Sunday, February 28, 2010

Two Months In...

When hubby and I agreed to read the One Year Chronological Bible together again, I had NO idea the journey I was being sent on.  If I knew,  I wonder if we would be reading the bible in it's entirety this year.   I likely would have quit or not started.  But I've done this much, might as well keep going!

Then Pastor's 'Know God' study happened ... and the digging started. Digging into my soul. Dredging up the pain, grief, hurts. Initiating healing.

I have spent more time in the church sanctuary these months.  I have cried, yelled, sobbed, sang, slept, prayed and sat quietly listening for God's quiet whisper.  I have bugged Pastor with my questions more than I should have.  I have searched and realized that not all questions will be answered, but I will keep asking.  And searching for answers.  The more I learn, the less I know.

I have stepped out of my comfort zone ... and right back into it.  And God has been nudging me out of it again.

I have seen prayers answered, had snaps in sanity, experienced Satan's wrath, and experienced the love, grace and mercy of God in some amazing people.

I know the journey isn't over. I know there are still rough roads ahead.  And I have been told that things may still get worse before they get better.


I am hanging in there. Working on inner healing, bridging that heart/head gap, and continuing to study God's word.  I am NOT giving up!!!  (but please keep praying!)


Numbers 4:34-6:27

First: get everyone who is unclean out of the camp. (we're all unclean at some point!)
Second: pay restitution for wrongs done ... now a days we can ask forgiveness. And be thankful that Christ paid restitution for us!

Test of an Unfaithful Wife - this irked me.  If a man thought his wife was unfaithful, he could take her to the priest where she would be given bitters that would cause her "thighs to waste away and her abdomen to swell" if she was guilty and have no effect if not.  "The husband will be innocent of any wrongdoing."  I know there is a cultural aspect to this, but I also know the bible is true and right.  It still irked me ... especially having known more husbands who have cheated than wives.  And extremely jealous husbands who wrongly accused their wives.

The Nazarite - a vow, a period of separation from the Lord
do not drink wine, vinegar or other fermented drink or grape juice
do not eat raisins or grapes or anything from the grapevine including seeds and skins
no razor is to go near the head during the separation, hair is to grow long

The long hair is the symbol of their separation from the Lord.  I do not understand why this was done.  I will have to research it and do another post.  I do know people who have taken a Nazarite Vow and let their hair grow while praying in earnest for something they desire.

And I will leave you with this: (I always hear our pastor from MD singing or canting this at the end of services...)

6:24-26 "The LORD bless you and keep you; 25 the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; 26 the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace." 

Go in peace, serve the Lord.


Knowing god - Psalm 63:4

(from Pastor)

In your name
I will lift up my hands
Psalm 63:4
We worship God with our words ... with our mouths ... with our hearts ... with our minds. Scripture tells us to worship God with our bodies too.
To be honest, this is not my favorite form of prayer. I'm stiff. I'm rigid. I'm stubborn. And it's an inconvenience to bow. Furthermore, it can be a little embarrassing to raise our hands (either because of the underarm stains or for fear of someone watching). However, if I'm honest, scripture repeatedly shows God's most faithful servants constantly falling face down or kneeling in submission or lifting up their hands in praise.
I believe it is because our bodies are part of the whole human package. And whenever we divorce part of who we are from our praise and repentance, we've held part of ourselves back from God.
Let us give ourselves more fully to him -- body, mind, and soul.
In Christ's Love,
a guy who apparently needs more exercise
(up ... down ... up ... down ... kneel ... fall ... lift up)
Growing up in a VERY conservative church - you rarely showed emotion, much less raised your hands or got on you knees in worship.  It was frowned upon - sternly.  I am still trying to overcome that.  One day not too long ago ... I found myself in my current church's outdoor sanctuary.  After expressing my anger with God verbally and physically, I literally fell to my knees and cried to him.  Then I found myself face down in the dirt. Crying and weeping to him.  Since then I have been on my knees to Him more than ever before in my life.  I run to the sanctuary at church and make use of the kneeling pads at the altar.  They have supported my knees and absorbed my tears.  

Lifting my hands to Him is still difficult.  Even holding open hands out to Him is hard.  Yet, when my now 5 year old girl wants comforting, she still holds her hands up to me.  Shouldn't we do no less to our heavenly father?  Surely he'll pick us up, hold us tight and whisper comforting thoughts in our ears.  

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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Knowing God - Luke 5:4

(from Pastor)
Launch out
into the deep.
Luke 5:4
Isn't there a trust and confidence when the captain calls, "Launch out into the deep"?
For sailors -- especially on stormy seas -- a sense of well-being comes from the shore. If worst came to worst, we could swim for it. There is danger, however, in the deeps. The captain must be confident in his ship before he launches out into the deep.
Are you confident in your crucified captain? Do you trust that he can navigate the currents -- even the currents of your life? Are you willing to launch -- even far from the comforts of familiar shores?
In Christ's Love,
a guy who's tired of crying "land-ho"
I love sea days.  After working on a cruise ship and being on several cruises, the days where there is no land visible are my favorite.  I love being on the ocean.  The sometimes gentle rocking of the waves always lulls me to sleep. The turbulent tossing of a storm thrills me.  (I can usually be found up on deck during a storm watching the waves and feeling the salt spray.)  

Closer to land, there is a safety and a security, but not a freedom as when out at sea.  Yes - our 'crucified captain' will keep us safe.  He will even teach us to enjoy the storm. To feel the salt spray on our faces. The wind whipping our hair.  And sometimes letting the current carry us is what he wants ... especially since He is the one directing the current. 

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Numbers 3:1-4:33

When 2 of Aaron's son's died, he only had 2 left to serve as priests.  That is when God appointed the Levites as the tribe to assist Aaron and be the priests, caretakers of the tabernacle.  The Levites were in place of all first born males in the Israelites.  Each clan within the Levites was assigned a particular section to care for so that all aspects of the Tent of Meeting were looked after.  Chapter 4 has very specific instructions about how they were to treat the Tent of Meeting and Tabernacle for travel. 

Are there still known descendants of the tribe of Levi?


Friday, February 26, 2010

knowing God - Hebrews 13;15

(from pastor)

Let us offer
the sacrifice of praise
to God continually.
Hebrews 13:15
In times of old, the priests of God offered bloody sacrifices on a bloody altar.
In modern times, you and I are all priests. God has entrusted to each of us the responsibilities of offering a new breed of sacrifices. And the good news is, you don't have to get your hands bloody.  All we have to do is lift them up in praise ... continually.
In Christ's Love,
a guy who's seen too many people with shoulder trouble
and can't lift up their arms
As I was walking with my iPod plugged in today, this song came is one of my prayers at this time... "Nothing Without You" by Bebo Norman

Take these hands 
And lift them up 
For I have not the strength to praise You near enough 
See, I have nothing 
I have nothing without You 

And take my voice and pour it out 
Let it sing the songs of mercy I have found 
For I have nothing 
I have nothing without You 

And all my soul needs is all Your love 
To cover me, so all the world will see 
That I have nothing without You 

Take my body and build it up 
May it be broken as an offering of love 
For I have nothing 
I have nothing without You 

And all my soul needs is all Your love 
To cover me so all the world will see 
That I have nothing 
That I love You, yeah 
With all my heart 
With all my soul 
With all my mind 
And all the strength I can find 

Take my time here on this earth 
And let it glorify all that You are worth 
For I am nothing 
I am nothing without You

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Today tarted out as a typical morning ... Hit the snooze a couple of times. Got the boy on the bus. Did my quiet time with my daily bible reading. And realized I had time to work on a book I am reading and studying at the suggestion of a wonderful christian counselor. The book is called Wounded by Terry Wardle.  Today's chapter was about shame and how Satan uses shame to bind hurting people with feelings of hopelessness and inability to change ... he appeals to the sense of unworthiness and fills ones head with lies.  When held in bondage by shame, Satan is in control.  Satan wants us to believe that we are helpless.  But we aren't. Jesus died to break our chains.  His truth WILL set me free.  (I know that. Do I truly believe that? Is that why today happened? Is my faith too weak?)

On the way to bible study (we are studying Believing God by Beth Moore) my heart started pounding. I was a little worried, but ignored it.  Last week I was a bit emotional and put it off to worry about what they would think, or having my emotions get the best of me again.  The closer I got to my destination, the worse it got.  As I turned onto the street, breathing became more difficult. I was all but hyperventilating. And terrified.  I was filled with an unexplained paralyzing terror.  Then I realized ... I was one the verge of a full blown panic attack.   

As I sat in my car in front of the house, gripping the wheel, practicing lamaze breathing to calm myself ... hold off a full blown attack ... and prayed. And prayed.  And prayed.  When I first started praying in the car, it felt like I was praying through a pillow.  The more I prayed, the less muffled they were.  The prayers were simply,  "Oh God. Help me." and "Jesus give me strength". Repeated over and over and over until I felt the worst was over.  And I could breath normally again.  Then I prayed for strength to just open the car door and get out of the car.  then for strength to get down the drive and sidewalk. Strength to open the door and for there to be no one nearby.  

There wasn't.  I was greeted by the wonderfully fluffy puppy who let me pet her, hug her and even licked my nose.  I walked into the kitchen where everyone gathers.  I was freezing and wanted a cup of hot tea.  As I gripped the mug, I sensed my breathing quickening.  I escaped to the bathroom and prayed more earnestly.  And fought tears.  What was happening to me? Was I finally cracking?  One thing I did know without a doubt - I was to stay put. No matter what.  (fight or flight? yeah - I flee)  

I made it through the video.  My heartrate was calming. My breathing was near normal.  But I was still wound very tight.  Imagine one of those paper airplanes where you wind the prop to twist the rubber band - the more you twist, the tighter it gets.  That was me.  I barely participated in the discussion.  I didn't trust what I'd say.  Or do.  As soon as the study was over, I fled.  

I fled to my sanctuary.  But after talking to Pastor for a few minutes, I left.  I could not bring myself to step into the sanctuary.  I was wound too tightly.  When talking with Pastor, I told him about the events of the morning and I know I had nervous laughter ... I am not sure where his came from.  

I am tired of being a mess.  I am tired of fighting. I am tired of working so hard.  I am tired.

Instead of going into the sanctuary and praying (I could have sworn I heard Pastor say, "Pray" when I was trying to decide what to do. He denies it.) or going home to to nap (I took a 3 1/2 hour each way trip the previous day) I drove aimlessly.  And prayed. And was still wound tight.  

While driving, I realized the previous week had been filled with obstacles.  I like to do my study with my computer - I can pull up multiple verses at a time, check multiple translations, check the Greek and Hebrew, access commentaries, etc.  My browser shut down every single time I tried to work on it.  I finally used my 'old fashioned' bible. (I still LOVE my Ryrie Study Bible!!)  But whenever I tried to sit down to work on the study something came up.  there were so many distractions and presses for my time.  By the time Wednesday evening rolled around, I just wanted to get something, anything, done since study was Friday morning.  

I called the hostess of the study and asked her to pray and pray hard.  I just knew Satan was messing with me.  For some reason, he does NOT want me to do this study. Or maybe he doesn't want me to heal and grow.  I wanted to walk somewhere - preferably gravel so I can hear the crunch, kick the rocks, and even slide a bit when going too fast.  Instead I drove. Until the hostess invited me to walk her 'loop' that is all gravel.  I took her up on her invitation.

I drove back to her house, plugged my iPod into my ears, turned on my "Songs for the Journey" playlist and took off on foot.  These are songs of praise, hope, and songs that have recently spoken to me.  Partway around the loop, I felt the rubber band unwind and relax.  I could breath easily for the first time since morning.  As I approached her house, I knew I'd tell her everything.  I knew she'd keep me in her prayers.  And I knew that this time, Satan had been defeated.  

At home, husband asked how my day was, and I was completely honest with him.   I am going to defeat this! I am going to be whole again! I am going to have a deeper faith with God! [and I'll keep saying this until I really believe it in my heart.]


Knowing God - Genesis 32:24

(from pastor)

And Jacob was left alone;
and there wrestled a man with him
until the breaking of the day"
Genesis 32:24
Do you remember this story? "The man" that Jacob wrested was really God -- in fact, God in a human form which is naturally viewed as prefiguring of the second person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ.
Jacob wrestled with God. The question is: What are you wrestling with God about?
The answer to Jacob's wrestling is that God put his hip out of joint and Jacob limped the rest of his life. That sounds like bad news. Here's why it's good news ... For much of his life Jacob had lied, cheated, and then cut and run. With a dislocated hip, he could no longer run from problems. Instead he had to face them -- indeed, he needed to face his brother whom he had swindled out of his birthrite. But here's the good news ... He didn't have to face his brother or face life alone. He'd "striven" with God, and he now knew that God would always be with him.
Try something hard ... Thank God for whatever you're wrestling with him about!
In Christ's Love,
a guy who never rooted for the wrestler in a mask
(God ... remove my mask and help me wrestle with you) 
I think I have made so much progress on this journey and then ... Thank God for what I've been wrestling with him about?  Am I truly able to do that?  at least I am wrestling WITH God instead of AGAINST him!

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Numbers 1:1-2:34

Census time in the desert as well as the United States. 

Then, everyone was listed by family and clan and all the men 20 years old and older were documented for the army.  Their own selective service.  The Levites were not counted because they we in charge of the tabernacle. 

God then arranged the families and divisions around the camp.It ends with, " ... So the Israelites did everything the LORD commanded ..."   Can we say that about our lives?


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Leviticus 26:1-27:34

Obedience.  It has been on my mind a lot lately.  How if we really want to show God how much we love him, we will be obedient to him.  Somewhere I read recently said, "Sacrifice does not always require obedience, but obedience always requires sacrifice."

The passages today talk about the rewards for obedience.  It does pay to obey!!! Here is the ultimate reward for obedience: 26:11-12 "I will put my dwelling place among you, and I will not abhor you. I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people."

However, there is punishment for disobedience.  26:19 "I will break down your stubborn pride and make the sky above you like iron and the ground beneath you like bronze." How often do we all need out stubborn pride broken? The chapter goes on to detail how punishment will be dealt for disobedience.

But ther is still hope. 11:44 "Yet in spite of this, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them or abhor them so as to destroy them completely, breaking my covenant with them. I am the LORD their God. 45 But for their sake I will remember the covenant with their ancestors whom I brought out of Egypt in the sight of the nations to be their God. I am the Lord.' "

Redeeming what is the Lords.  This basically set a value on people and what must be tithed.  I don't fully understand it.  But I do know that Christ is the ultimate redeemer.  He died for us. Paid our price.  So even if I don't understand it, I really don't need to.


I'm fine ... really ...

Of course, I was told tonight that fine really means:

  • Frantic, frazzled, frustrated, fragile,
  • Insecure, illogical, irate, imperfect
  • Neurotic, needy, numb, nervous,
  • Exhausted, empty, emotional, exacerbated

So yes, I am fine. Really.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Life Shapes - triangle

(from sermon notes, 5/29/2005, Pastor KM)

picture a triangle ... on the left corner it says, "in," on the right corner "out" and on the up point "up"

  • In - directed to believers. John 13:35 "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."  
  • Out - reaching others.  Matthew 9:35 "Then Jesus made a circuit of all the towns and villages. He taught in their meeting places, reported kingdom news, and healed their diseased bodies, healed their bruised and hurt lives."
  • Up - at the pinnacle of life, important to have a relationship with Jesus. Luke 6:12 "One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God."
Another verse that describes the tenets of the triangle is Micah 6:8 "He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."   The Bible is perfectly balanced.  Out=Act Justly, In=Love Mercy, Up=Walk Humbly with God.  

Walking humbly with God.  Looking up. Reaching upward. It is integral to everything we do.  

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Knowing God - John 10:41

(from pastor)
"John didn't do miracles ...
but all his predictions about this man
have come true."
John 10:41
"John" in this case is John the Baptist. "This man" that John was making predictions about was Jesus. John, this is saying, was a prophet -- not a miracle worker.
With that in mind, have you ever wished for a gift that someone else has? "If only I was a miracle worker instead of a prophet ... a guitar player instead of an artist ... a teacher instead of a handyman ... a leader instead of a follower."
Be reminded today that God needs, uses, and creates all the gifts to build his kingdom. What good gift has God given you ... and how are you using it?
In Christ's Love,
a guy who wants to unwrap all his gifts
Gifts. I have thought about gifts lately. Specifically, Spiritual Gifts.  [although I like 'real' gifts as well - it is my Love Language ... in case you didn't know...]  I took several Spiritual Gift surveys online and talked about the results here. Yesterday, I went and talked tot eh volunteer coordinator at church to find out where I can help. Where I'd fit in.  She went through the list of all the typical needs. Then said, "There is one that is not on here.  We need someone to take care of the library."  Library??? We have a library??? How did I not know that?  Me. A lover of books. One who usually gravitates to the library in a building. I did not know we had one.  And it isn't in Pastor's office!  So - I agreed to take on that challenge.  But I know I have other gifts.  Some I am afraid to use for a variety of reasons.  Some I do not know how to use.  But God is good and loving.  He will open these gifts all in their time.

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Leviticus 24:1-25:55

Again... "The Lord said to Moses". That just touches me every single time I read it. 

The golden lamps are to burn continuously and instructions were given for bread to be laid out.  This bread is the 'most holy' portion of the priests regular share of the offerings.  Jesus came as the bread of life ... the bread offering at the Tent of Meeting was the most holy ...

Blaspheme - how often do we take God's name in vain? How many distortions of it do we have?  Some one blasphemed God.  All who heard him were to lay hands on his head, and the entire assembly must stone him.  This mother had to watch her son get stoned for blaspheming God.  I have heard details of the physiological effects of stoning.  It is a pretty slow and painful way to die unless you get one to the head just right.  God goes on to tell the Israelites that if they kill, they'll be killed, eye for an eye, fracture for a fracture.  Aren't we thankful that Jesus took that requirement away. Now we are to forgive, not take an eye, or life.

Sabbath Year - this is the 7th year - fields are to be given a year of rest. But what the land produces without being worked can be used for food and animal feed.

Year of Jubilee - 50 years (the year after the 7th sabbath)  They were to eat only what was taken directly from the vines.  No sowing or reaping.  The Year of Jubilee also has special rules for land ownership, sale and trade.  Servants are to be released.  It seems to be a times of restructuring and renewal.  Something we would all benefit from at times.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Life Shapes - semi-circle

(notes from sermon 5/15/2005 at CO church by Pastor KM)

Mark 6:31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they [the disciples] did not even have a chance to eat, he [Jesus] said to them, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." 

I drew my semi-circle upside down.  Now that I am re-looking at it 5 years later, I realize it is supposed to be on the bottom so it can rock, not on the flat so it is a hill.  The Semi-Circle stands for Living in Rhythm.  Commonsense doesn't lead us to a life of rhythm. but then again, when did Jesus make sense?  

-Is it possible that self absorption with bringing rhythm to our lives disrupts rhythm?
-Giving away life brings rhythm.  ... we need to Live at the Speed of Grace.

This rhythm includes 2 important and rest.  We need equal amounts of both.  Too often we focus on the work.  To get the semi-circle to balance, we need to rest as well.  We are not a society that rests well. We go and do and work and create excuses to not rest.  We have so many distractions. So much noise.  I see it as, if we don't keep the semi-circle balanced, we're gonna slide off in exhaustion and be in worse trouble that before.

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Knowing God - 1 Samuel 17:34

(from Pastor - yippee!!! He's back!)
And there came a lion.
1 Sam 17:34

Originally, I didn't want to know what the context for this verse was. Why? Just from these five words alone is a great devotional point. Indeed, we could ask, "what is the lion that prowls in the corners of your heart?" Anger? Addiction? Unforgiveness? Bitterness? Lust? Insecurity? Pride?

The context, however, is what gives us hope. It's the story of the David and Goliath. Saul is essentially saying to David, "How can a boy battle this giant?" David who battled lions as a shepherd says, "37 The Lord, who saved me from the paw of the lion ... will save me from the hand of this Philistine."

What is the lion in your life? Do you believe that God can save you from it? Do you believe God will save you from it?

In Christ's Love,
a guy who wants to be known as a lion-tamer

What is the lion in my life? Right now, at this moment, I'd have to say my past.  And my mind.  Too much head knowledge with out the heart belief is not a good thing.  I know that God can save me from it.  And the journey that I have been on these past few weeks - I am starting to believe that God will.  In fact, I am seeing evidence of his protection.  I ask him direct, pointed questions and in something I hear, something I read, something I see - usually within a few hours or a couple of days, there is an equally direct, pointed answer.  It is a bit disconcerting at times.  But upon reflection, it is extremely comforting to know that he is saving me from the lions.

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Names of God

Wordle: Names of God


Bonhoeffer Lenten Prayer

I Cannot Do This Alone

O God, early in the morning I cry to you.
Help me to pray
And to concentrate my thoughts on you
I cannot do this alone.
In me there is darkness,
But with you there is light;
I am lonely, but you do not leave me;
I am feeble in heart, but with you there is help;
I am restless, but with you there is peace.
In me there is bitterness, but with you there is patience;
I do not understand your ways,
But you know the way for me….
Restore me to liberty,
And enable me to live now
That I may answer before you and before men.
Lord whatever this day may bring,
Your name be praised.
(Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

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Leviticus 22:1-23:44

God tells the priests who can and who can not eat the meat that was offering.  Then details unacceptable sacrifices.  He ends chapter 22 with "31 Keep my commands and follow them. I am the Lord. 32 Do not profane my holy name. I must be acknowledged as holy by the Israelites. I am the Lord, who makes you holy 33 and who brought you out of Egypt to be your God. I am the Lord." 

Even today he is having to constantly remind us of who he is.  He is holy. He is the Lord.  

Chapter 23 details appointed feasts that are to be "proclaimed as sacred assemblies."  Many of these are actively observed in Jewish Synagogues in an adapted manner.  They include Passover, First Fruits, Feast of Weeks, Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), and Feast of Tabernacles. 


Monday, February 22, 2010

Life Shapes - Circle

I take notes during church.  I have journals. scraps of paper. backs of bulletins. all full of sermon notes.  I found one incomplete notebook recently.  There were notes from a series we heard while in CO.  It was intriguing then, so I googled it and there is an entire website (or more) devoted to this idea. Life Shapes by Mike Breen  Keep in mind that what I am writing here is strictly from my notes and crazy head.  I may be way off base. That is why comments are encouraged.

May 1 & 8, 2005 - Pastor KM
We need Jesus to be our guide in life ... drawing us into a Passionate Life with him.  
There are 8 shapes: circle, semicircle, triangle, square, pentagon, hexagon, heptagon, octagon.  All representing areas of life and ministry.  


Mark 1:14-15 after John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15"The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!"

Time - (greek) Kairos=event or opportunity as opposed to chronos=chronological

What are positive kairos in our lives? Some of mine include my wedding, adopting my children, getting pregnant, moving to Montana to fulfill a lifelong dream to teach in a one room school, and many more.

What are negative kairos in our lives? the most obvious is Luke's death.  there are others.  But instead of looking at it as negative, it should be looked at as opportunities to grow, to determine what I can learn from it. How can these experiences better my life? How can I gather the loose ends?

Imagine a circle ... the top of the circle is an 'x' - a kairos moment.  as you go around the circle, you more firmly believe, you transition at the bottom of the circle, as you continue, you repent, have another kairos moment and repeat.  I am not sure I did that justice.  (If you can do that better - please do in the comments. One person in know who you are.)

"The Kingdom of God is near."  Actually the kingdom of God is here, is still growing and is coming.
"Repent" change of heart
"and Believe the good news."  as faith increases, belief increases as you move on.

The circle is a repentance/belief cycle.  The circles are all connected like a slinky - we are in a constant cycle, but it can be stretched. bent. tangled. broken.  Just like a slinky.  However, God can repair this slinky/circle.  He can heal us, untangle us, repair the brokenness, and help place us back on track to continue in the repentance/belief circle.  He wants to heal us and have us continue learning from what life throws our way and growing ever closer to him.

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Leviticus 19:1-21:24

19:1 the Lord said to Moses

How I long to hear God like Moses did.  But I can confidently write, "The Lord said to me..." And I am hearing him more and more these days.  Did he always talk so clearly? Or am I learning to listen?

There are various laws here.  Some are the same as the Ten Commandments.  However, it much more detailed.  Go read it... One thing that struck me was a verse about leaving the gleanings in the fields.  Helps to take care of those less fortunate.  Something as a society we seem to talk about a lot, but don't do a whole lot about.  

19:28" 'Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord."  I have been considering getting a tattoo.  This seems pretty clear against it.  [a small tattoo - representing Lucas. I've considered it for years.  I'll keep ya posted.]

God is pretty serious about NOT sacrificing children to Molech - or tolerating those who do.  [he was a god of fire. parents sacrificed children to him.  make me nauseated to think about it.]

in chapter 20 - there are the punishments for sin.  Much of it is death. Be thankful that Christ died to cover all of our sins. Otherwise we wouldn't be facing the over crowding on earth to day that we do!  How many of us would have committed a punishable by death sin in our lives by now???

20:26 "You are to be holy to me because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own."

The next chapter covers rules for priests.  vs 20:17-20 hurt.  It detailed who could not come near to offer the food of his God.  Included are 'blind' and 'any eye defect' - according to this, my own children would not be able to off the sacrifices as a descendant of Aaron.  Again - another reason to be so very thankful that Christ died for all of our sins!!


Understanding Questions

... To those who understand, no words are necessary.
To those who do not understand, no words are possible.
When you become like a little child, 
when you open your heart to El Shaddai without reservation,
not only will you find the answer,
but you will discover an entirely new set of questions.

-Brennan Manning, The Boy Who Cried Abba

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Too hard???

A dear one told me recently that I was too hard on myself.  Another told me that I need to give myself more credit.

Are they right?

If I'm not tough on myself, who will be?  The way I learned (was taught/raised) - you have to keep trying ... someone is always better. There's always room for improvement. Good enough is not acceptable.  I know these thoughts/ideas/beliefs are very deeply rooted from a lifetime of 'not being good enough.'  In school and 'A' wasn't good enough.  Perfect was the only acceptable option.

I am not perfect.  There was only one perfect human who ever walked on earth.  And I am not him!!  I guess my next task is to learn to accept me for me.  Love the me that God formed, created and is still shaping.  Forgive myself for being human with all the flaws that come with humaness.  Be gentle with myself.  All very difficult things to do...

I am trying to close the gap between my head/knowledge and my heart/belief.  There are times when the gap seems endlessly long.  Can it be closed?



I was asked to talk today in church. If you know me, you know that I took a giant, eye closing, nose holding, leap out of my comfort zone.  And my pop-tart stayed with me despite having to talk not once, but twice.  Then Pastor asked for a copy of my talk.  1) I said something different in each service. 2) I had sketchy notes.  But I created something that met with husband's approval.  I'll post it at the end.  First - out of curiosity, I did a word search on Obedient ...

  • the act of obeying 
  • dutiful or submissive behavior with respect to another person
  • the trait of being willing to obey
  • behavior intended to please your parents [or God]
  • dutifully complying with the commands or instructions of those in authority
  • the virtue of entrusting oneself to proper authority 
  • to follow, heed, comply with commands or injunctions within a sphere of jurisdiction.
  • complying with or submissive to authority
Word Origins:
  • Hebrew - shama - to hear, listen, obey
  • Greek - hupakouo - to listen under, to obey [opposite = listen around, beside]
  • Greek - peitho & peitharcheo - to persuade, convince [opposite = apeitheo - unconvinced, disobedient - apathetic?]
  • Latin- oboedire - towards; oedire = "to hear" Meaning: "to hear or listen towards"
in the bible - Obey appears 69 times and obedience 16 times. God only repeats what he really wants us to get.  Think he wants us to obey???

Let's see how Jesus obeyed ... he is a pretty good role model.

Jesus' obedience was not...
  • legalistic compliance with Law; keeping the rules 
  • precise performance of a programmed plan; doing the dictates
Jesus exercised obedience through faith by...
  • listening to God through trials, hardships, suffering
  • continuing to listen to God unto death on a cross 
The result of his obedience allowed Him to take our death and invest His life in us. Christians are free to obey. We are not slaves to sin. We are most free when we obey. Free to be man as God intended.  
Sacrifice does not always require obedience however obedience always requires sacrifice. We sacrifice the flesh every time we obey God. My challenge is to continue to try to grow closer to God by obeying Him. Listening to what He says never leads us wrong. 
--Mike Richardson 
Sunday 2/21/2010

First off - I am not on council. I am not on the finance committee. And I am not a member of Spirit of Joy. Yet.  (We are working on that.)  I am just a gal trying to be obedient to God.  I recently shared this story with A. and she asked me to share it with the congregation.  (My initial response was, "No!"  God said, "Obey." So ... I did.) My husband and I moved to the area from DC last summer when he retired from the military.  We moved down here for my job in Wadesboro.  My paycheck is the one that pays childcare and other similar expenses.  In November, due to many circumstances, I quit my job.  Without another one to fall back on, but it was the right decision. In December I went on a few interviews and accepted an on-call/prn position.  About the time I was starting the new job, I felt a very strong pull to tithe 10% of all my income.  

This didn't seem too hard.  Until I didn't work for 3 solid weeks.  I had about $100 in the checking account and still had to write my tithe check AND pay daycare.  I knew which one was getting paid and decided I would work something out with daycare.  Scott and I talked.  He discovered that one of our accounts would not have penalty charges if we withdrew from it.  Daycare was covered.  Then I was called in to work a couple of days.  God is good.  
This entire experience is one of discipline.  I have been praying for God to help me learn how to be obedient to him.  Tithing is but one way he is asking me to be obedient.  Obedience is not easy. It is not logical.  It is not fun.  But the benefits of obedience are amazing!   If you are a parent, I am sure you have had the conversation where you told your child to do something, they asked, "Why?" and you responded, "Because I asked you to."  Because you need to obey.  Because I'm Mommy. Please.  Just obey.  Obedience is one way we can show our heavenly father that we love him and that we have faith in him to take care of is.  

I am reading the Bible in a Year and this was in today's reading ... Leviticus 18:4-5 "You must obey my laws and be careful to follow my decrees. I am the LORD your God. Keep my decrees and laws, for the man who obeys them will live by them. I am the Lord."

He loves us. More than we can ever imagine.  This is one way for us to show him how much we love him.

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Leviticus 16:1-18:30

The Day of Atonement...
Aaron is no longer allowed into the Tent of Meeting at his whim. And he is given a new slew of instructions regarding sacrifices, how to dress, how to act.  All very similar to before, but with subtle changes. He is to take 2 male goats to take the  sins the Israelites "whatever the sin may be." Such a vague many 'whatever' type sins do we do in a single day??? And we don't have to have someone offer 2 male goats for them.  Jesus did that.

One of the goats is released into the desert - the man who takes it out there is a scapegoat, and of course, he has to be cleansed prior to returning to the community.  Wonder if that is the origin of that word 'scapegoat'.  Hmmm May need to research it. Look for a wordstudy coming soon. :)

The Jewish culture still practices a Day of Atonement.  It is Yom Kippur.  16:34 "This is to be a lasting ordinance for you: Atonement is to be made once a year for all the sins of the Israelites." And it was done, as the LORD commanded Moses."

Eating Blood forbidden - I"ll say it again.  A perfect case to enjoy my well done steak!!!

Unlawful Sexual Relations - here they are simplified [most have a huge ick factor and I was cringing writing this.  It amazes me that people even thought of this - enough so that God had to expressly forbid it.]:  no close relatives (how many of us have 1st cousins that married in the past)  not with your mother,  your sister, your grandchildren, your sister, your aunt, your daughter-in-law, your brother's wife, both a women and her daughter and/or granddaughter, a woman during her cycle, your neighbor's wife, another man (detestable), with beasts (a perversion).  children are not to be sacrificed either.

God does NOT like any of these.  He said, 18:27-28 "for all these things were done by the people who lived in the land before you, and the land became defiled. And if you defile the land, it will vomit you out as it vomited out the nations that were before you."  a pretty graphic picture ... and pretty gross.

Wouldn't we do well to continue - as a culture - to follow these decrees???


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Leviticus 13:47-15:33

...continued regulations...

Mildew - basically...if it is spreading , burn it. if it doesn't come clean with washing, burn it. if it reappears, burn it. 

Cleansing from Infectious Skin Diseases - the priest performs a ceremony then on the seventh day the person must wash his clothes, shave all the hair off their body and bathe in water. On the eighth day. offerings are made at the Tent of Meeting.  Some of the blood from the offering is placed on the right earlobe, thumb and big toe of the person being cleansed.  Reminds me of when Aaron and the priests were consecrated initially.  The same is done with oil.  The reminder of the oil is poured over the person's head for atonement. There are adaptations for those that can't afford the required offering.

Cleansing from Mildew - the house gets emptied.  the priest inspects it.  if it is a spreading mildew, the stones and plaster are replaced.  If this works, then the house is declared clean.  If it is still unclean, it must be torn down and removed away from town.  Of course once everything is said and done, there are blessings to be performed. 

Discharges causing uncleanliness - (hey - I didn't make this stuff up!)  if thee is anything come out of you, you are unclean.  Anything you touch is unclean.  You have to be cleaned. Wait 7 days and wash clothes and body.  Make a sacrifice (good thing there was plenty of livestock!) Some situations are only unclean until evening, All involve cleaning clothing, linen and bathing. 

Wonder if this is where "Cleanliness is next to Godliness" comes from.  


Friday, February 19, 2010

Beauty Will Rise

Slowly panic turns to pain
As we awake to what remains
And sift through the ashes that are left behind
But buried deep beneath
All our broken dreams
We have this hope

Out of these ashes beauty will rise
We will dance among the ruins
We will see it with our own eyes
Out of these ashes beauty will rise
For we know joy is coming in the morning
In the morning beauty will rise

So take another breath for now
Let the tears come washing down
If you can't believe, I will believe with you
Cuz I have seen the signs of spring

I can hear it in the distance
And its not too far away
Its the music and the laughter
of a wedding and a feast
I can almost feel the hand of God
Reaching for my face
To wipe the tears away
Say its time to make everything new
Make it all new

This is our hope
This is a promise
This is our hope
This is a promise
It will take our breath away
To see the beauty that's been made
Out of the ashes, out of the ashes
It will take our breath away
To see the beauty that He's made
Out of these ashes, Out of these ashes
(steven curtis chapman)

I purchased SCC's cd by the same name.  It basically is his journey through grief after his daughter died in 2008.  When I first purchased it, it was hard to listen to.  My pain was so raw.  His was so honest.  I cried every time I listened to the cd.  I was envious of his hope.  of his trust. of his faith.  As I am traveling my journey - I am finding that I do have the hope. the trust. the faith.  I know and believe that out of the ashes beauty WILL rise. Joy will come in the morning.  Beauty WILL rise.  The past few days I ahve listened to this particular song over and over and over.  I just keep hitting repeat and then sing at the top of my lungs.  I can't wait for it to take my breath away to see the beauty that's been made out of these ashes...

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Leviticus 11:1-13:46

The rules continue. 
Clean and unclean food - they could eat of any animal that had a split hoof AND chewed it's cud.  This eliminated camels, rock badgers, rabbits, pigs. The most prominent one today that people do not eat is pig.  But it is the most widely available of the choices.  Creatures of the sea must have fins and scales.  Wonder if that leaves out crabs, oysters, etc?  (I am so thankful we don't have these restrictions anymore!)  However, we can eat any kind of locust, grasshopper or katydid.  umm... no thanks.  The list goes on and basically if you or anything else touches an unclean animal, then that is unclean as well.  You had to really be vigilant.  Or just know that you have to frequently consecrate yourself.

Purification after Childbirth. The mother is unclean for 7 days and then boy children are circumcised on the 8th.  Then wait another 33 days.  Double all of this for a girl.  THEN she must take a sacrifice to the Tent of Meeting.  It has always been about sacrifice, hasn't it?

Regulations about skin disease, this is where the leper colonies came from "13:45 "The person with such an infectious disease must wear torn clothes, let his hair be unkempt, cover the lower part of his face and cry out, 'Unclean! Unclean!' 46 As long as he has the infection he remains unclean. He must live alone; he must live outside the camp."

Of course over time things were misinterpreted. over-interpreted and basically ignored.  And some of the rules changed with the New Testament.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Spiritual Gifts

Out of curiosity, I took a few Spiritual Gift tests online.  I know they are all a bit different ... but the results were not all that different.  I did leave out the ones that I scored the lowest possible in every test.  (in abc order)
Administration  --, 80%, 14/20, 9/15
Exhortation 7/15, 60%, 5/20, 13/15
Giving 8/15, 60%, 13/20, 15/15
Helps --, --, 15/20, 13/20
Hospitality --, 60%, 12/20, 14/15
Knowledge --, 90%, 14/20, 3/15
Leadership 11/15, --, 8/20, 12/15
Mercy 12/15, --, 14/20, 10/15
Prophesy 3/15, 10%, 5/20, 2/15
Service 13/15, 80%, 18/20, --
Teaching 12/15, 70%, 15/20, 7/15
Writing --, 80%, --, 15/15
Here are the sites I used (in the same order as listed above)
Now what do I do with them? I don't think I put this information in a pretty package with a red bow.  What are yours? What are you doing with them?


Turning Pain into Blessing the hands of God, 
the object of one's greatest pain 
could become the source of one's greatest blessing.

~Corrie Ten Boom


Leviticus 8:1-10:20

In the shower this morning, I was thinking about what was going to be today's reading.  What do I really know about Leviticus?  Then it dawned on me (it takes hot water for me to see clearly some days) Leviticus. Levi. Priests.  They are learning what to do...

Chapter 8 starts with Aaron and his sons being ordained.  I listen to the description of everything Aaron wears and I can only picture the priest from "The Princess Bride."  As part of the ceremony, a bull was sacrificed. And a ram.  Blood was put on their right ear lobes, thumbs and big toes.  Why? What does this signify? 

After 7 days, Aaron and his sons made sacrifices and offerings for the people.  I like the last few verses of chapter 9:23 "Moses and Aaron then went into the Tent of Meeting. When they came out, they blessed the people; and the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people. 24 Fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the fat portions on the altar. And when all the people saw it, they shouted for joy and fell facedown."

Afterward, two of Aaron's sons offered "unauthorized fire" and were killed.   It was another case of adding to what God commanded - like Eve's sin.  Instead of sticking to exactly what he said to do, they decided to branch out...more is not always better.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Knowing God - John 15:2

(from pastor)

Every branch in me
that does not bear fruit he takes away,
and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes,
that it may bear more fruit.
John 15:2
If we do NOT bear fruit, God prunes us.
If we DO bear fruit, God prunes us.
Guess what ... we're going to get pruned.
It hurts. But, if we're honest, it helps. We sometimes have to get rid of the good to latch onto the best. 
In the world, there's a lot that's good. But when we're too worldly, we fail to attach ourselves to the best ... and that's Jesus the vine. In him, we live and move and have our being ... and bear the true fruit that our lives desire.
In Christ's Love,
Edward Scissorhands
(a guy who'd generally rather hold the scissors
and than be pruned by them)
I am on the board of directors for a national organization.  One of our tasks is to read Good to Great.  It is a business oriented book but can apply to individuals.  One of the premises is to find one thing and be GREAT at it - versus being just good at many different things.  Maybe we need to make our goal to be GREAT in growing with Christ.  GREAT in obedience. GREAT in faith.  Instead of just being a good Christian...going through the motions. acting the part. 

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Beautiful Scandelous Night

[January 2010 - Outdoor Sanctuary - Spirit of Joy - Weddington, NC]

Go on up to the mountain of mercy
To the crimson perpetual tide
Kneel down on the shore
Be thirsty no more
Go under and be purified

Follow Christ to the holy mountain
Sinner sorry and wrecked by the fall
Cleanse your heart and your soul
In the fountain that flowed
For you and for me and for all

At the wonderful, tragic, mysterious tree
On that beautiful, scandalous night you and me
Were atoned by His blood and forever washed white
On that beautiful, scandalous night

On the hillside, you will be delivered
At the foot of the cross justified
And your spirit restored
By the river that poured
From our blessed Savior's side


Go on up to the mountain of mercy
To the crimson perpetual tide
Kneel down on the shore
Be thirsty no more
Go under and be purified

(Steve Hindalong)


Leviticus 5:1-7:38

I am so thankful that we do not have to bring animals as sin offerings.  And the sins were things such as touching something that was deemed 'unclean' or another action that you may or may not be aware of at the time.  Since Christ died on the cross for us and made that sacrifice ... was the ultimate sin offering ... we can go to him for atonement.

5:17 "If a person sins and does what is forbidden in any of the LORD's commands, even though he does not know it, he is guilty and will be held responsible." - Ok. I don't understand how this works. How will you know if you are guilty if you don't know what you did?
There are instructions on types of offerings.  Burnt, Grain, Sin, Guilt, Fellowship, they all have very specific instruction on how to handle to ashes, how to dress, etc.  But he did specify what the priests could eat.  The community has always taken care of their priests/spiritual leaders. 


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Ash Wednesday & Lent - What are they???

I come from a Southern Baptist background. Ash Wednesday and Lent were not discussed. To me it was only small print on the calendar, the day after Mardi Gras, and something Catholics did.  But why do people celebrate it?  What does it mean? Where did it come from? Will all my questions get me in trouble one day? What exactly killed the cat?

Ash Wednesday - Ashes mixed with oil are placed by the pastor in the sign of the cross on your forehead to signify inner repentance. There are a couple of different things they say as they do this.  Depends on the individual church/denomination.  The ashes are from the palm fronds from the previous years Palm Sunday. 

Ash Wednesday is believed to be representative of throwing ashes over your head or dusting yourself for repentance or a sign of mourning, to express sorrow for sin and fault as done in the Old Testament.  Ezekial 9:3 "Then the LORD called to the man clothed in linen who had the writing kit at his side 4 and said to him, "Go throughout the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done in it." 5 As I listened, he said to the others, "Follow him through the city and kill, without showing pity or compassion. 6 Slaughter old men, young men and maidens, women and children, but do not touch anyone who has the mark. Begin at my sanctuary." Wonder if this is where marking the forehead comes from?  Another belief is it is a reminder that we came from dust and we will return to dust.  Ash Wednesday is just the beginning of the season of Lent. 

Lent - definitions: anglo-saxon word lenctentid = lengthening and flower,  Latin quadragesima = 40.  A period of penance, reflection and preparation for Easter. for celebrating Christ's resurrection.  It is believed to be fashioned after Jesus' 40 days of fasting and temptation in the desert. Although the Bible does not mention the custom of Lent, the practice of repentance and mourning in ashes is found in 2 Samuel 13:19; Esther 4:1; Job 2:8; Daniel 9:3; and Matthew 11:21.  Luther encouraged that the observance of Lent continue to because it reminded Christians of the suffering and death of Jesus.

Why the self denial? Does giving up a certain food or facebook or something else of the like really draw us closer to Christ?  Shouldn't it be something that genuinely causes us to focus more on Christ?  Brings us closer to him?  If giving up facebook and using the time to study the bible is what you do, then that is better than replacing it with something as equally time sucking like spider solitaire or mario*kart.  What should we do? christ tells us in Luke 9:23 "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."

Not sure if this is clearer...and I just googled it and read many, many sources.  When having to write papers, I hated citations. So...none here. :-) I did a lot of reading and combined what I learned.  

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Leviticus 1:1-4:35

Have you ever decided you were going to stick with something and then part way through you were so tired, so preoccupied that you wanted to give it up?  Me too.  I am tired.  Exhausted.  But I know I need to read and study...please pray for strength. rest. knowledge.

Burnt Offerings - again, very specific instructions about how to dress the animals, the type of animal to present, how Aaron and the priests are to place the animal on the altar... and the aroma was pleasing to God.  Have you ever been outside on a summer evening and taken a deep breath to discover 'someone' is grilling outside.  Isn't that one of the most pleasing aromas??

Grain Offering - a portion is mixed with oil and incense, but the rest belongs to Aaron and the priests.  This how they are sustained and fed.  A portion of our current giving to the church is what sustains our pastors.  If we don't give what we ought, then they lose their own income. 

Fellowship Offering - I don't understand this offering except you are leaving the fat on teh animal when you burn it and then God tells them in 3:17 " 'This is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live: You must not eat any fat or any blood.' " (yet another reason to have my steaks well done!)

Sin Offering - several times it said, "if the sin was unintentional ... when he is made aware of the sin, then ..."  During all the sacrifices/slaughters, the priest's hands were on the head of the bull, lamb goat.  Just an observation. Don't know why. 


Monday, February 15, 2010

Knowing God - Mark 11:24

(from pastor)
Have faith
that whatsoever your ask for in prayer
is already granted to you,
and you will find that it will be.
Mark 11:24
The tendency when reading such promises of Jesus is to hedge our bets. The best -- and reasonably faithful -- hedge is, "If your faith is fully, completely, and totally aligned with God and if you precisely then ask in his will, then, yes, maybe then it is guaranteed."
Why do we fudge, hedge, and qualify? Because we've all had prayers that seem to go unanswered.
But Jesus doesn't hedge. He simply says ask, trust, believe.
I have been reading lately the great old teacher of prayer, Andrew Murray. His works are online. If you want a better answer than I could ever give, read what is below. It is from chapter 11 of "Christ in the School of Prayer." (click to read in entirety)
What a promise! It is so large, so Divine, that our little hearts cannot comprehend it. In every possible way we seek to limit it to what we think is safe or probable. ... If we would allow it, that promise would enlarge our hearts to receive all of what His love and power are really ready to do for us.
Faith is very far from being a mere conviction of the truth of God's Word or a conclusion drawn from certain premises. It is the ear which has heard God say what He will do and the eye which has seen Him doing it. [Let us pray, therefore, in] joyful adoration [to the] God whose hand always secures the fulfillment of what His mouth has spoken.. [For] where there is true faith it is impossible for the answer not to come. ...
[Now,] our human wisdom [frequently] begins to doubt and say, "This can't possibly be literally true." But if it isn't, why did the Master say it? He used the very strongest expression He could find: "All things whatsoever." And He said it more than once: "... all things are possible to him that believeth" (Mark 9:23); "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed... nothing shall be impossible to you" (Matthew 17:20). The tendency of human reason is to intervene here with certain qualifiers, such as "if expedient," "if according to God's will," to break the force of a statement which appears dangerous. Beware of dealing this way with the Master's words. The whatsoever is unconditional except for what is implied in the believing. Believing is the exercise of a soul surrendered to the influence of the Word and the Spirit. Let us pray that we do not limit Christ's "all things" with what we think is possible. Rather, His "whatsoever" should determine the boundaries of our hope and faith.
It is in prayer that Jesus teaches and inspires faith. [But] the weakness of our faith becomes obvious as we pray, [and] faith [grows] by the confidence with which we persevere. Whoever loses heart in prayer because he doesn't feel the faith ... will never learn that faith.
Nothing honors the Father like the faith that is assured that He will do what He has said .... Such faith takes its stand on the promise delivered by the Spirit. "Believe that ye have received." You may not actually see it manifested until later. But now, without seeing it, you are to believe that it has already been given to you by the Father in heaven. [So] persev[ere because] only God knows when everything is fully ripe for the manifestation of the blessing that has been given to faith. Elijah knew for certain that rain would come. God had promised it. And yet he had to pray the seven times. That prayer was not just for show. It was an intense spiritual reality both in the heart of Elijah as he lay there pleading and in heaven where it has its effectual work to do. It is through faith and patience we inherit the promises (Hebrews 6:12). Patience perseveres in prayer until the gift bestowed in heaven is seen on earth.
[But if we're honest,] we [often] feel afraid that our feeble faith will still not be able to grasp what is so clearly placed within our reach. One thing must make us strong and full of hope: It is Jesus Who brought us this message from the Father. Jesus is our life. In us He is everything now that He was on earth. [Read that again.] In us He is everything now that He was on earth. He really gives everything He teaches. He is the Author and the Perfecter of our faith. He gives the spirit of faith. Don't be afraid that such faith isn't meant for us. [It is] meant for every child of the Father. [I]t is within the reach of anyone who will be childlike, yielding himself to the Father's will and love and trusting the Father's Word and power. ... Lord, teach us to pray!
In Christ's Love
a guy who wants to drive a bulldozer
(or actually have the kind of faith that moves mountains without power equipment)
"simply says, ask, trust, believe." There is NOTHING simple about that. I have never been good at the trust game where you fall backward and hope the person behind you will catch you.  I am also slow to believe.  If the sign says, "Wet Paint," I will touch a corner to be certain.  I need to see something. To the texture. Hold the weight. Trace the contours.  Smell it.  Take note of the details.  Experience it.  So simply trusting and believing is anything but...

And praying as if what you are requesting has already been taken care of? That is almost beyond what I can wrap my brain around.  I have never thought too much until recently about the nebulous 'God Time' he exists in.  In one moment He was, is and will be.  Something I can't try to understand. Just accept. Believe.

"Believing is the exercise of a soul surrendered to the influence of the Word and the Spirit."  And again I need to pray, Lord I believe. Please help my unbelief!  I have been asking God to teach me to pray. Begging. pleading with him.  Am I too stubborn? Too jaded? Too afraid to just let go and know that God will catch me?  Yet people say that my faith is an inspiration or encouragement to them.

What faith?

Oh God, please let me see my own faith in you as others see it.  Encourage me. Grow me. Shelter me. Please don't give up on me.  Please help my unbelief.

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Other's perceptions do not equal not my reality

  • Your faith pours out of your words as posted on your blog, and that’s an inspiration to me.
  • Your depth of faith is an encouragement to us all.
  • It has also been a blessing to have you join us on Friday mornings for the Beth Moore [Believing God] study. Your insight has knocked me off my feet and helped me understand more than I would have.
 These were comments made to me in emails this week. And so not what I see.  The comments were made in reference to my 'family' blog (linked up top).  I am so weak.  I am trying to be faithful. To be obedient.  I am not holding myself up. I am being held up by God's grace alone.  I do not deserve it and the thought of his love baffles me.  I do not deserve it.  Who does?

I am stubbornly learning the difference between knowing and believing.  I like to learn. I like to get a topic and research it and really understand it.  As I study the bible, I am finding that the more I research a topic, the less I am actually understanding it.  Like they say, "Ignorance is bliss."  But I am still digging.  Insights during the Beth Moore study are coming more from an academic/head viewpoint than one of faith.  There is plenty that I know in my head. That I know is true.  But my heart just doesn't grasp it.  or accept it. and I don't know how to bridge that gap.

So you see, their perception of me is one of a mirage.  Their perception of my 'depth of faith' is not reality at all.  But mirage's are true for the person looking at them...


Knowing God - Nahum 1:12

(from pastor)
Though I have afflicted thee,
I will afflict thee no more.
Nahum 1:12
"What have I done to deserve this?" Have you ever asked this?
As a pastor/shepherd, I have repeatedly counseled people that "no ... this isn't punishment." But how can I say that with such confidence when verses like this seem to undermine the credibility of such assurances.
Nahum tells us that "7 The Lord is good, a stronghold in a day of trouble; he protects those who take refuge in him ..." But, he says through the prophet, "9 Why do you plot against the Lord?"
Here's my answer to our worry about affliction and judgment. I don't think God needs to punish us! Our own sin -- and the world's sin -- creates enough awful consequences of its own. Therefore, I absolutely do not believe that God ever plots against us. But I equally firmly believe that we plot against God. It is sometimes intentional and sometimes unintentional. We undermine his purposes and undermine ourselves. We go in the wrong direction and lead others astray. We lie, we cheat, we steal. We can't expect God to bless that.
Does God afflict? He can. He's God. 
Might he occasionally thwart the plans of the wicked? I hope so! And I'm sure they'd call it affliction.
Might he also thwart some of the more dubious plans of his children? I hope he does that too. (Indeed, I've hatch a few bad ideas that didn't backfire like they could have.)
But ... do I think God actually, literally afflicts his children and his servants? No! Does he tests us occasionally? Absolutely! But what is a loving God's goal. It is always and only to teach us more deeply and to draw us ever nearer.
"7 The Lord is good, a stronghold in a day of trouble; he protects those who take refuge in him ..."
In Christ's Love,
a guy who wants to be afflicted ...
but only with more conviction!   

Hello. I am one of those who is trying to believe that God does not punish.  I don't understand. How can a loving God cause or allow to happen all the crap in the world.  More personally - if taking a child isn't punishment, then why?  Someone wise tried to explain once that it may have been a consequence of other people's actions. I was just an 'innocent bystander.'  Doesn't help. 

However, the journey through grief and all the other junk is drawing me closer to God.  I am learning to 'take refuge in Him.' to trust him. to know that the afflictions are only temporary and a means to share his love, grace and mercy with others.  I am human. I know there will still be days when I want to quit. when I am furious at God and want to beat trees. when the only prayer I have are my tears.  But God is there. he has always been there. he will always be there.

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