Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Another Hatmaker day.  Today she suggested we personalize a scripture passage and insert 'I' and 'me' where appropriate and read it out loud to ourselves to make it really hit home.  The passage is Ephesians 2:11-22.  What a great passage to take personally!

"Don't forget that I, as a Gentile, used to be an outsider.  I was called an 'uncircumcied heathen' by the Jews, who were proud of their circumcision, even though it affected only their bodies and not their hearts.  In those days I was living apart from Christ.  I was excluded from citizenship among the people of Israel, and I did not know the covenant promises God had made to them.  I lived in this world without God and without hope.  But now I have been united with Christ Jesus.  Once I was far away from God, but now I have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ.
For Christ himself has brought peace to me.  He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us.  He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations.  He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups.  Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and my hostility toward others was put to death.
He brought this Good News of peace to me, who was far away from Him, and peace to the Jews who were near.  Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us."

Oh how I love vs. 12 and 13: I lived in this world without God and without hope. But now I have been united with Christ Jesus. Once I was far away from God, but now I have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ.

What would it really be like to live in this world with out this hope and being far away from God?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


My two Jen Hatmaker studies collided a bit this week, which is kind of funny considering in one I am reading out of Ruth and the other in Ephesians, but stick with me.

In Ruth, Boaz is Naomi's husband's family's (follow all those possessives?) "kinsman-redeemer".  Basically, he was part of her husband's family and as the kinsman-redeemer (my Study Bible tells me) he was responsible for protecting the interest s of needy members of the extended family.  Things like providing an heir for a brother who had died, redeeming land that a poor relative had sold outside the family, redeeming a relative who have been sold into slavery and avenging the killing of a relative.

Now transfer that to Ephesians 2:1-10 where we were dead in our transgressions and sins and God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ...and raised us up with Christ....and shows the incomparable riches to his graces, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ....through faith ---not from ourselves or our works--but a gift of God. 

Redemption means "the purchase back of something that has been lost, by the payment of a ransom."  I was lost and dead in my transgressions and sins and have been bought back to life though the payment of my sins by the blood of Christ.  It was not by canceling a debt or bargaining a trade or working off the wrongs myself, but the price was paid for me to restore me, who couldn't afford the cost of my freedom, of my life. (Taken from Make Over)

In Ruth we get to see Naomi change her hope from wanting to be called "Mara" because she was bitter from life, to praising God because He never stopped showing His kindness because of the appearance of their kinsman-redeemer.

In our lives we can see bitterness, sin and sadness.  We can choose to live there or we can choose to take the hand of our redeemer and have the price paid for us. 

Oh, how I don't understand how people can reject this.  Except the fact that when Gandhi said "I like your Christ.  I do not like your Christians.  Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."  But this is a whole other topic for another blog post.

Praise God that He supplied us with our redeemer.  There is no way I could ever pay my debt. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Lesson in Prayer

Another post on an 'assignment' from Modern Girl's Guide.

Nehemiah.  Not a overly well-known man of the Bible.  Yes, one of it's book's name bearers, but not an overly-popular .  Most have heard the name due to its presence in the OT, but might not know the full story.  Well, I am not telling it here - it is too long, but check it out for yourself.  It is pretty good.

Anyway, our 'job' today is to look at the prayer Nehemiah cries out to God after he hears of the destruction of Jerusalem.  The first thing that stands out to me is his heart.

First off, Neh (that is what I am going to call him from here on out, because I am lazy and that is a long name to type) totally prepares his heart to go before God.  He fasts and mourns and says other prayers to God and then brings about his final plea.  He doesn't just offer up a 'Hail  Mary' prayer, or shout in anger and wonder "Why?".  He totally jumps in mind, body and soul into an all out plea for his nation.  Actually, his nation, but one he doesn't personally know.  He was cupbearer to the king in another place.

Anyway, his heart is prepared.  Neh has given great thought to what is going on in Jerusalem and to it's people.  He has been talking with God the whole time and trying to figure out the right path, the right prayer to where God is leading Him. 

Neh starts off by praising God and recognizing His power and love.  The love he recognizes here is the word used for "faithful love, the kind that honors a covenant through thick and thin. (I stole that from my Study Bible footnotes, lest you be impressed with knowledge I did not previously posses) He asks for God's attention and tells him where he stands.  He confesses his sins, his father's sins and his nation's sins, recognizing that none of them are worthy of the dust God placed on the earth. 

The next word almost cracks me up, "Remember".  Like God ever forgets.  Ha!  But, Neh is calling him out.  He is pointing out that he remembers, that he has paid attention to what God told them.  Neh remembers God's love and promises to them and is pleading with God to act upon what was promised to them.  This takes heart. 

Most times I go into a prayer just winging it.  Do all the necessary 'things' and pray for those that need it.  Then I get to myself and the things I feel I need prayer for in my life and I can't help but feel a bit guilty asking for 'more'.  I already have all I need.  I wonder and pray what God's plan is for the things that I pray about.  But here, Neh knows God's plan.  He has faithfully recalled the promises God made to his nation and knows them in his heart.  He knows God will answer.  I think the only part Neh didn't know was when God would choose to answer. 

This is a prayer from the depths of a heart of a man who knows his God.  He knows Him very intimately and on a very personal level.  That is the only explanation for the sincerity of this prayer.

I can only hope that I can learn to pray like this.  Not that prayer has to be fancy and lengthy or impressive at all.  God only wants our hearts.  But when our hearts are in total sync with His because we are that familiar with Him, we know that our prayers will be more sincere as well.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Whole New Look on Disciples

OK, you are going to have to bear with me for a while and learn what I learned this past weekend at an amazing conference with an amazing author.
Any of you that have been following me for any period of time, know that I think very highly of Jen Hatmaker.  She has taught me a lot about reading the Bible and getting something out of it.  She is hilarious and insightful and, best of all, very real.  She doesn't sugar coat it, she doesn't pretend to have it all together and she doesn't add a bunch of flowery jibber jabber.  Just great stories and her hear for God. 

That being said, I was giddy like a school girl over Justin Bieber when I got to meet her this past weekend and hear her speak.  Her speaking is every bit as good as her writing, and she is every bit as real in person as she writes in her books. 
So, enough of my drooling over Jen Hatmaker...on to what I learned.

The first of the three sessions she presented to us was on discipleship.  Talk about learning something.

She started at the story of Mary and Martha, read the first line and left the story for the rest of the session until the last 5 minutes.  Anyway, she fixed on Mary sitting at Jesus' feet and then moved on to Jewish education.  Like she said, stick with me...
So, Jewish children would enter into 'school' at the age of 6 and attend until about the age of 10.  The sole purpose of these years of education was to memorize the Torah.  That is the 1st five books of the Bible, people.  Memorized.  Word for word.  Yikes.  After this session, (which had some fancy Jewish name, but I couldn't spell it or pronounce it, so I don't remember what it was), the best of the male students would be asked to stay for the next level.  The girls and those not 'worthy' would go home to learn their family trade. 

Those who were smart enough to continue on to the next level of education (also with another Jewish name with the same fate as the first one) were lucky enough to learn more about what the Torah was saying rather than just what it said.  Then, once again, the cream-of-the-crop was invited to stay for the 3rd level.

I got this level.  It was called Discipleship.  If you were bright enough to stay until this level you were 'the bomb'.  She said that for about every 100 kids that entered the first stage only about 2 made it to the 3rd level.  Each disciple would choose a Jewish Rabbi they wanted to follow.  They would pick their Rabbi and approach them to see if they could be their disciple.  The Rabbi would grill them with absolutely ridiculous questions and, if pleased by the answers and the young man, would accept him has his disciple.  It was then the disciples job to become a carbon copy of that Rabbi.  To follow all the same rules, teach the same laws, interpret the Torah the exact same way.  Heck, she said they went so far as to follow them into the bathroom so that they could do that the same too!  They were to become so much like the Rabbi they chose that other Jewish followers could easily tell which Rabbi they 'belonged' to by the way they walked, talked, worshipped and lived life.

So, obviously, as a Jewish child, Jesus went through this whole process.  And, obviously, since the guy was God in the flesh, he blew through these classes with a breeze and was chosen for each successive level.  Thus, he was referred to as Rabbi later in life. (Although, I wonder who Jesus would have chosen as his Rabbi to follow, or if He just skipped that step?)  So, this being said, it is now easier to understand why James and John were so eager to leave their fishing boat and follow a Rabbi.   They had clearly been rejected as 'bright' during some point of their Jewish schooling and went back to learn their father's trade, fishing.  So, when a Rabbi came seeking them (unheard of in the Jewish religion) they were all too eager to be given a second chance to become disciples, a revered position in the community.  It also makes it easier to understand why their father was not upset by their abandoning him.  He probably ran home telling everyone that his boys had just become disciples.

Don't you just LOVE learning things like this?  Things that answer the little questions you've always wondered about the stories you know so well from the Bible.  So great.

OK, back to Mary and Martha.  So, along the lines of Rabbi's and Disciples, a very common saying back in this day was "May your house be a meeting place for the Rabbi's and my you cover yourself in teh dust of their feet and drink in their words thirstily." (Something along those lines anyway, I couldn't write fast enough to get it all down.)  So, here are Mary and Martha, rejected from the Jewish schooling scene by the age of ten solely due to their gender.  Also, not seen as worthly to sit with Rabbi's to learn of the things of the Torah even as full grown adults, because they were women.  They are in their home and just happened to be graced with the presence of Jesus, a well-known Rabbi and He wants to teach them.  Mary takes the old saying literally and sits at Jesus' feet to be covered in His dirt and drinks in His words.  Even as a woman, Jesus was taking time to teach her and she wasn't going to miss this opportunity.   Poor Martha is always the butt of this story, but she was just doing what she knew.  She was so often rejected from this learning opportunity that she didn't even regonize it when it was there. 

Now that I have typed on forever, I'll get to the main point.... Jesus called us to be His disciples.  It is our job to sit at Jesus' feet and drink in His words the only way we can, by getting in His Word.  We are to get to know Him so well that we can't help but live like Him and talk like Him so much so that others can easily tell who it is that we follow.  How can we immitate Him if we do not know His word?  Discipleship is not just a Bible study.  It is a lifestyle. 

LOVE IT!!!!  (all of this was taken from my notes Jen Hatmaker's session on discipleship at the conference, I can't claim any of it as my own knowledge prior to that)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Today's assignment in our Modern Girl's Guide to Bible Study was to elaborate on a definition of a word in Psalm 68:5-10.  Verse six says "God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing: but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land. 

Oddly, I chose the word rebellion.  Or maybe it isn't so odd. defines rebellion as resisting control or authority, and to feel or express strong unwillingness.

At first glance in reading the entire verse including this word, I automatically eliminated myself from the rebellious category.  I am part of God's family.  I have accepted His forgiveness through the power of the blood shed by Jesus Christ.  There.  Not rebelling against God's love.  Right?

But that is when the Holy Spirit gave me that little nudge.  "Hold up, girl.  This isn't just a generality.  Every day.  Every decision.  Every path is a choice to follow God's will or rebel and go it on your own."

Truth.  Socks ya square in the jaw every time doesn't it?

Every time I choose to do my own thing because I know what is best for me, I rebel against God and include myself in that category.  And every single time I find out my decision not to pray about it, not to follow His will, no matter how hard or uncomfortable it might be, I find myself in that sun-scorched land.  I find myself separated from Him.  Hurting.  Lonely.  Trapped. 

It isn't worth it.  Those places are not fun. 

But, if I follow God's will.  If I seek His guidance with all of my heart and go where He tells me, I am united with Him again.  I am part of His family.  I am set free of my guilt, pain, regrets and all that other junk and singing His praises.  I can also end up back in His graces if I seek His forgiveness after making those rebellious choices. 

It is so much better to be in the land 'flowing with milk and honey' in sync with my Father than lonely and imprisoned in a sun-scorched land.  Even though it may not always be easy or the most 'fun' choice.  The end results are always so much better than going it on my own.  Hands. Down.