Last Night I Dreamed About Orlando

By Tuesday, June 14, 2016 0 0

Last night Chris and I prayed before falling asleep, like we always do. We held hands and thanked God for our many blessings, prayed for our children and our support raising and our marriage. And then we prayed for Orlando. Chris’s voice broke a little when he thought of the parents. Parents whose babies won’t be coming home. Parents who had horrifying text conversations just moments before a monster took their baby’s life. And this is the picture that haunted my dreams last night: silent phones, still bodies, distressed parents.

We are heartbroken for this tremendous loss of lives. So many young lives; not that value decreases with age but that potential increases! I think of all the amazing things that have happened to me since I was 25 and I mourn the lost future of all these precious humans.

Which brings us to the age old question. What was God’s role is this tragedy? He is sovereign. He literally holds the world in His hands and not one hair on your head is lost without God knowing about it, ordaining its fall. I have studied the answer to this question, heard messages on it and read the many Bible verses that demonstrate that God’s purposes prevail over the purposes of man. I never know how to answer it exactly. It is not comforting to hear that He allowed it, willed it, caused it, or will use it. It’s too horrible! It’s not comforting to hear that He didn’t have a part in it but it is all because of the decisions of that horrible man, because then what is the point? If man is that powerful, then God must be weak. Indeed, this is a prevailing belief today.

This is my only comfort: Jesus, who redeems ALL things, will redeem this tragedy. I know that God was not surprised, though He is brokenhearted. God was not detached, though He does not control us like marionettes. We cannot yet see how, and perhaps we may never see this side of eternity, but this tragedy is part of the bigger picture, the bigger plan for all of humanity, and it fits perfectly into the puzzle, which God sees in completion.

God’s plan for every human is that we dwell with Him forever in eternity. This is the single best thing that will ever happen – no more tears, no more pain, no more suffering. Just perfect fellowship together with God, the creator and author of everything beautiful and good in the world. It comes at the price though. To ensure this possibility, God endured the very same tragedy that those brokenhearted parents in Orlando suffer now: His only son, Jesus, was slaughtered. God sent His son to be slaughtered.

Why did He do it? Because the horrific death of His son paid a ransom placed on mankind. He allowed His son to die in order to purchase us because He loves us. In order to purchase you. Because He loves you.

You see, the enemy of our souls tricks us into believing that God has withheld something good, and we chase after that something until we die.

What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure. (James 4:1-3)

Lest you think only Sunday’s killer is represented in this passage, remember that Jesus said that if you hate someone, you’ll be judged like a murderer, and John said it too, a little more pointedly.

No one loves perfectly, and the imperfections void our love when we face God. That’s what sin is. It’s a black mark on our hearts, which are designed in love, for love. Marred. Broken. Imperfections void our love in every relationship, really. It’s just that we (can – we don’t always) forgive and have grace and treat others the way we want to be treated – all things Jesus taught us.  He was aiding our survival in this broken world, and He was pointing to eternity, which will be full of perfect love!

Instead of casting aside our broken hearts and the messed up world that rules our hearts, God made a way for His perfect love to rule our hearts once again. He sent His son Jesus to earth, humbly, to grow up in this broken world, and Jesus grew up in it but was not blemished by it. He was perfect in every way – always loving, always gracious, always righteous, and always hanging out with the worst of the broken ones at that – the adulterers, the liars, the drunkards, the sexually immoral. He loved all those people. Indeed, he said they would be first in line to Heaven. He didn’t say it to condone their sins, indeed they turned from their sinful lifestyles time after time when they met Jesus, He said it because they would run to Him with abandon. When you have nothing to lose but your brokenness, it’s easy to come to Jesus. It’s when you’re holding on to something else – your past, your money, your rebel lifestyle, your pain, your reputation, your power – that it becomes hard. It’s like Jesus was saying, “you’re broken. If you know you’re broken, come with me. I will take care of it.”

It’s the knowing that is hard.

Tragedy reminds us.

Give Thanks for the Greatest Gift

By Thursday, November 26, 2015 0 0

Blogging freely today at theduryees.com. Link in profile!

A post shared by Rosalie (@mrsduryee) on

His face says it all.

So to be honest it felt like we were trapped, not blessed, with these kids this Thanksgiving morning. They are so grumpy, really easily displeased, and they just make a lot of messes. We are all still a little sick and I kept thinking, in between what seemed like a lot of appeasing, frustrated sighing, and discipline, that there had to be someone who could do this better for them because I don’t really like it.

But that’s not really what life is about, right?

“Do you like it? Do it. If you don’t like it, don’t do it!” Well, that’s what life IS like for a lot of people, I guess. But I got on the counter culture path when I met Jesus almost 16 years ago, and my life is not about me.

It’s about Him.

So, sometimes I don’t “like” my responsibilities around having small children. I could have predicted that way before we had them, honestly, knowing myself. But God gave me these babies AND He gave them ME and I love them so so so much even when I don’t LIKE them I would actually die for them.

Thankfully, I don’t have to do that. We don’t even live in a time or place where that is likely to come up. But God did/does. That struggle between living is and liking us and what means definitely came up for Him.

God created us because He wanted us and we messed up (He probably didn’t like it when A&E ate that pomegranate or whatever it was). So He came to earth as the man Jesus and lived a life like the Son of Man and the Bible says he was tempted in every way but never sinned. And then He was found guilty of blasphemy, calling Himself God, even though every evidence declared that was in fact the truth, and He died a gruesome death upon a cross – a death for a criminal – but although men put him on that cross with their sins and their hands, He actually gave Himself up because of what it would accomplish.

Which is what? A repaired relationship between God and His children who keep messing up. God is so holy and perfect, we would die in his presence. He couldn’t bear that, so Jesus (equal to God) died instead. And then he rose from the dead, conquering death and therefore canceling the punishment forever, and then ascended to heaven to sit with God. Now they wait patiently for every man to put his trust in Jesus for salvation – the repair of that broken relationship. He is patient because it is His will that none should perish!

And when we do put our trust in Jesus, we are recognizing our immense need for Him and the chasm it puts between us and God. And Jesus says to us, you are whole now. You are worthy. God loves you and He wants to be with you, even when you’re weak. Especially when you’re weak (while we were still sinners, Christian died for the unrighteous)!

And then we put off or old self and take up Christ, and sometimes that’s hard because when we’re mad and we don’t like our kids, the Holy Spirit who inhabits me now convicts me, saying, you’re not acting like your true self. Your true self loves these children muchly. Your true self wants to be with them even in their weakness.

Oh. Yes.

I belong to Jesus, now. He cannot help but make me more like Himself because it’s for the best. It’s best for me, it’s best for my children, it’s best for God’s other children.

And my children are the best tool for that transformation right now.

And, as hard as it is, I do like that! I want to be more like Jesus so I will thank Him when it’s hard.

possible

By Wednesday, October 7, 2015 0 0

It’s still possible that we will make our 85% goal by October 26. I still have great hope and God has done it for us like that before. I’m sorry I’m not writing every day. This is the busiest season I’ve ever had.

In the midst of the busyness, I got really stressed out and it started to show itself in my health, which I had been caring for quite well. I did a Whole 30, I’ve been a teeeeeensy bit more active, and I am seeing a holistic chiropractor for ear/jaw/neck pain I’ve experienced since early this year. But I was so mad at God that it seems impossible we will reach our goal, so anxious about the deadline, the tasks, and what it looks like to other people that we appear to be failing our mission {hello honesty}.

God is so faithful, though. I didn’t want to, but I had to spend time in the word and in prayer because of my BSF responsibilities. In the middle of that, God answered prayers for spiritual maturity that I’ve prayed for many years. You know, the ongoing kind where I ask God to grow my faithfulness to him and help me to seek him even when I don’t want to. So even though I would have liked to just hang up the phone, I prayed that God would speak to me through my study of Revelation. I didn’t really want him to, but I asked him to, knowing that he could.

And maybe even that he would.

He did. He sustained me. He drew me close and He is so good. So many blessings. My feelings about the circumstances are mostly the same, but my feelings toward my good Heavenly Father are different.

And then He gave us a tangible reminder of His control and His good plan.

There was a time, years ago, that we presented our ministry to a church we imagined was a shoe-in. It wasn’t, and we didn’t understand why. We thought a relationship with this church would be so valuable, reliable, and mutually beneficial. They went a different direction and that was that and we were very disappointed.

Recently the church went through some hard things and it looks very different now. We realized that we probably would not have made the cut in a variety of changes they’ll undergo over the next few months. It was neat to remember that God knew about these forthcoming hard circumstances even when we were meeting with the church. He knows why we didn’t make the 12 to 18 month time frame missionaries aim for these days. He knows, and He controls.

For now, we will continue to raise ebenezers when we see how God uses our time on prefield to equip us for foreign missions, prepare us for ministry in Spain, make us more like Jesus.

Will you join us in prayer (or in person!) on Saturday evening? We are hosting a Night in Spain (Facebook invite) – Spanish appetizers, our new video, a time of sharing and an invitation to participate in what God is doing in Spain.

While I’m Waiting {Missional Music Monday}

By Monday, April 13, 2015 0 0

Today was a support deadline to attend Field Prep Seminar. It will pass without any fanfare because a couple weeks ago we confirmed an invitation to speak at a church the weekend we would have traveled. We are really looking forward to serving this church by helping at a youth event and sharing our heart for Spain on two occasions, and now we have set our sights on the November FPS and a January departure. We share a bit about that in our latest prayer letter.

Today I am writing to share how God has been encouraging me. Perhaps you too have been struggling with discouragement, even depression. Perhaps you too have questioned what God is doing, why He is allowing certain difficulties or remaining silent as you pray. I am disappointed, discouraged, and also confused. The call to Spain is as strong as ever, but in spite of our efforts, it seems we are called to wait right now, while God does other important work. This is not a new phenomenon for God’s followers, I know. But when I compared (WARNING!) myself to other missionaries, I can’t help but feel that something is wrong; that we’ve done something wrong. Perhaps we have. It’s inevitable because we’re sinful people. But God is still sovereign and He is at work. I can’t count all the ways the timing has been right up until this moment and I know that in hindsight I’ll feel the same way about this moment too. So how do I get my heart synced up with what my mind knows is true?

I have camped out in the Psalms the last few weeks, because God shows Himself praiseworthy there and I need to praise God when I am questioning Him. My mind knows the stories of His provision – in scripture and in my own life, He has been faithful. But when it is difficult to trust Him even when I remember how trustworthy He is, the Psalms have an answer. God. Is. Bigger. Than. My. Problem.

Psalm 42 is a favorite of mine at times like this. The first part of the Psalm reminds me of my daughter and singing As the Deer to her as a baby while I battled for joy during a bout with post-partum depression, which God brought me from triumphantly. The second part gives me a much needed perspective shift.

Finally, two songs I heard yesterday were like messages from God. I hope you’ll find them encouraging too. Matt Waller’s “While I Wait” and Sidewalk Prophets’ “Help Me Find It.” Both videos below include the lyrics.

When I’m Good

By Wednesday, December 31, 2014 1 0

Maybe you grew up hearing this little poem.

Jesus loves me when I’m good, when I do the things I should. Jesus loves me when I’m bad, though it makes him very sad.

This poem breaks my heart. I am oh-so-glad that the Bible tells me Jesus loves me whether I am good or bad, but I don’t think that’s the message in these words. These words, simplified for an otherwise wonderful children’s song, mar the Gospel almost beyond recognition.

Sin is in our DNA. We’re bad, and we have been since before the first child murdered his own brother. Does Jesus live (again!) in a constant state of sorrow over our sin? If the Gospel is Good News, why is the very Bringer still sad? I don’t believe He is. The Bible says Jesus paid for our sins once and for all, to not only cover our sins but to become His righteousness (1 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus sees those He has saved as His righteousness, he considers those who put their trust in Him as “found” and we celebrate their repentance like the Prodigal Son’s father celebrated the return of his lost son in Luke 15.

Our sins grieve the Holy Spirit, scripture says, and that’s something we ought to take very seriously. I see the Holy Spirit’s jurisdiction as sanctification in my soul. The spirit is in charge of spiritual growth, in making me more like the Son, Jesus. So, naturally, sin would grieve the Holy Spirit. It is against our nature as new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17). Sin separates us from God (for a Christian, not for eternity, but while sinful desires reign, the spirit does not). It hurts our communion with God and others, both of which are required for spiritual growth (1 John 1:7).

My spiritual growth, or lack thereof, doesn’t influence my worth before God. Jesus Christ alone influences my worth before God. Furthermore, my worth was established once and for all on the cross.

Thinking about God’s love for me in terms of my deeds is counter to the Gospel, which is the power unto salvation. It is also counter to my holiness, which is an important part of loving God, of growing to understand God’s love for me.