Thursday, September 1, 2011

Luke - Introduction

   Luke, the doctor and Gentile Christian is writing to followers of Jesus, so they would hear the true details about the life of Christ.  One verse to remember is from the 18th chapter, verse 27; "What is impossible with men is possible with God." A theme of the book to consider is that Jesus communicates the love of God through his relationships with people. Luke's emphasis on women and how Jesus included them in his ministry encourages women today to stay focused on Christ and know that you are part of His ministry team. 
   Luke was not an eyewitness but a very good investigator and spoke to those that were with Jesus and witnessed the miracles and signs that he performed.  Luke wrote this orderly account for Theophilus which means "one who loves God".  Well there are many of us, then and now, who loves God, so in essence Luke has written it for you and me. Oh,  it is going to be so interesting! So go ahead and read it on your own and I will highlight the women Luke writes about.
   Read the first chapter and you will discover two women, Elizabeth and Mary, relatives whom the Lord will use to birth sons of importance. An old lady will give birth and a very young woman will give birth.  One son will bear witness to the other.  One son born to die as a ransom for all. One child was conceived by his earthly father and one was conceived by the Holy Spirit.
   There is doubt and belief, little faith and much faith,  prophecy and singing! Read Luke's account as if you know all the characters and have a relationship with them. Feel their pain and sorrows and rejoice with them in their blessings. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

God Used Women in Battle.

Women have always been worthwhile to God and their service fulfilled His purpose.  We sometimes get caught up in the familiar of only men being able to serve the living God as it is played out in the traditional churches.  We must not use that as an excuse to sit back and do nothing but allow the Lord to show us through studying the Bible that He did in fact employ women to be utilized in promoting the kingdom of God here on earth.  First of all He has used a woman to bring forth His word according to His timing and to nurture the Christ in the ways of being fully human.
    In the Old Testament we saw Sarah being used to begin the nation of Israelites and Esther saving the same nation later on.  Deborah was not only a wife but a prophetess and a judge.  She was a warrior leading a group of men to victory in the book of Judges “Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time. She used to sit under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim; and the sons of Israel came up to her for judgment.   She said, "I will surely go with you; nevertheless, the honor shall not be yours on the journey that you are about to take, for the LORD will sell Sisera into the hands of a woman."   [1]  That woman would not be Deborah but another woman, Jael. 
   Now Sisera fled away on foot to the tent of Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite, for there was peace between Jabin the king of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite.  Jael went out to meet Sisera, and said to him, "Turn aside, my master, turn aside to me! Do not be afraid." And he turned aside to her into the tent, and she covered him with a rug. He said to her, "Please give me a little water to drink, for I am thirsty." So she opened a bottle of milk and gave him a drink; then she covered him. He said to her, "Stand in the doorway of the tent, and it shall be if anyone comes and inquires of you, and says, `Is there anyone here?' that you shall say, `No.' " But Jael, Heber's wife, took a tent peg and seized a hammer in her hand, and went secretly to him and drove the peg into his temple, and it went through into the ground; for he was sound asleep and exhausted. So he died. And behold, as Barak pursued Sisera, Jael came out to meet him and said to him, "Come, and I will show you the man whom you are seeking." And he entered with her, and behold Sisera was lying dead with the tent peg in his temple. [2]
   What about Tamar, Ruth and Naomi?  And Abigail?  God used all of them in a special way.  Take the time to read about them in the Old Testament.  As we look into the New Testament specifically the book written by Luke, we learn He was not a Jew but a Gentile, a doctor and a historian of sorts.   He included more details than any other writer regarding the devotion the women of that day had to Jesus.  Just as their male peers, the women had a purpose and a plan from the Father to further His kingdom.  My goal today is not to downplay the role of the dedicated men or to exalt the role of the devoted women but to show the women of today, that we can look at the lives exemplified in the Bible and know without a doubt that the Lord Almighty does not want us to take a backseat and do nothing.  We are to stand up, be accounted for, prepare for the battle and engage in the war against evil.  The battle does belong to the Lord, and Jesus already has the victory but we must stir up the troops and be ready to be used in anyway the Lord sees fit.  So let us walk together through the book of Luke and open our hearts to the lessons we can learn.

[1] Judges 4:4,5,9
[2] Judges 4:17-22

Thursday, August 18, 2011

We're getting ready for another Spiritual Spa

Even though we are in our 8th year of pampering women, I still get excited each time I put together the supplies, music and make the schedule.  I am so blessed by the spa TECHS (Telling Everyone Christ Heals) as each one of them has made a commitment to our Lord to reach out to ladies and spend time helping them to relax and least for the day,  Our desire is to provide a day of rest that will encourage them to spend more time praying and reading the Bible so that they can get to know who their Savior is and know his comforting arms.

Here's a picture from one of the spas....the ladies are listening to the Spiritual Spa CD and spending time alone with God.  That was a wonderful group of ladies and I'm sure the 11 guests that are attending the spa this Saturday will be just a beautiful.

Friday, August 12, 2011

My granddaughter watched  me as I cleaned the skimmer in our swimming pool.  She was delighted that there was a tiny frog frantically trying to get out before the humans came.  Normally I just take the bucket out and toss any critters over the fence.  Last week I found a small, bright green snake curled up into a ball and hiding off to the side scared the living daylights out of me!
                                                                                                                                                                                                          I was going to do the same and give this little frog a chance to jump away but the little princess just had to touch the critter.  She picked him up in her hand and off she went to show her little brother. 
They passed the frog back and forth and finally my grandson wanted to take a closer look.  As you can see from his face he was thinking this small creature was going to do something wild and possibly give him the willies.  They had so much fun touching and holding the baby frog and I totally enjoyed watching them do so. 

Thank you Lord for providing us with wonderful creatures great and small to enjoy!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Will You Be My Grandma Forever?

My granddaughter really surprised me the other day when my hubby and I were taking her back to her mom's house.  Grandpa was telling her how much we loved her and asked her if she understood that.  He has said that to our children and me for years and it is part of his everyday conversation...he just wants to make sure he tells his loved ones that he loves them.  But when our granddaughter asked if we would alawys be her grandpa and grandma were we a little stunned.  "Of course!" I told her and then explained how her daddy is our son and we will always love him and that she is his daughter which makes her our granddaughter and that we will always love her.

She thought about it for a moment than said that she had some grandparents for awhile but now they aren't.  You see her mom remarried and then divorced so those step-grandparents are no longer in her life.  Her older brothers have different grandparents and we were once considered their grandparents but now we aren't.  Her mom has a new boyfriend and well....they may become her new grandparents.  Whew!  Life is complicated!

I wondered if her daddy thought the same thing for by the time I had married my my hubby, I had divorced my son's father and remarried only to divorce again.  Life didn't turn out like I thought it would.  But now I have been married for over 28 years and I think it is being committed through thick and thin and allowing each other to mature along the way, taking the good, the bad and the ugly with a grain of salt.  For me the most important thing is having a relationship with Jesus that sustains you when you think you will fall apart.

But our granddaughter and grandson do have 2 sets of grandparents that have been married for a long time.  Her maternal grandparents have been married close to 40 years and her great-grandparents have been married for over 65 years, so they do see that marriage can last if you persevere.  She knows her mama and daddy will always be there for her and I want her to know that we will never leave her or forsake her. I want her to know that Jesus will never leave her or forsake her.  She tells me she loves Jesus and that she wants to know more about him.  What an opportunity to teach her about her Creator and Lord.

California Here We Come!

When I graduated from high school 40 years ago ( I remember as a youngster I would say that time frame as if it were forever!) my friend, Angie and I agreed we would buy an old van and drive to California.  Well, that didn't happen!  After graduation I decided to get married at the end of the summer and she went to college, so we just enjoyed some California dreamin' and grown up reality.  But even though it may have taken me 36 years to get to California to drive the Pacific Coastal Highway I enjoyed it so much that my husband and I are going back to the sunny state to explore the northern area and see the amazing redwoods.

After my 20 year class reunion my husband accepted a transfer with his job to the wonderful state of North Carolina and so I have missed seeing my good friends in Ohio.  That is until a couple of weeks ago when I visited Angie and found out that she has been traveling...ALOT! 59 countries.  I have a lot of catching up to do. This year alone my hubby and I have been to New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl...interesting place; Haiti...a wonderful mission trip; The Shenandoah Mountains on a road trip...beautiful drive; The Biltmore in Ashville...I never felt so pampered; Ohio with favorite; and now on to Northern California and then in July, Lake Cumberland in KY with my family again.  Still the best is seeing my mom and dad!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Women at the Well Spring Conference taught me about praise and worship!

My husband and I took a road trip to the western part of our state where the rolling hills and flowering dogwoods and azaleas were a delicious treat to our eyes. Elizabeth asked me to perform the drama of the Samaritan woman at their first annual Spring Conference and I was delighted to accept the invitation. Even my husband was excited about traveling with me and accompanied me to the event...there were a few other men. Thank you Dale for befriending Ron!!

The pastor started off the event with a brief message (more like a prophetic word for the women attending) and it was followed with 40 minutes of praise and worship. It wasn't a live band but a power point with music and words in showed me that what we truly need to worship are hearts ready and open to worship. I feel I have earned a right to talk about praise and worship since I have been on P&W teams in 3 different churches over the last 18 years. WOW! Eighteen years is a long time. I began under the leadership of a very capable music pastor who played the guitar along with a pianist and three singers for Sunday mornings and a full band on Sunday evenings. The congregation eagerly participated in worship with genuine hearts as did those in the small church where I was the leader of the P&W team. That was a stretch...a big stretch, but the pianist in that small church was a new member just like me and together we came with experience outside of old hymns and along with the new pastor who lead praise and worship in his former church, made up the first team. After a few months we had a drummer, 2 guitarist and a few singers that joined us. We made a joyful noise unto the Lord and the congregation responded to our meager efforts allowing the Holy Spirit to lead them to the altar. Now I am one of many singers on a team and we have a full band of wonderful musicians. Most of our church, I think, would say they enjoy our style of worship and are ushered into the presence of God.

At the Women at the Well event, Elizabeth brought a message that captivated the women the entire forty five minutes! In most churches it is stressed you loose people’s attention after twenty minutes. Not so when the message follows forty five minutes of worshipping the Lord and getting hearts ready to receive from the Holy Spirit. We seem to rush into church, rush into singing 4 songs (no more than 4), rush into the message and then it all over for the second service. The music can be uplifting, the sermon can be convicting and encouraging and we can truly meet the Lord in those short services but I have seen what a difference not only at the WATW Spring Conference but also in others where the time spent before the sermon was praising God for who He is and asking the Holy Spirit to move among us. The difference is at the close of the service when people are flooding the altar for more of HIM...flooding the altar for prayer to be better followers of Jesus....flooding the altar with pure grateful hearts that want only to do the work He has created them to do.

During my Living Interpretation of the Samaritan Woman, the eyes I looked into were so soft and ready to hear about this woman's encounter with Jesus. They felt her pain and her joy. Is that because all of us have sins we do over and over and we know that it is only by the help of the Holy Spirit that we can overcome? It was such a beautiful sight when I opened my eyes after singing "Alabaster Box" to see women praying for each other with tears streaming down their faces yet with a glow about them that only come from the radiance of being in the presence of the Lord. Yes, it was a real blessing to be with this group of believers and one night I don't think I will ever forget!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

He's THE Christian!

I have been working with my sons who are 24, 36 and 38 in the big city and I so enjoy the different conversations that are tossed about like a pitch and catch game.  Back and forth, back and forth, dropping the conversation to answer the phone and then picking it right back up.  It is invigorating to be with them and their friends as they discuss new business ventures and make strategic plans to get them up and running.

Recently I was invited to join them as they met with a group of 30 somethings to discuss an initiative to help the Boys and Girls Club in their area.  They were all so very nice and seemed to have such good hearts as they wanted to offer their assistance by using their talents and skills used in their various businesses to bring about a product that could help TB&GC.  As I looked around the table I wondered what their backgrounds were as far as their beliefs.  Well, I soon found out. 

One of the members was unable to attend and in order to describe him to the others the leader said, "He's a red head!  And he is THE Christian!"  My son asked what he meant by that and the reply given was, "Well you know we say we are Christians but he is a real Christian."  His tone of voice told me that he admired his friend and I really want to ask what was so different about him, but it wasn't the time or place.  But I do hope I meet him someday.

I have thought about that one sentence over and over and I have told several people about this young man I do not know.  I also wonder if anyone would ever say that about me....without me telling them first that I am a Christian.  Could they tell that I am sold out to the ways of Christ by my behavior?  Do the words I speak influence them to want to know more about Christianity or does it make them turn and run?  What makes this young man so different than his friends who call themselves Christians?  Maybe if I brought to my mind everyday that I am an ambassador of Christ, I would act accordingly.  Lord, help me!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Should I Really Write Out My Rambling Thoughts?

Recently I had a friend suggest that I should write a devotional. Last month an older women (I use that term with much admiration) emailed me that I should write a book. Through the past ten years, I started both endeavors many times over only to throw up my hands and throw out my thoughts; who in the world wants to hear the ramblings that go on in my head? Some of them, no, most of them, are so random that I wonder how they even entered my brain. Certainly God sends out ideas and notions that I am to ponder, go to the Bible for clarification and grow in my understanding of Him. But I worry that some things are not of Him but of my own pitiful mind or worse, of the devil who deliberately keeps me off track.
So here I am thinking about writing out my own interpretations of life…again. This time I will not hold back even if readers may think I am stepping on sacred ground with dirty feet. I believe in the Trinity; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I believe that Jesus is my only way to the Father and the Holy Spirit guides me in all things. I want to engage with God and if by doing so I write about things that you do not agree with, please know it is not my intent to upset or enlighten you. Please do not judge my ramblings as gospel truth but a way of sorting out my real beliefs. Please share your thoughts with me. Maybe we will grow closer to the Lord together.

My first interpretation…The title is shocking but the surge it gave me in my Christian walk is electrifying.

If Virgin Mary were a whore would they call her Whore Mary?

As I read this status on Facebook I was instantly upset. What would ever posses anyone to think of Mary in those terms and post it on the web for all to see. This nineteen year old college freshman was someone I taught in Sunday School and I knew without a doubt that he believed in the Lord. How could he make light of the Lord’s mother? I was so disturbed about it I called him and asked (well, told him) to remove his status! He obliged, but it had already received comments from other young people who liked his post. What’s up with that?

The next morning the Lord spoke to me as soon as I opened my eyes and He reprimanded me for the way I handled the situation. Wasn’t this an opportunity to have open dialogue with this young man? He also brought to my mind that if Mary were a prostitute, He would have called her as such. God does not sugar coat anything in the Bible. There are prominent women in the Bible that are described by their sexual condition, like it or not.

Write down what comes to your mind first as I mention the names of Biblical women; Sarah, Rahab, Mary Magdalene, the Samaritan woman, the adulteress woman. Did you write words such as, barren and told her husband to sleep with her servant, prostitute, demon-possessed, married 5 times, and promiscuous? Unfortunately, most of us were taught those adjectives to describe these remarkable women as bad girls of the Bible. Are we missing what God wants us to really take away from their lives? Wouldn’t it be more encouraging to think of them as; mother of nations, helper to God’s people and great, great grandmother to King David, freed from bondage and then possessed by Christ, first evangelist in Samaria, and forever grateful. Each one had an encounter that changed them forever.

The next phone call to this young man was an apology for my outburst but also a plea for understanding. What was going through his mind to bring up such a thought? “Well,” he said, “When I was out raking leaves I was just having random thoughts and wondered why there is a sexual word in front of Mary. I know why she had to be a virgin but what would it be like if we gave sexual titles to everyone? Instead of introducing you as my mom, would I have to say this is three times married Barb? Or this is my never married aunt? Or this is my childless aunt?” Wow! What a deep thinker my son is! I had jumped at the chance to defend what I thought was an attack on Mary without even asking my son what he was contemplating. Now I was the one thinking about how I mentally label people.

God stated the facts about a person to show the condition of their heart before encountering His divine intervention. We state the facts as if making a derogatory remark about the person to make them lower or raise us higher. Did God really intend for us to remember Mary as the Virgin Mary or that she was chosen by God for a specific purpose? Did God want us to remember that Elizabeth was barren or that He created a child within her when it was seen as impossible? Did God want us to remember the woman at the well as the one who had been married 5 times or that she accepted Christ as Living Water? Did God want us to remember the harlot who came uninvited to Simon’s house or that she boldly worshipped him when she washed his feet with her tears and dried them with her hair?

Why do we always look for the bad in a person instead of the results of an encounter with God?

It still bothers me that my son would even put the word whore in a sentence with the mother of my Lord, but I am delighted that he was thinking of Mary while raking leaves.

Because of the teachable moments that occur afterwards, I have asked my son to tell me whatever roams through his mind.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Kyria Blog: Embracing Idols

When I read this blog it spoke directly to what is in my heart as a member of the Women's Ministry Team at my church.  When I was in Bible studies that stretched my way of thinking and convicted me of my actions that were not God pleasing, I grew closer to the Lord and my life was balanced and blessed.  And yet even knowing that, I put aside study for just about anything.  Shame on me!!!  Read this blog and tell me how it motivates you to seek the Lord.

Kyria Blog: Embracing Idols