Monday, August 25, 2008


Have you heard the saying, “Life is hard, and then you die?” Well, in August of 2007, I amended it to, “Life is hard, but moving is harder.” And moving ourselves 2,200 miles across the country in a couple of 26ft. Penske trucks was downright – well, challenging. For such a long-distance move, we agonized over what to take and what to leave behind, give away or throw away. We’d lived in our current home for fourteen years, plenty of time to accumulate lots of “treasures.” One of our daughters would be moving half of her stuff to Washington with us and leaving the other half in storage at college – a logistics nightmare, but a space relief for the move. The other daughter was graduating from college and would be living with us. Funny thing. She actually wanted to take her college apartment possessions with her. Go figure. Well, by God’s hand, we did it. We moved approximately 2 ½ households 2,200 miles across 9 states in 4 ½ days. My father-in-law went along to drive a truck; Roy drove the second truck, both trucks towing vehicle dollies. The girls and I took turns driving our van. No breakdowns, flat tires, physical assaults or murders. Now, stop for a moment and imagine 50,000 people with 8,200 pack animals going 900 miles from Babylon to Jerusalem. That means 6 people shared a single pack animal –horse, mule, camel, or donkey – as well as what each one could carry on foot. How did they decide what to pack for their new lives in a new land?

(I’m not going to copy all the verses because much of it consists of names and numbers. I was afraid you’d get spooked and stop reading! So, I’ll use this: “…” and pick up where the story begins again.)

Ezra 2:1-61 – “Now these are the people of the province who came up from the captivity of the exiles, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had taken captive to Babylon (they returned to Jerusalem and Judah, each to his own town, in company with Zerubbabel…) The list of the men of the people of Israel: the descendants of Parosh 2,172…The following came up from the towns of Tel Melah…but they could not show that their families were descended from Israel” (emphasis added).

  • They couldn’t just run down to the nearest courthouse and check out the computer database or microfiche, so how were some able to show they were descended from Israel? Scrolls and parchments tucked away. Impeccable records of family heritage and the Law were maintained and treasured – and undoubtedly given top priority on a camel’s back to Jerusalem. God entrusted Israel with maintaining the Holy Scriptures so that you and I could have access to the full revelation of His Word – from Creation through Revelation. God has guarded it, and generations have sacrificed their blood for it, so that you and I can read both the Old and New Covenant God made with humankind.

Ezra 2:62-70 – “These searched for their family records, but they could not find them and so were excluded from the priesthood as unclean. The governor ordered them not to eat any of the most sacred food until there was a priest ministering with the Urim and Thummim. The whole company numbered 42,360, besides their 7,337 menservants and maidservants; and they also had 200 men and women singers. They had 736 horses, 245 mules, 435 camels and 6,720 donkeys. When they arrived at the house of the LORD in Jerusalem, some of the heads of the families gave freewill offerings toward the rebuilding of the house of God on its site. According to their ability they gave to the treasury for this work 61,000 drachmas of gold, 5,000 minas of silver and 100 priestly garments. The priests, the Levites, the singers, the gatekeepers and the temple servants settled in their own towns, along with some of the other people, and the rest of the Israelites settled in their towns” (emphasis added)

  • These people made a priority of two things when packing for their journey: proof of their heritage and offerings to Jehovah. Now, my husband is a packrat, and I’m incredibly un-sentimental. We had more than a few disagreements on what went to Goodwill as we packed for our move. I believe the remnant of Israel discovered two important rules of thumb on cleaning out the proverbial closet. Keep it if it has 1) family significance, or 2) potential for ministry significance. Those Israelites who settled in their own towns, did so because they knew their family history. Those who couldn’t find their important papers…probably had an overzealous closet-cleaning wife!

Lord, oftentimes my decision to keep something is based on materialism or a doubt that You can provide for my future needs. Teach me the discipline of simplicity, while working in my heart to value the truly irreplaceable treasures of family and ministry opportunities.

Monday, August 18, 2008


Would you do it if you had the chance – whatever your “it” is? Would you go back to high school and stand up to the bully? Would you make the right choice – now that you know what you know? Would you hug your kids more and shout at them less? Would you take an all-expense paid trip to the homeland of your ancestors? What if the trip included airfare, hotel accommodations and guaranteed job placement once you arrived. Oh, did I mention it involved complete relocation – not just a visit? By the way, this little adventure is being sponsored by the most powerful man in the world, and he’s bankrolling the whole thing. Anyone of your ethnic descent can go. Your family can also accompany you, but each of you can only take one suitcase because the airlines charge extra for a second suitcase! Now, as an added bonus, all your neighbors have pitched in to help with your expenses – at the strong suggestion of the guy bankrolling the expedition. This guy has also –offered to you, from his own private stash, items he stole – excuse me – borrowed from your ancestors seventy years ago. He has asked that when you arrive in your homeland, you build a church and place these items of worship in the church. Sounds easy enough, right? Ready to sign up? Would you do it – if God asked you to?

Ezra 1:2 – “This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: ‘The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah…

Ezra 1:3-5 – “Anyone of his people among you--may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the LORD, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem. And the people of any place where survivors may now be living are to provide him with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with freewill offerings for the temple of God in Jerusalem. Then the family heads of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and Levites--everyone whose heart God had moved--prepared to go up and build the house of the LORD in Jerusalem.

  • You might look at the gargantuan task of moving from Babylon to Jerusalem by camel, and say, “I could never do something like that.” Well, guess what? God didn’t ask you to! He placed you in 2008 and has given you a car (thank you, God!). He’s surrounded you with your own family and friends, and He’s allowed the current joys and challenges you’re facing. The KEY is in v. 5: “…everyone whose heart God had moved….” If God moves our hearts, it’s up to us to get the rest of our anatomy to join the caravan.

Ezra 1:6-11 – “All their neighbors assisted them with articles of silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with valuable gifts, in addition to all the freewill offerings. Moreover, King Cyrus brought out the articles belonging to the temple of the LORD, which Nebuchadnezzar had carried away from Jerusalem and had placed in the temple of his god. Cyrus king of Persia had them brought by Mithredath the treasurer, who counted them out to Sheshbazzar the prince of Judah.

This was the inventory:
gold dishes 30
silver dishes 1,000
silver pans 29
gold bowls 30
matching silver bowls 410
other articles 1,000

In all, there were 5,400 articles of gold and of silver. Sheshbazzar brought all these along when the exiles came up from Babylon to Jerusalem.”

  • When God moves in our hearts to do something, we’ll generally see confirmation all around us. Our efforts will never be problem-free, but we’ll sense a general blessing. There’s a difference. Satan always tries to foil God’s good plan; however, when God’s light shines on our path, darkness must flee.

Lord, it’s easy to become discouraged by small frustrations when I’m a little uncertain about a decision. Help me to weigh Your blessings as gold and Satan’s discouragement as dust.

Monday, August 11, 2008


Hey! Welcome to our first Good a.m. Lord BLOG! We'll be talking about what we learn in Ezra. I'll be sharing just the short version of the e-devotional mailing on the blog. If you'd like the "Sheep Going Deep" Bible Study portion, please contact me at Please feel free to jump in with any comments or questions you might have!

You know when you just know something? You know that you know that you know. Sometimes what you know doesn’t even make any sense. But you know it. Deep down in your gizzard, you know it. That place next to your “knower” – your gizzard? Okay, we don’t really have a knower or a gizzard. But did you know we have a wenis? That’s the little piece of skin that covers your elbow. I almost washed out Emily’s mouth with soap the first time she asked if she could pinch mine. We also have other equally funny sounding parts of the anatomy. Who in the world thought up “solar plexus?” But the solar plexus is currently a hot topic of discussion and debate – thought to be the core of new age meditation and healing. Argh. But there was a king in the prophet Ezra’s time who allowed a different part of his anatomy to rule his decisions…

Ezra 1:1a – “In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah, the LORD moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and to put it in writing:…”
  • Can you imagine a pagan king’s heart being moved by God to favor the Israelites? All to fulfill a prophecy spoken by one of God’s prophets seventy years previously? It’s a tricky thing when God moves the heart of a man because in doing so, He affects the will of man. God is very cautious to protect man’s will. However, because He is God, He can both move a man’s heart and allow that same man freedom to choose. Is there someone in your life – maybe even you – whose heart seems immovable and stuck in the mire of sin or addiction or apathy or…well, you fill in the blank ______________?

Ezra 1:2 – “This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: ‘The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah…’”

  • Humility? From the Persian King of the whole known world? The LORD, the Jewish God gave him the kingdoms of the earth and appointed him to build a temple for Him in Jerusalem? Okay, if there’s someone with a stinky attitude in my life, it can’t require a more complete change of heart than this pagan king underwent.

How about you? Do you believe that NO heart is so hard that God's love and compassion can’t melt it like butter by a warm flame? Will you join me in asking forgiveness for doubting His power to work in the hearts of those around me? Ask Him to open our eyes to His ability to move in even the hardest heart…even if the most immovable heart happens to be our own.