Exemplify Magazine June 2010
HOW SETTING PRIORITIES CAN MAKE US HUMBLE
LEARNING TO WALK IN TRUE HUMILITY
SPOTLIGHT ON THE AUTHORS OF RAISING AMODERN DAY PRINCESS
FREE& LOST COST DATE NIGHT IDEAS New Column for Writers Inside!
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Welcome to Exemplify Magazine.
This issue is packed with content on becoming women who are humble before our God and who embrace the call to serve others. We have a new writer’s column for you written by author Christa Allan, offer more downloads within this issue than ever before and are featuring the writing of three amazing women.
This month let’s embrace Colossians 3:12 and clothe ourselves in humility. May you pursue our God harder than ever this month. And may His love & mercy be yours in abundance. In King Jesus,
“Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life. I’m back home in the house of God for the rest of my life.” Psalm 23:6, The Message 3 © exemplify magazine
Meet the Magazine Team Kristen Schiffman Founder & Ministry Director A New Yorker living in Texas, Kristen is just trying to make sense of sweet tea and A/C units. Together with her best friend & husband, Eric, she enjoys sketching out new ideas over Starbuck’s. Kristen’s passion is equipping those in leadership to serve with excellence, encouraging women to get to know God through His Word and challenging women to live out their Godgiven purpose. Andrea Mitchell Editor-in-Chief/Director of Web Content/Family Columnist Andrea Mitchell is a coffee drinking, Jesus-loving wife and stay-at-home mom of three in constant search of just the right mug for her brew. You can find her at her blog, UnderGraceOverCoffee.com where she shares the love she has found in Jesus, along with the caffeine-laden randomness that makes up the majority of her day. Grab your cup and come on over!
Christy McGraw Director of Social Networking/Single Channel Editor/Columnist Christy is on a journey to becoming a woman after God’s own heart. She delights in books, photography, her family and her friends. Christy has a heart for young women and single women. She also loves emails! email@example.com
Christine Johnston Director of Communications/Titus 2 Columnist Christine is a self professed “knitster” who loves watching a scarf come to life. She is the mother of four children, three of whom are full grown and one still making her way through high school. She is married to her high school sweetheart and loves going on lunch dates with him during the week. Christine’s steady and sure faith in Christ, her value of justice and her compassion for that which Christ has compassion on daily shape her Titus 2 calling.
Tara Guy Director of Ministry Support/ Fiction & Apologetics Column/ Web Editor Tara Guy is a born-and-bred Southern girl who loves sweet tea, Jesus, and football - and not necessarily in that order. Visit her at Musings of a Future Pastor’s Wife, where she blogs about her day-to-day life as the wife of a seminary student/youth pastor and mom to a precious toddler girl, and the daily truths the Lord teaches her.
Joanne Sher Magazine Editor Joanne Sher is a mother of two, wife of one, and, most importantly, daughter of the King. She was raised in the Jewish faith, coming to a saving knowledge of Jesus in her early 30’s. Her passion is for writing and encouraging, and editing actually helps her relax. She is in various stages of progress on two novel-length manuscripts: one about God’s provision during her husband’s serious health issues, and another Biblical fiction set during the time of 1 and 2 Samuel. She also loves to share her insights at her blog, www.joannesher.com, where she shares the “Open Book” of her life following Christ. Karen Lowe Feature Editor A native of Kentucky, Karen is a country girl at heart. She currently resides in northwestern Illinois where she divides her time between being a wife, homemaker, homeschooler, mother, writer, and Bible study teacher. She loves a good cup of coffee and very rarely turns down chocolate. Karen has a passion to write Bible studies and teach women God’s Word. She began Truth and Grace Ministries to encourage women to grow in God’s truth and grace. You can find her writing at her blog, Living Life, where she shares God’s Word, devotionals, and various other posts about life as she strives to live in God’s truth and grace.
Judith Roberts Interview Columnist Judith Roberts has been married to her college sweetheart for four years, and both she and her husband are active in their church. She is a college instructor pursuing her doctorate and hopes to mirror Jesus in her everyday life.
Kara Cox Devotional Columnist Kara is a single, thirtysomething follower of Christ who loves to laugh and makes others laugh in the process. She is devoted to all things Autumn and thinks that pumpkins, fallen leaves and fall TV premieres are a highlight of life. She would also like you to know she is the most extroverted introvert you will ever meet.
Wendy Miller How-To Columnist Wendy Miller is a butcher (of words as she edits her novels), a baker (of birthday cakes and treats for her beloved family members and friends), and a candlestick maker (not quite, but she enjoys crafts of all kinds). She appreciates the outdoors, writing and laughing with loved ones. Wendy’s mission statement is to a live a passionate life filled with compassion, grateful to be called daughter of the Most High God. Visit Wendy at http:// thoughtsthatmove.blogspot.com/ or http://wendypainemiller.wordpress.com/.
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Christa Allan Writer’s Help Columnist Christa Allan lives in Abita Springs, Louisiana and teaches high school English. Walking on Broken Glass, Christa’s debut novel, released in February by Abingdon Press. She’s written for Chicken Soup for the Coffee Lover’s Soul, Chicken Soup for the Divorced Soul, The Ultimate Teacher, and Cup of Comfort for Parents of Children with Special Needs. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Christa is also a contributor to Afictionado, their online magazine. She is the mother of five and the proud Grammy of three. Christa and her husband Ken spend time with their three neurotic cats, play golf, and dodge hurricanes. She blogs at www.christaallan.com.
Alison Hunt Columnist Alison is a twenty-something single woman living in the now and hoping for the future. Based in North Florida, she an administrative assistant by day, and dreamer by night (literally). She can also be found reading under trees, Zumba-ing, spending time with family, and catching up with friends over coffee. Visit her blog at http://alisonlhunt.blogspot.com.
Brooke McGlothlin Columnist Lover of God and the man I’ve dreamed of since the 3rd grade...mommy of two little boys born just 23 months apart...CEO of the McGlothlin Home for Boys (my house)...passionate about life issues and finding Jesus in the everyday. Director of Clinical Services for a local Crisis Pregnancy Center with a BS in Psychology and MA in Counseling.
Deborah Boutwell Book Reviews Married for 23 years, 2 children (21 & 15 years of age), working outside the home in a Christian publishing house, serving in a small Southern Baptist church in various keys roles, hobbies include reading, writing, needle & thread handwork.
Iris Nelson Photographer Born and raised in Germany, Iris now resides with her husband Mark and Chihuahua Corky, in Arizona. Their grown son Daniel works as a software consultant in Arizona, living close by. Although the move from Germany to the US was not easy, God’s hand was evident. In Arizona, God called Iris back into His flock. Iris enjoys encouraging women by sharing His Word through the devotional team-blog ‘Laced with Grace’ (www.lacedwithgrace.com), which she ‘birthed’ with a friend from California in 2006. Iris has always had a love for photography, but after her son Daniel moved out photography became more than just a hobby. Iris’ dreams are to self-publish a photography book with Bible passages; and becoming a full-time photographer—leaving corporate America behind. You can find more of Iris’ photography at www.inelsonportraits.com. 6 © exemplify magazine
Lori MacMath Moving Toward Holiness Columnist Having grown up in the church, Lori knows that her ‘true spiritual journey’ began with an experience with infertility and surrendering to the Lord, allowing HIM to break her and remake her. The smile she wears tells that she is so happy to be on the journey that she is on now. A journey that includes homeschooling 3 wonderful children! Lori is the co~owner of Internet Cafe Devotions, an online daily devotional site for women. Praising HIM every step of the way, she encourages you to enjoy the journey with her at her personal website, All You Have to Give, where she can be found daily, enjoying each and every season to its fullest! Holly Smith In The Kitchen Columnist My name is Holly Smith from Monument, CO. I am the wife of Chris and mother of Noah, Kylie, Tabor and Sydney. I am a stay at home mom, who very much loves her job as a mom. On the side, I design web pages and marketing pieces. It is a great way to pour out creativity! God has gifted me with a love of all things creative--from painting and wall-papering to scrapbooking and design-work. Also I write a couple of blogs, which you can read online if you want. One is a cooking blog called What Would Martha Cook? It’s about Martha in the Bible not the other Martha. The other is a devotional writing blog called Crown Laid Down. I began blogging in February 2007. Chrystie Cole Closet Issues Columnist Chrystie lives with her husband and stepson in the beautiful upstate of South Carolina. She is a woman who was once lost, broken, desperate and hopeless. Yet because of a gracious and loving God, she was given a brand new life. She has personally experienced the power of His transforming and redeeming love. As a result, she is passionate about sharing His love with others and ministering to broken and hurting people. Tracy Knowlton Women in the Word Columnist Tracy Knowlton is a Texan by birth, curious by nature and crazy about her husband of three years. She reads scripture and loves on her dogs, simultaneously. Tracy looks for Jesus in the ordinary, adds in scripture and waits to see what happens. Loving the Lord is her privilege and writing about Him on her blog, JesusWomanWords.com, is her joy. Consider yourself invited.
Jenifer Jernigan Faith Applied Columnist Jenifer makes her home in North Carolina with her husband of ten years, three children, and English black lab, Bella. On a typical day, if there is such a thing, you will find her sipping a cup of coffee, home schooling her children, and digging into the Word. A former pit-dweller who has been saved by God’s amazing grace, Jenifer has a burning passion to share with women of all ages His unconditional love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness.
This Month’s Marriage Article
Julie Arduini Julie Arduini is a writer and public speaker living in Ohio with her husband and two children. Her heart is to encourage women to surrender whatever is holding them back and choose oneness. She’s a graduate of the Christian Writers Guild and confesses to a love for espresso and Beth Moore Bible studies. To view her writing and speaking resume, please visit her at http://www.juliearduini.com.
Purposed Humilit y
Written by Lori MacMath
“For those who would learn God’s ways, humility is the first thing, humility is the second, humility is the third.” -Augustine of Hippo
If there ever was a man who needed to examine the role of pride in his life, it was Augustine. In his “Confession”, he is blunt, honest, and transparent on how he came to a place where humility was first, second, and third. Without humility there was no way around the pride that engulfed his flesh. Engulfed he was. His was not a confession to “exploit” his old ways but rather a true and honest exposure that led him to strip it all away and turn from what once was to a new life in Christ. That kind of commitment to living a humble life takes risk. It takes radical risk. Has it ever occurred to you that in order to understand humility Jesus’ way, a radical risk would be required? “Agree with each other, love each other, be deep spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, He set aside privileges of deity and took the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death – and the worst kind of death at that – crucifixion.” Philippians 2: 2-8 (The Message)
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Facing the idea of humility in our own lives is imperative if we are to be truly committed to moving toward holiness. But how? How in the world are we to move towards these “radical Christlike” ways? It begins with a transparent heart. A heart willing to come honestly to the Lord, willing to expose all that is selfish, prideful and vain. That is going to require commitment and much prayer. “You can have no greater sign of confirmed pride than when you think you are humble enough.” Law Unfortunately we live in a society that constantly reassures us that we are “humble enough,” if we “do the right things.” It’s confirmed humility that “the world” gives us but it doesn’t look like Jesus in the Philippians verses above. Simply put there is no movement toward holiness without humility. It’s a process that will require an emptying of an old self and a submission to a new way of thinking and living. An intentional submission. You’d better hold on. Joshua Graves, in “The Feast,” ( p. 118) eloquently states: “I’m so attracted to the Jesus way. In Jesus’ economy everyone had a place at the table. Everyone’s invited; we don’t get to check the guest list for approval. It’s not our party.” Philippians 2: 2 – 9 restated. Jesus did not claim any special privileges. Pride was not a part of Him or His way. Perfect submission. image credit: microsoft
Transparency scares us. Our lives are lived on a modern “Jericho Road.” Transparency is raw and honest, in a world that is much more comfortable hiding behind closed doors. Transparency can be ugly. The admission of selfish, prideful behaviors or thoughts must be revealed and brought to the Lord if we ever hope to live lives of purposed humility; lives truly reflecting Christ. Coming to a transparent admission to God is not easy. In my own personal journey, the Lord has shown me that while my actions demonstrated what seemed like humility, my THOUGHTS were often in direct contradiction. Nothing radical. Nothing real. Nothing Christlike. Told you this could get ugly. It got ugly for Augustine and it’s gotten ugly for me. True Christlikeness and freedom only come when we are willing to make our way through the “muck and mire” of our lives.
We are the travelers choosing to ignore what lies on the path. It’s not our party. It’s His. Humility is such a significant part of the Jesus way. There is simply no way around it.
Humility is a journey, much like the journey of the Good Samaritan.
However, the rewards of a life lived the Jesus way….are too many to count.
“A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On one hand we are called to play the Good Samaritan on the life’s roadside, but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho Road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. “ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Riverside Church, New York City, April 4, 1967.
It’s a radical risk. Humbling ourselves in a world full of pride and selfishness is radical. Humbling ourselves in a world full of “my ways” and “chest bumps” is extraordinarily radical. Jesus was radical, His ways risky and unconventional. It’s radical and risky, but it’s the Jesus way. Join me this month as we take time to move toward “purposed humility” and begin to live the Jesus way. It’s going to take work, but no one, certainly not I, ever said that moving toward holiness would be easy.
Won’t you join me by downloading the attached “Purposed Humility Journal?” Let’s move toward holiness by walking down the humble road of Christ. Your “Purposed Humility Journal” is waiting for you here.
Learning to Walk in True Humility Written by Kara Cox
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If you watch those reality TV talent competitions you probably fall into one of two categories. Either you prefer the selection process, where the horrible are weeded out from the phenomenal, or you wait until all the train wrecks have come through and watch the good stuff. My dad loves the train wrecks. The warblers who couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket, the odd balls who make Tiny Tim sound like Michael Buble’. I much prefer the final weeks of the show, when only the best remain, when the talent is the cream of the crop, and every performance brings tears (of joy, not torture!). My dad actually became a fan of American Idol this year thanks to such horrible singing (well, and maybe some of the good too). But me, I cringe at such embarrassing moments. I ache for the poor soul who truly thought they had a good singing voice only to have their dreams dashed by some cocky, mean British guy in a tight-fitting shirt. I wonder how in the world these people weren’t aware of their dismal lack of talent. If I ever get the notion to try out for one of those silly competitions, someone please knock me over the head and drag me back to reality, pronto! I remember hearing a Bible teacher once say that humility is having a correct estimation of oneself. It would be foolish of me to think I have the talent and ability to sing, and sing well, in front of a panel of judges and hear the infamous, “You’re going to Hollywood!”. Just the same, I do have some talent. To deny that would be in incorrect estimation of myself, and that would be false humility. I think too many times as Christians we tend to swing the pendulum over to false humility in order to avoid prideful, faulty thinking. When we do deny our talent or abilities we are in essence lying. It’s vital that we come to a place where we see ourselves the way God sees us. To tell and believe the truth of who we are as His beloved.
“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although he existed in the form of God did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:5-8 (NASB). Secondly, we must practice humility as a way of life. Over and over again in the scriptures we are commanded to humble ourselves. The sheer repetitiveness of such a command indicates that we should make it a continual practice. This keeps our heart in check. Instead of thinking we are better than we are, or less than we are, in humbling ourselves daily, we have the opportunity to daily submit to Him and daily take His example as our model. It’s hard to get off track and stay off track if we continually seek to be humble as Jesus was humble. I love the way the Message version of the Bible describes this daily walk in Colossians 3:12-13. “So chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the master forgave you.” In a sense, the practice of living a humble life should be as normal as putting on clothes every day. Humility should be like your favorite pair of blue jeans, the ones you would wear everyday. Only humility doesn’t need be laundered, so feel free to put it on 24/7!
Thirdly, we must be content with who we are, where So how do we get to the place of finding that correct estima- God places us, and what God gives us to do. “He cretion of ourselves? ates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to First of all, we must learn how to be humble. In Matthew do, work we had better be doing.” Ephesians 2:10 The 11:28-29 (NASB), Jesus invites us to do just that. “Come to Message. We’ve been created with a specific purpose, Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you given a specific skill set, and placed in a specific time rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am and place in order to join God in His work. That’s why gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your it’s so important wear humility, to have a correct estimasouls.” The best way to learn humility is to submit ourselves tion of yourself. The time and gifts we’ve been given are to Jesus, come to Him, and experience true gentleness and too valuable to the kingdom to be squandered by pridehumility. At its purest form, humility is submission, and we ful or shameful thinking. Is it not humbling to think we see in this passage that Jesus invites us into a submissive rest have been given a role in God’s work in this generation? where we can learn His ways of gentleness and humility. He It’s time to get to it! is our ultimate example. 11 © exemplify magazine
Putting Ourselves Aside: How Setting Priorities Can Make Us Humble Written by Andrea Mitchell
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Like I said, humility is a bit of a struggle.
I think one of the hardest things I have found in my adventures as a mom in the trenches is instilling in my kids an attitude of humility. Humility doesn’t come easily for the best of us – we naturally put ourselves first and others second. We tend to think in terms of what is best for our own personal selves when it comes to the things we do and the people we hang out with. We want to pursue the things and people that will grant us the most success, the most happiness. In my role as Mom, this translates into me not always being eager to put my kids first. I am jealous of my personal space, of my time, of my things. I love my children fiercely and would lay my life down for every single one of them if I needed to, but watch out if one of them starts touching my computer when I’m trying to get some work done! Is it any wonder, then, that each of them struggles to have an attitude of humility toward one another? As I was pondering this the other day, of why my beloved children seem to be able to model all my behavior I would rather they not notice quite perfectly, I began to feel like a bit of a failure as a parent. Okay, I began to feel like a gigantic failure as a parent! I just want a set of instructions that my organizer/planner/control-freak self can follow step-by-step to teach my children how to put one another first, and maybe even good ol’ Mom in the process.
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Well, I did find a set of instructions. Unfortunately, they weren’t directed so much at my kids as they were at me. “Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.” Philippians 2:4, MSG Ouch. The Andrea version might read “Don’t flip out at your kids because they want your attention while you’re on the computer.” Or something like that. This is why I love studying the Bible so much, though. Even though my toes hurt – an awful lot I might add – it doesn’t pull any punches. It makes no apologies – it just tells it like it is. To live a life of humility I need to “Put (my)self aside.” “(Love) is not self-seeking.” 1 Corinthians 13:5, NIV. The Message words it as love “isn’t always me first.” Recently I sat down to make a list of the things I do every day, and how they take priority. I had been feeling weary over many things, and when I analyzed what those things were and why, I discovered I had my priorities all out place. Things like my casual part-time job, computer time (and not good computer time spent working – I mean the time I spend online socializing on sites like Facebook), and my leisure activities were taking the place of importance I should be reserving for my marriage, my children, and my relationship with God. And I won’t even mention the detrimental effect they were having on my ability to keep my house in order.
How do your priorities line up? Poster child for the Proverbs 31 woman I am not! How do your priorities line up? Are you jealously guarding things of importance that don’t deserve that title? Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with working or Facebook or having time to relax after a long day. But when we start thinking in terms of me, me, me all the time, we have a problem on our hands. When I inventoried my priorities, I also thought about the atmosphere they created in my home. There are days my home is constantly filled with chaos, fighting, yelling. Guess where my priorities are on those days? At the advice of a friend, I thought about the things I wanted my house to be filled with on a constant basis. Things like love. Peace. Goodness. Kindness. Respect. Grace. Those last three really encompass what humility is about, don’t they? Next, I set about listing all the things in my life in order of importance. Because some things have the same level of importance as others (such as my marriage, my children, my ministry), I broke up my priorities into three levels, and then placed each activity or relationship in its appropriate place.
And since this is a task that requires a lot of caffeine, I have labeled my levels accordingly, with the most important (the biggest cup!) being on the left:
My Daily Cup Venti
Those things that require Those things that require Those things I love to consistent attention daily attention fill the rest of my day with
- - - GOD - - Marriage
Leisure activities/ hobbies
Relationships with others !"#$%&'()**#+#,-)./*%0123*%3)4'5.
Your priorities and how you place them are obviously going to differ from mine. Please note that God covers all of these priorities – I can’t separate Him from any one thing. I need to make Him a part of every single area of my life, even those of the least importance. I almost missed that. I tried to compartmentalize Him to one area of my life and then couldn’t understand why the other things were so difficult to put in their proper place. Knowing that He indeed covers every area of my life helps put each priority into proper perspective!
Monday, May 31, 2010
Once I decided where my priorities should be, I determined how much time I should be focusing on them. Some of them, like those listed under Venti (most important), require my attention on a consistent basis. They also require me setting myself aside and putting those people first. The rest of the things I occupy my time with don’t require as much attention. Yes, my friendships are important, but my children should come first (which means I should probably be chatting on the phone less!). Yes, my personal care is important, but it shouldn’t consume me to the point that I can’t focus on my relationship with God. When we set our priorities in their proper place, when we set aside ourselves and put God first and our families at a very close second, we start to live a life focused on others. A life overflowing with humility. And do you know what? When our children, who watch us very, very closely, see us seeking to put others before ourselves, they in turn will begin to do the same. In the next two issues of Exemplify, we will take a closer look at how this life of humility plays out. For now, take some time to think about your priorities. If you like, you can use the following worksheets to help you as you brainstorm the following and set your priorities in their proper place. How do your current priorities affect the atmosphere in your home and your relationships with your spouse and children? What do you want your home to be like? Do you have some things in your life that need to be set in their proper place so you can focus on your true priorities?
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*** Download your own priority chart here. ***
An Experience of the Cross
“Let no one pray for a mighty baptism of power who is not prepared for deep heart searchings and confession of sin.” ~Evan Roberts
My dream as a young woman was to teach other women the truth. My ministry to women in unplanned pregnancy was birthed from a desire to help them know there was a better way. I chose the counseling field so that I could help others find the truth and let it set them free. My dream was one of influence. Maybe you can relate. Every life decision I’ve made has been influenced by this question: Will this help or hinder God’s call on my life? Not such a bad thing, really. But I’ve learned over time that when you ask God to give you a sphere of influence, you need to hang on for the ride. There’s some work that needs to be done. Somehow I thought that graduating from college and then working my tail off for a Masters degree would totally prepare me for the call. I had it all wrong. A professor said to me once, “Success has little to do with education and much to do with one’s experience of the cross.” It was nine years ago that I first prayed for God to give me this “baptism of power…” strength for the journey, revelational insight into His Word and into the hearts of those He would bring my way. The road of those nine years has been long. Filled with potholes, twists, turns, too many detours for me to count. I’m still not living the life I saw for myself all those years ago. Oh, there are little hints of that vision here and there. But most of what I’ve spent these years accomplishing is learning with depth and passion Who He is… and Who I’m not. 16 © exemplify magazine
Written by Brooke McGlothlin
Life has revealed my heart, my sin…made me cry out more deeply to be saved, for the Savior. Life has given me an experience of the cross. Life has searched me, given me opportunity to repent and confess, be healed. Life has changed me into something more usable…more humble. Every single experience along the way is seen by the One whose hand it had to pass through first. Nothing wasted. A depth and trust now exists that came only through the living, and the hurting, and the sinning, and the confessing and the healing. Arrived? Perfect? No. Never. Redeemed? Needy? Weak? Empowered? Amen. The process of humility. The journey of wisdom. The road of preparation. The slow fulfillment of a dream. No other way that matters. Do you feel far away from your call? Wonder if God forgot or just isn’t looking your way? Wonder if the dreams you had just aren’t meant to be? Live life. Learn from it. Be searched by it. Revealed by it. Trust the one Who has your future in His hands. Don’t miss the process by looking too hard for the end. Be humbled. Find the place of strength on your knees in repentance. Then rise up in power… and walk out your calling. “The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor.” (Proverbs 15:33, ESV)
Join me every month as we explore core issues of the heart. Because “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” (Matthew 12:34, ESV)
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I like clothes. I play sports. I have fun with my friends. I totally text. I rock out with my iPod. I flip my camera. I type faster than my Mom. More than anything, I love my Jesus. I Exemplify. I am Team 2:21. 17
5 Lessons Learned from a Battle with Pride Written by Chrystie Cole
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Prior to this year, I would not have thought myself a prideful person.
I would not have gone so far as to boast of a humble spirit, but if someone were to ask what sin issues I struggled with most, pride would not have come to mind. But God, who knows me far better than I know myself, saw my heart and knew my propensity for pride, especially given the right set of circumstances. CJ Mahaney, in his book, Humility, wrote “The real issue here is not if pride exists in your heart; it’s where pride exists and how pride is being expressed in your life.” This past year, God removed the blinders and allowed me to see just how prideful I am. For a period of several months, I found myself assaulted by my prideful nature. It was almost as if the Lord heightened my senses so that every prideful word, every prideful thought, and every prideful deed rang out like a gong within me. I was particularly disheartened to see the pride within my heart in the area of my service to Him. Watchman Nee believed pride springs from our desire to “feel honoured before men.” Because of that desire, we will seek to elevate ourselves to receive the praise of men. My desire to be of service may have been born out of love and gratitude for my God, but that did not mean I was immune to pride. Pats on the back, words of affirmation, and accolades were fresh tilled ground for the devil to plant the seed of pride in my heart. And as the fruits of my service began to spring forth, I had trouble spotting the weeds growing up among them. Eventually, the weeds choked out the fruit until all that remained was a garden of deeply rooted pride. In John chapter 30, John the Baptist’s disciples approach him upset over the fact that people were going to Jesus to be baptized instead of coming to John. John’s response is a beautiful example of humility, “A man can receive only what is given him from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him.’ The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less.” (vs. 27-30, NIV)
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John’s response provides us with a solid example of humble service to the Lord. First, John continued to perform the duties of his ministry by baptizing those who came to him. Second, he was not bitter that more people were going to Jesus to be baptized; instead, he acknowledged that the bride belongs to the bridegroom. Third, he did not respond as if he was entitled to anything, but acknowledged that man can only receive what is given him from heaven. And most importantly, he knew that his purpose was to point to Christ and as Christ increased, John must decrease. Over the last few months, I have learned I am very susceptible to pride and I must continually repent whenever and wherever I see even the slightest inkling of pride in my life. Matthew Henry says, “Unless we watch and pray always, we may be drawn in the course of the day into those sins which we were in the morning most resolved against.” And I have found that to be true in my life. I do not want to be prideful, but I am. Pride slowly Edges God Out (EGO) of my life . The truth is I cannot serve two masters. I am either acting as god of my own life and working to satisfy my own selfish and self-centered desires, or God is the Lord of my life and I am seeking to live in humble submission to Him. In Humility, CJ Mahaney defines humility as “honestly assessing ourselves in light of God’s holiness and our sinfulness.” Through the realization of my own prideful nature, God has reminded me of His holiness and allowed me to see the reality of my own sinfulness and through that I have learned a few valuable lessons.
Make A Right Estimate of Oneself Watchman Nee stated that Satan often “injects pride into the believer’s spirit, evoking in him an attitude of self-importance and of self-conceit.” He further expounds stating, “[Satan] causes [the believer] to esteem himself a very outstanding person, one who is indispensable in God’s work. Such a spirit constitutes one of the major reasons for the fall of believers.”
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The truth is, while God deeply loves and values us, we are just not that important. We came from dust and will return to dust. We have no power in and of ourselves. Everything that comes to us comes by the Father’s hand. Our sinful nature can pervert even the noblest of things and no matter how hard we work or how good we try to be, we are sinners saved by grace.
Make A Right Estimate of God Sometimes, we reduce God to the role of friend, encourager, helper, or supporter and in so doing we lose reverent fear for exactly who He is. While He is all of those things, He is also so much more. He is the Sovereign God of the universe and the Creator of Heaven and Earth. He is the one who spoke the universe into existence. He is the one who tells the proud waves where to halt (Job 38:11). He is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-sufficient. He does not need our counsel, nor does he need our help. We are His creation, not the other way around.
Pray For A Teachable Spirit J.I. Packer says, “Not until we have become humble and teachable, standing in awe of God’s holiness and sovereignty, acknowledging our own littleness, distrusting our own thoughts, and willing to have our minds turned upside down, can divine wisdom become ours.” Pride is not teachable. Pride is convinced it already knows everything it needs to know. Pride is not open to the opinions of others. Pride is not willing to be admonished, corrected, or instructed. Pride is not willing to submit to authority.Pride is closed-minded. By praying daily for a teachable spirit, we acknowledge our own weakness and submit ourselves to the authority, wisdom and direction of a Creator who knows better for us than we do. 20 © exemplify magazine
Don’t Dwell On Successes In Luke chapter 10, Jesus appointed the seventytwo to go ahead of him in pairs to every city which he planned to later visit. In verse 17, the seventytwo return to Jesus joyfully declaring, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name.” Jesus’ response to them beckons humility, telling them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (v. 18-20, ESV) Dwelling too long on affirmation, accolades, or achievements allows pride time to take root. The fact is, just like the seventy-two, we will see God do amazing things in, among, and through us. Yet, we must not dwell on those things, lest we become prideful, thinking we had something to do with it. We must instead rejoice that our names are written in heaven. We must remember to give credit where credit it due. The victory is not ours, but the Lord’s. Humility exhibits itself as an attitude of gratitude, praising God for what He has done, thanking Him for the opportunity to be used by Him and then continuing on in humble obedience to Him.
Do Dwell At The Foot of the Cross Recently, one of our teaching pastors, Scott Mozingo, stated that the cross casts a shadow over us and keeps us humble. Keeping the cross at the forefront of our mind reminds us that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. The cross reminds us that we are saved by grace through faith, not through our good deeds. It reminds us that no matter how hard we try we cannot be good enough to earn our salvation or His favor. True humility knows that “If believers were left to themselves, they would fall; but they are kept by the power of God, and the prayer of Christ.” (Matthew Henry in his commentary on John 3) True humility is rooted in the knowledge that Christ accomplished for us, through the cross, that which we could not accomplish on our own.
â€œI mean this. When two of you get together on anything at all on earth and make a prayer of it, my Father in heaven goes into action.â€? -Jesus, Matthew 18:19, The Message
Join the Exemplify Channel Teams for a week of purposed prayer. June 1-7, 2010
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image credit: microsoft
Renovations of the Heart
THE JOURNEY OF FINDING FREEDOM IN WHO YOU ARE Written by Christy McGraw
I have thought a lot about blooming lately. This seems appropriate, as personally I feel as though I am blooming. The first six months of 2010 have been full of many things. Among them has been a great deal of self discovery. This has included one discovery that I was not so thrilled about. I started counseling earlier this year for some other issues but after the first session one thing was very clear. I did not know who I was. I knew what I was and could list those things to you very quickly. But as to who? Well that was very difficult. I am very much a people pleaser. I will often change myself for others.
Personally I know that this is one reason I am still single. If I had been married or in a relationship I would have constantly strove to be who he wanted and not who He created me to be. This was a hard realization to face. I don’t know about you, but I often like to pretend God is working on my future spouse as you know I am already so great! That is just not the truth. He is working on both of us….and He has really been after me for one big thing. A renovation of my heart.
Because I believe in the importance of this I am going to share with you the steps I took to start discovering who I was. Of course this isn’t going to work the same for everyone but I hope it will With that realization came another one. God help you find a starting point. was not going to send my own personal white knight if I did not know who I was. It’s important, first, to realize the difference beIf I could not be who He created me to be tween who you are and what you are. What you in a relationship then the chances of Him are describes the things you are to other people. sending someone into my path were slim Daughter, sister, friend, mother….all of these are to none. what you are to others. Who you are are the adjectives that describe you, such as compassionHere is what I have learned. Please hear me ate, funny, etc. when I say this, sisters. God created you uniquely. He has given you certain gifts. 1. I bought a special journal. And a special pen. This mixture of gifts He has give you are I knew this would make me want to journal a little unique to you. more. You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day. Psalm 139:1416 (MSG)
2. I thought of my heart as a storage unit. In envisioning that I imagine boxes piled up everywhere. On each of the boxes was a word. A word that I struggled with was written on each box. As I envisioned them I wrote them down in my journal. These things were my deepest innermost struggles. Things such as forgiveness and rejection. I will tell you that my writing came out in a unique way and a lot of my journeying through this has also been a unique writing experience. I think that has made this all the more special.
We often hear this. I think we often believe it 3. I started working with our God on movfor other people. When it comes down to it… ing those boxes out of my storage building we doubt it for ourselves. (heart). I did a lot of this work with a counselor. For some of these issues it was imperative that I I am telling you…as a former doubter….this have someone journey with me. Some of those is TRUTH. boxes have been in my heart for 25 years and well….there are a lot of things in some of those boxes. image credit: microsoft
d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d d
4. I researched and found a list of things that His Word says about me. I used this as a reminder during those hard times when I was so afraid of moving those boxes. Holley of Heart to Heart with Holley has compiled a great list called God’s Heart for You. 5. I confided in two really special friends about what I was doing. I asked them to hold me accountable and to ask me how I was doing. I have one friend who is very intentional in this. I cannot tell you how important that has been to me and what good it has done for my heart. I have been open to several of my friends and on my blog which has been amazing. This is another reason I know this renovation is taking place. I am a very reserved and closed person but talking about these things has become much easier. 6. Once I started moving boxes around and moving things out, I once again imagined my heart as a storage building. I thought of all the things hidden behind the wall of boxes containing the hurts. Those hidden things were the wonderful gifts He had long ago….when He created me…stored in my heart. Dreams long ago forgotten. Things I had long lost that were a part of me… such as writing. 7. I did need a little help with the adjectives so I googled a list of personality adjectives that could help me along the next part of my journey. I printed the list out and put it in my journal and as I worked each day if I saw a box that was uniquely me and I had trouble naming it I would look to my list of adjectives. The journey with the steps above has been a work in progress for almost four months and I know that it will be a long journey. So far though I have experienced freedom in one big area. The fear of rejection. When the breakthrough came I must admit it was so amazing and I will long remember that first taste of freedom. That is what this journey is about in so many ways. Freedom. True freedom. Found only in Christ. Found only through Christ.
Keep journeying, sisters. 24 © exemplify magazine
“Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.” Galatians 5:1 (MSG)
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. Revelation 22:20b
image credit: Iris
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Help stamp out, eliminate & abolish
redundancy! My students are fond of writing, “I was thinking in my mind. . .” or “I was thinking in my head….” This concerns me as I wonder in what other parts of their bodies thinking may (or may not) be happening. These repeated or unnecessary words are sometimes difficult to weed out during editing. They remind me of all those tchotchkes littering my house. The clutter bunnies. You know, those dust collectors like the ceramic ducks from the oldest who’s now 30, the spoons from every vacation from sea to shining sea, the collection of broken shells from the bottom of every sea to shining sea… If you’re like me, you just forget they’re around. Clutter bunny words invade our writing, make it as weighty as coals in the Christmas stockings of a misbehaving child. Here’s the good news…the clutter in our writing doesn’t need to be dusted, just deleted. Here’s the disclaimer: Depending on the circumstance, a repetition may be necessary to make a point. I’m certainly not suggesting all repetition is B-A-D. Check your writing for these… 26 © exemplify magazine
Written by Christa Allan
LEAN MACHINE VERSION
12 midnight/12 noon 3 am in the morning A total of 12 people Added bonus Baby calf Brief moment Burning hot Biography of her life Circle around Close proximity Cooperate together Close scrutiny Complete stop Consensus of opinion Descend down Duplicate copy empty hole end result exactly the same false illusion final farewell first priority freezing cold/ice cold future plans free gift hanging down honest truth/true fact hot water heater income coming in in the event that in spite of the fact that it’s raining outside merge/join together money-saving coupon little baby knowledgeable experts pair of twins past tradition/experience previous history null and void revert back/refer back/return back safe sanctuary/safe haven sink down small speck/tiny bit surrounded on all sides unique individual young child evil villain
midnight/noon 3 am 12 people bonus calf moment hot biography circle close cooperate scrutiny stop consensus descend duplicate OR copy hole result same illusion farewell priority cold plans gift hanging truth/fact water heater income if although it’s raining merge/join coupon baby experts twins tradition/experience history null OR void revert/refer/return sanctuary/haven sink speck/bit surrounded individual child villain
P.S. ONE OF MY STUDENTS ASKED IF “REDUNDANCY” MEANT TO DUNDANCY AGAIN. OH, MY. 27 © exemplify magazine
More of God, Less of Me: Learning About Humility
Young love is a beautiful thing. You see blushing cheeks, fluttering eye lashes, daydreams, and every spare thought wrapped around the object of one’s desire. First loves are the most passionate, the most extreme, and the most consuming. When you are young and in love for the first time, it’s as though your life ceases to exist and instead becomes entwined with another person. All of the sudden your plans change and your dreams are altered because there is another individual to consider. It becomes all about what that person likes and wants. You try to become the perfect fit for that other person. Humility is much like the first love of my youth. I cannot think about myself only, nor can I think about myself first. It is like breathing to think of God. It is my greatest joy to seek Him out and my deepest desire to bring Him delight. His existence must be greater in me than my own, and His vision must eclipse my sight. A couple millennia ago, a man named John the Baptist hit the nail on the head when it comes to humility. He stated simply: “He must become greater; I must become less.” (John 3:30 NIV) Humility can be interpreted as a lessening of oneself, an understanding that it’s not all about me. It’s an attitude that puts others first. Yet humility is also so much more; it is a removal of self.
Learning About Humility As I began to look at the subject of humility, I did what I normally do when I set out to study any topic. I opened the dictionary to see what Mr. Webster had to say about it. Then I pulled out my concordance to see what verses Mr. Strong had compiled on the subject. I even looked at the Hebrew and Greek. Next, I pulled up a chair to see what Google had to offer. And then I prayed for God to open my eyes to see the truth He had for me.
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It soon became apparent that God did not intend to use Mr. Webster, Mr. Strong, or even Google to teach me about humility. God Himself wanted to teach me a lesson. After almost a decade of marriage, people often remark that my husband and I display a startling ability to think and say the exact same things. We move and speak in tandem. When we are apart, we often seem to move as extensions of one another. This is a reflection of the unity that springs from intimacy; but it is also an exercise in humility. As only half of one being that God has joined together in a beautiful marriage, I do not have the right to think about myself. Every decision must be consciously made in light of another. In addition to being married, I am also a parent. Being a mom means that I have to think of my kids first and that my life is no longer my own. We have two beautiful children, but parenting is not always easy. Sometimes I find myself thinking that I deserve a day off, or need my own space, or wish that someone would take care of me like I am always taking care of everyone else. What I am learning about humility is that my focus has to shift. When I follow my Beloved’s command to love God with all my heart, soul, and mind and to love my neighbor as myself, that is humility. When I respond as John the Baptist and acknowledge my need for God’s increase and my decrease, that is humility. When I start each day with the intention to serve my husband and our precious children to the best of my ability, that is humility.
The Fruit of Humility In the past weeks as I have studied humility, God has given me the opportunity to put my family ahead of myself. He has helped me realize that when I put them first and love them more than I love my own wants, I show them who He is. When I serve my husband’s needs before thinking of my own desires, I bless him. And you know what? Doing these things isn’t as stressful as it used to be because I realize that it’s because there is less of me and more of the Beloved in me than there was even a month ago. It is becoming an honor to serve. Monica Baldwin stated that, “What makes humility so desirable is the marvelous thing it does to us; it creates in us a capacity for the closest possible intimacy with God.”1 I don’t know about you, but more than anything I want to be a bride who is intensely intimate with the Beloved. I want people to look at me and see God’s heart, hear His voice, and feel His touch. The true nature of humility is coming to the end of yourself, not because you’ve lost your identity but because you have found His. It is ceasing to become so overwhelmed by not having everything you feel you need and choosing instead to focus on what God has provided. Humility is walking in a place of intimacy with God that is so great, the two truly are becoming one: the loving Bridegroom and His Beloved Bride. Endotes 1Thinkexist.com. (1999-2010). Monica Baldwin quotes. Thinkexist. com. Retrieved from
Lisa Tucker has been married to her best friend for nine years and they have two precious children. She is a homeschooling mom, a freelance photographer, and college student. Her favorite days are the ones that involve snuggling with the kids, just being at home, having dinner as a family, doing devotions together, and end holding hands with her husband. She dreams of traveling the world, teaching and inspiring women to find the beauty of being the Bride of Christ and to encourage young women to embrace a life of purity. Her favorite Bible verses are Isaiah 54:5,10.
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A Humble Gath
The other day, I asked several women what they hope for–I believe the following answers will reflect your own. They replied as follows: for many to know Jesus, for Jesus to come back soon, for opportunities to speak, for a job, for a husband and family, for my kids to make better choices, for my kids to not face situations before they are ready to face them, wisdom, to be found in Christ, and a brighter future. These are just some of the responses. What might you add? Keep that in the forefront of your mind.
When I was 26 years old, my friend Melisa and I liked to shop together. Our very favorite day was to get a coffee, go to Target, then our favorite specialty store in Shreveport, Kevin’s Korners, with room upon room of beautiful things, get lunch and head home. We spent money–we dreamed of things we wanted to spend money on–and we began our campaign for “Homemakers of the Year.” We wanted our homes to reflect our heart’s desires for our families. We wanted to host the best parties for our friends, where the dishes would match and there would be a theme! We wanted things that were fresh, new and shiny. Like VeggieTales’ Madame Blueberry, our homes were becoming Stuff Marts in the making. We both loved the Lord. Yet, we had some gynormous holes we were filling with stuff. Every summer, we would host a garage sale, so we could buy more stuff. The cycle continued and my debt began to grow. For as much as I’d like to get back what I’d paid for our valued things, it was simply unreasonable to expect it at a garage sale. I needed to stop spending. I needed to simplify–and thought that maybe I could do so with some storage bins from Pier One and Crate and Barrel. Yes, that will help me simplify. Oh, and of course, to simplify, I would need to buy matching furniture, make curtains and get just the right wall hangings. Yes, that was my idea of simplifying. 30 © exemplify magazine
Written by Holly Smith image credit: microsoft
thering of Hope That idea was a drop in the bucket of our bankruptcy that happened twelve years later. Oh, there were factors–forgivable factors, like job loss and the housing market crash–that also contributed. But underneath the outside veneer of “understandable reasons” for bankruptcy, there was an ugly root of pride and materialism in my life. True, ugly and hidden reasons helped lead us down a road we never intended to take.
When I had company over, I wanted everything just so. The things I pictured were the things I purchased. The best materials for a meal were my standard. Not only would I impress my guests, but (in my mind) they would like me better for the way I made everything so very perfect. No wonder I was so stressed in my twenties and early thirties. No wonder we never seemed to get on top of our debt.
Clean your home.
Add cute decorations you can make from what you have: a freshly picked basketful of flowers, cutup fabric with special scissors and small ribbon for napkins, or a table centerpiece you find at a garage sale. Make a place setting with a special scripture picked for each guest to take home with them.
[Let me stop here and say: if you are going through this, please come by and read about our journey. God was faithful to help us, even carry us, through some of the most difficult days I have ever spent. And we have learned to walk faithfully here. I hope that will encourage you.]
Invite someone you do not know well, but would like to get to know better, along with the friends with whom you usually spend time.
Remember your hope from earlier? It wasn’t to impress or please people, was it? It wasn’t to have matching dishes or to be beyond-practically-perfect-in-every-way either. I am guessing that most of your 1hopes are relational. I’ll tell you what makes relationships grow–authentic, loving, Christ-centered interactions with people.
Make something simple, so you can focus your energies on time with your guests–time to laugh and be at ease with one another.
So let’s say you are wanting to have company over–or like one friend I know, you have always meant to have people over, but you feel inadequate and your home is not up to your standard. Well, let it go and just do it. It’s that simple!
To begin, here are two recipes that are inexpensive and wonderful to share at your next gathering!
Also here are a few tips my friends from earlier shared to make a special gathering: 31 © exemplify magazine
Crusts: 1 T. quick-rising active dry yeast 1 1/3 c. warm water (115 degrees F) 1 T. olive oil 1 t. salt 1 c. whole wheat flour 1/4 c. rye flour 2-3 c. unbleached flour 1-2 T. cornmeal non-stick spray Pepper Topping 2 t. olive oil 1 clove garlic minced 2 Italian tomatoes, sliced thinly 1 T. fresh oregano, minced 3 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded 1 c. canned roasted peppers 1/4 c. sliced black olives
Broccoli Topping: 1 c. onions, diced 1 t. olive oil 1 c. sour cream 1 t. fresh dill 2-3 c. broccoli florets, lightly steamed 1 c. sharp cheddar, shredded In a large bowl, mix the yeast with water. Set aside for 2 minutes to dissolve. Stir in oil and salt. Add in wheat, rye and unbleached flours and make a kneadable dough. On a lightly floured surface, knead until smooth and elastic for 10 minutes. Divide into 16 balls, Cover each and let rest for 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Form the balls into small pizzas about 4 inches in diameter. Coat 2 large cookie sheets with no-stick spray. Sprinkle lightly with cornmeal. Place the pizzas on the sheets. Pepper topping: In a small cup combine the oil with the garlic. Brush over 8 of the pizza crusts. Top with tomatoes, oregano, mozzarella, peppers and olives. 32 magazine may 2010
Broccoli topping: In a small no-stick pan over low heat, cook the onions in the oil until soft. Stir in the sour cream and sill. Spread over 8 pizza crusts, leaving a 3/8 inch border. Top with broccoli and cheddar. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the crusts are browned.
Chicken Chile Tostadas 1 T. olive oil 1 c. pre-chopped onion 1 t. bottled minced garlic ½ t. ground cumin ½ t. ground chipotle chile pepper ¼ t. ground cinnamon 1 lb. ground chicken breast ½ c. bottled fat-free salsa ¼ c. water ½ t. salt 2 T. chopped fresh cilantro 1 t. lime juice 4 – 6 corn tortillas 1 c. shredded iceberg lettuce 1 c. (4 oz.) pre-shredded reduced-fat Mexican cheese blend or cheddar cheese ¼ c. reduced-fat sour cream
Preheat oven to 400°. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; sauté 2 minutes or until onion begins to soften. Add cumin, chipotle, and cinnamon; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add chicken; cook 4 minutes or until chicken is done, stirring to crumble. Add salsa, water, and salt; cook 3 minutes or until slightly thickened. Stir in cilantro and lime juice; remove from heat. While chicken cooks, place tortillas directly on oven rack; bake at 400° for 5 minutes or until slightly crisp. Place 1 tortilla on each of 4 plates; top each tortilla with ¼ cup lettuce, ¾ cup chicken mixture, ¼ cup cheese, and 1 tablespoon sour cream. By Meghan from the Siesta Fiesta Cookbook.
Pull up a seat at the Cafe. Inspiring women to develop a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ through the daily interaction of Godâ€™s Word.
>>> 33 magazine September 2008
Interview with Interview by Judith Roberts
34 ÂŠ exemplify magazine
kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk Several cultures have a coming-of-age ceremony. Even Americans have certain boundary traditions that tell us what to do when we come of a certain age. At age 16, teens can drive. At age 18, teens are considered legal adults. When they graduate high school, it’s assumed that they either become a working member of society or head to college. But what prepares our youth for such transitions other than anticipation of a calendar date? Doreen Hanna and Pam Farrel have addressed this topic as it pertains to young ladies in their book, “Raising a Modern Day Princess.” Even though I am not a mother, I still found this book a fascinating read and a way for me to even impact the lives of young women. Whether you’re a new parent, a parent with an older child (or children), or someone like me who is simply around youth from time to time, this book will help you understand the importance of coming-of-age ceremonies. “I was asked to speak for a Mother’s Day event,” Doreen said. “Their theme was ‘Celebrate! You’re a Daughter of the King.’ The women’s board asked that I put the emphasis on the older women mentoring the teen girls to become God’s princesses. I honestly did not know what a daughter of the King really looked like in our Christian community; it sounded a bit old-fashioned to me. However, this prompted me to begin thinking, and, almost immediately, the words ‘Jewish American princess’ came to mind. I thought about the Jewish moms I had observed over the years and remembered how I admired them when I was in high school. They carried themselves with an air of confidence. Their marriages had longevity, they were faithful to their religion, and they always appeared to have a healthy relationship with their children and set lofty yet attainable goals for their futures.”
“They must have been trained to become like this,” she said. “I immediately went to the library and found a book for Jewish parents who were preparing their daughters for womanhood and discovered that they had established a rite-of-passage called a Bat Mitzvah for their daughters when they turn 13. In the Jewish culture 13 years of age represents her step into womanhood. However, before they reach their 13th birthday and celebrate her Bat Mitzvah, they choose a woman from their synagogue to become the daughter’s mentor. This woman will come alongside of her for one year and solidify all that had been taught by her parents in preparation for celebrating her step into womanhood. This woman mentor would prepare her for her Bat Mitzvah. I read thoroughly every step they took to prepare her for her ‘coming out’ day. I found my answer in what we, the Christian community, should have carried with us into our Gentile Christianity – a rite of passage for our children.” This brought about new possibilities for Doreen, and more doors opened when she met Pam, who was in Kansas City speaking about her book, “Woman of Influence.” “I had read ‘Raising a Modern Day Knight,’ and as parents, we made very strategic decisions to celebrate key transitions in our sons’ lives including a ‘walk into manhood’ as they launched from our home,” Pam said. “But as a woman myself, who longed to hear a blessing and words of affirmation from my own father, and as a director of women’s ministry, I remember thinking, ‘So what is there for young women?’ I began to pray that God would raise up a leader who cared about rites of passage for teen girls.”
God answered, and once the two women met, Pam said she immediately saw they had kinDoreen started wondering how these women be- dred hearts when it came to mentoring, discame such admirable ladies and then answered cipleship and equipping young women. her own question.
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“They must have been trained to become like this,” she said. “I immediately went to the library and found a book for Jewish parents who were preparing their daughters for womanhood and discovered that they had established a rite-of-passage called a Bat Mitzvah for their daughters when they turn 13. In the Jewish culture 13 years of age represents her step into womanhood. However, before they reach their 13th birthday and celebrate her Bat Mitzvah, they choose a woman from their synagogue to become the daughter’s mentor. This woman will come alongside of her for one year and solidify all that had been taught by her parents in preparation for celebrating her step into womanhood. This woman mentor would prepare her for her Bat Mitzvah. I read thoroughly every step they took to prepare her for her ‘coming out’ day. I found my answer in what we, the Christian community, should have carried with us into our Gentile Christianity – a rite of passage for our children.” This brought about new possibilities for Doreen, and more doors opened when she met Pam, who was in Kansas City speaking about her book, “Woman of Influence.” “I had read ‘Raising a Modern Day Knight,’ and as parents, we made very strategic decisions to celebrate key transitions in our sons’ lives including a ‘walk into manhood’ as they launched from our home,” Pam said. “But as a woman myself, who longed to hear a blessing and words of affirmation from my own father, and as a director of women’s ministry, I remember thinking, ‘So what is there for young women?’ I began to pray that God would raise up a leader who cared about rites of passage for teen girls.” God answered, and once the two women met, Pam said she immediately saw they had kindred hearts when it came to mentoring, discipleship and equipping young women. “When I heard Doreen’s heart about the rite of passage Modern Day Princess program, I said, ‘This is so needed. Anything I can do just ask!’” she said. 36 © exemplify magazine
“Little did I know that would turn into a co-author role. I have never felt so privileged to be a part of this legacy leaving project that will impact generations to come in such a powerful way. When a girl gets the training from her mother or a mentor and a blessing from her father, she is changed and her ability to make much wiser life choices is greatly improved. That is an exciting thing to be a part of.” The right-of-passage ceremony, as explained in the book, can take form in a number of ways, but Doreen and Pam suggest that a large group, possibly a church youth group, gearing up for one large ceremony in which the young women are given blessings and affirmations by their fathers or a father figure and honored for their desire to keep God’s word is beneficial. “I believe it is highly essential to keep reiterating the importance that they are a daughter of the King, because the foundation of the program is walking with confidence in knowing ‘whose’ as well as ‘who’ they are,” Doreen said. “With encouragement from parents and their mentors, they will continue to develop their God-given gifts and character qualities. Most importantly, they will walk with a humble spirit and a heart of compassion because they are ambassadors of the King of Kings.” Both Pam and Doreen said their own emotional journey with their fathers assisted them in understanding the need for this book. “Experiencing the rejection of my father for the first 17 years of my life and carrying my Samsonite-sized baggage into my marriage with expectations that my husband would fill all my needs sent me barreling into a counselor’s office 10 years later,” Doreen said. “It was his wise counsel that enabled me to see that if you never received a blessing you need to start giving one. It was then, as I began to bless my father, husband and others, that my life began to change as a wife, mother, friend, etc.” Image crediit: Microsoft
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Pam said the relationship with her alcoholic father began to heal when she was a college student and chose to love her father by faith. “I (wrote) him a blessing even when he had yet to bless me,” Pam said. “The concept of acting like a princess even if those around you are not always heals relationships and lives. The passion I feel for this princess project comes because I always longed for my own earthly dad’s blessing. Yet, it was God’s supernatural blessing of me as I studied God my Father in college that gave healing to my heart. I know the power this program can have in the life of a young woman.” The book also includes suggestions for how to be a good mentor even when feeling discouraged or thinking that the girls will not enjoy the coming-of-age ceremony. “I wrote the mentor moments because I have been so blessed and encouraged and equipped by a series of amazing mentors who built into my own life—I wanted to give back and build mentors as they reach out and build those princesses,” Pam said. Doreen added that one way to start a comingof-age ceremony in your own community is by talking to the moms of these young ladies. “Share how in the last century in our American culture we did not have a defining moment wherein our adult community celebrated our step into adulthood,” she said. “Therefore, we drifted into adulthood and chose our own rite-of-passage: be that our first kiss, drink, smoke or possibly a loftier status such as graduation from high school or college.
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“Most of us never had that moment where our parents or someone we highly respected celebrated and affirmed us, publicly welcoming us into adulthood. You probably already know that most moms are often looking for a way to encourage and build up their children. Therefore, they will be your best support and cheerleaders in getting a rite-of-passage program implemented. Once your moms are on board, your teens will be more open as their moms start talking about it and you began encouraging them to participate – every teen loves a party and especially when it’s about them! Your church leaders need to hear of its success. Also, when they hear that parents desire to have this for their children this is also a deciding factor for leadership. Lord willing, you will then be on your way to seeing the amazing results of implementing the Becoming a Modern Day Princess and Raising a Modern Day Knight rites of passage. You will see God at work and witness the impact it will have on everyone who participates.” Additional suggestions: Watch the video regarding the program: http:// www.doreenhanna.org/dotk/. Read the book “Raising a Modern Day Princess” by Doreen and Pam and “Raising a Modern Day Knight” by Robert Lewis Author’s Note: I believe fathers can benefit just as much as mothers by reading this book. Dads, your daughters need you in their lives; they need your love and affection, and they need your support. This book will help you play a vital role in her life as she prepares for her coming-of-age ceremony
Written by Alison Hunt
In First Person: An Introduction
First and foremost, welcome to In First Person: a new monthly column about living an authentic life in relationship with God through all circumstances and seasons of life, living the individual story God has created for you to live within the bigger picture of His story, and being present in such a way that you are able to process what God is doing in the here and now of your life. The name of this column comes from the simple fact that I write in first person. Everyone has a story to tell with their life, and mine happens to be filled with “teachable moments”. Parents, you probably know what I’m talking about. Teachable moments are those points in time when circumstances are used to teach a greater lesson. What’s different though is that you will be taking this journey with me, In First Person. You will get the here and now lessons that I’m learning and how I work out my life’s circumstances in the context of my relationship with God through His Word, the Bible. I’ve already told you what this column is about, but let’s look at what it really means. The first part of the mission is “living an authentic life in relationship with God through all circumstances and seasons of life.” I think it is so important to recognize the blessings, the good, the bad, the ugly, and the messy. How can we live authentically with God when we aren’t true with the whole of who we are? We can’t. I can’t. Let’s be honest, It’s not like He doesn’t know the full range of our feelings every second of every day, but how honest is the relationship if I can’t tell Him how I truly feel? I do not want to be found lacking authenticity when the challenges, or even the blessings, come. I think when we live unveiled before the throne of God we will be able to have a greater perspective in all circumstances of life. We will then be able to see the goodness of God not only in the blessings of life, but also in the challenges.
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living and loving the individual story God has created for you The second part of the mission is “living and loving the individual story God has created for you to live within the bigger picture of His story.” I Corinthians 12 explains this biblical principle so much more clearly than I ever could! At this point, you may be thinking, “Well, duh, Alison! It is God’s Word after all.” And you would be right in thinking so because you are all very smart women. Onward to 1 Corinthians 12! In this passage of Scripture Paul is talking about the body of Christ being made of many parts, but all the parts make up one body. Even the weakest parts of the body are indispensable because without them the body would not function properly. Even so, each part of the body has a different task and function. Paul equates the body of Christ to a physical body, and, in that context, if the mouth spent all of its time wishing it were a foot, then it would never say the words it was meant to say. Think about it; let it brew. Your story is essential to the plans of God. No matter how small you feel your part is, we can’t do this life without you. We’ll explore this more in the future because you can never be told enough how your life truly matters. Living your life and not wishing for another person’s life is part of the foundation of living in first person. It gives you the confidence to walk in the will of God because you will no longer crave for anyone but Him to be your author. The third and final part of the mission is “being present in such a way that you are able to process what God is doing in the here and now of your life.” This last piece is the most difficult for me personally. I am an intensely private person with my life in present tense. If it’s about the past or future, I have no problem sharing every detail, but the present is the tense where I feel most vulnerable.
image credit: microsoft
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That is exactly why I know Kristen Schiffman, Founder and Ministry Director of Exemplify Online & Magazine asked me to write In First Person each and every month. Well, let’s be clear, it was obviously God who prompted her to do that because she had no idea my walls were drawn up around the here and now. As I’ve written for Exemplify for the past few months I have learned how important it is to be aware of what God is doing and taking the time to remember all he has done for us and through us. It’s not just for us; it’s for others too. Our lives are not meant for us, they’re meant to show other people the grace of God’s salvation. This ties into the second part of the mission…when we do not take the time to process God’s redemption and sanctification in our own lives, how can we tell others about it? Our testimony is one of the most powerful things we have because it cannot be refuted. However, we first must know our testimony before we can tell it. I hope God speaks to you through In First Person each month. Please know He will be working to sanctify me through this process too (aka “I’m not perfect and will never pretend like I am”). Friends, we’ll be working this life out together. Get used to me, ladies, because I don’t plan on leaving any time soon!
I would love to hear from you! I can be found on my blog.
The Parable of A Bible Study Leader and An Unwed Mother Written by Tracy J. Knowlton 40 ÂŠ exemplify magazine
“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income. But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.” – Luke 18: 10-14, NRSV On behalf of our demographic, allow me to retell this story. Before I begin, I should acknowledge that there are many different kinds of women. Our hearts are as different as our fingerprints. I have chosen only two, and it is possible that you are like them or completely unlike them. Ann and Betsy appear to have nothing in common, but by the end I hope you find that they have at least one thing in common. Perhaps, even that you and I have this one thing in common: humility.
This woman looked dark, well, the black mascara circles sliding down her face looked dark. She needed a tissue, and Ann could do this, easily. She delivered a tissue to the crying woman, heard a thank you, and went on to the item she needed. This was all in a day’s work. She was a Christian and helping people who are hurting is just what Christians do, and she was glad to do it. Later, Ann had to make dinner for her family. This was her dreaded nightly ritual but she always resigned herself to the task. After all, it is what she and her husband agreed on. She did not want her husband to think that she was discontent or too undisciplined to complete one of the essential tasks of their night. So, to the grocery store she went. Grocery shopping is much more tolerable when you know what you are going for, and keep your head down. The goal is managing to run the gamut of aisles unsolicited, followed by feigning interest to the checkout girl. Upon completion, Ann was able to check one more thing off of her ‘mommy list’ for the day. She was a Christian and taking care of her family is just what Christians do, and she was glad to do it.
That night, Ann arrived late at the church for her Here is the story of the Pharisee and the tax collec- leadership role in the woman’s Bible study. Upon tor, in a different time, with a different look, and a entering, she noticed this was also the night for different ending… the recent visitors group. Her church was very strong in their recruitment efforts, and this was Ann got up early in the mornings. She found that someone’s brilliant idea for a welcome/informathis was the only way to fit in all the Bible study tion session. Unluckily, they were crowding the reading she had to do. Getting behind was the hallway, like an iron door blocking Ann from her worst thing that she could think of and, as a leader, Bible study. With a, “Hello…Hello…How are she would look less capable to the other ladies. you?…So glad you could join us!”, she escaped Next to her partner Sue, she always felt that way. through the crowd. She arrived just in time to see In addition, Ann worked with the children, sang in Sue leading the group in prayer. Ann bowed her the choir, wrote a blog, and volunteered as needed. head and told God how grateful she was that she She was a Christian and being available is just had finally arrived at church, amongst people that what Christians do, and she was glad to do it. were like her. A sense of peace fell on her as she realized that she had many reasons to be grateAnn owned the reputation of having a servant’s ful. She was going to present her latest programheart. She met needs where she saw them, alming ideas to Sue tonight, and this made Ann feel though it did not always come from love. She was encouraged that, although tired, she had come aware of that, but something in the act of service such a long way. She was pleased to finally sit made her fulfilled. On this day, Ann ran into the and think about this. After all, she was a Christian drug store and saw a woman crying in front of the and being busy is just what Christians do. She pregnancy tests. This was Ann’s cue, because she was glad to do it. was confident of being a light to a dark world.
women in the word
A once happy girl w home. The sadness in her that she was a sin
hope of h
Meanwhile, standing in that crowded hall, outside of Ann’s Bible study, was Betsy. Betsy recognized the blurred image of Ann, moving through the crowd, and desperately tried to make eye contact. This was the second time today that she had seen her speed away. She wanted to tell her how thankful she was for her kindness. Earlier that day, Betsy was standing in front of the pregnancy tests at the drug store. She was there all alone. It was this realization that made her cry. She had no one. Her family didn’t want to be a part of the scandal of an unwed mother. This was, in fact, the third pregnancy test of which Betsy had made a tearful acquisition. She was a sinner, and there was no way to hide it. Come to think of it, Betsy’s day started with a hot shower and tears, and it never seemed to change that much. She answered the last phone call from Philip, in which she promised him that he would have no responsibilities toward this child. She did not want to live her life trying to persuade an unwilling partner to like her.
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They barely knew each other and, unfortunately, what attracted her to Philip was also what made his absence the only option. After their conversation, Betsy looked at her face in the mirror. A once happy girl was a long way from home. The sadness in her eyes confirmed to her that she was a sinner, and there was no hope of hiding it. Betsy knew that, although she could never hide her shame as the months passed, she wanted to go home. That was no longer with her embarrassed parents, but she remembered a family, of sorts, a long time ago. Her last shred of hope was spent entering the doors of a church last Sunday. From this, she fuzzily remembered the story of a man who could not even raise his head. He cried out for mercy. Betsy specifically remembered that he said the word “sinner”, and Jesus really liked what he said. Betsy knew that she was a sinner like this man, and there was no reason to hide it.
was a long way from her eyes confirmed to nner, and there was no
When the new visitors filed from the hall into their meeting room, they bowed their heads. Betsy understood something new in this simple gesture. She was not alone. As a response to this new information, Betsy could no longer lift her head as tears dripped to the floor. She raised clenched hands to her forehead, never feeling less worthy and more loved. She knew that she was a sinner, and there was no need to hide it anymore. Betsy thanked God for showing her the kindness of one woman who belonged to this church. She had only given a tissue, but it was a sign to Betsy. That gesture, accompanied by her brief sighting in the hallway, confirmed that she did belong here with people who genuinely cared. Betsy stayed late, waiting for her benefactor to leave Bible study, as her gratitude could not go unspoken. This meant that Ann was stopped from her last flight of the evening by a stranger waiting in the hall.
She had no intention of making a new friend this night but, as Betsy’s story unfolded, her heart did something unusual. It hurt. Ann saw the face of someone who had lost everything, and thought how strange it was that her countenance defied her experience. Betsy was a sinner, redeemed, and she could not hide it. Ann heard every word and became confused. Her heart seemed unfamiliar and this woman, unexpected. Still, Ann stayed. There was something that drew her into Betsy’s words. She was no longer glad to be unlike this type of girl: she wanted to be Betsy. For the first time in a long while, something other than obligation led Ann to pray with a stranger. Effortlessly, the words that escaped were few, “God, thank you for your mercy you offer us; we are sinners who love you.”
The Book Nook with Deborah Boutwell
They Almost Always Come Home by Cynthia Ruchti
“She would leave her husband….if she could find him.” Those words, bold across the back cover of this novel, caught my attention, and I wondered if this was going to be a serious or funny book. Then the first words of the story propelled me on to find out more: “Do dead people wear shoes? In the casket, I mean.” Does your mind wonder to morbid thoughts when loved ones are late coming home? I’d have to admit that there have been times when I was laying in bed and my mind would conjure up all kinds of scenarios, most of them involving police and hospitals, while I waited for the sound of the car in the drive. What if my husband was late from a camping trip by days? I’m thinking my mind would run along the same lines as the story line in They Almost Always Come Home. Like Libby Holden, I would be planning a funeral one way or another….either because something terrible had happened to him or because he had left me for another woman under the guise of a yearly trip into the Canadian wilderness.
When the police (from two countries) put Greg Holden’s disappearance off as a man wanting to leave his wife, Libby, her best friend, and her father-in-law take matters into their own hands and head into the wilderness in search of some answers. While preparing for the search and rescue trip, Libby must face some realizations that she had let their daughter’s death create a void in their marriage. She doesn’t know if she wants to find Greg or not. She had already been thinking of leaving him. Would she be relieved to find him…dead or alive? “I watched him move his head slowly, like a surveillance camera commissioned to take in the whole scene over the course of time. ‘Fascinating,’ he said. ‘The world is shrouded in mist-ry. Wish I had my camera.’ This from a man who spends his day swinging deals on potato chips and paper towels for Greene’s. A man with a calculator, a laptop, and what I thought was no imagination. Twenty years of marriage. In that moment, I feared I knew less about my husband than I ever had. I vowed to pay more attention to the man who shared my marriage bed. A few months later, Lacey died.”
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Before the trio even leaves home, they find several clues that suggest that Greg’s trip this year wasn’t his normal fishing trip…if he went at all. However, all they can do is follow the map for his planned trip….look for signs that he had been there or might even still be there…in some way. “Where will I be when this is all over? Widowed? Divorced? Angry? Brokenhearted? Jilted? Relieved? Did I just say relieved? God help me. Is it an unpardonable sin to wonder what life would be like without the man I vowed to love and cherish?”
I promise you that I didn’t jump ahead or flip to the back of the book to see what happens (and I’m not going to tell you to do that when you are reading They Almost Always Come Home, although I was really tempted). Suddenly the point of view changes from Libby’s to Greg’s. And I got so excited I couldn’t stop reading! All the questions that Libby had are going to be answered as Greg tells his version of why this trip was going to be different from any other that he’s ever taken before. Can I say without ruining the story for you…. expect surprises!!!!
“The sun manages to push itself through the birth canal of trees behind me and uses its laser beams to evaporate the mist. I As I was reading They Almost Always Come twitch my rod tip like I’ve seen Greg do Home, I got a little lost in the beginning, and hundreds of times. I’m not sure if I want to then I realized that was exactly where Libby catch something as much as I want to expewas….lost. She doesn’t know how to funcrience the rhythm of the motion. Cast and tion without some closure as to what really happened. And then she puts her oars in the retrieve. Wait and watch. Offer the bait. water and started a journey that was going to See if they’re hungry. Fishing in a world so quiet I can hear the line slipping through the take her completely out of her comfort zone eyelets on the rod. I’m sure there’s a name and make her realize that she doesn’t know for those things. It really doesn’t matter. I’m her husband or her God. not here to understand fishing but the fisherCynthia Ruchti describes something that often man.” happens when you are in God’s wilderness: surrounded by nature’s powerful beauty, your Understanding the fisherman is exactly what soul starts to heal. She paints such a realis- Libby does and in the process, I learned tic word picture of the Canadian landscape, I something about my fisherman. I loved the felt that I was sitting in the back of the canoe, way this fiction story inspired me to listen slowly drifting along, swatting mosquitoes and a little closer to my own husband and his watching eagles fly. I loved the way her char- dreams. I enjoyed the humor that Libby acters, while in the mist of their worst drama, uses to deal with her emotions. Even more, I liked the way that Cynthia made this story find some humor and God at the same time. so realistic. I can’t believe this is her first Yet just when Libby has lost all hope in finding book. her husband and restoring her faith in God; Cynthia switches gears in her writing style.
They Almost Always Come Home was released by Abingdon Press May 1st, 2010.
Pick it up and get ready for a fantastic journey.
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You say “Tomato,” I say “Tomahto.”
Written by Tara Guy
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance. Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language. They were amazed and astonished, saying, “Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born?” Acts 2:4-8 Have you ever wondered why there are so many translations and versions of the Bible? Even though the Qur’an is translated into multiple languages, most Muslims agree that true scholar and study of Islam requires one to learn Arabic and read the Qur’an in its original written language. What about Christianity, though? I mean, if the Bible is truly the Word of God, shouldn’t it also be preserved in its original language? Would we gain better insight and knowledge if every Christian learned Hebrew & Greek? There’s no question that knowledge of the ancient Hebrew and Greek languages gives you a greater insight into God’s Word. Just the other night my husband was sharing something with me about the prodigal son and showed me where the literal Greek translation says he was “living loosely.” That’s quite a word picture, isn’t it? But just because I haven’t had three semesters of classical Greek doesn’t mean the passage is any less significant, moving, and instructive when I read it in English. However this is a common question that Christians often ask themselves. Every time we turn around a new translation of the Bible is being produced. If you go into a bookstore, the number of different versions is overwhelming. Which one should you choose? And what do all those letters stand for?
Last month we covered how the early church needed translations for its rapid spread and growth. Now let’s observe some more needs for translations. First let’s look at translations into other languages. Read Isaiah 45:27. What four things does the Lord swear upon Himself will happen? One of our comforts in this world in knowing that one day – one day – every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. And the argument could be made that God could just snap His fingers and “make” everyone believe in and trust in Him and then there would be no need for translations. But we know He won’t do that because He allows His people to make choices – choices for Him. Now read Matthew 28:18-20, better known as the Great Commission. What four acts does Jesus command us to obey as believers? By putting these two passages together, we can see that God swears all nations will one day devote themselves to Him. Then we see by the words of Jesus’ mouth that as His followers we’re commanded go, make disciples, baptize, and teach. I think I might be going the long way around to a fairly obvious point, but I really wanted to examine the Scripture here. We have a calling on our lives. That calling is contained in the four commands of Jesus. Go. Make disciples. Baptize. Teach. How can we reach people in foreign lands and with foreign tongues if we cannot communicate God’s Word to them in their native language?
My husband went to India two years in a row to train Indian pastors. Because most Indians are extremely poor, American churches paid for every pastor to come to the conference. Included in the price of the conference ($25 for four night’s lodging, two meals of rice a day, and transportation) was a Bible in Telegu. The majority of the pastors have never had a Bible, and can only recite Scripture that they have learned through oral tradition. By giving them a Bible, they are able to go back to their own churches (some pastors pastor up to twelve churches over a three-day period) and share God’s Word with their people in their native tongue. We need to translate the Bible into foreign languages so that citizens in other countries can read God’s Word in their native language. By translating to foreign languages, we provide brothers and sisters fulfilling the Great Commission overseas with tools to reach people who need Christ. There are also translation issues that arise from the need for ease of reading. Anyone whose native language is not English knows that it is the most difficult and diverse language to learn. We have a word and a pronunciation for everything! When you take something and translate it to another language verbatim, it does not always make sense. For example, to say “My big fat dog,” in English, you would say it exactly how I wrote it. However, if you were to say it in Spanish, you would say “Mi perro largo gordo.” Literally translated, that says, “My dog big fat,” because in Spanish the adjectives always follow the nouns. Obviously that makes no sense in English, because we put our adjectives before our nouns. A literal word-for-word translation would only confuse the reader, so it must be translated into the language the reader will understand and comprehend.
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On the flip side, some languages have three or more words to our one. For example, we have one word for love: love. In Greek there are three words for love: phileo, eros, and agape. The distinction between these words in Scripture is extremely important, which is why there are three Greek words for love. By using the one English word “love” we would lose the meaning in many passages, and additional phrasing or adjectives are added in English to convey the full Greek meaning. Most critics will understand the need to translate into foreign languages. The unresolved issue is the English versions. NIV, NKJV, ESV, KJV, CEV, NASB, NLT, HCSB, TNIV. So why do we have so many versions? This might ruffle some feathers, but I think one of the reasons we have so many versions now on the bookstore shelves is because of money. American Christians are extremely wealthy by comparison to global Christians, and most American Christians have discretionary, disposable income that can be used to purchase a new type of Bible. Christians, in an honest effort to boost their knowledge of the Word, purchase different translations to give them a greater understanding of the Word. And there are also devotional-style Bibles in each version. Bibles for moms, dads, wives, teens, military personnel, seniors, etc. line the shelves. Christian publishing might be a good business, but it’s still a business. Let me be a little less cynical. What evidence is there in support of the multiple versions? Americans, due to their wealth and extensive opportunities for education, have the tools to study the ancient texts and put together Bibles based on the minds of the greatest biblical scholars in the world. The slightest disagreement over a passage or word can bring on a new version.
This does not in any way negate the truth or effectiveness of God’s Word. You can sit down and open two different versions and even if the wording of certain passages is different, the meanings are the same. And as I mentioned before, many Christians use this as a study method. But what about paraphrase Bibles? Many critics, especially those of other faiths, have a problem with using Bibles that “paraphrase” the Word of God. They see it as a “watering down” of His Word. The Message is a good example of a paraphrase Bible. These Bibles are not bad things; sometimes it helps to have a not-so-literal aid to help you decipher difficult passages. If I were to come across an engineering student’s thesis for their doctorate on astrophysics (or whatever type of student would do a doctoral thesis on astrophysics), I would not want to read it because I most likely (OK, definitely) wouldn’t understand it. I would want a “layman’s” copy to read – something that the general public could understand – because let’s face it, very few of us are pursuing Ph.D.’s in astrophysics. That’s what paraphrase Bibles attempt to do with the Word of God. Just be very careful and research the paraphrase Bible that you are looking to read or buy. Some “paraphrase” Bibles completely change the meaning of the Scripture. If you read Romans 6:3 in the NIV and then read it again in the Message, you will get the same meaning in just different sentences. However, there is a “radical” paraphrase Bible that translates the dove descending on Jesus at His baptism to a pigeon that just comes to rest on His shoulder. Not the same meaning at all! So be careful that the version you are reading is not too far off the original work.
Paraphrase Bibles are excellent for personal devotional time, as they are often emotionally-charged and easy to read and comprehend. However, for study and teaching purposes, it is wise to go with a literal or close-to-literal translation, especially if you will be teaching people who are or have come out of other faiths. The two most literal English translations are the NASB (New American Standard) and the ESV (English Standard Version). The NIV (New International Version) follows as a close third; its only difference is that it is a little easier to read and comprehend than the former translations. If you are faced with a question about which translation you read, be honest. If you read from five versions, say so. God can move through you because the power of His Word will be evident in how you revere His Scripture. However, if you are discussing a particular verse or passage with a non-believer, it is always best to use a literal translation and not a paraphrase. Muslims especially will call you out for not quoting from a literal translation, and that is a hard objection to overcome if you do not use or have access to a literal translation. Here is another question that has plagued both Christians and non-believers alike: Why is it that you can see an OT verse referenced or quoted in the NT, but when you flip back to it, it is different from what is quoted in the NT? To answer this, we need to think back to our first section on the ancient Old Testament (OT) manuscripts. We noted that the OT manuscripts-collectively known as the Masoretic Text-were all from around 1,000 A.D. before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, which were over 1,000 years earlier. To illustrate why this is significant, I will use an example from the English language.
In my senior English class in high school, I was required to read Beowulf, one of the cornerstones of English literature. I was also privileged enough that I was able to see a
pre-translation copy of Beowulf. As I studied the manuscript, I could not make out a word of it. It was English, but for all I could understand it, it could have been in Swahili. The English language has changed so much between the Middle Ages when Beowulf was written and now, that it is impossible for someone who does not know Old English to read it. All languages evolve over time, and 1,000 years is a great deal of time. The Hebrew translations from 1,000 A.D. were probably written and spelled differently from the Hebrew spoken and written during the time of Jesus. That is why the Dead Sea Scrolls and other ancient manuscripts such as the Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate are so important because they give us the insight into the language that was used in Jesus’ time. Most Bibles are very good at documenting what their sources are, so check the margins for clues to where verses in question came from. If there is a difference between the Masoretic and another early text, it will most likely be noted. I pray that this column has given you some insight into how to respond to critiques about the translations and versions of the Bible. As always, if you have any questions or comments, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please put “Apologetics” in the subject line so they will be forwarded to the correct place.
Join us next month for one of my favorite topics in apologetics: How do we know the Bible hasn’t been changed?
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Free & Low Cost Date Night Ideas In our early marriage years, we promoted marriage conferences and facilitated home group studies centered on marriage. If there was one message we were constantly sharing with others, it was never stop dating your husband. Then we had children. And we moved. I confess, before those things I had a proud spirit when I met with other moms at local Mothers of Preschoolers meetings who admitted they didn’t date their husbands anymore. Their justification that they had no family around to help babysit just didn’t cut it with me. Did I mention I moved? When we had our daughter, our dating came to a screeching halt. She was chronically ill and that took a toll on us in every way imaginable. Just when she started to stabilize, my husband learned he had a new job 300 miles away. Suddenly I was that mom with no family around. We didn’t dare find babysitters because our daughter’s health changed so quickly we didn’t want to have a teenager burdened with a stressed child we were barely able to handle. We’ve now lived in this “new” place for over five years. Her health is fantastic and we’ve met great families who offered to take care of the kids. We’ve been involved with a marriage ministry that shares the same message we so often preached—don’t forget to date your spouse. This month my husband has a business trip where his bosses suggested I come along. Although I’m not able to attend the business function of things, we still have many hours in a gorgeous hotel in a beautiful city. God is so good. He didn’t just give us a date, He’s given us a second honeymoon. I realize what a gift this is and I don’t want to take it for granted. I also don’t want to take my husband for granted. Even if you have trouble locating a babysitter or finances are tight, here are some suggestions on how to keep dating your husband:
Written by Julie Arduini 1. Netflix or DVR it. We can’t afford going to the movies but we enjoy our Netflix movies. Our hope is that twice a month we can step back and enjoy a movie together on the same piece of furniture. I fell asleep during Star Trek and laughed too hard during Old Dogs, but what a treasure to rest on his shoulder while on the couch together. Consider a TV series as well. Our best “dates” were rushing the kids to bed so we could watch our Netflix series…24! 2. Walk the dogs. I do this myself but got to thinking, once a week why not wait and walk the dogs and spend time with my husband? Even if it’s just up the street it gives a few precious moments to talk. We’re blessed that our son is old enough to watch his sister for that length of time. If your children aren’t older, maybe plan a babysit swap with a trusted neighbor or friend. Extend that walk for an ice cream cone or something fun! 3. Go to lunch. We used to work across the street from each other. Now I write from home and his office is thirty minutes away in another state. My husband blessed me when he called me out a couple weeks ago and asked if I would go to lunch with him. The practical side of me was silenced because not even the price of gas was going to stop me. We went to a diner where our bill was minimal. As they say, the experience? Priceless. 4. Book it! I’m hosting a women’s study in conjunction with our church and a book our pastor is using throughout his sermons and ministries. Our schedule doesn’t allow us the ability to attend a group as a family, so as I prep the women’s study, my husband is studying with me. Maybe there is an audio book you can play instead of watching TV. Don’t forget crossword puzzles or board games. 5. One milkshake, two straws. This can be changed to so many food and beverage ideas but it doesn’t need to be fancy or cost a lot. If the kitchen isn’t your strong point, go to the convenient store and spend a dollar or two on a muffin or big candy bar to split. 6. Skip to the end. I don’t advocate this every time, but once in awhile it’s fun and spontaneous to fast forward and take the date to the end where you don’t say goodnight. Husbands love when it is your idea, trust me. These can be nights when the kids are in bed and you had a plan for the night, and skipped it! The main idea is to spend time enjoying one another. Talk. Laugh. Love. And never stop dating!
Humility & Serving
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recently started a Bible study entitled Anointed, Transformed, and Redeemed by Priscilla Shirer, Beth Moore, and Kay Arthur. In this study, I am learning about the steadfast and faithful life of King David. I was flabbergasted to learn that 22 years passed from the time Samuel anointed David as the future king of Israel to the time in which he actually became king. God seemed to say to this young boy, “Not yet, my chosen one, not yet. There are lessons to be learned before you can be a great king. But soon. Soon you will be ready. Trust Me as I prepare you.” In the meantime, David began to faithfully serve. He was an armor-bearer and harpist to King Saul, his predecessor, and a messenger to his brothers who were fighting the Philistines. The latter service allowed him to arrive at the fateful meeting of Goliath, the big Philistine bully, who threatened to take down all of Israel. By slinging a simple rock to Goliath’s head, David successfully defeated the Israelites’ biggest enemy. He was a hero.
A Humble Servant It was clear that David had been anointed for a reason. Yet he continued to serve others by performing menial tasks while knowing all along that one day he would be king of the very land and population he served. How could he be so faithful? How could he not desire the fruits of his anointment right then? How could he wait with such patience and continue to serve the king whose job he knew he would one day replace? His faithfulness baffled me as I read repeatedly how he accepted God’s will and teachings without complaint.
God knew that for David to reach the full capacity of his abilities, he was going to have to first humbly serve the people he would eventually rule. He needed to serve King Saul because it was necessary for him to learn to submit to authority. In addition, he patiently waited for the time in which his reign would begin knowing that this decision was in God’s hands. Faithfulness and patience were necessary attributes God knew David would need to possess. In the 22 years David spent preparing for greatness, he was being equipped by God to lead a nation and be remembered for an eternity. In God’s eyes, there is no such thing as a menial task. In fact, as Paul writes in 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12, “…pray that our God will make you fit for what he’s called you to be, pray that he’ll fill your good ideas and acts of faith with his own energy so that it all amounts to something…” (The Message). God was simply making David fit for what He had called him to be. The process, rather than the product, was of utmost importance. Sometimes I hear the call of God loud and clear. At times it could be years before I respond to something He is nudging me to do. However, I recently felt a “loud-and-clear” call to begin writing and speaking. I have always loved writing and had planned to explore this dream more intentionally this year; however, I soon realized that writing and speaking often go hand-in-hand. Therefore, I decided to add speaking to my dream of writing. After one speaking engagement, I found that I enjoyed sharing what God has done in my life with others in an attempt to encourage and provide hope.
I was so excited to have finally figured out why God had taken me through so many life struggles that I was passionately ready to serve and share this with other people as quickly as possible. I began assembling press kits and wrote plans to market myself to other groups who might be interested in having me share my journey and faith. I told myself it was all for God; but, if I felt my own pride and desire to be wellknown interfering with my initial purpose, I would pray for realignment and turn my focus back on Him. I wrote Philippians 2:3 down on an index card in order to help keep me focused on the true intention of my pursuit in writing and speaking. Each summer, Proverbs 31 Ministries hosts a conference called “She Speaks” in which women who are writers and speakers can learn skills to enhance their craft, meet with editors, and practice speaking in front of an audience with constructive feedback. I have desired to attend since the birth of my third child almost two years ago and knew that one day I would make this dream a reality. “Certainly after hearing such a clear call from God this would be my year to attend,” I thought. I was ready to take on the world with the fire in my heart to write and speak for God. I applied for one of four scholarships being awarded by Proverbs 31. Even with over 300 applicants, I still found myself hopeful that I might possibly be chosen to receive one. God’s call was clear to me and I knew that if I was meant to attend, He would make it happen. I held out hope and could hardly wait for the winners to be announced.
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The winners were announced and I was not one of them. I felt disappointed but also grateful that God had chosen recipients who might not have been able to attend without the assistance of a scholarship. I did not want selfish ambition or vain conceit to cloud my joy for someone else’s “Yes, now!” by my own “Not yet.” My husband lovingly offered that if I really wanted to attend, we would find a way to make it happen. I quickly recovered. Perhaps it was indeed meant that I still attend the conference and formulate a plan to get my writing and speaking career off and running. However, the voice I keep hearing is “Not now, dear daughter. Not now.” Through recent prayer, I feel that God has called me to humbly serve others – without selfish ambition or vain conceit. I still have so much to learn and God has gently been telling me this very thing. I’ve heard it and I’m listening.
Webster’s Dictionary defines the state of being humble as “not proud, haughty, arrogant, or assertive.”1 God tells us in Philippians 2:3 that we must think of others as “…better than yourselves.” (NIV) When we combine the secular definition with its Biblical partner, we can assume that humility would result when we absolutely surrender our pride and arrogance and think of ourselves as “less than” others. Perhaps the most informative definition of humility can be found again in Philippians 2. To paraphrase verses 5 through 8, we are instructed to take on the attitude of Jesus who, even though He was God in the flesh, did not consider Himself to be equal to God but rather to that of a servant.
He even “humbled himself” and became obedient to death on the cross. Jesus served his people yet He did so with humility. There are no accounts of Him ever being prideful or arrogant. As a result, He was greatly rewarded as we are told in verse 9: “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name.” (NIV) This leads me to believe that serving others and humility go hand-in-hand. They are like “Cookies and Cream” or peas and carrots. You can serve others without humility, but should you be prideful or arrogant about this service, I dare say you are missing the point. On the other hand, humility without serving would eventually translate into inaction; one could be thought of as whiny or even pitiful. To truly possess humility, you must also become a servant; to truly possess a servant’s heart, you must have an even stronger sense of humility. They are a package deal. Like David, I am realizing that it’s time to humbly serve others. It’s time to put others before me. It’s time to really practice having an attitude like Jesus by “taking the very nature of a servant” as stated in Philippians 2:7 (NIV). I was recently asked to co-coordinate a Mothers of Preschoolers group with the intention of becoming the coordinator the following year. I humbly accepted. It’s time to devote more time in the Scriptures so I can adequately serve and minister to the group of women I will be leading. I have faith that God knows the lessons I need to be taught. Should the time emerge to revisit that speaking and writing career, I, like David, will be better equipped to actually do so effectively. Praise be to God for guiding us as a shepherd guides his flock and for loving us as a father loves his child. 55 © exemplify magazine
In His timing, God planned for David to one day be the Israelite’s king. It was not until I examined my own story and could see the active hand of God throughout my life that I could see the crystal clear plan God obviously had for me all along. What is something you dream of doing? Has God told you “Yes, now is the time!” or “No, not now, dear daughter” as He recently said to me? Examine your life story to better understand God’s plan for you. Ask the Holy Spirit to lead you and be open to the answer – even when the answer may be “Not now, dear daughter. Not now.” May we all follow David’s example and serve others while we are waiting. Let’s be women who are willing to learn the lessons God is teaching to prepare us for His plan. Endnotes 1 “humble.” Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2010.Merriam-Webster Online. (23 April 2010)
Natalie Snapp is first and foremost a lover of Jesus, a lover of her husband, Jason, and a lover of their three children. She is a freelance writer whose work appears in Blissfully Domestic and at her blog, www.mommyonfire. com. She also has a passion for women’s ministry and therefore is busy as the Co-Coordinator of her Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) group. In addition, she is an obsessive reader who loves to “talk books” with other book-loving friends. Natalie resides in the Midwest with the aforementioned family that teaches her the extent of God’s love on a daily basis. She is constantly thankful for God’s grace and mercy as she raises her young family to love Him and share their love for Him with others.
image credit: mikecco
Do any of these statements sound familiar?
• “Oh, I’ll never do that again!” • “I’d never let my kids do that!” • “It’s time for me to move on because I’ve done my time in such and such ministry.” Have you ever said something where you think there is no possible way you would go back to that season of your life? Then it happened. All of the sudden you were smack dab face to face with the very situation that you said you’d never go back to. It has happened to me and I must admit I just didn’t like it. Really…I didn’t like it at all! In my mind, I had crossed that bridge, closed the door, and wasn’t going back. However, you and I both know that it just doesn’t always work that way, does it? I served at a church in our area for almost four and a half years as the Preschool Ministry Director. I handled all the volunteers, staff, planning, budgets, and everything else that comes with that as well as starting a weekday preschool at the church. The church I was at was a mega church. Just in the preschool ministry alone we had well over four hundred children each and every weekend. It was long hours, lots of crazy expectations, and just an intense ministry…and I loved it. I truly enjoyed my job but also knew that God was preparing to move me on to other avenues of ministry. Therefore, when the time came for me to take a new position in our church in the Membership, Baptism and Small Groups department, I knew that this was just the change I needed.
After years of building a preschool ministry leadership team, I knew that the ministry would survive without me and that this was part of the progression that God had planned for my life. So I gladly jumped into my new adventure.
I knew that there would need to be a season of rest, direction, pruning, and whatever else God needed to do to prepare us for the next step in ministry; but, I just didn’t know what that next step was. If you are a planner like myself then that is just miserable.
After a few months in this new position, God completely rocked my world by asking my husband & I (both pastors) to step away from the church that we had faithfully served for the last four years. We worked sixty plus hours and put in lots of blood, sweat, and tears there. Imagine the shock, horror, and complete numbness that came along with stepping away from all that we invested into it. But we knew that was what God was telling us to do; so we stepped out in faith of His leading.
It was during this season of pruning that I felt more than ever that God was leading me to focus solely and completely on women’s ministry. I have spoken, written, taught, and led women’s groups for years but always had to split my time between that and the kids ministry. Finally it felt like God was preparing me for what my heart truly desired…to build a women’s ministry outside the walls of the church; a ministry that focuses on women wherever they are (in or outside of the church) but encouraging them to live with an authentic faith.
You can make many plans, but the LORD’S purpose will prevail. (Proverbs 19:21 NLT) The hard part actually came afterward. In my previous position, I had influence, status, staff, Bible studies, connections, and stuff (lots and lots of stuff). When God called us away from it, we had nothing…absolutely nothing. Friends left. The stuff left. The influence was gone. What in the world was going on? One minute I was this busy bee, get it done, power position, leader in the church, and the next minute I was just Melissa. That’s when God started really working on me. Humbled, pruned, shocked, stunned, hurt, burned out, burned, and completely raw with emotion from all of it, He started a new work in me.
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That’s when I got the call from the pastor of the church we had been attending. He asked me to consider leading the kids ministry at the church. I laughed out loud and said something like, “Um yeah, thank you so much for thinking of me, but I’ve done my time in kids ministry. My heart is to lead women.” Almost immediately I felt God say to me, “Dear child, do you really think I gave you all that experience to sit in the seats at church on Sunday?” When that happened, you could have heard a pin drop. It was just like the whole world stopped and it was stone cold silent. I brushed it aside and said, “There’s no way He could want me to do that again. I mean, really God, I did four and a half years with hundreds of volunteers and kids. I thought You wanted me to lead women. Did I misunderstand You?”
Seek the Lord, all who are humble, and follow his commands. Seek to do what is right and to live humbly. Perhaps even yet the Lord will protect you—protect you from his anger on that day of destruction. (Zephaniah 2:3 NLT) I let it sit there. Then something crazy happened. My heart started to change. I have to admit that I didn’t really want it to. I know that sounds horrible, but where did leading the kids ministry at my church fit into my plans to lead women? Ouch! Did you hear that? My plans… That’s when I knew that my pride had stepped in and was speaking so loud that I could just barely hear God’s whisper to be obedient and humble in this position. If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. (James 3:13 NLT) I may not choose the path that God does but I know that I know that I know that His path and ways are far greater than mine. After three weeks of wrestling with this, I picked up the phone and called my pastor. I asked him if the position of Kids Ministry Director was still available. I shared my heart, passion, and vision for the women’s ministry and was able to walk into this new position at the church with a humble heart and a willing spirit.
It’s a funny thing when you are forced to eat humble pie. I mean, let’s face it. No one likes it, do they? If we truly desire to be all that God has created us to be, there are going to be times when we have to lay down our agenda or plans and walk forward humbly wherever He leads us. In doing so, we may occasionally have to eat some humble pie; but, the reward is so worth it when we finally do. It’s been just over a year now and I absolutely love being back in the ministry with kids. Not only am I able to love on, serve, and care for the kids of our church, but I’ve also been able to minister to their families as well. When you finally submit your will for God’s, doing so may very well turn into a bigger blessing; a blessing you never could have discovered on your own. I know it’s been that way for me and I pray it is for you too. Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. (1 Peter 3:8 NLT)
I’m a woman who is passionately pursing God every day by taking my everyday, ordinary life and placing it as an offering to Him. I live by Romans 12:2 (do not conform to the pattern of this world…) and consider it pure JOY to be a daughter of the King, wife, mom, writer, speaker and Pastor’s wife. I write in my own world, Mel’s World, about the very things that drive me closer to Him. I’m married to Matt, my best friend, for 16 (almost 17) years and have two very handsome and amazing teenage sons, Nick & Bailey. You can find me in Mel’s World at http://www.MelissaMashburn.com or on Twitter at @Mels_World. 58 magazine © exemplify magazine
The Syrophoenician Woman
Written by Tara Guy
Written by Tara Guy
I burst through the door, sunlight burning my eyes as they adjust from the thick, oppressive darkness inside. Behind me my husband yells, “You are mad, too! He is not going to help you!” A scream rends the air and my husband is silenced. I hear him struggling, groaning, and my daughter screams again. I stop outside the door, tears tracking rivers down my cheeks and my chest heaving in sobs. “What would you have me do?” I cried. “Just leave her be? How long do you think those rags will restrain her until we have to cut up some more? Even you can barely overpower her!” My throat catches and I choke through another sob. “Should we just leave her to destroy herself?” My husband appears in the doorway, blood dripping from a gash across his cheek. “Oh, God!” I gasp, reaching up to try wipe the blood off. My hand comes away slick and sticky. ”Did she manage to break a bowl and hit you?” He shakes his head, showering the ground with droplets of crimson blood. ”No,” he sighs. ”She did this with her fingers.” From inside my daughter lets out a primal howl of mirth. I reach up and wipe the drip forming at the base of my nostril as the tears well again. ”How can you tell me I cannot go to Him? I ask you, what other choice do we have? What else would you have me do?” My husband turns to face me and grabs my shoulders roughly. I can feel his fingers pressing into my flesh, as though more physical force would change my mind. ”What would I have you do? What would you have Him do? For starters, speak with you! But that’s not going to happen.” He spits a mouthful of blood onto the ground at my feet. ”You know how they are.”
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“Them, yes. Not Him.” I hear a crash from inside the house as my daughter rages again. ”You filthy stinking dog!” Her sweet voice is barely discernible through the evil roar. ”He will have nothing to do with you!” It drops to a low growl. ”You are not worthy to lick the dirt from His feet.” Again, a cackle shakes the walls. I stare through my tears at my husband. ”I’m going.” He wipes off more blood with the back of his hand. ”I could divorce you for this.” I grab a skin hanging on the wall and fill it with water from the cistern by the door. ”If that’s what you feel is best.” I tie the skin around my neck and adjust the wrap over my hair. ”I cannot sit by and let her suffer, knowing He is so close. Knowing He might be our only chance.” My husband cups my face with his bloody hand. ”Then go if you must. And I pray you find the mercy you are looking for, though I fear you are looking in the wrong place.” I lean up to kiss my husband on the cheek as the walls shake again. I turn and head into the sunlight, not wanting to hear another rage. ”At least I’m looking,” I mutter under my breath. *** I had been at the well when I’d first heard of Him being in our country. Word of His deeds had traveled far, even to our hardened, unbelieving ears. I remembered scoffing the first time I heard of His feeding of 5,000 people with only a few fish and loaves. “Sounds like a hoax, if you ask me,” I had told the other women at the well. ”I bet it’s all political. Build up this guy’s fame. Make Him into some kind of hero or demi-god. You know the Jews are always wanting someone to save them.”
“Maybe,” my friend said thoughtfully. ”But He’s not just miracles. I’ve heard about healings. People who have been ill all their life come to Him and He makes them well. There’s even been…” she trailed off and her eyes fell back to the well’s edge.
I cannot help but smile as I think about the irony of the whole situation. This Jesus – Yeshua of Nazareth – a Jew by birth and blood, sojourning in Phoenicia. Were I not so full of grief over the state of my daughter, I might actually laugh.
“What?” I asked warily. ”What else?”
We Phoenicians know where we stand with the Jews. If our pagan history is not enough for them to despise us, our modern Greek influence provides more than enough reason.
“Well,” she began timidly, “Supposedly He heals sickness of the mind, too. I’ve heard about it.” Even in the midday heat, I’d felt my blood run cold. ”My daughter is not sick in the mind,” I said carefully though gritted teeth. “Of course not,” my friend conceded quickly. ”I wasn’t saying — I just mean, I’ve heard of Him healing those who do have a sickness in the mind.” She laughed, but it was forced and stiff. ”But you’re right, it’s probably all political.”
Not that the Jews have ever bothered me much. I honestly think it is ridiculous how they consider themselves the “chosen” race. The “holy” people. As though they are so much better than the rest of us simply because of where and to whom they were born. Like any living person has any control over that. And now Jesus – their Jesus – has come here. To the pagans. Away from His own people.
I lifted my jar and left the well without saying another word.
Something strange stirs within my breast. Has He come for me?
That night had been the first night my daughter had to be restrained. I had been telling my husband about my conversation at the well when she just… I can’t even describe it without shuddering. My husband managed to restrain her by tying her to the wall. He tied the wrist straps so tight her hands turned purple. She laughed the entire time.
I push the thought away as soon as it hits my mind. To think He would have come this far just for me – a Gentile dog. It is preposterous.
That night I lay awake on our mat, my husband sleeping soundly beside me, and wondered if this Jesus was someone I needed to seek out. *** I make my way from my home toward the coast. I can see the picturesque blue waters of the Great Sea in the distance. I know where He is headed. He is going to the coast as well. Supposedly this Jesus likes the sea. 61 © exemplify magazine
I stop at several places along the way, asking about Him and His entourage. His fame has made Him well known, and at each place I gain a little more knowledge to His whereabouts. I receive several strange looks – a tired, weary woman traveling alone, searching for a man. But I ignore them. I am long past the days caring over what someone else thinks of me. *** The physician tied up his small leather bag, shaking his head. My daughter was finally sleeping, only because of the herbs he brewed in some tea that he and my husband then forced down her throat.
“My advice is constant sedation,” he said. ”Until the end.” I shook my head roughly, tears stinging the rims of my eyes. ”Sedate her? Never let her wake up?” He placed a gentle hand on my shoulder. ”She is a danger to herself and to others. The best option is to render her harmless.” “How much for the herbs?” I asked, my heart aching. He quoted the price. I gasped. ”We cannot afford that. And for how long? How long would we have to use them?” He shrugged. ”Months. Years. Decades. Who can know?” I swayed on my feet, emotion, exhaustion, and despair working to take me down. ”When is the last time you’ve rested?” he asked gently. I tried to remember and couldn’t. So I cried instead. My husband put an arm around my shoulder. The weight of it almost sent me to my knees. The physician raised his eyes to my husband. ”How many people have seen your daughter?” My husband furrowed his brow, silently mouthing numbers. ”You are the fifth physician. We’ve also had a mystic healer, and I even took her to one of the temples to see if the priests and priestesses could do anything for her. So far, nothing.” He lowered his head sadly. ”We are out of money and out of options.” The physician tied his bag to his leather belt and gave us one last pitying, resigned look. ”Then I am afraid you have no hope.” *** © exemplify magazine
I finally come upon His group. They have set up a camp of sorts close to the seashore. The sound of the waves hitting the sand soothes my raw, fragile nerves. I stay back, studying, wondering if the fates that be are trying to pull a horrendous joke on me. His friends move about, setting down packs and gathering wood to build a fire. A few walk to the sea’s edge and cast frayed, worn nets into the shallows. They are rugged, dirty, deeply tanned from the sun. They are so… ordinary. I search for Him, and finally spot Him. He is breaking apart sections of bread and setting them out on a large stone. He blinks the sweat out of his eyes. He, too, is nothing but ordinary. I turn to leave, my heart weeping within. I am so weary and worn that I could collapse on the road and die. I chastise myself for becoming so disillusioned, so desperate, for a miracle that I am looking to the mundane to find it. I think about what awaits me at home. And suddenly my feet won’t move. I cannot take another step forward. As weary as I am, this journey has been a respite from the horror than has become my life. Many have told us to abandon her. To take her out to a remote field or wood and leave her to her own demise. There have been times when I felt it was our only option left. And then I look at her, and through the madness, the violence, she is still there. My daughter. My precious child. My heart. Stay or go… My daughter’s fate lies in my choice. The enormity of the weight of this decision presses on me like an unbearable burden.
Do you expect Him to help you? Even if He can heal your daughter, He will not do so for you. You are unworthy. A dark voice, strangely echoing my daughter’s words, penetrates my thoughts, crushing my heart and my spirit. I know it to be true. I know He only helps those who are His people. A sob escapes my chest. My last hope for her, and because of me – my blood, my heritage – there is no chance. A breeze blows through the bushes, fragrant and sweet as an exotic flower. It dries the anxious sweat on my brow, and I hear a whisper in my heart. All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Him. Listen to Him, for He is my Son, with whom I am well-pleased. “Authority?” I whisper. I stare at the remotely unremarkable man before me. ”He is not majestic, nor regal. He does not serve Rome. He is not even a Jewish priest.” His kingdom is not of this world, and He will reign forever on the throne of David. I hear the words, spoken to my soul from a place deep and sacred. The offer of power is tantalizing, and it arouses the hatefully painful core of hope in my heart. Believe. Ask whatever you need in His name, and it will be given to you. He will give it to you. He sits on the large stone, munching slowly on His hunk of bread, staring out at the undulating water. As though He suddenly hears the crying from my heart, He turns and looks into my grove of bushes. Right into my eyes. Believe…
“I do,” I whisper, tears completely obstructing my vision. I burst forth from my enclosure, knocking aside one of the men in His party. I fall at His feet, sobbing so hard I can barely speak. The weight and emotion of my daughter’s imprisonment breaks free, and my tears fall onto His dusty toes. “My Lord, Son of David!” I cry out, my voice aching to slip past the painful knot in my throat. ”Have mercy on me, oh please, have mercy on me.” I cannot look in His eyes. I have no right to come to Him. A Greek. A Gentile dog. For Him to even speak to me would be a great demonstration of mercy. “My daughter, she is demon-possessed.” I shudder at the words escaping my lips. It is as though the answer to her infirmity has been placed in my heart and presents itself to Him who has the power to heal her. Fresh tears fall at this newly-realized admission. ”She is suffering terribly.” He studies me, but unlike the physicians, the healers, and the temple priests, there is compassion in His eyes. Sorrow. It is as though He literally feels my grief. ”Oh, my Lord,” I sob again. One of his men comes over and pulls me gently aside by the shoulders. He leans over Jesus and says quietly (but not so quietly I cannot hear him), “Master, send her away. She keeps crying out.” The man looks at me helplessly, then turns and looks at Him with pleading. He sighs, His shoulders rising heavily. ”I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” He is not haughty, and speaks almost with regret. Anguish wracks my body, and I break away from the group of men and fall at His feet again. ”Please, my Lord!” You are my last and only hope! He sighs again and places a comforting hand on my shoulder. ”It is not right to take children’s bread and feed it to the dogs.”
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I hear His words. I hear my ranking in His statement. I hear whatever has hold of my daughter roaring with laughter in my ears, gloating. I know I am not worthy.
It is almost nightfall when I reach home. The house is dark, quiet. I step up to the door, shaking all over. I know whatever I find behind this door is going to change me forever.
Ask whatever you need in His name, and it will be given to you. He will give it to you. Believe…
A vision of my daughter, imprisoned by a terrorist, flashes before my mind. ”No,” I whisper. ”I refuse to believe she is still like that. He said she was healed, and I believe Him.” Gathering my determination, I push open the door.
I’ve asked You for mercy. I raise my eyes to His, confidence building in me as I step out onto the invisible ledge of faith. ”Yes, Lord, but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” I only need one of Your crumbs. One crumb from You is more than enough. Please… He stares at me, thoughts swirling behind His dark brown eyes. Then the smallest of smiles breaks out on His lips. ”Woman, you have great faith indeed. Your request has been granted. The demon has left your daughter.” I wait for something, anything – a snap of His fingers, a packet of herbs, an incantation. But nothing comes. He has only spoken, and now He has turned back to His bread.
The house is dark except for a small oil lamp on the table. I hear voices speaking softly. I turn to the corner, my eyes both anxious and terrified at what they will see. My husband sits leaning against the wall. In his lap he cradles my daughter. She turns to look at me at the sound of my footsteps. A smile breaks out across her beautiful, scarred face. ”Mama!” she cries breathlessly. She tries to get to her feet, but is too weak and wounded. Her arms come out, reaching for me, beckoning me forth.
He has spoken… can I just believe?
I move as a blur to her corner, collapsing and dragging her into my arms. I kiss every inch of her face, kiss the wounds on her wrists from the bindings. ”Oh, my precious baby!” I sob, kissing her between words. I run my hands over her matted hair, cup her face and kissing her scars. ”Oh, I’ve missed you!”
The sun has passed the high noon apex and afternoon is setting in. As I leave the rolling sea behind me, and the miraculous man that loves it so much, I know my journey of faith is not quite over. Rather, it is just beginning.
She clings to me, her fingers digging into my neck as though she will never let go. I hold her entire thin frame in my lap and rub her back as she cries. ”Mama, Mama…” she cries through her tears over and over.
I thank Him profusely as I back away from His gathering. I turn to follow the road again, realizing that I am once again at the crossroads of a choice.
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I look at my husband. He has drawn his knees up, sobbing violently into his hands. I reach out and pat his cheek. I can feel the relief in his tears. I have to know. ”When?” I whisper to him, as my daughter cries harder on my shoulder. He wipes his face roughly and inhales forcefully through his nose. ”Must have been two hours past noon. I was sitting outside waiting and watching for you when I heard her. ’Daddy,’ she called me. I went in to find her, worried it was a trap. But when I saw her I just knew… she was healed. I untied her.” His voice breaks and tears fall again onto his cheeks. ”I’ve been holding her ever since.” He drags his sleeve across his upper lip. ”What happened?” I grin, tears of joy and relief springing to my own eyes. ”I found Him. That’s what happened.” *** People still avoid us at the well, but again, I am long past caring about others’ opinions. I look at my daughter, her luxuriant black hair glistening in the sunlight. She is breathtaking, her laughter infectious. Her sweet spirit is almost tangible. Every so often someone will get brave and approach us. I think most people think she is still mad, that we are orchestrating some great coup. But we know the truth. An older lady walks carefully toward us, her water jar balanced perfectly on her hip. ”I am glad to see you are well, “she says kindly to my daughter.
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My daughter grins, her face lighting up from within. ”Oh, I am! And what a story it is. Do you have time to hear it?” The woman nods, smiling, shifting her jar to the ground. She sits carefully onto the stone bench. My daughter tosses the water ladle to me and goes to sit beside the elder woman. ”Well, my story begins with a remarkable man who healed me simply by the power of His word. His name is Jesus…” Adapted from Matthew 15:21-28 and Mark 7:24-30