Monday, November 29, 2010

The Home Stretch

To all my sweet friends who are reading through the Bible in a year with me....we are on the home stretch! I am so grateful to have shared this year with you. We have been reflecting in our past couple of meetings as to how this discipline has been a blessing to us. I would love it if you would post your thoughts on the blog so that others can be inspired and motivated!

Press on friends!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Why did Jesus teach in Parables?

It has been said that a parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. The Lord Jesus frequently used parables as a means of illustrating profound, divine truths. Stories such as these are easily remembered, the characters bold, and the symbolism rich in meaning. Parables were a common form of teaching in Judaism. Before a certain point in His ministry, Jesus had employed many graphic analogies using common things that would be familiar to everyone (salt, bread, sheep, etc.) and their meaning was fairly clear in the context of His teaching. Parables required more explanation, and at one point in His ministry, Jesus began to teach using parables exclusively.

The question is why Jesus would let most people wonder about the meaning of His parables. The first instance of this is in His telling the parable of the seed and the soils. Before He interpreted this parable, He drew His disciples away from the crowd. They said to Him, "Why do You speak to them in parables?" Jesus answered them, "To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted. For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says,

‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, And seeing you will see and not perceive; For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.’ But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it" (Matthew 13:10-17).

From this point on in Jesus’ ministry, when He spoke in parables, He explained them only to His disciples. But those who had continually rejected His message were left in their spiritual blindness to wonder as to His meaning. He made a clear distinction between those who had been given “ears to hear” and those who persisted in unbelief—ever hearing, but never actually perceiving and “always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7). The disciples had been given the gift of spiritual discernment by which things of the spirit were made clear to them. Because they accepted truth from Jesus, they were given more and more truth. The same is true today of believers who have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit who guides us into all truth (John 16:13). He has opened our eyes to the light of truth and our ears to the sweet words of eternal life.Our Lord Jesus understood that truth is not sweet music to all ears. Simply put, there are those who have neither interest nor regard in the deep things of God. So why, then, did He speak in parables? To those with a genuine hunger for God, the parable is both an effective and memorable vehicle for the conveyance of divine truths.

Our Lord’s parables contain great volumes of truth in very few words—and His parables, rich in imagery, are not easily forgotten. So, then, the parable is a blessing to those with willing ears. But to those with dull hearts and ears that are slow to hear, the parable is also an instrument of both judgment and mercy.

Recommended Resource: Parables of Jesus by James Montgomery Boice.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Drawn from Water

Want to watch something that will move your heart? This is one of the organizations we are going to be visiting in Ethiopia. WOW.

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


In just over two weeks, David and I will join a team of friends to travel to Ethiopia. Please partner with us in prayer as more than 60 dentists, assistants and passionate people wish to bring a smile to the children of Ethiopia. Our primary work will be in the capitol city of Addis Ababa with smaller groups on side trips during the week. One of our primary contacts there will be with World Orphans. Click here to see an amazing video.

We know our lives will be forever changed. We praise God for this opportunity and pray that He gives us an even greater vision and passion for His people around the world.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Hole in Our Gospel

I am reading back over The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns (one of my all-time favorite books) and came across these words. They take my breath away.

"Sometimes I would like to ask God why He allows poverty, suffering, and injustice when He could do something about it."
"Well, why don't you ask Him?"
"Because I'm afraid He would ask me the same question." Anonymous

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Ezekiel's Temple

Click here to read a great article I found when looking further into Ezekiel's Temple. Fascinating!
Let me hear from you about what you are learning and discovering in the Book of Ezekiel.

Press on friends!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A New Heart

As I often do, I take my Daily Walk Bible with me on appointments when I anticipate I might have a wait so that I can catch up or get ahead on my reading. At a recent haircut appointment, I set my Bible on the counter next to me. The hairdresser asked me what book I was reading? How convenient! I told her about my Bible reading plan and how much I enjoyed it. Her response- "The Bible is a hard read". Wow! That opened all kinds of doors....
I went on to find out that her mother is Jewish. She doesn't attend church. She opened up about some spiritual contradictions she is wrestling with. I was able to share with her the amazing privilege and heritage she had as one of God's chosen people. I told her that the Bible was chock full of stories about the Jewish people. I explained that God had given a great gift in His son, Jesus, and that some Jews had chosen to receive it and some to reject it. The conversation lasted maybe 10 minutes, but her eyes displayed a hunger for what I was saying and a desire to know the truth.

God has brought a verse in Ezekiel to mind over and over as I pray for my new friend this week:
" I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh." Ezekiel 36:26

This week, as you read Ezekiel 36, remember that one of the reasons you saturate your life with God's Word is so that you can share His Word with others and see hearts changed.

Press on friends!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Babylonian Timeline

Thanks to Irene Leyda for sending an excellent link to the history of Babylon. We discussed Babylon at our meeting last Thursday. If you are interesting in reading up on this, click here.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Christ in the Psalms

Many quotations from this book are found in the New Testament. At least twenty of these directly refer to Christ and His life and death.

Here are a couple of examples:
His prophetic office is found in Psalm 22:22
His sufferings in Psalms 22 and 69
His resurrection in Psalm 16

Jesus himself said "Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms" (Luke 24:44)

What other references to Christ do you find as you read the Psalms?

Press on friends!

Keynote Speaker

We speak of the Psalms as the Psalms of David. He has been considered the principal writer. He gives the keynote and his voice rises highest in the sacred choir.

But there were other authors besides him. Seventy-three of the 150 Psalms are assigned to him; fifty are anonymous. Psalm 90 is written by Moses. Two are written by Solomon-Psalms 72 and 127. Besides these, Asaph, David's choir leader, the sons of Korah, a family of official musicians, and Jeduthun wrote some. [H.C. Mears]

Friday, May 14, 2010

Are you prepared for an emergency?

Queen Esther had an emergency: to answer the challenge of Mordecai. She who had been placed in the palace on flowery beds of ease had not succumbed to the luxury of her surroundings. She chose a course at terrible danger to herself for the sake of her opposed people, the Jews.

There is one thing to do always. Do what is right and leave the rest to God. God prepares people for emergencies. Failure is not sin; faithlessness is. (H.C.Mears)

"And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?" (Esther 4:14)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A little history lesson!

We have just finished reading the books of Ezra and Nehemiah and we are beginning the book of Esther.
Did you know this?

Between chapters 6 and 7 of Ezra, three great world battles (Salamis, Thermopylae and Marathon were fought: and two great world leaders (Confucius and Buddha) died! Time elapsed: fifty eight years!
(516-458 B.C.)

In the Old Testament, Esther (which takes place in previously named period) follows Nehemiah; in history, the events of Esther occur thirty years BEFORE Nehemiah!

The purposes of God are sometimes delayed; but never abandoned!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Pockets of Resistance

In the reading from this past week, can you see the overriding theme? Military conquest! And the effects- both good and bad. The commentary from April 26th talks about "pockets of resistance",if left unchallenged, can lead to rebellion- both in the military and the SPIRITUAL realm.

Are there any areas of your life that have become "pockets of resistance" such as finances, pride, time with God, gossip, your thought life, time with family?

I am personally challenged. This week, I made a conscience effort to act on one of these "areas of rebellion". (whew, those are strong words!)

Praying that God would give you VICTORY to overcome!

Press on friends!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Trivia Question: Solomon's Stuff!

Where were Solomon's horses imported from?

What did Solomon make as plentiful as stone?

OK, so if you get the answers, what spiritual implication can you draw from this?
Why do you think these facts are mentioned in 2 Chronicles?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Time to share what you are learning

There is so much to take in these past few books! Wow! I am working hard to stay on track, but I really want to divert and read whole commentaries on prophets like Elijah and Elisha!

One thing that really jumped out at me was in II Kings 5:13 when Naaman's officers tried to reason with him when he was not content with the prophet Elisha's simple instructions for him to be healed. Sometimes, I think God gives us easy, simple directions and we doubt His sovereignty and wisdom. In our mind, we think a situation or remedy should be so much harder or difficult. When, in reality, He has blessed us with a simple solution!

What are the rest of you learning?

Trivia question: II Kings

Who uttered the words "Go away, baldy!" and what happened to the person or persons after they said it?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Your Talented Self

Wow! As we finish up our reading in I and II Samuel, I continue to be amazed at the versatility of David. He is the shepherd boy, the court musician, the soldier, the true friend, the outcast captain, the king, the great general, the loving father, the poet, and the sinner. But, always the lover of God.

He used every talent God gave him for the glory of his creator!

I read a great article this past week on "Tending your Talents" by Hilary Kimes.
I have included an excerpt below:

"One of the things I like best about shopping is finding the perfect gift for someone special. I'm thrilled when that person delights in my gift. If someone obviously does not appreciate the gift, I'm crushed.

How similar God must feel when we neglect the perfect gifts He gives us. As a loving Father, He created us with natural abilities and strengths and then, on top of that, bestowed spiritual gifts as well. Why has He done this? God granted us gifts and abilities so we can serve others, as well as give part of ourselves back to Him. "And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ" (Ephesians 4:11,12).

In receiving these gifts and abilities, we have several choices: We can set them aside in disappointment and pursue something that looks better in our own eyes; we can develop them for personal gain; or we can cultivate and practice them as our own gifts back to God. When it comes to long-term fulfillment, however, we find greatest satisfaction when our gifts and abilities are used as intended, with grateful glances toward the Giver.

Some people claim they don't have any special talents or gifts, or they don't pursue discovering them. But God desires every member of the body of Christ to use the abilities He divinely gave; therefore each believer has the responsibility to seek out and discover God-given talents. Doing this can launch a lifetime of enjoyable stewardship and service to God.

One way to recognize our talents is to notice things we excel at and enjoy doing. Another is to ask close friends or family members which areas they see as our strengths. Yet a third is to take one of the various tests that measure our strengths and weaknesses, as well as reveal spiritual gifts.

After recognizing our talents, however, we may compare ourselves to others and react in disappointment. Instead of trusting that our "Father knows best," we compare God's gifts for us to unrealistic personal or social expectations. Society may favor certain talents, but they might not suit us as individuals. By failing to look at a gift's true value, we not only cheat ourselves, but we cheat God as well. "Isn't He, the Potter, greater than you, the jars He makes?" asks Isaiah 29:16 (Living Bible). "Will you say to Him, 'He did not make us'? Does a machine call its inventor dumb?" God has created us for a purpose¬we should follow the direction He lays out.

Others develop their talents for personal gain. In today's "me" society, some overlook the fact that God holds all responsibility for our talents. They take the credit for themselves, either because certain things have come easily or because they worked hard for their accomplishments. Yet when we selfishly take credit for what God deserves, we fail as faithful stewards to God. Many fall into this trap because of pride and the attractions of success. When this happens, God probably feels as I would if I were to give a child an art kit and the child painted for others but never for me.Consider how pleased God must be when His children use the gifts He's given to honor Him.

The apostle Paul is a good example of someone who used his talents for himself first and then for God. When we first read in the Book of Acts about Paul (then called Saul), he was using his zeal, passion and gift of teaching to persuade people not to follow God. In fact, he persecuted and imprisoned those who believed in Christ. But after he met Christ in a personal way and was filled with the Holy Spirit, Paul used those same gifts to help lead many people to Christ. It was the apostle Paul who wrote so much in the New Testament about our gifts and talents and the use of them. Paul's life wasn't easy once he began using his gifts for God's purposes, but he experienced the joy, peace and contentment that come when we serve God in the way He's gifted us to do. We should also consider our relationships as we look at stewardship of our talents. Think of your relationships with friends and family members¬are you using your talents to help them follow Jesus? God has given us the talents we have so that we can help strengthen others.

When people use their abilities for God, an exciting thing occurs¬a diverse yet unified body functions more efficiently and serves as a better witness to the value and joy of following Christ. Since every person possesses different abilities and spiritual gifts, the body of Christ can fully function only when everyone takes advantage of what God has given them. Romans 12:6 tells us, "And since we have different gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us exercise them accordingly."

Each of us should be content with what God has given and exult in our own uniqueness. "Now there are varieties of gifts," Paul said to the Corinthians, "but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. And there are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons" (1 Corinthians 12:4-6).
When everyone does what he or she has been created to do, God's will is also accomplished more readily. In fulfilling the Great Commission, for example, if all believers were to apply their specific talents to the task of making disciples, the gospel would spread more quickly and have a greater impact.

Luke was a man who understood stewardship. As a physician, he was most likely exact, and he used this precision to write detailed accounts of Jesus and the beginning of the church. Luke wrote his gospel "so that you might know the exact truth about the things you have been taught" (Luke 1:4). By willingly using his ability to clearly present facts, an accurate account has been preserved throughout time.

And we today, by opening our hearts to the gifts God has given us, can not only further God's kingdom and find greater fulfillment in life, but can also give a heartfelt "thank you" to the one who so graciously bestowed upon us so many gifts in the first place."

Monday, March 29, 2010

Holy Week

For redeemed sinners, every good thing – indeed every bad thing that God turns for good – was obtained for us by the cross of Christ. Apart from the death of Christ, sinners get nothing but judgment. Apart from the cross of Christ, there is only condemnation. Therefore everything that you enjoy in Christ – as a Christian, as a person who trusts Christ – is owing to the death of Christ. And all your rejoicing in all things should therefore be a rejoicing in the cross where all your blessings were purchased for you at the cost of the death of the Son of God, Jesus Christ. [John Piper]

As we head into Holy Week, I would encourage you to really think about what we have been reading in the Old Testament and how that relates to the birth, life, death and resurrection of Christ. Please share what you are learning....

Press on friends! He is alive!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Recap of Thursday's meeting

Wow- so much to talk about in Ruth and 1 Samuel!
We had a great meeting today. We spent time reflecting on the story of Ruth- her faithfulness and her great faith. We looked at her family tree and noted that she was the great-grandmother of David.
We also talked about other family "connections" such as Saul being David's father-in-law and the many wives that those men had! We are wondering if anyone knows when the practice of having "multiple wives" ended?
We spent a lot of time talking about prayer-specifically that it is how we stay in communion with God and that it is a live and active discipline. (John 15:5)
I brought a photo timeline that compared other world events happening during the time of the judges and the kings. (i.e., King Tut, Pharoah Ramesses II, the Trojan wars, ) It helped to get a visual picture of the dwellings, temples and statues of those times.

If you have fallen behind in your reading, jump back in ! Catch up by simply reading the overview of each day and then start up again with II Samuel.
Press on friends!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Laura's recap of Tuesday's meeting

Laura is going to post a recap under "comments" of today's great meeting!
Thanks Laura!