Crossing
Your
Jordan Ministries
Embracing God's Promise of Abundance When Hardship Endures
by Jenny on June 12th, 2019

"For this is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

A few days ago I watched my younger middle three children climb into their grandparents' van as they prepared to leave for an extended visit. It is my first time ever to not have my children at home with me. (I'm a homeschool mom, remember? My children are ALWAYS with me. Smile.) Wanting to avoid a dramatic departure, I forced a smile on my face, gave quick hugs and kisses and waved goodbye. But as my children pulled out of the driveway and all-to-soon drove away, I couldn't help but to think of how unlike God my display of emotions had been.

Rather than gushing over my children as they prepared to leave, I held back. Wanting to quickly dismiss any feelings of uncertainty or sadness, I acted as though their leaving was no big deal. I bottled up my emotions, my very-real sadness, the emptiness I already felt thinking of the days ahead without them. I didn't let them see the depth of my love for them which, in their absence, has caused a heaviness of heart that makes it difficult to take a deep breath. Sure, I did it for their own good . . . or so I told myself.

But God never hides His love from us. Difficult circumstances can cause us to question God's love. Tragedy can make us feel as though God does not love us or has ceased caring about us. But John tells us, "this is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us." (1 John 3:16)

God loves us. He loves us so much He gave His Son to die for us. No matter what you have done in the past, no matter what you may do in the future, God LOVES Y.O.U.

In Romans 5:8 Paul reminds us that, "God proves His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." God doesn't just love you once you live how He wants you to live. He loved you before you were born. While you were busy sinning, God loved you, and He loved me, so much that He sent His Son to pay the penalty for our sin.

Allow me to clarify. God does not love it when we sin. He loves us. He does not love our sin. Because of our human nature, you and I will continue to sin, which is why it was necessary for Christ to die as a sacrifice for our sin; to cleanse us of our sin so that we could have the opportunity of being reconciled to God through our faith in believing that Christ died for our sin.

Confused?

We will still sin. But when Christ died, He died for all sin for all time. Because of our sin, we are separated from God UNTIL or UNLESS we accept Christ's payment for our sin. Once we acknowledge Jesus' sacrifice for our own personal sin, we are forever forgiven, forever reconciled to God through our faith, NOT through our ability to live life perfectly.

1 John 3:9 explains it this way: "Those who have been born into God's family [through faith in Christ] do not make a practice of sinning," parenthesis and emphasis mine. You practice something to get better at it. John says believers in Christ will not continue to practice, or attempt to get better at their sin. We will still sin, but our sin will bother us in a similar way, albeit to a lesser degree, that our sin bothers God.

When it came to our separation from God, God was unafraid to show us just how deeply He loved us. He wanted us to know without a doubt how much He loved(s) us, how greatly He would miss us if we were to live apart from Him. God gave more than a kiss or a hug or a pat on the head or a wave of His hand. God loved us SO much, He gave His own Son on a cross; His great love on display for all the world to see.

by Jenny on June 7th, 2019

"Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for." Matthew 7:7

I am the mother of six living children. Three of those children are ages six and under. I receive more questions in one day than I could possibly answer in a week. One child in particular overwhelms me with the sheer volume of his questions. Yet, I have come to realize my son asks questions with a sincere desire for knowledge. He has a curious mind. He wants to know how things work and what will happen next. And because of his age, he is not afraid to keep asking me questions until his quest for answers is satisfied. My son reminds me of a story I recently read about a man in the Bible who also seemingly asked too many questions.

In addition to being the father of many nations, Abraham was also the uncle of a man named Lot. Because both Abraham and Lot owned many flocks of sheep, goats and cattle and needed room for their animals to graze, they agreed to live in separate parts of the country. Lot chose the land known as Sodom and Gomorrah. By default, Abraham chose the land of Canaan.

Some time later the Lord told Abraham, "I have heard a great outcry from Sodom and Gomorrah, because their sin is so flagrant. I am going down to see if their actions are as wicked as I have heard. If not, I want to know." (Genesis 18:20-21)

Abraham understands that the Lord isn't just interested in observing Sodom and Gomorrah. The Lord plans to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. Curious to know more, Abraham begins to ask questions.

"Will You sweep away both the righteous and the wicked?" Abraham asks. "Suppose You find fifty righteous people living there in the city—will You still sweep it away and not spare it for their sakes? Surely You wouldn’t do such a thing, destroying the righteous along with the wicked. Why, You would be treating the righteous and the wicked exactly the same! Surely You wouldn’t do that! Should not the Judge of all the earth do what is right?" (Genesis 18:23-25)

The Lord affirms Abraham's concern. "If I find fifty righteous people in Sodom, I will spare the entire city for their sake," the Lord replies. (Genesis 18:26)

Abraham continues. "Suppose there are only forty-five righteous people rather than fifty? Will You destroy the whole city for the lack of five?"

"What about forty . . . ?"

"Or thirty . . . ?"

"Or twenty . . . ?"

"Or ten . . . ?"


Does the line of questioning sound familiar? It does to me. But rather than growing frustrated with Abraham for the incessant questions, the Lord responds to Abraham with patience and sincerity.

Why?

I believe God knew the motivation driving Abraham's questions. I believe Abraham was likely concerned about the safety of his own family, his nephew Lot, but I think Abraham was also genuinely concerned about the heart and the reputation of his God. "Far be it from You to do such a thing! Far be it from You!" Abraham cries in verse twenty-five. Each time Abraham asked the Lord another question, he prefaced his question with a proper positioning of himself. "Let me speak further to my Lord, even though I am but dust and ashes . . ." (Genesis 18:27)

I believe God answered Abraham's questions because God WANTS us to know Him.

Matthew 7:7 tells us, "Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you."

In Jeremiah 33:3 the Lord tells us, "Ask Me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come."

James 1:5 says, "If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking."

Abraham did not ask the Lord questions out of doubt, frustration or accusation. Abraham asks the Lord questions out of a genuine desire to know Him more.

If you are anything like me, your questions are many. Although the Scriptures encourage us to ask questions, the Scriptures also warn about our motivations. James 4:3 reads, "When you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure."

What if our questions revolved more around God, around who He is, around His plan and His glory rather than our own comfort, safety and security? I wonder if we, like Abraham, would receive answers in abundance.

What do you need to know about God? He longs to be known by you. Go to Him, through His Word and in prayer, like a child wanting to know more. If our true desire is to know Him, there is no such thing as too many questions.

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.





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