Twice today, I have come upon the story of Achan from 1 Chronicles. Achan took some of the plunder that had been set apart for the Lord, and then he tried to bury his sin. But his sin found him out. And so Joshua had to take Achan to the valley and have him stoned to death. This valley was called The Valley of Achor. Achor means “trouble.” The Valley of Trouble.
Later in Hosea 2:15, God makes a promise to His people. He told them, “I will . . . give the Valley of Achor as a door of hope.” Our God of forgiveness and second chances promised to transform the Valley of Trouble into a Door of Hope. Jesus is the Door of Hope. He is the Way out of Trouble.
When you’re stuck in a Valley of Trouble, fix your eyes on the Door and run to Him.
Several different periods in my life, I have followed the ACTS prayer formula — Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication. Recently during a Bible study on prayer, I had some new thoughts about this formula for praying.
See, I’ve also been told over the years that we should always start our prayers by confession. That a holy God cannot hear us or look upon us until we have asked Him to cleanse us. Well, that always made sense, but it goes against the ACTS prayer model. So, in this Bible study, a lightbulb went off in my mind.
When I start my prayers with Confession, I tend to give a laundry list of my sins. Father, please forgive me for yelling at my kids when they wouldn’t stay in bed last night. Please forgive me for thinking hateful thoughts about so-and-so. Please forgive me for being sarcastic with my husband. Please forgive me for calling that driver an idiot. And on and on. I suppose that’s an OK way to start. And I certainly need God to forgive me for those sins, those sinful actions. But I think that I often addressed only my sinful actions, and not my sinfulNESS. Does that make sense?
The problem isn’t really sarcasm with my husband; the problem is that I think I know it all. The problem is I am not humble; I’m prideful. The problem isn’t that I yelled at my children for getting out of bed; the problem is that I’m selfish. That I want them to stay in bed because it’s easier for me, because I want to watch Survivor without interruption. And when I’m listing down my sinful actions and asking for forgiveness, I think I often miss the point.
But lately, Continue reading
What’s that joke?
There are 3 fundamental truths about religion:
1) Jews don’t recognize Jesus as the Son of God.
2) Protestants don’t recognize the Pope as the Vicar of Christ.
3) Baptists don’t recognise each other at the bar on Saturday nights.
Well, it seems Southern Baptists don’t go to a bar on Saturday night. At least, not when they are all gathered in the same town. Good for them for being consistent with their public teachings.
This week, I’ll tell you 3 places I hope to travel to one day.
1. Papua New Guinea — again, so that I can smell the smoke and beetle nut and body odor that combines to smell uniquely like PNG
2. Italy — and this trip must include a gondola ride and lots of gelato and walks through towns that are not touristy
3. New York City — with my daughters. I’ve gone with my husband, but I’d love to take my girls to see a Broadway show and eat at a fancy restaurant and go to the American Girl Place and shop
That Dave Barry is a dangerous fellow. He’s definitely too dangerous for PhD students.
StuartDelony tagged me to tell 5 things I dig about Jesus. So here goes . . .
1. He gave up everything for me.
2. He calls sin as it is but has such compassion on broken people. (I love the story of the woman caught in adultery and His compassion on her. And the story about the woman at the well — He was straightforward but so loving.)
3. He’s 200% — 100% God and 100% Man. My brain can’t comprehend it, but I think it’s groovy. (I felt like I had to use the word “groovy” when writing what I “dig” about Jesus.)
4. He’s preparing a place for me right now.
5. He is in me and allows me to be in Him, and He gives me His glory. To think that the Word, the very Word which spoke the universe into existence, desires to be one with me. Wow!
So the rules state that I have to tag 5 other people to tell what they dig about Jesus (and they have to tell their 5 things and link here and tag 5 new people). So I tag . . .
5. Any of you regular readers without your own blog —- Nickole, Shannon, Patrick, Jeff, etc. 🙂 Or any other blogger who really wants to participate.
In girl meets GOD, Lauren Winner describes her journey of faith and how Jesus was slowly “goading [her] toward Him.” She had been given Christian pamphlets; she’d asked her mother for a slender, gold cross necklace; she’d gone to midnight Mass with a friend. Though she remained an Orthodox Jew, she would later, eventually, choose Christ.
Nothing came of the pamphlets, or the cross, or the midnight Mass, but that is how the clues God leaves sometimes work. Sometimes nothing comes of them. Sometimes, as in a great novel, you cannot see until you get to the end that God was leaving clues for you all along.
I find this encouraging, greatly encouraging. I want God to use me to leave His clues. Though I may never know how those clues add up for someone, though I may not ever see the moment when the final clue is given and the mystery understood, I want to be a giver of clues.