1 Corinthians 12:31b (NAS)

And I show you a still more excellent way.
1Corinthians 12:31b (NAS)

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Insights from the movie, Room

Just like Jack in the movie, Room, we too, are born into a 10x10 shed.  Like him, we are limited by our own ignorance of the world that waits outside our four walls.  We are childlike, dependent on our creator for all that we need much like Jack was completely dependent on his mother to give him food, to take care of him and to explain things to him.  She was the voice in his head that told him stories of all that existed outside "Room".  She was his skylight, his opening to see beyond this life and the hope of something wonderful and exciting and meaningful on the other side of his four walls.

The "Room" we are born into is our physical life here on planet earth.  It can be beautiful or it can be terrifying.  "Room" is the place common to all of us.  But, Jack was not alone, and neither are we.  God did not just drop us into this life and leave us to try and figure things out.  No, he is present with us in this "Room"; present by his Holy Spirit and his own son can to live  here with us to show us the way out.  Through him, we can escape this prison of sin.

Right now, we are still in "Room", but we have hope; hope of a new life that is eternal, perfect, unflawed, and without any fear or harm.  And best of all, we have someone who loves us very much, who will tell us the truth about our situation, and gives us the courage to do what seems impossible. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

MY BIBLES

I bought myself a new Bible.  It's a English Standard Version Ryrie Study Bible.  I like all the study notes, charts, diagrams, and etc. that you get with a Study Bible even though it does increase it's weight and size.  Our pastor uses the ESV and apparently it is supposed to be closest to the original in translation.

I got the genuine leather binding and hopefully my new Bible will  hold up better than my last  which was The Defender Study Bible KJV.  The Defender is the most well-used of all my Bibles.  Nearly every page has verses underlined or highlighted and I have made notes in the margins.  It has been my Bible for the past 15 years, but the pages are literally falling out.  I keep it in a Bible case and still use it often because I know right where to find verses in it. 

Before the Defender KJV, I used the NIV Study Bible.  It was a gift from Larry, Christmas 1990.  I love this one because it is where I recorded our family records like births, deaths, and marriages.  It was also the Bible I used to read through the Bible in a year.

The Bible I used before the NIV was the New American Standard.  It was a gift from our Sunday School teachers when Larry and I were still newlyweds.  It is not a Study Bible, but it has a good concordance and chain references. 

I also have a beautiful blue leather KJV Bible that was a gift from my college roommate, Anna.  It's small and compact, which is probably the reason Phil used it when he was a teenager.  I keep it on my desk at work now and pick it up occasionally when I have time to read.  This was my Bible when I first read through the gospel of John in one setting.  The whole book, from start to finish, and it changed my life.  It was just the beginning of a life-long love for God's Word. 

I can't really say that any one of these Bibles is my favorite.  I have felt the power of the Holy Spirit speaking to me through all of them.  I believe that God's Word is powerful, no matter what translation.  Each of these Bibles has added to the treasury of knowledge of God's Word.  It is through the Bible that we come to know God and what he is like.  It's all in his Word: his love for his creation, his plan of redemption to save us, his sacrificial love in Jesus Christ who gave his life that we might live, his promise of eternal life for all who believe. 

"Oh how I love your law!  It is my meditation all the day."  Psalm 119: 97

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Does God Keep Our Tears in a Bottle?

It was a tearful day.  I had cried when a moving song came on the radio.  It was about the plight we feel as Christians living as strangers in the World; that feeling of not belonging and longing for a place we can call home.  I had cried at the news of the death of my cousin, Jackie; thinking of his family and feeling the loss that they are  feeling, crying out to God for comfort and mercy.  I had cried because everything I know and love is changing and I have to figure out who I am supposed to be.

All day long I had felt the weight of sadness and despair; like a dark cloud that blocked my ability to see anything good or positive.  So, after work, God and I took a walk and the pent-up frustration that I had felt all day was released in a torrent of tears as I poured out my heart to him.  The tears welled up and ran down my cheeks and all my longing was fulfilled, and all my sorrow was washed away, and all my fears and disappointments disappeared in the love that flowed from God's heart to mine.

My tears brought an immediate release of the stress and frustration that I felt, but I wondered, "Do my tears have an eternal purpose?" 

In Psalm 56:8 we read, "You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle.  Are they not in your book?"

Imagine that!  God keeps a record of my tears.  He hears my cries, sees my tears, and remembers them.  I am uncertain about whether he keeps them in a bottle or not, but perhaps he does.  At any rate, he knows every tear that I have cried.  And that, my friend, makes me feel better.  My tears are not wasted.  They are important to God

Friday, September 20, 2013

Why I work in Awana

AWANA stands for (approved workman are not ashamed); it is an acronym for the verse found in II Timothy 2:15, study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.  AWANA is a children's Bible memory program.  We meet on Wednesday nights for story time, game time and memory verse time. For the past 11 years I have served as an adult leader for the AWANA program at our church.

Last Wednesday night Lillie's mom came into our classroom to tell me that Lillie is going to be baptized in a couple of weeks.  She thought that I might want to know about Lillie's decision.  Nearly two years ago, Lillie was in my Kindergarten AWANA class.  We were in our small groups doing memory verses and right out of the blue, Lillie started asking me all kinds of questions about heaven and how she could be saved.  So I asked her, "Would you like to do that right now?"  She said, "Yes".  Our group held hands and prayed the Sinner's Prayer.  Together we acknowledged that we are sinners who need a savior.  We confessed that we believe that Jesus is God's son and he alone can save us from our sins.  We ask him to forgive us of our sins and come into our hearts.  Then we thanked him for saving us. 

Lillie was saved that night.  She told her mom, "That's when it happened for me."

And that's why I work in  AWANA.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

CYCLES

Life is a series of cycles; things that happen over and over again.  The best example is, of course, the calendar cycle; a year-long cycle of 365 days with four seasons, various weather patterns, and temperature changes.  Other examples are the water cycle, growing seasons, reproductive cycles, and ocean tides.  Even History is said to repeat itself.  We can find cycles nearly everywhere we look. 

Another cycle that I discovered is the "cycle of disobedience".  The Israelites disobeyed God; He allowed their enemies to overcome them; they cried out for help; He heard their cries and rescued them; but then they would turn from God and sin  again.  In Judges 2 we find an example.
  • Judges 2:11  and the children of Israel did evil in the sight of  the Lord.....
  • Judges 2:14  and the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel and he delivered them into the hands of the spoilers.....
  • Judges 2:15  .....and they were greatly distressed.
  • Judges 2:16  nevertheless the Lord raised up judges which delivered them.....
  • Judges 2:17  and yet they would not harken.....
The "cycle of disobedience" is seen through out the Old Testament: in Judges 4, Judges 6, Judges 10, II Kings 13, and Nehemiah 9. 

I, too, have experienced this "cycle of disobedience" in my own life.  Over and over again, I find my self dealing with a problematic sin, like negative, critical speech.  The words just  pop out of my mouth.  And before I know, I have said hurtful things.   I pray, ask for forgiveness, and for a while I guard my words and hold my tongue.  God is gracious, He hears my prayer and forgives my sin.  But, inevitably, I find that I have to deal with my negative, critical speech again.

Conquering sin is an ongoing process for the believer.  Through this process, God allows me to see myself for who I am and to see that I need a savior.  He is the potter and I am the clay.

So, don't  be discouraged if you find yourself dealing with the same sin over and over again.  Instead, rejoice that God is working in you to conform you to the image of his Son, Jesus.

God's purpose is to make us holy and without blame before him in love. (Ephesians 1:4)  We may not get it right the first time, but we can know that he will continue his work in us, not matter how many times it takes.  In 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, we read these words, "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I  pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Faithful is he that calleth you who also will do it."

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Guilt by Association

Hannah wanted to be a SAIL volunteer, an upperclassmen who mentors incoming Freshmen during orientation.  She would be assigned a group of students and she would show them the ropes, so to speak, of  high school.  She loves her school and she's a great communicator,  so it was a real shock when she was not chosen to participate.  She spoke with her guidance counselor and discovered that she had received the approval of her teachers, but administration had "black-balled" her.  They said that she had been involved in a bullying incident.  She was heartbroken and now she knew first hand the cost of hanging out with the wrong crowd.  The principal called it guilt by association.  Maybe, she had not actually bullied anyone, but she was present when it was going  on. 

The dictionary defines guilt by association as the attribution of guilt (without proof) to individuals because the people they associate with are guilty. 

So, are we responsible for the actions of another person?  Are we guilty because we hang out with those who are guilty?  Wikipedia calls it "association fallacy" or a red herring.

Jesus associated with sinners, but he lived a sinless life.  Yet, even he was deemed guilty by the Pharisees because he ate with tax  collectors and touched those who were unclean. 

The more I ponder this query, the more I have come to realize, we are all guilty by association- our association to humankind.  We are born into a sinful world, with a nature that is bent toward sin.  We are like our father, Adam, who ate of the forbidden fruit and disobeyed God.  We are sinners, all of us.  "As it is written, there is none righteous, no not one:"  Romans 3:10.

So maybe you haven't murdered anyone or robbed a bank, but you are guilty; guilty of not telling the whole truth, guilty of copying some one's work, or guilty of not being completely fair with everyone.

If we continue reading Romans 3, in verse 19, we find, "Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God."

One day when we stand before God, we will have no excuse, we know in our own heart that we are guilty, that we deserve the just punishment for our sins.  Here, we are all on level ground; everyone is the same.  We have no excuse, all the world is guilty before God. 

Have you come to realize that you are a sinner, helpless and hopeless to save yourself?  If so, then you are at the right place.  The place we all must come to.  The place of forgiveness through Jesus Christ who gave his life as a ransom for all who are guilty by association. .

Saturday, March 23, 2013

My Favorite Promise

On Tuesday, this week, an unusual question came up at our ladies Bible Study.  "Do you think promises in the Bible are hard to recognize?"  We agreed that sometimes they do seem hidden and we tend to read right over them without stopping to thank God for his marvelous promises in his Word.

With this question still fresh on my mind, I considered what I felt to be God's best promise for me, personally.  I found my answer in John 14:26.  It is a promise that I rely on every day of my life. It is a promise that brings me peace and assurance. It is a promise that has kept me from sin.  It is a promise that has kept me on the path that God has for my life.  It is the promise of the Comforter or the Holy Spirit.

In John Chapter 14,  Jesus is explaining the role of the Comforter; which in the Greek is parakletos, meaning "called alongside".  It is through the Comforter that Jesus continues his ministry here on earth, by walking alongside every believer.  In this loving relationship we abide  in Christ and Christ abides in us and we abide in the Father and it is through this abiding relationship that Christ makes himself known to us.  This unique and wonderful experience is only for those who love Christ and obey him.

Look again at verse 26.  Christ promises us that the Holy Spirit will teach us all things and he will remind us of all the things that Jesus said.  You can see why I would count this as one of my favorite promises.  I cannot even count the times the Holy Spirit has spoken to me through this exciting, abiding relationship.  A thought from out of nowhere urges me - "Call your parents".  A gentle nudge prompts me- "Pray about this."  A recollection from long ago reminds me- "I answered that prayer."  A timely suggestion directs me- "Forgive them and love them."

How does one experience this promise for himself?  In Acts 2:38-39, Peter is preaching on the Day of Pentecost, Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord shall call.

God's Word is filled with precious promises and I can hardly wait to discover another one.