Saturday, December 31, 2016

Reflecting 2016

Happy New Year!

Just for fun, I thought I'd share a few favorite memories from our past year. It has been a good year. God has richly blessed us!

In January, Michael and I enjoyed redeeming a date to the Biltmore Estates given to us by his grandmas. We had a great time away from the baby, reflecting on God's goodness and remembering the memories we've had together. We also found out we were expecting #2.

In February, we praised the Lord for another safe journey to the ditch. We were traveling in New York when a blizzard struck. The roads were a little slick. We had a light car. It seemed a gust of wind just picked us up and deposited us in the ditch. God took care of us and we had no damage to ourselves or the car. Jude thought it was great fun and wanted to do it again!

We stayed busy with conferences in the spring- even one on Valentines. So, March and April basically looked the same. Lots of travel, new faces, more travel...

Also, Jude started crawling.

In May, we celebrated Jude's first birthday. This was a special memory. We were in the middle of a conference, and had pretty much decided Jude's 1st birthday would have to be celebrated at a later time. However, a family found out about Jude's birthday, invited us to dinner, and threw him a party. Thank you so much to the Testa family for a great memory!

During the summer, we were able to come home a little, here and there, between meetings to do laundry, clean the house and car, and visit with Michael's family here in Chattanooga. Here is a shot from Memorial Day weekend:

And Jude with his cousin at the lakeside family vacation:

In July, we were, believe it or not, invited to a church conference in the Cayman Islands! It just so happened to be on our 2nd anniversary. What a great trip. The church there took very good care of us and though we were VERY busy seeing everything, they tried to make it a vacation for us. It was truly a blessing to relax with God's people and enjoy an experience that most people don't get until retirement.

September came with the joy of another son, Zachary Evan on the 17th. He slept for the first month of his life. He attended his first missions conference at 10 days old. Once he woke up, he is full of smiles. Our little sunshine boy.

October and November, we got back on the road again for conferences. That's pretty much what we do for a living right now. :) It takes longer to travel when you have to stop every couple of hours to nurse the newborn. We had forgotten what that was like. We took the picture for our new prayer cards, which most of you have seen:

December we mostly spent at home, for a welcome break. We were able to have early Christmas with my family in Montana, though because of a storm, we were really there less than 48 hours. We had early Christmas with Michael's family. Then our own Christmas week was spent in our apartment, with two very sick little boys. Oh well. At least we weren't trying to travel, and we'd already celebrated with our families. We had a quiet Christmas morning here.
Riding the Christmas train.
Riding the Christmas train. Jingle bells!

Christmas with toddlers is so much fun!

Jude "rocking" Zachary.

May God bless your 2017 with growth in your knowledge of Him, lots of fun memories and family time, and grace for hard trials. Happy New Year ya'll.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

What will you do with Jesus, my friend?

What will you do with Jesus, my friend?

Where will you go when your life ends?

Some hear the story at their door,
    because their neighbor their heart implored.

Some read a tract left by the way
    and curse, and rip, and throw away.

Some claim Christ is in their heart,
    but from His truth, their walk departs.

A man who learned Christ as a child,
    but leaves Him, choosing to run wild.

One meets Christ in trials hard
    and prays a promise to restart.

In jail, Christ makes a heart to change,
    their life He starts to rearrange.

Others meet Christ and are never the same;
   they live to honor His holy name.

Because of His love and grace they tell
   His story to others they meet, as well.

My Jesus, God's Son, died for you
   He wants to make your heart anew.

He'll clean your heart, change your life
   fill you with His truth and right.

Christ loves your soul; so He makes
   a promise of heaven to all who partake.

If you know Christ, why not tell
   His free gift to others as well?

What will you do with Jesus, my friend?

Where will you go when your life ends?

© Barbara Hinson, December 2016

please do not copy without crediting the author!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Brethren, Pray for Us

More than anything in the world, it is the prayers of God's people that we covet. Yes, we are on deputation- support raising- for the purpose of gaining the finances that we need to fulfill God's call on our life for Georgia, Europe. However, it is not just monetary support that we need. We need you to lift us up before the throne of grace to receive the power and grace we MUST HAVE to do our job.

How can you pray, for us and for other missionaries on the deputation trail?

Here are some ideas:

Pray for safety and protection on the roads. Probably three quarters of our time right now is spent on the road. We have had several near crashes and "off-road" ditch experiences. Each time, it is the prayers of God's people and the preserving work of the Father that have kept us. Pray that our vehicle performs well and doesn't need major work. Pray for our tires to not blow or become flat. Pray for the drivers around us to drive safely. Pray that my husband, who does the driving, stays awake and aware and drives well. Pray for the children to be content and happy on the long road trips.

Pray for encouragement. We have been on deputation for almost 2 1/2 years- Michael a year longer without me. It's getting long, and it's hard, and we are tired. Pray that we stay "set afire" for the field, and that our burden is apparent to the churches we visit. Pray that we don't get too busy looking forward that we miss opportunities to witness to those we meet now. Pray that we keep on the straight and narrow path and don't become weary in well doing.

Pray for our health; physically, spiritually, and emotionally. Our work is tiring; long hours, constantly being on display, and always on the go. Those are all huge stressers. Pray that we all stay healthy. Pray for the boys to have strong immune systems, and that when we do get sick, we recover quickly. Pray that Michael and I stay in the Word and have vibrant relationships with Jesus. Pray that the boys will not grow to despise being in church constantly and being watched like a fishbowl. Pray that they will love the Lord wholeheartedly and desire to serve Him from that love. Pray for Michael and I to have a strong relationship with each other; that we would communicate well and remember to fill each others' love tanks. Pray that we would also spend time playing with the boys; that we would keep their hearts and not lose them in the throng of ministry. Pray for our mental well being and sanity as we live a crazy life right now.

Pray for protection from the evil one. We are on the front lines of the battle. Satan is after us, and after our children. He doesn't play fair. Pray for a hedge of protection around our family. Pray for our boys to be protected from the wrong kind of people who would take advantage of them. We are constantly around strangers, and church people or not, people are people; we can't be everywhere and see everything -Pray hard for our children. Pray for us to escape various temptations. Pray that we don't compromise on the "little" or the "important" things. Pray that we stay on guard for the wiles of the devil and actively fight against him. Pray the Lord would give us the victory, each moment of every day.

Pray that we get our financial support. Pray that churches get a burden to fulfill Christ's command to the country of Georgia by partnering with us. Pray for churches to be strong and healthy so that they CAN support missionaries. Pray for Believers to know Christ and to have the desire to make Him known to others. Pray for pastors to have a heart for missions and for their flock to be actively involved. Pray that the churches we visit will remember us when they make their financial choices for the year.

Pray that we can get to the field SOON. There are a lot of preparations required before we can leave the country and/or start a ministry in Georgia, Europe. Pray for paperwork to go through governments quickly. (e.g. birth certificate, passports, visas...) I've never been to Georgia; Pray for me to know what to pack as I prepare to move our household. Pray for wisdom as we make decisions for shipping, housing, tutors, and other things. Pray that our children will make the transition well. Pray for God to prepare hearts of people for the gospel and to prepare people in our field whom we will trust and count as friends, both for us and for our children. Pray for good communication and cooperation between us and the ministries/missionaries we will work with initially.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Announcing baby Zachary!

He's here! Our second bundle of joy. After several days of annoying braxton-hicks type contractions, Zachary gave us only 3 hours and 15 minutes warning before entering the world.  We didn't leave for the hospital for an hour and a half, and by the time they had their act together and the doctor arrived, it was time! Zachary still sleeps a lot, and we are trying to convince him that meals should come more than every 5 hours. He does NOT like to be moved, shifted, or have a light shining.

His older brother adores him and tries to be helpful. (well, as helpful as a toddler can be) Jude gives me Zachary's socks to put on his feet, and then promptly pulls them off again. If Zachary cries, Jude investigates and "tells" me that the baby is crying. So sweet! He's been a great sport about sharing mom and seems just as fascinated with the newborn as everyone else.

We are looking forward to getting to know our second little one. The life of opportunities ahead of him... the choices... the sad things... the glad times... We pray that he will come to know Christ for himself and love the Lord with all his heart, serving the Father with joy. We pray that he will be a man of character and integrity, and a mannerly gentleman. We pray that he and his brother will be good friends, loyal to their family, country, and God.

Zachary, you are a gift. Yet we know that you are only on loan, an investment from the Father; we are merely schoolmasters to lead you into manhood. May we be good stewards of the master's possession. We love you!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Animal Crackers, Dart Guns, and Motherhood

Toys litter the floor, laundry baskets overflow, crumbs constantly spread across the hardwood, shoes in various stages of migrating across the living room, dirty dishes fill the sink at least twice a day, dishes, did I mention dishes?

You know, I read Proverbs 31 and think, "Wow. This woman must have been a super-woman!" However, the more I read it, the less I think she was all that at once. She was human, after all. I'm sure it took years and years before she was all of that. Still, Lemuel's mother tells him to look for a woman just like that. How did he know how a girl would turn out? I'm sure he watched her
-Standards of character.
-Principles of living.
All of which would carry over into womanhood.

Honestly, I do not burn midnight oil. I'm not an early riser. I take naps frequently with Jude, just trying to stay energized enough to keep up with him. Many times I bow to an easy, rather than healthy, meal. One could say with certainty though, I am NOT idle. I can't be. My attitude has to stay positive and light, and I must remember that someone is watching my every move. I'm not perfect, and I want my sons to see that; but I also want them to see a mother who fears the Lord, works hard, lives with principle, and loves them with all her heart. After all, that is what Proverbs 31 is all about, isn't it?

Jude loves animal crackers and recently discovered the wonders of daddy's dart gun. He is all boy. Tractors, trucks, motorcycles... anything that makes loud noise is in his immediate radar. He likes to know how things work and will sit and figure out how the sound works in a toy. He can play for an hour stacking and knocking down blocks. At the same time, he loves to read and will bring me his favorite books so he can sit on my lap while I read them. Currently, his life pretty much revolves three feet around momma... no matter how hard I try to get away! :) He's a happy boy who thrives on social activities, yet stubborn as they come.

In short, parenting is both a joy and a trial. I feel like I'm constantly treading water, trying to stay afloat or shoveling snow in a blizzard. Some days I want to just give up on the house, because I can't keep up anyway. Other days I'm so exhausted that we "bail" the schedule and cuddle on the bed to watch Octonauts or Baby Einstein. All in all, I try to remind myself that someday my boys will be all grown up, and I'll wish I had rocked them to sleep just a little longer...

Motherhood is hard work, yet it has it's beautiful moments, and of course, huge rewards. I could say I'm a specialist in childhood development, or a stockholder in a long-term investment program, but there's just something beautiful about saying I'm a mother.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Witness of a Smile

Have you ever noticed how little people tend to smile of their own accord? Even "greeters" in stores often throw a hello or welcome over their shoulder with barely a glance at the customer. To stop and say "hello" or "how are you" to a complete stranger is almost unheard of in today's culture. Everyone is consumed with their own life and business.

And this is one of the very tools that God gives us as a witness of Him.

Last time we looked at the "dump truck syndrome" and realized how easy it is to go on our merry way and forget about the people around us. Now let's go a step further. Let's look at how our attitude to other people- a genuine smile and caring- can be the first step in a witness to them.

We see this very concept alluded to in the sermon on the mount:

"For if ye love them that love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans [i.e. sinners/unbelievers] the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your father which is in heaven is perfect." Matthew 5:46-48

An unbeliever talks to their friends, those they are acquainted with, or people they need something from or want to know for some other reason. Christians are to show Christ's love by greeting everyone. I do not pretend to have this perfected. There are people with whom I find it difficult to share a smile, much less a "hello." But I do have a heavenly Father who sees people with perfect love, and if I ask Him for help, it is easier through His grace.

As a Believer, I have access to a great quality that the rest of the world yearns to have- true joy. This is attested to both in the old and new testaments.

"Thou wilt show me the path of life; in Thy presence is fulness of joy..." Psalm 16:11a

"These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full." John 15:11

Joy is different from happiness. As the verse above says, joy is "in" us- an inner state of being. It stems from an intimate relationship with Christ, as we see in the Psalms. Joy is what allows us to answer "how are you?" with "doing great!" even when the circumstances around us are falling apart. Joy relies on Christ, what He's given us, and who we are in Him. Since those things never change, our joy cannot be taken from us and can always be FULL.

Happiness is the world's substitute, a shallow feeling based on fickle circumstances and changing emotions. People search again and again for the "high" of happiness, not understanding that it is something deeper that they really need.

Christians, it is our smile that gives witness of Christ. Try it! It works on grumpy people, tired parents, street beggars, homosexuals, muslims, fellow Believers in Christ, and... anyone else. A genuine smile, that lights up your eyes says "I care." People in America today don't see that anymore, and they will want to talk to you more.

Be prepared with an answer that tells of Christ; how they can have the same joyful smile.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Dump Truck Syndrome

Currently, one of my son's favorite books is called "The Little Blue Truck." It's about a friendly farm pickup that says "hello" to all the farm animals as it drives by them. Then a big dump truck comes down the road, knocking chickens and ducks out of it's way because it has "BIG IMPORTANT THINGS TO DO" and doesn't have time to pass the day with all the animals. The dump truck gets very stuck in mud, and calls for help from the animals, who all ignore his plea. If it weren't for the compassion of the blue pickup that jumps in the mud to help and elicits the help of the farm, the dump truck would probably still be stuck. Instead, the dump truck learns the importance of others and thanks his new found friends.

Unfortunately, sometimes it is easy in ministry to be the big dump truck, caught up in "BIG IMPORTANT THINGS TO DO" and forget about the unscheduled random events and people that cross my path. For the purpose of this blog, I have nicknamed this problem "the dump truck syndrome."

Sundays seem the worst. I've got to keep track of my 15 month old, help watch the ministry table, get ready to sing or play a violin special, prepare to teach a class... you name it. Whatever the pastor needs us for, we are ready. Then, there's that elderly gentleman who just HAS to tell me a story that lasts half an hour; or the small child that wants to play with Jude and needs constant supervision to do so; or the sound system that isn't working and requires me to set up the ministry table while my husband helps with it; or various other things.

Deputation is tough. Especially with the dump truck syndrome so prevalent in our culture today that has inadvertently trained our minds. Yes, I do have important things to do, but that is not all of what life is about. Life is about people. Family. Friends. Strangers even. (Especially in ministry.) PEOPLE ARE MY BIG IMPORTANT THINGS TO DO. 

So, if my son wants to play "peek-a-boo" with that elderly "grandma" in the grocery store, it's time to slow down, make a friend, pass out a tract. If the young child in the Chick-Fil-A playground is trying hard to make conversation, it's time to stop and encourage him. It's a battle not to be a big dump truck.

Even Jesus' disciples had this problem. They saw an adulteress by a well and thought "what are you doing?" They saw a harlot anoint Jesus' feet and protested. They tried to send away the children who wanted to see Jesus. They too had the dump truck syndrome.

So what was the cure? What changed the disciples so much that, later in Acts, they are accosted by a lame man at the temple and ACTUALLY stop to help? What made them assign deacons in the newly founded church JUST to make sure the widows were cared for and served?

It must have been time with Jesus.

Jesus is like the little blue pickup in my son's story. He is happy to love on people. Jesus taught His followers to love the unloved, care for the sick and dying, and witness to the lost. His life on earth was to prove that God cared about people. Yes, Jesus had a mission to complete- to fulfill prophecy and die for mankind. Yet he took 33 years to do it, not a mere day which is all the mission required.

As a follower of Christ, I too MUST spend time with Jesus. I must be in-tune with the Spirit of God so I know when He's calling me to jump out of a schedule to help a person. My mind needs transformed by the renewal found in the Bible and the person of Christ. I need to be concerned with the lives around me and not wrapped up in a busy life, and the only way to retrain my mind is to keep in the Word and spend time with the Lord. That is the only cure for the dump truck syndrome.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Locked Out

"Honey, don't shut the door," Michael told me specifically, "it has a digital automatic lock and I don't have the code."

I nodded and explored the house behind Jude, who is now a year old. It was Tuesday afternoon, and we had just pulled in to a lovely mission house where we were to spend the night. Michael was unloading, and I was letting Jude get out some energy.

Michael brought in another load, and headed out for more. Seeing the door was open, Jude dashed for the outdoors, hoping to make the escape to his preferred play area. I hurried after him, not wanting him to take a dive off the porch. The air-conditioning was on, and out of habit, I pulled the door shut. Just as it closed, I remembered.

"Uh, Michael.... I, uh, shut the door."

Now, we have been married just shy of two years. Not long, but long enough for the honeymoon stage to be over. Mistakes do happen, but this is the first time in two years I thought for sure Michael might get mad at me. Wallets, cell-phones, computers and files, passports... Everything was in the house. We had a little cash stowed away, but with out ID, we couldn't book a hotel. We didn't even have a cell-phone or a number for the church's secretary to come let us back in. Big whoops.

Thankfully, I have the blessing of being married to a very patient, long-suffering man. There is nothing like not being able to provide beds for your family to test any man. Michael treated me with love though. Of course,  we prayed as well, but I full well knew that this was my mess that I had made, and yes, God COULD fix it, but He was full well not entitled to do anything. We tried, in vain, to remember the code, to find an unlocked door to the house, and even to ask neighbors if they knew someone from the church. It was a rather stressful afternoon. All evening I had the verse,

"All things work together for good to them that love the Lord; to them who are the called according to His purpose." Romans.8:28

It was a great comfort to me. We love the Lord, and are called to do His purpose in Georgia. This situation definitely came under "all things."

....So what happened?????
You're probably expecting a happy ending... God brought someone by the church who let us in.... BUT, that's not what happened.

We spent the night in the car.

Jude didn't understand why he couldn't be in his bed and kept waking up. He ended up "sleeping" most of the night on me, which means I didn't sleep much either. We had a full day of travel the next day and a meeting that evening. We were exhausted.

Yet, God didn't leave us. He gave us strength for the meeting and favor with the people. Though they had not previously offered a place to stay, they asked us where we were staying. Learning of our predicament, they generously put us up for two nights at a hotel, checking us in with their ID. Michael had a safe, though long, 14 hour round trip back to get our belongings.

Ironically, God had answered our prayer and given us the code; we had the answer the whole time! The code WAS the very same verse the Lord had run through my head the whole evening: Romans 8:28! Our dear Lord sure has a sense of humor!

In all of this humorous though a bit stressful situation, God is good. He is faithful. And He didn't leave us hanging. What a Savior!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Christians and the Transgender Bathroom Issue

I've been wanting to write a blog post on the Target transgender bathroom issue, but I didn't know what to write. The LBGT (lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender) issue is close to my heart, and I wrote my psychology graduating thesis on the subject. It's a hot topic, and there's a lot going around. I didn't want to just "add my two cents". After all, opinions don't really matter; they are cheap because everyone has one. What really matters is what God says. His Word is pure and priceless, as the finest of treasure. It is everlasting, applicable to every generation.

"The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times." Psalm 12:6 

"In whom [Christ; see vs 2] are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge."
Colossians 2:3

"The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand forever."
Isaiah 40:8

Reading Psalm 11, I now know what to write. Though our nation was founded on God and His principles, the godly foundation has been slowly destroyed. America (and yes, even some who claim to be "Christians") does not want God involved anymore and has worked hard to undo all that the founding fathers desired.

"If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?" 
Psalm 11:3

The answer is clear: Keep doing right. Verses 4-7 continue with

"The Lord is in His holy temple, the Lord's throne I is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try,  the children of men. 
The Lord trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth. 
Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire, and brimstone and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup. 
For the righteous Lord loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright."

God LOVES righteousness. He is on His throne and will judge the wicked. His eyes watch the righteous. There is reward both for righteousness and for wickedness. Yes, the consequences of LBGT are tragic and awful: but the coming hell fire is much worse. Righteousness, contrarily, brings the light of God's face: it delights Him.

So, what does that mean for a Christian in relation to today's issues? Should Believers shop at Target? Protest? Boycott? Support them monetarily in any way? This is a decision each Believer must make based on the Word of God and their relationship to God. Keep in mind that, yes, as others have pointed out, transgenders used the opposite bathroom long before Target announced it; but there is a difference between sin being wrong and sin being condoned and applauded. Target acted wrongly because they promoted and published evil. Is it right then, to invest money in evil? Also keep in mind  that Christians are to be active ambassadors for the Lord, which means we don't sit by and allow things to happen without responding or being involved in any way.

Does Scripture say anything on this subject? Does God offer guidance? YES! The Scriptures are not silent. God's Word is clear that the LGBT lifestyle is wrong. (See Deuteronomy 22:5, Romans 1;21-27, and Genesis 1:27) The Psalms and Proverbs are full of passages detailing the apparent prosperity of the wicked, as well as their sure demise and judgement. We read Scriptures about speaking truth peacefully with love. (See Malachi 2:6, Proverbs 3:3-4, and Colossians 4:6) We also know we are to bring the light of the gospel to a godless world. (See Matthew 5:13-14, Acts 1:8, Mark 16:15) -Just a thought: Can you give tracts and witness to those working at Target if you don't go there?-

Obviously, there are many more verses to consider. This article is not meant to be exhaustive or to cause you to respond by thinking my way. Spend some time with the Lord yourself. Search the Scriptures. Wait on God until He gives you an answer. This is not the last time Christians will face this issue (or others, for that matter). You need to know what God wants you to do, as directed by His Word.

Do right!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Stepping Out in Faith

Wow! Rocks are cool!
What a consolation to know that when serving Christ, I'm not taking a leap in the dark, but rather walking in the light. Worry has no place in the light. Fear is chased away in God's presence. Choices take on eternal value.

We are stepping out in faith to pursue the next phase of the ministry to which God has called us. In anticipation of what God will do, and in preparation for departure, we are finishing up scheduling our meetings calendar. With the exception of some meetings previously scheduled for October, we are only scheduling through August. Hinson baby #2 is coming in September, and we are praying to be able to leave after receiving the newest child's passport, hopefully October.

You may wonder why this is a step of faith, so I will endeavor to explain. In our experience, it takes 6 months head time, at least, to schedule a meeting. Before the scheduling, we have to research, contact, and brief churches on our ministry. That means, if we get to August and do not have the needed support, we are set back at least a year. People are dying every day in the Country of Georgia and going to a Christless eternity, having never heard the gospel of Jesus one time. Our choice has eternal consequences.
Jude LOVES the out of doors!

We are yearning to get to the field and believe that God wants us there in October.

Right now, that means continuing praying. Fiercely. It means Michael is preparing for his ordination, and I am beginning to think of how to pack for a country I've never seen or experienced. It means preparing final paperwork, learning what little Georgian we can Stateside, and getting ready for a semi-permanent move.

Please join us in earnest prayer that God would perform the work that He has begun; that we could leave for the waiting people of Georgia in the fall.

And, just because I haven't posted this little guy in a while, I added pictures from a recent excursion outside. :)

Monday, February 29, 2016

The Cost of Serving Jesus

"O Lord, since Thou hast died
To give Thyself for me,
No sacrifice could be too great
For me to make for Thee.

Lord, send me anywhere; Only go with me. 
Lay any burden on me; Only sustain me. 
Sever any tie, Save the tie that binds me to Thy heart. 
Lord Jesus, my King, I consecrate my life, Lord, to Thee."

-David Livingstone, emphasis mine

This seems to be the lesson God is imprinting on my canvas recently. One by one, the things that I held dear, or thought necessary, God is severing from my life. Family, friends, photography, computer, big house/lots of space, pretty things, violin, even a daily shower... all are finding new positions, placed by God in the right place.

Now, don't get me wrong. Those things are still important. They just are not AS important as they were. God is weaning me from false joys and securities so that I can enjoy HIM more fully. How else am I to minister His truth to others?

In this world, there is cost attached to following Jesus. The question is, Does the cost affect  my following Jesus? Which is greater, the cost, or Christ?

Am I willing to give up a quiet, scheduled life for the life of traveling with my husband? That is what God has called me to. I could stay home while my husband travels, but that's not what God wants for me. Am I willing to give up a big house full of nice things for a cramped car stuffed with our true necessities?

Yes. I am. It isn't easy, for sure. It's a battle to fight for the right attitude and priorities. Nevertheless, it's worth it.

Christ is worth it.

The gospel is worth it.

Monday, February 15, 2016

When God Speaks

When God Speaks

Do I listen?

Maybe you've seen the 30 day Scripture writing plans circulating, as I have, on Facebook and other places. I don't know who designed them or started them on Facebook, but I think they are a great idea. Honestly, it has taken me more like 90 days to do just one sheet. I'm still on thanksgiving; but that's alright. Thanksgiving is a great topic to meditate on year round.

Interestingly enough, I've found that God STILL speaks through His Word. Thousands of years after the Bible was penned and it still talks. Those topics, pre-planned by someone who doesn't even know me, with a bunch of verses put in a seemingly random order intended for 30 consecutive days, and God KNOWS. I don't know how many times the verses I've written had relevance for that day. It happens a lot. 

And, sure enough, as I prepared a lesson for Sunday, the verses I wrote today came to mind. Wow. It's amazingly wonderful really, for God has taught me that a lesson to other ladies, young people, or children, means nothing if it isn't from the heart. HIS HEART. How can I teach about God if I don't know Him myself? The only way to get to know Him is through His own Word, where His Spirit speaks to my spirit, teaching me about God. Pretty fascinating really.

God is speaking. But He's ever the gentleman. You can ignore Him if you want. You can try to run and hide from what He says. Or, you can listen. It's well worth your time, my friends. He's already invested much in you. 

Are you listening?

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Stilling the Avenger

To put Jude to sleep, I frequently will rock him if I have a chance, singing Just As I Am and quoting Psalm 100, 23, 8, & 1.  By then, he's almost always asleep. It provides an excellent time to meditate on the meaning of Psalms I've known for years. This is when it "hit" me. I had memorized Psalm 8 as a child at a VBS type conference. This verse puzzled me: 

"Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightiest still the enemy and the avenger." vs 2

As a child, I understood that God uses children and weak things to confound the wise, and that our praise gives glory and strength to God. I even understood about God's enemies, both satan and those who work with him. What I didn't get was the part about the avenger. 

I remember my mom explaining what an avenger is:
           In ancient Israel, they had a way to judge between accidental death and murder. There were twelve cities, called cities of refuge, where someone could run to for a hearing if they killed someone by accident and did not hate them before. Why run? The Torah was pretty clear: life must be taken (or atoned for) by another life. So, the family of the killed person would choose a person to run after the killer, and if he caught him before reaching the city of refuge, he would kill him. 
          At the gates of these cities of refuge was the usual council of wise men, reviewing the various issues people brought before them and rendering justice. An accidental killer would run to these men and present his case. If he was indeed guilty of murder, the elders would turn him over to the Avenger. Life must be taken for life. If he truly were innocent, he would be sentenced to live in that city until the death of the high priest, for life must still be atoned for by another life. If he left that city before the death of the high priest, he was in danger of the Avenger once again. 

You can read all about it yourself in Numbers 35:11-28, and Deuteronomy 19:4-13

The question remained in my mind. Why would praising God still the avenger? After all, we don't use the Torah's system today. We live under a democratic government that handles issues like murder and accidents with it's own courts. We're not in danger of an avenger. 

Or are we?

As I rocked Jude and meditated on this passage, YEARS after memorizing it, God showed it to me.

By the Law of God, I'm the guilty party. For, "all have sinned" and, "the wages of sin is death." Romans 3:23, 6:23. I am worthy of death, same as this killer in Leviticus. What's more, I too, am a murderer, for Jesus said that whoever hates someone is the same as a murderer. Matthew 5:21-22. I needed to run to a place of refuge, because the Avenger sought my life. He was chasing after me, wanting to steal, kill, and destroy my life. John 10:10. After all, I rightfully deserved to die. Revelation 12:10b.

But I can praise the Lord, because He has permanently stilled the Avenger! I ran to the Refuge. 2 Samuel 22:3. He deemed me worth saving, told me to abide in Him, and the Avenger could not harm me. Why? The Great High Priest has already died. Mark 10:45. He died in my place, atoning for my sin so that I could henceforth live for Him. Hebrews 4:14-16.

WOW! So worth the wait to see this passage as God intends for me, as a New Testament believer, to read it.