Saturday, June 29, 2013

When You Read the BIble -- Do you understand it?

A while back God placed a burden on my heart to teach women how to study the Bible for themselves. It was a heavy burden. He showed me how we have become so dependent on Bible study DVDs and Bible study material produced in mass that we’ve produced a group of Christians who love to study the Word but can’t feed themselves – Babies. There is nothing wrong with the Bible studies that are biblically based, but the problem comes when you can’t sit down with God and His Word, open it and dig into the richness of it and have a deep, meaningful conversation with God.

As I study my way through Hebrews I see why God laid this so heavily on my heart. This isn’t a new problem for believers. In Hebrews 5:11-14 it talks about how the believers have become dull, lazy, picked up on the habit of not listening (depending on the translation you read). Some of you have been Christians for so long you should be teaching, but you’re still on milk needing someone to lead you through Bible study (found in Hebrews 5). Does this sound like you? How long have you been a Christian, and are you digging into the Word? Have you matured in your faith to eat the meat God has prepared for you? If not, YOU ARE MISSING OUT! The Amplified translations says those who eat solid food have sense and mental faculties that have been trained by practice to discriminate and distinguish between good and noble, evil and contrary to divine.

Does it bother you that when a monkey-wrench is thrown in your direction that you can’t go to the Word and dig in to get relief, to get closer to God, to get answers? Does it bother you in the least that your only Bible study comes at the feet of an intermediary like Beth Moore, Priscilla Schrier, etc? Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE them, but what if God wanted to speak something to me directly through His Word? What if God wanted to reveal something to me about Himself that I needed in that moment and I didn’t know how?

Have you ever been to a foreign country where you didn’t speak the language? A girlfriend and I went to Italy several years back. We had a blast. So many wonderful memories were made. On our way to Florence, we rode the train, and there was a couple of older gentleman sitting across from us who attempted to start a conversation. I had downloaded some Italian speaking app to my iPod so I had learned a few words. My girlfriend spoke Tex-Mex and not well. Fortunately, one of the men had a decent grasp on the English language, and we could converse with them, but when he got off the train at his exit, the conversation became strained and comical. You see, we knew little Italian, and the last little man knew no English. We were reduced to drawing pictures and playing charades to communicate.

How does God speak to you? How does He communicate the hard stuff? Does He have to teach you visually? (Those can be some hard and painful lessons – been there, done that.)

I’m still not where I want to be in knowing everything there is about the Bible. I want to go back to seminary to learn more techniques and ways of digging deeper into the Word. And if you know how to dig, then you need to be teaching others whether it is in a small group, one-on-one, or large groups.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

It's Been a Hard Week -- to say the least

A leak in the den: We thought it was in the foundation, but fortunately, it was in the wall. It’s the lesser of two evils. Floors that were only a few years old were ripped up.

Erin leaves for Europe: Just making sure everything was packed and that she knew what to do if certain things happened.

Car accident: I had dropped Pearce off for swim meet, and I had backed out of parking place and had turned around in my seat to face forward so I could drive forward when I was rear-ended.

Computer: The computer I use to do my blog and use in Train Up a Child – Encouragement for Mom ministry is on the brink of final collapse. I have no money for another one.

My house is in complete disarray, and dust covers every surface in my house. Oh, and we have company from Thailand coming to stay with us on the 26th!

I am exhausted, worn slap out.

Typically I’m not a worrier, but Satan knows how to get us to the point, the breaking point, the worrying point. I may be exhausted, but I am determined that every time Satan brings me to think about the accident while we wait for the insurance companies to determine liability, that I will change my thought pattern to reflect whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable – anything excellent or praiseworthy (Phil 4:8). That’s my choice.

So what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable from this week? What is God’s truth? What does He see as noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable?

Truth #1: Everyone under my roof is healthy. No one is in the hospital fighting for their lives. I’m not attending a funeral today. Thank you, Lord, for our health.

Truth #2: God has provided us with a home to keep us cool in the summer, warm in the winter and dry from the rain. It may always be in some state of remodeling; I may always have dust on every surface, but I have running water, indoor facilities, air conditioning, and food on the table.

Truth #3: We have insurance to take care of whatever damage is done to her vehicle and my vehicle regardless of how they determine liability. God already knows how it’s going to work out. He’s got this, and even if it doesn’t go my way or partially my way, I will survive. THIS WILL NOT KILL ME.

Truth #4: I am still typing on my laptop. It’s still hanging on even if it is by a thread, so I praise God for a working computer to minister to others (when my head is on straight and my heart is right with Him).

Truth #5: I have a beautiful, smart, funny daughter in Europe having the experience of a lifetime. Every time I talk to her she’s having a great time. The pictures I see show her grinning ear to ear. That is a blessing.

Truth #6: I still have one kid at home that I can love on, even if it is my hairy-legged, mustache-wearing, curly-haired, sweaty, eight year-old boy.

Truth #7: Regardless of what happens, God is God. Nothing that happens today will surprise Him. Nothing. So I rest in Him. I hide in the shadow of His wing because I am the apple of His eye (Ps 17:8) – Yep, I’m that special. Anything that makes its way to me has to go through the filter of His fingers.

Truth #8: We will have a great visit with our friends regardless of the condition of this house because we are friends and we serve the same Lord.

Truth #9: My God supplies all my needs (Phil 4:19).

Truth #10: God trumps Satan – read that last book of the Bible. So, I choose life. I choose to live in victory because He did not come to take away my joy, but He came to give me an abundant life (John 10:10).

So, time to break out the holy water, pray over every door in the house, lift up my family to God and praise Him for all He has done. This is how I choose to deal with the stress in my life. This is how I choose to deal with the things Satan would have me worry about. These are the things I will choose to think about.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Everyone Has a Favorite

Let’s face it. We ALL have favorites.

      What is your favorite kind of ice cream?

             Who is your favorite author?

                   What is your favorite song?

                        What is your favorite verse?

                              Who is your favorite person in the Bible?

Many of our Jewish friends have a favorite in Moses. He was really one of their first leaders who pursued God even though he had his struggles.

I’m just thankful God doesn’t play favorites. Know what I mean?

In Hebrews 3 and 4, the author is putting into comparison Jesus to Moses. For me, there’s really no comparison. The Bible says that Moses was just a servant in the house that Jesus oversees.

As we’ve seen the devastation in Oklahoma that’s been left in the path of tornadoes, we’ve seen complete buildings missing, buildings flattened, buildings destroyed beyond repair. The Bible tells us the builder is more important than the building. You know why? Buildings are just things. They can be replaced. A person cannot. The knowledge the builder possesses cannot be replaced by a thing. No matter how advanced our computers may be, there isn’t one of them that can draft a home, organize subcontractors, and build a home from the ground up making sure to stay inside the property lines.

While there are some of the most beautiful Duo mos in Italy and basilicas, they will one day decay, be destroyed and cease to exist, but the One who built everything will continue on and on.

We serve; we worship the Builder who was and is to come. He has always been. There’s nothing that goes on anywhere that He doesn’t know about. He is the One who should be our favorite.

And yet so many have hardened hearts towards Jesus Christ. Have you ever thought of a hardened heart? What that means? The physical heart has arteries that can accrue plaque which hardens the walls preventing the heart from pumping as efficiently as it is designed to do. The heart slows. The walls harden more. Then the heart ceases to beat. We let corrupt thoughts and sin enter our lives, and they attach to the walls and arteries surrounding our spiritual heart. This hardens our heart to hear from God. His voice becomes faint because we either don’t care, don’t want Him, or just want out. Eventually, you no longer hear from Him.

Then disaster hits, and you wonder where God has gone. REALLY?! He isn’t a genie in a bottle. He is a holy God who was willing to die for you so He could have a relationship with you, and you have the nerve to ignore Him. Of all the gall. I think we get so numb to it we no longer appreciate the cost. Try putting a spike through your hand or your feet. Have someone beat you with a cat-of-nine tails and see what Jesus suffered. And that was just part of the physical torture He endured. It doesn’t take into account the spiritual warfare that was going on.

If anyone has a right to have a hardened heart it’s God who has put up with our rebellious nature since the beginning of time. From Moses and the Israelites wondering in the desert for 40 years because of their lack of faith and rebellion to us today thinking we can handle it all. If you read the Bible, you will see that God has His limits. He will only tolerate so much before He brings down the discipline His wayward children so desperately need. I don’t want to be in that group. Know what I mean?

Does God get angry? Why yes He does. Does God discipline all as each person requires? Why yes He does. Can God discipline His children and do it in love? He can’t do it any other way. AND THAT IS JUST ANOTHER REASON we should be thankful that God is a God of love.

In Hebrews 4 it tells us His Word is so sharp it cuts through everything – your lies, your stubbornness, your hatred, your anger, your sin, your selfishness – and He lays it open so He can get to the root of the problem. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’ve been, what you do for a living, He exposes everything because NOTHING is hidden from Him. NOTHING. And we have to give an account for it all (vs 13) – just so you know.

And when God has fleshed out our corruption, our sin and brought it to light to where we can no longer deny it, He looks at Jesus. Verses 14-16 tells us to go to Jesus. Go boldly to the throne so we can receive mercy. May I never be so hard-hearted that I don’t realize the great need I have for God’s mercy.

Thank you, Father. Thank you. Please forgive me. Clean out my arteries – get rid of all the things that harden my heart toward You and your way and the life you’ve chosen for me. “Create in me a clean heart, O Lord; and renew a right spirit within me.” Amen

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


Have you ever met the CEO of the business for which you work? I haven’t. I’ve seen videos of him. He has a slight lisp and sometimes I get distracted by that. I know that surprises you. The CEO of my company did not rise up from the ranks. There are quite a few people in upper management who have not come up through the ranks, so they don’t exactly know the ins and outs of what goes on by those who do the grunt work, by those who deal with and work with the general public on a daily basis offering customer service. Sometimes decisions are made by those in the ivory castle (corporate), and I wonder, “Did they even bother to find out from those who will be doing this if this is helpful?”

I’m thankful that God doesn’t work that way. He doesn’t sit in the ivory tower watching from his throne on high not having a clue. I am so thankful that God took on flesh becoming Jesus. Jesus was tempted. He faced death and WON! He did this for us, human. He didn’t do this for angels. No sir, He didn’t. He doesn’t reach out to help angels. He reaches out to me, His sister. He isn’t making some grand decisions from the ivory tower without experience. He was tested. He has suffered, and He did these things so He could help us. He showed us a better way through trials and temptations while He was in human form.

Hebrews 2:14-15 is a new love of mine. In the Message, “Since the children are made of flesh and blood, it’s logical that the Savior took on flesh and blood in order to rescue them by his death. By embracing death, taking it into himself, he destroyed the Devil’s hold on death and freed all who cower through life, scared to death of death.” I want to break this down, so bear with me because I remember being scared to death of dying and of death.  EMBRACING – This isn’t a sideways hug. You know what I mean? There are some people you hug them from your side. EMBRACE means to wrap your arms around them, chest to chest. I love bear hugs. That’s the way I hug. I love them. This type hug is what I think of when I hear about Jesus EMBRACING death. When you bear hug, when you embrace something, you are bringing it into yourself and enveloping it with your body. Jesus embraced death. He took it into his body and HE KICKED IT TO THE CURB! IT’S OUT OF HERE! Devil used to use death as a kick to the gut to control people out of fear, to manipulate people. But Jesus took death and has made it into something beautiful, something to hope for. Yes, something to hope for because on the other side of death is heaven that we have access to if we ask Jesus into our hearts and claim Him as Lord and Savior. Devil = 0 Jesus = 1 + infiniti (those who have been saved and will see eternity in heaven).

So who do I call on when I’m struggling with earthly issues? Jesus. Why? Because He’s been there, done that, and won, and he’s family. Don’t you like the sound of that too? Jesus is family. Some of you may not have the best of families, but I’ve been blessed with godly parents who while not perfect loved Jesus and parented the best they knew how with what they were given. I’ve been blessed with a warped sister who is also my best friend and one with whom I cross-parent and do life with. I have a husband who has stayed through good and bad, through thick and thin. I have been blessed with children straight from God – not that they are perfect, but I know He chose them for me. And now, I call Jesus family because I’ve been adopted into HIS family. His family that is full of love, grace and mercy. His family that has no dysfunction. His family that has mansions in heaven. That’s what I’m talking about. I’m His family. No angel can say that, can they? Thankful to be REDEEMED.

Monday, June 3, 2013

I'm No Angel and Proud of It

So in my confessional two blogs ago, I confessed I had gone a couple of weeks without really studying the Word of God much less have a quiet time. I confessed the idea of studying Hebrews did not thrill me in the least, but I do know that I am supposed to be studying this. I know this because He wanted me to read Hebrews 2:1, “We must, therefore, pay even more attention to what we have heard, so that we will not drift away” (HCSB). Was I drifting? You betcha. DRIFTING – When I think of the word drifting I think of being a on a raft floating lazily down the river or in an ocean slowly being drug away from the shore line. DRIFTING is gradual, slow. It’s not like drag racing where they take off in break-neck speeds causing whiplash if you aren’t restrained properly. DRIFTING – Sometimes you don’t even realize that you are drifting because it doesn’t really feel like you’re moving, but you are, and you realize it when you see the shore line 500 yards away instead of ten. I tend to DRIFT when I RELAX. I have been lax in my quiet time. I’ve been lax in my Bible study. I’ve been lax in my prayer time. I have drifted. There’s a song that says, “Who Moved.” God doesn’t move. We do.

Here’s the thing. I think part of my being lax is that I take my faith, my relationship with God for granted. In Hebrews 2, the author contrasts the Old Testament message and the New Testament message. Let me lay it out for you:

OLD MESSAGE                                                          NEW MESSAGE

Delivered by angels                                                      Delivered in person by Jesus Christ in human form

You didn’t get away with anything.
There was a punishment for every infraction               Passed on by those who heard the message of grace
 of the law. You didn’t get away with anything.           and hope through salvation
                                                                                  New message is validated by God with gifts through
                                                                                  the Holy Spirit, signs and miracles.

If I had to go to the temple to confess my sin, burn sacrifice and had to uphold every rule written in the law, you’d find me buried under the rubble of religion. Under the new message of grace and hope through Salvation, the focus isn’t on the law but on the relationship with God. A relationship in which God gives his children gifts, Spiritual gifts. He confirms His message through signs and miracles. Do I believe they still happen today? Yes, I do. Why? Because I haven’t read anywhere in the Bible so far where God has said there will be no more signs or miracles.

Here’s something else I discovered in Hebrews 2. Angels are not in the business of saving people.

                     They aren’t in control or put in charge of anything.
                                They aren’t redeemed.
                                        They do as they are instructed...some of which is to help us.

I’m not seeing much of a relationship with God for the angels.

The angels can sing and praise God, but I have to believe the songs of the redeemed have to be more precious, more special and most pleasing to God’s ears than those of angels.

                 Angels will never know what it’s like to be lost and then found.

           They will never know what it’s like knowing that God sought them out to adopt them into His  family.

          Angels will never know what it’s like to discover something new or be in charge over God’s creation.

They will NEVER KNOW! Guess what! You will. You do.

I remember when my kids were babies, sitting up and discovering the world around them for the first time. I loved watching their faces when they discovered something for the first time and how they’d repeat it and be just as surprised the second time and third. I’d buy toys or do things just so I could see them explore it and discover the surprise. In Hebrews 2:8, God has done that same thing for us. The Bible tells us that God put man in charge of everything he had made. Remember Genesis? In Hebrews 2:8 it says, “Nothing was excluded. But we don’t see it yet, don’t see everything under human jurisdiction.” God has built in surprises in His Creation to watch us discover something new. I LOVE THAT! 1 Corinthians 13:12 says we look in a mirror darkly, only seeing a part of the picture. It’s only when we see Jesus that we will get the whole picture. It’s only then that we will see all the surprises – the ones we discovered and the ones we didn’t.

Can I just say, “I love Jesus!” Jesus made himself lower than the angels just so I could experience a relationship with God who has prepared little surprises, who has given me perfect gifts, who has given me a hope and a future. And because Jesus made himself lower than the angels, took on flesh, endured an excrutiating death because of my sins, He now calls me, “Sister.” Verse 10-13 of Hebrews 2 says he’s not ashamed to call me that either.

Nope. I am not ashamed. I am no angel. I STAND REDEEMED!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Simon Says -- Ever Play that Game?

I take a lot of things for granted in my faith. Since I was taught from a very early age things about God, His Word, and Truth, I’ve accepted them to be true, and I discovered during living this life that they are actually true. Sometimes, however, we have to simply believe because God said it is so. It requires faith. It requires trust, and if you don’t have a relationship with God, then you’ll never get it. If you know someone who wants to debate things of faith, you just need to realize that there will be things that they just won’t get because it requires a relationship with God to understand, to appreciate, and to accept. Your faith and trust in God is based on what your relationship to Him is. Your level of faith and trust depends on what you’ve endured and how you’ve seen God work on your behalf or on behalf of those you love. So in Hebrews 1 when it tell us that Jesus is God’s exact expression, exact copy in human form, is the radiance of God, you have a choice to make. Do you faith it? Do you believe it or don’t you?

Let’s look at Creation. Hebrews tells us that Jesus holds everything together by simply what he says. Have any of you ever made something happen simply by saying it to be so? Not only did God speak the world into existence but His word continues to keep it in existence because He simply never told it not to do so. Was that clear as mud? God spoke the world into existence. He set the foundations of the world into motion. The Bible says he holds all the waters in the palm of his hand and that he weighs the mountains (Is 40:12). I liken it to Simon Says. Do you remember playing that game as a child? “Simon Say to jump on your right leg.” The child starts jumping on the right leg. “Now jump on your left leg.” Any children who jump to their left leg are out because Simon didn’t say to jump on the left leg. God spoke the world into existence, set it into motion and hasn’t told it to stop, so it continues to be in motion.” Can I just say those are some powerful words! I wonder what it would be like if my kids behaved like that. “Erin, clean your room.” She’d be in there dusting, cleaning, and throwing away things until I said, “Stop.” We know this will never happen.

Another thing about Creation is that at some point in time designated by God and known by Him, this world will wear out (vs 10-12), but God remains. He had to be here before the Creation of the world in order to have spoken it into existence, and He will be here after the world fades away. He stays the same. He never fades or wears out (Vs 12). THANK GOODNESS!

Hebrews 1 lays out that Jesus is not an angel but deity. He is above the angels in authority. God poured fragrant oil on his head marking him out as king (vs 8-9). One last thought about angels. Jesus commands the angels to minister, to help those who inherit salvation. Not everyone will inherit salvation, but those who receive salvation have an extra resource, an extra tool to get us through the rough times, to direct us in the paths we are to go. They don’t know the paths, but they are given the instructions by Jesus.

Angels are not to be worshipped, feared or revered. Jesus is.