Drawing in the Sand


In the past when I have considered the story of Jesus defending the adulterous woman in John 8, I have wondered, “What was He writing in the dirt?” Today as I was doing my normal household work, I recalled this story with a new focal point: He was writing. The what does not matter so much as the action itself.

It is interesting to me that Jesus does not inquire about this woman’s past or present circumstances. She had been caught in the act of adultery–an especially big deal for her setting, which insinuates all is not well with this woman without defining whether the problem is within herself or brought on by an external force (e.g. in the matter of sexual abuse). Beyond her punishable actions, she likely has emotional hurts, needs, and a life reflecting those areas of brokenness. As God, Jesus would have known these things; as man, His knowledge of her circumstances may have been limited. Either way, it appears He chooses to see her future rather than her past.

There is a parallel here to the story of creation: man being formed from the dust compared to Jesus writing in the dust. Writing is an act of creation. It is the release of a word. In the beginning God created by releasing His word (and BTW the word for spirit/Spirit is the same as the word for breath in both Hebrew and Greek, so the process of speaking words is also a release of His Spirit). Jesus now re-creates this woman’s life in a similar manner. He draws/writes in the dirt His word regarding the situation, or perhaps about her, or perhaps about Him. And through this His Spirit is also released: a spirit who desires creation, re-creation, reconciliation, and love beyond any other thing.

Jesus’ judgment for this situation–His ruling–overlooks the problem of the past/present in order to present a vision of the future. The further surprise is that although Jesus is without sin, He too is not willing to stone this women. He says, “Neither do I [condemn you]. Go and sin no more” (verse 11). It is natural that the sinful religious authorities be denied the right to stone her for her sins; but Jesus, having true authority and the prerogative to carry out retribution, chooses re-creation instead of extermination.

If judgment is defined as making wrong things right, His judgment is against the accusations and religious traps of these particular religious leaders and for the restoration of this woman’s full being (her internal feelings, and her external actions). Love propels this restoration; accusation solidifies the problem and hinders positive growth. Love carries the authority to say, “Go. Be renewed,” because it provides a vision for that future renewal.


Emphasis on the First Commandment


There are two commandments that stand out within the entire Bible and are particularly emphasized by Jesus in the New Testament.  The first commandment is to love God and the second is to love other people.  The first is first and the second is second–they aren’t equal.  If we forget to love God, it really doesn’t matter how much we love people (1 Cor 13).  The first commandment is a requirement for the second, and it is greater (Mat 22:37-38).

I’ve mentioned these commandments before, but it’s very important to recognize the difference between them.  They wouldn’t be highlighted separately if they were the same; thus, we do not love God BY loving other people, we love God THEN we love other people.  This is not a subtle difference.

So how do we love God?  Scripture says we love God by keeping His commandments–we completely submit ourselves to God in obedience of whatever He has for us (John 15:1-11).

This is why loving God has to happen before the loving of people: God has a specific design for how we should individually love those in our spheres of influence.  We aren’t called to random acts of kindness; we’re called to specific works which He prepared beforehand for us to do (Eph 2:10)!

If we neglect to focus on a relationship with the Lord foremost (on truly and wholeheartedly loving Him), then instead of being led by His voice to pour out His love, we become recklessly attempting to earn or prove our salvation to God, ourselves and the world.  We may help people to feel good in the now, but aren’t able to offer them insight toward a stable relationship with the Lord because we don’t have it for ourselves; what is Christianity unless Christians can offer both?  This ‘being good’ wears us out, makes us feel constantly inadequate or in competition with others, and most importantly, it doesn’t work–God knows our heart.

The ‘goodness’ has to come from the inside out.  As we spend time with Him, we know Him and love Him.  He gives us a heart to love Him–more and more as we seek Him–because He knows how small we are.  And as we completely submit to Him in love, we can’t help but be stirred in our spirits to help His other loves.  It really does happen naturally.  And it brings with it a confidence of being a true heir and son or daughter to the Most High God.


Holy Spirit Conference, ICLV


Ben and I returned last night from six days in Las Vegas for the Holy Spirit Conference at the International Church of Las Vegas (ICLV).  We had an excellent time.  Hundreds of people received physical healing from the Lord.

Although there were many great messages, my favorite speaker was Heidi Baker.  Her and her husband, Rolland, are missionaries in Mozambique and have experienced the supernatural side of God’s love and provision in amazing ways.  They’ve seen food multiplied, deaf ears opened, the dead raised, the sick healed, and countless other miracles.  But more impressively, Heidi carries the Holy Spirit so strongly that He is heard in her words and physically seen in her countenance.

As Heidi spoke, one theme keep coming up: how much do we want to know Him?  How much do we want His presence?

“The hungry always get fed”, she said, “how hungry are we?” (Isaiah 55)


Camping in Yosemite


YosemiteI spent the last four days in Yosemite National Park camping with some friends from college.  The views and weather were fabulous, and it was exciting to see all the tourists with their various languages and cultures (in fact, we made many new friends).

I had so much fun with the women, but also missed my husband by the time I returned.  When I came back and told Ben I missed him, he said, “Sometimes you have to miss me to remember you love me, otherwise you might take me for granted.”

Sometimes we have to miss the one we love in order for that love to be stirred.  I know there have been seasons in my relationship with the Lord where He’s seemed harder to reach, and yet it’s been in those moments that my heart’s cried out with deeper fervor to hear His voice and know Him more.


God will never ask us to do anything He hasn’t done first!


The first commandment is to love the Lord your God with your whole heart, soul and mind.  This is absolutely the MOST important thing. (Deut 6:4-5, Ex 20:1-3, Mark 12:28-30)

The second commandment, while not equal, is also important.  We are to love our neighbors–to love EVERYONE with the love He’s shown us.  This is the second most important thing, and is catalyzed by our love for the Lord.  (Mat 22:36-49, Luke 10:25-37)

When Jesus commands us to love other people, it’s not arbitrary, it’s because HE LOVES them.  It’s Jesus giving us His heart for the people of the world–whether they will choose Him or not.  We can love the lovable and unlovable only through Him.  This is why the first commandment is first and the second is second!  Without a firm love of the Lord, we really can’t make ourselves love–we can go through the actions (even with enthusiasm), but that’s all it is: working out the expression of love rather than actually loving from that deep place in our spirits.  (1 John 4:7-21)

We connect to Jesus solely to experience Him, know Him, and love Him.  And as we enter into that relationship, He begins to give us His heart.  Our heart begins to break for the people we never thought we could like, let alone love; and it’s such a deep love that we are stirred to outwardly demonstrate that love through evangelism, giving, service, and many of the other spiritual gifts.  We can’t help but love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).


Wake Up Sleeping Giant!


Tonight I’m asking the Lord:  How long will your people value the world over You?  What will it take, O Lord, to wake up the Western church?

We who call ourselves Christians have forgotten to love the Lord with all of our hearts.  We have a large bubble of “permissible but not beneficial” activities that we choose over our God.  We pray for His blessing, and forget that He’s all we need–literally!

The problem is not that we aren’t thinking about others, it’s that we aren’t thinking about God.  Connecting with God’s heart overflows into a love of others, but if it doesn’t start with a fear and knowledge of God Himself, it’s worthless.


Does God love everyone?


God not only loves everyone, but He loves all of us with the same fervor with which He loves Jesus!!!  Jesus Himself tells us that “Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in my love” (John 15:9)!

Isn’t this excellent!?!  There is nothing we can do to fall out of the love of God.  He can’t love us more and He can’t love us less.  His love is already at full saturation for us whether or not we know Him or have pursued a relationship with Him!

We may not always feel like He likes us (let alone loves us), but this is a lack of perspective on our part.  God sees us within an eternal perspective: He knows where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going.  So, we can’t let our circumstances convince us that God doesn’t care.  God does allow us (and in some cases, causes us) to go through difficult circumstances in order to expose our weaknesses that we might cry out to Him.  He wants a relationship with us.  He wants to be a Father to us.  And because He knows the eternal consequences for our choices, He will do whatever it takes to shake us now so that when eternity comes we might receive His full blessing.


God is Love; What is Love?


The Bible says that God is Love (1 John 4:8, 16).  The Greek word for this particular kind of love is ‘agape’ meaning ‘unconditional love’–a love without cause.  But we know the pure essence of this love can’t be found in earthly language (even Greek!) because it’s representing a  spiritual entity, so the better place to find what this means is in the rest of the scriptures.

Song of Solomon 8:6 says that love is as strong as death, it’s jealousy as severe as Sheol, and its flashes are flashes of fire–the very flame of the Lord! Love is the flame of the Lord!  This is a pretty intense Love!!  We should be praying into this!  It’s also interesting that love and jealously go together!  (The Lord’s jealousy, by-the-way, is like ‘passion’ and ‘zeal’, rather than ‘envy’ or ‘covetousness’.)

The Lord, being Love, is jealous for our hearts!!  He will never stop pursuing and refining us because He wants ALL of us!

In Hosea, the prophet Hosea is told by God to marry a prostitute.  She keeps running away from him, and even bears another man’s child, but Hosea continues to chase her and bring her back.  This is the same love that our Lord shows, and, in fact, Hosea’s story is a living demonstration of God’s love for the Jewish people who He chose and will never forsake.

But whether Jewish or not, God has this same burning desire for all people.  God will do whatever it takes to get our attention (just as a suitor who is passionately wooing his beloved).  Unfortunately this also means that if our attention is set on another (any fleshly love or secular pursuit), then He may have to get our attention in a way that’s uncomfortable to us–not because He doesn’t love us, but because He DOES!


We can’t make our own love…


Jeremiah is probably my favorite prophet.  As I was reading his words, I got caught on this verse: Jeremiah 24:7 says, “I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the Lord; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart” (emphasis mine).

The most important word here is that second ‘for’; it means ‘because’.  The Lord promises that IF the people return to Him with their whole hearts, then He will GIVE them a heart to know Him.  This is huge.  Only the Lord can give us the perfect Love to love Him with, and yet loving Him is the first commandment (Deut 6:4-5; Mark 12:28-29)!  We must absolutely return to the Lord with all our hearts!