Judywebb’s Weblog


God’s promises
July 30, 2012, 8:46 pm
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I love to read God’s word because it seems that I learn more and more from each time I sit to read it despite the fact that I have been reading it for about 25 years now.  It makes me think of what JP Thew, my pastor’s middle school son, said in church on Sunday, something like this…  I like going to camp and stuff because well I don’t know everything yet.  Well I like reading God’s Word, because at 39 I just don’t know everything yet. I am thinking that at 79 I will be saying the same thing. 

I have noticed in reading the past few days that God gives promises to Abraham, Isaac, and David that are absolutely undeserved, unsolicited, and powerful.   To Abraham he promised a rich inheritance of nations and land and His blessing.  To Isaac he gave a son and the inheritance of Abraham.  He gave David the promise of having a powerful dynasty and that his son would build God a house, aside from the riches and power he gave to David.  I just can’t help but think, why? Why would a God who doesn’t need us want to give so much? Why would He want to go into a covenant relationship with us knowing that we are so unlikely to appreciate it, and so likely to abuse His grace.  Why would God choose to richly pour grace and blessing on a people who are so flawed and so quick to forget Him?

2 Samuel 18-21 King David went in, took his place before God, and prayed: “Who am I, my Master God, and what is my family, that you have brought me to this place in life? But that’s nothing compared to what’s coming, for you’ve also spoken of my family far into the future, given me a glimpse into tomorrow, my Master God! What can I possibly say in the face of all this? You know me, Master God, just as I am. You’ve done all this not because of who I am but because of who you are—out of your very heart!—but you’ve let me in on it.

God does it not because of who we are, but because of who He is.  God gives us great and precious promises because of His great love.  He loves to give us good gifts John 7:11 says “So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.”  I was challenged to remember this promise today. I think some days I forget that the fact that I got out of bed this morning, that I woke up at all is a gift and blessing of God. The fact that my house still stands over my head and my son sleeps peacefully in his crib is a gift from God. I forget that my husband coming home to me every day is a miracle of love and grace that only God can give. God is involved in bringing blessing to me.  He is involved today in showering grace and joy and peace.  My life is not always easy. There are so many days that I struggle and ask those questions about why hard times come.  I need to remember today that God is blessing. He is present. 

David prayed this prayer to God after God promised him a long lineage of grace:

25-27“So now, great God, this word that you have spoken to me and my family, guarantee it permanently! Do exactly what you’ve promised! Then your reputation will flourish always as people exclaim, ‘The God-of-the-Angel-Armies is God over Israel!’ And the house of your servant David will remain sure and solid in your watchful presence. For you, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, Israel’s God, told me plainly, ‘I will build you a house.’ That’s how I was able to find the courage to pray this prayer to you.

 28-29 “And now, Master God, being the God you are, speaking sure words as you do, and having just said this wonderful thing to me, please, just one more thing: Bless my family; keep your eye on them always. You’ve already as much as said that you would, Master God! Oh, may your blessing be on my family permanently!”

Don’t you love David’s boldness? He was saying God, do what you have promised.  Do it so others will say that you keep your promises.  I am reminding myself today to pray those prayers to God. Lord God, keep your promises to my family.  You chose us, you redeemed us, now continue to show yourself faithful. Do in our lives what only you can do. Today God, I ask that you would keep your promises and bring about the dreams you have given us to dream.   Protect our house, and let it be complete.

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A sordid history
July 27, 2012, 2:18 am
Filed under: Uncategorized
Today when I was reading the Bible I noticed something new to me.  I was reading Lot’s story and how Sodom and Gomorrah fell under God’s judgement.  Lot was given a warning to flee the city by angels of God, in fact they escorted him out with his daughters and his wife.  Lot’s family was given a warning to not look back, flee to a small town nearby called Zoar.  Only Lot and his daughters made it to the small town, wife looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt.  At least Lot was safe, but he was so freaked out that he went to live in a cave in the mountains.  I guess he feard God would judge Zoar too (although he was promised God would keep it safe), regardless he was running scared.
Heading to the seclusion of the cave led to a perverted act by his daughters. They were so concerned they would not have children so they got pops drunk and went to lay with him.  Low and behold, 2 sons are born.  One will be the Father of the Moabites.  This is where I was intrigued.  I know of a very famous Moabite who had long been a hero of mine, her name is Ruth.  Ruth became the wife of Boaz, the Mother of Obed who was the Father of Jesse, the father of David.  Amazing, that puts this incestuous one night stand in the lineage of Jesus.
Only God would not try to sweep that one under the rug.  He is not at all ashamed by the people in the family line in which he chose to be born. He didn’t look at them and see the incest, the rape, the prostitute, the murderer and say forget it, I have to wait and be born into a more righteous family.  Jesus came to one that was a mess.  If a man had written scripture Jesus would have been born to a holy, royal family, or at the very least the less desirable ancestors would have been made to seem little more honorable. Instead he was born into a holy, royal, dysfunctional for generations, real as we are today, family.
I am encouraged beyond measure.  Jesus didn’t hide his sordid ancestral past. He didn’t hide the skeletons in his family closet.  We don’t have to hide either.  I feel like a mess on most days.  Life at the Webb house is especially messy right now because God has us making some very real changes. We are both wrestling with God and seeking Him on what is best for our family.  I am not ashamed to say it, I don’t have it all figured out, but I am encouraged to know that neither did they– the ones God chose to use, they didn’t have it all figured out either. In fact they made some heinous sins, yet in so many ways, God redeemed.  I’m not going to be ashamed of my struggle. I’m not going to be ashamed of my history or my family history. I am just smiling right now, because I am in good company with those who have been redeemed.  Over and over again, we see that God doesn’t come to us because of how amazing we are, He comes because He is amazing, He is loving, He is kind.  God gives so much grace.
As a side note…

I called to reconnect the cable so I could watch the Olympics. I just really like so many things about the Olympics. It won’t be back on forever, but for now, we have it.  I prayed and struggled with what is God requiring of us in terms of cable.  I have peace about today.  I will wrestle again tomorrow, but only until I sense the blessing of God, then peace…



How Much Jesus do you really want?
July 26, 2012, 2:42 am
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Today I finally did it, I called Knology and cancelled our cable prescription.  It seemed like I was making one of those decisions in life where this was going to change things. Even though we haven’t really watched much television since we have started our fast 3 weeks ago we at least had the option.  No more options, no more fall back to waste time away, the cable has been cut off.  We will save $50 a month which is nice, but the question is what will we gain from having the time otherwise spent watching stuff we don’t really care about to invest in relationships within our family in which we care deeply.  Tonight I watched Zack and Jeff play machine legos and then play the wii together.   Zack is super intense in trying to do rhythm kung fu.  He is fun to watch. I don’t want to miss him growing up. I don’t want to miss the moments with Jeff and Zack. 

Turning off the t.v. has led me to ask the question tonight of how much of Jesus do I really want.  I am seeing things in life that are not necessary and trying to weed them out of our lives.  What do I want to fill those spaces left empty?  I want Jesus.  I need Jesus.

There are 2 men in scripture who challenge me to consider how much of Jesus I really want, or expect.  The first in a small sense is the Apostle John.  He called himself the beloved.  Hi, I am John, the one Jesus loves.  As if Jesus doesn’t love everyone, but John knew deep down in a very real way that what he was saying was true:  he was the one Jesus loved.  Try putting your name in there.  I am Judy, the one Jesus loves. If I say it enough times I may start to believe it.  The truth of those words may actually begin a transformation in my heart and before I know it, I know.  I am loved, beyond measure. 

The second man is Elisha. To be honest his story has changed my prayer life.  You see he asked his mentor Elijah for a double portion of the blessing that God had given to him. He wanted more.  He wanted it all.  I read that at first and I was surprised. God had given Elijah so much, and that wasn’t enough for Elisha?  He wanted more.  He wanted more because He believed God to give him more. He wanted more and he was tenacious in the pursuit. He followed his mentor despite many temptations to be lazy and not go the extra miles. He didn’t give up. He got his double portion of blessing. 

I have been praying for a double portion of blessing since reading that passage February 2011.  I want all that God has to give me. I want the blessing and hand of God. I want Jesus to be present in me with tenderness and love and kindness. I want to know Christ. I want a double portion.

I have prayed specifically that God would give me a double portion in children. I want our family to grow. I want Zack to be a brother.  I also want the ministry with women God has me in to be fruitful. I want to be a girl who makes an impact in God’s kingdom. There are so many things I want to see God do in my life.  They all start with John, with the reminder that I am the one Jesus loves.  Everything God does in my life is filtered through His loving kindness.  In Elisha I am challenged to ask God to go big with me. I am challenged to ask God to take the talents He has given me and multiply. Take this mother’s heart he has given me and give me more children to love and nurture.  I believe He will be glorified in me. I believe He will always come through with beauty and grace.  He will bring a double portion, no matter how it is fleshed out, because I believe He has led me to ask Him for it.  

What are you believing about Jesus?  Remember, you are the One Jesus loves.  Go boldly and humbly before His throne of grace and ask Him for that double portion of blessing in your life.  Imagine what it would be like if that double portion was His presence and greater intimacy with Jesus.  Wow.  Lord, come to us and give us that double portion of your blessing, and then give us the grace to carry that mantel.



Leaving Haran
July 25, 2012, 1:41 am
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I have long wondered about Abraham and his relationship with his nephew, Lot.  I see something in their tie that reminds me of myself, and not in a good way.  Genesis 12:1  “The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.”  That seems like a pretty clear mandate. Go to the new land, and leave your father’s house.  So a few verses later you see this “So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him.”  Lot was a part of Abraham’s father’s house.  He was the son of Abe’s brother, Haran, who had died, leaving Lot without a Dad.  The interesting thing I realized this morning in my quiet time was that the name of the land Abraham and his family were living in at the time of God’s call was Haran.  So Lot is the son of Haran,  the man, and was living in Haran, the country.  God was telling Abraham it was time to leave Haran behind.

Abraham bringing Lot with him to the new land led to a host of problems.  Their servants eventually began to argue about land and grazing and the decided they needed to part ways.  As they looked over the land to the east and west, Abraham allowed Lot to choose sides with the promise that Abraham would go the other way.  Lot chose the fertile plain of the Jordan and ended up in big trouble living among a wicked and corrupt people.

Why bring Lot?  Did Abraham feel an obligation to Lot?  Lot was not Abraham’s heir, at this point Abraham’s heir was a servant. Was it a matter of identity, or comfort, or guilt?  Lot was part of Abraham’s blood and so he did not feel he could turn his back on him.  That sounds so wonderfully noble, except that God had told Abraham to leave his father’s house, to leave Haran behind.

I wonder how many times I do the exact same thing. I obey God in a part of a command and disregard God’s leadership in another part, thereby robbing myself of part of my blessing, or inheritance.  When we go into a promised land, when we have courage to take our own journey with God we need to be careful what we pack in our bags.  Like Rachel when she left her father’s house she carried his little household gods statues with her.  What a crazy thing to do when she had seen the miracles of the One True God in her life already through her husband.  Even though we are being called on an amazing adventure with Jesus we allow ourselves to take with us things that bring us comfort. It is a fall back. If things don’t work out with Jesus I will always have … television to entertain my mind, chocolate to soothe my soul, football to get get me excited, my nice home for comfort, savings for rainy days, family to keep from loneliness, status, money…  You name it.  If I am called to a radical life, and I say I am willing to go, what is my Haran in my back pocket? 

How do we get the Haran out of us when it has been a place of comfort for so long?  Honestly,  I’ll get back to you on a definitive answer, but for now I am going with Romans 12 in the Message

1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

God has to transform our minds.  It is a miracle. It is a work that He has to do with the presence of His Holy Spirit in us, with His Word to teach us, with community to encourage us, and with practice.  The Holy Spirit leads us in Truth.  God’s Word is truth.  The body of Christ reflects Jesus to me and preaches the gospel to me.  And practice, it reminds me of David when he went to Saul and told him he wanted to kill Goliath, and Saul said how could you do it?  David said he had already killed the lion and the bear, what is a giant to God?  Allow God to show you places in your life where you have seen victory in how He has transformed your mind so far.  Allow Him to show you where He has left his fingerprints on you. He will take you another step toward the promised land, and one step farther from Haran.  I am counting on it, because sometimes Haran calls my name.  I need to stop to listen to my sweet Jesus calling me instead.  Sweet Jesus, calling your name….  That is better than any clay idols the world has to offer.



Service
July 23, 2012, 2:17 am
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I am feeling tired from a long, good day.  I am a little bit weary and not exactly sure why. I just returned from a young man’s right of passage into manhood. It was a God honoring event in which men who are followers of Jesus charged a young man with wisdom and grace to walk well with Jesus.  The topic of service came up as a weapon in which we have as a tool in our battle as Christians.  I had never thought of it that way but what a great perspective.  Serving my family, neighbors, church, city can in some way disarm the lies and work of the enemy and bring grace, peace and in a profound way, it brings hope.

I was so intentional today about engaging Zack’s heart and mind. I was giving it my best shot at serving him and loving him through play, shelling pistachios, shooting hoops, being present with him.  I have often times in the past used the t.v. as a means of distracting him so I can work on something, or even just waste time. Today our t.v. has remained off and our hearts have remained engaged.  I want to be better at this. We are cancelling our cable.  I can only imagine the sweet moments we will have as a family when we are no longer distracted by entertainment and can be attentive to Jesus and each other.

So back to the idea of service and weariness.  I feel tired right now but the more I write I feel energized in listening to Jesus and letting him bring clarity to the day.  A shocking statement Jesus says in Mark 10:45
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  Jesus wants to serve me.  A Christian may feel so proud of themselves for saying “I just want to serve God”, but Jesus has said that He wants to serve us.  He wants to serve you. 

I need him to serve me. I need him to do a John 13 and wash my feet today. My feet feel dirty, and tired and weary after a day of real living and I need to be with him now.  I need him to take his basin and towel and wash my feet.  I need Jesus to remind me again why He loves me. I need him to remind me again of His presence.  I need to hear all over again that He sings songs over me, that He has called me child.  I need to hear him speak my name and pour a blessing on me.  I need to remember Jesus in me and the intimacy that I have with Him through the Holy Spirit.  I need to know that Jesus is present and engaged with me.  He isn’t trying to distract me with t.v. so He can get something else done, He is present.

Don’t think me a heretic to say say we are not meant to serve Jesus.  We serve Jesus by serving the poor, the hurting, the hungry, the needy, our families.  (I laugh to remember Zack at 2 taking me by the face, looking me straight in the eyes and saying “your baby needs food!”.)  We serve others with grace and love because Jesus, in serving us, has filled us with grace and love to give away freely. 

John 13: 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

Lord, wash the grime of today off of my feet.  Fill my heart with hope and peace in your presence.  You have been with me today. You have sustained my life, you have given me moments of beauty and tenderness.  Lord, in this moment remind me once again of who you are, and give me the courage and passion to given you away to others. 



Cutting out the fluff
July 21, 2012, 12:42 pm
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Jeff and I began a fast from all grains, refined sugars, and most dairy about 2 weeks ago.  It was actually motivated by my fixation on how God was going to build our family. We had just finished what we had decided was our last round of fertility medicine and were so hopeful that our investment of time and money would pay off in a pregnancy.  It didn’t, and I was devastated and heartbroken (more on this in a future blog).  Jeff was concerned that I was too fixated on building our family and he was right. It pretty much filled my mind night and day.  I felt that I needed to do some sort of a fast to hear from God, to let him clean out my distractions and to fill me with Himself.

The first week on the “paleo diet” was rough for me. I felt like I was a walking zombie with what I imagine was my body getting accustomed to living without regular shots of good old sugar.  It was pathetic actually. I dropped a glass into a dishwasher. I led a meeting for our ladies retreat and pretty much felt like my brain was disconnected.  My friends were concerned, I assured them my heart was alright, it was my brain managing a sugarless/high fructose corn syrupless  state. After the first 4 days I have been feeling fantastic.

The interesting thing is that in this fast God has not just begun to trim my waste, He is trimming my life of distractions that have kept me from really having the intimate relationship with Himself that I am meant to have.  The major time waster in my life has been television.  I liked to have it on for the noise and at night I would put on the Food Network and watch Guy Fieri eat really greasy food, like I actually care about what his favorite diner is, or if he has taken his trip to flavor town.  It was just a time waster, like sugar that fills space in a diet that should be filled with nutrients, t.v. was filling time in my diet that should have been filled with Jesus.  I repent of it, and luckily for now, God has changed my appetite.  I have a sense that He wants to be with me. I have this feeling that He has so much more for me than just watching other people live their lives on t.v.  He has real life for me right here in His word, challenging me through authors who He has inspired, or writing down what He is teaching me… but I could be finding out how to braise a chicken… Priorities.

I was at the YMCA the other day and I had the chance to talk with one of my new friends.  She is a beautiful older woman who has a smile a mile wide and is always welcoming a visit.  I cut my workout short to sit with her and chat. She asked me what I was reading because she is an avid reader and scholar. I told her that the only thing I read consistently is the Bible.  She told me a few people who she knew that read the Bible and asked if I was reading KJV (an atheist she reads recommended it).  I fumbled a little in my answer for some reason, I didn’t want to get into the whole what is the best version debate. It turns out she considers herself to be an atheist and mostly reads authors who write from that perspective.  She did say that she heard Phil. 4:8-9 once quoted by an atheist, and she has asked it to be read at her funeral.  She sees the beauty of thinking on what is noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable. I find it challenging beyond measure in such a noisy world:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

What if we actually followed the mandate in this passage. Think about God, and you will act out God, and God will fill you with peace.  Right now I feel like I am a pitcher and God is pouring Himself into me and filing me with His sweet refreshing Spirit.  He is changing my appetite to crave what is beautiful and God birthed, not just what is easy come easy go.  It isn’t rocket science.  Our minds are a fertile soil, they will sprout what we plant in them.  If I let me mind be filled with God’s word and a little nonsense then a little nonsense will sprout alongside God actions and thoughts.  What if I just let my mind be filled with God’s word and what is true and lovely?  If I cut the nonsense entirely?  There will be more room in me for Jesus, and somehow I think Jesus wants that space.  He wants my mind to be like Solomon’s temple when it was dedicated in 2 Chronicles 7 and the presence of God so filled the temple that not even the priests could stay inside; it was too crowded.  Lord God, fill my mind and body which is your temple.  Fill me so that my intimacy with you increases and my love for you deepens. Fill me so that my life will spill your sweetness onto those around me. Fill me so that when I see my sweet friend at the Y next week she will see you in me and she will want what she sees.  Lord, fill me completely.



Being Pregnant
July 20, 2012, 1:46 am
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Awhile ago I was considering a very silly situation. What if a woman went to the hospital and checked herself in saying she was in labor, but she wasn’t really pregnant?  She would be considered a fool. It doesn’t matter how much you want to have a baby (something I think about often), you can’t go in there and have them get one out of you if you are not pregnant. 

The situation is absurd, but in a very real sense it is something that happens all the time in the church.  Think about how many folks are trying to make things happen in ministry.  They have good intentions, you need to have a 5th grade Sunday School class, that is mandatory right?  If no one in the Church is annointed by God to teach it, then they will find someone who they can use to get by.  It leads to a class being led by a person who is not called by God to do it. Most of the children in the class will get the halfhearted attempt and will find Sunday School to be ordinary and uninspired.  They may stop coming all together.

I personally know that I don’t want to do anything I am not called by God to do because I will mess it up royally. I have been wrestling with this thought all day today because I am wondering if now is the time for God to move me forward in writing.  When I retired from youth ministry 6 years ago, I believed God was going to lead me into a writing ministry. I was able to spend some good time writing at my last church and the truth is I was enthralled with it.  I felt God’s presence on me in special way to tell His story. Just thinking about it now gets my heart beating faster.  I believed that writing would be in my future. 

My ministry at Sojourn has involved very little writing. The truth is that I have been distracted by so many things, most of which are things that are complete time wasters.  I have begun a 40 day fast with my husband.  We are seeking God to clear the junk out of our lives and to fill us with Himself and with His wisdom.  In the past week, God has given me so many things that I am just bursting to write out, to share, to teach, to wrestle with.  I believe that God is beginning to place in me the seed of telling His story.  I have been asking God all day today if I am ready, if I am able, if I am called, annointed, set apart for taking on a blog and sharing His story.  It probably sounds silly to struggle with a blog, it is not a big deal right?  It’s just a blog.  Right now, to me, it seems like a calling and a responsibility, like I am pregnant with a baby that is telling God’s story and I don’t want to miscarry, I don’t want to prove to be a bad parent. I don’t want to embark on a journey I am not willing to complete. I feel like Moses when God told him to go on and He would give them everything they need, but not Himself. Moses responded that there was no way he would go without God. How would the nations know that they were God’s people if God wasn’t with them?  My prayer in going forth on sharing God’s story is that His presence would be with me.  I am comforted and encouraged tonight by Jesus and His promise that if we abide in Him, we will bear much fruit, apart from Jesus we can do nothing.  Apart from Jesus there is nothing worth doing. 

Here is the question I have been asking all day, “what am I pregnant with?”.  What are you pregnant with?  What is God stirring in you?  To what and to whom is He calling you?  I want to be that tree planted by streams of living water that bears it’s fruit in season. I want to be that servant who given a few talents invests them so the master can receive a 10 fold return.  Don’t you?  I don’t want to chase babies that aren’t mine to birth. I don’t want to chase ministries that aren’t mine to pursue. I just want to birth what God has planted in me. I just want to be the girl God is making me. I just want to be that part of the body of Christ that Jesus has fashioned me to be. 

Sweet Church, dressed in white, be who it is God is calling you to be today.  Abide in Him, and you will bear much fruit, apart from Him, you can do nothing.  Apart from Him nothing is worth doing.

I have several blogs in my head. In the coming weeks I will talk about being disappointed with God, about being greedy with God, about getting the fluff out of your life and investing in the real stuff.