Crossing
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Embracing God's Promise of Abundance When Hardship Endures
by Jenny on September 3rd, 2020

“Now, son of man, I am making you a watchman for the people of Israel. Therefore, listen to what I say and warn them for Me." Ezekiel 33:7

If you happen to be reading the NIV Chronological Bible (my home church is following this reading plan), you recently read a story about God appointing a man named Ezekiel as a "watchman" over the people of Israel. During this time in history (approximately 585BC), God's people, also known as the nation of Israel, have been led into Babylonian captivity on account of their unfaithfulness to God. Out of His great love for His people, God sent many prophets, such as Ezekiel, to warn His people about impending judgment for their sin if they failed to repent. God didn't hold His prophets accountable for the peoples' response to His Word (thank goodness). God held His prophets accountable for delivering His Word to His people.

When I read the passage in the book of Ezekiel, chapter 33, I wonder if all of us, as followers of Christ, aren't called as Watchmen. God says to Ezekiel, "If I announce that some wicked people are sure to die and you fail to tell them to change their ways, then they will die in their sins, and I will hold you responsible for their deaths. But if you warn them to repent and they don’t repent, they will die in their sins, but you will have saved yourself." (Ezekiel 33:8-9)

Scripture is clear that each person is judged for their own sin (see Deuteronomy 24:16, Jeremiah 31:30, and Ezekiel 18:20). We cannot earn salvation for another person (NOR for ourselves, for that matter, as salvation is a gift from God that we must humbly receive), nor will someone else fail to come to salvation simply because one person failed to tell them. I have full confidence in the words of Christ recorded in John 6:39, "I should not lose even one of all those He has given Me." God will call to salvation each of His children somehow, someway, even if you and I fail to personally warn the one(s) He intends for us to warn. God in His grace will use someone else to proclaim His Good News if we fail to perform the job. But I do think, as followers of Christ, we have the responsibility, not to judge others according to God's Word, but to warn and remind His people of His Word.

I haven't seen the list of names written in the book of life, but Scripture tells us that such a list exists (see Psalm 69:28, Hebrews 12:23, Revelation 13:8, 20:15). In the book of Acts, chapter 18, verse 10, God tells Paul to preach with boldness because there are many in that city (Corinth) who are His. Paul stayed a year and a half in that city preaching the Good News. Paul did not necessarily know which souls belonged to God, so he preached faithfully to everyone.

Prior to Israel's exile, the prophet Isaiah recorded these words, "The LORD looked and was displeased to find there was no justice. He was amazed to see that no one intervened to help the oppressed." (Isaiah 59:15-16) I wonder if God looks down from Heaven now and is amazed by the silence of His people.

On our refrigerator hangs a sign that reads, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." This famous quote isn't exactly biblical because of two things: in the end, evil will not triumph (Revelation 20:14), and there are no "good" men (or women, Romans 3:10); the only "good" found in man is Christ in us. But I wonder if evil would have even less of a victory now if those who have the goodness of Christ in them would stand in the gap for others and proclaim Christ's goodness to a world in need.

Jesus' parting words in Matthew 28:19-20 were to, "go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you."  Hebrews 12:15 reads, "Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God."

God placed Ezekiel over the nation of Israel--God's people--as a watchman. Ezekiel's job was to warn and remind God's people of the consequence of failing to repent of their evil ways. God takes no delight in the death of the wicked but wants everyone to repent (Ezekiel 33:11). Many people will not listen. But I am convinced you and I have been appointed as Watchmen.

Jesus said once the Good News is preached in all the world, the end--or should we say the beginning--will come (Matthew 24:14). I do not pretend that the human race is powerful enough to alter God's plans. But I wonder, if we would each fulfill our duty to tell others about the Kingdom of God, would it quicken the day of Jesus' return?

Sometimes it's good to be slow to speak (James 1:19). But when the world proclaims a message contrary to what God has said in His Word, what are we waiting for? Be a watchman! Sound the alarm! Speak up, not in judgment or condemnation of others, but so that others can find LIFE through God's Word, both now and for all eternity.

by Jenny on July 9th, 2020

"Give praise to the Lord, proclaim His name; make known among the nations what He has done . . . tell of all His wonderful acts . . . remember the wonders He has done." (Psalm 105:1, 2, 5)

The Bible is composed of 66 individual books. One of those books is the book of Psalms, located right in the middle of a traditional Bible, in between the Old Testament and the New Testament. The book of Psalms is a collection of songs and prayers written by prophets, priests and kings who lived during the time of the Old Testament. Though every word in every book of the Bible was inspired (breathed) by God, the book of Psalms is unique in that it captures words God's people used to express their thoughts and feelings to God. God does not directly address His people in the book of Psalms. Instead, God's people speak to God about their pain and heartache, their joys and celebrations, their anger and frustration, fear and guilt . . . the same emotions you and I face today. If you find yourself at a loss for words to express your feelings, the book of Psalms will provide you with a script.

If you're following the NIV Chronological Bible reading plan, Psalm 105 is included in today's reading. Psalm 105 is considered a "historical" psalm. The author's intent is to remind God's people of all God has done.

Psalm 105 begins by reminding God's people of the promise He made to Abraham (father), Isaac (son) and Jacob (grandson)--3 major characters, a.k.a. patriarchs, of the Old Testament--a promise of land their descendants would one day inherit (vv8-11). Elsewhere in the Bible (mainly the book of Deuteronomy), this land is described as a place of peace, provision and protection; a place where God would live among His people.

Verses 16-19 explain that God Himself caused a famine to occur in the land in which His people originally dwelt. The famine is first mentioned in Genesis 41-50 during the life of a man named Joseph. Genesis 41:54 reads, "Then the seven years of famine began, just as Joseph had predicted. The famine also struck all the surrounding countries, but throughout Egypt there was plenty of food." Why would God send famine on His own people? Psalm 105 doesn't offer an explanation of God's ways but it does tell us that God "sent a man before them--Joseph, sold as a slave" (v17).

Does the name Joseph sound familiar? Joseph was one of the twelve sons of Jacob (Jacob is also named Israel . . . this is why things get a bit confusing in the Old Testament). Joseph is favored by his father and despised by his older brothers. The older brothers sell Joseph into slavery (Genesis 37), Joseph is later unjustly thrown into prison (Genesis 39), but is eventually released into Pharaoh's palace and placed second in command of Egypt (Genesis 41). During the aforementioned famine placed by God on God's people, Joseph has wisely stored up grain in Egypt for seven years (an idea given to Joseph by God through Pharaoh's dreams).

What do modern-day believers "remember" about God at this point in Psalm 105? That though trouble may come--indeed, sometimes God Himself sends or at least allows the trouble--God will also provide a way through for His people. Any "trouble" God sends or allows He will ultimately use for the fulfillment of His greater purpose in this world (see also Romans 8:28).

But there's more . . .

The latter half of Psalm 105 reminds God's people that when God caused His people to journey to Egypt (originally for grain but they would remain as foreigners in Egypt for 400 years), He (yes, God) caused the hearts of the Egyptians to hate His People. Again we question, why, oh WHY would God turn the hearts of people against that of His own people? Exodus 14:4 explains, "And once again I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will chase after you. I have planned this in order to display My glory through Pharaoh and his whole army. After this the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD!” If Pharaoh had been kind to God's people, or if Pharaoh had allowed God's people to leave Egypt when they asked, God's people (and the Egyptians for that matter) would have missed seeing God at work. Instead, BECAUSE of Pharaoh's hard heart (he hardened his own heart a few times too, see Exodus 8:15, 32), God was able to perform signs and wonders; signs and wonders that the psalmist reminds us of in verses 27-41.

The end result?

Psalm 105 ends with the reminder that though God's people suffered greatly, God kept His promise. God delivered His people, not necessarily OUT of suffering but THROUGH suffering, to the land He had promised. God gave His people a place they could live "that they might keep His precepts and observe His laws" (v45).

From beginning to end, the Bible tells the same story. If you are reading this, God has chosen you to know Him, just as He chose men named Abraham and Isaac and Jacob (and women too). God allows suffering in the lives of His people, but He always provides a way through. God has promised us--New Testament believers--not a physical place but a place where our hearts can live peacefully in His presence by believing what God has said about our sin condition (it's bad) and by accepting Jesus' death on the cross in place of our own. Once we are reconciled to God by faith, we too will want to keep His precepts and observe His laws because we know they are good.

Why study God's Word? Because we all, now more than ever, need to remember all He has done and all He promises to still do.

by Jenny on March 19th, 2020

"Awake, O sleeper, rise up . . ." Ephesians 5:14

The world stands shaken. News of a highly-contagious virus invades our minds, our hearts, and our sleep. More contagious than the virus itself is the fear of catching it, or of running out of food or cleaning supplies, or of having our schedules changed. I have fears too. Fear is a natural response to an unknown or intimidating situation. But the virus isn't the problem, and it isn't the media either. Our fears simply reveal opportunities for us to transfer our trust, our hope, our worship from an object or desire that may fail to One who will never fail (Deuteronomy 31:6, NLT).

"Everything the Lord does is good." (Psalm 145:17, ERV) I don't understand everything the Lord does. Everything does not seem good to me. "Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand His decisions and His ways!" (Romans 11:33, see also Proverbs 20:24, 25:2, Ecclesiastes 3:11b) My hope doesn't come from my ability to understand everything the Lord does. My hope lies in what I know about the character of God. If I don't know the character of God, I have little hope.

The character of God is too complex to explain in one blog post. The whole world cannot contain the goodness of God (1 Kings 8:27). But we can start with a glimpse.

Throughout the Old Testament, God allowed trouble and hardship to come upon His people, not solely as punishment, but in the form of discipline; to remind His people, to make them aware, to help His people wake up, to realize their need for Him.

Everything God does is good. God does not punish His children (Psalm 103:10, Isaiah 54:9). Jesus absorbed, or took on, the punishment for believers--those who believed in the past and those who would ever believe in the future--when He died on the cross. But God does test His children--even those yet to be His children. He does discipline His children, train His children, remind His children so that they will know their (our) need for Him (Hebrews 12:10).

Skeptics say God sounds narcissistic. Narcissism is "having an excessive interest in one's self" (dictionary.com). "Shall what is formed say to the One who formed it, 'You did not make me'? Can the pot say to the Potter, 'You know nothing'?" (Isaiah 29:16) When a human demands worship, it is narcissism. When a perfect God creates a perfect man who then chooses to turn away from his Creator, and the Creator makes a way for man to return to Him, and the Creator then reminds man of his need for Him . . . it is called love.

Louder than the news of the virus or of runs on toilet paper, the Lord is saying, "Return to Me." Do you hear Him? He has promised to be right there for us when we do. (Malachi 3:7)

God, we need You. We need to know You. We need to know that You will never leave us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6). We need to know that You have decided every day of our lives, and every day of the lives of those we love, before even one of them came to pass (Psalm 139:14). We need to know that You have power over viruses, and over supply and demand (Psalm 24:1).  We need to know that while You may not do what we want You to do, You always do what is best (Psalm 145:17). Remind us, teach us of who You are, and all You promise and are able to do. 

by Jenny on March 16th, 2020

"Encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children . . ." Titus 2:4

Hey Moms! Anyone feeling overwhelmed at the thought of having your sweet, beautiful children home all day, every day . . . for an indefinite amount of time? It's okay to admit your fears and reservations!

By NO means am I an expert. God fashioned each of us moms with different personality types, so the words that follow may not prove helpful to you. BUT, in his letter to Titus, Paul challenged "older women" to "train, or encourage women to love their husbands and their children . . ." (Titus 2:3-4) While I'm not sure I like the "older woman" part, as an initially-VERY-reluctant-homeschooling-mom-of-ten-years, I DO know what it is like to end up home with your children all day, every day . . . for an indefinite amount of time. And I would love to encourage you. Not because I have all the answers but because I know the struggle is real.

FIRST. God chose you--yes, YOU--to be the mother of your children because He knew you would be perfect for them and that they--yes, your children--would be perfect for you. Your children can have other teachers but YOU are Mom. "Children are a gift from the Lord." (Psalm 127:3) Children may not always feel like a gift (just being real here) but Scripture proclaims that they are. Let us ask God to give us eyes to see the beauty in His gifts.

SECOND. Know your personality type. I am an Introverted Mom (click here for an EXCELLENT read on this topic. Hint, even if you are an Extrovert, being with your children all day, every day, for an indefinite amount of time may bring out the Introvert in you). I recharge by being . . . alone. Thankfully I've had nap-age children for fifteen years. We STILL have an afternoon "rest-time" for one hour EVERY afternoon, even on weekends. My youngest naps, my middles shamelessly watch PBS or another educational program and my olders read or listen to audio books or play a non-technology related game with a sibling (think old fashioned board games or card games). Since we are ALL together ALL day EVERY day for an INDEFINITE amount of time, "rest-time" gives EVERYONE a chance to have a "break" from each other. Because "alone time" refuels me, I also wake up two hours before my children. How do I know I have two hours? Because other than potty-breaks, we have asked our children to remain in their rooms until 7am. Knowing I have until 7am to prepare for my day gives me the time I need to pray, study the Scriptures, pray more, respond to e-mails, etc. At 7am, I'm "on-the-clock," so to speak. On the other hand, you Extroverted Moms will THRIVE being with [little] people all day, every day for an indefinite amount of time.

THIRD. In addition to being an Introverted Mom, I am also a type-A, thrive-on-structure type of mom. Before you tell me to loosen up, remember I'm outnumbered 6:1 during the day! I read one time that because their bodies, and therefore their little worlds, are constantly changing, young children especially perform better with routine. I like to call it "flexible structure" (how's that for an oxymoron?). Whether you find yourself homebound with your children for an extra week or an extra fifteen years, find a routine that works for your family.

Loosely speaking, M-F, all of our children, teens included, are expected to arise by 8am (see, there ARE perks to not having to rush off to work or school each day). TV is off by 8:30am (and on no earlier than 7am). The kitchen closes at 9am. Chore-time follows until 10am. School begins no later than 10am (olders often begin their school work before 10am if their chores are complete). Snack for littles at 10:30am (something quick like fruit or nuts). School runs until 12:30pm, sometimes 1pm. Then lunch followed by rest-time. School resumes from 3pm-4pm or 4:30pm, followed by an afternoon snack and at least an hour of OUTSIDE time, rain, sleet or snow! Cleanup house (because I also can't stand clutter, though dust and even a little stickiness on the floor doesn't bother me as much) and/or cleanup kids, and dinner prep around 5:30pm, dinner around 6pm, bedtime [begins] for littles around 7pm, olders to bed around 9pm. 

On "school-work." Because we homeschool, I have all of our schoolwork at my finger tips. Until/unless schools send work home with students, consider other brain-engaging work. The Critical Thinking Co. offers MANY fun brain-teaser workbooks for young and old. We've also used Paragraph Editing workbooks for Grades 2-8 during summer breaks.

FOURTH. Ask the Father for help. In every moment, with every child. If you don't know the Father, or don't know how to talk to the Father, or fail to understand how in this world the Father can actually help you (because He seems to live oh, so far away), let's talk! The short answer is that we are born apart from the Father (Ephesians 2:12), with no way back to Him on our own. Sin separated us (and though we "seem" good-enough, God's standards are so high, none of us can achieve communion with God on our own). Christ died in place of us, took the punishment for our sin which was death SO THAT we COULD be reconciled with God. We simply must RECOGNIZE (BELIEVE) that Jesus died for us. The moment we make a profession of faith IN Jesus, God's Spirit indwells us, and THAT is how He helps us in every day life. The Spirit of God helps us live in a way that pleases God, IF we will yield to the Spirit's leading. The fruit of the Spirit, meaning the evidence or the proof or ability of the Spirit is love (not hate), joy (not misery--even at home with children all day every day for an indefinite amount of time), peace (not chaos), patience (yes, the Spirit of God will HELP YOU BE PATIENT with your children all day every day for an indefinite amount of time!!), kindness (you get the idea), goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and yes, even self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23) You need Jesus so that you can spend eternity with God. You need the Spirit to help you live moment by moment, day by day for a definite amount of time, which God only knows.

Obedience brings God joy. (1 Samuel 15:22) Obedience in believing Him and all He says in His Word about our condition and about His love and forgiveness and provision. Obedience in wherever He has placed you and your children during this season. Let His joy be your strength. (Nehemiah 8:10)

God has power over this virus and any that will follow in the weeks, months or years to come. In the New Testament Jesus commanded gems to die, and they did (Luke 4:38-39). Jesus can still command germs today. God has allowed this season for a reason. Rest in His plan. He has you at home with your children for such a time as this. God WILL call you to do more than you can in your own strength SO THAT you learn to trust in Him. 

Second Corinthians 1:8 reads, "We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it." Paul is speaking of a situation far more fearful than being home with children . . . but the feelings are mutual. Paul continues in verse 9, "But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God."

May that be how God turns what the enemy meant for harm into GOOD. May you and the children God has given you draw closer to Him, and to teach other, during this time.

As moms (or other care-givers) homebound with our children, let's continue to encourage each other. We are a community. Leave your comments here today, or in the days and weeks to come.

by Jenny on July 17th, 2019

"When the people heard the thunder and the loud blast of the ram’s horn, and when they saw the flashes of lightning and the smoke billowing from the mountain, they stood at a distance, trembling with fear." Exodus 20:18

Ever read much of the Old Testament portion of the Bible? Readers of the Old Testament sometimes (oftentimes?) comment that God seemed meaner in the Old Testament than He does in the New Testament. The Old Testament documents the history of Israel as a nation. The Old Testament describes wars and God's judgement and even punishment on both enemy nations, as well as the chosen nation of Israel. But the Bible tells us that God never changes (James 1:17). God demonstrates just as much love and compassion for His people in the Old Testament as He does for His people in the New Testament. But similar to today, God's people--those He has chosen to know Him, those He is in the process of calling to Himself--often fail to recognize all God has already done for them. Rather than drawing near to God to learn more about Him, they stand at a distance from God, trembling with fear.

The book of Exodus tells us that God's people lived in Egypt for approximately 400 years, living the majority of that time as slaves to the Egyptians. But Exodus 7-12 describe the mighty power God unleashed on the Egyptians in order to free His people from slavery. "God caused the Egyptians to look favorably on the Israelites, and they gave the Israelites whatever they asked for" as they departed Egypt (Exodus 12:36). God led His people in a cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night (Exodus 13:21). God did not lead His people down the main road, because He knew His people were unprepared to face enemy territory (Exodus 13:17). Instead, God led them in a roundabout way through the wilderness (Exodus 13:18), providing for their EVERY need along the way. When they wanted meat, He gave them meat (Exodus 16:12). When they needed water, He gave them water (Exodus 17:6). God led His people in this way to a mountain called Mt. Sinai. At Mt. Sinai God intended to give His people further instruction on how to live. But it is at this place that instead of standing in awe of all God had done for them, God's people stood at a distance, too afraid of Him to draw near. All of God's people stood at a distance, that is, except Moses.

Maybe Moses was just a curious guy. Maybe after spending forty years tending sheep in the wilderness Moses was desperate to see something new. Whatever the reason, when God revealed Himself to Moses through a burning bush in the desert, Moses said to himself, "I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight . . ." (Exodus 3:3, emphasis mine). Moses bowed down in reverent fear of God many times. But he never let fear of God's power distance him from God. Indeed, it was the very power of God that caused Moses to draw near to Him. Yes, God called Moses and only Moses to meet Him atop Mt. Sinai. But God wanted His people to draw near, not to stand in fear. "Don't be afraid," Moses answered them, "for God has come in this way to test you, and so that your fear of Him will keep you from sinning."  (Exodus 20:20) A reverent fear of God is healthy and appropriate. A trembling fear of God is unnecessary and will cause us to miss out on all He wants to do in our lives.

The New Testament repeats a similar story. Those most familiar with Jesus drew near to Him to listen to His teaching and to witness His miracles (Mark 1:22), and they invited others to do the same (John 4:29). Those unfamiliar with Jesus stood at a distance, trembling with fear (Luke 8:37).

Where do you stand?

God is good (Psalm 119:68). God loves you so much He sent His Son to die for you so that you could come to Him (John 3:16). God came, not for those who have it all together, but for those who are broken, filthy and messy (Mark 2:17). Do not let your fear of God keep you standing at a distance. Come close to God, and God will come close to you (James 4:8).





Welcome!
Crossing Your Jordan

I am a stay-at-home, homeschooling, Bible-teaching mom of six, and wife to my college sweetheart. I believe everyone can live a life of abundance through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and radical obedience to His Word.

Do you have a relationship with God through Christ? If not, I would consider it pure joy to tell you about God, why you need Him, and how to be reconciled to Him through Christ.

If you know Christ as your Savior, do you know how to follow Him as Lord? If, like me, life's challenges have caused you to question whether you truly want to follow God's plan for you, or you simply don't know how to recognize God's ways due to a lack of biblical literacy, I would love to teach you what I've come to know about God through His Word.

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Visit the following link to read or search through Jenny's posts dating prior to August 2014. www.jennyhander.blogspot.com