Ruth the Good the Bad & the Unconditional

Ruth 2:1-18 Toil & Mercy

What do you learn about the happenings in this text?                                                             Ruth is doing the hard work of living in poverty and we are introduced to Boaz. 

Why is the author wighting these words?                                                                                     We are getting the background on our people, because as image bearers of God our character is important.

It occurs to me, that Ruth was Barren in her first marriage.  Only God can be responsible for the strange grace of saving her maternal years for the man who would so truly in-body the picture of redeemer and friend.  Only a good God can take something so desperate and sad and hallow, like a widow with a empty womb, and make it beautiful.  Beautiful like only things can be when they are working towards, His glory and His very ancestry.  God is alive in our day to day, we are a part of something bigger then ourselves.  Remember that as you question “why has fill in the blank been allowed, to play out this way”.  God dose not inflict the pain and suffer upon His prized creation.  But He works it all out for His glory.  He is in the perpetual process of drawing us into His glorious story.

A note for Mama Bears everywhere;  If ever your days as a mama make you question “is this messy, noisy, day after day life, of caring for my little children really a part of anything big and important?”  Know that we are drawn into a epic story of redeeming and saving and suffering for the Golry of God.  Never will there be a ministery more deeply intrenched in the work of our saviour then the 24/7, no chance of retiring, work of mother hood. 

So back to Ruth…  She when out to glean with the hope of “finding favour” and when she did find it in Boaz eyes she was surprised.  How often are we surprised by answered prayer?  Is that the difference of living with assurance of the truth of Gods goodness or just the hope God is good?

When Boaz entered the field his workers and him exchanged “the Lords blessing”  as a greeting and he went on to speak to Ruth with a similar blessing language.  This would introduce Boaz to us a “Christian Leader Type”.  He was well standing, his employees like him and he is generous.

We see Gods quiet work from the beginning as appose to his miraculous working in a moment.

Ruth being barren so a redeemer is required…                                                                         Her ending up in Boaz field…                                                                                                           The owner is a close relative and single and loves God…

Boaz had the hots for Ruth from the start I figure, he went out of his way to be so kind and to tell the other men to leave her alone.  He offered “whenever you are thirsty, go and get a drink from the water jars the men have filled.”

This brought to mind,   John 7:37                                                                                                         On the last day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying “if anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.”

Do you remember Indiana Jonas and the Search for the Holy Grail?  The German guy “chose poorly”  He drank from the wrong cup and death was all he got.  It was a rich mans cup he chose.

But Indy chose a shabby cup, the cup of a carpenter, a humble cup and he received life.  He “chose wisely”

Ruth was so humble “She bowed down with her face to the ground”  She spoke of herself as a servant, as one without standing.  She worked hard and accepted charity from a stranger.

She didn’t have to stay in Boaz field.  She could have played the “fields” if you will.  But she accepted the charity and kindness offered.  She was humble.  To accept the offered drink is to say “Yes I am completely at your mercy, I don’t even have a cup to carry water in.’  It also says to me Ruth was confident and valued herself anouf, to care for herself.  She did take a break in some borrowed shade, and she was willing to commune with the other workers.  She didn’t hide away in the corner of the field,  ashamed of her poverty.  She was ready for redemption because she felt redeemable. 

Do I always feel redeemable?  No   Why?   Because I am prideful and keep my eyes on my lacking and struggle and not on Gods loving nature.

So what can I do?   Cultivate Gratitude, memorize Scripture and Live loved

Chose wisely, be humble, be ok with the need for God to redeem your broken places and live in light of the Glorious story you are place in as a child of God.

This is the story of Ruth.

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Ruth; the Good the bad & the Unconditional

Week two: Bitter Sweet
Ruth1:19-22

What is discussed through out this passage?
the town being stirred up at the return of Namoi and Namoi’s feelings about her state of mind.

Everything is the Lords fault. Namoi was trying to isolate herself from people and places and now the truth comes out….
When you are mad at your father the only place to be is alone, cause who will take your side?

bit-ter
having a sharp, pungent taste or smell; not sweet
(of people and feelings or behaviour) angry, hurt, or resentful because of one’s bad experiences or a sense of unjust treatment.

tes-ti-fy
serve as evidence or proof of somethings existing of being the case.

the choice of the word testify seems to point to something placed upon Namoi like a judgment or consequence of a previous action. I wonder if she fought to stay in Bethlehem during the famine? If she feels she has brought Gods wrath upon herself?
When have I believed that?
Can we actually bring Gods wrath upon ourselves with bad choices?

if only Hebrews12:10-13 had been written for Namoi to read.

They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.

Gods wrath? Im not convince, but His discipline is doled out in accordance to His decrement.  God appears to possess wrath, but it is not detached from His love.  Namoi may have been under the discipline of our heavenly Father or she may have simple been in deep morning but it is safe to say she was bitter and God was the target.  But He has big shoulders and can burden our broken.  

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Lets take it right back to Deuteronomy 29:18-19 and remember bitterness is rooted in anger and guilt.
Make sure there is no man or woman, clan or tribe among you today whose heart turns away from the Lord our God to go and worship the gods of those nations; make sure there is no root among you that produces such bitter poison.
19 When such a person hears the words of this oath and they invoke a blessing on themselves, thinking, “I will be safe, even though I persist in going my own way,” they will bring disaster on the watered land as well as the dry.

When we say in our heart, I’m fine I can dabble in this sin and not succumb or be tempted. We may be flaunting a false sense of salvation, a sense that we are the creator of our own salvation and not in need of Gods assistance to holy and set apart.  I can only imagine that Namoi living away from her people (Gods children) and submersed in a pagan culture must have influence her last few years away in some way or another.  She was desert dwelling in the day land, without a community of like minded believers.  How parched she must have felt, how trying it must have been.

What is the point?
be doers not only hearers…

When Namoi and her husband fled the famine they left a portion of their firm foundation as well. They did not “do” the Word and failed to remember the prevision of God in the wilderness. They seemed to have forgotten their ancestry of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who were given promises and prevision.

God wanted the Israelites to dwell in the land He had given them. He wants us to dwell in the prevision and grace He gives us. Everything in His book leads us to understand that all joy and flourishing will happen when we dwell in His presents and plans.

So when we leave and hopefully return; shame, guilt and bitterness can be very real if we “knew” better then to toy with temptation.

Bitterness is a root that grows in our hearts. We can either water it or pull it out.

Understanding Gods truth and living like we are loved, regardless of wether we have strayed, is the best cure for bitterness. Namoi strayed (even if it was just geographically) and she probably knew that, and she was just mad and sad. As Namoi returned to Gods home for her, His path He had placed them on, not so many years earlier (a path that lead out of Egypt). As she returned to what she knew as peace and goodness. As she departed from folly. She could see in living colour the grief of straying from the path chose for her people, for her family.

This made me think of the balance of the submissive wife who allows her husband to lead, but not to a fault. Submitting to Christ first and committing to His ongoing work in her spouse is a fine line that must be walked with prayer and humility. We sometimes must stand our ground and say “You need to reconsider, and seek God and do the right thing” Not just the thing for right now.

Im not certain they were “wrong to go away from Bethlehem in the first place” But Namoi’s reaction upon arrival back home made me wonder how things might have been different had they stayed in faith and not stepped out in fear. This also caused me to wonder, where do I need to be weighing my decisions with prevision from past experience and the future potential for the giving of life or taking it away.

Sometimes Faith is a step, and sometimes Faith is staying put. Continuing to do the hard, sweaty, work of picking up one tiny seed of life giving potential after another and counting is at blessed. Day after day. Sometimes the faithful life looks like working a little harvest and finding the joy in the reaping of small things.

Right now mom life seems relentlessness. Spilled milk, runny noses, lost socks, big emotions, and lego, contaminating every surface of my house. But remaining present and joyful even in this, I receive a harvest of abundant joy. Exercising thankfulness, with the stooping and gathering of each beautiful mom moment, is the harvest that I am labouring in today. Bitterness can’t take root in soil that is overgrown with thankfulness and faithfulness.

This is the Story of Ruth.

Book Review & Recommendation: The Life Giving Home By Sally & Sarah Clarkson

The Life Giving Home                                                                                                                       By. Sally & Sarah Clarkson

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Written by 2 woman, deeply committed to the home!  I love the input by both mother and daughter and also that they broke the chapters into months.  That totally made sense to me.  It just felt like a woman’s brain, figuring out how to break down, into manageable chunks, all the things we long to create and celebrate in our homes throughout the year.

Lots of creative ideas of celebration of home and the importance of family.  The reminder that you can’t just expect your family to bond as a loving committed unit.  You need to put your heart and hands into breathing life into our home to weave the love and traditions and intention into you long to see in your family.

Super inspiring with out making me feel like I’m out of my depth.  Nothing seemed too hard or elaborate to me.  Just little nudges towards inspiration and intention with my hubby and children.

A great read for the mom who is looking for ideas to bring life into her home!

I listend to a audio version wile I did house work and cooked.  But also purchased a hard copy so I can go through and hi-light the specific traditions and ideas that stood out to me.  That way I can find them with the flip of a page when Im ready to implement a little magic into each season of the year, and each celebration of our family life!

Look In

I have been seeking and searching, pruning and purging.  Trying to skinny down the “must do’s” so I can fully focused on the one thing that is most important, today and every day.  Serving where the Lore has placed me.

My vision has been some what scattered.  My community, my church, neighbours, family, friends.  I feel like my heart is breaking in every direction and I can’t possibly be in service to all at once.  I feel inspired, overwhelmed, torn and then defeated.  And each time I pray the Lord say “Look In”

“Look in to your home, Jenny.  That is the greatest task I will ever give you, and you are being romanced by the dream of ministry….  Is not your family ministry anouf?” 

We all know it is but the needs of the many seem to outweigh the needs of the few in my mind.  So I commit to this, and volunteer for that.  I will just serve at this function and bring a meal every time there is call to help.  I think if they are all good things then I must be doing well to never say no.  I love to be creative and serve.  But at what cost?

This is not my encouragement to step back and do nothing.  It is my commitment to step up and do the right thing.  

1  pray pray pray and listen listen listen.  Not if I should serve…  I don’t need to ask God if He wants me to teach Sunday school or bring food to those in need.  Its a no brainer, YES!  But that doesn’t mean I must do it all, every time.  I must Pray and ask “will this yes make my number one task you are calling me to (my kids and husband) be neglected or dishonoured?”  My priorities must be prayed over.  There will be time I can serve and still be fully present to my family, so go serve. But there are times I go way over my capabilities and my kids get my leftovers and the trucker is neglected. So those are the time I must say no.

2 be okay with God filling the gap.  Because He can!  He has not called me to success and productivity, He has called me to rest in Him.  He has not asked me to feed the 5,000, He only asked for my 5 loves and 2 fish, and He provides the rest.  I can server faithfully and wholeheartedly when I remember that the success or failure of any ministry is not dependant on me getting it all done or figured out.  The gospel will move forward with or without me.  I am only invited to ride along, with my meagre offering, to join in the adventure when my kids allow and my husband is on board.

3 stop stressing about it.  God has made His will clear.  Go and make disciples of all nations. A wise friend recently told me, as we were talking about programs to get our kids involved in.  Sports, music, sunday school, day camp, VBS, homeschool Co-op, swimming lessons, the list goes on and we as moms antagonize, about what to do, what not to do.  She reminded me that all theses things are good things.  They all get a easy Yes!  But you can’t say yes to them all at once.  Likewise I can’t serve on the Church committee, plan events, volunteer at the ski club, lead a bible study, teach Sunday school, run wilderness play group and still expect to have relationships that foster flourishing and love with my family, let alone have any friends.

4 be nice… What is the easiest way to fulfill the great commission?  Love your neighbour as yourself.  What if we were just all in the zone of caring for our families and being nice to our neighbours, to our friends.  What if my Faith was make by kindness and generosity and not with productivity?

Now Im not picking those of you out there managing the non-profit or running the car-pool.  I don’t aim to live isolated and saying no to every service opportunity that comes my way.  But I do intent for my yes to be my yes and my no my no.

If my family ends up with the leftovers then I am out of my depth and that is the space where Jesus has prevision for my limitations.  If I can include my kids (not just drag them along) if it doen’t suck every hour out of my evening when, I could be culitavating my friendship and love with my husband. Then count me in!  But when it stretching me so thin you can see right through me, its time to step back.

As I have been more consistent about praying over my limitation before I commit. I see I have begun to commit to much less. But my family and I flourish much more.  My kids get my best offering and my husband doen’t watch me struggle to juggle and balance.  We have more energy as a family to just be nice and kind and generous.  The Gospel is still fufilled but Im not pretending Im responsible for the feast.  I just offer my loves and fishes and God dose the rest.

The Lord has called me to look in.  To look into my own home and see my children as worthy converts, to be witness to the love of Christ in mommy.  To look into my friend group and community and see where I really could serve from my heart and from my home.

Each day I walk out to the pasture to feed the calves and I look into our yard and I thank God He has asked me to “Look in” and has given me a congregation of family and friends to minister to, with my Husband and my kids.

Don’t feel Im telling you to quit what the Lord has in your heart just because it takes you away form your kitchen sink and own back your.  We are all called differently and in accordance to our gifting and abilities.  Serve with all your heart where ever you are.  But if your heart is being tugged, just as mine was, to “Look In”. Don’t be afraid to make a change and pray pray pray for His leading.  You will always be in ministry as long as you are nice and marked with the Love of Christ flowing out on those in your path.

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A Resting Place for Your Heart

Lamentations 3:23
Great is his faithfulness, his mercies begin afresh each morning.

Hang in there dear heart, you are beating so fast you might burst out of my chest. Its been a long morning and its only 9:30, husband off to work and a quite moment for me and God. Then waking kids and finding clothing, organizing gear for the trip to town, its swimming lessons today. Breakfast of yogurt and granola and milk in sippy cups. I of course just chug back a shake and think about coffee, but I have been drinking too much coffee lately, it keeps me awake at night.

Coffee and all of the things moms worry about, keep me awake in the darkest hours, right before the world tips over to the other side of another day. January in the Fort St. John, dark hours pile up till you fear you might never see the sun again. But it breaks through every day, cutting the fog of early mornings, and late nights. The mist lifts off the fields or sometimes it just hangs frozen mid air and glows with an invisible warmth that we wont feel for a few more months.

And I shake off the fog one more time cause that what questioning mothers do…

1 Corinthians 13:12
We don’t yet see things clearly. We are squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it wont be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We will see it all then, see it all as God sees us, knowing Him directly just as He knows us!

Questioning my ability to raise these tiny people. Questioning if they are retaining anything I say to them. Questioning if they are getting enough nutrition or enough snuggles. Questioning if the delay to achieve bench-marks are behavioural or development or just imagined. Questioning my sanity, my organizational ability, and my schedule.

I shake off the fog of all the questions and self doubt and I move forward. Cause that’s what questioning mothers do…

All these questions are my fears not letting me rest…

Fears that I might fail my children and they will suffer for my lack of wisdom in raising them. Or anxiety that they might not continue on to post secondary education, or stress that they wont be potty trained in time for kindergarten.

And what is fear… What is anxiety… What is stress….

These are all an overwhelmed display, of a lack of faith.

Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

A lack of seeing the unseen victory that is all around us. Victory over sin and death and yes even fear. Fear is the absence of worship and gratefulness. Fear leads you down a path that will never fulfilling the destiny God has set before you, You can not live a life of obedience, chained to the shackles of fear. When you dwell in anxiety and worry you will miss your calling, a calling that is written in the scriptures and whispered in your heart.

A calling to rest…

To rest in the midst of the storm.

Mark 6: 36-40
Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, Teacher, don’t you care if we drown He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the waves, Quiet! Be still! Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples Why are you afraid Do you still have no faith…

There will still be storms but with Jesus in the boat you can rest. Rest assured that he know what is keeping you up at night. Rest assured that he fearfully and wonderfully made your Children and he longs for them to live a life best used for his glory. Rest assured that you are the chosen mother for theses tender years, for the teen years, for the turmoil and the tantrums. Rest assured that you are not to walk alone as mother or as a father, but you are to walk with God and to rely on his strength when ours is limited and lacking. But mostly you are to rest in the storm as Jesus rested in the storm… Because Jesus knew His Father He knew He was secure…

Jesus has power over the storm, he can have power over the storms in your life. This a power we have access too. Because it doesn’t matter what the pediatrician says or what the teachers say or what the little league coach thinks. It doesn’t matter what the specialist say and what the books tell you. It only matters what God says. It only matters that God has Power over the storm.

Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

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Dear heart the day has come to an end and the darkness has settled around us but the moon still casts shadows over the yard. Shadows of hope stretching out in the dark, behind each tree a valley is formed. A little well is formed from the strength of the tree protecting that which stand close behind it.

It is like that standing close to the living shelter of our Christ we will find a resting place for all the things keeping us awake at night and all the things keeping us from from peace and contentment. So lay your burden in the shadow of the cross, drop them in the well created with the unmoving stance of a gracious God who will stand in the storm with you, and shelter you from the wind. Take comfort dear heart, do not beat so fast but carry the peace that comes with the knowledge of a good shelter in a dark storm.
Philippians 4:7
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.