Monday, December 31, 2012
There are so many things that I have been discovering and praying about these days, yet I have failed to write about them here. Sometimes they end up on an index card or in the margin of a book or even in a hand written journal.
In the last hour of 2012, as the fireworks go off in my neighborhood, I thought it might be a good idea to just post a few thoughts on being grateful for the Life of Jesus Christ. We often talk about being grateful for being forgiven, that our debt for sin has been paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ and it is necessary for our salvation and we failed to talk or write about the Righteous Life that God has provided for us through the Life Jesus led while here on earth.
Jesus walked in perfect obedience to His Father and as my son reminded me today, that Jesus said we are to be perfect as our Father in Heaven is perfect. We say impossible and for us it is definitely impossible, "But with God all things are possible." So we do not only trust that Jesus has paid for our sins, but HE has also lived the Righteous Life that we could never live and has done it for us. This is an incredible MYSTERY. Who can fathom it?!
Walking perfectly with the Father
Learning to obey
Obedience meant denying himself.
Leaving his home in glory to have no home here
Being thought of as crazy by his earthly family
Serving rather than being served
Loving the unlovable
Touching the untouchable
Communing with His Father in prayer
Raising the dead
Being among the ones he had created
Trusting His Father
Willing to die
Taking Joy in doing the will of His Father
Knowing that he would make all things new.
Being the Beloved of the Father and delighting in making us His beloved brothers and sisters.
Jesus did not make one misstep. He summed up the Will of His Father, which also summed up the Law, by answer the question from the Pharisee, "What is the greatest commandment?" and Jesus answered, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind and the second is like it, Love your neighbor as yourself."
It is a short list of Jesus' Righteous Life and I am grateful that it is finished, done for me and Jesus was not "just an example" for me to follow but has done it all for me and for you.
Hoping that this new year will draw ALL closer to the LORD Jesus.
Sunday, November 04, 2012
We are drawn to the stories being told and we are drawn in by characters and their various relationships, by the events taking place, by the story line and of course by the message being delivered.
Stories - there are stories that are fiction, purely created by the author and their are stories that are real life stories, biographical, autobiographical, historical events, places, inventions etc. Regardless of fact or fiction, each kind has the power to make us think, inform us, move us and even the power to change us and the course of our lives. The writer of Proverbs says that words have the power of life and death and those who love it will eat its fruit.
Funny, I am writing a blog post and this is how I am procrastinating in writing my NanoWrimo novel. It is motivating me to get writing because it is November 4, 2012 and I am publicly stating that I am participating in the challenge of writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. I have written every day but I am slow out of the gate, lagging behind my fellow writers.
We need stories, we desire to be a part of our own story and to be intentional in playing our part. In googling "the power of story" the search yielded 4,220,000,000 findings. You read that right: 10 digits in the billions. Here are some quotes from my search:
"Gripping tales teach us, persuade us, and define us." from Psychology Today
"We put away our grammar books and Mr. Hatch said, Conley, today we are writing stories...you can write anything you want." Susan Conley from TED Talks
"If you don’t believe in the power of story watch an audience at church the moment the preacher says “Let me illustrate this point with a little story.” Folks who were restless stop fidgeting and listen. Even kids suddenly tune in. An audience that may have drifted away suddenly comes right back to the speaker and sits attentively at his feet. The entire audience is galvanized by even a simple story."
from Mark Roberts at Westside Church of Christ Irving, Texas
"A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho" from Luke's Gospel where Jesus tells the story that answers the question "Who is my neighbor?"
“Child,' said the Lion, 'I am telling you your story, not hers. No one is told any story but their own.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Horse and His Boy
During my thinking and listening time, this is what came to my mind:
"And God said....." Genesis 1 "the Word was with God and the Word was God...." John 1 "Write what you see in a book...." from the Holy Bible, the very Word of God from The Greatest Story Ever Told
God is Spirit. He is Greater than ALL. God is the Truth. God chose to reveal His Son through the written and spoken Word of His Prophets, sent Him to walk among us fully God and fully man, a mystery for sure and then continued to have His children record this Life in the Gospels, had Paul write letters to the Churches, the saints, to close brothers and finally God revealed to John, the Beloved Jesus returning in power and the end and that there will be a new heaven, a new earth and a new city. The story of stories is to go forth and be proclaimed throughout the world. The story has been preserved through the millenniums for us.
No matter where we are in life and in the world we want to hear the stories that not only inspire and move us, but also that disrupt and challenge us. We want to stay connected - this is precisely why the stories must be told. And with that perhaps I will get going with my nano novel and see where my characters take me today.
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
This looks like a fantastic way to get a fresh look at the Bible. My friends, Sharon & Keith are reading through these books. It is fun to get my hands on them and be inspired by looking at the Word as an entire narrative. The Word of God is alive and active.
Before the Last Resort
A book about saving one's marriage and the LORD knows that marriages these days are in need of being saved. One reviewer said that anyone who is married can benefit from this book. The subtitle is 3 simple questions to rescue your marriage.
You are not a sinful wretch
My daughter, Grace sent this blog post to me. What an encouragement. The past couple of years, I have been struggling with my identity in Christ. As a Christian, I am to find my identity in the One who has called me his own. In Colossians it says, "And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him" (Colossians 1:21-22 ESV) Yes, we still sin but we have been made new by the Blood and Righteousness of Jesus Christ. When we choose the label Sinner over Saved One, then we are identifying with our former condition instead of our current standing in Christ.
So often, I find myself in conversation and getting practical help for living life in the Truth and then I forget, I don't write it down or make a mental note and I fail to take action. I don't want to be that person. There is plenty of trouble in this life but there is also plenty of help. We need each other. Everyday has enough trouble of its own. So often it take a natural disaster like Hurricane Sandy for people to realize that we need each other. It is not something to be ashamed of but rather an opportunity to embrace our humanity every day. We were not created to walk through life alone. When our Creator made everything, he saw that "it was good" after creating all the major elements that make up life but then God said, It is not good that man should be alone.
Remember one another, love one another, be there for others and let others be there for you.
Saturday, October 13, 2012
Friday, October 05, 2012
A dear friend of mine said to me years ago, "You are the loudest gentle and quiet spirit I know." It was one of the best complements that I have ever had. For those who know me well, know by my voice, my laugh and my sneeze are all naturally loud and some may even say I have an equally loud personality and that has made it challenging for me in being a Christian woman. Some Christian women think I ought to change, conform to being a "lady." Fortunately, I have friends who happen to be Christians that love me for who are am. They don't simply tolerate me but genuinely love me.
I read this post and while it talked about aging and beauty, it also quoted that scripture about the gentle and quiet spirit. The phrase actually modifies "the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty." Using the word "loud" to describe a woman in Christian circles is usually used in the negative. Doing my best to shed the sin of caving to the fear of man, I have tried in vain to come to terms with this part of my natural makeup. It is best to just forget about what other people think, how they interpret the Scripture and do my best to be myself and to exercise self-control. If you are in a room full of women, a fire breaks out who do you want to notice sooner, the timid soul who is going to "be a gentle & quiet spirit" and pray for a man to come along to shout FIRE or me? Not only will I shout but I would take action. Do you see where this takes us when we "add" to what God has written? When we take Scripture out of context and apply it to what we decide, it is not actually an application but "adding words" to the Sacred text which by the way we are forbidden to do.
When we read it in context:
Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening. Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. (1 Peter 3:1-7 ESV)
There is a great tendency to want to just lean on a few words and turn them inside out. (We have all been guilty of this) People take the principle of looking upon the heart which is one of the points Peter is making in this passages and apply it to my externals, the exact thing that Peter is saying not to do.
I want to say to myself and others, Be Yourself. God has created you for His purposes. He is the Potter and we are the clay. When other clay criticizes you just for being you, gently tell them to take up with the Potter. There is so much diversity in the body of Christ and I hate to see it squashed by people who want the body to be divided in half: women who look, sound, dress and act alike and men who do the same on the masculine side. A body like that lacks beauty and does not bring glory to the one who has made us. Keith Green wrote that "we are like windows stained with the colors of the rainbow." The Light of the World wants to shine through us and he has made each of us oh so wonderfully different.
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
I have been very lacks in writing on this blog regularly. There are no excuses. I am living life. The changes in my life are rapid. When our children were 3 children under age 5, I would often hear, "You must be a busy mom." It is challenging to document what is happening. My times of reflection have been spent in prayer and sometimes a letter or a few lines in a journal. I have started 2 different posts about Grace and Austin's wedding but I was not satisfied with either of them. Indeed I do love to write and it is high time that I love it enough to really give myself to it.
This summer we had our dear Katie home for the summer. Her first summer home since we lived in Gainesville, Florida in 2006. It was a delight to have our Red Girl here with us. And for the first time in her whole life she got to have her parents all to herself as Michael was at L'abri for 6 weeks this summer. She did miss him but survived being with us. Katie helped with painting projects and getting ready for the arrival of the bride and groom to be in our very new home. My dear K mostly extended love and kindness toward me as I anticipated having all 3 of my children under one roof knowing that soon all three would be gone by the end of August.
The wedding week made our house a home with people coming and coming and then the day came for our little greek girl, Grace to become Austin's wife. It was a simple wedding where these two dear young people pledged themselves to one another in the site of God and witnesses. During the ceremony the bride's family sees the face of the groom and the groom's family sees the face of the bride. My dear friend Mary said, that is so that you can look upon the face of the one who you will welcome into your family. Tears of joy and wonder streamed down my son-in-law's face brought tears to my own eyes as I embraced him in my heart knowing how much Grace loves him and anticipates spending the rest of her days with him. (perhaps one of my other wedding blog posts will eventually surface ;)
Less than three weeks later, Michael would pack up my car with his possessions leaving room for our suitcases and overnight bags. He has been packing cars since he was 10 and he knows what needs to go where. Our destination was Wheaton, Illinois just outside of Chicago. Michael is at Wheaton College studying Philosophy and majoring in growing into a man of God. He has not come right out and said that's his major. These are my words as a witness to his young life. Now the transition in the physical sense is complete. Three children raised up to be adults. WOW. What a mighty God we serve. The chapter has been closed. I went out with joy. The joy of knowing that our son walks in the truth. Sure there were tears throughout August bittersweet tears happy for my children and sadness over a season, mostly sweet coming to a close. Imperfect parents raising equally imperfect children in the Shadow of The Almighty: our joy, our strength, the salvation of our souls, the Trustworthy and Perfect Father presiding over us all. This was the road trip where Michael would not be returning home with me. Our last eaglet being launched and looking forward to seeing him soar with the wind beneath his wings just outside The Windy City.
Saturday, September 01, 2012
Monday, August 20, 2012
“Brothers, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to us has been sent the message of this salvation. For those who live in Jerusalem and their rulers, because they did not recognize him nor understand the utterances of the prophets, which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled them by condemning him. And though they found in him no guilt worthy of death, they asked Pilate to have him executed. And when they had carried out all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead, and for many days he appeared to those who had come up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses to the people. And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm,
“‘You are my Son,
today I have begotten you.’
And as for the fact that he raised him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, he has spoken in this way,
“‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.’
Therefore he says also in another psalm,
“‘You will not let your Holy One see corruption.’
For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption, but he whom God raised up did not see corruption. Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses."
(Acts 13:26-39 ESV)
I have been alternating reading this section of Acts 13 and the 17th chapter of Acts each day as of late. Each chapter contains the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ. This line keep grabbing me "everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses." Of course, you have to read it in context. We have to ask and answer the question: What is it that you are to believe in order to have this freedom? The first part of the answer seems obvious to me: the clause right before this one says: "that through this man (Jesus Christ) forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you" so we are forgiven of our sins. I can hear myself before I was a Christian saying, "So what?! Who cares? I am not interested in being a good girl and having no fun." There was no appeal to me. I was blind and I had no understanding of my need for forgiveness. Frankly, I didn't care. When the LORD opened my eyes and I saw that God was Holy and could not be in the presence of sin and that He loved me enough to pour out His wrath upon His Son Jesus who went to the cross willingly to die for my sins, that I might be forgiven and made righteous by His blood, then and only then did I see my need. The need goes far deeper and still more is being revealed as I seek Him. I believe that through "this man" i.e. Jesus Christ I have forgiveness of sins.
We can't just leave it at that. The man, Jesus Christ died for my sins. If he was just any man, it would not have fulfilled God's requirement of a perfect sacrifice. Jesus lived a perfect life as a man and he is also God incarnate. Yes, I believe he is 100% man (100% God) who was raised bodily and did not see decay and is now at the right hand of the Father interceding for those who believe and trust in Him. 1st John 4 verse 2 states: "By this you know the spirit of God, every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God" I believe that Jesus Christ is God and that he came into the world just as we do, being born of a woman, he grew into a man. He counted himself as one of our brothers and being made like us in every respect as it says in Hebrews 2. I believe that Jesus Christ came in the flesh.
Thirdly, there is the fulfillment of the Law. That Jesus is who He says He is. The Law of Moses was followed by the Jews. We might call them "keepers of the Law." They also possessed the hope of the Coming Messiah and some had their own ideas about what He would be about and how He would conduct His business. Some Jews, obviously, had their eyes open by the Holy Spirit and some did not. One of the mysteries is how God Almighty, Infinite in Power and Providence used all to bring about His Plan of Salvation through Jesus Christ.
By keeping the law of Moses seemingly to perfection by great works we can not be free. Even our BEST works are considered stained by sin. We can't have it so that our good works outweigh our bad deeds. If we could, then Jesus Christ died in vain and God could not be holy.
Christians who believe if they go to church every Sunday, tithe 10% or more, do good to their neighbors, friends and enemies, serve in the ministry of the Church and the Word in other words love God and their neighbor in their own power are not free.
Christians who believe that they are saved by Grace Alone through Faith Alone and can do whatever they want to do in this life. They are a law unto themselves and they too are legalists. There is no freedom for the law makers either.
Who can have this freedom?!
Those who believe that Jesus paid it all. Those who believe Jesus did for them what they could never do for themselves. Those who believe it is Jesus who paid for all of their sins. Those who believe that Jesus is the God/man who came in the flesh, lived the life that they could never live, died the death that they deserved and rose bodily from the grave. Those who believe that Jesus conquered sin and death motivated by the great love with which He loved us and made us alive that we might have LIFE Eternal. Those who indeed believe that Jesus plus nothing indeed equals everything are the ones who have been set free from everything which the law had no power to do.
"Now the LORD is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." 2Corinthians 3:17
Monday, August 06, 2012
Life keeps rolling faster as my aging parents slow down.
Tears fall easy as their grandchild weds,
Wasn't it just yesterday that I sang to my children tugged in bed.
My eyes are sore and my heart is full.
God's grace has sustained me for all the years gone by and He will
be faithful for the days that lie ahead.
Newlyweds step into the unknown.
Twinkle in their eyes, kisses on their lips.
Holding each other closer. Loving. Forgiving. Enjoying.
Rehearse this love, remember that we are here for each other.
Life is not meant to be lived alone. Older ones and little ones
seem to need our care the most.
Live life knowing that you are loved and you will freely love one another.
Thursday, July 26, 2012
And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.
(Colossians 1:21-23 ESV)
The truth and gratitude and what is it that you need? Grace for today, hope for tomorrow and mercy to be. Just be. Yesterday I was being by basking in The Presence of the LORD at the beach. Not concerning myself with the time or the text or the email, just relaxing and resting at the Atlantic, it is where I experience the Almighty hand of God in creation and recognize my own smallness, how incredibly dependent I really am on God. And in less than 24 hours time, I find myself tangled up in the web of self-centered fear and can't fight my way out of it, drag my family into it and wonder why I can't seem to carry the love, rest, peace, joy, clarity, kindness and confidence I had in the LORD yesterday into today?
Identity Crisis: It breaks in to steal and kill and destroy because if I really knew that I "once was" and now "I am reconciled" then I would rise and walk in the midst of this day in the same spirit that I walked upon the sand and through the shallow water. So, I have fallen, and crawled and cried and been tripped up by my sinful response to my day and the way that it has unfolded. So, I find myself in an interesting place, another opportunity to preach the Gospel to myself, another day to look at My Rescuer in the face (in His Word because I hold onto the hope of One day meeting Him face to face) and there is where I am to behold my Identity. It is IN Christ, that I am reconciled by the Blood and Righteousness of Christ that HE may present me holy and blameless and above reproach because in and of myself, I can NOT cut it. And it is only when I realize that I am nothing without HIM that I can begin to taste the sweetness of light when I am basking in the LIGHT of the TRUTH which is available each and every day.
This morning I read: "Do not let your hearts be troubled....." from the Gospel of John. I started over, out loud, "Let not your heart be troubled, Catherine, believe in God, believe also in me...." Jesus goes on to say a few verses later, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." Jesus is preparing his disciples for his departure, his return to the Father but that He will not leave them orphans and He has not left us orphaned. He has sent His Holy Spirit who is also called the Helper. Where does my help come from? Where is my hope? One in the same, My LORD and my God who is with me. As Paul David Tripp tweeted 2 days ago: "No need to like feel like your alone today because if you're God's child, Emmanuel has moved in and isn't leaving."
Mine is to believe that Jesus is who He says HE is and that as His Child, I am who he says I am, loved, delivered, transferred, adopted, forgiven, being made new, kept, sealed, a sinner once enslaved and now bought by the Blood of Jesus Christ my Lord and I have been set free to live in the LIGHT of His grace and truth.
Monday, July 23, 2012
In the gospel of John when the man born blind is healed by Jesus and this causes debate over the healing, the man is brought a second time to The Jews and he says to them, "We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him." The healed man was defending Jesus. The teachers were insulted saying, "You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?"
The clause (not a "phrase" for all the Grammar Nazis out there who may read my blog and fail to ever send me an email or comment with corrections ;) "God does not listen to sinners" caught my eye yesterday. It is interesting. It seems like it was common knowledge among the Jews since the man said "we know" and Jesus is a friend of sinners and at the same time He is Holy. Jesus tipped the whole Jewish world upside down. The Jews were losing control. Jesus was healing on the Sabbath, hanging out with sinners, teaching without having gone to school, speaking with authority like no other. A radical, Jesus' family believed he had gone mad.
So what happened? Jesus not only listened to sinners but dined with them, entered their homes, allowed a sinful woman to wash his feet with her tears, touched the lepers, called a tax collector, traveled with a traitor, spoke to a Samaritan woman, treated women as people, etc. This was just the beginning, His earthly ministry was nothing short of AMAZING; the Beloved disciple John wrote in his gospel, "Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world could not contain the books that would be written." (John 21:25)
Planned from Eternity past between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit that the Father would send the Son to die for sinners, God made a way for sinners to have a hearing. By Jesus' Blood and Righteousness we now have access to the Father. No longer in need of a priest to approach the Holy One, but now by the Life, Death and Resurrection of Christ Jesus: He bids us to come. The writer of Hebrews says that we may boldly draw near to the throne of grace that we may find mercy and find grace in our time of need. Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans: that God showing his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. On our own, dead in our sins and trespasses, God can not hear us, BUT now through Jesus Christ, who came in order to save sinners, we being covered in His Righteousness can now confidently know that sinners saved by grace alone can enter into the Presence of God, wrecked and messed up as we are at times, knowing that it is not in our own goodness, piety, and works that give us the ear of our Heavenly Father but by The Son who even now is interceding for us.
So, let us worship HIM in Spirit and in Truth. When we open the Word of God may we be granted wisdom to read it within the context of the whole Redemption Story. Let us call upon the Name of the LORD knowing that we will indeed be heard.
Friday, July 13, 2012
"The knowledge of God is the great hope of sinners. Oh, if you knew him better, you would fly to him! If you understood how gracious he is, you would seek him. If you could have any idea of his holiness, you would loath your self-righteousness. If you knew anything of his power, you would not venture to contend with him. If you knew anything of his grace you would not hesitate to yield yourself to him."
Charles H. Spurgeon. On a green 4x6 card written in my daughter's hand found in a box from storage.
"The Bible brings into the light the fact that God is in all that happens in this life. There is an infidel philosophy masquerading under the name of Christian, that ascribes only a "general providence." But this is not the God revealed in the Bible. God's immediate power is necessary to all things existing inside and outside of the universe. He is the active sustainer of all. Quasi Sovereignty is a doctrine of Deism which says the universe is basically running itself; but the Scripture assures us that, "In Him we live and move and have our existence."
Dr. Dennis Dickinson from his book Deep to Deep
For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.
(Ecclesiastes 2:26 ESV)
No longer looking for the God made in my own image. The LORD God is SO much grander than I can ever think or imagine.
Tuesday, July 03, 2012
Change ..... it is the one constant in our lives. Right now we are preparing for the wedding of our first born, Grace Joan to Austin Humbles. We are thrilled for her. And grateful for our future son-in-love. The majority of what I have posted about the end of this chapter in our lives, I wrote right around the time of their engagement. And I am so forward thinking at the point that it is hard to reflect back.
Today I delighted in being a distant witness to Michael picking out his class for the fall (he will attend Wheaton College in IL) and Katie helping him process through it and the two of them enjoying each other.
We did something that I never thought I would get to do with my kids again and that was visit the library in our new town (minus Grace :(. The reason I got to go with them is due to the fact that Dan just got a new car and it is a stick. Michael does not drive a stick. Katie is just getting her feet wet behind the wheel, so the three of us were off to the library together. It did feel a bit nostalgic.
Unless I really find myself reflecting, the conclusion will not come until some time in September.
Happy 4th of July to everyone. Remember Freedom is not free. Thousands have paid with their very lives for your freedom. Thank a Vet this week.
Without further ado, here they are:
Monday, July 02, 2012
It has been a great adventure and not just because we were pilgrims in the physical sense but more so that we are pilgrims on our way to the Celestial City and we bid our children to come with us, leading them in the paths of righteousness, knowing full well that it is the Father who leads us and them for that matter. The journey has had its highs and lows. It is hard to believe that life is racing on and I want to be able to savor the moments and really take things in....leave my phone behind or off even for just a few hours at a time and just be present wherever I go especially when I am with my kids.
I have not been very good about blogging about the girls being launched, not the way I would have hoped to have written. The notes are more like doggie ears within the blog instead of actual posts. However, the girls have been coming and going for some time now, both are college students and for the most part Michael has been "home alone and in the world" with his parents for the better part of 2 years.
Sunday, July 01, 2012
to be continued......
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
I would love to but.....what was I thinking?
For those of you who know me personally, know....it does not take a lot of arm twisting to get me to go to Boston. Yes, I will drop almost anything to go into "town." Being raised by 2 Bostonians and venturing into the city regularly as a kid, then having the pleasure of living in the neighborhoods of Brighton and the Riverway and then in the neighboring city of Brookline has given me a life long love affair with the city.
The obvious question is why? and my short answer is, "what is not to love?"
Not unlike our southern rival NYC (New York City) there is a diversity of people from all over the globe. There is nothing like seeing all the different nations represented on a sardine pack train on the T and know that many, a great number that no one can number from every nation, tribe and language will be saved by the blood of the Lamb. (Revelation 7) It is fun to just people watch knowing that in the sea of humanity we can see the beauty of our Creator.
One of the draws of this coastal capital of the Commonwealth is of course the history, "The cradle of Liberty," the birth place of the original 13 colonies, home of the Patriots (founding fathers not NFLers) and of course, "a city on a hill" according to Gov. John Winthrop. Freedom to worship God is not exactly spelled out in the words, "established by the Puritans in 1630,"but that was the goal of leaving the Mother Country. Boston is rich with inventors, scholars, leaders, forerunners and believers.
The city is compact and great for walking. You can stroll and take in quite a bit but I enjoy walking at "city pace" and getting from Downtown Crossing to Faneuil Hall in record time. At this year's Boston Marathon I walked the last mile from Kenmore to Copley to congratulated Karen Kovaka in completing her 2nd Marathon. Marathon(Patriots') Day is a great day to be in Boston. The city is a electric with a sense of encouragement and hope even if the Red Sox lose on that day. Yet another reason that I love this city! If you visit, grab a map, get off the T and start walking. (and don't listen to Siri, she does not know her way around the city.)
It is a great place to visit with friends or enjoy by yourself. I don't really like to go with a crowd over 50 because then it comes all about controlling the crowd.
There is night life in Boston and the most recent time I went in at night was to take a crazy Texan, named Mary Vasquez (no she didn't cross the border) who drove Katie all the way home from Texas to Massachusetts (oh to have the energy of a 20-something) and was hitting to road again, the next day. As a mere formality Katie asked if I would take them into Boston, knowing that the answer would be yes, I said no. (What was I thinking?) The girls were bummed. I was going to put Michael on the job. Toward the end of dinner, I was needing to give Michael written directions for where to park....the long and the short of it is, I took the kids into Boston. We had a great time. Dessert was at Mike's Pastry in the North End on Hanover St. and then it was a quick race through a few spots just to whet Mary's appetite to come back to the fair city. We didn't go to a comedy or night club and there are plenty of those around town, as well as fine dining, the BSO, the Red Sox, the Celtics, the Bruins, MFA, MOS, BPL, the Theatre District, Chinatown, Southie, etc. We even drove down Clarendon St. in between the 2 John Hancock buildings. (Yes, there are 2 of them.)
The Video has nothing to do with the post. I just really like this commercial. And to think less than 20 years ago, we would only be looking at a TV spot on TV. =D
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Recently, I listened to an explanation just of the word "Gospel" which means good news, not good teaching, not good rules for living, not a theory about God and godly living. Evangelizing does not mean racking up converts - it does mean sharing the good news, reporting what Jesus has done and leaving the soul winning up to the Holy Spirit.
Why do Christians not want to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with others? Most of my own reasons or rather excuses are based in self-centered fear which leads me to the fear of man. There are many excuses but really no good reason to keep us from sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ. I think the biggest reason for not sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ is we don't really understand the simplicity and yet incredibly profound meaning of the Greatest News that mankind has ever heard.
The simplicity: it is news. The life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ happened in the Middle East just over 2000 years ago. It wasn't just any life, or common death or the resurrection of a sinner. This was the perfect sinless life if Jesus Christ who took on flesh, being 100%man/100% God. He is the LORD for all eternity. Jesus Christ never stopped being God, hence he lived perfectly and was 100% righteous in his earthly life. His death was to pay for the sins of "the multitude that no on can number" for those who believe His blood was shed for the forgiveness of sins, the wrath of God was pour out upon Him so that we would be granted a righteousness not of our own doing. Jesus did not stop there, it was in His bodily resurrection that He conquered death. Jesus is now interceding for us at the right hand of the Father. He has given us New Life in His finished work that he did through his life, death and resurrection. For this we say Hallelujah and Amen.
The profound meaning: the Gospel of Jesus Christ is in a number of ways an incredible mystery. Foundationally, we are not here on this earth for our own good, our own pleasure and our self-determining ways. This is our Father's world, I can rest me in that thought, not just in the beauty of creation which is a mere shadow to the new heaven and new earth to come but in the fact that God in His loving mercy would choose to save me from sin and death. The longer I am on this earth and the longer I choose to reflect on the holiness of God, the more aware I am of my sinful heart and can hardly get my head around the fact, the Jesus willingly, as in the not my will but Thy will be done fashion, went to the cross knowing that he would drink the cup of wrath so that we would be able to drink the cup of joy - eternally. We are here on this earth for His Glory.
The point is not to sell the news, just deliver it. Don't make an emotional appeal, don't put any spin on it, don't promise things that are not found in The Book, don't be ashamed. Do speak the truth in love. Do proclaim that the Love of God is displayed in the laying down of His Life. Do declare that God's doing is for His Own Glory, in other words it is God's Glory that is central to the Gospel.
Jesus Christ is to be lifted up. He has done it all. ONLY Christianity says Rest, Jesus has paid it all. Only Christianity says, Remember what Jesus has done and be thankful. Only Christianity says, Life is not fair, aren't you glad that you don't get what you deserve (death). Only Christianity claims that GOD has done for you, what you could never do for yourself. Our best efforts will never be enough. Jesus demonstrates the perfect love, the pure grace and overflowing mercy.
Saturday, May 26, 2012
This morning I picked up a novel by a 19th century writer and I am hoping that my mother will let me read it to her. It is by George MacDonald, a contemporary of Charles Dickens, who wrote prolifically in his day. He wrote across several genres and my favorite is the adult novels. I hesitate to call them what they are: Jesus the Lover of my soul is the romancer in these stories. It is uplifting because the characters are believable people who have messy lives, needs and of course, they are all souls in need of a Savior.
There are compelling reasons that stories are so important. For this blog post I will talk about three reasons: 1. We all are living out our own story. 2. The LORD Jesus used the story to teach truth 3. It is an art that Christians need to recapture.
The stories of our lives start out in a time and place. In my case, it was 1965, the year I was conceived and resided in my mother's womb and my parents lived in Brighton, a neighborhood of Boston. There is a story to tell here. Each person who is reading this post is in the midst of their own story. My believe is that the Author of Life has already penned my story and that I have the privilege of discovering what it is and rejoicing in it, in the midst of it all, that is the good, the bad and the ugly. If you happen to be reading this and you don't believe in an Author of Life, I would love for you to ponder one question: (especially if you are over 30) Did you ever imagine that your life would look like it does today?
Most people know the story of the Good Samaritan. Sure, most of those people just think of it as helping a stranger or even a friend in need when not asked. Jesus was showing the Pharisees evidence of what loving your neighbor as yourself looked like. The story of the Prodigal Son is also common knowledge. Lots of people are inspired by the bad boy son who has not had his conscience seared, comes to his senses and finds mercy and celebration from his father. We remember these stories because Jews hate Samaritans and the Samaritan is the hero and that a son who lives recklessly and is led to repent on remembrance of his father's generosity and kindness leave an impact on the reader/listener.
Lastly, books, films and music lyrics all tell stories. We as a redeemed people are commanded to be Ministers of Reconciliation. Preach the Word, preach the Truth and don't be afraid to use your Imagination to tell a story, whether it is your own story of a sinner saved by grace, another saints story that has gone on before you and yes, the story that came to you as you walked along the Pilgrim Highway. One John Bunyan penned a story that has captured the hearts and minds of people for hundreds of years, leading people to The Truth and helping them find their way to the Celestial City.
Sunday, May 06, 2012
We have finally gotten to this place, our new home (....which we have said more times than we want to count in the last 4 years) and Dan says, "it still feels like this is someone else house." And I said, "that is because it is, we are just the managers. This house is the Lord's every room under this roof." Today I would add every blade of grass in the yard, the couple of places where the hardwood is original and it gives a little squeak, kind of like my knees that I find myself more today than when I first believed and it is not just from painting the baseboards ;-), the street we live on and the plot of land that straddles the town line, He is Sovereign. As some of you know, it has been some time since we have had a place of permanency and the process of waiting has brought me to the conclusion, it is ALL temporary housing. Sure houses tend to last longer than people, none of us gets out of here alive unless you are the next Enoch or Elijah.
I have a paint brush with my name on it but I just wanted to keep this blog going.....It was a matter of being inspired by one of my favorite writers as a high schooler, Ray Bradbury. (I listened to a lecture he gave at Point Loma Nazerene University) There is just so much to say about temporary housing, eternal perspectives, home, hospitality, the arts, the power of the written word fiction and non-fiction alike, beauty in the cracks, the running of paint that you missed now "permanently" running down the wall unless you sand, prime and paint all over again, motorcycle alley, what it means "to do it right," imperfections in a "perfect place" (which does not exist in this world, by the way), etc. Yes, this is my list of just some things to write about.........
Thursday, April 12, 2012
Friday, March 30, 2012
Saturday, March 03, 2012
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Sunday, February 05, 2012
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Saturday, January 21, 2012
Sunday, January 15, 2012
Pilgrims on an eternal journey
Some of my friends have been in their same home church for all of their Christian walk and others have changed churches for one reason or another and some of us have moved and been a part of a number of church families. In late 2011 Dan and I became members of Bethlehem Bible Church (BBC) in West Boylston, MA.
Making a decision to become a part of a local body of believers is not a decision that Dan and I took lightly. For myself, I really thought hard and long, prayed, read, researched and asked questions. As with any organization, there will be some things that we do not agree with but on the essentials we do agree. And yes, a local body of believers is both a church family and an organization. There may be a number of essentials that I could go through but for this blog post I will just talk about two: 1. The Love of Christ as demonstrated through the people and 2. The High view of God communicated by the expositional preaching of God's Word.
The demonstration of love that personally gave me the desire to become a part of BBC was the process of "church discipline." Some of my readers may think, "that is archaic" well let me explain. It was the pursuing of a dear one who was walking away from her family and the family of God reached out to her and with tears, prayers and open arms encouraged her to return and make things right. BBC as a church family had to release her, let her go, and turn her over to the LORD, with the commitment to pray that she will at sometime return to the LORD. Where else in the world do people love each other enough to say you are going the wrong way, come back, we love you, we know that life is hard? And when the person says, thanks but no thanks, those who love their dear one love her enough to let her go. Isn't this what we do as parents? Even with our adult children? Sometimes it is not clear and things get messy and we are willing to walk through the mess with one another. Is this not loving? It IS! Of course, there are many other acts of love that the dear ones at BBC do for one another, their neighbors, friends and strangers....listening, praying, making meals, helping one another move, visiting, etc. all types of family activities that demonstrate a love for one another. This is motivated by the Greatest LOVER of ALL, Jesus Christ, the LORD Most High. One other way that these dear folks love is through the preaching, teaching and heralding of God's Word. This last act leads me to the second point, which is having a High view of God through expositional preaching.
(for those unfamiliar with the term "expositional preaching" here is a good definition -Expository preaching involves the exposition, or comprehensive explanation, of the Scripture; that is, expository preaching presents the meaning and intent of a biblical text, providing commentary and examples to make the passage clear and understandable. from http://www.gotquestions.org/expository-preaching.html)
Today this very day Mike Abendroth preached about Jesus from the Gospel of Mark from Mark 1;1, 4;35-41, 6;45-52. "So yeah, he preached about Jesus. You are a Christian who else is he going to preach about?" Some might think. Today exposition of the text was with the sole purpose of again being amazed by the GOD-Man, Jesus Christ. Today, I was asked through the preaching of the Word to look up to the One who is called the Christ and see Him High and Lifted up by the lowly preacher who is a sinner just like me. He is so unlike us, yet was willing to leave His home in glory to become human like you and me.
As was said today, there does need to be more preaching on Jesus Christ so that our response is to behold the LORD and believe that Jesus is who He said he was and what the Holy Scriptures say about Him. There is plenty of preaching in today's American churches of what I would call, man-centered preaching. It is so appealing to the flesh. A "look what the Son of God has given to us" attitude instead of realizing how Great and Awesome is our GOD. It is such a subtle and fine line, because Jesus has done great things and continues to do things through the lives of His children. The point is for this Christian, I need to have a Higher view of God than I do of man. There are probably many who preach and live with too high a view of man who hold up God higher than man but it is most likely coupled with too high of a view of man. So instead of God being exalted, the gifts given to man from God are given more attention and the gifts are often manifested through man therefore man becomes the central focus of the preaching. It is the "what does this passage mean to me?" instead of "what is God saying in the passage?"
What is the crux of "having a High View of God in relations to man?" In order to get there we need to talk about holiness. A subject that I am not very comfortable writing or talking about. This past year, I took a class on growing in personal holiness A woman in Christ, currently I am finishing The Pursuit of Holiness and I have had a number of conversations with a couple of trusted friends about the topic. I believe a look at God being Holy is required in order for man to have a proper perspective. When I am able to see that the God who saved me is completely HOLY, perfect, all together pure, then I begin to understand why Peter said to Jesus "Depart from me for I am sinful man." When we find ourselves in the presence of our Holy God, our eyes are opened in that type of light to the darkness of our sin and like the angels of Revelation we go and hide our faces. Yes, the beauty, the majesty, the glory is too much for us and we cry out holy, holy, holy is the LORD God Almighty.
It is through the Light of God's Word which some call The Holy Bible that we are able to recognize that we are sinners and in the world there is no hope for us. The good news is not a cover up of the bad news. To simply say I am free in Christ without remember what HE has freed us from can be a dangerous place. A place where I am in danger of becoming puffed up. With "I am God's child and I am free to do whatever I want to do and be whatever I want to be because I am free," upon my lips and forgetting what it is that I have been freed from and therefore lacking gratitude for this precious freedom. Before I come to a resolution for this line of thinking, I must say the following. The first word about every human being is that each one is created in the image of the triune God. We are image bearers, having a likeness of our Creator. How Awesome, how humbling! The next word is that because of Adam's sin, we were born in iniquity and conceived in sin. This is very bad news. If we hope for eternal life with the Holy One then we need to be cleansed of our sins and made holy. Through the blood of Jesus Christ we are made holy, cleansed from all our sins. Jesus says COME! He will wash you and make you as white as the new fallen snow and in Him you will be made holy and righteous in order to be in the presence of This HOLY God, Creator of the Universe, Lord of Heaven and Earth. In the remembrance of what we have been freed from - SIN and DEATH, it is in this place that I am still learning to live in gratitude for the love, grace, mercy, forgiveness and this freedom from sin and death that I can see my place with the Holy One is given to me freely as a gift from the Righteous One, the LORD Jesus Christ delivering me from my sin. This is not just good news, it is GREAT News!