The Importance of Dad

The Importance of Dad

In the human family, it is the father who affirms us as male and female and as persons. It is the masculine voice we are listening for at puberty and thereafter, that time when we are separating our sexual and personal identities from that of our mothers. But when we’ve failed to get the needed affirmation, we can rest assured that there is available to us the healing needed … in the Presence of God the Father, when we learn to listen and obey Him, we are affirmed as real men, real women, real persons … God the Father, who has the Power of Being, heals and affirms us.

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Living as Abba's Child: Learning from Jesus

Living as Abba's Child: Learning from Jesus

The parent-child metaphor is perhaps the most tender picture of our relationship with God as believers.  This is so movingly expressed in the Scriptures by the Hebrew term for Father God "Abba," meaning "Daddy." As we approach Fathers' Day (though this is for moms & others also), let's take a break from the blog-type format.  Let's do a little digging into the Scriptures.  You may like this study for your own devotions or as a small group.

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A Pantry for my Soul

A Pantry for my Soul

Are you in the midst of a long stretch of life when you feel like you have nothing? It has been survival day after day. Maybe you are a mother of multiple preschoolers; a person in chronic pain; a cancer patient going through chemo; a husband or wife, a son or daughter, a sister or brother grieving the sudden death of your loved one; or maybe a caregiver of some kind. You don't have enough time or energy or mental clarity to replenish your own resources. And yet, somehow you are making it!

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Keeping God's Word Fresh: a Guest Branch

Keeping God's Word Fresh: a Guest Branch

If I want to keep my relationship with Jesus strong I need to keep the lines of communication open. We speak to God through prayer and He speaks to us through His Word and through the Holy Spirit. 

Sometimes it can seem like a chore, however, so I’m always looking for ways to keep the Bible “living and active”. 

I discovered a fun Bible last year. It’s called The ESV Journaling Bible. It has room on the sides to write notes or to draw or paint. I’ve always enjoyed drawing and painting as a hobby so what better way to elevate God’s Word! 

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God's Coloring Book: Praying & Reflecting in Colors

God's Coloring Book: Praying & Reflecting in Colors

In my last post, we reflected on living our life in full color rather than in muted and dulled shades. I also shared an amazing song discovered as a delightful "God-wink," God's Coloring Book.

So in keeping with the theme of color and our spiritual walk with the Lord, I would like to share some possible ways to use color to help nurture our souls.

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The Beauty of the Incomparable Christ...the Son of God (Hebrews 1:1-2:4)

images-2
images-2

Back in 1995 we lived in Centerville, Ohio.  Centerville had a wonderful little post office in those days right behind Bill's Donuts.  In February of that year I stopped by to buy some stamps, noticing a large poster of the current stamp. As I awaited my turn in line, I reflected on the picture of the cherub I saw on the wall.

sistine madonna cherubs
sistine madonna cherubs

"Wait a minute," I said to myself, "I've seen that cherub before, but in a bigger painting."

I had taken art history in college and loved it! So I was wracking my brain to try to remember what painting it was part of. I couldn't let it rest...so it sent me to the library to those big, dusty art books.

Sure enough, here's the painting those little cherubs are part of:

sistine madonna, raphael
sistine madonna, raphael

The cherubs are hardly noticed in this painting.  The obvious focal point is the mother and child...but the mother, more than the child!

"Wow," I thought, "Isn't that just like what we do in our Christian life?  We loose our focal point -- the Lord Jesus Christ!  Rather we focus on all the peripheral Christian things, as good as many of them may be...things like the spiritual disciplines, godly behavior, our motivation, the latest Christian best-seller, the current Christian "band-wagon," the retreat or conference everyone is talking about...the Christian to-do list!

I love this "equation" that says it all:

Jesus + nothing = Everything

Right here in the first chapter of Hebrews, we see the exalted Christ...God's final revelation...the culmination, the fulfillment of all that has gone before.

He's better than prophets and preachers; better than angels and other emissaries; He's God's Son...God Himself!  The Father has spoken in His Son, the Logos, the Word (John 1)!

And as with any speaking, there's the expectation that someone will listen.   So it is and much more so when it comes to hearing God in His Son:

This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him! Matthew 17:5

Why must we hear HIM? He's the Darling of Heaven! He's the Indescribable One, beautiful beyond human words! The Incomparable Lord Jesus Christ! 

He's the One our God describes and compares in the letter to the Hebrew Christians of the first and second century.  And He's the One our God wants US to hear in the 21st century.  So, my friends...

Let us HEAR HIM!

I Stand in Awe by Mark Altrogge

You are beautiful beyond description, Too marvelous for words, Too wonderful for comprehension, Like nothing ever seen or heard. Who can grasp your infinite wisdom? Who can fathom the depth of your love? You are beautiful beyond description, Majesty enthroned above.

(Chorus) And I stand, I stand in awe of you. I stand, I stand in awe of you. Holy God, to whom all praise is due, I stand in awe of you.

You are beautiful beyond description, Yet God crushed You for my sin, In agony and deep affliction, Cut off that I might enter in. Who can grasp such tender compassion? Who can fathom this mercy so free? You are beautiful beyond description, Lamb of God, Who died for me.

(Chorus)


Practical Help in Reading the Letter to the Hebrews

Letter to the Hebrews
Letter to the Hebrews

The letter to the Hebrews can be a bit daunting.  Yes, we have our favorite passages.  Who doesn't know about the giants of the faith in chapter 11 or the exciting challenge to run our lap of the race in chapter 12?  Then there's the assurance that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever in chapter 13.  But what about the message of the entire book? For those of you who would like to understand the message of this Christ-exalting book, there is help!  Here are a few tips for those of you who are reading the letter to the Hebrews.

Please don't get discouraged...do what you can. One of my mottoes of life is "Something is better than nothing."  "All or nothing" used to be my motto...but that is unrealistic, and you'll end up with nothing most of the time.  God wants to speak to us in this glorious word of His. Listen for HIM as you read!

That being said, here are some ideas that, I think, can be helpful.

There are some major warning passages scattered throughout the book...5 of them, in fact.  I have found that if you block off these passages and then read through the book without them several times, it's much easier to get the flow of the author's thought.

Then after reading through that way, read the warnings within the context of the flow of thought.  It is really amazing how you will be able to see why the warnings come where they do.

Here are the passages (I have drawn a box around each of them in my text of Hebrews):

Warning #1 = 2:1-4 Warning #2 = 3:7-4:13 Warning #3 = 5:11-6:20 Warning #4 = 10:26-39 Warning #5 =  12:15-29

After you read and get the flow of thought and then put the warnings back in, take a look at this outline to further help you:

Plan of the Epistle to the Hebrews

Listening via audio can also be helpful. If you have the Bible on CD or MP3, pop that in your player and listen. Here is a link to a youtube audio of Hebrews:

May you be blessed as you read, dear sisters and brothers!

Thy Word

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet And a light unto my path Thy word is a lamp unto my feet And a light unto my path

When I feel afraid And think I've lost my way Still, You're there right beside me Nothing will I fear As long as You are near Please be near me to the end

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet And a light unto my path Thy word is a lamp unto my feet And a light unto my path

I will not forget Your love for me and yet My heart forever is wandering Jesus by my guide And hold me to Your side And I will love You to the end

Nothing will I fear As long as You are near Please be near me to the end

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet And a light unto my path Thy word is a lamp unto my feet And a light unto my path And a light unto my path You're the light unto my path

Sacred Reading: Hearing the Whisper of the Lord

Devote yourself to the...reading of Scripture...  1Timothy 4:13 Why not begin your fall Bible study (no matter what that may be) by reading, reading, and then reading again.

Or as my almost 4 year old grandson Carter and I would say, "Reading?...reading?...how about reading?"

Carter reading
Carter reading

And why should we read?  Because it's by repeated reading that we begin to get the "big picture" of what God is saying in the Bible.   We also begin to notice repeated key truths.

And most precious of all, we begin to hear the Lord speak to us through His treasured words.

As the prophet Jeremiah once said,

Your words were found and I ate them,And Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart;For I have been called by Your name,O Lord God of hosts.  Jeremiah 15:16

Or as my sweet friend Penny once prayed,

LORD, Your words are so delicious!

During the past summer, a small group of ladies met at BellHOP Cafe in Bellbrook OH every Friday afternoon.  We shared with each other the Lord's "whisperings" from our personal meditative reading in the Gospel of John from the previous week. Then we spent time in worship based on our treasured reflections. Our time with the Lord was so rich!

If you would like to explore what is traditionally called lectio divina, read this short excerpt and click here for the remainder of the article: Whisper of the Beloved (2 pages).

Lectio Divina is like the joyful reading of an ancient pile of love letters. It is a time to listen-- not to dissect, analyze, evaluate or dialogue. It is not studying to learn about the Scriptures; it is reading to listen. Come to this reading and listening as a young lover would-- eager to hear afresh the whisper of the Beloved. Listen to the sound of each word. Read slowly. And rest as you listen.

1098Whisper
1098Whisper

So this week, grab a journal or notebook, your Bible. Chose a book or passage (maybe using different versions for each day) and then just read, read, read -- not books about the Bible. Read the Scriptures!

Write down verses that jump out, thoughts that come to you in the reading...and of course, prayers that rise up.  Write it down.  Trust me, you will forget!  So you will be glad to have recorded what God may be saying to you!

So...HAPPY, RESTFUL READING...and I'll see you later on.

open bible
open bible

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2Timothy 3:16-17

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Here's a link to Bible Gateway. You can read in many different versions at his site. Just enter the passage and the version you want and...voila!

Voice-NT-cover79-204x300
Voice-NT-cover79-204x300

I've been enjoying The Voice, a new translation of the New Testament published by Thomas Nelson. For a free download and short video clips, follow this link:

http://www.nelsonfree.com/voicent

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Bible study
Bible study

If you would like to join us in our fall reading and study in the letter to the Hebrews, here is a chart that will help you as you read through the book of Hebrews multiple times.  Make notes in the corresponding boxes for each chapter as you go along:

Hebrews Reading Chart

Inviting Jesus into your stuff...no matter what!

Since our last post, have you been inviting Jesus into YOUR boat...whatever that may be right now? Immediately after realizing that Jesus wanted to be invited into MY boat (my everything), two other familiar Scripture passages came to mind.

I was thankful for this, because I had had the fleeting fear that I might have been too metaphorical with the "boat story."  But the Holy Spirit confirmed His rhema with these passages:

The first was the story of the two grieving disciples on the road to Emmaus on Resurrection Day.  They were discussing the events of the previous days, when a Stranger began walking with them.  This Stranger began explaining from the Scriptures why the Christ had to "suffer these things and enter into His glory."  Let's pick up the story right there...

… And He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! “Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?”  Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.

 And they approached the village where they were going, and He acted as though He were going farther.  But they urged Him, saying, “Stay with us, for it is getting toward evening, and the day is now nearly over.” So He went in to stay with them.  When He had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight. They said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?” Luke 24:25- 30

There it was again!  He acted as if He were going on UNTIL they urged Him to stay.  Does that amaze you as it does me?

Then this second passage came to mind:  the letter to the lukewarm church at Laodicea.  This church was so self-sufficient!  They thought they were "all it" and had everything they needed.  But Jesus told them basically, "You don't know how needy and bankrupt you really are!"

Let's read:

To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this:  ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot.  So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. ‘Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.  ‘Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. Rev 3:14-22

There it is again..."I'm standing here knocking on your life...and I won't come in UNLESS (if) you open the door (a.k.a. boat).  If you open to me, invite me in, I will come in.  Then we can have intimate fellowship together!"

I know...we usually use this as a salvation verse.  But it isn't primarily that, because it's to the CHURCH at Laodicea...that means believers too!

So then this simple truth dawned upon me:

No matter how old you are in the Lord, Jesus wants to be wanted by YOU!

Now that really blows my mind!  Does it yours?  The Sovereign God, our Lord Christ, wants to be wanted!

Next time, I'll tell you what happened when I began sharing this story.  But in the meantime,...

Invite Him into YOUR boat, dear brothers and sisters! Urge Him to stay! Open the door!

Why? Because the Lord wants us to experience His presence in our life situations: our emotional upheavals, our wounds, disappointments, the lies we’ve believed, our joy & sorrows…everything!  Then we can know that He is truly adequate for everything we may face in this life.

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For Bible students:

Here are some questions to explore:

Look at each of the three passages: the Boat story (Matthew 14:22-33); the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-30); and the letter to the church at Laodicea (Rev 3:14-22). [Try to answer the questions right from the texts of Scripture]

1.  Who was responsible for the circumstances in each Scripture passage?

2.  What/Who blinded the believers to the Lord’s presence &/or identity in each passage?

3.  What is the purpose or reason (Why?) for the Lord’s desire to enter into each situation with His people? [You might want to use the composite text from part 1 or Mark 6:51 for the boat story]

Bonus thought question:  Are there some things the Lord will NOT do unless asked?

Take a look at these scriptures: James 4:2 Matthew 7:7-11 Deut 29:29 Is 55:8

What other Scriptures come to mind as you meditate on this question?

 

Coming soon!

Coming in late fall/early winter 2014, a new devotional/ Bible Study book to be published by CrossBooks:   The WITH-ness of Our God: Relationship in Every Dimension by Jan Loyd

Do you realize that the Triune God offers us a relationship that encompasses every dimension, every direction, every angle, every aspect, every nuance, every everything, and every everyplace?  That’s right, our God longs that we know the reality of His loving Presence totally cocooning us in His Son by faith.

To explore this awesome truth, we go to the Holy Scriptures, to some small words that we could quickly gloss over.  Don't let these little words fool you.  These words, called prepositions, are power-packed with truth for our minds, hearts, and lives.

Lest you fear that you must know grammar to do this study, please put that fear to rest.  In each chapter, the author explores one of the prepositions in some key passages of Scripture.  Then the reader is guided through seven days of study and reflection on the truths unveiled.

So please join us in this journey through the unfathomable treasures of the Scriptures as we catch a fresh glimpse at our relationship with the Living God…all through some verbal treasures called prepositions.

TABLE of CONTENTS:

Chapter 1    Prepositional Truth

Chapter 2    The WITH-ness of our God: the Really Good News

Chapter 3    Christ FOR Us: Paid in Full!

Chapter 4    The WITH-ness of God Revisited: Life Union WITH Christ

Chapter 5    IN Christ:  the bottle IN the Ocean

Chapter 6    Christ IN Me:  the Ocean IN the bottle

Chapter 7    Living OUT OF Christ:  Life Outflowing

Chapter 8    Come TO Me: His Invitation to Faith

Chapter 9    Come INTO my Boat: My Invitation in Prayer

What OTHERS are saying...

I was so blessed when I read the study that Jan Loyd has written on the “WITH-ness of our God”.  It came at a time when I was weary in my spirit. I was so refreshed with the heart of the study, which is that God wants to be with us. Jan helps the learner to discover so clearly that God not only wants to be with us but He is always for us and lives in us as believers. In her study, she helps the student of Scripture capture the message of the spiritual rest that we can only have in Jesus Christ. I wholeheartedly encourage all believers to do this study. You WILL BE BLESSED!

Dr. Wayne Barber Senior Pastor, Woodland Park Baptist Church Former teacher, Precept Ministries Chattanooga, TN

This incredible book by Jan Loyd is not a quick read…it is not a fluffy feel-good book…it is a powerful interactive book that pulled me into the truth of God’s word. To glean the fruit available within its pages, I needed to take my time in order to engage in meditation, reflection, journaling, application, and worship. This is such a powerful book because the author has built into its structure the opportunities for individual growth and personal experience – it is a text, a workbook with prompts and study questions, and a doorway to capturing my thoughts on paper.

Jan does a masterful job of interweaving personal experiences, song lyrics, and metaphors with rich Bible studies and deep dives into solid theology. The book takes the reader from making biscuits and chocolate orange cake; to a walk in the vineyard and enjoying an ocean sunrise; to the life, salvation, sanctification and redemption found in Christ. Don’t miss this spiritual journey.

I have a little plastic, blue boat on my office desk…once you read this book you will want one too. As I begin to walk the Appalachian Trail this summer, I plan to join Jan’s Sunrise Club and I am putting a few handwritten notes from this book regarding courage and St. Patrick’s Breastplate in my backpack. Jan’s insights will provide me (and you) with powerful truth in times of loneliness and adversity.

Little words like prepositions will never be the same after an encounter with this book. These powerful words of motion, movement, and rest communicate the truth of the gospel with such significance. Jan’s insights provide wonderful windows of nuance into familiar passages of scripture. I highly recommend this book for a personal read, a group study, or a Sunday school class…but before you pick up this book, be ready to be pulled into the exciting reality of God’s word.

Dr. David Rough, Ed.D. Academic Dean Dayton Christian School System

We have been blessed by Jan's book, and her deep commitment to explore the depths of these 'prepositions.’ What a gift to the body of Christ! Jan's humble approach in this work will not only touch your heart, but I predict will help transport you (by His Spirit) to a remarkable place of meditation and devotion to God's Word for you and yours! When you and I find ourselves in those blessed places, we are often given, by His grace, moments of insight and understanding that are not only refreshing, but are also pieces of our continuing transformation. Please join me in thanking the Holy Spirit for His leading in the inspiration and development of this book. God bless you, Jan, and thanks!

Pastor Jim DeJonghe Soul Winners for Jesus Christ Dayton, Ohio

God used the truths in this study to open up a deeper understanding of what I have been given in the person of Jesus Christ, and how that understanding works itself out experientially in my daily life.  Jan takes deep spiritual truths and makes them very personal and accessible to those whose hearts yearn for the deeper things of God.  Let this study lead you to the richest treasure of all that we already possess--Christ Himself, "in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

Kathe Bricker wife, mother, Women’s Bible Study leader Patterson Park Church, Dayton, Ohio

This study changed the way I read and study Scripture.  Jan shows how these seemingly insignificant words we call prepositions are relevant and packed with meaning.  She takes her love for grammar and combines it with wisdom, insight, and experience to bring God's Truth to life in an easy to understand way.

Cynthia Travis wife, mother, sister in the Lord homeschool mom

This study is like worshiping for me.  It's about our relationship with, in, and through Christ.  Jan has been a friend and mentor to me for over 20 years.  She has a way of speaking God's word that has brought me and many more to maturity in Christ.  She once said to me, "If Christ isn't speaking, I have nothing to say." Amen. 

Shirley Wharton friend, student, and sister in Christ.

This study has truly been a blessing to me! Jan shows how the smallest of words (prepositions) points us to the most enormous and glorious of truths. “God’s greatest desire is for an intimate and loving relationship with each of us!"

Penny Mandeville wife, mother, grandmother, friend, sister in Christ

Jan takes you on an intimate journey with Jesus.  Her insight and word pictures concerning prepositions deepen your walk with the Lord ...and isn't that what we are all seeking!  Whether you are a new Christian or studied the word for years, you will grow in your understanding of Him.

Susan Brixey Program Assistant Institute of Defense Studies & Education and Center for Professional Education Wright State University Bible study student, Prov. 3:5-6

Does God speak to us?  The answer is an overpowering YES.  In Jan Loyd's new Bible study, The WITH-ness of our God, I found just how much He wants to communicate with us.  Jesus, God in the flesh, came to earth to fulfill the promises made in the Old Testament.  Jan brings to life through the study's nine chapters how much He wants to speak to us.  We see how Jesus walked among us, teaching of his love, and how he died FOR our sins, so we are forgiven, and through faith He lives IN us. This study opened my heart to these little words, Christ IN me, my life together WITH Him, He stands IN front and BEHIND me, but most important was the understanding that all I had to do was ask FOR Him to do what He has planned for my life.  Ask Jesus INTO my boat.  Through prayer and scripture with an open heart He will speak.

Mary Medley friend, Bible student, sister in Christ

Jan’s book blessed me with each page I turned and each chapter I read. Seeing and feeling that God and Christ are WITH me, FOR me, Christ is IN me, living OUT of me, His invitation to come TO Him and my inviting Him INTO my boat, INTO my life, my total surrender to Him.

Catherine “Kitty” Green Christ Follower wife, mother, friend

As I started this study, I did not anticipate the outcome of how common vocabulary functions, within a sentence, can apply such deep meaning to the truths of God's love already contained in the Word. Sharing personal stories and lessons learned throughout her own spiritual journey, Jan not only invites the reader to open their heart to these truths, but also encourages you to continue living life in, with, and for Jesus Christ.

Melinda Pinkerton sister in the Lord, author of mylifewithnf2.com

CHECK BACK again SOON for more!

There are dads...and then there's a DAD!

jeremy reading
jeremy reading

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.  Ephesians 5:1-2 ESV

None of us on this earth has had the perfect dad.  Some of us, though, would say we had pretty darn good ones…

Someone like my friend Shirley.  She describes her dad in two words…”Charles Ingalls”.  You remember him…from Little House on the Prairie fame, the TV Dad played by Michael Landon -- incredibly wise, loving, patient, and fun-loving.

There is another dad I would say is in the “Charles Ingalls” category.  He’s my son Jeremy.  Jeremy’s two little boys, Evan and Carter, are simply crazy about him!  Now, I would say that "Babci" (pronounced Bob-chee; Polish for grandma…and my title used by all my grandsons) borders on “rock star” status with those little boys… BUT not when Daddy is around (and rightfully so)!

my men
my men

One day, I was at their house when Jeremy arrived home.  Suddenly, any attention I was receiving immediately shifted toward the front door as Daddy made his humble, but “bedlam-producing” entrance.  Both Evan and Carter ran over to him screaming, jumping up and down -- each of them vying for his full attention.  Talk about energy and excitement!  This loving, game-playing dad was being smothered by his two adoring sons!  Somehow I can’t imagine that these little guys will have many, if any, “father-issues” growing up.

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ecard-abba-father
ecard-abba-father

This makes me think about another Dad…one much more “Charles Ingalls-like” than Charles Ingalls…or my son Jeremy.  A Father who is perfect in every way:

One who is there for me with love and wisdom and strength as I walk through this sin-cursed, broken world(James 1:5; 2Peter 1:2-3; Eph 3:20-21)

One who bestows every good and perfect gift (James 1:17)

One who gives joy and delight in His presence (Psalm 16:11)

Because of His Son Jesus, I can run to Him fully assured of being received with love and acceptance like Evan and Carter with their daddy (Heb 4:14-16).

Unlike them, however, I don’t have to vie with others for His full attention, because He is uniquely my Abba (Daddy in Bible language).  Yet at the same time, He is Abba for multitudes of other sons and daughters…because He’s our Father GOD, and we are in His Son Jesus Christ(John 14:6; 1Cor 1:30).

So I ask myself, how readily do I run to my Heavenly Father as my source of joy, delight, love, and provision?  Or do I rather turn to the"Babci's" of my life…the lesser “stars”, like appearance, activities, relationships, success, comfort, attention…good gifts, but not the Giver and Lover of my soul.

See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us that we should be called children of God…and SUCH WE ARE! 1John 3:1

[First posted on June 15th, 2011]

Psalm 91
Psalm 91

You might also like the Abba Fatherseries and the Living as God's Child Bible study. Click for list of posts.

Prayer: WHY Pray?

WHY?  But WHY?  Often this is the most confusing and heart-rending of all questions. Why?  Because it is very often unaswerable...and that's the rub!  Why represents our helplessness in the face of life in a fallen world, doesn't it?

The last question in our study begins with this word, Why?

Why does the Lord want to be invited into our "stuff?"

 Despite the dilemmas that this word often represents, there's no dilemma here.  And it's all because of one little word -- a beautiful, wonderful word!  And the same word is found in each of our three stories.  Let's take a look:

1.  The Boat Story Prayer

When the disciples realized who Jesus was, as He was ready to walk past, they received Him willingly into their boat.  Then the Bible says,

He got into the boat with them. Mark 6:51

And then, of course, He calmed the storm and took them to the shore.

2.  The Road to Emmaus

When Jesus was ready to keep on walking, the disciples urged Him, saying,

Stay with us...So He went in to stay with them. Luke 24:29

3.  Jesus Knocking

Jesus pointed out how miserable, poor, and naked the self-sufficient Laodician believers were.  But then He told them whoever opens the door to His knocking,

I will come in to him and will dine with him and he with ME. Rev 3:20

Did you see it? with!

Oh that wonderful word, with!**  How I love it!  What that little word says to my heart is that Jesus wants me to experience Him with me at all times, in every situation.

That makes me think of my mother-in-law, who is in a retirement community.  In recent years, she has had to move into increasing levels of care.  Despite the excellent care and the loving attitudes of the staff, the residents there are often lonely, truly needy, and pathetic* (in the truest sense of the word).

It's hard to go visit!  When we go, we can't help but see many searching, "hungry" eyes...looking for someone to just be with them!  And when I take my young grandsons there, many of the "seemingly dead-inside-people" come alive!

Friends, we are all, in reality, needy, weak, lonely, and pathetic*...but Jesus loves us anyway.  He wants to be with us in our stuff!  Are you experiencing the intimate with-ness of your Savior in your life and circumstances today?  Invite Him!  Urge (desire) Him!  Open to Him!  He's there!

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Further study and meditation:

Do you ever feel like the Lord is asleep in your boat?  He's in the situation, but He's silent.  You are playing the waiting game!

Take a look at another boat story in Mark 4:35-41.

Though you may be going through what feels like the "Dark Night of the Soul," find comfort...He's there and in control.  (And remember God's timing is perfect...as it was on the road to Emmaus!)

Thou art the Lord who slept upon the pillow, Thou art the Lord who soothed the furious sea, What matters beating wind and tossing billow If only we are in the boat with Thee?

Hold us quiet through the age-long minute While Thou art silent and the wind is shrill : Can the boat sink while Thou, dear Lord, are in it; Can the heart faint that waiteth on Thy will?” — Amy Carmichael

*pa·thet·ic/pəˈTHetik/  Adjective:  Arousing pity, esp. through vulnerability or sadness.  Miserably inadequate. Synonyms:  touching - piteous - moving - pitiful - pitiable

**for the 3 Greek words translated with see "Caught in the Web."  Each has varying degrees of closeness.

Prayer: WHAT blinds us to His Presence?

One day, I was checking my facebook newsfeed.  My eyes scrolled down to the latest post by our daughter-in-law Cortney, on her fb page Evan Has Landed.  This is what she wrote about our then 5 year old grandson:

Evan has been awake for 10 minutes and already has asked 30 questions. Yes I've been counting! The latest question, "do snakes have eyebrows?" no wonder my head explodes about 1:00 each day! Happy Monday!!

I had to laugh out loud knowing Evan.  So I shared it to my facebook.  My friend Barb commented, "So do they?" :)

Kids are full of questions...as every parent (and grandparent) knows.  Why is that?  It's because that by asking questions, children "learn life in this world!"

And I believe that as children of God, we can "learn life in the Spirit" by asking questions...yes, of God and His Word.*

So here's our next question in our Bible study on Prayer:

What blinds us to the Lord's presence in our lives?

 1.  The Boat Story (Matthew 14:22-33)

When the disciples were out in the midst of the sea, at the darkest part of the night, winds and waves crashing upon their little boat...they were scared stiff! (Matthew 26)  The Greek word here is tarasso, which means agitated, stirred up.  It's a picturesque word, reflective of the agitated and stirred up waves and wind surrounding them!

They were afraid and rightfully so!.  Fear is a perfectly normal, human emotion in the face of danger and dread.  I suspect that it may have been part of Jesus' own emotions in the Garden of Gethsemane, the night before He died (Hebrews 5:7-9).

But as a result of the disciples' fear, they didn't recognize Him who was walking to them "on the chaos of their lives."   That is, not until He spoke, "It is I, do not be afraid!"

Then their tarasso fear turned to reverential awe, "Surely, You are the Son of God!"

2.  The Road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-30)

As the disciples were walking along, a Stranger approached them.  In verse 16, it says that the disciples' "eyes were prevented from recognizing Him."

Now I don't want to lose you here...please stay with me.  The verb "were prevented" is in the "passive voice,"  which simply means that they didn't do the action of preventing!  It wasn't their fault that they didn't recognize Him.  Someone else did that action of preventing.  Who do you suppose that Someone was?  You got it!  Our Father God!  Jesus Himself had said,

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me... John 6:44-45 ESV

Do you remember when they recognized the Stranger as their Lord Jesus Christ?  That's right, it was at the "breaking of the bread," reminiscent of the supper the night before He died.

 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. Luke 24:31 ESV

Our passive voice again...so Who do you suppose did the opening?  You got it again!   The Father opened their eyes at just the right moment.

It's so interesting to stop and think about how perfect God's timing was here.  Their burning hearts (as the Lord had shared the Scriptures with them on the way) then gave way to open eyes!

And these discouraged, confused, grieving Christ followers could then embrace the Resurrected Christ with a strong faith and tender hearts!

And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, “The Lord has risen indeed...” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread. Luke 24:34-35 ESV

3.  Jesus Knocking (Rev 3:15-20)

This one is a no brainer.  The sad state of this group of believers was caused by their own pride and self-sufficiency.  They were wealthy and self-absorbed.  They didn't need anything, because they had it all!  And all of that blinded them to the Lord's presence in their midst.  They had themselves in view...not Jesus!

At the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said,

Blessed are the poor in spirit,     for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.... Blessed are the meek,     for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,     for they will be filled...  Blessed are the pure in heart,     for they will see God. Matthew 5:3-10 NIV

What about YOU and ME?

We often "strain at our own oars," thinking we have it in us to overcome our own dificulties and meet the demands of life.   Then we find out we don't!

We get scared...no, terrified at times!  We are blind to our ever-present (in fact, indwelling) Source for all of life...our Lord Christ!

It's then we can hear the Lord say to us,

It is I [I AM]!  Do not be afraid! Open the door to me... invite Me in...I've been here all the time!

 

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* a la inductive Bible study...in particular, Precept Upon Precept

Prayer: WHO is responsible for our Circumstances?

In my beginning ESOL class, I like to teach my students the basic question words early on in the school year.  These question words are important for us in order to get information.  And when we recognize them and use them correctly, we can have interesting conversations! Here they are...the 5W's & H:  Who? What? When? Where? Why? and How?

Maybe you noticed (or not) that we used three of these key question words in our Bible study from Part 2:  Who? What? Why?

So let's have a conversation about the first question:

WHO is responsible for the circumstances we find ourselves in?

The short answer, GOD!  He has sovereign control of the universe.  Ultimately, if He doesn't ordain/allow it, it can't happen! (Deut 32:39)  But at times there can also be other "agents" involved.

That being said, let's go to our question in the context of our three stories:

1.  The Boat Story (Matthew 14:22)

Did you notice that in Matthew 14, it says that Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him?  (And ultimately they ended up out it the storm!)  The Greek word for made is literally the word compelHe compelled them to get in the boat and go ahead of Him!

Now in my thinking, compel is a strong word.  So the disciples went into circumstances that were totally not of their choosing, but were absolutely God-ordained.

2.  The Road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-14)

In Luke 24, the two disciples on the road to Emmaus found themselves confused and discouraged.  Why?  Because of the arrest, trial, abuse, crucifixion, and burial of their Hero...their Messiah.  They hadn't yet gotten it about the resurrection and victory of the Lord.  So they were thrust into the midst of circumstances that Peter, filled with the Spirit, later declared on the day of Pentecost,

 Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know— this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power. Acts 2:22-24 NASB

So here these Christ-followers were in the midst of circumstances that were God-ordained and yet sinful men were responsible!  Man did it, but God did it!  Jesus Himself said that it was "necessary." (Luke 24:26)

3.  Jesus Knocking (Rev 3:15-20)

In our last story, we see something totally different!  We see circumstances that were caused by these believers own self-sufficient, prideful choices and attitudes.  They thought they didn't need a thing...they had it all!  And Jesus told them that they did't know how bankrupt they really were!  So their circumstances were their own fault.  But guess what?  Jesus was there for them anyway...if they would just open the door!

Good News for us!

And that is good news for us!  No matter whether our circumstances are purely beyond our control and totally God-ordained...or caused by other sinful men...or because of our own stupid, prideful choices...guess what?  Jesus is there waiting to be invited in to our "boats"...to be urged to stay...to have our door opened to HIM!

What are your circumstances today?  Don't over-analyze it...open wide to Him!  HE loves you and wants to be wanted by YOU!

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More questions next time :)

PRAYER: a Big Question

questions
questions

Do you often feel like there are more questions than answers when it comes to prayer?*  I do! To think that a sovereign, all-knowing and all-powerful God, Who...

...does according to His will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay His hand or say to Him, “What have You done?” Daniel 4:34 ESV

...would respond to our cries!  And not only that...He actually want us to cry out to Him and invite Him in!

Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known. Jeremiah 33:3 ESV

It's beyond comprehension!

I believe that's because prayer is one of God's mysteries.  I love this thought from David Roper in his wonderful book Teach Us to Number our Days,

The chief difference between orthodoxy and heresy is that orthodoxy is rooted in paradox and mystery, while heresy is usually rooted in clarity and precision.  (quoting St Irenaeus, 2nd century)

And it seems to me that becoming increasingly comfortable with mystery and paradox is a sign of growth in the Lord.  We are okay with GOD being GOD!

That being said, here are some thoughts, meditations, and Scriptures.  We will need to leave the remaining questions in the mind of God! :)

Now to the question that always comes to mind eventually: [Bonus Question from Part 2/ Now retitled PRAYER: urging...& opening... to better reflect the content].

Are there some things the Lord will NOT do unless asked?

The short answer is, "I don't know!"

But before you click out, let's reflect together:

seeking
seeking

Our persistent asking and seeking with good motives is important to God.  See  James 4:2 and Matthew 7:7-11.  It seems to make a difference to Him!

But there's also the issue of common grace. God just does good things for His creatures, and most especially His children, whether we ask or not. God is the giver of every good, and perfect gift...wherever those gifts may be found!   See James 1:17-18 and Matthew 5:45

In fact, God goes above and beyond what we ask or even think...abundantly beyond!  See Ephesians 3:20-21

On the other hand, we often feel that our prayers go unanswered.  That's when these Scriptures give great insight and comfort:

 The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.  Deut 29:29

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.  Is 55:8

Even Jesus the Son didn't know some things...He only knew what the Father gave Him to know!  Talk about astounding!

...Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place...But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. Matthew 24:34-36 (see also John 5:19-23)

aslan & lucy
aslan & lucy

This inability for us to know what God knows about prayer...or anything else for that matter...reminds me of a conversation between Lucy and Aslan [the Jesus figure] in Prince Caspianby CS Lewis.

In Prince Caspian, sequel to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Lucy is the child that is in tune with Aslan...his voice and calling.  She insists that she has seen him, though her siblings don't believe her.  As a result, they all decide to not to act on Lucy's insights...with disastrous results!

When Lucy finally meets up with Aslan, the dialogue goes something like this [my paraphrase]:

Lucy...I knew I saw you, but the others didn't believe me.

Aslan..Why should that have made a difference?

Lucy...Would all this NOT have happened if I would have come to you?

Aslan...We can't knowwhat would have happened.  But what WILL happen is another matter!

Lucy...Will you help?

Aslan...Of course! As will you!

We can't know what would have happened if we had prayed.  But what we do know is that God wants us to pray today...always...and somehow in His sovereign grace, HE puts it all together for HIS glory and OUR good (Romans 8:28-40)!

Then Jesus told his disciples...that they should always pray and not give up Luke 18:1-8

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* Keep in mind that we are talking primarily about prayers of petition.  There are many other forms of prayer:  worship, adoration, thanksgiving, confession, etc.  What they all have in common, including petition, is atotal focus on the Lord!

"If you want that splendid power in prayer, you must remain in loving, living, lasting, conscious, practical, abiding union with the Lord Jesus Christ." C. H. Spurgeon 

More Q & A next time...see you then!

PRAYER: "out of the mouths of babes"

Inviting the Lord into my boat, urging Him to stay, opening the door...so simple! Almost too simple...so much so that I was hesitant to share.  Why?  My pride!

I thought, "Surely all the spiritually mature Christians I know already know this (duh!) and are consistently doing it!"

[And Who was it that said we must become as little children?]

So for a whole year I was inviting Jesus into everything, in particular our major family crisis: our 20 year old son's cancer as well as our daughter's tumors.  But I resisted any thoughts (if I even had them) of sharing my "Boat story."

Every day that year as I drove to school, I would invite the Lord into my preschool class -- my "dream team" group (and maybe that's why they were a "dream team"!).

Then when the next school year approached, I realized that such a simple story could be shared with 4 year olds.  So that's what I did.

I got my favorite Bible story book, bought little plastic boats, and early in September, I taught those precious little preschoolers about the disciples inviting Jesus into their boat to be with them in the storm.  I ended with...

"Our classroom is our boat.  We can invite Jesus into our classroom."

Right away, little David spoke up very adamantly...

"Well, let's do it right NOW!"

And little 4 year old David "burst into prayer," inviting Jesus into our classroom to be with us!  In fact, almost every time we prayed together as a group, David would invite the Lord in!

Not long after, I shared the story of my preschoolers and little David inviting the Lord into our classroom/boat with my Precept ladies Bible study group.

One of the ladies suffered a stroke shortly thereafter.  When I visited Dona in the hospital, she told me how scared she had been when the paramedics were transporting her in the ambulance.

"Then I remembered the little boy David, and I said to myself, 'I can do that too...invite the Lord into my boat!'"  So she invited Jesus into the ambulance and the hospital and everything that went on there.  And Dona added, "I had perfect peace!"

What is it about the simple boat story that we all get?  from preschoolers to moms...from teenagers to senior citizens...from students to teachers to school administrators (and over the past 15 years, I've shared with all of the above)?

I think the simple answer is that on the deepest level, we all desire...no, we crave...to experience the intimate, powerful, peaceful presence of the Lord in the midst of our "stuff"...our boats!  And in our heart of hearts, we are all just children incognito :)

Why not share the boat story with someone today? Get some plastic boats and a Bible story book and start with your children (or someone else's children).

We can learn a lot from the little ones...like my friend Dona did!

From the lips of children and infants     you, Lord, have called forth your praise. Matthew 21:16

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Kaden studyingBible Students
Are you working on the questions at the end of Part Two?  You'll be glad you did! 
Next time we'll take a look at those questions with some application to our lives.  Why not join us there?
See you in a few days :)

PRAYER: urging...and opening...

Since our last post, have you been inviting Jesus into YOUR boat...whatever that may be right now? Immediately after realizing that Jesus wanted to be invited into MY boat (my everything), two other familiar Scripture passages came to mind.

I was thankful for this, because I had had the fleeting fear that I might have been too metaphorical with the "boat story."  But the Holy Spirit confirmed His rhema with these passages:

The first was the story of the two grieving disciples on the road to Emmaus on Resurrection Day.  They were discussing the events of the previous days, when a Stranger began walking with them.  This Stranger began explaining from the Scriptures why the Christ had to "suffer these things and enter into His glory."  Let's pick up the story right there...

… And He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! “Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?”  Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.

 And they approached the village where they were going, and He acted as though He were going farther.  But they urged Him, saying, “Stay with us, for it is getting toward evening, and the day is now nearly over.” So He went in to stay with them.  When He had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight. They said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?” Luke 24:25- 30

There it was again!  He acted as if He were going on UNTIL they urged Him to stay.  Does that amaze you as it does me?

Then this second passage came to mind:  the letter to the lukewarm church at Laodicea.  This church was so self-sufficient!  They thought they were "all it" and had everything they needed.  But Jesus told them basically, "You don't know how needy and bankrupt you really are!"

Let's read:

To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this:  ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot.  So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. ‘Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.  ‘Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. Rev 3:14-22

There it is again..."I'm standing here knocking on your life...and I won't come in UNLESS (if) you open the door (a.k.a. boat).  If you open to me, invite me in, I will come in.  Then we can have intimate fellowship together!"

I know...we usually use this as a salvation verse.  But it isn't primarily that, because it's to the CHURCH at Laodicea...that means believers too!

So then this simple truth dawned upon me:

No matter how old you are in the Lord, Jesus wants to be wanted by YOU!

Now that really blows my mind!  Does it yours?  The Sovereign God, our Lord Christ, wants to be wanted!

Next time, I'll tell you what happened when I began sharing this story.  But in the meantime,...

Invite Him into YOUR boat, dear brothers and sisters! Urge Him to stay! Open the door!

Why? Because the Lord wants us to experience His presence in our life situations: our emotional upheavals, our wounds, disappointments, the lies we’ve believed, our joy & sorrows…everything!  Then we can know that He is truly adequate for everything we may face in this life.

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For Bible students:

Here are some questions* to explore:

Look at each of the three passages: the Boat story (Matthew 14:22-33); the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-30); and the letter to the church at Laodicea (Rev 3:14-22). [Try to answer the questions right from the texts of Scripture]

1.  Who was responsible for the circumstances in each Scripture passage?

2.  What/Who blinded the believers to the Lord’s presence &/or identity in each passage?

3.  What is the purpose or reason (Why?) for the Lord’s desire to enter into each situation with His people? [You might want to use the composite text from part 1 or Mark 6:51 for the boat story]

Bonus thought question:  Are there some things the Lord will NOT do unless asked?

Take a look at these scriptures: James 4:2 Matthew 7:7-11 Deut 29:29 Is 55:8

What other Scriptures come to mind as you meditate on this question?

*Thoughts and "answers" in a future post :)

Thinking of Spiritual Fathers

I am writing to you, fathers,    because you know him who is from the beginning. 1 John 2:13,14 ESV

This Fathers Day I'm thinking about spiritual fathers.   I've been blessed to have some.   My life has been forever enriched by being "spiritually fathered" by these people of God.

This year one of them, Dr. Howard Hendricks, went home to be with the Lord.  You may have been fathered by him also through his books and messages.

Back in the early 1980's, when my husband was at Dallas Theological Seminary, I had the privilege to take two classes with Dr. Hendricks ("Prof"):  Hermeneutics and Bible Study Methods and the Christian Home.   His classes were immensely practical, encouraging, exciting, and motivating.  One of his quotes I have never forgotten is "You cannot impart what you do not possess."**

His life and teaching had an impact on many, many others besides myself.  In fact, people like Chuck Swindoll, David Wilkinson, and others trace their growth of their vision and ministry back to the mentoring of this man of God.  [To read the article about his life in the DTS magazine, click here.]

But these days, I'm also thinking about another spiritual father, the apostle John.  In His first epistle, the elder apostle penned a tenderhearted passage on the growth stages in a believer's life (1 John 2:12-14 ESV).  Did you notice that he repeats two times the exact same description of the "father stage" of spiritual growth?

"...you know Him who has been from the beginning."

"You know GOD in His pure Person...the great I AM, the Burning Bush God, Jehovah!"  Nothing else is needed...nothing else distracts.  There's a total focus on the Ever-Present God and what HE is doing...especially in the lives of people.

Henri Nouwen, in his wonderful book The Return of the Prodigal talks about how we are each ultimately called to be the "father (or mother)" in others' lives.

...my final vocation is indeed to become like the Father and to live out His divine compassion in my daily life...every son and daughter has to choose to step beyond their childhood and become father and mother for others.  It is a hard and lonely step to take... Return of the Prodigal, p121.

Nouwen talks about three ways to truly compassionate fatherhood:  grief, forgiveness, and generosity.  All three of these characteristics require a heart completely empty of self-seeking, a heart that steps over our own stuff  and pours itself out for others.  This is where the Father seeks to take His children as they "grow up" in Him.

I love the image of "stepping over our own stuff."  It has helped me many a time in conversation or in situations to remember that as I mature in God I must be willing to step over this conflict, that slight, the other hurt, etc.  That's the way of the Father...and the way of fathers and mothers who walk in His way on behalf of His children:

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Eph 5:1-2 ESV

Do you have any spiritual fathers in your life?  If so, thank God and imitate their faith!  If not, ask God for some...they are treasures!  And then grow to become one!

Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Hebrews 13:7 ESV

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**"PROF-isms" sayings of Professor Howard Hendricks

A belief is what you argue about; a conviction is what you die for.

You cannot impart what you do not possess.

You can impress from a distance, but you can only impact up close.

You teach what you know, but you reproduce what you are.

When God measures a man he puts the tape around the heart, not the head.

Jesus never discipled one-on-one.

There are many things in life you “can do” for God. And the more success you have, the more opportunities will come. (You will know more people, you will have more resources, etc.) But most opportunities are distractions in disguise. Therefore find the one thing you “must do” for God. You focus on the depth of your relationship [with God]; let Him determine the scope of your ministry A good leader has a compass in their head and a magnet in their heart. Spend the rest of your life doing what God prepared you to do. The secret to concentration is elimination.

Nothing is more common that unfulfilled potential.

Biblically speaking, to hear and not to do is not to hear at all.

The size of your God determines the size of everything.

People tell me they want to make the bible relevant.  Nonsense. The Bible is already relevant.  You're the one that's irrelevant.

Never traffic in unpracticed truth.

All people are born originals, but most die a copy.

Heaven is a Person:  Jesus Christ.

There's no such thing as faith apart from risk-taking.  Creativity takes risks. The people who are most secure in Jesus Christ shouldn't be scared to try new things.

Our problem is that we are in the Word but not under the Word.

Most people don’t think, they just rearrange their prejudices.

Your career is what you're paid to do; your calling is what you're made to do.

My fear is not that you would fail, but that you will succeed in doing the wrong thing.

You are able to do many things. Be sure you find the one thing you must do.

Your strengths develop your confidence; your weaknesses develop your faith.

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Living as Abba's Child: darling little children ( a study in 1John) 

Living as Abba's Child: "darling little children"

Years ago, when a friend had lost her last remaining parent, she said to me, “Now I feel like an orphan!” I’ve thought about her statement over the years and come to realize that we believers usually live like spiritual orphans.  We live as if we don’t have a Father Who tenderly loves and cares for us.  We live as orphans in a scary world.  But His heart is that we would live as His children in union with Him in His Son.

In his first epistle, the apostle John, by then an elder father of the faith, appeals to his readers (and to us) as “little children”.  The Greek word used has the idea of “my darling little children” or “honey” (“Hon’” as I call my little grandsons).  The word is in the diminutive form and so conveys great affection.

Spend some time exploring the seven verses in 1 John where he uses this sweet, affectionate word…keeping in mind that God our Father is speaking these words to you, His darling daughter or His precious son.

What is He saying to you? (Don’t forget to check the context, the surrounding verses, to get the whole message.)

1.  1John 2:1

2.  1John 2:12

3.  1John 2:28

4.  1John 3:7

5.  1John 3:18

6.  1John 4:4

7.  1John 5:21

Now that you’ve listed the Father’s encouragements and exhortations, pray over how they affect you and your relationship with your Abba Father, with His other children, with God’s enemy, and with the world.

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Now look again at the second chapter.  In that chapter, the apostle John has special instructions to “little children” at varying stages of spiritual growth.

So within the context of being the Father’s darlings (and complete in Christ, Col 2:9-10) comes the realization that on the human, earthly level, we are at different stages in our walk with the Lord.  John pictures it as different stages of human growth:  babies, young men (teenagers), father (or mothers).  Keep in mind, though, that these are not chronological ages, but rather spiritual stages, no matter the chronological age.

I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. [Jehovah = I AM] I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, children. [different Gk word, “a baby, infant”] because you know the Father [“Abba”].

I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. [Jehovah = I AM]. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one. 1 John 2:13-14

List the characteristic(s) of each stage of growth from these verses:

1.   babes, infants =

2.   young men =

3.   fathers =

While we are on this earth, there will be pitfalls and dangers at every stage of growth.  Read through 1 John again, making note of exhortations that could be particularly helpful to “little children” at each stage of spiritual growth.

1.    Baby Christians

2.    Maturing young Christians:

3.    Fathers/mothers in the faith:

Meditate on this central thought of 1 John.  Thank the Father for loving you and choosing you to be in His family.

See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason, the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are the children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when he appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. 1 John 3:1-3

If you are studying with a group:

1.    What characteristic of a child do you feel you particularly need?  Why?

2.    Read each of the 7 exhortations to the “little children” in 1 John.  Discuss any that jump out at you.

3.    Which stage of spiritual growth do you think you are in?  Does it still help to know that you are a “little honey” to your Abba?

4.    Are there any pitfalls or struggles in your life that you would like to share with your sisters/brothers for prayer? Any exhortations from 1 John that match these?

Pray for each person immediately after sharing.  Invite the Lord into the area of concern.

 

Hebrews: Cocooning Again!

GOD IS IN CONTROL!  Even of the weather in Ohio! So here we are for another week...reading and meditating...trusting in God's timing.  There are no mistakes with Him, and so I have to believe even our decision to cancel wasn't a mistake.  Thank you, Lord!

So for our Snow-Day Students of Hebrews:  We are again resting in the glorious first chapter of the epistle, and chapter one of Hoping for Something Better.

Here are some suggestions for this week of study if you already have your homework done:

  • Why not read through the book of Hebrews with colored pencil in hand.  Mark every time you come to a reference to Jesus as our great High Priest...there are many!  You can also summarize what is said about Him in each of those references, if you care to.
  • Also with colored pencil, read through marking the word "better."  Jot down what Jesus is better than.
  • Explore the study in the next post (coming soon) on our Great High Priest seated at the right hand of God.  Make a list from what you see in Scripture and from your own meditation on the benefits to you personally because Jesus is seated at the Father's right hand.
  • PRAY FOR GOOD WEATHER FOR NEXT FRIDAY!  We are "hoping for something better!"  :)  Don't give up!

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