Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Breath of God...

Ok, so today I'm studying my youth lesson for Sunday. (Well refreshing what I worked on earlier this week.) You know... I have never really liked to study the Bible. I know the "gist" of so much of what's in it, but have never found a passion or fire for it until recently.

The Bible is more than just a relic, and old book of stories, its message, written by men under the inspiration of God, is alive and RELEVANT TODAY. That word keeps popping up in so much I study these days. RELEVANT!

Today we have everything at our fingers to read, the internet has given us just about everything we could (or don't) want. But did you know that still the Bible is the best selling book? Wow... Can you imagine what our world would be like if all those people buying it, LIVED it!

The Bible is the "breath of God". Inspired in the original language of the NT refers to the idea of "taking in breath" and the Bible calls itself "God Breathed". The inspiration of Scripture carries with it the authority of the word of God Himself. The important idea is known as "revelation". We need help knowing what is true and what is not, and God reveals this truth to us in the Bible. The Bible is also "infallible" .

These very attributes make this book sacred. It's depths can be explored for a lifetime. The trouble is that we are often content to either stay in the "shallow" depth of learning or to just treat study of the Bible as "academic".

Even Jesus knew the Word of God. In Matthew 4:1-11 we can read His discussion with the devil as He is being tempted. Jesus couldn't carry the scrolls in the desert with Him, He had to have it memorized. It was part of Him!

But through this struggle, we can see some important truths about the Bible.

1. Jesus focused on following God's direction for His life and lived out the truth of Scripture.
Jesus said His power for living came from "seeing what the Father is doing" and then doing it Himself. We also know he had to have some time to Himself to stay focused on God and His mission. He had to have some time away from the crowds that followed Him. If Jesus needed time, how much more do we? Jesus also focused by fasting. He abstained from food in order to empty Himself and focus completely on hearing from God. Maybe we need a fast from more than just food.....

2. Jesus understood the importance of the Bible, and He had prepared Himself for the sert challenge before it even arrived.
The Holy Scriptures were with Jesus before He ever went into the desert. He knew His Father's words. They were in His head and heart, from a lifetime of study. The Bible says that Jesus grew in wisdom and stature. Studying God's word was important for His development. We need to get the Bible into us NOW. Especially children and teens, it can change Your life. Psalm 119:9 says, "How can a young mand keep his way pure?", "By keeping Your word." Let's not overlook the fact that Jesus did not use His words to overcome Satan, He used the words of Scripture. The Bible carries authority!

3. Jesus knew that the enemies of God know the Bible and distort it for their own ends.
Satan tried to use scripture against Jesus, don't you think he might try and use it against us today? We however, just like Jesus, can see through the enemies schemes by "powerfully" reciting Scripture and clinging to it's truth!

On that note, how can we know that someone is using the Bible accurately? Here are three keys to help you. (a) Develop a working knowledge of what the Bbile says. (b) Discover whether the Scripture is being used consistently witht he meaning it had in its original and total context. (c) Make a habit of asking "Is Scripture being used to lift up God and point people toward Him, or is it being used selfishly to control or even avoid God?"

So what can we do: Train ourselves to make Bible study a habit. What do you/I need to change to make stying the Bible a priority? Commit to studying the Bible with other Christ-followers. What stesp can you /I take to build or find a Bible study group? Memorize portions fo the Bible to get God's truth into your life. Can you recite a favorite passage? Memorize those you read that touch your heart.

I know finding time in my world is so hard. I'm not a morning person, which if you are reading my blog you will know. My time in study, and deep prayer is always late night, when my many children are tucked in bed asleep. That is when I can focus on Him. I'm so thankful for the drawing that God is giving me, to know Him more, and to know Him and His Son through the Word.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Why is it that in America, and the Western world, our churches are shrinking. People are no longer drawn into our churches, but why? Could it be that they no longer see our "message" as relevant? Is the "message" we are preaching, is it something that can affect their lives where they are? Even those of us who are "christians" are struggling inside the walls of the church, with our marriages, homes, children, etc. Could it be because we no longer are sharing the One thing that is truly what makes a difference?

The Gospel promise of new life is about a Person; it's about the One who lived and died and rose again for me and for you. Jesus lived and died so we could have life eternally with Him. He has also equpped us to live out the wonder of this relationship we have with Him, and His light in a dark world.

2 Cor 11:3 Paul said of the Corinthians, "I'm afraid that... your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ". Have we made this "gospel" so difficult, no one wants it because it no longer offers anything of worth? God help us.

Over the next several weeks, I'll continue to share thoughts from a wonderful study called "Relational Foundations: Experiencing Relevance in Life and Ministy". I first went through this book in a whirlwind retreat, and God has changed me. Now those of of who attended the original retreat are going to impart what we learned into our small congregation. My prayer for them, is the same as it was for us at the retreat, we have a purpose, a relevant message, to those who are lost and in darkness.

Lord, as it has been shared in Heb 12, "Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.... so that what cannot be shaken may remain." Shake me, shake our church, so that we can obtain clarity as to our purpose to bring those lost and alone back to You!

Monday, May 19, 2008

What Does He Expect?

That was our discussion in SS this week with the youth. Good one too!

We talked about some of the major differences in world religions and christianity, and how all others have such a huge list of do's and don't, and although our Bible is filled with "rules" or guidelines, all of them are easy to follow if we do two simple things. What is that you ask? Well...

We have to love God and love our neighbors. What a concept. God loved us first, so our desire whould be to willingly... did you get that WILLINGLY do anything for Him. Not because He demands it, but because we love Him so much.

Think of it like this... if we LOVE GOD so much, we want every breath we take to glorify Him... how can we sin? How can we willingly break God's heart.

What does it mean to be a Christ-follower? Two simple things. Love God, Love Others. You know... love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Love your neighbor as yourself.

Ok, pop quiz! Who is your neighbor? You know, I've never really thought about it until this subject was discussed during our Relational Foundations retreat a few weeks ago. My closest neighbor, is my husband. WHAT? I'm serious... my next closest is my children. Then my family, extended family, church, and so on.... I guess I never stopped to realize my neighbor wasn't the "crazy lady" down the street (yes I do have to love her too... even if she does put stuffed animals in the trees outide)

So, loving God is the foundation of our faith. Loving God is a way of life too, not just something that you do on Sunday and Wednesdays.... People who love God will not put anything or anyone else above Him, nor will they disrespect Him. God can not be put in a box! If you limit your love for Him to just a few hours a week, you are missing out on SOOO much more!

And finally... we are able to love other people out of the overflow of God's love in our own lives. I know it's hard. You know there is always someone you just really wish God didn't want us to love. I know there are a few in my life... but I have found, if I love them, pray for them... really do it. God gives me a love for them I couldn't have on my own. Isn't He awesome!!!

This is a great way to think about it. If we love God, we will keep the first 4 Commandments in the Bible. If we love others (really love others) we will keep the last 6 Commandments. Isn't that just the coolest thing. Stop stressing about all the "thou shall or shall nots". Just love God completely, and love other's completely.... why do we make it all so hard?

Great quote used by Jon Vining in our conference a few weeks ago... Does the Jesus in me, love the Jesus in you? Hmmm think about that for a while!

So to sum it all up: Jesus clarified lifes two greatest priorities for each of us: Love God and Love Others.

Lord, I already love you, but help me to love You more. I know I can only love You more by spending time with You and with Your word. Continue to give me a hunger... and then feed me. The one I have the hardest time with, I loving other's. Especially Lord, those who have hurt me so badly, or hurt my family. Show me how to love even those, and to love the "neighbor's" in my home, in my family, in my church as much as those on the streets. Amen.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Restore My Heart....

Yes, Precious Lord, this is my prayer to you daily now.

Because I lead praise and worship at our church, I am always looking for new songs. I stumbled across Fred. McKinnon on the CCLI site, and fell in love with his song... Restore My Heart. Take some time and listen to this wonderful song. I hope the link will work, but if not, I pulled it from (You may need to stop my playlist at the bottom.) I hope this blesses you.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Proverb 1:5

Says, "Let the wise listen and add to their learning". How often do I stop and listen?

I have asked myself that quiet a lot over the past few weeks. I know I do not stop and listen enough to the Lord. I don't even really listen enough to my family. With a household of nine, that's a lot of stopping! But sometimes, when I do just stop and listen in... I am so blessed!

This week in our Youth Sunday School lesson, we read in Isaiah about his encounter with God. Wow... can you imagine what you would do if the VERY PRESENCE OF GOD was speaking to you? My teens said "We'd die"... probably true!

This recollection helps us (me) to understand how God communicates. Isn't it awesome that God really does "speak" to us... maybe not an audible voice... but in many ways, if we just stop and listen.

Here is what I learned this week:

1. God speaks to His followers. I love the stories in the Bible of the few that God truly spoke too in an audible way. Don't you wish sometimes.... that it was just that clear today? Well, in truth it "kind of" is. How you ask? Good quesiton!

*God speaks through His Word. The Bible is "God-breathed". Just reading it IS hearing the voice of God. ( I know I have not spent enough time in His Word.)

* God speaks to us through prayer. Not the simple "now I lay me down to sleep" prayers, but those truly focused prayers. We need to take our questions and needs to him, opening a conversations that truly reflects our "innermost" being.

*God uses other's to speak to us. This one is tricky in today's world. Even the scriptures talk about "false" prophets and teachers. But all of us know "real" Godly people. You know those you see consistenly following the Lord. Especially those we fondly call "saints" of the church. We need to sometimes swallow our "pride" and go to someone for counsel.

*God can use circumstances, nature, art, movies, etc to help shape us and speak to us. I know this to be true. God has definately used some circumstances over the past year to get my attention. Sometimes, I think He was yelling at me. But I happily admit, although I'd been glad to do without some of these hard times, I've learned to "listen" a lot more! But one note... experineces must be grounded in the Bible as our ultimate source of truth.

2. Our encounters with God, sometimes leave us felling Overwhelmed, Sinful and Undone! Even when we feel our "best" in our relationship with God, when He truly reveals Himself to us... it might just be more than we are prepared for. Imagine if next Sunday, during "praise and worshp" if God's physical presence showed up? Are we ever worthy of that! ? ! Think about it... seeing God aged Moses (I have enough white hair already). Elijah hid in a cave. The shepherds saw an angel and became like "dead men". No matter how well "prepared" we are, God is perfect and holy, and any thing less can NOT survive His presence. What things in your life (or mine) do we need to be ashamed of and fix? Hmmm....

3. When God speaks..... We are Changed!!! This is my favorite part. When we finally admit we are so unworthy... we are right where God wants us! We realize we deserve death.... and yet.... He gives LIFE! Wow.... if you are sitting still... read that again! Isaiah's sin and shortcomings were taken care of by a Seraphim and a hot coal. He was NEVER the same again! I'd really like to find an easier way than that to be forgiven and cleansed! OH WAIT.... I did, it's called the precious blood of Jesus!

There is a pattern and a process that God uses for reaching into our lives... and it's pretty simple.

We encounter God.
We are humbled before Him.
We are forgiven and restored.
We are given a mission and a purpose!

Well I'm out of coffee... so I'm going for today. Hope these thoughts have blessed you!

(Note: Our SS class is using the Bible Study for Teens - "Essential Truth - Inviting Christ Into My Reality" published by Serendipity House.)

Monday, May 5, 2008

God is...

I teach a youth Sunday School class at church, we began a series this week called Essential Truth: Inviting Christ into My Reality. First lesson was great, I love it, hope the young people do too! My kids said they did... so!

We talked about Moses, and when he saw God in the burning bush. We watched a clip from Disney's Prince of Egypt as part of the class... Disney is great, but can you just imagine being there, being Moses. The awesomeness of God.

Anyway, we talked about 5 Essential Truths we learn about God from this encounter.

1. God is PRESENT. He is everywhere (omnipresent) and knows everything (omniscient), yet we can experience Him personally and intensely in our lives. (Psalm 139:7-10)

2. God is HOLY. These days we don't seem to acknowledge this enough. He is HOLY and worthy of our honor.

3. God is MYSTERY. Moses didn't know how to explain who God was to the people. So God told him, I AM YAHWEH. In Hebrew it is spelled YHWH, which sounds the closest to a "breath". God breathed... and we had life. We can only just begin to glimpse who God is!

4. God is POWER. God is in control and is carrying out His plan or recuing, healing, and redeeming us. (I think Moses surely believed this when he saw a bush on fire, and it was God.)

5. God is LOVE. Just as He gave Moses the wisdom to help deliver His people out of bondage, He sent HIS Son to deliver US from our bondage. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son.... just for us.

Isn't God amazing!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Thoughts today...

A few weeks ago, I attended a Servant Church Conference in Georgia. It was a wonderful weekend and God did a great thing in me and is continueing to grow me. But we all know growing is sometimes painful.

Today I have been working in the workbook Relational Foundations: Experiencing Relevance in Life and Ministry. In today's section the writer talks about an experience he had while sharing communion. He tells that as he read the words, something hit him hard and he began to weep. During this time with Jesus "near ones" , those that He loved so dearly, he was pouring out His heart about his death and all that was to come. In this time that should have been so sacred and special to those with Him an argument broke out, about which of them (disciples) would be considered the greatest. As the writer shared, my heart too was broken.

Jesus long to be intimate with us, and love us and share all He is with us. But we ignore that thinking of ourselves. How sad He must be that even those of us who love Him, still look so much like those in the world we are to be apart from.

My prayer, is to realize and keep before me His sacrifice, so that I love HIM so much, that I want to be more and more like Him, so that I may be less and less like "me".

Psalm 121

Psalm 121
I lift up my eyes to the hills --
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip --
He who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, He who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD watches over you --
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all harm --
He will watch over your life;
the LORD will watch over your coming
and going both now and forever more.
This is one of my favorite scriptures from the Psalms. It is such a wonderful Psalm that shares God's protection and help with His children. If you haven't ever heard Brooklyn Tabernacle sing this Psalm, you must!