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Eowyn's Heart

The name of this blog is based on the character Eowyn from Lord of the Rings because I strongly identify with her on many levels. The purpose of this blog is to proclaim the glory of my Lord and King through His work in conforming me into the image of His Son, Christ Jesus. In all things, I trust you will see His hand at work.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Return to Me - Day 5

Good Morning :-)

The title for today's study is "Embracing Christ-Guided Thoughts".  I'm going to focus on just one passages of Scripture used this morning - Psalm 101:2-3.  The 2 Corinthians 10:5 passage deserves some attention as well, but time is short so I will address that in my next post.

Psalm 101 is a portion of King David's Psalm of Commitment.  This passage delineates the specific commitments he is making to God to ensure he lives a holy, "blameless" life.  Depending on the version you use, you will note the use of the word "perfect" in the Psalm 101 section.  It is important to note that a better translation is "blameless".  As a perfectionist, I am keenly aware that "perfect" & "blameless" are two very different things!!  I muff things up all the time - SO far from "perfect" - but blameless - that's something I can strive for.  And so can you.

It is a conundrum the Lord has given us - the call to holy, "blameless" living and the battle we have with the flesh as we strive to attain to it.  Think it's impossible?  It's not.  Check out 2 Peter 1:3 . . .   We CAN - the question is whether we will.  If we say we will not, it is the same as saying we cannot.  It is admitting defeat in the battle with the flesh.  This is one of the reasons I am more & more inclined to put together a study on that "Birthright" book - I believe the author has captured the heart of the matter and it is revolutionary, to say the least.  We are taught all our lives by well-meaning and highly respected Godly people the same thing that they were taught and that has permeated the church from it's earliest days - that we are "sinners, saved by grace" - that salvation leaves us with TWO natures - the sinful (erroneously referred to as the flesh, which is different) and the saintly.  The truth of the matter, in a nutshell is that we are NOT "sinners saved by grace" - we WERE sinners who, on encountering the grace of God were TRANSFORMED INSTANTLY into Saints.  Read 2 Corinthians 5:17.  Note that the verb phrases in this passage "are passed away" and "are become" are in the Greek "past, completed" tense - signifying an event that has occurred at a particular time, is DONE, and is NOT ongoing.  Our change from sinner to saint was instantaneous and fully completed at the moment of salvation. period.

Now, I realize this leaves us with the conundrum of how we live in comparison to who we are . . . but that's a much larger topic for another time (and a whole study in & of itself . . . )  Suffice to say, regardless of how we feel about it - the Scripture is clear and the fact is - we CAN live a "blameless" life on this earth. :-)  SO - STRIVE FOR IT!


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Return to Me - Days 3 & 4

So, it's week 3 and I've only just completed Day 4 of this book.  Ron's work schedule changed, impacting my morning schedule.  I don't do "change" well, so it's taken me some time to adapt.  Aaaand then there's the old battle with laziness to fight as well . . . :-/

On the one hand, my lack of daily attention to this study is disappointing - it means I have not been as diligent and faithful as I should be - it means I've allowed laziness to sometimes rule (though that's not always the reason for missing).  On the other hand, I'm encouraged by my attitude when I do complete the study for the day.  I'm taking it much more to heart and meditating on the things I'm learning.  I've not given into the "task" mindset and this has not become another box for me to check.  So, that's progress :-)

I admit to some disappointment with some of the content in days 3 & 4 of the study - a bit legalistic for my understanding of Scripture - but we'll get to that as it comes up.  Day 3 was completed last week but I did not have time to Blog that day, Day 4 is from this morning - so I'm combining the two days of my thoughts here.  I hope something in here will be an encouragement to someone :-)


The title for Day 3 is "The Passion to More Fully Know and Seek God" and the title for Day 4 is "Victory Over Insincere Worship" - these two tie together well since Knowing & Seeking God cannot help but lead to Sincere Worship.  So - on to my thoughts through the study:

1. "a five minute quite time on the run is not 'seeking God with all our hearts.'" (p 20).  I agree with this conditionally.  IF our 5 minute time with God is (1) normal practice and (2) out of a desire to check off the spiritual "did this" box - then the statement is all too true! I have a bit of a problem with the "requirement" to spend a specific (and typically significant) amount of time dedicated to prayer and Bible Study EVERY day as some sort of evidence of spiritual maturity.  The daily time in the Word and in prayer discussed in Scripture is something that should and will come naturally to a growing Believer.  As our relationship with Christ deepens, our desire to spend time with Him increases and becomes a higher priority.  I'm not saying we shouldn't spend daily time - not at all - in truth, we NEED that time.  But it is WE who NEED it, not God.  He's not going to stop molding and growing us just because we missed a day or two or week or month or . . . .  HE is faithful, even when we are faithless.  God desires to be a priority of our HEART, not our task list.  The awesome thing is - the more He is a priority in our hearts, the more He will naturally become the priority of our task list.  

2. "If we truly love someone and want to know them, we will give hem quality time and full attention. . . .  we must never view Bible study as a duty or merely an intellectual pursuit.  Abiding in prayer and Scripture is a love relationship . . . When we truly know God, we have an insatiable desire to know Him even more."  (emphasis mine) Supports my first point.  Nuff said :-)

3.  The author went on to discuss the benefits of praying the attributes and names of God.  Sadly, the rest of that particular section was more of an advertisement for another of the author's books than useful guidance in the practice recommended :-(

In the Lord's Prayer, Jesus starts out with "Our Father, Who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name."  Father - signifying a personal, intimate, authoritative relationship; In Heaven - setting Him apart from earthly fathers; Hallowed . . . name - signifying the special and unique nature of the title and, thereby, the person being addressed.  There is great value in knowing the names used for God.  To pause in the beginning of our prayer and take a moment to consider Who we are speaking with is of great value.  There are a number of study's out there on the Names of God - or you can just look for those specifically in whatever passage you're studying at the time.  Here are some links that should be helpful if you want to do a study of your own:
https://www.blueletterbible.org/study/misc/name_god.cfm
https://www.blueletterbible.org/study/parallel/paral19.cfm
https://www.blueletterbible.org/search/Dictionary/viewTopic.cfm?topic=IT0003853

4. "Give unto the LORD the glory due His name; Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness." Psalm 29:2 (p 22 of Return to Me).  This verse is the perfect segue to the concept of Sincere Worship - for how can we worship "in spirit and in truth" someone we do not know?

5.  "Believers, it is crucial to realize the very reason we are created is to continually worship, love and glorify God." (p24).  I could go on for pages about this but the simpler and better option is to direct you to John Piper's "Desiring God" study - OH MY!  That's a good one!  And the entirety of the study focuses on this one concept.  

6.  Lastly, an important point - "Worship is the Life We Live".  While I think the author goes a bit overboard and puts his own opinion of what holiness looks like into his discussion, the basic truth is undeniable.  We forget all to easily, that (1) Worship is a lifestyle and (2) if we are in sin, we are not worshiping.  You cannot claim to be worshiping God with your life if you allow anger or bitterness or hatred or laziness or selfishness or greed or  . . . (put your own weaknesses here) . . . to rule in your life.  We NEED time in the Word AND in prayer - focused time, each day (something I'm still working on) to keep our hearts and minds focused on Christ, keep sin at bay, and keep us in an attitude of worship throughout the day.  If you are a Believer, Christ lives in you (think on that a bit).  Consider the things you think, say and do, and confess those things that you know are not pleasing to God.  

One caveat - there's a lot of "gray" out there in the world.  Some would disagree but I point to the account of meat offered to idols and those who could eat and those who could not eat it.  (1 Corinthians 8).  Each person must determine in his/her own heart what their boundaries are - where the Holy Spirit convicts them to make changes that will allow them to grow.  And then, accept that others may have different boundaries.  For one, a glass of wine on occasion is fine, while for another, it's a path to sin - we cannot apply to another our convictions on things that are not clearly laid out in Scripture as sin - BUT - we MUST ensure our own hearts are in submission to the areas God has convicted US in.  The point is that we are to strive first for holiness in our own lives so that we may be living in worship.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Return to Me - Day 2

Hello Again,

Day 2 of the study, day 4 of my "re-commitment" :-p  Need to get to bed earlier and be more committed to not going back to bed after my husband heads to work!  I will keep working at it.

Anywho, I decided I didn't want to be restricted to the formatting & length of posts permitted by FB so will be posting my study thoughts here and then linking to them in FB.  I've also been pondering the Bible Study idea and, though I'm not quite ready to commit to starting yet, I'm definitely leaning that direction and I think I've chosen the book I want to work through.  It's titled, "Birthright: Christian, Do You Know Who You Are?" and it's written by David Needham.

The challenge in presenting a Bible Study in this format is that you can't really use a "study" that's already written - what's the point? Without the opportunity for discussion, as you would naturally have in a live group, it just becomes more of a copy/paste and "here's my thoughts" - which really isn't much of a "study". So I've been thinking about whether to snag a book of the Bible or a particular topic and the Lord has nudged me in the direction of topic - and to the "Birthright" book mentioned above.  I got about 1/2 way through reading this book years ago, which was transformational in my thinking about my relationship with Christ.  As my personal study in Return to Me also focuses on my relationship with Christ, this is a perfect mix.  

So - if you're interested in following along with me in a Bible Study type forum - which I have yet to figure out ;-) - snag yourself a copy of Birthright and watch this space for updates :-)  I don't think it will be long - just waiting for the Lord to confirm this idea and figure out the technical details for how to make it a true "study".

Now - on to my Day 2 thoughts from Return to Me . . .

I was tempted to "catch up" and read through Day 4 - but only briefly.  As I said Monday, I really want this to be more of a heart than task process.  I'm only going to do one day at a time and if I miss a day here & there, then I'll just take that much longer to get through the book!  :-)

So I set myself to soak in the subject of Day 2 - which is a concept I hold to be of the highest importance.  

The title of the section is "Hallowing His Name" and the focus is on what it means to see God for Who He Is - HOLY.  Most of the impact for me in this section came from the verses referenced:

1.  Leviticus 10:3 (go on, look it up . . . I'm not gonna spoon feed this ;-)  ).  "I MUST be regarded as holy . . . I MUST be glorified." (emphasis mine).  MUST - an imperative, a requirement, a non-negotiable.

"Holy" means "to be set apart"  Rev 4:8b "holy, holy, holy" - Anything repeated more than once in Scripture = PAY ATTENTION, THIS IS IMPORTANT.  Don't miss this - God is OTHER than us.  Yes, we are made in His image, but we are NOT Him and He is NOT us - God is GOD - there is NONE like Him.  He is "set apart". He is, to finish the quote of Rev 4:8, "Lord, God Almighty."  He is not to be viewed as anything less than this - "I MUST be regarded as holy . . . I MUST be glorified."  While the person of Christ is presented as our brother and friend (and this intimacy is strongly encouraged in the New Testament), that MUST be taken in context with an understanding that Christ is GOD and GOD is holy and must be glorified.  It is a beautiful blending of intimacy and awestruck reverence that the Scriptures describe.

2.  Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 "FEAR God . . ." (emphasis mine). I've heard this defined as "respect" and "reverence" - which is accurate, but - I believe - incomplete.  I can respect and reverence something/someone without having a healthy *fear* of them.  I am reminded of C.S. Lewis's Aslan and the Hippogriff, Buckbeak, in the Harry Potter stories.  There is a clear element of respect and reverence those creatures demanded *combined* with a healthy fear of their power and capacity to be dangerous.  From C.S. Lewis: "Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion"..."Safe?" said Mr Beaver ..."Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safeBut he's good." (http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/344456-aslan-is-a-lion--the-lion-the-great-lion-ooh)  

I think that far too often, we Believer's forget that our God is NOT "safe".  And such forgetfulness makes sin less egregious in our own eyes.

3.  Proverbs 8:13 - on the subject of sin, and with the previous point in mind, this verse tells us that a proper fear of the Lord naturally results in a "hate" for that which is "evil".  It then goes on to expound on "evil" as Pride, Arrogance, the "evil way" and the Perverse Mouth.  Something to seriously consider as we (I) pray and ask the Lord to reveal areas I need to confess.  I can guarantee you, none of us is totally innocent in all of these areas . . . 

4.  Isaiah 66:1-2.  The opposite of what the Lord hates and, therefore, precisely what we should strive to have defining our own character, "But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, And who trembles at My word,"  The Hebrew for "poor" is better translated "humble" (reference: https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H6041&t=ESV) and should not be confused with financial reference.  Rather, this refers to the condition of a person's heart - opposite of Pride & Arrogance is Humble - aware of one's neediness, aware of one's weakness.  NOTE IMPORTANTLY - this is not a shameful thing - it is not shameful to be needy - it is not shameful to be weak!  SUCH a difference from the way the world presents things!!!  In fact, is is MORE DESIRABLE to be needy and weak and to recognize that in ourselves.  Such acknowledgement leads us to a deeper leaning on the strength of our Lord!!!  Dependence is NOT a bad thing when it is dependence on Christ alone. (II Cor 12:10)

That's it for today.  I hope this is useful to someone out there.

Sources for the Birthright book: 
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Birthright-Christian-Classic-Critical-Concern/dp/159052666X
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/birthright-david-c-needham/1101010936  (nook is $5 less)

An internet search will give you a plethora of other options :-)


Return to Me Study - Day 1

These thoughts and comments are generated from my study of the book, "Return to Me says the Lord - A Journey of First Love Surrender" written by Gregory Reed Frizzell.  It is highly recommended reading.  What follows is a copy of what I posted to Facebook a couple of days ago from my time on "Day One" of this study.

I've re-committed to a better use of my morning hours and am grateful that I can report a good first Monday. Instead of going back to bed and wasting a couple of hours, I stayed up, got in some good exercise on my Simply Fit board and the Total Gym, had my coffee, and settled into a Bible Study.
Choosing what to read/study was a bit of a challenge at first till, following prayer for guidance, I was reminded that my primary need at this time is a return to intimacy with Christ. That led me to the study our church did communally in January of last year - "Return to Me" by Gregory Reed Frizzell. It was a powerful study then, but I did not really put whole heart & soul into it so I know there is much more I can get out of it.

I've actually "re-started" this study several times since last year but never made it passionately past the first few days (it's a 21 day study). That will change this time.

Part of my challenge has been that I have approached it with a "check this duty off the list" attitude (the "Martha" in me). This time, I'm choosing more of a "Mary" approach and it feels different.
So - keys from this morning's study that I will meditate on today as the Lord brings them to remembrance:

1. Seek ye FIRST the kingdom of God . . . Not seek ye first to confess every single thing you think probably disappoints God. This is key for me because I am a perfectionist. I could spend HOURS confessing all the "sins" in my life - some of which would be legitimate, obvious sins and some of which are more "gray" - to me anyway. But focusing on the negatives will not draw me closer to God. Yes, if the Holy Spirit brings it to mind for confession, I know I must do that - confess and repent - but apart from that, I need to focus on the positive. If I am seeking Him and loving Him, the sins will naturally decrease and the obedience will naturally increase. This will also help me avoid a legalistic approach to life -which is something I am susceptible to.

2. "God does not require perfect vessels, just hearts WILLING to be honest, surrendered, and 'pressing toward the mark'" (p.9, emphasis mine)

3. This one's important - "our whole life purpose is the passion to know, love, and fear God in obedient lifestyle worship." (p11)!!!!!! Said differently, "Above all else, our central life purpose is INTENSE love and worship of God." (p12, emphasis mine)

4. "...every effort [in this spiritual journey] is TOTAL DEPENDENCE upon God's grace and Spirit" (p11, emphasis mine). I CANNOT do the work - HE must do it in me. Thankfully, He has promised to do just that!!! (Phil 1:6)

5. "Make no mistake - our level of worship flows directly from our level of love." (p12) . . . let that one soak in for a bit . . . .

6. "Virtually all sin stems from the failure to properly know, love and fear God." (p13) . . . another truth to seriously ponder.

That's it for this morning :-) I hope to post every weekday at the very least and soon I hope to begin preparing lessons again - I miss teaching. I'm thinking of re-starting my old Blog with a Bible Study focus . . . we'll see how the Lord leads in that.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

On the subject of abortion

Around 2 - 3 weeks ago, I vented a bit on Facebook about fellow believers taking positions in support of Planned Parenthood and abortion (or at least a woman's "right" to choose to have an abortion).  Such a position troubles me because I believe it grieves the heart of God.  Following some not wholly unpleasant discussion on the matter (thankfully, for the most part, both sides stated their beliefs respectfully), I decided a more thorough look at the subject was in order.  What follows are MY thoughts on this issue and what I believe to be reasoned, Biblical, scientifically based answers to the opposing arguments.

As this is a touchy subject, I should note, responses to this blog are moderated.  I will gladly approve posts opposing my views and arguments provided those posts are respectful and thoughtful.  I will not approve rants, foul language, or angry/hateful comments.

The biggest issue, of course, is whether the fetus is a living human being with as much right to life as the mother.  If you believe it is not alive or that it is somehow not human, then any argument defending it's right to live is moot.  The mother's inclinations, wants, perceived needs, overrule any potential of the fetus.

There's TONS of evidence out there that the fetus IS a living human being, however.  Both scientific and Biblical.  

First, I think it's helpful to look at what determines "death" of an already "living" human - this will help us see what defines life for one not yet born.  And, please note, by "define" - I don't mean "definitively" - there is much more to life and death than biology and we still have a LOT to learn about God's design in the human body.

I did a google search for the "definition of death".  While the results showed some variations, most concurred with this medical dictionary's general description: Death is defined as the cessation of all vital functions of the body including the heartbeat, brain activity (including the brain stem), and breathing.

The key features universally identified were heartbeat, breathing, and brain activity.  When all three of these are absent, death is likely to have occurred. Thus, we might reasonably assume that, when all three are present, life is likely to have occurred.

Now, some specifics about development from http://studentsforlife.org/prolifefacts/fetaldevelopment/ (these are my selected highlights, please click the link to get the full list):

  • Weeks 1-3: The circulatory system rapidly forms (including the umbilical cord), and the heart begins to beat toward the beginning of Week 3.
  • Week 6: Brainwave activity has begun.
Breathing is the one thing missing from this list.  A baby receives it's oxygen through the umbilical cord - the mother breathes for the baby.  So, does this mean the baby is not alive?  Consider the person on the lung machine - are they no longer alive if their heart beats independently and they are alert and able to respond - brainwaves are present?  So, I would further my argument to say that the ability to process oxygen, however it is introduced to the system, could be considered a "sign of life."  Thus, by week 6, a fetus has all the indications of what we currently, scientifically, call life.

As to whether it is human life, I would think this needs no real comment, if it's not human, what is it? (rhetorical, in my opinion).

So, scientifically speaking, by 6 weeks, a fetus should be considered a living human being.

I think the Bible lends credence to saying there's more to defining "life" than biology.  I believe life begins at or shortly after conception.  Here is my reasoning.  The full DNA is there to define all that the person will physically become.  We are not told when in the process of growing (which is really all that occurs once the egg is fertilized) God endows the baby with a soul.  Thus, to me, any attempt to define life beyond conception is an attempt to usurp God's sovereign authority over life.  

Consider this small sampling of verses and what they tell us about God's relationship with the unborn child:



  • 1 Samuel 1:5, "but to Hannah he would give a double portion, for he loved Hannah, but the Lord had closed her womb." We see this type of reference multiple times in Scripture.  God opens and closes wombs at His will.  Consider Sarah, having a child in her old age well after her monthly cycle had ended.  Thus, fertilization is NOT happening without God's will for it to happen and if God wills for it to happen, no amount of birth control is going to stop it.
  • Psalm 22:9, "Yet You are He who brought me forth from the womb;
  • You made me trust when upon my mother’s breasts."  God is credited with the baby being brought to term and reaching live birth.
  • Psalm 139:13, "For You formed my [i]inward parts;You wove me in my mother’s womb." The God who opens wombs then personally forms each living being in the womb.  "For we are His workmanship . . . " Ephesians 2:10.
  • Jeremiah 1:5, "“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you;. . ."  Gods own words to Jeremiah - He knew him BEFORE he was even conceived and had plans for him.  Do we really think this applies only to a few select individuals?  Even if it does (which I don't buy into), how do we know which ones?  And what right do we have to step in and say "This one is not chosen by God."???  
  • To continue Ephesians 2:10, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them."  Prepared BEFOREHAND.
I think the scriptural evidence at the very least indicates God's personal and intimate involvement with conception, growth of the baby, live birth, and what happens to them after birth.

There is much more to say on this topic.  I have other arguments to address, but I'm tired and the day is running away on me so I will stop here for now.

Friday, November 15, 2013

New Beginnings - Part 1 (updated at end of blog)

Well, this is going to be a bit long as I have a couple of years of God's work to catch up on.  Hopefully I will be more consistent after this as the next year promises to be even more amazing as we watch God work out whatever His plan is for our lives.

You will note the change from singular to plural in that last sentence - instead of "my life" it is now "our lives".  The biggest event that happened in the last couple of years was a wedding :)  Meet my sweet husband, Ron Jenkins:
Best thing that ever happened to me - and a catalyst for more change than I could have ever imagined!  Me - 47 yrs old; Him - 46.  First marriage for either of us.  Wedding date = June 2nd 2012.  As a side note - I love the symmetry of that date - 6x2=12, 12+2+6=20 and so forth :)  It just makes sense - as does our relationship.

We met several years ago through our church but didn't really "know" each other for a long time.  It was more "oh, look at that handsome man playing the guitar in the worship band - probably has a girlfriend :(" for me and "the sister of the worship pastor? out of my league!" for him . . .  which makes me snicker :)  Anywho, via time in Dinner Theater together and thanks to the encouragement of my brother, we started chatting and became friends.  After a while, wanting an excuse to spend more time with him (hopes were rising on my part) I asked him to give me guitar lessons.  I couldn't pay so Sunday lunch was the bribe.  Inevitably I was the worst student EVER but he kept coming over for lunch.  It didn't take long for the lessons to quietly fall by the wayside and Ron just became a regular Sunday lunch participant.  :)  

The months went by . . .  at one point my brother asked if he could talk to Ron about me - suggest that he consider me on more than a friendship level.  I said "sure" and he did - and he told me that he did - and . . . . nothing happened :(  So, as the months went by, my hope dwindled faded and I began to believe we would only be friends and worked very hard on convincing my heart that friendship would be enough.  And I was almost convinced . . . 

Ron had gotten to know my family through our Sunday lunches but we had never met any of his family - until his sister asked to meet me :)  He had spoken highly of his sister and I was looking forward to making her acquaintance so we set up a coffee date :)  We had the best time!  Susan is a VERY direct individual (which I respect and appreciate), which I expected from what Ron had told me so I was surprised more by the content than the presentation when the first thing she did was ask me about my relationship with her brother ;-)   The hope that was almost dead sprang back into life by the simple fact that she asked - I mean, why would she ask if he hadn't said SOMEthing, right?  That was January 30th 2012.  While Susan didn't want to put words in her brother's mouth, she did tell me not to give up hope and that there were feelings there! *yay* :o)

Valentine's Day approached and, unbeknownst to me, Susan had a chat with Ron & "encouraged" him to make his feelings known.  I've since learned that he's incredibly shy about sharing his feelings - they run deep, like mine, and are thus not easily shared.  Feb 14th 2012, for the first time EVER in my life, I got flowers from a suitor - and if you haven't guessed who that was, you haven't been paying attention - *grin*

The card was a simple poem indicating his feelings for me and it did not take long for me to call him up to thank him for making my whole day and let him know I felt the same.  That dying hope, cautiously rekindled a couple of weeks earlier, now burst into full blaze and there was no going back!

The rest is HISstory - God worked AMAZING things - in March Ron said he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me and since I couldn't imagine not spending the rest of my life with him, we were married in June.  Considering my paycheck to paycheck budget and Ron's unemployment and the short time-span, the wedding we had was utterly spectacular.  SO MANY hands and hearts helped to shower blessing upon blessing down on us!  The wedding cake that was prepared as a gift, the wedding dress that was GIVEN to me and then completely re-made just for me by a sweet seamstress friend and her daughter, the flowers my Aunt Karen (recently gone to be with the Lord), lovingly prepared for us, the worship center and reception area decorations lovingly designed by my sister-in-law, the pictures and video donated by loving friends and family and SO MUCH MORE.  There was rarely a day when God did not surprise Ron & I with some new blessing.

When our big day arrived, so did about 300 guests!  Family and friends from near and far away honored us with their presence and we were overwhelmed by that outpouring of love!  The a/c in the church had some challenges so we nearly lost Ron to a faint in the middle of the ceremony :-p  but in the end, it all went of with a hitch ;-)  Which is how weddings are supposed to go.  

I'll leave you with some pics and pick this up tomorrow with part 2 which will focus on ministry/church stuffs :)

UPDATE - JUL 30 2015

***Coming back to this after more than 2 years!!  Found all the pics missing so deleted the "can't find this pic to display" icons just to clean up a bit.  Look for me to get more active on this site in the near future.  Contemplating some Bible Study / Teaching stuffs . . .

Monday, March 28, 2011

Long time no BLog!

Hi All,

Well, it's been eons since I've posted anything of any substance (not counting the great pics of my new niece just uploaded today!). I miss writing and, now that school is on hold for a bit, will make some time for it again.

Currently I'm at work on my lunch break so I'll make this post short - it's really more of a "Hi, I'm back" thing anyway :-)

So- a brief catch up on the Lord's work in my life . . .

Last summer I was asked to consider taking over or co-leading (with my mom) a ministry to single women at our church. It was a tough decision because I was about 1/2 way through with pursuing my Master's Degree and that is something I'm still VERY interested in completing. Also, the beautiful woman who had started this ministry left VERY BIG SHOES to fill . . . it was pretty intimidating!

There were some strains involved with school that had to be considered - money had gotten tight - school loans just weren't covering my basic expenses and the amount of the school loans themselves, of course, were getting kind of scary. Also, the classes I was taking were (1) not really related to anything I felt relevant to Biblical Counseling and (2) really tough - thus, hurting my GPA.

The big one there was Statistics. Oh My Heavens! I was never great at math anyway and this was just wrenching to do on-line. I probably would have done better in a classroom with that one but in the end, what do statistics really mean when you're one-on-one counseling anyway??? I mean really - the Bible applies - period. I don't know . . . I suppose there is some value in knowing which forms of therapy have worked best on average but the individual is not an average - I think choosing or designing a therapy should be first and foremost Holy Spirit led.

Anyway, all that to say, I was getting a bit frustrated with the "professional" over "Biblical" aspect of the counseling program I was pursuing. Add to that the fact that I had been working on my Master's degree for 18 months straight - without a break - and I was pretty ready to take some time off anyway.

After consulting with several wise counselors - some who knew me well, some who's basic wisdom I trusted well whether or not they knew me personally - and I came to the conclusion that, when faced with the question of whether to continue preparing for ministry or to jump into the ministry I was preparing for - it was time to jump :-)

So, now my mom and I co-lead God's Gals ministry at our church. God's Gals reaches out to all single women - whether never married or divorced or widowed or just attending alone. I was surprised to see how great the need was at our church! So many women longing for friendship and connection but unable to find it within the typical family/couple-oriented church. And these women are HUNGRY for the Word and minister to each other, the church body, and the community so beautifully!! They are a HUGE blessing in my life and my mom's too (my co-leader).

I'm not a perfect ministry leader by any means - in fact, this whole experience is very humbling. I see a MUCH greater need for prayer and daily study of God's Word (as opposed to the "Good Morning Lord" and 2 minute daily devotional He's usually lucky to get out of me). I am learning and growing as a result of this ministry involvement and I'm looking forward to seeing what the Lord will do with this ministry as I grow into a decent leader and as we all follow the Lord down this path.

Well, lunch break is up so that's it for now. Hopefully I'll post a lot more regularly now :-)

Till next time, keep livin' for the glory of our King!
Deb

Blessings

My precious little niece. Born March 22nd at 8lbs 4 oz, 21" long! Our little Abrielle Christianna is a blessed addition to our family. Of course, all my nieces & nephews are precious and beloved, but Abrielle's the newest, so she gets special mention today :-)


Friday, November 27, 2009

To Dr. Meyer

I had no way to respond to the comment you sent so am posting this note.  Although I do not 100% agree with your concern that posting my mid-term responses is "unethical" (I'm sure lots of students share their papers with one another after their graded and these responses were posted after the mid-term grades were published), I did delete the post.  I also don't really see how plagerism could be a concern.  Nonetheless, I do wish to adhere to very high standards and, as the post did include test questions, it occurred to me that the teachers may use the same tests in succeeding semesters and making the questions potentially available to future students of those classes is probably not wise.

Thank you for voicing your concerns.  My goal is only and always to honor the Lord and I wish to have "no appearance of evil" in these blog postings.  I will avoid sharing test information in future.

**UPDATE**  I would like to encourage all to read through the comments thread on this post.  We have an edifying and educational discussion going!  :-)

Friday, October 09, 2009

The Anxiety Cure: A Critique of Archibald Hart’s Body Systems Approach

Personal Assessment
I agree that the competent Christian counselor “must have some familiarity with how to treat anxiety disorders” (Hawkins, n.d., slide 2).  I also agree with the conceptual emphasis on recognizing the role and significance of biological influences on psychological challenges (n.d., slide 2).  This fits well with my personal conviction that each client needs to be assessed as a whole person with all aspects of mind, body and spirit considered. 

I did not personally see the need for understanding all the chemistry involved.  Recognizing symptoms and understanding techniques for relieving anxiety do not require understanding what serotonin or benzodiazepines are or how they work.  I did, however, appreciate the numerous self-treatment ideas that were presented and will likely incorporate some of those into my own lifestyle. 

I also found the various “pull out” blocks of information (such as the Common Myths About Panic Attacks on p. 44) to be useful concise tools.  I can see the value of putting together a few of these in “flier” format that could be made available to clients in the reception area of the office (with appropriate permissions and/or citations, of course).  Since “anxiety is now the number one emotional problem of our day” (preface, p. v), there’s a good chance that each client at least knows of someone who suffers from anxiety related disorders.  It’s good information to get out to the public as much as possible.

The most valuable portion of the book for me personally – both as an individual and as a future counselor – was the section on Christian Meditation.  I agree that there is strong Biblical support for the practice of meditation (pp. 238-239).  This is a technique that I will determine to learn and implement in my Christian walk and then incorporate into my therapeutic practice.  I often refer to Proverbs 23:7, which affirms the concept that behavior is determined by thinking.  As Christian meditation is an excellent tool for focusing thinking on God and His Word, I feel it will be a very useful tool for any client.

In summary, I agree with the basic precepts of the book – that biology and psychology are connected, that both must be considered in diagnosis and assessment, and that treatment should include both medical and psychological approaches.  I disagree with the idea that the counselor or the client needs to understand the underlying chemistry on the biological/neurological side or how the medications work – that is what we have psychiatrists and physicians for.  Most especially, I appreciate the numerous techniques presented that can be used either individually or in conjunction with therapy and the emphasis on personal responsibility for seeking help and making positive cognitive changes.

References
Hart, A. (1999). The anxiety cure: You can find emotional tranquillity[sic] and wholeness. Nashville, TN: Word Publishing.

Hawkins, R. (n.d.) [Speaker]. The anxiety cure: The contribution of Archibald Hart. Lynchburg, VA: Liberty University. (NOTE: this presentation is available only to students enrolled in L.U. counseling class COUN507_B01_200940)

The Bondage Breaker: A Critique of Neil Anderson's Supernatural Systems Approach

Personal Assessment
I approached this book with skepticism.  Many years ago I was exposed to Anderson's Victory Over Darkness and, though I can't remember any details about it, I remember feeling like he was looking to find demons under every rock and failing to hold individuals personally responsible for their choices.  Since then I have not viewed him as a reliable source for instruction.  I was pleasantly surprised to discover balanced and scripturally well-supported arguments presented in The Bondage Breaker (2000).

I appreciated his assertion that the material and immaterial are not divisible (p. 34).  As human beings, our challenges are not physical or spiritual but both physical and spiritual.  When I have a bad cold, it affects not only my sinuses but my cognition and emotions and, thereby, my ability and even my desire to pray or read Scripture.  When counseling Christian clients, I need to be sure I am paying attention to the whole person - mind, body, emotions and spirit.

I also strongly support Anderson's focus on personal responsibility for right thinking.  My grandfather strongly believed that the way we are raised has only as much affect on us as we choose to allow - there comes a time for each person when they are individually responsible for their choices, beliefs and behavior regardless of childhood experiences.  God gave us the ability and the responsibility to cognitively assess our lives, to examine ourselves (reference 1 Corinthians 11:28, 2 Corinthians 13:5 and Galatians 6:4) so that we are without excuse when we come before His throne (reference Romans 1:20).

While I am in agreement with the majority of Anderson's (2000) concepts, I'm not comfortable with the formulaic steps as they are laid out in the book - both the seven "Steps to Freedom in Christ" (pp. 201-242) and the prayers for maintaining freedom in Christ (pp. 242-252).  In the first place, it's simply too "rubber stamp" for my personality.  People are too unique and individual and their personal challenges need to be handled according to their uniqueness and individuality.  Second, I have never liked formula prayers.  They feel too much like magic words to me.  Prayer needs to come from the heart, not from a book.

This book was a good reminder that our battles are as much spiritual as they are physical and I believe that incorporating this belief into my therapeutic practice will benefit my clients and make me a better counselor.  While it is unlikely I would walk a client through Anderson's (2000) seven steps, it is likely I will encourage prayers that affirm truth and renounce wrong thoughts, beliefs and behaviors that may have given place to demonic influence.

References
Anderson, N. (2000). The bondage breaker. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers.

Comparing And Contrasting Family Systems Models

Summary

    Both Wilson and Cloud & Townsend present models for change that are lifestyle oriented rather than "quick-fixes."  Both deal with cognitive processes and require that the individual examine themselves, see the problem area, and apply biblical thinking to bring about positive change.  I find these family systems models complimentary in their overall content.

I prefer the format and organization of Cloud & Townsend's book to that of Wilson.  Cloud & Townsend presented a framework, addressed key issues and then provided clear solution-oriented direction but  I felt that Wilson scattered these three aspects throughout her book.

Lastly, I feel Wilson's book provided a framework to help me better understand my dad, his challenges and how that has affected my development.  Cloud & Townsend have provided an excellent framework for me to begin working more purposefully on making positive changes in myself that will benefit our relationship as well as other familial relationships where I have now identified boundary issues.  The complimentary nature of these models provide both concepts and processes that will be incorporated into my personal counseling theory - such as personal responsibility, boundaries we need to place on ourselves, and the need to examine historical development to discover childhood choices that may be detrimental to adult life.

References
Cloud, H. & Townsend, J. (1999). Boundaries in marriage: Understanding the choices that make or break loving relationships. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Wilson, S. (2001). Hurt people, hurt people: Hope and healing for yourself and your relationships. Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House Publishers.

A Critique of Sandra Wilson's Relationship Systems Model as Presented in Her Book Hurt People, Hurt People

Conclusion
I appreciated much of this book as it is largely reflective of my own thinking in regards to parental influence of children.  The focus is highly selective and, in my opinion, a little too focused on the extremes of sexual abuse - though that is understandable considering the authors' history.  Nonetheless, there were solid, thought-provoking concepts presented that were largely supported in Scripture.

References
Wilson, S. (2001). Hurt people, hurt people. Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House Publishers.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Conference Nuggets

Just a few thoughts, quotes, concepts that meant something to me from this past weekend's Women of Faith conference :-)


One of my favorite speakers was Lisa Harper.  As a single woman a couple of years older than me with an imperfect body like mine, she exuded beauty in buckets!  Her sessions focused on Matthews account of the genealogy of Christ noting that it not only included women (unheard of in that culture) but that they were not perfect women (far worse in that culture).  Tamar deceived and seduced her father-in-law and became pregnant by him; Rahab was a "card-carrying" prostitute; Ruth descended from Lot's lineage . . . a product of incest; Bathsheba was an adulteress.  God wove these "wild women" into His Son's family tree - He *designed* that they should be part of His incarnate form's biological heritage.  Wow.  If them, why not me?  (Jeremiah 1:29)


Shiela Walsh shared an amazing testimony that concluded with her finding herself in a place of humility asking, "How can I stand at the foot of the cross pointing my finger at anyone else?"  Her journey of experiencing a serious betrayal of trust followed by God's call to forgive and His work to mature, strengthen and humble her through the process was humbling and inspiring.  She directed us to Psalm 46:10 "Be still and know that I am God" and noted that the Hebrew word translated "Be still" more accurately translates to "Let go."  I was challenged to look at so many hurts, strivings, failures and so forth in my life that I need to let go.


Lisa Welchel shared her story growing up as "Blair" on "The Facts of Life" TV series.  The abuse (not sexual) was horrendous.  No child should have to go through the public scrutiny of her weight like she did - but God allowed it and now her testimony brings healing to so many!  While her entire story was a ministry to my heart, the nugget I took from it was 1st Corinthians 13:12a, "For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face" (NASB).  I can relate to Lisa when she talks about looking in the mirror and seeing a failure - a big, fat, unattractive, worthless failure.  But that is not what she was and it is not what I am - such thoughts are lies from the pit of hell meant to incapacitate us in the work God has set before us.


Lisa's story was echoed beautifully in a drama by Allison Allen.  What an amazing dramatist!  Her dialogue with her mirror struck home for me.  Unfortunately there's really no way to capture the essence of her production, which was very powerful, with the written word.


Nicole C. Mullen, a singer, songwriter, dancer was fun to watch.  Although her style of music isn't really my style, her heart was clearly sold out to Jesus!  One thing she said that really caught my attention as she relayed the story of the hemorrhaging woman who was healed when she touched the hem of Christ's garment and then received love and acceptance when He turned to her and touched her heart:  We need to stop coming after Him for what we can get and start coming before Him for what He wants to give.  So true!


Marilyn Meberg was my least favorite speaker, but only because she included some crass sexually oriented jokes that I felt were inappropriate.  Still, though, she had some good words of wisdom to share that impacted me:  In our busy-ness we are often meeting the goals for life but missing the purpose for life.  It is important to look at my life and assess - what am I bowed under the weight of?  As a future Christian Counselor, these words of wisdom were important to me: Psychology can reveal; only God can heal - Knowing does not cure.


Some other tidbits I didn't get the speaker's name associated with in my jots & tiddles:  

When we are feeling unworthy, look to John 3:16 for what God did; 1st John 1:9 for what we need to do; and John 1:12 for the result.


"You have never lived an unloved moment in your life!"  (Now that is powerful!)


"You delight God's heart in a million ways" (quoting Max Lucado)


For bios on all the speakers, click here.

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Critique of Jay Adams' Biblical Counseling Theory and Process


Conclusion
    Adams focus on the primacy and sufficiency of Scripture must be appreciated and valued as a vital contribution to truly "Christian" counseling.  His model of the therapeutic process is, however, severely limited in application and does not adequately account for a Biblical method of counseling the unredeemed.  His emphasis on the goal and focus of change is also a worthy contribution and should be the focus of any truly Christian counselor but his assumptions regarding integration and cognition are invalid and Biblically unsupportable.
 

References

Adams, J. (1986). How to help people change: The four-step Biblical process. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 

Hawkins, R. (n.d.) [Speaker]. The contribution of Jay Adams. Lynchburg, VA: Liberty University.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The Counseling Models of Dr. Larry Crabb and Dr. Ron Hawkins: A Brief Critique

Personal Evaluation
I am not impressed with Dr. Hawkins' model as I disagree with some key aspects of his Concentric Circles and I find it to be, overall, simplistic and seriously lacking in integration. Due to spatial considerations, I will focus only on my primary disagreement, which is with his understanding of the core self - specifically the manner in which he differentiates the regenerate and unregenerate. Scripture clearly tells us that, upon salvation, we become "a new creature; the old things passed away" (II Cor. 5:17, NASB, emphasis mine). This concept of being completely freed from or dead to sin is reiterated throughout Paul's writings (reference Rom. 6:4 and 7:6; I Cor. 5:7; Gal. 6:15; and Eph. 2:11-16 and 4:24). Thus, I disagree that regenerate individuals retain an "old sin nature" and are only different from unregenerate people because they have the addition of the Holy Spirit. They are different because they are re-born and have a new nature that is clean and holy and desires to follow God.

While the "Spoiling the Egyptians" integrative approach that Crabb claims to ascribe to is not overtly evident in his models, concepts or therapeutic process, he does offer some valuable truths that I wholeheartedly ascribe to. Crabb notes that "the primary problem with people today is misplaced dependency" (1977, p. 139). Biology and other external factors aside, I believe this is foundational concept for Christian counseling. Scripture tells us that God has "granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness" (II Peter 1:3, NASB). When our dependency for having our basic needs of security and significance is on anything other than the Lord God, we will have problems.

I also appreciated Crabb's inclusion of "the basic direction (heart)" as part of the human personality. For the unredeemed, this accounts for the sin nature which leads man naturally to oppose God. For the redeemed, it accounts for the new nature which leads man to naturally desire and obey God. This fits well with my understanding of the affects of salvation on the human self.

Overall I found myself more aligned with Dr. Crabb and his concepts than with Dr. Hawkins, especially as it applied to their models of human personality and the manner in which the redeemed are differentiated from the unredeemed. This was a key aspect for me in assessing these models. Dr. Crabb's model provides a better frame for expressing the transformation that salvation brings to a person's base nature.


References


Crabb, L. (1977). Effective Biblical counseling: A model for helping caring Christians become capable counselors. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

Hawkins, R. (n.d.a.) [Speaker]. Effective Biblical counseling. Lynchburg, VA: Liberty University.

Hawkins, R. (n.d.b.) [Speaker]. Hawkins' model for guiding the counseling process. Lynchburg, VA: Liberty University.

Friday, August 28, 2009

A Word on Obama

I'm not typically one to get involved in politics (except for voting my conscience) - nor is this meant to be a change in that personal policy (not that I have anything against it, it's just that I need to regulate it because of my own obsessive/compulsive tendencies . . . getting involved would open the door to politics taking over my life), HOWEVER, this letter came to me from my aunt and it confirms everything I've believed about Obama from the beginning. My aunt met the author of this article and the author is relaying 1st hand information and personal opinion. His credentials are detailed at the end.

I'm not putting this out there to open debate - it's just that I agree with it and it's important to me.

Is Obama a Muslim?
By
Avi Lipkin

There is a famous English saying: "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." I will never forget the appearance of then Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain who was confronted by this sweet American elderly woman who asked the senator what he thought about Obama's being a Muslim.

His answer was swift: "No, Madam, I do not believe he is a Muslim. He, himself has denied it."
After completing a two month lecture circuit in the U.S. and Canada, the first such lecture circuit since Obama's election victory, I felt the need to set the record straight with a few lines in this periodical.

In spite of a few muted accusations that Obama should not be president by virtue of the fact that he was born in Kenya and seems to not be able to provide a genuine birth certificate showing he is American born, there is no doubt that President Mubarak Hussein Obama is the son of a Sunni Muslim, and even the proud member of a Sunni Muslim tribe in Kenya, the same tribe that slaughtered tens of thousands of Kenyan Christians a few years ago.

According to the Islamic faith, if his father was a Muslim, so is the son, Obama.

There is no debate, either, that his white mother remarried a second husband, also a Sunni Muslim and lived with Obama in Indonesia for a number of years. Obama attended a Madrassa (Islamic school) until age 11 and attended the local mosque.

I think it was the Jesuit Priest Francis Xavier who said: "Give me a child until 10 and I will make him a man."

With a father and step-father who were both Muslims, and a school and religious system which raised him as a Muslim until 11, it would seem a shut and closed case that the president of the U.S. is a Muslim.

It is true that with his marriage to the future First Lady, Michelle, he began attending Rev. Jeremy Wright's black supremacist church and spent 20 years as a regular attendee on Sundays.

In his famous interview with George Stephanopoulos, he was referring to "his Muslim faith," but quickly corrected himself when Stephanopoulos interrupted him and said, "You mean, your Christian faith..." and Obama, said: "Yes, my Christian faith."

Now according to the Koran, in Sura IV entitled Women, verse 137, it says:"Those who accept the Faith (Islam) and then renounce it, who again embrace it and again deny it and grow in unbelief -- Allah will neither forgive them nor rightly guide them." (This means any Muslim who abandons Islam must be killed.)

There is also a term in Islam: Takiyah, which means permission to lie to the infidel for the purposes of Allah/Islam. In other words, it is permissible for a Muslim to attend a Christian church, pretend to be a Christian, only as a cover to achieve goals for the Muslim cause, such as to become president of the United States.

Now, let me go on record as praying for Barack Obama's long life. Indeed, New York Pastor David Wilkerson speaks in his prophecies of the cities in the U.S. going up in flames, a terrible scenario that would most definitely happen if anyone killed Obama, God-forbid.

Here are three radio broadcasts my wife, Rachel, intercepted at Kol Israel in the last few years:
1. Before Obama's election in November 2008: Saudi Radio: "We will have a Muslim in the White House in the 2008 elections...
2. After his election: Libyan Radio: Qaddafi: "Our man in the White House."
3. The Sunnis are having meetings to coordinate policy together with President Obama to first deal with the Shiite Iranian Ayatollah regime in Teheran which threatens all Sunnis in general as well as the Saudis in particular; and then to deal with the "fanatic" new Israeli government under second-time Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

These are the three broadcasts I spoke about during my lectures in the U.S. and Canada during the period Feb-April 2009.

In addition, in a recent prayer breakfast in Washington, DC, everyone who spoke quoted the Bible. Obama quoted the Hadith (Islamic teachings not in the Koran).

I think Israel must be very concerned and so should the entire Christian world that the U.S. president is either a Muslim, or firmly in the Muslim camp. Indeed beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If the Muslims see him as a Muslim, then for all intents and purposes, he is a Muslim.

Whatever, if Mubarack Hussein Obama is a Muslim or self-proclaimed Christian, God's eyes are on every move America and the world make regarding Israel. Many Christians have said to me on my most recent lecture circuit that if Obama moves against Israel God's judgment on America will be a punishment on all Americans, Christians and Jews included.


It is indeed a time for Christian Revival for Israel's Survival! (The name of my second book).

The above article first appeared in Israel Today, June 01, 2009 and is reprinted with permission. Avi Lipkin ( pseudonym Victor Mordecai) Is a columnist for Israel Today, is a frequent guest on the Michael Medved and Michael Savage radio programs, and has appeared on hundreds of television and radio programs worldwide. He served in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) from February 1972 until January 1973 as IDF Spokesman for the Judea and Samaria Command under Lt.Col Rafael Horovitz. His IDF reserve duties included artillery reserves from 1973 to 1989 and as an officer in the IDF Spokesman’s Office from 1989 to 2001. He is the author of four books, and is a candidate for the Israeli Knesset elections at the head of a Judeo-Christian Bible Bloc party called “Gush Hatanakhi” in Hebrew. Avi has appeared in over five hundred churches and synagogues in the US, Canada, Mexico, UK, Norway, Finland, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland, Greece as well as in Israel. For more information visit: www.vicmord.com
Reprinted with permission from the Roseburg Beacon News, Vol.2- Issue 32 August 12, 2009