Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Covered Tenderly by My Kinsman-Redeemer

 “Spread the corner of your garment over me,
since you are a kinsman-redeemer.”
Ruth 3:9

I call them the Threshing Floor Seasons of life. Those times when God, in His love and faithfulness, takes us through a process of purifying our hearts. He necessarily goes through the grain of our heart, gets to the root and separates the righteous wheat from the dead chaff. I have found it to be a more effective and efficient process as I surrender my heart willingly to Him and say, “Father, please separate the wheat from the chaff in my heart so only the wheat remains.” The wheat represents the good, fruitful part of our hearts that is pleasing and useful to Him. The chaff is the dead, fruitless part of our heart that does not honor Him and cannot be used by Him. He wants to purify our hearts by ridding us of the chaff. Afterwards, our hearts are refreshed, our faith is stronger, and God is glorified. The healthy wheat has remained, and the lifeless chaff has been burned away.

Often His instrument used during this process comes in the form of a person. Someone in our lives who God uses as His tool of sanctification. Sometimes these tools are trusted, proven relationships where we feel safe to expose our hearts and have our uglies revealed.

Other times, the tool, as a winnowing fork, is someone with whom we would not choose to expose our hearts, someone who tends to rub us the wrong way…the unlikely servants known as sandpaper people. Difficult relationships can  be a source of great pain, but they can also be an invaluable tool for God’s purifying work and healing for me.

I have learned to truly thank the Lord for sandpaper people as they can, if I yield my heart to the Lord, be tools used to burn away the choking chaff so that only fruitful wheat remains. In the light of God's Word, these threshing floor seasons are invaluable.

Once as I was going through a threshing floor season and the tool was an unknowing servant (one of my sandpaper people), the Lord impressed upon my heart to do a little Bible study about the threshing floor by reading through the book of Ruth. This book of the Bible illustrates the law of the kinsman-redeemer. A kinsman-redeemer was a near relative who was able and willing to pay the price of redemption, freeing the relative by taking care of the debt/ransom price for them. By leaving His throne and coming to dwell with us in flesh through the incarnation, Jesus became our Kinsman-Redeemer. Our Perfect Nearest-of-Kin made reconciliation with God for us, while we were yet sinners.

As I read through the third chapter of Ruth, I was tenderly overwhelmed by His Word. Ruth 3:5 tells us that she went to the threshing floor in obedience. I was breathless as I read on and was reminded that there on the threshing floor she encountered her kinsman-redeemer, whom she asked to gently cover her with his garment of protection and care. How this ministered to my heart. Our Kinsman-Redeemer is faithful to meet us on the threshing floor of our hearts. He loves us and desires a pure heart in us. He tenderly meets us in that place, and we are secure under His covering of love.

"...there is a kinsman-redeemer nearer than I."
Ruth 3:12

Going to the threshing floor of our hearts is a bittersweet process. But the sweet redemption is invaluable. Our Kinsman-Redeemer tenderly meets us there in faithfulness and gently covers us with His garment of protection, care and righteousness. The chaff is burned and blows away. The beautiful wheat remains and brings Him glory.
"This is what the LORD says— your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
"I am the LORD your God,
who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go."
Isaiah 48:17

“ …for the Lord searches the heart and understands
every motive behind the thoughts.
If you seek Him, He will be found by you…”
1 Chronicles 28:9 (NIV)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Unglued...But Not Unfinished

"And I am certain that God,
who began the good work within you,
will continue his work until it is finally finished
on the day when Christ Jesus returns."
Philippians 1:6

Connections.  Relationships.  Two things on the top of my list of passions and priorities.  That's why I LOVE this book!

Previewing my friend Lysa's newest book Unglued, which is due to be released in August 2012, I am totally connecting with her message.  I am connecting because of my own abilities to become unglued.  And since I have been previewing the book, it seems as though I have been given more opportunities to respond to situations in God-honoring ways rather than becoming unglued. (Take for instance the other day when I was pulled over and ticketed by a police officer on the way to my children's school to serve lunch at the 6th grade Asia Day celebration...didn't that officer know he was making me late?  Or earlier that day when I had an opportunity to graciously reply to a snippy email I received.  Oh yes...I heartily agree with Lysa's way of replying to snippy emails in grace and truth.  And with her wisdom that sometimes the delete button is our best response to a snippy email. Smile.)

My family knows well of my unwanted talent to become unglued at times.  Sometimes I SCOO-KA-MA-BOB-A!  And God sweetly and gently teaches me through my children that I can be Untied, But Not Undone.

If I receive a compliment, I often reply "Well, glory to God, and please go check with my family to authenticate that!"  Living a life of godly integrity happens within the walls of our own homes first. That’s really where we are authenticated.  Walking with a blameless heart in our homes.  Yet, this is most often where our stickiness rears its ugly head most often.  What my family sees and knows of me is more important than what others may think.  Integrity of the soul.  Lysa talks about it in her new book.

Unglued.  I can relate sometimes.  I think it's safe to say we all can.

Connections.  Relationships.  Daily time in His Word.  "We must first exchange whispers with God in the morning before we exchange shouts with the world." ~ Lysa Terkeurst

While I can totally relate to becoming unglued, the reason I LOVE Lysa's new book is that, at the heart of it, Lysa's message is about connections and relationships.  Our relationship with God.  Our connecting with His Word daily.  Nurturing healthy and God-honoring relationships with family and friends.  And the truth that, once in a while, we have to prune a "toxic" relationship from our lives in order to bring forth new life. 

Imperfect progress.  Prepared godly responses to challenging situations ~ the fruit of our abiding in Him.  Godly integrity of our soul.  Peace.

Unglued.  I have underlined just about every sentence in the first eight chapters I have read of this book so far!  I imagine the same will be true as I continue to read through the rest of the book. 

I don't say this often, but it is a must-read for women!  In this book, Lysa again demonstrates how our relationships with God flows down into our relationships with family and friends and others.  In her sweet, southern, down-to-earth kind of way, Lysa unearths the treasures of being unglued and reminds us that imperfect progress is progress and growth nonetheless.

We may feel unglued, but we are not unfinished.  He who began a good work in us is faithful to complete it.

Unglued will be released in August 2012!!  If you can relate to feeling unglued at times, please leave a comment here.  My hubby and I will be giving away 3 pre-order copies of Unglued.  The winners will be announced on Friday, March 16th.
"The mind of sinful man is death,
but the mind controlled
by the Spirit is life and peace..."Romans 8:6