Archives for March 2012

Promised

I think I was numb the first two days in Israel. I was observing, taking notes, listening… but none of it was making it’s way from my head to my heart. I was suprised that I didn’t have a more emtional response. I kept thinking, “This is so cool.” But my prayer had been for more than just eyes to see. I prayed for a heart to understand and be overwhelmed with my God.

We moved from the desert to the region of Galilee after dusk. Our trip planner was very tricky in that regard. Matt was all about giving us amazing payoff for waiting, hiking, driving. The end of the road always held something to make the journey more than worth it.

We woke up the following morning, walked out the door and found ourselves less than 50 feet from the shore of the sea of Galilee. Um. Amazing.

But yet again, the intellectual side of me was soaking in facts and images but my heart wasn’t letting anything in. It was more than frustrating.

And then after a short drive the bus pulled over and my heart caught in my throat. What I was seeing didn’t fit anywhere in my preconceived ideas about Israel.

I had pictured the desert with a few spatterings of trees.

I pictured the turmoil of Gaza.

I pictured something… well… something not beautiful.

I didn’t picture the Alps.

But that’s exactly the setting that appeared at the base of Mt. Arbel.

God taught me a lot on the mountain of prayer, but the biggest theme He shouted ALL the way to the hard-fought summit was quite clearly:

Ginger,

Why WOULDN’T you think that the Promised Land would be the most beautiful place in the world?!

I’m guilty of doubting that God’s promises are good.

Oh. That’s so sad and so disheartening to say… but the way that I spend time worrying or fearing proves that fact. I don’t always trust that His good is going to really BE good. In my mind, my good is the best that I can think and dream up. So in the case of Israel, the Promised Land that God gave His people was a nice desert with a few flowers.

And yet, as my eyes can now attest, Israel is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been in my entire life. It’s Hawaii and Ireland and the Rockies and Switzerland and East Texas and Arizona and everything in between. It’s astounding in beauty.

Why would I expect the One who promises good things to be stingy with the inheritance for His people?

My pastor, Scott Brown, taught about God’s promises in a recent sermon and said this:

“God is never late, never lies, has boundless resources, and always has His children’s best at heart.”

His timing is not our timing.

His ways are not our ways.

His promises are SO good.

“Faith is believing or trusting a person, and its reasonableness depends on the reliability of the person being trusted. It is always reasonable to trust the trustworthy. And there is nobody more trustworthy than God…”

-John Stott

Amen? Amen.

Friends, there is no one more trustworthy than God. Whatever is keeping you up at night, turn it over and trust that His good IS good.

Every single good promise that the LORD had given the nation of Israel came true.

(Joshua 21:45, GWT)

Following and trusting,
Ginger

Tied Up.

If you haven’t noticed, I’m stuck on images of hunger and thirst after my trip. It’s a theme in everything I’m reading, studying, preparing and learning.

Living Water
Cisterns
Portion
Hunger
Thirst
Drink
Eat
Be Satisfied
Well-spring

These words are popping up everywhere. I know they’ve been there all along, but right now they are leaping out from the page and impressing themselves on my heart and mind.

Take the story in Luke 13, for example. In preparation for our trip I read through the Gospels again.When I came across the story I was shocked that I had never read it before, or at least it felt that way.

Luke 13:10-17, NIV (emphasis mine)

“On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.

 Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue ruler said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.”

 The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?”

When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing.”

I don’t know about you, but I am that woman. I am the woman who has been bound by infirmity again and again… eating and body issues, relationships, deep wounds. But I watch Jesus in this story straighten everything out in an instant. He sees her, calls her forward, declares her freedom, touches her and straightens her out to praise God. He has done the same for us, my friends. He saw us tied to the stall of pain and He led us to the water source… The Living Water.

We are declared free from infirmity.

He has called to us.

He has touched us.

And now we are to straighten up and praise God.

Here’s the NLT version of that verse: “Then he touched her, and instantly she could stand straight. How she praised God!”

If you’re like me, you battle with strongholds (a sin area that keeps you trapped) but you come up just short of claiming the ultimate victory.

Your battle is against the one who would convince you that you are still bound. You are not! You ARE free because of the work of Jesus. Claim that.

Reject the lies. Claim the truth.

I’m doing the same right along-side of you. I’m tired of walking back to a stall when my Living Water is within reach!

Heading for the Living Water,
Ginger

p.s. Thank you to two wonderful friends who have helped me see this story in vibrant colors of victory. Love to M & C. Claiming the truth with you!

Chips, and salsa, and ranch… oh my.

My favorite food has changed over the years.  When I was younger it was definitely ribs.  I still love ribs, I just can’t eat them too often.  My teeth need a break, and so does my waist.  If pressed, my answer now might be shrimp, but it’s too easy to get bad seafood in the middle of the desert.  So for the last five years my response to “What’s your favorite food?” has been chips and salsa AND ranch.  Go ahead, raise your eyebrows.  But I dare you… mix the ranch and the salsa, dip your chip, and then get back to me.  I love it.  But this is also a very, very dangerous delicacy to love.  I am notorious for eating multiple baskets of chips and salsa prior to the arrival of my meal at restaurants.  By the time my food arrives I’ve filled up on carbs and don’t have room for any of the things my body actually needs.  Tortilla chips may fill me up for a while, but they certainly won’t satisfy or sustain me for long.

I may have a new obsession. I loved falafel before Israel, but now I might be mildly addicted and on the hunt for a hole-in-the wall place to serve it up hot and fresh out of a FRYER. So not great for me. But soo good. Oh. My. Goodness. NOM. NOM. Darn you, fried chickpeas!

Isaiah 55:2 reads, “Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.”

I find it interesting that we are to LISTEN in order to eat what is good. That tells me that God’s Word is food for my hungering soul.  My friend Lauren reminds me that God’s portion isn’t stingy! Forget the picture of stale bread and dirty water. Throw that image out of your mind. God’s Word is compared to good food and the richest of fare! It’s filling, pleasureful and overflowing. Why would a God who LOVES to give good gifts fill us with anything less?

“Whom have I in heaven but you? 
   And earth has nothing I desire besides you. 
My flesh and my heart may fail, 
   but God is the strength of my heart 
   and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:25-26, NIV)

This world is full of some amazing diversions, but we know in our hearts there must be more than simply drinking coffee and following celebrity gossip. Jesus said in John 10:10 He has come to bring the abundant life.  We choose everyday whether we will fill up on carbs or make our way to the Banquet table that holds the real feast.

I want to feel the way about God’s Word that I do about food. I want to crave it, thirst for it, hunger after it. It’s not just satisfying… it’s so good for me.

I’m so thankful He loves to answer this prayer: Lord, let me love your Word. If your appetite still hasn’t been wet by the Word, can I challenge and invite you to join me and pray this prayer today?

Hungry,
Ginger

Strainer

At the top!

On our second day in Israel we took a hike straight up the face of a mountain. I was thankful for the March temperatures and the Camelbak (TM) full of water, as we made the grueling ascent up Masada!

A scaled model of the fortress.

 “Masada was Herod‘s royal citadel and later the last outpost of Zealots during the Jewish Revolt. The citadel was a site of the most dramatic and symbolic act in Jewish history, where rebels chose mass suicide rather than submit to Roman capture.”

This is a cistern used by King Herod at his palace at Masada. “One of Herod’s first undertakings was an intricate water supply system, that was of crucial importance in the arid climate of Masada. It consisted of a drainage system to carry rainwater from the two wadis west of Masada to a group of cisterns in the northwestern slope of the rock. 12 huge cisterns could hold together about 40 thousand cu.m. of water.” (Quotes on Masada from: http://mosaic.lk.net/g-masada.html) 

I couldn’t help but think of this passage from Jeremiah as we walked past one of the large cisterns:

Jeremiah 2:13, NIV
“My people have committed two sins:
They have forsaken me,
   the spring of living water,
and have dug their own cisterns,
   broken cisterns that cannot hold water.

Jeremiah laments with the Lord that the Israelites have made faulty cisterns. They have spun their wheels and worked to an end that simply will not satisfy. Check out the same passage in the Message Translation:

“Stand in shock, heavens, at what you see! Throw up your hands in disbelief—this can’t be!” 
God’s Decree.”My people have committed a compound sin: they’ve walked out on me, the fountain of fresh flowing waters, and then dug cisterns— cisterns that leak, cisterns that are no better than sieves.” The Message

Do you know what a sieve is? It’s like a mesh strainer. Sounds perfect for catching water, right?

And yet how often do I turn to shopping, friendships, my spouse, food, exercise, money, entertainment, social media, and even “relaxing” hoping these things will fill what God alone can satisfy?

“Men are in a restless pursuit after satisfaction in earthly things. They will exhaust themselves in the deceitful delights of sin, and, finding them all to be vanity and emptiness, they will become very perplexed and disappointed. But they will continue their fruitless search. Though wearied, they still stagger forward under the influence of spiritual madness, and though there is no result to be reached except that of everlasting disappointment, yet they press forward. They have no forethought for their eternal state; the present hour absorbs them. They turn to another and another of earth’s broken cisterns, hoping to find water where not a drop was ever discovered yet.”-Charles Spurgeon

Oh that we would turn to the fountain of Living Water rather than trying to catch rain water with a strainer.

Thirsty,
Ginger

Water is Life

“I daren’t come and drink,” said Jill. 
Then you will die of thirst,” said the Lion. 
Oh dear!” said Jill, coming another step nearer.”I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.” 
There is no other stream,” said the Lion.” 
― C.S. LewisThe Silver Chair

We began our journey through Israel in the desert – Makhtesh Ramon.

Dry. Arid.

And yet every so often we spied brilliant evidences of life.

One tree.

One bush.

One flower.

Water is life in the desert.

– – – – – – – –

Where do you wet your lips?

How do you attempt to quench your thirst?

– – – – – – – –

This week is all about the Living Water.

“Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'” John 7:38, ESV

Following and Listening,
Ginger

Under Construction

On the Sea of Galilee!

It’s 5:00am in Arizona and I’ve been up since 3:00. Perhaps sleeping 12 hours the night before wasn’t the best idea. Regardless, I spent the last two hours tossing and turning and praying and dreaming until I just couldn’t stand it any more. I had to get up.

BLOG CONSTRUCTION
I just pulled up my e-mail account and noticed a string of messages from my friend, Jon. Jon is my web guru of sorts. He is part of a small team of magic workers who graciously provide advice and skill to this technology/media deficient soul. I mentioned something yesterday about wanting some future changes and tweaks and the man took the idea and ran with it! If you are reading through google reader you probably won’t notice anything different, but the blog is getting a makeover to say the least. THANK YOU, JON!!

Things are still in transition, so bear with me while we make everything all fancy. :)

HEART CONSTRUCTION
Once I hit 3:30am on the clock this morning I knew I wouldn’t be heading back to sleep any time soon. So I turned to prayer. Usually my prayers during the night tend to go something like this, “Lord… please be with everyone that I know. Help me to love them. Now PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE help me to go back to sleep as soon as possible.”

My Aunt Kathy was able to join us on our trip to Israel. I loved having her there. The Lord used her to speak into my life just as powerfully as He did the lessons each day. She had trouble sleeping several nights. She would go to sleep by 9:00pm only to wake up at 1:00am or 3:00am. She told me how she used that time to pray for everyone in our family by name, to read God’s Word, and to search His heart. Not once did she talk about begging to go back to sleep.

I want my heart to be under God’s construction. I’ve seen and heard too much in the last two weeks to stay the same.

But there’s this part of me that’s terrified that I won’t be able to make all the changes; that somehow I will stay in the same ruts and routines. I stared into the darkness this morning and begged that God wouldn’t let me stay the same… that He would touch me and heal me.

In the stillness of the early hours of the morning I felt the answer wash over me like the waterfall I stood under at Ein Gedi. [In the desert where David hid from Saul! Check out Psalm 63!] His water causes dead things to come to life. As long as I am connected to the Living Water I will grow strong roots that can withstand any drought or flood. His power is what works in me, not my own strength or will. You don’t stand to the side of a stream and hope to get wet… you jump in. The water does the work. His passionate, filling, life-giving water is available each and every day. I just have to remember to come to the water.

 “But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, 
   whose confidence is in him. 
 He will be like a tree planted by the water 
   that sends out its roots by the stream. 
It does not fear when heat comes; 
   its leaves are always green. 
It has no worries in a year of drought 
   and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8, NIV

Under construction,
Ginger

Remember, Remember, Remember.

After 27 hours of airports and travel we finally made it home from the other side of the world yesterday afternoon. I slept a full twelve hours and woke up rested and filled… and bursting with things to remember and to share. I’m trying to collect the thoughts, memories, and lessons that the Lord continues to press on my heart.

I know I’m about to answer this question hundreds of times: “How was your trip?!”

Short answer: beautiful, weighty, exhausting, energizing, and life-changing.

Long answer: stay tuned as I’m sure that response will be a part of every entry for the next month or so… OR THE REST OF MY LIFE.

So much to reflect upon and remember…

Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;  and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness;  and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.

Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall,  and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.

-2 Peter 1: 2-15, NIV

Thank you for your prayers and patience as I stepped away for a few days!

Following and remembering,
Ginger

Far Out There

 

Hey friends – if you didn’t catch Friday’s post, let me fill you in.

I’m currently in Israel on an 11 day trip… so no new posts for me.

HOWEVER, I would love for you to follow along with our group through one of these blogs:

Pine Cove Forge Israel Blog

GTI Tours Blog

God willing we are healthy, hiking, and getting our brains and hearts filled to capacity! I can’t wait to tell you all about when we get back!

Grace and Peace,
Ginger

Shalom, Y’all

She’ma, Yisra’el Adonai Eloheynu, Adonai echad Ve-ahavta et Adonai Eloheykha bekhol-levavkha u-vekhol naf’sh‘kha u-vekhol me’odekha. Ve-ahavta le’re’akha ka-mohkha

Hear, O Israel! The LORD is God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might; and love your neighbor as yourself.

Tomorrow my husband and I head out on a new adventure. We are leaving for a trip to Israel. Eleven days in the Holy Land. I’m jumping out of my skin excited.

Why Israel?

We all want to know where we come from.

No, I’m not Jewish. And none of my family hails from the Middle East. But the singularly most important part of my life lived and breathed and WALKED the roads that I will encounter next week. I am a sucker for history and completely giddy for knowing the backstory of just about anything. (Ask my family how many times I start a sentence with “So guess what I learned on this podcast?!”)  I’m also a storyteller. So the fact that I might come away with a fuller, clearer picture of what I read in the Bible absolutely thrills me.

I believe that I’m headed to Israel so that I can know His story with all of my senses. I want to better understand the metaphors, traditions, and significance of the text. I want to feel the weight of my faith and the urgency with which it should be shared. And I want to wean myself from approaching the Word solely based on what it says about me… simply put: I want to be overwhelmed by Him.

But why now? Isn’t Iran about to launch an attack? Can’t God increase my knowledge and passion right here?

Absolutely. God can reveal Himself to me anywhere and at any time. But this is an opportunity that fell into place for this year, for right now.

Look, if we waited for peace to come in Gaza we would never get to go. I have to tell you, I’m not afraid of the situation. Not because I don’t believe that violence and war isn’t a possibility, but because God is the one in charge of my time and my story.

My husband and I both place our lives, resources, home, possessions, gifts, and time on this earth in God’s hands. It’s His call. When He says I’m through, I’m heading out. It’s as simple as that. Either He is the author of my life and in control, or He’s not.

So, we aren’t afraid.

I’m not afraid of my house being broken into while I’m gone. It’s just stuff. I can get more stuff. I’m not afraid of losing my luggage on the flight. I can wear David’s clothes. (HAH.) I’m not afraid of flying. I’d like to meet Him in the clouds, anyway!

Here’s the thing: I don’t believe the Bible casually. I’m willing to stake my life on it’s Truth: that my righteousness comes from Jesus Christ alone. Because of His death and resurrection I have full assurance that my relationship with God has been restored.

If anything, I’m a little nervous about how physically demanding our trip will be. We are hiking all day, every day. So if you think about it, will you pray for our health while we are gone? Other requests: safe travel, a unified group, and open hearts for what God would teach us! We are asking to have faith that follows and eyes that see as a result of this trip.

Because I’ve spent so much time preparing for this trip, I don’t have blog posts or guest posts scheduled while I’m away. I had to let something go. But I do happen to have a link to a blog that will be updated every day while we are gone. I’d encourage you to check in and see photos, listen to audio, and read what God is doing in our group of 52 while we are away!

Knowing the God of the universe means that we can live adventurous lives without fear. Of course we apply the wisdom He has given us, but we do not need to fear!

“The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing — to reach the Mountain, to find the place where all the
beauty came from — my country, the place where I ought to have been born. Do you think it all meant nothing, all the longing? The longing for home? For indeed it now feels not like going, but like going back.”
 C.S. Lewis

Following and adventuring,
Ginger

Thursday Tips: Fighting Fear

I don’t know what keeps you captive to fear, but I do know that I have spent my share of time fearing when I should have chosen courage. I still struggle, but I’m slowly learning to process my fears using wisdom and the truth in God’s Word to move from fear to faith. Here are a few steps that have helped me…

1. Talk through the situation

-Why are you afraid?
-What’s the worst that could happen?
-Do you believe lies or truth?
-Have you employed the advice and wisdom of others regarding your fear?

Last week one e-mail sent me spiraling into fear. One of my greatest fears is disappointing others, especially authority. I sent some of my notes for an upcoming project and received two sentences in response. Anyone else in the whole world might have read that e-mail and not given it a second thought. Not Miss prone to the think the worst in a situation over here! I had to talk myself through those very questions. I pulled out my prayer journal and wrote across the top of the page: WHY AM I SO AFRAID AND EMBARASSED? I worked through the process and ended up acknowledging that my fears were unfounded.

“Wisdom will come into your heart. Knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. Foresight will protect you. Understanding will guard you.” (Proverbs 2:10, GWT)

2. Identify lies
When I boiled down my fear to three different points I realized that I believed some pretty ridiculous things. Most importantly: the perception and approval of others was more important than the message I felt God had laid on my heart. Ouch.

“Am I saying this now to win the approval of people or God? Am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be Christ’s servant.” (Galatians 1:10, GWT)

“The weapons we use in our fight are not made by humans. Rather, they are powerful weapons from God. With them we destroy people’s defenses, that is, their arguments and all their intellectual arrogance that oppose the knowledge of God. We take every thought captive so that it is obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5, GWT)

3. Admit your Weakness
Confess to God your fears! After pinpointing the source of my fears and worries I was able to then turn them over to the Lord and admit that once again, I feared the disapproval of others. How freeing to admit and turn to the one who has the strength for our every weakness.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV)

4. Claim God’s Promises
I can either choose to be ruled by my emotions and fears, or I can claim the words of God found in the Bible! When God promises you something, you can take it to the bank. Over and over He says to you, “You are valuable, I am for you, I love you, I have work for us to do and I will be the one to see it to completion!” Will we trust Him?

“Faith is believing or trusting a person, and its reasonableness depends on the reliability of the person being trusted. It is always reasonable to trust the trustworthy. And there is nobody more trustworthy than God…” (John Stott)

I may not know the source of your fears and how big they really are, but I do know how mighty, awesome, powerful and personal our God is. He will be with you wherever you are and wherever you go.

“But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.” (Hebrews 10:39, NIV)

Facing Fears,
Ginger