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Made Alive

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Easter was just a few days ago. Do we still remember what we were celebrating?

We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

Newness of life is not a “someday” thing. We were made to LIVE now. Christ promises us more than a ticket to a far off place we call “heaven”—he offers us life and peace and strength and hope . . . now.

A couple of years ago I wrote a song about this called, Crucified.  I am so passionate about the message of the song (because it has changed and shaped my life) so Erik and I have  shared it wherever we have played around the world. It has finally been recorded and is waiting to be mixed.  Meantime, here is a video of us playing a simple version of it in Edinburgh, Scotland during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Lyrics will be posted below.

Crucified
Words and Music: Stephanie Staples—Rostad

In your final moments of humanity you chose
To cry out for your father to forgive us
Broken for our weakness, your delight was to make known
The way that God had chosen to redeem us

The depth of your compassion
The selflessness you showed
Proves beyond all reason
You had given up control

You had a life inside you
Conquering the death
That separated us from the beauty we had known
You became, in that moment, everything we are
Crucified, now we’re alive

Those precious final moments became our remedy for pain
You showed us how to love one another
Broken for the breaking, delighting to make known
The way that God had chosen to redeem us

The depth of your compassion
The selflessness you showed
Proves beyond all reason
We must give up our control

We need your life inside us
To conquer all the death
That separates love from the beauty we should know
May we be, in this moment, one with who you are
Make us alive

May your life inside us
Conquer all this death
That separates us from the beauty we could know
May we be, in this moment, one with who you are
Make us alive

May your life inside us
Conquer all the death
That separates us from the beauty we should know
May we be, in this moment, one with who you are
Make us alive

Oh the blood of Jesus
It washes white as snow

©2010 Stephanie Staples ASCAP

Here is a link to the message our Pastor shared on Sunday. If you are low on time, you can open it in the iTunes Podcast and listen at double speed—15 minutes! ;)

Easter Message

. . . Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:4-11 ESV)

Scarred & Broken – New Song!

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Beautiful Lord
Scarred & broken for us
He understands our pain
And he will carry us

Today Christians all over the world will take a few moments to remember the death of Christ. Many places of worship will hold Good Friday services, sing sacred songs, and meditate on why and how the Savior of the world suffered.

I have never liked “Good” Friday. Even as a child, I was unable to watch dramatized Easter programs without feeling utterly disturbed. When I was 4 years old, I put my head in my mother’s lap and wept, “Mommy, make them stop!”

I understand there’s a need for us to remember. But on days like today I like to meditate on everything else that happened the evening known as the night of the first communion. A room full of men sat at a table and broke bread together. Jesus had just washed their feet.

When he had washed their feet . . . he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? . . . If I then . . . have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.” (John 13:12-16 ESV)

Jesus went on to say, “a new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 34-36)

 Christ’s last instructions to his followers weren’t complicated: love one another. This was and continues to be his message to us and to the world.

The apostle said, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”

Communion is a sacred thing, but true communion is not just something that happens once a week at church. Communion happens every single time we sit down with a brother or sister and talk about what God is doing in our lives. We are supposed to encourage one another and make ourselves remember his death, every single day . . . because Christ’s death brought us life.

When Christ died, he did more than make a way for us to “get to heaven.” He took everything we are with him. He buried our sins, our shortcomings, our pain . . . he took away their power over us and made it so that we could have the life God intended us to have when he created us.

A couple of years ago, I was suffering from a neck/spine injury. It was the hardest thing I have ever gone through. There were moments where I actually felt as though death would be better than the endless pain. One of those moments I got up, went to the piano, and with tears streaming down my face composed a song called, Scarred & Broken. I could barely get through it. It has finally been recorded and I want to share this mix with you on Good Friday. I hope that it will remind you that God understands. This is my favorite line because it’s so true . . .

Though sometimes what you’re going through
Won’t exactly go away
His grace will be sufficient
And his love will hold you safe

Click HERE to listen and for the lyrics.

Peace & joy,

Stephanie

P.S. I’m so glad that even though today is technically, “Good Friday,” and most people won’t say it in my heart I know . . . he is risen! Because he lives, I live. Amazing grace.

My (current) Favorite Playlist

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I made a mixed CD for some friends (I know, I know… I’m back in the 90′s) and have been enjoying it so much I thought I would list the songs (in their proper order, of course—this is muy importante) in case anyone wants to make an iTunes playlist or a mixed CD of their own

The first three songs are a bit more “pop” sounding than my usual taste but I chose them because of their message… some of the others songs were recorded a decade ago. In my humble opinion, some of these are fantastic, especially How Loved Am I, Melody of You, and Come Rest.  I hope you will take the time to download each of these, put them in order, and listen. They are wonderfully uplifting!

The songs will probably cost around $13. total. Well worth it! And you’ll be supporting some great artists!

Steph’s Current Favs

1. Glorious Unfolding by Steven Curtis Chapman ( https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/glorious-unfolding/id686297284?i=686297285 )

2. Hard to Find by Skillet ( https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/hard-to-find/id655774977?i=655774988 )

3. Your Love Is A Song by Switchfoot (https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/your-love-is-a-song/id335664374?i=335664509 )

4. How Loved Am I by Michelle Tumes, Susan Ashton, Christine Dente ( https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/how-loved-am-i/id716550136?i=716550253 )

5. Melody of You by Sixpence ( https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/melody-of-you/id1006664?i=1006603 )

6. Broken by Lifehouse ( https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/broken/id292334393?i=292334442 )

7. Restless by Switchfoot ( https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/restless/id450987801?i=450987805 )

8. Faithful One by Brian Doerkson and Kathryn Scott ( https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/faithful-one/id217760275?i=217760493 )

9. Higher Ways by Steven Curtis Chapman ( https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/higher-ways/id724508930?i=724509160 )

10. Strength of My Heart by Hidden in My Heart a Lullaby Journey ( https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/strength-of-my-heart/id582511312?i=582511319 )

11. Come Rest by Considering Lily ( https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/come-rest/id716229982?i=716230489 )

12. What a Friend I’ve Found by Delirious? ( https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/what-a-friend-ive-found/id577805328?i=577805713 )

13. Afterlife by Switchfoot ( https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/afterlife/id450987801?i=450987802 )

Peace,

Stephanie

It’s OK to Rest

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“It is our best work that God wants, not the dregs of our exhaustion. I think he must prefer quality to quantity.” George MacDonald

I find it interesting that our culture seems to think that only during pregnancy is it OK for a woman to admit she’s tired and to actually take time to take care of herself. I spent four years trying to recover from a neck injury and I always felt guilty for being utterly exhausted and not able to keep up. I’m sure part of the guilt stemmed from my own insecurity, but I really think our culture needs to embrace the concept of “rest”—pregnant or not.

People with chronic, debilitating pain or illness are often made to feel like they are weak or just making excuses. It’s sad that we have a tendency to reject or scoff at what we do not understand or have not personally experienced, but we have all been guilty of doing this. Unlike many other conditions, pregnancy is “common.” The risks and side effects are common knowledge, therefore they are accepted by society.

I have been keeping in touch with a young woman who suffers from Lupus. She is also expecting a baby girl and is also due in July, so it has been fun going back and forth comparing notes. Her will to conceive and to carry this child is especially admirable to me. It’s adding to her already day-to-day struggle with Lupus but she is handling it with grace. She is able to do this because she has learned what many others who suffer from chronic illness or pain have learned: it’s OK to rest. Pregnant or not. It’s OK.

I’ll be honest, there have been a few moments where I’ve almost had to step back in surprise over the concern and understanding people have shown to me since being pregnant.  While I deeply appreciate and need the support, pregnancy has felt like a cake walk in comparison to the constant, burning pain I experienced on a daily basis when my spine was inflamed. On more than one occasion I have thought back and wondered how differently I would have felt back then had I had the same amount of support when struggling with my neck.

I say all this to encourage those who suffer from chronic illness or pain and who aren’t pregnant: it’s OK to take time for yourself and to rest. It’s OK to communicate when you need assistance. It’s OK that you can’t “keep up” with the rest of the world.

To those who don’t suffer from chronic illness or pain but know those who do, please remember: there’s a light at the end of the tunnel with pregnancy—a beautiful blessing and reward at the end of the journey. But for some people, there is no light at the end of the tunnel; there is no end. Encourage your friends or family members who are suffering. Remember that they deserve and need some R&R from time to time. Remind them that it’s OK to rest.

Kindness and empathy really make a difference!

“Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.” (Luke 6:31)

Scotland

Perspective, Purpose, & Perseverance

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It’s amazing how easily we lose perspective when we don’t carve out time for quiet.

Last night I was finally able to go to our church’s monthly worship & prayer night. The service was simple—no hype, no fancy lights, no loud praying. Just a dim room where people could sit by themselves, reflect, and just . . . be.

When I began to reflect and pray I realized, once again, that I have allowed busyness and stress to cause me to lose sight of purpose; and in losing sight of purpose, I have lost the strength, and even the desire to persevere.

What is the secret of your strength?” This simple question was asked of a man named Samson who was called to be completely and utterly committed to God. He knew his secret . . . sanctification . . . but he forsook it. He allowed his desires for other things (a not-so-nice woman) and his earthly hunger (honey in the carcass of a lion) to distract him from his calling—his purpose. He chose to walk away from what was truly important and as a result he ended up blind and as “weak as any other man.” This is what happens to us when we don’t make space for quiet reflection. We blind ourselves to the eternal and we worry about the temporary.

The things that overwhelm us to the point of despair will be less likely to cloud our vision if we carve out time for quiet. The God who created the universe is the same God who hears our prayers and is able to answer them. If we take a few moments every day to reflect on his goodness, we might be surprised to rediscover faith and find the strength we need to live up to our calling: Christ-likeness.

There is a reason there are so many passages in the scripture about perseverance. Life isn’t easy and it never has been. So, like our own Savior did, we must carve out time for quiet. We must seek who we say we believe, find our rest in God, live up to our purpose, and persevere in it.

. . . let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience . . . washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works . . .  encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.

For,“Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.”

But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls. (Hebrews 10:19-25, 35-39 ESV)

And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. (Matthew 24:12-13 ESV)

 

ronald

The god(s) of this world

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For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer. (1 Timothy 4 ESV)

We live in an age where knowledge is available to us in seconds. If we have a question about something, all we have to do is “Google it.” This is both wonderful and awful.

Maintaining a healthy perspective on what truly matters in life is not easy when every article on msn.com offers some new tidbit on how to make our lives better, our bodies healthier, or our relationships stronger. Today I saw and sadly, I admit, read an article on the happiest and saddest cities in America (how do they really know this stuff anyway?!). Some of the information we obtain is borderline useless. We can become so “educated” that we lose all common sense.

Here’s an example: when crib shopping, I stumbled across some articles about “toxic cribs” vs safe cribs. Apparently there are many chemicals used in the stain, etc.. for cribs that can be toxic when inhaled. Ew. Not pleasant information  . . . but we must take these things for what they are: tidbits of truth, not the whole picture. Putting your child in what is considered a “toxic” crib will not necessarily harm them (though, it is not a pleasant thought).

While I appreciate any and every effort to educate the public on safety and health, I am reminded of the words of the apostle, you are not your own. No matter how much I try to protect myself, my husband, my cats, and eventually, my child, from the evils of chemicals, pesticides, GMO’s, and whatever else is the latest rage, I can only do so much to preserve and protect life . . .

. . . Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. (1 Timothy 4 ESV)

The epistles are full of reminders and warnings about distractions. There’s a fine line between becoming educated and taking care of ourselves and making ourselves (and our bodies and bellies) into little gods. We must remember that we have a higher purpose than self-preservation.

God divided a sea, enabled a child to defeat a giant, and rescued a faithful man from being mauled by lions . . .  these new hazards are simply that: new hazards. Danger has always been part of life . . . and God has always been the protector and preserver of life.

We should not ignore good information and we should do our best to be healthy . . . but we should spend our energy on what really matters. Christ-likeness.

. . . For to this end we toil and strive,because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.

If I know the ins and outs of nutrition (but I have not love . . . )
If all the food in my fridge was grown in my own garden (but I have not love . . . )
If I always remember my reusable bag at the grocery store (but I have not love . . . )
If my sheets are made of organic cotton (but I have not love . . . )
If my make-up was never tested on animals (but I have not love . . . )
If my child never eats at McDonald’s (but I have not love . . . )

If I am not growing in my faith and understanding of Christ, if I am not learning to love my neighbors more and more, if I do not spend time seeking the God I claim to know . . . 

I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. . . I am nothing . . . I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love never ends. . . . as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part . . . but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. . . For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. (1 Corinthians 13 ESV)

. . . Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have . . . practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. . . .

Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. . . .

Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves . . . teachings . . . require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. (1 Timothy 4 ESV)

For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly . . . with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. (Philippians 3:18-20)

Sir Gibbie – George MacDonald

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I am reading The Poet & The Pauper (The Baronet’s Song/The Shepherds Castle) by George MacDonald. I read it years ago and remember that it took my breath away. It’s the story of a mute child, who, because of tragic circumstances, wandered away from the city of his birth. He ended up in the Scottish countryside, lived with an elderly couple, and learned the secret of a fulfilled life. Here are a few thought from what I read last night and this morning . . .

Not for years and years had Janet been to church. She had long been unable to walk so far, and having no book but the best, and no help to understand it but the highest, her faith was simple, strong, real, all-pervading. Day by day she poured over the great gospel until she had grown to be one of the noble ladies of the kingdom of heaven—one of those who inherit the earth and are ripening to see God. For the Master, and His mind in hers, was her teacher. She had little or no theology save what He taught her. To Janet, Jesus Christ was no object of so-called theological speculation, but a living Man who somehow or other heard her when she called to Him, and sent her the help she needed.

We are spoiled in the West. We have churches on every corner, bibles readily available for sale (and for free) at bookstores, etc.. Yet we seem to lack the faith and intimacy that is described above. We rarely have (or make) time for the quiet reflection that is necessary in order for this kind of faith to take root in our hearts.

Some churches and denominations in Christianity discourage any sort of seeking that is private. There is a misguided fear that a “layperson” will be easily swayed from what they have been taught to be truth (as if a religious leader is somehow immune to swaying, swerving, or falling away?). This type of thinking has sadly made it impossible for many people to actually enter into a deep relationship with God. Is the God of the universe not able to help the seeker find? Jesus promised that all who seek are welcome . . . even children. God is confident in his ability to reveal himself. In fact, his way has always been to deal directly with us—we miss out when we refuse to take advantage of his call to come unto me.

The  “heroes of the faith” listed in Hebrews (Abraham, etc..) were very much like the old woman listed above. They were often isolated, without much fellowship. They had no bible, no devotional books, no writings from so-called “fathers of the faith” to study . . . some had no religious teaching whatsoever. But their faith was incredible. Why? Because they had encountered God himself. He himself taught them and kept them true.

There is a place for instruction, for fellowship, for accountability with one another. But nothing can or should ever replace the precious opportunity we have to draw near to God and discover for ourselves that he is everything he says he is.

Gibbie obeyed more than willingly, and thus had his first lesson in the chief thing worth learning. I cannot tell how or what were the slow stages by which his mind budded and swelled until the knowledge of God burst into that house and took possession of it. I cannot even tell in what shape He appeared in Gibbie’s thoughts. For Janet never suspected how utter was Gibbie’s ignorance. She never dreamed that he did not know what was generally said about Jesus Christ. So, teaching him only that which she loved, not that which she had been taught, Janet read to Gibbie of Jesus, and talked to him of Jesus, until at length his whole soul was full of the Man, of His doings, of His words, of His thoughts, of His life. Almost before he knew, he was trying to fashion his life after that of the Master. Janet had no inclination to trouble her own head, or Gibbie’s heart, with what men call the plan of salvation. It was enough to her to find that he followed her Master.

George MacDonald’s point was not that religious teaching is inappropriate or unnecessary. He was trying to remind his readers that sharing one’s faith should be simple—we should not complicate faith by adding concepts to it before someone has even embraced it, because true faith is simple: follow God’s call, obey it. Awaken to more truth. Repeat.

I wonder how much Gibbie was indebted to constrained silence during all these years. That he lost by it, no one will doubt; that he gained also, a few will admit. I cannot doubt it bore an important part in the fostering of the visionary thoughts and feelings and actions now growing inside him. . . . He was listening with the same ears, and trying to see with the same eyes which he brought to bear upon the things Janet taught him out of the Book. . . . Gibbie was always placing what he heard by the side of what he knew, asking himself what Jesus would have done, or what He would require of a disciple. . . . he always took refuge in doing something—and doing it better than before . . . as if by instinct he perceived that the only hope in understanding lies in doing {obedience}. He would run to do the things he had learned yesterday, when as yet he could find no answer to the question of today. Thus, as the weeks of solitude and thought glided by, the reality of Christ grew upon him, till, in the very rocks and heather and the faces of the sheep he felt His presence everywhere. One of my favorite things about reading George MacDonald is that I am reminded of how real God is. He is so near. He longs to know us and to make Himself known.I’ll do my best to post more as I continue reading this precious book! If you are interested in reading it, the unedited version is available for free on iBooks under Sir Gibbie by George MacDonald. Although I suggest you begin with Thomas Wingfold, Curate (otherwise known as The Curate of Glaston), if you are new to George MacDonald’s work.

Thomas Wingfold, Curate on iBooks

Sir Gibbie on iBooks

The waking of a human soul to know itself arouses so heavy a sense of marvel and inexplicable mystery.

Expectations in Relationships

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“Whatever men expect, they soon come to think they have a right to: the sense of disappointment can, with very little skill on (the devil’s) part, be turned into a sense of injury.” C.S. Lewis

Conflict in relationships usually occur when expectations are not met. For example, one may expect another to react a specific way to some news given, and when the reaction does not meet the expectation . . . conflict. Or, one may expect a certain task or event to be done or planned a specific way, and when it is done or planned another way. . . conflict.

There are three major events in life that showcase these heart issues best: weddings, funerals, and births. Most of us have experienced one, if not all, of these events and we know first hand that how family and friends react to these three major events in a persons life can make or break relationships.

James wrote, “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people!” (James 1 ESV) James made a good point: most arguments stem from selfishness—from only seeing things from our own perspective and wanting things to be a certain way . . .  in short, from not putting other people’s thoughts or feelings before our own.

Conflict is not always a bad thing. In fact, it’s a necessary, if not vital part of spiritual growth. It’s also an integral part of maintaining healthy relationships with one another. If someone spends their life trying to avoid conflict they are, in a sense, refusing to look in the mirror and deal with themselves. They are also refusing to walk in the calling that all of us have received which is to “encourage one another” and “spur one another on toward love and good works.”  Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, “I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.” (1 Corinthians 11:18-19)  Paul was not saying, “I’m happy you are arguing,” but he was pointing out that conflict merely exposes things in hearts that need to change.

The genuineness of our faith is tested and refined by conflict. How we react when we don’t get our way and our expectations are not met says a lot about who we are. Are we willing to give up what we deem to be our “rights”? Are we willing to give up our own dreams so another’s may come true? Are we willing to lay aside our strong feelings about how things should be done and let them be done another way?  How we react to conflict shows us whether or not we are truly walking in love. Do we consider other people’s feelings, desires, expectations, etc.. to be more important than our own? Or will we maintain a sense of injury if we don’t get what we want?

“Men are not angered by mere misfortune but by misfortune conceived as injury. And the sense of injury depends on the feeling that a legitimate claim has been denied.” C.S. Lewis

Philippians 2:2-5 should be our guide on how to deal with conflict and “grow up” in faith: ” . . . complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus . . . “

“This is one of the miracles of love: it gives a power of seeing through its own enchantments and yet not being disenchanted.” C.S. Lewis

At the end of the day, what matters most is not whether we get our way or win an argument. What matters most is whether or not we are willing to be challenged and changed—becoming more like our Savior.

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself . . . Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world. (Philippians 2:5-9, 14-15 ESV)

 

Worthy Of Our Trust

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Then Moses made Israel set out from the Red Sea, and they went into the wilderness of Shur. They went three days in the wilderness and found no water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter; therefore it was named Marah. And the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” And he cried to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a log, and he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet. Exodus 15:22-25

Just a short time before, “Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the Lord, saying, I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea. The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him. . . ” (Exodus 15:1-3) When Israel saw the miracles God performed on their behalf and experienced his favor, they were ecstatic. Their future was certain—they had hope. It may seem a little ridiculous that just one encounter with something unpleasant caused them to complain and panic, but in their minds they were justified in their complaint.

Human nature hasn’t changed much since ancient times. It doesn’t take much to to put most of us in “panic mode.” When it’s evident our hopes and prayers are being answered (ie when God parts a sea and we walk through it on dry land) we have no problem trusting him. But the moment we face adversity we seem to forget all about what God has done in the past. We immediately begin to question his leading, worry about provision . . . and lose sight of hope.

God was not messing around or trying to torment his people when he allowed them to taste the bitter waters. He was actually trying to show them who he was. He was trying to prove that he was worthy to be trusted. He had promised to protect and to provide for his people every step of their journey, and he wasn’t about to break his word. Unconditional trust had to be worked into them over time just as it has to be worked in us. So, over and over God would patiently prove that he wasn’t anything like the cruel Pharaoh’s and leaders of Israel’s past, and over and over they would learn that even in the most difficult or seemingly impossible circumstance, God was able to work miracles.

Israel’s brief encounter with bitter waters was just the first of many little trials that would show them (and teach us) that God is able to make even the most bitter of waters sweet. He was and is worthy of our trust.

Jesus… A Beautiful Friend

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“The justice of God is this, that . . . he gives every man, woman, child, and beast, everything that has being, fair play; he renders to every man according to his work; and therein lies his perfect mercy.” George MacDonald

We all judge (and mostly misjudge) others. It would be OK to do this if our our judgments were just and if the purpose and end result of them was the restoration or aid of others. In other words, if we were completely just people. But the reality is, our own personal experiences, emotions, and “filters” (Jesus called them “planks in {our} eyes”) blind us to proper judgment. Rarely do we see things as they really are . . . I love the above quote because it is comforting to know that God sees ALL of us. He knows every thought, every heart cry . . . he knows us inside AND out. This is why today I will sing with joy a song that will soon be released… Beautiful Friend… over and over in my life he has proven himself to be exactly that.

“A just man is one who cares, and tries, and always tries, to give fair play to everyone in every thing.” George MacDonald

Lord, make us “just” people so we can judge each other rightly and help one another in our quest to become more like you.