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Monday, February 19, 2018

The Promise [Live]


What promises are you holding onto?  Wealth, health and a  stress free life?

Image result for picture of broken promiseI am a sucker for quick weight loss promises and almost bought into one this past month.  Everything in my flesh wants to take out the "hard work" of any promise the world has to offer. 

  Recently I became a mentor Mom for the MOP  program, Moms of preschoolers.  Two days a month they meet and share their struggles, usually hear a great devotion and maybe an expert speak on subject that a young Mom would listen to and of course have a breakfast potluck.

Since it was Valentine week we watch a video on marriage then had a discussion at each table.  The ladies at my table surprisingly went deep right away, sharing how hard it was to have a good marriage.  Most of them shared things they had tried to put romance back into their marriage, some had success, some did not.  Each one was disappointed in some way in their marriage.  One young Mom finally said the most important words of the whole discussion, "hard work".  She said, it so hard, harder than anything I have ever did.  I keep failing, he keeps failing and then we have to start over again, it's just hard.

After all the wedding presents are put away, the dress vacuum wrapped, the tux returned, cake all eaten and we settle down for the long haul we start to notice all those promise we made each other start slipping.  No couple stand at the alter and promises each other they  will disappoint or fail to make each others dreams come true. We promise just the opposite, we promise to love till death do us part.  And as soon as we don't feel that romantic love we felt before and during the wedding, we start realizing our expectations are not being met. Kind of like those quick weight loss programs, that promise instant results and produce cravings that can only be met by eating a donuts. 

The Martin have a song that is taken right from the pages of the Bible about what God promises and what He doesn't promise.  His promise will bring us back to the reality of living life as it really is, hard,  takes a lot of work to keep a marriage strong or lose some extra pounds.  Praise God He does not leave us because we are over weight. 


If you think God has promised this world will be a five-star hotel, you will be miserable as you live        through the normal struggles of life. But if you remember that God promise that  we would be pilgrims and this world may feel more like a desert or even a prison, you might find your life surprisingly happy.”

― Kevin DeYoung, Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will
   
                    

What is your favorite promise from God.



Sunday, February 11, 2018


Image result for pictures of being in awe of God
Human beings, who were created to live in awe of God, are in grave danger when familiarity causes them to be bored with God.
Familiarity is a beautiful thing…But the blessing of blessings is to be familiar with the ways, the character, the presence, and the promises of God…Yes, familiarity is a wonderful thing, but it can also be a very dangerous thing.  Paul Tripp


I don't feel like I am bored with God but maybe bored at little with His word.  It's somehow more exciting to sit and watch a famous women speaker then spend that same amount of time in the Word myself.  If you follow me on facebook you will  know I love quotes.  People, including me will read a short quote more then a scripture. 

From Jen Wilkin book, Women of the Word: Unhelpful habits of "spending time in the Word"

(this is the shorten version)

1. The Xanax Approach...This approach treats the Bible as if it exists to make us feel better. Whether aided by a devotional book or just the topical index in my Bible, I pronounce my time in the Word successful if I can say, "Wow, that was really comforting.  The problem is the Xanax approach makes the Bible about me. I ask how the Bible can serve me, rather than how I can serve the God it proclaims. ( Feeling awesome? Jeremiah 17:9 says we're wicked rascals.)


2.The Pinball Approach...Lacking a preference or any guidance about what to read, I read whatever Scripture I happen to turn to.  Hey, it's all good, right? I'll just ask the Holy Spirit to speak to me through whatever were I flip to. Releasing the plunger of my good intentions, I send the pin ball of my ignorance hurtling toward whatever passage it may hit, ricocheting around to various passages "as the Spirit  leads."  The problem of this approach is the Bible was not written to be read this way.  This approach gives no thought to cultural, historical or textual context, authorship, or original intent of the passage in question.  When we read this way we treat the Bible with less respect than we would give to a simple textbook. 


3. The Magic 8 Ball Approach:  A questions comes up about who I should marry, if I should color my hair. I give the Bible a vigorous shake and open it, placing my finger blindly on a verse, I read it to see if "signs point to yes."   The problem is, the Bible is not magical and it does not serve our whims, nor is its primary function to answer our questions.  The Magic 8 approach misconstrues the ministry of the Holy Spirit through the Word, demanding that it tells us what to do rather than who to be.  It's aim is to change our hearts so that we desire what God desires, rather that to spoon-feed us answers to every decision in life. 



4. The Personal Shopper Approach:  I want to know about being a Godly woman or how to deal with self esteem issues, but I don't know where to find verses about that, so I let a famous Bible teacher do the leg work for me. the problem with this approach is it doesn't help us build :ownership" of Scriptures.  We turn from passage to passage, gaining fragmentary knowledge of many books of the Bible but mastery of none. Topical studies do hold potential to help us grow but we risk something by calling them a Bible study. Topical studies serve a purpose but help us integrate broad concepts into our understanding of Scripture.  But they are not foundational.  If they are all we do, we will miss out on the richness of learning a book of the Bible from start to finish.  


5.The Telephone Game Approach:  Remember the telephone game, where you sit in a circle and whispered a sentence into the ear of the person next to you?   The fun lay in seeing how garbled the message was by the time it made it around the circle.  A similar process can happen when we read books about the Bible instead of reading the Bible itself.  This approach means we are probably what someone says about what someone says about what the Bible says. Again, topical studies, books about the Bible can helpful, but they are not foundational.  If I can quote John Piper more than I can quote the apostle Paul, I've probably been practicing the Telephone Game Approach. We're called to love the Lord our God with all our mind, not John Piper's mind.   ( a personal note, I fall for this one because I think those I read know so much more about the bible than I do and it is easier to gleam from them then do the work myself) 


6.The Jack Sprat Approach:  I take this approach when I engage in "picky eating" with the Word of God.  I read the New Testament, but other than Psalms and Proverbs, I avoid the old Testament, or I read books with characters, plots, or topics I can easily identify with.  We women are especially drawn to this approach, especially the women books.  The Bible says all Scripture id God breathed and profitable. All of it.  We cannot appreciate the sweetness the New Testament without the savory of the Old Testament.  We need historical narrative, poetry, wisdom literature, law, prophecy and parables all showing us the character of God from a different angles.  And we need the gospel story from Genesis to Revelation.  

Among the six approaches I think the telephone game is the one I find myself stuck in often.  I usually have two to three books going at the same time which leaves me with little time to be in the BOOK.  But then again, it was Jen Wilkins book, Women of the Word that showed me how easily I fall away from reading the Bible.   There is a fine line in all of this and one of the things on that line is our own personal growth.  Are we growing in our knowledge and awe of Him with whatever we are reading?  


Which approach draws you?

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Where do you go?


Image result for picture of a sleepy personWhere do you go when you are discouraged, depressed, down in dumps or just plain blue?   Sleep was no where to be found for me the other night so I did what I usually do, turned to youtube for some good music.  After about a hour of listening to many uplifting songs I found myself returning to a  favorite.  Now you might ask yourself why this one, the music is not peppy,  and part of it is sung in Russian.
As a singer I love great harmony in any language which this song has.   Today our worship leader was explaining when a song has those minor cords in them it moves our hearts in a different way, gets it ready for a great ending.  You find a lot of Jewish songs have minor cord, also traditional folk music.  Some believe this song started in the slave field of the old South which makes sense to me.  It tells of a wayfaring stranger's hardships and struggle in this life and the final reward of reuniting with loved ones in the after life.


Isn't that us, all of us?  This world is not our home which is why the longing for our eternal home is there.

In the early years of my faith when I read any story from the bible I would always think, oh, I wish I had lived back then to see the story of Jesus.  Mary and Joseph traveling on that donkey.  The stable with the sheep, cows, manger.  Oh and the bright star, the shepherds.  Even those Old Testement stories, the ark, sea parting, Moses face when he came down from the mountain.  One after another story grew my faith, causing me to look back and in doing so my knowledge grew in the foundation of my faith.

It was not until I grew a little in my walk that I begin to look forward to His coming, me being with Him in heaven.  It takes a little heartache to cause a longing for the future.  My doctor and I was talking about my heart issue and how "lucky" I was to still be alive.  I told her my house in heaven was not finished yet and when it is done, and only then will God call me home.

 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 

 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. John 14:2-3







Monday, January 29, 2018

Never Again


Image result for never again quotesThis thought has been running through my head for a whole year, "never again".  It started Jan 13, 2017 when I turned 70,  never to be 69 again, never ever.  It was sobering milestone, one I had not looked forward to, yet without even asking me, there it was, I was 70 years old.  Now I seriously thought about lying and just continuing to say I was 69 but I am too much  of a realist to even joke about my age. 


There are several,  "never again's " in my life.  Never will I birth another child.   Never again will I sit down for a meal with my Mother this side of heaven. 

  Some "never again's" come without our consent, like aging.  Some  "never again's I have a choice in, such as I will never again ride a roller coaster, even if my Grandchildren beg me.  I have told my husband I am done flying 14 to 20 some hours to live in a foreign land. This one is hard because he would go back to Papua New Guinea in a heartbeat but I am done with that kind of long distant travel.  You are probably thinking, watch it Betty, don't say never  again on this one, God just might want you to serve overseas again.  Okay, okay, I will recant on this one. If my adult children take our grand children back over seas for a year or more I will do that crazy plane ride to see them.  Some "never again's" are conditional.

The "never again's" I love to dwell on are the ones God has left us with.  Never again will my sin be held against me, never again will Jesus have to die for the sins of the world.

Lets get back to this aging business.  This January 2018 turned 71 so I can safely say, "never again" will I be 70.  It actually made me shudder when I wrote that, how did I get to this place of being 71?

 Then I thought about a documentary on Clint Eastwood I watched the other day, he is 78 by the way and still making movies.  When asked  if he was ever going to make a number 6 , "Dirty Harry" movies and he said, Dirty Harry 6 will never happen.  Eastwood said, at 78 you 're pretty well drummed out of the police force by that age.  He is realistic about his age and that made my day. 

                                     What "never again" comes to your mind?


Monday, January 15, 2018

Perfect Love Song




                      
For me to be hooked on a secular song that is not country and not about the Lord does not happen often.  But, hooked I am on Ed Sheeran song, "Perfect".  It, in my opinion is the most romantic song I have heard since Elvis sang, I Can't Help Falling In Love With You or the Righteous Brother belted out, Unchained Melody.  In my day those two songs played constantly on the radio.  I spent my hard earned money, 50 cents an hour for cleaning house for my neighbor to buy  the 45's records so I could play them over and over and over.  It was not only the words but the melody that went with the words that drew me to those songs.   You might forget the words but you could hum the melody in your sleep.

I love that God is into romance, it scattered through out a few books of the bible.  The one that is a classic  is Song of Solomon.  Think about it, the very title tells us it's a song and the very  first chapter is full of romantic words.  There are songs written in Hebrew about Song of Solomon.  I am adding a link if you want to listen to a song in Hebrew taken right from Song of Solomon.  https://youtu.be/zFPMIVi90lc


Chuck Swindoll states it this way...From courtship to marriage to the assurance of love, Song of Solomon poetically presents a broad range of events and feelings in the days leading up to and during marriage, offering encouragement toward an enduring love amid the petty jealousies and fears sure to threaten even the strongest of relationships.

Ed Shaeean has recorded his song with many people but the one I like the best is with Andrea Bocelli.  There is something about hearing the words of a  song sung in a different language that adds a different dimension to it because the melody does not change.  If you have time,  scroll back on up to the top and take a listen to what I call, a cold chill song.  

 To put a Christian spin on this post what love song from the Lord would you pick, Jesus Loves Me or Amazing Grace?? This is where my country gospel bend kicks in,  for my favorite is, The Greatest Of All Miracles.   Now you pick, what is your favorite romantic song, secular and Christian ?

 





Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Everything matching...

Recently our grown daughter, Tara shared how she  was learning again not to put great store in material things.  God used her 8 year old daughter to help bring home a much needed lesson for all of us. 

Last year before Christmas our Tara broke down and bought matching stockings for her family with the letter of their first name embroidery on them and they weren't cheap.  She told me, Mom I just wanted something that matched instead of the hodge podge of stockings, each a different color, size and age. She ignored her family teasing her mercifully since they were happy with the old ones.  Seeing those matching stockings hanging up started the Christmas season off with a warm glow for Tara. Each one was perfect.  








Right after  she put them up  her 8 year old said, Mom how can you tell which T is for you, Tara and which is Dad's whose name is Tony.  That sweet 8 year old grand daughter thought, I will help them tell which is which by writing their names on them.  If you look close you will see on the top of the white T there is Tara name written in ink.  And Tony's has his name written on his also.  Ava Jo really did think she was helping her Mom and Dad.


But it sent Tara, our daughter through the roof since those  perfect matching stockings were very important to her.  As an MK, missionary kid she had to do with what ever was given to us and it did not always match which put a dream in Tara's heart. Her years as an MK  later turned into 14 years as a married women with three children in the jungles of Papua New Guinea where she once again lived with not much matching.  Honestly it's not much of a struggle when you live in a remote village where they have no stockings, one is easily contented with what ever.  But back home in the states where just about everyone putting up Christmas decoration galore usually with a theme it's very tempting to forget what is important.  It took her saying she was sorry to Ava Jo to restore  an important  relationship.   

By the time she told me about it she was able to laugh about  the error of her thinking.   Some lessons must be learned more than once and the ones that concern "stuff", no matter what that stuff is have everything to do with our hearts.  The week Tara told me this story was a week into the worst fires in California history.  So many lost all their "stuff", everything except their lives.  We put such store on what we own as if we really own it, not realizing it owns us and that comes home when it's gone or destroyed in some way.  

I understand Tara's battle.  Even when we have stuff the push to buy more and more seems to leave us senseless and our checking accounts empty.  I know she will not go out and buy more to replace the two stocking Ava Jo wrote on.  In fact they will be the reminders to not put much store into  "stuff " here, someone could write on it.  😊


               Happy New Year

Monday, December 11, 2017

None But The Hungry Heart

Seth and Rochelle and their three little boys live in a remote village with the Iski people in Papua New Guinea.  Their perspective on contentment was too good not to re-post especially at this time of the year.  Below is excerpts from a recent post. 



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In our line of work, we are regularly challenged by the concept of contentment. This is especially true in the realm of material pleasures. Hardly a day goes by where I do not entertain the notion, “You know, this would be so much easier if…” 
Since we are living amongst a people who are extremely limited in their exposure/access to Western conveniences, and their understanding of different technologies is pretty limited, we often choose to experience life differently than we would naturally have done if left to our own devices. Because we have to consciously choose to embrace this deviation from our natural methods, it creates an opportune environment for potentially discontented musings to arise.
Usually, it’s the little, everyday things that bring about this tension. Things like not being able to let the boys bring their toys outside, or wearing the same three outfits day after day in an endless cycle of drabbery,* or not being able to eat fresh fruits and vegetables as often as we’d like, or trying to convince our kids that it’s OK to eat the bugs in their cereal, because they are “only little bugs and they have good protein.” Then there are the fateful occasions where we attempt to have “family time” outside, only to have clusters of children (and sometimes adults) come and stare at us, as if we are a TV show.
I’m finding that I’ve gotten so good at lowering my expectations in regards to my physical life, that I’ve actually let that carry over into my spiritual life at times as well. This was highlighted for me this morning in my devotions.
I’ve started reading through an amazing book,  “None But The Hungry Heart"“Every Christian will eventually become what his desires have made him. Each of us is the sum total of our hungers. The great saints of old, the men and women we look to and aspire to be like, have all had thirsting hearts. They could settle for nothing less than “living water.” Their longing after God all but consumed them, and it took them to a depth of relationship with their Father that less ardent believers can scarcely imagine as being possible, much less as something that they themselves might conceivably attain.”
Well, that sure hit the conviction button. “Their longing after God all but consumed them.” That doesn’t really sound like contentment. In fact, that’s the exact opposite of contentment: a constant, insatiable desire for more than you currently have. As I pondered what that type of relationship with the Lord might look like, I began to think that it is probably a fairly different experience than that which I am often accustomed to.
And there you have it: “We’re doing OK.” Contentment. Ugly, pathetic, contemptible, bold-faced contentment. Though virtuous in many other contexts, I’m realizing that this particular state of mind can be a crippling handicap when it comes to the quality of my relationship with my Savior. 
Our Father offers each of us uninhibited access to a spring of living water in the person of His Son. New, fresh, invigorating water is at our fingertips everyday. To know that, and yet still choose to drink from the nearby stagnant pool of contentment, would truly be a waste of a golden opportunity.
So, I’d like to challenge you as you read this, as I am being challenged as I write it: If you are being tempted to complain, embrace contentment, but if you are being nudged by an opportunity to know God more deeply, then punch contentment in the nose and run the other way.
After reading this, I can only pray, God strip me of my contentment.