29 June 2009

Blaming God...

"God said, 'Here, take a little of this diabetes and see how you like it.'" These words, or something similar, were spoken by a friend of mine, speaking of her child who had diabetes. This is a "church lady" who's presumably had some sort of relationship with God most of her life. She spoke it with a slightly bitter chuckle as though it's just one of those things God does to us and we just have to bear it. Wow. Satan's done a great job on us, hasn't he? He's destroyed our trust in God; the only One we really can trust.

I'm no theologian and you may think my opinions naive or oversimplified, but it seems to me that we're sometimes a little too quick to believe that God is just "up there" playing games with us to see how we'll react.

Tell me. Did you ever see Jesus put a disease on anyone? I don't see that in the gospels. Actually, I see Him healing everyone who came to Him. So maybe these things come from another source, such as an angry ex-archangel who seeks to kill, steal and destroy those who love God. (John 10:9-10) As Jesus says: "I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full." 1 Peter 5:8-9 says: "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings."

We're under attack from an angry enemy who hates us simply because we belong to God. He's managed, over time, to cause us to believe that this is just life. Disease and pain are to be expected. It seems almost mundane. But Jesus told us not to put up with it. Jesus layed hands on people and they were healed, delivered from demons and resurrected from the dead. Satan has convinced us that it would be unsophisticated for us to do the same. But it's what Jesus commanded us to do. He said we would do even greater things than He did.

I'm not saying I've arrived in this area. I'm kind of a coward when it comes to laying on hands (except in a church service where it's "acceptable" and "comfortable"). But that's my fault, not God's. I need to trust Him enough to take Him at His Word. We need to remember to ask for the boldness to do this and it only comes from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. It's not something we "work up" on our own.

My husband and kids have been diagnosed with a blood clotting disorder which can make them clot too much or not enough; my daughter was diagnosed with diabetes; my grand-daughter has a clot in her head as I type this; my husband spent 7 years on crutches because of a destroyed knee and had a run-in with prostate cancer in addition to some heart problems years ago. The enemy has attacked us just like everyone else, but I refuse to blame God. He's given us a way of escape, if we will just believe and trust in Him. He sent Jesus to put his foot on Satan's neck and destroy his miserable works. He provided healing and deliverance and was resurrected from the dead so we could be also. My husband was healed after seven years on crutches because a group of folks weren't afraid to pray for him and believe. He was also healed of prostate cancer and I believe my daughter is healed of diabetes. We continue to pray for our kids and believe that they are in the palm of God's hand and will carry out His will for their lives.

It takes some effort to study the scriptures, especially the gospels, to get a good picture of what Jesus did and what He told us to do in response to the attacks of the enemy. I know I'm always looking for a shortcut to really studying the Word. I don't think there is one. To even begin to understand why bad things are happening to us and those we love, we need to spend large amounts of time in prayer and study. If we aren't willing to do that then we will go through life wondering how God could be so unfair, or why He would allow certain things to happen to His children. (And yes, these things happen even to those who don't love God. But, God gave us, as his children, power to do something about it. In the process maybe those who don't know Him will sit up and take notice and decide to switch their allegiance. Healing is a powerful testimony that God is really here.)

God is 100 percent faithful, true and just. We have to learn to trust in Him "no matter what". If our Bible study is lagging behind the circumstances so that we find ourselves bewildered by what's going on around us then we have to hold on to the knowlege that He IS the epitome of Faithfulness, Truth and Justice and He's on our side. Then we have to get into the Word and really get to know Him.

God has given us power over the attacks of the enemy. If we aren't using that power then how can we blame Him?

P.S. "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you HOPE and a future."
~ Jeremiah 29:11 (Hmmm...sounds like God is on OUR side.) =0)

16 June 2009

Sketches of Jewish Social Life...

Ah....beautiful...Oh, sorry. I'm listening to Coty Sloan's music player (in my left-hand column). I especially love "Reflections". I tried playing the first little bit of it on my violin. Hmmm... I guess he didn't get that good in a day. Anyway...

I've finally gotten around to reading "Sketches of Jewish Social Life" by Alfred Edersheim. This is a book I started years ago and didn't get very far, but I think it's a good book to give one a feel for the times in which Jesus lived. If you can get used to the old-fashioned, academic sort of language there is a lot to glean from this book. I think it will enrich my study of the New Testament.

I'm also finding other books by the same author to read on-line. I've bookmarked an online version of "History of the Jewish Nation After the Destruction of Jerusalem Under Titus"

I've also got a bid in on this book on eBay, because reading books online gives me a stiff neck! (Please don't bid against me. LOL!)

We're having a wonderful little rain today. I just got caught up on weeding my garden yesterday, so the rain is welcome. I also replanted some of the garden because it's been so cool here that some of it didn't germinate. I hope it will catch up with some warm weather.

Shalom! \0/

06 June 2009

Studying Luke...

I promise not to chronicle every day of my Actually Reading the Bible Summer Challenge. Just a quick summary...promise...

I first began by reading Halley's Bible Handbook's commentary on the first chapter of Luke and then began reading the chapter in my ancient NIV Bible, taking notes as I went.

Then I decided to look at The International Inductive Study New Testament, which I had purchased at the library book sale a while back. As I read through the inductive study procedure I thought:

1. This is kind of complicated, and
2. Yeah, but it might make me actually SLOW DOWN and think about what I'm reading!

It can be really difficult to look at familiar scriptures with new eyes. It takes the help of the Holy Spirit and sometimes a new way of studying. I think it's worth a try.

So, here I am underlining, circling, highlighting and drawing little hourglasses next to important elements of the text. After I work through the whole book using the inductive system, I'll probably read it straight through in another version. The one I'm using is The Modern Language New Testament/New Berkeley Version, which I've never heard of.

In addition to the Inductive Study and Halley's Bible Handbook I'm reading a daily dose of "My Utmost for His Highest" by Oswald Chambers and "Sketches of Jewish Social Life" by Alfred Edersheim. In this way I hope to enjoy some of the many books I haven't gotten around to in the "Christian Growth" section of my bookshelves.

It's too cold to be outside so I'll probably have a lazy day of reading and watching old movies. Enjoy your day!

Some Books That Live on My Shelves...

You'll find a list called "Some Books That Live on My Shelves" in my left-hand column. A few of these I've actually read, but most of them are gems and treasures I look forward to enjoying over the coming years, Lord willing. I've collected most of them in just the past year via library book sales, eBay and Paperback Swap.

There's an interesting quote on hopeinbrazil's blog which goes something like this:
"A life being short, and the quiet hours of it few, we ought to waste none of them in reading valueless books." John Ruskin

I find the quiet hours are few, so my shelf full of books should last me a good long time. And that's something to look forward to!

04 June 2009

Operation Actually Read Your Bible

I've joined Becky's Summer Studies Mini-Challenge to read and study one of the gospels all summer.

Description of the Challenge: Participants will choose one gospel (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) to study for the summer. Study could mean reading it multiple times (once a month for June, July, August). Or it could mean reading the gospel and reading books about that gospel (commentaries, study helps, etc.). Or it could mean reading the gospel, listening to the gospel, watching a video drama of the gospel, listening to sermon series preached from that gospel, or participating in a Bible Study or Sunday School class discussion of that gospel. It might mean memorization of passages.

You do not have to have a blog to participate. You can keep track of your progress on the mini-challenge by commenting on this site.(Meaning Becky's site. If you want. No one is going to make you share what you learn or anything! But sharing does build community among participants, so it is encouraged!)

If you have a blog and would like to 'journal' your studies, feel free to do so. But it's not required.

To learn more go to Becky's blog.

02 June 2009

It's lilac time...

I wish you could smell these beautiful lilacs! They only last a couple of weeks and then they're gone, so I thought I should at least capture them on film.

As I took this close-up photo I heard a faint humming sound and thought, "Oh, good! A bumblebee!" We've all heard of the shortage of bees and I was glad to hear one. But as I looked among the branches I saw the tiniest little bird sitting on a branch looking back at me. "What kind of bird is THAT?" I wondered. A hummingbird, of course. I've seldom seen a hummingbird alight on a branch, but this little light green fellow was sitting on a twig among the lilacs. I tried to get him on camera, but he was off and humming, back in the shadows of the bush, before I could get off a shot.

These are some of the short-lived joys of summer. The lilacs...and the hummingbirds.

01 June 2009

Stricken, Smitten and Afflicted...

The Semicolon blog just took a survey asking everyone to send in their choices for the top ten hymns. I sent in my top 6 at the last minute. I hope they were included in the poll!

Anyway, today Sherry begins letting us know which hymns made the top 101. She will share the next hymn in line each day, which should be really fun to follow.

Hymn #101 is "Stricken, Smitten and Afflicted", a hymn I had never heard of before, but I just love it. You can hear Fernando Ortega sing it here.

You can follow the top 100 countdown at Sherry's Semicolon blog here.

I hope to learn many beautiful hymns in the days ahead. Join me!