Wasting our lives and glorifying God

Wasting our lives and glorifying God
Notice God's unutterable waste of saints, according to the judgment of the world. God plants His saints in the most useless places. We say - God intends me to be here because I am so useful. Jesus never estimated His life along the line of the greatest use. God puts His saints where they will glorify Him, and we are no judges at all of where that is. ~Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest, August 10

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Free Saeed!

The Bible gives us a very important admonition that we so often overlook and many of us have never really considered.  In fact, I don't know that I've ever particularly heard a sermon on this passage, and what a shame that is.

Remember the prisoners as if chained with them--those who are mistreated--since you yourselves are in the body also.  Hebrews 13:3

And then there's this other verse, that likewise doesn't capture a lot of our attention:

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Proverbs 31:8

Today we have an opportunity to remember those who are chained and to speak up for those who cannot do so for themselves.

Pastor Saeed Abedini is an American citizen who is imprisoned in Iran for the crime of being a Christian.  He faces daily beatings, being threatened at knife point, and life-saving medication is withheld.  He is being kept in the same cell as violent criminals--murderers and rapists.  This gentle man is a husband and father of two.

In the U.S. negotiations with Iran over their nuclear plans and possible sanctions, the plight of Pastor Saeed was not addressed at all!  He was never even mentioned.  This is an injustice!  How can we leave one of our own left to die, his only "crime" being that he loves our same Jesus!


How can you do this?

Well, start by signing these petitions:

ACLJ's Stand For Pastor Saeed Petition


Be Heard Project's Free Saeed Petition

Watch the following video for other ways to get the word out!


God hears our prayers on behalf of those suffering for His sake!  Lift up your voices!  Storm heaven, asking for his safe release and for his strength in this trial!  Pray that the powers that be with act justly!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Tegshee Walker's Birth Story

Tegshee Walker was born on July 19 into Daddy's loving hands.  7 lbs. 6.5 oz.  21 inches long.  For those that like birth stories, his birth might best be told in pictures.  So, here you go:

My due date was officially July 31.  But, I knew the baby would be coming earlier.  I just had that feeling.

My Dad came to visit for a few days on July 15.  On the night of the 16th he took us all to the movies.  Throughout the movie, River kept wanting to nurse.  Which gave me intensely strong contractions.  I couldn't wait until that movie was over so we could get out of there!  I just wanted to lay down!

The net morning, July 17th, I woke up to water pouring out of me.  It was 6:40 AM.  I told Gana, we congratulated one another, we cleaned up and then I told my Dad.  Who called my mom.  Who called my sister.  Who loaded up the kids in the car.  And everyone got ready for a baby!

I called my midwife and friend who would be coming to the birth.  And I told everyone, "I am not yet in active labor.  So, don't fly here like your hair's on fire."  Did anyone listen to me?  No.  Everyone gets excited for babies in my family.  And I have been known to give birth before they arrived (Captain's 2.5 hours start to finish labor!), so they had good reason not to listen to me.


After a breakfast of eggs and fish roe and a cup of coffee I decided to do some prenatal yoga just to get everything stretched and get some more consistent contractions going.

Saraa joined me.  Notice the chux pad to catch the water which flowed continually.  Things got going, rather slowly.  But, that's how I like it.  Peaceful and slow.  Time for visiting and talking about what the baby will be like, what we should name him or her and all that.  

But....maybe this was a bit too slow.  

12 hours into labor. 

Feeling a wee bit nauseated, hence the bowl.  Just in case.
Still you have to enjoy and laugh now and then.
The kids like to feel how the baby moves during contractions.

My sister feeding and entertaining the 11 children on the porch.

Grandma, waiting patiently for her 18th great grandchild
I took a shower to refresh myself.  Glancing at myself in the mirror I said, "Wow.  I really should have tweezed my eyebrows before I started labor."  Gana said, "That comment right there lets me know we've still got a long ways to go."

Keep calm and labor on, my friends.

Sometime late in the night I got the children to pray for me.  And Lucas blew his shofar!
Totally felt the presence of the Lord!

Things got quite intense during the night.  We thought for sure the baby would arrive before sunrise.  Meg was determined to stay awake the whole night.  Instead....

Yes, this is Meg, konked out in the co-sleeper.
My mom and Gana fell asleep at the foot of the bed.

Everyone fell asleep, including me!  In the morning Meg said, "Oh man!  I didn't make it all night!"  I said, "Don't worry, honey, neither did I!"

That second morning I was tired.  Just tired.  Not in pain.  Not really upset.  Just tired.  I put my head on Gana's shoulders and cried my eyes out.  After a few minutes I was all better.  And I had a little breakfast.

I asked my midwife for my first vaginal exam.  What was going on?!  She checked and I was about 5 cm dilated.  OK, that's nice.  She also said that the baby wasn't in the best position, slightly posterior.  

After my water being broken for 24 hours and my contractions totally spacing out and becoming mild again, we decided to bring in reinforcements!  NURSING THE TODDLER!

That got contractions really kicking along!  We thought for sure the baby would be born before the day was over. Yet.....

Here we are about 40 hours into labor.  Notice how many costume changes I've gone through!

My midwife, family and friends have the utmost patience.  They let me quietly labor and do whatever I wanted.  Bath.  Walk outside.  Nap.  Eat. Worship. Pray.  Nice to be around people who don't freak out when I burst out speaking in tongues and weeping to a Jason Upton song.  

On the second night of labor I sent all the children to bed.  No staying up watching me.  My mom and grandma went to bed.  Meg slept next to me on the floor of the bedroom.  The midwife and my friend slept in the living room.  Gana slept next to me in the bed.  When I needed to feel his strength I just reached out and touch him.  He didn't even have to wake up.  I just wanted to feel his strength near me and at the ready.  That helped me to stay calm.

I lay or sat on the bed in absolute silence.  I labored for hours in the night and into the morning.  By myself.  It was peaceful and calm.  My mind was often in a completely different place.  I wouldn't say I was delirious.  But, I was only sort of half-conscious and yet...somehow fully aware.  That makes no sense, I realize.  But it was exactly how it was.

About 5am I put on some Andrea Marie music and just relaxed into that peace.  

About 6am (nearly 48 hours after my water broke) I felt pushy.  So, I woke up Gana and asked him to get our midwife from the living room.  She came in, watched me through a couple contractions.  And I asked her to check me.  She did.

"You still have about 3 cm to go.  But your cervix is very soft."  

And in the next moment I said, "My body is pushing by itself."  She responded so calmly, something like, "I see that."  And Gana set about to fetch the rest of the family.  We had promised the kids and my mom that we wouldn't let them miss it!

But he didn't get a chance to reach everyone.  He had to just scream for everyone. (Thus confirming that I can't be trusted to tell people when to come to my births.)  I screamed for Gana.  "Gana!!!!!!"  He rushed to me.  And in one second stage contraction, I pushed out our baby, straight into Daddy's hands!  

There is a picture I can't really show you because it's totally not decent, but as the baby is coming out, I am laughing!  Yes, laughing!!!

The cord was tangled around his neck and body.  I unwrapped him myself and Gana put him on my stomach.  Then he said, "Meg, you owe be 10 bucks!"  Which she knew meant, "It's a boy!"

My Mommy, my baby and me

Me and my two nursing babies: Tegshee and River
The kids went with the midwife to examine the placenta and have a little science lesson.  Plus, using all the midwife's equipment to check one another out.

We knew we wanted to call him Tegshee, which is the Mongolian word for "Straight" as in the "straight and narrow."  But, all along the pregnancy we could not think of a middle name.  As I sat in the rocking chair with him when he was about an hour old, I suddenly said, "What about Walker?"  Thus the full meaning of his name would be, "One who walks straight."  

Right after that, my friend who was supporting me through labor said, "The verse for today is Deuteronomy 30:16, 'In that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it.'"

That settled it.  Tegshee Walker was his name!

Nana B, Del the midwife, and Tegshee

Grandma and Tegshee

We celebrated with a BIRTH-day cake:

Getting his first chiropractic adjustment at home with Tio.
The whole thing from water breaking to birth was just minutes shy of 48 hours.  But the whole thing was very peaceful, very calm, and pretty much painless.  It was work and it was exhausting, but it was beautiful.  I was surrounded by loving and supportive people, but was able to labor as I wanted--sometimes all alone, sometimes being very social.  And my baby was born into a total atmosphere of joy.

In fact, beginning the second day, Tegshee started laughing--out loud!--in his sleep.  So sweet!  He must have some beautiful dreams.  And that makes Mommy and Daddy so happy.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Kadesh, Shechem, Hebron, Bezer, Ramoth, Golan, Christ

Been watching the Facebook feed and news on TV and if you didn't know any better you'd think:

1. There is no other news in the whole world aside from the Zimmerman trial.
2. Everyone on Facebook now has a law degree.
3. Christians have a lot of rage they need to deal with.

Calls for justice (and/or revenge) abound and even those of good Quaker stock are talking about the death penalty.  It's all an-eye-for-an-eye everywhere.  And now, as I type this, there are riots, vandalism and brutality happening, as well as a some peaceful protests.

Here's the thing, y'all, the heart of the Gospel is not that every man must pay for his sin.  At the heart of the Gospel is this completely unfair notion of grace.  It was prophetically built into the law from the beginning.  Even with the murderer Cain.  He was marked and no man was to touch him.  
The LORD replied, "No, for I will give a sevenfold punishment to anyone who kills you." Then the LORD put a mark on Cain to warn anyone who might try to kill him. Genesis 4:15
If tit-for-tat were the nature of God, I think we could look to how God dealt with the first murderer as an indication of that.  But, rather, we see that God was full of grace even then.

When God gave Moses His law there were rules about what would happen if a man took another man's life by lying-in-wait and with intent to kill.  He would die, eventually.  It is the law of reaping and sowing and not necessarily the law of retaliation.  But, if two people got into it and someone lost their head, and someone died, the one who did the slaying had one recourse.  He could flee.  Flee to a city of refuge.
"Six of the towns you give the Levites will be cities of refuge, where a person who has accidentally killed someone can flee for safety."  Numbers 35:6
These cities, run by God's priests, were a prophetic picture of Christ and His Body.  God's people were not to merely cry out for retribution.  They were to provide a place of mercy.  

Let's face it.  We all need that place.  Jesus said that if you are angry with your brother without cause you are guilty of murder. (Matthew 5:22)  Today I've seen a lot of angry people.  Angry at the jury.  Angry at the one who pulled the gun.  Angry at those of a different race.  Angry at those of a different political party.  Angry at the police.  Angry, angry, angry.  And that pretty much puts us in Zimmerman's shoes and in equal need of God's mercy.

Yet, God has not called us to rant and threaten to move the Europe.  God has called us to be the ones who say to the guilty, "Run to us!  Find mercy!  Find shelter!  There is a place of refuge."

In the end, Jesus didn't come for the innocent.  Jesus came for the guilty.  If you feel that justice wasn't served, know this: Jesus came for the George Zimmermans of the world and not for the Trayvons.  That might rub you the wrong way.  That may offend your sense of justice.  Remember that Jesus is often offensive. 
"I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance..." Mark 2:17
He certainly is offensive, right up until that moment when you realize that you need Him to be your place of refuge.  When you come to the place where you think, "If He doesn't hide me, I will die."  And then Jesus' offensiveness becomes your best defense.

The Cities of Refuge in the Bible had specific names that spoke to specific traits of God:

Kadesh, meaning Righteousness
Shechem, meaning Shoulder
Hebron, meaning Fellowship
Bezer, meaning Fortress
Ramoth, meaning Exalted
Golan, meaning Joy

These are not just the nature of God.  These were cities, run by God's priests.  They speak to the six things, we, as God's people, have to offer the world, the guilty and to those in need of mercy.  If we don't have these six things to offer, what do we have?  As humans are sympathies are with the innocent.  As Christians, our reach extends to the guilty.

So, while you are chanting (or tweeting or Facebooking), "Justice for Trayvon" and "No Justice; No Peace!" and "If you're not for us, you're against us."  Perhaps think about the call to say: 

Righteousness for the guilty, of whom I am chief.

Zimmerman, do you need a shoulder? He cares for you.

No matter what you've done, we offer you fellowship.

Zimmermans of the world, do you need a safe place?

God will be exalted through every life that takes shelter in His house.

God can and will turn ashes into beauty and give you the oil of joy for your spirit of heaviness.

Christians, remember that the grace and forgiveness you give out is the grace and forgiveness you will receive.  Jesus, out of His great love, died for the guilty.  I don't know about you, but I think we should put down our stones and accept some of that love for ourselves and share a little with a world full of Zimmermans.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Ganchimeg's Bat-Mitzvah and Birthday

 Our daughter just turned 12.  Which, according to Hebrew tradition, makes her an adult.  Beautiful and yet, sobering thought.  We've had 12 years to mold her character, to lead her to the Lord, to steward her experiences and help her to form her beliefs.  And now she stands before the Lord as a DAUGHTER OF COVENANT.  That's what Bat-Mitzvah literally means.  Bat: daughter.  Mitzvah: the commands of God.

To celebrate we asked Meg what she wanted.  To be sure she had definite ideas of how she would observe this special time of her life.  So between her ideas and ours, we had a weekend worthy of a daughter of the Lord!

It began on her actual birthday.  She invited only her closest girlfriends and women who she looks at as friends and mentors.  The theme of the party was actually planned by Gana and hidden from Meg until just moments before the party.  Gana worked late into the nights and in all his free time building her a Hope Chest.  The design and all the building and painting was done by Gana alone.

He presented it to her before the party.  She was so surprised and happy.  She's been wanting a Hope Chest for a while.

As the women gathered, they brought with them special contributions to the Hope Chest.  Heirlooms, antiques, presents with prophetic meanings, crafts they'd made by hand.  It was so moving as each lady presented Meg with a little piece of themselves that she can carry with her into her own womanhood.

Meg and her Titi

Hadassah, one of Meg's oldest friends

Me and my grandmother, who presented Meg with her own wedding Bible and a handkerchief that my Grandfather had given her before they even met face-to-face.  Yes, I cried.

A special gift from a grafted in Auntie.
The food was also all of Meg's choosing--CHEESE! Of many varieties!  Crispy fried goat cheese, homemade mozzarella sticks, port salut, blue, ricotta, several aged and stinky varieties.  Fruit and nuts and baguettes.  Sparkling cider with hibiscus flowers so we could toast pink!

 We celebrated Meg late into the night.  The next day, however, was the BIG DAY!  The day that Meg would make a public declaration of her movement from childhood to womanhood, receiving all the blessings of her parents, grandparents, god-parents and pastors.

On this day, men and boys were there to witness it as well as the women and girls.  It was a small intimate group of those that Meg chose as her spiritual mentors and fellow-journeyers.

Meg opened up the ceremony by quoting all of I Corinthians 13.

Meg was dressed in a beautiful dress from India, thanks to Auntie Micha.  Jewelry borrowed from Titi.  And an antique hair piece given her by Nina, a dear friend whose grandmother was a famous actress in India.  So special!

(In case you don't know Meg and are wondering at all the Indian stuff, well, it's like this:  When Meg was five years old she came to us and said something like "I had a vision.  And God told me I was going to go to India as a missionary."  And she has been unwavering in that statement these seven years.  She loves India.  She prays for India.  She is determined to go there and be the Mama Heidi of India.)

Then three of Meg's brothers serenaded her One Direction style!  What Makes You Beautiful, with a few lyrical changes to reflect Meg, her pink hair and how if she could see what God could see, she'd understand why the world needs her desperately!  It was hilarious and sweet!!!  Meg was properly embarrassed.  Mission accomplished, boys.

 Her pastors, Karl and Debbie, and god-parents couldn't be there that day, but they sent their prayers and blessings via YouTube, which we played next.

Then her grandparents gave their blessing to Meg.  Emee, Gana's mom, blessed Meg via YouTube (what a wonderful thing technology is!) and my parents spoke their generational and prophetic blessing over Meg's life.  I am a fourth generation Spirit-filled pastor.  So, Meg is the fifth!  That's a lot of blessings that come from a Lord who is faithful to bless those who seek Him to a thousand generations!

Papa washing Meg's feet.

Oh, our prophetic Nana!!!  She challenged Meg not to ask the Lord to fulfill her dreams, but rather that Meg ask God how she might fulfill His dreams!  AMEN!
Meg gave a speech, thanking those who have poured into her life and asking those present to keep her accountable for following the Lord and all His ways.

My turn.  Which meant get the ugly cry on.  I can't believe my little girl has come to this place in her life.  I thanked her, blessed her and laid out some of her new responsibilities and new privileges that come with growing into womanhood. 

When I started crying, of course, Meg started crying, too.

Daddy's turn!  I wish every little girl growing into womanhood could hear words from her father that Meg heard from hers.  The world would be a very different place if they did.  I'm sure of it.

Then we celebrated with Meg's celebration dinner of choice: Indian food and Russian cake!  

Some people have questioned why we do so many Jewish things, such as observing Passover and Shabbat and seasons of fasting.  And now we've undertaken to give our children Bar/Bat-Mitzvah.  No, we are not Jewish and no we haven't converted.  Rather, we are grafted in!  (Romans 11)  There has been such an amazing amount of blessing that has been poured out over our family through observing Hebrew and Biblical traditions.  We don't do it from a place of legalism at all.  It's all an overflow of grace!  

So, I guess you could say we gave our daughter a Gentile-Charismatic-Prophetic-Family Centered Bat-Mitzvah!

We felt it was important because in our culture today we don't mark times and seasons and much to our demise.  How many young people grow up and no one has ever declared them that they are men and women before God?!  No one has ever affirmed them and launched them into their destinies and callings.  Instead, so many young people wallow in doubt and second guess their place as a child full of promise.  And these young people grow up into adults who still feel as if they are sitting at God's kiddie table at Thanksgiving.

The Bible talks about two groups of people: children and adults.  There is no in-between stage called "teenager" where one is not accountable for their actions and are allowed to live in a self-centered way.  We try not to even use the word "teenager" around here.  Either you are a child or you are an adult.  (Which is why we don't usually do "youth group" type groups and activities.  Now that Meg is an adult, we expect her to participate in our faith--her faith!--as an adult and not as one who has a junior Holy Spirit.)

This last weekend we launched our daughter into being a full daughter of covenant.  She is moving from discipline to guidance.  Negotiating how to live her own life accountable before the Lord, seeking His face, following His ways, leading others to Him and finding ways to serve the Church and the world using her own unique gifts and talents.  Our job is to help steward her experiences and keeping our faces fixed on Jesus together.

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