Saturday, December 31, 2011

Doxology

Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen. (Romans 16:25-27 ESV)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Spirit Intercedes for the Saints

Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has he in anger shut up his compassion?"  Selah (Psalm 77:9 ESV)

He who does violence to his father and chases away his mother
is a son who brings shame and reproach. (Proverbs 19:26 ESV)

But if through my lie God's truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner? (Romans 3:7 ESV)

Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil. (Ecclesiastes 5:1 ESV)

For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart. (Ecclesiastes 5:20 ESV)

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. (Romans 8:14 ESV)

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. (Romans 8:26 ESV)

And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:27 ESV)

Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. (James 1:15 ESV)

In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him. (Ecclesiastes 7:14 ESV)

Do not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you. Your heart knows that many times you yourself have cursed others. (Ecclesiastes 7:21, 22 ESV)

Remove vexation from your heart, and put away pain from your body, for youth and the dawn of life are vanity. (Ecclesiastes 11:10 ESV)

Do not speak in the hearing of a fool,
for he will despise the good sense of your words. (Proverbs 23:9 ESV)

Though he slay me, I will hope in him;
yet I will argue my ways to his face. (Job 13:15 ESV)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

He is a Double-Minded Man, Unstable in All His Ways

Lord! Do not allow me to doubt your will! Forbid me to be "like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind"!

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (James 1:2-8 ESV)

I am Your servant, Lord. Why do I dwell on what could be instead of finding peace in what the days ahead will hold. Guide my tongue as it puts together the words of my heart. Please grant me wisdom and guard me against the desires of my flesh. My mind plots my own way but You direct my steps (Proverbs 16:9). I am confident Your will, will be done (Proverbs 19:21).

The "what ifs" cyclone about in my brain. The only thing that matters is whether or not I am walking according to Your will in a manner that is glorifying You! The details remain safely in Your loving hands. Softly you carry the burden of orchestration and sorting through all that must happen for the designated purpose. You precisely weave the tapestry which looks like a confusing mess to me until it is complete and flipped over. The image takes my breath away. It never ceases to astonish me! Oh amazing grace!

Whatever Does Not Proceed From Faith is Sin

The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. (Romans 14:22, 23 ESV)

Please, Lord, keep me faithful!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas: God Bless Us, Every One

Jesus...

May his name endure forever,
his fame continue as long as the sun!
May people be blessed in him,
all nations call him blessed!
(Psalm 72:17. ESV.)

Merry Christmas to all. And to all, a good night!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Lest I Forget

You, Lord, are sovereign.  I must keep preaching this to myself lest I forget. When addressing Roman 9, John Piper states,
"When I entered seminary I believed in the freedom of my will, in the sense that it was ultimately self-determining. I had not learned this from the Bible; I absorbed it from the independent, self-sufficient, self-esteeming, self-exalting air that you and I breathe every day of our lives in America. The sovereignty of God meant that he can do anything with me that I give him permission to do. With this frame of mind I entered a class on Philippians with Daniel Fuller and class on the doctrine of salvation with James Morgan....

Emotions run high when you feel your man-centered world crumbling around you. I met Dr. Morgan in the hall one day. After a few minutes of heated argument about the freedom of my will, I held a pen in front of his face and dropped it to the floor. Then I said, with not as much respect as a student ought to have, "I [!] dropped it." Somehow that was supposed to prove that my choice to drop the pen was not governed by anything but my sovereign self.

But thanks be to God’s mercy and patience, at the end of the semester I wrote in my blue book for the final exam, "Romans 9 is like a tiger going about devouring free-willers like me." That was the end of my love affair with human autonomy and the ultimate self-determination of my will. My worldview simply could not stand against the scriptures, especially Romans 9. And it was the beginning of a lifelong passion to see and savor the supremacy of God in absolutely everything."

I put my trust in You, Lord (Psalm 31)...to work all things for the good of those who love You and are called according to Your purpose (Romans 8:28). Whether I understand the way matters are orchestrated or not. Before long, a picture begins to emerge and then circumstances/state of affairs start to make sense and come together. Thank You, Lord, for Your sovereignty and grace!

From childhood up, my mind had been full of objections against the doctrine of God’s sovereignty, in choosing whom he would to eternal life, and rejecting whom he pleased; leaving them eternally to perish, and be everlastingly tormented in hell. It used to appear like a horrible doctrine to me. But I remember the time very well, when I seemed to be convinced, and fully satisfied, as to this sovereignty of God, and his justice in thus eternally disposing of [dealing with] men, according to his sovereign pleasure. But never could give an account, how, or by what means, I was, thus convinced, not in the least imagining at the time, nor a long time after, that there was any extraordinary influence of God’s Spirit in it but only that now I saw further, and my reason apprehended the justice and reasonableness of it. However, my mind rested in it; and it put an end to all those cavils and objections. And there has been a wonderful alteration in my mind, in respect to the doctrine of God's sovereignty, from that day to this; so that I scarce ever have found so much as the rising of an objection against it, in the most absolute sense, in God’s shewing mercy to whom he will show mercy, and hardening whom he will. God’s absolute sovereignty and justice, with respect to salvation and damnation, is what my mind seems to rest assured of, as much as of any thing that I see with my eyes, at least it is so at times. The doctrine has very often appeared exceeding pleasant, bright, and sweet. Absolute sovereignty is what I love to ascribe to God. (Jonathan Edwards, Selections [New York: Hill and Wang, 1962], pp. 58-59).

Sunday, December 18, 2011

For Unto Us a Child is Born

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
(Isaiah 9:6. ESV.)


O Holy Night by Carrie Underwood


What Child is This by Andrea Bocelli & Mary J. Blige


Do You Hear What I Hear? by Carrie Underwood


Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by Carrie Underwood

Friday, December 16, 2011

Faith. Hope. Love: Chapter Five

During my stay in Singapore I was able to finish reading a few books. One of my favorites was How Stella Got Her Grove Back by Terry McMillan. The first time I saw Stella was at my boyfriend’s apartment before I left for Singapore. His roommate (a female) had been reading it. There it sat and curiosity got the best of me as I picked it up and scanned the synopsis. When I came across it again in Singapore among the shared literature, I had to indulge.

I met Stella before grace (Ephesians 2:8). Her independence and adventurous nature struck a chord with me. I admired how at a moment’s notice she packed a suitcase and went off to Jamaica all by herself. I felt I could relate to her on some levels though our lives were nothing alike. (First of all, and most importantly, she is fiction and I am not.) There were twenty years between us and she was a successful business woman with a son and a home. I, on the other hand, was in a relationship (though lived alone), had no children, no house, and was neither prosperous nor an executive. Yes, I had an excellent job, paying me decent money, and was traveling but it was a short term gig. It would all come to an end in just shy of a year.

After a few months in Singapore I called my boyfriend to find he was moving on and in essence, dumping me. (An old flame, “the one that got away” from him was interested in rekindling their relationship…he had talked about her often, I knew it was only a matter of time.) One of my colleagues came over and I sat on my twin-sized bed, in my silk (pant and long sleeve shirt) pajamas, verbalizing my disappointment. As my heart spewed forth its sadness there was a knock at the front door. Two thoughtful associates informed me there was a party and would I come? I declined. My only desire (at that particular moment) was to remain in my room licking my wounds for a bit. Stella would not tolerate this! She would dress in a smokin’ hot swimsuit and head for the beach…and who needs a boyfriend anyway? The next opportunity I got I was going to be like Stella! I was going somewhere alluring, wonderful, and chalk full of beautiful men! (Not to say Singapore was not magnificent. It truly was.)

The ocean always has a way of rejuvenating me. Its proud waves may reach the coast yet go no further (Job 38:8-11). But, I did not frolic by the seashore while in Singapore. Though this city-state is similar to Hawaii in that it is made up of islands, the recreational shorelines are not prominent. Only twice did I go to the water’s edge in the five months I lived there. Once, a local was showing me how I could look across the water and see the shore of Malaysia. The second, was while I was attending a social gathering at Sentosa…an amusement park type place with animals, fireworks display laser light show, and picnic areas.

My mundane was time served at work. Though I loved my job---I really did---it was physically demanding and draining. My breaks were spent taking a catnap, walking around the venue, or immersed in Jamaica with Stella. I was her travel companion whether she liked it or not. (Being she went public with her trip, I assume she did not care.) I have never been to Jamaica! I would jump at the chance to go there only I have yet to find a means. So, for now, Stella’s groove-seeking-recount will have to suffice.

I sat at my table wearing my yellow, company issue sweat suit (because it is so stinking cold in the venue), head down, eyes fixed upon the pages, imagining myself digging my toes into hot sand while the crash of the powerful waves fills my ears. I put sun block balm on my lips as they are kissed passionately by the sun. The breeze coming of the water lifts my hair from about my neck and gently plays with it. I rub sunscreen like a fragrant lotion to cover my exposed, olive skin. I can taste the salty sea air on my tongue. Ah, Jamaica! You make me thankful to my Maker for all of creation (Romans 1:20).

The smell of coconut tanning oil fills my nostrils. I should get a drink…something cold, crisp, maybe even fruity with a cute umbrella poking out the top. My cabana chair creeks as I shift in it. The tide is threatening to come close and try to jump in my lap. I move my fabric bag to a safer location…wouldn’t want my wallet and book to get wet. I exhale audibly as I close my eyes and lay my head back. Mmm, Jamaica! You seem so lovely. I open my eyes to find words gazing back at me. I close the book. Ten more minutes then it is back to work.

Faith Hope Love: Chapter Five

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Perspective: God is Still on the Throne

All I Have Is Christ from Sovereign Grace Ministries on Vimeo.

I once was lost in darkest night
Yet thought I knew the way.
The sin that promised joy and life
Had led me to the grave.

I had no hope that You would own
A rebel to Your will.
And if You had not loved me first
I would refuse You still.

But as I ran my hell-bound race
Indifferent to the cost
You looked upon my helpless state
And led me to the cross.

And I beheld God’s love displayed
You suffered in my place
You bore the wrath reserved for me
Now all I know is grace.

Hallelujah! All I have is Christ
Hallelujah! Jesus is my life

Now, Lord, I would be Yours alone
And live so all might see
The strength to follow Your commands
Could never come from me.

Oh Father, use my ransomed life
In any way You choose.
And let my song forever be
My only boast is You.


© 2008 Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI), by Jordan Kauflin

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Faith. Hope. Love: Chapter Four

Have you ever sat on a balcony, at night, in Hawaii? When the wind is calm and the air is warm like a soothing bath? If you hold your breath, there is no sound except for perhaps the ocean waves crashing to the shore (if you are close enough to the beach). Everything is tranquil and comforting. That was my experience in the temples in Singapore. Silence, warmth, stillness.

Some of these holy places were in busy areas. Other, smaller ones, were in secluded spots. One in particular was on a hiking trail surrounded by lush, green plants and trees. Everything seemed motionless. As I approached, candles burned like tiny, dancing lights. But there was not a person in sight. Sometimes there was a stone Buddha standing by, watching over the moderately sized places of worship. A pleasant expression, unyielding, upon his face. Though not familiar with his teachings I believe them to be about harmony, maybe enlightenment, and to respect all forms of life big and small. Possibly reincarnation is mixed in there too. (In 2009, my younger children and I briefly studied the history of Buddhism…along with Islam and Hinduism.)

I stepped closer to the establishment although not wishing to stay long just incase I was not properly dressed…I did not want to offend anyone. I picked up what looked to be a stick or piece of incense. I held it to a flame until it caught fire, smoldered, and offered up thin plums of scented smoke. I did not meditate while there. My God is not Buddha. He is Jehovah and He has a Son, Jesus (John 3:16). When I wish to commune with Him, I simply go before His throne of grace.

Growing up in the church I learned about all the most popular events in the bible. You know, the ones that have been turned into children’s stories. I sat in the pew every week we attended, half listening and partly daydreaming, following along in the hymnal as we sang---(which I have to say I much prefer hymns to the contemporary songs that are used in services now days).

The best part is, God’s word never returns void (Isaiah 55:11). So though I was not paying attention 100% of the time I was still receiving the message which was going straight to my heart.

Because of the nature of my job in Singapore and the popularity of the company for which I worked, it was not unusual for me (and my associates) to get stopped while in public for pictures and the occasional autograph…though I could not really understand why. Would they not look back on the photo years from when it was taken and ask, “Who is that and why did I want a picture with her?” I am just me…a young adult exploring the intoxicating city-state of Singapore…no different from an individual who backpacks through various countries and stays at hostels.

This particular day (while I was wandering and discovering houses of prayer) was no different. A small group of people approached me at the beginning of the footpath. “Excuse me,” said a soft, gentle voice. I turned to find an agreeable young lady. “May we get a picture?” she continued. “Oh course,” I answered as I stood amongst them and smiled. They humbly thanked me as their eyes sparkled and faces showed with excitement. They went about their way and I started my trek.

In Alaska, one can begin at the foot of a great, thick glacier (accented with deep blues) and make their way along a winding path to the glacier head. The calving ice announces its separation and departure with a roaring proclamation we called, “White Thunder”. Free from the mass, the ice crashes into the body of water peacefully at rest below. The walkway coils through dense, scenic forest. Butterflies flit about among the foliage as the breeze makes her presence known. She whirls about delicately, careful not to step on anyone’s toes. Her hair whips about her face and there is tranquility.

In Singapore, the finish line of the course is not only marked by a breathtaking view at the top of a steep, inclined plain, (perhaps it was the highest hill in Singapore) it is also marked by what was like a flag pole encircled by medium sized, black, glossy rocks with rounded edges (which stood on end) that massaged the soles of the feet as one stepped upon them.

“In quietness and in trust shall be your strength,” (Isaiah 30:15) flows through my thoughts. There is nothing like the cool patience of serenity as sunshine warms the depths of the heart and soul as it touches the skin. I was not only a traveler on this unfamiliar island, I am also a pilgrim in this world searching for peace and love.

7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7. ESV.)

Faith. Hope. Love: Chapter Four

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Guest Post: Intentional Living

I am so stoked to introduce you to today's guest blogger! We actually went to high school and youth group together for a period of time and now Jason has an "Intentional Christian Living" blog over at wordpress...which I highly recommend! Thank you so much, Jason, for agreeing to guest post here! Best wishes to you and your family treasured friend.

Some (More) Thoughts on Living Intentionally
by Jason Ashcraft

OK, so I made a resolution at the beginning of 2011 that I would live more intentionally this year. I even programmed my welcome greeting on my cell phone to read “Live Intentionally” when I turn it on. It’s been harder than I expected it would be. It was a great thought, I think, and a great jumping off point, but I found that putting intentional living into daily practice has been a chore. Sometimes I even forget that I am trying to live intentionally. Life moves fast, and there are many things vying for my attention. So not only do I have to remember to live intentionally, but have to remember to be intentional about remembering to be intentional. Confused yet?

Some might ask, before I get too deep here, what I mean by “living intentionally.” It’s a valid question. And I don’t know that I have a definitive answer for you. I think that the answer will be different for each person. I think that to arrive at your own answer, you need to ask yourself some honest questions about what is really important to you verses where you spend your time and energy.

You know, it’s really easy to simply exist…to let life just determine where you will end up. It’s easy to come home at the end of a long day and plop down in front of the TV. It’s easy to do nothing! But is that truly living? Or does God have something more for you? I think God does have something more for me, and for you. God didn’t create us to be robots, but he also didn’t create us to just be lumps of clay.

When I think of a life that exudes intentionality, I think of someone who lives with a purpose, who understands the responsibilities and call they have been charged with, someone who values the lives of those around them. I think that when you see a person who lives an intentional lifestyle, you take notice. They have a spark and appear to be present in the moment with whomever or whatever they are involved with. They exhibit a true joy because, I believe, they are not just letting life happen. We shouldn’t either. We only get one life, and it’s pretty short.

An example that comes to mind for me is life with my kids, my 2 girls, ages 5 & 3. I know am to spend time with them, build them up, teach them, help them grow, right? The Bible is full of instructions on how we are to live, and it addresses children specifically…Proverbs 22:6, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”… Psalm 127:3, “Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him.”… Mark 10:14, Jesus says, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Jesus makes time for the children (and for us!), so we should too.

But often I find myself being in the same room or the same house as them, but not actually being with them. I am working on my own projects or on the computer or whatever. Being “with” them means more than simply being in the same place as them. It means interacting, showing them that they are important to me, that I value them, and that I “want” to spend time with them. And that takes effort…effort that I sometimes don’t feel that I have after a long, stressful day at work. But I really do have it, if I’m being honest. I seem to have enough energy left to do “my own thing.” But is that what I know God has called me to do when he entrusted these 2 precious lives to me? They are only kids once, and I have very few years to be with them at this precious stage where they are changing so much and learning so much and becoming who they will become. And I definitely want to be a part of that. I want to influence these lives. See, while it is so much about them, it’s not only about them…it’s also about me.

That’s one area of my life where I need to live intentionally, investing my time and energy intentionally in my children (and my wife). That’s where I have to check myself throughout the day and week, asking if I am truly living this intentional lifestyle I have decided to live. I have to look honestly, and make adjustments to get back on track. Again, it takes work. But doesn’t anything worth having and worth doing a quality job on take work and concentrated effort? If you think about the performance level we see from professional athletes or musicians, you know that it doesn’t just happen. They are intentional about their craft. We’ll see it in our results too, if we invest our time intentionally.

What is it in your life that you need to be more intentional about? Is it relationships…with spouse, kids, family, friends? Is it in your prayer life, or walk with God? I think this is where you can take the ball and run with it, seeking how you can best live intentionally in the various areas of your life. I’ve talked about my kids (I guess I really am a parent now!) because they are important to me. We aren’t going to get any more minutes added to our days, so I think the decision is ours to make regarding what activities or habits or other “time suck” it is that we need to give up in order to maximize the time we do have. I don’t think when I am on my deathbed (or when you are…) that I will be saying that I wish I had spent more time surfing the web or watching TV or playing Angry Birds, instead of investing in these few precious years I was given on earth.

Good luck to you as you endeavor to live a life worth living and spending wisely the time you have been given.

(Photo Information.)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Faith. Hope. Love: Chapter Three

When I first moved to California, I lived in a part of the Los Angeles (L.A.) area. Litter tumbled like weeds along streets and sidewalks, freeways were grossly congested, and there was always this brown haze that lingered about in the atmosphere. Some days I could barely make out the downtown L.A. skyline. After moving to Northern California, the L.A. funk became more noticeable to me each time I made the trip back and drove through. It hovered like a gray cloud forbidding the sun to break through…a toxic mist that covered the city like a blanket.

The air quality in Singapore was monitored daily due to fires in Indonesia. On good days, locals went about their business unaffected. On bad days, each sported a surgical mask. Being I am originally from “the sunshine state” of Florida, I was not used to checking the PSI (Pollutant Standards Index) or API (Air Pollution Index) each day. The highest PSI reading of record in Singapore was, around the time I was there, in September of 1997. It was listed as “very unhealthy”. Fortunately for me, the managers of the company for which I worked made sure I was well informed and looked out for my health and well being. Otherwise I would have been clueless.

There are very few smells sweeter to me than after it rains…the fresh, wet, clean, vibrant fragrance of the earth as it rises into the heavens. Gazing out the window as the drops fell to the ground, saturating everything within its reach, stirred up a desire within me to race outside and take in a deep breath. This was the case the day I visited with a colleague and it began to pour. (Her unit was located just across the cobblestone courtyard from mine.) The moment the downpour stopped I promptly made my way down the stairs to the damp grounds below. I let the after-rain-smell fill my nostrils but to my ghastly surprise, the scent was not as I imagined it to be at all! Rather it reeked of wet dog! My face contorted and I quickly covered my nose as I raced home. In my opinion, the climate in Singapore was tropical and similar to that of Florida…hot, humid, without truly formed diverse seasons, and with adequate rainfall. After my “wet dog” experience, though, I hesitated to bask in the aromas following precipitation. Admittedly, it was not always that of a damp mutt. Other days the odor was quite pleasant, alluring, and relaxing like springtime in a lush field full of wild flowers and white butterflies.

Ten hours a day, six days a week were spent at work. My time off was used exploring the sights and Singapore lifestyle…whether it was shopping on Orchard Road, at Takashimaya, ordering (or watching others request) stingray, satay, or various different Singaporean cuisine at a hawker stall, indulging in Mongolian Barbeque, hiking, grabbing a bite to eat at Boat Quay or Clarke Quay along the Singapore River, or sitting down with a “Singapore Sling” at the Raffles Hotel.

One afternoon at work, and I honestly cannot remember how this came about, my colleagues approached me, said they were making a coffee run during our one hour break, and did I want to come? We could make it there and back in sixty minutes?! I was not quite convinced but always up for an adventure, I went. The second our break began we bolted from the venue, ran across the street, through an open piece of land, and went down the stairs to a train platform I did not even know existed. My heart pounded as each minute mattered. Tick tock, tick tock, we passed station after station. I had no idea where we were…downtown maybe? I made sure to stay close as the cars stopped and the doors opened. On the heels of the person in front of me we winded our way to the store front. There was a line! Would be have time? I was not even a coffee fan! Why was I here, again? I asked what was good. “Try the frozen drink,” I was told. “One blended beverage with whip cream, please.”

The group waited for everyone to make it back out of the shop then we were off and running again! This time the path reversed. I must not lose the way and get lost! Tick tock, tick tock. It was going to be close! And no one could afford to be late! There was no margin for error. How many times had they made this venture? We inhaled our drinks as we blew through one terminal after the next. On what colored line were we? Was there a map at which I could look? Screeching halt, doors, onward ho! Two minutes left! Hustle! We crossed the finish line without a moment to spare. Phew, back to work.

Whenever in a foreign place, I find comfort in familiar things---whether it is food, activities, or people. Because I am American (and grew up across the street from a lovely Japanese woman who used to cook wonderful things for me to eat), I am drawn, like a moth to a flame, to stuff that reminds me of the United States (and Japanese cooking). One evening when I was in Switzerland, my peers and I ran into another posse of Yanks. While these individuals were complete strangers, it felt as though they were long lost pals. We were ecstatic to see them and they were likewise overjoyed.

When a second set of workers from the States came to Singapore to do advertising for our organization, there was a feeling of familiarity at first sight. We visited them at their location, went out to dinner, took a walk, and just chatted it up. However, once I realized one of them was flirting with me I cut the rest of my time with them short. Flattered, yet not interested.

Faith Hope Love: Chapter Three

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Remind Me Who I Am by Jason Gray

I absolutely LOVE this song!!! And just downloaded it. :)


"Remind Me Who I Am" by Jason Gray

When I lose my way,
And I forget my name
Remind me who I am
In the mirror all I see
Is who don't wanna be
Remind me who I am

In the loneliest places
When I can't remember what grace is

Tell me, once again
Who I am to You, who I am to You
Tell me, lest I forget
Who I am to You, that I belong to You
To You

When my heart is like a stone,
And I'm running far from home
Remind me who I am
When I can't receive Your love
Afraid I'll never be enough
Remind me who I am

If I'm Your beloved can you help me believe it

Tell me, once again
Who I am to you, who I am to You
Tell me, lest I forget
Who I am to you, that I belong to You
To You

I'm the one You love, I'm the one You love
That will be enough, I'm the one You love

Tell me, once again
Who I am to You, who I am to You
Tell me, lest I forget
Who I am to You, that I belong to You

Tell me, once again
Who I am to You, who I am to You
Tell me, lest I forget
Who I am to You, that I belong to You

To You

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Walking with Lisa

(This is a work of fiction.  Any references to historical events; to real people, living or dead; or to real locales are intended only to give the fiction a sense of reality and authenticity.  Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used factiously, and their resemblance, if any, to real life counterparts is entirely coincidental.

The character "Lisa" is inspired by the character by the same name in Susanna Kaysen's 1993 publication GIRL, INTERRUPTED.)


Chapter One

When one first meets Lisa, it is not long before or unusual to think, "Something doesn't seem right."  After spending more time with her (whether it is weeks or months), this sentiment becomes more along the lines of self blame... "Lisa and I just can't get along.  What is my problem?"  This appears to be the average progression of relationships with Lisa unless one has done much study in behavior.  It is not difficult to figure out there is an issue.  The challenge comes in pin pointing it.  Lisa wraps herself so tightly in lies and deception, a person has to make their way through a large, complex web to make sense of things...before becoming prey to the spider.  Some don't make it that far though.  I'm sure you will recall Daisy and the other Lisa.  Both fell victim to this Lisa's taunting and harsh words.  Daisy ended up committing suicide and the other Lisa became a drug addict.

Fortunately for me, I have strength in Christ.  Even still, the gauntlet is thrown and I must be wise.  In order to "walk" with Lisa, there are certain rules I must follow.  #1. Never let Lisa get into my head.  Though it is questionable as to whether or not Lisa honestly is a sociopath, that was her diagnosis and she truly does fit the profile (though her actions might just be an elaborate act).  #2. Never let my guard down.  She cannot be trusted.  #3. Do not be foolish.  #4. (And of the utmost importance) Never take my eyes off the cross of Jesus.  #5. Self assess on a regular basis without going overboard.  Imperfections and weaknesses are okay no matter what Lisa says.  #6. Never take Lisa's word for it.  ALWAYS get a second opinion.  #7. Be in the word of God (bible) daily.  #8. Know with certainty who I am and never doubt it.  #9. Do not limit socializing to only Lisa or spend too much time with her.  She has no boundaries (/nothing is off limits to her) and is very convincing the alternate universe she has created in her mind is the truth.  #10. I am not responsible for her, I am only accountable for myself.  And, I cannot change her.

Though these guidelines are all well and good on paper, applying them regularly (especially when Lisa is on a tirade) can prove to be easier said than done.  Never the less, one will drown, while relating to her, without them.  He or she will slowly become so immersed in her "aggressive narcissism", with traits such as
Glibness/superficial charm
Grandiose sense of self-worth
Pathological lying
Cunning/manipulative
Lack of remorse or guilt
Shallow affect (genuine emotion is short-lived and egocentric)
Callousness; lack of empathy
Failure to accept responsibility for own actions
, most will not even know what happened until it is too late.  The only consistent indication that something is amiss is a nagging feeling of "Ick" after engaging with her.  Patterns are also a key item to watch with her.

I do not know why she says and does the things she does.  Perhaps there is no reason at all...and do I really want to spend years trying to figure it out?  Besides, Lisa does not seem to want anyone to understand her.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Faith. Hope. Love: Chapter Two

As I mentioned before, I have had a love affair with traveling for quite a while...since 1994 when I made my first trip out of the states and visited the breathtaking countries of France, Switzerland, and Italy. As a junior in high school the experience was indescribable...The way the food danced, leapt, and (even at times) practically melted in my mouth (thus beginning my appreciation of prosciutto and olive oil), bread warm and soft inside yet so crispy it crackles on the outside, the architecture, the art (especially at the Louvre Museum and Sistine Chapel), the locations (like Notre Dame Cathedral, the Palace of Versailles, and the Roman Colosseum), the romantic vibe (like along the River Seine in Paris), the hustle and bustle in Paris, the people, the freedom!!! Yes, the independence! Apparently it was noticeable...the change in my attitude after I returned from Europe. I had been bitten by the bug. I was in love! And there was no cure (or anything else for that matter) for it. My only choice was to feed it, cultivate it, tenderly nurture it, and give in to its every whim. Ah love!

I spent the next three years trying to find a means to travel. My sights were set on a job in Japan (for which I applied many times to no avail) but little did I know God (I personally do not believe in fate, coincidence, luck, karma, or magic for that matter) had an alternate plan for me...and it included Singapore, Taiwan, and Australia! Okay, God, you win! I will gladly give up my grand ideas of Japan...for now.

Visiting a country is like opening a book on the subject and hopping into its pages. (I remember studying world geography in second grade (I believe it was) and imagining I could do just that. I walked my fingers across the text we were going over (as though my digits were a tiny version of me) and I "swam" through the pictures...participating in whatever was taking place in each. The two destinations in which we dabbled that stick out in my mind are Vancouver, Canada and Ethiopia.) In real life, I wanted to drink up every ounce of information possible and experience the culture and way of life. I would wander, either alone or with others, to various areas of the city-state to listen to the sounds, breath in the scents, touch what was before me, gaze upon the sights, and (if I was brave enough) taste the delicacies synonymous with that district.

One such quarter was the ethnically authentic Little India. A disorienting whirl wind (in the form of a cab ride) whisked me away and dropped me, dazed and confused, smack dab in another “land”. As I stood reeling with culture shock my eyes and nose were assaulted! This was NOTHING like the other territories of Singapore! Now, I am not going to go into detail about the geography or demographics of Little India. A person can check out that information (along with photos) on the internet or at the local library. As my feelings toward Little India create a chaotic circus in my mind I scarcely know where to begin regarding my experiences that evening!

During this excursion for Diwali (or Deepavali the "festival of lights"), I was not alone, and thankfully so! Had I been I would have stepped right back into the taxi (completely overwhelmed) and said, “Never mind. Take me home.” There were five of us and the guys walked behind the gals so they could “keep an eye on things”. I felt out of place, like a fish out of water if you will.

The first time I ever went scuba diving was with a professional diver who led me and some friends around the ocean bottom for a set period of time (30-60 minutes). As we submerged with oxygen tanks on our backs and regulator mouth piece firmly in place a nearly overpowering sense of claustrophobia crept over my body as though I was in a sinking car in a river and trying to hold on to every breath as if it could be my last. The water lay heavy on top of me…deceivingly inviting. Any wrong move or miscalculated measurement (of remaining air supply) could be life threatening. It was a lot to process…the new environment, the potential dangers, the complete change in everything! These were my feelings in Little India as well. My world had been turned upside down and I was not quite sure what to make of it or how to maneuver through it.

I walked with hesitated step. The sun had gone down before we arrived casting looming, menacing shadows across what might otherwise be cheerful in the day time. Residents stared as if I was a three headed hydra. My dark hair and deep brown eyes blended in with those of everyone else however my olive skin paled in comparison to the rich, chocolate shade of theirs. (Now, my friend who has beautiful blonde hair and sparkling blue eyes with creamy white skin probably stuck out a bit more than I did and our buddy with his radiant African American features mostly likely fit in better than myself.)

Debris littered the sidewalks and streets and men sat gathered, blotting the landscape. They stopped their conversations to watch as we passed. Store windows were filled with merchandise familiar to the culture. We window shopped and stepped in and out of store after boutique touching fabric and admiring the vibrant colors, tassels, and dangling, glittering accents on various outfits. Each concession was nearly whimsical as incense poor out, filled our nostrils, and beckoned us to come in and stay a while. Maybe we would like to purchase something?

The women were stunning in their dresses, sandals, and golden jewelry…the gentle curve of their faces; sun kissed glow to their soft looking skin; contour of nose; perfect size, shape, and spacing of their eyes made them gorgeous---yet the way they kept their bodies covered from neck to ankles struck me as humble, classy, and enchanting.

Faith. Hope. Love: Chapter Two

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Faith. Hope. Love: Chapter One

13So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13. ESV.)
I did not travel to escape. I was not looking for a way to lose myself or adapt. I was not in search of peace, enlightenment, entertainment, or understanding. I simply went for gain. On a “business trip”, if you will. Get paid to travel? Could I ask for anything more?

I had gone off on my own once before this. When I was in high school I ventured to Europe with a group of peers and some chaperones. This time I was an adult…a very young adult…but one just the same. I left my apartment and roommate, new furniture, old job (which I loved), car, possessions, family and friends to experience more of the world…twenty four hours by plane and seemingly a lifetime away. I only took what could fit in my luggage and left the rest behind.

My parents saw me to the airport gate. There were tearful goodbyes (on my mother’s part) and numerous hugs. I surveyed the group with which I was traveling. They were my family for the next five to nine months. I was never one to stay put, really…a pilgrim since the day I could spread my wings and fly. And exploring by myself came easy…I just closed my eyes and jumped…right into the deep end of it all. I knew I could swim.

The engines of the plane hummed steadily as strangers became acquainted, sharing names and hometowns. A handshake and a smile sealed the deal as if to say, “I know you now.” A few had worked together before but no one looked familiar to me. We were a crew of vagabonds, nomads that had jumped a means of transportation and were off to disappear into the sunset. The clouds were an ocean below us. And, our former lives an alternate universe. Money was no object.

It was piping hot in Singapore. The sun warmed my face like the soft stroke of a hand against my cheek. Stand in an enclosed place long enough and it turned into a sauna. I grew up in Florida so the tropical climate was comforting. I cannot say the same for everyone else. There were some complaints about the portable “potties” on our work site. We did not have running water facilities. A person entered the restroom sticky from humidity and exited it, after a quick tinkle, looking as though he or she had just climbed out of a swimming pool. It was hot, dang hot! But I did not mind so much. It reminded me of home.

The city was modern, spotless, and buzzing with action. The streets teamed with people going here, there, and everywhere. Not a single wrapper or wad of gum defaced the grounds. There was not the slightest hint of graffiti of any sort threatening buildings, public benches, or other structures. Orchard Road was done up like a huge Christmas present. Was I in New York gazing at the Macy’s store windows decorated to the hilt? No, this place was too clean. I was in Singapore and the department stores were sparkling, festive, and ready to welcome the holidays. Giant displays looked as though they had come straight out of a storybook. The shoemaker had gone to bed and elves went to work decking the halls overnight.

Without parental supervision we were left to our own devices…a small hoard of young adults released into a foreign environment where the consequence for an infraction was caning. I did not dare test the boundaries or push the envelope. With a crime rate of four percent I was free to walk about the city-state alone without a single individual bothering me. No one approached me or harassed me. It was peaceful and stress free. Taxis swarmed the roads like bees around a hive. There were so many of them…blue though, as opposed to the yellow ones that overrun the avenues of New York City. English being the “business language” made it simple for me to maneuver around. Women had a voice so I could be heard by each and every man whether taxi driver, merchant, or doorman. I was empowered to get what I wanted or go where I chose, when I desired it. There was a hint of a European undertone. (Not surprising since it was under British rule in 1824 (before it became independent in 1963) and its legal system has its roots in English common law.)

My condominium was brand new, completely furnished, and even offered a maid service. With a work schedule of six days a week from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., and two roommates, it was nice to have the help. The square footage was lovely but had plenty of surfaces where dust and dirt could collect. The front door was of heavy wood and opened into a hallway which swept visitors into the dining and living areas. The floors were a cool tile against the tired, sore soles of my feet. And white grout! Who likes to keep light grout from turning gray? The outside kitchen branched off of the entry way…to which the door remained closed at all times. Bars were the only thing on the windows, no glass or screens to hinder insects from investigating our housing and food…plenty of room for a cat to fit through but too tight for a human. The pint-sized, front load, stacked washer and dryer set sat waiting for action in a compact walk-in laundry room (which resembled a pantry) where dirty clothes could easily collect and take a person hostage…never to be seen or heard from again.

The main room windows opened into a large, cobble stone courtyard two floors below. The sounds of fellow employees danced through the air, filtered passed the drapes, and bounced off the vaulted ceiling. A fan purred as it slowly rotated and pushed sultry air about the rooms. The sunken bathrooms, bedrooms, and kitchen caused me to stumble each time I missed the miniscule step while coming and departing. My modest sleeping quarters were nothing short of a single bed and wardrobe which matched the shiny wood floors…perfect for one person.

The night life flourished at a chain of picturesque European bistros across the street from the complex where I lived. This is where I spent most evenings as I did not have a family waiting for me at “home” to prepare and serve them dinner. Each restaurant front lead into a dimly lit, nook of a bar or café area then opened through the back into a vast dinning patio of themed spaces packed with tables and chairs. This setup applied to each establishment along the stretch of the boulevard except the one on the end referred to as “The Wine Cellar”. The atmosphere fitted its name and was reminiscent of the tasting room of a winery. There it was not unusual to see lovely ladies sporting a glass of wine and escorted by gentlemen with cigar in hand or mouth.

Faith Hope Love01

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Faith. Hope. Love: Introduction

As I was walking through the wilderness of this world, I came to a place where there was a cave. I laid down in that place to sleep, and as I slept I had a dream in which I saw a man dressed in rags standing in a certain place and facing away from his own house. He had a Book in his hand and a great burden on his back. As I looked, I saw him open the Book and read out of it, and as he read he wept and trembled. Unable to contain himself any longer, he broke out with a sorrowful cry, saying, “What shall I do?” (Bunyan, John. THE PILGRIM’S PROGRESS IN MODERN ENGLISH. Bridge-Logos Publishers, Florida. 1998. pg. 3.)

The hot, desert sun cascaded over my shoulders and down my arms as I stood in awe, gazing at the indescribable wonder before me. A river did this? This beautiful carving, like the sculpture of an artist, was in fact the work of God. And I was thankful for the opportunity to see it in person. I had driven across the United States and back again. But this is not where I began. This was a result of grace. First I had to walk through "the wilderness of this world".

Like John Bunyan's character, Christian, I was conflicted but not consciously searching for the "Celestial City". I did not realize I needed a Savior...until my burden became so insanely heavy and then I pleaded for One. But who would come? A fireman? A policeman? Some bigger-than-life comic book character? Who had already come? Was it possible to ever have peace?

A fire burned within me yet I was seemingly of two minds. That is where I started...not in quietness, trust, or strength (Isaiah 30:15). But in loud, deafening foolishness which made me scream out (in an attempt to shout over it) in repetitive petition. But this was the norm for me in this season... high stress. Was there any other state of being?

I know the Book mentioned in Bunyan's writing. I had even tried, uselessly, to apply its written laws and way of living to my mundane days. But it was all for not...legalism would not bring me harmony, serenity, tranquility, justice. I would toil in vain. The motions without heart or purpose were worthless...pointless. I could not save myself from that which weighed me down. It was not until grace the Book became my life.

So what did I do? I went along my course as it was designed. Each stepping stone lovingly placed before me. But I was blind to this initially. Everything was all about me. I was self-centered, self-absorbed, self-serving, and seemingly self-sufficient. Thankfully and fortunately for me though, God knows my heart despite my words and actions. For thirty years my hours were filled with worldliness and God was limited to Sunday mornings. Then, slowly most moments became about Him and I “squeezed in” everything else (if I had time). This did not happen over night. It was a progression.

How did I get to this point? How did I get beyond myself?

The Grand Canyon, though massive, was deceiving in appearance. The Colorado River appeared so small and innocent on the canyon floor. My feet felt as though they were in an oven as the sun beat down on my dark shoes. The air was crisp and fresh, like a spring morning while the dew is still on the ground and the birds are chirping cheerfully as if to welcome the new day.

Sin, like the Colorado River may not look like much (from a distance) but over time it can create a gorge between us and God (which makes me think of the “great chasm” mentioned in Luke 16:26).

Faith. Hope. Love: Introduction Chapter

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Couple More New Features

In addition to regular posts, I am also going to start two new series:

1. "Faith. Hope. Love" - a nonfiction about...well... faith, hope, love, (1 Corinthians 13:13) and travel (to Singapore, Australia, and Taiwan. This will also be available in PDF e-book format.)

2. "Walking with Lisa" - a fiction piece about being salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16) in the world (not of the world). (The character "Lisa" being inspired by the one of the same name in Susanna Kaysen's 1993 publication GIRL, INTERRUPTED.)

"You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

14 "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
(Matthew 5:13-16. ESV.)

(Photo Information.)

Friday, November 18, 2011

They Are Robbed of Sleep Unless They Have Made Someone Stumble

Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” ― C.G. Jung

I believe I started reading the 1993 publication GIRL, INTERRUPTED by Susanna Kaysen when I was a child advocate.  It is the memoir of a teenage girl who spent some time in a mental hospital and introduces readers to various personality disorders.  One of the main characters is Lisa who is diagnosed as a sociopath.  If memory serves, she is quite the challenge (behaviorally) for fellow patients and staff members alike.

In order to try and comprehend the disposition of Lisa, I looked up the Hare Psychopathy Checklist which includes:

Factor 1: 
Personality "Aggressive narcissism"


Glibness/superficial charm
Grandiose sense of self-worth
Pathological lying
Cunning/manipulative
Lack of remorse or guilt
Shallow affect (genuine emotion is short-lived and egocentric)
Callousness; lack of empathy
Failure to accept responsibility for own actions

Factor 2: 
Case history "Socially deviant lifestyle".


Need for stimulation/proneness to boredom
Parasitic lifestyle
Poor behavioral control
Lack of realistic long-term goals
Impulsivity
Irresponsibility
Juvenile delinquency
Early behavior problems
Revocation of conditional release

Traits not correlated with either factor

Promiscuous sexual behavior
Many short-term marital relationships
Criminal versatility
Acquired behavioural sociopathy/sociological conditioning (Item 21: a newly identified trait i.e. a person relying on sociological strategies and tricks to deceive).

Lisa's conduct would be very frustrating for me.  And I would have to have serious strength through Christ to endure any sort of relationship with her.  But what does that tell me about me?  Would I be wise not to engage with Lisa or judgmental?  further, if Lisa had a spouse, what would his responsibilities be under God's law?  Would it be to help Lisa or protect their children? --- (In the book it is mentioned (at some point) that Lisa is seen with her son.)

Turn Away From It And Pass On

There is nothing listed in God's word (in the 10 commandments or anywhere else) that gives clear instruction for dealing with Lisa.  What does one do with someone who habitually lies, deceives, keeps secrets, steals, and uses others as tools for selfish gain instead of maintaining relationships?  Would Proverbs 4:14-17 be the best course of action?

14 Do not enter the path of the wicked,
   and do not walk in the way of the evil.
15 Avoid it; do not go on it;
   turn away from it and pass on.
16 For they cannot sleep unless they have done wrong;
   they are robbed of sleep unless they have made someone stumble.
17 For they eat the bread of wickedness
   and drink the wine of violence.
 (Proverbs 4:14-17. ESV.)

Home School Days at Monterey Bay Aquarium

This year we got to attend "Home School Days" at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and were blessed with free admission tickets! We visited the jellies, sea horses, penguins, open sea, and kelp forest exhibits (among others). Up until recently, a great white shark was in captivity but had to be released (before we got to see it) because of "behavioral changes". I assume that means it was causing a ruckus and had to leave the facility. :)


The Kelp Forest is my favorite exhibit.




Jelly

Sea Dragon

Sea Horses


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Let Them Experienced the Love of Jesus

Today I heard a story that touched my heart in such a way I almost began weeping where I sat as I listened.  It was written by Michael Card, is quoted by John 
Piper in his book SUFFERING AND THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD, and goes like this:

One day a Masai Warrior named Joseph was walking along an African road when he met someone who shared the gospel of Jesus with him....The power of the Spirit began transforming his life; he was filled with such excitement and joy that the first thing he wanted to do was return to his own village and share that same Good News with the members of his local tribe.

Joseph began going from door-to-door, telling everyone he met about the Cross of Jesus and the salvation it offered, expecting to see their faces light up the way his had. To his amazement the villagers not only didn't care, they became violent. The men of the village seized him and held him to the ground while the women beat him with strands of barbed wire. He was dragged from the village and left to die alone in the bush.

Joseph somehow managed to crawl to a water hole, and there, after days of passing in and out of consciousness, found the strength to get up. He wondered about the hostile reception he had received from people he had known all his life. He decided he must have left something out or told the story of Jesus incorrectly. After rehearsing the message he had first heard, he decided to go back and share his faith once more.

Joseph limped into the circle of huts and began to proclaim Jesus. "He died for you, so that you might find forgiveness and come to know the living God" he pleaded. Again he was grabbed by the men of the village and held while the women beat him reopening wounds that had just begun to heal. Once more they dragged him unconscious from the village and left him to die....

Again, days later, Joseph awoke in the wilderness, bruised, scarred--and determined to go back.

He returned to the small village and this time, they attacked him before he had a chance to open his mouth. As they flogged him for the third and probably the last time, he again spoke to them of Jesus Christ, the Lord. Before he passed out, the last thing he saw was that the women who were beating him began to weep.

That village is now a Christian village.

Has that ever happened to you... having become so overjoyed and absolutely ecstatic you wanted to share the amazing feeling of overwhelming joy and love with all of those around you, especially those you care about the most only to be met with harsh cruelty?  Have you ever wondered, "What went wrong?  I must have misspoke because surely if I had relayed the message correctly they would feel the indescribable ecstasy that comes from hearing this news!"

My heart cries out on behalf of those who hear the gospel of Jesus but cannot feel their heart meditate with sheer delight.  That fills me with such grief the tears sting my eyes.  Oh Lord, please let them experienced the love of Jesus!

26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  (Ezekiel 36:26. ESV.)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Photo Gallery: Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

For those who enjoy travel photos, the Cabo San Lucas, Mexico page is now up and ready to be viewed. The regular link is located in the left sidebar under the "Resource Menu" heading. Thanks for visiting.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Photo Gallery: Melbourne Australia


The Melbourne, Australia photo page is up and ready for viewing. The regular link for it is located on the left sidebar under "Resource Menu". Thanks for visiting. :)

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Steps Are Established by the Lord

“He that can have patience can have what he will.” ― Benjamin Franklin

“Success is a little like wrestling a gorilla. You don't quit when you're tired. You quit when the gorilla is tired.” ― Robert Strauss

“Give me but a firm spot on which to stand, and I shall move the earth.” ― Archimedes, The Works of Archimedes

A New Direction

As I have mentioned before, I used to train in dance (with a emphasis on ballet), gymnastics/acrobatics, and volleyball (for fun).  But that was years ago...and though I still will teach (when opportunities arise) I was considering going into the field of ballroom dancing.

Watching the dancers float around the floor, twisting, twirling, stretching...in sync with their lines so exact and beautiful made me desire to start competing again.  The preconceived notion ballroom would be easier (than say, ballet) played about in my mind.  But when would I have the time to train?  That all changed, though, the day I met martial arts.

A second interest entered my world on an afternoon of running errands.  Who knew the mundane would lead to this?  But changing fields means starting over!  Back to square one.  Do I have the patience and determination to do so?  I am a parent, and I am busy taking care of kiddos, helping my spouse, maintaining our home, etc. ...it is a full time thing!

Besides, with dance I started at age four and I'm told it takes 10,000 hours to be good at something (according to author Malcolm Gladwell).  Can I put my hours of dance and gymnastic toward those for martial arts?  There are some similarities in areas like balance, flexibility, improv, etc.  There is technique involved.

Not by Might Shall a Man Prevail

7 The path of the righteous is level;
    you make level the way of the righteous.
 (Isaiah 26:7. ESV.)

1 Samuel 2:9: "He will guard the feet of his faithful ones,
   but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness,
   for not by might shall a man prevail. (ESV)


Psalm 37:23: The steps of a man are established by the LORD,
   when he delights in his way; (ESV)

The Lord establishes my steps whether they are significant or not.  I feel each and every one, however big or small, takes me toward what the Lord has predestined for me (since before the foundation of the earth was set).

24 A man’s steps are from the LORD;
   how then can man understand his way?
 (Proverbs 20:24. ESV.)

Forbes: Cars with the Highest Theft Rates

A couple days ago Forbes released a story with a list of cars with the highest theft rates.

Not surprisingly (to me), #2 on the list is the Ford Shelby. Oh, and my vehicle did not make the cut. :)

(Photo by the Ford Motor Company, USA)

Monday, November 07, 2011

Marriage: Dominate, Submit, or Contribute Nothing

Are you curious what I am up to with that title?

Wayne Grudem wrote a fantastic book, SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY, in which he addresses "why God created two sexes and whether or not they can be equal, yet have different roles".  He discusses a lot of information of which I am only going to touch upon.  I highly recommend reading the chapter in its entirety.

Grasping Marriage and the Rolls of Husband and Wife

27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  (Galatians 3:27-28. ESV.)

Romans 13:14: But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.  (ESV.)

Galatians 3:14: so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.  (ESV.)

Galatians 5:6: For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.  (ESV.)

1 Corinthians 12:13: For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body— Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.  (ESV)

1 Corinthians 11:11: Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman;  (ESV)

To clarify this, Grudem states, 
Paul wants to ensure that men will not adopt some of the attitudes of the surrounding culture, or even some of the attitude of first-century Judaism, and think that they have greater importance than women or are of superior value before God.  Nor should women think themselves inferior or less important in the church....

This equality is an amazing and wonderful element of the Christian faith and sets Christianity apart from almost all religions and societies and cultures.  The true dignity of godly manhood and womanhood can be fully realized only in obedience to God's redeeming wisdom as found in Scripture."
 (1994.  Zondervan.  Pgs. 458 & 459.)

Dominate, Submit, or Contribute Nothing

3 But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.  (1 Corinthians 11:3. ESV.)

Grudem explains this saying,
Just as God the Father has authority over the Son, though the two are equal in deity, so in a marriage, the husband has authority over the wife, though they are equal in personhood....

If tyranny by the husband and usurpation of authority by the wife are errors of aggressiveness, there are two other errors, errors of passivity or laziness.  For a husband, the other extreme from being a domineering "tyrant" is to be entirely passive and to fail to take initiative in the family - ...

The corresponding error on the part of the wife, opposite of attempting to domineer or usurp authority over her husband, is becoming entirely passive, contributing nothing to the decision-making process of the family, and being unwilling to speak words of correction to her husband, even though he is doing wrong.  Submission to authority does not mean being entirely passive and agreeing with everything that the person in authority says or suggests - it is certainly not that way when we are submissive to the authority of an employer or of government officials (we can certainly differ with our government and still be subject to it),... A wife can certainly be subject to the authority of her husband and still participate fully in the decision-making process of the family.
(Pgs. 459 & 467)

Wrapping It All Up

In conclusion, Grudem writes,
Husbands, therefore, should aim for loving, considerate, thoughtful leadership in their families.  Wives should aim for active, intelligent, joyful submission to their husbands' authority. (Pg. 467)

So, the husband and wife in their marriage are similar to the offense and defense of a college football team (Go Gators!).  Though they have different rolls and responsibilities (plays), they are equally important to the success of the team (marriage).

(Oh, and when I think of "submission" to my husband, I do not see it as losing myself but rather giving (in love and wisdom) to him.)

Thursday, November 03, 2011

With My Whole Heart I Seek You

Have you ever had one of those moments when you thought to yourself, "Wait a minute, what am I doing?"

I had one of those yesterday morning.  I grabbed a dollar, some change, and my purse as I headed for the front door.  Thankfully it was not blustery like the day before (with Gale force winds) but the cool air was sharp and biting as I made my way to my vehicle with my sweater clutched close.  The key turned smoothly and the engine came to life immediately despite it waking from a cold rest overnight.  I was on my way to the local McDonalds.  (We do not have a Target or Walmart within a 30 mile radius but the popular fast food joint is perched on the corner of the main road beckoning travelers to come inside.)

As I paused at a stop sign I suddenly thought to myself, "What am I doing?"  Though completely coherent the entire time all the way up to this point, I had not rationally thought through my coffee run.  Was I really going to spend my last dollar days before pay day on a $1.00 coffee at the drive through window?  Yep.  And I proceeded.  (It is NOT like I feel I NEED coffee in the a.m. but rather, I just like it...a warm beverage that smells so lovely.  Mmmm.  And I was not a coffee fan until 1996, in Singapore, when I was invited to go on a mad dash coffee run with fellow cast members across the city state with only moments before our next show...but that is a story for another time.) ;)

Take Every Thought Captive

So, I could not help but wonder, how much of my life am I spending on automatic pilot?  Auto-pilot can be useful, like when multi-tasking (put one on auto and focus on the other) but it also has some significant cons.

When I was studying dance we did the same barré warm ups every class in Ballet.  Pliés, tondus, degages, ronde de jambes, frappés, grand battments, etc.  I knew it by heart and it was not long before I started executing each exercise with little thought.    My teacher, being a wonderful instructor, noticed and kindly encouraged me to put more effort back into it.

...take every thought captive to obey Christ,  (2 Corinthians 10:5. ESV.)

Every thought.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

New Feature: Art Gallery

As a new feature to this blog I am going to add a "photo gallery" to the left sidebar (up near the top, under where it says "Resource Menu").  In it there will be pictures of all the major cities/city-states in which I have lived or visited.  They will include:

San Francisco, CA
Los Angeles, CA
Orlando, FL
New York City, New York
Washington, D.C.
Singapore
Taipei, Taiwan
Paris, France
Rome, Italy
Sydney, Australia
Cairns, Australia
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

So far I have the San Francisco page up and will add the others as I find and scan my pictures. :)

Monday, October 31, 2011

May You be Strengthened, Tim Tebow

"Learn to listen to Me even while you are listening to other people....Be a channel of My Love, Joy, and Peace by listening to Me as you listen to others." - Sarah Young, JESUS CALLING

19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,  (1 Corinthians 6:19. ESV.)

I'm not sure I would quite qualify as a Tim Tebow fan.  I am, however a HUGE fan of God, His Son, and the FL Gators.  GO GATORS!  So, I suppose Tebow sort of falls in there somewhere, too. ;)

I am certain he has been flooded with encouragement from his true fans regarding negative press lately and I image the support of the body of Christ is refreshing right about now.  That is the band wagon on which I am about to jump...as a fellow member of "the body".

Tim,

I am positive you know God is still on His throne and He does ALL THINGS for the good of those who are called according to His purpose.

You have always appeared to be a strong man of faith and I thank you for being such a wonderful roll model for those who look up to you.  It is such a breath of fresh air to see an individual in your position glorifying God, behaving in a manner than is pleasing to Him, and being an example of all the bible teaches for young boys as they train in Way they should go.  I am grateful to God for you, His servant.

Please do not allow unkind words to weigh heavily on your heart but rather serve as helpful criticism by which to learn and rise above.  I am thankful you have a loving family to surround you (and offer you strength in Christ) and that you do not find refuge in man but rather trust in the Lord.  Please do not grow weary and lose heart.


9 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. 11 May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.  (Colossians 1:9-12. ESV.)

Christmas is Coming!

My favorite holiday has its own beverage! I did not grow up drinking eggnog. Infact, I never even tried it until I met my husband who loves the stuff, and for good reason! It may be the end of October but Christmas is coming and the eggnog is now available! Yay!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Your Tongue Plots Destruction Like a Sharp Razor

"Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one." - Albert Einstein

I am NOT a fan of the whole "perception is reality" bit.  One who suffers from schizophrenia sees things that are not there and hears voices that otherwise do not exist.  They feel those things are real but "feelings" are not facts and "facts" are verifiable reality.

“Perception is the lie that we convince ourselves exists”  ― Melissa Bradley

“ The question is not what you look at, but what you see. ” ― Henry David Thoreau

So, if what each person "perceives" can be considered "reality", then what defines truth?  ...That which can be proven by evidence?  Scripture has quite a bit to say regarding the matter:

12 Of a truth, God will not do wickedly,
   and the Almighty will not pervert justice.
 (Job 34:12. ESV.)

9 For there is no truth in their mouth;
   their inmost self is destruction;
 their throat is an open grave;
   they flatter with their tongue.
 (Psalm 5:9. ESV.)

Psalm 52:2: Your tongue plots destruction,
   like a sharp razor, you worker of deceit.


Psalm 12:2: Everyone utters lies to his neighbor;
   with flattering lips and a double heart they speak.

Whoever speaks the truth gives honest evidence, but a false witness utters deceit.  (Proverbs 12:17. ESV.)

Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment.  (Proverbs 12:19. ESV.)

Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me?  (John 8:46. ESV.)

 6 [Love] does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  (1 Corinthians 13:6. ESV.)

Today's JESUS CALLING by Sarah Young devotional message says,
"Do not expect to be treated fairly in this life.  People will say and do harmful things to you, things you don't deserve....Don't be concerned about setting the record straight.  Instead of obsessing about other people's opinions of you, keep your focus on Me." (2004.  Nashville, TN.  Pg.315.)

Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.  (Psalm 25:5. ESV.)

Lean on Me

"Lean On Me" by DC Talk is once again two of my absolute favorites rolled into one! Both have quite a bit of sentimental value to me as they were popular during my youth group years (which was one of the best times in my life). I actually listened to the "Free at Last" cassette tape so much I nearly broke it... And, now I play the songs for my kiddos. :)

Monday, October 24, 2011

His Invisible Attributes in the Things That Have Been Made

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

I was created in God's image and I love Him (and His Son) with all my heart, soul, mind, and body. There is nothing in this world that can change that...nothing that can pluck me from His hand (John 10:29).

“I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” ― Albert Einstein

I was blessed with certain talents (and/or "spiritual gifts") but one I love I do not possess is the art of drawing and painting.  Oh to be like Bob Ross on the PBS show "The Joy of Painting" and transform various strokes and dabs of color into amazing landscapes...lush forests, towering mountains, reflecting pools of water!

How amazing would it be to stand in an empty room with only my imagination and a canvas and be able to capture the breeze as if it was brushing the hair from neck...or the sun as though it was softly kissing my skin.

I want to sketch "The Road Not Taken" and depict the cold, depths of the vast, powerful ocean.  I desire to be able to portray the Skagway, Alaska wind that took my very breath away, tugged at my clothes, and forbade me to leave its presence.  ...Strawberries so sweet and juicy that stain my lips with their bold, red richness.  ...Sunflowers in Florence, Italy as tall as I am all swaying together in joyful harmony as though members of a gospel choir.

Can you see them?  I wish I could show you.

20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.  (Romans 1:20. ESV.)

VBS 2012 "Praise"

I am so excited about the 2012 Vacation Bible School (VBS) program, "Praise"! I hope a church near us will be using it! I LOVE this song!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Do All to the Glory of God

“You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.” ― Maya Angelou

Did I mention I am "Tweeting the Bible in a Year" over at Twitter?  I think I did but I'll say it again...just incase it was missed the first time (or two).

I passed the six month mark roughly 19 days ago and I am determined to make it into the homeward stretch --- the fourth and final quarter (starting at about day 274).  It can be a little challenging at times but I love doing PR for God --- not that He needs it or anything.  I simply do it because I want to and I adore it.

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.  (1 Corinthians 10:31. ESV.)

So, if you have not already, please come follow along with me tweet by tweet, verse by verse.

The Obedience of Faith: Live as You Are Called

Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him.  This is my rule in all the churches.  (1 Corinthians 7:17. ESV.)

Romans 12:3: For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

When I roll "measure of faith" around in my mind, I compare it to "talent" in a sense. Each of us has a certain amount of talent (in something).  We just do.  I cannot control at what I am good or how well I accomplish it...like dance, volleyball, gymnastics.  My younger kiddos do well in swimming.  Some individuals are very athletic while others might be more academic or social.  Sure, one can train but natural ability still plays a key roll.  (I highly doubt I could ever pole vault.  I do not even dare to try it.)

I imagine faith to be similar on some levels.  Of course I can study the dickens out of my bible but without "the grace given to me" I am still not quite going to be able to wrap my head around it...(like me and algebra...or geometry.  All those postulates and theorems just made my head hurt instead of making sense.)

But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.  (Ephesians 4:7. ESV.)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Make a Joyful Noise to the Lord: Part Three

Today I came across two of my favorites rolled onto one: 1. A hymn and 2. "The Go Fish Guys"! Together, they make up "The Solid Rock"! Hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I'm A Soldier In The Army of the Lord by The Go Fish Guys

We (the kiddos and I) love this song but boy does it get stuck in a person's head...we end up singing it for hours after listening to it.



More Fantastic Music

The Go Fish Guys
Seeds Family Ministry

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Shield of Faith

“Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst, and cold.” ― Thomas Jefferson

“All men make mistakes, but a good man yields when he knows his course is wrong, and repairs the evil. The only crime is pride.” ― Sophocles, Antigone

Instead of building a monument (of myself or anyone else), I am digging a well. Perhaps one day some (if even only one) will come to it and drink... or maybe none will. Either way, it will exist.

Bear One Another's Burdens

6:1 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. 2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. 5 For each will have to bear his own load. (Galatians 6:1-5. ESV.)

In an effort for me to understand this better I have to break it down a bit.

James 5:19-20: My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, 20 let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

Romans 15:1: We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.

2 Timothy 2:25: correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth,

1 Thessalonians 5:14: And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.

1 John 4:21: And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

2 Corinthians 13:5: Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!

Romans 14:12: So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.

That Burden is Not My Own!

Don't I have enough on my plate without carrying something that belongs to someone else? Besides, doesn't God give each of us only what we can handle---with His grace? Other individuals have some pretty heavy "baggage"! I do not think I am strong enough.

EXACTLY! Because "I" am not but Christ (within me) is! And, if another is drowning would I not throw a life preserver?

1 Corinthians 3:7: So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.

I can be the concierge or bellman and help with the heavy lifting but ultimately it is God who does it all and the only one in whom anyone can boast. And yes, I do believe God would like for me to assist others just as I, at times, REALLY NEED aid myself!

"When you need comfort, I love to enfold you in My arms. I enable you not only to feel comforted but also to be a channel through whom I comfort others. Thus, you are doubly blessed, because a living channel absorbs some of whatever flows through it." (Young, Sarah. JESUS CALLING. 2004. Thomas Nelson. Nashville, TN. Pg. 303)

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