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