Improve your Credit Rating Payday loan Why would I need a payday loan

Latest Entries

Caring for The Least?

We live in a world that is constantly trying to find ways to do things better or faster, decease a world that doesn’t seem to ever slow down. We all have way too much to do. Yet God tells us not to confirm to the patterns of this world (Rom 12:2) and to stop working for one day each week (Ex 20:8).

A couple of years ago, ailment our family started to really focus on implementing the principle of keeping the Sabbath holy in our home. It started off kind of awkward, not really sure what to do or not to do on this holy of days. Over time, we have gotten into a non-legalistic rhythm that works well for our family, most of the time. Taking the simple step of obedience to practice the Sabbath has revolutionized my faith.

We typically observe Sabbath on Friday or Saturday because those are the days when no one in our family has to go to work or school. If we are taking Sabbath on Friday, we will start Thursday at sundown. My favorite way to start is with a baby-sitter and date night, but that doesn’t always happen.

My Dos & Don’ts
I don’t work, cook or clean. With three little children, this is NOT easy. It requires preparation especially because I like to start with a clean house. Think crock pot breakfast, picnic lunch and a pre-made dinner that you can just pop in the oven. Paper plates & plasticware is how we roll because I have a hard time relaxing with dishes stacked in the sink.

I do play, laugh and pray. The day of rest has been essential in strengthening my relationship with my husband and children. I am so grateful for our uninterrupted time together. However, Sabbath is primarily a day to focus on God and my relationship with Him. During the kids naptime in the afternoon, I allow myself an extended quiet time to really sit and try to hear God’s voice. Observing the Sabbath deepens my dependency on the Lord because there are many times when I have a heavy workload and don’t think that I have time to rest. However, whenever I take that step of obedience, He somehow lightens my load or helps me to be more productive during the other days of the week. When we honor God by keeping the Sabbath holy, He blesses it. (Ex 20:11)

If you aren’t already doing so, experiment with the Sabbath in your home. It isn’t going to be as perfect as you may want it to be, but that is when grace comes in. As you practice, remember Jesus’ words in Mark 2:27, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”
At Christmastime, side effects
it blesses me to be able to give well thought out gifts to my friends, website like this
family and especially my children. In the same way, Jesus wants us to love His family, His children. As daughters of the King, and sisters in Christ’s family, we share in the responsibility of helping care for His family as well. Please read God’s heart for serving the least as it is written out in Matthew 25:31-46: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+25%3A31-46&version=NIV

Picture this prophecy coming to life. Jesus returns and sits on His throne. All the nations of the world are gathered before Him. The first thing He will do is “separate the people from one another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.” (v. 32)

Jesus tells the sheep to take their glorious kingdom inheritance “for I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” (v. 35-36) The sheep are astonished because they did not know when they had done those things. Jesus’ response is, “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (v. 40, italics mine) The surprised sheep had been living spirit led lives, unconsumed with counting good works. Just as easily as a good tree bears good fruit, sheep care for people. They also work for the Lord rather than for men. (Colossians 3:23) and this pleases God. In John 12:26 Jesus says, “Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.” Though we may not receive earthly honor for good deeds, we can trust in the truth that our Heavenly Father will honor us.

At the separation, the goats are shocked as well, but for different reasons. They are just as ignorant of their lack of caring as the sheep were of their good works. The thing about the goats is that if they had known that Jesus was in need, they probably would have cared for him. Goats live their life by the law and work only when they think it counts.

We are saved only because Christ became the least of all and died on the cross to cover our sins. In response to the Love He has lavished upon us, how could we not care for the least?

This holiday season, instead of focusing all of your attention on your loved ones, I’d challenge you to think about “the least” and how you can serve them. There are always opportunities through Seacoast to do this, but I would also encourage you to prayerfully examine the rhythms of your everyday life and see where God may open your eyes. Sisters, we all have opportunities to interact with “the least.” Choose to address and not ignore them. Whether it is a slight alteration in your lifestyle or a radical change, may the Holy Spirit lead us to serve the least as if we were serving the one true King Himself!

Rest-olutionize your Faith

We live in a world that is constantly trying to find ways to do things better or faster, decease a world that doesn’t seem to ever slow down. We all have way too much to do. Yet God tells us not to confirm to the patterns of this world (Rom 12:2) and to stop working for one day each week (Ex 20:8).

A couple of years ago, ailment our family started to really focus on implementing the principle of keeping the Sabbath holy in our home. It started off kind of awkward, not really sure what to do or not to do on this holy of days. Over time, we have gotten into a non-legalistic rhythm that works well for our family, most of the time. Taking the simple step of obedience to practice the Sabbath has revolutionized my faith.

We typically observe Sabbath on Friday or Saturday because those are the days when no one in our family has to go to work or school. If we are taking Sabbath on Friday, we will start Thursday at sundown. My favorite way to start is with a baby-sitter and date night, but that doesn’t always happen.

My Dos & Don’ts
I don’t work, cook or clean. With three little children, this is NOT easy. It requires preparation especially because I like to start with a clean house. Think crock pot breakfast, picnic lunch and a pre-made dinner that you can just pop in the oven. Paper plates & plasticware is how we roll because I have a hard time relaxing with dishes stacked in the sink.

I do play, laugh and pray. The day of rest has been essential in strengthening my relationship with my husband and children. I am so grateful for our uninterrupted time together. However, Sabbath is primarily a day to focus on God and my relationship with Him. During the kids naptime in the afternoon, I allow myself an extended quiet time to really sit and try to hear God’s voice. Observing the Sabbath deepens my dependency on the Lord because there are many times when I have a heavy workload and don’t think that I have time to rest. However, whenever I take that step of obedience, He somehow lightens my load or helps me to be more productive during the other days of the week. When we honor God by keeping the Sabbath holy, He blesses it. (Ex 20:11)

If you aren’t already doing so, experiment with the Sabbath in your home. It isn’t going to be as perfect as you may want it to be, but that is when grace comes in. As you practice, remember Jesus’ words in Mark 2:27, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”

Shabat Elevator

1 BC Bethlehem was located at top of hill on right
One of the most illuminating things I learned in Israel had to do with the world’s most celebrated holiday. We all know the story. While living in Nazareth, link
Joseph and Mary are engaged to be married. Mary has a visit from Gabriel the angel with the message that she is going to have God’s child and she, treat
being the good Jew that she is, complies. Naturally, Joseph thinks this is a little crazy and decides to divorce her (Matthew 1:19) until he, too, has a visit from an angel. Side note – though they weren’t officially married, culturally during this time, their engagement arrangement was just as binding. Matthew 1:24 says “When Joseph got up from sleeping, he did as the Lord’s angel had commanded him. He married her…” The Bible is unclear as to where the marriage ceremony occurred, but my extremely amateur theory is that they got married and traveled to Nazareth early in Mary’s pregnancy so that Joseph could avoid disgracing her publicly (Matthew 1:19). It doesn’t say how long they are there, but “while they were there, the time came for her to give birth.” (Luke 2:6) They could have been there for a few days or a few months, but it wasn’t likely that they rolled into town on a donkey and immediately had the baby.

We all know Jesus was born and placed in a manger. However, this manger that I have always seen depicted as a little stable outside of town is absolutely not where a 1st century manger would have been. Instead, we find the place where the “Word became flesh” (John 1:14) in a cave! The cave was either at the back of or underneath a house, but definitely connected to a home.

Nativity Cave, photo by Bill/Karen Gadol

Here is the big kicker – Luke 2:7 tells us that there wasn’t room in the inn. The original Greek translation of the word “inn” actually means guest chamber. Because Joseph was from the line of David, he had extended family in Bethlehem (they don’t call it the City of David for nothing) and it is almost certain that Mary and Joseph were staying in a guest chamber in their home – as in a guest room, spare bedroom, etc. Childbirth was one of the most dangerous procedures for this time period. It is most likely that Mary had family and some type of midwife present at the time of delivery, which is probably why there wasn’t enough space in the spare bedroom to deliver.
I have always pictured a brave 13 year old Mary (with no epidural!) delivering her child in a cold barn way outside of town with no one there to help.

A lot of women, myself most guilty of all, think that we can do everything on our own so the awareness that Mary most likely had help during delivery is quite liberating for me. The way I have always imagined the nativity story has been changed forever and I think I’ll try to be a little less superwoman because of it.

Another quick sidenote about the Nativity story. You remember the angel and heavenly host of angels that appeared to the shepherds to tell them that their savior was born (Luke 2:8-14)? I’d always pictured them having to travel some kind of a distance and really seeking to find baby Jesus lying in a manger. They were actually right down the hill, just outside of Bethlehem (I’m talking closer than Starbucks to Seacoast kind of distance here). These were also the same fields where David would have shepherded! And, to find out where a baby had been born in a town of 500 would not have been very difficult… especially with the echoing sounds that must have been coming from the cave.

Shepherds Field just outside Bethlehem, 1st Century Bethlehem was at top of hill to right

 

 
While in Israel, ask
we were blessed to experience a Shabbat, approved
the Jewish Sabbath. From sundown on Friday night until sundown on Saturday night, Jewish people observe the Sabbath, keeping God’s commandment of resting on the seventh day of the week (Exodus 20:8). We were staying in Tiberius by the Sea of Galilee on Friday night when the entire town shut down. Thankfully, the hotel restaurant was still open for dinner (all food had been prepared prior to sundown), but one of the elevators appeared to be broken as it stopped on each floor. We came to find out that this elevator was programmed this way so that NO ONE WOULD EVEN HAVE TO PRESS A BUTTON! Most of us would consider using an elevator the minimum amount of work possible. This baffled me at first, but then I realized that it actually forces a slowing of pace.
At dinner, we overheard Jewish families singing and praying together. The coolest part of the night for me and my husband was seeing a bunch of families, all ages, hanging out together, playing games and talking after dinner. There was not a cell phone, iPad, TV or computer in sight. And they were having so much fun! You could just sense the joy and unity in the room. The families were interacting with one another and even included a handful of us Gentiles on their fun. When we went out Saturday night, the stores opened back up and people seemed to be energized and ready to begin a new week.

I came to find out through our Israeli guide that Shabat literally means to stop. In six days God created the heavens and the earth and on the seventh day He stopped creating. Jews, following that routine, do not create anything new on Shabat (thus the reason for no technology – not even turning on lights!). In the Hebrew week, the day starts with evening. Each description of a day of creation ends with the words “and there was evening, and there was morning” which is why they start with evening.

The point of the day is to focus on God, slow down, relax, recharge, and spend time with family. You try to enjoy every moment you have been given and engage all five senses. Some people would say that not pressing an elevator button is a little extreme or even legalistic. While the slowness of the elevator kind of annoyed me at first, I grew to really appreciate the purposefulness that they put into keeping God’s commandments.

Jesus did not “come to abolish the Law” and I am excited about experimenting with some of the Shabat customs and making our Sabbath more meaningful. Though I can’t expect the entire city of Charleston to shut down, for 24 hours I can turn off my electronic devices to better connect with God and be more purposeful about engaging with others.

Lion’s Gate

The story would have played out differently if it had been anywhere else. Known as the land between, click
Israel is a land bridge and crossroads. In the 1st century, sovaldi
whoever controlled the nation of Israel controlled the world. Genesis 15:18 tells us the Lord made a covenant with Abram, surgeon
saying, “I give this land to your offspring, from the brook of Egypt to the Euphrates River.” God brought Abraham to the crossroads to spread the universal message of love and redemption. The country is divided into four major areas that were roadways – coastal, hill country, Rift Valley and Transjordan. When Jesus gave His disciples the Great Commission, it wouldn’t have spread in the way that it did if it had been anywhere else in the world. We are the recipients of this message and for that reason alone, I should have greatly appreciated the land of Israel. However, it wasn’t until I was able to see the land with my own eyes and realize the colossal impact that occurs because of the events that happened within such a small span of terrain. The country was incredibly different than I had imagined and it is now much easier for me to see why the Lord chose it! The plush green grass on rolling hills, sparkling sea, winding rivers, towering mountains and gleaming desert are just a few of the wonderful scenes I was able to take in along our journey around the small country.

Standing at the top of Mt. Carmel, eyes spanning over mountains and valleys, the setting of countless Bible stories, my husband brought up the truth that God uses the small to do great things. We see that played out in the story of David and Goliath, a baby born in a cave and fisherman disciples, but to see the vast impact of stories that occurred in such a small space was awe-inspiring. Using unlikely people and situations is a great way for Him to get all the glory. Remember Romans 8:28, “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, those who are called according to His purpose.

View from Mt. Carmel

to•pog•ra•phy: noun the art or practice of graphic delineation… to show their relative positions and elevations (Merriam-Webster)

Before the beginning of the world, God designed a plan for you. You live where you live and He has positioned you in your current season of life and within your current relationships for a reason. Mine is a story of a girl gone astray, redeemed by the One who was and is and is to come. Elevate God in your life and He will use the positions of your past, present and future to make an impact on generations to come.
One of the most popular entrances to the Old City of Jerusalem is through the Lion’s Gate. It is the closest entrance to the Muslim quarter, site
Church of St. Anne (Mary’s mother), pilule pools of Bethsida and the start of the modern day Via Dolorosa. Carved lions decorate the outer walls at the entrance. Legend says that Sulieman the Magnificent, pharmacist
a Turkish Sultan, had a dream that there were lions surrounding the city and heard a Voice saying, “Why have you left My city unprotected?” Sulieman ordered that the walls be constructed around 1536. The walls were completed in 1541 and encircle the Old City today.

Lion's Gate, picture from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:LionsGate_Jerusalem.JPG

The story about Sulieman’s dream was casually mentioned by our guide as we entered through the gate. I was floored at the idea that this guy had a dream, believed he heard from God and acted upon it to the degree that we know about it almost half a millennium later. A phrase commonly used in our church is What is God saying to you and what are you going to do about it? Oftentimes we get the part about what God is saying, but forget to do something about it. This story about Sulieman’s dream made me question, when I think God is speaking, at what lengths do I go to obey? I’m sure that building a city wall took extensive amounts of planning, time and resources. However, the wall left more than a barrier of protection, it left a legacy for future generations and a reminder to follow the leading of the Lord.
On a simpler level, in our home the words “Listen and obey,” are often used as a reminder for our young children. How seriously do we, as God’s children, take His commands? Even if God isn’t speaking to you through dreams or with an audible voice, what about obeying what is written in the Bible? Jesus greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God (Luke 10:27). 1 John 2:5 says “those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him.” So obeying His word is how we show we love God. I will be the first to confess that there is a lot of scripture that I know that I don’t necessarily obey. What if we just started with focusing on one thing that the Lord asks us to do? Like caring for widows and orphans (James 1:27), keeping the Sabbath Holy (Deut 5:13), respecting our husbands (Eph 5:33), loving our neighbors (Matt 22:39)… I want to challenge you (and myself!) to go out of your way this week, spend money, use resources, take time, etc., to put into practice just one thing that you know is the Lord’s will.
Regardless of the validity of the legend of Sulieman’s dream, to me, the lions carved in the gate are a symbol of the wall being erected for the glory of God, for the protection of His Holy City. Let the stamp of the Holy Spirit mark all that you do. When we obey His commands, let’s do it for God’s glory, to make Him known, not just for the sake of a good deed.

Lost in Translation

on the Sea of Galilee
One of the most illuminating things I learned in Israel had to do with the world’s most celebrated holiday. We all know the story. While living in Nazareth, this
Joseph and Mary are engaged to be married. Mary has a visit from Gabriel the angel with the message that she is going to have God’s child and she, seek
being the good Jew that she is, complies. Naturally, Joseph thinks this is a little crazy and decides to divorce her (Matthew 1:19) until he, too, has a visit from an angel. Side note – though they weren’t officially married, culturally during this time, their engagement arrangement was just as binding. Matthew 1:24 says “When Joseph got up from sleeping, he did as the Lord’s angel had commanded him. He married her…” The Bible is unclear as to where the marriage ceremony occurred, but my extremely amateur theory is that they got married and traveled to Nazareth early in Mary’s pregnancy so that Joseph could avoid disgracing her publicly (Matthew 1:19). It doesn’t say how long they are there, but “while they were there, the time came for her to give birth.” (Luke 2:6) They could have been there for a few days or a few months, but it wasn’t likely that they rolled into town on a donkey and immediately had the baby.

We all know Jesus was born and placed in a manger. However, this manger that I have always seen depicted as a little stable outside of town is absolutely not where a 1st century manger would have been. Instead, we find the place where the “Word became flesh” (John 1:14) in a cave! The cave was either at the back of or underneath a house, but definitely connected to a home.

Nativity Cave, photo by Bill/Karen Gadol

Here is the big kicker – Luke 2:7 tells us that there wasn’t room in the inn. The original Greek translation of the word “inn” actually means guest chamber. Because Joseph was from the line of David, he had extended family in Bethlehem (they don’t call it the City of David for nothing) and it is almost certain that Mary and Joseph were staying in a guest chamber in their home – as in a guest room, spare bedroom, etc. Childbirth was one of the most dangerous procedures for this time period. It is most likely that Mary had family and some type of midwife present at the time of delivery, which is probably why there wasn’t enough space in the spare bedroom to deliver.
I have always pictured a brave 13 year old Mary (with no epidural!) delivering her child in a cold barn way outside of town with no one there to help.

A lot of women, myself most guilty of all, think that we can do everything on our own so the awareness that Mary most likely had help during delivery is quite liberating for me. The way I have always imagined the nativity story has been changed forever and I think I’ll try to be a little less superwoman because of it.

Another quick sidenote about the Nativity story. You remember the angel and heavenly host of angels that appeared to the shepherds to tell them that their savior was born (Luke 2:8-14)? I’d always pictured them having to travel some kind of a distance and really seeking to find baby Jesus lying in a manger. They were actually right down the hill, just outside of Bethlehem (I’m talking closer than Starbucks to Seacoast kind of distance here). These were also the same fields where David would have shepherded! And, to find out where a baby had been born in a town of 500 would not have been very difficult… especially with the echoing sounds that must have been coming from the cave.

Shepherds Field just outside Bethlehem, 1st Century Bethlehem was at top of hill to right

 

 



Copyright © 2004–2009. All rights reserved.

RSS Feed. This blog is proudly powered by Wordpress and uses Modern Clix, a theme by Rodrigo Galindez.