Crossing
Your
Jordan Ministries
Embracing God's Promise of Abundance When Hardship Endures
by Jenny on October 10th, 2018

"We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed." 2 Corinthians 4:8-9

A friendly warning (especially for the male audience)--this post contains information pertaining to a rather "sensitive" experience. But since it's an experience to which all western-women can relate--all western-women over the age of forty, anyway--I share.

Last week I endured the pleasure of my first mammogram. To call it a "sensitive" experience is an understatement. Though I reminded myself to feel grateful that such technology is even available to us as women, I dreaded my appointment. I resented the fact that I am old enough to need a mammogram. I had a baby at forty just so I could forgo my mammogram for another year on account of nursing (just kidding, a baby at forty was simply a sweet surprise!). When the technician learned that I had nursed six babies, she assured me my "discomfort" from the mammogram would be no worse than that of six wee ones squirming, tugging, kicking, pulling and biting that same area. And while I did not enjoy being hard-pressed on every side (ah-hem), I did manage to endure the procedure without tears (and although I thoroughly enjoyed nursing my babies, there were tears on more than one occasion).

As I await the results of my exam I've had time to consider all that could come about from a test like this. I can't help but relate a few similarities between a mammogram and life itself.

The purpose of the squishing and the squeezing during a mammogram is to reveal any abnormalities in the tissue being examined. A mammogram can detect abnormalities before they become apparent to our eyes or our hands. The pressure applied during the exam helps spread-out the tissue so that the radiologist can see all he or she needs to see. The pressure is uncomfortable, to say the least. But it is the pressure that reveals the true nature of what lies underneath. I believe the same idea holds true with the pressures of life.

The Bible tells of many times when God allowed His people to endure trials for the purpose of testing (and growing) their faith. God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, his beloved son, on an altar, but at the last minute God said, "Abraham! Do not lay a hand on the boy! Now I know that you truly fear God . . ." (Genesis 22:11-12) God led the Israelites through the wilderness for forty years, humbling and testing them to prove their character, and to find out whether or not they would obey His commands. (Deuteronomy 8:2) God allowed Job to be tested (see the book of Job, especially Job 23:10), and Daniel, and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (see the book of Daniel). Peter the disciple warned that we would "have to endure many trials for a little while." He explains, "These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold." (1 Peter 1:6-7)

If God is all-knowing, why does He need to "test" us? Doesn't He already know how our faith will fare? Yes. I think many times it's us--not God--who need to discover the strength, and many times the object, of our faith.

The apostle Paul too faced many pressures as he spread the news of the Gospel to churches in the New Testament. In the beginning of his second letter to the church in Corinth, Paul writes, "We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God." (2 Corinthians 1:8-9)

THAT, I believe, is why God allows us to be squished and squeezed by the pressures of life. The Message translates Jesus' words in Matthew 5:3 as this, “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and His rule."

The principle of testing being proving grounds for our faith is why New Testament writers tell us to "rejoice in our afflictions." In his letter to believers in Rome Paul writes, "We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation." (Romans 5:3-4) James, the half-brother of Jesus, goes as far as to tell us to consider it pure joy when trouble comes our way. Why? Because when our faith is tested, when our faith is squished and squeezed, then the endurance of our faith has a chance to grow. (James 1:2-3)

Although uncomfortable, we as women benefit from mammograms. It's what helps reveal any abnormalities that lie underneath. The same holds true with the pressures of life. It's us who benefit. If you feel as though you are being squished and squeezed, James again says to consider yourself--myself--blessed. "Because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him." (James 1:12)

by Jenny on July 24th, 2018

"Do not be afraid of them," the LORD said to Joshua, "for I have given you victory over them. Not a single one of them will be able to stand up to you." Joshua 10:8

For months my husband and I have wrestled with decisions about our family's activities for the fall. We want our children involved in activities, lest they become the stereotypical "weird, unsocialized homeschooled kids." However, too many activities place a strain on our family. My kids want to be involved in EVERYTHING. But "everything" becomes more than I can handle well. I know in my heart what I feel we should (and shouldn't) do, but I am so afraid of making the wrong decision. After asking God to speak to me through His Word this morning, I came across something that encouraged me.

If you know your preschool Bible songs (and it's okay if you don't know them . . . some of them I'm still learning), you likely know that after Joshua fits the battle of Jericho, he continues to lead God's people, the Israelites, into their promised land. Word spreads throughout the country about Joshua's success in battle. Out of fear that they too will soon be destroyed by Joshua and the Israelites, the people of Gibeon approach Israel under false pretenses and propose a peace-treaty. God had instructed Israel to destroy all the nations who occupied their land. But Joshua 9:14 tells us that when the Gibeonites approached Joshua, Joshua "did not consult the Lord." Instead, seeing that the Gibeonites indeed looked like a people from a far-off land, Joshua vows peace and guarantees their safety. Days later Joshua realizes he made a bad decision.

Other nations soon learn about the treaty between Israel and the Gibeonites and decide to attack Gibeon. Joshua feels the consequences of his bad decision when the Gibeonites cry out to him, "Don't abandon your servants now! Come at once! Save us! Help us! For all the Amorite kings who live in the hill country have joined forces to attack us." (Joshua 10:6) Because of the vow Joshua entered into (without consulting the Lord), he is forced to send troops to fight a seemingly unintended battle.

But here's the good news.

The Lord tells Joshua, "Do not be afraid of them, for I have given you victory over them. Not a single one of them will be able to stand up to you." (Joshua 10:8) Even though Joshua must engage in battle as a result of a bad decision, God fights for Joshua. God holds true to His promise that Israel would inherit the promised land. In the middle of the battle between Israel and the Amorite kings, Joshua remembers to consult the Lord and asks God to "let the sun stand still over Gibeon" so that Israel may have more time to defeat their enemy. Joshua 10:14 tells us, "There has never been a day like this one before or since, when the LORD answered such a prayer."

Joshua had to endure the consequences of a bad decision, but nothing--not even a bad decision--could thwart God's plan. Once Joshua turned to God for help, God still brought about all He planned to do.

What decision do you face? Remember to consult the Lord. James 1:5 tells us, "If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking." But take comfort that even if (when) we make a bad decision, if we ask God for help, he will work all things for our good (Romans 8:28) and for His ultimate glory (Romans 11:36).


by Jenny on June 19th, 2018

"If one individual commits an unintentional sin, the guilty person must bring a one-year-old female goat for a sin offering." Numbers 15:27

I used to travel for work. Yes, before I added the title SAHHM (stay-at-home-homeschooling-mom) to the end of my name, I held a position in Corporate America. Now I travel for work too, but I travel in an over-sized SUV packed full of kids. Back then I traveled first-class. Well, maybe not always first class, but it seemed like first class because even if you're surrounded by six screaming kids, at least in an airplane you're not also trying to navigate the vehicle, plus they serve you a snack!

Before my plane would depart I would almost always offer up a short prayer. I considered myself a Christian. I believed in God. I believed in Heaven. And in the event my flight didn't reach it's intended destination I wanted to ensure I would arrive in Heaven. So, I would pray something like this, "Hi God, um, I just want to say I'm sorry for everything I ever did wrong, even the things I didn't realize I did wrong. Really, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to. Thank you God, Amen."

I knew I was a sinner. I knew sin separated me from God. But what drove my urgency to pray wasn't love for God, or a true desire to please God . . . it was fear. Fear that I had unconfessed sin, and that my unconfessed sin would keep me from spending eternity with God, you know, if my flight went sour.

Let me be clear. Confessing sin is an excellent practice. James 5:16 tells us to confess our sins to teach other. First John 1:9 says that, "if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive." In Psalm 51:17, David tells us that God will not reject a broken and repentant heart. Repentance isn't just good, it is necessary in our relationship with God. We will continue to sin against God, and we must continue to recognize and to confess that God's Ways are higher and better than our ways.

But, we needn't live in fear that one, little, unconfessed sin will cause God to close the gates of Heaven on us. Yes, sin separates us from God. But Jesus offered Himself as the sacrifice for our sin--all of our sin.

In the Old Testament, God explains through Moses all the sacrifices required on behalf of His people. The sacrifices were many! Certainly God required sacrifice for intentional sin, but in Numbers 15 we read about sacrifices required for unintentional sin. Yes, even unintentional sin separated the people from God, and therefore required a sacrifice in order to restore fellowship between God and His people.

The Good News?

Jesus offered Himself as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. (Hebrews 10:12)

Sin requires sacrifice. But when I embrace the understanding that Jesus offered Himself as a sacrifice for my sin--ALL of my sins--I no longer need to live in fear that God might deny me access to eternity with Him. Yes, I should still confess my sin to Him. I must acknowledge that His ways are good and that my ways fall short. But I no longer need to offer up a last-minute plea for mercy before I depart on a trip. Instead, I can offer up a prayer of thanks. I can live at peace knowing that all of my sin, both intentional sin AND unintentional sin, have been forgiven in Christ Jesus.

by Jenny on June 14th, 2018

"These are the decrees, regulations, and instructions that the LORD gave through Moses on Mount Sinai as evidence of the relationship between Himself and the Israelites." Leviticus 26:46

My husband and I like to swim together at night after we put our three youngest kids to bed. We find it's a good way to relieve stress and to hash through family business. As we swam last night I looked over at him and giggled. As young college students, I don't think either of us could have imagined that we would ever swim together in a backyard pool at night.

My husband and I have been dating for twenty-two years. I was a college freshman and he a college sophomore when we first met. In twenty-two years of dating we've made many memories together. Most memories bring a smile to my face. A few memories bring pain. But one glance around our home or even in the drawer of my bed-side table reveals much evidence of our relationship.

After two decades of dating, one might expect to find much evidence of a relationship. But it didn't take twenty-two years for me to begin accumulating evidence. Early on in our relationship I kept movie-ticket stubs and countless pieces of other memorabilia to remind me of time spent with the man I would eventually marry. Why? Because I liked him. I wanted to remember time spent together. I wanted to have things that would cause me to think of him, lest he escape my thoughts.

Recently I read through the book of Leviticus. Though I consider myself a student of the Bible, I must admit I tend to skip over the book of Leviticus. It's a book of law, much of which was [thankfully] fulfilled through Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. But as I studied Leviticus, just as with every other book of the Bible, I discovered so much about God's character and about His interaction with His people. I could pen several posts about the teachings contained in the book of Leviticus but perhaps the most profound statement comes near the conclusion of the book.

Leviticus 26:46 reads, "These are the decrees, regulations, and instructions that the LORD gave through Moses on Mount Sinai as evidence of the relationship between Himself and the Israelites." (NLT)

Many people view the Old Testament as simply an old book full of laws . . . and being a book full of laws that were written over two thousand years ago, they would be mostly correct. But Leviticus 26:46 gives profound reason as to why God gave the Old Testament first to the Israelites and now to us.

God gave us His word as evidence of His relationship with us.

I claim to have a relationship with God through faith in Christ. And while my relationship is based on faith ALONE, not on works, muchless objects I may place around my home or neck, there should be some evidence of my relationship with God. Just as I wanted to talk to my future husband, I should want to talk to God. Just as I wanted to learn more about my future husband, how much more should I want to learn about my Creator, my Savior?

God initiated a relationship with me by sending someone--my childhood youth pastor--to tell me about Him. God gave me people who could testify to His character to tell me more about Him. God gave me--us--His Son to make a relationship possible. And, God gave me--us--His word so that we could discover more about Him and all that He plans to do as we walk in obedience to Him.

I have much evidence of a relationship with my husband. But how much more should I have evidence of my relationship with God, not by accumulating things but by spending time with God in that which He gave as evidence of His relationship with me?

by Jenny on May 12th, 2018

"Then Isaiah son of Amoz sent this message to Hezekiah: 'This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Because you prayed . . . '" Isaiah 37:21

I celebrated my 41st birthday this past week. I didn't love turning 40. Only "old" people turn 40. Plus, I had just delivered my 7th baby, which was great for my heart but not so great for my 40 year old body image. My outlook for 41, however, is brighter. After swiping several cute skirts recently for $1 a piece at a garage sale, I'm ready to "age with class." But more than a new wardrobe, what truly makes me ready to shine are the answers to two prayer requests, both of which I received on my birthday.

I routinely "converse" with God through prayer, but sadly I do not consider myself a fierce prayer warrior. I often waffle between "boldly approaching the throne of grace" and standing along the sidelines of life simply watching God do as He pleases. After all, God is good, right? God is sovereign, isn't He? Is it really necessary for me to get involved with God through prayer?

How many times have you heard someone say in the midst of a difficult circumstance, "Welp, all we can do now . . . is pray," as if prayer is simply something to try after all other options have been exhausted? I've said it, and done it, more than once! Even recently, my husband and I waited until the heat began to rise on two circumstances in our lives. Then, and only then did we become serious about presenting our requests to God. Within three weeks of our prayers, both circumstances were resolved beautifully, on the same day, the day of my 41st birthday. Coincidence? No such thing.

James 5:16 says, "The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results."  Our finite minds fail to understand how our prayers influence God, who is sovereign over all of His creation, but Scripture demonstrates a definite connection between our prayers and God's movement in our lives.

Consider a man named Hezekiah. Hezekiah was King of Judah, the smaller kingdom of God's people in the Old Testament. Twice when King Hezekiah received threatening news from a known enemy he immediately sought God through prayer (Isaiah 37:1 & 14). Even when sickness struck Hezekiah he again turned to God through prayer (Isaiah 38:2). God not only responded to Hezekiah's prayers, but God also moved in Hezekiah's life as a result of Hezekiah's prayers. God told King Hezekiah through the prophet Isaiah, "Because you prayed . . . " (Isaiah 37:21)

The writer of Hebrews reminds us that because of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross we are no longer separated from God, but can boldly approach the throne of grace--through prayer--to receive God's mercy and grace to help us when we need it most. (Hebrews 4:16)

What should we pray about? In Philippians 4:6-7 Paul says, "Everything! . . . "

". . . And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus"  BECAUSE you prayed.





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.

Regardless of who you are (or aren't) or what you have (or haven't) done, I invite you to find a comfy spot, grab a cup of coffee and a Bible, and enter your contact information below.

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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