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Ephesians 6:13-15 (NIV)

13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

When the day of evil comes, and after you have done everything...Stand firm then.

Yesterday as I was reflecting on the week behind and preparing for the week ahead I had this sense that I was at the "after..."  The battle is still unfinished, the obstacles have not all cleared, but the groundwork is laid, the preparation of prayer is done, the explanations have run out, the team is prepared, the "everything I can do" is done and now it is time to stand firm.

It is time to "resist" the lies of the enemy the taunts that say it was in vain...it is not worth it...it will not last.  

It is time to rest in the truth and promises I know, I have seen, I have heard.

It is time to STAND.

May you be on your guard!  May you be prepared to stand firm! May you know God's love is at the heart of everything you do!

  1 Corinthians 16:13-14(NIV)

13 Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. 14 Do everything in love.

 Psalm 33:10-12 (NIV)

10 The Lord foils the plans of the nations;
    he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.
11 But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever,
    the purposes of his heart through all generations.

12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
    the people he chose for his inheritance.

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2 Samuel 6:8-10 (NIV)

Then David was angry because the Lord’s wrath had broken out against Uzzah, and to this day that place is called Perez Uzzah.[a]

David was afraid of the Lord that day and said, “How can the ark of the Lord ever come to me?” 10 He was not willing to take the ark of the Lord to be with him in the City of David...

 

It is hard to say how many times I have to start over, try again.  I have to work through a negative consequence, face an inconsistency or catch my breath in the day to day of living, loving and leading.  I cannot say I have learned the art of graciously having to start over, but if I am going to do this work, follow where the Lord leads and live out the gospel; I am going to face this lesson quite often.  I have had many moments like David, where I put thought, effort, planning into something only to experience a great loss and hurt that has me questioning and reeling from the ramifications...a woman departing suddenly from our home returning to addiction and abuse, a team member speaking unkindly and bringing division and discord, a failed effort at great cost to outside relationships in the community, a redacted funding source... I ask like David  "How can"...[we succeed at reaching these women through all these obstacles] 

I find myself unwilling and unwanting to try again yet here I am in a role demanding this of me again, and again and again.  The journey of people work and ministry is not a clearly mapped science leading from point A to point B.  The best laid plans and preparation can be undone by a single word, a forgotten task, a hurt team member, a heart not ready to yield... 

Yet this assignment is from the Lord, this work is Holy and each woman is sacred and we are called to surround her and walk with her learning as we go how to extend grace.

 

Lamentations 3:22-24  (NIV)

22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.”

 

Ultimately we are challenged to not only learn how to get up and receive this grace and mercy for ourselves but to extend it to others.  Extend the never ending kindness, compassion and understanding to those we are called to serve, to those serving with us and at times even those who seem to be standing in our way. 

The Ark Brought to Jerusalem

David again brought together all the able young men of Israel—thirty thousand.He and all his men went to Baalah[a] in Judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the Name,[b] the name of the Lord Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim on the ark. They set the ark of God on a new cart and brought it from the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab, were guiding the new cart with the ark of God on it,[c]and Ahio was walking in front of it. David and all Israel were celebrating with all their might before the Lord, with castanets,[d] harps, lyres, timbrels, sistrums and cymbals. 2 Samuel 6: 1-5

May you experience the unfailing compassion of the Lord!  May you have the grace to extend to others! 

May you have the courage to try again! 

Systemic Change

12 “Don’t regard as alliance what this people calls alliance,
and don’t fear what they fear or be awestruck by it;
13 but Adonai-Tzva’ot — consecrate him!
Let him be the object of your fear and awe!

Isaiah 8:12-13

The time is coming when Ya‘akov will take root;
Isra’el will bud and flower,
and fill the whole world with a harvest.

Isaiah 27:6

9 Adonai will be king
over the whole world.
On that day Adonai will be the only one,
and his name will be the only name.

Zechariah 14:9

"The problem was systemic but the response was individual, based on a few caring people and their personal outrage at the selling and trafficking of children."

Rachel Lloyd in "Girls Like Us"

sys•tem•ic
 (sɪˈstɛm ɪk) 
adj.
1. of or pertaining to a system.
2. pertaining to, affecting, or circulating through the entire body: systemic disease; systemic pesticide.

What started as a "few caring people" has been slowly but surely making a difference and it is time for us to recognize that we are part of something bigger.  The problems we are called to intersect are in fact systemic: devaluing of life, devaluing of our sexuality, defrauding of childhood, demoralizing of character and defiling of the true nature of God.  This being said, when we are working, NOT to fulfill our individual call and destiny, but rather in obedience to do our part, we can trust that the Lord is working and moving to shift the tide of nations.  We have been working with one life at a time to offer hope, the experience of healthy family and loving relationships and to impact generations to come...this is the ground level work of "systemic change."  

We dare to espouse that the young woman, her family of origin and a child in her womb have value.  Value given by the Creator not by status, experience, or contribution.  We dare to uphold biblical values: love, joy, peace, patience kindness, goodness, gentleness and self control [against such things there is NO law. Galatians 5:22-23].  We dare to ecourage abstinence until marriage and hold out hope for the hearts of fathers to turn to their children and the hearts of the children to turn to their fathers. Malachi 4:6]  We dare to believe that our hope and salvation come from the Lord and not from our own efforts.

We do all this as part of a larger vision, with a promise that the cry of God's people is heard, the work that we do has value and meaning and that with our eyes fixed on Jesus we are part of systemic change...change we will see, fruit that will last and lives that will be restored.

May you catch a glimpse of the change agent that you are!  May you know that the father's love at work in you is making a difference! 

May you not stop crying out for change!

  

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Luke 12:25-27  (CJB)

25 Can any of you by worrying add an hour to his life? 26 If you can’t do a little thing like that, why worry about the rest? 27 Think about the wild irises, and how they grow. They neither work nor spin thread; yet, I tell you, not even Shlomo in all his glory was clothed as beautifully as one of these.

  We have a beautiful little Ruby-throated hummingbird that comes to the feeders in our backyard and has taken to sitting on the Black Eyed Susan's.   That little bird on a flower reminds me of how my grandmother would always greet us with "how is every little thing with you".  I miss that greeting and the sincere love and care that came with it; I knew that my grandmother loved me and cared about my answer.  As I watch "Ruby" I think of what a gift he is to me... and I reflect on my love for flowers, hummingbirds and our backyard and I hear Abba Father ask me "how is every little thing with you".  I know that even more than the sincere love and care of my grandmother, that my heavenly Father loves me and cares about me and that He is the only one able to meet my needs and address "every little thing."

 When I feel lonely and isolated in our work and family life he reminds me of a kindred friend with whom I can pour out my heart in prayer and tears.  When I am angry He reminds me with a gentle nudge from one of our creatures or a kind word from my child that holding that anger will not get me anywhere.  When I feel tired He sends my husband to remind me to rest and to turn off all that demands my attention.  When I need quiet...when I need answers...When...He hears my heart cry and He cares about "every little thing" and there is "no thing too little for Him."

Psalm 91:14-15  (CJB)

14 “Because he loves me, I will rescue him;
because he knows my name, I will protect him.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him.
I will be with him when he is in trouble.
I will extricate him and bring him honor.


Psalm 34:4-5CJB

(3) Proclaim with me the greatness of Adonai;
let us exalt his name together.
(4) I sought Adonai, and he answered me;
he rescued me from everything I feared.

"How is every little thing with you?"

Safe Connection

 

1 Corinthians 15:22 (CJB)

22 For just as in connection with Adam all die, so in connection with the Messiah all will be made alive.

 

Connection drives relationship and restoration.  There is no real path to healing without relationship.  Continuing to try and find "new life" in connections that lead to death are not based on trust and will not lead to life.  When someone encounters Jesus in relationship with you the connection to life has been offered.

Sometimes it seems we put our hope in our program, platform or performance to be able to provide what is needed to help another walk through the process of healing.  We have the education, the resources, the funds but NOTHING will lead someone to LIFE apart from connection to the Messiah. The Messiah is the "fragrance" that draws all men to himself [2 Corinthians 2:14]

True healing and change come only through relationship and then through the trials and refining that are experienced over time. Connection is not made, forced, or mass produced...each person will only find healing through individual relationship and that takes the work of building trust and connection.  This takes the experience of being loved unconditionially after a failure, of being welcomed back after a rejection, learning new ways to understand and communicate, seeing words backed with action; it takes vulnerability, empathy and compassion.

We are the "connector" to the Messiah that brings the dead to life...We unlock the "power of connection" through the key of building relationships based on trust...We are offered this example through the life of Jesus and are called to walk it out.

John 13:15(CJB)

15 For I have set you an example, so that you may do as I have done to you.

 

May you know the power of connection to the Messiah!  May you be willing to patiently build relationships that lead to life!

May you live out this example in every area of your life and ministry!