That Darn Snake

Adam and Eve were enjoying the garden (Genesis 3) when a talking ‘snake’ approached them.  Have you known a couple of those?  I’ll bet you have.

How about the ‘friend’ who talks you into doing something you know you shouldn’t be doing.  Like, just run the red light or stop sign.  Or, no one will ever know if you cheat on …  How about, I know it’s late but just one more … Gossip, put-downs, bullying…

Rationalizing can get us into all kinds of trouble.  And yes, both Adam and Eve started the whole ‘passing the buck’, it’s not my fault, the other person made me do it.  Some no’s are meant to be no.

Have you ever thought about the fact that Adam and Eve had everything?  By God’s design, they had each other, the perfect home, great health, plentiful food and water, God’s presence…  It wasn’t enough.  It never is.  There’s always something more, isn’t there?

That’s what that darn snake wanted them to think.  That it wasn’t enough.  That they could have more.  That God doesn’t always know everything.  In fact, the snake wanted to replace God in their thoughts and lives.

Now, here’s the thing.  Any time we consider replacing God with anything, good or bad, there’s going to be a consequence.  That’s what they didn’t take into account.  The fruit looked good, smelled good, probably even tasted good.  But, God had said no!

Can you imagine the scene when they heard God walking in the garden that evening?  He was looking for them.  He wanted to talk to them.  So, here’s the rub.  It’s impossible to hide from God.  He knows where you are, always.  He knew where Adam and Eve were but, He wanted them to come to Him.

And they did, dressed in leaves.  “What have you done?”  Adam said she made me do it.  Eve said the snake made me do it.  The snake snickered at the whole thing.

God put them out of the garden.  You know the rest of the story, right?  Adam would have to work for all the things that had been his.  Eve would have painful births and would desire her husband.  Both were banished from the garden.

But God knew the rest of the story.

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

The Jesse Tree is all about knowing the people God put in place to point to the birth of the one who would save us all.

Simeon and Anna

One of my favorite parts of the Christmas Story is that of two people who waited patiently for the Messiah.  Simeon and Anna were both New Testament witnesses to the Christ Child. Their stories are as follows (from the NIV, Luke 2):

Simeon at the Presentation of the Child by Rembrandt

Simeon at the Presentation of the Child by Rembrandt

25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God…

     

Anna by Rembrandt

Anna by Rembrandt

Luke 2:36–38 There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

Simeon and Anna were the first to see Him in a public place.  They were the first witnesses to who He really was.  More importantly, they were not afraid to say, to other worshippers in the Temple, who He was.

Simeon and Anna were the last of the Old Testament prophets.  Their entire life purpose was to listen for and to God.  Also, they shared with the other worshippers what they had heard God say in the temple.  They did not sugar-coat the words but spoke clearly and with conviction.

Both of their names point to a strong, long-lasting faith.  Simeon means obedient and listening.  Anna means gracious, one who gives.

Dr. William Smith in Smith’s Bible Dictionary suggests that she was probably more than a hundred years old when she spoke over Jesus.  (If she was married at approximately 14, lived with her husband for 7 years, and had spent 84 years after that in the temple, then she was at least  105 years old.)  It is possible that Simeon was also quite old.  Tradition has it that he was one of the 72 translators of the Septuagint.  If that is truly the case he was over 200 years old at the time of this incident.

So, what is in this story for us.  First, Isaiah 40:31 pops into my mind when I think of the words ‘they that wait upon the Lord…’.  In all the years they waiting for the Birth neither one gave up on God’s promise and they were rewarded with seeing Him personally. We often wonder when God will finally act on one of His promises or our requests.  Simeon and Anna are a great example of waiting and waiting and waiting…  Second, a life of prayer is important in seeing God’s work.  Although the scripture says Anna had lived, prayed, and fasted in the temple since her husband’s death, it does not mean that we have to live in our churches to experience God.  He is everywhere!  And finally, we can trust that God will follow through on His promises.  God will and can do what He says He will.  Our trust and obedience in matters of faith always lead to God’s blessings.

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

Each New Day Is A Gift — Wordsmith’s Desk

Quote

“This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24) _______ Each new day is a gift. The tomorrow talked about…is the yesterday to be. There are new opportunities and challenges with each sunrise. Maybe choices you made yesterday could have been better. Today gives you another chance […]

via Each New Day Is A Gift — Wordsmith’s Desk

back roads to Belonging – Book Review

It’s been a while since I’ve done a book review simply because I needed to give myself a break from the bazillion thoughts that were roaring around in my head from all that I had been reading. However, here we go again. I have just completed a powerful book that has had and will have an impact on my choices in the days ahead.

My thoughts as I read through Back Roads to Belonging, Unexpected Paths to Finding Your Place and Your People by Kristen Strong

Have you come to the end of yourself, realizing you simply can’t do it alone? Do you know you are loved even when you’re left out or determine a different path? Knowing God’s unending love is more a winding road than a straight line. Sometimes little ‘bunny trails’ are necessary to find the purpose He intends. There will be many sharp corners in our lives but only our Savior can smooth them, and straighten the road to home.

Sometimes I get myself into the comparison trap. Yes, everyone does it but there’s a big catch in doing it. Comparing myself to others takes me further away from actually belonging. My heart needs to be centered on connecting with others not becoming just like them.

Finding a quiet place, to hear God’s voice, as I travel my own unique back road is of the utmost necessity for my growth as a Christian. Especially so as God has called me to a new place and people. Let me be honest with you, I kicked and scratched (not physically) and fought and dragged my feet through the whole route. He did not give up and I finally gave in. I had to deal with the truth that there are some people in our lives who are simply not for us. Just because they’re church members does not make them safe or beneficial. I needed to learn, the hard way I might add, that my comfort in a certain group was keeping me from walking the road He intended. This book has been a huge help in dealing with these issues and deciding the way forward. (Thank you, Kristen!)

One of the exercises in this book is to make a list of belonging (pg. 107), In working through this list I was amazed and delighted at the boost to my sense of belonging. So here’s mine:

I am a much-loved Daughter of the KING, wife of Ray, sister to Stella, Ruth, Rick & Joyce, loving and crazy aunt to 29 nieces and nephews, Bible teacher, and friend to/of Spirit Sisters, part of the church fellowship at Living Hope, sister-in-law to the Bungard Family, part of the Hallock Community …

One last thought from the book that will have a profound effect on my forward journey.  We all find ourselves alone from time to time (Yes, Jesus is ALWAYS there!) on our personal back road. (Yes, Jesus is ALWAYS there!)  There is something we can do about it. We can use what we know and combine it with what we enjoy (paraphrased from pg. 191) to encourage others on their own back road journey.

Blessings to you and yours on the way!

Marie

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Revel, a division of Baker Publishing Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Think On This – – Noah

What was happening while Noah was building the ark? The people of the known world were going crazy. Sin was rampant.

Did Moses ‘just’ build the ark or was he also busy trying to get the mockers and scoffers to believe and understand?

Are we destroying ourselves again? Chaos, sin, violence, corruption, perversion…

Save our sons and daughters, friends and neighbors… Come quickly, Jesus!

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

Read more in When Life Doesn’t Match Your Dreams by Jill Eileen Smith

Mended — Book Review

Several weeks ago I received an invitation from Blythe Daniel to review and launch a book she and her mother had written. To be honest I was a bit hesitant because my own mother and I did not have a good relationship. (To be honest, we didn’t have a relationship.) My hesitancy came because I’ve really wanted to understand and forgive her and  I’ve not been able to do so. Plus, she passed away several years ago and it’s hard to rebuild a relationship with someone who isn’t here. But…

Through reading Mended I’ve come to understand a bit more of the person. This book contained some of the most healing words I’ve ever read. Most importantly, we are only responsible for the words we’ve said and the things we’ve done. We cannot and should not let ourselves think we can fix everything. Nor should we make ourselves totally responsible for the healing that must take place. We can only handle what is ours.

Forgiveness is a huge part of mending any relationship. We can always choose to forgive even if they don’t deserve it. Jesus did!

Verbal, emotional, and sometimes physical abuse was part of daily life for me. I was a hostage in a very controlling situation and truly felt I was the person at fault. It wasn’t until I left home for college and had very limited contact that I was able to put the situation into some sort of focus.  Through these words of Helen McIntosh I was able to reach a level of forgiveness that hadn’t been possible before: When we are the victim and need to forgive someone who has hurt and offended us… They may never even apologize or make amends. They may be deceased or in jail or another place you can’t reach them or oblivious to their offense. But we remain their prisoner until we let the offense go. pp.94 Letting the past go and committing to not dredging it up again has given me a kind of peace that has freed me from the pit of my mother’s words and actions and my own self-condemnation.

For me, this book was worth every word. Did I regress into the bad memories? Sometimes? Did I have moments of clarity when I started to understand? Yes! Can I move on and begin to understand the person behind words and actions? Yes! Can I forgive? I have to! There’s really no other choice.

Thank you, Blythe and Helen, for these incredible words! I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to rebuild (or build up) any relationship. It’s truly powerful and worth the time.

Consider these Words that are gems of light scattered throughout the book:

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore, keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

In repentance and rest you will be saved, in quietness and trust is your strength. Isaiah 30:15

Words kill, words give; they’re either poison or fruit–you choose. Proverbs 18:21 (The Message)

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Harvest House Books and Blythe Daniel. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

 

 

A Praying Marriage

Do you want the best possible relationship you can have with your spouse? Try praying for and with them.  So, how do you do that?

Set aside part of your daily prayer time to intercede.  To know and name his/her struggles you’re going to have to communicate those to one another.  Talk about what your goals are as individuals and as a couple.  Find out what challenges they’re experiencing.

In your prayer thank God for them. Thank God for the person they are, for their provision, for their love.

Ask God to show Himself in and through them.  Support them in their daily walk.

Be willing to change so that they can grow.  If you’re part of a problem they’re having give it to God.  Humble yourself!

So, what happens when you pray for your spouse?  It connects both of you with and to  God.

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

 

 

 

 

 

Need/Want Haiku

Want Haiku

I have all I need!

God. Ray. Family. Friends. Food.

What more could I want!

 

 

Running From Mercy – Book Review

Jonah didn’t get it.  Like us, Jonah thought he was in charge, he could control his life, he knew what was good or not so good for him.  What he didn’t realize was this was not about him. pp. 28

How many times have you read this story?  What is the first thought that comes to your mind when you see the name Jonah?  I’d bet it’s the fish.  But you know what? Jonah is not about the whale.  It’s not about what’s going on inside the fish.  It’s about what’s going on inside of Jonah.  Surprised at that?  I was.  We want it to be about the whale because we don’t want to face our own fickleness which is so much like Jonah’s.

Am I saying we’re fickle Believer’s?  Yes, I am.  When life is going as planned (by us) and we’ve achieved a measure of success (Jonah was a known prophet.) we can start believing we can control our own lives and destiny.  We can’t!  That’s part of what this story is about.  Jonah had to learn (the hard way) that once he committed to being God’s servant it was no longer about him.  It’s all about God’s mercy! ALL!  Even for someone as fickle as Jonah.  Someone who thought he had it all together.  Someone who knew God intimately, heard His voice, helped others understand Him.

What Jonah didn’t recognize in himself was his sinful nature.  He thought everyone else was sinful. (i.e., the Ninevites) He certainly didn’t want to be in contact with that kind of sin.  So he ran away.  He didn’t get that you can’t run away from God.  But he certainly tried.

We all know that God is the God of many chances.  When He sets His sights on one of us He never gives up.  That’s how I see the story of Jonah.  God would not give up!  From the pit (in the hold of the boat) to the prison (in the belly of the whale) to the palace (maybe the home of Shalmaneser lll) God pursued him.

I’ve studied the book of Jonah several times, with different authors, and let me say this is the first time I saw myself in this Old Testament parable.  I’ve never grown tired of this story and I hope I never will.  God will continue His pursuit of you and me.  My fervent prayer is we will hear Him and respond so we don’t end up in a giant fish.

Powerful words in Running from Mercy by Anthony J. Carter:

…He is not going to stop until He gets you.  Goodness and mercy shall pursue you all the days of your life (Ps. 23:6).  pp. 48

God keeps his appointments and has every intention of making sure we do too. pp. 57

If you have people in your life who love you enough to talk to you about your sin, don’t cut them off.  Don’t shut them down.  Don’t blame them.  They are the grace of God to you.  pp. 87

In every church gathered in this world today, people are either changing the gospel, or the gospel is changing them… We must not seek to change God’s Word but seek to be changed by it.  pp.106

I highly recommend this book.  It’s a life changer!

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Broadman Holman/Lifeway Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Little Things and Small Stuff

Yes, the little things and the small stuff do matter!  Years ago, it was recommended to me that I meet with my mentor on a regular basis and work through a then-popular book. I did and let me tell you it was very difficult for me to do.  I have never believed the ‘little things’ simply don’t matter.

Suppose you’re given a job to do that requires many small steps but you choose to jump right to the finish.  Tell ya what… it doesn’t work that way.  Quite often it’s because something gets left out that was very necessary to the ongoing process.

For example, I have committed to a healthy eating program.  I eat only those things that are healthy for my body.  Since I have a sensitivity to wheat I am very careful about not eating it.  Refined sugar is an outright no-no.  By eating foods as close to nature as possible I am able to think more clearly, have more energy, and yes, lose weight.  Eliminating wheat and sugar, eating only foods close to nature, exercising, positive thinking, and sharing my journey with ‘helpers’ are all part of the ‘small steps’ in the journey.

As you know, I review books on a regular basis on this blog.  I do not cut corners in this process.  Reading just the title, author, first paragraph, and last paragraph would not allow for a fair review.  I definitely take the long route, read the book, take notes and then share my thoughts.  Many times it’s the little things in the narrative that create a lasting impression.

The Parable of the Mustard Seed (Matthew 13:31-32) is a really good example of how much the ‘small stuff’ matters. Planting a very small seed and allowing it to grow creates a tree that provides shelter and food (more small seeds).  Jesus used these words to help people understand that in the small stuff (the seed) is provision (food and shelter) for all those who take refuge in it.  Yes, the little things matter!!!

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie