That's the Book: Haggai
This was a beautiful weekend. Sunny, time with family, good results from an EKG. Catch your attention? Sure caught mine. Saturday afternoon I felt a weight on my chest. The kind all those Pinterest meme's about women's heart attack symptoms being different than men's tell you not to ignore. So I hauled into the urgent care. Said enough magic words to earn an ambulance ride and full workup at the local ER. Turns out my heart is completely fine. Not sure what happened but might have been a mix of a nasty allergic reaction and a bit of paranoia from too many recent visits to friends and family in the hospital. As I read through the book of Haggai, I'm feeling grateful and paying attention.
In 520 BC the Babylonian empire fell to the Persians. The Israelite people in captivity were given a the opportunity by the Persians to return to Israel. A remnant returned and were using all their time and resources to rebuilding their homes but were completely neglecting rebuilding the temple. Haggai encouraged them to get to work! Gratefully they did. As they worked some of the people were discouraged by the size of this new temple compared to the grand temple of Solomon. Haggai's message was the same. One of encouragement. Be strong. Look to God. Be faithful. Keep working. The future is bright. It's the same message to us.
"This is what the Lord Almighty says: 'Give careful thought to your ways.'" Haggai 1:7
As I'm sitting here this Memorial Day I'm grateful for the sacrifice others have made for my freedom. I'm sickened by recent hateful events and praying for insight to how to respond. I'm pondering work life balance. I'm wondering if I'm sewing seeds of hope around me. I'm thinking through the input I receive in my life. Too much junk food. Too much time online. Considering invitations and motivations. Clearly I need to eat better, exercise more often, detox on technology. Its a time for thought. Here is a list of ten questions you may want to ask yourself. Give careful thought to your ways.
1. Do the people who matter most in my life know that I love them?
2. Do my actions match my faith?
3. Is there someone I need to forgive?
4. Are my habits dragging down my health? or my story? or my family's health?
5. Is there someone I should thank?
6. Am I using all my resources for myself only? What can I cut or give to support what God is doing?
7. Do I have questions I need to trust God to answer?
8. Is my version of success the same as what God wants?
9. Am I vested in heaven? What can I do to be more heaven focused?
10. What do I do to rest, to restore, to renew?
This certainly isn't an exhaustive list. And its not supposed to trigger guilt or frustration or despair. Mindfulness is a way to get to freedom. To peace. To growth.
"Be strong, all you people of the land,' declares the Lord, and work. For I am with you," declares the Lord Almighty. 'This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear."
I love this verse. Broken and weak is useful to God because its where we can be molded and grown. But His instruction for us is to be strong. To work. To not fear. The reason that is all possible is because HE is with us. Be strong and work FOR I am with you. God is the purpose and the power. Can I encourage you today? God wants you to get help. He wants you to ask the hard questions and find the reasons for the stress. He wants you to think and face and ponder the truth. But its because His goal for you is for health. To be mighty for and through Him. Now - just like the people in Haggai's day were distressed because the work of their hands was smaller than they thought it should be - sometimes we forget the long view. God will eventually set all things right. The seeds we sow now may be for eternity not for next week. But the effort will produce results. His spirit remains among us. Wherever we go. Give careful thought.
The team at Read Scripture hits it again. Your choices MATTER. Read and see what Haggai has to do with your story.
I think I need this shirt. You might need one too. Faith Over Fear. He is with you.
Lands!! The Pacific NW knows how to dress in pretty weather. Have you looked around? If not, do so quickly. The rhodies are blooming and its a gorgeous time to be alive. I'm going to draw a winner for free dessert (think Burgerville Strawberry Shortcake ) from the people who post a pretty picture of the blooming rhododendrons in your life. Email me on at firstname.lastname@example.org or post on the QuirkyFaith Facebook page. I have a prize too for the first person who comments and knows what book I got the word Lands from as an expression.
Quirky Faith has a birthday coming. Whoop whoop! Today though I am happy to report a milestone. Quirky Faith must be official. Here is proof. Yup that's right. We hit the big time. We now are receiving junk mail.
I was out of town last week at a work conference. One night I was eating by myself at this classy restaurant with a view of the river. Sometimes alone is lovely. I ordered a huge plate of pasta. As I sat there I thought about fake pasta. You know. Zucchini noodles and chicken sausage. I get it. I like my pants to fit too. But really. The fake pasta has nothing on this big plate of cheese, meat and carb goodness. I do that in my spiritual life sometimes. Substitute conversations about God instead of prayer. Read commentaries instead of the actual Bible. I plug in a lesser and pretend I don't notice its not as good as the real thing. Do you?
That's the Book: Zephaniah
I've got four Old Testament books of the Bible to go. People ask me how I get anything out of words which were written thousands of years ago. Sometimes I follow Pastor Rick Warren's advice on this one and put my name in the verses. I tried it with the book of Zephaniah. It hurt. And then it was healing.
The book of Zephaniah tells the story of the prophet who went to tell King Josiah to bring the people back to God. King Josiah did so. These words brought life to the nation. May they bring life to you today.
Woe to the city of oppressors, rebellious and defiled! She obeys no one. She accepts no corrections. She does not trust in the Lord. She does not draw near to her God. Zephaniah 3:1
Mindy obeys no one. Mindy accepts no corrections. Mindy does not trust in the Lord. Mindy does not draw near to her God.
Try it with your name. See if the prophets words ring true. If so, just like King Josiah, heed the warning and reject these as your truth. Make the reverse your truth.
How about these words?
The Lord within her is righteous. He does no wrong. Morning by morning he dispenses his justice, and every new day he does not fail, yet the unrighteous know no shame. Zephaniah 3: 5
Sing, Daughter Zion: shout aloud, Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, Daughter Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away your punishment, he has turned back your enemy. The Lord, the King of Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm. Zephaniah 3:14-15
Sing, Mindy. Shout aloud, Mindy! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, Mindy! The Lord has taken away Mindy's punishment.
Oh Glory BE! Can I get an Amen??
Part of the faith journey is accepting as truth what you read. Learning to live by the principals and edicts written down. Part of the faith journey is also laying aside the lies you believed formerly. Letting go of the words which the enemy of your soul likes to play as a background to your daily life. If you have competing inner dialogues may I encourage you to actively pursue both parts of faith? The accepting of the words of truth AND the rejecting of the words which weigh you down?
Here are some lies to let go. They are not true.
What I did is too bad to be forgiven.
I don't deserve to have my punishment taken away.
God doesn't really love me.
What people say about me matters more than what the Bible says about me.
I won't ever be healed.
The fear is here to stay.
Take a stand today. Reject the words of death. Accept these instead.
The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3: 17
The Lord your God is with you my friends. Insert your name. The Lord your God is with you Michelle. With you Heather. With you Elizabeth. With you Chris. The Mighty Warrior who saves you Joe. Who saves you, Michael. Who saves you, Aaron. He will take great delight in you, Sarah. He takes great delight in you, Nicole. In his love he will no longer rebuke you, Jennifer. He will no longer rebuke you Amy. He will rejoice over you Jill with singing. Over you Dylan with singing. Over you Meghan and Sue and Corrie. Over you Wendy and Jolene and Kavita and Armida and the list goes on. Plug in your name. These are the words of life. Can I get an Amen?
What lies do you want to let go of today? What truths are you going to embrace as your own?
Straight from Zephaniah. Ready for some signing? Try these ones.
Way to go team at The Bible Project. I say it every week. These are a great resources. Watch.
That's the Book: Habakkuk
I think we need to talk about how to handle bad news. I've sat in a few hospital rooms lately. Again. Friends and family waiting to hear diagnoses, test results and treatment plans. I've talked to people waiting on court decisions, job layoffs, financial crisis and marital tensions. Laws change. People leave. Goodness. You do know in this messed up and dark place we're all going to get bad news at some point? Having a plan for when it comes is critical.
The book of Habakkuk is only three chapters long. In the first chapter, Habakkuk asks God a hard question. WHEN? When are you stopping the horror around us? God answer is to wait. He fully will. God is sending judgment to set right what is wrong.
The second chapter Habakkuk asks another question common to us. WHY? Why are the evil people allowed to overcome God's chosen? God's answer is they won't always. The end game is good.Problem was the time between Habakkuk's question and the promised restoration included a prophecy for great destruction, judgment and heartache. Epic bad news.
Chapter three is a song Habakkuk sings to the Lord. This prophet's response is a gorgeous plan of how to face our hardest days. When I read through this song I saw a good plan of how to handle bad news.
I heard and my heart pounded,
my lips quivered at the sound;
decay crept into my bones,
and my legs trembled. Habakkuk 3:16
When you get bad news don't be afraid to react. Cry. Yell a Psalm out loud. Call a friend. Pray with all the words- the angry, sad, descriptive, big words. Tell the truth.
Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity
to come on the nation invading us. Habakkuk 3:17a
The waiting. Ugh. Hurts in the tummy. Tightness can't breathe. Waiting. But all the panic, fretting, and worry only makes it worse. The key to getting through bad news is to pause. Patience. My mama says to remember it won't always be this way. Take a walk. Give a hug. Color. Wait patiently.
REJOICE IN THE LORD
Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior. Habakkuk 3: 17b -18
Gratitude in everything. It certainly does not take away the sharp pain but thankfulness does make a way forward. It's like breathing through contractions in childbirth. Need a list? Try thanking God for friends, for doctors, for food, for clean water. For grace. Don't let yourself off the task until you can breathe.
KNOW THE SOURCE OF STRENGTH
The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights. Habakkuk 3:19a
Bad news can shake your emotions. It can drastically change your plans. But it can not remove God. Bad news does not delete heaven. It does not change eternity. He is able to carry you through. The path may be steep but God can make your steps steady. The key to bad news? Don't do it alone.
You are going to get more out of the Bible Project's Read Scripture video than whatever new cat video or pop culture dating news was next on your scroll list. Take the time.
Moms! Thank you.
Thank you to the birth moms I know who chose to trust their babies with a healthy family when it was not in their control to provide.
Thank you to the adoptive moms who opened heart and home to welcome someone new.
Thank you to foster moms picking up where someone else could not carry the load.
Thank you to aunties and grandmas and sisters who offer mothering support.
Thank you to single moms who don't quit when they are tired.
Thanks to stay at home moms and working moms and moms in school who place your kids needs before your own all the time.
Thank you for the hugs and kisses, the bed time stories and notes in lunch boxes. Thank you for giggles and winks. Thank you for hearty cheers and bandaids.
Thank you for forgiving and letting it go. For believing and encouraging. For late night prayers and early morning whispers.
God sees you. Well done mamas. Happy Mother's Day.
I love Jesus. I think my two daughters can change the world. I think you can too.
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