Friday, September 19, 2008

You Are Near...

I am so sorry, my blog, for neglecting you...

I have to admit, I love blogging. I love writing, but I especially love reading what others write. I find it hard sometimes to find inspiration for what to write myself because there is just so much good stuff out there. My life seems so ordinary most days. The most excitement I got this week was reading about Abraham during our Bible lessons and hearing my daughter mis-name circumcise as circumstance. Too funny, but I digress.

I apologize to those of you who read our blog and have wondered where we went. But, finally, I am inspired. As many of you know, we have a new
Pastor, as of August 24th. I can not say enough about him or his family. Our church is so very blessed to have them.

Last Sunday, Pastor Troy preached on a topic very near to my heart. It has been a few days so I will try and summarize as my memory will allow. Troy has been preaching a series on the Family, namely God's family. This series is leading up to its conclusion on October 5th, when the
Church of the Nazarene will celebrate its 100th birthday. Each week, Pastor Troy has been asking the questions: who is included in the family? and who is excluded? (I guess you'll just have to come hear him preach if you want to know the answer-seriously, he is a really good preacher!)

This past Sunday he focused on a woman named Rahab. If you don't know much about her you can find her story in
Joshua 2. Basically, Rahab was a woman from Jericho who hid two spies Joshua sent into the land before the Israelites crossed the Jordan River. When the authorities came looking for the two men, Rahab lied and said they had already left. After that, the men promised Rahab that she and her family would be safe when they came back to take over Jericho. They instructed her to gather her family into her home and hang a scarlet cord out of her window. Rahab did as she was instructed and she and her family were spared, as promised.

What is interesting about Rahab is that she was a prostitute. She was not a Jew. She was about as far outside as you can get. Yet, later in the Bible we read even more significant facts about her. First, she is listed in
Hebrews 11, a chapter of the Bible many people refer to as the Hall of Faith. She is listed along with some pretty amazing people-Noah, Abraham, Isaak, Joseph, Moses, David. Need I go on? The writer of Hebrews doesn't mince words either. Make no mistake about it, she was a prostitute. Um, what?

But there's more. James, the brother of Jesus, speaks also of Rahab.
He calls her righteous. And he reminds us that she was a prostitute. As if that is not enough, it gets even better than that. You see, Rahab, it turns out, was the mother of a man named Boaz. Boaz had a son named Obed, Obed had a son named Jesse, and Jesse had a son named David. You remember him right? And remarkably, we see that Rahab is part of Jesus' family tree.

I don't know about you, but I have a few people in my family who I would rather not claim. Some of them may be reading this blog (oh, you know you love me). Really, though, it is nearly unfathomable to think that God, in His great and infinite wisdom, chose this woman, Rahab, a Gentile prostitute, to be a part of the line of Christ. Doesn't that give you hope? Isn't that so amazingly beautiful? God has been in the business of redeeming long before you and I were a glimmer in our parents' eye. In fact, I would venture to say it is one of His favorite things to do.

Rahab was an outsider. There was nothing special about her. She didn't belong. But this woman speaks right to my heart. You see, most of my life I have struggled with this feeling of not belonging. I know, typical middle child, right? I never really fit in at school. I am usually very self-conscious, especially in unfamiliar social settings. I am very different than just about everyone in my family. You could call me a black sheep. Yeah, I am a misfit. So was Rahab.

You know what my favorite verse in all of Scripture is? Well, I am going to quote it for you because I am sure you are on the edge of your seats.

"But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ." Ephesian 2.13

Is that not the most beautiful thing you have ever heard? I am literally in tears just contemplating how big and amazing and merciful my God is. Now I am near. I once was far (really, really far, probably farther than Rahab), but not anymore. I am not an outsider. I am on the inside. I am near. And you can be too.

Some of you who have heard my story and know me really well, know that Ephesians was what I was reading when I submitted my life to Christ...FINALLY! It remains to this day my favorite book of the Bible. If you want God to knock your socks off with His amazing grace, read Ephesians. Trust me, you will never be the same. I know I sure am not.

For those of you who read this blog and might wonder how you can be on the inside too, please call me or write to me. I would love to share more with you and pray with you. If you don't want to call, just re-read my favorite verse...it explains it all. But then call me.