Friday, September 30, 2011

Fast Driving in the Bible?!?

Ever have problems getting your kids/teens to take a real interest in the Bible?  Start reading in the book of II Kings.  Oh, the drama!  Intrigue!  Wild drivers.  Fast cars -- uh, chariots!!  Murder.  Mayhem.  Conspiracy theories. Medical mysteries.  Makeup and hairstyles?!?  Well, it's all condensed in the first few chapters of II Kings and corresponding chapters in II Chronicles.  If all that's in the first few chapters of these books, imagine what's in the rest of the Bible!

I have trouble interesting my teen sons in going to church with me or having anything to do with anything they think might be associated with church, such as youth group.  Although this I don't understand -- they have no problem hanging out with me and my single friends from church during our activities.  The boys' dad is Catholic, which is probably why they want nothing to do with my Baptist faith.  However, when I sit at the table doing my Bible study I can mention things in the Bible such as the fast chariots mentioned earlier, and they will talk with me about it, express their views (which happily line up with the Bible) and opinions, and even pull out their own Bibles and do a little bit of additional reading.  All without me having to give them one word of encouragement!  I am so thankful that both of my sons accepted Christ at young ages and faithfully attended church and Sunday school with me until they became older.

Sometimes you have to try alternative methods to get your kids interested in the things of God.  There are all kinds of Christian resources to help you teach your kids about the Bible, such as Veggie Tales which were really popular at our house, Focus on the Family's Adventures in Odyssey was another favorite, Focus on the Family's Radio Theater DVD presentation of "The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe" series (we had problems getting out of the car when we were listening to that one!), and many other movies, CDs and books.  What's your method of reaching your kids?

Have fun reading and discussing the Bible with your own kids!  And be prepared for some serious, in-depth discussions, possibly even started by the kids themselves!


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Felled by a Spider's Web

I was trying to decide what to write about this week, praying and asking God to give me wisdom.  On the way to work this morning the sun struck a spider's web by the side of the road and the drops of dew glistened and made the web shine.  I wished I had time to pull over and get a photo, and decided I would sit outside soon and shoot some pictures of webs in my own yard.

Because of circumstances I was running late going to lunch today.  I was walking at a fast pace down the sidewalk to my car when I unexpectedly came up on a spider's web.  I love to look at them but I really don't like pulling the mess out of my hair, so I dodged to the side.  Sure enough I tripped and hit the asphalt parking lot next door on all fours!  I was annoyed and a bit humiliated (but I don't think anyone saw me -- I hope).  I got up, brushed myself off and went on my way. 

I didn't get far down the road when I started laughing and realized that's exactly what I was supposed to write about!  I had admired the roadside web this morning, with the sun shining through and making it beautiful and enticing.  But later this morning when I came face to face with another web, it wasn't such a good thing. 

Sin can be like that spider's web.  From a distance, when the light hits it just right, it's beautiful and enticing.  But when you get up close and personal it's not that pretty.  Especially when you get stuck in it.  We can resist the big, obvious sins -- we'd never do that!  But you know, sometimes it's those little sins that get us in so much trouble. 

Who would think that the little, pretty sins can trip you up?  Who would have thought a spider's web could teach a lesson?

Funny what God uses sometimes to get a point across. 


Thursday, September 22, 2011

God Supplied Her Needs -or- The Right People in the Right Place at the Right Time

I am taking a Precepts class by Kay Arthur with some women in my church, and we are studying the book of II Kings.  I am brand new to the Precepts way of study, but am finding it so helpful and rewarding.  If you ever get a chance to do one of these studies, I highly recommend it. 

This evening I was reading in II Kings 8:1-6.  To recap, Elisha the prophet told the Shunamite woman (of II Kings 4:8-37) to pack up her household and go stay temporarily someplace else, because God was going to bring a seven year famine on the land of Israel.  The Shunamite woman heeded the warning of Elisha and went to live in the land of the Philistines.  At the end of the seven years, she and her family came home and she went to the king of Israel (Jehoram) to petition him for the return of her land. 

Now at this time Gehazi, the servant of Elisha (see II Kings 5:20-27), was asked of king Jehoram to tell all of the great things that Elisha had done.  While Gehazi was telling the king how Elisha had raised a dead person to life, the very woman whose son's life had been restored came to the king to ask for the return of her land.  Gehazi excitedly told the king this was the woman of whom he had just been speaking!

The king had to compare Gehazi's story with that of the woman, and she again made her petition to the king.  The king sent an officer to restore everything that had once belonged to the woman and her family.  Everything including all the profit that had been gained from her land  during her absence.

It struck me how God provided for this woman who along with her family had once taken care of the needs of Elisha, the man of God.  Apparently she had lost her husband because he is not mentioned in this passage.  Elisha warned HER to take her family to safety, and she did so.  Also, when she went to petition king Jehoram, it was just she and her son who went to make the plea to the king. 

And see how God had Gehazi at that very moment in the king's presence, telling of the restoration of life to the Shunamite's son.  And that Gehazi cried out to the king that this woman before him making this petition was the very one whose son's life had been restored by Elisha.

Another thing to consider.  Back in II Kings 5:20-27 Gehazi had committed a sin against God by pursuing Naaman and lying about Elisha's needs and requesting gifts for a non-existent son of the prophets.  When Elisha confronted Gehazi about his sin, he denied he had gone after Naaman and had done nothing wrong.  Because of his sins, Elisha cursed Gehazi and his family forever with leprosy.  Now, several years later, we see Gehazi telling the good deeds of Elisha to king Jehoram!

This is not luck or happenstance.  God placed all these people in the right place at the right time, to do His work and to meet the needs of the people.  Doesn't this remind you of Paul's words in Philipians 4:19 where he says, "But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus"?  The Shunamite woman had a need.  God knew in advance about her need and placed Gehazi before king Jehoram, recounting the tale of this woman at that very moment

God still does the same for us today.  Don't we serve an awesome God?


Monday, September 19, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: Has God Spoken?

Has God Spoken?
Proof of the Bible's Divine Inspiration
By:  Hank Hanegraaff
Published by Thomas Nelson Publishers
Copyright 2011

Have you ever wondered whether or not God REALLY spoke the Bible into being?  What types of proofs are there?  Can it really be proven? What about all the evidence to the contrary?  Using the acronym M-A-P-S in his book Has God Spoken?, Mr. Hanegraaff (also known as the Bible Answer Man) puts forth massive amounts of evidence that yes, God really did speak to us through the Bible. 

Here's a sneak peek:  the M in M-A-P-S stands for Manuscript C-O-P-I-E-S, each letter broken down into sub chapters such as Copyist Practices, Oral Culture, Papyrus and Parchment, Internal Evidence, External Evidence and Science of Textual Criticism.  Mr. Hanegraaff goes in depth in all areas, for instance citing under External Evidence the works of Flavius Josephus (the Jewish history), Cornelius Tacitus (born twelve or so years after Christ's death and known as the "greatest historian of the ancient Roman Empire") and Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus (chief secretary to the Emperor Hadrian, who covered Roman history) to name a few.  All of the evidence presented in the book is fascinating proof of the divine inspiration of the Bible.

I accepted Christ as a young child and have never had the problem of accepting as fact that God is real, that He is the author of the Bible.  However, it is so much fun and so very interesting to sit and read a book such as this and find evidences that go beyond blind faith.  If you are a Christian, you will enjoy the evidence presented.  If you are not a Christian and you have a chance to read this book, Mr. Hanegraaff's evidence just might convince you to change your mind!  Why not give it a shot?

This is definitely another book I will keep in my personal library for future reference and also for loaning to friends and family.
In order to comply with new Federal Trade Commission regulations, please note that this book was provided compliments of Booksneeze.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Fear Not! For I Am With Thee

"Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of My righteousness."  Isaiah 41:10

Isaiah 40 and 41 speak of the greatness of God and the weakness of man.  Although God is speaking directly to the Israelites in these passages, these chapters more broadly speak to all mankind.  Since the New Testament, these promises of God apply to everyone who professes Christ as their Lord and Saviour. 

Today, 9/11/11, I am feeling the need of refreshment through God's promises.  But before the promises can be fully realized and appreciated, it is important to know Who God is.  Sometimes I feel that we as a whole try to see God as we would see another man, therefore limiting His infinite power.  We cannot move mountains, so how could God possibly move mountains?  We cannot create the earth, or the universe, or something from nothing.  So we place these same limitations on God.  But we are looking from man's standpoint, not His.  Step back a moment.  Re-think things.  Remember Who God Is.  We did not create Him, He was not even created.  He has been in existence for all eternity.  

God gives an explanation in Isaiah 40:13-14 and 25 where He says, "Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being his counsellor hath taught Him?  With whom took He counsel, and who instructed Him, and taught Him in the path of judgment, and taught Him knowledge, and shewed to Him the way of understanding? To whom then will ye liken Me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One." 

Isaiah 40:28-29 challenges us.  "Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary?  there is no searching of His understanding.  He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might He increaseth strength."

Therefore, as a child of God and knowing He has no limitations and wants only His perfect will for my life, I can take heart in His words of Isaiah 41:10, "Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of My righteousness."


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Remembering September 11, 2001

A nation attacked.  Stunned silence.  Tears flowing unchecked.  Silent gasps for breath.  Eyes that cannot blink or be torn from the screen, lest something is missed.  Frantic e-mails sent to assure of the safety of family and friends.  Fears that other, closer areas of our nation will be attacked.  We live near a major Air Force base... Waiting.  Watching.  Hoping.  Praying.  Please, God!  Protect us and keep us from further harm! 

Sitting on the couch with my young sons after the work and school day was over.  Having to explain to them what happened.  How do you explain what is going on to your children?  How do you protect them from what is happening to your country?  To the world?  You hold them close as you cry, knowing that you cannot protect them.  Nothing is ever under our own control...

For so long we in America have been shielded from this type of terror, while we have watched it happening in the world.  We live in America!  This isn't supposed to happen here! 

That day, those hours, those moments forever changed my country.  We were given a wake up call. We were made to realize that we were not invincible. Yes, we are Americans.  We live in the greatest country on earth.  But we are not invincible.  We may have grown callous, thinking we were safe.  That's what we always believed.  We live in America!  But that one day changed the way we viewed our lives.

We saw so many unthinkable things happen that day, but we also saw the banding together of our nation.  We saw so many acts of heroism.  People thought not only of themselves, but of others.  Patriotism grew.  Flags were flown.  Flags fly still. 

We have been at war.  Many have willingly, selflessly given their time and sometimes even their lives for what they believe is a just cause.  To protect their country.  To protect their families. 

America is in turmoil again.  Ten years after the horrible events of 9/11 we are struggling.  We have been through a recession.  Many have lost their jobs, their homes, life as they know it.  Not only is America changing, so is the world.

Still I am proud, honored even, to be an American!  Thank you Lord for allowing me to be born in the land of the free, the home of the brave.  For the freedoms and privileges that have been given to me, just because I was born in the United States of America! 


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I Thank Thee

Not too long ago I found this poem in the fly leaf of one of my grandmother's Bibles.  Unfortunately I don't know who the author might be.


I Thank Thee, God, for gifts so free
Unmerited bestowed on me,
Though men not knowing call me poor,
These are the gifts I thank Thee for:
A Mother's love while in my youth,
A Father's honesty and truth,
A faith in Thee whate'er befall,
A trust that seeth good in all,
A hope as long as there is breath,
A life that endeth not with death,
A Friend sincere bound fast by love,
A God of mercy up above;
No man on earth could call me poor
And know the gifts I thank Thee for.

~ Unknown

What have you found in the Bibles of your relatives? 
What are you leaving behind for others to find in your Bible?


Friday, September 2, 2011

Preparing for the Future

Four times in recent days it has been impressed on me from various sources that we are to let go of the past, leave it behind, and press forward.  Once was at the Women of Faith Conference in Atlanta, once was at church, once was through Turning Points Magazine's September issue, and once was through a Christian novel.  To directly quote the novel, "The past is part of who we are. It formed us and shaped us and brought us to this place, but it does not define us. What defines us now, in this moment, is our relationship with God, our desire to serve Him and our pursuit of His will.  We must let go of what was if we are going to embrace what is."1  

I have to admit there are things in my past I am not proud of that have definitely shaped who I am today.  God forgave me and put it behind Him the instant I asked His forgiveness.  But I forgot that and took a long time to forgive myself. 

After I have taken care of my past I can look toward the future.  You know, the future isn't just about tomorrow or the next day or next month, or even a few years down the road.  The future is also today. 

Both of my sons will finish high school in the next four years.  Not only will my sons be graduating, I will be too. I will be  an empty-nester.  And as a single mom the world will open up for me as well.  My sons don't hold me back now, I am just focused mainly on my life with them.  Soon however I will be thinking about my life without them.  I have been thinking about that  a lot lately.  What will I do with my life?  What will I become?  Should I stay in the career I am in?  I could do whatever I dream!  Ummmm, what is it I dream of?  I can move to a new home. I can stay where I am.  If I am wise, I will begin making plans now. Today.  Spiritually and physically.  I can build a strong network of friends. I can build a strong network of professional contacts.  I can begin preparing by taking classes or going back to school or by doing volunteer work.

Whatever I choose to do, the most important thing I can EVER do in my life is serve my Lord.  Through witnessing.  Through lifestyle.  Through taking opportunities given to me by God.  Isn't the ultimate goal of a Christian to live life through Christ?  Paul says something to this effect in Philippians 3:13-15 (HCSB), "Brothers, I do not  consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God's heavenly call in Christ Jesus. Therefore, all who are mature should think this way. And if you think differently about anything, God will reveal this to you also."

Pressing towards the mark....


1Running for Cover by Shirlee McCoy