Friday, November 25, 2011

Faithrul Friday Faves - 2 Timothy

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi 

I waffled back and forth between a couple of different verses, but I ultimately picked the one that was the most personally encouraging, as well as one of the most familiar verses from 2 Timothy.

However, I decided to put it together with the preceding verse, not only for context, but because it puts a slightly different slant on it:

For this reason I remind you  to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.  For God did not give us a spirit of  timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline - 2 Tim. 1: 6-7

We often see verse 7 quoted by itself as an encouragement that we should be brave, but verse 6 provides the purpose for such bravery: fanning into flame the gift of God that has been deposited in us.

I'm not going into what the 'gift of God' could mean at this point...what I'm going to focus on is 'fan into flame'...i.e., we have personal responsibility to grow and mature and implement what God has given us.

And that takes some pushing past things.  I like the NIV translation 'timidity'...other versions use 'fear', which is sort of the same thing; the difference, to me, is one of degree. Timidity is not a huge paralyzing fear.  It's a little fear, a hanging-back sort of fear, a let-someone-else-go-first sort of fear.

It is precisely the fear I find myself battling the most.

Lack of confidence, I really hearing God here?

If I fan my gifting into flame...feed it, encourage it, through exercising the self-discipline with love always as my motive (not self-promotion! That Greek word is agape!), I will have power to break through that cowardice and put that gift to work for the kingdom.

(side note: I'll be chaperoning a school trip next Friday, so FFF will pick up in two weeks :-D )

Friday, November 18, 2011

Faithful Friday Faves - 1 Timothy

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi 

Today's pick is actually one of the memory verses that my Friends Club girls learn in the course of their three years:

Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love , in faith and in purity - 1 Tim. 4:12, NIV

As I read that this morning, it occurred to me that the word "young" could be replaced by about any adjective pertaining to people groups and the verse would still hold true.  Timothy WAS young for the leadership roles that he had; but he had had Paul for a mentor and was well able to carry that responsibility.

He could not allow himself to be cowed or intimidated by the folks who wanted to discount his authority simply because he was young.

But...look at how he was to handle the situation.  Paul didn't tell him to argue against the prejudices of others, or to take the situation before any type of judge to try and censor that wrong thinking, or to marginalize and belittle those who didn't respect him.  No, Paul told him to set a godly example in all areas of his life regardless of what others thought/said/did.

All of us have things in our past that would, to some,  be disqualifiers for working in the kingdom.  Some of the things may be unavoidable; some may be temporary (Timothy wouldn't be young forever); some may be the result of bad choices or lack of opportunity.

But Paul's instruction is the same regardless of any of that:  Don't let anyone put you down because you [are/have/were/ _______]. Teach believers with your life:  by word, by demeanor, by love, by faith, by integrity.  (The Message)

It's not about being personally validated; it's about modeling the kingdom.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Faithful Friday Faves: 2 Thessalonians

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi  

Suffering.  End times.  Deception. Apostasy.  Judgment.  Retribution.


A rather prickly book.

And amid all the warnings to and about those who choose disobedience, we see an injunction to folks who are getting tired of fighting the battles.

But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good. - 2 Thess. 3:13 NKJV

There really isn' t any particular promise or reward associated with that instruction; just an acknowledgement that it is a struggle to maintain a believer's perspective and continuity in word and deed.

But sometimes that acknowledgement, "Don't give're doing good," is enough to keep going. 

I know I needed to hear that today.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Holiday Greetings War

I've started getting the annual emails from folks who are upset about the use of the term 'Happy Holidays' in the latter part of the year.

Normally, I just keep my mouth shut about such things but I really want to point something out about the hubbub that's been repeating itself for about 6 years now.

When I was a kid, back in the dark ages before cable TV, let alone the Internet, 'Happy Holidays' was a common wish and I don' t remember anyone raising a fuss about it.  With Christmas and New Year's Day just a week apart, 'Happy Holidays' covered both of them.

And that was when everyone we knew in our little midwest farm community celebrated Christmas.  We were a pretty homogenous bunch.

But society has diversified, and there are people of other religions who do not celebrate Christmas filtering through more and more of our population.  I've even met a few Christians who do not celebrate Christmas (the Pilgrims actually outlawed the observation of Christmas).  While I am heartily inclined to wish any and all a blessed and merry Christmas, it doesn't seem to be wise or courteous to offer such greetings to someone to whom December 25 is just another day.

And, yes, I am well aware that Jesus very likely was not born on December 25.  I understand that early church leaders kind of set that date to assist pagans in leaving their old practices by substituting Christian-related activities for the old ones, and over time many of the old  pagan practices have taken on Christian meanings and been incorporated into the Christmas tradition.  The Christian folks who object to the celebration of Christmas based on those facts do have a point.  I myself sometimes have trouble with the 'Jesus is the Reason for the Season' thinking. Yes, He is the reason I celebrate the season, but folks were celebrating that season in different ways for a long time before Christ was associated with it.  Personally, I don't care so much what date he was born; the fact that he WAS born...that he came for the purpose of redemption and reconciliation, knowing the cost, is enough for me to celebrate and worship.

So, given all of that, how should Christians deal with the increasing secularization of Christmas and the attempts by the retail industry to include (and gain profit from) diverse religious groups who are celebrating holidays other than Christmas during that time of the year?

May I ever so gently suggest that sign-waving, boycotts, and indignant emails may not be the best means of conveying the hope and message of Christmas to folks who Just Don't Get It? 

Because, what is really important in the observation of Christmas anyway?  As the Grinch learned, it isn't the trappings and trees and lights, it's that Christ came to us.  How we treat each other is a greater reflection of that message than how loudly we may declare to the world around us that they should get their secular hands off our religious holiday.

Jesus didn't come so we could have Our Own Religion; he came so that anyone could come to him and find freedom and deliverance and healing and joy.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Faithful Friday Faves - 1 Thessalonians

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Can I be honest?  I'm not entirely comfortable with the passage that stood out to me today as I skimmed 1 Thessalonians; it has such potential to come across so harsh.  I wanted to wimp out and go with something a little safer, but I can't seem to get away with that today, so, well, here goes:

For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.  Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit. - 1 Thess. 4:7 - 8

I mentioned last year  that I read Corrie ten Boom's Tramp for the Lord and was so impressed with the story of her ministry.  One of the things that has stuck with me from the book is that whenever she encountered someone who wanted to argue with her about her stand on moral issues, she'd simply reply that the individual wasn't disagreeing with her, but with God.

The plain truth is that God has given us some pretty clear standards on behavior.  If I point out what God says (and I'm talking about things that are stated to bring judgement and/or to be inappropriate for God's people clearly and plainly in the Bible for all to see), I am not being judgmental.  Judgment is what happens when you look at someone's behavior and make assumptions about their motives and/or intentions. Just repeating God's word about a particular moral issue is not passing judgment. If God says something is wrong, it is wrong.  There's no point in getting angry at a human being for pointing that out.

Because, as 1 Thess. 4:8 shows us, and Corrie ten Boom pointed out, the disagreement isn't with's with God.  Scorning the messenger doesn't change the message, and marginalizing the message doesn't make it go away.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I'm just along for the ride...

This is one of those days that surprised me every time I turned around.

So of course it's a blog post, but you'll have to bear with me 'cause every one of those turns is like its own little story...except they all go together into one very cool picture of how God does things....

Backstory: this is Tech Week for the one-act competition.  The Flute Player, who currently is not playing her flute anywhere, is playing a villain in their entry.  Due to a change in faculty, and the who-knows-why delays in filling the post, there was no drama teacher in our city theater performance magnet for about the first 6 weeks of school.  The Technical Theater teacher selected a play and began casting it, so when the new teacher arrived he inherited a show that he didn't choose and didn't have a vision in place for, and no time to do anything else. So he went with it. Besides being new to the position, his wife had a baby a couple of weeks ago and he had a car wreck a week ago that cracked some ribs.  So I am cutting him much slack in that I didn't get any word on any costuming help needed until Friday last week...and that was only Rebekah's costume.  I got her jacket altered but didn't get the pants hemmed, then yesterday I got asked to also alter a pair of pants worn by the lead and a dress worn by the Femme Fatale character.  I took the pants, but asked him to see if he could please get someone else to do the was bias poly charmeuse (beastly fabric) and needed pretty extensive alterations and I just didn't feel like I had time to do it.  He said he'd try, but didn't sound hopeful.

So I fixed up both pairs of pants last night, and took them to work with me so that I could run them over to school about lunch time.  I decided that if no one had been able to do the dress I'd just have to take it home and make up my work hours later in the week, as there IS a performance on Thursday.  But I wasn't happy about that; it was really an intimidating project.

Now, on the way to work I pass by a building that is used by a non-Christian religious group as an educational/prayer center, and every time I drive by I shake my head and, to be honest, pray a prayer for those folks.  Today was no different in that respect, but today I happened to read (again) their invitation to 'come pray with us!' and suddenly heard in my spirit 'These people pray earnestly without knowing Me, but those called by My Name are a prayerless people".  Now, I know those folks pray from religious compulsion, but they do pray.  By comparison, most Christians DO have a much more casual attitude about prayer.  It convicted me and I pondered my own inconsistent prayer life as I drove to church for, of all things, weekly staff prayer.

I got my desk Bible and journal and headed to the sanctuary and found a seat, pondering the difference between last week, when I  went to staff prayer earnestly expecting to hear from God, and this morning, when I was all in a swivet about possibly having to rearrange my work week to fix a dress I wasn't sure I could fix.  I was really having trouble focusing...should I take the dress and do my best?  Or just stand my ground that I really couldn't give it the time it needed to be done right?  But what would they do for a costume for that character?  And so I waffled. 

But as I struggled with what I should do, one of the verses that I almost picked for the FFF verse from Colossians came to mind...and I took it as a direction and decided to look it up and record it. But when I flipped to Colossians, my eyes landed on 4:2 : Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

 That didn't seem coincidental to me; I wrote that verse down, then wrote down the verse I was looking for to begin with (3:17, if you're curious) just as our Senior Pastor called us together for corporate prayer.
And he began to pray, and suddenly was praying passionately that we would all get a burden and anointing for prayer and pray without ceasing.  He prayed in that vein for several minutes before moving on...and I was so impressed by the three reminders to that we are to pray that I stopped him in the hallway later than morning to share them.

I worked at my desk for an hour, then headed over to the school to take in the altered pants and find out if I had to sew the dress or not....and the answer was not!  Someone else took it!  I went back to work with a huge sense of relief...and found a discussion under way about some missing stage drapes.  Our pastors' daughter is getting married this week, and some of the drapes they were planning to use for stage decor are not in their place.  My sewing buddy Miss A  indicated that we might have to do some replacement sewing in a hurry.  Well, at least that would be something I knew I could do...but, the decision was to continue to look for the missing drapes...they were last seen in February and had to be around someplace.

I finished my workday and headed off to get The Flute Player from her bus.  While I was waiting in the parking lot for the bus to pull in, I got a phone call from our Senior Co-pastor (that would be our pastor's wife, who also serves as senior pastor...husband/wife teams at our church).  She said she had a big favor to ask of me and...I mentally began thinking how much fabric I would need to pick up at Hancock's and when I would get the panels serged....could I please teach her study class tonight?  Wedding preparations had become undelagateable and were multiplying rapidly.

That was NOT what I expected to hear.  I didn't know I was on the substitute teacher list.  I'd lost track of which chapters of our current book (The Cry God Hears, by Barbara Yoder) we'd covered in class, since were were only loosley following the  topics.  We decided I should cover chapters 7 and 8, more or less, then let the ladies break up into discussion groups. 

The Flute Player got off the bus and we headed home...we had 45 minutes before we had to leave the house to get her to school in time to get into costume and for me to head on to church.

And she wanted me to help her with her gangsterish accent (think of the head weasel in 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit') in the time we had available. I picked up my book to remind myself of the topics in chapter 7 and 8 (and thanked God for prompting me to read ahead earlier in the week), and found that chapter 7 talked about positioning oneself for kingdom use and chapter 8 was about...travailing in prayer. 

Wow.  So prayer was to be tonight's emphasis.  I scribbled some really rough notes, then talked like a New York gangster for all the way to school to get her used to it, scooted over to church and picked up the sign in sheet, then headed down to our meeting room.

And spent the next hour and a half pretty much only touching my notes now and again.  That was the largest group of adults I'd ever stood before to teach.  And I only sorta know what I said.  I just pray that God anointed their ears so that they heard what He intended, even if it wasn't exactly what I said.

I did, however, end with a challenge to set aside some time to pray.  Which I OBVIOUSLY need to make sure I do...I've been told often enough today...