Step #2: Today’s Manna

season

This scenario happens far too frequently in my life:

My husband I go out to dinner and can’t decide whether or not to order an appetizer or dessert with our meal. We usually cave and get both. And then we often forgo debating which dessert and simply order two of them. It’s fabulous and waaay too much food. We placate ourselves by talking about how rarely we go out or how much we deserve a treat. By the time we hit the car to drive home I usually remark, “I’m not going to eat ANYTHING tomorrow.”

It doesn’t matter the ridiculous amount of calories I consume in the evening, I’m still going to wake up hungry. I always wake up hungry. I’ve never been one of the lucky few who could just forget to eat lunch. I also know that if I don’t eat when I’m hungry, my hunger can quickly turn into hanger. Hunger + anger = Hanger. “Sorry I snapped. I’m hangry.” I try not to use it as an excuse, I simply acknowledge this fact and make sure to pack a Larabar with me at all times.

Hunger is an important driving force in the Bible. God provides food miraculously for the hungry time and again. Case in point, this story from Exodus.

The sons of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat, when we ate bread to the full; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether or not they will walk in My instruction. (Exodus:16:3-4, NASB)

God was making an important point with the Israelites. If they tried to utilize the manna from the day before, they discovered it rotted through. He wanted to be their source of provision each and every day. Layer that truth with Matthew 4:4 and you find our 2nd step to staying in tune this season.

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”

stepSTEP #2. Collect Manna for Today.

I know how easy it can be to read the Word on Sunday and want that manna to be our fix for the whole week, but God desires to speak to us each and every day. The Bible is meant to be our fuel for the journey, the sustanance that will keep us graceful in the midst of the most trying times.

Jeremiah 15:16 is one of my all-time favorite verses and speaks to the precious nature of God’s Word.

When your words came, I ate them;
    they were my joy and my heart’s delight,
for I bear your name,
    Lord God Almighty.

If we want our hearts to remain in tune, we would be wise to fill up each and every day. My hope and prayer is that the Word of God would be our joy and delight, the source we turn to satisfy our hunger.

“Like an addiction, a compulsion that can’t stop its seeking, do I always want to see more beauty–more of the glory of God? Because that is what I am made for–to give Him more glory. More eucharisteo, more. And not only yesterday. But today– manna today or I starve.” (Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts)

“Come, thou Fount of every blessing,
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
mount of thy redeeming love.”

– Robert Robinson, 1735-1790

 

Following,
Ginger

For days when the dream feels too big.

dreams

 

November 4, 2010 – Journal Entry

Father, I feel all tangled up inside and as disorganized as our bedroom. I am so thankful for this home, for my new husband, but I don’t know what I’m doing.

I keep saying that on Monday I will start writing a book, but I’m doubtful of my drive, my passion, and even my abilities. I see others trusting You in this FOR me – having faith – and it makes me want to at least try.

 

November 12, 2010 – Journal Entry

I am striving to write this book. I can see the end product far down the road but I am hesitant to do the work. I don’t know if I am fearful or lazy. My excuses abound.

 

You have dreams, right? My guess is that we all have some form of hope, goals or dreams for the future. I love listing my goals  for the year rather than making resolutions. I have a huge top 100 things to do in my lifetime list, and another list for travel that my husband and I are still creating. Some of the items on my list are totally manageable and achievable. “Cultivate an herb garden.” Although a bit challenging with Arizona heat, it’s definitely doable. I’ve managed to keep my basil plant alive for the whole summer. This has led me to believe that we can indeed manage the full garden.

But other items on my list feel HUGE. Writing a book was like that. At first the dream was just to have a completed manuscript, but then I realized I wanted it to actually benefit someone else – so it would have to be printed. I wasn’t going to print out copies on my printer and hand it out to friends, so I needed to explore publishing. It felt as though the closer I came to actually making my dream a reality, the more decisions had to be made and the more tasks completed. Some days, actually most days, the dream just felt way too big.

So how do we move from dreaming to action?

November 16, 2010 – Journal Entry

I was reading about Solomon today. He took 7 years to build the temple. One day he just STARTED. He did everything to the highest quality and the best standards. Like his father, he would not give to God that which cost him nothing.

Yes.

We take the first step. We write the first word. We get up early and we stay up late. If you have dreams resting in the back of your mind and on the tip of your tongue, may I challenge you to follow Solomon’s example?

“Hiram king of Tyre sent ambassadors to Solomon when he heard that he had been crowned king in David’s place. Hiram had loved David his whole life. Solomon responded, saying, “You know that David my father was not able to build a temple in honor of God because of the wars he had to fight on all sides, until God finally put them down. But now God has provided peace all around—no one against us, nothing at odds with us.

Now here is what I want to do: Build a temple in honor of God, my God, following the promise that God gave to David my father, namely, ‘Your son whom I will provide to succeed you as king, he will build a house in my honor.’

… Four hundred and eighty years after the Israelites came out of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s rule over Israel, in the month of Ziv, the second month, Solomon started building The Temple of God.” (1 Kings 5:1-5, 6:1, MSG)

This was an immense project, one that Solomon could have continued to put off. But instead, at the beginning of his reign as king, he simply started.

Don’t let fear keep you from creating and experiencing all that this life and our Father has to offer. The dream will likely always seem big, but keep reminding yourself that God is bigger.

“The foundation for God’s Temple was laid in the fourth year in the month of Ziv. It was completed in the eleventh year in the month of Bul (the eighth month) down to the last detail, just as planned. It took Solomon seven years to build it.” (1 Kings 6:37-38, MSG)

Following and learning,

Ginger

With You

“Moses was shepherding the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. He led the flock to the west end of the wilderness and came to the mountain of God, Horeb. The angel of God appeared to him in flames of fire blazing out of the middle of a bush. He looked. The bush was blazing away but it didn’t burn up.

Moses said, “What’s going on here? I can’t believe this! Amazing! Why doesn’t the bush burn up?”

God saw that he had stopped to look. God called to him from out of the bush, “Moses! Moses!”

He said, “Yes? I’m right here!”

God said, “Don’t come any closer. Remove your sandals from your feet. You’re standing on holy ground.”

Then he said, “I am the God of your father: The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.”

Moses hid his face, afraid to look at God.

God said, “I’ve taken a good, long look at the affliction of my people in Egypt. I’ve heard their cries for deliverance from their slave masters; I know all about their pain. And now I have come down to help them, pry them loose from the grip of Egypt, get them out of that country and bring them to a good land with wide-open spaces, a land lush with milk and honey, the land of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite.

“The Israelite cry for help has come to me, and I’ve seen for myself how cruelly they’re being treated by the Egyptians. It’s time for you to go back: I’m sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the People of Israel, out of Egypt.”

Moses answered God, “But why me? What makes you think that I could ever go to Pharaoh and lead the children of Israel out of Egypt?”

“I’ll be with you,” God said. “And this will be the proof that I am the one who sent you: When you have brought my people out of Egypt, you will worship God right here at this very mountain.” (Exodus 3:1-12, The Message)

Check out the question from Moses in the second to last paragraph. “But why me? What makes you think that I could ever go to Pharaoh and lead the children of Israel out of Egypt?”

How many times have I… have we responded to God similarly? “But why me? What makes you think I could ever ____________?

I love the response from God. “I’ll be with you.”

The hopes and fears of all the years are met in Emmanuel. God is WITH us.

Take heart! He is with you.

Following,
Ginger

O Come, O Come

 

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o’er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

-John Mason Neale and Henry Sloane Coff

The Mountain

Lots of things have influenced my prayer life: books, people, liturgy, teaching, and experiences. But a teaching and experience combo on the top of a mountain in Israel stands out above the rest.

Mount Arbel is a mountain in lower Galilee with high cliffs and views in every direction. On a clear day you can see across the Sea of Galilee, to the heights of Mount Hermon and into the Golan Heights.

The journey to the top was intense. We fought our way up Mt. Arbel, removing layers of clothes as we entered the low-lying clouds. The hike kept us panting, but the scenery took my breath away. I chatted with my fellow hikers in between gasps, totally unaware of where our journey was taking us. But eventually we reached the top. If I close my eyes I can picture that first look: windy, chilly, rolling dark clouds, the Sea of Galilee, and tiny villages dotting the entire landscape.

We bundled back up and sat down. (I love that… went up on a mountain and sat down… to pray. Sounds familiar.)

We were reminded of the strenuous hike taken to reach this quiet place, and the journey that Jesus would have taken to get away from the crowds.

“Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. (Luke 5:15-16)

eremos topos – solitary/quiet place – in Hebrew: desolate or deserted.

“Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve—designating them apostles…” (Mark 3:13-14)

Jesus quite possibly spent the night on this solitary mountain top and then called His disciples. I found myself straining to grasp the lesson our trip leader was trying to communicate. It felt as though the rain and wind were doing everything in their power to keep me cold and miserable, but then something happened to change my entire attitude and perspective. It’s something so simple, and yet it’s a picture that will help me in my times of prayer for the rest of my life.

PERSPECTIVE

Our trip leader called out to a guy in our group. “Kyle, will you join me up front?”

Kyle, a tall twenty-something with red hair, obliged. Kyle was encouraged to name someone he looked up to or a celebrity he would like to meet. He chose the author J.R. Tolkien. Our leader, Matt, then took on the persona of J.R. Tolkien carrying a basket of bread for the illustration. “Kyle,” he said, “I want you to ask me for one of my loaves of bread. And by the way, you are homeless and very hungry.”

Kyle grovelled a bit reminding Mr. Tolkien just how much he loves all of his books. He went on to pay his respects, to mention favorite books, and then to gently ask, saying please several times, if he could have some bread.

Tolkien eventually relented and handed Kyle an imaginary piece of bread.

End scene.

Except then our trip leader did something else a bit unexpected. You see, Kyle’s father was also on our trip. He was called to the front and asked to stand next to Kyle.

“Kyle, ask your dad for some bread.”

Kyle put his arm around his father and asked simply and without hesitation, “Dad, may I please have some bread?”

I’ll admit, I became a little choked up as father and son hugged and shared a moment on the top of the mountain of prayer. I lost it when our guide turned to us and said, “Just ask. You aren’t speaking to the CEO of a company or an angry dictator. You are talking to your Father. Ask. Ask. Ask. Ask. Ask. And He Gives. Gives. Gives. Gives. Gives.”

Mt. Arbel has changed they way that I pray because I have a better picture of my Heavenly Father, a reminder that He invites us to connect with Him, to seek Him, and to simply ask of Him.

One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”

Jesus said to them, “When you pray, say this:

‘Father:
    May your holy name be honored;
    may your Kingdom come.
Give us day by day the food we need.
Forgive us our sins,
    for we forgive everyone who does us wrong.
    And do not bring us to hard testing.’”

And Jesus said to his disciples, “Suppose one of you should go to a friend’s house at midnight and say, ‘Friend, let me borrow three loaves of bread. A friend of mine who is on a trip has just come to my house, and I don’t have any food for him!’ And suppose your friend should answer from inside, ‘Don’t bother me! The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ Well, what then? I tell you that even if he will not get up and give you the bread because you are his friend, yet he will get up and give you everything you need because you are not ashamed to keep on asking. And so I say to you: Ask, and you will receive; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you.For those who ask will receive, and those who seek will find, and the door will be opened to anyone who knocks. Would any of you who are fathers give your son a snake when he asks for fish? Or would you give him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? As bad as you are, you know how to give good things to your children. How much more, then, will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:1-13, GNT)

Just Ask.

Following,
Ginger

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

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

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