condemning others in our hearts. It wreaks havoc in families, Bible study groups, churches, and staff teams. Frankly, I cannot think of one positive outcome of envy.

 

Below are 15 biblical texts on the varying forms of envy. Look at one or two a day, asking God, the Holy Spirit, to convict you where necessary. And don’t forget to thank him for the ways he has healed you of this vile condition. I will never get over the all-encompassing grace of God, will you?

 

Day 1: Psalm 37:1

Day 2: Psalm 73:3

Day 3: Proverbs 24:1

Day 4: Matthew 20:15

Day 5: Proverbs 3:31

Day 6: Proverbs 23:17

Day 7: Matthew 27:18 or Mark 15:10

Day 8: Mark 7:21-22

Day 9: Exodus 20:17 or Deuteronomy 7:25 or James 4:2

Day 10: Romans 1:28-32

Day 11: 1 Peter 2:1-3

Day 12: Galatians 5:19-21

Day 13: Galatians 5:26

Day 14: Psalm 106:16

Day 15: Proverbs 24:19

 

To read more by Barbara, click on Grace and Guts in my blogroll.

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