Sunday, July 27, 2008

From another Blog

I ran across this on the John Piper blog site (http://www.desiringgod.org/Blog/). Just wanted to share :


What is an Altar

(Author: Abraham Piper)

This is a guest post from a friend of ours who is a missionary doctor working with Muslims. It is a part of his guest series, "Day-to-day Observations from Asia."

* * *

I was studying Psalm 43 with a friend in Urdu the other day. We came to where it says in English, "I will go to the altar of God."

As I read along in Urdu, I did not know the word for "altar," so I asked my friend what it was. He didn't know how to translate the word into English, but he gave the following English description: "It is God's bloody place, where the throats of the animals are slit for sacrifice."

Of course. It's an altar.

Sometimes I think of an altar as the carpeted stairs and dais at the front of the church meetinghouse. But it's not. It is a bloody place—a place of sacrifice and death.

I need to remember that.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

I am so excited...

Do you ever have those moments when you exhale and have the realization that you enjoy your life so much? Not that everything is perfect... sometimes even far from it. But still you know that you are blessed and your cup runs over? I just had one of those moments.

I am getting very excited. I am leaving in less that a week to go to LA to spend some beach time with my birth family. If you don't know much about me... I am adopted. My amazing adopted parents were so secure in themselves and my love for them that at age 17 they helped me meet my birthmother. She is now like a sister/BFF to me. I haven't gotten to spend much time with her over the last 2 years so that is why I am so excited to go and hang out with her, my birth grandmother (the hippest grandma you could EVER meet... seriously) and my very awesome brothers and sister. I even get to meet the bros girlfriends. I am so thankful to my dad for buying my airline ticket so that I can visit with my family.

Even though I didn't grow up knowing them... when I am not with them there is a piece of me that doesn't make sense. If you are someone who grew up with your birth family then that statement probably doesn't make sense to you. I love my parents dearly... they are always going to be my mommy and daddy...the ones that kissed scraped knees and helped me with my catching skills on a pop-up ball (it sounds like I was a little boy doesn't it? :) and helped mold me into the person I am today. Still, there is something about being with the people who have your DNA, your chemical makeup, the same stuff you were put together with that helps a piece of you make sense. I don't really know how to explain it at all. Maybe a good comparison is that after we become Christians we have a part of us that is the same as other Christians. The Holy Spirit in us connects with the Holy Spirit in someone else that is a believer. That doesn't mean we cannot love others who are not Christians at all... but there is just that extra understanding... extra connection with those that love Christ. Anyway... I am just living in excitement right now.

I have lots of reading to do before the hubby gets home tonight... so I am going to sign off. I hope that you are able to have many "cup runneth over" moments!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

... I need to marinate

I feel like I am used to being challenged. I usually think I am open to challenges from God and others. I want to grow... but I have had multiple things that are just sitting on me right now. For instance a few weeks ago Sheldon (http://www.onlyonemessage.blogspot.com/) at work read a few quotes from Crazy Love by Francis Chan (I haven't read it yet, but it sounds really good). One of the things he read was called Profile of the Luke warm. Now, I know that lukewarm is not usual wording. The reference comes from Revelation 3:15-17

"15I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked."

The profile of the lukewarm says things like "lukewam people don't want to be saved from their sins, just the penalty of them, lukewarm people measure their spirituality in comparison to others, lukewarm people hear about awesome things done by Christians but believe that those things are only done by those that are "radical" Christians" and so much more. Then he read a line in the book about how Francis went to a theatre show with his wife's family and her grandmother. During the break in the show he turned to the grandma and asked if she was enjoying the show, when she didn't seem very excited he asked why and she said "I just don't know if this is where I want Christ to find me if He comes back". Who even thinks that way anymore?

All of that had already been bouncing around in my head when we went to Nathan's grandparents for Father's Day and I saw a sign in his grandmothers kitchen. Right below a picture of her church it said "If every church member was just like me, what kind of church would my church be?" That joined the previous things in my head and bounced around more. I mean there may be a few places that were working well...but if I am honest with myself there would be so much lacking from my church.

THEN Ryan Okubo (http://www.tcanstudents.blogspot.com/) is our Student Pastor at the church and he preached on Sunday. He challenged us with all that are in the world dying both physically and spiritually. He talked about how blessed we are but that we are not blessed without requirement... we are blessed to be a blessing. In Genesis 12: 1-3

1 The LORD had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you. 2 "I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."

America is by far the most blessed nation currently. Did you know that American's could have put an end to world hunger last year with the money that we spent on perfume? PERFUME! Doesn't that make you sad? To know that children are dying as you read this because we spent money on unnecessary things like perfume, fru-fru coffee, clothing we don't wear, things shoved in the back of closets, eating out when we have perfectly good food at home. I thought about my life and all that I enjoy... while children die. It is more than I can handle.

OK - so all of this is bouncing around in my head for the last month. What did I do? Well, after prayer the first thing I did was look at my budget and see what I could cut to help support a child at Compassion International (http://www.compassion.com/). I have also been asking God to show me ways that He can correct habits, thoughts, actions in my life so that I can move from being lukewarm. I love Christ and have given Him everything in word... but I want to follow through with that in my actions, choices, and time. I want to be obedient to the call He has on my life. I am learning... and the more I learn the smaller and less knowledgeable I feel because I continue to get a taste of the awesome hugeness of God.

Does any of this make sense? Some times it helps to get it out in text. I am pretty tired :) I think it is bed time. Last night I dreamt of pizza... I hope I don't do that tonight... I woke up hungry.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Anna & The Woman with the Issue of Blood: Great Women of the Bible

Two women who led very different lives, both had extraordinary faith.

Anna:

Luke 2:34-45 (New International Version)
"34Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: "This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too." 36There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem."


Things that we talked about as a group. Do you think she regretted the life she lived? What would it be like to live that way? Do you think she lived a discipline life? This is a woman that depended on the family of God to provide for her. We assumed that since she was only married 7 years that she could probably have had a chance of getting married again and having a husband and children in her life. Instead she chose to serve the Lord with all that she had for the rest of her life. Amazing.

Philippians 4:6-7:
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Ephesians 6:18 at the end of the Armor of God
“praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.”


Woman with the Issue of Blood:
We first read Mark’s account in Mark 5:25-34.

First we talked about what Jesus was even doing there? He had been rejected or sent away by the crowds in the previous story.

Then we decided we would learn a little more about the background storyof the woman?
We don't even know her name, yet she was important enough to make the Book. What do they mean by an issue of blood? From everything I studied it meant that she had a 12 year long menstral cycle. The old testament details what is expected of a woman who was on her period.

19 " 'When a woman has her regular flow of blood, the impurity of her monthly period will last seven days, and anyone who touches her will be unclean till evening. Lev 15:19

25 " 'When a woman has a discharge of blood for many days at a time other than her monthly period or has a discharge that continues beyond her period, she will be unclean as long as she has the discharge, just as in the days of her period. 26 Any bed she lies on while her discharge continues will be unclean, as is her bed during her monthly period, and anything she sits on will be unclean, as during her period. 27 Whoever touches them will be unclean; he must wash his clothes and bathe with water, and he will be unclean till evening. Lev 15:25-27

We talked about the kind of life she must have led. Lonely. If she was unmarried when this started she couldn’t get married, if she was married she couldn’t sleep next to her husband or have children. Add to the pain of her normal life she had spent “all she had” on doctors and “suffered many things from physicians. How awful.

So, why was she there? Why Jesus?

If she was unclean and wasn't supposed to touch people... think about the risk like that she took to try to “touch” Jesus and touching others in the crowd?

What did she say? “If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.” Why? I believe that based on information from both Numbers and Malachi that she very well may have been a woman who knew that their were prophesies about the Messiah and the healing that would even flow through His clothing.

So she touches Him and immediately the thing that made her life MISERABLE stops. We just stopped and tried to imagine that feeling... make it first person you are estranged from your family, your life, your friends and now it is gone... YOU ARE HEALED. We talked about the complete freedom she must have felt in those first few minutes... we imagined her just stopping... not wanting to move because she was too scared to walk away and loose the moment.

Jesus knowing that power went out from Him stopped and asked “who touched me?” The disciples probably missed His intensity because their response was kind of "Duh Jesus we are all touching You."

What was Jesus’ reply? “Someone touched me, I know that power has gone out from Me.” So then the woman after seeing she couldn’t sneak away came trembling before Him and told Him what was wrong and how she was healed. I always thought that the trembling would have been because He is Jesus and she just experienced a miracle but now the more that I learn about her life… I think it could have a lot to do with her rejection from society, having to tell the people she was just touching that she was unclean AND the fact that she just had a miracle worked in her body.

Other people with hurts and struggles were touching Him… why doesn’t this story say that everyone that touched Him was healed of everything? The key word here has to be faith.

We read Mark 5 :34 "34He said to her, 'Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.'"

I asked the group what stands out about His statement? We talked about the following parts:

Daughter – what a loving term to use. Nothing that is negative or hurtful, He used a word that signifies that through her faith she is now a part of His family.

Your Faith has Healed you – I thought Jesus healed her? I do believe that Jesus knowingly healed her, but her faith is what caused moved Him to release the power. I think that had she not believed and touched him that nothing would have changed in her life. It is like praying for something and even saying that you believe that God can do it, but not truly believing that he WOULD do it.

Go in peace and be freed from your suffering – He has given her a new life. She could finally have peace.

Then I posed the challenge for the evening to the group: What is in your life that is difficult? What is in your life that you have battled? It could be something that happened to you that haunts you, it could be physical, it could be emotional, it could be relational.

What have you done to try to “fix” it or “treat” it? Gone to counselors or doctors (who are great, but cannot provide you healing on their own), or do you talk about it over and over with a friend?

Is God always the last option when we have an issue? Has it been brought to Him?

Then I said tonight after you get home and once the house is quiet spend time laying your difficulty before God and asking for His healing but only do this if you truly believe that not only can He, but He will do it for you in accordance to His will. Then stand firmly in faith and trust the answer He gives.

Jesus said about faith:

Matthew 9:28-30 (New International Version)
28When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" "Yes, Lord," they replied. 29Then he touched their eyes and said, "According to your faith will it be done to you"; 30and their sight was restored.


According to your faith will it be done to you - ACCORDING TO YOUR FAITH.

Matthew 13:57-58 (New International Version)
57And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, "Only in his hometown and in his own house is a prophet without honor." 58And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.


Jesus didn't do many miracles there because of their LACK of FAITH. I believe that God can do anything He chooses and that as humans we do not put limits on Him... but I also believe based on scripture that God honors our faith in Him and He pours out His blessing and gifts in equal portions to our faith.

Matthew 17:20-21 (New International Version)
20He replied, "...I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."


Nothing will be impossible to you. BELIEVE HIM.


I just thought of this when blogging our notes. If you struggle then speak to Christ the way this father did.

Mark 9:20-25
"20So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.
21Jesus asked the boy's father, "How long has he been like this?"
"From childhood," he answered. 22"It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us."
23" 'If you can'?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for him who believes."
24Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" 25When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the evil spirit. "You deaf and mute spirit," he said, "I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.'"


He was honest. He did believe... just not enough for the miracle for his son... but admiting that to Jesus I think that helped his faith grow. I know there are things in my life that I easily believe Jesus for... but there are some things that I need to cry out "I believe, help my unbelief!"

Well, that basically covers our coversations from tonight. Next week is the last week of the study at the church on Great Women of the Bible... we will be talking about The Proverbs 31 Woman.

Blessings!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Esther: Studying Great Women of the Bible

Tonight we discussed Esther. REALLY good talks! We began with an overview of the story. We talked the heart ache that Esther must have felt when she was taken away from her home when faced with the possiblity of losing any hope of a husband and a father because of her "night with the king." We talked about her small argument with Mordecai when he tells her what is going on with the Jews in Susa. Even as queen she still listened to the guidance of Mordecai and she approached the situation with Godly wisdom. Unlike many of us :) she didn't rush into the battle or storm into the kings room and demand attention.

Instead she stopped, spent the time to gain wisdom, pray, have others pray, hear from God, act, and then stay sensitive to the spirit. What wise steps to take as women of God when situations come up in our lives.

We discussed how interesting it is that she held two dinners. Why? I have to believe that it was sensitivity to the situation and the grace of God.

This verse could describe Esther's overall response:
19My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. James 1:19-20

Her bravery was amazing, wasn't it? I love this line: “If I perish I perish” Does Jesus say anything like that?

39Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Matt 10:39

24Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25For whoever wants to save his life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.
Matt 16:24,25

To follow the call on Esther's life required her to give hers up to God and for her people. I believe that each of us is called to lose our life and pick up our cross daily. Do I do that?

We ended with spending some time looking at ourselves and how we have arrived where we are in life. Then we journaled a little bit about our past, present, and future with God.

Heritage: Esther is a Jewess and her family was taken to a new place because they were captives. Consider your own heritage. What life lessons have you learned from what your ancestors fought for and believed in?

Parentage: What do we know about Esther’s parents? What about Mordecai? Consider your own parentage. If you weren't raised by your parents or didn't have both as a part of your raising, spend time to be thankful for those whom God has provided in their place to shape your life.

Experience: Who did Esther have in her life helping direct her steps? Consider your own experiences. Give thanks for the variety of teachers God has sent your way to guide and instruct you to where you are now.

Advantage: What advantages did Esther have in her life? Do you have advantages in your life that were put in place by God? Conditions, circumstances and opportunities are all gifts from God to help grow you to a useful place in His kingdom.

Current Issues/Circumstances: What were Esther’s circumstances where she used all that God had placed in her life for all of her growing and molding years? What about yours?

You may be in an "Esther" situation... where there were things done to you that you had no choice. Or maybe you, like me and many others, have just made some crummy decisions... no matter what - God has a plan for us. If Esther can rise above her situation so can we. One way to start is to follow in her footsteps when she stopped, spent the time to gain wisdom, pray, had others pray, heard from God, act, and then stayed sensitive to the spirit.

Next week is:
Anna the prophetess:
Luke 2:36-38

Woman with the issue of blood:
Mat 9:20-22
Mar 5:25-34
Luke 8:40-48

Blessings!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Studying Great Women of the Bible

Tonight we discussed the story of Ruth in the Bible. There are certain themes that stick out. One that we all agreed on tonight was the idea of self-less love. Ruth chose to stay with her mother-in-law and leave everything that she knew, everything that she was comfortable with and chose a God that she had only gotten glimpses of through her family. She and her other sister-in-law Orpah experienced the love of God through Naomi and her family, but when faced with the choice Ruth chose the Lord. We talked about the times when we have known someone that was excited to get on the path that the Lord had for them only to stop or turn around once they run into difficulty. In those times our faith empowering our will are the only things that keep us going. Ruth made the difficult but right choice and she was blessed for it. We paused and thought of times in our life when we have been at a crossroad and the choices we made... and why.

Then after her choice of staying with Naomi she began working the difficult job of gleaning in the fields for weeks. We talked about what gleaning was and how the Lord provided a way for those less fortunate to be able to work and eat. The mercy of God is evident all through out the old testament as well as the new testament in the ways that He provides for His people. In the old testament it was through rules and laws until the coming of Christ which set us free. Ok, back to gleaning. So Ruth chose Boaz's field to glean and he showed great kindness to her in Ruth 2:8-16.
8Then Boaz said to Ruth, Listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but stay here close by my maidens.
9Watch which field they reap, and follow them. Have I not charged the young men not to molest you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink what the young men have drawn.
10Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground, and said to him, Why have I found favor in your eyes that you should notice me, when I am a foreigner?
11And Boaz said to her, I have been made fully aware of all you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband, and how you have left your father and mother and the land of your birth and have come to a people unknown to you before.
12The Lord recompense you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under Whose wings you have come to take refuge!
13Then she said, Let me find favor in your sight, my lord. For you have comforted me and have spoken to the heart of your maidservant, though I am not as one of your maidservants.
14And at mealtime Boaz said to her, Come here and eat of the bread and dip your morsel in the sour wine [mixed with oil]. And she sat beside the reapers; and he passed her some parched grain, and she ate until she was satisfied and she had some left [for Naomi].
15And when she got up to glean, Boaz ordered his young men, Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not reproach her.
16And let fall some handfuls for her on purpose and let them lie there for her to glean, and do not rebuke her.

What a blessing to a woman who probably felt very much like an outcast in a new country. Boaz went far beyond what was required of him in Leviticus 23:22 and Deuteronomy 24:19 by the law. We talked about how in Matthew it says that the mother of Boaz is Rahab (our study of last week). Was his heart touched for her because he understands how hard it is for a woman from another culture to come and be a part of the Hebrew nation? Does he see in her the strength and character that he saw in his mother? We don't know but we do know that there are important things that we learn from our family and we pass those things on to those that come after us.

Later at the end of the harvest Naomi decided it was time to move Ruth back into a home with a husband. She instructed Ruth to go to Boaz as a kinsman redeemer for the family and to lay down at his feet. His care for her is evident yet again as he said that he would do all that she asked and blessed her for her choice of him. He takes care of speaking to the closer kinsman redeemer quickly so that he can take Ruth as his wife. This is where self-less love reenters the picture. From what we understand about the idea of kinsman redeemer is that they take the wife of a close relative if the husband dies and leaves the woman childless (really son-less). In marrying the woman and conceiving a son the 1st son carries on the name of the dead husband and all that is his inheritance. Boaz maybe putting aside some of his rights to an heir for his inheritance by following through as a kinsman redeemer and therefore giving self-less love. What we did note was that in Matthew 1:5 "5Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse," So in his gift of a home and a family to both Ruth and Naomi he was included in the lineage of Christ.

Truly the verse from Matthew 10:39 sums up this story "He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it." Giving ourselves away in faith is the way to truly enter into all that God has for us.

Esther next week! Be Blessed!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Studying Great Women of the Bible

What a great night! We discussed so much about Rahab and the faith of this woman. I love that one of the first women mentioned in the lineage of Christ is a prostitute. She is the great, great, great, great, great grandma of Christ. We answered a few questions during our discussion such as:
Why did the spies go to her home especially since Hebrew law would keep them from speaking to such a woman?
What did their actions say to her about their God?
Why did she choose a God she had only heard stories about AND risk her life against her king?

She is a woman who was presented with a choice and chose faith in the living God. Not only did she have faith, but she backed that faith up with action.

"8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."
Eph 2:8-9

The whole idea that we are saved by grace through faith, but that isn't where it stops.

"17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. " James 2:17 says that if there isn't works and doing in obedience to what Christ has called us to then our faith is dead.

We spent some time talking about the different things that we are being called to have faith in now and what it looks like to walk out in obedience the things Christ is calling us to.

There was so much more said... but it is hard to try to get it all on paper... I will try to do better next week :).

We had a great night! Next week is Ruth and Naomi!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Hello old friend

It seems like forever since I have shared on this blog. There is so much going on in life right now I don't even know where to start. I am still in love with my husband and my kitty. I work at my church now (as in for the last year since the last update) helping in the background so the pastors are free to do all that God has called them to. We bought our first house a month ago and there are STILL boxes in my bedroom. Every one of those statements comes with TONS of stories and background. I don't know why but I just wanted to be in touch. Dinner is almost done... talk to you soon.