Tuesday, July 30, 2013

No Matter Our Imperfections

A friend of mine has the sweetest little boy, let's call him Mr. K.  He is super adorable and so funny.  And he loves his Uncle so very much, in fact, 'Unke' is his best friend.  The funny thing is, 'Unke' doesn't let Mr. K get away with anything, he keeps him in line.  If Mr. K misbehaves, 'Unke' puts a stop to it.  I was just witness to one of these moments.  Mr. K left in tears, genuinely upset that 'Unke' had been mean.  But when we asked him who his best friend was, he instantly replied "Unke" and crawled right back up into his uncles lap.  He knew that even though he had misbehaved and 'Unke' had to correct him, 'Unke' still loved him and was still his best friend.  :)

Psalm 26:1-2

1 [Judge] me, O Lord, for I have walked in my integrity,
And I have trusted in the Lord without wavering.

2 Examine me, O Lord, and try me;
Test my mind and my heart.


When I first read this I thought, "Wow, that was bold.  I could never go before the Lord that way.  No one goes before the Lord that way."  And then I wrote in my notes, "It makes you wonder if we are doing it all wrong."

All the commentaries I use agree that David wrote this Psalm when he was exiled because of King Saul.  False accusations were running rampant.  David's name was being slandered left and right.  The only thing he could do was turn to God, the one and only who could know the truth about David's everything - "It is a comfort to those falsely accused that there is a righteous God, who, sooner or later, will clear up their innocency" (Henry).


You see, David was not being self-righteous.  He is far from being 'religious' (and therefore arrogant and prideful of his works) hereInstead, he is harnessing the child-like humility that we are called to acquire (Matt. 8:3-4).  He knows that perfection is not what he needs to be judged righteously, that what truly matters is his heart.  He asks of the Lord, "Test my mind and my heart," he never mentions actions.  Yes, we automatically think 'thoughts' when we read mind, but 'mind' is actually translated from the Hebrew word for "kidneys," which back then represented "a seat of emotion or affection" (Strong's H3629).  David wasn't asking God to test his thoughts, He was asking God to test his affections.  He knew his affections lay in the right place, in Christ rather than the material items of the world. Like little Mr. K in the presence of his 'Unke,' David knew that no matter his imperfections, he still stood just and loved in the presence of the Lord.  


Sometimes we make mistakes and sometimes we really mess things up.  But as long as we are confident that our heart and affections belong to the Lord, we can come to Him boldly and confidently as David did...as a matter of fact, maybe we should...

 

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Monday, July 29, 2013

Respect Challenge: Week 13

Quick Recap - I am on a 25 week journey to becoming a more respectful wife.  I want to be the best wife my husband could ever ask for!  I found my inspiration over at Loving Life at HomePlease feel free to join me on this journey...it might even change your marriage...  ;)  For ALL of the 'Respect Challenge' posts check out the tabs at the top of the page!

Prepare His Favorite Foods.

Jennifer notes, "Next time you’re planning meals, give special consideration to your husband’s preferences."

2 Corinthians 13:12
13 She looks for wool and flax
And works with her hands in delight.
14 She is like merchant ships;
She brings her food from afar.
15 She rises also while it is still night
And gives food to her household
And portions to her maidens.



This weeks challenge was not as simple as I wanted it to be.  I plan the menu two weeks in advance...so I had to start thinking about this a little bit early.  Unfortunately, Hubby does not like to help me pick out meals.  I thought when I told him he could have anything it would be easy, but not so much.  He picked one meal he wanted, just one.  That left me trying to pick out some other meals he would appreciate.  The problem is, I think cheap, especially towards the end of the month.  The other problem, Hubby doesn't generally like cheap.  He has expensive taste.  lol.  He doesn't complain much about our meals and I try to change things up often and try new things...but in my constant switching around meals and adding new things, I can't keep track of what he likes, what he loves, and what he doesn't really care for.  *sigh*  

I think I did okay though.  Due to our plans changing this weekend, we're actually only getting to his one choice tonight.  And I know he is looking forward to it.  I just have to remember to cook it the right way.  Ha!

I hope you have a little bit better luck than I did with this one.  And if he is usually the one that does the cooking or meal planning, maybe you could take a swing at it this week! Have fun!

I have added the recipe for Hubby's one choice below for inspiration.  If you like Thai food, or Asian food, or even something a little bit different than the norm, definitely give this a try!  I love it as much as Hubby does!  I originally found it on All Recipes but we have tweeked it a bit to fit our tastes and here is the outcome:

Thai Chicken
 


Ingredients: 
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce (you can substitute soy sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro (we usually use frozen, leftover from before)
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, cubed
  • 3/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Rice
Directions
  1. In a saucepan, combine vinegar, water, sugar, 2 teaspoons minced garlic, jalapeno, and salt; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, and simmer until liquid is reduced, about 5 minutes.  Stir sauce from time to time.  Remove from heat and allow to cool before use.
  2. In a shallow dish, mix together the coconut milk, fish sauce, 2 tablespoons minced garlic, cilantro, turmeric, curry powder, and pepper.  Add chicken and mix well.  Optional: Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. (We usually forget to marinate and it still tastes great!) 
  3. Preheat grill or skillet and lightly oil.
    • If grilling discard marinade, and place chicken on the grill.  Cook until slightly charred and juices run clear.
    • If cooking on the stove top, place chicken and marinade into skillet.  Cook until chicken is no longer pink.  
  4. Brush chicken with sauce before serving. Serve remaining sauce on the side for dipping (Hubbies favorite part! Me, I just dump all of my dipping sauce on top and mix it all together...much easier!).
  5. Serve with (or on top of) rice.

 

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Saturday, July 27, 2013

The BAR is Set High

Have you ever heard someone say that their parents have "set the bar" too high?  Or maybe you've heard a teacher or professor say that they set the bar high for their students.

This expression originates from the sport of high jumping, as seen below (English Lesson):


Each time these athletes practice they set the bar higher and higher.  And in order to win you must have the bar set higher than your competition.

Now, King David is not our competition, but he set the example for us, and he set the bar high.

Psalm 25:16-18
16 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
For I am lonely and afflicted.
17 The troubles of my heart are enlarged;
Bring me out of my distresses.
18 Look upon my affliction and my trouble,
And forgive all my sins.

During times of trouble, David knew where to turn and what to do, he set an example for us that really raised the BAR.

We are to:

B - Believe that we are never alone.

In verse 16 David notes that he is lonely and afflicted.  We have all been there, troubles can be overwhelming (as noted in the following verse), you feel as if no one understands, no one truly cares, you are utterly alone.  But, "The soul that has awakened to the sense of the awful solitude of personal being, and stretched out yearning desires to the only God, and felt that with Him it would know no pain in loneliness, will not cry in vain" (Expositor's).  By believing that he was not alone, David was putting the outcome of his situation into the hands of God.  He was not counting on his servants or soldiers or family, he was depending on God (Henry).  You see, "genuine belief is a life-altering conviction" (Beth Moore, Praying God's Word).  Or as another author put it, "A belief, no matter how sincere, if not reflected in reality isn't a belief; it's a delusion" (Kyle Idleman, Not a Fan). David could have said he believed he was not alone, but until he acted on it, it meant nothing.  If you truly believe you are not alone, then you must act on it!  You must put your dependence completely on His shoulders! 

A - Acknowledge God's power.

Not only did David do this by believing that God had not left his side, but He also calls for the Lord to "turn to me...look upon my affliction" (16, 18).  He knew and was acknowledging the fact that "when Jehovah turns to a man, the light streaming from His face makes darkeness day.  The pains on which He looks are soothed; the enemies whom He beholds shrivel beneath His eye" (Expositor's).  David knew that a mere look from God would save him from his troubles, just a look!  What an acknowledgement of power!

R - Repent

This may be the most important piece of these three verses, David asks for forgiveness. We need to repent of our sins and ask for forgiveness because in order for us to approach the throne of God, in order for Him to be able to look upon us, our hearts must be in the right condition, without blemish and pure in His sight.  The word forgive in the Hebrew, nasa', means "to lift, bear up, carry, take" (Strong's H5375).  So when we repent and ask for forgiveness, God is taking and carrying our sins for us.  This Old Testament word was foreshadowing the significance of Christ.  When Christ died on that cross he took our sins, our shame.  Because of the cross, we don't have to carry our sin any longer.  Instead, Christ does it for us, so long as we repent.

The BAR is set high, but it is set for a reason.  The Word of God gives us the answers we need when faced with tough situations.  Here, David has shown us what to do when our troubles are overwhelming and it seems we have no place to turn - Believe, Acknowledge, Repent.  If you are in the midst of troubles or trials, I challenge you to put this example from David to the test.  Take a leap and see if you can jump over that high BAR...  :)

 


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Friday, July 26, 2013

Waiting

I know a lot of you that read this have tried to get pregnant (or are trying).  But this is a first time experience for me and Hubby (yep, in case you didn't know, we are...).  We have only been trying for a short time (a very short time) but I have been mentally ready for a very long time.  I was just waiting on the green light from Hubby.  That being said, now that we are trying, I am so impatient.  I want it to happen NOW, and I want to know the instant it happens!  ;)  I read into every little belly ache, every over-reaction, every pimple...but the waiting, the waiting to take that pesky little test, just kills me!  My grandma just laughs at us - you guys have it easy, we had to wait 2 months before we were sure.  So I guess a couple of weeks isn't so bad...

But today was the first time I felt a punch to the gut and tears welling in my eyes as  I read the news on Facebook that friends of ours were pregnant.  I am SO happy for them, truly.  I just want what they have...so badly.  I had to say a quick prayer for strength, for a reminder that God will work things out in His time.  I know it is hard, but I cannot understand how hard it is for couples that have been trying for extreme lengths of time.  In such a short time for us, I am already aching for that little life to grow inside of me.  To experience that first kick, to hear our baby's heart beat, to hold that bundle of joy in our arms (after a completely painless labor....lol, yeah right!)...



Today, I am praying for those moms-to-be that are trying, that are yearning for a blessed child, whether it has been 1 month or 3 years.  I pray for strength, for peace and rest in the Father, for assurance of His presence, for continued hope, and for the answer to their prayers.  Pray with me!

How long did you have to wait for your little miracle?  Let's give some words of encouragement to those that are waiting in the comments below!


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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Wearing a Mask

Everyone knows that in order for a murder mystery (be it televised or written) to be any good, the killer has to be the person you least suspect.  I hate it when I'm watching a show or reading a book and the killer or predator turns out to be the person I suspected since Chapter 1.  Through the entire story, I just keep hoping I'm wrong and that the twist is still coming, and when it never comes, I'm left disappointed.

A good writer makes their antagonist seem impossible of a crime, they paint them as loving, kind, helpful, and endearing.  Usually it ends up being the next door neighbor who brought over cookies every Friday or the VP of a non-profit who put his or her all into the company.  We as the reader see their outside actions, their works...but what we don't get a glimpse of until the end is their heart.  To us, they were wearing a mask the whole time, making us believe they were something they weren't.



How many Christians do you know that are like that?  How many people on Sundays are wearing a mask, pretending to be someone else?  Are you one of them?

Psalm 24:3-4 
Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord?
And who may stand in His holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood
And has not sworn deceitfully.

The question, simplified, is this: Who may dwell with the Lord?  And the answer is pretty straightforward, however, I would like to expound.  What exactly does it mean to have clean hands and a pure heart?  To not lift our souls to falsehood or swear deceitfully?

I'm going to work my way backwards on this one and start with the last bit: And has not sworn deceitfully.  Basically, the person who can dwell with the Lord is someone who keeps his or her promises, who doesn't say one thing and do another, someone who is honest.  God commands us to let our 'yes' be 'yes' and our 'no' be 'no' (Matthew 5:37).  He will not accept anything less - we are to be people of our word.

The preceding section says: Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood.  This one is a little bit more tricky.  You see, the Hebrew word for 'falsehood' or shav' is also the same word for 'emptiness' or 'vanity' (Strong's H7723).  Every commentary I used referred to it as 'vanity' instead of 'falsehood' - most likely because they were using the King James Version which translates shav' as 'vanity.'  But it does seem to make sense; one who does not lift up his soul to vanity is one "who [does] not value or desire the vain things of this life, such as honours, riches, pleasures; but makes God his portion" (Wesley).  Our vanity often gets in the way of our relationship with Christ.  We get too caught up in having more, whether it be more money, more stuff, or a greater title.  Americans, and many others, can all to easily lose sight of what is truly important and become the vain beings of the society surrounding us.

Backing up just a little bit more, we see we are to have a pure heart.  God wants our hearts to be in the right place.  He is the only person who knows our hearts inside and out (sometimes better than we do I think).  Therefore He knows our inner most thoughts, our inner most motives, and He wants it to all be pure!

And now we come to the very first thing on the list: clean hands, meaning innocence (Strong's H5355).  You see, I think we read verses like this and we get stuck on the 'clean hands' part, we make it too much about what we do.  So when we're getting ready for church on Sunday morning, we put our sin in the night stand, take out our mask of perfection and put it on with our 'clean hands' so that everyone can see how perfect we are.  We talk the talk and walk the walk.  We sign up to volunteer at the food bank, say a prayer from the stage, greet everyone with a smile and a hug, go to the altar after the sermon...because we want our mask to look normal, we want our "perfection" to be the only thing people see, so we must make sure to play the part and play it well!  

Unfortunately, as noted above, God sees through that mask.  When He looks at you, He doesn't see perfection (and neither do most of the people in the congregation...the only one you are fooling is yourself).  But the great news?  Thankfully, for all of us, "God is not expecting totally unblemished perfection.  His son alone filled that requirement.  He is looking for hearts in constant pursuit of Him and His righteousness (Beth Moore, Praying God's Word).  You see, "the outward will only be right if the inward disposition is pure" (Expositor's).  He may not want perfection but He wants us to be authentic.

In Kyle Idelman's book, Not a Fan, he talks about the difference between those who have been around church and God for a good part of their lives and those who are new to Christ and the church.  Those that have been around know what to say and what to leave out and just how to act.  But those who are new to the church "tell about eating disorders, gambling problems, and drug addictions.  They just don't know any better.  And I hope nobody tells them that they're supposed to act like they've got it all together.  You don't often get to see people without a mask.  And it is such a beautiful thing" (74, emphasis added).

Our masks are hideous to the face of God, and let's be honest, they don't do much in the human world either (if you think yours does, then you haven't heard what everyone is saying behind your back...).  If you take off your mask, if you become authentic, and less perfect, if you wear your heart on your sleeve, you become so much more becoming, so much more approachable.  Church is supposed to be a place where we can come as we are and be accepted, a place to grow with others who don't know what perfection is either, a place to be loved.  We cannot truly be loved if we don't take off our masks.  And we cannot truly love if we force everyone that enters the front door to don a mask.

I challenge you today to take off your mask, wear your heart on your sleeve.  You will be amazed at how your relationships change.  First and foremost, your relationship with God will thrive once you are being real.  And as a result, so will a lot of your other relationships.  Learn to love the right way, the real way.


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Monday, July 22, 2013

Respect Challenge: Week 12

Quick Recap - I am on a 25 week journey to becoming a more respectful wife.  I want to be the best wife my husband could ever ask for!  I found my inspiration over at Loving Life at HomePlease feel free to join me on this journey...it might even change your marriage...  ;)

Kiss Him Goodbye.

Jennifer notes, "I once read about a study done in Germany which found that men whose wives kissed them goodbye every morning were more successful than those who weren’t kissed. Success and respect often go hand-in-hand, so be sure to send him off right, and don’t forget to greet him with a kiss when he returns home, for good measure."

2 Corinthians 13:12 - Greet one another with a holy kiss.    ;)

I absolutely LOVE this weeks challenge!  And I will admit, it was an easy one.  From Day 1 of our marriage we have made it an effort to always kiss each other goodbye and to say 'I love you' before departing.  Not to be grim, but you never know what could happen until you see one another again.  I would rather leave with a kiss than harsh words over a mindless argument.  As far as greeting one another with a kiss, that has just become a recent habit, and one I have hopefully sealed thanks to this challenge!  You see, when we were first married, Hubby worked outside in the dirt and 102(+) degree weather we dealt with in Oklahoma.  He would come home covered in mud, chiggers, and sweat.  While I didn't mind giving him a quick kiss, he wanted to be showered and clean before he would let me touch him, even just a quick peck on the cheek was forbidden.  lol.  Now that he is in management, and it doesn't get quite as hot here in PA, he allows me to greet him as soon as he gets home.  I like that.  :)

Now go give that man of yours a great big old *smooch!*

This is a throwback for sure...almost a year before our engagement. <3 font="">

With my new blog makeover, I have included a page that references each of the Respect Challenges from Week 1 on!  Directly above the picture slideshow or the post date (depending on which view you are in) are a few options "Respect Challenge" is listed.  This way you can go through the challenges on your own time or at your own schedule!  Here's to being the wife your husband deserves...one step at a time.

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Monday, July 15, 2013

Respect Challenge: Week 11

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Quick Recap - I am on a 25 week journey to becoming a more respectful wife.  I want to be the best wife my husband could ever ask for!  I found my inspiration over at Loving Life at HomePlease feel free to join me on this journey...it might even change your marriage...  ;)

Eyes Only for Him.

Jennifer notes, "Don’t compare your husband unfavorably to other men, real or imaginary. It is neither fair nor respectful and will only breed trouble and discontent. Avoid watching movies or reading books that might cause you to stumble in this area, as well."

Psalm 19:14 - Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart / Be acceptable in Your sight, / O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.  

Proverbs 4:23 -  Watch over your heart with all diligence, / For from it flow the springs of life.

I have to admit, it is hard, very hard sometimes, to not compare Hubby to fictional characters in my favorite books or movies.  But the truth of the matter?  Hubby is not Mr. Darcy.  No one is Mr. Darcy.  Or Edward Cullen.  Or Peeta.  Or Prince Charming.  Fiction is just that, fiction.  It might be based on a true story, but the truth is this: we watch movies and read books because they offer something different than our normal lives, an escape of sorts.  I don't think we should stop reading or stop watching movies.  I just think we have to remember that we are all human, our husbands included.  After all, if they only filmed the good parts, most real life marriages would probably make a pretty good movie too!  Remember today to not compare your husband to anyone, real or fictional. 

Dig a Little Deeper

Before you start reading, I should probably note that this is a little different from my normal approach.  This is a little less devotional like and a little more informative.  As I studied these verses I felt that I needed to share what I was learning in order to show how important it is to not just read your Bible, but to study it.  You would be amazed what you learn when you just dig a little bit deeper.  So let's take a look at this passage together.  As many (but not all)of the Psalms are, this one was written by David, King David.

Psalm 22:11-18
11 Be not far from me, for trouble is near;
For there is none to help.
12 Many bulls have surrounded me;
Strong bulls of Bashan have encircled me.
13 They open wide their mouth at me,
As a ravening and a roaring lion.
14 I am poured out like water,
And all my bones are out of joint;
My heart is like wax;
It is melted within me.
15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
And my tongue cleaves to my jaws;
And You lay me in the dust of death.
16 For dogs have surrounded me;
A band of evildoers has encompassed me;
They pierced my hands and my feet.
17 I can count all my bones.
They look, they stare at me;
18 They divide my garments among them,
And for my clothing they cast lots. 

David seems pretty distraught right?  Now take a moment and reread that but think of Christ as being the author instead of David.  

I could have "read" this Psalm hundreds of times as I was "reading" through my Bible but until I slowed down, until I stopped to actually pay attention to what I was reading, I never even realized that this was a reference to Christ and the crucifixion.  Looking back, it should have been more than obvious - especially in vs. 16 where David writes, they pierced my hands and my feet...

But lets take a closer look at each of those verses to discover just how foretelling this is of the crucifixion.

Vs. 11 states Be not far from me, for trouble is near; / For there is none to help.  In Matthew 26:36-46 we see that those closest to Christ, His dearest friends, Peter, James and John, could not even stay awake while the betrayal of their Savior was imminent.  Trouble was near and Christ did not have a single soul to help him (Henry).

In vs. 12 the bulls of Bashan have surrounded him.  When I read this, I thought, this can't be a reference to Christ.  It has to be David because I don't even know where Bashan is...  This same reference is used in Ezekiel 39:18 as well as Amos 4:1.  You see, "Bashan was a district beyond the Jordan, very fertile, where they were accustomed to fattened cattle, which became, in consequence of the excellent pasture, the largest, as well as the fattest of the country" (Clarke).  This metaphor means that these 'bulls' were the most wicked, violent, and potent enemies around (Wesley).  I can easily visualize those of high rank who were out to get our beloved savior: the chief priest, the governor, etc.  Vs. 13 also includes this group but changes the metaphor to a lion, which may be more relate-able in our day and age.

Vs. 14 is actually up for debate.  Clarke notes that "the images in this verse are strongly descriptive of a person in the deepest distress; whose strength, courage, hope, and expectation of...relief, had entirely fled" and does not believe that this lines up theologically with Christ's suffering and must, therefore, be solely applied to David.  I disagree.   For one, Christ was fully human, I am sure He was afraid to die such a painful death.  After all, he was sweating blood in the Garden of Gethsemane.  He was tortured, pulled in two directions - that of the flesh, that of God.  You cannot tell me He was not suffering.  I believe He suffered in a way we cannot humanly fathom, His distress was beyond compare.  Secondly, whether I am correct or not, when I read I am poured out like water, the imagery brings to mind the spear that pierced Christ's side.  Blood and water poured out of His side.  The next line reads And all my bones are out of joint.  It was customary for the soldiers to break the legs of those being crucified in order to speed up the process of suffocation and death.  However, Christ was already dead when they checked and they did not have to break any of His bones, a crucial part of fulfilling Scripture for the Passover lamb was not allowed to have any broken bones (Exodus 12:46).  However, I imagine that from hanging in an awkward position, only nails holding His body in place for so long, that some of His bones felt or were disjointed...yet unbroken.

My strength is dried up like a potsherd, / And my tongue cleaves to my jaws; / And You lay me in the dust of death.  The Hebrew for 'potsherd' is literally that for pottery (Strong's H2789).  Think about how dry a clay pot is - the amount of moisture in a clay pot is the amount of strength he has left.  I think that same idea of dryness carries over to the next line where he speaks of his tongue 'cleaving' or 'sticking' to his jaws (Strong's H1692).  I have been there - if you have ever gone under for surgery you know this exact feeling - your mouth is so dry that your tongue sticks to your cheeks and your teeth like a gnat sticks to fly paper.  It is a horrid feeling.  Christ even says from the cross "I am thirsty."  Then moments later He gave up His spirit, or was lain in the dust of death as David puts it in this Psalm (John 19:28-30).  

The next verse, 16 is the most obvious for me since it references the piercing of hands and feet.  I feel like that verse should have jumped off of the page and screamed, "Hello...this Psalm isn't just about David.  Take a minute to really read this would ya?"  For dogs have surrounded me; / A band of evildoers has encompassed me; / They pierced my hands and my feet.  But sometimes I am just plain oblivious.The first interesting thing here is that it references dogs surrounding Him, not bulls or lions but dogs.  If you remember from earlier, the bulls represented those of high rank, such as Caiaphas or Pilate.  The dogs, then, would represent those of lower rank such as the pharisees who brought Him before the bulls in the first place (Henry).  But the really neat thing about this verse is the obvious part, the piercing of hands and feet.  First of all, "These words cannot with any probability be applied to David, but were properly and literally verified in Christ" (Wesley).  And secondly, these words were written hundreds of years before the Roman punishment of crucifixion had even been invented (Storylines)!  Talk about being inspired by the Spirit!  David didn't really have a reason to write this - as far as we know, he was never pierced at his hands and feet, nor did he have any clue that someday in the distant future that would be a form of capital punishment.  I am baffled in a good way at this information, amazed would probably be a better word.  I believe that Scripture was inspired, breath by the Holy Spirit.  But to see the evidence of it, to know that there is not another single explanation for something like this, it is incredible!

I cannot read the rest of these verses without solely visualizing the crucifixion of Christ.  David has become a distant thought, a weak memory.  17 states I can count all my bones. / They look, they stare at me.  I want you to go back to that image of Christ hanging on the cross, only three nails keeping His body attached to two boards - his body would have been distended, you could have easily counted His ribs.  Matthew Henry even believes that "His blessed body was lean and emaciated with labour, grief, and fasting, during the whole course of His ministry," making Him look years beyond His age and adding to this imagery.  We move onto the mention of staring and know that "Crucifixion was a slow process, and we recall the long hours in which the crowd sated their hatred through their eyes" (Expositor's).  Their staring would have been a relentless torture, knowing that He was dying to save the very people who were killing Him, hating Him now.  Verse 18 is yet another instance that "cannot be applied to David, but was literally fulfilled in Christ" (Wesley): They divide my garments among them, / And for my clothing they cast lots.  When I hear the term 'cast lots' my mind immediately refers to the crucifixion - there is no question.  You see, "though it was no great instance of Christ's suffering, yet it is a great instance of the fulfilling of Scripture in Him" (Henry).

Isn't it incredible how much you can learn from really reading the word of God?  Reading His word everyday can be helpful.  But instead of taking that 10, 15, 30, 60 minutes or more a day you spend simply reading a passage, take that time and pick one or two verses and really study.  There is so much more beneath the surface that is just waiting to be discovered!

I detailed in this post what resources I use to study and how they can help you.  It would be a great place to turn if you aren't sure where to start.  If you don't have the time to check it out now, bookmark the page and come back to it later.  Get more out of your time with God.  Start now by clicking the following link:  Love His Word

Another post details why even adding a journal to your reading time can be beneficial.  This is a simpler approach than the one give above and can be a good way to take a baby step in the right direction.  If you are intimidated by the word 'study,' start here and work you way up.  Any step in the right direction is a great step!  Click the following link to get started today: Writing, Reading, Applying

Share in the comments below some of your tips for studying His word and digging deeper.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Bringing Change

I am taking a moment today to bring change.  I regularly shop at Family Christian.  I am a "catalyst" member and often shop there for gifts and books.  I love the selection they have as well as the sales and coupons they offer.  I do not, however, love the fact that they are open on Sundays.  After discovering this little tid-bit of information, it kept eating at me.  It isn't right.  A Christian company, a Christian non-profit ministry, that is based in retail is open on Sundays?  Something just didn't sit right.  I talked to a couple of employees and discovered that it is very frowned upon among most of the employment (understandably right?).  I asked if I could write the company and they told me to check the website but they were sure it wouldn't do any good.  But if no one does anything, if no one takes a stand, it will never change.  Therefore, I came home today and drafted an e-mail.  After reading it over a few times I sent it out. 
I am asking you to do three things today.
  1. Do not, under any circumstances, shop at Family Christian on a Sunday.  I have been tempted when I know I need to grab a gift and I could be at the store in under 5 minutes.  But it isn't worth it.  If I go in there on a Sunday, I am telling the employees that are there that their time at work is more valuable than their time with their families.  I am telling them that I don't care that they have to work on a Sunday.  I am giving them a reason to be away from their family and their church family, a reason to not rest.
  2. Share this blog with all of your Facebook friends and anyone else you can think of.  Get them on board.
  3. Send Family Christian an e-mail or write them a letter.  Here is their customer service contact information:
I have copy and pasted my e-mail below and I'm giving you permission to use it.  Copy and paste it right into your own e-mail, change the personal information, add or take out anything that you would like, and send it out.  The more mail they get (electronic or otherwise) the more likely they will listen.  The squeaky wheel gets oiled right? 

Dear Family Christian,
It has recently come to my attention that you are open on Sundays.  When I discovered this I was baffled.  Why would a Christian company be open on Sundays?  But I quickly remembered that you were a for-profit organization and I dismissed it, though I still thought it inappropriate.  Then I received an e-mail letting me know that 100% of your profits are now being given.  Through this e-mail it was brought to my attention that in late 2012 you became a non-profit ministry.  While this is an exciting feat, it leaves me wondering why it is necessary to remain open on Sundays, even if it is only for a few hours.  There are organizations such as Hobby Lobby and Chick-fil-A that are "for-profit" and do not have the word "Christian" in their name, yet are still closed on Sundays.  Truett Cathy, the owner of Chick-Fil-A says being closed on Sundays says two things: "One, that there must be something special about the way Chick-fil-A people view their spiritual life and, two, that there must be something special about how Chick-fil-A feels about its people" (emphasis added). 
That quote in itself should be enough to make Family Christian reevaluate their need to be open on Sundays, but I would like to expound.  Years ago there was not a single place open on Sundays, but in our wealth driven society, things slowly started to change.  And sadly, Christians stood by and allowed it to happen.  We even made it a habit to go out to eat as soon as service let out, encouraging this new found way of thinking.  Now, instead of being a day for family and God, Sundays have become just another day to make money and to spend time at work instead of at home or church.  What is it saying to the world if you are no different than the store next door?  You do not stand out nor are you set apart, you are just like the fallen world, you have lost the saltiness you so desperately need.  What does it say to people driving by that your store is open on Sunday?  Or your customers?  Or your employees?  To me, it says you do not value your employees enough to give them one single day of rest and time to be with their church and family.  To me it says you are more about money and less about faith.
Yes, we have already entered into the Sabbath, into His rest.  But God still commanded us to have a day of rest, which you are not doing as a company.  It is not good for man to not rest.  What kind of an example are you setting for your employees and customers? Even when God created the world, He took a day to rest.  He set the example for us, now it is time for us to set the example for the world.
I, Brianna Sherman, am calling you out today, holding you accountable.  I believe that Family Christian should take a step of faith and close their doors on Sundays.  See how God will bless your efforts at preserving a Sabbath, a day for God, family, and rest.  Instead of being a part of the world and mainstream society, make an effort to be different, to be set apart.  Be the salt and light, set the example for the rest of the world.
Sincerely, a Catalyst Member,
Brianna Sherman

Monday, July 8, 2013

Respect Challege: Week 10

Quick Recap - I am on a 25 week journey to becoming a more respectful wife.  I want to be the best wife my husband could ever ask for!  I found my inspiration over at Loving Life at HomePlease feel free to join me on this journey...it might even change your marriage...  ;)

Respond Physically.

Jennifer notes, "Did you know that the way you respond (or don’t respond) to your husband’s romantic overtures has a profound effect on his self-confidence? Don’t slap him away when he tries to hug you or make excuses when he’s in the mood. Your enthusiastic cooperation and reciprocation will not only assure him of your love, but will make him feel well-respected, too."

1 Corinthians 7:3-5 - The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband.  4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.  5 Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 
   
I'm a pretty private person, so I'm not going to share too much about this subject.  BUT, I think it is safe to assume that for a lot of women, this is difficult.  He is always "in the mood" while I am rarely "in the mood."  One of the biggest struggles I have is that every time Hubby kisses me or wants to cuddle or hold my hand, etc, I question his intentions and what he really wants if you catch my drift.  This week I tried to not make any smart comments and I just enjoyed the sweet kisses and cuddles.  :)

I also think it would be great to take this week's challenge to the next level and initiate some physical moments yourself!  Don't wait for him to do it.  I'm pretty good about this when it comes to holding hands or a quick kiss here and there...but anything else?  Not so much.  I have recently stumbled across a blog called The Dating Divas.  It not only has some great ideas for fun date nights but they have an entire section dedicated to intimate moments.  While a lot of them are cheesy, it can make things fun and give you the courage to initiate some intimate moments of your own.  Check it out:
The Dating Divas Intimate Moments.   Yes, Hubby and I have used a few of these...but I'm not sharing which.  ;) 

Good luck and have fun this week!  *wink wink*