Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Random Dozen: The Easter Peeps Edition

Chickens -- Peeps -- Easter Candy -- and randomness...

1. How do you feel about the marshmallow Easter Peeps?
Yellow chicks Easter Peeps are a TRADITIONAL part of the Easter experience. There's just something about the way the crunchiness of the sugar coating yields to the marshmallow inside that says 'Spring' to me. The bunnies, or pink chicks/bunnies can substitute for yellow chcks if necessary...but green and purple? That's just wrong.
By the way, if you like your Peeps epic, check this out:
The Lord of the Peeps (click a chapter, then on the little bunny icons to go forward/backward in the story)

2. Chickens are notoriously nervous creatures. When you are nervous, what is the best way to calm down?
I remind myself that 'this time tomorrow(or next week or next month or whatever) it will be over' and I pray a lot.

3. People say, "April showers bring May flowers." Do you enjoy Spring rains?
Spring rains are nice. Especially if it's a day in which I don't have to do anything outside the house and I can take a few minutes to drink a cup of tea and read a book and listen to the rain. As if THAT ever happens. Spring severe weather, with tornado sirens and tracking the storms with Dan The Weatherman on TV,well, I'd just as soon skip.

4. When I was randomly flipping through TV channels this week, I saw a show in which tattoo parlor employees received tattoos of a co-worker's face on their bodies. I can't imagine having a portrait of a colleague tattooed on me. But if someone forced you to receive a portrait tattoo (face only) of anyone, who would it be? Why?
Ew!!! Ew!! and Double Ew!!! Do I have to?
I suppose if someone threatened to take the life of my firstborn if I didn't allow them to put a face tattoo somewhere on my body, I'd elect a picture of Jesus. He never leaves, anyway, so it would be a safe image to carry the rest of my life. Hm. I should be carrying His image anyway, right? That'd almost preach...

5. Would you rather have a tattoo (any kind) or a nose ring?
A nose ring. You can ditch that thing whenever you like...the tattoo, you're stuck with.

6. Do you have any special plans for Easter?
Four church services over Saturday night - Sunday morning, dinner of some sort with the family; hopefully the older kids will be home for dinner, if only to collect their chocolate rabbits. And yellow chicks Peeps, of course.

7. Cadbury Eggs or Reese Eggs?
Tough choice! But I can eat Reese cups whenever I like: Cadbury Eggs are only available at Easter. So Cadbury eggs. But, for reasons I have not yet mentioned on the blog, I'm currently not eating sugar. I may or may not have already purchased a box of Cadbury eggs to save for when the sugar ban is lifted.

8. What was the last thing/person you took a picture of?
Ok, let me check the 'March 2010' shared pictures folder... Ooo, you gotta see this:

My Sweet Baboo was actually a competitor in the 1976 World Frisbee Championships held at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. He also has collected Pro model Frisbees since the mid-70's. There were only 15 Pro Frisbees labeled for the '76 Rose Bowl...and he knew someone who, um, managed to get an extra one when they were handed out to the Guts teams, and he's been after that extra disc for 34 years. His buddy with the extra disc dropped off the Frisbee radar for a long time, but through the magic of the internet they finally connected through an online Guts Frisbee (yes, that really is a sport!) group. A couple of weeks ago his friend sent him an email, asking for his address; he'd been cleaning out some things and found the '76 Rose Bowl Pro. It came in the mail last week and I deemed the opening of the package a photo-worthy event...

9. What book are you reading now, or what was the last one?
I am the last person in the world to read this, and I've picked the worst time to do it, because I don't have time to just Sit Down And Read, but I'm about halfway through The Shack. It's technically my daughter's copy, but I had an unfortunate incident involving a glass of grape juice yesterday afternoon and I will be buying a new copy for her. Which is fine; I want to go back and underline different passages anyway. Like this one (It's God speaking, by the way):
The problem is that many folks try to grasp some sense of who I am by taking the best version of themselves, projecting that to the nth degree, factoring in all the goodness they can perceive, which often isn't much, and then calling that God....I am not merely the best version of you that you can think of. I am far more than that, above and beyond all that you can ask or think.
I'll probably do a whole blog post on my reaction to the book once I've finished it.

10. What do you think is the most difficult task when it comes to Spring cleaning?
Without a doubt...getting started.

11. How many pairs of flip-flops do you own?
Two? Maybe? That's not counting nice leather thong-style sandals. Those are *sandals*, not flip-flops. Flip flops are cheap plastic footwear suitable for shower wear. JMNSHO.

12. Which color makes you happiest?
Royal blue.


Monday, March 29, 2010

He's in the Little Stuff

I've been meaning to put this story down and just now got a chance to do it...

Last Wednesday, our boys and girls ministries all met in the children's sanctuary at the close of service; there's a fundraiser challenge going on. After the meeting, one of the Ranger boys walked around the room asking people about a red soft-sided lunchbox-type bag he'd did have a name on it, but no one was left who recognized the name. I looked at it and thought I might go get on my computer in my office (at the other end of the building) to see if I could find the name in our data base, but, well, it was a long evening and I still had clean up to do and I forgot.

Thursday morning, when I logged into the computer I saw a message from the data base company about updates to our check-in system, so I went looking for one of the ladies who works in the nursery area to see if they'd seen the message. She wasn't in her office, but I found her in the nursery check-in area, with our other preschool ministry assistant.

While I was talking to them, a lady came to the parking lot door of the pre-school area. She was in a UPS uniform, so I thought perhaps she'd just gone to the wrong door. I opened the door and she asked if anyone had seen a red bag that her son had left the night before. I'd seen it, of course, but I had no idea what the boy who'd had it did with it. The ladies looked in the nursery lost-and-found; it wasn't there. Since I'd seen it, I offered to go look in the regular I went down to the usher room off the sanctuary and looked, but it wasn't there. I walked into the children's sanctuary area, but it was dark; none of the children's staff were in. But, there on the check in desk was the red bag from Wednesday night. So I grabbed it and headed back down to the nursery with it and gave it to our UPS lady, who was greatly relieved to have it back.

Then it hit me...of all the folks on staff who were at church Thursday morning, I was the only one who had seen the red bag and knew what it looked like... and I just *happened* to be in the nursery when the lady came to the door, so I could go where I'd seen it and so find it for her.

That's the kind of stuff God does.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Blogging Bible Study: Philippians Lesson 7

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi
Lesson 7 Phil. 4:8 - 23 Gratitude for Concerned Support

1. Finally... Phil. 4:8-9
I split between last week's lesson and this week's at verse 8 because it begins with the word 'Finally'. Seemed like a good way to start the final part of the study.

But, as I've read and re-read the passage, I've realized verses 8 - 9 probably should've been included with last week's discussion. Paul really isn't summing up his letter at this point, he's summing up his discussion of 'living according to the pattern we gave you' (3: 17).

And, you know, he really does summarize it well. In a nutshell, living as a citizen of the Kingdom of God boils down to disciplining our thinking, and putting into practice those things we have learned..what we have heard from and observed in our spiritual leaders. Put that with the previous verses, about living in joy and turning all our issues over to God, and we have the following instructions:

Don't worry about anything; God is near and you can ask Him for what you need. Think about things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy. Put into practice the things you have learned, received, or observed from or in the teachers/leaders God has given you.
At first, I thought it was odd that Paul didn't say anything about paying careful attention to the Spirit, but then I realized that he covered that...and a whole lot of other saying 'put into practice what you have seen in me.' Paul's whole life was lived in close relationship with and obedience to the Spirit of God.
The Philippians who read this letter would know from watching Paul live amongst them how he followed God.

Living according to that pattern will put us in the constant presence of the God of peace, and the peace He gives will protect our hearts and minds.

2. Thank You! Phil. 4:10 - 19

Now Paul actually does begin the wrap up of his letter. So far he hasn't mentioned the gift from the Philippians, so he does so now.

But look; he's careful to word it such that they don't feel obligated to support him...and gives us a great example to follow in the process.

I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances, he says in verse 11, and he states in verse 12, I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.

In verse 13, he shares the secret: I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

It's interesting that, in this context, the 'everything' that Paul is referring to isn't necessarily undertaking great projects, or facing a difficult or dangerous's living everyday in unpredictable and often uncomfortable or even physically difficult conditions while maintaining the lifestyle he had just described.

Nevertheless, he is grateful for the gift that the folks from Philippi have sent...and not just the gift that Epaphroditus brought, but other gifts that they have sent as well. The gift from Epaprhoditus was just the most recent installment in the financial support the folks at Philippi have been providing to Paul. His joy, though, is that they are sacrificing for the kingdom of God and will get a reward for what they have done. Paul hasn't asked for support, yet they have given it...what Paul states is 'a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.' They have helped supply Paul's needs; and Paul promises them that their needs will be supplied as well (v.19)

3)Benediction 4:10 - 23

Paul closes his letter with greetings for all the believers at Philippi, relaying greetings also from 'all the saints, especially those who belong to Caesar's household.' Now, remember that 'those who belong to Caesar's household' were likely folks Paul himself had led to the faith....just as he had been led the Philippian believers to faith years earlier. They shared a common spiritual father in Paul.

Finally, he blesses them with the grace of Jesus.

Now, I really believe the reason this letter is in the canon of Scripture is because these instructions and promises and encouragements are not just for the people of Philippi, but for all who believe. If it had been a personal letter with limited applications, it would not have been preserved for us to read and study.

We haven't given to Paul specifically, as the Philippians did, but I think any time we give to support those who labor in the kingdom we are identifying with the Philippians and their support of Paul. We tend to forget that the folks mentioned in the Bible were real people, with the same kinds of issues and emotions that we have, but we can't go so far into applying the Scripture to the specific people that we lose sight of the fact that the kingdom principles also apply to all believers. Paul really is writing to us, too.

Things to think about: In what areas of my life am I discontent? How can I put into practice the things Paul has instructed in order to learn the secret of being content in all circumstances?

Whom do I know who is working in the kingdom and could use the blessing of unexpected support? What support could I give them...volunteer time, financial assistance, an encouraging visit, or something else? What steps do I need to take to make that happen?

I'll link everything up next week with a few comments about the study as a whole.

The Study so far:
Feb. 5 Intro
Feb. 12 Lesson 1 Phil. 1:1 - 11 Affectionate Greetings
Feb. 19 Lesson 2 Phil. 1:12 - 29 Testimony in a Time of Suffering
Feb. 26 Lesson 3 Phil. 2:1 - 16 Exhortation to Humility
March 5 Lesson 4 Phil. 2:17 - 30 Commendations of Coworkers
March 12 Lesson 5 Phil. 3: 1 - 16 Warnings Regarding Legalism
March 19 20 Lesson 6 Phil. 3:17 - 4:7 Instruction on Living as Citizens of Heaven
March 26 Lesson 7 Phil. 4:8 - 23 Gratitude for Concerned Support

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Random Dozen: Spring is Springing

This week's Random Dozen is being hosted by Southlakesmom at "I Didn't Know THAT!"

I discovered something that I apparently missed in the Original Premise of the Random Dozen meme...after posting my answers, I'm supposed to randomly visit twelve of the folks who answered and linked up to the host blog and leave a nice comment.

Um, sorry...I've been randomly visiting, but just skim reading and moving on. I promise to comment on at least 12 from now on.

The theme is Spring . . . and any other random questions that crept in.

1. What is your favorite sign of Spring?

Birds singing. Probably because it is the absolute first...before any blossoms sprout on the Bradford pears, there are birds singing. Plus, it hearkens back to my childhood on the farm; I could *always* hear birds singing in the warmer months.

2. Did you remember to spring forward on March 14? If not, how did it impact your day?
I would've had to work really hard to forget to set the clocks forward; I got about 4 emails reminding me...and at least one phone text message. I was up and at 'em on Central Daylight Time.

3. If soil, time, talent and climate were no problem, what vegetable would you plant in a garden this year?
Oh! Tough question! But I'll probably have to go with Treasure Sweet Corn, since tomatoes are technically a fruit.

4. If soil, time, talent and climate were no problem, what fruit would you plant? AAAiiiieeee, this one is harder, because I LOVE fruit. Just about any fruit, when it's in season. But, hmm, I think I'll go with Black Raspberries. Can't seem to find those anywhere 'round here.

5. What is your least favorite insect? Ticks. [shudder!]

6. March 22 was World Water Day. To celebrate, here are some water questions. Do you drink bottled water? If so, what brand?
We do have some bottled water around...usually I get the store brand. Water is water. I'd really rather put water that's been run through my Brita filter in my double-walled water bottle.

7. Have you ever been somewhere that it was not safe to drink the local water? If so, how did you handle that?
I've never been that adventurous; I've been some places where the water tasted really yucky, but nowhere where it was really unsafe.

8. How many glasses of water do you drink per day?
Not nearly enough. I have good intentions...I just forget.

Now I'm thirsty all of a sudden.

9. March 24 is the birthday of Harry Houdini. Have you ever watched a professional magic show? Share.
Only the guys that used to come 'round to the elementary school and do assemblies. Admission was a dime, and it got us out of part of the school day. We thought it was great; now, I think...that's a pretty tough way to make a living.

10. Have you ever been a participant in a professional magic show (up on stage!)?
Nope, never got picked. Story of my life in school.

11. March 24 is also the birthday of Steve McQueen and Clyde Barrow. Do you like Westerns or gangster movies? If so, what is your favorite?. I grew up watching John Wayne movies; my dad is a big fan of The Duke. But my favorite western is 'A Big Hand for the Little Lady,' with Henry Fonda. Been trying to find that on DVD for a long time...

12. (Really random) What U.S. state that you've never visited would you like to visit someday?

Monday, March 22, 2010

The 'Giftedness Assessment'

We're revamping our assimilation process at church a bit. When we joined, the membership class was a 12 week overview of the church's basic beliefs and structure; now, it's been broken into smaller pieces and expanded. We now have an intro class, the membership class (which is a 2-session class), and a discipleship seminar that basically replaced the old 12-week series, as well as a seminar on finding your ministry and another on personal evangelism. Everyone who went through the old class is listed as being the equivalent of a graduate of the discipleship seminar.

The 'ministry' class was offered for the first time last week; those of us in lay leadership positions were strongly encouraged to take the class. Not so much to find our ministry niche per se, but to set an example. My Sweet Baboo was still out of town (driving back, actually) so I took it by myself.

It was actually kind of fun. Our assimilation pastor led the seminar, and he did a really good job of explaining the introspection necessary to articulate one's giftings and interests. We also completed a 140-question personal analysis to help with the process. Yeesh, those things are challenging! I'm never comfortable answering things in the extreme...yes, that's absolutely true about me; no, that's not true about me at all. Most everything landed in the middle, so I'm probably not as ruthlessly honest with myself as would be best.

And, as such, two of my top three 'talents' don't quite match up with my gut feeling about myself; I think those answers were more a function of the way the questions were worded than what I am truly gifted at. But I think the questionnaire was intended more of a help than an absolute definitive process.

Anyway, we left the seminar with complete a short profile listing our gifts, passions, abilities, personality, experiences and education; sort of a ministry resume, so that we can ultimately be matched with ministries in the church.

I've got mine about half finished. There is not nearly enough room on these pages; I'm a sanguine and a writer and if you ask me the questions I *will* give you my life story.

So now I need to sit down and make myself finish the homework; write about my Christian experience, when I have felt close to God, when I have struggled...what have I learned? And where do I believe I fit best in ministry?

Those are tough questions to answer in one's personal journal; it's really tough to be accountable to someone else for those answers.

But one question stood out to me: 'If I knew I couldn't fail, this is what I would attempt for God with my life:'

I was surprised that an answer popped right up in my spirit: I would start a Christian theatrical group to do excellent, non-cheesy Christian drama to both entertain and challenge people to commit to a deeper relationship with Christ.

We really haven't done any major drama ministry at church for quite a while now; I miss it. Easter is one time in which we've done major productions in the past, so I suppose I am especially aware of that with the holiday approaching without being involved in any preparation for the services. I know these things come in seasons, and, right now, anyway, we are not in a season of large dramatic presentations. I'm sure it'll come back around in time.

So, what does one do with a passion for theater and no theater ministry available at the moment?

Write, dream, learn.

Not too long ago, I re-read an old journal entry that I posted about here, that reminded me that preparation when it looks like nothing is happening is key.

So, the challenge is to learn all I can from my volunteer work with the high school theater department, write and polish the odd scripts I've had working in the back of my head, just as if I knew those things would be needed some day...even if there's no plan anywhere in sight to produce anything.

And answer the homework questions honestly...and briefly. ;)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Blogging Bible Study: Philippians Lesson 6

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Phil. 3:17 - 4:7 Instruction on Living as Citizens of Heaven

When I was a Sunday School teacher in my former church, one of the things that bugged me was that, according to the material we used, each lesson I was to teach was to be completely self-contained. A key element from the scripture allotted for that week's study would be expounded upon, without regard to how that passage fit into the context of the whole book. It would be easy to do that with this passage; there's some good stuff in here. But I still think that you really can't isolate a scripture from its lose some of the application.

1) Follow Paul's Example. (3:17 - 4:1)
Paul didn't start the topic fresh at verse 3:17; it is a continuation of his discussion that we looked at last week. Join with others in following my according to the pattern we gave you. The example Paul is referring to is, of course, the example of his life they watched as he lived and ministered amongst them, but he has reiterated it in the passage we looked at last week, in 3: 7 - 14: Counting all his works of righteousness as rubbish, forgetting past achievements, he focuses on Jesus and continues to press on towards what Christ has called him to do/receive.

He contrasts this with the lifestyle of those who do not do this...those who set themselves opposed to the cross of Jesus.

Look at how Paul describes such people: Their destiny is destruction no matter how things appear now, the ultimate fate of those who do not follow Jesus is...destruction; their god is their stomach - they are ruled by their appetites, their glory is in their shame - their value system is messed up, Their mind is on earthly things- their priorities are wrong.

But, Paul says, one who believes in and follows Jesus is a citizen of heaven...and we are not headed for destruction, but for transformation.

That, Paul says, once again referencing his example, is how we stand firm in Christ.

2) Live in agreement (4:2 - 3)
Apparently in Epaphroditus' news about Philippi, he mentioned there were a couple of ladies who were having trouble getting along. Paul is grieved over this; no doubt he even had these two women in mind as he dictated the first part of Chapter 2. But now he's specific, asking them by name to agree with each other. He even asks the rest of the body in Philippi to help them resolve their differences. No mention of taking sides, or determining who's right and who's wrong. Just - agree. Agree to disagree, if necessary, but don't cause division in the body.

3)Pursue Peace (4:4 - 7)
Now Paul gives the recipe, if you will, for living guarded by God's peace. First, he says, rejoice! Always rejoice! But for the full impact of the next phrase, I'm pulling out the Amplified, since the KJV and the NIV use different words: Let all men know and perceive your unselfishness - your considerateness, your forbearing spirit.. The Amplified shows a clear connection to Paul's earlier exhortations in chapter 2. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves (2:3).
Next, a reminder that God is near, so we can easily reach Him. Therefore, we shouldn't worry about anything, but, via prayer and with thanksgiving, tell Him what we need.

And, when we do those things, we will have the peace of God in our lives, guarding our hearts and minds.

If I ask myself, 'From what does my heart and mind need to be guarded?' I can come up with two categories of threats: those from the outside, and those from the inside. Outside threats would be attacks and enticements (temptations) from the enemy; inside threats would be my own selfish desires and personal ambitions. But if God's peace is operating in my life, I am protected in all those areas.

Things to think about: In what areas of my life am I pursuing my own agenda or own appetites? What needs am I clinging to myself, looking for answers in my own strength, instead of turning them completely over to God and trusting Him to do what is really best for me?

The Study so far:
Feb. 5 Intro
Feb. 12 Lesson 1 Phil. 1:1 - 11 Affectionate Greetings
Feb. 19 Lesson 2 Phil. 1:12 - 29 Testimony in a Time of Suffering
Feb. 26 Lesson 3 Phil. 2:1 - 16 Exhortation to Humility
March 5 Lesson 4 Phil. 2:17 - 30 Commendations of Coworkers
March 12 Lesson 5 Phil. 3: 1 - 16 Warnings Regarding Legalism
March 19 20 Lesson 6 Phil. 3:17 - 4:7 Instruction on Living as Citizens of Heaven
March 26 Lesson 7 Phil. 4:8 - 23 Gratitude for Concerned Support

Friday, March 19, 2010

Not a minute to write...

I had way too much on my 'to do' list today...I didn't even get to get out and enjoy the lovely weather, let alone write my blog post.

I've been working on it a bit, but it's not done and my eyes are closing of their own accord.

So I'm gonna be a wimp and post tomorrow.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Random Dozen: St. Patrick's Day Edition

This weekly memeing is kind of addictive...

1. On a scale of 1-10, how superstitious are you, honestly?
Honestly? Probably about a 3, which annoys me greatly, since I really and truly know there's nothing to it. But we're well indoctrinated...and it sneaks in around the corners of my logical thinking.

2. Julius Caesar is quoted as saying, "I came, I saw, I conquered." Which circumstance or experience of yours does this saying best describe?
Probably sewing costumes for various stage productions. I get very focused and, after it's done, wonder how I managed to do it. God's grace, y'all, is the only explanation.

3. If I peeked in on your day like a mischievous little leprechaun, at what time would I most likely find you blogging?
When I should be doing something else. Sleeping, laundry, name it. I should be doing something else. At the moment, it's sleeping...

4. Re springing forward for Daylight Saving Time, is there anything you've ever been really early or really late for?
Well, I was at least 2 weeks ahead of my due date for three out of four kids...and the other one was 9 days early. With the first one, I was *sure* I'd be 2 weeks overdue...we'd just started painting the nursery, the crib was still in the box, and I had nothing packed. Didn't even get to finish the childbirth classes.

5. What are you most looking forward to concerning Spring?
Opening the windows and turning off the heat! Bye-bye $$$$ utility bill!

6. Shamrocks are the national flower of Ireland and are picked on St. Patrick's Day and worn on the lapel or shoulder. Do you wear green on St. Patty's Day?
Yup. My great-great-grandmother was a Ryan, so that'd make me 1/16 Irish...right?

7. One of Caesar's assassins, Casca, said, "But, for my own part, it was Greek to me," which of course means he didn't understand something. Probably his own lines in the play. Anyway, what is something that is "Greek to you," something incomprehensible or indecipherable?
Classical philosophy.

8. Is March behaving more like a lion or a lamb where you live?
Hm. Right now, March is behaving like a teenager who doesn't get her way and gives everyone in the family the cold shoulder.

9. "An extra yawn one morning in the springtime, an extra snooze one night in the autumn is all that we ask in return for dazzling gifts. We borrow an hour one night in April; we pay it back with golden interest five months later." -Winston Churchill. If you had one extra hour per day every day, what would you do with it?
Honestly? Sleep.

10. Legend says that every Leprechaun has a pot of gold hidden deep in the Irish countryside. Aside from real gold or money, what material item would be in your dream pot of gold?
A piece of beautiful artwork...the kind that speaks every time the eye falls on it. Which piece? Now, that would depend on a lot of factors....

11. "The best things are nearest: breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of God just before you." Robert Louis Stevenson. Look around you right now and tell us about something essential or beautiful very near you that you take for granted every day.
Probably the very house I live in. No, it's not fancy, it's not as clean as it should be, and it's not decorated well. But it's proof against the weather, it's only got 6 people living in it, it has indoor plumbing and hot water and lights that come one with the flip of a switch...what percentage of the world's inhabitants have a dwelling as fabulous as this? We are amazingly blessed...

12. Just for a bit o' fun, click here ( and then report your Irish name. Mine is "Zoe O'Sullivan." I love it!
I put in several combinations of first, middle, maiden and last names and got different ones each I put in the first one again and got yet another. Then I lost the paper I wrote them on and did it again and got yet another name. So I don't think the algorithm has as much to do with anything particular to me as it does to what number individual I am to ask it. But the last name I got is also the one I liked the best anyway: Zaira O'Reilly.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Blogging Bible Study: Philippians Lesson 5

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Phil. 3: 1 - 16 Warnings Regarding Legalism

It's hard for us to remember now, but for the first hundred years or so Christianity was considered to be sect of Judaism. The word 'Christian' was actually a derogatory term...kinda the rough equivalent of 'Jesus Freak' today. One of the earliest controversies in the church was over whether or not Gentiles who wanted to follow Jesus should become Jews first. The church leaders met in Jerusalem to discuss the issue, and, after testimonies from Paul and Peter about how the Spirit moved among the Gentiles, the consensus was to '...not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.' (Acts 15:19)

However, there were number of folks in those early years who were convinced that the Gentiles had to be circumcised and follow the Law before they could truly become followers of Christ. These folks would follow behind Paul and teach in the cities he'd just left, trying to convince the newly believing Gentiles that they had to follow the Law. Paul's harshest words are always for these folks, and, here in the passage we're studying today, he warns his friends in Philippi to be on the lookout for anyone who teaches that circumcision is a requirement for salvation.

His argument against that teaching basically comes from his own testimony.
1) What Paul Had (3:1 - 6)
Back in the day, Paul had as much reason as (actually, more than) anyone else to think that his own works had given him some sort of standing in front of God. Look at his earthly credentials: circumcised on his eighth day, he was a member of the tribe of Benjamin...the only tribe that stayed with Judah when the country split. He was a Pharisee in doctrine, even going so far as to persecute followers of Christ in his zeal for the law. Very few could compare themselves favorably to Paul's standard.

2) What Paul Decided (3:7 - 14)

But...all of that he considers worthless now. The righteousness that he has doesn't come from strict adherence to the Law, but through Christ. His objective in living now is just to do what Jesus wants him to do...and he doesn't even think he's doing that completely. In fact, he's forgotten all his former achievements and just keeps pushing himself farther into his commitment to and his relationship with Jesus.

The implication is, of course, that if Paul, who had every reason to put hope in his obedience to the Law, considered himself in need of the grace of God, thre would be no value in the Gentiles trying to pursue righteousness through following the Law.

3) What Paul Expects (3::15 - 16)
Paul plainly says that a mature believer will see that pursuing God by strict obedience to a set of rules is pointless, but he realizes that not everyone will agree with him, so he says something amazing:
"And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you."

How much contention in the body of Christ would be nonexistent if we lived by that statement? If we really trusted God to straighten out our differences, instead of us trying to browbeat folks into agreement? Granted, there are some things that are foundational to the faith, that we really can't compromise on, but there are a lot of particulars that aren't so clear cut. Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would guide us into all truth (John 16:13); there is a point at which we must agree to disagree over minor things (even what those minor things are, perhaps?) and trust that the Holy Spirit will straighten things out.

Keep in mind, this might mean changing the person who doesn't agree with me...or it might mean the Holy Spirit reveals something to me and changes me. But either way, He'll straighten it out.

Live up to what we've already attained, he says (v. 16),in effect restating his thought from 1:27 - live a life worthy of the Gospel.

Things to consider: In what areas am I trying to earn God's approval by following rules? How have I substituted rules for relationship? What areas of conflict do I need to turn over to God to correct the mistakes...and am I willing to let Him correct me? Could *my* position be in error?

The Study so far:
Feb. 5 Intro
Feb. 12 Lesson 1 Phil. 1:1 - 11 Affectionate Greetings
Feb. 19 Lesson 2 Phil. 1:12 - 29 Testimony in a Time of Suffering
Feb. 26 Lesson 3 Phil. 2:1 - 16 Exhortation to Humility
March 5 Lesson 4 Phil. 2:17 - 30 Commendations of Coworkers
March 12 Lesson 5 Phil. 3: 1 - 16 Warnings Regarding Legalism
March 19 Lesson 6 Phil. 3:17 - 4:7 Instruction on Living as Citizens of Heaven
March 26 Lesson 7 Phil. 4:8 - 23 Gratitude for Concerned Support

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Random Dozen 'Plink and Link;'

(Thank you, Linda, for the widget so I could put the cool picture here! ;))

It was kinda nice to have a 'just add answers' blog post a couple of weeks ago, so I thought I'd play again. Thanks to Linda at 2nd Cup of Coffee for expending the effort to come up with twelve random questions week after week. Here's this week's edition, which she has called 'Plink and Link':

1. How old is the oldest pair of shoes in your closet?
Um, I think the oldest pair is something like 26 1/2 years old. Wooden-soled clogs that I purchased in Canada when we were there for My Sweet Baboo's brother's wedding in 1983. I still wear 'em every once in a while. If it weren't so late, I'd take a picture, crop it and shrink it and upload it so you could see 'em. But it's just been Too Long of a Day. Oh, ignore the time stamp at the bottom; I copied the list and saved it as a draft this morning before I began to answer. You'll just have to trust me when I say it's 10:30 PM

2. Did you buy Girl Scout cookies this year? If so, what variety?
I'm currently not eating sweets, but I bought one box from a troop selling 'em outside of Sir's Fabrics in Fayetteville, TN. Just couldn't walk by those kids sitting was a chilly day...and do nothing. They were Thin Mints, 'cause that's the family favorite. I didn't eat any.

3. Do you know how to ballroom dance? If not, would you like to?
Nope. I believe My Sweet Baboo would rather have dental work done than attempt dancing, so I doubt we ever venture into it. But I hear it's great fun, and if he were at all interested, I'd love to try it.

4. Were you a responsible child/teenager?
Hmmm...sort of? I really haven't changed...I have areas in which I'm VERY responsible, and other areas that, um, could use some improvement.

5. How many of this year's Oscar-nominated movies did you see?
Was 'Star Trek' nominated for anything? Or 'Christmas Carol'? 'Cause those are the only two movies I saw this year...

6. If you're going to have a medical procedure done, such as having blood drawn, is it easier for you to watch someone else having the procedure done or have it done yourself?
I don't watch. Period. Once when I was having blood drawn, I happened to glance at the blood spurting into that little vial and nearly keeled over. There's a reason I'm not in the medical profession.

7. What is your favorite day of the week and why?
Probably Friday evening into Saturday...I feel like I can catch my breath after trying hard to stay on top of things all week.

8. Do you miss anyone right now?
My Sweet Baboo is out of town doing a couple of interesting personal-growth/enjoyment classes. I'm glad he's having fun doing cool guy stuff, but I miss him.

9. Do hospitals make you queasy?
Not exactly queasy...but very uncomfortable and ill at ease. Possibly exacerbated by the fact that every hospital I've ever been in was a confusing maze of convoluted hallways and I HATE feeling like I don't know where I'm going.

10. At which store would you like to max-out your credit card. Not that you ever would, you responsible person, you.
Mood Fabrics? :) No, if I were being responsible, it would probably be a furniture store; we are in sore need of some updated items. Especially a bed that we can elevate slightly at the head so as to lessen the aggravation to old-people digestive issues like acid reflux. Waterbeds are hard to elevate. But who thinks about stuff like that in their 20's?

11. Are you true to the brand names of products/items?
On some things. But only if I've really found a difference between brands.

12. Which is more difficult: looking into someone’s eyes when you are telling someone how you feel, or looking into someone’s eyes when he/she is telling you how he/she feels?
Probably looking into someone's eyes while I tell how I feel. No, definitely looking into someone's eyes while I tell them how I feel. It's hard to add to the risk.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Blogging Bible Study: Philippians Lesson 4

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Philippians 2:17 - 30 Commendations of Coworkers.

After the powerful teaching in the first part of the chapter, Paul takes a bit of an interlude to make some personal observations and discuss his plans. Sort of a breather before he jumps into heavy stuff again in the next chapter.

But this passage is precious, because it shows Paul's relationships...and the examples the young men who were with him were setting for those who paid attention.

Actually, I goofed in the syllabus; the first two verses of today's passage fit more logically with last week's discussion...but I didn't catch that as I skimmed through to divide things up. So I'll mention it and then move on to the topic of the day...faithfulness.

I should've noticed that verse 17 starts with the word 'But', which means it needs to be connected to the previous thought so the contrast could be seen. But I missed it. Anyway.

In the previous verses, Paul had just exhorted the Philippians to maintain a shining testimony, so that he could show that his labor was not for nothing. BUT, he adds in verse 17, even if his life is winding to its end (my take on 'being poured out like a drink offering), he's rejoicing, because of the sacrifice and service the Philippians are exhibiting to him; so he expects them to be glad and rejoice with him...whatever happens (1:27).

Now, on to verses 19 - 29.

Paul's first subject is Timothy. Timothy has been with Paul in Rome for a while now, writing the letters that Paul dictates, running errands...just making Paul's life as a prisoner in Rome more tolerable.

But Paul is anxious for news from his friends in Philippi, so he is planning to send Timothy to them 'as soon as I see how things go with me.' (v.23)

Timothy, Paul says, is unique in his genuine interest in the Philippians. The Philippians know Timothy, and know how he has served Paul as a son would serve his father. Since sending Timothy is the next best thing to Paul going to Philippi himself,Paul is going to watch for a chance to send Timothy over, even though he does hope to go himself in the near future. Timothy has proven himself, not only to Paul, but to the church at Philippi. Timothy is such a trusted, faithful envoy that such a trip would not only bless Paul, when he brings back news, but it would also bless the Philippians, as being a symbol of Paul's concern for them and interest in them.

The second young man, Epaprhoditus, is to be sent back immediately (likely carrying the epistle back with him). Epaprhoditus had apparently just recovered from a serious illness -- in Paul's words, he nearly died -- and, even though he's better, word has reached them that the Philippians had heard of his illness and were quite concerned.

No Skyping in those days...the only way the folks at Philippi could truly be assured as to Epaphroditus's health would be for him to go to them himself. Now that he'd recovered, Epaphroditus had evidently been assisting Timothy in caring for Paul's needs (v. 25), helping Paul on behalf of the Philippians (v. 30). But he'd been sick, he missed his people, and they were worried about him. So Paul is sending him home...and taking the opportunity to send a letter with him.

On first glance, this seems to be just some personal chit-chat in the middle of the letter. We've heard the names, but we don't really *know* the people's not written to *us* why don't we just skim over it and get to the teaching in chapter three?

Because these men have something to teach us. They were both faithful to their assignments...even in times of personal difficulty. Paul's lament in verse 21 that 'everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ' did not apply to Timothy and Epaphroditus. These fellows not only served, they served well. They made personal sacrifices. They had no personal ambition.

And Paul thought very highly of both of them. God used both of them; Timothy went on to pastor churches.

And they began by being servants who did not consider their own interests.

Definitely a lesson for me.

A Note: I don't know if you've been following it or not, but Lysa TerKereust has been doing a little discussion of Philippians on the Proverbs 31 ministries blog (linked on the sidebar) this past week. Check it out if you haven't.

The Study so far:
Feb. 5 Intro
Feb. 12 Lesson 1 Phil. 1:1 - 11 Affectionate Greetings
Feb. 19 Lesson 2 Phil. 1:12 - 29 Testimony in a Time of Suffering
Feb. 26 Lesson 3 Phil. 2:1 - 16 Exhortation to Humility
March 5 Lesson 4 Phil. 2:17 - 30 Commendations of Coworkers
March 12 Lesson 5 Phil. 3: 1 - 16 Warnings Regarding Legalism
March 19 Lesson 6 Phil. 3:17 - 4:7 Instruction on Living as Citizens of Heaven
March 26 Lesson 7 Phil. 4:8 - 23 Gratitude for Concerned Support

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Cleaning House?

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

I wrote this post ages ago, intending to start a series/discussion about dreams and their significance, then never posted another thing about it.

Maybe it was just a little closer to the nerve than I realized.

But I thought I'd take up that gauntlet again; part of the 'dare to be transparent' thing I'm working on. So I'll talk about a recent dream.

As in, day-before-yesterday. As in, I'm still chewing on it...

Now, truth be told here (and I've really not made any secret of it), house keeping is not my long suit. And, since I've started working, it's gotten even worse (realized just before lunch that today was my one-year anniversary of being an employee...). Anyway. The house is a wreck.

Well, in this dream, it was even worse than it is in real life. And I and my Sweet Baboo were looking at it and at each other, wondering how it had gotten so bad and how on earth we were going to get it back to presentable, when he looked out the window and saw a van from our church pull into the drive.

And a number of our pastors got out and headed into the house through the garage. Yet, on some level, I was almost glad that they saw me at the worst. I didn't feel like I had anything to hide anymore.

And they weren't at all judgmental. In fact, one of them got a bucket and a brush and knelt down and began scrubbing my kitchen floor. I was mortified, but she looked at me and said something to the effect of 'When you need help, you need help.'

The humiliation I felt turned into simply being overwhelmingly humbled.

Today, in staff prayer, our Pastor made a statement in which he said something to the effect of, 'We are not capable of cleaning up our own lives.' (wish I'd written it down!)

And I thought of my dream...the mess that I was incapable of dealing with, and how I had to humble myself to allow someone else to clean it.

Before Pastor called us together for corporate prayer, I had been writing in my journal about my frustration with dealing with my own character flaws. And I saw the connection; I can't fix my character flaws by an act of will; I have to yield them to God to reshape...cleanse...renew. And I not only have to be patient while He does it in His fashion, I have to believe that He is working on it even if I don't see any evidence of it.

I just have to continue to pursue Him.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Good for Blustery Weather

I posted this on Facebook and just decided on a whim to put it here, too.

This is Mexican Chicken Soup OR Chicken Tortilla Soup Or Chicken Fajita Soup...we kind of use all three names interchangeably. I got the recipe in the Fall of 2000 from my BSF Teaching Leader, who got it from one of the ladies in the group, who modified a recipe from a magazine. So I don't know what it was originally called....anyway, here 'tis:

Cook approx. 1.5 lbs chicken (whatever parts are on sale! ;) in water…I usually throw in a slice or two of a tired onion, a stalk or two of droopy celery and a bay leaf, just to flavor the broth a bit and clean out the fridge at the same time.

While the chicken is cooking, chop as finely as you can:

½ bunch cilantro (make sure it’s real cilantro; there’s some parsely stuff that masquerades as cilantro at our Publix…it ain’t the same!)

½ bulb garlic (about 6 – 8 cloves. Yeah, really)

If you’re brave…we’re not… 1 seeded jalapeƱo pepper.

After the chicken is cooked, de-bone and de-skin (if necessary) and shred the meat. Strain and defat the broth and return it to the pan and reduce it down to about two cups.

Mix the chicken meat w/ 1 Tbsp olive oil and 1 packet (we’re wimps at our house; I use about ½ packet) of fajita seasoning mix. Add chicken mixture and the minced seasonings to the reduced broth.

Drain and rinse two cans of black beans; add beans to chicken mixture.

Drain 2 cans of Ro*Tel Tomatoes and add (I use mild…)

Finally, add 1 can of creamed corn.

Simmer about ½ hour.

Just before serving, remove soup from heat and stir in 4 oz. (1 cup) shredded Monterey Jack cheese and 3 cups of Half-n-half; stir until cheese melts.

To serve:

Crush white corn tortilla chips in a bowl. Spoon soup over. Top w/ sour cream, shredded cheese, chopped green onions, a splash of lime juice…whatever you like.

This makes a big batch of soup that usually feeds our family a couple of times!