Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Sometimes, It's Hard...To Be...A Woman

Did anyone hear the song in their head. No? Anyway...

Consequences, consequences. Usually when we use the word consequences…it’s not good. We’ve seen the consequences for the serpent and that mostly worked out good for us, but today we’ll look at what God said to Eve…the consequences for her…and therefore all women. Read what God said to Eve in Genesis 3:16.


To the woman he said, “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”


As the mother of two, I wonder what in the world childbirth would have been like if not painful. Like the serpent who would now “crawl on [his] belly and eat dust for all the days of [his] life,” there is a physical consequence for the woman. In God’s mercy, she will still give birth, but again, there is a cost. It will be painful. Now let me tell you, I thanked God the entire time I was in the hospital for epidurals. Seriously. But still I did not escape the pain that comes with childbearing. I have a strong suspicion this is a larger reference. Let me explain…

My younger sister was the first to get pregnant in our family. We couldn’t have been happier. At 17 weeks, it was discovered her baby had severe birth defects, including his heart, caused by a chromosome disorder. Her baby died a couple of weeks later and it was one of our darkest moments. Pain in childbearing.

Before I was pregnant with my first daughter, I had a miscarriage. I was devastated. I hadn’t told my friends and family that I was pregnant so what would I say? I even felt guilty for being so sad because I didn’t feel it compared to the pain my sister had been through. Pain in childbearing.

A son is devastated at not making the basketball team…
A teenage daughter struggles with her lack of popularity…
A child screams, “I hate you!” when you have to discipline them…
Pain in childbearing.

As my children grow, I know that there will be pain. I know there will be times my heart will be broken either for them or by them. I know there were times I brought my own parents pain. It’s not just the act of giving birth that is painful but all of mothering children has become more painful as a result of sin. In God’s mercy, it has AMAZING moments and aspects…but as a result of sin, there is also now pain.

The second consequence is very important to understand as well. And it might explain a lot to you. I know it was an “Aha!” moment for me. It’s a little confusing at first but when we break down the language, I hope it will make a little more sense to you. Reread Genesis 3:16.


To the woman he said, “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.

Sounds a little confusing doesn’t it? But I think there is a little something lost in translation. I was listening to a series of sermons by Tommy Nelson of Denton Bible Church on women in the Bible. Naturally, the first woman in the series was the first woman, Eve. While listening to his sermon, I learned that a more literal meaning might be, “Your desire will be [to rule over] your husband, and he will rule over you.” Now that’s a little different isn’t it? The word translated “desire” comes from the Hebrew word Teshuwqah(#8669). This word can refer to sexual desire, but it has another meaning as well. Look at Genesis 4:7 where the same Hebrew word is used.


“If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”
Clearly this is a different kind of desire isn’t it? The word used in Genesis 3:16 can mean sexual desire, but when it comes to your husband, that would be a blessing, not a curse. It is also used in terms of overcoming, “like a crouching animal ready to pounce.”

It still may not make sense to you so let me put it to you this way. Who wears the pants in your family? Who is the spiritual leader in your home, the one involved in Bible study, the one who makes sure everyone gets to church? Who makes the final call when there is a decision to be made? If you are blessed to be in a home where your husband is the spiritual leader, do you ever struggle with submitting to his authority? Have you ever wondered why it’s so difficult at times? IT’S PART OF THE CONSEQUENCES! Our sin nature wants the authority but God ordered things so that the husband is the one charged with that responsibility.

I’m not saying it’s easy friends. For the women, I know for a fact that LOTS of you struggle with this. And men, it’s not easy for you either. If this whole submission thing is new to you and seems old fashioned or unfair, I get it. I’ve been there. Let me just say, it doesn’t mean what you think it means. If you have specific questions, drop me a note and I would love to talk about it some more. But for those of you who know the Biblical meaning of submission, maybe this helps explain why it’s so hard with your husband sometimes. Anyway, on that note, next time we’ll look at what God had to say to Adam…

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I'm Covered...Or Am I?

So, Adam and Eve realized they were naked. What happens next is going to be something we can all relate to whether we want to admit it or not. Look again at Genesis 3:7:

Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
They tried to cover themselves. Hmmm. Isn’t that what we do? Try to cover our sin?

Adam and Eve used fig leaves. What do we try to cover ourselves with?

I have tried through the years to cover myself with good deeds, acts of service, quiet times, tithes, etc, as if any of it would take care of my sin problem and my separation from God. What does scripture say about the coverings we make for ourselves? Earlier in this study, we looked up Isaiah 64:6.

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags…

Those fig leaves are like filthy rags. But…we do need to be covered. Soon we will get to the clothing that covers all our sin and makes us righteous before God, but first let’s look at what else Adam and Eve do. Read Genesis 3:8:

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

They covered themselves with fig leaves and sensing that it still wasn’t enough, they hid. Again, can you relate? We all try to hide our sin. We hide it from other people, we even hide it from ourselves by refusing to think about it and somehow, in doing this, we think we are hiding it from God. Let’s go to scripture again to see what God has to say about that. Look at Hebrews 4:13:

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

So we see Adam and Eve attempt to cover their sin and hide from God, both of which are impossible by the way. There was sin and there would be serious consequences. There were three involved in the incident and all will suffer the consequences for it and we’re going to look at it all a little more closely. If we don’t understand the consequences, we’ll never understand the grace. God had words for the serpent, for Eve, and finally, for Adam. Today let’s look at what God said to the serpent.

Read Genesis 3:14-15:

So the LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”
First, God tells the serpent he will be cursed…“Cursed…above all the livestock and all the wild animals.” So what does that mean exactly? The word translated as “cursed” is the Hebrew word Arar. This word occurs 63 times in the Old Testament. It “has been interpreted as meaning to bind, to hem in with obstacles, to render powerless to resist.” Then God said, “you will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.” This seems a little more obvious. Doesn’t this bring the image of a snake to mind? Apparently, the serpent had some other way of getting around before, but now will be crawling on its belly and eating dust.

Let’s read the second part again. Verse 15 says that God will put enmity between the serpent and the woman and between the serpent’s offspring and hers and that he will crush the serpent's head and the serpent will strike his heel. What do you think this means? Don’t know? That’s okay because I’m happy to tell you we’re getting to the GOOD NEWS! The Gospel! But wait, let’s slow down and take a good close look.

Now, the head of anything is its most important part. We can live without several of our body parts, but not without our heads (though sometimes I feel I’ve lost mine). The head of a company is the big boss, the one in charge. The head of the serpent being crushed means that the serpent will be defeated once and for all. An offspring of the woman would ultimately destroy the serpent for good. Any idea who that might be?

That’s right! This is the part where we see Jesus was there from the very beginning! So there’s no mistaking, get your Bible out. I want you to see in black and white where it is recorded that Jesus is Adam and Eve’s offspring. Look at Luke 3 starting in verse 23 and then scan through to verse 38. Seriously, stop and get your Bible.

Isn’t that awesome? But lest we take this lightly, there is an addendum to the promise that the woman’s offspring would crush the serpent’s head. Verse 15 ends with, “and you will strike his heel.” What do you think that means?

When you think of someone crushing a serpent’s head, what part of the body would they use? I would imagine it’s a foot. But that foot that crushes the head will be wounded. There is a cost involved. That cost is the cross. That "heel" delivers a death blow to the head but is itself wounded.

Look at Isaiah 53:4-10 and consider for yourself all the words and phrases that describe what “strike his heel” looked like at the cross. Please take your time with this and consider the cost.

Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. 6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away. Yet who of his generation protested? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was punished.9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. 10 Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.

Wow. Can you see Jesus? It is powerful stuff and it is good news for us. Next time (and I swear I won’t take so long next time) we will go backwards a little bit and look at the specific consequences for Eve. We'll quickly discover how those consequences affect us all. But don’t forget there is good news.

Until then, consider how you are attempting to cover your own sin and how truly insufficient that cover is. We will soon talk about an effective covering that brings complete forgiveness and freedom.

I’d love to hear from you!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

They Realized They Were Naked

I'm hoping I got your attention with my title. :) I haven't blogged in a couple of weeks but I haven’t abandoned looking at the story of Adam and Eve. It's been busy around here with work and the high school football season coming to a close. So I’m just going to jump right in.

I really find this next part interesting. We looked at the progression of sin and broke it down into Take Notice, Taken Over, Take Actions, and Take Others. We touched on the consequences of our sin. But today we’re going to go a little deeper and take a close look at the consequences of Adam and Eve’s sin and what it means for all of us. Yesterday we looked at the twisted words, at what they said. Today we’ll look at what they did and what the consequences were. Look at Genesis 3:7-13.


Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”


So let’s start breaking down what they did. Verse 7 says, “...the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked...” I have to say that when I started digging a little deeper into this story it made me think, “What’s the deal with them being naked? Why did that suddenly matter? They were naked before; did they really not realize it? They were husband and wife and God had never told them they needed clothes. It was perfectly appropriate for them to be naked. Genesis 2:25, the last verse before the serpent comes on the scene, tells us, “The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” So. What was it about sin that made them want to cover their nakedness?” Let me tell you, what I found was fascinating!

First, I looked up the word “naked” in the original language, Hebrew. Here’s what I found. The Hebrew word used here is ‘Arowm or ‘Arom meaning “to be nude or naked”. Okay, no big deal right? But I want you to look at another word. Read Genesis 3:1 again.

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made.

Now this word “crafty” in Hebrew is ‘Aruwm. Looks similar doesn’t it? Here’s the fascinating part. Both words come from the same root word ‘Aram. Why is that interesting? Here is the definition in my Key Word Study Bible Lexicon.

‘Aram; this root means to be bare, to be smooth; to be cunning, to be crafty; to act craftily, to form a cunning plan, to deal subtly; to act prudently. Since it is a neutral term, the context determines the nuance.

Can you see what I’m getting at? “The context determines the nuance.” So I ask you, in context, what definition makes the most sense? Yes they were “bare” and “smooth” so they were naked, but is it possible that when their eyes were opened, they saw that they were “crafty”? Could it be that what they saw was that they were like the serpent? I don’t know for sure, I’m just saying. Interesting.

There are many commentaries on what it means that they “realized they were naked.” No matter what, their nakedness was now shameful and they tried to cover themselves and that’s what we’ll look at next. In the meantime consider…have you realized that you are naked before God? What does that mean? And what are you going to do about it?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

So What To Do?

So sin and temptation isn’t unique to Adam and Eve and it isn’t unique to you and me. All of mankind has been enticed by his or her own evil desire. Let’s look at another example in scripture of this progression. Read 2 Samuel 11 and read verses 1-17:

David and Bathsheba
In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem. One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (Now she was purifying herself from her monthly uncleanness.) Then she went back home. The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, “I am pregnant.”

So David sent this word to Joab: “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” And Joab sent him to David. When Uriah came to him, David asked him how Joab was, how the soldiers were and how the war was going. Then David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house and wash your feet.” So Uriah left the palace, and a gift from the king was sent after him. But Uriah slept at the entrance to the palace with all his master’s servants and did not go down to his house.

David was told, “Uriah did not go home.” So he asked Uriah, “Haven’t you just come from a military campaign? Why didn’t you go home?” Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in tents, and my commander Joab and my lord’s men are camped in the open country. How could I go to my house to eat and drink and make love to my wife? As surely as you live, I will not do such a thing!” Then David said to him, “Stay here one more day, and tomorrow I will send you back.” So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next. At David’s invitation, he ate and drank with him, and David made him drunk. But in the evening Uriah went out to sleep on his mat among his master’s servants; he did not go home.

In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. In it he wrote, “Put Uriah out in front where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die.” So while Joab had the city under siege, he put Uriah at a place where he knew the strongest defenders were. When the men of the city came out and fought against Joab, some of the men in David’s army fell; moreover, Uriah the Hittite died.
What part of the story describes when David TOOK NOTICE?

In what way did David move to the next step until he was TAKEN OVER?

David definitely TAKES ACTION. How?

In what ways did David TAKE OTHERS?

So what do we do? We know sin is progressive but how do we keep ourselves from playing things all the way out? We can’t always control what comes before our eyes. It’s what happens in our minds afterwards that can lead us down one road or another. We might TAKE NOTICE, but how do we keep from being TAKEN OVER? This is where the battle is won or lost. In the story of Adam and Eve, it says, “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom…” Can you see the dramatic buildup even in this one little verse? “…good for food…pleasing to the eye…and also (dun, dun, duuuun) desirable for gaining wisdom…” What does all that mean? While doing research, I found that the Hebrew for the phrase “desirable for gaining wisdom” is venechmad ha'etz lehaskil which more literally translated means “desirable to contemplate”.

What do you think “desirable to contemplate” means? How could that fall into the sin category?

What is something that when you look at it, you are then tempted to spend some time with it in your mind, going to places in your head that you shouldn’t?

This is the key. Once you TAKE NOTICE of something, you come to a fork in the road. The battle is won or lost in the mind first. To win the battle, to keep from being TAKEN OVER, we must be properly equipped.

Read Ephesians 6:10-18 :

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of
peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.


We could do an entire Bible study on these verses but I wanted you to get the point that we need to be protected with the “belt of truth” which holds everything else up and then armed with the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” If Eve had gone back to what she knew was true according to God’s word (Eve didn’t have a Bible so I mean His actual/literal words), she could have stood up to the serpent’s schemes. In order to arm ourselves, we need God’s Word. When we face temptation, He can then call those scriptures to mind. Romans 8:5 says,

Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.

I want to “set my mind” on what the Spirit desires. Let’s arm ourselves with some verses that we can commit to memory so that by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can be victorious when we are tempted.

2 Corinthians 10:5
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Phil. 4:8
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.

Psalm 119:37
Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.

Psalm 141:8
But my eyes are fixed on you, O Sovereign LORD; in you I take refuge – do not give me over to death.

Hebrews 12:2
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

As we draw to a close today I am reminded that it is easy to be a little hard on Eve. If you thought you couldn’t relate to Eve, if you thought you might have done better if it had been you in the Garden of Eden, I hope today’s study has caused you to take a good honest look at your own heart and the depth of your sin. I don’t believe we can truly begin to fathom what Christ did for us on the cross, and can rely completely on Him as Savior until we acknowledge that we’ve got nothing to bring to the table.

I purposely used the word “take” when describing sin’s progression because I want us to remember that sin is a taker. Sin is selfish. Sin puts my eyes on me and not on God. Sin has consequences. We looked at the consequences for David. We considered the consequences in our own lives, and next we will take a deeper look at the consequences of sin for Adam and Eve and in turn, for all of mankind. But don’t get discouraged friends. God has provided a remedy for our situation and we’re going to get to it. So hang in there and stay with it!

If you have stuck with this very long post…thank you.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Sin: Who is to Blame?

Last time we looked at how and why we are tempted, and who does the tempting. I want to take it a little further this time. Look at James 1:13-15

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
In the Garden of Eden, Adam had the audacity to put the blame on God and Eve first. He said in verse 12, “The woman you put here with me – she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Eve doesn’t go so far as to blame God. Notice she doesn’t say, “The serpent you put here, he deceived me.” But she does blame the serpent for deceiving her and then admits she ate.

So what’s really going on here? Whose fault is it? Looking back at James 1:13 – 15, I think Eve got into trouble when she turned to her “own evil desire”. She got into trouble when she went from listening to God, to listening to the serpent, and from looking at the fruit, to looking at what was in it for Eve. She, “by her own evil desire”, is dragged away and enticed. Essentially, the serpent asked her, “But Eve, what do you want?”

Here is the verse again to refresh your memory. Genesis 3:6:

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

Can you see the progression here?
1. Eve “saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye”
2. It was also “desirable for gaining wisdom”
3. She “took some and ate it”
4. She “gave some to her husband”

Sin is progressive. If we feed it, it grows. It starts with the eyes when we TAKE NOTICE. We don’t always have control over what comes into our line of sight, but when we linger on it, it often escalates to desire and we are TAKEN OVER. If we then feed that desire, if we are taken over, we will become increasingly agitated until we TAKE ACTION. Once we take action, we then TAKE OTHERS down with us. Even if we don’t intentionally seek to drag another person into our sin, our sin affects those around us. One of the lies we often tell ourselves about our sin is that it’s not hurting anyone else. But I can think of lots of examples, can you?

Now this situation isn’t unique to Adam and Eve and it isn’t unique to you and me. All of mankind has been enticed by his or her own evil desire. Let’s think through some possible scenarios. I will fill in the TAKE NOTICE. You fill in the rest. There’s no wrong answer here so really think it through and see what you come up with.

TAKE NOTICE = Had a fight with your husband last night and then see that cute guy at work who is always so nice.
TAKEN OVER =
TAKE ACTION =
TAKE OTHERS =

TAKE NOTICE = Watch a tv show about super skinny supermodels
TAKEN OVER =
TAKE ACTION =
TAKE OTHERS =

If you notice, no sin is happening in the initial phase. There might be something unwise for you personally in the TAKE NOTICE, but nothing inherently evil. We could probably think of lots of other examples. Sin has no prejudice. It can destroy us a million different ways. Next time we’ll look at another of the many examples in the Bible of this progression and how temptation is a struggle for even the most righteous men. But don’t despair, we will get to the, “So what do I do about it” part. Hang in there with me!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bible Study - Why Do Diets Make Me Hungry?

Something about being on a diet makes me hungry. The moment I start thinking about how I shouldn’t eat something, that’s all I want to do. If I had been Eve, I wouldn’t have needed a lying serpent. I would have probably eaten the fruit the second God said, “Don’t.” Last time our focus was the serpent’s deception but today we’re going to move on to Eve’s response.

I don’t know about you but I’ve often had to learn things the hard way. I’m a rebel at heart. I regret to say I learned very little about life as a teenager by just listening and obeying. I had to find out for myself, like I said, the hard way. (My parents are vigorously nodding their heads right now) Even now when I see a sign that says “wet paint” I still feel that twinge of desire to stick my finger on the wall. There’s something in us that doesn’t trust those signs. Something that doesn’t trust the wisdom of our elders. Something that doesn’t trust God. And I think I know what that “something” is.

In many cases, learning something the hard way is harder than we ever imagined. Not trusting God can have dire consequences. It sure did for Adam and Eve. Let’s get started by looking at the way this story is told in a popular children’s Bible.


The fruit on the tree looked good to eat. Eve took some and ate it. Then she gave some to Adam and he ate it, too. Then Adam and Eve saw that they were naked. They made coverings for themselves. Soon they heard God walking through the garden. Quickly, they hid. “Where are you?” God called. “Did you eat from the tree?” “The woman you put here gave me the fruit,” said Adam. “The snake tricked me, and I ate it,” said Eve.


Sounds like a kid version doesn’t it? They heard God coming so they hid. Like that’s even possible. The parent, God, asks, “Where are you?” Then a specific question, “Did you eat from the tree?” Adam blames Eve and then Eve blames the snake. In many ways, this story is very familiar to me as a mom of two little girls. Let me give you a scenario. I notice the girls are awfully quiet so I go upstairs to see what’s going on. I see the two of them hiding behind the couch and some interesting crayon drawings on the wall. I might ask, “What happened?” and then follow with, “Did you color on the wall?” One will say, “She did it!” To which the other will counter, “She told me to!” Then the first will reply, “No I didn’t!” And so on, and so on, and so on. Can you relate?

The kid version is clear but let’s look at your Bible now and read the story as it is recorded there.

Genesis 3:6-13 (New International Version)
6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. 8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the LORD God called to the man, "Where are you?" 10 He answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid." 11 And he said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?" 12 The man said, "The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it." 13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate."

I can relate to Eve. And not just because the temptation involved food. I can relate to Eve because I am familiar with the process here. First, she looks at the fruit and sees that it is “good for food”. And it’s also desirable for gaining wisdom. This is the point where I would start to talk myself into it. The really dangerous part. Adam and Eve had surely seen the tree before. They had looked at the fruit and seen that it was good for food…but they weren’t tempted before now. I think this is an important point. God doesn’t tempt us. It’s not until the serpent comes into the picture and twists the truth that Eve begins to look at the fruit in a different way. The serpent is the one who tempts her, but ultimately, Adam and Eve are the ones held responsible.

Can you think of a time you were suddenly tempted by something that had never been tempting before? What changed?

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Same Old Lies

I find it interesting that Satan targets Eve in the Garden of Eden with his lies and deception. There are lots of theories about why he focuses on her, but whatever the reason, he causes Eve to doubt God’s words. I think he knows that if he can cause her to doubt God, then he can cause her to fear.

I believe one of Satan’s most effective tools against women is fear. Most of the women I know struggle with fear and that fear leads to worry. We worry about what others think. We worry about the finances and the future. We worry about our children, having them, not having them, and everything to do with them. I’m not saying men don’t worry, I’m just saying some women I know tend to think it’s a spiritual gift. We worry as if it wards off anything bad happening in our lives.

So why do we worry? I think it’s because we believe the lie. Satan is still telling the same lies he told in the garden and we are STILL believing them! Let’s face it, “you will not surely die” might as well be, “God is a liar.” And then we have, “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” which is basically, “God is keeping something from you. He can’t be trusted. If you trust Him, you’re going to miss out! Or worse, he’s going to let something bad happen.”

Read John 8:44-45 to get some perspective on how “crafty” the serpent is, Jesus is speaking to the Jews who sought to kill him,

“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s
desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for
there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is
a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe
me!”


Satan is the “father of lies”! There is no truth in him. In fact, lying is his native language. Jesus says that because he(Jesus) is telling the truth, we don’t believe him. Not, “I tell the truth and you don’t believe.” He says, “Because I tell the truth you don’t believe.” So…I have to ask myself…why do we trust the lie more than we trust God? Think I’m wrong? When we worry about our kids, we’re believing the serpent. When we worry about our future, we’re believing the serpent. When we are afraid to give everything over to God because we’re afraid of what he’ll do with it, we’re believing the serpent’s lies. So again, I ask, why do we trust him more than we trust God? Is it because sometimes we are more like him? Is it because deep down (and sometimes not so deep down) we want to be God? We want control? We want to decide what’s best? Are you getting as uncomfortable as I am?

In what way are you still believing the same old lies?

John MacArthur said of Satan, “He wanted to be like God, so God made him as unlike God as possible.” If Satan is the father of lies then our Heavenly Father is the Father of Truth. Jesus said, “I tell you the truth,” more than 70 times in the Bible. Let’s end this section by looking at what God says about the truth and who He is.

Psalm 31:5 Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O LORD, the God of truth.

Psalm 40:11 Do not withhold your mercy from me O LORD; may your love and your truth always protect me.

Psalm 86:11 Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.

John 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, full of grace and truth.

John 14:6 I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Next post, we’ll move on but in the meantime, let’s remind ourselves of the truth…and then believe it.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Twisted Truths - Part 2

Not so long ago, we had what I might call The Year of Twisted Truths…otherwise known as a presidential election year. In 2008, when I googled the phrase “twisted truth”, I got a page full of articles about politics. Not all that surprising I guess, but it strikes me that during that election, my friends, family and yes, I myself, heard some twisted versions of the truth and often believed them. Not unlike the garden, many of the advertisements and accusations during any election have some bit of truth in them, but have been tweaked just enough to confuse and alarm, to cause us to question what we think we know.

Can you think of a time you were deceived by a lie that sounded true?

So in my last post, Twisted Truths, we started comparing what each party said in the Garden of Eden. I want to continue making the comparison between what God said, what the serpent said, and what Eve said. Once again, I have underlined some words to help you see the sometimes subtle differences.

God – Genesis 2:17 “but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil…”

Boldserpent – Genesis 3:1 He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

Eve – Genesis 3:3 “but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it…”

First of all, I find it interesting that Eve doesn’t call the tree by its name, “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” She simply refers to it as the “tree in the middle.” Then even more interesting, she also adds another restriction, “…and you must not touch it.” Did God say they couldn’t touch it? No. Now as I mentioned last time, when God gave Adam instructions about the tree in Genesis 2:16-17, Eve hadn’t been created yet, so as far as we know, Eve didn’t get the instructions directly from God. Maybe Adam added the “no touching” rule just to make sure she stayed away. I guess it’s possible she made this rule for herself. It’s probably not a good idea to touch food we’re not allowed to eat, right? Why would I want to touch a cupcake when I’m on a diet?

I don’t know why she said what she said or what it means but what I do see is this…maybe Eve was beginning to speak the serpent’s language. Exaggeration…subtlety…it’s just a slight variation. I’m just saying…but let’s finish by making one last comparison.

God – Genesis 2:17 “but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”

Boldserpent – Genesis 3:4-5 “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Eve – Genesis 3:3 “but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

Now, when the serpent told her that she would “not surely die”, that was an outright lie, and that lie alone probably would not have deceived Eve. So the serpent continues with the language he speaks best…the almost truth. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God knowing good and evil.” Suddenly, it gives Eve pause. You can almost see the wheels turning in her head. The tree is called “The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil” after all. Consider the serpent’s words. In what ways was what the serpent said true? In what ways was it a lie?

Please understand that the serpent’s lies were no accident. They were carefully crafted. He was there when God was looking for a servant. And he sure wasn’t it. John Milton said of Satan that he “[preferred] to be the king of hell, rather than the servant of heaven.” Satan wanted to be God and he’s counting on Adam and Eve being tempted by the same possibility. For now, think about this. There was no such thing as salvation for Satan and he wanted to take down the ones who walked in the garden as well. Once he knew God had a plan of salvation for man he must have become FURIOUS. And now we are the center of his focus. In what ways are we believing the same old lies?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

My 100th Post...Looking Back

I was going to post the next in a series on Adam and Eve I've been working on. But then I realized...it's my 100th post. I don't know why but I just feel like I want to do something fun for this one. It's taken me forever to get here and writing this blog has meant so many things for me. This is where I really discovered how much I love to write. This blog helped me get my job as a writer for Mercy Ministries. It has been an outlet for expressing myself and what I've learned in life. I just turned 40, another milestone I'll write about soon, but as I look back, I thought it might be fun to share some of my favorite of the last 99 posts. Mostly they are the ones that made me laugh at myself and the ones you responded to the most. So here they are if you have the time and need a good chuckle:

My Very First Post

How to Extract Top Secret Info from Spies

and the follow up to that fun night The Secret Life of a Toddler

We're Breaking Up

The First Day of School...Again

Little Sister has been the star of many a funny blog post and at times has provided some hilarious video. Here they are:

Knock Knock

Long Day

Jingle Bells

And then there are the lessons learned

Rubies

Sanctuary

Lost and Found

If you made it to the end of this post, you're awesome. Thanks and I look forward to the next time. Tune in for more soon!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Twisted Truths

My brother Joshua loved to quote scripture as a young child. It was obvious my dad and stepmom would often say, “Now Joshua, the Bible says…” Soon, he was quoting his own scripture…and I do mean his own scripture. I remember once when my uncle was visiting.

Uncle: Josh, it’s time to go. Go get your shoes.”

Joshua: I don’t know where they are.

Uncle: Well, go and find them.

Joshua: But…the Bible says that when you lose something, someone else has to go and find it.

We may not be making up our own scripture, but many of us have been taught things (and then repeated things) that we thought were in God’s Word. And sometimes they sound right, they might even be almost right, but they’re not in the Bible, or they twist the truth of scripture...just a little bit. Just enough to send us down a dead end road. Some examples of quotes you may have thought were in the Bible are:

God helps those who help themselves.
Cleanliness is next to godliness.
Spare the rod, spoil the child.
Money is the root of all evil.
This too shall pass.
The eyes are the windows to the soul.
The lion shall lay down with the lamb.


Now these sayings are probably familiar to you. In some cases they might even be true. Some of them are similar to verses in the Bible, yet by changing a word or two, they say something completely different. Too often, a twisting of the truth, a misquote of God’s Word, whether purposeful or accidental, can have dire consequences. Today, we’re going back to the garden to look at how Satan and maybe even Eve, twisted the truth.

Read Genesis 3:1-5.
1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?" 2 The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.' " 4 "You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. 5 "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."


Let’s break it down a little bit by making a comparison. Let’s look at what God says, then what the serpent says, and finally, what Eve says. We will look at partial verses today in order to make more direct comparisons. I have underlined some words to draw attention to the differences.


God – Genesis 2:16-17 And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but…”

serpent – Genesis 3:1 He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

Eve – Genesis 3:2-3 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but…”

Do you notice the subtle differences here? Read what the serpent said again and put the emphasis on the word “really”. Can’t you just imagine the doubt the serpent tried to raise in Eve’s mind? Can’t you hear him say, “Did God really say…” Now read it again and this time put the emphasis on the word “God”. Imagine he says, “Did God really say…” Maybe he wants Eve to question whether it was actually God who gave this directive. When God is speaking to Adam in Genesis 2:16-17, Eve hasn’t been created yet. Maybe the serpent knows a good way to separate them from God is to first separate them from each other, so he tries to cause division by suggesting maybe this was just something Adam came up with.

He also twists the truth, right from the beginning, with over-exaggeration. He suggests that the rule is that they can’t eat from any of the trees. Even though Eve answers with the correct information, you can see the serpent’s craftiness. He’s trying to confuse things and raise doubt. Consider this…Eve had never heard a lie before. And she going to soon discover that someone is lying. This must have seemed so strange to her. Until next time, let's consider how Satan twists the truth in our own lives...and why we so often believe him.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Acts of Service

During college, I had a job as a server…otherwise known as waitress. I didn’t know how to cook the food, I didn’t tell people what to order, I simply interceded on their behalf. I asked what their need was, I told the person who could meet that need, and then I delivered the answer to that need. It wasn’t about me. In fact, aren’t the best restaurant servers the ones you don’t really notice at all? They don’t interrupt your conversation, they don’t let your glasses get empty, and they don’t leave you wondering where they are. You couldn’t pick them out of a crowd the next day but they are always there right when you need them, eager to serve.

Now, serving others doesn’t come naturally apart from God. When there’s something in it for us (like tips), when it fits easily into our schedule, when we’re getting the credit…serving is easy. But when it requires something more of us…our time, our money, and there’s nothing in it for us….not so much. Ever since the fall of man, it’s been hard. And at this point, you might be tempted to think, I’m going to buckle down and do more. I’m going to volunteer for this or that. But then you might be missing the point. Service isn’t just volunteering at every opportunity. It isn’t about doing really at all. It’s a matter of the heart.

Read Mark 12:28-31. What does Jesus say are the two most important commands?

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that
Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments,
which is the most important?" "The most important one," answered Jesus, "is
this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God
with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all
your strength.’ The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is
no commandment greater than these."

See anything in there about how important you are? See anything about “looking out for number 1”? Loving God is serving God and serving God is loving God. Augustine put it this way, “Love God, and do what you want.” If we truly love God, service will be a natural outpouring. We willingly and selflessly serve those we love. Service, if not done out of love for God, is not even service, it is our own self-righteousness. Look at what the Bible says about our righteous acts in Isaiah 64:6:

All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags

One of the best examples of loving God and serving is brother Lawrence. Brother Lawrence was a monk in the 1600’s known for his closeness to God. He wasn’t famous for his service, though a true servant he was. In fact, he worked in the kitchen for most of his life and repaired sandals in his later years. He was known for his love of God. In a book compiling some of his letters and conversations, the practice of the presence OF GOD, brother Lawrence said, – “Never tire of even doing the smallest things for Him, because He isn’t impressed so much with the dimensions of our work as with the love in which it is done.” I love that!

Are you starting to see how rich this story is? Adam was created to serve. We were created to serve. And what are the prerequisites for the job? Loving God. As we work through this story together, my prayer is that we will grow in our desire to study God’s word so that we may know Him and love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Next post we will move forward in our story and look at what happens when things start to unravel.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A Servant...That's Who

So in my last post, we discovered that the word “work” in Genesis 2:4-15 can also be translated as “to serve” or “to worship.” Rather than rehash it all, if you want to go back and review, you can find it here. But today, I’m going to take it a little further. I wanted to find other places that showed our God was looking for a servant. What I found encouraged and convicted me at the same time.

Look at 1 Kings 3:7-9 and see what stands out. These are the words of King Solomon.

"Now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. 8 Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. 9 So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?"

Did you notice that three times, Solomon refers to himself as a servant? It’s almost redundant. But this is whom it pleased God to make king. But now look at 1 Kings 11: 9-11 in the English Standard Version… just a short time later.


The LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods. But he did not keep what the LORD commanded. Therefore the LORD said to Solomon, “Since this has been your practice and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes, that I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you and will give it to your servant.”


What happened? God initially chose to give the kingdom to Solomon. When He took it from Solomon, to whom did He give it?

God gave the kingdom to Solomon’s servant! Once again we see that God is looking for a servant. A servant to worship the one true God of Israel. Especially in His leaders. Think about that why don’t cha?

So we were created to serve from the beginning. Even in the Garden of Eden. And in due time, God sent us a perfect example of the ultimate servant leader.

Look at what Jesus said about himself in Matthew 20:25-28.

Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Jesus was God as man and even He came to do what? To serve.

I’m telling you…I love this stuff! Even...no especially, when it brings conviction. The Word of God truly is ALIVE! I only wish I could talk to you in person! Thank you for your comments and keep them coming!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Tell Me Again...

A couple of years ago, I was having lunch with my dad. He was wound up and talking about how the gospel should be preached in every single sermon because it’s what the whole Bible is about. He was using David and Goliath as an example. He said something like, “It’s not a story about how to face your giants or what a great and brave hero David was, it’s a story about Jesus. It’s a story about how God uses one man...an insignificant, unimpressive son, to intercede on behalf of his people.” There was more to it than that but you get the idea. Suddenly, as I read through the Bible, I saw Jesus everywhere. And in places where I missed him, there were other mentors who pointed him out to me...and it’s never been the same.

Another thing that happened was I realized through friends and family how many parents send their kids to Mother’s Day Out and VBS and the only Bible teaching they get are the little story pages their children bring home and the songs they sing. Other adults who attend church for the first time (or maybe just attend a Bible-teaching church for the first time) hear references to David and Noah and Moses and Abraham and Daniel…and they’re intimidated because they don’t know anything about those people and they think everyone else does. It struck me that we rarely go back to the stories that are taught mostly to children and how much I’d missed. So I began to study. I didn’t want anyone else to be stuck with the kid’s version only, so I started to write what turned into a sort of Bible study and I thought I would share it with you a little bit at a time.

I guess there’s no better place to start a retelling of children’s Bible stories than “In the beginning…”. Adam and Eve is a story that most adults know to some degree. Even non-believers know there was a garden, a piece of fruit that was eaten, and that eating that fruit was a bad thing. But many of us, believer and non-believer alike haven’t looked much deeper than that. This introduction to our God is a rich story full of essential truths about the trouble with man and what an amazing God we have. It’s a story of lies and deception, of jealousy and blame, of consequence, of sacrifice, and it’s ultimately our first introduction to God’s unfolding plan to redeem the world through his son, Jesus. Yep. Right there “in the beginning”. The word Genesis means “beginning” and God had the sacrifice of Christ in mind right from the start. So let’s take a grown-up look at the story.

I would recommend you start by reading Genesis 2:4-15. I’m going to spend this blog post on one word highlighted below:

v. 5 and no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no man to work the ground,

v. 15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.

Maybe your translation says “to cultivate” or “to till”. These are all easy to understand when it comes to a garden. Whether or not we’ve ever lived on a farm, planted a garden, or mowed a lawn, we can imagine what “working the ground” looks like. Do you imagine someone digging, ploughing, or pulling weeds? Do you imagine tools like rakes, shovels, maybe even tractors? Adam doesn’t appear to have had tools. And doesn’t it make you wonder? Did God really look at his creation and think, “Now who’s going to pull the weeds? Hmmm, there’s no one to do the pruning and fertilizing. I’d better make someone to take care of this garden.” Did God need someone to take care of the earth? I mean, wasn’t creation pretty much perfect at that point? Could it really be that the only reason the idea “man” came to be was because God needed a gardener? Yet, there it is in black and white. There’s no one “to work the ground”. God creates man, and then in verse 15, God puts him in the Garden of Eden “to work it and take care of it.”

I decided to “dig” a little deeper (pun intended). When I have questions or have a hard time making sense of something, I often find it helpful to go to the original language. Oftentimes, the English translation doesn’t tell the whole story. So let’s investigate further by looking at the original language. The Old Testament was first written in Hebrew. The Hebrew word translated as “to work” is ‘Abad. Here is a more complete definition of ‘Abad.

‘Abad; to work, to labor, to toil…to serve; to be served or honored; to worship; to cause to worship…

Here’s what I find most interesting. The word ‘Abad occurs 290 times in the Bible and over 200 of those times it is translated in some form as “serve”. Is it starting to make a little more sense? Maybe God didn’t need a gardener. He didn’t look at his creation and think, “Now who is going to water, prune, and fertilize?” Maybe that was part of it. Work is a good thing for man, especially if it’s in a world where there’s no sin. But maybe God also looked at it and said, in essence, “There is no one to serve,” or maybe even “no one to worship.”

I’d love to ask you what you’re thinking right now. Are you as surprised as me? This story is so rich! I can’t wait to share more of what I’ve learned with you. Chew on this a bit and if you would be so inclined, leave a comment. I’d love for you to come on this journey with me!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Which Voice are You Listening To?

These days we are getting up EARLY in the morning. It's quite the hike from Hendersonville to Nashville Christian and Mercy Ministries. I actually tracked it the other day and for me to go from home to work, pick up the girls, and back home again and nowhere else is 91.6 miles. I just got my oil changed and it's already time to do it again! But it's worth it. That time in the car alone is some of the only time I get alone. Ever.

So, a couple of days ago, Daddy went upstairs to wake Big Sister and Little Sister. I do the follow up about 5 minutes later and Big Sister was still in the bed. I "encouraged" her to get up and get going so Daddy wouldn't be "frustrated" that they were running late. I use the terms "encouraged" and "frustrated" loosely of course. She showed up downstairs after a few minutes and once they were in the car, Daddy told me about their conversation on the way out.

Big Sister: Dad, you know what I did this morning when I was deciding what to do?

Daddy: What?

Big Sister: I used my conscience!

Daddy: Really? That's good. You should always listen to your conscience.

Big Sister: Yeah. That's the first time I've ever used those guys.

Daddy: Really? (Thinking..."those guys"?)

Big Sister: You know the bad conscience tries to get you to do the wrong thing.

Daddy: Yeah. You should always listen to your good conscience.

Big Sister: Yep. I just flicked the devil one right off my shoulder. (along with the visual of her flicking an imaginary devil off her shoulder)

Maybe she's beginning to understand the Holy Spirit. Maybe she's watched one too many cartoons. Either way, as long as she listens to the "good conscience", otherwise known as the "God conscience", and keeps flicking the devil off her shoulder, she'll be doing better than a lot of us.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Been Wondering Where I've Been?

Well, I know, I said I was going to be blogging again and then...nothing. But I have a really good reason. Something amazing has happened. It has been a year long process for us but I thought you might be encouraged to know how trusting God has been so worth it. His plan is always best. But here's the background.

2009 was a tough year. It is truly by the grace of God that none of us realized just how tough it was until we were clear of it all. Basically, The Coach had it pretty rough for the last couple of years. I won't go into details but suffice it to say, it was hard to see my husband so miserable and feeling so powerless to change the very things he was being held accountable for. We would often quote James to each other saying, "Consider it pure joy my brothers when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." Eventually this got shortened to, "Pretty soon, we'll not be lacking anything."

As for me, I knew I had one more year with Little Sister at home and was wondering and praying about what God would have me do. Although I believed that God had spoken to me that I would one day be a writer, I was certain it was something I would do for free and on my own time and that maybe one day, someone would read my words. I also felt a calling towards ministry. I began to wonder if I should go to seminary and if maybe God would allow me to write Bible studies one day. I felt pulled in so many directions and I couldn't see how these things could happen so I started to think about going back to teaching. I began substituting in January of 2010 for a Mother's Day Out program and figured I'd better get back in the swing of things. My thinking was that I would teach, and in the summers, I would pursue writing.

Then in the spring of 2010, when we were at our wits end and feeling very discouraged, the call came in. A new opportunity for The Coach. We saw real ways the Lord used our trials to move us in a new direction. He was offered the head coaching position at a new school that seemed to be the perfect fit for us. The school is K-12 with a great 5 day a week PreK so to my amazement, Big Sister and Little Sister would be able to go to school with Daddy! I suddenly found myself free to work a year earlier than I had planned and I wasn't sure what to do. I thought I had another year to figure out what God had in store for me, but I put together my resume and started the job search...for teaching positions.

One of the things I included in my newly updated resume was my volunteer work at Mercy Ministries. Mercy is a free-of-charge, biblically based program for young women ages 13 - 28 dealing with life controlling issues like sexual abuse, drug and alcohol addiction, unplanned pregnancy, self-harm, eating disorders and most recently, sex-trafficking victims. The unwed mothers at Mercy Ministries spend six weeks deciding whether to place their babies for adoption or to parent and some of those who decide to parent don't have the resources that most of us do.

When my friends and I became mothers, we decided it was time to reach out and help mothers in need so in 2007, we started volunteering with Mercy Ministries. We had each other to throw baby showers and make sure we had everything we needed to get started but many of the girls at Mercy Ministries have been abandoned by their families and friends. We decided to be "stand in friends" for the girls. We call ourselves "Blessed Beginnings" and we have about 3 - 4 showers each year where we provide food, cake, flowers, full travel system, diaper bag, clothes, and all that other fun stuff. It has been such a blessing and I have loved being a part of Mercy Ministries in this way. About a year ago, one of my girlfriends with "Blessed Beginnings" even went on staff at Mercy in the Development Department.

So back to the story... I had been searching for jobs, contacting former employers and such and...nothing. But I have to say, I was so encouraged by what God had done for my husband and how it was so clear that all of the trials had been preparation, that I believed the same for myself. I prayed over and over, "God, I didn't see this coming, but it was no surprise to you. I don't know what I'm going to be doing this year, but you do. After seeing what you did for my husband and children, I can't wait to see what you have in store for me."

On June 5th, I was at Mercy for a baby shower when I overheard my friend who works there talking about a job opening. Somewhere in there I heard the word "writer" so I wandered over to ask what she was talking about. She told me they were looking for a writer at Mercy and suddenly her eyes opened wide and she said, "I forgot you were looking for a job, you should apply! I think you might be a perfect fit! You have that blog!" While the job sounded amazing, I didn't really think of myself as a "writer" and was pretty sure no one else would. I felt wary but something stirred in me and the picture started to come into focus. Could this possibly be where God was leading? It seemed too good to be true! All this time, I could have never imagined that God might allow me to be a paid writer...in ministry...with a ministry I already loved! Even if I could have thought of that, I would have never had the guts to ask Him for it!

Well, in the end, I got the job! I am now the Coordinator of Marketing and Media, more often referred to as "the new writer", and I LOVE it! I collect news, photos, and video from the four Mercy homes across the country and write stories for the main website. The job has evolved some since I started at the end of June and I'm learning lots of new skills but the writing is my favorite part by far. Needless to say, while writing for Mercy makes me think of a million things I want to blog about, I'm often too tired to get it out by the time we all get home.

But...I can't wait to tell you more about this new journey God is taking us on. It is a LOT of change. The Coach has a new job, I have a new job after being home for seven years, the girls are at a new school, Little Sister is at school five days a week, and of course, it's football season! Praise God we are 3-1 so far! It's all change for the better, but it's still a lot of change at once and we are all adjusting. Pray for us as we make this transition and be sure to check out Mercy Ministries. You won't see my name anywhere...it's not about me. My job is to learn to be the voice of Mercy Ministries. But I think you will understand how blessed we feel when you understand the amazing work that God is doing there.

I plan to write here more often too. I MISS YOU! Let me know how you're doing and I'll write back soon!

P.S. If you would like to get involved with Blessed Beginnings, leave a comment here or look for us on Facebook!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Lessons on Marriage...Sort of



Little Sister: Mama, after you are dead, I going to marry Daddy!

Me: Really.

Little Sister: Yeah...after you are dead.

Me: Well, I'm not planning to die anytime soon. And besides, you can't marry someone in your family.

Little Sister: Right. So I can't marry you or Annie or Daddy.

Me: (Not wanting to address the gender issues) Right.

Big Sister: (finally weighing in) You can only marry someone who is in someone else's family. And besides, Daddy is already married to Mama. You can't marry someone who is already married. Right mom?

Me: Right. You can only marry someone who is single. Someone who is not married is called "single".


Pause for about one minute.



Little Sister: I think Santa Claus is single.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Ebenezers

I'm getting ready to go through another "blog spurt". I suddenly have inspiration everywhere I turn. We have gone through lots of changes in the past year and I want to add them to my "Ebenezers" so I don't forget God's incredible faithfulness. Don't know what I'm talking about? Let me explain.


A few yeas ago I went to a women's retreat where the speakers were the Women's Ministry Director from out church, Lisa Harper, and an amazing woman named Eva Whittington Self. It was a great weekend but what I remember most is a talk Lisa gave on 1 Samuel 7. Basically, the story goes like this:


Under Samuel's direction, the Israelites had assembled at Mizpah against the Philistines. Though God's people had repented, fasted, and poured out their offerings and their hearts to the LORD, they were still afraid when the Philistines came out to attack them. They begged Samuel to keep crying out to the LORD on their behalf and he did. That day, when the Philistines came near, scripture says that "the LORD thundered with loud thunder against the Philistines and threw them into such a panic that they were routed before the Israelites". There's lots of rich stuff there but the part I remember most is what Samuel did next.



Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen.
He named it Ebenezer, saying, "Thus far has the LORD helped us."



The word "Ebenezer" actually means stone of help. Lisa had big bags of flat river stones that she poured out on the table. She invited each of us to come forward and pick up a stone and a sharpie and to write something on the stone that would remind us of a time when the LORD had helped us. I participated in the exercise and I can still remember what I wrote on that stone. In fact, I still have it. I kept it in a drawer for a while and it amazed me that every time I looked at it, I remembered what God had done. (Guess that's why they built altars back then, huh?)

Why is it so hard to remember anyway? I can't even remember what I had for lunch yesterday. You'd think it would be easy to remember the Lord's goodness but can you recount three times recently that the Lord helped you? And I mean in a way that goes beyond I got the kids to bed early, or I made it home from work safely. I'm not saying those aren't important, but what are the times that should be memorialized? The biggies that will help you get through hard times in the future?

All throughout scripture God admonishes Israel to "remember" and I wanted to make sure that I remember too. So I had an idea. I went to Hobby Lobby and bought a big decorative bowl, a couple of bags of large flat river rocks, and a black paint pen. I put them in the bowl and then put my one old rock on the top of the pile. I placed this "Ebenezer" bowl on the table in our entry where everyone could see it and I asked God to remind me of the other "Ebenezers" in my life. Over the next couple of days, I would remember, pick up a rock, and write something down. When the girls had prayer requests they saw answered, I let them get a stone and write it down. Through the years, we have filled our bowl with "Ebenezers".

My favorite thing about this bowl is when someone sees it on the table and asks what it is. It has been such a great tool for giving testimony to others about our awesome God. I also treasure the times when the girls want to bring it to the dinner table and go through them. They love hearing the stories behind each rock. When we get discouraged, we go to the bowl and talk about the times God has been so faithful when when didn't understand the trials we were going through. I strengthens our faith to remember how faithful God has been. (I guess that's why he keeps telling us to remember!)

So back to the beginning. We've had lots of Ebenezer's this past year and still see more to come. It's been a difficult, stressful, challenging, wonderful, encouraging, blessed, amazing twelve months. I look forward to sorting through my stones with you. And I invite you to start your own Ebenezer bowl so you can say with confidence and hope, "Thus far the LORD has helped us!"

Monday, May 24, 2010

LOST - My alternate ending

This would have made sense:
The island is the singular source of life on earth and it's location must be closely guarded and protected in order to preserve life on earth. Scientists (like the Others and the Dharma initiative) have been able to locate this source and have done numerous studies, yet the heart of the island is known only to the guardian (Jacob). Evil is also present on the island and is bound to some degree. And there are rules the evil one must follow.

The evil one is growing stronger and the island is in danger so the time is drawing near for a new protector to take over. This is a very important job and one must show oneself worthy of this high calling. Jacob chooses some candidates (the survivors whose names are written in the caves) and he brings them to the island to test them. Like his mother before him, he is unclear on who will rise to the occasion. He chooses people who are flawed and gives them the opportunity for redemption through these tests and trials.

Five seasons of crazy stuff happens that puts the candidates to the test ending in an explosion that only partially sets things straight.

In season 6, we discover the effects of blowing up the swan station. The candidates experience life without a plane crash, only instead of the doomed lives they once had, they have life as it should be. However, these people are not yet completely redeemed. They are also still present on the island, a candidate has not been chosen, and evil is still present and powerful and able to destroy them.

Just when it seems evil will prevail and the earth will be destroyed, a leader finally emerges (Jack), a man who has come full circle and he saves the day. With the help of Desmond, who is able to go down into the well and remove the stone, Jack is able to stop evil for once and for all. It was a two person job (one to remove the stone and one to kill the smoke monster) but there is one job left to do. Jack must turn the light of good back on at the heart of the island and Desmond must reunite the others in the alternate timeline in order to save the world. Jack sacrifices himself and replaces the stone saving the world, securing the island and completely redeeming their lives by ridding them of the threat and danger of the evil one. Desmond succeeds in reuniting them at the church.

There is a final blast of light, the island "disappears" keeping it forever safe, and they are all in the alternate timeline where they are coupled with the one we want them to be with, they are able to parent their children, they are law abiding contributors to society, and they are healed of their diseases. They all meet at the church to destroy the lamppost (or whatever that place was called in the church that helped scientists find the island). They destroy the lamp post so that no one can ever find it and threaten it again.

The End

Okay, maybe my ending isn't perfect but at least it makes some sense and explains some things. I was loving the finale. I got chill bumps every time someone remembered their experience on the island. I got tears in my eyes when the couples found each other and when their bodies were healed. I was totally loving it and though I didn't understand everything that was going on, I felt like I was tracking along with it. And then the last ten minutes I was like, "Huh?" They're all dead? When did they die? Where were they? What is the island? How did scientists find it and what did the Dharma initiative have to do with anything? What was real and what wasn't?

I get that a little bit of mystery is a good thing. I didn't have to have ALL my questions answered, but it had to at least make sense. I didn't need to know what made Desmond special, I didn't have to know what "the box" was or even how/why they tested Sayid in the temple to know if he was good or bad. I love the idea of the ending being satisfying while at the same time giving us things to discuss and speculate on for the years to come. But the ending they gave us made me feel like four of the six last years were completely pointless. You know, all that time spent on The Others, the Dharma films and stations, the experiments, the NUMBERS! I'm going to stop before I blow my top.

Feel free to comment on my idea of a satisfying ending if you wish, or post ideas of you own. And while I still love the show and will certainly buy the DVD's hoping for more answers, I think from now on I'll wait until a new show runs it's course. And if everyone concurs that it was worth their years of loyalty, I'll get the DVD's for all the seasons in the series and take a week's vacation. At least that way I won't have to wait so long for a new season that I can't remember how the last one ended. Love and miss ya LOST...

Monday, April 26, 2010

Our Little Rock Star

Little Sister did this randomly yesterday so I had to get her to do a repeat performance for video. Enjoy!



video

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Summing Up the Holidays

I know this is late in coming but we had some notable moments this Christmas. A few years ago we made the decision that we'd "just say no" to 90% of what we were invited to do in December. It's so easy to get to the end and realize you didn't do any of that special family stuff you intended to do. We may have squeezed in one thing to many, but it was fun.

Little Sister's birthday was in December. She was due on Christmas day but we intervened and brought her into the world a little bit earlier. It's still so hard to keep her birthday and Christmas really separate and special.

A few days before our family party, Big Sister decided to make special party hats. Somehow I managed to avoid having to wear one but the stuffed animals were not so lucky.




We got invited to go to Opry Mills to see Charlie Brown ICE! They give you huge blue coats to wear and you walk around freezing looking at all the ice sculptures. There's an ice slide to go down and the nativity in ice was beautiful. It was neat but had it not been free, I would have never paid the $28 or so per person to see it. We were done in about half an hour.

Speaking of money, shopping was interesting this year. For the first time ever, we were done on Black Friday. The most difficult part was that we officially became those parents who go bonkers looking for this year's hard to find toy, Zhu Zhu pets. Big Sister had some advice about shopping.

Big Sis: Mom! You need to go to Walmart and ask them for Christmas!
Me: What?
Big Sis: The commercial says Christmas costs less at Walmart!

Her solid belief in commercials is why we ended up searching for Zhu Zhu pets in the first place. I had to draw the line at the "As seen on TV" brownie pan with built in dividers (I don't like the edges, I like the middles anyway) and the buxton bag (The BIGGEST little bag ever!). She is convinced I must have these items because the commercials say I can't live without them.

We saw Santa a couple of times. We saw him at the mall as usual but we also saw him at one of our family traditions. Every year we drive out to Lebanon to a house that has a HUGE drive through light display. Towards the end, you drive through a barn that looks like Santa's living room and he gives out candy canes. As we waved goodbye and started to drive off, Little Sister yelled, "But you forgot to give us presents!" To which he replied, "Three more days!"



One of the most hilarious moments happened at a "dirty Santa" party. Some people brought gag gifts and some people brought real gifts. As a former Jersey girl married to a football coach it was ironic that we ended up with these gifts.



On Christmas Eve, we got everyone prettied up to go to church. Before we left, we were able to watch my sister on live feed from her church in North Carolina reading the Christmas story.



The church service was really sweet. The pastor does a children's time at the end of the service where all the children come sit with him up at the front and talk. For much of the service I worried about Little Sister going up there. She's the child most likely to say something embarrassing or raise her dress up around her shoulders. In an act of divine intervention, she fell asleep moments before he called the children forward.
Yes, my husband took a picture in church.

Anyway, when we got home they were ready for bed but not before setting out cookies and milk for Santa along with a note that said, "Dear Santa, I have a question for you and that would be what is Mrs. Claus' first name?" To which Santa replied, "Jessica." If you've ever watched Santa Claus is Comin' to Town you'll understand. Soon enough, there were "visions of sugar plums dancing in heads". :)



So Santa came through and a merry time was had by all. That's it! Hope you had a Merry Christmas and here's to a Happy New Year!

Monday, January 4, 2010

My One Word 2010

So it's a new year. Hmmm.

If you haven't heard or read about how I like to do new year's resolutions, I'll quickly summarize. If you have, you can skip the rest of this paragraph. In 2008, my sister's pastor, Mike Ashcraft of Port City Community Church in Wilmington, NC, challenged his congregation. Instead of making new year's resolutions that they'd never keep, he encouraged them to focus on one word. It's much easier to make progress if you put all of your focus on one goal.

In 2008, my word was contentment. Last year it was self-discipline. By no means have I gotten where I need to be with both of these goals, but I made progress. Both years, the word I chose was constantly in the back of my mind and I thought about, prayed about, and worked on it a lot. Choosing my word in the past has been an interesting process. This year, I knew what I wanted my word to be long before the breaking dawn of 2010.

My word for 2010 is finish.

I like finishing things. It makes me feel like I accomplished something. It gives me peace. It feels good to look back at the journey from beginning to end. The problem is, I'm much better at starting things than I am finishing them. I have started diets, exercise programs, books, bible studies, daily planners, craft projects, cleaning projects, gardening projects, budgets, businesses and yes...even blogs...only to abandon them for some other new exciting idea.

I often have great vision but I really stink at follow through. So it's time for me to become more focused. It's time to finish. I'm going to choose a couple of specific major things that I want to finish before the end of 2010. And then my goal will be to finish lots of little things as they come up through the year. I guess part of this exercise will be thinking long and hard before I start something because starting something is going to require finishing something from now on.

Some things are never finished. And it's frustrating. Laundry for example. Even if every piece of clothing we owned was clean and put away leaving the hampers completely empty (which has never actually happened), there's always the clothes on our bodies and soon...more laundry. Don't even get me started on cleaning. Cleaning with small children is like shoveling snow during a blizzard.

On a spiritual note, sometimes I get discouraged in my christian walk knowing that I will never be "finished" in this life. God has a plan for my life but alas, I will not be glorified here. As much as I desire to be more like Christ, I will never be completely Christ-like as long as I live. As long as I have this flesh and live in this fallen world, I will not finish the process of sanctification. But it's not about my glory, it's about God's and he promises in his word:

...he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6

And while I may not be "finished" until heaven, the work that was done on the cross was complete to cover my sin and get me there.

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30

In about 361 days, another year will be finished. And I hope to cross a few things off my list as well. Please feel free to share your "one word" in the comments if you have one. Or better yet, blog about it and leave a link. Happy New Year!