Archive for Scripture
Do you like to plan things out? I know I do. I seem to want to plan everything. From the minutia of my day, to the trip I’d like to take to Europe next summer. Plan. Plan. Plan. I even have a job that requires me to plan each and every day.
Now, preparedness is never a bad thing, but sometimes I get hung up on plans. I forget to just let life be, and sometimes I wonder if my planning is my secret way of taking control of my life instead of giving it over to the will of God.
I was studying James one morning about a week ago when I came to the section about boasting about the future (James 4:13-15). It was a wake up call ringing loud and clear.
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.
My planning is sin?
That sure woke me up! I think God was saying to me, “LET GO and give Me back some control over your life.”
We definitely don’t know what tomorrow will bring. I can’t count on things to happen with certainty. And I do recognize it is ok to make plans (loosely).
I am still going to plan my daily lessons at school, because I know that I am flexible and can change with the needs of the students. And I’m still hoping to go to Europe next summer, but I’m going to “pencil it in”, and say, “If the Lord allows, I will go to Europe.” I’m going to let him be the ultimate decision maker.
I need to be a bit more spontaneous and responsive to the Lord’s leadings. I need to give up some control and arrogance that comes from an attitude of “I’m making this decision.” I need to have more of a mindset that says,
If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.
For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise. Heb 10:36
The topic of endurance came up in my daily reading this week, and as a runner the topic strikes a chord with me. We are said to be in need of a spiritual endurance, and like running, that endurance doesn’t just come in one day. It takes time and training. I was really thinking through this the other morning, and thought to myself, how do we build that endurance? Time and training – what does that really mean? So bear with me here as I work this out…
Proper training – we need experienced people who have the right information to help guide us. This means we need to have a pastor who is steeped in the Word, knows it well, and presents it to us unashamedly. We need Bible study leaders who are strong in their faith and understanding of the word. We need brothers and sisters of faith who challenge us, encourage us, hold us accountable. And then when we get that truth, we need to actively apply it to our lives. We can listen all we want to the running coaches, but if we never get up and move – nothing will change.
Consistency – Training is not good for much if you don’t apply it and apply it consistently. Endurance is built up over time, and it builds upon itself. It’s hard to endure hardships when you’ve stopped and started, stopped and started building your endurance. Instead, that stop-start pattern actually leaves you pretty stagnant. I’ve experienced this in my running as well as my spiritual life.
With the right guidance, and the consistency of action (prayer, study, service, worship), spiritual endurance blossoms. A steady determination and perseverance grows and flourishes. It is an active process that enables you to face the challenge of the race of life.
Endurance is that point when you have the strength and determination to keep going even when you want to stop. It’s the will to put one foot in front of the other when the temptations threaten to lure you off the path.
The weary runner needs to focus and press onward in a straight path watching carefully so they do not injure themselves before the race has ended. Endurance is that focus, that determination, that strength to get you through the challenges and on to your second wind. I love the imagery from Hebrews 12 that illustrates this so well. Any runner will understand the slackening arms/hands, and the wobbly knees, and the need to stay strong…
Therefore, strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed. Heb. 12:12-13
Cross-posted at Jolene’s Journey.
Summer vacation is in full swing here in the Northeast. As a teacher, I sometimes struggle with summer because I am prone to idleness. A few summers ago I started running, and that seemed to keep me up and out and productive. The summer after that I was a voracious reader – of the Bible and of other things. I was still running too, and I have to admit I felt alive. Last summer I joined a running program, and like the summer I started running, I was energized and invigorated. I was particularly active in my garden and backyard too. I even painted the garage all by my lonesome!
This year, however, has been a challenge. After a long school year, I was quite honestly burnt out. I had plans to be in the yard, exercise every day, and read. I even wrote a post on my personal blog about how I intended to cultivate a place of peace in my home – work hard at making it a safe and healthy place for me spiritually. Alas, I feel as though I have failed. I’m halfway on my way to nowhere this summer, and as I read the words in Proverbs 31:27, I am strongly convicted…
She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. ~Pro 31:27
The Bible has a way of convicting you, pressing you to right the wrongs in your life! So, no more blaming the heat or drought as reason to stay inside. No more pushing aside my nightly Bible reading for extra time staring at the stats on my blog. No more laziness and skipping runs or workouts, because like my household, I should look well to the ways of my body. And workouts for me are perfect times for meditation on the word. I memorized so many verses last summer. This year? Not a single one. Shame on me.
I may have been halfway to nowhere this summer, but right now I’m going to flip the switch. Idleness off. Spiritual and physical fruitfulness on. It’s time to salvage this summer, and by God’s grace and mercy, I pray it will be the case.
Today is Good Friday, and I will be off to a Tenebrae service this evening. A friend of mine invited me again this year, and asked if I would read a passage for the service. I’m looking forward to an evening of quiet reflection on the significance of this day.
Good Friday is the day we remember Jesus’ death on the cross and what it means for us as believers. God required a propitiation for sin. That could only be achieved through the shedding of innocent blood – historically that was why the Hebrews sacrificed spotless lambs before God. But that wasn’t enough, so God in his infinite Love and Mercy provided a way to make it so that our debts could be paid. Jesus.
He suffered and died for our sakes. That we might have life eternal. Sometimes I still can’t put my head around it, but God has increased my faith that I might believe it even though the enormity of it still boggles my mind.
But His death is not the end of this story, because on the third day, there was an empty tomb.
I had been thinking about that a lot this week. What’s so important about the empty tomb? I mean, Jesus could have be resurrected and left the stone closed over the tomb, right? But would people still have believed?
I think the event of finding the empty tomb is so critical to our understanding of the resurrection, and for the people of that time it was necessary for them to accept Jesus as the King.
Lee Stroble wrote a bunch of those “Case for” books, and my husband just happened to have the one about Easter. I dug it out, surprised by the thinness, and dove into the investigation of the Resurrection. I was also surprised that one chapter was devoted entirely to the empty tomb. The Case for Easter is a short and easy read -one you might consider reading if you want some greater background knowledge regarding the resurrection.
At the end of the chapter where Stroble interviews William Lane Craig, Ph.D, D.Th there is this question that got me thinking:
Read Mark 15:42-16:8, the earliest account of Jesus’ burial and empty tomb. Do you agree with Craig that it is “stark in its simplicity and unadorned by theological reflection”? Why or why not?
So I went back and thought about this some more. Stark. Simplistic. Unadorned. Things that stood out to me were these:
* Jesus died quickly, and it was something Pilate marveled over.
* Joseph of Arimathea wrapped Jesus’ body and laid him in the tomb.
* The stone was rolled into place.
* Women came with the intent of anointing Him.
* The women found Jesus gone and were amazed.
I do agree that this passage is simple and to the point. It seems to capture the events that happened without much commentary. If this is the earliest gospel written, it seems that it simply captured what happened so that people could know. And it is easy to understand. There is nothing here that we can really question about deeper meanings, or what ifs….
It’s simple. Jesus died. He was buried. And then his tomb was empty. No one seems to disagree that the tomb was empty. And it happened to clearly illustrate to us that God is greater… that he was no longer confined by death! It is the reason we celebrate Easter – the Empty Tomb and the Resurrection of Jesus is symbolizes.
Have a Happy Easter everyone!
Let such a person consider this, that what we are in word by letters when we are absent, such we will be in deed when we are present.
2 Cor. 10:11
I was working my way through Corinthians last month, and this very surprisingly stood out to me. When I consider how much society has changed in the last decade, I am overwhelmed by the change in the nature of human interaction. I was not born digital, but I am surely of the generation that helped to usher in this digital age. What surprises me most is the way in which people now use written text to communicate. Like I said, I wasn’t born digital, so I still cling to some of the traditional ways of my parents – letter writing, phone calls, a cell phone at least two years behind the times. Today though, so much information is communicated through text. First for me it was email, then AIM, livejournal, myspace, online forums, facebook, blogs, twitter, and text messaging.
Yet through the evolutions of communication, I have found that the Bible is still relevant. God’s word is beyond time and technology, applicable still today in a changing society. The verse above again proves what I mean.
Paul writes that whatever we write in word by letters, that we will be when we are present. I thought long and hard about this as I considered how my life and ministry to others is heavily based in word by letters. And I have prayed that these words would be true to my life. Whatever I write here, on my own blog, or in my tweets; whatever my facebook status says, or comments on the boards – I pray that they truly represent who I am and what I stand for. I strive to be the same as I am in person, so that if you were to meet me, you would have no doubt about who I am.
It is easy to hide behind words and be someone else online in words. God knows how easy it is, for otherwise he wouldn’t have exhorted us through the example of Paul to be in word as we are in deed when present. I challenge you today to be true and honest and to think carefully about what you write. Not only for safety’s sake as we are also taught, but because the Lord has shown us how it ought to be.
Before I get started, I’d like to extend an apology to those of you who have been faithful readers and listeners of the blog and podcast. The last few months have been busy, overwhelming, and desperately needy of some quiet time alone with God. He’s been preparing me to share more with you here on the blog.
2 Corinthians 8:10-11a
It is to your advantage not only to be doing what you began and were desiring a year ago; but now you also must complete the doing of it.
Upon reading this two weeks ago, I was struck with it like bricks. I’ve rarely had such a profound experience where the Lord just presented me with scripture that is so convicting and pertinent to my situation. I was lamenting about going back to work, overwhelmed with the stress of my job. It was hard not to consider the scariness of budget cuts, and I was almost at a point of quitting. I figured what better way to avoid this toil!
And then I read these verses. Now, I know that the context of the scripture is referring to giving, but I felt strongly about the parallels to circumstances in my own life. Just one year ago I was faced with a job that was literally destroying me. I was sick all of the time. I was tired. My spiritual growth had gone stagnant. I had suicidal thoughts. And though I don’t think I would have acted on them, I was sure scared out of my mind at the mere notion of what I could do driving along the highway to work in the dark each morning, in the rain and snow and facing semis barreling down at me in the opposite direction.
It was at this time that I firmly intended to listen to God, and search for a new position. I was afraid, yet I was at peace with the decision I had made. I began to desire something better for myself and my spiritual growth.
And I haven’t been sick since.
As I felt these familiar thoughts creeping back lately, I needed this reassurance from scripture. I thought back to a year ago and what was happening, and what God has worked in my life since that time. WOW! And when I read the last part there “and now you must complete the doing of it” I was convicted that I need to stop complaining, focus, and rely on Christ who has brought me to this place. I have work that I must finish.
Now I want you to read these words and think back to a year ago. What had God started in your life? What were you desiring and wanting to do? Are you prepared to complete the work set before you?
If you remember my last post, I was feeling a tad ashamed for not having the words at the forefront of my brain to give a defense of the hope that is in me. But when I sat down and really just focused on this question, I found that the reasons came to me quickly.
I’d like to share with you the hope that is in me, and I pray that I will do so with meekness and fear as I am exhorted to do in 1Peter 3:15. And if you feel so led, I’d love to hear your defense as well.
When I think of why I believe and have hope, it is ultimately because I believe that God exists. I look at the world around me, and I cannot deny that all of creation was created. All things living and non-living are far to complicated in my understanding to have simply come together in a “Big Bang”. When I think about scientists who try to deny creation, it really makes me sad. Without being a braggart, I feel that God has created me with a good deal of intelligence. I am not the smartest person out there, but I recognize that some things are just beyond man’s ability to explain. Hence, God. I will stand firm to this until the day I die.
Knowing that there is a God, and having learned enough about other religions through my education, I come to my second conclusion. Jesus is God. He is who he says he is. He is the One that fulfills hundreds of prophesies. Who else can claim that? Who else is recorded in history as doing that? And this is not just Biblical accounting – extrabiblical sources also validate this.
And having accepted that Jesus is God – the Messiah who can transform lives and save souls – I have experienced first hand this truth of Jesus. Coming to Christ I did not really understand what I was doing. I was a teenager, but even in that teenage heart of mine, I knew I was missing something. I was compelled by something outside of myself that I needed Jesus. Growing in my faith and coming to a greater understanding of who Christ is through the scriptures, I have seen miracles! I have been pulled out of years of depression and sadness. I have purpose. I am certain, without any doubt that I am to worship God and serve Him by serving others. I have never been so certain about ANYTHING in my entire life. It’s amazing how God can do this.
Lest you think that I was brainwashed, take heed. I have made these decisions of my own accord against the status quos of my family. Is it not amazing that my own sister and I came to Christ without discussion on THE SAME DAY? I have never been one to fit in. I didn’t choose Christ to fit in. I chose Him because He is the ultimate truth in all of existence.
And lastly – though its not fun to dwell on – a reason for my hope in Jesus is a very REAL fear of Hell. If I believe in God and Jesus and the saving grace exerted on my life, then I must believe that Hell is real. The Bible speaks far too often on it to deny it. Thinking about Hell, quite frankly, scares the livin’ daylights out of me. I can’t fathom it. I don’t want to fathom it. What would it be like to live in Hell for all eternity? I get scared and emotionally upset just thinking about it. There is nothing good or funny about Hell, and I will not make jokes about it. Hell is real, and it is scary. So yes. Part of my hope and faith comes from fear. But in realizing this fear – there is hope. Because Jesus is the One who can save us from this. And all we have to do is make a choice. One simple, life-changing choice.
So, what do you have hope in? I pray that it is in Jesus Christ. If you are a believer and you have this hope, what is your defense? Feel free to share. I’d love to hear it, and it’ll give you practice in being ready to give account of the hope that is in you.
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 1 Peter 3:15
This verse has been on my heart for the last week. I keep coming back to it each night during my quiet time. I feel sort of ashamed. For as strong as my faith is, I feel like I am not prepared, right now to give an answer with meekness and fear. I have been pondering what I might say, and how I might say it if I were asked. I think before I always relied on the Spirit to give me the right words to say.
But, as I go into this new year, I feel a pressing need for me to have this answer. So, I am going to pray on this, and come up with an answer this week. And I will return here to you with an answer that I pray will be shared with meekness and fear – because I do have a hope, and I need to be prepared to share it.
Come back soon if you want to know the reason for the hope that is in me!
Hello Friends of Godly Gals!
It has been a while since we’ve posted. Please forgive us, and know that we are still here! Life sometimes keeps us busy, and these last few weeks have been exceptionally so. Look forward to new posts coming soon, and the podcast will return as well! I leave you with a favorite verse of mine that keeps me on track.
Depart from evil and do good;
Seek peace and pursue it.
Next entries »
Driving tells us a lot about people. Whether cautious or reckless, aggressive or passive, accommodating or selfish. We can often get an idea of wealth or lack there of. Your age is often evident too! We can tell if you’re political, religious, classy or uncouth. We can see if you’re focused, distracted, vain, or attentive. Our cars are often reflections of ourselves, and the way we drive reveals to others what you value.
If I see you speeding in and out of traffic, failing to use turn signals, and running red lights or stop signs, I have a good feeling that you don’t place a high value on life – not with the way you put some many including yourself at risk. In the very least, you’re selfish and think you’re more important than the people around you.
If I see you abiding the speed limit and following traffic law, I tend to think you have a respect for authority and care whether or not someone gets hurt.
Unfortunately, the latter of the two seems to be vastly outnumbered. There are few days when I am not muttering about the state of driving in this country. It seems as though driving brings out the worst in people. A false sense of protection comes from the bubble of our cars – where we can play the music loud and ignore the rest of the world and do what we want. And people do it. Every day. Every. Single. Day.
I suppose I tend to get a little emotional – and so you better believe that this topic gets me riled up. I get agitated, I get a bit bitter. If I’m with someone else, I inevitably question, “WHY DID THAT GUY DO THAT?” or “WHAT IS HE THINKING?” I admit to calling people idiots – though afterward I recall a sermon our pastor preached about doing exactly the opposite and retract my statement, offering up a prayer for that person instead.
Especially bothersome to me, are the little fish that go flying by on the back of that car that just cut me off. There is a declaration of faith in Jesus (or so we assume), and here he is putting life in danger. Once that fish is there on your car, it’s a witness, and you disgrace the name of Jesus if your actions are do not resemble Jesus. (You better believe there is a reason Jesus WALKED almost everywhere in the time of his ministry – maybe we should be walking more!)
I have one of those fish. It’s in a drawer upstairs. I bought it years ago when I first became a Christian, yet I remain hesitant to this day to put it on my car. WHY? Though I claim to be a generally good driver, obeying the rules, I am afraid to put the name of Jesus out there and damage someone’s opinion of Christians and therefore Christ. It sounds silly I suppose, but driving around I don’t get the opportunity to speak with someone and share what Jesus has done in my life. What if I get caught up in that little bubble of my car and speed up to prevent someone from cutting me off…what if I just make a mistake when driving? What if I give the wrong impression of my Lord because of my actions with no way of explaining myself. I make critical judgments of other people by their driving, so I assume others are doing the same to me.
I wonder if I should put that fish on my car, and let it serve as a reminder of who I serve, and how I represent him. I suppose it’s something to think about at least.
That’s how I’m supposed to live my life, isn’t it?
Boldly representing my Lord in everything I do…
Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. 1Ti 4:12