Author Archives: lynwake

Week 43 BE Promise Believers and Covenant Receivers!

 

The word ‘covenant’ is not one we often give much thought to in our culture, yet the deep significance of the word still permeates through our everyday lives, whether we are aware of it or not. As we look around, all kinds of covenants seem to be under attack from many directions. So it is great to be reminded of the significance of both the earthly and spiritual covenants we have entered into from time to time.

The term ‘covenant’ is of Latin origin (con venire) and means ‘a coming together’. It presupposes two or more parties who come together to make a contract, agreeing on promises, stipulations, privileges, and responsibilities.

You may be aware that in the Bible, two covenants are referred to: the Old Covenant (The Old Testament) and the New Covenant (The New Testament). Zillions of people have already commented on the richness and meaning of both these covenants God has made with His people, so I won’t even try to add any more. But this week, as we are meditating on God as the Promise Keeper, it is vital we do so in light of the New Covenant He has made with us through Jesus Christ.

It is so assuring to know that the covenant God has made with us is initiated, sustained and fulfilled by Him! I invite you to learn as much as you can about the New Covenant Jesus has made us partakers in – you will be amazed when you begin to grasp what the New Covenant means for your life! For me, this week I have had a visual reminder of what biblical covenant in Christ looks like. I was involved in the wedding of dear friends and witnessed the young couple making a binding covenant with each other. Christian marriage is supposed to reflect the greater covenant Christ has made with His Church (Romans 7). The big difference however is that Jesus has taken all responsibility to both make and to never break His covenant promises. Oh what a Bridegroom we have! He is the perfect husband, ever faithful and true to all the promises He makes His bride – a bride who is so often unfaithful, fickle and even adulterous.

Yet, even as unworthy as we are, Jesus calls us to BE Promise Believers and Covenant Receivers. It is a high calling indeed, but one that He Himself grants us grace to uphold. What mercy, what unconditional love!  In Romans 4 and 2 Corinthians 3 and Hebrews 10, we learn more about the Old Covenant God made with Abraham and how it was a forerunner to the New Covenant that has now been fulfilled in Christ. There was no possible way any human being could ever keep up our end of the first covenant – we are powerless on our own to do so. This New Covenant in Christ shows up the flaws of the old one. The New is glorious! It is superior in every way and to be partakers in it is the ultimate joy and the destiny of our lives!

Even though I am living in the truth of the New Covenant, I still slip into ‘Old Covenant’ ways. At times I still steep into deep sadness as I wait for the covenant promises to be fulfilled. The wedding this week has stirred up all sorts of emotions. On one hand, the wedding has reminded me afresh of the promises of God in Christ, strengthening my resolve to believe that my promise-keeping, covenant-making God has the power to do all that He has promised. But on the other, the grief is especially raw at special occasions like these. You see, it was Jade’s brother who just married and we really all missed Beth, celebrating with us there at the wedding.

After some tears, I remembered back to when Beth made Jade laugh during that last shopping trip together. Beth was determined to get that second ear piercing she had always wanted and wasn’t allowed at school. In the end, she was too unwell to sit through it, but her fun personality shone through for as long as it could. I remembered that as Beth went about keeping her promises in the best way she could, she had her mind set on what she wanted to buy that day… a gift for me, a gift for her best male friend at school, Jimmy, and a pair of sunglasses for herself. (This was the only thing she bought for herself during the whole year.) Jimmy scored a lovely shirt and tie. (She loved giving them to him a few days later and he really played it up as he tried on the outfit! He then wore her gifts when he spoke at Beth’s celebration service and looked pretty handsome!)

The gift Beth bought for me has been illustrated for you in this week’s chapter of Heartbreakingly Beautiful – a lovely white-gold pendant in the shape of a heart. As you can imagine, it is now one of my most treasured earthly possessions and a daily reminder that the promises I am clinging to are securely centred on the love of Christ as I live under the New Covenant in Him.

What kind of promises are you clinging to in your time of trouble? If you are desperately holding onto promises made by a doctor, specialist, husband, wife, child, parent or friend, please remember that these people are all merely human and may not be able to fulfill or even desire to keep their promises. But if you are clinging to the promises of God – signed, sealed and delivered by the sacrificial blood and saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ – then you are in sure hands! ALL the promises of God will be fulfilled in the light of eternity – you may have to wait awhile, but you will see!

Challenge:

Have you ever tried counting the promises of God given to us? Try this challenge:  Search the internet for: How many promises are there in the Bible? – you’ll be amazed with the answer!

Songs to encourage you:

Wait and See by Stephen Curtis Chapman

Promises Sanctus Real

Daily Covenant Promises:

A great way to remember God’s promises and live as covenant people is to sign up for the 365 Daily Promises by email. Here’s the link to help get you started: www.365promises.com

Here are some more scripture references to the New Covenant:

www.openbible.info/topics/new_covenant

Week 42 – BE Speakers of the Word!

 

As I think back to this time three years ago, I am so grateful that we had the opportunity to speak out words of love and hope to our girl in her last days with us. Some people continue to wonder how we survived through that time. How do you speak out those final earthly goodbyes to your mortally diseased child without totally collapsing? This week’s Psalm (23) gives us some wonderful answers. Just like He promised, we know that the Good Shepherd strengthened us all to say and do the things necessary to make this final journey with Beth in the most honorable way we could. Nothing was left undone or unsaid and we see now what a blessing we were granted. The God who promised to be close beside us through Death’s Valley was present and crying with us.  We were all aware of this truth, despite the awful load of pain.

While the conversations described in Heartbreakingly Beautiful were the last ones Beth was able to have with us, right until the final weeks she surprised us with little words that popped out. She was able to say, “I love you” to us a few times, even if just mouthing the words. I remember that her first word on this earth was “dad” and it turned out that her last word in this life was “mum”. Once, as I sat with her during this time, I told her that she was absolutely amazing. I did not expect a response but she mouthed to me, “You are.” All these words were precious last gifts from our daughter.

Words are so powerful aren’t they! The Bible tells us in Proverbs 18:21 that the power of life and death are on the tongue. Whether or not we are granted the blessing of actually speaking out our final words to our loved ones, we have the opportunity right here and now to BE Speakers of the Word – the most sacred words of all.

In recent weeks we have been thinking about what it means to BE Hearers and Doers of the Word. In recent years, I have been challenged not just to hear the Word and obey it – but to also speak it out!

The Word of God is powerful, living and active (Hebrews 4:12) and for those of us who have been blessed with tongues to use, we are invited to open our mouths, join in the chorus and let those words of life flow out! I believe that the most valuable gift we offered to Beth in her time of need was speaking out loud the words of Scripture. Jesus Christ, the Word of God (John 1:1-5), is constantly speaking over and into our lives – and His words are life indeed!

There are many words we can say in times of crisis. There are many good and beautiful things that can be said during times of great sadness and these can certainly bring a measure of comfort. But when we choose to BE Speakers of the Word, we choose the better way, the sacred way that sows eternal life into our own lives and into the lives of those who are willing to hear. These words arm us with all we need to journey through the mountains and the valleys of life. Yes, the mighty words of Scripture introduce us to THE WORD and at the end of the day, He is all we need!

May the words of my mouth and the mediations of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord my rock and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14)

Songs to encourage you:

The Word by Jordan Worner

Say Goodbye Sanctus Real

Books to build you up:

Praying God’s Word by Beth Moore

Praying the Names of Jesus by Ann Spangler

Week 41 – BE Surrendered!

Dear friends, so often when we face trials and tragedy, our human nature tends to ‘surrender to the despair and rally against God.’ The biblical way of life we are invited to participate in offers a better way;  ‘surrender to God and rally against the enemy!’

This topic of ‘surrendering to God’ seems to be an ongoing issue in my grief. For instance, all last week I found myself – YET AGAIN –wrestling with Him and finding it hard to surrender to what the sovereign Lord has ordained. As I opened up this week’s chapter of Heartbreakingly Beautiful in preparation for this week’s blog, I had to laugh at His timing – YET AGAIN! He knows me intimately and understands that it is going to take me a lifetime to ‘get it’. Fortunately, through this difficult process of surrendering, I am learning more about God and His ways. (For example, the characteristic of His patience is one He has to exercise with me quite often!)

One vital thing I am learning in regard to being surrendered to God is that we can only truly surrender to Him when we fear Him and know who He really is. (See Proverbs 9:10) We can only willingly give it all over, humbly bow our knee and lean back fully into Him without reserve when we begin to realize His fathomless love for us and come to know the kind of Person He is. I believe rightful knowledge of God is the key to true surrender. And how do we obtain this rightful knowledge of God? I think you know me well enough by now to know that I am going to send you straight to the life of Jesus and the Word of God. How blessed we are to have this revelation available so freely to us! Let us spend the time we need to, dig in deep and get to know this God of ours who is constantly inviting us to live a life of full surrender like that of His Son.

I’d love for you to take a minute to reflect with me about Jesus – our ultimate example of what surrender to God looks like. Imagine with me the posture of Jesus while He was hanging on the cross. His was a humble, yet intentional pose with arms spread wide open. Taking up a cross–like pose in life means becoming vulnerable. It means full exposure. It means total transparency. We have read this week in HB that Jesus asks us to take up our own cross (Luke 9: 23). Think about how taking on a ‘Jesus posture’ may look like on a daily basis. When we surrender to God and submit to each other, we are asked to do so with our hearts exposed and our arms outstretched. When we stand in life with our arms crossed and our heart protected, we are not in a stance of surrender. When we lie in a defeated, crumpled-up heap, we are not in a posture of surrender. When we surrender our lives at Christ’s cross and then take up the cross He gives us, He lifts up our tear-stained, wounded faces to meet His gaze and He reconciles us to the Father whose arms are opened wide to receive us. In this posture we are then able to receive all that He has for us during our time of need.

Of all the lessons my dear girl taught me through her trial, I believe her posture of surrender before God is the secret to the powerful testimony she now possesses. As she surrendered all to Him, He was able to give her all she needed. She was able then to do all that was required of her.  Countless times I witnessed her experiencing the ‘peace that passes all understanding’ as she surrendered afresh to the Sovereign Lord. This surrendered peace has been my experience too, yet again and again in my flesh I struggle to fully surrender. Oh Lord, lavish upon us the grace to have fully surrendered hearts before You and to live in a moment-by-moment posture of surrender in all circumstances. “Not my will, but Yours be done.” (Luke 22.42)

So are you having trouble, like I often have, surrendering all to Jesus? The answer for us all lies in getting to know the fully surrendered One and trusting Him with the things we don’t yet understand. Let us stop rallying against Him who is our ally and rally instead against the true enemy. BE Surrendered to Jesus and believe me, you won’t regret it!

Songs to encourage you:

I Surrender All by Judson W. Van De Venter

Lead Me To The Cross by Brooke Fraser

(We all sang this wonderful song together at Beth’s Celebration Service and our second daughter, Rachael, sang this at a special assembly the first Easter after Bethy went Home.)

A quote to inspire you:

“… you have imagined that you would receive an answer from God according to your own thinking, that you would receive either peace, assurance, or joy in your soul. Not receiving these things, you thought that God has not answered you…. We have not learned as yet to surrender to a God whose ways are past finding out. As a result, our whole being is in a state of rebelliousness. That which is incomprehensible always fills us with paralyzing fear. Everyone who does not flee from God and who tarries in the presence of the inscrutable God, experiences a miracle! Without knowing how, the helpless soul is drawn into the fellowship of our incomprehensible God. God Himself in Christ enables us to humble himself beneath the inscrutability of God, to endure it, to rely upon and rest in the God whose ways he cannot fully understand.”

From Prayer by 0’Hallesby

For some more great Bible verses about surrendering go to:

www.openbible.info/topics/surrendering

Week 40 – BE Assured!

David’s Email Message, December 2010:

I can’t put into words the love I have for her and I feel the deepest pain at not being able to cuddle her. These have been long, hard months but it has been a privilege to help her journey through the most painful and difficult time I have known anyone to endure. It has been a heavy burden that you would not want any 15 year- old to bear. She has done it with such grace, such love and such concern for others and she has been such a wonderful example of Christ through it all. She has said all along that she wanted God to get the glory from her life whatever that would be. She has been looking forward to Christmas and giving everyone their gifts. Bethy is such a giving person and puts a lot of time into thinking about what everyone would like. We had a very special talk last Thursday night about Heaven. She said that God did speak to her and that everything will be made right – that He was going to do something very special for her soon. She says that she is not afraid at all but is worried for her Mum, who has lost a brother to cancer and soon will lose her without a miracle. She needed assurance that we would be OK. She has totally surrendered her life to the Lord and is ready after a long battle to run into the arms of Jesus. She paid for a lovely camera for the family two weeks ago, as she wants us to remember special things in our family and not be forgotten. We assured her there is no chance of that!

While it was a shock to hear the words of death pronounced over our daughter that Christmas Eve in 2010, God had prepared Beth in several ways to receive the news that the tumor was on the move again and that she could not live in her body much longer. I write this blog in honor of her dad, my beloved David James who poured his life out for his girl in so many ways. I love him for this, more than words can say. It was very hard for David after we met with the doctors to feel that this was the end of the road. He still wanted to fight for his girl and do all that he could to save her. In the coming weeks, God did assure David and prepare him so that he could let her go. (I see now that most of this preparation came from Beth herself and her incredible attitude.)

While three years have since passed, my dear man still has a hard time looking back over this season. He still feels the pain of some of the decisions he had to make under pressure. For example, he feels that he put Beth through unnecessary pain when he wanted her to have another MRI to confirm the doctor’s prognosis. The Lord is healing up the hurts caused by the huge responsibility he bore for his darling girl. By turning daily to His Word, David is able to BE Assured by Jesus. As he chooses the ancient, godly path of life, he hears the Voice of Truth assuring his heart and does not have to succumb to voices of doubt and accusation that scream out to him in vulnerable moments.

We all need assurance, and ongoing reassurance. You know, the doctors did their very best to assure us that Christmas Eve. They assured us that they were ‘on call’ if needed and that Beth would get the best medical and palliative care possible. Yet all of this was not enough. We needed assurance of a deeper kind. We desperately needed to hear the words;

Everything is going to be OK.”

At Christmas time, we celebrate the amazing fact that Jesus Christ, the Word of God, came to dwell with us. Immanuel – ‘God with us’ desires to draw near today and bring assurance of His love and greater plan to our broken hearts. He came to bring salvation, healing and hope into the darkest of situations, yours and mine. Perhaps you have already chosen the ancient, godly path to follow the Lord or maybe you are considering your choices. There comes a time when we meet a fork in the road and need to decide whether to believe the words of Jesus or not.  There is only ONE who with all integrity says to you; “EVERYTHING is going to be OK My child!” Because of My Son, EVERYTHING is going to BE OK! The Father aches to hold you close and bless you with all the assurance you need – like we did with Beth. When David and I had nothing else to offer, because of Jesus we could whisper to our girl that one day everything would be OK – more than OK! Yes, choose the ancient path, dear friends, and draw near to the Lord in your pain today. We can BE Assured in Him and rest in that blessed assurance for eternity!

 

‘ASSURANCE’:

Definition: a positive declaration intended to give confidence; a promise.

Synonyms: word, promise, pledge, vow, oath, bond, undertaking, guarantee, commitment.

 

Songs to Encourage You:

God With Us by MercyMe

Emmanuel By Casting Crowns

Blessed Assurance by Fanny J. Crosby

 

A book to build you up:

If you need some extra assurance at the moment, there is only one true place I can lead you – to the words of Jesus Christ.  Have a read of the Gospel of John this week… “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”  John 20:31

Back to Christmas 2010:

Please allow me to share some more treasured things that happened that Christmas week, precious events that have brought assurance of the Lord’s presence with us through that time…

As the news of the doctor’s pronouncement spread, family gathered. A group of around 40 of Beth’s Christian family from several churches gathered on our lawn to sing her carols. It was beautiful and as they started to depart, Beth wanted to personally thank them all. So one by one they lined up to see Beth and say goodbye. We did not expect Beth to have the strength to do this but what a gift it was to those friends – most of whom had been praying all year and did not want to impose on us. That night, Beth also received a phone call from renowned singer, Sylvie Paladino, just before she went on stage to sing at the annual Carols By Candlelight Service in Melbourne. Sylvie dedicated her song, The Name of the Lord to Beth that night.

What special things are surrounding you at the moment, helping you BE Assured in Jesus?

More Assurance:

www.openbible.info/topics/everything_will_be_ok

Week 39 – BE Mindful of Eternity!

“ Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.” Ephesians 2:17-10 The Message Bible

We are pondering eternal matters this week – the big picture, Kingdom of God concepts that overarch our entire existence. You and I are eternal creatures, made to live forever with eternal purposes built into us. One of these purposes is a calling to BE Blessings in Christ to the world around us – fulfilling our destiny in Him and acting as conduits of these eternal blessings He has so lovingly lavished upon us.

Dear friends, I suspect that if you are reading this blog, your circumstances may be quite desperate. No matter what you are currently facing, no matter what your world looks like, at the end of the day, the big eternal picture is not all about us or even about the whole universe – it is all about Jesus and His Kingdom! The amazing truth is that He desires to include us in His sovereign, eternal plan – a plan that is SO good, it is out of this world! Our Creator and Saviour desires to partner with us and does not want us to miss out on a single thing He has planned! We are invited to seek Him to find where we fit perfectly into His sovereign design, within His world. Let us build on Beth’s example of looking at her suffering through eternal glasses. Like Beth, we too can find our place (and one day will see where our present circumstances fit) by seeking Jesus Christ. It is in Him that we will find our purpose, our identity, our security and our peace. He is the All in All who sees and controls the big picture, the One who holds all things together. (See Colossians 1:15-21.) And as unbelievable as it may sound to you right now, He has a unique, eternal purpose for you in your suffering- good works In Christ planned for you to bless others, even through your most desperate times.

The apostle Paul certainly encourages us to look at all of life from an eternal perspective. Here is another piece of advice from him…

“So if you are serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ – that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.” Colossians 3:1-2 The Message Bible

To BE Mindful of Eternity, we need to fill our minds with eternal things. We need to study and believe the words of the Lord Jesus and get His perspective on how He desires us to BE thinking- of eternity in all things. Yes, the Maker of the world holds the world in His hands – but He also holds our personal worlds too. Let us endeavor together to make Him and His Eternal Word the measure of our lives. May He teach us how to live in light of eternity and dwell in the fullness of His blessings today – overflowing to others and fulfilling our destiny in Him in each and every situation!

A quote to inspire you:

The truth is this: God is saying, ”I want you to know right now that all of history, including the portion constituting your life, is completely under my control. No matter how things appear, every little detail is part of a beautiful picture. But I am leaving those details as challenges of faith to prepare you for the world we will share one day. You must trust me in the smaller things, knowing that the larger things are all established.” From Captured By Grace by David Jeremiah

Songs to encourage you:

Painting by Jordan Worner

Before the Morning by Josh Wilson

You’re Already There by Casting Crowns

Books and DVD’s to build you up:

Epic by John Eldridge (Book and DVD series that explains the BIG story God is telling.)

Big Picture God by Louie Giglio (DVD series mentioned in Heartbreakingly Beautiful.)

Highly recommended resources:

We deeply appreciate our friends from Eternal Perspectives Ministries who helped us keep an eternal perspective throughout Beth’s trial. The Lord continues to use their ministry to build our hope in Jesus as we grieve. EPM has amazing resources to help you BE Mindful of Eternity throughout all circumstances. Pastor Randy Alcorn is a gifted teacher who loves Jesus and His Word. Check out the vast array of novels, devotionals, teaching materials, books and DVD’s on offer to build your eternal perspective!

www.epm.org

Week 38 – BE Reflectors!

 

This week in Heartbreakingly Beautiful we take a deeper look at the source of true beauty and unveil the secret that Bethany discovered… true beauty comes from gazing on and reflecting the Beautiful One – Jesus Christ!  Beth discovered that Jesus was her ‘mirror’ – the One she was to gaze on and reflect back to all who beheld her. The Lord has given us other examples in nature that teach us principles about reflection. Let’s take a look at a couple of them now and learn from them so that we too can BE Reflectors of Jesus…

Silver – purified and polished:

Have you ever seen a chunk of unrefined silver? Silver ore is just an ugly looking rock but the expert knows the intrinsic value buried deep within. The silversmith knows that in order to draw out the beauty within the lump of minerals he holds in his hands, the silver must be refined. It must be purified through the fire in order for the dross to melt away and the pure silver to be revealed. I am told that the refiner carefully tends the fire throughout the refining process, watching intently with expert eyes and applying the perfect amount of heat in perfect timing until purification is complete.

What is the refiner’s goal? It is to mold and make something beautiful and useful. A good refiner has the skill to transform useless chunks into priceless works of art! And how does the refiner know when his work is complete? He knows the silver is ready when he can see his own reflection shining back at him!

Friends, do you realize that the Bible speaks about God refining our lives as a silversmith refines silver? The ancient psalmist sang out to the people of Israel;  “You have tested us, O God; you have purified us as silver.” (Psalm 66:10)

I have a few special pieces of silver jewelry that have already been refined. The purified silver usually shines in the light and if I hold the items close to my face, I can usually see my reflection. But not this week! After a swim in a spa, all my lovely silver turned black! Nothing good was reflecting back from these sliver treasures! So I purchased a special polishing cloth and rubbed and scrubbed them with fury until I could see my reflection again. My hands became sore and filthy in the process too. (Sounds just like the kind of polishing process Jesus has done for us after we have become tarnished with sin doesn’t it!)

The Moon – positioned just right:

The moon is the biggest example of reflection God has placed high up in the sky for us to ponder. A beautiful moonlit night is a wonder to behold. But as you know, the moon itself is just a lump of dead minerals. It needs to be in the right position to reflect back to earth the rays of light that emanate from the sun. In order to BE Reflectors of Jesus, we too need to be positioned correctly.  We get into trouble when we think of ourselves as the ‘star’ in our own universe! Just like the moon and the sliver, we are lumps of minerals – nothing without the infusing life and light of Christ!  (Guess what our bodies are actually made up of… minerals!) When we are ‘out of orbit’, in the wrong position, we cannot BE Reflectors of the light and glory of Christ.

So what is the correct position? Where is ‘just the right place’ we need to be so that we can BE Reflectors as we were designed to be? It begins friends at the foot of the cross of Christ. As our knees are bowed humbly before Him, He raises our faces to behold Him and lifts us up to stand in His righteousness. Dr John Piper says that when we are turned with faces gazing on Jesus, with arms open wide to receive Him, we are then able to reflect Him back to the world like a giant mirror! But when we turn our backs on God, we end up gazing at our own reflection, which although can still be pretty impressive, is actually just a mere shadow of the image of Christ. So the correct position for reflecting is repentance – turning our faces back to God and gazing on Him again and again. Watch what beautiful glory will be reflected back when we are aligned correctly!

“But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had the veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord – who is the Spirit – makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.”  2 Corinthians 3:16-18

The image of Beth’s broken body still haunts me, but at the same time, I am blown away when I remember all the beauty she reflected back to Jesus! I can hardly wait to see the restored version of our Brown-Eyed Beauty – finally made perfect and standing beside The Beautiful One!  You know, one day we are promised that all who are in Christ will gaze on His face and He will gaze on ours in the flesh! Until then, here are the best ‘beauty tips’ I can offer to make this reflecting lesson practical…

  • Gaze upon The Beautiful One as revealed in the Bible. Get to know Jesus through the revelation of His Word.
  • Gaze upon the refection of His beauty in His creation.
  • Gaze upon the reflection of His beauty in His children. (All of whom are still in the process of being refined, polished and positioned – but still reflecting different facets of His character!)
  • Fix the eyes and ears of your heart upon Jesus – set your mind on Him and imagine Him in all His glory!
  • Believe what He says about you – you are the apple of His eye and uniquely beautiful to Him!
  • Submit to the Refiner’s fire, His purifying, polishing and positioning!
  • BE Reflectors and SHINE beautifully!

Songs to encourage you…

Psalm 27 by Sons of Korah

Beautiful by MercyMe (given to Beth as a theme song by her friend Amy and her mum Gail who helped nurse Beth.)

Beautiful by Bethany Dillan (Beth chose to include this one in the PowerPoint presentation she made to help women who are suffering from obstetric fistula.)

Mirror by Barlow Girl (Beth’s favorite as a young teenager.)

A book to build you up:

Captivating by John and Stasi Eldridge

Week 37 – BE Laid Down!

Throughout Beth’s illness, I often thought of our story in terms of the story of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac to the Lord. Could I lay down my child to God in the way He was asking me to do – relinquishing all rights, and her very life, to the hands of my redeeming God? Genesis 22 records this profound account of God’s dealings with Abraham. Abraham passed his testing of faith, God was pleased and provided the sacrifice needed.  The deeper we go into this passage, the more lessons we can learn from Abraham, our father in the faith. But the account is ‘light on’ when it comes to information about young Isaac. We have no idea from this passage how Isaac felt about laying down his life. We can only imagine how scared and confused he must have been, but I wonder if there is more we can learn from Isaac’s perspective in the story? Please feel free to read the story for yourself and dwell on these matters with me for I believe this one is absolutely loaded with gold!

Friends, because this story is a ‘forerunner’, a ‘pointer’ to the life and mission of Jesus Christ, the Messiah who was still to come, I think we can ‘read between the lines’ and remain within biblical territory. I have spent some time this week considering Isaac and believe there is nothing to contradict the thought that Isaac willingly laid down his life with a submissive attitude like Jesus. The reason I believe this is for the same reason Jesus willingly laid down His life – because He trusted His Father and obeyed Him in every way! Isaac’s story has the same kind of ‘essence’ to it. There is a clue to this idea in Genesis 22:7 where we get a hint of Isaac’s close relationship with his father.

Isaac must have been perplexed as he was heading off to Mount Moriah (modern Jerusalem) with no sheep for the slaughter in sight. Even at his young age, he would have been quite aware of how the sacrificial system worked. God required blood to cover their sin and the sacrifice of animals was a normal and integral part of his world. “So where is the sacrifice dad?” I wonder if Isaac had a kind of ‘Gethsemane experience’ as it began to dawn on him the will of his father. “Take this cup from me, but nevertheless, your will be done!” One day, I look forward to hearing the story from Isaac’s perspective. I don’t know for sure, but I do suspect that through all his fear and confusion, he trusted in his dad’s love for him and this is why he could obey and lie down on the altar – even though he didn’t understand the bigger picture.

Jesus too trusted in His Father’s love and willingly laid down His life for us and as the sacrificial Lamb God provided as the covering for all sin, for all time. Abraham and Isaac pointed the way and there are countless saints who have also modeled what it means to BE Laid Down. One of them was our Bethany Joy.

This is the week that Beth’s friends have graduated from High School. I try to imagine what Beth would have looked like, all grown up and about to embark on the next season of life. I wonder what her exam results may have been and whether her dreams of becoming a midwife would still be a strong drive in her heart. While these thoughts are normal, it is not good for me to linger on what could have been. It is not good for me to dwell on unrealized dreams and the ‘what ifs’.

The truth is that our Brown Eyed Beauty has graduated and been promoted to the highest place of all!  I remember her last public testimony from this time in 2010 and am reminded again that she viewed her life from a different perspective. She challenged us all to BE Living Sacrifices, to BE Laid Down before the Lord. She trusted completely in her heavenly Father’s love – this is how she could surrender all to Him.

I remember that during that week as Beth prepared to give her testimony, I wrote down this quote on her whiteboard…

“THE SCHOOL OF SUFFERING PREPARES AND GRADUATES EXCEPTIONAL SCHOLARS.”

I am unsure where I heard it, but thought it very appropriate for Beth and realize now that her last public address was in fact her ‘graduation speech’ after all. I am so proud of my girl for laying it all down for Jesus and graduating with ‘honors’ – honor in the Lord!

Songs to encourage you:

Lay Me Down by Chris Tomlin

This Life by MercyMe

When Life Gets Broken by Michael O’Brien

A book to build you up:

Refined as Silver – Learning to Embrace Life’s Disappointments by Kay Arthur

PS: Friends, I have come to realize that in my walk with the Lord, I never simply ‘pick up random books’ but that He directs as I come across encouraging resources. For instance, this week’s I came across this precious gem and the chapter I am up to ‘just happens’ to weave together the themes of sacrificial living set out in Psalm 51 and Romans 12 – the very same passages of scripture used this week in Heartbreakingly Beautiful. Coincidence? I think not!

Some words of wisdom on the web:

Will you lay down your life? by Oswald Chambers

http://utmost.org/will-you-lay-down-your-life/

Week 36 – BE Doers of the Word!

 

I hope you were able to BE Listeners of the Word in fresh ways throughout the past week. As we come to this week’s devotional in Heartbreakingly Beautiful, we weave a few threads together and get practical about our faith – like Beth had to do! All the faith-based listening in the world will get us nowhere unless we put what we hear into practice! The words of Jesus are to be obeyed and acted upon. Our faith in Him has to be activated and exercised! Listen to some words of advice from James, the brother of Jesus…

“But be doers of the Word (obey the message), and not merely listeners to it, betraying yourselves (into deception by reasoning contrary to the Truth). For if anyone only listens to the Word without obeying it and being a doer of it, he is like a man who looks carefully at his (own) natural face in a mirror; for he thoughtfully observes himself, and then goes off and promptly forgets what he was like. But he who looks carefully into the faultless law of liberty, and is faithful to it and perseveres in looking into it, being not a heedless listener who forgets but an active doer (who obeys), he shall be blessed in his doing (his life of obedience)”. James 1 22-24 AMP Bible

Have you ever heard the expression: “This is where the rubber meets the road”? This common English idiom expresses the ‘moment of truth’ idea. It’s the moment when the tires are tested on the road to see if they will really do what they are designed to do. The moment when the athlete takes to the track to discover whether her running shoes are made of the right stuff and whether all the preparation is going to pay off!

In a spiritual sense, our family has faced many of these ‘rubber’ moments – I am sure you have too. Times when faith in Jesus has been tested to see how authentic and strong it really is! When we served in Papua New Guinea, we faced many physical trials that were difficult to bear. But as we listened to Jesus and put His words into action, our’ faith muscles’ were stretched and grew stronger. We look back now at some of the stress that the Lord allowed to come into our lives as opportunities that led to spiritual growth. All the exercise and stretching of our faith back then certainly helped to prepare us for when the biggest ‘rubber’ moment hit with Beth’s trial.

The rubber sure hit the road for Beth and her faith was tested like we could never imagine. Her remarkable story clearly testifies that she activated all that Jesus had previously taught her and exercised what He continued to teach her daily throughout the trial. She too looked back and saw some of the hard times He allowed her to go through as preparations for a bigger test to come. We all believe that without such preparation, we would have snapped when the rubber hit – just like weak muscles and tendons do when suddenly strained.

Through this time, David and I were often a little slower off the mark when it came to faith activation. Many times during the journey we both felt anxious about our girl and had to exercise our faith in ways we never had to before. Here is an excerpt from David’s email message sent to our prayer supporters during this time…

“Lyn and I have been feeling very flat at the moment. It has been hard digesting the results from the latest MRI and knowing what to do with them. It is interesting to me that our devotion, even before we saw the results which were very mixed, was Philippians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything…” It is hard not to be anxious and yet I know that when I don’t trust God and let myself go down that path it only adds to the struggles. Beth talks a lot about abiding and snuggling in His arms. I thank God for her faith and courage, even though it fills my eyes with tears watching her struggle physically…”

How do you need to exercise your faith right now and Be Doers of the Word, not just hearers? For me today, right in this moment, my faith challenge again relates to the area of being anxious about the future. Time to get down on my knees and bring all my prayer and petitions before the Glorious One as He has told me to do. With His help, it is time for me to put my faith in action again and actually DO what Jesus is whispering into my heart! Another ‘moment of truth’. Yet another opportunity to stretch and grow those faith muscles as I press on to win the Prize!

Songs to encourage you:

That’s What Faith Can Do by Kutless

Voice of Truth by Casting Crowns

A book to build you up:

Eric Liddell: Pure Gold: A New Biography of the Olympic Champion Who Inspired Chariots of Fire by David McCasland

The story of Eric Liddell is one of my personal favorites and I invite you to check out the remarkable next chapter of his life from an Olympian to a missionary in China. Eric passed away from a brain tumor like Beth – he is one of her kindred spirits.

A Movie to Encourage You:

Chariots of Fire is a wonderful movie that has been inspiring people for decades. (Just the famous music makes me want to keep running!)

Week 35 – BE Hearers of the Word!

“He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”

This week in Heartbreakingly Beautiful, we discuss some ‘Kingdom secrets’ we learned through Beth’s suffering. They were taught in the context of great suffering and we learned that God’s eternal Kingdom is upside down and inside out compared to the values of this world. How do we live victoriously through the topsy-turvy, stomach-wrenching ride of life that can throw us totally off kilter and seem so completely confusing? To give us some clues, Jesus often spoke in parables to the people gathered around Him. He told stories about everyday things and used common language to express deeper spiritual principles. He often began His parables this way; “The Kingdom of God is like this…”

Jesus was constantly speaking about the Kingdom of God and though He tried to explain it in understandable terms, I often find myself perplexed over what it all means. I find that the more I learn about God’s Kingdom (the spiritual realm we already belong to as believers in Christ) the more I don’t understand! His call for us to open our ears and listen comes clearly.

But how do we hear Jesus today and begin to understand what He is saying? If, like me, you find yourself scratching your head in confusion at the mystery of the Kingdom at times, we are in good company.  Jesus’ own disciples didn’t really get it at first either! The concept of the Kingdom of God is so ‘out of this world’ that we need God Himself, through His Spirit, to reveal it to us (I Cor 2:10).

It seems that our spiritual ears are so important and connected with receiving the secret truths we need in life. Within our physical bodies, our ears contain intricate organs that control our balance. In the spiritual realm, listening to the Word of God brings balance to our spirits. Listening to Jesus, The Word of God, brings peace through those upside down times. Listening to Jesus, The Word made flesh, brings clarity through the inside out things that don’t seem to make sense.

Friends, the secrets of the Kingdom are constantly being whispered by the Spirit and we need to ‘tune in’ and BE Hearers of the Word . When we are confused and don’t know one voice from the other, here is an important truth. Before we can hear the Lord speak to us, we need to learn to fear Him… “The secrets of the Lord belong to those who fear Him” (Psalm 25:14).

Just today, as I was contemplating these matters again, I have been reminded in several ways that Jesus is the Good Shepherd who gives His life for His sheep (that’s you and me!). This Good Shepherd is always calling our names and as we learn to listen and discern His voice, we are led into spacious places of abundant life. BE Hearers of the Word and live!

Many before me have recognized that hearing from God is a learned skill. Sometimes He shouts to get our attention, but most practiced listeners will testify to the whisper in the darkness. To BE Hearers of the Word, we need to practise how to be good listeners. We need to take time to quiet down and open our ears to hear the frequency God uses to speak. Primarily the Lord speaks to the ears of our spirits through His Word, the Bible. He can also use the wisdom and testimony of other believers to speak truth into our lives.

I have found that the very words of Jesus Himself brings life to the soul as we hear them. Bible teacher Nancy Guthrie has learned how to listen to the words of Jesus through her suffering. Hearing Jesus Speak into Your Sorrow is a powerful book I recommend to anyone who has experienced loss and trauma. The words of Jesus Christ literally pour out of every page and the Lord has used Nancy’s challenge to truly listen to the words of Jesus and really believe them to help heal my broken heart.

Jesus, the eternal Word of God has spoken. His words are living and active and we can tune into His voice and receive them today. I hope that you too will take up this call to truly take Jesus at His Word. Fear Him – listen to Him – believe Him – obey Him! This biblical pattern is the secret to living with balance and victory through the whirlwind we call life here on earth!

Songs to encourage you:

“In my heart in my soul, I give you control, consume me from the inside out Lord. Let justice and praise become my embrace to love you from the inside out.”

From The Inside Out by Joel Houston, Hillsong United

Word of God Speak by MercyMe

Books to build you up:

Hearing Jesus Speak into Your Sorrow by Nancy Guthrie

Jesus Calling by Sarah Young

An inspirational idea:

I encourage you to actually listen to the Word of God. There are many ways this precious Word is available to us today in audio form. I use the audio recordings through Bible Gateway and hearing the Word in my headphones as I walk, drive and do the housework, etc. is transformational!

Week 34 – BE Named!

 

“I have called you by name – you are mine!” (Isaiah 43:1)

I am so grateful that God’s Word tells us that we are not lost when hidden in Him. We are not insignificant in His eyes that behold us with immeasurable love and we are not nameless! In fact, we are called by name – by His name forever!  But in the midst of these amazing truths, we certainly can feel lost, insignificant and nameless at times can’t we!

This week, I have experienced a taste of what it means to live in one of the world’s biggest cities and to feel displaced in a crowd of millions. Thousands of nameless faces have flitted before my eyes and I have gazed on thousands of names at the 9/11 Memorial that are faceless to me. It is all pretty overwhelming and I find myself remembering days when I felt spiritually lost, insignificant and nameless throughout our desperate trial.

A few months into Beth’s illness, as I woke up through the daze of the scary dawn of a new morning, I was wondering if the Lord had even noticed our pain. Suddenly, a voice seemed to whisper a call to my spirit, “Beautiful joy watch and pray… BEAUTIFUL JOY WATCH AND PRAY!” As I contemplated, a new realization hit. This call was my name! My full name, Lynda, is of Spanish origin and means ‘beautiful’. My middle name, Joy, is one that I share with all my three girls. I have written in this week’s chapter of Heartbreakingly Beautiful that our family name means ‘Watch and Pray’.  So that day, as I pondered some more over this new thought that kept speaking to me, I sensed that this was in fact a comfort and a command from the Lord. He was calling me by my name to do what He had created me to be and to do. It was like He was saying to my hurting heart; “My beautiful Lynda, Joy of My heart –I notice you and know everything about you. You are not lost or forgotten. You are not insignificant. You are called by name. Run to Me, come watch and pray with Me.”

As soon as I was able, I shared this with David and we began to go through the names of the rest of the family. David’s name means ‘beloved brother’ (and how perfectly this suits him). We prayed together that God would indeed give us the grace to live up to our names and all He created us to be and to do through this time. We shared this idea with all our children, praying over each of them and their respective names and reputations – WOW! They really took hold of it and to this day take this as a word from the Lord to them too. Our Bethany Joy sure lived up to her name in more ways than one as she became a ‘house full of fruit and joy’. James Jordan, Rachael Anne Joy and Nicole Joy are living up to theirs too – what a blessing!

I humbly thank Jesus that He has called me, and my family, by name. But I am even more grateful that His name is way above ours in every way! He is the only one who can truly live up to His name! Maybe you don’t feel your earthly name is even worth living up to. That’s OK. Your earthly name is important to your Heavenly Father who has ordained every day of your life. But do you realize that you are called by a Father who is to name you with an intimate name that you don’t even know about yet? (Revelation 2:17) As children of God through Jesus Christ, our true names are intricately woven together with His – we belong to Him!

So when tempted to feel lost, insignificant and nameless, please know that you too can BE Named and forever safe and significant in Him! “The name of the Lord is a strong and mighty tower. The righteous run into it and are saved.” Proverbs 18:10

A song to encourage you:

This song is one of my all time favorites…

Nameless by Jordan Worner

http://jordanworner.bandcamp.com/track/nameless

A book to build you up:

Praying the Names of Jesus by Ann Spangler