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Entries in Life (11)

Thursday
Mar262009

What's a living epistle?

I've always struggled with Scripture memory. I remember watching and listening to my sister memorize huge chunks of Scripture as she progressed through the ranks of "Girls Auxiliary." We moved before I had to go further than step 1 - "maiden." I am sure that was God's divine intervention to save me and my family the humiliation of being the first person to "flunk out" (of get kicked out) of GA's!

I'm totally frustrated with my attempts to memorize Scripture. Using the ESV Bible online, I did finally figure out how to get the Scriptures I wanted to memorize on my ipod. It's awesome to listen to them while getting dressed in the morning. The funny thing is though - the "address" isn't a part of the listening experience. And, I have NOT figured out how to get the verse to keep repeating. So, it goes from one verse to the next to the next. Like it starts out with Deuteronomy 6:5 and goes right into Ecclesiastes 8:8 then to Isaiah 44:20, etc. Sound pretty neat and I love hearing the Word of God, but it's not doing a thing for my Scripture memory.

Next to confessing with my mouth and believing in my heart that Jesus is my Savior and Lord, learning how to study the Bible inductively is the best thing that ever happened to me. In a 2.5 day training, I learned about observation, interpretation, and application. Things like slowing down to observe what the Bible (God) was saying by asking who, what, where, when, why & how questions. Then learning to examine the answers to these questions and how my attitudes and behaviors were lining up to the truths discovered...WOW. I learned the importance of understanding what was being said before and after a passage of Scripture and the setting in which the words were being spoken....CONTEXT. Context rules! Who knew?

Suddenly, the Bible went from something I thought was boring, outdated and a mystery to a letter from God....the very Words of God...recorded and preserved through the ages just for me! God shares His heart - His longings and desires for me/us. He reveals His plans and purposes for our lives. Here, in His Word, I have discovered that the One Who spoke the World into existence wants to be personally involved in every detail of my life - if I will let Him. It's a wonder!

Studying inductively helps me remember the book in which particular passage of Scripture can be found and sometimes I can even go to the chapter. Very exciting for someone who struggles with Scripture memory! But a secret goal of mine is to be a walking Bible. I want to so know God's Word so that when I speak it's 90% speaking the words of God. Well, how can you do that if you can't even memorize God's Word? Totally frustrating! Shouldn't I just give up? NO - but maybe.....just maybe I should change my approach. Here's what I'm thinking...

As I study God's Word, I want Christ to so work in my heart and life that Christ Himself is actually taking the very Words of God and through His Holy spirit...carving them on my heart. I want to become a letter of Christ - a living epistle. I want God's Word to so reside in me, be at home in me and be such a part of me - that I live the words out. And while I may NEVER get to the point that I can quote Scripture after Scripture - complete with each address....oh sweet Jesus - help me to SPEAK these precious Scriptures with my life.

You are our letter...read by all men...being manifested that you are a letter of Christ...written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. 2 Co 3:2-3

Monday
Feb162009

I need courage

Life and the emotions of life have been coming at me a lot lately. I have a list of things that concern me. Real things, situations and circumstances that need divine intervention! The thing is - where I am in my thinking and emotions - I don't expect much will get scratched off the list today. In fact, the list will probably be longer by the end of the day. It just seems to be one of those times when things seem to be going this way. You know what I mean? Because I have a tendency to make things all about me, I find myself wondering before the Lord...Where are you?....What are you doing?...What in the world is going on?....I don't understand...

I must keep taking time to get God's perspective on my situations and circumstances, or my thinking will spiral downward and my emotions and attitudes will follow (not pretty). Well, wouldn't you know I picked up my favorite little devotional book and opened it to "Courage." Just the dose of truth I needed to hear, remember and LIVE out.

"My people shall not go mourning, for I the Lord will be their rejoicing and their song. They will not be a complaining people, for I will take away the murmuring from your streets. Will I lead into the battlefronts an army of weeping women? Will I ask the fainthearted to war? No, but I shall give my people brave and courageous spirits, and I will make them strong of heart. I will give them the spirit of the martyrs, for they will be My witnesses of resurrection power. They shall be stalwart. They shall be steadfast. And I will remove from the ranks those who are timid and those who desire comfort and security. My way is a way of sacrifice, and the rewards are not in worldly honors. So take upon you the full armor f God; the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, the loins girded with truth, feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, having shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit. Yes, My people this is a hand-to-hand combat. You shall stand against the foe face-to-face. You will not turn in retreat lest you be slain; for there is no armor to protect the back. The coward will perish. You have not wrestled in any measure such as he, the Lord Jesus. You are not prepared to enter into this conflict as long as you are absorbed in the luxuries and the personal comforts of normal life. For every soldier must give first place to his obligation to the armed forces, and second place to his own private life and wishes. Even so you must do, if you would be My followers. Even so did Jesus during His earthly ministry. His entire life was subordinated to the Father's will. As it is written, 'Even Christ did not please Himself' (Romans 15:3). How dare you risk allowing the flesh to manifest its desires? They can be only evil continually. No good thing can come out of a deceitful heart. As the old hymn says, 'The arm of flesh will fail you - you dare not trust your own.' Only that which is generated within you by the Spirit of God can bring forth righteousness 'do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God' (Romans 12:2)."

Come Away My Beloved by Frances J. Roberts

Sunday
Feb082009

Sweeter than chocolate?

I've met a new friend on Facebook. Her name is Pam Gillespie and she's written and been leading an inductive Bible study on Psalm 119 entitled "Sweeter Than Chocolate" (coming soon). I remember the first time God pricked my heart with the words from Psalm 119:103... "How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!" We were in Israel and for the first time in my life I could appreciate how much they love their honey in that part of the world. So, what would be sweet like honey to me? You got it! CHOCOLATE. Could I say - Lord, how sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than chocolate to my mouth?

Sometimes I can eat so much of a good thing that I no longer savor the taste. Or, it is so readily available to me that I no longer treasure it's value. This has been true of me in my life concerning the Word of God. There have been times when I have "eaten" but have not tasted its sweetness or savored it as I would a piece of fine and expensive chocolate. God revealed this to me about myself as I read Psalm 119:103 that day. God, via His Word, got my attention and I had to ask myself if this statement was true of me. Isn't that awesome? God forgive me for all the times I've rushed to God's Word and left without ever hearing, feeling, tasting or savoring. The truth is, I can still do it. I mean, If I'm not intentional and don't actually ask God to teach me, speak to my heart, and change me, I can go at my Bible study just like any other task. I really don't like that about myself. But God recently showed me how far He has brought me. I stand in awe.

As many wonderful things as we have going on in our lives, there is still all the day to day of living! Added to that are all the changes in our lives right now. Some days I just know the only way I am making it through is because God is faithful and is holding me up. Honestly, I've had a couple of days when I was so tired (emotionally and physically) that I didn't "feel" anything. This has been a totally new experience for me and I wondered if I wasn't just shutting down emotionally. This notion really bother me and actually horrified me, but I was too tired to try and even think about it let alone deal with or work through it. Fiddly dee...I'll think about that tomorrow... Tomorrow came and I woke up feeling the same way. Kind of numb. Wouldn't you know it was a Sunday morning and I was going to have to go to church and "act" like I cared. I got to church and at Sunday School and we started reading Scripture and I actually started to feel less numb. I was being moved and felt. The songs we sang that morning had me in tears and the Scripture our pastor taught stirred me so much that I left totally energized. God got to me. God's Word got to me. Isn't it awesome? I could feel. I wasn't numb. And it wasn't people or things that revived me - it was God via His Word. Did you hear me? It was God via His Word. Amazing!

Hebrews 6:4 and 1 Peter 2:3 talk about having "tasted" the word of God and the kindness of God. The Greek word for tasted means to experience or partake (in the absolute sense). My prayer is that we, as His Beloved, go to His precious Word to taste and leave having tasted. Now, that's SWEET!

...for you have exalted above all things your name and your word. Psalm 138:2(b)

Wednesday
Feb042009

One beautiful night...

I was totally surprised by the events of last Saturday night. I am still overwhelmed (in a good way) and trying to process all that happened. You see, my "chicks" as I lovingly call them decided to host a celebration. The thing I cannot get my mind around is that they celebrated me. People actually showed up to love on me, thank me and appreciate me for my work of service during these past 9 years with Truth for Women. As I listened to several of my dear friends and co laborers speak, I cried, laughed, shook my head in disbelief and cried some more. At the end, they asked me if I wanted to say something and as I stood there I just babbled. All night long, I relieved the moment. And, I thought of a lot of things I wish I would have said. Here they are:

1. Thank you! Geez, I can't remember if I stood up and said thank you. If I didn't I am horrified because my heart was and is overflowing with thankfulness. I am so deeply touched that Jessie, Kim, Sharon & Susan would go to all the work and care of planning such a wonderful surprise and that so many people would come out on a Saturday night in the middle of winter to attend. I deeply regret not getting to hug and talk to each and every one that attended, but I will NEVER forget the sight of seeing everyone sitting there. Thank you for loving me.
2. I am so proud of Jessie and Kim. They are God's women for this hour. They are the future and I am so grateful to God for the time He gave me with them - together serving HIM! It is true that God put within me an understanding that I would not be the woman to take TFW all the way so to speak. And, it is true that I have prayed and waited for that woman or those women God would raise up. I have NO doubts that God has called Jessie and Kim and that these precious women have answered the call. For the past 9 years, getting up every day to pursue the vision of TFW has been my reason for getting up every day! I pursued this God given vision with passion, pit-bull determination and as though it needed to happen YESTERDAY. God put this within me. God has put it also within Jessie and Kim.
3. God has also raised up Sharon and her heart certainly beats with mine concerning The Women's Center Lehigh Valley. I'll never, ever forget sitting down in 1999 and putting on paper the vision of TWC. Thinking about not being around to "make" it happen is hard for me. But, knowing that Sharon not only gets it but she sees it? All I can say is praise the Lord and thank you Jesus! These precious women are called by God and they have committed to God. Commitment these days is a rare and beautiful thing. For when I say these women are committed what I mean is they will do whatever it takes to see the vision, mission and purpose of Truth for Women, My Sister's Closet and The Women's Center Lehigh Valley realized.
4. I still don't know why people would come to celebrate me. Don't get me wrong - I'm not sure I've ever felt so loved or appreciate in my entire life and who doesn't want or need that? But fighting for the women in my community has been the joy of my life. Working to help women embrace God's Word as truth is what God brought me to this moment in my life to do. Fighting for the spiritual health of this community has been the only reasonable thing to do. I think of what Bill Hybels says in his book "Holy Discontent." He calls them "Popeye" moments. Times when God puts such a burden on your heart and brings you to the point where you cry out and move out saying "I can't stands it, I can't stands it, I can't stands it no more." When God does this to you and propels you into action - watch out! So watch out for Jessie, Kim, Sharon and Susan!
5. I wish I had praised my husband more. I did say that were it not for him TFW wouldn't exist, but what I didn't share is why. Oh yes, He was very encouraging and supportive. You see, he's the spiritually gifted leader in our family. And, he's had years of business experience. Over the course of 9 years, he sat with me untold hours teaching me how to lead, giving me insights, honest observations, and unbias feedback. I have learned so much from this precious man. He NEVER complained about the number of hours I spent in front of the computer, away at meetings or opening our home to gatherings of people. In fact, he supported it and I'd say at least during the first 5 years, financially made it all happen. Tom's financial investment in TFW was a personal investment in me and every woman in this community. Thank you to all who have financially supported the ministries of TFW. It is a HUGE encouragement to those of us who daily work to realize the vision but it is also a huge investment in the spiritual health of this community!
6. I will NEVER forget that evening. Your faces are forever in my mind! I love you each and all. I thank God for allowing me to know you and serve together with you. At the end of the evening, Emma was walking me to my car and she asked me what perfume I had on because it smelled so nice. You know what? All night long as I hugged and was hugged by each one of you, I breathed in your essence and your sweet aroma was left behind. By the end of the evening what was left was a mixture of all of you and it was a wonderful fragrance. Precious ones, this will PREACH!
7. So to all who were there on Saturday night and all those who couldn't come but shared they wish they could be there - thank YOU. You see, what it really speaks to my heart is that you too see the vision, you understand the mission and you support the work of this ministry. WOW.

Whatever I did, whatever you think I accomplished - all glory and honor goes to God. He is the one who saved me, changed me, decided to allow me to be a part of anything He wanted to do, then gave me what I'd need to do it! God used me because I was willing and because I committed myself to Him and what He was put on my heart to do for Him. I've spend the last 9 years on my face before Him waiting for "how to." In fact, most days were started with this statement: "God if you can use a donkey, you can use me."

...but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us. 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8

Sunday
Jan252009

His eye is on the sparrow

Part of being in God's boot camp is being told "how to" and then given a chance "to do". You know what I mean? Let me explain it this way. As I left last Saturday's seminar, I was armed with truths that I have had to "take up" often this week. Here's how my week played out.... When I got up Sunday morning, it was to an awful sore throat. I immediately started begging God for relief while at the same time taking Air Bourne, Ziacam and Dayquill/Nyquill! You see, as a part of my new job responsibility with Precept Ministries, I was scheduled to fly to Dayton, OH on Wednesday where I would join Kay, Jack & David Arthur at the Call2All Conference. In order to catch my 6 AM flight, I set my alarm for 3:30 AM. At this point, let me just say that I stepped out in faith believing God would give me the grace to make it because I knew my body was not cooperating. My husband had told me that Kay was not feeling well and had almost no voice. So, Miss Kay was my example to follow! I arrived in Dayton mid-day and was told they had a room ready. HALLELUJAH! I checked in, got unpacked, set up my computer, had two phone meetings and tried to get some work done. Honestly, though I think when I look on Monday morning, I'll have to redo anything I think I did. It was probably mid-afternoon when in my mind I began to whine before the Lord. By 5:30 PM, I gave up trying to accomplish anything and determined in my mind that there was no way I was going to be able to do my job! I whined to my husband, a dear friend and on Facebook and knew I had dear friends praying for me! Around 6:30 PM the Arthur's called saying they had arrived and that Kay was feeling awful and had no voice. As I prayed for Kay, I trusted that God had brought her to Dayton, had a message that He had for her to give and would give her the grace she would need to make it. I went to bed early reminding myself who am I to whine, focus on Miss Kay, the goal of the trip that God knows...

When my alarm went off at 6 AM on Thursday morning, my first thought was "Thank you Jesus!" My teeth didn't hurt. In fact, I had no pain in my forehead or cheeks either. While I still had a lot of congestion, I felt like I could make it! In fact, when I fell into bed at almost 1 AM on Friday morning, I had made it! Thanks be to God, I managed to serve with joy, energy, strength and very little nose blowing. God gave Kay voice enough to passionately speak the Word of God at two sessions (almost 1,000 people). So why am I going into such detail? Because God was speaking volumes into my heart. You see, all day long I was marveling at how God was providing. I was reminded that He doesn't remove the hurdles and difficulties but as we step out in faith and obedience He gives us the grace we need to make it THROUGH!

When my alarm went off on Friday morning, I hadn't allowed for quiet time with the Lord. Instead, I had to get dressed, packed and downstairs so I could catch my ride to the airport. But, as God would have it, I finished a little early and had time to sit with a cup of coffee before the Lord. I walked over to the window and pulled back the blackout shade to find the most glorious sunrise. "Oh, thank You God for drawing me to this window at just this time so You could show me Your glory. You are glorious - this is glorious and I stand in awe of YOU." It was such an awesome touch and reminder from the Lord Himself that He is ever present, all sufficient, and personally involved in my life. He wanted me to see that and He wanted me to enjoy it with Him and He wanted me to be aware of His presence in EVERY detail of my life. God is amazing. But that's not all!

When I got to Cincinnati for my plane change my ears were killing me, my nose running like a faucet and once again I felt like I'd have to die to feel better. I decided to seek relief and comfort in a cup of hot tea. The terminal had lots of glass and metal beams. As I approached a water fountain I saw a sparrow fly down, land on the edge of the water fountain in search of some beads of water. I was captivated. I tried to capture the moment with my camera but by the time I got it out someone else walked by and the sparrow flew back to one of the metal beams. In that short 1 to 2 minutes God preached a sermon into my heart! Yes, it was based on Luke 12:6-8 and yet God also showed me how adaptable that little sparrow was to his surroundings and trusting of God to provide. The Scripture and the song below immediately came to mind! OH GOD, I LOVE YOU AND I THANK YOU FOR REDEEMING ME AND CALLING ME YOURS!


Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God. “Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows. “And I say to you, everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man will confess him also before the angels of God. Luke 12:6-8