Tuesday, December 28, 2004
Monday, December 27, 2004
Friday, December 24, 2004
Well, good night everyone!! And a very Merry Christmas to each one of you!!
Thursday, December 23, 2004
My old boss, Dr. McC, called me last week and asked (begged) me to come in and work today since the gal who replaced me would be gone. Of course, I jumped at the chance. I was hoping to see some of my favorite patients but he only had two this morning. One new patient and one "new" to me. The majority of my day was finishing two Independent Medical Evaluations (IME) for the good doctor. I am always fascinated by how the good Lord created our minds. They are so resilient and strong, yet on the otherhand, so sensitive and fragile. I love typing up his reports, it was the favorite part of my job.
Jim had to put on a new faucet in the kitchen this morning. I was so surprised when I called around 11 am to check on Nana and he answered her phone. He had dreaded having to get underneath the sink in that cramped area but on closer inspection he found that the whole "face" which the doors are on actually comes off and he was able to take that off and have loads of room. Why he had never seen that before he doesn't know but was so grateful that he noticed this morning. And, an added bonus is that this faucet is sooooo easy to work Nana has absolutely no trouble turning on the water. Yea! It was like an early Christmas present!
We are having a young marred couple over for Christmas Eve dinner. Matt is recently returned from a year in Iraq. Heather's parents are spending Christmas with her brother and his wife up in Oregon. And with James not coming home Jim and I thought it would be great to have someone share Christmas Eve with us. I'm looking forward to having the time with them and getting to know Matt better. He is such a nice person and they make such a cute couple! :)
James is planning on attending the Christmas Eve service at the Chapel on base. There is a big dinner on base too so he will get to eat "real" food. The Chapel is having a pot luck dinner on Sunday after church which he is planning on attending. I think that is one of the things that bothers me the most...his not getting home cooked meals enough. He has received our big box with all his presents and his miniature Christmas tree all flocked and decked out in mini lights. Our church sent large stockings to each of the men who are serving in the military filled with lots of different things. James thought he should get some butcher paper and a black magic marker and draw a fireplace on it and stick it on his wall. That way he could hang his stocking on the fireplace and set his Christmas tree next to it with his presents spread around it! :)
Well, as Christmas draws near I pray that we slow down and really reflect about what Christmas is truly all about. It really isn't about Happy Holidays or Season's Greetings even though those things are nice. Christmas is all about God stepping into the world so that we could have the opportunity to reconcile with Him. Without Christ there wouldn't be any Christmas and we would still be wallowing in our sin with no hope for eternity. God's gift is the best gift of all because it is something that we can never lose once we have it. It is free for the taking yet it was so costly for God. May we never take it for granted but celebrate Christmas every day. May we stand in awe and marvel at His incarnation. Celebrate the baby and trust the Savior. That's how to make Christmas complete!
Thursday, December 16, 2004
Wednesday, December 15, 2004
I was chomping at the bit to finish my list of "to do's" but since I had neither strength, energy, or breath to do anything, I just vegged. That led in turn to thinking back.....Two and half years ago I suffered two minor strokes (personally, I cannot fathom a major stroke!!) in the same month. My world was turned upside down. One of the consequences of having a problem along these lines is that one cannot drive for at least 90 days. As most of you know, my life is a very busy one, not with just my and Jim's schedule but also Nana's appointments, ministry, socializing etc. My world came to a screeching halt other than doctor appointments and physical and occupational therapy. All of which had to be worked in to when Jim could drive me or a friend was available.
I would have never asked for any of it to happen to me but one thing came out of that time which was so very precious to me and that was a ton of "extra" time with the Lord. What I chaffed so hard against at the beginning, when my wings were clipped, became my most dear and precious commodity...time spent with my Lord. People would ask what was happening in my life and really there was nothing....yet everything. But, how do you share something so close, so priceless? Things slowed down so much that I dreaded resuming my fast paced life. I always wanted to have this slower pace, less filled with "things", more focused on Him.
No matter how much one wants to keep Him first and foremost, our hectic lives can very easily cause us not to focus on Him. These past two weeks I had a reminder of a much slower, gentler time and found my soul craving it, as if I had been in a desert. That spoke volumes to me. There is an old poem that I came across many years ago after I came to know the Lord. It is written by Alice Hansche Mortenson and is called I Needed the Quiet. Enjoy!
I needed the quiet so He drew me aside.
Into the shadows where we could confide.
Away from the bustle where all the day long
I hurried and worried when active and strong.
I needed the quiet tho at first I rebelled
But gently, so gently, my cross He upheld
And whispered so sweetly of spiritual things
Tho weakened in body, my spirit took wings
To heights never dreamed of when active and gay.
He loved me so greatly He drew me away.
I needed the quiet. No prison my bed,
But a beautiful valley of blessings instead--
A place to grow richer in Jesus to hide.
I needed the quiet so He drew me aside.
Saturday, December 11, 2004
TEN SUGGESTIONS FOR A SPIRITUALLY SATISFYING AND JOYOUS CHRISTMAS
1. So often our disappointment with Christmas comes from the storybook illusions and Christmas-carol expectations of the holidays--sleigh bells ringing, snow glistening, chestnuts roasting, and love abounding. Tell God that you want to put away every sentimental picture the world has painted and see Christmas through His eyes.
2. Remember that Christmas is all about giving to meet the spiritual needs of people. When you were dead in your trespasses and sins, God gave His Son to meet your need for the forgiveness of your sins and the gift of eternal life. For the rest of the holiday season, take a moment each day to thank God for His Indescribable gift (2 Corinthians 9:15) and what He means to you personally. Choose one truth about Jesus Christ from the book of Luke each day, write it on a card, stick it in your pocket or on your refrigerator. Focus on it throughout the day, then ask God to give you the opportunity to share those truths with another person who needs to hear it. Rest assured if you pray, God will show you who.
3. So often we miss the joy and peace of this month of remembrance because we get caught up in a whirlwind of activity. Women especially, shouldering the "burden" of the holidays, try to do too much to make Christmas all that we think it should be. But we end up worn-out, tense, and undone by all these things! Take time now to make a list of things you consider priorities this month. Prayerfully submit this list to God. Delete what is unrealistic, what will deter you from what God wants this month, and what will lead to exhaustion. Remember, this is God's holiday, not the world's.
4. Look at the list you've made. Where is there time for you to have leisure with God and family? Write it on your calender in ink. Maybe it will be an evening looking at family photos, playing games, watching a good movie together, spending leisure time with the Lord in the Bible or a good Christian book. Schedule what will encourage and nurture your inner man.
5. Set a budget. Christmas so often becomes a burden. The gifts we give frequently produce a financial strain that can last for months. Ask God what you can do for His kingdom. Then determine your Christmas budget. Limit the number of gifts you give loved ones. Make giving an adventure in prayer. Ask God to help you find the right gift at the right price.
6. Don't spend the holiday alone. If you have no family locally, find someone who is alone and extend the gift of hospitality. Jesus was born so we would never be alone, but rather part of His eternal family. Look for someone who wants to belong to God and host that person for Him.
7. Watch what you eat. Don't reward yourself with food; you'll regret it later. Proper intake of fresh fruits and vegetables will give you healthy energy. Sugar is a depressant; it can wear you out and greatly alter your emotions. Walk by the Spirit's fruit of self-control.
8. Although Christmas is a time of relationships, remember the angels announced "on earth peace among men with whom [God] is pleased." Avoid relationships that bring conflict; refuse to "go there" in any conversation or encounter that is going to disturb the celebration of the birth of the Prince of peace. Remember Jesus is the Savior, not you. Rest in Him, beloved.
9. Darkness can bring depression. Make sure that you get lots of light, especially sunlight. As you bask in the light, let His light shine through you, lifting the spirits of others.
10. Fill your heart with spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord. The Messiah, the Christ, has come and will come again soon to reign as King of kings, and Lord of lords.
Tuesday, December 07, 2004
There is no way our physical body can produce anything that is spiritually pleasing to God. It is dead until you put something in it. That something is Jesus Christ and He is what gives it beauty. How do we energize what is inside of us? It isn't something that is automatic or even inevitable. There needs to be the continual renewal of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God takes that resurrection life that is in us and begins to transform us.
We need to be beholding something...the glory of God. The glory of God is revealed in the Word of God. It is only when we begin looking at the glory of God through the Word that causes us to be changed. The Word will never lie to us, it will always point us to Christ. Then there is a reflection that radiates back to us. We seek to be like Him. The glory of God is Jesus, all that Jesus Christ is and all that he does. It is only when we look at the glory of God through the glory of Jesus Christ can we be changed.
We also need an unveiled face. We all have to take something off. There isn't a one of us that doesn't cover our "real" face. We don't want people to see our flaws and imperfections. However, we need to make sure we are totally open and honest as we look, as if in a mirror--the mirror of God's Word which is the reflection of Jesus. Unbelief and unresponsiveness of people is a stumbling block because they do not want that much exposure. Do you realize that when you read the Scriptures you are having a one-on-one encounter with the Author? Being less than open with God will hinder our spiritual transformation. Yes, sometimes it hurts when we allow ourselves to go into the presence of God. Allow Him to do all that He desires to do in you. We need to be careful that we are not stagnating in our walk.
There also needs to be an understanding that this transformation is something that He does. We "are being transformed." Sometimes we may not even notice the changes that are taking place in us but other people will. It is a gradual process. As the glory of God radiates to our open heart and mind we are transformed over a lifetime. The issue isn't that we feel it or not, the Spirit of God is working in us. It is God's life, lived out through you as you seek to live out His will.
Sunday, December 05, 2004
I am really struck by what a miracle is our Resurrection Life! We are not just released from the penalty of sin but also the power, or dominion, of sin. The fundamental problem with living the Christian life is we live in a dead body. Our physical body is lifeless, completely unresponsive to anything that is spiritual. Eternal life has been "planted" into us but the "housing" is dead. When we try to live the Christian life on our own steam, our own power, we will fail. Even though we have this dead body in which sin dwells it can be a vessel that God uses because of the Holy Spirit living within us. It is the Holy Spirit indwelling each of us that gives us life.
Romans 8:11 "But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you." We look forward to our new resurrection life when the Lord returns but we can experience the resurrection life right now. What does it mean? It's God living His life through our dead bodies....it's a miracle! How? Zechariah 4:6 gives us the answer, "...'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the LORD of hosts." It is God, through his Spirit who is shaping, molding and steering us in the direction He wants us to go. The Holy Spirit lives in us so He can perform a resurrection life through us!
Friday, December 03, 2004
This past summer one of our moms moved to Phoenix when her husband was transfered. Over the last year or so, we had moved into meeting once a month to lift up are praises and petitions. Then right at the end of Spring, the beginning of summer we stopped meeting. We didn't stop praying...thanks to email we could share prayer requests! Well, Anita was back in town yesterday for a visit and so we all came together for a luncheon. What a time of renewal, and getting caught up on what has been going on each of our children's lives, to see pictures and to fellowship with one another! It is so exciting to look back and see the faithfulness of the Lord over the years. I am always reminded of the verse that talks about how "He who has begun a good work in you will be faithful to complete it."
Then last night I met with a young friend of mine who had invited several other ladies over for dessert. Dione has been through a very difficult time in her life but it has been such an encouragement to see how she has grown spiritually in her walk with the Lord through it all. She went through the Evangelism Explosion training that Jim taught this past fall and graduated. At the same time she was taking the EE training she began volunteering at the Pregnancy Resource Center as a counselor. On her first day of training, where one is to be basically a "wallflower", the trainer turned to Dione and asked her if she had anything more to share with the young woman sitting there with them. Before Dione knew it, she asked the young woman if she could ask her a question and the woman said yes. Dione shared the gospel with her and the woman accepted the Lord. God has used Dione mightily in this ministry and there have been eight women who are now walking with the Lord and choosing not to abort their babies. It was fun to get together and encourage one another last night.
How glad I am for the gift of each friendship that the Lord has brought into my life. What a precious jewel each one is. They add a richness to the quality and fabric of my life. Thank you, Lord!!
Tuesday, November 30, 2004
For us who are believers, and understand who Jesus Christ is, we understand that Mormons are not Christians. There are, for the sake of this blog, two factors to be considered. The first is the difference between the Biblical understanding of who God The Father is and the Mormon understanding of who God The Father is. The second is grasping who Jesus Christ is.
There is a new book out that deals with LDS scholarship in a very respectful and responsible way. It "recylces no previous material and duplicates no one's effort" of the past. Instead, responding to the best LDS scholarship, it offers freshly researched and well-documented rebuttals of Mormon truth claims. Most of the chapter topics have never been addressed, and the citicisms and arguments are almost entirely new." It doesn't "merely challenge Mormon beliefs; it offers the LDS Church and her members ways to move forward." "The biblical, historical, scientific, philosophical, and theological discussions are fascinating and will appeal to Christians and Mormons alike." The name of the book is The New Mormon Challenge. General editors are Francis J. Beckwith, Carl Mosser, and Paul Owen.
Just so there is no misunderstanding, President Gordon B. Hinckley made a statement while addressing Mormon church members in Paris and Geneva in 1998. This is from the LDS Church News Archives, Saturday, June 20, 1998, 'Crown of gospel is upon our heads.': "In bearing testimony of Jesus Christ, President Hinckley spoke of those outside the Church who say Latter-day Saints "do not believe in the traditional Christ. No, I don't. The traditional Christ of whom they speak is not the Christ of whom I speak. For the Christ of whom I speak has been revealed in this the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times. He, together with His Father, appeared to the boy Joseph Smith in the year 1820, and when Joseph left the grove that day, he knew more of the nature of God than all the learned ministers of the gospel of the ages." For those who would like to read the entire article the link is http://www.desnews.com/cgi-bin/libstory_church?dn98&9806210091.
Monday, November 29, 2004
The Prophecy of C. S. Lewis. C. S. Lewis was born on this date in 1898, and forty-one years after his death, one thing has become startlingly clear: This Oxford don was not only a keen apologist but also a true prophet for our postmodern age. For example, Lewis's 1947 book, MIRACLES, was penned before most Christians were aware of the emerging philosophy of naturalism. This is the belief that there is a naturalistic explanation for everything in the universe. Naturalism undercuts any objective morality, opening the door to tyranny. In his book THE ABOLITION OF MAN, Lewis warned that naturalism turns humans into objects to be controlled. It turns values into "mere natural phenomena" -- which can be selected and inculcated into a passive population by powerful Conditioners. Lewis predicted a time when those who want to remold human nature "will be armed with the powers of an omnicompetent state and an irresistible scientific technique." Sounds like the biotech debate today, doesn't it? Why was Lewis so uncannily prophetic? At first glance he seems an unlikely candidate. He was not a theologian; he was an English professor. What was it that made him such a keen observer of cultural and intellectual trends? The answer may be somewhat discomfiting to modern evangelicals: One reason is precisely that Lewis was not an evangelical. He was a professor in the academy, with a specialty in medieval literature, which gave him a mental framework shaped by the whole scope of intellectual history and Christian thought. As a result, he was liberated from the narrow confines of the religious views of the day -- which meant he was able to analyze and critique them. Lewis once wrote than any new book "has to be tested against the great body ofChristian thought down the ages." Because he himself was steeped in that "greatbody of Christian thought," he quickly discerned trends that ran counter to it. But how many of us are familiar with that same panorama of Christian ideas "down the ages"? How many of us know the work of more than a few contemporary writers? How, then, can we stand against the destructive intellectual trends multiplying in our own day? The problem is not that modern evangelicals are less intelligent than Lewis. As Mark Noll explains in his book THE SCANDAL OF THE EVANGELICAL MIND, the problem is that our sharpest intellects have been channeled into biblical scholarship, exegesis, and hermeneutics. While that is a vital enterprise, we rarely give the same scholarly attention to history, literature, politics, philosophy, economics, or the arts. As a result, we are less aware of the culture than we should be, less equipped to defend a biblical worldview, and less capable of being a redemptive force in our postmodern society -- less aware, as well, of the threats headed our way from cultural elites. You and I need to follow Lewis's lead. We must liberate ourselves from the prison of our own narrow perspective and immerse ourselves in Christian ideas "down the ages." Only then can we critique our culture and trace the trends. The best way to celebrate Lewis's birthday is to be at our posts, as he liked to say -- with renewed spirits and with probing and informed minds.
Thursday, November 25, 2004
We began our time together with Bodie reading a selected Bible passage, Psalm 100. After eating dinner we gathered in Lana's living room and each person shared what they were thankful for and how they had seen the Lord work during this year. I was encouraged by Larry's sharing how much he was moved by seeing the Lord answer his prayers this year and how his prayer life had deepened more as he became more dependent on the Lord's leading and direction. He has prayed specifically for a person for a year now and to see that person respond as God works in his life is exhilarating! I probably love the sharing time the most, even better than eating, because it is so exciting to hear how the Lord has worked in each person's life or each family in a unique way, tailored just for them! Then after sharing we once again managed to squeeze in some pie for dessert.
When I am fixing a recipe that is from a friend or family member, or from a friend of a friend, etc., I pray for that person and their family while I make the recipe. So, since my recipes are not original with me I have spent quite a bit of time over the last several days praying for different people as I made my contributions to our Thanksgiving meal. What a privilege it is for me to do that!
I have to tell my niece that everywhere I take her Sweet Potatoe Puff recipe they all want the recipe!! And, it was the same again this year. I should just get in the habit of taking some copies with me. Even people who cannot stand yams, or sweet potatoes, love this recipe. So, hats off Claire to your contibution!
Once again our day for Thanksgiving has come and gone but I pray that we might make each day a Thanksgiving Day! As we go through our day may we be ever cognizant of how the Lord is blessing us and may we be ever ready to raise our praises up to Him!
Wednesday, November 24, 2004
What are some of the things which I am thankful for? I am thankful for my family, my husband and my son. My mother who is living with us. My sister, her husband, their two children and their spouses, and their children. This will be our first Thanksgiving without our son, James, being home. It's been an adjustment for Mom (and I dare say Dad, too!) but, I am thankful that he will be spending it with family, cousins in Alabama. I am also very, very thankful that each member of our family, along with their spouses, has a vibrant, growing relationship with Christ Jesus! And, I'm thankful that my father has already met his Lord face to face! Another thing that I praise the Lord for is the faithfulness that Marsha and Vic exhibited in the rearing of their children. It was such an encouragement to Jim and I as we began our own parenting journey. Now, we are watching Claire and Bob as they rear their four boys, nurturing them in the things of the Lord, molding and shaping their character. What a joy it is to be around their children! And, what pleasure those big boys bring to us in their antics!
It has been neat to see how the Lord has worked in individual lives throughout this year. How He has answered prayers and petitions. Even through areas where it wasn't answered the way we thought it should be. Then, it was answered beyond our wildest dreams, proving once again that God knows far better what is best!
I have been thankful for our much needed moisture. After six years of drought all the rain was wonderful! And now we have already had snow with more expected tomorrow and Friday! I watched the sun rise this morning and I am always moved how gorgeous is the color and the light as it breaks over the mountains. If it is this beautiful this side of heaven, what must it be like on that side? I can hardly imagine! Most of the leaves are off, leaving barren branches in sharp contrast to the sky. The mountain tops are covered in snow, so beautiful against the sharp blue sky. Isn't it neat that even though we live in a sin affected world, God still allowed us to be surrounded by beauty?
Our freedom is a very precious commodity to me. I do not take it lightly. There are so many areas of the world where there isn't freedom, not only isn't there political freedom, there isn't any religious freedom. How I pray that more people would desire to know the freedom that comes from knowing and trusting Christ personally! Because, if one doesn't have freedom, whether politically, or in jail, etc. if they have Christ then there is no limit to their freedom!
I am also thankful that God did it all for me! And, once having done it all on the cross, He supplied me the power through His Holy Spirit to live a life pleasing to Him. He has given me His Word to encourage, to teach, to correct, so that I might know Him deeper, and also, that I may be equipped to share Him with others.
Sunday, November 21, 2004
"Shout for joy to the LORD all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him
with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts
with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love
endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. "
How awesome is it that we can enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise? From the beginning of the Psalm, we are commanded to shout for joy to the LORD. This isn't a suggestion but rather a command. We are commanded to shout for joy. One shouldn't look at this as a command, but rather as worship. I mean, why should we not shout for joy? We, as Christians, should be overflowing with joy because of what God has done for us.
Secondly, we again are commanded to know the the LORD is God. There is no question that the LORD is God. We are not to question His authority, Godhood, or power. We are to know that He is God. But, again, why would we even have to question His authority? Creation calls out His name and our very existence is testament to the fact that God is the all-powerful God He says He is.
Thirdly, it is interesting to note, that we are told to enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise. We are commanded to enter into His gates. How else could we enter into the presence of the All Mighty God, unless it was for the blood of Jesus on the Cross at Calvery? Christ died and rose again so we, as God's people and sheep of his pasture, could boldly enter His gates and praise His name. Fo no other reason, we are to praise His name because the LORD is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.
The LORD never fails. The very God, who knit us together in our mother's womb, never fails. He is faithful through ALL generations. How many other gods can make a claim such as that? The answer is a resounding zero. The Creator-God of everything in existence made us personally and has claimed us as His own. We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. There is no questioning to whom we belong. We belong to the LORD God alone. This Thanksgiving, we as believers in Christ, truly have something to be thankful for - God's unfailing love for all generations.
Saturday, November 20, 2004
Each month, whoever has a birthday during that month is honored and celebrated. I think it is important to let our elderly know how much they are appreciated. We should take time to find out their opinions. So often they are either ignored or just "skipped over." That saddens me. My friend, Carolyn, on the most part attends, also, even though she isn't eligible for the OWLS. She, too, has a heart for reaching out to the older women in our church.
We now have several of these older ladies attending our ladies Bible study on Thursday afternoons and they have added richly to our discussions. For us younger women it has been a true treasure, one that is savored by each of us for the wisdom and insight which they provide.
I noticed in the news today the world's oldest man died in New York. He was just 12 days shy of his 114th birthday. In the article it told how he was still living on his own at 103 but also was still shoveling snow off his roof at that age!
He held the Guinness record for the oldest driver. His son commented that at 108 Mr. Hales still found slow drivers annoying! He moved from Maine to New York to be near his son who is now 82! I thought of Nana and what if her mother or father were still living right now! Wow! I think the Lord blessed Mr. Hale with excellent genes!
I know that since we have had Nana living with us it has made Jim and I more sensitive to the elderly around us when we are out. Jim is constantly seeing a older person in need and will go over and help...putting groceries in their trunk, or giving them an arm to step down off the curb etc. They always seem pretty shocked but appreciative. Jim just smiles and leans over close and tells them that his Mother-in-law lives with him and so he has "had plenty of practice and why let all that training just go to waste?" They all laugh and seem much more comfortable then about receiving an extra hand. He's the best!! Some might say I'm biased but I have it from the best authority (Nana) that he is one special guy who treats her like a queen!
Friday, November 19, 2004
Thursday, November 18, 2004
Cynthia Heald, the author of our book this time, has such a wonderful way with words. Here is an excerpt from the Author's Reflection at the end of the book.
"Love is the fabric that enfolds the body and provides warmth and comfort. This blanket of love protects against the coldness of the world and insulates from the blustery winds of hate. Its fabric is soft yet strong, and there is great beauty in its many colors and intricate patterns. It is meant to be shared, for in the sharing it covers sin and envelops all who want to know the blessings that it alone can give.
This covering of love is large enough to include all who desire its consolation yet small enough to accommodate each one personally and abundantly. To be enfolded in this blanket is to experience acceptance and healing. It neither binds nor constricts, and amazingly permits those encompassed within its folds to move in freedom.
This blanket of love cannot be bought, but it is freely bestowed by the heavenly Weaver and its durability has stood the test of the ages. It is the one and only blanket that is needed for life. Without it the soul will grow cold and hard, and all that is accomplished will ultimately profit nothing. Wth it the soul will experience the intensity and tenderness of God's love and will ultimately be filled with the fullness of God. This love is the greatest of all virtues: it is tranforming; it is powerful; and it never fails." Becoming a Woman Who Loves by Cynthia Heald
Wednesday, November 17, 2004
This is not to say God doesn't want us to experience victory, but rather to emphasize that victory is a byproduct of obedience. As we concentrate on living an obedient, holy life, we will certainly experience the joy of victory over sin." The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges
Tuesday, November 16, 2004
James had written an argumentative paper for his college English class in the Fall of 2002. The title of his paper was "Mormonism is Not Christianity Because The Jesus of the Bible is Not the Same Jesus as that of the Mormon Church." There was one other Christian in his English class and all the other students, as well as his professor, were Mormons. As soon as James called and told us what he had decided to write on, I sent a prayer request out to all of our fellow prayer warriors. That paper was prayed over, not only for the professor to be objective in her grading, but that the paper might have an impact. An impact it did have. It has circulated the globe (PTL for email) as people have asked to have copies of it, but the most important impact was when it was used to begin a young woman's search for Truth! In her mind, Truth would stand up to scrutiny.
Michelle's "pedigree" reminds one of Paul in the New Testament. Her Mormon credentials were impeccable, her family was of pioneer stock, her father is the first counsellor to the Bishop in their ward, and she had held many callings in the church.
James and Michelle were lab partners in one of their classes so they were able to talk while they worked. One of their conversations was about James being born again. She really didn't understand exactly what that was, however, she did know that he was not Mormon. One night in early November Michelle got online to find out what Born Again Christians were. As she read she was confused and didn't really understand too much about it. She wrote down some verses and began studying the Bible that night.
The next day Michelle had a lab with James and she shared that she was tired from being up so late reading and studying about Christianity. James offered to let her read his paper that he had written that explained his beliefs very clearly. Michelle agreed to read it and let him know her thoughts on it. They planned to meet to go over her thoughts. She truly believed that she had the truth and that it would stand up to any opposition.
Michelle began digging into the paper, sure she could disprove his position. She found scriptures to support her claims. As she states in her testimony, "I was armed and ready to talk to James about everything."
Now, along with researching James' paper, Michelle was reading the Bible every night for three or four hours. This was the first time that she had really read it and soaked in what the Bible had to offer. (Isn't the Holy Spirit wonderful?) On Friday, they met and talked about some of the things that she disagreed on. They discussed about an hour. After talking about James' paper James began questioning Michelle, finding out what she knew about some of the teachings of her church, such as the Adam-God doctrine, the conception of Christ, and blood atonement. Michelle was absolutely shocked that James would say that the Mormon church taught that God the Father had physical relations with Mary. That was blasphemous to her!
They talked further and she asked James the one question that sent her head spinning for the rest of the weekend. "Okay, James, tell me, do you think that because I'm Mormon, I'm not going to go to heaven?" James chose his words very carefully, "If you do not believe in the True Christ you will not be saved. But I can't be the judge of anyone's heart." They agreed to meet on Sunday but as Michelle walked away she began to question things in her mind.
Michelle went straight to the library to check out the doctrines of the Mormon church that James had shared with her. She found all the information and struggled with why she had not been taught that growing up. She thought maybe she was just misinterpreting things. So she called her dad. He answered all her questions with the answers that James had said. That night Michelle had trouble sleeping. Thoughts regarding her eternal salvation consumed her. She was desperate to find the truth. Even reading the Bible confused her because it contradicted everything she had been taught.
On Sunday as she was getting ready for church she came across the verse in 1 Corinthians 14:33: "For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace." She knew then that God would not confuse her. She was skeptical as she listened at her church that morning. She did more reading and studying before meeting with James. She had pages of questions for him. By the end of their conversation she admitted "that Joseph Smith was a false prophet, thereby coming to the natural conclusion that the Book of Mormon and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints were both false." That was a tremendous shake up to her belief system which she had held on to for her 22 years. She wasn't ready to make a decision yet....fear still held her.
Michelle told James that she would be praying that night. "Which God will you pray to?" he asked. She responded it would be the God of the Bible. That night she couldn't get enough of God's Word. One of the passages that she read was Ephesians 3:14-19 that says, "For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filed with all the fullness of God." (emphasis mine) That's what Michelle wanted!
Monday morning she contacted James and asked if she could ask him some more questions. She asked, he answered until she came to the Ephesians verse. When Michelle asked him how to get "that" he explained the plan of salvation to her and then asked her if she was ready to accept Christ into her heart. She thought about it for a minute and then told him yes. They knelt together as she prayed the most important prayer in her life. As Michelle tells it, she felt that peace she was longing for. "The confusion, the fear, the doubt, it was all gone."
Now, when James' paper is sent out far and wide, Michelle's testimony accompanies it. Who would have thought what kind of impact God would cause with that paper? Would you continue to pray for Michelle? Her family is still steeped in Mormonism and there are times that she feels quite estranged from them. Her story doesn't end there....God has used her in mighty ways and she has grown mightily through the study of His Word. For all of us, here in Utah, that was one amazing week! To see God reach down and touch a young woman who desired to know The Truth was inspiring and faith building!
Monday, November 15, 2004
Saturday, November 13, 2004
Nowhere in the Constitution of the United States is this particular phrase found. The phrase actually comes from a private letter Thomas Jefferson wrote just before he died. But, nevertheless, this phrase is being used to promote an atheistic society. America's society, ever since the Civil War, has been constatly eroding and in the years following World War II, the erosion has only intensified. One can clearly see the erosion taking place by the fundamental changes to America's government in the past fifty years. America has taken prayer out of schools, legalized abortion, stopped the tradition of opening congress or any government meeting with prayer, and it also is seen by the fact marriage has to be defined now as a union between one man and one woman.
Are we to say as Christians the separation of church and state is a good thing? Absolutely not! The First Amendment Right of every American citizen is the right to practice his or her religion freely. Nowhere in the amendment does it talk about government not supporting religion. Government cannot fund or support any particular relgion above another, but government can promote faith-based organizations. The problem with society today is by using the phrase, "separation of church and state." America is turning into a society where all religions are tolerated except Christianity. Oh, you are gay, that's fine. Oh, you're a Mormon, Hindu, Muslim, or Satanist, that's fine. Oh wait, did you say you're a Christian? Make sure you don't speak about God in public, or offer your views to anyone publicly or privately for that matter. It's cool you are a Christian, but don't tell anyone or do anything that will show anyone you are a Christian.
Is that what this society is turning into? I tend to think it is. When did a cucumber become a sex-aid teaching device instead of just a vegetable that one eats? People are telling me it is okay to teach children that all lifestyles are okay; sex is good as long as you use protection, but it's not okay to teach children the principles America was founded on. This is compelling evidence that the greatness of America is being eroded away.
Since this is unacceptable, what must Christians do in the face of such opposition? The answer is easier said than done. Christians must activly get involved in politics. Anyone who thinks the Christian vote is in the minority clearly didn't learn anything from the Presidential election in 2004. The Christian vote single handedly swayed the Electoral College vote to George W. Bush. Secondly, Christians must not accept anything less from their elected leaders. If a leader isn't doing something morally right, remove him from office. If he isn't supporting an issue that needs to be supported, remove him from office. Make the politicians work for the betterment of society instead of the betterment of them. And, lastly, Christians need to bring their concerns before the Throne of the Almighty. The Bible makes it very clear God has elevated three institutions above all others as having a special or sacred worth to society: family, the church, and the government (A Table in the Presence 154). If God has given the role of government a special place in society, then all the more reason to pray to Him to keep the leaders focused on Him.
Friday, November 12, 2004
"His purpose is not that you will do more for Him but that you will choose to be more with Him. Only by abiding can you enjoy the most rewarding friendship with God and experience the greatest abundance for His glory.
To abide means to remain, to stay closely connected, to settle in for the long term. With this picutre Jesus is showing the disciples how an ongoing, vital connection with Him will directly determine that amount of His supernatural power at work in their lives." Bruce Wilkinson
I was pondering this morning about "the vine" and what it has to do with me (everything!). By being attached, through Jesus, means to me that I have a living relationship with God Himself. By "staying closely connected" I will grow in my relationship with Him. I'll be nourished and fed by His Holy Spirit, and I'll be able to be used by Him to bear fruit.
Christ has made it abundantly clear that apart from Him I can do nothing. If I am doing nothing then I will eventually wither into lifelessness. I have no desire to spend my life doing nothing, living without purpose, simply moving forward without being involved. I do desire to be involved, actively living, reaching out to others and offering hope.
Of course, to be a healthy branch entails pruning. I don't know anyone who relishes being pruned. I know I don't. What does pruning entail? Sometimes it can be just thinning out the underbrush. Sometimes it is actually removing or detaching. Other times it is just a cleansing, but the outcome is the same. It enables me to be a sturdy branch. A person who has strong roots and connected to the vine. It always causes discomfort and sometimes pain, at least, for me. I have found that if I hold whatever is dear to me in an open hand, it hurts far less than if He has to pull my fingers from around whatever I am holding too tightly.
I find that being in His Word on a daily basis, combined with prayer helps me to stay connected to Christ. That ongoing dialogue through out the day with the living God is a must! As I mature, my desire to grow ever closer to the Lord becomes much stronger. I find that I am richly nourished and I am more intimate with Him. The results? Not only is my life more satisfying but I begin to bear much fruit.
Thursday, November 11, 2004
Tuesday, November 09, 2004
Yesterday when I read my niece's blog (http://psalm127.blogspot.com/) I burst out laughing because she "was inspired by her intrepid Aunt Claire!" Both Claires are sadly lacking in the computer gene pool...hmmm, I wonder if it goes with the name? Anyway, Claire had responded to her brother's blog (http://witwcali.blogspot.com/) after he had mentioned his sitemeter. She wanted to know how to put one on her blog. Well, I too, commented that I wanted to know how to do that and whatever he emailed to her he needed to email his dear Aunt. The only problem with all that is he, as Claire so eloquently put it, is Mr. Techno-Stud! He was very faithful to respond to both of us but, I kid you not, it was like reading Chinese!! However, one thing I did understand was to go to the sitemeter website, which I did. After that, it was purely through muddling that I actually managed to get my sitemeter on my blog. Well, technically, I just had the sitemeter people (?) do it for me.
However, there was a problem when I finally managed to actually get it to show up (one has to republish and sign out and sign back in etc). I thought it would look like Dan's with the cool numbers but all mine had was colored lines. So, I began emailing back and forth with my nephew, who at least gave the impression, that he had the patience of Job! He did inform me that I could just go back into my sitemeter account, to the manager, and change anything I wanted. Well, that quite set me back, because I really, truly had no idea how I had actually arrived with my meter in the first place. I did the only logical thing I could do and that was to sleep on it and try the next morning. Lo and behold, when I got up I actually figured it all out and got numbers instead of colored lines! Somewhere along the line I did manage to pick up that my counter was also counting my own hits to my blog and I was able to get it so I didn't count my own. Being so emboldened with my success I immediately emailed my niece to tell her to check out the counter at the bottom of my blog!
In the next blog she wishes she could link the article that she was referencing. Sure enough, in a short while, I had emails from Dan explaining how to link. I faithfully followed his instructions in the first two lines but couldn't find where in my new blog the URL spot was. I looked and looked and looked and finally decided that I needed to sleep on it again. This morning, however, looked no better than late last night.
During a phone conversation this evening with Claire we were bemoaning our lack of understanding and savvy concerning all things computer. Now, she has one up on me because Dan and Melinda are flying to her house for Christmas this year. That means she will have hands on instruction... on site! I'm almost jealous!
I've now finished talking with Claire on the phone and have sat down to think through what I might write about. As I am sitting, staring at my new pristine post waiting for thoughts to come I happen to look at the tool bar under my Title. I am slowly dragging the mouse across each item, from right to left, when the mouse touches this little box that has what looks like a bug (maybe like a catapillar with glasses) in it. Oh my goodness!!!! It says LINK! When I clicked on that, up popped the URL box that was in Dan's instructions last night!! I haven't proceeded any farther than that at this time...one never should rush and overdo these things! I thought I should probably get my new post done and actually get it published...then I could try playing around with the links and following the rest of Dan's instructions.
I can't say that it is just my age that is the "missing" factor in all this because Claire is much younger than I. So for now, I will have to assume that it's all in the name! But, I have high hopes for tomorrow! After all, I will have slept on all this!
Monday, November 08, 2004
There was a period of time in my life when age was a very BIG stresser. Do you remember when one is young and we lived for the day we would be a teenager? Then the next milestone was 16, so one could drive. That was followed by wanting to be 18 and ready for college and voting privileges. After 18 the next big milestone was to be 21, the "magical" age for being considered an adult. Now, for me at that time, 22 was the best birthday because you were past the 21 thing but that meant that my 23rd birthday was very traumatic for me. In my mind's eye I just saw everything going downhill from there. I know, I know...most people get upset with the thought of turning 30 or 40 or maybe even 50, but not me! Twenty-three was the downer for me.
Now, besides the Lord blessing me with a very good friend who helps me laugh at myself, He also blessed me with a very dear, precious sister. This is my sister whom I teased about turning "a quarter of a century" when I was only 16 years old but who was so gracious as not to turn around and reciprocate when I turned "a quarter of a century!" She knew it bothered me (to turn 23) and went out of her way to help me through it. Besides suggesting I begin counting my spiritual birthdays (which is TONS more satisfying!) Marsha gave me a small book, chalk full of wonderful wisdom titled "So Who's Afraid of Birthdays" by Ann Mow. I came away from reading that little book realizing that LIFE is more exciting and fulfilling than ever! So birthdays don't count. It is life that counts!
So, with Carolyn's birthday just passing and mine coming around the corner again, it's a good time to reflect on where the good Lord has me now. Life is life at any age. So why should I be afraid of birthdays or the passing of the years? If I'm still learning, still growing, my relationship with the Lord is still deepening, then I can truly say, "Why, the best is still to come!" I love you, Marsha! :)
Sunday, November 07, 2004
I can remember when we first arrived here in "the valley" (24 years ago last month) and began learning more and more about the mormon religion. It came as such a total shock to my system when I found out that they love C. S. Lewis. I could not fathom then, nor can I now, how they can read C.S. Lewis and stay a mormon! The same goes for reading or hearing Ravi and I am sure it would have applied to D. L. Moody if I could have listened to him preach back then. I do believe that we will continue to see more and more of the mormon doctrine being "replaced" or watered down as they seek to be accepted by the Christian faith.
Would you join me in praying for the hearts of the people who will be listening to Ravi speak? May the Holy Spirit be softening hearts to hear Truth presented and pray also for the ones who desire to know the Truth that they will not let anything stand in their way of coming to know Him!
Thursday, November 04, 2004
Now, think about those two commandments and what is being required. Don't you think it is much easier to love your neighbor as yourself? I do. But think about the new commandment and what is different about it from the first. Christ loved sacrificially. He also loved unconditionally and passionately. On top of all that, He forgave...not just once but ongoing, He was patient and (the kicker for me) He didn't mind being interrupted! Have you ever pondered what this kind of love will cost oneself? My observantions have been that it is life changing! Any time love is pursued, the pursuer can never be the same, for it is the nature of love to transform. I'll leave you with this thought so eloquently stated by David Thomas, "Love is the most God-like state of the soul. God is not faith or hope; God is love; The Eternal does not believe or anticipate, but he does love--he is love. Love is the life of the soul. It warms every vein and beats in every pulse."
What was so encouraging to me was that moral issues were the number one concern. Yes, there is a cultural divide, and I believe there will always be, mainly because we live in a fallen world.
Also, I was so encouraged to see the number of people who came out to vote...it was unprecedented! Encouraging, too, was the number of Christians who became involved. We hear all to often that our country has slid so far down that there doesn't seem to be any point in getting involved..."my vote won't count" or "it won't make any difference" are common. But we saw indisputedly that my vote does count and that we can make a difference! How I pray that will continue!
I am reminded in Daniel that it is the Lord who establishes the rulers of our country (Daniel 5:21). When Clinton was elected I had to continually return to that verse, knowing that somehow, this fit in with God's ultimate plan. We desperately need strong leadership during this time that we are living in and I firmly believe that President Bush can offer that leadership. What a comfort it is to know that he truly seeks the Lord on his knees.
The other encouraging item to emerge was how the states voted on the Marriage Amendment Act, and in some cases, there was a second part that had been added which pertained to civil partnerships. That was the case in Utah and I believe in Ohio. Anyway, all of them passed overwhelmingly! What a strong message that should send to our leaders!
The most important way to secure America's future is through our children. I was reading in Breakpoint yesterday where they talked about the importance of teaching our children to have a biblical worldview. We need to take the time to show them how everything should be filtered through what God's Word has to say. As Christians we have a responsibility to exhibit God's grace and to actively participate in working for the good of our nation. Promoting our families, life for the unborn, sexual purity, these will profit our nation, as well as the world.