Thursday, October 20, 2011

Time Changer

My journey through the Bible has brought me to Numbers. Over and over again, the writer Moses notes that "the Lord spoke" to him. Through his servant Moses, God spoke His law, and Moses delivered His Word to the children of Israel.

This recurring phrase, "the Lord spoke," is significant. The LORD as Master is establishing His authority to instruct His people on His rules and regulations for living: everything from the Ten Commandments to regulations concerning offerings, atonement, and the practical matters of life.

To simply say, "Be moral, be nice, be good" would not be enough. His law had to be stamped with His signature, "Thus says the Lord."

This teaching occurred to me, after the fact, when my grandchild was acting up in the back seat of the car. Finally, I turned around and said, "Be nice; don't act ugly." The next morning it dawned on me that a better thing to say would have been, "It hurts grandma when you disobey your mommy. Jesus says in the Bible to obey your mommy and daddy. He wants you to listen to them because it is the right thing to do and because it will be good for you. And you will be happier for it."

With these words, I would be stating the authority upon which morality and goodness rest: the Lord Jesus Christ.

When we try to be moral and good in ourselves we fail miserably, and we are miserable. Only the righteous God of heaven can make us righteous. And this goodness comes through His perfect Son's atoning work on the Cross. It is by His authority that we can be righteous and live righteously.

Sadly, those who have taught the importance of morality without citing the authority upon which that morality rests have been deceived and are deceiving. Self-effort alone can never produce lasting goodness. Sooner or later, all human effort fails.

In Christ's righteousness alone do we stand. It is in Him that we find our life, joy, peace, and goodness.

Chuck and I viewed a movie last night that perpetuated this biblical teaching. According to the back jacket blurb, TIME CHANGER takes place "in 1890 where Bible professor Russell Carlisle has written a new manuscript entitled 'The Changing Times.' His book is about to receive a unanimous endorsement from the board members of the Grace Bible Seminary until his colleague Dr. Norris Anderson (Gavin MacLeod) raises an objection. Dr. Anderson believes that what Carlisle has written could greatly affect the future of coming generations. Using a secret time machine, Anderson sends Carlisle over 100 years into the future, offering him a glimpse of where his beliefs will lead."

Sadly, we are living that projection.

If you haven't seen this eye-opening movie, I highly recommend it, for young and old alike. We must move people back to the authority of the Word of God, for therein lies our goodness, hope, life, and future.

Thus says the Lord . . .

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Am I doing what you want me to do, Lord?

There are those days for a struggling writer when she wonders, "Am I doing what you want me to do, Lord?"

Yesterday was one of those days.

Invariably, God answers with a book sale or reader feedback. Within the last two days, I've gotten both.

And I hear His laughter, squeals of joy, and I join in with a great big, "Thank you, Lord!"

Without going into details, a man purchased Restored Hearts. Please pray the Lord will open his eyes to see that he can be delivered from homosexuality.

A reader sent the following email about Chosen Ones.

Mrs. Rife,

I just wanted to let you know that I was able to obtain a copy of your book "Chosen Ones," and I just finished reading it. I wish I could put into words how much it means to me that the Lord moved your heart to write this story. It is an honest depiction of the horrors of human trafficking in India, but at the same time woven into an absolutely beautiful story of redemption and healing through Christ. Thank you so much for sharing this story with me, and with all of your readers. This is such an incredible way to raise awareness about what is going on around the world and to show the hope that comes through Christ.


Thank you, Lord, for continuing to affirm your platform for me at this season in my life. So thrilled to be using Your gift for Your glory!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Heart Murmur

I remember hearing the words, "heart murmur," from our daughter's pediatrician when she was a young child. An immediate alarm sounded in my head, quickly followed by the doctor's reassurance. "These types of murmurs are typically benign and something the child grows out of. We'll keep a watch on it."

True to his words, my daughter did grow out of it. The physical heart murmur, that is. But there was another type of heart murmur birthed in her by God that continues to grow to this day.

A spiritual heart murmur.

In my journey through Exodus of late, I learned more about this type of heart murmur in chapter 35. The children of Israel have just witnessed a reflection of God's glory through their leader. Moses met with God and the people knew it. They saw it in his countenance, his words, his actions. All of which prepared them for the task before them--building the tabernacle.

Over and over again in this chapter, the writer notes that "everyone whose heart stirred him" contributed to the construction project. Fine brooches, earrings, bracelets, articles of gold, and colorful material and animals' skins. The peoples' hearts were so stirred to give, to be a part of something greater than themselves, that they brought much more than was needed. Moses finally had to tell them to stop giving. The New American Standard translation says that Moses "restrained" them from bringing any more gifts.

How is it that a people, stiffnecked and stubborn, as we often see on their journey through the wilderness, are in fine form during this massive undertaking?

I would suggest that the heart murmur created when Moses came off Mount Sinai in meeting with God moved them from the mundane to the momentous. They now had the unique opportunity to be a part of fulfilling a piece of God's great story.

In reality, they were a part of it all along, but due to their grumbling failed to see it.

So I ask myself: When was the last time my heart was stirred to be a part of something great for God? To be so caught up in a piece of His story that I forgot about myself and put my hand to the task He has given?

Could it be possible that the greatness lies not in the project or results, but in my heart attitude?

The front lines of success are not necessarily places of greatness for God. Often, and I suspect more often than not, greatness blossoms by the bedside of a shut-in. At the sink washing dishes. On the floor playing with a toddler. In the words delivered to a grumpy spouse.

In the mundane, quietly putting one foot in front of the other, doing the next thing.

And all the while, with a heart murmur, rejoicing to be a part of God's great story.

The End of One Story, the Beginning of Another

I flip through the calendar, a gift from my missionary daughter. Family face after family face jump off the pages. Grandkids roasting mar...