Thursday, May 31, 2012

100 Names of Jesus

Found this on Twitter a few days ago, posted by Emmanuel Fellowship's blog here

Too good not to share this post! How cool would it be to study each of these names this summer??

After personally experiencing the authority and power of Jesus as He spoke peace to a raging sea, the disciples were left sitting in the stillness, wet from the rain and wondering:

“Who is this man?” they asked. “Even the winds and waves obey him!” –Matthew 8:27 (NLT)

Over and again the Bible answers this amazing question by giving us glimpses of the character of Jesus through the names and descriptions we find of Him.

Here is a list of 100 Names of Jesus we find in the pages of the Bible. You can find the verses and study the context of each name by accessing the Logos Online Bible.

Advocate (1 John 2:1)
Almighty (Rev. 1:8; Mt. 28:18)
Alpha and Omega (Rev. 1:8; 22:13)
Amen (Rev. 3:14)
Apostle of our Profession (Heb. 3:1)
Atoning Sacrifice for our Sins (1 John 2:2)
Author of Life (Acts 3:15)
Author and Perfecter of our Faith (Heb. 12:2)
Author of Salvation (Heb. 2:10)
Beginning and End (Rev. 22:13)
Blessed and only Ruler (1 Tim. 6:15)
Bread of God (John 6:33)
Bread of Life (John 6:35; 6:48)
Capstone (Acts 4:11; 1 Pet. 2:7)
Chief Cornerstone (Eph. 2:20)
Chief Shepherd (1 Pet. 5:4)
Christ (1 John 2:22)
Creator (John 1:3)
Deliverer (Rom. 11:26)
Eternal Life (1 John 1:2; 5:20)
Everlasting Father (Isa. 9:6)
Gate (John 10:9)
Faithful and True (Rev. 19:11)
Faithful Witness (Rev. 1:5)
Faith and True Witness (Rev. 3:14)
First and Last (Rev. 1:17; 2:8; 22:13)
Firstborn From the Dead (Rev. 1:5)
God (John 1:1; 20:28; Heb. 1:8; Rom. 9:5; 2 Pet. 1:1;1 John 5:20; etc.)
Good Shepherd (John 10:11,14)
Great Shepherd (Heb. 13:20)
Great High Priest (Heb. 4:14)
Head of the Church (Eph. 1:22; 4:15; 5:23)
Heir of all things (Heb. 1:2)
High Priest (Heb. 2:17)
Holy and True (Rev. 3:7)
Holy One (Acts 3:14)
Hope (1 Tim. 1:1)
Hope of Glory (Col. 1:27)
Horn of Salvation (Luke 1:69)
I Am (John 8:58)
Image of God (2 Cor. 4:4)
King Eternal (1 Tim. 1:17)
King of Israel (John 1:49)
King of the Jews (Mt. 27:11)
King of kings (1 Tim 6:15; Rev. 19:16)
King of the Ages (Rev. 15:3)
Lamb (Rev. 13:8)
Lamb of God (John 1:29)
Lamb Without Blemish (1 Pet. 1:19)
Last Adam (1 Cor. 15:45)
Life (John 14:6; Col. 3:4)
Light of the World (John 8:12)
Lion of the Tribe of Judah (Rev. 5:5)
Living One (Rev. 1:18)
Living Stone (1 Pet. 2:4)
Lord (2 Pet. 2:20)
Lord of All (Acts 10:36)
Lord of Glory (1 Cor. 2:8)
Lord of lords (Rev. 19:16)
LORD [YHWH] our Righteousness (Jer. 23:6)
Man from Heaven (1 Cor. 15:48)
Mediator of the New Covenant (Heb. 9:15)
Mighty God (Isa. 9:6)
Morning Star (Rev. 22:16)
Offspring of David (Rev. 22:16)
Only Begotten Son of God (John 1:18; 1 John 4:9)
Our Great God and Savior (Titus 2:13)
Our Holiness (1 Cor. 1:30)
Our Husband (2 Cor. 11:2)
Our Protection (2 Thess. 3:3)
Our Redemption (1 Cor. 1:30)
Our Righteousness (1 Cor. 1:30)
Our Sacrificed Passover Lamb (1 Cor. 5:7)
Power of God (1 Cor. 1:24)
Precious Cornerstone (1 Pet. 2:6)
Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6)
Prophet (Acts 3:22)
Resurrection and Life (John 11:25)
Righteous Branch (Jer. 23:5)
Righteous One (Acts 7:52; 1 John 2:1)
Rock (1 Cor. 10:4)
Root of David (Rev. 5:5; 22:16)
Ruler of God’s Creation (Rev. 3:14)
Ruler of the Kings of the Earth (Rev. 1:5)
Savior (Eph. 5:23; Titus 1:4; 3:6; 2 Pet. 2:20)
Son of David (Lk. 18:39)
Son of God (John 1:49; Heb. 4:14)
Son of Man (Mt. 8:20)
Son of the Most High God (Lk. 1:32)
Source of Eternal Salvation for all who obey him (Heb. 5:9)
The One Mediator (1 Tim. 2:5)
The Stone the builders rejected (Acts 4:11)
True Bread (John 6:32)
True Light (John 1:9)
True Vine (John 15:1)
Truth (John 1:14; 14:6)
Way (John 14:6)
Wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:24)
Wonderful Counselor (Isa. 9:6)
Word (John 1:1)
Word of God (Rev. 19:13)

I have personally experienced Jesus through many of the names found on this list, but one of my greatest treasures is to know Him as my friend.

Do you know Jesus? Which of these names have you discovered Him to be?

{Emmanuel Fellowship Church Blog: Monday Morning Review}

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Bag Sale {Update #1}

WOW! I am overwhelmed at your responses to the post from last week about our Bag Sale at Aynesworth Elementary {Read about it here}

We've decided to collect donations of things and discount them waaaaaay down to offer a giant yard sale to the families of Aynesworth Elementary.

Just an update since many of you have asked "What do you NEED?" My thought was that this sale would be based around necessities . . . food, clothing, and hygiene products (not home decor-the last thing I want to do is further push the lie of materialism that the more you have, the "better" you are.)

So here's a list of things we could use:

Clothes (all sizes, baby-adult, men/woman, boys/girls)
Underwear (new only)

Groceries (perishable/non-perishable)
Fresh fruit/veggies
canned goods
(no meat or dairy since we won't have a refrigerator)

Hygiene Products
Laundry Soap
Dish soap
Cleaning products
Toilet paper
Baby wipes

All reading levels

Bibles (Spanish, English, Bilingual)

The original date didn't work out for most of the girls, so our bag sale will be on Tuesday 6/12 from 5-8pm at Aynesworth Elementary. If you'd like to help in any way, please let me know! A small donation will go a long way!

"Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen." (Ephesians 3:20-21)

Monday, May 28, 2012

You Have Heard That It Was Said . . .

{Meditation Monday: My Journey Through the Sermon on the Mount}

In the beatitudes, Jesus sets up for us a picture of how we become truly blessed . . . by becoming poor in spirit, mourning, meek, hungry and thirsty, merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers, and persecuted. Not the list you were expecting right? I thought you were supposed to find happiness in the American Dream, outer beauty, intelligence, pride, fancy cars, successful careers, money, family, and all that jazz.

We've been taught that those things are what you're supposed to pursue and what you're supposed to delight in, then you can just add on God here and there when you feel like it. Then Jesus enters the scene and flips our entire world upside down. None of these things bring true happiness, this is not the way to being "blessed".

Jesus starts the Sermon on the Mount by reframing our thinking to who God is, who we are, and how we inherit the eternal life. And He knows us so that well, that even after teaching us how to bow low in order to be raised high, we will still turn to our religious way. We will still want to "perform" for God, we still want religion that is outward and shallow, rather than relationship and heart change that is inward.

So he is saying . . . Daughter, if you still think you can be "good enough" to earn eternal life, you don't understand. Let me teach you about trying to "keep" the law:

"You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment. . ." (v.21-22)

"You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (v.27-28)

"It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery." (v.31-32)

"You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also." (v.38-39)

"You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. . ." (v.43-44)

"You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (v.48)

So what is Jesus doing? Setting up an impossible religious task? Giving us more law and rule to follow that are impossible?

He is showing us that if you think you're going to inherit the Kingdom through how you live . . . you've got a long way to go. If you think you can stand in the presence of holiness, that your "deeds", your "I'm a good person" line will work then you know what . . . you better be PERFECT as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Jesus, that's impossible!


That's why I died for you. I died, a perfect, complete, sinless, sacrifice so that you would stop trying to "achieve" eternal life, and rest in the finished work of the Cross. Don't look to the law to fulfill you, remember I fulfilled it already? Don't look "doing good deeds" as some kind of heavenly credit, I'm your credit.

Daughter, you have heard that it was said "Work hard at keeping the law to earn your salvation" . . . and I say "Stop working and trust in me".

"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Friday, May 25, 2012

3 Words, 1 Chapter

If I had to sum up what the LORD is teaching me in 3 words, they would be:

Specifically serving the poor. How am I ministering to the oppressed, rejected, forgotten, needy, hurting?

How can I live on less to give away more? Rejecting excess for simplicity.

Do I truly delight in and rest in the LORD?

If I had to sum up my time with the LORD in one chapter right now, it would be Isaiah 58. And not because I'm studying Isaiah, but because it keeps popping up in my study time, sermons I'm listening to, books I'm reading, etc.

1 “Cry aloud; do not hold back;
lift up your voice like a trumpet;
declare to my people their transgression,
to the house of Jacob their sins.

2 Yet they seek me daily
and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that did righteousness
and did not forsake the judgment of their God;
they ask of me righteous judgments;
they delight to draw near to God.

3 ‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not?
Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’
Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure,
and oppress all your workers.

4 Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight
and to hit with a wicked fist.
Fasting like yours this day
will not make your voice to be heard on high.

5 Is such the fast that I choose,
a day for a person to humble himself?
Is it to bow down his head like a reed,
and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him?
Will you call this a fast,
and a day acceptable to the LORD?

6 “Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?

7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?

8 Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you;
the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.

9 Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer;
you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’
If you take away the yoke from your midst,
the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,

10 if you pour yourself out for the hungry
and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
then shall your light rise in the darkness
and your gloom be as the noonday.

11 And the LORD will guide you continually
and satisfy your desire in scorched places
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters do not fail.

12 And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of streets to dwell in.

13 “If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath,
from doing your pleasure on my holy day,
and call the Sabbath a delight
and the holy day of the LORD honorable;
if you honor it, not going your own ways,
or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly;

14 then you shall take delight in the LORD,
and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth;
I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father,
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

Do you see the hypocrisy of the religious people here? They even liked to draw close to the LORD, but did not care about His people. They loved religious activity, but not people. They delighted to look religious, but rejected rest and honoring the Sabbath. Perhaps if we miss the point of Sabbath, we miss the point of it all?

The LORD is teaching me something. And he is asking me to respond. To not just learn about justice, but to seek it. To not just read about stewardship, but to give generously. To not just learn about Sabbath, but to rest.

Where does the LORD have you?
What are your 3 words?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

$1 Bag Sale {Why I Need Your Kids' Old Shoes}

{Spring Cleaning & Spring Giving: Update #1}
About a month ago, I posted about Spring Cleaning. Read here

My hope was that we'd encourage each other in cleaning one area/room of our house and collecting what we could to give away! Originally, my plan was to do a garage sale with some neighbors, but the LORD has put something even better on my heart!

This week, one of the students I was working with in 4th grade was wearing soccer cleats. I asked "Charlie, why are you wearing soccer cleats to school?" and as the words were coming out of my mouth, I realized why. His head dropped down and he said "Oh because I don't really have anything else". Teacher fail. Of course that's why. Why did I even ask? Why did I embarass him? I tried to save myself and respond with "Those are so cool! You must be a really fast runner!". Too late, damage was done.

Which leads me back to spring cleaning, spring giving, and why I need your kids' old shoes. Majority of the kids I work with in South East Fresno live in poverty. Most speak Spanish or Hmong at home and are learning English as a second language. And as you know, when you live in poverty, when you are undeducated, illiterate, and speak limited English, it's hard to get a good paying job in this world. So it's hard to provide adequate clothing, hygeine, and food for your family.

Which is why I need your help.

As a life group, we're going to be collecting things from our home, donations from others, groceries, household products, etc and we're going to have a giant yard sale at my school, Aynesworth, on Saturday June 16th! Our hope is to get lots of Aynesworth families to come and shop and be able to buy new/used items at a discounted price.

Our plan instead of "giving" everything away is to provide the families with dignity and allow them to purchase what they'd like. So we're calling it the $1 Bag Sale. You buy a bag for $1 and whatever you can fit in the bag, you take home!

Here are some items we'll need for the sale:
-Bags (paper/plastic)
-Kids clothing/shoes
-Adult clothing/shoes
-Groceries (perishable & non-perishable)
-Hygeine products (shampoo, soap, toothpaste, etc)
-Cleaning products (laundry detergent, dish soap, etc)
-Bibles (in Spanish/English)

I'm praying that it's a success. If you have anything you'd like to give (from your closet, your pantry, whatever) please let me know! We'll make sure to put them out at our $1 sale to bless others.

So there ya' go! Spring cleaning . . . spring giving . . . spring serving . . . spring blessing . . . all wrapped up in one. Please contact me if you'd like to help.

"Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me." (Matthew 25:37-41)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Loving the Word

{Why we as Christians should love the Word the most}

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." John 1:1

"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14

The Word was God.
The Word put on flesh and dwelt among us.

Spending time in the Word is the closest thing we have to spending time with Jesus himself. Talking with Him, chatting with Him, sitting with Him over a cup of coffee. God daily invites us to sit with Him, learn from Him, learn about Him, be comforted by Him, challenged by Him, loved by Him.

Just as with any relationship, we can't expect depth and intimacy without time. Time spent sitting with the other person, listening, learning, talking.

I think of my relationship with my father. Can you imagine if I went weeks running errands for him, doing chores around the house, getting my school work done, all the things a child should "do" . . . without ever talking with him? I wouldn't expect a deep relationship with my dad, the kind where I could cuddle up on his lap and he would read to me. And that's what I want! That's what he wants. A daughter who obeys out of delight and love for him. A daughter who talks to her daddy, who loves to listen to his wisdom, walk with him, hug him, and learn from him.

Or I think of my marriage. I can't tell you the number of times I'm cleaning, or organizing something, or folding laundry, or whatever to serve my husband and he says "Will you just come over here and sit with me?". He is thankful for all I'm doing, but really just wants me to be with him.

Intimacy in a relationship isn't developed in doing for, it's developed in being with.

Being still.
Being with.
Being present.

So it is with our Lord. We are not designed to go weeks, months, etc without communing with the Father, without talking with Jesus, without reading the Word. We are designed for intimacy, relationship, and fellowship with the LORD. He beckons us daily.

So do you accept the invitation? To sit with the Word? To sit with the Lord? To connect with Him?

"If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples." (John 15:7-8)

"How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!" (Psalm 119:103)

"The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is clean,
enduring forever;
the rules of the Lord are true,
and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward." (Psalm 19:7-11)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Why It's Good to Remember

Deuteronomy 8 tells us to remember, not forget.

"And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness. . . " (v.2)

"Take care lest you forget the Lord your God. . ." (v.11)

Remember where you came from, remember the LORD who led you out of the wilderness. Remember and do not forget.

Well, today, I remember. I was cleaning and gathering things to donate for our big outdoor sale and decided to gather bibles. I counted up a whopping 13 bibles in my home.

As I looked at the pile more and more, my heart would not let go. I started to remember very specific places I was while reading these bibles, very specific things the LORD had taught me.

Here is my very first bible. The only bible I've ever had with my name engraved. I asked for it for my 20th birthday in college, 2 months after my dad died. I was already hungry for something different, something more in life. Oddly enough, my atheist Grandpa gave this to me.

Needless to say, I was in the struggle of my life during this time. I wanted to pursue God and yet I LOVED to party! I was drunk nearly every day of my life for about 4-5 years. I remembered reading this bible when I'd come home after partying, drunk.

Noticed what I underlined. I can't even read my writing down at the bottom. Needless to say . . . I came undone. I remember.

No verse would better define my life during this time than this: "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak" (Matthew 26:41) My spirit wanted God so bad, but my flesh wanted drunkeness. Thankful for God's patient and relentless pursuit.

When I got married, I got a new bible with a commentary! It even had red letters. I was stepping it up in my study.

I can specifically remember reading through Genesis at our kitchen table. Santino and I lived in different cities during our engagement, and since he led me to Christ, I was so excited to get married and pursue God together! Until I realized that him being isolated from church & fellow believers led him to a distant place with the LORD. I was growing and following hard after Jesus, and he was, well hard toward Jesus. I tried everything I could to get him back to loving God. I dragged him to church, left sermons in the DVD player, left bibles open, and scriptures on 3x5 cards all over the house.

Friends. Don't do this. He finally told me "I know what you're trying to do." And so did God. That's when the LORD used this NLT version of the bible to show me I was just like Eve.

I was trying to "control" my husband, living out the very curse of sin Eve struggled with too. This led me to deep repentance and prayer. It was here that I learned what 1 Peter 3 meant "Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct." (v.1-2)

Here that I learned to trust the LORD, here that I learned to pray and intercede. Oh LORD, I remember . . .

This next bible was so precious to me. I read it during my first life group. Then opened it again to read through during our first year of marriage.

It was this bible that the LORD showed me just how precious the women of the bible were. I remember reading Luke 8 and finding this:

Luke made the distinction between "disciples" and "women" that followed Jesus. I wondered why? I started to study the women of the bible. I noticed women like Mary, who once she was redeemed, just faithfully followed Jesus around, wanted to serve Him, be close to Him. I wanted that to be the story of my life. She became an example to me of how to know Christ intimately, follow Him closely, and love Him deeply.

And my most recent. The one where the LORD walked me through books like Romans, Jeremiah, Nehemiah, Ephesians, Psalms, and Proverbs. I used this bible during Residency, Academy, online seminary, and still today!

I thought because I do most of my bible study online now, that I'd be able to depart with these bibles. But, nope. These are just too precious to me. The other 9 I will give away. Not these. I can't. These 4 will remain as rocks of remembrance. Places I once stood in deep communion with the LORD. Places of pain, struggle, surrender, growth, sharpening, and faith.

It's good to remember . . . and rejoice.

"But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)

"He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." (Colossians 1:13-14)

"But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light." (1 Peter 2:9)

"For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace." (John 1:16)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Hollow Joy

Joy: the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation.

Hollow: having a space or cavity inside; not solid; empty; without real or significant worth; meaningless.

I recently spent the weekend with 8 of my girlfriends from high school. Now I've known these girls for, oh goodness, 15 years I think? We spent many nights in college partying, drinking, smoking, etc.

So you can only imagine how weird it was when I stopped doing all of that and started puruing Christ, right?

One of the conversations I would have over and over with people is "Why? Why would stop partying? Don't you want to have fun? Don't you want to be happy?"

My response was and still is . . . Yes! But those things don't bring true joy, happiness, and satisfaction. They are fun in the moment, but I wake up the next morning feeling empty . . . feeling hollow.

So that may have been years ago that I was able to see that partying was a hollow joy, one that is fleeting and doesn't last. But what about now? Where in my life I'm seeking happiness from hollow places? It may not be booze anymore, but where do I look for joy in places that are not everlasting joy?
"When one consistently chooses cyberspace over holy space-life becomes a hollow place." -Ann Voskamp

Could it be in silly things like Facebook, watching tv, Pinterest?
Or Exercising? Cooking? Shopping?
Or even deeper, in friendships, feeling needed, etc.

Where am I seeking pleasure in the lesser instead of the Greater?

Where am I searching for joy outside of Christ?

None of those things listed above are bad. I know that the LORD wants us to enjoy even the smallest things in life! But, when I evaluate how much time I spend on Facebook or Pinterest, compared to time with the LORD, I don't think I'm seeking joy in the right things. When I've had a bad day and I want to go on a run (or in my case speed walk) rather than go to the Throne of grace, I'm not seeking joy in the right things.

Is it any wonder that when life is out of control and we seek joy in the wrong things, we end up joyless?

Is it any wonder that when we seek comfort from worldly things, rather than God of all comfort, we end up uncomfortable? Is it any wonder that when we seek peace from apart from the Prince of Peace we end up troubled, worried, anxious, and fearful? Is it any wonder that when we eat the bread that does not satisfy, rather than the Bread of Life, we are stil hungry?

Let's reject that temporary retreat of hollow joy and seek the joy that is everlasting!

"Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food." (Isaiah 55:2)

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." (John 10:10)

"You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." (Psalm 16:11)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Threat to Marriage: #1

{Reflections from Family Life's Marriage Retreat}

Last week, I shared some reflections from our "Weekend to Remember" hosted by Family Life. They opened the seminar with "threats" to marriage. They shared what's gone wrong so we know how to make it right.

Threat #1: Difficult Adjustments

A. There is little in our culture today that encourages the difficult adjustments required to achieve maritatl oneness.

B. Contrasting backgrounds bring about painful adjustments for a couple in the following areas:
-Values, Vocations, Religion, Finances, Family History, Past Relationships, Painful Experiences

The speaker said"Don't let the pain of your past punish your present, paralyze your future, or pervert your purpose." -Clarence Schuler

We bring different backgrounds and different perceptions of how to "do marriage" into our relationship. A lot of problems arise when we view different as wrong. In other words, my way is right, and because your's is different from mine, it's wrong. Different doesn't mean wrong, it means different.

C. The following superficial motivations for marriage require shocking adjustments:
-Feelings, Sexual attraction/involvement, Cultural or family pressures, Escape

D. Differing expectations about marriage in the following areas result in unexpected adjustments:
-Roles, Expression of love, Sexual performance, Plans for the future

Threat #1 Result: When couples fail to make necessary adjustments to move toward oneness, the reult is isolation.

For us I think we had the most difficulty under "differing expectations". When we first got married, I really wanted to be a good wife. So I asked Santino "How many times a week would you want to have sex?"

The conversation went something like this:
Me: How many times a week would you want to have sex? What would be satisfying?
His answer: I don't know? I guess whenever I feel like it.
Me: What?! So I'm just supposed to be like laying around the house, ready and available, until you feel like it??! I was thinking you'd say like 2-3 times a week.

Okay, hello. Different expectations. I soon realized that me asking this question to him, was equivalent to him asking me "How many times a week do you want me to say "I love you"? My response would be: Um, whenever I feel like I need to be loved! I wouldn't answer "oh you know, just like 2-3 times a week."

We both had different motivations/expectations. I was viewing sex as a wifely duty, not as a way to love my husband and pursue marital oneness. Same for him, what if he viewed saying "I love you" as a duty, and not as way to pursue oneness?

Are you pursuing oneness in your marriage?

Are there things in your background (as listed above) that cause divisions or strife in your marriage?

Are there differing (and unspoken) expectations that are causing difficulty?

Are you willing to seek the LORD and ask your spouse the questions above?

How can you pursue oneness, allow your spouse to reveal expectations or unmet needs to better serve and problem solve with one another?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Stewardship: The Treasure Principle

Another great book that is challenging me in the area of stewardship and caring for others.

Stewardship: Managing your time, talent, and treasure.

As you know by now, the LORD has been stirring in my heart A LOT on the issue of stewardship. We've gotten so used to consuming more than we need in almost every area of our life, we don't even see where our materialism and spending are out of control anymore. We're so used to using our time unwisely, that we don't even stop to sit with the LORD and seek Him. We are so busy using our talents for our own kingdom, that we don't offer them for His kingdom.

So when will all of the madness stop? How can we reject materialism & consumerism to give more? Start living on only what we truly need, to be able to provide for the truly needy? To hurt a little, to help those hurting a lot?

God's economy is all about giving. Generosity, stewardship, loving others as yourself. This quick little book tells us that true joy is not found in consuming more, but in giving away!

It's based on Matthew 6:19-21 " “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

He says (because Jesus said) there is joy in "surrendering lesser treasures to find greater ones" (p.8) and "there is a fundamental connection between our spiritual lives & how we think about and handle money" (p.9)

Some other great quotes from the book:
If we give instead of keep, if we invest in the eternal instead of in the temporal, we store up treasures in heaven that will never stop paying dividends. (p.18)

A steward manages assets for the owner's benefit. The steward carries no sense of entitlement to the assets he manages. It's his job to find out what the owner wants done with his assets, then carry out his will. (p.25) Whenever we think like owners, it's a red flag. We should be thinking like stewards, investment managers. (p.27)

One of our central spiritual decisions is determining what is a reasonable amount to live on. Whatever that amount is, we shouldn't hoard or spend the excess. (p.27)

Cheerful giving, doesn't mean we always feel cheerful when giving. Cheerfulness often comes during & after the act of obedience, not before it. (p.28)

Giving isn't a luxury of the rich. It's a privilege of the poor. Gaze upon Christ long enough and you'll become more like Christ. Tthe same Greek word is used for Christian giving as for Gods grace. Our giving is a reflexive response to the grace of God in our lives. It doesn't come out of our altruism or philanthropy, it comes out of the transforming work of Christ. (p.31)

God wants your heart. He isn't looking just for 'donors' for His kingdom, those who stand outside the cause and dispassionately consider acts of philanthropy. He's looking for disciples immersed in the causes they give to. He wants people so filled with a vision for eternity that they wouldn't dream of not investing their money, time, and prayers where they will matter most. (p.45)

The time I devote to my TV and its accessories means less time for communicating with my family, reading the Word, praying, opening our home, or ministering to the needy. (p.54)

He asks . . .
What are your roadblocks to giving?

When you leave this world, will you be known as one who accumulated treasures on earth that you couldn't keep? Or will you be recognized as one who invested treasures in heaven that you couldn't lose? (p.81)

What are we doing with the wealth He's entrusted to us to reach the lost and help the suffering? (p.83)

How can we start being better stewards of our time, talent, and treasure?

How can we live on less to be able to give away more?

Monday, May 14, 2012

My Prayer Request-Why Not This?

When people ask me "How can I be praying for you?" I'm usually caught off guard. And I begin seeking my selfish heart and start requesting things that I want, need, desire, etc.

But as I learn more and more about God's word, I see things different. A couple of years ago, I studied Paul's prayers in his letters. You know what I noticed? Most of his prayers were not selfish things, but things that would help others know or grow in Christ. He asked for their love and understanding to deepen, for people to be saved, for knowledge and wisdom, for contentment in suffering, etc.

So I thought . . . if I could ask one thing of the LORD, why not let it be this:

"Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison—that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.

Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person." (Colossians 4:2-6)

Why not ask people to pray for these things?

Thankful heart.
Open doors.
Clarity and courage to proclaim Him.
Using my time wisely.
Gracious speech.

Can you think of anything better to ask for?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Photo Friday: Fun with Family

My sister, her husband, and my nephews came in town this weekend to visit. Friday night at the Hot Rod show!


Saturday morning . . . just playing with the fun toys I have at my house! (Old magazines & paper towel rolls)

Silly Faces

Fun at the park on Saturday afternoon

First big brother goes

Then little brother tries

Even Uncle Tino had fun!

Santino's family came over for his birthday dinner.

Of course we had a little dance party!

Sunday morning . . . we played outside.

Someone wanted to swim so bad he went over to the one little puddle in our yard to sit in it. Poor kid!

So Uncle Tino got him all wet.

This picture was taken just moments before undies came off and he peed all over the chair!

The photos will have to stop there! Let's just say the longer they played in the water, the less clothes my nephews had on. Such a fun weekend!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Theology of Waiting

Started this book about a month ago. Short book, deep thoughts.

Andrew Murray says waiting on God is the greatest place to be . . . because waiting on God is the way to knowing God. It's a place of deep dependence and deep trust in the LORD. It's a place of surrendering your will to His.

Waiting is knowing.
Waiting is depending.
Waiting is trusting.
Waiting is surrender.

"Give God His glory by resting in Him, by trusting Him fully, by waiting patiently for Him. This patience honors Him greatly; it leaves Him, as God on the throne, to do His work; it yields self wholly inot His hands. It lets God by God." (p.31)

"The word patience is derived from the Latin word for suffering. . . Patience then becomes our highest blessedness and our highest grace. It honors God, and gives Him time to have His way with us. It is the highest expression of our faith in His goodness and faithfulness. It brings the soul perfect rest in the assurance that God is carrying on His work. It is the token of our full consent that God should deal with us in such a way and time that He thinks best. True patience is the losing of our self-will in His perfect will." (p.37)

Easier said than done Andrew Murray!

Do you view waiting as a gift of grace?
Do you view at as blessing to deepen your dependance on the LORD?
As way to strengthen your faith?
Do you find contentment in the wait?
Do you seek to be strengthened by the strength of His might?

Me neither. But I'm LEARNING to be content in my circumstances (Philippians 4:11). Learning. Growing. Waiting. Trusting.

"Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him . . ." (Psalm 37:7)

"Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord" (Psalm 27:14)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Reflections from our Marriage Retreat #1

A few weekends ago we attended "A Weekend to Remember" by Family Life and it was wonderful! Highly encourage any engaged or married couple to attend.

They started the retreat by talking about what's gone wrong in marriage. Understanding that "every marriage is either moving toward oneness or drifting toward isolation." Dennis Rainey says “Oneness in marriage involves complete unity with each other. It’s more than a mere mingling of two humans-it’s a tender merger of body, soul, and spirit."

-Oneness: unity of thought, feeling, belief, aim, etc.; agreement; concord, a strong feeling of closeness or affinity.
-Isolation: detachment, separation, aloneness, remoteness

When we understand what threatens our marriage, it can help us better achieve oneness. These are all from the curriculum we received that weekend, too good not to share!

5 Threats to Marriage

Threat #1: Difficult adjustments
Result: When couples fail to make necessary adjustments to move toward oneness, the result is isolation.

Threat #2) Our cultures pattern
Result: When couples follow our culture's pattern for marriage, the result is isolation.

Threat #3: Inevitable difficulties
Result: When couples fail to grasp God's perspective on difficulties and problems, the result is isolation.

Threat #4: Extramarital affairs
Result: When couples escape to extramarital affairs, the result is isolation.

Threat #5: Selfishness
Result: When husbands and wives are selfish, the result is isolation.

Over the next 5 weeks, we can look at each threat more in depth and pursue health and healing in our marriages together!

Have you ever thought about any of these before?
Are you pursuing oneness or isolation in your marriage?
What can you do differently to stop, repent, and pursue oneness?

"Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh." (Genesis 2:24)

"So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Matthew 19:6)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Good Stewardship & "7"

I've been trying to devote Tuesdays on this blog to stewardhsip and practical tips for using our time, talent, and treasures wisely. Last month, I examined how much money we spend on food. I read recently that Americans waste about 40% of the food that's produced, which led me to waste less and save more. We were able to save $150on groceries just by eating all of our left overs and buying only what we need at the grocerty store (no junk, no goodies, etc.)

So in May, I thought I'd pick a new focus. I'm excited to tell you that our Book Club will be reading this:

"7 : An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess" by Jen Hatmaker

"7" is the true story of how Jen took seven months, identified seven areas of excess, and made seven simple choices to fight back against the modern-day diseases of greed, materialism, and overindulgence.

I'm excited to evaluate what is excessive or unnecessary in my life, and what I can do live on less, to be able to give more! Want to read along with us??

Monday, May 7, 2012

Fulfillment of the Law: Fulfilled by His Grace

My Journey through the Sermon on the Mount

{Matthew 5:17-20}
"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished." (v.17-18)

Fulfill: to carry out, to perform or do, to obey or follow.

Jesus was not coming to teach something new, He was coming to fulfill what was already being taught.

"Christ despised "the traditions of the elders," the religious leaders supposed Him to be a deceiver, going about to destroy the very foundations of piety. Because He threw far more emphasis upon great moral principles than upon ceremonial institutions, many were ready to imagine that He repudiated the entire Levitical system. Because He was the Proclaimer of grace and the Dispenser of mercy, the "Friend of publicans and sinners," the idea became current that He was opposed to the Law." (Pink, A.W. (2011-06-28). An Exposition of The Sermon on The Mount)

"Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven." (v.19)

Relax: to slacken, to make less strict, weaken, lessen, reduce.

Obedience flows out of belief. If we truly believe, we will obey! We will do what God asks of us and teach it to others.

"For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." (v.20)

Exceeds: To surpass, to be superior, to go beyond.

There is a righteousness that exceeds that of “religious” people, it’s beyond external deeds . . . it’s a renewed heart, gifted through grace.

Jesus said He would fulfill the Law by obeying it perfectly and would fulfill the prophets’ predictions of the Messiah and His kingdom. But the responsibility of the people was made clear. The righteousness they were currently seeking—that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law—was insufficient for entrance into the kingdom Jesus was offering. The righteousness He demanded was not merely external; it was a true inner righteousness based on faith in God’s Word (Rom. 3:21-22). This is clear from what follows. (Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1983-). The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures (Mt 5:17–20). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.)

Though we are living in the New Covenant where His grace abounds, His law still matters. Obedience that flows from a renewed, thankful, changed heart is beautiful, it is great in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Are you trying to dismiss His law and His commands for your life?
Are you relaxing what is taught in scripture?
Are you trying to attain righteousness through external religion?

If so, stop.
Remember the Cross.
Remember who we are in Christ.
Remember Jesus fulfills the law and we are fulfilled by Him.
Obedience doesn’t earn righteousness, but is a result of righteousness.
His fulfillment of the law is our fulfillment of His grace.

Friday, May 4, 2012


My nephews are coming to visit this weekend! Can't wait. They used to be babies like 5 minutes ago.

Now look at 'em . . .

Playing in the yard

Playing in the house (if you look close, there's a teeny tiny baby in the back who just had a lot of fun!)

Takin' a nap (He said "shhhhhh I'm sleeping!)

Taking a nap in Target

Goin for a ride

Goin for a swim

Reading and eating like a big boy

If they got any cuter, I would die.