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Saturday, April 30, 2016

Who Is Your Tent Peg or Nail?

I love words! And I love finding out the meaning of seemingly obscure words in the Bible. For instance, what in the world does the word "nail" or "tent peg" in Zechariah 10:4 mean: 

"From him shall come the cornerstone, from him the tent peg, from him the battle bow, from him every ruler--all of them together." (ESV)

This verse refers to Christ and I was curious about the "tent peg" reference. In some Bible versions the word "pin" or "nail" is used. The word "nail" was particularly curious to me.

Here's what I found. One commentator says the Hebrew word yathed can refer to:

  • a peg that fastens the cord of a tent
  • a nail used in building with timber
  • peg for hanging up arms and utensils on the walls of a house.

It's definitely the idea of supporting and providing a strong load-bearing resource.  

Curiously, this idea of a nail or tent peg is mentioned other places, although not to Christ, but to other people. Isaiah 22:23-24 tell us about God choosing a man named Eliakim to be a "peg." 

"I will drive him like a peg in a firm place,And he will become a throne of glory to his father's house.
So they will hang on him all the glory of his father's house, offspring and issue, all the least of vessels, from bowls to all the jars" (NASB)

Unfortunately, he failed at the task. Isaiah 22:25 tell us, 

"In that day," declares the LORD of hosts, "the peg driving in a firm place will give way; it will even break off and fall, and the load hanging on it will be cut off, for the LORD has spoken."

Although Eliakim failed, we can depend upon Jesus as our peg and nail because He will never loosen His grip on us nor be pulled away from His working in our lives. 

Michael P.V. Barnett writes, 

"It is good to know that not only did Christ bear the load of our guilt and sin, but that He is ever able to bear the load of our troubles and cares. We can hang it all on Him." (Beginning at Moses: A Guide to Finding Christ in the Old Testament).


P.S. If we're looking to another human person to be our tent peg or nail, guess what? He or she will eventually be like Eliakim. Not capable of pulling the load of being our strength and provision. Only Jesus is strong enough.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

What Else I Learned from Jamaica

In my last post, I shared about trying to use the "Mind of Christ" (2 Cor. 2:16) while a short term missionary in Jamaica. Here are some other thoughts about our "Mind of Christ" as Christians.

Unfortunately, we can often get the wrong idea about this blessing. We might think it means:

  • I'll always know why things happen and why God is moving in a certain way.
  • I should always be able to see a good result if God is leading.
  • I should be able to control my circumstances and the evil in this world with my prayers (and that includes other people's actions nd decisions).
  • I won't ever make a mistake if I'm being led by God and walking in His will for me.
  • When good things don't result from my good choices, it must mean I didn't make the right choice to begin with.

These faulty perceptions about living the Christian life bring discouragement, doubt, hurt, and even anger. We begin to question whether we ever had the wisdom of God or were being led by Him.

Regardless of these imperfections, God will indeed fulfill His purpose of glorifying Himself and fulfilling His plan.

J.I. Packer writes in Knowing God,

For the truth is that God in His wisdom, to make and keep us humble and to teach us to walk by faith, has hidden from us almost everything that we should like to know about the providential purposes which He is working out in the churches and in our own lives. "As thou knowest not what is the way of the wind, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child; even so thou knowest not the work of God who doeth all" (Ecc. 11:5 RV).

Someone has said, "It doesn't matter how much money you have; everyone has to buy wisdom on the installment plan." Having the Mind of Christ is also learned on the installment plan: little by little, with experience, and sometimes disappointment and confusion.

But the sweet fruit of wisdom does grow.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

My Revelation While in Jamaica

Two years after becoming a Christian in 1967, I went to Jamaica as a short-term missionary for the summer. I was chosen to be the team leader of two other girls, and we were one team among five located in Montego Bay. The two girls on my team had been Christians much longer than I, although they were younger in age. I felt intimidated by their seemingly greater knowledge. I wondered why I'd been chosen to be the captain.

One day I had to decide what our team would do the next day. Most days were planned by our leaders, but this particular time I had full control over what us three girls would do. I prayed and prayed. I asked the Lord for wisdom and knowledge of His leading. As a fairly new Christian, I hadn't had a specific sense of God's leading, but now I sought after his guidance. I wanted to know how to use the "mind of Christ" that God provides us. I Corinthians 2:16 tells us "For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ."

Finally, I sensed God wanting us to go to a nearby town to pass out tracts in an open-air market. Yes, that's what we will do. I've heard God's directions.

The next day after we had breakfast and were preparing to leave, it started to rain. And then it poured! We usually went out in the rain, since it rained almost every afternoon in tropical Jamaica, but this was no usual light rain. It was coming down harder than we'd seen, and I knew no one would be in the uncovered market. 

I can't believe it. Hadn't God told me what to do? Now that it is raining, we won't be able to go.

I was discouraged. I concluded that I must not have really heard God's guidance. What kind of a Christian am I that I can't learn to use the Mind of Christ He's given me? My confidence hit bottom.

Looking back and having so many years of christian experience, I have a much different perspective. I've learned through the years that having the Mind of Christ doesn't necessary mean we'll always know the right thing to do or that we'll always hear the leading of the Holy Spirit clearly. That's why it's called a life of faith. We step out and trust He'll work how He wants even if we don't do it "right." 

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Entrance to Oval Office or Prayer More Important?

When I walked into the church nursery on Sunday morning, Janet immediately said, "Kathy, I had a dream about you Friday night. In it I was praying for you. I woke up and felt a tremendous burden to pray for you, so I did all yesterday. Is something going on in your life?"

I stared at Janet in wonder. The chance of Janet feeling led to pray for me when we only had contact twice a month was amazing to me.

"Janet, this is incredible. I am having a crisis. Larry found out on Friday that he's having a mole removed and biopsied this coming Tuesday. I really needed your prayers after hearing he could have melanoma."

Janet smiled even as a concerned look crossed her face. "I'm so glad I prayed for you. I've never dreamed about you before. I'll keep praying."

What a merciful God that He would speak to Janet's heart about praying for me. 

Although that incident occurred decades ago, it still stands out to me as a powerful example of God's concern and care. Larry did have melanoma, the deadliest kind of skin cancer, and it was removed. Since then he's never had another occurrence. 

One of the incredible privileges we have as children of God is prayer. I'm amazed that I can enter boldly into the throne room of God and make my concerns known, and He actually cares and responds! That's even more amazing than walking up to the White House, telling the receptionist I want to speak to the President, and seeing her immediately open the door to the Oval Office. That most likely will never happen to me. Yet I can open the door to God anytime I turn my attention to Him--and He'll always listen and respond. It's true for you too!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Letter from God: God Is In Control

My precious Princess and Daughter:

I am in control. I am sovereign. I am able to make things happen the way I want. Yes, I do allow you to make your own choices. And I know you dont fully understand how these concepts can operate side by side. But Im able to work within and around the choices you make to cause my ultimate purposes to succeed. For this, you must trust me. Ask me about your choices and plans. My wisdom is yours if youll ask.

Just look at my Sons death and resurrection. His enemies thought they were acting on their own. Yet, while their choices revealed who they truly were, I made sure my words given to my prophets came true.

I want you to cooperate with my plans. When the people around you reject my leading, be assured, I am still in control. I will fulfill my plan. At times, Ill ask you to help me influence their lives, but dont take responsibility for them. Their choices are their own, but Im still in control. Trust me. Ill use all things for your good.


Your heavenly Father, the King

This "Letter from God" is from my revised and expanded Choices of the Heart women's Bible study. It's for small group and individual study containing 10 Lessons contrasting two Biblical women in each lesson. Check it out: http://amzn.to/1oiqoFn

(crown graphic is found at www.freedigitialphotos.net)

Saturday, April 9, 2016

What Is Intimacy? Maybe Not What You Think

Some time ago a friend shared with me a definition she had heard for the word intimacy: "in to me see." I thought that sounded good. And we commiserated about how we don't always experience intimacy because we don't feel "seen" or "heard." We both agreed: how can we have our needs for intimacy met if another person won't receive our sharing? 

The next time we chatted, this topic came up again. As she shared how she yearned to "seen" by her husband, an unusual thought came into my mind:

That definition requires another person's cooperation through receiving and/or acknowledging the expression of our heart, emotions, and thoughts, even opinions. But wonder if that person we're trying to share with won't acknowledge what we're sharing? Maybe they even totally reject what we're saying and pour contempt on us? Are we to be frustrated and denied our need until they receive our intimate sharing--to the degree we desire? We could even feel justified in being angry or withholding our heart. Maybe even hardening our heart.

That's when I thought, Wonder if we think of intimacy as sharing our hearts, thoughts, emotions, and opinions regardless of whether we are heard or another person sufficiently acknowledges our sharing? Wonder if we define intimacy as sharing our hearts--not "in to me see."

I acknowledge that the formal definition could be an obstacle to my idea. After all, Webster's Dictionary (online) it states: 

"1: a state marked by emotional closeness 

2: a quality suggesting closeness or warmth
3: something that is very personal or private" 

"Closeness" would seem to indicate that both people involved are experiencing the same "closeness or warmth." But I can remember many times when my husband Larry remarked, "I feel really close to you right now. I'm enjoying you." But guess what? I wasn't feeling particularly close to him. And other times, I'll remark that I'm feeling close to him but he knows he has the freedom to say that he isn't feeling particularly close to me in that moment. Am I or Larry supposed to conclude that such a "close" feeling isn't valid because it's not shared by both? I don't think so. 

I can feel intimate, close or warm towards someone because I've shared my heart, thoughts, or opinions, and thankfully, I don't have to tell myself I'm wrong if they don't respond equally. And I've been "intimate" with them because I've shared me even if I'm not "in to me see."

Seems to me, this is an area where we can't demand cooperation from another person. But we can depend upon God's promise in Philipppians 4:19 that He will meet all our true needs--even if He's the only one who "sees" our hearts. 

What do you think? I'd love to hear your opinion. 

(photo credit: stock images from www.freedigitalphotos.net)

By the way: Have you had an opportunity yet to check out my newest book? It's a 10 lesson women's Bible study, Choices of the Heart, studying 20 women of the Bible. Check it out

Saturday, March 26, 2016

No One Is Gonna Cheat Me!

Larry and I had made a major purchase from a Christian business. Later, they informed us they couldn’t supply the item and promised a refund. When we didn’t receive the refund after repeated requests, I was furious. No one is gonna cheat me! I couldn’t believe that God would want His money treated this way—especially by people who called themselves Christians!

One day as I had my devotions, my thoughts again turned to the situation and my anger returned. I wrote in my journal, "This is a test of whether we are stew­ards or owners of God’s money. Father God, this is not hidden from Your sight and neither are Your eyes closed and uncaring.  Thank you that I can surrender this to You."

I decided to find a verse to memorize so that when my anger welled up again, I could meditate on that verse. The Lord whispered in my heart, “Look at Jeremiah 17.” At first I resisted because I knew that passage didn’t deal with this situation. But when He whispered it again, I turned there. At the top of that page, a verse I’d marked in yellow many years earlier caught my eye. 

"My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from me, nor is their sin concealed from my eyes.” (Jeremiah 16:17 NIV)

Those were some of the very words I’d just written in my journal! God was telling me that He truly was aware and that He was with me in that moment. He wanted to help me have a godly response to the situation. From that time on, whenever my anger returned, I again sensed God’s presence and His affirmation that He cared about us and His money!

In time, we did receive the refund, but God had already done the important part: helping me release God’s money.

"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”  Matthew 6:24 (NIV)