Responding to Confusion with the Bible

Through the women’s ministry at our church I have been able to watch some of the G3 conference, streaming live from Georgia. The topic of the conference is the Trinity, and I was pleased to listen to the preachers. All around us there is confusion about who God is, and about what the Bible says.

Bible

Our school district is dealing with confusion over male and female. Parents are holding meetings to find ways to protect the privacy of teenage girls. The federal government has mandated that a student with male anatomy be allowed to use the girl’s locker room, because he claims to be transgender. My children graduated from the high school that received this mandate. I recently wrote about a parent meeting. Click here.

Wheaton College, my daughter’s alma mater, is in the news for firing a tenured political science professor because she claimed that Moslems and Christians worship the same god. The controversy has been reported in the Chicago Tribune and the Wall Street Journal. One article is titled “Are Allah and Jesus the Same God?”

The only way to know the character of God is through the life and work of Jesus and through the words in the Bible. It is tempting to think that we can completely understand God or aptly describe Him in human terms. God is greater, is superior to our knowledge. According to Tim Challies “we are going to the edge of our capacity to understand.” The following Bible verses give us insight.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” . . . So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1: 26-27

The triune God created the world.

Jesus said to them [Jews questioning him], “Truly, truly I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.

Throughout the Old Testament the term, I am, referred to God.

In John 10: 30 Jesus says, “I and the Father are one.”

When my husband and I were on a tour of Israel we visited the      Temple Mount. The Dome of the Rock is there. Our guide informed us that the mosque has an inscription: God has no son.

Jesus and Allah
Dome of the Rock

The Moslem religion denies the triune nature of God.

Jesus explained the Holy Spirit to the disciples.

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. John 14: 16-17

Tim Challies explained that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all involved in our salvation. God calls us; Jesus redeems us; the Holy Spirit dwells in us. Once we acknowledge our sin and accept Jesus as savior, we know the Trinity by experience.

As I listened and chewed on the message, I thought about the importance of Bible study. We need to know the Bible and to teach it to our families. We must make time to:

  • Read the Bible. It helps to study with other Christians.
  • The gospel of John is a great place to start. Many passages illuminate Jesus’ relationship with God the Father. John 20:31 gives the reason that the disciple recorded his observations. These are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. John 20:31
  • Memorize scripture. The AWANA program is great for children. Now as an adult it takes more effort to memorize but I am realizing the value of having verses on the tip of my tongue.
  • Teach the truth of the Bible to our families.

I appreciate the focus that Janis has on the Bible at Word of God Speak. Visit her site here.

Also linking with A Little R & R,  Titus 2sday,  So Much at Home,  Soul Survival and Weekend Whispers

Spiritual Mothering: Book Review

L of L

Spiritual Mothering by Susan Hunt was published in 1992. I have had it on my shelf for a while, but the time was right for me to read it now. I have enjoyed the examples of relationships provided in the book. The purpose of the book is to shine a light on relationships between women that lead to a growing faith and maturity.

Each chapter is preceded by a real life example of a relationship.  The lessons are  developed from the example. Biblical women and scripture verses are included. The beautiful relationship between Mary and Elizabeth is referred to in several chapters.

The Visitation by Philippe De Champaigne
The Visitation by Philippe De Champaigne

The  chapter on  forgiveness  highlights  Abigail, the wife of Nabal. Her story is told in the 25th chapter of 1 Samuel.    From Susan Hunt’s  perspective, Abigail had an attitude of forgiveness toward her rude husband who was prone to drunkenness. She was free to focus on the dramatic events when David, the future king of Israel, was requesting food for his men.

I had never thought of Abigail in that way. It is true that a forgiving heart has freedom. An attitude of unforgiveness/bitterness is a burden that impacts relationships negatively.

The  book  points  out  the value of women’s  relationships  and the   potential for mentoring. In our culture we have much busyness and competition between women. The loving encouragement in a friendship, modeled by Mary and Elizabeth, is a gift. This is a season of life when I am thinking more about the way I relate to younger women.

As  the  book concluded I thought about the pattern  of  a one-on-one  relationship—the intensity of this manner of mentoring. A few years ago I participated  in  a discipleship group with two other women.    Although I led the group, we were learning and growing together. We shared our lives and challenges with transparency. We prayed for each other. We all benefited.

I am blessed to have two daughters and one daughter-in-law. It was wonderful to spend four days, all together, during the holidays. We have good relationships and will continue to learn from each other.

This book makes the point that a woman does not need  to  have  a   biological daughter to have a mentoring relationship; she doesn’t need to be a certain age. A godly woman can bless a younger woman by taking an interest in her and making herself available. The book is organized for group study, with discussion questions at the end of each chapter. I recommend it!

Linking with Make My Saturday SweetLiteracy Musing Monday,  Essential FridaysGrace & Truth,  Faith Filled Friday, Friendship Friday,  Booknificent Thursday and Thought Provoking Thursday

Why I Participate in the March for Life

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Sunday is the March for Life in Chicago. For the past three years I have participated in the march that takes place in my community. This year our community is joining the Chicago March for Life. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to ride the bus into Chicago, and so I have thought about this. Why do I participate?

As a nurse I believe with my whole heart that abortion is damaging to women. Early in my career I refused to participate in an abortion that took place in the hospital where I was employed. Besides the fact that medical people were killing a  human  being,  I felt that our unit had insufficient resources to help a woman through the emotional impact.

The story of Hagar in the Bible has always caused me to pause and muse on God’s  care for a single woman who became pregnant–through Sarai’s plan to achieve a child. Twice an angel was sent to rescue Hagar.

Painting by Francesco Cozza
Painting by Francesco Cozy

The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She said, “I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai.” The angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress and submit to her.” The angel of the Lord also said to her, “I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude” . . .  

So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.” Genesis 16:7-10, 13

Later when Hagar’s son was about seventeen years old, Hagar was sent away by Sarai and Abraham. She and the boy were out of water in the desert and an angel directed her to a well. The Bible demonstrates God’s care for all women, in all circumstances. As Christians we can be God’s hands.

One of the arguments for abortion is that if we defund Planned Parenthood women will have unsafe abortions. And yet many of Planned Parenthood’s clinics do not meet the safety standards for a surgical center.

I  recently read a study  that  was  done in  Chile  after they  made  abortion illegal. Did  hospital admissions  for abortion complications  increase or decrease?  Hospital admissions decreased and maternal mortality decreased. Chile has better statistics on maternal mortality than the United States! You can read the article here.

World Magazine includes an interview with an obstetrician. She was asked about rape victims. Would she perform an abortion for a rape victim? She shared an experience that she had with a teenager that was pregnant by incest. Here is what she said:

So we talked with the girl and her family. She said, ‘Oh, you mean you’d kill the baby? I don’t want to kill the baby. No, no, no. I just want you to stop Grandpa from hurting me.” . . .

When you say there is a pregnancy as a result of incest, there’s usually some horrible abuse that must be diagnosed and treated.  To kill  the   victim doesn’t really treat the crime.*

I am not in favor of protests in front of an abortion clinic. I am glad that for the most part the approach has changed to prayer and sidewalk counseling. Clinics like Informed Choices and Caris, in my area, provide support for women that are pregnant and in a difficult place or life situation.

The Christian community can do more.   Women that are single       parents need help. Children in foster care need to be adopted. We can all increase our attentiveness to women and children in need.

UPDATE: The cold temperature in Chicago and wind chill factor predicted for tomorrow is going to be hazardous. Prayer for this event is welcomed!

SUNDAY: We encountered brutal wind chill but all were in good spirits and the march went well!

March for Life _5101

Camilla Hersh, “The Happiness Specialist”, World Magazine, January 23, 2016, p. 29

Linking with A Little R & R, WholeHearted Home,  So Much at Home, Tell it to Me TuesdayTitus 2sdayTuesdays with a Twist, the Homemaking Party,  Word of God Speak, Grace & Truth,  Essential FridaysWeekend Whispers and Faith Filled Friday.

One Word for the New Year

The practice of choosing one word  for  the  New Year  has been an    inspiration for me. Last year my word was gracious, and having this word in mind I was more conscious of my conversation and actions. I paused a little more, seeking kind words. I have been thinking and praying about one word for 2016.

Relationships are on my mind.  I would like to see greater depth in   relationships and openness to new relationships.  Could I grow and  assist others to grow? In the book of Ephesians Paul writes about good work.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.            Ephesians 2:10

The key words in this verse are in Christ Jesus. The good work is possible through Jesus. And so my life needs to be centered on Jesus, drawing strength from a vital relationship with Jesus. Jesus tells us:

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes that it may bear more fruit. John 15: 1-2

Images from my garden come to mind. The fruit produced by the raspberry bushes in my yard is a delight.

Red Raspberries 2

In my relationships I desire positive growth, willing to be pruned. This means more time in prayer.

With these thoughts in mind, I have chosen the word fruitful. Have you chosen a word for 2016?

Linking with Sharing His Beauty,  Weekend Whispers,  Essential FridaysSitting Among FriendsGrowing in GraceA Little R & RWholeHearted Wednesday,  Hope in Every SeasonTitus 2sday,  Monday Musings and Word of God Speak

We went to see Star Wars

Star Wars

Who is your favorite character in Star Wars? When Han Solo and then R2– D2 made their appearance in the new movie the audience gave them a round of applause. The first Star Wars movie came out during the first year of my marriage. I saw it with my husband. The scenes were amazing and we were engrossed in the story. Later we watched episodes with our children.

When my husband suggested that we see episode VII on opening night I realized that the evening was open. The local theater had a continuum of times available. So we went. How would this movie compare with the others?

Leia and Han Solo have aged—as we have. Young people, a new generation, carried the action. They wondered at the old stories. Were they legend or true?

The narrative of Star Wars is based on the truth that  good  and  evil  exist. The quest for truth  and  rightness is tucked deep in our soul. Sometimes we have to fight for it.

The grief and pain of “the dark side” is also true.

While Star Wars refers to “the force”, the Bible teaches us about our God. The prophet Jeremiah lived through a tumultuous time on earth and clearly stated the source of truth and rightness.

This is what the Lord says:

Cursed is the one who trusts in man and who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord.

He will be like a bush in the wastelands;

He will not see prosperity when it comes.

He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives.

But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.

He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.

It does not fear when the heat comes; its leaves are always green.

It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

“I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.”                 Jeremiah 17: 5-10

Jeremiah suffered physically.  He did not have material gain  but he   understood spiritual life. God is the source of our strength and joy.

We went to Christmas concerts and programs this December—and Star Wars. Our joy and strength comes from God’s great gift. Jesus came to redeem us! We have much to celebrate this Christmas season.

Linking with Words with WinterA Little R & R,  Titus 2sday, Tuesdays with a Twist,  Word of God SpeakWeekend Whispers, WholeHearted HomeGrace & TruthEssential Fridays, Friendship Friday , Faith Filled Friday and Faith & Friends.

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A Rose, Love and the Savior are in this Old Carol

Lo, how a rose e'er blooming

The violins, piano and voices of the choir gave a beautiful rendition of an old German carol. I was swept away from the news reports and troubles in our community. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.

Here are the lyrics to this carol, Lo How A Rose:

Low, how a rose e’er blooming
From tender stem hath sprung
Of Jesse’s lineage coming
As saints of old hath sung.

It came a flower bright,
Amid the cold of winter.
When half spent was the night.

Isaiah foretold it.
The rose I have in mind.
With Mary we behold it
The virgins mother kind.

To show God’s love aright
She bore to us a Savior
When half spent was the night,
When half spent was the night.

O Rose, whose fragrance tender
With sweetness fills the air,
Dispel in glorious splendor
The darkness everywhere.

True man, yet very God.
From sin and death now save us
And share our every load.

Alleluia, Alleluia
Alleluia, Alleluia
Sing alleluia

A Rose, Love and A Savior

The apostle Peter knew much about the troubles in this world. He had walked with Jesus and had seen the crucifixion. He saw the empty tomb and the risen Lord. He had shared a meal with Jesus after the resurrection. He was there when Jesus instructed the disciples to make disciples of all nations. Peter had been in prison for his faith and from his experiences he wrote:

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxious cares on him, because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5: 6-7

We have so much to celebrate! Tomorrow night we will go to our grandchildren’s Christmas program. Each year adds new memories. I still remember the Christmas programs that I participated in as a child.  It is a blessing to see the grandchildren singing carols  and     reciting scripture verses.

Linking with Grace & Truth,  Essential Fridays,  Titus 2sday,  Hope in Every Season,  WholeHearted WednesdayA Little R & R,  Tuesdays with a TwistInspire Me Monday,  Soul Survival,  Reflect, the Art of Homemaking and Word of God Speak

Christmas Cards for the Persecuted Church

 

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Do the images of refugees fleeing Syria tug at your heart? Have you seen news reports of churches destroyed in Nigeria, Syria, Iraq and other countries?

We are blessed in the United States although the tragedies taking place around the world touch us too. The shootings at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado and the horrible massacre in San Bernadino are a grievous loss of life.

But we don’t have the level of persecution that is taking place in Africa and the Middle East. Is there anything we can do?

On Sunday morning we had a speaker from the Voice of the Martyrs. This organization provides support to the persecuted Church. We can pray for believers that have been imprisoned for their faith by name. Click here to go to the site provided by VOM.

Next Sunday members of our church will devote an hour to writing Christmas cards that will be sent to prisoners.  The site mentioned above takes you through the process of writing a message in the      prisoner’s language and provides addresses.

credit: antiqueclipart.com
credit: antiqueclipart.com

I am pleased that Voice of the Martyrs also has a website with items that can be purchased as gifts. Buying items from the store or giving a donation supports the work of this organization. Click here.

It was a blessing to hear stories about the people that are turning to the Lord in the face of persecution. An article in the current VOM newsletter is titled, Great Evil, Great Revival.  The article describes the persecution AND the revival taking place in evangelical churches. Our speaker told us about an ISIS soldier that has become a Christian, about Moslems that are reading the Bible and seeking truth.

We can pray for many more to be saved, for God to be glorified and for the endurance of all believers!

Therefore since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12: 1-3

Linking with Essential FridaysThought Provoking Thursday,  A Little R & R,  Worshipful WednesdayWholeHearted WednesdaySoul Survival,  Reflect and the Art of Homemaking

Did Mary Have a Midwife?

Chicago Nativity
Nativity in Chicago

As I sat down to write our annual Christmas letter I was reflecting on gospel accounts by Matthew and Luke. It is apparent that the people of Judea lived in fearful times under Roman rule. Injustice, corruption and violence were common. A young woman lived in Nazareth, north of Judea, during this turbulent time.

My thoughts turned to Mary—and the grace shown to her by God. God sent an angel to speak directly with her. The angel gives her an amazing message.

And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Luke 1: 30-33

Wow!   Mary asks how this is possible, and then responds with          obedience.

And Mary said, “Behold, I am a servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” Luke 1: 38

We know that Mary was encouraged and guided by her cousin Elizabeth.        ( Luke 1: 39-56) God’s timing for the pregnancies of these two women was a provision and a gift. The two women spent three months together. Elizabeth gave birth just months before Mary.

The time spent with Elizabeth prepared Mary for her own labor and birth—not that it was easy.  She was away from Nazareth and her family.

And Joseph went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.                             Luke 2:4-7

As a labor/delivery nurse I have worked in hospitals with all the technology and interventions that are common today. I am pleased that God chose to send Jesus to a young woman who would give birth simply. The design of her body was enough.  Perhaps she had a  midwife with her. The scripture doesn’t tell us.

My experience with home birth helps me get an idea of the birth of Jesus. Birth can be a natural physiologic process. I saw the way endorphins (natural pain relief hormones released by the body) assisted women during labor. With position changes they were able to cope with contractions that gradually became more intense. I also saw women and their husbands lean in to prayer, seeking strength from God. It was both refining and empowering.

Virgin Mary
Painting by Andrea Mantegna (1431 – 1506) Public Domain

Mary is an example for us. She was obedient and resilient. She knew the scriptures and the history of God’s faithfulness to Israel. She trusted God.

God is good. He is sovereign. The birth of Jesus is a magnificent chapter in God’s plan of salvation.

Linking with Good Morning Mondays, Monday’s Musings,  Word of God Speak, Weekend WhispersEssential Fridays,  Thought Provoking Thursday,  A Little R & R and WholeHearted Wednesday

Thanksgiving and Ancient Questions

 

Thanksgiving

As Thanksgiving approaches, I am aware of so many things to be thankful for—family, church, blogging community and home.

On Thanksgiving my husband and I will have one of our daughters and her family, our son and his wife, at our home.  I have ideas for   activities for the grandchildren and a couple new recipes from fellow bloggers. I am looking forward to this day of celebration.

We will read some Bible verses together.

I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.

I will be glad and exalt in you;  I will sing praise to your name,  O Most High. Psalm 9: 1-2

God’s greatest gift to us is the offer of salvation.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.        Ephesians 2: 4-5

In the midst of preparations for Thanksgiving, I am aware of difficulties among extended family and suffering that is happening in many places around the world. Perhaps you see things that prick your heart.

Praise and gratitude is mixed with questions and doubt.

The Psalmist was able to give praise and thanks in one moment. And then later wonder how God allowed some things to happen.

Why, O Lord, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? Psalm 10:1

There are no answers except the character of God.

The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil. Ecclesiastes 12:13

God is just and righteous.

As I give thanks, I will also pray for mercy and grace, lifting the circumstances beyond my control to the Lord.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4: 4-6

Bible

Linking with Essential Fridays,  A Little R & R,  WholeHearted Wednesday,  Titus 2sday,  Words with Winter and Word of God Speak

Promise of Spring as Winter Approaches

The mild fall that we have had has allowed me to spend more time in the yard. I have been planting and transplanting and raking leaves. My husband was working also, creating piles of branches.

He has a chain saw and after he took down one tree he found lots of branches to trim. Something about climbing ladders and using the saw—I saw the boy in my husband. The clean-up was not as interesting, so I became involved.

As I cut up branches and filled yard bags I discovered something I hadn’t noticed before. All the branches had buds for the spring. I looked at the cherry tree and the maple tree and saw the promise of spring already on the limbs.

Promise of Spring

I walked around to the cottonwood tree. The buds weren’t as noticeable, but they were there. When winter comes, God is already planning for spring.

The promise of spring is in the Bible. Can you imagine what it was like to be a disciple at the Last Supper with Jesus? After Judas left Jesus     explained that he was going away.

Simon Peter said to him, “Lord where are you going?” Jesus        answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow me afterward.”  John 13: 36

The winter was coming, but not without the promise of spring.

“Let not your heart be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” John 14: 1-3

We may become depressed with the chaos in our culture. It may be like winter.  God is still sovereign, and Jesus asks us to be obedient. God has planned the seasons of life and the return of Jesus Christ.

Let us always look for the signs of spring!

Promise of spring

Linking with Weekend Whispers,  Essential Fridays,  Thought Provoking Thursday,  Words with Winter,  Word of God SpeakFriendship Friday and Faith Filled Friday