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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Salsa!

Salsa is a wonderful thing when you want to go low fat as long as you aren't having it with chips.  Here's a recipe I made for company the other night.  It comes from my sister-in-law's mom and is absolutely delicious.

Salsa Chicken

1 T. olive oil
1/4 C. coarsely chopped almonds
2 cloves garlic minced
8 skinless chicken thighs
1 C. mild salsa
2 T. currants
1 T. honey
3/4 t. cumin
1/2 t. cinnamon
3 C. cooked couscous or bulgar

Heat oil over med. high in a large skillet.  Add almonds and fry 1-2 min; remove from skillet with slotted spoon and set aside.  (Almonds which have been toasted will also work.)  Add garlic to oil and cook 30 seconds.  Add chicken, cook 4-5 min until browned then turn over.  Combine remaining ingredients in a bowl and pour over chicken.  Reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook 30-40 min. until chicken is tender and juices run clear.  Stir in almonds and serve over couscous or bulgar.

I wish I had a picture to show you, but I didn't think my guests would appreciate me whipping out a camera to take pictures of their food!

Until next time,
Becca

Monday, March 29, 2010

Upstanding Anniversary Wishes

Having just returned from a marriage retreat, I thought it might be time to post an anniversary card I sent recently to my sister-in-law and her husband.  It's an easel card design I saw recently on line and wanted to try.

The flower has a ton of paper piercing which has become my new favorite thing to do.  It just perks up the boringness (is that a word) of the plain paper punched flowers.



All paper is by CTMH.  I also used a Fiskars border in diamond pattern, several flower punches in various sizes and brands, and the sentiment is one my mother-in-law had made years ago by a local store which would convert your own drawings into a stamp. 

Here is a look at it from the side so you can see how it stands up.



I modified the pattern to make it a 41/4 by 51/2 because I wanted it to go in a regular size envelope.  The pattern for this easel card can be found at http://annettescreativejourney.blogspot.com/ on her January 19, 2010 post.

I hope you enjoy it and have some fun.

Until next time,
Becca

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sunday Prayers

Eph. 1:15-23

"For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.

I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.

That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way,"

Amen

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Next Big Thing

I have been wrestling with this for a few days and it will not let me go...which stinks.  I am being challenged to add bread and pasta to my list of "not to be eaten again" things.  I don't want to...really, really don't want to, but when God speaks it's best to listen.

I can just hear someone out there saying, "Don't try to tell me God is actually talking to you about this."  Well...yeah.  He is.  I can tell by the way it will not go away.  When God speaks my choice is obedience or disobedience. 

For those prayer warriors out there, add  me to your list please.  This is not going to be easy, but I'm going to choose obedience.  And I'm probably going to be a bear to live with so you might add Nathan to your list, too.

Until next time,
Becca

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Bunch of Flowers


There is a tradition in the Army of bringing a gift to your hostess whenever you are invited to a home.  Someone brought me flowers a few weeks ago so, when I was going to dinner last Friday night, I wanted to bring my own take on bringing flowers.

All products are CTMH except the dry embossing is using Cuttlebug.

Until next time,
Becca

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Loads of Laundry

I have a friend with all girls.  She once told me her laundry is "lights, darks, mediums, and pinks."  As an army wife, my categories are "lights, darks, mediums and uniforms" because, trust me, you don't want all that velcro anywhere near other clothes.

So today, as I'm throwing loads into the washer, it occurs to me that God is like the ultimate washing machine.  He doesn't care about the categories we fit into, whether it be race, wealth, nationality or even our degree of sinfulness.  Does a washing machine care which clothes are more stained than the others?  No.  All it cares about is getting dirty things of all shapes, sizes, colors and degree of stench clean and smelling sweet again.

The great thing about God, though, is he knows precisely how much agitation, stain remover, heat, and spinning is required to get the job done without anyone having to adjust His settings.

Okay...so it's not a perfect analogy, but you won't look at loads of laundry the same ever again.

Until next time,
Becca

Monday, March 22, 2010

Wrestling with God

Gen. 32

Talk about out of the fire and into the frying pan!  Jacob has just left the lying scoundral Laban and is headed home to his brother Esau...the one who wanted to kill him.

Frightened, and rightfully so, Jacob basically dares God to show up.  In essence he says, "Look, God, you're the one who promised I would return to the land of my Fathers a success and You're the one who told me it was now time to go.  Here I am; it's time for you to deliver."  But he also says, "I'm not worthy of any mercy you might show me; I'm simply going by the promises You made."

Then Jacob sends gifts to Esau...wave after wave after wave of them, and tells his servants to call Esau "lord" and the gifts are from "his servant, Jacob."  Jacob is humbling himself before his brother, sending expensive gifts to purchase his forgiveness, and divides the camp to put women and children in the back in case Esau (who is coming with 400 men) still is not appeased.

He also removes himself from the camps.  Alone, he waits for his brother to come.  It was another strategy.  If Esau could come find Jacob and kill him easily, perhaps the lust for revenge would be satisfied and Esau would not kill the rest of Jacob's family...the sons in particular...which was not an unrealistic fear.  The Bible is full of places where entire families are wiped out when the patriarch is deemed guilty of death. 

Put yourself in Jacob's place.  Alone in the wilderness, he once again waits for death when a man shows up and begins wrestling with him.  Is it any wonder Jacob struggled so hard?  He's not seen his brother for 20 some years, it's dark and, for all he knows, he is fighting with Esau himself.  Even when his hip is torn from its socket, he continues to fight until the man says, "It's getting light, let me go."  Jacob says, "Bless me before you go, and tell me who you are."   (More modern language might be, "Not until you concede victory to me, and tell me what I have been fighting about.  Are you from Esau, or have I just been fighting a common theif?")  The man says, "Why do you ask my name?" 

I so wish I understood the Hebrew language right now, because something tells me the way God answered Jacob, the words He used at that very moment, jolted Jacob into understanding exactly who his opponent for the night had been.  Because, be honest, have you ever expected God to show up - in the flesh - and physically fight with you?   Imagine being home alone one night after having recieved a threatening phone call and someone breaks into your house.  Are you thinking it's God?  Hardly!!  And if you managed to hold off your attacker all evening and he wants to cut out before you can see his face, you would most certainly want to know who he is and why he's come.  Is he your threatening caller or just some hooligan who randomly chose your home?  How unutterably shocked would you be to realize you've been fighting for you life against the God of the universe and survived?

More to the point, why on earth would God do such a thing?  What is His motive?

We only have two clues.  God changes Jacob's name to Isreal and blesses him.  Now, "Isreal" means "Prince with God."  Jacob has earned this name because he has, "struggled with God and man and has prevailed."  If God is King, he has just elevated Jacob to being His prince.  Think King of England here...he comes and fights you all night long and then says, "since you fought me and won, I will make you my prince and your children will be the future royalty of the land."  There's a blessing for you.

Jacob, the deciever and supplanter, is coming home.  He has humbled himslef before God by begging for mercy and favor despite his unworthiness.  He has humbled himself before his brother, the one from whom he stole both birthright and blessing, by calling him lord.  And God meets him in his frightened, humble, unworthy state and elevates him to royalty.  And just to make sure Jacob doesn't think the whole thing was a figment of his overworked imagination, he touches Jacob's hip socket so he will limp and be reminded with every step he takes from now on of his place, not as the unscrupulous younger son but as Prince of God.  No wonder the Jews to this day do not eat the meat of a hip socket.

Would you be willing to limp for the rest of your life in order to remember an encounter with God so life-changing?  We might answer a resounding YES at this point because that's the right response, but pause and think carefully for a moment.  Every single day, for years on end, Jacob will have to live with chronic pain and physical disability.  Every.  Single.  Day.

With what do you struggle daily?  What ailment, what pain, what disability causes you constant problems?  What weakness, whether physical, emotional or spiritual, comes back to haunt you regularly?  You know you are a child of the King, but the daily grind had worn you down.  You know you are royalty, but it doesn't help with the challenges you face repeatedly. 

Maybe it's time to view these things differently.  From now on, let these very things be reminders to you that you are a Prince of God, a Princess of the King of Everything.  It doesn't mean you won't have the struggle, but it will give you a correct perspective.

Until next time,
Becca

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Put it to Death

Oh dear...I think God is really wanting to work on me in this particular area.  Why else would the last two sermons be on this particular topic?

Here's a link to the sermon which just nailed me to the wall. 

http://www.marshillchurch.org/media/special/be-killing-sin-or-sin-will-be-killing-you

Enjoy...uh, I mean, listen to it with an open heart and a box of tissue.  He tackles very practical issues like how to be rid of lying, stealing, pornography and anger, but the principle of how to kill sin is universal.  If you have any heart for God, this will speak to you.

Until next time,
Becca

A Lesson on Prayer

Instead of an actual prayer today, I thought I would go to a passage which talks about prayer.

In Luke 18: 1-8, Jesus uses a parable to "show that at all times they ought to pray and not lose heart."  The parable is about an unrighteous judge who does not fear God nor respect men who is worn down by the persistence of a widow (the most vulnerable and least respected of humanity in that culture) who kept coming and kept coming and kept coming to beg his protection from her opponents.  The Greek implies her constant appearing and request for justice was both annoying and beginning to damage his reputation or "give a black eye" to his name.

Jesus then compares the unwilling, unrighteous judge who was slow to come to the aid of the widow to God, the willing and righteous judge.  He says, "now shall not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them?  I tell you that He will bring about justice for them speedily."

Great!  I'll just pray day and night for justice over those who oppose me and God will make everything better, right?  Then how come Jesus ends the parable like this, "However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?"

Lord, protect me from those who would oppose me when I am acting righteously for Your sake.  Come to my aid quickly.  But, most of all, do not let me lose faith because I want quicker more vengeful justice.  Amen.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Adoption Stress

One of the families in our battalion is adopting a little girl from China.  The last minute stresses were beginning to show.  They've been working on this adoption for about eight years, but with every military move, the process was stalled and restarted.  The wife is currently in China to pick up their new daughter.  I think she will be about 6 months old.

When I saw them in the hallway a few days ago, I asked what I could do.  "Just pray," they said.  So I did...and I made them a pretty pink card to let them know I was praying.

All products are CTMH except the ribbon and buttons.  The paper is discontinued "Cherub Pink", but it was one of my favorite colors so I have a ton of it still.   I used the "Baby Pink" color of accets for the rivet and safety pin, and I think they work just fine.



I can't wait to meet the new little one!

Until next time,
Becca

Friday, March 19, 2010

Trickery by the Tricked

Gen. 30:25-31:55

Jacob is ready to leave his father-in-law's employ.  He has labored for the 14 required years.  But if he leaves now, all he takes with him are his family and servants.  In those 14 years, he has earned nothing for himself (aside from some bikering brides and boys).  He makes Laban a deal.  In a country where sheep are white and goats are black, he says he will take all the animals which are not correctly colored.

Laban agrees to the deal but then has his sons remove all the spotted animals from the herds and take them away where Jacob can't get to them.  Jacob is tricked again, first in the matter of marrying Rachel and getting Leah instead which forces him into another seven years of labor, now this.  What a scumbag this Laban character is.

But Jacob is not dismayed.  He knows exactly how he's going to increase his herd.  Apparently Jacob has taken "Advanced Husbandry" from the local college, because he knows the animals will "pick up" the colors they are exposed to at the places they drink and mate.  He faces black goats toward white birch bark and white sheep toward black goats.  Voila!  He gets streaked, speckled and spotted animals.  Plus, he only does this with the stronger animals, leaving Laban with only the runts.  Pretty smart, huh?

Finally, Laban's sons are fed up with Jacob's herd getting stronger and bigger.  Jacob percieves there's been an attitude change and he finally gets the "go ahead" from God and makes plans to leave in secret.  He consults his wives and they're all for it.  Their father has mistreated them, too, and they are ready to do whatever it takes to get away.  Rachel even steals Laban's household gods.  Just a guess but perhaps she wanted them because these gods "guaranteed" the fertility of the females whether human or animal.

Jacob waits for Laban to leave for a three day festival then flees with his wives, children and herds.  Laban chases them down, but he cares more about the household gods which have been stolen than for his daughters and grandchildren.  Jacob, completely unaware of Rachel's theft of the gods, tells Laban, "Go ahead and search...and you can kill anyone who's stolen your property."  A further deception when Rachel hides the gods in her saddle and tells her father she can't stand in his presense due to her "monthly flow." 

Jacob and Laban agree they can't trust each other, so they build an altar on a high point and basically say, "This is mine, that is yours.  Don't cross this line.  God will bear witness and keep the peace between us because I don't trust you any more than you trust me."

Jacob, the one who has cheated his brother out of his inheritance, has been tricked and tricked and tricked again by his father in law.  He fights back using his brains.  Rachel fights back by stealing and lying (she's her father's daughter, that one).    And you know what strikes me most, the Bible makes no editorial comment about any of it.  There is no denounciation of the lies and deciept, no punishment for the crimes, nothing to say, "When faced with those who treat you poorly, this is how you handle it in a righteous manner."  Doesn't that seem weird to you?

Isn't the Bible supposed to be a book about do's and don'ts?  Thou shalts and thou shalt nots?  Why isn't there something here for us to learn the Godly way to handle cheaters?

Because God has not given the law yet; He has not spelled out the rules of life for his people.  Man is living by listening to his conscience; that inner voice which says, "This is right; that is wrong."  God's word is merely recording the events and letting you make the judgements about what is good and what is not...forcing you to listen to the spirit inside you.

However, it doesn't leave us with nothing on the subject of cheaters.  Laban and Jacob's "peace treaty" is made before God.  If nothing else, we learn the way to handle cheats is to outwit them by using common sense and letting God be the judge of who is crossing the line.

Until next time,
Becca

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sibling Rivalry

Gen. 30:1-24

Reading between the lines (which translates into "Don't put any theological weight behind this thought"), I think Jacob must have felt something like a gigilo during the years which cover the first twenty-four verses of this chapter.  What with sleeping with Rachel's servant, Leah's servant, Leah (after she "bought" him with mandrakes), and Rachel herself, I wonder how he got any work done during the day!

Looking at this through 21st Century American eyes, he appears to be nothing more than a stud, and the women are obsessed with babies.  Even if you can get yourself into the culture of the time, there's still some pretty desperate wrangling going on here.

Remember how Chapter 29 ended?  Leah had stopped bearing chilren.  Gen. 30 opens with Rachel telling Jacob to give her children or she'll die...because she is jealous of Leah.  Rachel might have Jacob's love, but Leah is having all the children.  After Rachel bears a couple children (through her maidservant), Leah wants to jump back in the act.

Wait a minute.  Didn't we just decide Leah had been provided for by the hand of God?  Hadn't she, after the birth of her fourth son, named him Judah in praise to God?  How come she is locked in this baby battle with Rachel?  How many more sons does she need?

I'm so grateful the Bible is full of real characters.  I think I would find it both nauseating and unbelievable if the lessons learned in one chapter of life were always carried over into the heat of the next chapter.  Instead, Leah and Rachel have become such bitter rivals, every thought of God's great love and provision has clean jumped out of Leah's head.

What about Rachel, you ask?  Hmmm, well she wasn't doing much better.  Do you know why she was so desperate to get the mandrakes Rueben had found?  Because, according to superstition, they would induce fertility.  Plus, I think we can safely assume Rachel has had something to do with Leah not bearing children anymore.  Why else would Leah say, "Is it not enough you have taken my husband from me, will you take my son's mandrakes as well?"

Rivalry, jealousy, superstition, hatred, manipulation...it's all in there.

Yet out of this dog fight come sons, lots of them, who in turn have lots of sons, who then become a people so full of sons they cannot be counted, thus fulfilling God's promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to make them a great nation as numerous as the grains of sand or stars.  Specifically, Jacob's sons become the twelve tribes of Isreal.

Isn't God amazing?  Despite our failings, He is faithful to his promises.  I am comforted in knowing I can never mess up so badly God can't redeem it.

Until next time,
Becca

Monday, March 15, 2010

Writing, writing, writing

I've spent the entire day working on a novel...and I got more than 15 pages written.  I find I either write on the blog or write for publication...so I thought I'd better work on the stuff I want to eventually publish for a bit.

So...this is my quick accountability update:

Exercise:  not so good this past week, but great the week before.  Both the treadmill and bike are working, however, so that makes it easier to do.
Food: have not had any sugar since committing to cutting it out of my diet...pretty proud of that!
Writing: way too much time on the blog, not enough time on the publishable stuff.
Creative Inspiration: been pretty good but I feel way behind on my scrapbook pages and some cards that need to go out.  Plus, my laptop is on the fritz, and since it has all my inspirational ideas on it, I'm pouting and not just sitting down to create.
Bible Study:  spotty on actual Bible reading because my Women's Group is working through a pretty intense book.

Tried to add a link that showed a counter of how many people have stopped by this blog.  It feels like I'm writing into a complete void, so I was hoping to get an idea of how many pop in to read even if no comments are left.  (My hubby tried to comment and said it was way too much trouble!)  If you know how to leave a comment, I'd love to hear from you once in a while.

Until next time,
Becca

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Spring Forward Sunday

I was reminded today to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ every day; when necessary, use words.

Today's prayer comes from Col 1: 9-11

"...asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding...pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light."

Amen

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Spring is Springing


The trees are beginning to bud, the grass is turning green, and Spring is in the air.  Today's card is all about the joy of Spring.  All product is by CTMH, colors used are Sunflower, Tulip, Sweet Leaf and Aspen Green with a Garden Green accent pin.  The stamp set is Sweet Flowers.

I used a guide for my paper piercing.  It's just a piece of plastic mesh normally used for needlepoint.  It works great for perfectly spacing pierce points.



And as a special treat, my son found the gyrations women go through to be beautiful absolutely hilarious and somewhat appalling...so he took pictures to document the process.  My amazing daughter is the stylist, I'm the one with the foil, shower cap, and...well...here you go!


Until next time,
Becca

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Leah's Story

Gen. 29

I love a good love story!  And I'm not alone.  The number of books, songs, poems, movies, plays, and letters written about love gained and love lost are impossible to count.  I wonder just how much money has been gained by selling love stories in all their various forms?  Even the Bible is full of them. 

If you aren't already familiar with how Jacob and Rachel meet and he agrees to work for seven years for her father, Laban, in order to marry her (and those seven years seem but a day Jacob is so in love with her), you need to read this chapter.  It's a love story you can sell!

But when those seven years are up, Leah, Rachel's older sister, is still not married.  So Laban tells Jacob he can marry Rachel, holds a wedding feast, and then substitutes Leah for Rachel in the marriage bed. 

Okay...if Jacob loved Rachel and lived around her for seven years, you would think he would know what she looked like, the sound of her voice, the distinctive color of her hair, etc.  So either he was quite drunk or he was dead drunk.  There is no other way to explain this.  Laban was obviously serving large quantities of wine at the wedding feast, and I'll bet you real money it wasn't the first time Jacob ever got drunk.

Think for a moment of poor Leah.  She's been compared to her younger, more beautiful sister her entire life.  Jacob makes the deal with Laban for Rachel and, in that entire seven years, no one comes to court Leah.  No one has been enticed by a dowry to take her.  She has reached an age where Laban doesn't think he will ever be able to get her off his hands.  Think of the words Leah's father must have used to force her into the bed of a drunken man deeply in love with her sister.  Think of her own desperation to go along with the deceipt.  Think how unloved she is by both father and husband.

And do you know what her big failing is?  She has "weak" eyes.  Some translations use the word "delicate" or "dull" but one says they were "nice" eyes.   Whatever!  I imagine Leah was moderately pretty and docile but, when you put her next to stunning and spirited Rachel, she faded into the background.

But she conceives.

Think on that one for a minute.  These are not characters in a book.  They were real people.  Jacob is really angry at being cheated into a marriage he did not want.  He must "finish out the bridal week" with Leah, and then he can have Rachel, the one he really wants, the one he gave his heart to seven years ago, the beautiful one, his one and only.  You get the idea.

So...how much time did Leah really have to conceive?  At most, I'm guessing she only had her bridal week.  Realistically, it may very well have been the first night when Jacob was too drunk to know better.

Leah bears a son and names him Rueben.  The name means "son" and sounds like the Hebrew for "he has heard my misery."  Leah thinks this will turn the heart of her husband toward her since Rachel has remained barren.

Right or wrong, it is impossible to take this story out of the culture.  As you probably already know, boys were highly prized by both fathers (for their ability to work and increase the family wealth) and mothers (because sons took care of their mothers in their old age).  But there was also a pecking order for wives.  The first wife had priority over any married second, third, or more.  Also, the first to bear a child had status by showing her fertility.  And the first to bear a son had priority over all for producing the heir.  Things got pretty sticky when you had multiple wives and each had their reason for feeling they should be the "number one" wife.  However, Leah could legitimately claim all three of these status symbols as her own.  She just isn't loved.

Son number two comes along, Leah names him Simeon which means "one who hears" because God has heard how son number one hasn't done the trick so he gave her another.  Surely now, with two fine sons, Jacob will begin to love her a little more.  Doesn't happen.

Son number three is born and named Levi which means "attached, connected, companion" depending on which version you read.  Jacob will now become attached to Leah, connect with her, become a companion.  She has born him three sons...three!  Still, she is not loved.

If she wasn't loved, how come she keeps bearing children?  Again, you have to go back to the culture.  Our culture says you only have sex if your "in love" regardless of marriage.  That culture, you had sex with your wife in order to bear children regardless of how much you loved or didn't love her.  Since Rachel is barren, and Jacob HAS to have children, Leah continues to conceive.  Somehow, I think things might have been quite different if Rachel had been popping babies.

Then comes number four son, Judah, which means "praise God."  Leah has finally, after years of being unloved, turned her eyes to her heavenly Father and given him praise for caring for her, loving her through four sons who will protect her as she ages, work to bring food to her table, and provide her with love and companionship. 

The Bible says, after Judah was born, she stopped bearing children.  I'm not sure if it's because Jacob stopped visiting her, if Leah kicked him out of her bed finally, or if she was getting too old to bear children anymore, but whatever the reason it doesn't really matter.  Her position was secure despite Jacob's lack of love for her.  (Those of you who know "the rest of the story" need to hang tight...we'll get there.)

God loved Leah.  He provided for her not just in spiritual ways but temperal as well.  He made sure she was married first, timed that wedding for Leah's fertile days, gave her multiple sons, and allowed her to realize He was the one who cared most for her.  Her story may not sell well in the open market, but it resonates with those who find themselves on the losing end of a competition for earthly affection. 

Leah's story says you are loved, your position of preminence is secure, even if you aren't the good-looking one, the spirited one, or the one who gets all the attention.  That covers just about all of us, wouldn't you say?

Until next time,
Becca

Monday, March 8, 2010

Frightened, Lumpy Christians

Chuch yesterday was all about developing God's perspective in good times, bad times, and all the times in between.  There was a LOT of good stuff in the sermon, but the two things I will remember always were these:

1) When dealing with bad people, remember Phil. 1:28 "...without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God."

Whether you have a crummy boss, a lousy relative, or a bum friend, the reason they are "bad" is because we have some fear of them.  A boss can take away our livelihood, a relative can damage relationships with family, a friend can disclose the secrets we want kept quiet.  Or...we may be afraid of not being liked.  But Paul, who had some experience with bad people opposing him, says to not be frightened of them.  Psalm 23 says God will prepare a table for us in the presence of our enemies

The preacher said, "It's never good to be the enemy of one of God's own." 

2) When dealing with bad habits, remember Colossians 3:5-8  "Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry...But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips." (italics mine)

As the preacher said, "What is it about 'Put to death' and 'rid yourself' you don't understand?"  Turn it off, get rid of it, stop it, end it, don't touch it...  It doesn't say, "Keep it under control" or "don't let it get to you too often" or "only have a little".   Whatever you find captivating will soon make you its captive.  Whatever it is, put it to DEATH.

Instead, do as Col. 3: 12-17 says.  "Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."

"Lumpy Christians," the preacher said, "are those who put righteous clothes over the top of the vices they were supposed to get rid of."

Wow...do I love it when a preacher gets at the heart of something and really nails me to the wall.  Okay, maybe I don't always love being nailed to the wall, but it's still good for me.

Until next time,
Becca

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sunday Prayers

Phil. 1: 9-11

"...that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ - to the glory and praise of God."

Amen

Friday, March 5, 2010

Footnotes

Gen. 28
Do you ever stop to check the footnotes when reading your Bible?  Sometimes one little word makes a huge difference.  Take Gen. 28: 20-21 "If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father's house, then the LORD will be my God." 

This is Jacob talking...Jacob who's running for his life from an angry brother.  He stops for the night, puts a rock under his head for a pillow, and has a weird dream.  First of all, a ROCK for a pillow?  Who does that??  And second, wouldn't you expect weird dreams if you had a rock under your head all night?

But I think the point of the rock is to illustrate just how hastily Jacob fled from home.  There wasn't time to pack, time to say goodbyes to family or friends, time to run a loving hand over treasures or take a last look back at home.  He is out in the wild with nothing.  Imagine you run out of gas in the middle of Nevada.  There is no gas station, no restaurant, no water, no nothin' to be seen.  You have nothing but the clothes on your back; no suitcase, no snacks, no nothin'.  The sun scorches by day and the temperature drops radically when the sun goes down.  Somehow, you have to walk through this unfamiliar territory until you find help.

Are you scared yet?

Jacob is.  He lies down to rest, perhaps not knowing if he will be eaten by wild animals or attacked by a band of roving theives.  But he is so exhausted he no longer cares.  So exhausted a rock works as a pillow.

And God comes to him in a dream, Jacob's Ladder we often call it, but it is really God's ladder.  God comes to a frightened, exhausted man certain he will be dead soon and says, "I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.  I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you."

Jacob takes the rock he used for a pillow and makes a monument and says, "If God will be with me...(and do all these things I want Him to do)...then the LORD will be my God."  Okay, admit it, you're as bugged as I am about this.  Why would Jacob bother to build a monument, express his confidence that "Surely the Lord is in this place...how awesome is this place" and then say IF God...?

This is where it pays to read the footnotes.  Apparently, the word "if" can also be translated "since".  Let's try that verse again with this substitution.  "Since God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father's house, then the LORD will be my God."  Makes a huge difference, doesn't it?


So here's another thing that bugs me.  If the translators know the word "since" could go here, why did they choose "if" instead?  Doesn't it make more sense, express more confidence in God, and sound more righteous with the word "since" in there?  But the translator's still chose "if".
 
Could it be because, despite the promises of God for His care and provision, we still want to make sure He follows through before we will really trust Him?  In essence, we say, "I'll make you a deal, God.  As long as you make sure I'm 100% okay and no harm ever comes to me, then and only then will I trust you to be LORD."  If I'm honest, that's where I live...in the "Let's Make a Deal" studio. 
 
This journey, though, is all about learning to live in the place where I have confidence in God and let go of my imagined control or manipulative power to get God to do what I want.  To live in the "since" and not in the "if".
 
To live in the footnote.
 
Until next time,
Becca

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Accountability Update

Usually deals don't work with me, but I think I might have just found one that will.  I have someone very dear to me who is involved in something really unhealthy so I made a deal...I'll quit sugar and my loved one's bad habit stops, too.  I'm currently working on day 4 without refined sugar.  It's amazing what proper motivation will do for you.  I really don't want my loved one reverting so I'm willing to do what I should have done for myself years ago.  Except I know it will only hold so long.

Why is it addictions are so impossible to avoid and nearly impossible to break? 

I am reading a book called "Desiring God" by John Piper.  His premise is we will, at all costs, seek after pleasure but the greatest enjoyment to be found is in God.  He contends we should seek happiness in God, enjoyment in His presence, and complete fulfillment in Him.  In other words, we replace the fleeting pleasure we find in our addictions with true pleasure in God.  I'm still wrapping my head around Piper's assertions, but I've only read the intro and first chapter.  Hopefully, by the time I'm done with his book, I'll have a better grip on this.

I don't know about you, but I've failed so many times at trying to break my unhealthy habits, I'm afraid to even try again.  I am willing to abide by this deal I made to stop eating sugar, but in the long run, I need to find a way to replace the happiness and fullness I find in food (a pleasure which lasts only as long as I'm in the midst of it and is almost immediately followed by guilt) with a pleasure in God which has no regrets in the aftermath. 

I can live with giving up one pleasure for a greater one. 

I can live with that long term.

Until next time,
Becca