Thursday, August 15, 2013

Who made the Nile River?

Reading Ezekiel 29 this morning reminded me of our family’s month-long trip out west this Spring. I’ll blog more about that trip at some point for sure, but as we traveled up Route 66 to the Grand Canyon, through Las Vegas, to the beaches of the LA and San Diego areas, back up to Moab, Utah and landing in the Rocky Mountains, one common thread we saw that tied them all together was the Colorado River.

We were mostly at National and State Parks, where they taught that the Colorado River is the life-blood of the West. And it is! Not only do they get their water from it, millions of people receive their electricity from the power of the water through the Hoover Dam. Honestly, I didn’t know before this trip how important that river was.

Rafting the Colorado and Canyonlands National Park
The sad commentary on our time in this great country, however, was that although the people we spoke to recognized their need for this essential supply source, we didn’t hear them credit their Creator for making the river to begin with. For sending the snow to the tops of the Mountains so that it would melt and flow down and provide this very important resource.   

At one Nature Center, the video's tagline was “We are the Colorado River.” It said, “As the Colorado River has created itself over time…”

They had to get pretty tricky with their wording to deny the existence of an amazingly loving Designer who has provided what they need.

So in reading Ezekiel 29, God is speaking against Egypt. There are many similarities between the Nile River and the Colorado River. Before the dam, the Colorado river had its flood stage and its dry stage, and it gave life to the people who settled around it.

In this chapter, twice God says, “The land of Egypt will become a desolation and waste. Then they will know that I am the LORD. Because you said, ‘The Nile is mine, and I have made it.’”

Who made the Nile? Who made the Colorado River?

I think of Psalm 104:10-13

He sends forth springs in the valleys;
They flow between the mountains;
They give drink to every beast of the field;
The wild donkeys quench their thirst.
Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell;
They lift up their voices among the branches.
He waters the mountains from His upper chambers;
The earth is satisfied with the fruit of His works.

I pray that people turn from their sin of denying the God who made us. That we stop worshiping the things He made and start giving Him the praise that is due.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Robe: A book review.

The Robe by Lloyd C. Douglas

"Everything belonged to him; but he never owned anything."


The Robe was a gripping narrative surrounding the events after Jesus’s resurrection. The characters are vivid, the scenes are memorable, and the message is life altering.

It took me a few pages to get into the language, but once my mind adjusted, it was hooked. For a few days, when I didn’t have the pages opened on my lap, I found myself thinking about the story. The main character – Jesus – never makes an appearance, but His life is reflected on by those who knew and loved Him.

It is historical fiction, meaning there are fictional elements. The whole idea of the Robe potentially being magical carried the plot along, but I didn’t waste my time thinking about it. Instead, I appreciated the clever retelling of well-known stories, making them come alive again in my mind. (I had to read the passage of Stephen’s martyrdom out-loud to the kids, it moved me so much.)

My one disappointment:  the very last line. He ends with the words, “she said.” It bothered me to end such an epic with such plain language, as though he was rushed as he finished the novel. Just a simple switch of the phrase, putting “she said” to the beginning of the quote would have ended the book a little more dramatically, but that’s just me being nit-picky. You’ll have to read it for yourself to see if this bothers you too… but start at the beginning!


Trying to formulate words for the elements that struck me about the book, it’s hard to say them without sounding trite. Did I learn anything new? No. So to type it out so simply seems… so basic.

But somehow, being placed for the last few days in the time of Jesus, interviewing His followers and seeing life change, it made me wish for a simpler motive, purpose, plan for my life. To live like Him and tell others about Him.

To be fair. Kind. Loyal. A listener. A helper. Good. Gracious. Compassionate. Full of faith. Wanting to live to please Him, so if He were to appear beside me at any moment, He would be proud and smile.

My heart longs for this. To tell others about His life and miraculous conquering over death. His new Kingdom, placed in our hearts, not of this world. How we who follow Him will join Him and not experience the death that others fear.

How unimportant the things of this world are. Money. Vacations. Homes. Clothes. Math Facts and Prepositions and Latin Roots. Yes, we do have a need for these things, but we aren’t to live for them.

“'He could have had things, if he wanted them… He had a way with children – and animals – and birds.' Justice laughed softly, and exhaled a nostalgic sigh. 'Yes – he had a way with them. When he would leave the shop to go home, there was always a lot of children along—and dogs. Everything belonged to him; but he never owned anything. He often said that he pitied people who toiled and schemed and worried and cheated to possess a lot of things; and then had to stand guard over them to see that they weren’t stolen or destroyed by moths and rust.'”  The Robe, page 220

I want to hold onto this simple faith, uncomplicated, so my life is changed and full of love for those around me – the people He died for.  

But when I walk back in the house – leaving this nice patio I’m typing on, surrounded by a breeze and corn fields – when I walk back inside, I’ll have to fold the towels and wash the breakfast dishes. Maybe play a board game or color a picture. There are a few dozen emails I haven’t replied to, and some other to-do’s that need attending.

How would Jesus have approached this?

With patience. Kindness. Faithfulness. Joy in doing the work God has for me to do today. Constantly in communication with the Father.

Oh Jesus, help me remember. Help me to not get caught up in it all. To be here, but to be always looking up to the sky – patiently waiting for your return for me.

Ever feel like this?

How I am feeling today:

Show vs. Tell.

I just finished reading two books at about the same time.

Because He Loves Me by Elyse Fitzpatrick is a practical and inspirational application of the Gospel.
The Robe by Lloyd Douglas is a historical fiction novel, written in 1942, about the atheistic Roman who crucified Jesus, gambled for his robe, and won, and then his subsequent search for truth about this Hebrew king.

Both books inspired my faith. One by telling, the other by showing, and both were very effective.

Here’s how they looked together.

One… teaches how Christ can transform our daily life.
The other… shows how Christ transformed one man’s daily life.

Teaches about the effect of the gospel on our lives.
Shows how the gospel affected real lives.

Encourages us to live lives differently because of Jesus’s love.
Shows how the love of Jesus practically causes us to live differently.

Reminds us that Jesus will return.
Sets an example of early believers who paused at the top of the hill to see if Jesus might be there.

Strengthens us with the hope of Heaven.
Confirms the hope of Heaven with the emotional death of some believers, and the faith of those watching, who knew their friends were not really dead, but had passed into the New Kingdom of Jesus.

They are both making their way to the top of my favorite list! I’ll blog more about them each individually in a later post.

I love how our great, creative God can use such a variety of means to inspire us to love Him more!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

God's Top Three

Ezekial 14:14
“Even though these three men, 
Noah, Daniel, and Job, 
were in its midst, 
by their own righteousness 
they could only deliver themselves,” 
declares the Lord God.

While reading through God’s judgment in Ezekiel, I came across chapter 14, where God calls out three men, maybe the “top three” in Israel’s history, as an example of righteousness, explaining that if they were around, even they couldn’t rescue Israel from the judgment to come, and my heart cried out, 

“Oh God, I want to be in your top three!” 

But my conscience tells me, there’s no way. I know my heart, my sin, my evil thoughts and faithless prayer life, not to mention the stuff I don’t even know about myself as I live a self-deceived life. So I journaled about my failures.

But then, as I was reading something else, it hit me – though these 3 men, by their own righteousness, could not even save their own son or daughter, Jesus can!

And I pulled my journal back out, and my prayers of disgust at myself turned to prayers of thankfulness for what Jesus has done. By His righteousness, my sins are forgiven, wiped away, clean! That condemnation that I can pour on myself has been removed. Because of Jesus, God is FOR me, helping me, cheering me on, correcting me when I’m wrong, and guiding my path.

Whether I’m in the top three or top three million, I’m covered in the righteousness of Christ. I’m filled with hope and not despair. I may still be a sinner, but I have a new heart, and God’s renewing it, little by little. I can embrace that grace, and then pour it out on the people around me.

Noah. Daniel. Job. They couldn’t.

But Jesus can.