Memories of Junior High Camp

 

 

Scan 2

 

ScanYears ago, I was an adult leader with our Jr. High Youth group. Every year we would go to summer camp, and, every year there was one night we played hide and go seek. The adult leaders would take their Jr. Higher’s and hide and it was the job of the Pastors to find each group. We would all wear the darkest clothing we had. I still have my hoodie that I bought at camp just for this night and it is still one of my favorite sweatshirts! Now, I use to be very competitive, okay, I still am, but just a tiny bit especially when it comes to board games. I was determined this night that my girls and I would not be found.

Scan 5We hid down by a stream that had a huge fallen tree across it that one could walk over instead of the path we took. We positioned ourselves in a straight line in the shadow of the tree. It was completely dark except for the light of the moon. It was also very quiet except for the shouts and calls of the Youth Pastors attempting to draw everyone out. We sat and whispered to one another and giggled as one by one we could hear the other groups suffering the defeat of being discovered. There were a few close calls as we heard Pastors coming our way and turning around after finding ‘nothing’. Finally, after what seemed like a million years, the game was over and we were never found! We won! We won! We won! Did I mention I use to be competitive? My heart is racing recalling this memory! The funny thing is we were actually hiding in plain sight. Had anyone come from the other direction they would have been facing toward us and even though we were all wearing dark clothing the Pastors all had one advantage, they had flashlights!

Scan 3In Acts 17 we find Paul walking around Athens and he is greatly distressed to find the city full of idols. He even found an altar that had an inscription to an unknown God. This gave Paul the perfect opportunity to share the gospel message and Christ Jesus as the unknown God.

God had revealed Himself to the Athenians, who had been worshipping Him without knowing, well before Paul arrived. God the Father was there the entire time in plain sight! Oh, how the Father loves his creation, so much so, he will stop at no means to show his desire to be in a redeemed relationship with all his creation through his beloved Son, Jesus!

Scan 1Precious One, God is not a hidden God, He is right in front of you. He is in plain sight.

Shalom!

check out http://www.icr.org/article/genesis-chinese-pictographs/                                   for another amazing story of God in plain sight!

 

 

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Power in Weakness

Dark stormy clouds over corn field at summer

 

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9b

Have you ever been in a situation that just seemed hopeless? Where you were doing what God had asked of you and the darkness of the storm was all you could see even in the brightness of daylight? I’ve experienced these storms, as I am sure that you have also. And, while we are not promised a storm free life we can be sure that God doesn’t give us these storms to punish us, rather he allows them to grow us. But more importantly He uses them to benefit others.

Paul and Silas found themselves attacked, stripped, severely flogged and put in stocks in prison for commanding a demon out of a slave girl that could predict the future, because of the demon, and made her owners a lot of money. They were doing what God had sent them to do.

As the story goes along we find Paul and Silas, who must have been in a great deal of pain from the flogging, which is usually done with a leather whip that has metal balls or pieces of sharp sheep bone alternating on each strap of leather that dig in and rip away skin, praying and singing hymns to God, while the other prisoners were listening!

There is a crazy earthquake and the doors of the prison flew open and all the chains of all the prisoner’s came loose. When the jailer in charge saw what had happened he was about to fall on his sword because he thought all the prisoners had escaped and he would have been held accountable and most likely killed because of this.

Paul, in his love and grace for others, tells him to stop, ensuring the jailer that everyone was accounted for. As a result the jailer asks how he can be saved. Paul and Silas tell him “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved – you and your household.” Not only were the jailer and his household saved they were baptized.

Here’s the thing. Paul and Silas were Roman citizen’s and had they told their attackers as much they never would have endured the torture that they did because publicly beating a Roman citizen was illegal, especially without a trial, which Paul and Silas were not given.

Would the jailer, his family and his entire household been saved that night if Paul and Silas would have announced their Roman citizenship during the attack on them? Only God knows. And, how many of the other prisoners who witnessed these things also became believers that night because Silas and Paul were living their life for God?

Precious One, those storms in life sometimes seem like they are raging out of control. One thing is sure, God will always be in control and that storm may serve a deeper and greater purpose. That none should perish but all come to the knowledge of the saving grace of Christ Jesus. When you are weak He is strong.

Shalom!

 

Spaghetti or Waffles

 

 

 

Raw homemade pasta with pumpkinHave you ever heard the analogy that women are like spaghetti and men are like waffles? Women’s thoughts tend to overlap and intertwine together in an elaborate patchwork of words, actions and pictures mixing together like a big pot of pasta! Men’s thoughts tend to be compartmentalized, rarely touching, if at all, but still their own elaborate patchwork of words, actions and pictures.

 

Sweet Belgium waffles

The husband of one of my good friends says he even has a box or compartment for nothing. He says it is his compartment where he simply is. How can this be?! How on God’s green earth can he have a box for nothing? No thoughts, no distractions, no nothing?! I have to, no, I must find my own box of nothing!

This morning as I read through Acts and came to 14:23b …..“with prayer and fasting.” It stood out at me because I had just read a few days ago in Chapter 13 ….“fasted and prayed.” These two instances had me thinking about when the disciples asked Jesus why they couldn’t drive out the demon in the boy from Mark 9:27-29 and Jesus told them this kind can only come out through prayer and fasting. Some translations list prayer only but the original Greek states prayer and fasting.

The Holy Spirit began to impress on me that not only is it important to stay connected to Him through prayer so that we can have a clearer understanding of his power, his will for our life and how he wants to work through us on behalf of others, but that fasting brings us to a deeper level of understanding where we begin to ‘see’ through prayer.

Fasting is directly related to the Day of Atonement, the day that occurred once a year when the Nation of Israel would seek atonement for their sins.

Atonement is God restoring harmony and unity between Himself and humanity. Because of God’s atoning grace and forgiveness we experience a restored relationship with him in spite of our sin because of our belief in his beloved Son Jesus.

We are “at-one-ment” with God. Fasting then, draws us closer to God where we can experience being one with him. Fasting brings us to a place where we can experience a box of simply receiving his lavish love for us. No thoughts, no distractions, only His love. Fasting makes us aware of the gift of atonement that is the result of what Christ did for all humanity as he hung dying on a tree at Calvary. The forgiveness of sin, the defeat of death and eternal life for all who believe.

set of gift box isolatedPrecious One, join me in preparing a box among the compartments or spaghetti of your mind. Not a box of nothing but a box of simply being. Being at-one-ment with Him.

Shalom!

Do You Have a Need?

help-text-on-sand_Qysj5WThis morning I was reading in Acts 11. Throughout this passage I continually see God’s grace and faithfulness that the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ is for everyone! I see Peter gently teaching the others and us, through his vision on Simon’s rooftop, (Acts 10:9-16), that we are no longer bound by the law but covered by grace. The Jewish believers in Jerusalem criticized Peter for going into the house of Gentiles and eating with them, which previously had been forbidden by the Law.

I see God mobilizing his children, through the initial scattering of them, to spread the good news so that none should perish but ALL come to the knowledge of the saving grace of Christ.

But, but, my favorite verses in this entire passage are the very last two. Verses 29 and 30.

The disciples, as each one was able, decided to provide help for the brothers and sisters living in Judea.  This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul. Acts 11:29,30.

The reason the disciples were sending whatever help they could was because the Holy Spirit spoke through the prophet Agabus about a severe famine that would overtake the entire Roman world. Not only did the disciples want to help other believers in the Body of Christ, they believed the prophet! Hmm, they believed the prophet, this is not a novel idea, but it is research for another blog on another day.

The mission statement for our faith family is extending true life to our community, which requires each of us to take a personal inventory of our heart and motives of how we will use what God has blessed us with and trust him to provide. Vv. 29 and 30 above is a picture of extending true life within the Body of Christ. No one needed to fundraise to go on a mission trip and no one needed to come home on furlough only to arrange numerous speaking engagements in the hope of raising money to go back and continue to spread the good news of the gospel to their host country. The Body knew of a need and simply filled it because they trusted God.

Precious One, what would it look like if the Body of Christ began to operate more closely to how the Body did in the book of Acts?!

Shalom!

 

The Watches Of The Night

Digital Visualization of a Moonset

Our Women’s Bible study is doing a topical study on discipleship. In addition to the study homework, reading through the book of Acts is another level of deeper involvement in the study. I have been reading through a chapter a day and am fascinated by what Holy Spirit is showing me that I haven’t paid attention to before.

I am particularly fascinated by the praying that takes place in chapters 9 and 10. In Acts 9:10 we find the Lord calling to Ananias in a vision. It is most likely that Ananias was praying because visions and prayer were often associated with each other in the books of Luke and Acts. Further along we find Ananias praying over Saul so that he may see again and be filled with Holy Spirit.

In Chapter 10; Cornelius, a Roman centurion, from the Italian Regiment ( now, that has never stood out at me!), and who was, along with his family, devout and God-fearing, was praying one day at three in the afternoon. Guess what happened? He had a vision! The next day at noon Peter was praying and…he had a vision!

All of this had me thinking about the watches of the night. The night watches were designated times that soldiers or guards would stand watch for any threat by an enemy. In the OT the watches were broken down into 3 times; sunset to 10:00pm, 10:00pm to 2:00am and 2:00am to sunrise. In the NT a fourth watch was added. The first watch ends at 9:00pm, then 9:00pm to 12:00am, 12:00am to 3:00am and 3:00am to 6:00am.

Recently I had the opportunity to teach on Matthew 28:19,20 and I discovered that the word obey in the v.20 is actually the word observe in the original Greek and it means to spiritually guard. When I think of spiritually guard it reminds me of the armor of God in Ephesians, which is a depiction of a Roman soldier dressed and fitted for battle.

We, as believers in Christ, are like the picture of the Roman soldier ready for battle. We are clothed and equipped with several items, among them the helmet of salvation, which protects our mind, the breastplate of righteousness, which protects our heart and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, which is Jesus himself and protects our soul!

Think about the times you have been awakened during the night for what may have seemed no reason at all. Has it been during the watches of the night or fairly close? I am often awakened at 3:00am sometimes I go back to sleep and sometimes I will pray. A few mornings ago, at 3:00am, I woke up and asked God what he wanted me to pray about. I heard Holy Spirit whisper, “I am calling the Body of Christ around the world to stand the watches of the night.” “Pray that they will listen and accept the call.”

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1Peter 5:8.

Can you imagine what it would look like if every believer in Christ accepted the call to their designated watch of the night?! There wouldn’t be anything for the enemy to devour!

And should you think you would be too tired to go on with your day if you stood your watch.

He gives strength to the weary, And to him who lacks might He increases power. Isaiah 40:29.

Precious One, will you go to bed tonight clothed in the full armor of God and answer his call to stand your watch of the night? I will join you.

Shalom!