Archive for the 'Spiritual Musings' Category

3 Gifts Found in Christ

Today’s JOY DARE is to list three gifts found in Christ. Here are mine:

1. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15)

Boy, am I glad He loved us that much!

2. Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)

Jesus made it clear that the only way to eternal life is through Him. I am thankful for that because I have tried (and still do, far too often) to find my own way, and it really doesn’t work out.

3. John 10:27-30

27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. 30 I and My Father are one.

Jesus keeps His sheep safe. Me included. I rest in that a LOT.

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Hiding Away in My Blog

I haven’t been on my blog for a while because, well–life intervened.I think I’m ready to come back, though, and I’m starting with the JOY DARE. I was listing things on Facebook, but I found that I was spending too much time thinking about how to word them (because of the audience, I think). It gives me joy to (or sometimes a little frustration ) to look for these things in my day, and I think I should just write them down and enjoy them here, where I can be semi-anonymous me. So–here’s what’s up for today:

1. one thing in the sky–the cardinals I saw, so red against all that snow. Cardinals are also the Ohio state bird, but the hubby agrees with me that Indiana cardinals are more brilliantly red than those in Ohio.

2. one thing from my memory–I was talking with the daughter this morning, and we were talking about things that happened before the hubby and I married, things that were not easy and of which I am not particularly proud. However–the point of this conversation was so that I could tell her that I think I had to go through those things to be who I am. Her journey through life has taken a different shape than mine, but the Bible says that things happen so that Jesus can make us more like Him, and I was trying to tell her that those things have a purpose. She never reads my blog, but I’ll say this to her anyway…”You’re getting there, baby. You’re getting there.

3. something that is ugly-beautiful–the snowblower. I am all thumbs when it comes to a lot of equipment, although I use far more than my mother did.  The snowblower looks like a big ugly thing, but the daughter is arriving late tonight, and the hubby used it to clear the drive and sidewalk so that she and the friends she is bringing will walk to the house on dry pavement. That makes the snowblower (and the man who operated it for me) beautiful.

I guess that’s all I need for my first visit in quite a while. Don’t worry, little blog. I’ll be back.

This Is a Song That Really Speaks to Me

On Women

Our pastor preached a sermon on women today.  He prefaced it with saying he was not trying to be a chauvinist and that he didn’t think he had a female side.

I listened.  Really I did.  But all I got from it was that women are such emotional creatures, and I’m not denying that, but don’t helpmates have to be strong in order to help?  And what about the Proverbs 31 woman?  She certainly got things done, emotions notwithstanding.

The man gave a disclaimer, so I guess I have to give him some credit.  And women are emotional. But that’s not all we are.

All in the Plan

A few weeks ago, I got shanghaied into this Bible study, Beth Moore’s A Woman’s Heart, God’s Dwelling Place,  at church.  This came as a surprise to me, actually.  I usually don’t go to Sunday School without the hubby, and we hadn’t been comfortable with our old class for a while so we, um…hadn’t been going.    Maybe God wants us to grow apart from each other for a while?

When I got into the study, I found out that what is meant to be a ten week study was going to take a year.  Hmmm…  That was slo00000w.  Not the pace I have taken it in the other Beth Moore studies I have done.  But I have done those on my own.  Convinced that I am exactly where God wants me to be at this moment in my life, I decided to go with it.  I can take it slow, right?  Except…I am hungry, and slow is hard for me.

Today, in the lesson we were reading. one of the leaders had a problem with this passage:

According to Revelation 13:8, Christ is the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (KJV).  God’s breathing a soul into Adam signed His precious Son’s death certificate.  The moment the decision was made to create humankind, Christ was, in simple terms, as good as dead.  We had to have a Redeemer.  Although God grieved over people’s sin, He was not surprised.  The plan was intact prior to the people, and no one could thwart that plan!

This lady was wondering why God would have created us knowing that Son would have to die, and we had an interesting discussion about this, really.  Maybe God just wanted people to pick Him, wanted relationship?  Maybe  He wanted to see how we, His children, would grow?   And (although I know little about this, so don’t ask me questions), it seems that His relationship with humankind is different from His relationship with angels, so humanity must add something to creation since angels came before.  I don’t know!

We talked briefly about how much time might have elapsed before Adam and Eve sinned.  We talked about whether there was linear time before Adam and Eve sinned.  ( I don’t think there was.  I think that, before the fall, Adam and Eve were with God like we will be in heaven.  That Eden just was.)  The general consensus was that God knew what He was doing even though it doesn’t make sense to us, as if that were anything unusual, and besides, Scripture does, in Rev. 13:8,  back up Beth Moore’s point:

All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.

I walked away amazed at God’s plan.  See, what I heard today was exactly what I needed to hear, that being that God will bring about what He has planned regardless of how we humans try to intervene in the meantime.  This is something I have been wrestling with in my personal life where there are so many things about which I am helpless, things which can be covered only by prayer.  And I was amused because I had gone ahead and filled out the lesson from the video ahead of time, but on this particular day, I somehow missed a page, and the page included words that I needed to hear today.

So.  Here I sit.  In this Bible study.  For a year.  And while I have toyed with the idea of buying the audio CDs and going ahead on my own, … maybe I won’t.  Maybe this is something that God wants me to take slowly.  Maybe that’s why I was shanghaied in the first place.

I’m going to go with it.  I bet He has a plan.

This post is a part of Spiritual Sundays.  To read more posts, click here.




A Lamp and a Light

Spiritual Sundays

I wrote a while back about the hubby and my father being active Gideons.  One of the things the Gideons do is hold Pastors’ Banquets.  They are showing appreciation for all that pastors do and for the pastors’ letting speakers into their churches to talk about the Gideons.  I accompanied the hubby to our local Pastors’ Banquet on Tuesday night.  I always like to go because there are  testimonies that move me to tears, and this night was no exception.

Our speaker had been on a Bible blitz in Africa, and he told the story of meeting a former mercenary executioner as he traveled.  This man told our speaker that a Gideon Bible had saved his life although the man who gave it to him would never know it.  I had to hear more.

This mercenary, it seems, had been asked to kill a priest in his country more than twenty years ago.  The priest asked to pray with him before he was shot.  I had a hard time even imagining that.  Somebody is going to shoot you, and you ask to pray with them?  But that’s not even all of what happened!  The prisoner gave his executioner a  Bible!  And the executioner stuck it in a drawer and kept it for many year

Since the former soldier is now a Gideon, I expected to hear that the priest’s prayer had worked and he had been converted on the spot.  That’s not the story, though.  After the priest prayed with him, his prayer being, “Father, forgive him.  He doesn’t know what he is doing,” the mercenary went ahead and shot him

Oh.  I was humbled by the faith of the priest as I listened.  I think that, if I were in his position, my knees would be shaking and my teeth would be chattering and the last thing I would be doing would be praying for my executioner.  I so wish I had that kind of faith!

But…the guilt of that execution stayed with the mercenary for twenty plus years.  It came to a head when he began seeing little blue Gideon testaments everywhere during a Bible blitz in his country.  Coincidentally–or not–:), someone gave him a testament, and he was able to read the words the priest had said to him so long ago and find out that they were the words Jesus said to the thief on the cross.  He accepted Jesus as his Savior, and now he goes around everywhere he can find military troops and gives testaments to other soldiers, hoping and praying that the Word of God will bear fruit for them like it did for him because of that priest’s prayer so long ago.

What a story that will be for the two of them to share in heaven!

The other story concerned a teenage girl and a motel room.  Our speaker was at a church, and he thanked the pastor for letting him speak.  Not all pastors welcome Gideons into their churches.  The pastor said he knew how important Gideon Bibles were, and proceeded to tell our speaker his story.

Once upon a time, he said, there was a teenage girl who really wanted to fit in with a certain group of girls in her school.  You know how teenage girls are.  She really had to find a way to fit in.  The girls, in that way they have in high school which is often incredibly cruel, told her that they would accept her– after she had sex with a married man.  They were even kind enough to set up the encounter for her and deliver her to the motel.

The girl arrived at the motel first, and as she was waiting, she opened a drawer and found a Gideon Bible.  It was open on her lap when the man entered the room.  He saw it and took her home.

That girl, the pastor told our speaker, was his daughter.

I could feel the tears running down my face.  When I looked around, I don’t think there was a dry eye in the room.

The Gideons try to witness  to unbelievers and get the Word of God into their hands.  That is their mission.  In both of these testimonies, it is easy to see that the power of God’s Word.  In the case of the mercenary, that priest’s prayer lit his path until the time was right for him to receive its message.  In the case of the teenage girl, it could only have been God who led her to that drawer for a Bible and allowed the presence of it to convict her would-be seducer.

God’s Word says this about itself:

so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

–Isaiah 55:11

The Gideon who put the Bible in the hands of the mercenary did not know his background.  And the Gideon who placed the Bible in the motel room where the teenage girl found it will never know the good it did.

But God does.

This post is a part of Spiritual Sundays.  If you want to read more posts like it, click here.

No Doubts

You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.–John 14:14

In my Wednesday Bible study, we are studying the book of John.   Last night, we were in John 14, and because of the verse above, we looked up references about God’s being trustworthy.  Here are some of them:

Those who know your name will trust in you,
for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.–Psalm 9:10

Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.– Psalm  20:7

Here’s the story I’ll tell my friends when they come to worship,
and punctuate it with Hallelujahs:
Shout Hallelujah, you God-worshipers;
give glory, you sons of Jacob;
adore him, you daughters of Israel.
He has never let you down,
never looked the other way
when you were being kicked around.
He has never wandered off to do his own thing;
he has been right there, listening.
–Psalm 22-24 (The Message)

Our challenge question asked us to share a time when God answered our prayers.  Listen to what was shared.  One man shared how, after a Bible study, a young couple asked him and a couple of other guys to pray for their 2-year-old, who had a club foot that was resisting treatment.  We go to a Lutheran church, so he had to stick in that some of the men being asked to pray spoke in tongues because, well, that’s not a mainline Lutheran belief (I know it’s in the Bible, and I believe in it.  If you want more details about Lutheran belief, comment and I will e-mail you.)  ANYWAY…these men prayed for this precious little one and watched as her club foot straightened before their eyes.  The doctors just couldn’t explain it.  Go figure.

This man’s wife told a story, too.  She read about Francis Hunter praying for a church, and she thought the prayer was a dumb one, so she figured if God was into answering dumb prayers, he’d answer hers, too.  Hunter was praying with the people of a small church whose well was blocked, and what they thought had happened was that a rock was caught in part of the machinery  so that it could not deliver.  This small congregation didn’t have the money to fix the well, so they decided to pray.  Hunter led them.  She asked them to join her in a circle, but what she said next has haunted me since last night.  What she said was, “Only join me if you really believe.  If you have any doubt, any at all, I don’t want you in my circle.”

Hmm…  I am sure the reason this story has been bumping around in my brain is because, sometimes anyway, I DO doubt.  I pray again and again for healing or for some change in the lives of those I love, and when the changes are slow in coming, I …. doubt.  At least a little bit.  I can’t even have the faith of a mustard seed, and then I get surprised and frustrated when my prayers aren’t answered.

If I truly believed, all the time, that I could ask for anything in Jesus’ name and I would get it, would I doubt at all?

I realize that I am not alone in my doubts, that all believers have them, but I don’t want to be one of those people who are outside of the circle.  I want to show my faith, to feel it, so that Jesus Himself has no doubt that I believe He is an Answerer of prayer.  All the time.  And that He listens.  Always.

You are probably wondering what happened to the rock in the well machinery of that poor congregation, the one who couldn’t afford repairs.  Well, the rock fell out and the well worked.  Some people said the rock would have worked its way out of the machinery in a while anyway.  But the people in the circle, the ones who prayed?  They knew what happened. I do, too.  God answers even dumb prayers.  In fact, I think He must have a special delight when we come to Him about the little things.

I hope I remember the story about the well  the next time I wonder why some of my prayers have not been answered.  If I do, maybe I’ll see, in my mind’s eye, a circle, one with Jesus saying, “Well…are you in, or are you out?”

I want to be in.

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.–I John 5:14