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Welcome to the Threshing Floor

wheat, handI love when God pulls things together in a way that I can understand. All summer I have been working through a Bible study on the book of Ruth. The climax of Ruth’s story in Chapter 3 centers on the threshing floor at the end of harvest season. For six weeks, the workers and Ruth have been gathering the wheat harvest. In chapter three, the action shifts to the threshing floor, a hilltop overlooking the fields where the wheat is brought to be prepared for storage. It is here that Ruth proposes to Boaz. It is here that Boaz tells Ruth to rest as he springs into action to tie up any legal hassles that might prevent a wedding. She trusts him to clear away any obstacles and places her future in his hands. Over the years, this moment has become synonymous with a person placing their trust in Jesus. When we admit that we need Jesus to secure our future and realize that by dying on the cross, He has already taken away any obstacles to our eternal life in His home, we are standing on a symbolic threshing floor where we can offer ourselves as a bride to Jesus, trusting that everything He has already done for us will suffice.

threshing floor

The Threshing Floor

 

Yeah, it’s kind of a big moment for a Christian.

The last few mornings I have been reading thru the book of 1 Chronicles. Chapters 19-22 tell the dramatic story of how God enabled David to conquer the countries around Israel that had been threatening them. David is a charismatic leader with a brilliant military mind. He is the one that takes the struggling young nation of Israel and makes them into a power to be reckoned with. David is also the great grandson of Ruth and Boaz so I liked that my reading was pulling these generations together for me. After reading of the cultural and symbolic impact of the threshing floor in Ruth, couldn’t help but noticed that a threshing floor figures prominently in David’s story, in fact all of Israel’s story, too.

threshing floor Thirasia

remains of a threshing floor 

 

David’s army has been victorious and he decides that he wants a census taken of the army. He wants to see just how strong his army is. Problem is that God had already instructed Moses about taking a census and David does not follow those instructions. It’s not really about counting the men, it’s the reason he wants to count the men. After all those victories, David is feeling pretty good about himself and seems more inclined to trust in a strong army rather than an all-powerful God. When David realizes that he has disobeyed God, he repents (21:8). But God, being perfectly just, must exact a punishment. God is not being petty. He is teaching David and all Israel that the only way they will survive is through complete faith in Him. When we first meet David back in 1 Samuel 16:7 we learn that God looks at our hearts and is not impressed by outward appearances. David’s heart is not aligned with God at this moment and as king, it will affect the entire country. God moves quickly and decisively. He sends a plague on the land, but just as the angel of death is approaching Jerusalem, He orders His angel to stop (1 Chronicles 21:14-16). David is able to see the angel “standing between heaven and earth, with a drawn sword in his hand extended over Jerusalem.” And the angel wasn’t just on the outskirts of town – he was “standing at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite” (v.15).

David is instructed to build an altar there and offer sacrifices. This is the place where God’s justice stopped and His mercy begins. Reading on, we see that David didn’t stop with an altar. He lays the plans for the temple to be built there and begins gathering a staggering amount of supplies. His son Solomon will be the temple builder but it started right here with David’s repentance of his lack of trust in God and his acceptance of what God is offering him.  We see the threshing floor as a place where God displays His love for us and we only need to accept and submit. Ruth did it. David did it. So must we.

The threshing floor goes down in history as the place where God’s justice meets His mercy in an earthly setting. But in God’s hands, it goes even further and becomes a place of Grace.

God’s justice – When He gives us sinners what we deserve even though it breaks His heart (Matthew 23:37)

God’s mercy – When He doesn’t give us what we deserve (1 Peter 1:3)

God’s grace – When He give us what we do not deserve – His love given eternally (it’s basically the whole Bible)

Following the example left us from Ruth and David, the only thing we must do is go to the threshing floor – find ourselves in a place where we can finally admit that we need God’s help, admitting that what Jesus did for us, really is enough to transcend this world and lift us into heaven. (Rev 3:20)

wheat, sun

Welcome to the threshing floor a place where justice, mercy and grace live eternally.

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Soar the Heavens

Even though You give us wings to soar the Heavens,

there is still a part of us bound to the rock of earth

P1010581

just as a butterfly sips at nectar

and a bird cracks open the seedP1010354

like a hawk searching for his prey

we, too, feed on the beauty around usP1020515

until we have sufficiently grown on any measure to appreciate the beauty of Heaven.

P1020483

Even though our souls have wings to soar the Heavens

our bodies belong to the solidity of Earth.

Let my soul sing with the joy of Heaven while my heart struggles with the pain of earth.

Teach me, Lord, to soar the Heavens while walking the earth.P1020470

My soul clings to you

Your right hands upholds me.

Psalm 63:8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Dream Big

this is from last year when my son graduates high school. tomorrow my daughter graduates college – can u believe it!

enelsonblog

This one’s for my kids. For the one with a year of college left and wondering what will happen and the one who will graduate high school this week. Whatever happens, don’t let your circumstances limit you. Love you both to the moon and back!kitten poster

       When my youngest started Kindergarten, I found a poster of a kitten. He is looking up into the clouds where there is a picture of a large tiger. The caption reads, “Dream Big”. I bought it and put it up in my son’s room. I wanted it to be a reminder for both of my children that having big dreams was a good thing. If someone should say to either of them, “Get your head out of the clouds!” I wanted them to feel confident enough to yell back, “Bring on the tigers, I’m not afraid. I dream big”!

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a Faith that moves mountains

 

 

mullins faith quote

Every time that I read a quote from the late Rich Mullins, I think to myself, “That is sooo good, he really nailed it with that one.” But this is probably my favorite one. It speaks of faith, just faith.

“If faith is all we have, then maybe faith is all we need.”

 (from Wounds of Love by Rich Mullins)

 

I’ve seen God move incredible mountains in my life. Sometimes I thought those mountains weren’t going to move. I had cowered in their shadow for so long, that I figured they were just part of the backdrop of my life. But God does move the mountains when we come to him with nothing but faith and empty hands that don’t need to hold onto anything because they are stretched out in faithful prayer.

Those same hands have held onto a lot of anger over the years. I was mad at things that had happened, words that had been said to me and words that I had said to others. I was mad at circumstances that had formed boundaries around my thoughts. I was mad at God for the things that He had allowed to happen to me. When I began to seriously follow Christ, the hardest lesson for me was the one on forgiveness. I have long since stopped working on that one and now try to rely on prayer.

I have nothing but a simple faith that if this is something that God says I need to do, then He will enable me to do it. What I have found is that when push came to shove and I needed to act in a forgiving manner, I was stunned to realize that it wasn’t just an “act” anymore. I was no longer holding that anger that had taken over so much of every waking hour. It just wasn’t there any longer. It had been wiped away, as far away as the east is from the west. I don’t remember a moment when the weight had been lifted, but suddenly when I thought that I would have to put on my best happy face and fake it, my face was truly joyful. I had been praying for a long time that God would teach me how to forgive. What I found was that God had lifted the resentment from my soul without my even realizing it. He had taken away the sting that anger can put into words so that when I spoke to the object of my anger – the anger was gone and only love was left. Sorry to be sounding so preachy and outright corny but I don’t know of any other way to put this. I was able to forgive when the moment came.

So am I the queen of forgiveness now? I Wish I could say “yes” to that, but the answer is a great big fat “No”. Anger is one of those mountains that I let grow to astounding heights and it won’t be knocked down overnight. God will chip away at it slowly and patiently, only teaching me lessons as he makes me open to them.

As I watched my husband turn over the soil in our gardens last weekend, I saw him repeatedly bend down to throw aside the rocks that had worked their way to the surface over the freeze and thaw of winter. Every year there will be rocks and my husband will patiently toss them aside. I can’t help but wonder how many times that God has done this for me. Constantly tilling the soil of my life while tossing the hard, cold stones of anger, bitterness and resentment that result from an unforgiving spirit. I know that this will be an ongoing battle because every time I find myself in a position of being hurt, I find my anger slipping back in – every single time!

I have nothing but faith.

Faith that God will continue to knock down those mountains that block my vision.

Faith that God will love me even when I allow hate and anger to get foothold.

Faith that He can take the corners of my life and shake me out of those angry traps that I allow myself to get caught up in.

Faith that He will lift me over the mountains so that I can see the wonders that He has for me.

I don’t need the easy answers that say, “Just let go of it”.  I need the faith to pray, “Lord, lift me above it” and keep praying that prayer daily. It gets easier, never really easy, but definitely easier, because I now live in a world where my anger is met with Love.

                 In faith, I can see a larger world that truly is full of wonder and leaves me free to wonder.mountains and flowers

 


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Where is my heart, Lord?

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12:34

different heart

Where is my heart, Lord?

 

trapped down here on earth?

weighted by grief and sorrows

knotted with fears and worries                                     heart and arrow

bleeding from the arrows

of a thousand angry foes?

 

Where is my heart, Lord?

 

hardened and scarred?                                                         images (2)

covered over for protection

with layers of false bravado

that have every intention

to mimic your perfection?

 

Where is my heart, Lord?

 

heart leavesI give it to You, Lord.

You’re all I need and more

giving me feet to run, hands to serve

and a heart that beats with wings that soar

over and above a world at war.

All these things are true

of the heart I give to you.

Where is my heart,Lord?

It is resting in You.


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Pink Elephants

pink elephant

 

Ever seen a pink elephant? No? Well, maybe in a cartoon or a children’s book. Seeing pink elephants was a way of saying that a person was delusional, or possibly had tossed back a few too many. But this little guy is the real deal. He is a very rare albino elephant spotted by tourists in Kruger National Park in South Africa. He could be in serious danger since his unique color makes him a target for predators. Surprisingly, the herd has accepted him. Indeed, the other adults don’t seem to notice that anything is different about him.

No one wants to be different. Most of us go thru life trying desperately to fit in because the truth is that those who don’t fit the mold of “normal”, won’t get many party invitations. If you look different, act different or think differently you will probably face a struggle for acceptance every day. Our society likes to think that we encourage individuality. Even within the church, we love to point out verses that tell us how we are all fearfully and wonderfully made. Each one of us is as unique as a snowflake, as individual as our fingerprints are. Though we strive to teach our children to celebrate those differences, the sad truth is that being different can be very lonely.

I made a decision about twenty years ago that has impacted every area of my life. I decided that I had messed things up enough and it was time to let someone else take over. That “someone else” was Jesus and He has turned my thinking, actions and the way I see the world around me upside down. Everything is different now and I can see that reflected in how others look at me.

What might surprise you is that I am not so concerned with how my old family and friends treat me. They are actually quite respectful of my choices and I love them so much for that. It’s often how my church brothers and sisters look at me that can be hurtful. When I don’t view an issue exactly as they do, they will wait for that moment to “lovingly correct” me. As I get older and feel more secure in my relationship with Christ, such things do not bother me as much. I don’t need the approval of others as much as a “well done” from my Savior. However, I see the same concerned correction happening to the next generation as they try and stretch their wings. As much as I value the advice from experienced elder saints, I am put off by the smugness I have encountered and if I dare to admit it – sometimes shown myself. If only we could learn to respect the individual journeys that we are all on. Sometimes the mistakes we make are the very things that teach us the deeper lessons. So, I guess that while there are times to advise, there will also be times to keep my mouth shut. Oh Lord, I pray for the wisdom to know the difference.

For this God is our God for ever and ever, he will be our guide even to the end.

 Psalm 48:14

The definition of a Christian life should be one that is led, to the very end of his days, by Christ. Where He leads me is bound to be different from where He will lead another. Perhaps we are simply at different points on the path so our perspectives may look at different horizons. Rather than look to “correct” those who seem to follow a different path, let’s ask for discretion to know when to help and compassion to console when wrong turns are taken.

We are all different; fearfully and wonderfully made and loved by a God who won’t be put off if we are pink instead of gray. He will accept us as lovingly as the elephant herd accepts its “different” baby. Perhaps they have learned to look beyond the differences to a place where such things no longer register to their eyes. That, after all, is the way God sees us.

father child hands.


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The Better Angels of our Nature

violence at rallyOr Hope Lives Despite Ourselves….

Jesus warned us that a house divided against itself cannot stand (Mark 3:25). Abraham Lincoln echoed that thought in a famous speech during the American Civil War. But, sadly, this is a lesson that is difficult to learn. Mankind will continue to argue rather than talk, fight rather than discuss their differences. In this year’s presidential elections, candidates seem to prefer wallowing in mudslinging rather discussing the issues.  And all of this is a  reflection of the society that we ourselves have created. Haven’t we,over several generations, seen our artistic tendencies slide down towards expressions of the ugliness of mankind rather that the beauty? I think of the music, movies and television shows that glorify negative role models and make morality seem like a quaint oddity. Not that I am calling for a return to starched collars and measuring dress hems. Such surface civility only hides the ugliness of humanity which will bubble to the surface regardless of how we try to hide it.

We like to think that this unraveling of our society as something new but the problem stems from ancient times as evidenced in the Scriptures.

“The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men.” Psalm 12:8

And, honestly, if I had stopped reading at the end of Chapter 12 today, I would have been left saddened and discouraged. But I could feel my eyes being drawn to the next Psalm even as I tried to close the Book and end my morning reading. Actually it was my notes that were written in the margin, probably from some long forgotten sermon or study that caught me. I had written “the circumstances” next to verses one and two. David is crying out to God asking “How long, O God? Will you forget me forever?” It’s as easy today to blame the downward spiral of our culture on God as it was in David’s time.

The notation besides verses three and four read “the conflict as he focuses on circumstances”. He acknowledges that though things are going badly, he needs to turn to God for help (such a simple plea, “Give light to my eyes”). Finally, in verses five and six, “confidence as he focuses on God”.

“But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, for he has been good to me.” Psalm 13:5 and 6

This conflict has been ongoing for many centuries. David felt the struggle of sin’s grip on our world as he grappled with whether or not he would reach for God. Abraham Lincoln lived this battle as he tried to reunite a country bitterly divided. I wonder if he had read Psalms 12 and 13 before giving an inauguration speech in which he said:

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

He saw the brutality of war and was able to look ahead to hope. David, too, saw his pitiful circumstances yet looked upward towards hope. These men were followers of the One Most High and they knew where their focus had to be. Both men, living in such similar and yet vastly different circumstances, understood where hope comes from.

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain.” Hebrews 6:19

Even though David had not met Jesus, he understood Messiah. Mr. Lincoln, whose faith in Christ was strong in perilous times, knew there was hope for mankind despite the atrocities around him. Today, we can still see hope in the curtain of the sanctuary, in the cross of Christ and in the Scriptures He entrusted us with.

“O LORD, you will keep us safe.” Psalm 12:7

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