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Friday, August 10, 2012

Friday Fun...Hey Jude

Cut and paste the following link to see this week's song.  It's all about redemption.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Ask Ellen: I am currently pregnant with our first son and I was as well a teacher (before now)in my previous life, like you. I just wanted to say that I admire your vocation to motherhood, as I find myself constantly praying for wisdom as I embark in this new role. I guess that I was just wondering if you felt like that too when leaving teaching behind.

Thanks so much for getting in touch with me.  Congratulations on your pregnancy.  It is one of the most exciting and terrifying times of your life, I assure you.  I also had very mixed feelings about leaving teaching behind.  I loved my students and coworkers and was very afraid of the isolation of new motherhood.  The first few months were very difficult as I learned about my daughter and adjusted to life away from the workplace.  But I will also tell you that even now, more than 12 years later, I look back on the first few months as the best of my life.  Even though I had a son later and I love him dearly, those first few months of just my baby and me were priceless.

I have not regretted my decision to stay home once.  Sure, some days were lonely and the world doesn't value my choice as much as I did.  But for me and my children it was the right thing to do.  You are ahead of the game as you see motherhood as a vocation.  A life-long one at that.  I will be praying for you as you make the transition.  I hope you will keep in touch and let me know how it goes.

I appreciate your kind words about my work.  I am blessed to be able to do it all from home.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

That's A Solomon

We have spent the last few weeks talking about David and Bathsheba and the trouble they got themselves into.  This week I want to focus on what pulled them out of this trouble (besides God of course)- Solomon.  The name Solomon is a Hebrew variation of the word for peace, Shalom.  I imagine that David and Bathsheba didn’t object to naming him that because after all of their struggles, Solomon somehow brought them God’s peace.  God explains this in 1 Chron 22:9.  Think about that in terms of your own struggles and sin.  Out of it, God promises peace.  Wow!  That just speaks volumes to me.  In fact, I feel like we should stop right here but that wouldn’t be fair to Solomon.

I am going to give a brief overview of Solomon’s life.  There is much to read and absorb and I encourage you to do so.  But this week’s focus isn’t so much on the man as it is the redemption he provided.  So here goes.  Solomon built many things in Israel.  He organized his monarchy.  He imposed heavy taxes on the people to support the construction.  He had many marriages to foreign women which allowed pagan influences to creep in.  He was responsible for vigorous trade for Israel.  His greatest accomplishment was building the Temple, a place for God to reside.  Remember that God told David that David’s son would build this.  Voila!  He was a priest and king like his father.  He was noted for his wisdom.  Probably the most famous story of his wisdom can be found in 1 Kings 3:16-28.  Read that now.  He is believed to have written over 3000 Proverbs as well.

But it wasn’t all good news for ole Sol.  See his 700 wives and 300 concubines proved a bit much for him to handle.  They led him astray with their pagan beliefs and eventually he turned away from God.

That is Solomon’s story in a nutshell but I am struck by how Solomon was David and Bathsheba’s redemption.  Now before you get your knickers in a bunch, I am clearly aware that our redemption is in Jesus alone.  But Solomon has shown me that God sends these “Solomons” into our lives after periods of struggle and sin.  They keep us holding on.

The dictionary defines redemption as, “to offset or compensate for a defect.  Release,  bless, cleanse, restore”  Solomon did all of these things for David and Bathsheba.  God took a complex and sinful situation and brought forth Israel’s greatest king, the wise Solomon.

Think about the times of sin and struggle in your own life.  Have you been given a Solomon? Have you struggled with work, only to be given a promotion?  Have you struggled through marriage, only to be given a fresh start?  Have you gone through divorce or a death only to be offered new hope?  Those are your Solomons!

The other thing I’ve noticed as I studied Solomon for this week is God didn’t just give him to David and Bathsheba.  He gave him to all of Israel, with wisdom to spare.  He expects the same from the Solomons he’s give to us.  If he has redeemed you and given you something good, use it to bless the world.

On a personal note, this week really hit home for me.  I have been through my own period of sin and struggle with God for years now.  As I looked for my Solomons this week, I didn’t have to look far.  I realized they are right here.  They are AGOG and Gracie.  Through it all, God has given me the ability to bless people.  He has provided my redemption through it.  These are my Solomons.  What are yours?

We have a new phrase at AGOG.  It is, “that’s a Solomon!”  I’d love to hear about yours when they happen.

Ask yourself the following question:

Where are my Solomons?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Do You Have A Solomon?

Click on the Gracenotes link above to hear this week's podcast all about Solomon.  It might not be what you think.....

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Ask Ellen: You mentioned that you practice Lectio Divina in your podcast interview. Can you tell me more about that? Jay.

Firstly, Jay, thanks for taking the time to listen to the podcast.  I really enjoyed being a guest on Among Women.  If you didn’t get a chance to hear the interview, it can be found here:

In the interview, I said that Lectio Divina is one of my favorite ways to pray.  Lectio Divina is an ancient Catholic tradition that brings to mind the fascination with New Age mediataion.  Catholics have been practicing meditation for centuries with one major difference fro the New Age stuff that is so popular today: Lectio Divina is centered on God.  In the process you prayerfully use Scripture to enter more deeply into prayer with God.

Before beginning the process, it is important to set aside the space and time.  As I mentioned in the podcast, silence is essential.  That was very difficult for me in the beginning.  There are four stages to Lectio Divina.

The first is simply reading.  Choose a passage of Scripture that interests you.  Read it slowly and prayerfully.  Read it as if God is speaking just to you.

The next step is to meditate on the passage.  Focus on a word or phrase that jumps out at you.  As I mentioned in the podcast, I will often write the phrase down and carry it with me all day.

Next, speak directly to God.  Tell Him what you understood and what was over your head.  Be honest.  Reveal your thoughts and emotions.  Unload what is bothering you.

The last step is to contemplate.  Just be in God’s Presence.  Be open to what HE is saying through the passage and how He is speaking directly into your life.

This is a powerful way to center your day on God and your relationship with Him.  I encourage you to give it a try.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

You Can Always Blame Your Mother

Last week we met David and discovered he had a heart like God’s.  That can be disturbing to realize if you know about David and Bathsheba.  It is such a big thingsthat we will need to unpack it some more this week.  Let’s focus in on how the affair happened and what the consequences were.

Look at 2 Sam 11: 1-5.  Skip ahead to verse 15 to see how David just made matters worse.  Verse 17 tells us that “Uriah the Hittite died.”  Let’s get a few things straight.  David stayed in Jerusalem when all the other kings were off at war.  Talk about wrong place, wrong time!  He had an affair with Bathsheba and proceeded to have her husband killed.  We don’t read much about Bathsheba’s feeling on the matter here.  I imagine she fell in love with David almost immediately.  With a heart like God’s, how couldn’t she?  So know she finds herself an adulteress, in love with her King and her husband dies.  Could things get worse?  Yes!

Read verse 27.  She was also pregnant.  So now she moves in with her King and they live happily ever after, right?  Nope.  Let’s look at 2 Sam 12:1-7.  “You are the man.”  Such chilling words!  Can you imagine how David felt?  But, David has a heart like God’s so God lets them off the hook right?  No.  Look at verse 10.  All sin, including guys like David’s, has consequences.  Look at verse 14.  David pleaded with God, did everything he could think of to spare the life of his child, but to no avail.

Many would believe that is where the story should end.  Two people sinned and hurt people and they ended up getting what they deserve.  That’s not how God works, thankfully.  Cause I don’t know about you, but I could use a story with a happy ending for us sinners.  Look at verse 24.  Bathsheba bears another son, Solomon.

This is where Bathsheba’s story turns around.  I hope mine does too.  Don’t you?  Throughout it all, all of the sin and heartbreak, David and Bathsheba have hearts that long to serve God and bring forth goodness.  That is exactly what happens, they bring forth Solomon, possibly Israel’s greatest king.  We will talk about him next week.

Bathsheba is redeemed by God through Solomon and by David’s love.  Theirs was not a neat and tidy love story, but it was one of power.  One that brought forth much good in the end.

When David died and Solomon took the throne, Bathsheba became the Queen Mother.  She advocated for her son in 1 Kings 1:11-14, 16-21, and 28-30.  This is the role Bathsheba played for the rest of her life.  God forgave her sin and granted her a position of power, that of mother.

The role of the Queen Mother in ancient Israel cannot be understated.  She advised her son.  She had a throne right next to him.  She was an advocate for the people.  In fact, the Queen Mother was one of the most important members of the King’s entourage.  Bathsheba is the Old Testament Queen Mother.  Can you think of the Queen Mother of the New Testament?

The dictionary describes a mother as “a woman in authority, the ultimate example of its kind.”  Bathsheba was that person, even though she sinned.

As mothers we can learn a great deal from Bathsheba.  She was a sinner and she was forgiven.  She was given many wonderful things even after she sinned.  Bathsheba shows us that we can’t outsin God.  She loved, protected and defended her son.  She advised him.  She sat right next to him.  I’m not advocating that you get on the school bus and sit next to your kids.  I am saying we should be very present to them.  She advocated for his needs and the needs of others.  She was the most important influence on her son.  Are you?

I am so thankful that Bathsheba didn’t get written off.  She gives us such a story of hope.  Embrace forgiveness and move on and create wonderful things.  When you do, think of Bathsheba and love those entrusted to your care fiercely.

Ask yourself the following questions:

Do I believe I have outsinned God?  If so, what can Bathsheba teach me?

Where are my Solomons, the good things that come, even after I sin?

What can Bathseba teach me as a mother?

Am I the most important influence on my children?  Do I use that to bring them to God?