Tuesday, December 21, 2010


God recently answered a pretty substantial prayer request of mine - He just blessed my socks off. I am in awe of how good He is to me - how patient and gracious.

When I read about the Israelites, I always get a bit impatient with them. It seems God does something big for them, and it is not a week later and they face a similar situation, and they start whining again and want to go back to Egypt - imagine whining about wanting to go back to being a slave. Imagine forgetting that only a few days before God had miraculously provided water or food or deliverance from an enemy.

But am I any different? I could fill a book with all that God has done for me and my family in just the past few years. If I wrote down all His blessings to me, I'm sure it would be pages and pages - in fact, I have quite a few of them recorded in my journal just to remind me.

Isn't it interesting that in Old Testament times, God often had His people build an alter or some other kind of remembrance of His goodness. You wouldn't think they'd forget something like the parting of the Red Sea, but it was only a few days later that they were freaking out at Mara with the bitter waters sure they were going to die of thirst.

God has provided for us in numerous ways over the years. Not just monetarily either, but that way too. I recently had found out that I was going to have a large-for-us medical expense that would be long term, and I knew I had a choice. I didn't FEEL like trusting God. I actually felt like completely wigging out, but I grasped onto God's hand and said, "Okay, I'm going to choose to believe that You will provide for this, but remind me when those feelings start welling up!"

I really had no way of knowing how God would provide. Well, the answer came through work. God was providing not just what was needed but over and above that too!!! It all started when I obediently stepped into the unknown this summer by quitting my job. Without that first step of obedience, God could not have blessed me with my job that will start in January. He reminded me of that too - "See what happens when you actually listen and trust me?" It's sort of embarrassing how often I need to be reminded though, but maybe, just maybe, I'm "getting" it.

The bottom line is I really don't have to worry because the God of the universe has my back. When He is my corner who can be against me? What do I have to fear? He will provide all my needs from HIS RICHES, not just the leftovers. He delights in me and every good thing I have comes from Him. He also works ALL things for my good if I let Him.

He sure has showed me recently the truth of this verse, "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They will mount up with wings as eagles; they will rest and not be weary; they will walk and not faint."

So, if you are facing "bitter waters", hang on because God WANTS to refresh you with His clear, sweet water in His time.
~ Blessings, Bronte

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


You know those people who after about a week of vacation say, "This as nice but I'm ready to head back home and get back to work"? I'm not one of them. I could be on vacation for a whole year and still not be tired of it. I LIKE lazing around and having fun. My husband is the opposite - too much relaxation and he starts to get twitchy.

The truth is I am, by nature, inclined to be lazy. On my best days, I am a slow mover. I am not a morning person, so as much as I wish I could leap out of bed and hit the ground running, it just doesn't happen. I get out of bed, but it is more of creaking to an upright position and then shuffling down the hallway - especially when it is cold out!

Of course, as a wife, a mom, plus the other things I do, I can't laze around all day. I have to get things done. So, I have at to-do list. If I didn't have a list of things I needed to get done each day, I'd probably wander around in circles and putter my day away, not getting anything accomplished.

Maybe this is why I always seem to feel slightly guilty - like I am never doing enough or doing it fast enough. Almost every day I think "I should have gotten up earlier," or "I should be going faster than this or have more done by now!"

God is teaching me though that my pace is okay. It's okay not to be speedy gonzales or the energizer bunny. Slow and steady does win the race - eventually.

This week, my Bible study characteristic is patience. You may be wondering how my guilt complex over not doing enough or doing it fast enough ties in to patience. Here's how - today's lesson was about patience with other people.

At the risk of sounding self-righteous, I am usually pretty patient with people. Normally, I am not one to be easily offended. I don't automatically assume that the person with foot in mouth disease is intentionlly trying to hurt my feelings. Even if it does seem intentional, I really do try to understand WHY the person is acting or speaking that way. It is the way I have compassion and can then be gracious.

Not that I am perfect. I can certainly get angry with people and I can hold a grudge - particularly if you hurt one of my loved ones. And don't even think about messing with my kids! lol But overall, patience with people is not usually something I struggle with.

EXCEPT in two incidences - when I am completely hormonal (better known as pms) or if I am super stressed because I feel overwhelmed by my to-do list. The first, I just know that my feelings are hormonally induced so I just try to not talk that day or two! lol

But the other, I have control over. Generally speaking, the actual things I absolutely have to do are not all that overwhelming. BUT, the pressure I put on myself to do this and that and the other, can make me into a frazzled mess. Not to mention, my bad habit of procrastinating until it DOES become a time crunch, thus making me stressed out. This makes me much more likely to be impatient with someone and snap at them, or worse, just not want to have to deal with them at all. Not a very loving attitude is it?

I would love to say that I love others so much that my list of to-dos takes a backseat when I see someone in need, but that's just not true. Too often, I sigh to myself and feel resentful or annoyed that someone is taking up my valuable time when I have things to do! But if you look at Jesus in the Gospels, He always had time for people. And let's face it, if anyone had a short time table, it was Jesus. Just three years for His earthly ministry, but you never see Him portrayed as frantically rushing anywhere.

I want to be like that - gracious and kind; not frazzled and irritable. But to do that, I need to do two things - take a close look at how I AM spending my time and then ditch the false guilt. As I said, my natural inclination is to putter and procrastinate, and laziness is not too much of a stretch for me. So, I need to look at how I am spending my time to see if I am using it wisely. If I am, then I need to get rid of that guilty sense of "do more and do it faster." Satan would love for me to always feels so frazzled that I never have time for anyone or anything BUT my to-do list.

But God has a different plan. After all, "God is not the author of confusion but of peace." I Cor. 14:33 Together, God and I are finding my stride - productive but not stressed out so I can be gracious to those around me.

~ Blessings, Bronte

Monday, December 6, 2010


Self-control, that is. That is this week's character attribute. To be honest, I've been kind of dreading this week since I started. This is an area that I struggle with A LOT!

It seems all my struggles with self-control center on my mouth. At one time, I couldn't control what I put INTO my mouth. I stuffed food in there to numb any negative feelings I might have. My scale will tell you just how many feelings I stuffed down and for how long!

God has done a real work in my life in regards to my food addictions. I still have days that I eat too much or get unbalanced. It's easy to do this time of year. But overall, I no longer am driven to eat. Usually when I start feeling that I want to eat everything not nailed down, that is a signal to me that I am feeling something uncomfortable that I don't want to deal with like anxiety or fear or worry or anger over something. Even though some feelings can be a little overwhelming at times, I am so thankful that God has set me free from that numb person I used to be.

I still have trouble with my mouth though, but these days, it is what comes OUT of it that is the problem! I am a verbal person. Ask anyone who knows me and you will probably hear that I am a talker. Being a writer, words are my medium. Like an artist with his clay or charcoals, words are how I process things, how I discover things, how I work through what I really believe and why. I am the typical think-out-loud type. And yes, I will admit it here, I do talk to myself. I pretend I'm talking to the dog so nobody will think I am crazy if they overhear me. lol

There are two sides of this coin that I struggle with - on the one hand, it seems so much truth is swept under the carpet for the sake of appearances or putting on a show. I despise fakeness so I tend to "let it all hang out", but sometimes, I let too much hang out. I have to remember that in my quest to be "real", there are others in my life - people I love and I am close to - who are NOT "let it all hang out" types. I can never let MY honesty become THEIR embarrassment. It's a hard line to find - sharing but not hurting my loved ones in the process.

Then there is the processing I do. I am one of those people that need to talk things through. However, this can shade into the area of gossip if I'm not careful. I'm not saying I am above gossip - sharing juicy tidbits just for the sake of sharing them or talking about someone in a negative way. Generally though, when I stray into gossip, it is inadvertant because I am trying to work something through in my own mind.

The Bible has a lot to say on the topic of what comes out of our mouths. Two verses though have stood out to me as I have been praying about this area- the truth will set you free and what comes out of our mouths is the overflow of our hearts. I think they address both areas that I struggle in too. Truth is important. I personally believe that we have way too many passive-aggressive people in our churches - people who smile and say, "Oh everything is fine," but inside sort of seethe and fester about perceived wrongs, or they don't want to let their mask of perfection slip. What would people say if they knew whatever it is that is causing them shame?

However, truth spoken has to have the right motivation. This is where the second verse comes into play. What is in our hearts comes out of our mouths eventually. We may try to hold it in, but eventually it will burst out - usually spilling ugliness on anyone unlucky enough to be in the vicinity. Maybe you have never done this, but I will confess that recently I found myself talking about someone in a not too nice way. I knew immediately after this conversation that I was wrong - motivation was wrong, the way I said it was wrong, even just saying it was wrong. As I repented in tears, I vented my frustration with God. "Why do I keep saying what I shouldn't? Why can't I just shut up already?"

God, who is always gracious to show us truth and the right way when we ask, impressed on me that it was my heart that was the issue, not my mouth. My words, just like my eating used to be, were a symptom of a deeper problem. The person I had talked about had hurt me by her actions. In truth, I was upset with her but had never confronted her about it, so what came out of my mouth eventually wasn't too nice. I had a choice at that point - I could confront her with the truth or I could let it go. I decided to let it go because really, it wasn't that big of a deal. I'd just gotten my panties in a wad over something minor. But I had to address it, deal with it and move on; otherwise, I was in danger of spilling ugly words again.

The truth is I want my words to encourage others. I want my thoughts and speech to please God. But as Paul says I often don't do what I want to do; and do what I don't want to do. So this week, I will start praying a few verses that deal with my mouth.

"Let the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight; O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer." Psalme 19:14

"Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep a watch over the door of my lips." Psalms 141:3

"Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances." Proverbs 25:11

I'm praying that the words that come out of my mouth will please God and uplift others. Fortunately, I serve a God of miracles! :)
~ Blessings, Bronte

Saturday, December 4, 2010


Supposedly, I have a decent IQ which is why I wonder why it is the simple truths that seem to take me so long to really "get." I am doing this 40 Day Character Makeover. It has been interesting yet painful, too.

One thing that I was feeling so much of was guilt - guilt for not doing more or getting started in the morning sooner or excercising the way I should or, well, you fill in the blank. I spent many if not most days, totally wound up about what I WASN'T doing even as I was tackling some other task.

It was about a week before Thanksgiving when I was frantically scurrying around the house cleaning and feeling guilty because I wasn't writing that it was like God smacked me upside the head. Why in the world was I feeling guilty for cleaning my house? Then later the same day, I was packing my son's lunch and it struck me with full force that THIS was a ministry. This was important. Packing a lunch is a somewhat humble and certainly mundane task. But what if I didn't?

I kind of had this idea that all the things around the house like cleaning or packing lunches or making dinner were necessary evils - like I needed to get through them as quickly as possible to get on to my "real" calling which is writing. But God stopped me in my tracks as I spread peanut butter on a slice of wheat bread. THIS was ministry, too. Making our home clean and inviting; spending the time to give my kids good, nutritious lunches and maybe sending an encouraging note along - those things were just as important. They were the little things but they mattered. God was counting the little things too, not just the big or showy.

In a bigger way, I realized that a lot of my life has been controlled by false guilt - this sense that I was never doing enough and certainly not doing it fast enough. I tend to be a slow person. Nobody will ever accuse me of being an energizer bunny or being a whirlwind of activity. But guess what? That's okay. Everybody doesn't have to move at the speed of light. I don't have to live my life in a hurry to get to the next thing, so much so, that I am missing out on the present.

Since then, I spend an extra 10 minutes to prepare my kids' lunches. I include a note with a Scripture or just to say I am thinking about them and have prayed for them. I put on praise music when I clean the house. I don't know that I will ever enjoy cleaning, but now I don't see it as something to whiz through as quickly as possible or an interruption in more important things - I see it as a way to serve my family. To serve and to minister doesn't mean everything has to be something "big". It really is the little things that make all the difference.

"Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for man, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve." Colossians 3:23

~Blessings, Bronte

Friday, November 19, 2010


I just finished reading the book of Esther in one sitting. I've never done that before, even though I participated in the in-depth study of Esther with Beth Moore. That study was awesome and I got so much out of it. But as I read the story today, that is what it was like - a story. It just pulled me in and I kept thinking, "I'll just finish this one chapter." But I kept reading until the end.

Usually, the person who stands out to me in Esther is, well, Esther. I imagine how she felt and what it was like to walk into the throne room. How you'd feel hot and cold waiting for the king to lift his sceptor. But this time around, the person who stood out to me was Haman.

Haman is identified several times as "Haman, son of Hammadatha the Agagite." From his actions, Haman appears very prideful and when Mordecai dares to not bow down, Haman is incensed. At first glance, this looks like someone overblown with confidence and pride.

In many ways, Haman was overly prideful, but I recently read a quote by G.K. Chesterton that said, "Only the secure are humble." The need Haman had for everyone to bow and pay homage to him when he walked by was not because he was secure. It was because he NEEDED that to feel built up in importance.

Haman is the villain in the story that you love to hate. I mean, honestly, is there a more satisfying moment than when Haman gets his comeuppance? Here he comes striding into the the thrown room to ask for Mordacai to be hung from the gallows, and before he can do that, the king asks Haman what he should do to honor someone. Immediately, Haman starts thinking about himself and gives all the things he wants.

And again, his wants are so eye-opening to his insecurity. He needs the adulation of the crowds. He needs the parade and the confetti to feel important and special. It is with great glee that we read on to see Haman realize that the king is talking not about HIM, but about MORDACAI. The gull of having to lead that horse with Mordacai on top to the crowds' cheers, to have to call out how awesome Mordacai is when he just wants Mordacai dead. I mean, really? That is just the picture of poetic justice isn't it?

But, when I read the story this time around, I felt sorry for Haman. He hates Mordacai so much because Mordacai is a reminder to him of all the things he isn't and can never be. You can see Haman slipping over the edge and heading downhill long before he realizes that he is speeding to destruction - that his pride and insecurity, his need to have everyone around him give homage to him, will ultimately be his downfall.

It's so easy for me to point my finger at Haman, to say how prideful he was, but am I any different? Well, obviously, I'm not running around trying to orchestrate the anihilation of an entire people, but how many times do I want to make sure people know I am right or smart or creative or (fill in the blank.) How many times am I afraid that people won't realize my worth?

I am currently doing a study called the Character Makeover. The first character trait is Humility. All I can say is "ouch!!" As I prayerfully went through the study this week, I saw how truly me-centered I am. John the Baptist said about Christ - "I must decrease and He must increase."

The truth is while I want Christ to increase, I'd really like it to be done so I don't decrease. I mean, if I decrease will I still have worth and value? The truth is I can get so consumed with my own problems, my own thougths, even my own walk with God, that I cease to see anything beyond the tip of my nose. True humility is, at it's core, trusting God with myself to the point where I don't have to worry about me at all because my worth and value come not from how others see me but who God redeemed me to be.

I'll close with this quote from Charles Swindoll, "Being totally committed to Christ's increase... means letting our lives act as a frame that shows up the masterpiece - Jesus Christ. And a worthy frame isn't tarnished or dull, plain or cheap. instead, with subtle loveliness, it draws the observer's eyes to the beautiful work of art it displays."

May I be a frame worthy of Christ - not trying to draw the glory from Christ to myself but pointing others to Him.
~ Blessings, Bronte

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Ever have a day when you just feel happy? Where all is right with your world, the sun is shining and all you see is the beauty of life? I'm having one of those days. It comes on the heels of a difficult week.

The issue of a job was looming over me - I was feeling panicky and not sure what to do exactly. None of my efforts were paying off and I was wondering what my next steps should be. When I feel anxiety at all, I tend to be very indecisive, too, so that wasn't helping

Then my doctor called to tell me my iron was once again low. This was disappointing because it hadn't even been six months since my last EIGHT infusions. The nurse informed me that the doctor wanted me to have four iron infusions and then come in once a month to keep everything where it should be. While I was and am immensely grateful that there is such an easy fix to this problem, to be tied to going in once a month for iv treatments of any kind, sort of made me feel like some kind of "sick" person. Of course, when you sit down between two people fighting cancer, any inklings of a pity party go right out the window.

Then Thursday evening, I got a call for an interview. The job was as a home companion to the elderly. I love elderly people so I was excited. The interview was set up for the next day. After a quick interview, I found myself whisked into an orientation. The man who interviewed me asked me to stand in front of a blank wall while he pointed a camer about 10 inches from my face and told me to smile. I'm sure that picture looked lovely. I got home and just felt confused and out of sorts. I wasn't excited at all about the job - I think I was still in shock.

Monday, I was scheduled to train with someone at an actual person's house. I went with some trepidation but found the woman to be very sweet. We chatted for over 30 minutes when I should have been training with the other caregiver. The thing was, I just was not at peace about this job. I felt rushed into it and the more I talked to the other caregiver, the more I realized that this might not be a job I was actually capable of doing. My husband wasn't feeling too enthusiastic about the job either.

I got home with that sense of unease heightened, so I called my husband who said it was fine if I wanted to quit which I promptly did. My foray into the working world lasted about three hours.

Wednesday, I went to breakfast with this really great lady who I've known for a long time. She was just so encouraging and kind. I left our breakfast with a spring in my step. I wasn't home an hour when the local newspaper called me to give me three articles to do. No, they don't pay very much, but I was excited to have the opportunity.

I spent this morning, making calls and following up leads. It felt wonderful - like I was back on familiar turf. I've had a really great day. Nothing has really changed - well, besides a few articles coming my way. But I feel so at peace today.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


This is it - the last chapter of Nehemiah. Interestingly enough, the last chapter once again reiterates the importance of good leadership. Toward the beginning of the chapter we learn that Nehemiah, in the 32nd year of King Artexerxes, returned to the king. If you look back at chapter 1, you can see that 12 years have passed since Nehemiah set out to rebuild the wall and re-establish Jeruselum.

Based on the first few verses, it seems that Nehemiah was gone for a while. But his heart remained with the remnant in Jeruselum because he once again asks the king to leave. The king once again grants Nehemiah his request.

When Nehemiah returns, he finds that the Jews in Jeruselum have not kept up their end of the covenant with God. We also see the names Tobiah and Sanballat again. Let's look at the four ways that Israel failed to fulfill their portion of the covenant.

First, while Nehemiah was gone, the Eliashib, the priest who had been appointed over the chambers of the house of God, cleared outthe room where the grain offerings, incenses and utensils were kept so Tobiah could live there. Why? Because Tobiah was related to him in some way. Despite the notion that blood is thicker than water - it is obvious from Nehemiah's response that blood is NOT thicker than our ties to God. God's laws and commands come even before family. Nehemiah when he arrived and saw what was going on, threw all of Tobiah's goods out of God's house. Then he had the rooms cleansed and returned what needed to be in there.

The second thing that Nehemiah found was that the Levites' portions had not been given to them so they had to go out in the fields to get enough to live on. Nehemiah took care of this by reprimanding the officials and gathering the Levites up and restoring them to their posts. I think it is interesting that Nehemiah's harsh words were not directed at the Levites, but at the people who had promised to care provide for them so they could serve in God's house. I do wonder how many times I've missed opportunities to care for God's servants.

The third thing was that the Jews were allowing merchants and traders to come into Jeruselum on the sabbath day to trade and do business. Nehemiah had harsh words for the nobles. He shut the gates so that the traders could not enter on the sabbath. Some traders came again a few times, but Nehemiah didn't ignore them - he told them to stop coming on the sabbath or he would use force against them. Nehemiah took all of God's laws very seriously. He was unwilling to compromise on any area that God had specifically given commands about.

The fourth thing was an age old problem for Israel - they married foreign women. In this case, they had married women from Ashdod, Ammon and Moab. Interestingly, Ammon and Moab were some of Israel's great enemies. Nehemiah was upset to learn of this and also to see that the children from these unions spoke only in their mother's native tongue and were obviously not being taught according to God's law.

Maybe I have a warped sense of humor but I found Nehemiah's response in verse 25, somewhat funny. Can you imagine if a pastor today reacted to someone's willful sin in this way? Keep in mind, I am not advocating we react to people's sin this way, but obviously, we can take away from this that sin is to be regarded seriously. "So I contended with them and cursed them and struck some of them and pulled out their hair, and made them swear to God, 'You shall not give your daughters to their sons, nor take their daughters for your sons or for yourselves."

Then Nehemiah makes a great point about the fact that Solomon who was very wise and one of the great kings of Israel - even he was led away by foreign women. It is so important who we choose for our inner circle - this includes not just romantic interests but close friends too. They wield a big influence in our lives, sometimes more than we realize.

Then we see Sanballat make another appearance as Nehemiah notes that because Israel took foreign wives, Sanballat was now the father-in-law of one of Joiada's (a high priest) son. Nehemiah drives this man away because of that.

As we come to the very end of Nehemiah, it closes with Nehemiah's prayer, "Remember me, O my God, for good."

From Nehemiah's life we can see some great principles of leadership - praying before acting; being confident in what God has called you to do; recognizing the enemy's fear tactics; knowing God's Word; being serious about God's Word; the importance of worship individually and corporately; the importance of a leader's own character and integrity. I'm not sure if Nehemiah was all that easy to live with, but he is definitely someone we can learn a lot from when we lead ourselves or decide who to follow.
~ Blessings, Bronte

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


We are coming to the end of Nehemiah - just one more chapter to go. For some reason, this tiny book tucked between much more well-known books really speaks to me. I see so many things in it that I can take away in my own life. That is the wonder of the Bible - that it was written so long ago, by many different people yet it still is relevant to my life today. I am always so excited when I read something and think, "Wow - I had no idea that was in there!"

Chapter 12 is really a culmination of all the Israel's hard work. They called the Levites to come and lead the worship over the completion of the building of the wall. It lists all the names of all the people involved which I think is interesting - honor is conferred to these men as their names were written down and remembered. Obviously, the worship portion of this dedication was important.

In Genesis, it says God created man to worship Him, so I guess it isn't a big surprise that a big part of the dedication of the wall was worship and praise.

I love verse 43, "and on that day they offered great sacrifices and rejoiced because God had given them great joy, even the women and children rejoiced so that the joy of Jeruselum was heard from afar." You can just feel the joy ooze off the page - the people obeyed and fulfilled God's laws and there was great rejoicing. The rejoicing was so great, it could be heard from a distance.

In verses 46, 47 we see that leaders of song and singers were held in high regard. God found the job they did very important. I wonder if you sing in the choir and maybe think you "just sing." Take heart - worshipping God in song is a very vital part of the church body.

Another thought is that worship is key to having a thankful heart and having joy in our lives. I have had a pretty disappointing week overall, so the other day I put on some Chris Tomlin and just praised the Lord. It completely changed my outlook. Worship is all about God's glory but in His kindness and generosity, it also brings great joy to the worshipper.

"I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shal continually be in my mouth. My soul will makes its boast in the Lord; the humble will heart it and rejoice. O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together." ~ Psalms 34:1-3

~Blessings, Bronte

Monday, November 1, 2010


I call this the signed, sealed and delivered chapter of Nehemiah. In this chapter, the people come out BY NAME to sign a document stating their intentions of entering into a covenant with God. They promised to keep His commandments, to not marry their daughters and sons off to foreigners, to keep up the Temple and take care of all who served there. They didn't just say it - the leaders signed a document promising to do these things. There could be no going back.

It's interesting to me, that so many times in the Bible, people are called to stand up and make their intentions known. It isn't enough to decide to do it in their minds or hearts. It isn't enough to just quietly let their family know. They must stand up and be accounted for.

In our world today, this isn't often seen. Elections are right around the corner - tomrrow in fact. Personally, I'll be really glad to see them come and go. I am tired of the ads that only say what the OTHER person has or hasn't done. Why not stand on your own merits? Why not tell me what YOU stand for and waht YOU believe in and what YOU have accomplished? I think politicians might be surprised at how receptive voters would be to this approach.

In other areas, we also see the hesitation to commit, to put in writing our intentions and promises. It trickles down to our kids. They sign up for a team sport and then skip practices and games when better things come along.

The Bible says to let your "Yeah be yeah and your nay be nay." Maybe it is time to stop hedging our bets and stand up and be accounted for!
~ Blessings, Bronte

Thursday, October 28, 2010


What a difference a few days make! From the joyful celebration in chapter 8, chapter 9 opens up with "Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the sons of Israel assembled with fasting, in sackcloth and with dirt upon them."

The next verse talks about the Israelites separating themselves from all the foreigners that were with them. They then stood and confessed their sin and "the iniquities of their fathers." I find that interesting - that they would confess not only their own sins but the sins of their fathers.

This is something I have seen in Scripture over and over again. A person or a group of people seek God's face. They confess not only individually but corporately as well. On the flip side of this we see that worship is also corporate and not just an individual thing.

The rest of the chapter is basically a song that recited teh goodness of God, the sin of their fathers and God's graciousness and faithfulness despite this. From this song, it is fairly obvious that the Israelites clearly see that God treated their people with a lot more grace than they deserved. Several times throughout this chapter God is described as gracious and compassionate. Again and again, they say that their recent troubles in captivity were a result of sin.

The chapter ends with the people getting ready to make an agreement with God, with the leaders, Levites and priests actually signing this agreement that the people would follow God's commands.

I guess this chapter drives home to me the importance of the body of Christ, the fact that we are not just individual believers floating around in some kind of spiritual vacuum. These Israelites truly worshipped God. They saw Yahweh for who He really was and that gave them an accurate picture of themselves and their circumstances.

So many times, I think the current church (as a whole, not one actual church in particular) moans and complains about the state of the world and what is going on around us, but we fail to look at ourselves. We are called to be holy, to be OF the world but not IN it. We are called into dynamic relationship with God on an individual basis but when was the last time you heard God speaking to you? We (speaking to myself here) want to point our fingers at all the issues and problems facing us, but without the sackcloth and ashes of true repentence on our own part.

May God never let me forget His awesome glory and majesty so I can have a clear picture of who I am and the path He has called me to walk!
~ Blessings, Bronte

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


I always thought the Biblical phrase, "The joy of the Lord is your strength," must come from somewhere in Psalms or maybe Proverbs. It wasn't until a few years ago that I found it in Nehemiah, of all places.

It's interesting that it is in the middle of Nehemiah. Under the circumstances - rebuilding a wall in hostile territory- you'd think other things would be considered their strength. Things like faith or perserverence or fighting come to mind as key ways to stay strong in the Lord, but nope - it lists the JOY of the Lord as their strength.

As you look closer at that statement, it starts to make sense though. It doesn't say joy in your circumstances or joy in your feelings, but joy IN THE LORD. What does that mean?

I think we can see several things that bring us joy in the Lord. In verse one, it states the very first one - unity. It says, "And all the people gathered as one man..." It is hard to have joy in the Lord when you are experiencing strife with other Christians. It sort of just sucks the joy right out of you to carry around anger and bitterness, doesn't it?

The second thing we can see is the people's desire for Truth. They requested the Scriptures. They stood out of respect when Ezra opened up the book of the law and started to read it to them. They listened for HOURS. They listened not only to the law, but teaching that explained what it all meant for them. They sincerely desired that truth - not just to hear it but to really understand it.

This led them to the third thing - true worship. When they heard the truth, they bowed low and worshipped God. True worship of God leads to great joy in simply who He is! We can't experience the joy of the Lord without seeing who God truly is and falling down in awed worship.

The fourth thing we see is their true repentence. They heard the truth; they worshipped God for who He was; a true picture of God gave them a true picture of themselves; this true picture caused a sincere repentence. But their tears didn't last long - Ezra told them to rejoice in God and all that He had done.

The fifth thing we see is their obedience. After sincere repentence, they went and celebrated the Feast of Booths which it says the people had not celebrated since the time of Joshua (which was many generations removed from these particular Jews). The act of obedience brought even more joy.

The chapter ends the way it started - with reading God's law daily. I find in my own life, if I let my time with God go because I am busy or lazy or whatever, my joy seems to slip too. I can't find my joy in the Lord if I don't daily spend time in His presence.

I hope that you can follow the path of truth - true worship - true repentence - obedience - and find that your joy in the Lord truly gives you strength!
~ Blessings, Bronte

Friday, October 22, 2010


There is a miracle waiting to happen. I was feeling a bit down again last night, but I was reminded of what God taught me in my Sunday school class. All the verses He's given me over the past couple months tied in so neatly with the study I'm doing about the Israelites and how only one in a million, out of the two million that left Egypt, ever stepped into the Promised Land.

As I listened to the video of Priscilla Sherer, she was reading in Exodus how God PURPOSELY led the Israelites toward the Red Sea, even though there was an easier/closer route. God has led dh and I to this place ON PURPOSE.

One of the reasons God led them there was so that HIS GLORY could be seen. The poor Israelites looked in front of them and saw the Red Sea. They looked behind them and saw Pharoah's army thundering down on them. They were scared to death that God had led them into a death trap but what they should have been was looking for the miracle.

That reminded me of the verse God kept bringing in my path - Isaiah 43:18, 19, Do not call to mind the former things or ponder the things of the past, for behold, I am going to do a new thing. It will spring forth. Will you miss it? For I will make a road even in the wilderness and streams even in the desert."

I can choose to dwell in the past and ponder it all, but I will miss the new thing God is doing because I'm too busy staring behind me.

Then Moses tells them to 1) not be afraid, 2) stand still, 3) watch and 4) be quiet. Again, the verses about being silent while God fights for you, have come up for me again and again. My natural tendency is to want to explain and defend and fix it. But God says, Be quiet - I got it!

There is no doubt that I need some kind of job. There is no doubt that what happened this spring was unfair. BUT, God led us here, to this place, ON PURPOSE. He has already done some very cool things. I am excited to see what new thing is going to spring forth - how GOD is going to get glory from this whole situation. When I just look at the circumstances, it can seem a bit bleak, but when I look up at God, I get excited about what He is going to do.

I'm ready and waiting for the "go" sign to step out onto the dry sea bed and see the Promised Land!
~ Blessings, Bronte

p.s. back to Nehemiah tomorrow :)

Monday, October 18, 2010


Hey, we are halfway done with reading through Nehemiah. I hope you are learning as much as I am! It is amazing to me that every time I revisit a familiar passage, God shows me something else that is applicable to my life. But then, God is cool like that! :)

At first glance, this is another chapter that has long lists of names. You may be shocked to hear this, but I tend to skim over these chapters. I am not the most patient person in the world, and I have a hard time wanting to read through a bunch of names, but by skimming this chapter, I am missing some key insights that are scattered throughout these verses.

The very first thing I see in verse one is that a wall was not enough. There needed to be gates in place to keep those inside safe and not allow those in that were not safe.

I think the mention of the gates throughout Nehemiah is rather interesting. While a wall was the sign of a city's strength, the wall would have become a bad thing if there was no way to get in and out of the city. In our lives, I think it is Biblical to have boundaries in our lives. We see Jesus had them - He would often go off on His own to get renewed. He never let anyone guilt Him into performing miracles just for the sake of miracles.

But at the same time, Jesus was the ultimate example of healthy relationships. He was open and warm. We see several verses about how children loved Him and came to Him, unafraid.

It seems, as Christians, we tend to be one way or the other - either our walls are so high that nobody can get close OR we are so open that we leave ourselves vulnerable to the enemy's attacks. The answer seems to be well-built and well-guarded gates.

Nehemiah's next move was to put two men in charge of Jeruselum: Hanani and Hananiah (I bet that was confusing! lol) Now the first man was Nehemiah's brother, but his appointment was not an early case of nepotism. It says in verse 2 that the men were "faithful and fear God more than many."

It's so important that the people that are placed in positions of authority are God-fearing men and women. It always comes as a sort of shock to me when I discover a "spiritual leader" isn't all that spiritual or even very interested in what God wants. Nehemiah had the wisdom to know that success depended on godly men being in charge.

In verse 3, we see that Nehemiah was very specific about the gates again. They were to be only opened at certain times and carefully guarded. Not only that, but each guard was to stand alert in front of his own house.

As we get down to verse 5, Nehemiah once again shows himself to be sensitive to God's leading. It says, "Then my God put it on my heart to assmeble the nobles, the officials nad the people to be enrolled by genealogies."

He explains in verse 6,7 where and how people had gotten to Jeruselum. Then from verses 8 through 60 we get the infamous listing of names.

In verse 61, it lists a few folks who did not have any proof of who they were. Even though they claimed to be Levites, because they couldn't prove their genealogy, they were not allowed to serve in the priesthood.

If I wanted to stretch an analogy, I could say this is a sort of picture of the fact that we need to make sure we have solid proof that we are indeed children of God. Without God as our Father, we are excluded from the priesthood too.

Finally, in verse 70 through 73, it gives a list of people who gave to the work of God and what they gave.

The chapter ends with, "And when the seventh month came, the sons of Israel were in their cities." It has a satisfying feeling of "all is right in the world."

What I got most out of this chapter is the need to have boundaries without keeping everyone at arm's length. Ministry and loving others can be painful sometimes. While we need boundaries and we need to be wise about who we let into the gates, I don't believe God ever intended for anyone to just build a wall and not allow anyone inside.

~ Blessings, Bronte

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Several years ago, I read an interesting book called The Gift of Fear. In it, the author (I can't remember his name at the moment) stated that we all have an inner alert system to danger that we often ignore. This alert system is the gift of fear.

Now some of us have more highly honed alert systems, some of us appear to have put our systems in sleep mode and others of us have such sensitive systems that they go off at any little thing, like those annoying car alarms.

No matter where you fall on the spectrum, if you are a Christian, you have a little bit of an edge that others don't. It's called the Holy Spirit and He gives us discernment that often times we don't hear because we aren't paying attention or we ignore because we think it doesn't sound "Christian" enough.

Now don't get me wrong. This doesn't mean that God wants us walking around in fear. He says the words "fear not" over 300 times between Genesis and Revelation. So obviously, fear is not something we are to be wallowing in; however, that doesn't mean we are supposed to ignore our inner alert system that tells us something or someone is dangerous either.

One of the most fascinating things I found in this book were some of the statistics. I was sort of disconcerted to find, that according to the stats, I had a 1 in 4 chance of being physically assaulted in my life time. Yikes! Good thing I know God is my shield and fortress. But what really struck me is that the vast majority of these assaults could have been avoided, something close to 90%, but the woman had been afraid of appearing impolite or not nice. Interesting.

How many times has the Holy Spirit whispered a warning in your ear and you pretended to be deaf because you didn't want to be perceived as "not nice"? I know I have been guilty of that. Usually it is about something other than a life and death situation. But so many times, we get ourselves into trouble because we don't heed the Holy Spirit's still, small voice.

In Nehemiah 6, we see Nehemiah using that discernment from God to protect himself from Sanballat. First, Sanballat sends a friendly letter, asking Nehemiah to meet so they can "counsel together." On the surface, this seems like a good development, but Nehemiah knows that it is highly unlikely that a man who hates him in particular and Jews in general would suddenly have a change of heart. He knows the real reason behind this letter - to get him alone so Sanballat can dispose of him.

Nehemiah sends a refusal and goes on with his work. There is no excuse or apology - just "no." Sanballat doesn't give up right away. He sends several letters. All are met with a simple no.

Finally, realizing Nehemiah is aware of his schemes, Sanballat removes the mask. He sends a letter that says he will tell the king that Nehemiah is trying to promote himself to king in this area. That might not seem as big of a deal to us, but back then any type of activty that threatened the king's authority was considered treason and was a one way ticket to an execution- yours! Nehemiah recognized the threat in this letter.

I love Nehemiah's response. He doesn't beat around the bush but in verse 8 says, "Such things as you are saying have not been done, but you are inventing them in your own mind."

Nehemiah also knows WHY Sanballat is doing this - he wants to frighten Nehemiah to discourage the workers. Nehemiah, as a wise leader, knows that a frightened, scared leader leads to demoralized followers, so he stands firm.

Then Sanballat sinks to a new low - he uses a false prophet to try to lure Nehemiah into a bad situation. Nehemiah enters the house of Shemaiah in verse 10. Shemaiah was the son of a priest who was an intimate friend of Nehemiah's. He had no reason not to trust this man's friendship or his words.

Shemaiah says to Nehemiah, "Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you, and they are coming to kill you at night."

At first glance, this doesn't seem like a bad idea - find refuge in the temple, but what Shemaiah is really suggesting is that Nehemaiah go into the Holy Place in the temple which was forbidden to anyone who was not a priest, and Nehemiah was NOT a priest.

In verse 12 and 13, Nehemiah says, "Then I perceived that surely God had not sent him, but he uttered his prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. He was hired for this reason, that I might become frightened and act accordingly and sin, so that they might have an evil report in order that they coudl reproach me."

Nehemiah knew that if he went into the temple, into the Holy Place, it would be a sin. That would give his enemies ammunition to use against him. It would cause the people to doubt his reverence for God and to doubt his courage. As a leader, he knew that his reputation had to be above reproach and his courage couldn't be questioned because then the people would question if God really told him to build the wall or not.

Nehemiah knew that God would not have had one His prophets tell him to sin. Nehemiah recognized the fear tactic. Throughout chapter 6, we see the enemy trying to use fear to intimidate Nehemiah but he doesn't allow it to happen.

As the chapter closes, we see that Tobiah who had ties to the nobles through marriage continues his campaign to make himself look good and Nehemiah look bad. But most of the enemies simply drift away as they see the wall completed. Even they knew that only God could have brought this about and had no desire to tangle with Yahweh.

Chapter 6 gives us a good look at true leadership - Nehemiah is confident in the work God has called him to. He is not taken in by false offers of friendship or false prophets. He continues to conduct himself with courage and with behavior that is above reproach.

Oh that I might be able to be so bold in following God's call on my life!
~ Blessings, Bronte

Thursday, October 7, 2010


Jesus told the disciples that people would know they were Christians by the love they had for each other. I suppose, since this is a big deal it is no wonder that Satan attacks this area so much. How many Christians do you personally know who are known for their love and care for other believers?

Yeah, I don't know that many either. In fact, it has been my personal experience that Christians often treat each other worse than non-believers. It's sad but true. I remember reading somewhere that only about 2% of churches split over actual theological issues, and that usually, the issue is something minor - like the color of the carpet or the location of a new building. If we are to love each other more than ourselves and think of other people's needs before our own - how does this happen? Why is it that in polls and surveys, most non-believers see Christians as petty, mean and bigoted?

Some of that is caused by mainstream media that always seems to portray believers as petty and narrow minded and nasty, but it also has a seed of truth in it. Take for instance the Westboro Church that goes around protesting at military funerals. I can see how that activity says Jesus loves you. (I'm rolling my eyes here) The truth is we, as a church body, have become so me-focused, we don't even see the needs of others.

In Nehemiah chapter 5, the Jews had turned on each other. They had overcome the nastiness of Sanballat and Tobiah. They were carrying their weapons while they did their portion of the wall, but now fellow Jews were taxing other Jews to the point of having to put their children into slavery and losing their lands, possessions and money. Now that sounds loving doesn't it?

Nehemiah stepped in immediately. He did not tolerate the way the people were treating each other. In verses 7 and 8, he throws their actions right in their faces. It says at the end of verse 8, "Then they were silent and could not find a word to say." There was no excuse for what they were doing and they knew it.

Nehemiah didn't just call them on their actions, he made them make restitution for their actions by giving back the lands, produce and money they had taken. He cautioned them strongly about going back to their old ways, shaking his cloak as a visual of what God would do to them if they went back to usury.

Then Nehemiah set a good example. Instead of taking a tax from the people (which was his right as a governor) to feed himself and his staff, Nehemiah refused to take a penny of it. He also showed the people that God provided for he and his household's needs in abundance. Instead of taking advantage of his leadership position, Nehemiah did what good leaders are supposed to do - he protected those who couldn't protect themselves; he demanded justice and he set a good example himself.

You just gotta love Nehemiah!
~ Blessings, Bronte

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


I hope you have been keeping up with the reading. Sorry for the delay, but we'll get to several chapters this week. In the last chapter, we see that the people are each working on their portion of the wall. They are getting the work done that was specifically assigned to them.

However, in chapter 4, we run into Sanballat and Tobias again. In the very first verse, we read, "Now it came about that when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall he became furious and very angry and mocked the Jews." He not only mocked the Jews, but he mocked them in front of others. He tells them how useless their efforts will be, how impossible the task. Tobias, hearing him, joins in and makes fun of the work itself, saying it is so feeble, if a fox walked on it (known for being light on their feet) the whole thing would fall down.

Have you ever been doing what you feel God has called you to do, only to have someone or several someones start making fun of you? If you are doing what God has called you to do, you can expect opposition. There is a theory floating around in Christian circles that if you are just doing God's will everything will be wonderful. Personally, I think people have been watching too much Disney.

Several years ago, I was heavily involved in women's ministries at my church. For some reason, I could never figure out, there were a couple women that absolutely despised me. I went to them numerous times trying to make things right, and things would be okay for a few weeks. But then there would be another meeting, and I would find myself under attack again. I'd leave those meetings feeling like if words were arrows, I'd be bleeding all over the floor.

It seemed the more I pushed to do what I felt God calling me to do, the more opposition I got. I'd like to say I pushed through but I was under the mistaken impression that if I was doing what God wanted me to do it would be easy and I wouldn't meet opposition and I certainly wouldn't have other Christian women at my throat. I quit. I had a convenient excuse so I just quit the field rather than fight. After all, that seemed the more "Christian" thing to do.

When you look at what happens to the workers in Nehemiah, you can see a progression in their attacks. At first it is verbal - they try to discourage the people working, convince them that what they are doing is useless and then making them doubt their competency as builders. When the people continue working, they gather others to them and attack them physically. After prayer, Nehemiah sets up a system of one worker with one defender. People were laying bricks with their sword in their hand.

Nehemiah didn't quit the fight. He didn't tell all the wall builders, "Now let's be nice or send the enemy some muffins." He called them on it. He prayed that God would not even forgive them for demoralizing the workers like they were doing.

I think so many times, in Christian circles, we want to do the loving thing because Jesus is love, right? But the problem is our view of the loving thing is warped. We want to be "nice" instead of loving. Loving means caring enough about someone to step outside our comfort zone to have tough conversations.

If I had the courage of my convictions, instead of continually apologizing to those women, I would have confronted them on their behavior. I would have followed the Matthew 13 protocol of going to them one on one and then bringing in someone else if things didn't change. I would have loved them enough to tell them the truth.

In Scripture it says "the truth will set you free" and true love gets rid of fear. Don't get me wrong - we are called to forgive and to pray for those who hate us and bless those that curse us. I just think that if you look at Jesus' example, love isn't always warm and fuzzy. Sometimes, it's blunt and confrontational.

The other thing we need to remember is that it's okay to work with your sword in your hand. Obviously, in our day and age, we aren't going to be walking around with a real sword, BUT in the New Testament, we are told about a sword - God's Word. When we know truth, we can have the confidence to speak truth in love.

It's really no wonder that church pews have so few men in them. We have made Christianity into something sort of wimpy and watered down. We've forgotten that the battle truly is the Lord's and we are called to be His warriors.

~ Blessings, Bronte

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Chapter 3 at first glance can seem a bit boring. I think the most often used words in this chapter are, "Next to him/them." After all, all it seems to be is a list of who built what. Since we are now a couple millenium away from this activity, it sort of feels like it doesn't have much to do with our day to day lives.

There are other passages in the Bible where I think, "hmm, I wonder why in the world God included this in the finished Bible - what is the relevance to today?" The book of Leviticus comes to mind - does anyone else struggle with getting through that book of the Bible besides me? But God DID include it so there has to be a reason, right?

As I look at this chapter, I can see facts - certain portions of the wall were built simultaneously by different people. It lists who built each section. I suppose if I was a heavy duty Bible scholar, I could look up the family names and see what they built and how that part of the wall was used, etc. back in the glory days of Israel. But, the truth is, I'm NOT a Bible scholar. However, I DO believe that even in what appears to be a boring list of work orders, God has something for me to learn.

The first thing I can take away from this is that a large job divided among willing workers makes the work go a whole lot faster. Either a few people doing the entire job or ALL the people doing one tiny section wouldn't have worked very well. If there were a lot of willing workers, if they all concentrated on one section of the wall there would have been chaos - people tripping over other people; stuff dropping where it shouldn't; bumping into things, etc. If only a few groups tried to build the entire wall by themselves, it would have been very slow going and probably discouraging as they would see very little progress for the sweat equity going into the project.

I can take this and apply it to the church body. Have you ever heard the saying that 20% of the people do 80% of the work? If you look closer you'll find that often is true in churches today. On the other side of the coin, the many needs that cry out to be met by God seem overwhelming. Sometimes, it feels like we are being pulled all over because of the many areas that need workers.

Instead of trying to have a few people do it all or a bunch of people do a small portion, Nehemiah set each group over a certain section of the wall. Because the workers could concentrate in their area, they were able to do the job well, do it efficiently and see to all the details. The workers also saw progress and weren't overwhelmed by the huge amount of work that restoring the entire wall entailed.

God has given the church, as a body, a big job - go out into all the world and preach the Gospel; take care of the poor and the widows and fatherless; love one another; etc. Fortunately, He doesn't expect one person or group to accomplish everything all at once. He give each person a calling or area to work in. We are individually responsible for what God calls US to do, not what He calls our neighbor to do. We must work heartily and wholeheartedly where we are at - at our part of the wall.

I know two different women - both of whom love God and want to serve Him. One works in an office and one works in a restaurant. On the outside, those jobs don't seem very "spiritual" or ministry-orientated. But I believe God has them in ministry right where they are at. Both share Christ's love and the hope that is in Him with their co-workers - meeting needs right where they are at. Both are Jesus with skin on to people who might never ever darken a church door without some kind of relationship first. They would tell you that they aren't in ministry, but I will tell you that they are faithfully working at their part on the wall.

We live in a somewhat "interesting" neighborhood. It's not unusual to see gang symbols spray painted on signs or along the sidewalks. I've prayed many times about leaving here but each time God has told me to stay put. I see that God is working here through our family though. My boys have some friends that they play ball with in our side yard. Two days ago, my oldest son led one of these friends to God. He said, "Mom, I was praying you wouldn't call us in to supper before D got saved." This neighborhood is my family's portion of the wall and we are called to be faithful right here. Yes, there are needs around the world, but I can't meet all those needs. I can send supplies to other parts of the wall, but God has called me to work on THIS part - to see this part completed, to see the details accomplished.

"For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11

One brick at a time, we can all finish our part of the wall.
~ Blessings, Bronte

Friday, September 24, 2010


First - a disclaimer: My computer is very old and is in the process of slowly dying. In my last post, I was unable to go back to edit anything and my computer kept freezing up, so that is why there were so many spelling, grammar and other errors. Please excuse them. :)

Okay, my disclaimer is over and it is time to look at Chapter 2 of Nehemiah. Once again, we start with the time. We see it is still the 20th year and this time it is clear that this refers to the 20th year in the reign of King Artaxerxes. In the previous chapter it was the month of Chislev. Being unfamiliar with the Jewish calendar, I decided to look this up. Apparently it was around November/December of our calendar and the time of year that Hannukah was celebrated. Now we see it is the month of Nisan. This corresponds with March/April on our calendars, so a few months have passed.

The most interesting thing I found when I looked all of this up, is that the month of Nisan is also known as the month of redemption. It is the same month that Israel was freed from Egyptian captivity. Considering the events of this chapter, I found this to be very interesting. I hope you will as well. :)

So, in verse 2, Nehemiah sets the scene. He is with the king and has just given him his wine. This means, Nehemiah had already tasted it and since he hadn't keeled over, the king knew that the wine was safe to drink. I thought it was interesting what you read at the end of verse 2: "Now I had not been sad in his presence." It's like Nehemiah wants you to know he has been doing his job well even after you read the King's next words which were, "Why is your face sad though you are not sick? This is nothing but sadness of the heart." Apparently, "put a smile on your face or else" was the way of the palace because Nehemiah next mentions that the king saying this made him "very much afraid." I guess moping around in the king's presence was a big no-no.

Even though Nehemiah was afraid, he told the king the truth - the city of his fathers was in ruins. The king, who apparently had a good relationship with Nehemiah, asked what Nehemiah wanted to request. I love Nehemiah's response - "So I prayed to the God of heaven." Before he said a word, he prayed. How many times, when I am in a high pressure situation, do I just open my mouth and talk and talk and talk? Embarrassingly, far more than I respond the way Nehemiah did! Nehemiah was different - he took a moment to pray.

In the next few verses, Nehemiah gives the king not just a general, vague idea of what he is requesting, but where he wants to go (Judah), what he wants to do (rebuild the city), a time frame and what he will need to get the job done. This is all in verses 4-8. Verse 8 ends with Nehemiah's take on why he was granted favor - "Adnd the king granted them to me because the good hand of my God was on me." If you read Ezra, the book before Nehemiah, you will see that phrase many times.

Nehemiah wasn't one to let grass grown under his feet - in the very next verse we find him giving the governors the king's letters. We also see that the king not only did what Nehemiah asked but he also gave him officers and horsemen. This reinforces that God's hand was indeed upon Nehemiah.

In verse 10, we are introduced to the villains in the story - Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite. Nehemiah clearly states that these two men wanted nothing good to happen for the Israelites. It doesn't say why. If you look back in some of historical books, even as far back as Exodus, the Ammonites were enemies of Israel. So, this may have been a sort of racist hatred going on. Maybe it was as simple as these men had some power over the downtrodden Jews and didn't want to see them raised from their humble position in that society. Whatever the reason, they established themselves early on as enemies of Israel and specifically enemies of Nehemiah and his goal.

It is interesting to me that many times when God places a burden on my heart, and I set about trying to do what He wants me to do, obstacles seem to crop up out of nowhere. Many times, those obstacles are in the form of people. It is just a given, that if you are doing what God wants you to do, you will have enemies. You may as well prepare yourself for that fact of life.

When Nehemiah arrived, he was in Jeruselum three days and he didn't tell anyone what his plans were. After three days, Nehemiah felt God telling him to take a look around. He did this in the middle of the night with only a few men. Nehemiah's description of his ride gives us an idea of how badly the walls had been ruined. In some places, it says he couldn't even ride his mount through. He came back and although it doesn't say anything, you can almost feel the heaviness of Nehemiah's heart after seeing this destruction up close and personal. Nehemiah wanted a clear picture of what was wrong and what needed to be done without a lot of voices to distract him. A true leader, takes in the facts before he starts including a lot of other people.

In verse 17, he finally reveals why he is there and sort of rallies the troops. He calls them to, "Come, let us rebuild the walls of Jeruselum so that we will no longer be a reproach." He encourages them with the fact that God's hand was upon him and how he had gotten there. The people were all for it and responded with, "Let us arise and build!" They didn't just say either - they got right to work.

Of course, as soon as they started doing something, Sanballat and Tobiah are on the scene. They mocked and despised them and even offered a veiled threat - "What is this thing you are doing? Are you rebelling against the king?" In other words, if you continue doing this - rebuilding the walls- the king is going to think you are rebelling. If a people in the situation of Israel were seen as rebels, they would be crushed pretty quickly. The Jews that were there would have understood what was being said between the lines.

Fortunately, Nehemiah had all of his ducks in a row. He was confident, not only in what God had for him to do, but he also had gotten through all the red tape and had not tried to do this behind anyone's back. This reminds me of the story of the Christian organization that went to Haiti and tried to bring back some of the orphans, but because they had not gone through the right protocol, they got in big trouble. It isn't enough to have good intentions. We must follow through, and as much as we are able and as long as it doesn't go against God's Word, we should be in compliance with laws and procedures - even if we think it is just a lot of red tape!

Because he had done the right thing before his king, Nehemiah was able to answer his enemies with confidence. The final verse is his reply to Sanballat and Tobiah's mocking and threats: "The God of heaven will give us success; therefore we His servants will arise and build, but you have no portion, right or memorial in Jerusalem."

I am learning so much from Nehemiah - to be honest in what I need; to do my jobs well so my employer knows I am someone to trust; to pray before speaking; to be specific in my requests; to be clear on all the facts before I proceed - even if I think this is what God wants me to do; to follow the rules so there can be no reproach. Who knew all that was in Nehemiah?
~ Blessings, Bronte

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


I started reading in Nehemiah and have found so many applicable truths for my life today, that I decided maybe a study, chapter by chapter may be in order. I hope you will join in and offer your insights and comments. :)

First, I want to give a little background about Nehemiah and the times he lived in. I wish I knew how to import a chart onto this blog but since I don't, you'll have to bear with me. Judah had been taken into captivity by Babylon at the end of II Chronicles (this was after repeated attempts by God to get them to repent and turn back to Him). The last few verses talk about how God stirred up King Cyrus, the King of Persia, to allow Ezra (book before Nehemiah) to go back to Jeruselum to rebuild the temple. Basically, Babylon took Judah captive and after 70 years, Persia overthrew the Babylonian empire. So now Judah was under the Persian empire. Daniel (who was taken in the Babylonian capture and served during the 70 yr. captivity and into served in the beginning of Persia's reign too), Ezra, Esther and Nehemiah all lived in roughly the same time period. Ezra dealt with the Persian kings Cyrus, Darius I, Ahasuerus (who was also Esther's husband) and Artaxerxes I (who was king during the events of Nehemiah). So Ezra returning to rebuild the temple, Esther becoming the Queen and saving the Jews from destruction, and the event in Nehemiah basically take place in about a 77 year span of time.

If you want an even deeper picture of what was going on, Zechariah and Haggai were prophets during the time of Ezra and Malachi was the prophet during Nehemiah's time. I personally find it fascinating how the Bible all works together. :)

Anyway, now that you have a bit of historical background, let's look at chapter one. The book starts out by telling us in verse one that it is written in the words of Nehemiah. At this point, the only thing we know about Nehemiah is that he is the son of Hacaliah (and frankly, that doesn't help me all that much!). Next we are told the time and place where the whole thing got started: it was the month of Chislev, in the 20th year (of what I'm not sure - maybe Persia's reign???) and he was in the city of Susa. If you have studied Esther at all, the city of Susa should sound familiar. Nehemiah's brother and some other men from Judah (remember that in Ezra a remnant of Jews had returned to Jeruselum to rebuild the temple and there were also some Jews who had escaped the original captivity and apparently were living in the area). So Nehemiah asked after the Jews.

The news he got was not good - yes, the temple was rebuilt BUT the walls were still all broken down and the gates were non-existent. Nehemiah's response to this news is immediate. In the very next verse it says, "When I heard these words, I sat down and wept and mourned for days; and I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven."

Why was Nehemiah so upset about some broken down wall? Well, in our society the importance of walls is not that big of a deal, but in ancient times walls were extremely important. They served not only served as practical protection for a city, but they were also a symbol to the neighboring cities and villages of salvation, security, protection and power. The following link has some intereseting facts about ancient walls but keep in mind the person writing it is not a Christian : http://www.suite101.com/content/walls-of-the-ancient-world-a139354

In verses 5-11, we see Nehemiah's prayer. In verse 5, Nehemiah praises God for who He is and throws in the reminder that God is a covenant keeping God. Then Nehemiah asks that God listen to Him as he confesses. Nehemiah doesn't just confess his own sin but the sin of his people. He makes it personal. This is no case of pointing fingers - Nehemiah completely humbled himself before God and threw himself and his people at God's mercy. Next, we see him remind God of God's promises to His people, of His covenant. He gives all the credit for any good things to God. Then, finally, he asks God to go before him and make him successful when he is before this "man."

Up until now, we don't really know who Nehemiah is or what he does, and now we are given the man. The next words tell us who this man is: "Now I was the cupbearer of the king." Does that give you chills like it did me?

Nehemiah happens to be in Susa; he happens to run into this group of people from Judah; they happen to tell him about the broken down walls; Nehemiah is completely broken because of it - he has a heart for his people; and he just happens to have the ear of the king. Now what do you suppose the chances are that the one man who has the ear of the king would hear about the need for a new wall and not just feel sad about it but want to do something about it? Not very likely. The cupbearer had a special relationship with the king. He tasted the king's wine/beverages to check for poison so the king trusted and relied on him, and because he was in the king's presence so much, the cupbearer was often a confidante of the king. Nehemiah was in a place of influence with the king, not by accident, but so God could accomplish His plans both for His people and for Nehemiah in particular.

This brings me to some application. You aren't where you are by accident. You have a unique realm of influence and can reach people that nobody else can. Even the most humble of jobs has a sphere of influence. Look at Exodus 1 and you can read the stories of two midwives who feared God so much they defied the Egyptian king. Without their courage Moses would never have lived to adulthood to lead the children of Isreal. Don't doubt God's plan and purpose for you. God can use anyone with a willing and humble heart who is willing to follow God. It says God is actively looking for those who will serve Him with their whole hearts.
~Blessings, Bronte

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


This past Sunday, our Sunday school class was listening to a tape of John Piper. It was entitled "Is God An Egomaniac?" I know, I sort of blinked a couple times, too. My first thought was "Of coure not!"

As I listened to him, he dug deep into the Scriptures and came out with nuggets of truth that really resonated with me. First of all, he quoted several famous people (well, apparently they are well-known but I hadn't heard of most of them from under the rock where I live - except Oprah). He quoted them as saying that all the verses in the Bible about God's glory and how everything is FOR God's glory turned them off. I think C.S. Lewis (who didn't come to Christ until he was almost 30 years old) was the one who said it sounded like an old woman asking for compliments. Ouch!

The truth is that God is the most God-centered being in the entire universe, and ultimately everything is for HIS GLORY. That is the bottom line purpose. It's also the reason we were created - to worship HIM. As I heard that something in me went "Wait! What about me? Don't you have a purpose and plan for ME? Don't you take delight in ME? Don't you love ME? Didn't you die on the cross for ME? What about MY joy?" You see the theme right? Here's a hint - all the pronouns are personal.

I started to wonder about the image the Bible gives us of God as our Father and how in the world did THAT play into God's glory being the bottom line for everything. I mean, how many parents are all about their own glory and worship? (okay - don't answer that!)Then God nudged me to think about the child who is made the center of the universe. You've met him or her right - the little prince or princess who rules the small kingdom of their home with a tiny, iron fist. Is that child truly happy? The answer is no, not really. They may want to be the center of everything but it doesn't bring happiness - it usually just brings tears and tantrums.

Have you ever had someone tell you that YOU are their reason for living? That you are their whole world? Personally, I don't want that kind of responsibility. It's too big of a burden to carry and it isn't something that God wants us to carry. We weren't created to be IT. It is a strange fact, that with God things often seem the opposite of what our human natures want or crave. To be first, you have to last. To be a leader, you must serve. To keep your life, you have to lose it. It all seems backwards, but in my own times of worship and prayer I have found a curious thing. When I am humbled and broken and bowed low, that is when God raises me up. I have never had greater joy than at those moments of greatest humility and worship when I really see God's magnifigance and how big He truly is.

Lately, I have found Christianity, as a whole, to be very self-focused. It seems to be all about individual growth or issues; about what brings individual Christians fulfillment. Now I am all for spiritual growth, and I think it is very healthy to deal with our baggage and issues. I believe God wants us to be free but the purpose is to serve and glorify Him - not continue to stare at our navals. We were created to find joy in our insignifigance. Think of the last time you saw something truly breathtaking in nature - maybe it was the Grand Canyon or a sky full of stars. Did you think all about yourself and how awesome you were? Nope. It was this feeling of something or Someone so much bigger than you that brings a breathtaking joy. John Piper ended by saying how our great joy intersects with worship and glorifying God. I couldn't agree more.

I love the song by Chris Tomlin called "I Will Rise." One line goes "before my God/fall on my knees and rise." And that is how it is - to rise, we must bow low.

"I will bless the Lord at all times. His praise will continually be in my mouth. The humble shall hear it and rejoice." Psalm 34:1,2

Rejoice with me and worship our great big, awesome, spectacular God! You just might find it's the happiest you've ever been!
~ Blessings, Bronte

Friday, September 10, 2010


Sometimes, I take for granted that I was born in America, that I can choose where I want to live, what I want to do and Who I want to worship. I don't go to bed at night fearing that someone will storm into my house, drag me and my family out of bed and kill us execution-style. If I lived in the Middle East and was a Christian, that would be a part of my reality. I'd not only fear for my life and that of my husband and children, but my home and possessions, my livelihood could be wiped out, and nobody would care. I would not get justice, probably ever.

In recent news, the pastor who is planning to burn the Koran has taken over internet headlines. Talk radio show hosts and news anchors are weighing in on the controversy. There are all kinds of reasons given why this is a bad idea from simple political correctness (mustn't ever offend anyone) to actual safety issues for our military, Americans and Christians in the Middle East.

I posted about this on a moms online board and was sort of surprised at the response I got - everything from "I can't believe you feel sorry for those people" to "we have the right as an American to do that" to "in the Old Testament the idols, etc. were torn down and burned - how is this different." For a moment, I felt like a flaming liberal or something! lol It's been bothering me though. I wondered if I had fallen into the trap of political correctness or maybe was sliding into the idea of appeasement - as in let's not make Islamic extremists angry so they won't do anything. And let's face it, if you look at what happened with Europe and Hitler, appeasement just doesn't cut it when it comes to international relations. And really with tomorrow being September 11th, was it really so wrong to thumb our noses at the people who took down the Twin Towers?

At first, I thought my main concern over this was the fact that once again, Christians would look petty and mean and hateful. That the media would show them as intolerant bigots. And I do think that what we claim to do in Christ's name should be carefully scrutinized. After all, have the nut jobs that have killed abortion doctors really helped the right to life cause?

But the more I thought about this and prayed about why it bothered me so much the more I realized that it came down to hate. Extremist Islamists are known for their hatred of those who are not, particularly Americans. However, if I take myself out of America and my reality for a minute and put myself into the shoes of a young woman born into a Muslim family who has been taught all her life the Koran, and has also been taught to hate and fear Christians how would I view this current event? I would see Christians as hating me back and all my fears would be justified.

Someone also posted that they wouldn't keep a Koran in their home, but would throw it out. Neither would I as I don't believe it is truth. But there is a world of difference between throwing something away and burning it. If I gathered together a bunch of people and had all of them bring, say, any Britney Spears albums, cds, etc. would you think I just didn't want that kind of music in my house or would you think I really, really did not like Britney Spears herself? I think you would probably conclued that I pretty much hated Britney Spears (I don't btw before I get hate mail about that - just an example!) When you take the most important book of a particular religion and burn it in such a public manner the message is NOT that you disagree with that religion. Rather it is that you hate that group of people. I don't want to put words in this pastor's mouth. They may not be his intent at all, but that is how it will be perceived.

And is hate really something Christians want to be known for? Now think back to that young Muslim woman. She may be unhappy in her current situation (not that she would have a lot of choice) She may even want something more than her current religion, but obviously the Christians hate her so maybe the Koran is right after all. Hate never drew anyone to Jesus. That's why Jesus calls us to love our enemies and bless those that curse us - because that is the totally opposite response of human nature.

So I guess that is the bottom line for me. I don't want to be known by hate. I don't want Muslims to think Christians hate them. Yes, I believe their religion is false and hate what it seems to inspire people to do in the name of it. That is why this Koran burning bothers me so much.

"Now therefore there is no condemnation in Christ."
~ Blessings, Bronte

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


I finally finished II Chronicles. It started with the glory of King Solomon's rule -the height of Israel's glory days. By chapter 36, the outlook is very different. The mighty nation of Israel has been split into two warring factions - Israel and Judah which included the tribe of Judah and Benjiman; the temple has been destroyed; the walls of Jeruselum (the walls being a sign of a nation's strength and power) had been reduced to rubble; and both divisions of the once united Israel were in captivity. It's a sad story of a people who had had God's blessing but still went looking to idols; of leaders who let their power and authority corrupt them. Throughout the history, there ARE glimpses of redemption and blessing where God rewarded those who followed Him.

As I looked back over this book, three things stood out to me in bold relief. Once again, as it did in I & II Kings, the importance of wholeheartedness jumped out at me. There were several kings that did right but the Bible notes that they were not wholehearted in their devotion to God. What was the difference between those that just did right and those that were wholehearted? Those that were wholeheartedly devoted to God took action. They sought out the high places and the alters that previous kings and the people built and tore them down. They got rid of the priests that tended these false gods. They rooted out what was such an anthema to God.

The truth is, leadership - particularly when it is spiritual - is something to be taken very seriously. What leaders do or don't do trickles down to those underneath them. I'm sure, even under wicked kings, there were people that still did right, but they were in the vast minority. But when a king did what was right and was wholeheartedly devoted to God, there was often a huge revival in the land. Most of the people jumped on board. I am not any kind of formal spiritual leader but I am a mother. My kids will notice if I am wholeheartedly devoted to God or if it is just lip service. They will note if I allow idols to remain even in the background. I think this is why so many Christian young people turn away as they leave home - they saw only a partial devotion to God in their homes and it struck them as false. As a parent, I can't be perfect, but I can be wholehearted in following God.

The second thing I saw was how many times a king started out following God and doing what was right, even doing it wholeheartedly, when God had made them strong and given them peace, they often started doing things in their own strength and even worshipping false idols. The one that floored me the most was Amaziah. God told him he'd have victory in battle and he did! But no sooner was he back home than he was burning incense to the gods of the people God had just defeated for him. I guess that is why so many times in the Bible we are told to be thankful, to remember where our blessings, strength and success really come from.

Finally, the thing I saw was God's abundant mercy, grace and patience with His wayward people. The Old Testament is often looked at as showing God's justice side and not much mercy, but when I began reading it, that really wasn't true. Over and over again, God gave even the wickedest kings the opportunity to repent. Some took Him up on it, but most didn't. In the final chapter of II Chronicles in verse 15 we see the evidence of God's mercy, "The Lord, the God of their fathers, sent word to them again and again by His messangers because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place."

The chapter ends seventy years into their captivity and once again God gives new hope and mercy to His people. It ends with an invitation from the most unlikely of sources - the king of Persia, Cyrus. "Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and He has appointed me to build Him a house in Jeruselum, which is in Judah. Whoever there is among you of all His people, may the Lord his God be wtih him, and let him go up!"

What a comfort to know that no matter how far off the path we get, no matter how deep into captivity we fall, God grants us His forgiveness, His mercy and His grace when we truly repent and seek Him.
~ Blessings, Bronte

Friday, August 27, 2010


I think I read some of the saddest words in 2 Chronicles 21:20, "He was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eight years, and he departed with no one's regret, and they buried him in the city of David, but not in the tombs of the Kings." The verse is talking about Jehoram, one of the kings of Judah.

How awful to be the leader of a nation and when you die, nobody is sad about it. Granted, Jehoram who was the son of Jehoshaphat (who came up with these names anyway???), was not a very good king. As soon as he got the crown on his head, things headed down hill.

First of all, the main reason he was chosen as the heir was because he was the firstborn, but it doesn't seem like he had too many leadership skills. The first thing he did when he had secured his throne was to kill all his brothers - I guess blood wasn't thicker than water. In verse 13, there is this interesting little tidbit from God, "and you have also killed your brothers, your own family, who were better than you." Apparently, good ole Jehoram was the rotten apple in the bunch.

Next we see that Jehoram followed after the kings of Israel (remember there were no good kings that ruled over that portion of the divided kingdom). The reason the Bible gives for this was Jehoram's choice of wife - none other than one of Ahab's daughters. Ahab whose wife was Jezebel was one of the wickedest kings from this time period. We don't know if Jehoram picked out his own wife or if it was an arranged marriage, but she obviously had influence with Jehoram - and not a good one!

We also see that Jehoram rebuilt the high places and alters to false gods. He decided false gods were more promising than the Yahweh. God got very tired of it. He had promised that a descendent of David would be on the throne and Jehoram had killed off anyone who could replace him, so God took care of him.

Reading the next bit makes me very motivated NOT to follow in Jehoram's footsteps. What is absolutely perfect yet utterly horrible is that God didn't just spring the punishment on Jehoram, but He told him about it in advance. Nothing like a bit of terror to go with your judgement. Of course, knowing God, this very well may have been God's way of offering Jehoram the chance to repent. But either way, Jehoram continued in his wicked ways.

Get a load of what God told him was coming in verses 12-15, "Then a letter came to him from Elijah the prophet saying, 'Thus says the Lord God of yoru father David, Because you have not walked in the ways of Jehoshaphat your father and the ways of Asa king of Judah, but have walked in the way of the kings of Israel, and have caused Judah and the inhabitants of Jeruselum to play the harlet as the house of Ahab played the harlot, and you have also killed your brothers, your own family, who were better than you, behold, the Lord is going to strike your people, your sons, your wives and all your possessions with great calamity; and you will suffer severe sickness, a disease of your bowels, until your bowels come out because of the sickness, day by day."

Doesn't that sound pleasant? In verse 19 we see Jehoram's gruesome end, "So after all this the Lord smote him in his bowels with an incurable disease. Now it came about in the course of time, at the end of two years, that his bowels came out because of his sickness and he died in great pain..." God is obviously not someone to trifle with. The next few words are sad because it shows that his people were glad to see him go - "And his people made no fire for him like the fire for his fathers."

Jehoram was given the opportunity to make a huge difference in his world - he was given power and privilege in that world and culture. He wasted it away. I don't know what kind of upbringing he had but he was 32 years old when he became king - old enough to know better you'd think. Instead, he let his idol worshipping wife lead him away from the one true God into idol worship. He killed all of his brothers and some of the trusted leaders in Israel. He died an agonizing death after two years of suffering. And in the end, nobody regretted that he died. He left no legacy of goodness or importance - just his own pain and his people's indifference.

There are a lot of wonderful things in the Bible - promises and demonstrations of God's grace and mercy and patience and love. But it isn't all flowers and puppies - this story serves as a stark reminder that God is GOD. He is holy and mighty and powerful. He is not to be mocked or ignored. He IS Jehovah and it's best that we not forget that!
~ Blessings, Bronte

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Have you ever had a light bulb moment where you got an idea that seemed so awesome, so perfect that it just HAD to be from God, right? I am an idea person. I am always coming up with some great idea and getting all excited and invested in it. Ask my husband - he's the one who is always talking me down as I'm getting ready to leap before I look.

Don't get me wrong - ideas, dreams, plans - those things are good things. But just because it seems like a good idea doesn't mean that it is God's plan for you. Take for instance David - he got the idea of building a temple for the ark. After all, he had this great palace and the ark was still in an animal skin tent. Even the prophet Nathan thought that it was a grand idea - I mean who can argue with building God a temple right? Well, apparently God could because He told David no.

One of David's descendents also had a good idea but he forgot to check with God first. We meet King Asa in 2 Chronicles 14. His father Abijah died and Asa became king of Judah. In verse 2 it says, "Asa did good and right in the sight of the Lord his God, for he removed the foreign alters and high places, tore down the sacred pillars, cut down the Asherim, and commanded Judah to seek the Lord God of their fathers and to observe the law and the commandments." So Asa was one of the good kings - he followed God with his whole heart and rooted out all the idols in Judah.

In chapter 15, we see that God told Asa through a prophet to be strong and courageous, to continue to root out the idols in all the land and God would bless him. Through Asa's leadership, the kingdom of Judah (this is after Israel had split into two kingdoms) rededicated themselves to God. As Asa went out and fought against nations that wanted a piece of Judah, he always checked in with God, asking is this what you have for us to do? If God said yes, Asa went, even if it seemed like a suicide mission. God always gave him the victory. After at time, God blessed them and gave them years of rest. In 2 Chronicles 15:19 it says, "And there was no more war until the thirty-fifth year of Asa's reign."

What changed? Well, in chapter 16, Asa had what he thought was a good idea. Baasha, the king of Israel decided to make life hard for Asa and Judah and Baasha got another king to join him - Ben-hadad, king of Aram. So Asa got the bright idea of making a treaty with Ben-hadad, to cut Baasha off at the knees.

Was making a treaty a bad idea? Strategically, it made a lot of sense to get good old Ben-hadad (wonder what they called him for short? Hopefully Ben!) on his side. But Asa, after years of blessing and easy times, forgot one important thing. He didn't check with God to see if this really WAS a good idea. He was so used to God's blessings, to peace and prosperity, that when he got this bright idea, it never occurred to him that perhaps, it wasn't God's idea.

Asa did route Baasha with the king of Aram's help, but afterwards, God called Asa on the carpet. He reminded Asa of the times that there was victory even when it seemed impossible. God pointed out that HE could have given Asa victory over BOTH Baasha and the King of Aram instead of being stuck in a treaty with him. In chapter 16, verse 8 it says, "Were not the Ethopians and the Lubim and immense army with very many chariotsa nd horseman? Yet because you relied on the Lord, He delivered them into your hand."

And that really was the key - Asa decided to rely on his own wisdom and strategy with what seemed like a good move. If he had relied on God, instead of himself, there would have been complete victory.

How many times does this play out in my own life? Something comes up and I immediately try to come up with a solution or an answer, relying on my own wisdom and strength and power. Yes, things often turn out okay, but I miss out on the complete victory and miracle that could have been mine if I had gone to God instead of relying on my own strength. God is made strong in my weakness. God gets glory when He does the seemingly impossible through me. When I rely on myself, God is somewhere in the background and I end up settling for the almost and the okay, instead of the awesome and the amazing.


I've been reading through the Kings and Chronicles, and personally, I'm fascinated. It's sort of like an Old Testament Jerry Springer or something. Siblings killing siblings. Sons plotting against fathers. Solomon had 1,000 wives and concubines. Imagine the tabloid fodder that would provide? Yikes! Of course, he learned it from the best - dear old dad, David, had quite a few wives himself.

I found it really interesting to note that if you looked at the lives of father and son, Solomon would seem to come out ahead of David. While he did have an uncommonly large number of wives, you don't find any reference to any huge sins that Solomon committed. And hey, he asked God for wisdom instead of wealth or power; had peace during his reign; amassed a huge fortune and wealth and power; authored several books of the Bible; and built the temple in all its splendor.

In contrast, David had that whole issue with Bathsheba - committed adultery and then tried to cover it up with murder. David was incited by Satan to do a census which caused punishment to come down on the entire nation of Israel. David was a warrior and spent his entire life fighting and had a lot of blood on his hands - so much so, that God told David NOT to build the temple but to allow Solomon to build it. His family was a real mess too - Absalom and Amnon were not sons of which you'd be very proud.

BUT, David is called a man after God's heart. David is commended for his wholehearted devotion despite his many major and public sins. Solomon on the other hand was NOT called a man after God's own heart. Despite his rather tame life compared to David's, Solomon had an achille's heel - beautiful women. He collected them like a beanie baby junkie. And he didn't just collect women - they were exotic, foreign women. He was guilty of allowing something or someone else to have place of honor in his heart and mind.

Take a look at I Kings 11: 1-6, "Now King Solomon loved many foreign women along with the daughter of Pharoah: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite,Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the nations concerning which the Lord had said to the sons of Israel, 'You shall not associate with them, nor shall they associate with you, for they will surely turn your heart away after their gods.' Solomon held fast to thes in love. He had seven hundred wives, princesses and three hundred concubines, and his wives turned his heart away. For when Solomon was old, hsi wives turned his heart away after other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the Lord his God,as the heart of David his father had been. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians and after Milcom the detestable idol of the Ammonites. Solomon did what was evil in teh sight of the Lord, and did not follow the Lord fully, as David his father had done."

So, Solomon was a fool for love, just not the right kind of love. David was a fool for love too(remember his dear wife Michel who despised him for dancing before his God?). But the object of his love was an Almighty, holy God that delighted in David's "foolishness."

I guess if I'm going to be a fool, I want to be the kind David was - a fool for Jesus!
~ Blessings, Bronte