On Fire for All Things Christ

Archive for July, 2011

A Lesson on Living

A few weeks ago, I was talking with a friend and in conversation I raised this question: is there one thing you have been wanting since you were little that you are still praying for? It wasn’t hard for my friend to give me an answer – a family. For me, I had to think a while. After a few days, I got my revelation. I’ve always wanted to live life. To live with confidence, without hesitation, to take every opportunity the Lord opens and live with purpose, with nothing holding me back and with no fear.

Having this on my mind for sometime, yesterday I went to MetroLive and heard an amazing message by Pastor Afshin Ziafat. The message was about living life. Wow, living life had been one of my prayers for weeks; how awesome that the Lord brought me to this place to hear this teaching!! As soon as he started the lesson, I was all ears with my Bible open and journal out.

Afshin’s lesson addressed the life of David. We hit many scriptures starting in Acts 13 and then going back to parts of Samuel and Chronicles. First, Afshin pointed out that David’s life served the purpose of God in that David outlived his life because through him, Jesus was born. Also, David himself emphasized to his son Solomon that living for God is more about looking inwardly at the heart than outwardly at the things we’ve done. God looks at the heart and we should focus on that more than anything else. How often do we think that our outward expression is more important: minister more, serve more, teach more, but really it’s about who we are becoming as we seek to know more of Him. It’s about our alone time with God. Afshin also mentioned these five things about David:

  • David had a humble heart. David got his humility from the alone time he had with God as a shepherd. A humble heart is found in the presence of God.
  • David had a faithful heart. When we are faithful with little things, the Lord will open the door to larger things. (Luke 16:10)
  • David had a submissive heart. David was submissive to God’s plan (1 Sam. 18:10, 1 Sam. 24:1-16)
  • David had a repentive heart. Even though David committed adultery and murder, he repented of those things. In his darkest moment he still had a heart for God. (2 Sam. 12:13). God looks at our heart, not our track record. If I say I don’t sin, then the truth is not in me. (1 John 1:8-9)
  • David had a whole heart: David served God with his whole heart. Does God have all of your heart? Are you running to something outside of Christ to make you whole? Are you coveting something that you think will make you whole?

From those five points, two of them heavily convicted my heart. One was the faithful heart and the other a repentive heart. I get very discouraged sometimes when our Bible study attendance is low or when no one reads my blog. I’m wasting my time, I think to myself. What’s the point if there is barely no one who cares. But I need to get past those feelings and focus on being faithful with what the Lord has given me. I should teach or write to an audience of five like I would to an audience of 5,ooo. Luke 16:10 – He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much.

Also when Afshin read 1 John 1:8-9, again, I felt conviction. I think a lot of times I tend to think that I don’t have sin because I don’t express it outwardly. But, last week, I felt the Spirit revealing a lot of my inward sin. Things like judgements of others, frustrations, bitterness and anger. As these sins came to mind, I tried to repent of them and release them.

So in all, the lesson was awesome! Without knowing it, God had already been answering my prayer of living life by revealing my heart. I need to start there! How does my inward heart look to God? That’s what He cares about. Living is not about doing tons of things and keeping busy, but living is about having your heart right with the Lord. As I had mentioned in one of my previous writings, we often tend to combine God’s way with man’s way thinking it’s the right way. God’s way is for us to delight in His presence, our way is to stay busy with stuff, even if we consider it okay because it’s quote, Godly stuff.

Afshin mentioned a lot of other good stuff in his lesson, and unfortunately I didn’t catch them all in my notes. If you’d like, his message is available for $1 through HFBC bookstore, or you can listen online here. Thank you for sharing this testimony of an answered prayer with me and may we live life by having loyal hearts to Him.

Single Seasoning

For weeks I had been wanting to get into reading a new book. Three or four books I tried, but none kept my interest. Why wasn’t I drawn to read any of those books? They were all spiritually enlightening. I felt maybe my heart was hard to their messages. I did feel spiritually dry, like I wasn’t hearing from the Lord. I can recognize those days because I know what it’s like to be in the opposite spectrum. I love being in the flow of hearing God, if you know what I mean.

I was preparing to go on vacation and I wanted to take some books to read. I grabbed one that I had started, and another from my book shelf that I hadn’t read before. It was a small book, and I thought it would be a good, light read during my trip. The book was called, A Slice of the Pie by Anamichelle Lopez.

Let me start with some background as to how I got this book. Almost two years ago, I attended a singles conference with some girl friends. At the conference there were several vendor tables with things to buy. On the last evening of the conference, my friend stopped by one of the tables to chat with a girl she knew, Anamichelle. I looked around at the things that Anamichelle was selling, but I didn’t buy anything. But before we left, out of her heart Anamichelle gave me a copy of her book at no charge. I was thankful, but was not led to read the book right away. Well, as God would have it, it was a perfect read during my trip this past weekend.

Anamichelle wrote a great, simple book on how to approach your sweet single season, a season I’ve been in some time. Everything she wrote is to the point, with just the right heart and lots of scriptural support. I was holding back tears as I read one of her illustrations of how the Lord provided her with a bread bowl of soup on their date out. I also enjoyed the letters from those who were explaining how they came into celibacy.

After reading this book, I have found myself taking a more active approach on how I will continue my sweet single season. This may sound silly to you, but one of my prayers now is that I have asked the Lord to reveal to me if His will for me of either celibacy or marriage. I have asked him to answer my prayer in three ways:

  • By hearing His still, small voice
  • By a Rhema word in Scripture
  • Confirmation through a person

I know that an answer to this prayer, will give me better focus on how God wills to direct my life. If it’s His will for me to marry, then I will honor that by praying for my future husband and family. If it is God’s will for me to be celibate, then I know I will have an everlasting peace and I won’t be concerned with praying for a husband. This is just one of a few things stirring my heart from this book. I will continue to share more as things progress. May the Lord also direct you in the path He wills for you.

Which Way to My Mate?

Three times this week from three different sources I’ve heard reference to doing things God’s way and not man’s way. I take it that the Lord is trying to tell me something??!! Yes, He is indeed.

Several months ago, a friend sent me a link to a book called How to Get a Date Worth Keeping. In the book, Christian author Dr. Henry Cloud, advices that we can all find a good date (and ultimately a good mate) by following his approach to dating. He says that we shouldn’t be waiting around for God to make the match, but rather that we should take action with the potential around us.

I read an excerpt from the book and it sounded quite convincing, but I had doubts if this was really a Biblical approach. In the excerpt from Chapter 1, two friends are having a debate about why the other has been in a stagnant single season for two years. The opposite friend offers up a challenge to the unhappy woman and became her “dating coach.” The agreement required her to give full obedience to his approach and that she would have a guaranteed good date in no later than six months.

Here is part of the excerpt (emphasis added):

For two years her dating life had been stagnant, and she was denying that reality with a philosophy that if you do nothing, God will somehow step in and provide a man. That way of thinking, which I knew was nowhere in the Bible, kept her from seeing she was very, very stuck. My goal was to get her to see the reality of her situation and to get very discouraged. I wanted her to see that what she was doing was not working and that it had been that way for a long time. I wanted that realization to sink in and bother her. My trying to convince her that she was wrong was not going to work.

She was too sure she was right. I wanted her to realize the reality of her dating life for herself. Just as balancing a checkbook can wake one up to one’s lack of money, keeping a log would awaken Lillie to her lack of dates.

Hmm, I had a few issues with that. Does it really not say in the Bible that God will somehow step in and provide a man? Is God not our provider? In Genesis 2, did the Lord not bring Eve to Adam? In Genesis 24, did the Lord not bring Rebekah to Isaac? Also, when has it ever been Biblical for us to blatantly discourage others (aside from discouraging others to take part in sin) as the friend clearly claimed to do?

Of course, the chapter one scenario wouldn’t have made it into a book if it didn’t have a success story to follow. Lillie, the once unhappy, single woman, ended up getting married to a man she dated based on the program that her friend challenged her with.

Often times, in our discouragement to God’s timing, we try and do things combining both God’s way with man’s way, or we frustratingly turn our situation solely to man’s reasoning because our faith and patience on God has run dry and we feel we are left out in the desert.

In Matthew 6, it says that the Lord feeds the birds, but it’s implied that the bird has to take action by going and get the food that is provided. So my question is: Which way is the Biblical approach to match making? Which way is God’s way? Do we need to go find and get the mate that the Lord has already provided for us, or do we wait for Him to bring us together? Is the Matthew 6 scripture considered out of context when considering match making?

The Last Supper Model

I remember when the professor of my Bible class diagrammed for us a visual representation of the Last Supper. It was very different from the familiar “Last Supper” by Leonardo da Vinci that most of us have seen.

Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper painting

In my recent trip to Israel, our group stopped by an olive tree wood shop in Bethlehem to check out souvenirs. The shop had hundreds of carved items including crosses, saints, angels, nativity scenes and so on. But, among all the items was one that caught my eye! When my professor and I both saw it we were like two little kids who had just found the best toy in the store.

Olive tree wood model of the Last Supper

In this representation of the Last Supper, Jesus and His disciples sit at an “n” shaped table. The first seat on the lower left is the disciple, John. John is reclining back, looking at Jesus who is seated next to him in the second spot on the left, also know as the place/seat of honor. On the other side of Jesus is Judas. Peter would probably be the last disciple across the table on the right.

In that time period, tables for eating were not high off the ground like they are today, they were low to the ground. People didn’t use chairs but rather they reclined to eat. Leaning on their left arm for support, their legs were to the back  and they used the right hand to eat. To talk to the person next to you, one would lean back onto the others chest. For example, John would lean back onto Jesus’ chest to speak to him. Jesus would lean back onto Judas to speak with him. Interesting to think about the intimacy in the set up and then remember that Judas would stab Jesus in the back with betrayal just a short while after this supper.

Roaring Waves

This past weekend I want to Mexico for vacation. Our first few days there, the ocean waves were so strong that they sounded like a roaring lion. A tropical storm was close by, so the ocean currents were very strong. I loved the sound of the roaring waves. Like loud thunder the roar of the waves rattled the windows. I thought about how much power water can have. I thought about the Tsunami a few months ago in Japan. I thought about how much power water has, and how much power we have by the living water of God!!

The next morning I woke up and had some time in the Word. I was reading from the book of Isaiah and came across 51:15. Pretty cool given the circumstance. Praise God, I love it when He speaks!!

Isaiah 51:15
For I am the Lord your God,
who stirs up the sea, causing its waves to roar.
My name is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

Foam from the ocean waves looked like a blanket of white snow.

Crashing waves roar in Cabo, Mexico. Only God can do that!!

Unplug from the Meaningless

Okay, I had some difficulty with the title of this posting because after writing and then reading it, I address a few different issues here that may not fully make sense to you. But, I’m going to leave it as is, since that’s how the Lord provided it to me. I’m not a movie critic by any means, so this critique is rooted purely from the rise in my spirit.

In an effort to spend more time with family (aside from my occasional home visits) I recently agreed to join my mom in watching the movie Bad Teacher. I don’t go to the movies often and frankly, I didn’t have big expectations of this one, but I thought it would be fun to see. Now having seen the movie, I don’t recommend it to anyone! Sadly, like with many other current movies, I find myself questioning the things that society deems acceptable. Are movies like Bad Teacher really the type of entertainment and humor that hits peoples funny bone?

There is however, one thing I want to address that I haven’t been able to shake off my mind – the character portrayal of Elizabeth, aka the bad teacher. I’m left with questions like: Do women really live (or want to live) in the way that this movie showed Elizabeth to be? Does the character of Elizabeth really represent the type of demeanor that women are coming to? Is this amusing and attractive to men? Do women want to act this way? Surely this was just “acting” by every sense of the word!

Elizabeth, played by Cameron Diaz, is no doubt feminine by outward appearance, but the inward evidence is quite the opposite. In Bad Teacher, Elizabeth’s lifestyle, language and personality present a grotesque, culturally-growing, accepting persona of a 30-somethings woman with bad 20-somethings typical male behavior. Forget that the role of Elizabeth is a teacher. Bad Teacher is the bad portrayal of a woman from the eyes (in this case the writer of the script) of a man that surely doesn’t know a thing about women! The script writer merely fed his male notion of a fantasy girl by merging the personality of his fraternity buddy inside a hot woman body. By every character sense, Elizabeth is repulsing! Do women really live, talk and act like that? Men have become very vulgar in language, but to see that depicted in a woman is absurd and disgusting in every way.

You may think I’m taking this character thing way too seriously. It’s just a movie you say. It’s for kicks and giggles. Well, the thing that bugs me is that others will see this movie and mimic the behavior, and this is the way that society will keep slipping on its values and ethics. Just one movie out of myriads that play the same card. Bad teacher portrays a bad message of what is considered acceptable women behavior and I’m sure I’m not alone in this opinion. (And just in case you are wondering, I don’t agree with that behavior in men either.)

The reason this stirs my “righteous anger” so much is because for me, the further I find myself drawing toward the things of God, the more repulsed and less tolerant I become to such vulgarity and cultural shifts away from Godless things. I don’t like women portrayed with ugly male personas! That’s not okay and I refuse to accept it as a cultural norm. The blurring of lines between men and women is being pushed more and more together like the same ends of a magnet, but God did not create us to be the same. For how long will society give power to the defeated forces of the devil who is pushing the two together?

It makes me think of people asleep and unaware of things coming, of the trap you are falling into day by day without being aware because all others around you are in the trap with you. It’s a way for the enemy to keep you in death, in meaninglessness. I say, wake up sleeper to the things that matter, to the things and ways of God. The enemy has you in a trap of surroundings that aren’t true nor right. You are blinded by the devil’s deception of what he wants you to think life should be. He’s blinded you by keeping you away from God’s truth and words and in the meaningless. Lazily you sit in chairs watching and soaking in the deception. Wake up, wake up and see the lies binding you!!! It’s like being woken up from the devil’s matrix. I haven’t seen the movie, The Matrix, in years, but if that is relate-able to you, then that’s what it’s like. You live in the lies of the devil’s matrix. Wake up from it, be unplugged from it, and become a fighter against it. That is what it’s like to live like living for the Truth of the Lord.

I know I mentioned a lot of things here and they progressed from one thing to something else. That was not intended, it’s just what was stirred in my heart as I wrote. My prayer is that you may be awakened from the meaninglessness of the life the enemy is tangling around you and see the trap he’s got you in. Awaken your soul to be about more than kicks and giggles to entertain you. Know the repulsion that angers the heart of the Lord. May the Lord awaken you.

As it is said in scripture: Ephesians 5:14-16 … “Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you.” Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.

My Israel Experience: Seeing at the Sea of Galilee

Below is an email I wrote when I was on my trip to Israel in May. It had been about five days since I contacted anyone back home and I wanted to join my traveling friends in swimming at the Sea of Galilee on our first free afternoon, but the Lord had other plans for me. I hope you enjoy this little message as you imagine what some of my Israel trip experience was like.

Greetings Everyone from Israel!!!!! 😀 I only have one hour here on the Internet, and this computer doesn’t have the fastest connection, so I will make this sweet. 🙂

First, we all made it to Israel safely! I got a little air sick at the end of the first flight, so that wasn’t very fun, and we practically had to run across the London airport to make our second flight, but, we made it!!

For now, I will skip over the activities that we have done for the past few days and focus mainly on the last 24 hours. 🙂 However, I will note that we have already done a lot of traveling across northern Israel! Israel is actually much bigger than I thought!! And absolutely beautiful!!

Yesterday, on our bus ride through northern Israel (a.k.a. the finger of Galilee), I decided to share with the group a passage of scripture, Joshua 9:9. This was something the Lord had revealed to me just a few days before our trip, and it was very fitting in light of coming to Israel. (See related posting about this here.) Everyone loved it! Then, later that evening, we arrived at our Kibbutz on the Eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee. The Sea of Galilee is amazing!! After our first dinner here at the Kibbutz, we saw a beautiful sunset beyond the mountains by the sea. Our Kibbutz here is super cute!!! We have the most amazing view of the Galilee area and last night I enjoyed the cool sea water with friends.

Cottages at our Kibbutz at the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee.

Wow, to think we are walking on the very land that the Lord our Savior walked. The Son of God was here!!! This is the water He walked on! This is so awesome. I have hardly been able to sleep, as my mind won’t leave me alone, but regardless, I am full of energy!!

Today, we visited Capernaum just to the north, overlooking the Galilee. This was known as the town of Jesus. Jesus did much of His ministering here. Professor Shockley gave the most amazing devotional covering the three things that Jesus said to His disciples in Matthew 16:24 – 1) Deny yourself, 2) Pick up your cross and 3) follow Me.

Entrance into Capernaum. We were blessed to get here early and soak in the area.

Synagogue at Capernaum. The lower stones are of darker color and are from the first century (Jesus time). Around 4AD, another Synagogue, represented by the lighter stones, was built on top of the ruins of the first one.

After that, we went to see an ancient boat that was recovered from the bottom of the Sea that is said to be from first century (Jesus time!). Awesome. Then, our group went on a boat ride through the Sea. We sang worship songs and danced to Jewish music. Professor Jackson gave an amazing devotional to us at this time. He spoke from Mark 4:35-41 about when Jesus was asleep at the stern of the boat and the disciples were freaking out because of the winds and the waves. The disciples wake Jesus up and then Jesus commands the winds and the waves to be still. At that point, the disciples became even more fearful!!! Think, the disciples were already fearful because of the storm, but now they were even more fearful because they just witnessed Jesus calm the storm! He performed the miracle and the disciples said… “who is this man that even the wind and the waves obey Him???!!!!” Even though the disciples had seen Jesus do many miracles already, they still did not realize Him to be God.

This is the remains of the ancient boat preserved at the bottom of the Sea of Galilee dating from the first century. Jesus was most likely on a similar type of boat.

Israel and U.S. flags fly together on our boat on the Sea of Galilee.

After this, we stopped for lunch. We ate whole fish – head, tail and all! Fresh tilapia from Galilee. We also had fresh dates and soothing mint tea.

I picked up this fish from the sample plate thinking that it was a fake, but it was real!

Then, off we went to visit the Mount of Beatitudes. Jesus spoke to thousands here. But, how does a man speak to thousands without a microphone or being in a theater? Good question. The way that land around the Sea of Galilee region is structured, created a natural “theater” shape where many could hear him. Wow, God wants His Son to be heard and He creates the natural setting for it! Here we had another devotional.

Then, we went to the ancient ruins of Chorazim, a city that Jesus condemned because of the people’s hard hearts and unbelief. Luke 10, Matthew 11) Here our group member Kurt, gave an awesome devotional about reaching out to those that God has already prepared to receive the Gospel.

Synagogue at Korazim. The ancient ruins still show that in looking out from the entrance, the land forms a valley. In the far distance would be Jerusalem.

Lastly, as we headed back to our Kibbutz, we stopped at the Gerasenes. This is where the demoniac was, Mark 5. The demons inside the man recognized Jesus saying, “Have You come to torture us before the appointed time?” Jesus then cast the demons out into the herd of pigs that rushed down the steep valley and died. To this day, you can still see the hoves from the dead pigs!! LOL, I’m just kidding!! Jesus only had to say one word, “Go” and the demons had to obey. Funny how even the demons recognize the Son of God, but the people (even the disciples from Mark 4) did not.

Country of the Garasenes where Jesus cast demons into a herd of pigs. The first “deviled ham.” LOL!

So now, after this email, I am going to join my travel buddies along the Galilee. They say the sea is warm, but those who say that, haven’t been to the Gulf of Mexico!! Haha. It is 5:15pm on Sunday here.

Tomorrow, I will be baptized in the Jordan by Professor Jackson. I am so excited!!
Love and blessings to you all from the land of Israel!!

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