Posts tagged Heart

Ruth 4v18-22

Epilogue (Part Two)

(Click here to listen to the next Ruth teaching)

Verse of the Week




More Words from the Father

Joshua 2

Joshua 6v21-27

Hebrews 11v30-40

James 2v20-26

1 Peter 3v4-6



From my Heart

What is it You Want?

Rahab was a woman who knew how to get what she wanted. And what she wanted was what we all want: security, wealth, recognition, family, influence, health, and safety. One thing was missing from her list, though - love. Rahab was willing to sacrifice love in order to get her grasp around every opportunity that came her way. And she had that rare inborn entrepreneurial ability to recognize opportunity which can make certain men and women wildly successful. In our day, I have no doubt Rahab would have been heralded among the rich and famous. Paparazzi would have hounded her while People magazine splashed her face and figure on the cover page.


Yet reading her story, I can’t help but wonder - What happened to Rahab that propelled her into prostitution? Why would this woman give up on the dream of being pursued and sought and valued? How could Rahab choose wealth over love? Security over romance?


And why would I?


Why would I sell my soul for cheap trinkets?


I want everything that Rahab wanted. I want security. I want to feel safe. I want to know that I will have all I need and maybe a little more all the way up until its time for me to go home to heaven. And I want wealth too, sure I do. Be honest with yourself, you do too! I am far from content with the bare basics. I want to be healthy, wealthy, and wise - surrounded by a family who adores me. Is that so bad?




If those wants and wishes drive me to pursue them at the cost of love. If, instead of surrendering my life’s circumstances to the One who loves me like no other, I strive and connive to get what I want no matter what.


How about you? What have you sacrificed to get what you want? What you think you need? Have you lost a little of your passion for your Redeemer along the way?


If you have, then this story is your story.


Somewhere deep inside, Rahab held on to a tiny spark of hope for something more. When she heard about the Israelites camped down the road, and about their God who had such power, that spark leapt into a raging fire. The moment she got her chance to come under the protection of this God, Rahab risked everything she had. All her wealth, her home, her security, her reputation, and her safety. Even her family! How could she know if they would go along with her plan?


Rahab’s life was transformed by the power of faith. She thrust herself at God’s feet and got up to aggressively go after Him with every ounce of her being. And in so doing, Rahab’s life was rescued from all the ugliness and emptiness she had filled it with.


God is still in the habit of rescuing broken women. What He loved about Rahab - enough to put her into His son’s heritage - was her unerring trust in His goodness. Rahab risked everything of value to her in order to belong to Him. She proved her faith by her actions. She set aside her fear, her worries and her illicit patterns of self-protection in order to entrust herself to God.


I can’t help but admire this woman. And, strange as it may be to say it, I find myself wanting to be like this ex-prostitute (please don’t tell my kids I said that!). She is both bold and beautiful, courageous and crafty. Rahab, more than any woman I know, had the guts to go after God with her whole heart.


And that’s something to think about.

From my heart,





Rahab’s Story

Rahab was a successful woman. She ran a thriving hotel, entertained powerful men, had the attention of her city-state’s ruling monarch, invested in the growing commodity market of linen, and owned a house which was the envy of every woman in town.


How do I know all that? Well, read up on her in Joshua, chapter 2.


Two spies were sent by Israel’s new leader, Joshua, to spy out the city of Jericho. With the million-strong encampment of the Hebrews camped uncomfortably close to the walled city, security in Jericho was at level red. In order to slip in unobtrusively, these two spies made their way to the bustling hospitality business Rahab ran from her home.


In a day when there were no Comfort Inns, Rahab took advantage of her city’s strategic location at the only major ford between the Jabbok River and the Dead Sea. She regularly took in travelers, no doubt charging them exorbitant prices for her enviable location.


And sometimes she did more than give them a room. She gave herself – for a price. Rahab watched her nest egg grow at the expense of her soul. Somehow she managed to harden her heart against the inner loathing every woman feels when she sells her body in exchange for survival.


Rahab was ambitious. She wanted more. Seeing the rising trade in linen from far away Egypt, she figured out a way to obtain the stalks of flax from which fine linen was made. The flat roof of her house rising high above the city made a precipitous place to process the tough fibers. First soaking them in water, then dragging them to the rooftop to soak in the sun was not a task for the timid. But Rahab wasn’t afraid of hard work. She was driven by the insatiable thirst for more.


Protecting all those assets in a male dominated society kept Rahab’s stress level on alert at all times. When a rumor reached her ears that the march of the dreaded Hebrews was headed her way, she took inventory of all she owned and searched for a solution. The power of the Hebrew god was too great to stand against.


Never before had Rahab heard of one god who controlled the weather and the sea and all the natural world. The gods of her experience were puny, competitive deities who were easily appeased with rituals and sacrifice. Listening to the city leaders debate strategy, Rahab knew they didn’t stand a chance against such power. Let them talk all they want, she would do what she must to secure her future.


Rahab’s vigilance apparently paid off. The Hebrew spies sought lodging in her home.


As a logical location to blend in with other travelers. It didn’t take Rahab long to see through their disguise, nor did it take long for rumors of their whereabouts to reach the ears of the king of Jericho.


As Rahab hurried to hide the men amongst the flax on her roof, she must have weighed her options. Turn them over to the authorities and incur the king’s favor with its lucrative reward, or hide the men at great risk to her life in the hopes that they would be obligated to return the favor if and when the Hebrews attacked. She chose the latter.


Their hiding place would not have endeared her to these men. The stalks of flax were soggy, having been soaked in stagnant water to separate the fibers. It would have been a ripe incubator of all sorts of insects. The unbearable stench choked the men as they lay in the midst of the mess wondering if Rahab had led them into a trap.


But Rahab had made up her mind, and when she decided something, she didn’t back down. Downstairs, she used all her cunning and probably a few feminine wiles to convince the guards that she had seen the spies heading out the gate near her home, headed for the hills. The soldiers set out after the phantom men as the city gate was lowered behind them.


Before Rahab led the spies to safety, she gathered her years of business acumen to negotiate a contract which would ensure security for herself and her family. Letting the spies down the massive wall with a woven rope put Rahab in a position to bargain - her life in exchange for their safe escape. When the Israelites attacked the city, Rahab would set out an identifying strand of scarlet cord. This was to be the signal that her house and her entire family were to remain under the direct protection of the men whose lives she had saved.


Sure enough, on the day of the invasion, Joshua directed his men to “go into the harlot’s house and bring the woman and all she has out of there, as you have sworn to them.” As her city was being ransacked, Rahab was led to safety, bringing not only her family with her, but also “all she had.”


What now? They couldn’t live alone on the outskirts of the ruins of Jericho. Once again, Rahab’s forward thinking saved the day. The family followed the Israelites, living at first on the outer edges of their encampment. At some point however, Rahab must have embraced the God of the Hebrews for whom she held such great respect. Though the men of Israel were not permitted to associate with the women of the foreign lands they were invading, they could marry one who converted to their faith. One of these men, a man by the name of Salmon, chose Rahab to be his bride. Elevated from her former reputation as a harlot, Rahab now had full legal and social protection as his wife.


A nice story, you might say. Indeed, but it gets even better.


Rahab and her family are absorbed into the wandering nation of Israel. She settles in a little town called Bethlehem, married to a man of standing. There, Rahab begins a family of her own, eventually bearing a son by the name of Boaz. When Boaz grows up, he follows in the footsteps of his father and finds a wife of somewhat shady heritage but stalwart character (that would be Ruth). She presents him with a son, whose name is Obed.


As Rahab’s physical beauty gives way to wrinkles and grey hair, the beauty of her life lived under the protection of Yahweh blossoms. Her grandson grows up to have a son of his own, whom he names Jesse. Around the family hearth, Jesse hears stories of his great-grandmother’s courage and his great-grandfather’s love for her. Jesse has seven sons of his own. The youngest, born long after Rahab has passed into the presence of God, grows up to be the king of Israel.


By this time, Rahab’s story is but a distant memory - her name left out of the patriarchal genealogies of Hebrew history. But God has a way of remembering His own. In the opening pages of the biography of His Son, God inserts Rahab’s name into Jesus’ biological line of descent. There it is, right in the forefront of Jesus’ family tree - Rahab. It’s almost as if God is proud of her!


Jump ahead a few decades, and her name pops up again. In that famous tribute to men and women of great faith, Hebrews, chapter 11, we see this inscription: “By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she welcomed the spies in peace.”


Flip over a few pages to the epistle of James and Rahab is once again used as a fine example of faith that works. This woman’s sordid story is told all over the pages of our Bibles! Why? Because Rahab was real. Like us, she struggled. Like us, Rahab’s life was all about choices - both good and bad. Some of those choices came back to haunt her. But in the end, she had the guts to follow her heartright to her Redeemer.


I can’t help but wonder, as I study her story, if Rahab had any idea that God would use her so? As she picked up the pieces of her shattered life after the fall of Jericho, did she ever despair? Did she think her usefulness was over?


And why did God give us her story? Why stretch it out, this history of harlotry and intrigue? Could He have had Rahab in mind when he wrote in 1 Peter 3 of His “precious” women from former times who put their hope in God?


And one last question:


Could it be that your story could end like hers?


Ruth 3v1-18

The Proposal (Part Four)

 (Click here to listen to the fourth teaching of Ruth)



The Verse of the Week 





More Words from the Father

1 Peter 2v19-25

1 Peter 3v1-19

Psalm 34




From my Heart

Home / Not Always a Safe Place

Some of you are “making your home” amongst difficult people. You feel afflicted and picked on; judged and found wanting. No Walton family reruns, where everyone kisses each other at the end of the day and tucks them in with kindness. Instead, you absorb sarcasm and criticism, harsh words which poke and cause pain.

Oh, I’m not talking about abuse here, but about that every day brand of meanness that is so prevalent in our society today - so seemingly acceptable in its boundaries.

Not one of us is immune to the wounds received when living in this fallen world. And though it ought not to be in our homes, the reality is that sometimes it just is.


What’s a woman to do?


Some of us protect ourselves by putting a hard shell around our hearts. Others withdraw, keeping a safe distance from anyone who might lash out and hurt their tender souls. Or sometimes we fight back, returning meanness for meanness in an attempt to turn away the flood of negativity, giving them just what they deserve for hurting us so.


It doesn’t work, though, does it?


We end up feeling as ugly as we sound, or bound up and cold hearted; unable to pour on people the extravagant affection that makes a woman truly beautiful.

I have found Psalm 34 to be an invitation into the shelter of the Almighty during those trying times. This is David’s answer to those afflicted (NIV), discouraging (NLT), and humbling (NASB) realities.

Let’s walk through this Psalm together to discover how David found shelter from what he so poetically called, “the strife of tongues.”


Psalm 34

I will praise the Lord at all times. I will constantly sing His praises.

I will boast only in the Lord; let all who are discouraged take heart.

Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness; let us exalt His name together.


It sounds to me like David is having to pull himself out of his discouragement one painful handful at a time. By turning away from his detractors and determining to focus his thoughts on God, David’s sore heart is being healed.

Sometimes it takes herculean effort to pull yourself away from the pain of hurt feelings. The only possible way to do so is to praise God, to boast about Him, to open your mouth and sing  out loud to Him. The out-loud part is important. You can’t stay down in the dumps for long when you are singing about God’s greatness.


I prayed to the Lord and He answered me, freeing me from all my fears.


This is just what you will need: freedom from the fear that life will always be this way - that strife and conflict instead of “goodness and mercy” will follow you all the days of your life.


Those who look to Him for help will be radiant with joy; 

no shadow of shame will darken their faces.

I cried out to the Lord in my suffering, and He heard me.

He set me free from all my fears. 

For the angel of the Lord guards all who fear Him, and He rescues them.


Just like Ruth, you and I need a Rescuer - someone who will tuck you under His wing and guard your fragile heart. Rather than step in and rescue yourself by fighting back, what might happen if you, like David, chose instead to simply cry out to the Lord and wait? What if, instead of acting out your hurt and anger, you chose to bow low before the Father and honor Him with your tongue?


What if we so feared Him that we wouldn’t dare lash out?

Here’s what He says would happen:


Taste and see that the Lord is good.

Oh, the joys of those who trust in Him!

Let the people show Him reverence,

for those who honor Him will have all they need.

Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry,

but those who trust in the Lord will never lack any good thing.


To taste is to experience, to relish the flavor of God’s goodness. When you get a taste of God, especially in the face of difficulties, you take Him in and are filled with His joy. When you honor Him in spite of how you are being treated, He will see to it that you have all you need. That hunger and that longing for love will be satisfied by God Himself.


How do I know this is true?


By long, hard experience. Too often, I have taken things into my own hands, determined to stick up for myself when feeling underappreciated, or ready to sass back when someone’s irritation interrupts my peace. My face wears a frown, and filled with “righteous indignation,” I let‘em know not to mess with me!


But that is not the way of Jesus, nor is it the way of beauty.


On those all-too-rare occasions when I have chosen to follow His way of dealing with difficult people, I have known a peace and a joy and a deep-down satisfaction that puts me in instant intimacy with the Father. There is nothing like it!

If your home is not an easy place to rest, and you find yourself longing for the love and acceptance that Ruth found with Boaz, perhaps you should follow the example of Jesus…and of those “holy women of old” in our Scripture reading for today. Read over those verses again. Ponder them in the light of your own circumstances. They are loaded with wisdom, full of keys to staying safely tucked under the wings of the Almighty.


And while tucked into that safe place, look around. You just might spot Sarah…or Ruth, maybe even Esther.


From my heart,





Fear Not


“…and now my daughter, do not fear.” Ruth 3v11


If this phrase sounds comfortingly familiar to you, it may be because it is something our God says over and over again to His far-from-courageous chosen leaders. Men and women who seem invincible when we read their stories were in fact terrified at the time. Yet they didn’t stay that way. As they watched Him at work, and as they listened for His voice, they gained the temerity to trust God to do what they knew they couldn’t. Ruth was one of them.


Maybe it’s time you were too.


Read up on their situations and ask Him for the kind of faith that banishes fear.


“Fear not…


Abraham  / Genesis 15v1

Isaac / Genesis 26v24

Jacob / Genesis 43v3

Moses / Exodus 14v13

Joshua / Joshua 8v1; 10v8

Jehoshaphat / 2 Chronicles 20v17

The RemnantIsaiah 41v10, 13, 14; 43v1, 5; 44v2

Ezekiel / Ezekiel 3v9

Daniel / Daniel 10v12

Joseph / Matthew 1v20

Zacharias / Luke 1v13

Mary / Luke 1v30

The shepherds / Luke 2v10

Paul / Acts 27v24

John / Revelations 1v17


“Thus Sarah obeyed…and you become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.” 1 Peter 3v6


Ruth 3v1-18

The Proposal (Part Three)

 (Click here to listen to the fourth teaching of Ruth)



The Verse of the Week 





More Words from the Father

Proverbs 31v10-31

Galatians 5v13-6v10




From my Heart

How to Create a Haven (Part Two)

A haven of rest and peace doesn’t just happen. It is built, one brick at a time. According to God’s Word, it is often built by a woman, a very wise woman. A woman must be willing to give her all to the building process. She will need to plot and plan with purposeful determination. If this is what we want, you and I are going to need to learn everything we can by scouring the Scriptures for any scrap of wisdom about how to build this kind of home. We need to be looking around for women whose homes carry that special “scent of home.” Then we can find ways to ply those women with questions and watch how they go about the building.

For me, one of the saddest things to see is when a woman lazes into a passive role in her home and then complains incessantly about it. What a waste! We women have been created by God with an uncanny capacity to create an atmosphere of hope and happiness in our homes and relationships. Imbedded deep within the heart of every woman is that image of the Creator who made beauty out of chaos.

Ruth listened well to her mentor, Naomi. She followed Boaz’ leading as he bought in to the vision of home. Then she threw in a little spice of her own in order to create what God intended her to have all along. Let’s look a bit more at what they built...


A place of blessing.


Every time Boaz opens his mouth, encouraging words pour out. Not merely trite compliments, but words which Ruth will mull over and treasure when she finds a moment alone. He recounts her reputation of kindness, letting her know how highly she is thought of in town. He praises her in front of his field workers as well as when they are alone. He lets not the smallest deed go unnoticed, highlighting her uniqueness as a woman.

Such words of affirmation do not come naturally for most of us, yet all of us crave them. It was Mark Twain who declared, “I can go months on a good compliment.” So are we starving our friends and children of the affirmation which only we can give? Who else is going to tell your husband that he still thrills your heart after all these years, or your teenager that you are proud of him for the way he treats his girlfriend? And shouldn’t we all have bragging rights at home - a safe arena in which to showcase our hard won victories?


A place where problems are solved together.


When someone feels all alone in their struggles, as if they were the only one able to solve their dilemmas, they begin to slowly sink into despair. And that’s just where the devil wants them - just where he wants our kids.

Isolation has long been one of the enemies’ favorite and most effective tools. But Boaz didn’t leave these two women to figure it out for themselves. He knew it wouldn’t be easy. He was all too aware of the obstacles ahead of them. Yet he took their problems on as his own. And that’s what we ought to be endeavoring to do in our homes.

Home ought to be the first place our friends and family run to when they are afraid or overwhelmed. But the only way that is going to happen in our naturally guarded society is if we women watch over our homes with the vigilance of a soldier on guard duty. If at the first sign of distress, we step into soothe and sympathize, our loved ones will feel the freedom to unburden themselves. We’ll have to be careful, though, not to look shocked at what they have to say.

Our children are facing situations we couldn’t dream up with our wildest imaginations. How foolish we often are when we pretend that terrible things will just go away if we don’t talk about them! Our families and friends need us to come alongside and pray with them. When we take their hands in ours and bring them before the Father, He picks up their problems and makes them His own. What could be better than that?


A place of promises kept.


Boaz knew that time was of the essence. As soon as it was light he hurried into town to fulfill his promise to Ruth. The words of his pledge to her were beautiful enough, but they were not empty promises. He inconvenienced himself to do all within his power to help her. Why? Because he had her best interests at heart.

How often do we make promises with the best of intentions, only to fail to follow through? How many people have we hurt in the process? This is a glaring fault of every people-pleaser like me; a flaw which creates an expectation of disappointment which is hard to shake. Yet it’s so simple to overcome. Just be careful to assign significance to the people who depend on you.


A place full of affection.


Happiness is big business these days. More people are popping anti-depressants than ever before. Yet one of the simplest (and cheapest) solutions yet to be found for emotional well-being has to do with hugs. Yes, you read it right, hugs! Here’s what every woman needs to know...


“Hugging strengthens the immune system, reduces stress, assists sleep, lowers blood pressure, and is an antidote to depression. Hugging bolsters a patient’s will to live, dispels loneliness, eases fear, opens doors to buried feelings, builds self-esteem, fosters altruism, and imparts feelings of belonging. Hugging offers a wholesome alternative to promiscuity, alcohol, and drugs.”


According to Virginia Satir, a noted American psychotherapist, people need at least four hugs a day for mere survival! We require eight daily hugs in order to maintain mental health, and a whopping twelve hugs to grow and thrive. That’s a lot of hugging!

Is your teenager thriving from all the affection dished out in your home?


How about you?


Giving is as good as getting in this case. So do yourself a favor and throw your arms around anyone and everyone who dares to enter your haven!

When Elohim, our Creator, set out to build a home for Adam and Eve, He worked and planned and purposed to create just what He envisioned. There was nothing passive about the process. He laid it all on the line. So much so that on the sixth day, He heaved a great sigh of relief and rested. If God had to rest after all His labors, what does that tell you about this job of ours? Why does it surprise us that we get worn out sometimes by the task of building homes that are truly havens?

One thing I am absolutely certain of: when I get to the end of my life, I am not going to regret one bit of work or imagination or effort I put into creating this home of mine. I might wish I hadn’t wasted so much time keeping it clean. I’ll probably bemoan the hours I spent wishing it were different. But I’ll be glad, oh so very glad, that I partnered with my Father to carve out a little haven of rest for those who call this place home.


From my heart,






“The House of Bread”

Like most of you, I grew up in the city. Bread, as far as I knew it, came in clear plastic packaging which sealed it nice and fresh for my lunch box sandwich. It wasn’t until a visit to my grandparent’s farm in eastern Oregon when I was ten years old that I discovered that bread doesn’t originate in a grocery store!

In fact, just getting the barley (the primary ingredient for making bread in Bethlehem) ready to be milled for flour was an eight-step process. Add in the plowing and planting, watering and tending, harvesting and transportation, and you have a lot of hard work. Here’s a brief overview of how it happened...

1. The ripened grain was cut by men with hand sickles.

2. The grain was then bound by men and women into sheaves.

3. The stalks of grain left behind were gathered, or “gleaned,” by the poor.

4. The sheaves were transported to the threshing floor by donkey or by cart.

5. The grain was loosened from the straw stalks by the treading of cattle over and over, or by huge cart wheels, or by a threshing sledge.

6. The grain was tossed in the air with winnowing forks so that the wind could carry away the useless straw and chaff.

7. The grain was sifted to remove small stones or debris.

8. The grain was bagged for transportation and storage.1

And that doesn’t include the mixing, kneading, rising, shaping, and baking involved with the bread itself! Not the easiest of tasks. Keep that in mind next time you pick up a loaf of Wonder Bread.






This Hebrew word is at the root of dozens of expressions. Yada is used to denote God knowing us intimately and completely. It can also mean “to distinguish,” in the sense of knowing right and wrong. Yada is a term used for both an acquaintance and for sexual intimacy between a man and a woman. The most astounding use of this term, however, is “da’ at ‘ elohim,” which expresses the incomprehensible gift we are given through the Word and the Spirit: the knowledge of God.

The term “to know” is used over and over again in this scene from the third chapter of Ruth. In Hebrew, the root word is yada. And it has several uses...


“ relative”; one known (vs. 2)


“do not make yourself known” (vs. 3)


“observe (know) the place where he lies” (vs. 4)


“my…townsmen know…you are a worthy woman” (vs. 11)


“until you learn (know) how the matter turns out” (vs. 18)