Archive for the ‘God’ Category

1 John 1:1-2:2

We declare to you what was from the beginning—

what we have heard

what we have seen with our eyes

what we have looked at and touched with our hands– concerning the word of life.

This life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you, the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us. We declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly, our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.

We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.

If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true, but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

God always blesses the reading of his word

Great and holy Father, we are your little children. We are unable to truly comprehend, the wonderful and selfless act your son did so that we may be able to fellowship with you.

Thank you. Thank you for the many ways you show your love to us. Thank you for our friends and family. For our many talents. For the opportunity to have a relationship with you.

Father help us to be more like John. Empower us to speak about what we know about you and the love and mercy you have for us.

We have heard your word with our ears. We pray that we will understand it with our hearts.

We have seen your acts of grace and mercy. We pray that we can show the same grace to our brothers and sisters.

We have looked and touched with our hands when we help those who are the least, the lost, and the lonely. We pray that we will recognize the face of Jesus in everyone we meet.

Father, forgive us our failings. Forgive us when we do not hear. When we allow the world’s noise to cloud out your still small voice.

Forgive us when we do not see because we are focused on worldly things that only separate us from you.

Forgive us when we doubt the hands that we are helping are yours because we are distracted by what he is wearing, or saying, or doing, and not what YOU are showing us.

Remind us Lord that you came to save all of us from sin and bring all of us into a personal relationship with you. It is your commandment for us to fellowship with all your people—not just the ones who look, and think and act like we do. Not just our friends from our neighborhood and community, but everyone.

Father, we humbly come to you and ask to hear our cries for our brothers and sisters who are in need of comfort and healing.

We give thanks and rejoice for Elliott’s recovery. We thank you for the comforting and talented hands of all the people who work at Children’s Hospital.

And be with my sister, Melissa as she deals with having to remove her father from life support. Comfort in her loss and give her strength as she faces new challenges.

We pray for our military. For the leaders that they may strive to seek peace. For our soldiers, including Capt. Shane Mason, who are willing to sacrifice themselves to ensure our freedom.

We pray for our homebound members and touch their hearts so they know they are not forgotten.

Father, hear our prayers for our church. We give thanks for the many hands and hearts that serve our church. We pray for our pastors and leaders, that they may be wise and patient with us. We pray for Jarrettown’s many missions and ministries—that you will bless those who are serving and strengthen those who are seeking a place to serve.

We pray that you strengthen our fellowship with our brothers and sisters so that our church can rise up and be an example to all, of the love of Jesus Christ.

Be with our youth and their leaders who are wrapping up their confirmation weekend. We pray that hearts and minds and lives have been changed.

Light our path so that we can proclaim to everyone, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.

In you Son’s holy name we pray, Amen.

Read Full Post »

When I picked this book from *Thomas Nelson Publishers to review, I was honestly wondering how I could actually “review” a Bible. I mean, it’s not as though I can questions the contents or anything. But Father’s Day is right around the corner and I knew my husband didn’t have a Bible, so I thought this might be a nice gift.

I was a little worried–owning several Bibles myself I know how personal a Bible is. Even when I’ve selected Bibles for my kids I’ve reviewed the different versions and styles–as I’ve said before, The Message is a little too “new age” while the King James Version will bog my kids down in “thee’s” and “thou’s.” The same likely holds true for my husband as well.

I have to say, I was quite pleased with Dad’s Bible: The Father’s Plan. It is properly masculine–not too formal and yet contains a presence about it that indicates its importance. It’s the New Century Version and for a quick comparison, I randomly opened the Bible and selected a few verses to see how they translated through Biblegateway.com.

Proverbs 24:3-4 (odd I just opened to this; it was the verse for my Saturday Sanctuary!)

It takes wisdom to have a good family, and it takes understanding to make it strong.
It takes knowledge to fill a home with rare and beautiful treasures. (New Century Version)

It takes wisdom to build a house, and understanding to set it on a firm foundation;
It takes knowledge to furnish its rooms with fine furniture and beautiful draperies. (The Message)

Through wisdom is an house builded; and by understanding it is established:
And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches. (King James)

A house is built by wisdom
and becomes strong through good sense.
Through knowledge its rooms are filled
with all sorts of precious riches and valuables. (New Living Translation)

My preferred Bible translation seems to be New Living Translation but this version is very nice too.

One of my favorite parts of this Bible are the sidebars that have real life applications for fathers. Throughout the book, parenting specific sidebars by Robert Wolgemuth help men see how passages related to their job as a father.

It also has a great Q and A section in the back that are perfect for those parenting questions our children always hit us with: How big is God?, Why is the Dead Sea dead?, Why do good people suffer?

And finally, Wolgemuth includes a “God’s Word on..” section that pulls specific scriptures about very human problems. Having a quick resource when you are dealing with a discouraged son or a daughter asking about temptation is invaluable.

So while this book is still going to my husband in a few weeks, it is very likely another resource that I will use. Or, I might look up the companion one: Mom’s Bible.

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Read Full Post »

If you could become a Women of Faith speaker what would you talk about?

I’ve been to several WoF conferences over the years. The first one was such a surprise–talk about God working in mysterious ways. A women at our church offered tickets and, being a new member, I signed up and asked if I could ride with her and her friends. I didn’t realize that I was infringing on a group of women who knew EVERYTHING about each other. While the  women weren’t anything but nice and polite, I could tell their relationship went beyond just Sundays at church.

God does like to put us in uncomfortable situations, doesn’t he? Maybe He thinks we are going to grow or something.

While all the speakers at the conferences have been amazing, there were two women who really stood out for me at the conference–Nicole Johnson and Anita Renfroe.

Anita’s “Weird Al Yankovic” repertoire made me almost pee in my pants (which isn’t hard to do, given I’ve had three children). I immediately went home and found her version of the William Tell Overture and played it for my family. For some reason, the children weren’t quite as impressed with it as I was. Apparently they’d heard it all before….

But it was Nicole Johnson’s dramas that really stood out for me. It was like she’d taken my word, my life, my stories and put them on stage for everyone to see.I did forensics in college–no, not what Quincy does (oh, God, I’m dating myself). Not what Dr. G does– but a competition involving public speaking.

If I could speak at a Women of Faith event, I would try do something like Nicole Johnson does. I would use drama and humor to explain how God puts us in really strange places in order for us to grow and learn. He made me a mother, a daughter, and a wife all so I would have a never ending supply of material. I’ve spoke at my church about how I always had prayed that God would give me patience and a sense of humor so He gave me The Boy and The Girl. The Baby is my reward for not killing The Boy and The Girl. But I’ll tell you one thing, I now have a lot more patience and am funny as heck.

Now, my group of women are the ones organizing the conference weekend. We have a bible study/women’s group every Wednesday night. Some of us have gone on vacations together. Our children spend so much time with each other that they act like siblings (can we talk about the drama surrounding tweeners)? We have a relationship that goes beyond church on Sundays.

Could you say I’ve become one of those women? I hope not. I think I learned from my experience. Because I grew up in a dysfunctional home (but then again, who didn’t), I am always seriously amazed when anyone wants to be my friend. Shocked really. I assume someone is really talking to the person behind me, or they are looking for another Rebecca who attends our church, or that they are really talking on their bluetooth and not speaking to me at all. When one of the newer members of the mom’s group asked to spend time with me one day, I was convinced she’d mistaken me for another member of the group. Why on earth would she want to hang out with me? But I decided to humor her, and after her son puked on my carpet the first time she came over to my house, I knew we were perfect for each other. Vomit brings people together.

But when she started coming to our group, I was nervous. I really had to move outside my comfort zone to welcome her. I had to actively decide that I might have something to offer her. I think that’s why I never clicked with the original group of women–I didn’t think that I had anything to offer them and, more than likely, they probably didn’t feel like they had anything to offer me.

God made women the way we are as a special gift. We are created to need one another in ways that men can’t understand. My husband can have a five minute conversation on the phone with his brother that consists of several “yes” “no” “really” and “okay,” and have caught up on six months of his life. I can have a one- hour conversation with my girlfriends and still need to see them later that day. God wants us to learn from each other. It took me several years (okay, decades) to have girlfriends. I was the tomboy who was the best friend to all the boys. I used to tell myself it was because I couldn’t stand the drama that women brought to a situation. Only after I had children did I really start to look for companionship with other women. Probably because I needed validation that I wasn’t entirely wrecking my children’s emotional and mental health (I am, but not any more than any of the other moms I know).

Having that bond with women has changed my life. God has given me the sisters that I never had growing up. He’s given me role models and mentors who have lifted me up and smacked me (lovingly) back to reality. Every woman who shares my life has taught me something. As a Women of Faith speaker, I would love the opportunity to share my experiences with other women. I would love to come from the place of having something to offer other women. I could show them how they have something to offer other women.

Now when we start promoting the WoF conference (coming to Philly in September) I make it a point to reach out to women who aren’t part of my group. I make it a point to invite and encourage women with whom I think I don’t have anything in common. I make it a point to trust God that they might have something to offer me and–more importantly–that I might have something to offer them. And if all else fails, I can see if one of my kids can puke on them.

MckLinky Blog Hop

Click here to view the entire list of Women of Faith Wednesday links…

Read Full Post »

Colossians 3:17

17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

This chapter of Colossians  starts out by talking about living a new life, once you are a Christian. I think that the first 17 verses are excellent guidelines for living any life–the balance of the chapter, not so much. Once it gets into the whole “submit” verb, I get a little queasy.

Paul was telling the Colossians how they needed to behave once they became Christians so that they would see how they needed to show their faith to others. Wow, that was an ugly, run on sentence. Sorry.

The point is, I like (and need) a manual for life. What is God telling me? How should I behave. Oh, I know the 10 Commandments and “turn the other cheek” and “love one another,” but I mean, tell me what it looks like. What does it look like to be a Christian?

Well, Paul was nice enough to tell us. Sometimes, though, the Bible can appear a little scary and judgmental.  Let’s see how these rules look when stripped of their “Bible-ness.” Here is my Message version of Colossians 3:

Since you are new here, let me tell you a few things about this place. Don’t worry about things from your old house, just focus on living here. We have big plans and really won’t be here long. Our real home is yet to come. And when Christ reveals himself to the world, everyone will see His glory.

  1. Forget about all the sinful, earthly things lurking within you.
  2. Don’t engage in immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires.
  3. Don’t be greedy, idolizing things in this world. They won’t last in the long run and you’ll find there are consequences of caring about such trivial things.
  4. Get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language.
  5. Don’t lie to each other.
  6. It doesn’t matter who you were before: Jew, Gentile, circumcised, uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. All that matters is that Christ lives in all of us.
  7. Show mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience as much as you can.
  8. Give everyone a break– forgive anyone who offends you.
  9. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.
  10. Let the peace that comes from Christ rule your heart. As members of this place, you are called to live in peace.
  11. Be thankful.
  12. Let Christ’s message fill your lives.
  13. Teach and counsel each other with wisdom.
  14. Sing with thankful hearts.
  15. Represent Jesus in whatever you do or say.
  16. Give thanks through him to God.

So….sounds easy enough. I’m kind. I don’t think I’m greedy. I’m pretty good at not engaging in lust and such (I’m a mom, for goodness sakes, I’m too tire to engage in lust). And I don’t lie.

But then we get to giving others a break and forgiving those who offend you. Yeah, about that. And the representing Jesus in whatever I do or say–that might need some work. It’s the stupid people who make me nuts. It really isn’t my fault. Really. You don’t understand.

Well, I guess Jesus does. He understands. He had to deal with a lot of stupid people. And he didn’t have snopes.com or factcheck.org to go and get his facts from. And he managed to show people the truth without being short with them.

I guess even though the rules are pretty clear, they aren’t always easy to follow. But knowing where I fall short shows me where I need work.

So, I will be thankful, sing with a thankful heart, and give thanks to God.

Read Full Post »

Isaiah 43:2

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.

Yeah, I am NOT this perky at 8am. My group is just glad I'm actually dressed.

On Saturday mornings, I host a small bible study/devotional meeting. We use the ancient and reviving method called Lectio Divina for studying our scripture. There is an article on Beliefnet explaining more about the process, but for the purposes of this entry, here are the basics.

A scripture verse is read slowly three times by all the members in our group.

  1. The first time, we simply read the verse and privately meditate on how it is relevant to us and what God is placing on our hearts.
  2. The second time, each person states one word that they feel speaks to them. It is said without comment or discussion.
  3. The third time, we each offer what we feel the particular word means for us or what we feel God is saying to us with the scripture or word.

Finally, we open up the room up for discussion and dialog.

I’m always amazed at the varied feedback I get from the ladies in the group. Typically, around six of us get together every week and even when some of us select the same word, it never means the same thing to two of us. Sometimes one of us will change our minds based on what other people have said. It is amazing that one verse can hold so much meaning. I use a verses each week from Max Lucado’s online devotional and have been tempted in the past to “pick” verses that seem more interesting. Every so often I think, “this verse is boring, we won’t have anything to say about it.” And every time I think it, I am wrong.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you. Isaiah 43:2

This is the long-winded way of saying, for me, the word that stands out in today’s bible verse is “when.”

This scripture isn’t saying that as a Christian I won’t face troubles–it isn’t saying that as a Christian if I face troubles God will be with me. This scripture is assuring me that when I face troubles, God is there.

Water always wins

It is interesting that it speaks of both water and fire–the yin and yang. Falling back on my Dr. Who background, I remember one recent episode where an alien is essentially water. The Doctor’s group is in an airtight room and the leader says, “It’s okay, we are sealed up and airtight.” (because they are on Mars) to which The Doctor replies (probably while waving his little sonic screwdriver), “Water always wins.” We only have to look as far as the Grand Canyon to see an example on this side of the pond.

Just recently, our area has seen the results of excessive amounts of water and can speak to the exhaustion one feels when overwhelmed by it. It can be suffocating–literally. And yet, God will not allow it to overwhelm me.

While water seems to overwhelm everything, fire destroys. Huge swaths of land are destroyed every year by wild fires. It, like water, is indiscriminate and absolute. It leaves nothing behind in its wake. Yet God is there. He is with me. And He will not allow me to be consumed.

Read Full Post »

2 Corinthians 9:7

Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

I’ve saved this draft three times and closed my browser. I have a nonspecific anger and am not in a cheerful mood. It is very difficult to considering giving anything to anyone. I’ve yelled at the kids, kicked the dog and am eying up the cat who is shredding my sofa

I think that part of the problem is that I’m feeling rather empty right now, so the idea of giving anything–cheerful or not–just doesn’t seem possible.

Isn’t it hard to to give when you feel you are empty? I think instead of focusing on how we should give a cheerful giver–which I know God loves–but what if you aren’t able to give anything–cheerful or not?

I’m not necessarily talking about money–at our church we talk about time, talents and treasures. Giving time and talents cheerfully can be even more difficult than simply writing a check.

If we look at the verses before verse 7, Paul is speaking about farmers reaping what they sow: 6Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.

Ah, then we have a problem here–if I don’t give because I feel empty, then I will continue to be empty. If I willingly give as much as I have–NO MATTER HOW LITTLE I THINK IT IS–I will be refilled generously. Paul goes on to say: 8 And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.

So it is when we are most empty that we must make the biggest effort to give. I know it can be hard sometimes. We get short with people–frustrated with others who don’t seem to recognize our efforts. We feel our small effort is unimportant and not needed. We feel that if our contribution isn’t big and impressive that it isn’t important.

I remember one Sunday I was packing up my stuff after the end of the service. My children seem to shed “stuff”–coats, bags, paper–and it was taking me a few moments to gather everything. I noticed that one of the ladies in the church had gone behind the alter and returned with a little swiffer sweeper thing and was sweeping up the crumbs from our communion. Coming up from the back of the church was another member who was picking up the programs that had been left by members. Two very insignificant tasks. Two activities that I never realized ever occurred in our church. But we had another service arriving in a few moments and if they were to have the same experience I’d had, the crumbs needed to be swept and the programs collected. What’s more, someone had done the same thing before I’d entered the sanctuary for my service. Small but important. More important than the choir’s music or the Pastor’s message? No. But no less important either.

Mother Theresa once said, “None of us can do anything great on our own, but we can all do a small thing with great love.”

So the littlest offering–be it time, talents or treasures–given with a cheerful (or even hopeful) spirit will be replenished. Don’t do it because you have–do what you have decided to do in your heart.

Now I guess I better kiss the kids and apologize to the dog. Still eying up the cat though. You should see my sofas.

Read Full Post »

Colossians 1:15-16

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by  him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.

I know that this isn’t about me. Really it isn’t about me at all. But I can’t help wondering if what I’m doing is making a difference. Today, the children’s moment was about what the kids had given up for Lent. My daughter gave up her favorite blanket. Someone else gave up  chocolate and I know the pastor suggested giving up television. I guess the more I recoil with the thought of giving something up for 40 days gives me a good idea about what I should be giving up. Television, the Internet, yarn–and this writing, while not something that I am giving up–is a sacrifice. Maybe more than what I’d originally thought it would be. While I thought it would be good to reserve a time everyday to ensure I’d actually read and pondered a bible verse, it has gotten inconvenient at times.

Like when I was on the church retreat–and my ski vacation–and even the other day when I totally fell asleep in front of the tv at 8:30. I thought I had caught up, but I might still be a day behind. I started to reason that it really didn’t matter. No one–or at least very few people–are reading these. I mean, does it really matter if I’m behind? Does it really matter if I skip one or two or even stop altogether? How many people manage to really give up for Lent without slipping a little–a quick peek at the web over someone’s shoulder, a pinch of chocolate when no one’s looking.

Then I had this scripture be my random scripture of the day:

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by  him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.

And I realized this isn’t about me–these entries. The more I think it is about me, the less I’m recognizing the point of the sacrifice of Lent, and indeed, faith in general. None of it is about us. We are the ones who benefit, but it is all about Him. Paul and Timothy were telling us in Colossians that it is Christ for whom all things in heaven and earth were created. Everything visible–this blog and invisible–the entries that don’t get written. It doesn’t matter if no one reads a single entry. It isn’t about them or me. It is about Christ–the one who existed before anything else. It is about the one who is the beginning, the one who is first in everything.

Whether you’ve given anything up for Lent–whether you’ve slipped or not–are you aware of who you really should be doing this for? Are you aware of what he gave up for you?

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »