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