Saturday, July 29, 2006
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
What's in a Name?
This past Sunday at church, John Brown, our Missions Pastor, spoke about the name and character of Jesus. We sang about His name. We meditated on the character that His name personifies. Jesus said in John 17:3, "And this is eternal life, that they may know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent."
"The many names (of God) in Scripture constitute additional revelation of God's character, His works, and His relationship to us based on His character and works. The names which God chose for Himself and which are ascribed to Him in the Word of God are additional revelations of the who and what of God that we may know and relate to God. So, just as the name of God in the Old Testament, spoke of the holy character of God the Father, so the name of Jesus in the New Testament speaks of the holy character of God the Son." (from The Names of God by J. Hampton Keathley, III) I have a reference card that I carry in my Bible that lists the names of Jesus. He is known by 123 names! Just studying and meditating on His names and associated character could take a very long time.
In our culture, we human beings usually have only 3 names, first/middle/last. Sometimes we are given names passed down from family, some parents name their children after famous people or perhaps they just like the sound of a name. In the Bible, a person's name often had great significance, such as Eve (the mother of all living) or Noah (rest). God sometimes changed names based on significant events, such as Abram becoming Abraham, or Jacob (deceiver) becoming Israel at the Jabbok River after wrestling with the Angel of the Lord (Gen. 32:28).
My husband and I prayed about what we should name our children, believing their names would signify their character and hopefully how God would use them. Carey Lanae means "pure/light"and Jeremy Nathaniel means "appointed by Jehovah/a gift from God." They have been reminded all of their lives about the meanings of their names and encouraged to live up to them. Whether your parents prayed about your name or not, a Sovereign God decreed what your name would be. What does your name mean? Does it describe your character? Proverbs 22:1 says, "A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver or gold."
The primitive Hebrew root word for "name" is "suwm" and means "to set, ordain, establish, found, appoint, constitute, make, determine, fix; to set or make for a sign." Your name is a sign of who you are. It was ordained and established for you before the beginning of time. If you are a believer, your name is in the Lamb's Book of Life. So....what will you do for Him today? How can you live up to your name?
Monday, July 24, 2006
Webster's dictionary defines pure as "unmixed with any other matter -- free from dust, dirt, or taint -- spotless, stainless -- being thus and no other: sheer, unmitigated."
Physical purity has always been stressed in the Church. Have we ever stopped to consider that there is more than just sexual purity to preserve? We focus so much on saving the body for marriage.
But what of the heart?
I feel a divine jealousy for you, for I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. (2 Corinthians 11:2-3, ESV)
And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:9-11)
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)
The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. (1 Timothy 1:5)
So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. (2 Timothy 2:22)
Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:22-23)
Sarah F., a good friend of my family wrote this about emotional purity...
When I was in college and was in an accountability group, I remember coming across a verse that struck me hard. "Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless..." (1 Peter 3:14)
I was profoundly aware of my spots. I had been emotionally involved with guys through dating for several years and longed for emotional purity. How I wished to turn back time and do things differently! My sincere desire is that you do not make the same mistakes I did.
My advice to you would be to fall in love with the Savior. Place Him in the highest place in your heart. Once you withdraw your worth and satisfaction from Jesus, you will no longer be in as much danger of drawing value from other people.
If you have become emotionally wrapped up in other people, as I did, there is still hope! God is faithful and is able to make all things new. He can renew your heart. Its never too late to choose purity! (Beauty From the Heart: Thoughts on Purity)
For us women, it is all too easy to become emotionally entangled (see "Guarding Your Heart"). Each one of us has a built-in desire to be loved, but so often do we forget our heavenly Bridegroom and compromise our emotional purity! I do not suggest that we do not become emotionally involved, but that we be careful not to become emotionally entangled. Emotional involvement is inevitable for us women -- that is the way we are built.
To my unmarried female audience: Would it not be wonderful to tell your husband someday, "You are the first, the last -- the only man I have ever loved or will love"? I have held emotional attachments for the opposite gender before -- out of sisterly love -- but never anything serious. Once I fall in love with someone -- that's it. Period. It's all or nothing.
Ladies, that is why it is so important -- and I repeat -- so important that we consistently offer our hearts to our Bridegroom Jesus Christ for His keeping. We must be at all times surrendered to His will -- our hearts in His hand -- so that we may keep His commandment of total purity.
Purity requires all of you -- body, mind, heart -- without total surrender to Christ, there is no purity. I exhort you, my sisters, to render yourselves living sacrifices to the Lover of your soul.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2, ESV)
Sunday, July 23, 2006
1Samuel 1:10-18 And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore. And she vowed a vow, and said, O LORD of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head. And it came to pass, as she continued praying before the LORD, that Eli marked her mouth. Now Hannah, she spake in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard: therefore Eli thought she had been drunken. And Eli said unto her, How long wilt thou be drunken? put away thy wine from thee. And Hannah answered and said, No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the LORD. Count not thine handmaid for a daughter of Belial: for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief have I spoken hitherto. Then Eli answered and said, Go in peace: and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of him. And she said, Let thine handmaid find grace in thy sight. So the woman went her way, and did eat, and her countenance was no more sad.
Hannah is a Godly woman, and just like prior to other Godly women in the Bible, she had to wait on the Lord for her heart's sole desire. She was barren. Not only so, but she was provoked by her adversary (1 Samuel 1:10), mocked because the Lord had shut up her womb. That caused her great sadness, so much so, she would not eat (v.7). In verse 10, we are told that she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord and wept sore.
She was a smart woman, what I like to call "a prayer warrior", quick to get on her knees and unashamed of pouring her heart out at the altar of the Lord. She speaks, reasons and makes a vow with Him (v.11), that if He would look on her affliction and give her a man child she would dedicate Him unto the Lord all the days of His life.
She prayed with sincerity and didn't hold back anything. She prayed in her heart, probably with an attitude of humility. Hannah certainly did not lack belief in the Lord. After having prayed and having received a blessing from Eli (v.18) Hannah gets back on her way, eats and her countenance was no more sad!
Two verses below, she conceives Samuel and Hannah remembers to keep her vow unto the Lord:
1Sa 1:21-28 And the man Elkanah, and all his house, went up to offer unto the LORD the yearly sacrifice, and his vow. But Hannah went not up; for she said unto her husband, I will not go up until the child be weaned, and then I will bring him, that he may appear before the LORD, and there abide for ever. And Elkanah her husband said unto her, Do what seemeth thee good; tarry until thou have weaned him; only the LORD establish his word. So the woman abode, and gave her son suck until she weaned him. And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with three bullocks, and one ephah of flour, and a bottle of wine, and brought him unto the house of the LORD in Shiloh: and the child was young. And they slew a bullock, and brought the child to Eli. And she said, Oh my lord, as thy soul liveth, my lord, I am the woman that stood by thee here, praying unto the LORD. For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him: Therefore also I have lent him to the LORD; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the LORD. And he worshipped the LORD there.
In chapter two, we read a most beautiful prayer by Hannah. Not only does she keep her vow unto God but gets right back on those prayer knees which served her well. In verse 5, she says "so that the barren hath borne 7". Just a few verses below, in verse 21, Hannah conceives again and bares three more sons and two daughters!
Prayer is a must, but for Hannah (and for us), it would have been in vain had she not trusted that the Lord would hear her cry and fulfill her heart's desire in due time. There comes that belief again! There was a change in her attitude, in her countenance, prior to the answered prayer.
Moreover, it is so important and crucial to keep our vows and to remember the Lord who beheld our affliction, just as Hannah accomplished, and in return, the Lord blessed her yet more!
Friday, July 21, 2006
Thursday, July 20, 2006
8 "For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD.
9 "For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
10 For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,
And do not return there,
But water the earth,
And make it bring forth and bud,
That it may give seed to the sower
And bread to the eater,
11 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. "
I find this passage particularly comforting. God's thoughts are not my thoughts and His ways are higher than mine. So often do I find myself worrying over things that I should not even be concerned with. As if Satan or man could change God's plans! When I think of this Scripture, my worries suddenly seem very small and almost childish. God's Word does not return void, and His promises will come to pass. I can rest in that! Isn't that a wonderful comfort to know for the believer? God will accomplish what He set out to do -- not only that, but it will prosper!
*New King James Version
Monday, July 17, 2006
Pure in Heart
Romans 8:28, "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."
One of the sub-topics in our Bible study last week was the benefits (bene being the Latin word for good) mentioned in the above Scripture. One of those 7* benefits is Revelation. Matthew 5:8 states, "Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God." This is Revelation. Everything else in heaven and earth pales by comparison and fades away if we are beholding our Maker. And yet we are promised this benefit if we are pure in heart. What does that mean? You knew this wouldn't be easy, right?
This definition for pure is, "(1) purified by fire (2) like a vine cleansed by pruning and so fitted to bear fruit (3) free from corrupt desire, sin, and guilt (4) free from every admixture of what is false, sincere, genuine (5) blameless, innocent. So, do you want to see Him? Do I? What else do I want to see that gives any meaning to my life? If I do not behold Him first, NOTHING. But what is in the way? What hides His face from me? A. W. Tozer states, "Self is the opaque veil that hides the face of God." Somehow, I knew that was coming. I don't like the thoughts of fire and pruning. How about another quote from Tozer, "We must do something about the cross, and one of two things only can we do--flee it or die upon it." (from The Root of Righteousness). Back to the cross again. And again. "The bitter providences of our lives teach us to see God." (Margaret Ashmore)
What is the alternative? Sin and death. Oh, great! You mean there is no gray area? No place I can hide? No. But the result of a pure heart is to SEE GOD! It comes down to this. Sin and death, or beholding God. Either way, you will have pain and suffering. I prefer pain and suffering with unspeakable joy to the alternative. How about you?
*More on the other 6 benefits later.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Two weeks ago, my husband and I watched The Passion of the Christ together when our children were in Mexico. This past week, we watched The Notebook. I must be masochistic! Watching the first movie is an intensely personal experience. I need to watch it every 6 months or so, just as a reminder of the pain that I caused my Savior and how precious the redemption is that He purchased for me. It brings my life into focus again, and gives me fresh perspective on the events of the present. The second movie is a perspective on human love between a husband and wife. When you have been married a long time (almost 20 years for us) and you have weathered many trials together, it is easy to identify with this couple at the end of their lives, to see how the passion of youth gives way to endurance and strong commitment that stands the test of time. I shed buckets of tears during both movies, for different reasons.
We women are destined to shed tears. I sometimes think that tears are the glue that hold us together. The men around us look on in puzzlement, failing to understand this mystery. They even think we're weird. What does God's Word have to say about our tears?
Psalm 56:8, "You number my wanderings; put my tears into Your bottle; are they not in Your book?"
Psalm 126:5 says, "They that sow in tears shall reap in joy."
Rev. 7:17 states, "For the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes."
The Lord keeps our tears, they bring a harvest of joy, and He will eventually wipe them all away! (I personally think that I have a really big bottle in heaven!) If you are going through a difficult time right now and you have shed many tears, wipe His feet with them. (Luke 7:38). He has seen every one, and is moved on your behalf. "For You have delivered my soul from death, My eyes from tears, and my feet from falling. I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living." (Psalm 116:8-9) It is a privilege to be a woman. At times, I think we have an edge over the men in our lives. Only when they become husbands and fathers do they even begin to understand why we cry so easily. So, onward, ladies! Sow a great harvest! We will reap in joy!
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
A Gracious Woman
To be gracious is to have generosity of spirit marked by kindness and courtesy, to retain is to keep in possession, and honour is to merit respect. As daughters of the King, we eye to merit honour from our King Jesus. If then, we are gracious and welcoming to those who are in need, we will obtain favor from our Master.
Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus Christ and remember that we are not trying to please men and each other, for all this is vain, but we desire to be the apple of the eye of our great God and Saviour.
We can be gracious to the things that are dear to the Lord, such as little children. (Matthew 19:14). And it a bit more difficult, we can even be gracious and extend a gesture of kindness to our enemies, such as the Lord commanded in Matthew 5:44.
After all, no one will ever be more gracious to us than the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave His life a ransom for ours on the cross of Calvary.
Certainly a beautiful verse for the Proverb of the Day for the 11th of the month.
Monday, July 10, 2006
Saturday, July 08, 2006
I would like to thank my daughter, Carey, and Leila and Sarah, her good friends, for the opportunity to share my testimony here. I never thought I would enter into the "blogosphere" because it seemed a thing in my children's realm, not mine. I was a little afraid of it, and didn't see how I could ever have the time. But, as God would have it (with my daughter's influence), I decided to give it a try. So, here I go...........
I was a "flower child" of the '60's, living in California, and a cousin to Janis Joplin. I saw Jim Morrison & the Doors at the Hollywood Bowl and the Beatles at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, and tried everything my generation had to offer. It was all emptiness and death. But God's sovereign hand plucked me from the pit and brought me to Texas at age 21, and a new journey began for me here.
I had not been in the Dallas area long when my 17 year old sister (my only sibling) decided to go back to California to visit friends before starting college. We had always been very close, and I was looking forward to renewing that closeness we had as children. It was not to be. We got a phone call from California telling us that there had been an car accident, and that she and the driver, a girlfriend of hers, were both in the hospital. We needed to come quickly! After 3 days in intensive care, a flat EEG, and kidney failure, she left this world. I had tried everything - bargaining with God (who I didn't really know), offering my life if He would let her live, anything..........but nothing I could do or say could bring her back. As I type this, the memories are as fresh as yesterday. Wounds heal, but the scars are always with you.
It was her death that was the path to New Life for me. My parents were attending Believer's Chapel in Dallas, and the Word was taught faithfully there, often by staff of Dallas Theological Seminary. Crushed by the death of my sister, I was now ready for the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, and a faithful and Godly pastor, Bill MacRae lead me to the Master. I can remember him asking me if I thought I was going to Heaven. I replied, "I hope so," and then he explained how I could KNOW without a doubt, where I would spend eternity. It was INCREDIBLE! ME, chiefest of all sinners? It was that simple? I cannot explain in words the joy and elation I felt at that moment. I truly repented of my many sins, and asked Jesus Christ to save me, and He did!
Now, the process of sanctification began. There was much "undoing" to be done in my life, and I discovered that walking in newness of life doesn't mean that you are instantly "fixed." Oh, that it was that easy! Not long after I was saved, I began seeing a young man, graduate of Texas A & M University who came from a wealthy family, and fit the criteria of my parents for a "good match." Since I had been such a rebel, I decided to do things their way for a change. Unfortunately, it wasn't God's way. The 6-year abusive marriage was a disaster. Although he was a Dallas Police Officer, I barely escaped with my son after being threatened at gunpoint. Are you getting the picture that I learned life lessons the hard way?
Through the next 7 years, as a single mom, I truly learned to love Jesus as my provider and my closest friend. He was always there for me as I sought to raise David for Him. We were always in church and David was in a Christian school through 5th grade. David made a profession of faith as a young child, but I have never seen fruit. At the present time, he has moved back home, and we are all praying that he would see Christ in us and be drawn to Him as his Savior.
Almost 20 years ago, I met my present husband at church. He is a sweet, gentle man who came from a Mennonite home and had dear Christian parents. Isn't that funny? An ex-hippie and an ex-Mennonite! God has such a great sense of humor! (That's probably why our family is so crazy?!) My husband knew how to "walk the walk" and "talk the talk" of a Christian, but when he was forced to retire on Disability 3 years ago (due to Muscular Dystrophy) and came home full time, it became painfully apparent that he wasn't saved! Praise God that we were at DBC and under the awesome teaching of Tommy Nelson! He was listening to Tom's series on marriage, angry at God (and everyone else) for his plight, and the Holy Spirit convicted him that HE was the problem! He has said it was as if the cobwebs cleared from his mind and he could see clearly for the first time. He repented of his sin, and walked out of our bedroom a new man!
I praise God that during our entire marriage, he loved our children and was always supportive of my homeschooling them. He worked so hard to provide for them and to love all of us to the best of his ability. But now, he loves us with the love of Jesus Christ, and there is NO comparison!
I first became aware of homeschooling when I was managing the Family Bookstore in Plano (a Christian book store chain). I had gone through their management training program and opened the store at Collin Creek Mall. As the manager, I could take home any books that I wanted to read (I could sell them better)! Wouldn't you know it, among the parenting books were books on homeschooling. Carey was only 2, so I read one for fun. And then another. Then I discovered that, at almost 40 years of age, I was expecting Jeremy! Oh my! Hard right turn! No more career mom!
Three years later, Carey and I began homeschooling in Kindergarten and we've never looked back. Homeschooling began as a commitment and has become a PASSION for me. Of course, my favorite subject is Bible, but my goal is to disciple my children for Christ, that I can give them back to Him, equipped for His service. We study the Westminster Confession of Faith, Christian Worldviews, Foxes Book of Martyrs, apologetics, and the great Christian writers of the Church Age. I am a curriculum fanatic and everything we use must be filtered through God's Word! As my children grow in their faith, I get to keep growing with them!
Seeing Carey & Jeremy putting their faith to use as young adults is the greatest blessing of my life! Watching them follow Jesus with their own passion cannot be compared to anything the world has to offer. I am now working in the childcare ministry in our church, and God has given me several young mothers to mentor and pray with on a regular basis. They are making the decision to homeschool their children because of the fruit in mine. Amazing! People who know me now cannot believe that I was the rebel of my past. I truly am a new creature in Christ. I just rejoice if anyone can see a small reflection of my Savior in me! Praise His Holy Name!
Friday, July 07, 2006
The Path of Obedience
If there's one thing I gained from this nanny job it is insight -- I will have a better idea of what I'm getting into than most young women. No idealistic dreams of having well-behaved children and how I think parenting should be done (with my vast years of life experience... haha). It is just plain hard (and a full-time job).
For the past two days Taylor (age four) and I have been dealing with obedience issues. Sure, she's cute and sweet, but wow is she stubborn. I have to be even more stubborn, but I also realize that for a young child obedience is one of the most important lessons she can learn. Really, obedience is the most important lesson for anyone to learn, but it becomes harder for an adult to learn.
For people like myself with a rebellious streak, obedience can be a hard (and sometimes painful) lesson to learn. If you're like me, it sometimes takes several "lessons" (or a 2x4 over the head) to get the message across, but the more you practice obedience the easier it becomes. The path of obedience is not often chosen because it is difficult, it is hard, and it is lonely. The path of obedience will not make you happy -- but it will bring you the greatest joy.
Just a few days ago, I was presented with a clear-cut choice to obey God or do my own thing. By the sheer grace of God I chose the path of obedience this time, even though it was one of the hardest decisions I've had to make yet. In my journal, I compared it to jumping off a cliff...
(03 July) ... I don't know what will come of this. I jumped off the ledge and I cannot see the bottom -- neither have I hit it. It's as though I am suspended with naught but the invisible hand of Christ holding me -- but He caught me when I jumped. Now I have to entrust the landing to Him, [even though] it may be a while before I land.Obedience is like jumping off a cliff: God often calls us to obey when we cannot see the outcome of the situation. We have the choice to jump or turn around. Often we turn around, but do we not realize that though it may be a bottomless abyss before us, that the Almighty is there to catch us. Just think of Peter walking on the water to Jesus (Matthew 14).
Thursday, July 06, 2006
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
Transformation, Not Information
"God is most glorified when we are most fully cast upon Him." (Margaret Ashmore -- 7/4/06 Quote of the Month from her website www.margaretashmore.com)
"I would not be anywhere else but in this hardest of fields with an invincible Christ... I am full of hope that when God delays in fulfilling our little thoughts, it is to leave Himself room to work out His great ones. And, more and more as times goes on, I feel that the longer He waits the more we can expect, for the deeper and wider will be the undermining, and the greater will be the band of those who will come forth free from their prison walls. When one gets hold of that vision, one can throw back in the devil's face his taunts over the seemingly wasted years that lie behind us." - Lillias Trotter
Carey and I have been studying the book of Esther with this wonderful, Godly woman. She subtitles the study, "The book that teaches us not to take matters into our own hands." It is an intense study on the sovereignty of God, and my purpose in writing is to share some of the precious nuggets of Truth gleaned in the time we spend with this amazing woman. Margaret said, "What we need is more transformation, not information!" Amen!
Revelation 19:7-8: "Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready. And it was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints." What are some of those righteous acts?
- You must understand true repentance (John 4:28-29, Isaiah 31:6-7)
- You are non-compromising (like the Shulamite you must be a wall; Song of Solomon 8:10)
- You are led by commitment and faith, not emotion (Matt. 17:20)
- You do not gossip (diablos/name for Satan; means slanderer (Prov. 10:18)
- You do not give opportunity for the flesh (2 Cor. 7:1)
- You do not focus on yourself (the other person is most important; get lost in the love of others and serving others (Isaiah 58:10-12)
- You are forgiving, remembering how much God has forgiven you! (Eph.1:7)
Jerry Bridges, in The Pursuit of Holiness says, "But God has not called us to be like those around us. He has called us to be like Himself. Holiness is nothing less than conformity to the character of God."
"What you are becoming while waiting on God is more important than getting there!"
"Everything you are looking for is on the other side of the cross!"
"All of God's revelations are sealed to us until we obey." (Margaret Ashmore)