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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.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Prepare your heart

I was not going to Blog this morning - too many other tasks waiting to be done . . . but the Lord has other plans and one of the lessons I am working on learning is to trust HIS plan over what I think *needs* to be done.  Then again - maybe I'm just allowing myself to get distracted?  Either way, here I am :-)

I was committed to having at least a brief devotional time so said a little prayer and then tried to figure out where to read.  Normally I try to read something from the previous week's sermon or read ahead for the next Sunday's sermon.  Last week and next week, however, we have guest speakers - so we are off our normal path and, therefore, reading ahead was not an option.  The theme for these two Sundays is "Voices" . . . so that gives no clue as to what to study.  That leaves me with retrospective reading from the previous week's sermon - which was truly excellent, so I grabbed my bulletin notes and noted the passage - 2 Tim 3:4 thru 4:8 - and I began to flip there.  As I hit Luke, an underlined section caught my eye and I noticed the word "voice" in the passage.  I was immediately drawn to it and abandoned 2 Tim to read Luke 3:4 and then the passage context of verses 1-20.

I kept coming back in my mind and heart to the key phrase in this passage, "Prepare the way of the Lord" which has a handwritten note by it, "Prepare your heart".  

Something the Lord has been dealing with me a LOT on lately has been my need to prepare my heart.  I won't list my sins here, just suffice to say that, with recent changes in our lives and amazing opportunities to see dreams come true (if we will put the work in), I've discovered I still have a heart of "self" sufficiency.  In Proverbs we are told, "The wise woman builds her house,But the foolish tears it down with her own hands." (14:1).  I am convinced that if my heart is not right with the Lord in the things He has shown me, I will only be tearing down that which I believe we have been called to build.

So, as the "voice" of John called people to repentance unto salvation - preparing their hearts by living lives of integrity (v 10-14) - I urge you, like me, to examine your heart and see if your way is straight.  Where you see flaws, submit them to the Lord and endeavor each day to live with greater integrity and greater commitment to bringing honor and glory to the name of Christ.  

Thursday, June 08, 2017

What on earth is Jesus up to?

Oh, my friends! I write today from a heart full of anticipation!  And I hope to inspire the same feeling of impending awesomeness in you as I do so!!

Ron and I had a really nice weekend of total relaxation this past weekend in Pinetop.  We set all our responsibilities aside and just laid by the pool, sat in the spa, swam, enjoyed good food and, mostly, enjoyed being Best Friends.  It was wonderful.  But Monday inevitably came and we went back to work.  Along with that, I started playing catch up with "Game Plan" videos (an educational series I've been listening to that are taught by a lovely, Godly young woman named Sarah Harnisch) and the fire to see what God is going to do in our lives was rekindled.

This morning, in playing "catch up" on church (our pastor is preaching through John in "rewind" fashion - you can find the sermons HERE - they are REALLY worth hearing!!), I was reading John 11.  I got through verse 10 and realized I *needed* to write about this!  I suggest reading vs 1-16 to get the basic context of this particular incident :-)

So - setting the stage - from the disciples' perspective.  Jesus is informed that "the one whom You love is sick."  These guys know Jesus and that he loves Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, and they KNOW He can heal Lazarus - but Lazarus is in Judea (v. 7).  When Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick, He does two things that make perfect sense to his disciples - He says the sickness is NOT deadly (v4) and He doesn't rush out there to heal Lazarus (v.6).  Why would Jesus rush out to Judea to heal His friend when the sickness is not life threatening and there are Jews just waiting to stone Jesus when he sets foot in Judea (v8).  So it makes perfect sense . . . 

As we know, however (and so did Jesus) - Lazarus' illness WAS fatal.  Well, that throws a wrench in things, right?  And now things really stop making sense from a human perspective.  Two key things:  Jesus said the sickness was NOT unto death (v4) and then Lazarus died (v14) and Jesus, who could have healed Lazarus - and who KNEW what would happen if He didn't - waited . . . two days . . . until He knew Lazarus was dead . . . to begin the journey back to Judea - which freaked out the disciples because they believed that returning to Judea was a death sentence both for Jesus and for themselves (v.8 & 16).

How many times do we look at circumstances in our lives - at dead dreams, at dashed hopes, at things that just don't make sense when we KNOW God could make it different, make it better?  How many times do we look at God and say "where were you??" as Martha did (v.21).  How many times do we look at a calling God has placed in our hearts that we KNOW is what He wants for us as clearly as the disciples knew Jesus had determined to return to Judea and yet our logical minds say "that's NUTS - that could NEVER work"??

There are a couple of things this passage can teach us when we are facing those times that should give us hope and encouragement and inspiration - and as I am typing those words, they fall short of the passionate flame of CONFIDENCE in God and His way that I want to express.  All doubt and despair and fear should BURN in the fires of FAITH in our Good God!  

First,  Jesus waited to return to Judea because He LOVED Martha and Mary and Lazarus.  He LET Lazarus die BECAUSE He loved him and his sisters . . .  Maybe we should consider that God has us in circumstances where our dreams and goals and aspirations have died because He LOVES US.  

All my younger years I was SURE I was going to marry young - probably a pastor - have children - and be a shining example of what it meant to be a godly mom & pastor's wife . . . . I was SURE this was God's will for my life because it was the biggest dream of my heart.  By the time I was 25, that certainty became a question mark and I began to blame God for giving me a dream that He was not fulfilling, leaving me in frustration and feeling abandoned.  I had NO IDEA what God was doing - it didn't make sense to me that I would have this passionate desire and that I was not seeing it fulfilled.  So I turned my back on God and for a year, tried to make the "dream" come true on my own.  All I managed was a weak shadowy mockery of that hope and a depression so deep I very nearly committed suicide.  

When the Lord got ahold of my heart again, and through years of ups and downs in faith, He finally got me to a place where I allowed that dream to die.  I was not "content" to be single, but I was content to submit that dream to God and let it go.  TEN years later, having found peace with God as sufficient for me regardless of what I thought I needed - God brought me to Ron.  Not a pastor, but a man in ministry and with a generous heart of ministry to others.  So much more than I could have EVER hoped for.  A man of integrity and spunk (which I need since I'm far to serious minded!!) and kindness and such a love for me as I could never have imagined.  And he brought with him a father that demonstrated to me, for the first time in my life, how much our heavenly father loves me, and so much more!!  God let my pitifully small dreams die so that He could give me so much more!  He taught me that He ALONE is sufficient for all my needs, and then He fulfilled my dream in a manner far abundantly beyond what I could have thought possible.  I can NEVER repay God for His abundant blessing in bringing Ron and I together - it is a relationship far and above anything I had previously imagined, hoped, or dreamed.

Second, God sees the BIG picture - the LONG TERM - the ultimate goal and purpose.  Things that are not evident to us when we are in the middle of life's challenges.  How can we read in v4 that Jesus said this was not a fatal illness and then read in v 14 that Lazarus is dead?  It's not that Jesus didn't know - it's that He understood the "death" was not permanent - it was designed for a purpose.  Think about that - the greatest loss Mary and Martha suffered was DESIGNED for a PURPOSE.  That purpose was to bring glory to God and to Jesus (v4).  And that purpose was accomplished when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead as a demonstration of His power and a revelation of His deity so that they would all BELIEVE (v 15 & 25).  

In our challenges - if we will just look to Jesus - trust in His character, in His plan, in His LOVE for us.  If we will just accept that where we are at in life can and will be used for HIS glory and that it will ultimately serve to strengthen our faith as we trust in Him, the doubts and fears and despair will be swallowed up in a victorious SHOUT of TRIUMPH.  He has RISEN from the grave - He has CHOSEN us - He LOVES us - and whatever He is doing, and especially when it just doesn't make sense to us - if we will just SUBMIT to His good will, we will see miracles happen.  Dreams will be revived in God's time to be bigger and more amazing than we could have ever imagined.  Dark and difficult losses will be used to bring such great glory to Him that we could never have imagined it and the loss will become a GAIN.  

I truly hope this encourages you to face whatever trials await you today and in the coming days with confidence, courage, faith, hope, and anticipation for the Lord's good work in all of it. (Romans 8:28)

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Be the Donkey . . .

Today's musings are taken from John 12 and are excerpted from my notes of this past Sunday's sermon (https://vimeo.com/218483565) with some further extended musings as I have meditated on these concepts.  Our Pastor was taking a look at the Triumphal Entry scene and under the primary topic of "Demonstration" and the sub-point "Demonstration of His [Christ's] Authority", he brought up something Ron and I had never considered before - and, for us, it was profound.

Take a look at the donkey - have you ever considered the beauty of this animal's role in this scene?  With cross-referencing to Luke 19:28-36 and Mark 11:2-3, we can be inspired to BE the DONKEY :-)  

First, because of the culture of the day and the Levitical law that the Jews followed, we can consider that this donkey may have been redeemed (Ex 13:13 and 34:20).  We can't say this with certainty because the Scripture does not tell us if this was the first-born or not.  I like the analogy though and would like to believe this is most probable because of the rest of the image that is painted.  If we allow this presumption (bearing in mind that it IS a "presumption"), we see an animal chosen for the Lord's use that was redeemed by the blood of a lamb.  

Second, the donkey had to be released.  It was tied up when the disciples found it (as Christ said it would be).  Consider how many things we are tied up to in life - especially life before Christ, but even after.  I get tied up by work obligations and housekeeping and facebook and family obligations and TV and financial concerns and emotional stuff and so on and so on.  Some are things that could/should be avoided, some are things I have no control over, some are not "bad" in and of themselves - but all of it are things/situations/thoughts/time-wasters/etc. that I allow to keep me from accomplishing my God-designed purpose in life.  We've all got those things we need to be released from in order to truly accomplish the good works that God designed us for.

Third, the donkey needed to be ruled.  Think about it - a colt on which NO ONE had EVER ridden.  My teenage years were spent on 10 acres in Penrose, Colorado.  We had horses & cattle & such so I have a personal understanding of the importance of that phrase.  The colt was not broke in.  Under normal circumstances, that would mean it would be difficult at best to get on it's back and really tough to stay there as it bucked and twisted to get rid of the unwanted weight placed on it's back.  

I also have a unique perspective because of our experience with our own filly born to one of our mares.  My sister is AWESOME with animals.  Fearless and so full of love for them :-)  She raised that filly - spending time with it every day from birth.  That filly learned early to TRUST her.  It also saw us taking it's momma and the other horses out - putting saddles and bridles on them and riding them out of the pen - around the block.  That filly learned that freedom came in the form of a saddle & bridle and rider and that it was not a thing to be feared.  So - when the time came, she willingly accepted the bridle and saddle - she was THRILLED to be ridden - there was a little jumping at the unexpected weight, but she adjusted quickly.

Two lessons from all this:  One, Jesus authority was demonstrated in His ability to easily mount and ride that colt - it TRUSTED Him - animals have a sense for that and I'm sure the fact that Jesus was God and therefore the colt's creator probably had something to do with that.  The colt trusted Him to guide him through crowds of people waving palm fronds and blankets (most horses would rear & shy at such an experience). We should trust Him the same way.  Though the experience is new and maybe uncomfortable and maybe scary - if God is leading the way, we should follow confidently.

Two, we should gain confidence in our Creator when we see His work in the lives of our fellow believers.  Those who have gone before with faith in God show us that taking up our cross and following Him is the true path to freedom.  We are told to take up our cross and to take His yoke upon ourselves - and these would seem, logically, to be burdensome things - and yet we are told that His yoke is easy and His burden is light - and it is only in choosing to "be saddled and bridled" that we find our true purpose and true freedom.

So - my encouragement to you today is to BE THE DONKEY - be redeemed by the blood of the lamb, be freed from the things that keep you from your purpose, and be willing to be saddled, bridled, and ruled by the Lord Jesus Christ.  Therein lies peace, contentment, hope, joy, and so much more.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Challenges!!

Oh how the Devil likes to plague us! Unfortunately, he often has nothing to do as we plague ourselves . . . Have you ever found LIFE to be a distraction from PURPOSE?  I have *determined* to spend time in the Word daily . . . but that didn't happen yesterday.  I have *determined* to keep up with this YL boot camp . . . I've only done that partially - the book reading & workbook (which are NOT heavy requirements) have thus far eluded me . . . I have *determined* to exercise - JUST 10 MINUTES - every morning  - guess what's not happening THIS morning . . .      sigh.

That darned clock - keeps ticking - and time "keeps on slippin', slippin', slippin' into the future . . . ."  Nevertheless, I will continue to STRIVE for success and I am NOT giving up.  The mountainous circumstances that either I cannot control or I simply have not yet learned how to circumnavigate WILL give way.  

That said - I will simply let this blog be a prayer request this morning.  Please pray that I remain steadfastly committed to the things God has laid on my heart to do - namely:

  • Time in His Word EVERY day (preferably in the morning) with a blog post, however brief, as that really helps me focus on hearing the Lord speak and making personal application of what I'm reading.
  • 10 minutes of exercise every day (again, preferably in the morning) - I need to get HEALTHY and that is one key component of the process.  My Simply Fit board is an excellent resource and I need to use it!!
  • Fully participate in the "Game Plan Boot Camp" - this is another key step toward health and wellness - both physically (as we rid our home of toxins and add in healthy, healing products) and financially (as we pursue becoming debt free).
  • To not cheat my employer of time by being distracted with Facebook and the Essential Oils business.  I need to honor the Lord in the work I do for my employer!!
Your prayers are so very much appreciated!

Monday, May 08, 2017

Discipline - and a brief look at John 17

If you follow me on Facebook, you might know that Ron (my husband) and I are embarking on a new adventure with Young Living essential oils.  As part of that, I (we) jumped into what they call "boot camp", which is a disciplined program designed to help us get a strong start in building what will become our business.  One of the things the particular Young Living group I'm a part of emphasizes is balance and right priorities - God first, family 2nd, church/others 3rd, business 4th.

Why does this matter?  Because it is entering this boot camp that has spurred me to greater discipline in my personal spiritual walk.  I have committed to certain work hours and activities BUT, more importantly, I have committed to NOT work on the business until I have had time in the Word and, to the extent possible, blogged about it.  There is no point building a business if my relationship with Christ is negatively affected by that activity - business is temporary, my relationship with Christ is eternal and FAR more important.

So, this morning I opened my Bible to John 17.  I know that skips 18 & 19 (which I have also read) but it was the passage that was preached on yesterday in church and it has not let me go yet.  I needed to read it thoroughly - and I may get stuck here for the next few days while it all soaks in.  Here's my thoughts this morning:

Purpose - in this prayer, Christ addresses first & foremost His purpose and in doing so sets the example and displays our purpose.  V.1 - He asks the Father to glorify Him THAT He may glorify the Father. V4 - He has glorified the Father - how? by doing the work He was sent to do. V5 He asks to be glorified with the Father - to be restored to the glory He had before taking on human form.  Key word - Glory or Glorify.  

Why did Christ come?  To provide a sacrifice so we could be cleansed from our sin and our relationship with the Father could be restored? Yes, but WHY did He provide that sacrifice?  To bring glory to the Father.  If you have not read "Desiring God" by John Piper, I HIGHLY recommend this study.  Through it Pastor Piper shows how, throughout the Bible, ALL things that happened - from the fall to the cross to the second coming to the millenial kingdom - ALL is meant for the ultimate and final goal of bringing glory to God - and it is a beautiful and loving and perfect goal.

Our purpose - to love others as we love ourselves - why? to bring glory to God; Our purpose - to serve those in need - why? to bring glory to God; Our purpose - to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Savior - why? to bring glory to God: Our purpose - to be faithful and obedient children - why? to bring glory to God; Our purpose - to endure suffering and hardship - why? to bring glory to God; and etc.

The end purpose - the end reason for the existence of mankind - our deepest need and our greatest joy is found in fulfilling our purpose - what we were designed for - to bring glory to God.

Oh, there is so much more, but it will have to wait for tomorrow as I must exercise a little discipline and get to the next commitment I have made :-)

I hope you are encouraged and challenged by these thoughts - GO and bring glory to God today!  :-)

Friday, May 05, 2017

Oh the temptation . . . .

Good Morning.  That I am here this morning writing this post is a testament to God's grace in giving me the will to overcome temptations I would (and have) normally succumbed to - specifically, the TASKS of the day that are even now niggling at the back of my mind, trying to draw me away.  "More important" - that is the lie Satan endeavors to sell me.  Today, I am endeavoring to ignore that little lie screaming in my head.  So far, so good :-) though I am admittedly a bit distracted by it.

I had a couple of thoughts from John 21 that I wanted to share yesterday, so let's get to that, shall we?

I have a note on the side of my Bible next to v 5 & 6 where Jesus asks if the disciples have any food and they respond that they do not.  It says, "Remember who God is and who, in our inadequacy, we depend upon. John 15:5"  The last part of the verse referenced says simply, "without Me you can do nothing."  Ponder on that a bit.  Each breath (whether you are a believer or not) is a gift from God; each step - whether aided or unaided - is a gift from God; each rational thought is a gift from God; each creative thought is a gift from God."  

In the past I have taught on the verse that tells us we can do ALL things **through Christ** (an essential part of the equation) who strengthens us - and I always emphasize - "What does "ALL" mean?  ALL means ALL.  Not some, not most, not nearly all - ALL.  There is NOTHING we cannot do IF we are abiding in Christ and relying on HIM to strengthen us to do it.  This reminder from John 15:5 now leads me to a new powerful thought.  "What does "NOTHING" mean?"  Ponder that a bit more . . .  NOTHING means NOTHING - we do not exist without God.  Truly, it is HIS thoughts of us that cause us to be here at all.  Every movement, every skill, every heart we touch.

I've heard this taught that basically it means we can do nothing "of value" - but I think it's more than that.  This is just a thought I had this morning as I was putting this together and there are a hundred questions that come up with it meaning this could turn into a full blown novel if I pursue it too far  . . . what about those who commit evil deeds, for instance . . ..  Questions worthy of consideration and pondering, but for today, I'm going to settle with simply - Nothing means Nothing - which should lead us to much gratitude for so many things we take for granted on a daily basis.

The other thing I wanted to touch base on in John 21 was the "Peter, Do you love Me?" section in verses 15-19.  Just because the "fine print" is often missed in Sunday Sermons and, personally, I feel it is the most relevant and essential part of the passage.

It is important to note that the first two times Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him, he uses the greek word "agape" for "love".  This is an unconditional love - the highest form of love and is the word used to describe God's love for us "in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."  Agape love is a choice made by one regardless of the other.  It is the love humans can only have IF they have a relationship with Christ - it is exclusive to believers (and, unfortunately, often elusive to believers).  Both times Peter responds with the greek word "phileo" - Peter cannot (having denied Christ at the crucifixion) honestly say he loves Jesus unconditionally - so he uses the next strongest term he can - phileo - a "brotherly affection".  A strong love, but NOT unconditional.  Peter is acknowledging his weakness - his humanity.   The third time Christ poses the question, he uses "phileo" - which is why Peter is grieved that Christ asked him a third time.  Jesus came down to his level and accepted what Peter could honestly offer.  

Also important to note is that, despite the change in the question, the command NEVER changes - Peter is commanded to preach. Period.  Essentially, Jesus has said, I accept that your love is imperfect and I want to use you anyway.  Now, I fully believe that, over time and with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (which came fully later on), Peter was able to say, "Yes Lord, I 'agape' you!" and this is proven out in the way he lived and died for the gospel, BUT God did not require him to get to that level before using him.  SO IMPORTANT - God can/will use you RIGHT NOW - AS YOU ARE - if you will just give him 100% of what you can.  He will take that and grow it and develop you into what He has called you to be if you just surrender who you are to Him.

I will endeavor to complete notes on chapters 18 & 19 tomorrow.  May the Lord use these thoughts to encourage and challenge your heart today.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes . . .

So - it's been a while . . . . 

Some of my absence was controllable, some was not.  I'm sure you've all had the same challenges in life so I'm not going to beat myself up for it - just gonna take the bull by the horns and start again.  I must say, it's so much easier to be faithful to this kind of study and writing when teaching a physical class - when you KNOW there will be people there each week expecting to hear something useful from you.  I am on a learning and growing curve so Thank You for your patience with me.

That said, I tried to get back to the Return To Me study today.  It felt flat.  Nothing I read felt like it was what I was supposed to be reading.  I re-read Day 5 to get back "into the groove" then on to Day 6 and just felt in my Spirit that this was not where God wanted me today.  It's been on my mind a lot lately to be reading the book of John since that is what our pastor is preaching from - reading ahead to prepare my heart for the sermons - so I thought I'd jump into that.  As he's going through the book in reverse (you can check out our "REWIND" series at https://vimeo.com/user42684521), I'm not 100% sure what chapter he'll go to next.  We've done ch. 20 - 18, so one would presume 17, but he sometimes skips and I like context so I thought I'd start in 15 and work my way up through 17 at least.  Again, the reading felt "flat."  So I thought for a bit and calculated that if I started in 20 today and read 1 chapter back each day, I'd be on 17 by Sunday and maybe be better prepared with reverse context in mind - so I started on chapter 20 - and it felt right!  :-)

Today's thoughts, therefore, are from John 20-21.  They will be brief and somewhat light, but it's where the Lord has me today and my prayer is that something in here will inspire, encourage, challenge, or otherwise have a positive impact on your day :-)

20:9-10 "For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead, Then the disciples went away again to their own homes."  A lesson in not presuming on what a fellow believer should/should not understand.  From our perspective, the teachings were clear - and, in reality, they WERE - HOWEVER, God did not allow the disciples to fully comprehend the truth even when it was staring them right in the face.  God's ways are not our ways - His thoughts are not our thoughts - He is taking each of us INDIVIDUALLY on a relational journey that centers on Him.  Just cuz we "get it" in some area of doctrine or practice, doesn't mean we can or should expect another to be in the same place on that particular issue and, more importantly, we should not stand in judgement over them.  That's like telling God He's not doing His job to our satisfaction . . .   At least, that's how I see it.

20:11-17  Nothing major here.  It's just that I've heard verse 17 presented by many and Jesus "rebuking" Mary - that word might actually be used in another version than the one I'm currently referencing - but my point is that it's sort of taught as Jesus speaking perhaps a bit harshly to Mary - with a sort of "Hey, back off" type of attitude.  I don't see this at all.  In my mind - and it's just my mind because Scripture really doesn't lay this out for us - the "rebuke" is much gentler.  I see Mary weeping, I see her in such grief she doesn't recognize her Lord (probably did not look him in the face the first time?? - v14). I see Jesus, driven by compassion, speaking the name of his beloved child and her turning, recognizing him, and enfolding him in a loving, amazed, shocked, and perhaps even desperate embrace - needing to make sure he's real and not wanting to lose him again.  I see Jesus gently taking her arms and pulling them from him - perhaps holding her hands in his in front of him as he looks her in the eyes with a smile and gently lets her know His job isn't finished yet and she needs to let Him complete it.  I think it's probably a beautiful, joyful moment.  Just my impression.

John 20:23 - this verse challenges me because of the way it is translated.  Rather than go into a long discussion of it (which is what it really needs), I will refer you for now to Dr. John MacArthur - whose teachings I trust.  His thoughts on this and the whole concept surrounding it can be found at https://www.gty.org/library/bibleqnas-library/BQ060612/peter-the-rock-of-the-church 

This actually went longer than expected :-p  and I have to head to work now so I will endeavor to do thoughts on Ch 21 this evening or tomorrow a.m. at latest.  

Till then . . . :-)

Friday, March 24, 2017

Return to Me - Day 5 - Part 2

Good Morning :-)

I wanted to touch base on two passages - 2 Corinthians 10:5 and Proverbs 23:7- a couple of days ago but ran out of time.  Plus, what I'm going to discuss here is more of a "side note" to the study than related to the topic for the day.  The awesome thing is, I learned something new!!  :-)  And this is surprising because these are passages I've been familiar with and used all my life - to realize that I never really applied my own teaching of "everything IN CONTEXT" to these verses was a bit of a revelation.  So grateful the Holy Spirit still teaches!  And, yet another reminder to anyone who reads this - EVERY human teaching should be measured against Scripture and EVERY Scripture must be observed in it's textual and cultural context!  :-)

So - on to my thoughts.  Specifically, I have used the "taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ" ( 2 Cor 10:5b, NASB) as a reference for teaching that we are to be mindful of our thoughts and not let ungodly or inaccurate thoughts settle in our minds.  This is a daily struggle and I still believe that this is ESSENTIAL to holy Christ-like living.  I have supported this with Proverbs 23:7, which tells us, "For as he thinks in his heart, so is he" (NASB).  

Now - both of these verses teach the principle of being careful of what you think about & dwell on - HOWEVER - that is NOT their PRIMARY meaning when you look at them IN CONTEXT!!!!  Surprise, Surprise!! (to me, anyway).  Let's look & learn, shall we??  :-)

Let's go back to verse 3 of the 2nd Corinthians passage (get out your Bible or click on THIS link, I'm not going to re-type the whole thing here).  I think verses 3-6 give us solid context for the phrase we are looking at.

Here's the key - "taking every thought . . . " is NOT a command - which is how I have used it in the past.  It is a RESULT!!  The passage is a specific reference to engaging in spiritual battle using the weapons of spiritual warfare.  The insinuated instruction is to make use of the spiritual weapons we have been given and, in so doing, we will NATURALLY end up "taking every thought captive"!!  So - the question becomes, what weapons do I have to use in order to battle well and get this desired result?  The obvious answer lies in the Ephesians 6:11-18 passage that delineates our spiritual battle armor. 

I won't go into these in detail but I do want to share a couple of thoughts for consideration.  I've always heard it taught that all the pieces of the armor are defensive except for the sword - which is our "offensive" weapon.  But ponder the image of a warrior in battle missing any one of those pieces of defensive armor . . . feet bare or chest bare or no helmet . . .  the lack of the piece reveals a weakness to the enemy and emboldens them.  A fully clad warrior, on the other hand, presents a much more intimidating foe and gives the enemy pause - making our "defensive" armor a weapon as well.  Also consider the difference in perception of a soldier clad in worn and unkempt armor - maybe fully clad, but the armor is in obvious need of repair . . . again, the enemy will see an opportunity to attack at weak spots and will be emboldened.  If we want to be true warriors for Christ, we must not only have our armor on and sword in hand, but it must be well maintained armor & a shiny, sharp sword . . . .  Also consider that every "defensive" piece of armor can be used offensively - a helmet "butt" against an enemy's unclad head is deadly; a breastplate or shield used to deflect an enemy's attack leaves them open to counter-attack.  Just think about actual hand-to-hand combat as it was done in the time this passage was written.  Every bit of the soldier and his armor was honed to defeat the enemy. . . .

Also, I've always heard this passage taught through verse 17 - but 18 is an obvious continuance, which means PRAYER and VIGILANCE are weapons as well!

All this to say - dust off your armor, ensure it is in good repair, sharpen up your sword, and go forth into battle with prayer and a watchful eye and you WILL take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ - and probably not just YOUR thoughts.  Notice the first part of 2 Cor 10:5 - this is spiritual warfare at it's finest!

Lastly, a brief note on Proverbs 23:7.  Context (verses 6-8) shows us that the "as he thinks, so is he" teaching is not a generically applied statement.  I've always thought it was "as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he." But "a man" is not in the passage.  It is a statement specifically referring to a selfish, miserly man and is a warning to consider the character of a man before having anything to do with him.  More globally applied, it is an instruction to avoid being deceived by the seeming kindness of one who has proven him/herself to be self-centered.  You will regret it.  This is akin to the warning of Matthew 7:6 , "Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces." (NASB).

I hope you have found these thoughts interesting and challenging.  I would love to hear what the Lord is teaching you - please feel free to leave a comment here or in the Facebook post :-)

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.