God’s Prerogative

14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.
19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience(I) vessels of wrath(J) prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known(K) the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— Romans 9:14-23

God’s prerogative is exactly that- His prerogative. Sometimes as people, whose natural inclination it is to be selfish, we mistakenly think that everything is about us. And that kind of thinking can make us somewhat arrogant…and wrong. We begin to misunderstand our place and forget who we are. We are the clay, the pot and not the potter. We live in a great country. We have freedoms that are greater than any other country. Those freedoms came at a price, to the people who fought for them, to the people who have and still defend them. Those freedoms were ultimately given by God for us. And I consider the greatest benefit to be the freedom to worship and express my faith publically without fear of harm or recrimination. There are many who are not afforded the same freedom. But to our detriment, these freedoms have made us lazy, complacent and ungrateful. We now have a sense of entitlement that extends far beyond the freedoms afforded to us. Mistakenly we have extended our entitlement towards God. We have allowed ourselves to consider ourselves equal with God.

We live in a great country. We have freedoms that are greater than any other country. Those freedoms came at a price, to the people who fought for them, to the people who have and still defend them. Those freedoms were ultimately given by God for us. And I consider the greatest benefit to be the freedom to worship and express my faith publically without fear of harm or recrimination. There are many who are not afforded the same freedom. But to our detriment, these freedoms have made us lazy, complacent and ungrateful. We now have a sense of entitlement that extends far beyond the freedoms afforded to us. Mistakenly we have extended our entitlement towards God. We have allowed ourselves to consider ourselves equal with God.We will flatly deny this when pressed. Our words will be a mock humility and insincere reverence. And in the best we reverence. And in the best cases, we may be able to truthfully claim ignorance to our true selves but it is not a just excuse. God’s prerogative is God’s prerogative. We often cry out at God when we do not understand. We misquote, misshape and pervert His words claiming to know better than He what He meant to say. We cry foul and question His actions. If it does not make sense, if it is not to our liking or to our will we say that it cannot be of God. We take our designs and dreams and press them into something we can claim is His will when in reality it is anything but. We ignore page after page of scripture in order to create an image of God we can be comfortable with. In The Mortification of Sin, John Owen writes, “When we consider the very being of God, we find ourselves so far from the true knowledge of it that we cannot come up with the right words and expressions. As we seek to meditate in our minds and frame thought about God as we do about other objects of thinking, we fall so far short that we make an idol in our mind and worship a god of our own making, and not the true God that has made us.”

All of this amounts to our belief that it is our place to question and judge God. When we will not bring ourselves to the place where we trust Him and are humbly submitted to Him, we will rebel and question Him. We are the clay and the clay does not rebel against the potter. The clay molds into the shape of the potter’s choosing. The clay yields and submits to the vision of the potter. We should resemble the clay. Paul says,”20But who are you, O man, to answer back to God?” Who are we to question the ways of the creator of all things? Who are we to say things like unfair, unjust and wrong when faced with the ways of God? Who are we to demand anything of Him who owes us nothing but death? Who are we to look upon Him with anything but fear, trembling, humility and thankfulness?

It is understandable that we may not understand. And it is understandable that our very sinful nature will rebel at the reshaping to His will. It is understandable that we may be disquieted with His ways while growing in our faith and learning to submit to Him. However, it is not acceptable to allow ourselves to continue on in the blasphemous arrogance that we should question Him.
It is really a revealing of our true wickedness. None of us are good and this is evidence of that fact. It is arrogance and pride that does not see justice and deserving in our lives. That God treats us in any way other than what we deserve should bring gratefulness. Yet we see grace and mercy as a right, an expectation and not a gift. We see God as wrong if He does anything that we do not agree with. We say, “Surely a loving and just God would not…” as if God is somehow bound by our ideas of fairness and unilateral action. What is it to us that He does whatever He chooses? He is God and we are to submit, obey, love and serve Him no matter the outcomes of our lives. It is not up to us to dictate the terms on anything concerning God. We are but a speck compared to Him. And despite our wickedness, He continues to love us. This fact says everything about Him and nothing about us. And it is that thought that can rid us of the arrogance that is in us.

Please follow and like us:

Falling Short and Finding God at the Dollar General

Last week a woman walked into our church in the middle of our small group. As usual, she asked to speak to the pastor. Our church is located at a major intersection of a national highway so we get a lot of people who walk in looking for help. This particular woman had a small child. Dale asked her to wait while we finished the small group. After group, Dale informed me that myself and someone else would be accompanying her to the Dollar General to help her purchase a predetermined amount of food and necessities.
Okay, let me just go ahead upfront and confess something to you. I was not excited by this opportunity for service. I probably made a face and might have said something very unholy like, “Do I have to?”. I’ll explain why my spirit didn’t leap with abounding joy at the chance to serve Jesus by serving another. I have never had a good experience with this sort of thing (not that your enjoyment should determine when you will serve Jesus). It is uncomfortable, awkward, humbling for all of us and well it makes my stomach curl up into a very tight knot. This time was no different.We start walking around the store. The woman is asking me if she can get this or that. We try to help her find things. She keeps mentioning how much I am approved to spend. She continues to ask if she can get this or that.I add it up…it’s like I am the only person that can add numbers together. I feel like the wizard of Oz and she is Dorothy only with a

We start walking around the store. The woman is asking me if she can get this or that. We try to help her find things. She keeps mentioning how much I am approved to spend. She continues to ask if she can get this or that.I add it up…it’s like I am the only person that can add numbers together. I feel like the wizard of Oz and she is Dorothy only with a 19-month-old little boy instead of a small fury dog. And instead of a ride home, she is asking for the meager contents of the Dollar General and I am denying her with menace and fire all the while cowering behind my very expensive Nike shoes ( I do a lot of exercise. It is a ministry. I take care of my feet- but my need to justify that to you is another issue for another blog :))

I have thought before that perhaps it is a humiliating experience for these poor people as well. I have tried to imagine having to humble yourself to come and ask others for food and diapers. I have tried to feel what it must be like to be reliant on the kindness of a stranger to feed your child. As a mother, I can really feel moved by their plight. But let me move you back to what is happening at the Dollar General ( and what has happened to me before).
We continue to move about the store, her asking, me continuing to add and report the remaining amount. I honestly try to not look at what we are purchasing because I know it will invariably lead me to judging this person. And tonight it is very hard as we’ve selected all sorts of things and we are at a whopping $5.00 left for food. I wander behind feeling pretty low about myself because I can’t get behind this “labor of love”. I know I am being used. I knew when we got into the car that this person had told Dale and myself whatever sad story they thought would guilt us out of some help. It happens every time. It is happening now and it is rubbing me. And the rub hurts somewhere on the inside. I am ashamed that I feel disgusted by the whole thing- the lies, the manipulation and most of all by the fact that I see myself here. I see me and Jesus. I know this could be a depiction of me on so many occasions. He could write this blog about me100 times over. And this isn’t a new thought but sometimes old thoughts can come back around and burrow their way into a very soft and vulnerable place in your heart. And tonight this thought finds a place in me. And I realize why I am so bothered. I can clearly see in this moment how far apart Jesus and I are. I never had illusions that people would confuse me with Christ. But sometimes you get this glimpse of the vast chasm that lies between who you are and who He is. I know I am bad and rotten and selfish to the core but some days the Holy Spirit helps you to see how deep the pit goes. It is bottomless in case you were wondering.

I am standing in the store realizing that I can and do use Jesus all the time and He never gets upset at being used. He never feels violated by my attempted manipulations. And He never takes offense at my hollow promises. He doesn’t feel this pressing need to tell me that I am not fooling Him. He doesn’t have a driving desire to be right. But I do. I have all these things and I realize it is not the woman but my own sin making me sick.

I’ll finish the story. There is a snickering friend of the woman who sobers up when I see her laughing. I assume it’s at me, playing the part of the fool. There is a nicer car than Dale’s and people waiting. There are pleas for prayer and promises of a return…(“I’m coming to church.”). But I know better. They say it every time. And besides those words are pretty familiar to my lips as well…maybe not the church bit but well “I am…” or “I will…”. Just fill in the blank.
At this point I am pretty much just slinking around. In terms of Amber, that was a pretty stinky day: A failed attempt at kindness and mercy, a gentle rebuke by the Holy Spirit and gnawing truth all over me. However, spiritually I gained so much: A deeper appreciation for my Savior, an ever growing awareness of my sin and an invitation to draw closer to Him.

Please follow and like us:

Creation & Creator…

So a few weeks ago I heard this, “The creation is supposed to make us think about the creator…but instead we worship the creation.” Now I could go many different directions here, but I don’t want to lose us in the main idea. When we see anything in creation…even food…we should be responding to the creator. We have so distorted this and began to worship the creation or the parts of it.
So as I’ve been faced this week by some of the most spectacular views and aspects of the creation…I’ve been really focusing on the worship, the awesomeness of the creator. I love looking at the colors, the textures, the variety, and the complexity of all things in creation and how it all fits and works together. and yes this does make me think of God and how this could not possibly be some kind of cosmic accident but a beautiful and artfully crafted design…a planned celebration of the glory and power of God.
So stop and look at the creation. Expect to be turned back to the creator. He will draw close to Him.

Please follow and like us:

Oh Peter…

I read John 18…

I started thinking about Peter and his thoughts.

You were so brave, so full of passion. You faced down soldiers- prepared to die for him. A man from nowhere who called you from your nets just months ago.
And now you are so full of fear and doubt. Standing in the night. He is inside. All of society is screaming accusations and raining down their jealousies on him. They are scared too- scared because he is not them. Yet they are losing control. And they are terrified and livid- a man saying things, doing things. They believe He cannot possibly be the messiah because He is not here to conquer and kill. He is not here to destroy their enemies and place their people over all others. These people who live shrouded in judgment and rules. They are afraid because He is something they are not. And they are too blind to see Him.

And yet Peter, you stand here afraid in the night- in the flickering light of the fire. Shadows are crossing their faces like devils stalking you in the night. They are sneering and pointing. They are asking you to claim Him. They are calling you one of his followers. And now you who ate with Him walked with Him- saw His glory revealed on the mountain, witnessed his healing of so many…now you stand in fear with a torment raging between your heart and the very thought of being pulled into the midst of the mob with Him. Remember Peter how He told you that He would build his church upon you. So many things he said and you did not understand. But you knew that you loved Him, loved him like no other. You loved him enough to walk away from everything- your life, all that you know. And now in the darkest hour, the darkest night you are going to be so afraid of them that you will deny this man. I wonder if his eyes, his face flashes before you when you hear your mouth declare your denial.

And then not once but three times you say out loud that you do not know this Jesus- this man who has changed your life. Then the rooster crows. His words come back to you. Your adamant rejection, “No Lord! I will never deny you!”, rings in your ears. It pounds with every beat of your heart. Peter, the anguish you must feel in your soul. The tears and the sick feeling- the realization of how horrible, how utterly undeserving of him you are.

I know the feeling well. So many times my fear, my insatiable desire for approval and popularity has been so much more important than my Lord. I have worshiped so many false gods and utterly denied my Jesus, your Jesus. I know full well Peter- the ache, the hurt, and the shame. I too have denied my Lord. I too have been in the dark night and heard my own denials. I have felt my own bile rise up in my throat from the horrendous despair that wants to overtake me. I want to wretch because I know that I have spit upon all that he has done for me. Oh Peter, I know. Peter, I know too well…

Please follow and like us:

Consistency, Where Are You?

Among all the things in my life….consistency does not seem to be present. A journey marked by ups and downs in so many places. I long for the steady rhythm of a purposeful even pace. I get so distracted by speed and results that I forget to see the big picture and understand the discipline and patience needed to plot a long and enduring road. I feel more like a firecracker that burns hard and bright and blows up with a bang. I’d rather be the slow burning candle that gives steady light through the long night. I will to understand the truth of a consistent life down deep in my soul. Help me to find the way to focus on the goal and not stray off in a moment of despair and weakness. And perhaps a little forgiveness for the road would be good too!

Please follow and like us:

When did we get this way…

So what happened to us? When did we become these peole who value nice things and good looks and fame over other real live people? When did I decide that a new purse or a chocolate cookie was what would make me feel whole inside? When did that idea ever make sense…that something so trivial and temporary and insignificant fill the void in my soul? Where did these deep insecurities come from that drive me to be so judgmental and callous and selfish towards other people?
I know the answers to all of this and how to remedy it…but sometimes I am still amazed at the depravity within.

And yet He still loves and provides, chastens and delivers, loves and listens, rescues and redeems. All is not lost. In fact, hope abounds.

Please follow and like us: