Dynamo!

Dynamite

Sooner or later, you’re going to face a day when you just don’t think you can make it–everybody does. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed by loneliness, stress, anger, hurt or fear. It doesn’t matter what it is, it just seems like God has given you too much to handle. Maybe He has.

1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”

The phrase, “so that you are able”, is actually one Greek word: dynamo. This word means: to be capable, strong and powerful whether by one’s own power or resources.

We may not feel strong, capable or powerful and really, we’re not. But, we do have the best resources. Ephesians 1:19-20 tells us what these are, “I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.”

The same power that brought Jesus out of the grave is God’s power for you and me. Because nothing is impossible with God, we can overcome anything!

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Marital Counseling in the Context of a True Story

By the time a couple finishes the first round of premarital counseling, most are willing to admit that marriage requires, and affects, personal change. All will affirm that marriage involves cherishing and being cherished.

However, only after the rings are exchanged, the threshold crossed and the first dinner bloopers endured, does light dawn on the truth that these aspects of marriage are not only true, they are nonnegotiable and they are mutually dependent.

Jane Kirkpatrick’s trilogy, Emma of Aurora, The Change and Cherish Trilogy, is a fascinating, didactic work of historical fiction. In her remarkably accurate account of the life of Emma Wagner Giesy, Kirkpatrick quietly unveils the perils, the promises, the possibilities and the purpose of marriage.

Emma Wagner Giesy’s life was fraught with perils. She had a strong mind and a ferocious sense of independence. Neither bode well for her in the ultra-conservative, communal Christian colony in Bethel, Missouri, where she grew up. She fell in love with Christian Giesy, during a Christmas morning church service in 1851, as she studied him across the isle dividing male and female worshipers.

Her subsequent marriage to Heir Keil’s right hand man, immediately set her at odds with the colony’s undisputed leader. Tension simmered as Emma worked to manipulate the men in her life to respect her wishes, something unheard of in the patriarchal colony. But she won more battles than she lost and eventually found herself the lone woman accompanying her husband and a small group of scouts westward to find a new homestead for the growing Bethel colony.

Perils of loneliness, physical pain, rejection and exhaustion assaulted Christian and Emma’s marriage. I watched as Emma and Christian changed, almost imperceptibly, learning to cherish each other in spite of their differences.

God’s promises prevailed over and over in this true, rich story. Kirkpatrick uses Emma’s voice to recall Scripture frequently. Familiar Biblical texts became Emma’s lifeline when her husband seemed distant and unfeeling. At the same time, Emma and Christian’s vows to each other endured continuous refining fire, but emerged stronger.

At risk of giving away Emma’s darkest, most transformational peril revealed in Book 2, I’ll simply tell you that through Emma’s story, Kirkpatrick helps the reader to understand God’s promise, “All things work together for the good of those who love Him”, often requires that we believe, “With God all things are possible”.

Finally, Kirkpatrick’s uses Emma’s story to show the purpose of marriage. God designed the union of man and woman in marriage to be unlike any other relationship. The aggravating truth of our stark differences can make marriage one of the most difficult relationships. But it is through the pain of changing that we understand how much God cherishes us. It is in learning to rest in our Father’s love that we become able to accept the differences of others, gently accept God’s changing us, and become able to cherish another human being.

This book is an excellent, unparalleled read. Kirkpatrick develops vibrant, multi-dimensional characters. None is flawless and the reader’s loyalty vacillates, even occasionally leaving the heroine.

The conclusion left me with a deeper self-awareness. It cultivated introspection, an attentiveness to the changes God longs to make in my own life. At the same time, the book left me with peace, a confidence that I am cherished, even as I am changing.

Here I Stand.

Round the corner, confront the lion.
March, mouth gaping. Spring is crying.
Sobbing from skies still dull and gray,
Pushing valiantly the clouds away.
Behind her warmer sunshine creeps.
Mid huffs and wheezes, a soft wind speaks.
It tells of fresh and new and green,
Beauty as if never seen.
Each year, I’m awed at lovely spring,
My heart, her merry tune still sings,
Since last year…
And wish her well and bid her hurry.
To best ole’ winter, in his fury.

Earlier this week, I told you that I intend to keep going with our conversations about The Screwtape Letters and the One Word, Naked. I plan to keep my promise.

However, last week was Ligonier Ministry’s annual National Conference. I wasn’t able to attend, but I received an email allowing me to listen to the entire conference online, after the fact.

I grew up hearing about Martin Luther. I read my history books dutifully, and passed the tests. Then, as most kids do, I promptly brain-dumped all the information other than his name and connecting it the Protestant Reformation. I got a refresher today from one of the speakers, Steven Lawson.

Lawson’s sermon was titled, “Here I Stand.” Personally, I felt as if much of what he said was redundant, but I was captured by the words he read directly from Martin Luther’s Here I Stand speech at the Diet of Worms. It rang of such conviction, such confidence in the truth, that it seemed almost to me, second to Scripture, to be the actual definition of truth. In fact, Luther’s entire point is to define truth as Scripture. I am compelled to share this with you today.

“Since your most serene majesty and your high mightinesses require from me a clear, simple, and precise answer, I will give you one, and it is this: I cannot submit my faith either to the pope or to the councils, because it is clear as the day that they have frequently erred and contradicted each other. Unless therefore I am convinced by the testimony of Scripture or by the clearest reasoning, unless I am persuaded by means of the passages I have quoted, and unless they thus render my conscience bound by the word of God, I cannot and I will not retract, for it is unsafe for a Christian to speak against his conscience. Here I stand, I can do no other; may God help me. Amen.”
http://www.specialtyinterests.net/lutherwords.html

Lastly, Max McLean has produced a fantastic rendering of Luther’s speech, and it is available on YouTube. It is a 3 part production, but I am inserting only part 2 here.
Part 2 contains all of Luther’s speech. Parts 1 and 3 are intro and background information.
– – – Forgive me friends, the code for embedding this video is not working. You can still follow this link here. 
consider.

Setting Captives Free, A Review

This week I am in Texas preparing for the best day of my sister’s life! Chelle gets married on June 16!

But, the show must go on! So, this week I was planning to share some life-giving, truth-giving resources with you. With each of the links I provide, I am speaking from personal experience. I have either done the Bible study, sat through the tuition, faithfully read the blog, dialogued with the founder or participated in some other way.

This week we are looking at Setting Captives Free. I began the In His Image study  a couple months ago. I was in the middle of a couple other studies at the same time, so it took me a while to gain momentum. My generous mentor never rushed me, but she did encourage me that doing the study at a steady pace produces better results. She was right!

When I finished Breakaway at my church, I stepped up my progress at In His Image. Almost every morning, I find myself in tears in front of my computer. The lessons have been convicting – very. At the same time, my mentor balances the brunt of the truth with empathy and hope-sustaining Scripture. But I warn you these studies aren’t for the faint of heart, or just to make you feel good!

Here’s an additional devotional that my mentor shared with me today. We have actually developed a broader relationship, as she has experienced many similar pains to myself. This devotion was in response to another situation I shared with her. Enjoy!

WHICH ARE YOU?

I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

A young woman went to her mother and told her how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs and the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil without saying a word. In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.

Turning to her daughter, she asked, “Tell me what you see?” “Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” she replied.

She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. She then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The daughter tasted its rich aroma.

The daughter then asked. “What does it mean, mother?”

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity—boiling water—but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. After being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water they had changed the water.

“Which are you?” she asked her daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, do you wilt and become soft and lose your strength? Or are you an egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Do you have a fluid spirit, but after a loved-one’s death, a relationship breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have you become hardened and stiff? Does your shell look the same, but on the inside you are bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart? Or are you like a coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If I am like the bean, when things are at their worst, I get better and change the situation around me through Christ-likeness.

When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate to another level? How do you handle adversity?

RESPONSE: Christians are like carrots, eggs or coffee beans. They don’t know how strong their response is until they get into hot water. Which are you?

PRAYER: Lord, help me realize that every experience You gives me, every person You put in my path, is the perfect preparation only You can see.

Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS)
A daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks

© 2011 Open Doors International.

May I Join You for May?

I can’t believe May has nearly arrived. I don’t feel like I’ve exhausted April yet and it’s already time to take off into the wild-blue future. That said, I’m going to do my best to linger in the past a little bit longer. I want to talk a little bit more about the persecuted church. I want to dig into the persecuted church in America? Think it doesn’t happen? Think again. We’ll take a close look at the truth about our religious liberty in America, how it’s being threatened and increase our prayers for those who boldly protect and defend our freedoms.

I just finished a Bible study called Enhancing Your Marriage, by Judy Rossi. The last chapter reminded me of something I haven’t done in a while. Judy led participants in praying for their husbands using Scripture almost exclusively. Years ago, I read a book called Praying the Bible: Pathway to Spirituality.  Though I do not advocate all of the Campbells’ doctrine, this book changed my prayer life dramatically. Thanks to Judy’s reminder, I have  once again culled the Scriptures for God-sotted prayers. It makes praying easy, not to mention powerful and focused. I’ll share several prayers with you this week that I have written from chapters in the Bible.

Satanism is a topic that most Christians either rush toward out of gross curiosity and the tantalizing opportunity for debate, or they run the other way with tails tucked between their legs. “Flee, flee, flee evil!” I just picked up a gripping book called Ascent From Darkness. Author, Michael Leehan shares how “Satan’s Soldier Became God’s Warrior.” As Satan is the father of lies, there are few books more fitting to review on this blog. As I share my thoughts on this book, I’ll whet your appetite to devour it yourself.

And finally, if you’re being truthful, do you believe in miracles? Do you believe that when you’re the most out of control, you are the most primed for miraculous intervention? Just this morning, my entire day’s plans crashed and burned before 10 a.m. Being a woman of preparation and forward thinking (to a fault) I was tempted to go back to bed and just try again tomorrow. However, the dog needed out no matter how badly my day was going, so I took him to the trails. There, my miracle happened. The exciting thing is that this miracle bubbled over and blessed someone else too. I’ll share that story with you and in the meantime, I’m going to be on the lookout for many “mini” miracles. If you see any, will you share them too?

See you soon!

1 Chronicles Prayer for Kids

I wrote this prayer actually for someone that I am mentoring. She is a wonderful mother and her desire is to grow as a godly mother and wife. She told me that sometimes prayer seems stale and redundant. I confess, I don’t have any good words on my own. Give me a piece of paper and I’ll write a good poem, but put me at the feet of the most AWESOME, GLORIOUS, SOVEREIGN, HOLY, MERCIFUL GOD and I’m tongue tied. So I told her that my greatest resource is the Bible. This prayer is composed mostly from 1 Chronicles chapters 17, 22, 28 and 29. I put [child’s name] but you could easily put your own or a friend’s or spouses.

Father,

Here I am, all of me before you. I don’t deserve your mercy, your attention, your compassion, your rescue. Who am I that you have been so good to me? All that you have done for me staggers me, and yet you tell me that I can’t even imagine all that you have in store for me. You have promised me a good heritage, a hope and a future. Thank you. There is no one like you, no God besides you.

So Lord, let your word be honored and come to full effect in my life and the lives of my children. Establish this home forever, a standard to your name and glory. Do as you have spoken. You, Father, have been pleased to bless this house. I am your servant. You have blessed us forever in Jesus.

Now [child’s name] the Lord will be with you. Because of Him you will succeed in all that you do – in building a life to the glory of His name. May the Lord grant you discretion and understanding, that you may keep the law of the Lord your God. Then you will prosper when you are careful to obey Him.

[Child’s name] I pray that you will know my God and serve Him with your whole heart and a willing mind. He searches the hearts and minds of everyone and knows every plan and intention. If you seek Him you will find Him.

So Father God, I bless you. You are our God, our Lord, our Father forever and ever. Yours is the majesty and power and glory and victory and greatness, for all that is in heaven and earth is yours. Riches and honor come from you and you rule over everything. You make great and give strength. I thank you and praise your glorious name.

In Jesus Name, Amen