exemplify magazine March 2010
Rev UpYour Adventurous Spirit! STUDYING WHERE THE BIBLE CAME FROM
Page 36 craft a mission statement for
do you willingly obey God or does your own willfulness get in the way?
Cover image: ÂŠ Alena Root | Dreamstime.com 2 ÂŠ exemplify magazine
Exemplify Magazine This month the Exemplify team is bringing you heartfelt content filled to the brim with encouraging articles on living obediently. Psalm 119:33 has long been a prayer of mine. Psalm 119:33 (The Message) “God, teach me lessons for living so I can stay the course. Give me insight so I can do what you tell me— my whole life one long, obedient response.”
I pray this month our magazine will challenge you to walk obediently with our Savior. I pray we would allow the Lord to teach us lessons for living; that we would be women who readily respond to the call of our King. May our lives be lived in obedient response to His love. In King Jesus,
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AN AMERICAN WOMAN IN AFRICA P.20 Judith Roberts interviews Jessica Ruiz . MISSION ACCOMPLISHED? P.46 Patty Wysong feature. HE LEADS, I FOLLOW P.50 Melissa Mashburn feature.
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DEVOTIONAL P.10 A control freak embraces obedience. MOVING TOWARD HOLINESS P.32 Overwhelming Obedience FAITH APPLIED P. 36 If I must eat locusts, can they at least be chocolate covered?
A WILLING LIFE OF A WILLFUL SINGLE GIRL P.14 Do you willingly obey God? THE KEEPING OF THE WORD P.42 Apolgetics column. MINISTRY ONLINE WITH AMYP.36 Crafting a mission statement for your ministry.
Exemplify Magazine gets creative with the fonts of i
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 God-given 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/ Web Editor/Singles 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 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 Rachel Director of Ministry Support/ Fiction & Apologetics Column/ Web Editor Tara Rachel 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.
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 thoughtsthatmove.blogspot.com/ or wendypainemiller.wordpress.com/. Victoria Jenkins Bible Study Columnist Victoria began writing from Scripture out of the sheer inability to keep a good thing to herself--the exception being brownies, those she refuses to share. Soon after delving into her first Bible study, it became clear that God was building a ministry through this new-found love for His Word. Whether she is homeschooling, housewifing, or hiding from the laundry heap, God continues to grow Victoria through the ministry He set in motion...and she continues to hog all the brownies. 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.
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Amy Bayliss Ministry Online Columnist Amy is a true Cajun princess who is on a mission to minister to women via the World Wide Web. She has a heart for encouraging and equipping women and she does so by utilizing many different venues. Writing, speaking, blogging, pioneering… visit her at amybayliss.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. Her ministries in the past included leading women Bible studies; leading worship once month with the contemporary praise team. 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.
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Meet our New Team Members Lori MacMath Moving Toward Holiness Columnist Lori’s mom insists that she came out of the womb ‘talking’ and has not stopped since. Lori however, insists that over the past 41 years she has learned a thing or two about listening as well. Especially, when it is God who is doing the talking. 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. She is also involved in several other online ministries. You’ll find her at Heart of the Matter and most recently she became the Moving Toward Holiness columnist at Exemplify. Lori is passionate about helping women apply the teachings of Christ to their modern, busy lives. Lori is involved in women’s ministries and youth ministry in her church, Crossroads United Methodist, a plant church in her community. Along with church ministry, Lori teaches classes at her homeschool co-op, keeping her continually connected with today’s young people. She often wishes she could shout from the mountain top that this is all by the grace and mercy of God. 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. My Chris and I have been married for 18 years on August 10th this year. We have truly grown up together. We love to be together and are the best of friends! Although it is rare that we have alone time, we search for it like treasure. We are each others’ prayer warriors and biggest cheerleaders. 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 on the side. 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. Also, through blogging, I have compiled a cookbook for Beth Moore and for all the blogging Siestas on her blog. All the proceeds have gone to build clean water wells through Life Outreach International. So far, we have raised over $2,700! I love when God does that! In every season of our lives, God is faithful.
I am your typical first born child. Cautious to a fault, a mother hen concerned over her baby chicks (ask some of my college buddies!), a nurturer by nature with a strong sense of right and wrong, justice and injustice. Some would call me a control freak and I won’t argue that point here. It’s mostly true. I find comfort in being behind the scenes; running things always seems to flow smoother than without attention, I’ve always thought. I considered myself a good child growing up; rarely did I get into any serious trouble. I liked to make my teachers and parents happy, and pretty much any other authoritative figure was well respected by me. I was just obedient enough to mask any sense of the rebellious side brimming under the surface of a goody two shoes church girl. Sometimes it was in the way I would drag my feet to do a chore, other times in the speeding down a stretch of road that was empty and clear of any highway patrolmen. All those kinds of things that nobody would notice; no one, that is, except for God. Now I’m an adult. I still mask my rebellious ways well. I call myself stubborn. Strong-willed. Tenacious. Controlfreak. I call myself these things with an almost pride. But make no mistake. Sin is sin. A willful heart isn’t an obedient heart. And the older I get the more I realize I’ve missed out on so many blessings from God in the name of being a stubborn control-freak. I started this year off pondering these things and the way my life has been run up until now. Some things, by the grace of God, have gone well. But so many other things are marked with regret and failure. As I bemoaned these circumstances and life choices and struggles to God, pleading with Him to change whatever in me was making such shambles of my life, He answered me in a most unexpected way. With two words. Two simple words, paired together in a song I had learned as a child. “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way. To be happy in Jesus, than to trust and obey.” Really? Trust and obey? Could it be that simple (and simultaneously so hard)? So I decided this year I would embark upon a new journey with God. One of the simplicity of trusting Him and obeying what He says. I have absolutely no idea what will happen. That scares the control freak in me to no end. But then I remember, never before in any other year have I ever known what would happen, yet I held on so tightly to this irrational sense of control, thinking somehow it would help. Turns out it has only hurt me. Now I want God’s way. You know what I’m finding out? This road of trust and obedience is marked with unexpected blessings. Just like the psalmist penned,“By your teachings, Lord, I am warned; by obeying them, I am greatly rewarded.” Psalm 19:11 CEV. In God’s economy trust plus obedience equals blessing. If I want the most I can get out of life it’s going to come from submitting myself before God and doing what He commands. Pure and simple obedience. The old me would cringe at words like submission and obedience. The connotation always seemed to imply a puppet without any say, without any input into his own life. That’s truly how I felt. How could I have been raised in the church and believed that obedience meant bondage and self-will meant freedom? Was I even listening? I don’t want to come to the end of my days and hear God say to me what he had once said to the rebellious children of Israel, “How I wish that you had obeyed my commands! Your success and good fortune would then have overflowed like a flooding river.” Isaiah 48:18 CEV. Just reading those words makes me shudder over the way my life could go, and hope instead that it will be marked with obedience. Merciful God that He is, I’ve learned He doesn’t leave us on our own in our efforts to comply in obedience to His commands. “Teach me to follow your will and I will obey your truth. Always keep me faithful.” Psalms 86:11. God will show us how to obey His will. He will keep us faithful; all we need is to have a willing heart for Him to work obedience through us. How humbling it is to know that God asks us to obey and then comes along and enables to be able to do so. Oh Lord, teach me to be an obedient child! 10 © exemplify magazine
A Control Freak Embraces Obedience Written by Kara Cox
Rev Up Your Adventurous Spirit Written by Wendy Miller
It’s easy to slip into a lull this time of year. There’s a time for lulls. But then there’s also a time for tapping into your adventurous side. Why not now? Before I give you a list of ways to pump up your plans, I’m going to share an example that redefined my concept of adventure, one that broke the mold of all things humdrum. Years ago, I got hooked on a TV program following a group of sojourners on an impossibly intense trek through New Zealand. They climbed heights of mountains to what seemed like a finger-numbing, foot-rotting, dangerous point of no return. Their dedication prevailed. They ached. They moaned. They fought through great trials and surmounted not only mountains, but also entrenched battles of conflict. I was fascinated by the psychology behind their excursion. I loved the exploration, the man vs. nature (in addition to man vs. man and man vs. self) aspect of the show. I watched, pinpricked with awe and slight jealousy of those who dared to endure such a momentous journey. After seeing this show my idea of adventure rose to a pretty high standard. I understand most of us feel no desire to climb mountains until we experience breath-altering, bonetingling exertion. But are there other ways we can take a bigger bite out of life? There are smaller, more realistic examples of revving up our adventurous spirits. When was the last time you tried something new? When did you last step out in faith? I’ve categorized the steps to rev up your adventure into four categories: faith, mind, body, and relationships.
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Adventurous Spirit of Faith: * Pick a verse, any verse and make it part of your mission statement. When we lived in Lexington, Kentucky, our pastor encouraged the congregation to build a life statement of passion based on Scripture. He walked us through one, explaining how Paul proclaimed, “to live is Christ. To die is gain” in Philippians 1:21. Have at it. Find a verse that you can build a visionary hope upon. * Serve. Volunteer. Put your faith into action. This is the adventure that gives back. Not only do others reap the benefits of your pouring time and attention into them, I can almost guarantee that you’ll feel better too. Serving is one of the best ways to live out faith. And it feels good and right to demonstrate faith through action and not just words. “To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.” Colossians 1:29 * Ask God to reveal something new (about himself) to you every single day. Revel in it when He makes good on this. I believe God delights in revealing himself. The excitement comes when you start seeing God show up in places and people that you might have missed before. Having your eyes peeled open is a thrilling adventure. “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary— your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.” Romans 12, The Message
Adventurous Spirit for your Mind:
Adventurous Spirit for your Body:
* Puzzles. Not complicated here. Crossword puzzles, mind teasers, riddles, floor puzzles all help to increase brain activity. Work that brain of yours. It will thank you when you’re a sharp old whippersnapper. * Plan something. A trip. A party. Your future. Putting a game plan together can prove stimulating. Spend time plotting out a story, mapping out a vacation, or calculating a better budget. Mental preparation pulls you out of the routine of here and now when at times that’s needed. Get excited for something. If you don’t have anything in the works to get excited about…plan for it.
* Walk. Run. Move. There are countless studies depicting evidence that exercise energizes and motivates. Exercise reaps hundreds of benefits for the body. Winter months are famous for sprawling on couches and snacking on one more (you name it…snack with chocolate conveniently in it). The destination isn’t important for this example. Just get up. Get that body moving. And feel the benefits! * Get lost. Have you ever driven without knowing where you were headed? I have and almost every time I’ve done this I’ve cranked my music and opened the windows. It’s fun. It’s not climbing the Alps or earning a Pulitzer Prize, but it’s changing your atmosphere. Sometimes all we need to get out of a funk is a change of scenery. What are you waiting for? Go get lost. * Undertake a new project…painting, a craft, (this one applies to body, mind, faith…and potentially even relationships). I experienced a summer a few years ago where I had to paint. Any and everything I could get my hands on…I HAD to paint. And what an adventure it proved to be. I ended up refurbishing pieces of furniture into beautiful renovations.
All we have is to decide what to do with the time that is given to us. — J.R.R. Tolkien (The Fellowship of the Ring) * Challenge negative thinking. I remember watching Phil McGraw years ago when he addressed behavior replacement. The gist goes something like this: If you’re doing something you don’t want to do, in order to stop doing it you’ll need to replace it with another activity. Try this with your negative thoughts, i.e. complaining. Ask God to change your heart and transform your mind, renewing it for things of Him. Then, find a verse to replace your ugly thought with. I know, from experience, this one works. * Create stories. If you’re anything like me you hibernate during the winter. When I deck the kids out in puffy winter jackets and pull myself into the cold, I need to provide incentive. One such incentive for me is always the excitement about who I might run into. It’s not that I might know anyone at the grocery store or the library, but more the stories I’m able to create when I observe them. This one is great for long car trips. As a family you can play it, imagining details about the lives of the people in the car next to you.
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Life is pure adventure, and the sooner we realize that, the quicker we will be able to treat life as art. — Maya Angelou Adventurous Spirit for your Relationships: * Say something you’ve always wanted to say. We hold back for so many reasons, some founded and some not. Most often I find we refrain from saying things because we are afraid. Afraid of becoming hurt, afraid of hurting, the list goes on. But we aren’t called to spirits of timidity.
By telling someone the truth we exude a spirit of adventure if we are express our words with love and Spirit-led intentions. Especially if the thing you’ve always wanted to say is a word of encouragement or an affirmation, go ahead, today is the day…say it. * Forgive someone. You might be wondering why this one constitutes as an adventurous act. I can think of few things as adventurous as the continual act of forgiveness. Often it takes immeasurable courage, tenacity, surrender and raw honesty to forgive. Forgiving is one of the most Godly forms of adventure. Life is a daring adventure or nothing at all. — Helen Keller
* Surprise a loved one. Buy flowers. I’ve had some of my dear friends do this for me unexpectedly and it transformed my day. Write a letter to your spouse and send it to their work place. You should have seen my husband’s ordinarily stoic face the day he received my note. Give a gift. Do something to throw someone off guard by your kindness. Surprise yourself. Risk. Go out on a limb for someone. Don’t give in to boring routines and expected reactions. Be different by living differently. Life is waiting. To rev up your faith you can pinpoint a verse to build a vision sentence around, serve and ask God to reveal Himself to you expecting results. You can churn your mind by doing puzzles, planning, replacing negativity and creating. Moving your body, getting lost or taking on a new creative project each contribute to an exploratory you. Finally, relate with others on a deeper level by taking some risks. Say what’s been brewing inside you, forgive someone and initiate surprises. We want to live extraordinary lives for Christ, don’t we? So get out there. Have an adventure. Forget that—Make an Adventure out of life!
A Willing Life of a Willful Single Girl Written by Christy McGraw
I am a rule follower. I always have been. I have never been to a principal’s office or fean’s office in school. I was only pulled over one time and it was for something beyond my control. I have long prided myself on following the rules. I only lacked obedience in one area and one area only…. my spiritual life. I obeyed our God when I wanted to. Many times I choose to ignore the pulling of the Spirit. For many reasons. I did not feel comfortable, it was the “wrong” time, and flat out because I just did not want to. As a grad student I was blessed enough to have two classes with a very well known pastor in the Atlanta area. I so enjoyed his classes. He challenged me and I learned a great deal. One day one of his lessons hit home in a big way. He talked of Willingness vs Willfulness. He had one question for us. Do you willingly obey God or does your own willfulness get in the way? At first I though of course I willingly obey God. I mean what “good” Christian doesn’t?
At the end of the class he told us to think about it, really think about it. On my long drive home I thought about and reasoned it out. As I pulled into my driveway I knew I had a big problem. I was very willful in my relationship with God. This is love for God: to obey his commands. 1 John 5:3a (NIV) I searched the Word about obeying and obedience. I was heartbroken over what I read. How could I say I loved God when I did not obey Him? As I prayed to God I asked Him to help me understand why I was so willing to obey earthly rules but not His commands. As I spent time in prayer and journaling the answer slowly came. Trust. I did not completely trust God. Because of things in my past and one big thing in my present I did not trust God to do what was best in for me. I knew He loved me. I knew I loved Him. Trust? My heart was guarded and I wanted my life the way I dreamed. Not the way He had planned.
I had seen some of His plans and was not very happy with them. I thought I could plan my life the way I thought it should be: with little to no input from Him. As I started to sort through the mess I had made of my life I became overwhelmed by my own willfulness. My own sin of disobedience. A willful life is a disobedient life. I was stuck. I did not know what to do. The more I read in the Word about obedience the more discouraged I became. All I knew was that I kept hearing that favorite Proverb in my head over and over…..Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5,6 (NIV). How could it be so simple? You just trust, not in your own understanding, acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight. Why does it sounds so easy yet in reality is so hard? The more I read in the Word about trust the more I wanted to trust. There were so many verses about trusting in the Lord and having a glad heart. A hopeful heart.
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the single journey
At the time my heart definitely needed some hope. My personal life had received blow after blow of hurtful and negative things. My heart was so bruised.
He blessed me tremendously…He gave me this column and then the singles channel started on Exemplify. It was absolutely amazing. I am still in awe.
I decided to start slowly. I would turn one thing over to Him. I laid one thing before the throne. One simple thing.
All because I did one simple thing. Trust. In that trust came obedience.
That one thing: it became something beautiful in my life. Slowly I began to hand more things over to Him. My family. My friends. Every single part of my life. Except one. My Singleness. I just could not lay it down at His Feet. I felt as if I could do a better job of finding someone. And so I tried. For two years I continued to try. And I made mess after mess and was heartbroken more than once. Slowly my willfulness became too much. My willing life was quite wonderful. My willful single life was a disaster. The end of 2008 was a stepping point for me. I decided to lay my Singleness down at His Feet. I could do it no more. There was no joy in my life in that area. 2009. My year of Journey. The biggest part of the journey for me was in my singleness. Sometimes my willful side would take over and I would snatch up my singleness from where I had laid it…only to lay it down again when I came back to my senses. This year was the first year my singleness lay at His Feet more than mine. And it was my best year as a single girl yet!
Of course at times it is still a struggle. Each day is a choice. My willfulness does come out at times….but my willingness is there most days. Trust and obedience bring hope. On a hard day this is what I try to remember. My trust in Him brings obedience. My obedience brings joy, peace, and hope to my heart. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 (NIV) Look to eternity and the rest will fall into line.
Single. Sassy. Loved.
Visit Exemplifyâ€™s Singles Channel today @ http://exemplifyonline.com/singles/ 17 ÂŠ exemplify magazine
in the trenches - family column
Walking the Right Path Written by Andrea Mitchell
One of my most favorite verses pertaining to parenting is Ephesians 6:1. Say it with me now, Moms: Children, do what your parents tell you. This is only right. (MSG) I mean, what better verse for admonishing our children with when they just won’t pay attention, right? Too bad it doesn’t work. I know. I’ve used it. A lot. “Emma, I told you to clean your room and you’re not obeying me. Don’t you know what the Bible says about children obeying your parents?” (insert 10 year old eye roll here) “Hannah, stop disobeying me, sit down, and eat your supper. When the Bible said you were supposed to obey your parents, it meant all the time, not just on taco night!” (insert 8 year old eye roll here) “Ethan, quit pestering your sisters! I’ve told you that a thousand times today – why do you have to disobey me? Do I need to teach you Ephesians 6:1 again?” (insert 5 year old eye roll here!) It wasn’t until recently that I actually paid attention to the verses immediately after verse 1, particularly verse 4: Fathers (and yes, mothers!), don’t exasperate your children by coming down hard on them. Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master. (MSG) Oops.
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let’s get honest
At the risk of having you call the authorities, I’m going to be brutally honest for a moment about some of my parenting weaknesses; in particular, my habit of coming down hard on my children. I love my kids. Deeply. I give thanks for them every single day – even on the days they drive me to distraction! But those days when the disobedience runs high, the days where sisters are yelling at little brothers, little brothers are doing everything in their power to not do as they’re told, and all turn up their noses yet again at whatever happens to be on the supper table, I often lose it. I lose my patience. I lose my cool. I say things a lot louder than I probably should. I say things I regret. And during those moments, parenting with grace is thrown out the window as I come down hard. Do I intend to be this way? No. I hate it. And I don’t know who feels worse afterward: the kids or me. These times of frustration for me are just as exasperating for my family. No wonder some days obedience seems to be a foreign word! But, when I stop and get some perspective, these are the things that I am reminded of: First, I am not alone. I am not the only mother to blow it and lose her cool with her children half a dozen times in one day. In fact, it is heartening for me to hear about other women in the trenches of motherhood! Secondly, the things I tend to worry about aren’t really as important as cultivating a spirit of obedience towards God. Yes, it is necessary for our children to learn to do as they are told. But you know what? They’re kids. And as kids, they are going to forget, just like I “forget” to obey God at times.
they had to live & breathe God..
In fact, did you catch the last part of Ephesians 6:4? “Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master.” We all have different levels of tolerance when it comes to how clean our houses should be and how much food should be consumed at the table. Ultimately though, it is not going to matter in ten years if our kids’ rooms are messy today. (Oh, that was a hard truth to write for neat freak me!) What does matter is that our children are walking in the ways of the Lord. Then God said, “Shall I keep back from Abraham what I’m about to do? Abraham is going to become a large and strong nation; all the nations of the world are going to find themselves blessed through him. Yes, I’ve settled on him as the one to train his children and future family to observe God’s way of life, live kindly and generously and fairly, so that God can complete in Abraham what he promised him.” Genesis 18:17-19 (MSG) In order for God to complete His good plan through Abraham, Abraham (and Sarah) had to instruct their children in the way of the Lord. Part of that instruction came from living those very ways, and part of it came from verbally teaching their children, as in Deuteronomy 6:6-9: “Write these commandments that I’ve given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder; inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates.”(MSG) They had to live and breathe God’s ways in order to teach their own children to follow God’s ways. Nowhere in these verses does God say our children have to clean their plate or their room (too bad!). In fact, I’m willing to step out on a limb and suggest that when God tells our children to obey their parents, so they may it may be well with them and they may live long on the earth (see Exodus 20:12), that He was referring to the instructions their parents give them in living their lives for God. (Of course, cleaning their room once in a while doesn’t hurt!)
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Thirdly, even in those moments when I lose all hope, on days when I feel like my children are never, ever going to be the picture of obedience I desire them to be, I can hold fast to this promise in Proverbs 22:6: Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it. (NIV) If we as parents are faithful to instruct our children in the ways of God, if we are faithful to live lives of obedience to those ways ourselves, our children will not depart from them. Lastly, on those days when I’ve forgotten to extend a measure of grace to my beloved children, God reminds me of this very important truth: His grace is extended to me. He often demonstrates that grace to me through my own children when I go to them and let them know I am sorry, that I was wrong for losing my cool, and that I love them very much. Because when I do this, they forgive me, even though I don’t deserve it. Love covers a multitude of sins indeed. Let’s make it our focus to not only raise children obedient to the tasks we give them, but children who are obedient to the ways of God. Let’s set their feet to walk the right path so they never depart from it. How are you doing in training your children in the way they should go? Are you focused on the temporal or the eternal? What can you do to make sure your children set their feet on the right path today?
An American Woman in Africa
Written by Judith Roberts
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In less than a month, I will be in the middle of Africa… – Jessica Ruiz, Feb. 12, 2006 “I was called to missions starting with a trip to Wales,” Jessica Ruiz said. “That was my first international trip. I spent two summers in another West African country, Senegal, doing missions there. When I graduated, I struggled because I wanted to get a job and prove I could be successful. God was telling me to go to Niger.” Jessica is a beautiful 25-year-old with a heart for God and a love for Africa – and anyone who speaks to her can sense the passion and desire she has to minister to others. She’s served on several mission trips, both in the United States and overseas. She’s bubbly, open, and patient –three fantastic traits for a missionary. This University of Alabama-Birmingham graduate spent two years after college as an International Mission Board journeyman in Niger, where she fell in love with the people and the culture and sought to bring them the Word of God. “I was a relational evangelist,” Jessica said. “I was getting to know the people so I could share the gospel. That was my sole job.” While there, Jessica learned Fulfulde, the language of the people she ministered to, even though French is the official language of the country.
The good news is that Jessica is not alone in her love for Africa. After all, she met her husband, Daniel, in Niger. “He came to Niger one summer with other college students from the States,” Jessica said. “I was his supervisor.” While there was no romantic attachment then, Jessica and Daniel corresponded through e-mail as friends, which proved beneficial when, at the last minute, the IMB moved Jessica to Ruston, La. – Daniel’s hometown. “When I moved here, he was the only person I knew,” Jessica said. “We automatically started hanging out. After spending so much time with him, I realized the passion he has for missions and the love for Africa he has.” Daniel graduated with his bachelor’s degree at Louisiana Tech University in 2009, and both he and Jessica still feel the call to missions. “We want to go back oversees, and I think that’s where God will send us,” Jessica said. “We’re just not sure when that will happen.” I miss Niger. I miss the mission family. And Alatou. Razak. Balla. Sharif. Tombaye. Chaibou… I miss the blessings and even the challenges. I miss the simplicity of life. Reality. I miss the neighborhood kids.
“I can speak (Fulfulde) better than I can speak French, and I took French in college,” Jessica said. “I had to learn Fulfulde to get around and to live.”
I miss greeting everyone in town: the egg seller, phone card seller, tire repairman, the meter-reader man, the bus manager, the onion man…
Despite my plans, preconceived notions, and even history, God is showing how his ways are far from anything I could have ever imagined…Life here is not what I expected. My work does not match my job description. Each day is different from the previous one. God is continually changing the direction in which he wants me to go and the way in which to get there. Sometimes my activities are typical, often not. I just laugh about it and remind myself of 1 Cor. 10:31 – whatever I eat or drink or whatever I do, I must do it all for the glory of God.
I miss communicating (or trying to) in so many languages.
Jessica Ruiz, Sept. 4, 2006
Jessica Ruiz, Jan. 29, 2008 “(If you’re thinking about missions) just pray about it and do it,” Jessica said. “Everyone should at least try, and God can clarify your role in missions – to go or stay as a supporter.” I miss sharing God’s story with a people who don’t know Christ. They’ve accepted a world of lies. They are afraid…of change, of what people will think…
Coming home at the end of her two years as a journeyman was difficult, Ruiz said. While she did miss her family and friends, she had grown to love the people of Niger and those to which she was ministering.
Life here (in America) isn’t simple. It isn’t even reality.
“It was stinking hard coming back,” Jessica said. “The work isn’t done there. I fell in love with the people and the culture.”
Jessica Ruiz, Jan. 29, 2008
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But even here, many have accepted a world of lies and are afraid…
How Can I Be Filled? Written by Victoria Jenkins
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”… “And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1 & 14, NRSV).
Jesus was God, even as He was man. He was a father’s only son, full of grace and truth…and He was full of obedience to his Father as well. Even in His own deity, it was clear that the Lord was directing Christ’s path. How much more then, do we non-deities need that direction leading our own? We’re going to spend some time and prayer in the Word as our Father teaches us the beauty of obedience through the beautiful life of His Son! Let’s pray for wisdom and discernment to illuminate the paths to our application of His amazing Word! Heavenly Father, As You reveal the role and importance of obedience in our lives, we trust that You will also show the ways in which You require us to obey. We have hidden areas of rebellion and we have wide-open disregard for Your precepts. Lord, place within us a conviction—a resolve—to meet Your goals for our lives! We thank you for the wisdom You lend us in Your Word and the strength You will become for us in the battles ahead. In the name of Your perfect Son, we pray these things, Amen. 22 © exemplify magazine
One of my new favorite tools in studying Scripture is my Classics Devotional Bible. Being a lover of God’s Word and of classic literature, I can’t think of a better way to spend a few minutes here or there on those days when a deep soaking just isn’t an option. In my preparation for this month’s study, I came across a devotional writing by A.W. Tozer, entitled Emptiness Before Fullness. In this piece, Tozer puts things simply and spectacularly when it comes to Christian obedience. We’ll be digging on his words and delving into the Word of God as we seek deeper spiritual understanding. The opening sentences are enough to send us to the feet of our King in humility and frankly, in complete and utter embarrassment. “Before there can be fullness there must be emptiness. Before God can fill us with himself we must first be emptied of ourselves.” Embarrassing to think we could miss such an obvious truth, isn’t it? Still, I miss it every day. It sure can level a girl, to see she’s no room in her “inn” for the One who would save her from the sin that ensnares. Being too full of oneself sure doesn’t allow much wiggle room for a Lord that loves to move in, on, and through us! Don’t fret; you’re not the only one who sometimes forgets she’s not the only one. Tozer’s words may have humbled us, but there is immense power in Scripture, and our God is waiting to lift our spirits as we sit on scraped knees before Him. Our Faithful Father has told us, “The saying is sure: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he will also deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself” (2 Timothy 2:1113, NRSV).
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Tozer’s devotional goes on to say, “It is this emptying that brings the painful disappointment and despair of self of which so many persons have complained just prior to their new and radiant experience.” Our need to devalue ourselves apart from the saving grace of God is evident. Scripture repeats this directive time and again, yet it falls anew on my weary and often wayward heart. Does it do the same for you? How is our Father calling you to die to self today? What steps are you taking toward or away from His command? List one way in which you can exercise obedience toward His purpose today. What is holding you back? Will you continue to allow it to deter you? For me, there is always the same one word answer as to what is holding me back. Me. Whether it is my fear, my laziness, my schedule, or even my inability, the answer is always more about me than it is about He who can accomplish exceedingly above and beyond all I can ask for or even imagine (Ephesians 3:20). Are we sharing the same boat? Praise God we aren’t in this ship without a paddle! There is a way to move past our unbelief and into obedience, and using Scripture as his guide, Tozer escorts us on our journey. We’ve got four stops along the way, so pack a snack and invite a friend! I’m not sure whether he intended for each to fall in chronological order, but it sure seems like the perfect order of things. Our first stop on the narrow road to obedience is to surrender. Whip out your white flag and wave it proudly, sister! It is when we give up the fight that our Savior can best fight for us. The world would have us think that if it isn’t about us, it can’t possibly be for us, but God would have us think something else entirely.
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned” (Romans 12:1-3, NRSV). Surrender that urge to control your world. Surrender your plans for the day. Surrender. Boy, you’d think it would be easier since we’re so apt to giving up as it is. Give up the struggle to succeed in this world and our Father will ensure your success…we simply cannot fail when we are living within His plans for us! What do you need to give up on in order to give God His glory back? What will be your first bit of surrender? And the next? God will reward your efforts! Don’t you take so much comfort and courage from that truth?! Once we’ve given over our own agendas in exchange for those of our Father, we’ve got to ask the Lord to fill us in on the details and to fulfill His purpose through us. All too often, I find myself stopping to ask for directions long after the frustration of several failed attempts to find my own way. I do it while lost in my car, and I do it while lost in my life. It’s silly, don’t you think? Silly because we have the assurance that when we ask, it will be given. Silly because we know that when we search, we will find.
September 2008 magazine 23
Bible study monthly
Even our knocking is met with opened doors, “for everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matthew 7:8, NRSV). Do you find yourself at the wheel while the Holy Spirit acts as the backseat driver “nagging” you all the while? What can you do today to allow Him to steer you in the way you should go instead of simply “pestering” you from the sidelines? Ask God to drive—even if it freaks your freak a bit to know you’re in for the ride of your life! It freaks my freak a bit more than a bit, but we won’t let that stop us, sister! After surrender comes asking, and when we ask, we receive. When it comes down to it, what we most often receive, when asking something of the Lord, is direction. Oh, He could do all the driving, but He’d rather teach us to follow His lead. If you’re anything like me, that’s a continual lesson! Free will—that double-edged sword—is precisely why our obedience is an ongoing struggle. We want to obey. It’s just that the unseen battle surrounding us and the one waging inside often leave us in a heap of temporary setback and unbelief. Temporary, sweet sister! Setbacks never last when put up to the light of Christ, and unbelief is easily undone when placed in the mighty hand of our almighty God! “Complete and ungrudging obedience to the will of God is absolutely indispensable to the reception of the Spirit’s anointing.” A.W. Tozer The sort of obedience we’re talking about here is the observing, preserving, and reserving of God’s will as paramount in our lives. “For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law—indeed it cannot, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
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“But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you. “So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to flesh—for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.” (Romans 8:3-17, NRSV). Cry out with me, to our divine Daddy, sweet sister: “Abba! Father! I want to obey; please show me how.” Let’s pray this in those moments when we think our knees might give way as we swoon from the weariness wrought by this world. Again and again, we’ll ask this of the Lord, and we will receive instruction, and we will obey—because we believe. Believe. Tozer wraps his list of four essentials to living that full life we so desire with our need to believe each word written by our infallible and ever faithful Father: each one whispered too. Go beyond believing in the Lord and His unending power. Believe the Lord and believe that His unending power extends to all of His children! Don’t just receive that spirit of adoption—believe it! Since Tozer got us going, I’ll leave you with one last word from his devotional, and with our Father, who can’t wait to work His wonders in, on, and through you! “As we wait before God we should reverently search the Scriptures and listen for the voice of gentle stillness to learn what our heavenly Father expects of us. Then, trusting in His enabling, we should obey to the best of our ability and understanding.” Be filled, sweet sister! Classics Devotional Bible, New Revised Standard Version Copyright 1996 by The Zondervan Corporation All Rights Reserved / Devotional from page 1208 Taken from Keys to the Deeper Life by A. W. Tozer. Copyright 1957 by Sunday Magazine.Copyright 1987 by Zondervan Publishing House. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6, NIV
25 magazine February 2010
26 magazine February 2010
ke Story Written by Holly Smith
Truer words were never spoken than when Stasi Eldredge penned in her book Captivating the feeling with which we women most struggle—we feel like we’re “too much” and “not enough.” We feel torn to bits among perfection, failure and just plain giving up. We cannot decide if Martha Stewart is attainable, because every time we try to make the perfect meal and keep the perfect home with a perfect centerpiece on the table, it would seem, we fail. There’s nothing to see here—no pictures of perfection. I’m just a woman, who wants to be more like Martha in the Bible, when she understood that Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life. Such was my struggle on that week, when not only my husband’s parents were coming to Colorado, but also his aunt and uncle. I was pregnant with our fourth child and felt inadequate to say the least. You could say my reality show would be called, “Woman Falls Short–in Everything.” They all decided one day to take an excursion up the mountain through a bumpy road called Rampart Range that I knew I could not, should not and would not take. I stayed at home alone and decided to impress my guests with a fabulous meal. Soon they would taste and see my mad cooking skillz.
27 magazine February 2010
First I started boiling the chicken for the main course of Chicken Pot Pie. Then, as it cooked, I pulled out my friend Holly’s grandmother’s recipe for Five Flavor Cake. I had prepared it quite a February 2010 magazine 27 few times before, so I felt confident.
in the ktichen with holly
As the cake was slowly baking in the oven, I prepared the chicken pot pie, feeling like I was the time-management, cooking, queenof-the-world. All of a sudden, as I was stirring the filling, I began to smell something burning.
Also, I was full up with pride. I wanted to impress everyone. But that left nothing for me but a frustrating snare. I didn’t have to earn their love or acceptance. I already was (and am) loved and accepted by them.
“Hmm,” I thought, “the cake is almost done, but surely it couldn’t be burning, yet.” The burning began to smell electrical, then as I glanced at the oven—it was aflame!
Looking back I should have driven to the store for some take out and watched “Pride and Prejudice” again. It would have been received just as well, and my spirit would have been less frazzled.
I quickly turned off the oven, and grabbed pot holders. The flames had died down and the charred remains of cake sizzled (at this point I thought my oven had sizzled and died, too). I pulled the cake out and saw that nearly 1/3 of the cake had cooked over onto the element below. The cake was not ruined, but it also wasn’t very pretty. When I turned it over on the cake plate, I realized how despicably ugly it was. But I decided that it was still tasty enough to eat. At this point I angrily and with vigor threw the pan in the outside waste receptacle. That evening around the table, I served chicken pot pie, which was a hit by the way, and cake. I, myself, ate some humble pie— as my tube pan became fodder for the trash man and my oven smelled every time I used it for awhile, as a reminder. But at least the oven worked, praise God! Looking back, I see several aspects of my attitude that could have prevented that whole incident. First of all, the recipe came from my friend in Arkansas, when we lived there. I had also prepared it in Texas a few times, when we lived there. But Colorado, 7000 feet altitude and cakes can be tricky. I have since learned that the recipe need not be altered for high altitude, just fill the pan less full.
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Even so, these are good recipes and worthy of trying.
Chicken Pot Pie 1 recipe of never fail pie crust or a pre-made pie crust from the store 1 10 oz. pkg. frozen peas and carrots 1/2 c. onion, minced 1/4 c. butter 1/2 t. salt 1/8 t. pepper 3/4 c. milk 3 c. cooked and diced chicken (save broth)–see How I cook chicken for recipes. 1/4 c. pimento (optional) 1/4 c. parsley 1/2 c. mushrooms, sliced (optional) 1/3 c. flour 1/4 t. sage 2 c. chicken broth 2 chicken bouillon cubes Cook peas and carrots according to package directions. Drain. Melt butter in large saucepan. Sauté onion and mushroom for 3 minutes (until tender) on medium heat. Slowly stir in flour, salt, sage and pepper. Cook for 1 minute on low heat. Add broth, milk and bouillon cubes. Cook on medium heat until thick and bubbly. Stir in vegetables, chicken, pimento and parsley. Heat until bubbly. Prepare pie crust and place in your pie pan. Pour mixture into pie crust. You may want to prepare another half recipe of the pie crust (or use a second pre-made one) for a top. If you do this, be sure and use a sharp knife to create a few cuts in the top (we like to make a flower) or use a fork to put a few holes in it.
Mamma Jean’s Five Flavor Cake 2 sticks butter 1/2 c. shortening 3 c. sugar, plus 1 c. sugar for glaze 5 eggs, well beaten 3 c. flour 1/2 t. baking powder 1 c. milk 1 t. coconut extract, plus 1 t. for glaze 1 t. rum extract, plus 1 t. for glaze 1 t. butter extract, plus 1 t. for glaze 1 t. lemon extract, plus 1 t. for glaze 1 t. vanilla extract, plus 1 t. for glaze 1/2 c. water for glaze Cream butter, shortening and 3 c. sugar ’til light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time. Alternate adding dry ingredients and milk. Stir in flavorings (1 t. of each kind)–mixing all together thoroughly. Pour into greased 10″ tube pan (make sure filling is no more than 3/4 full in the pan). Bake at 325 degrees for 1 1/2 hours. Cool 10 minutes and pour glaze evenly over the top. Glaze: In a small sauce pan blend together 1 c. sugar, 1/2 c. water and 1 t. each of the flavorings. Boil until sugar is melted and pour over hot cake in pan. Cool in pan for 30 minutes. Turn onto your favorite cake plate and serve.
Bake at 425 degrees for 15-18 minutes or until crust is golden brown.
© exemplify magazine
The Book Nook with Deborah Boutwell
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Book one of The Fountain Creek Chronicles sets the scene for the next two books to complete this set. I actually read the third one first and recently went back and read them in order. Rekindled is one of those books that I couldn’t put down once started and I ended up reading it in just a couple of days (very little housework got done that weekend…but then again, it never does: but I had a good excuse this time!).
But is it too late? Can Larson trust Kathryn even when he sees her with other men and coming out of a house much like the one he grew up in? His new faith gives him the strength he needs to approach her, but there is still some fear that keeps him from fully revealing himself to her. Kathryn begins to develop a friendship with a new man in town, Jacob. In him, she is reminded of missed opportunities she had to love her husband and to be loved by him.
I can highly recommend anything written by Tamera Alexander; however, Rekindled is a wonderful one to start with. Set in Colorado Territory, 1868, “in the shadow of Pikes Peak,’ Tamera starts her tale with Larson Jennings returning home after an extended, unexpected absence to find his wife, Kathryn, having, supposedly, moved on with a new life. Hiding in the shadows, hidden by scars that have disfigured him, Larson watches and remembers the life they had together. Some back-story is given to bring the reader current with what had been happening with Kathryn and Larson prior to his absence. You will learn about the strain on their marriage because of finances and being unable to bear a child. “All she’d ever wanted was to be one with her husband in every way. Was she at fault for that? She felt an answer stirring inside her. It was almost within her grasp. But then it slipped away, like a whisper on the wind.” Kathryn finds herself alone with a mortgage due. She must struggle to keep ranch hands paid and ones willing to work with a woman. Support is found in a faithful employee, Mathew, and a new one, Gabe. They help her after all the other hands leave and she must relocate and find a job and lodging so she can start to pay back on the large mortgage that she didn’t know about. A few other things are revealed about her husband along the way and she has to learn to love him even with those secrets revealed.
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Larson is hurt and under the care of an odd couple. They teach him how to love…not only his wife as she should be loved, but to love God. In the time that he spends with Abby and Isaiah, Larson must not only learn to live again, but to love in a new way. “He’d always believed in God. What he hadn’t realized, something that Isaiah and Abby were showing him, was…that God believed in him.” Having been raised by a mother that made her living in a house of prostitution, Larson has a hard time learning to trust and entrust his heart to Kathryn. But that is exactly what he must do if he ever hopes to rekindle their love after he returns.
“She remembered the many times in the past when she’d wished Larson would have held or touched her at a moment like this. She could’ve asked him to and he would have, no doubt. It was silly, she knew, but somehow it wasn’t the same if she had to ask…..Jacob’s hand covered hers on the bench between them…Kathryn closed her eyes, and tears slipped down her cheek. A part of her heart long cordoned off slowly opened, and she gasped softly at the loneliness hoarded inside.” Truths are revealed about why Larson didn’t return and why he was the way he was, some mysteries are solved and friendships are found in the oddest places. The theme of the book, of course, is about “rekindling” past loves…not just between a man and a woman, but between God and His children. “He’d married a woman who loved God more than she loved him, and for that Larson would be forever grateful.”
Moving Toward Holiness
32 magazine February 2010
Written by Lori McMath
â€œIf you are willing & obedient, you will eat from the best of the land.â€?
33 magazine September 2008
moving toward holiness column
To Move; it’s a beautiful and often overwhelming verb. Overwhelming perhaps because it requires action on our part, and many times we find ourselves unsure what that action should be. Clearly, without action, we will remain still or even stagnant; in essence, never moving. Holiness will elude us without movement. As we strive to “Move Toward Holiness” it’s my hope that this column will open your eyes to just how beautiful the movement toward holiness can be. Not overwhelming or intimidating, but rather beautiful and graceful, like the Lord Himself. Join me, as I’m honored to be Moving Toward Holiness with you. “If you are willing and obedient, you will eat from the best of the land.” Isaiah 1:19 I have a friend and she is, in a word, OBEDIENT. When we met six years ago, the Lord had placed on her heart something much larger than herself, and she, in obedience, began what she knew she could not do on her own. To be honest it wasn’t something that she had ever envisioned, but the Lord spoke to her and she listened. She was recently away on a trip to Ireland where she hoped to step away and hear the Lord’s voice and see confirmation that she was doing HIS will. She was desperately trying to “be still” and KNOW God’s purpose and His plan. She shared with me that her daily prayer is this: “Lord, as I commit my work to you, I thank you that you are causing my thoughts, ideas, words, actions, and deeds to be lined up with your will, so that I will be established and have success. I am earnestly seeking His plan. Many are the thoughts in a man’s mind but it is His will that will be established. “ As she sat on the plane she was virtually unaware of the person beside her, let alone what he was writing. As the flight progressed and she continued to be immersed in her own thoughts and prayers, this complete stranger handed her his “electronic something or other.” 34 © exemplify magazine
These were the words that she read. “Jesus spoke to me. He said He loved you so much and has seen your heart and is well pleased! He said, “I am your God, I AM the Door. I will open the doors that no man will close.” The devil would like to destroy you and the dream, but I, the Lord, am your God, I am in control. Faint not my child –look not to the left or to the right but keep your eyes on Me. For I, Jesus Christ, have my hands on you. I and only I will direct your path.” At this point, I know what you’re thinking…. You’ve heard about these kinds of encounters before in sermons and testimonies, however I’ve known this woman for years and she is not one to embellish, much less lie. No, this was personal and it was clearly of God. There were chills when I read the email and tears when we spoke in person. She had the kind of confirmation that we all pray for. God clearly spoke to her because she was in communion with Him; in a real relationship. She had been obedient to what He had called her to do. He knew her questions, He knew her exhaustion and He knew what she needed at precisely the right time. Be assured or reassured, obedience has its rewards. In the days and weeks that followed the word OBEDIENCE filled my spirit. As I watched my friend move so clearly in obedience, I reflected on the role of obedience in my own life. It became clear that it is a word that makes me a “teensy” bit uncomfortable. I admire the virtue of obedience in her spirit and desperately wanted it in my life. If an obedient spirit was what I longed for, then it became quite clear that it was time to “move.” That is when I found myself sitting squarely in the middle of Romans 12. Let’s be honest, on the surface Romans 12 isn’t that overwhelming. It’s a very nice list, but if we aren’t careful, we’ll find ourselves making little excuses and rationalizing our behavior towards the directives that are challenging to us. In a word, we’ll STOP moving or perhaps worse yet, moving in an altogether different direction than the Lord would have us go. We’ll become complacent and adopt an attitude that will soon have us standing still in the middle of our own lives. Have a look at Romans 12;
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
Despise evil (even if it surfaces in your favorite TV show or in an off color email you receive) Cling to goodness (anywhere and anytime) Devote yourself to others (without expecting anything in return) Treat others with respect (even those who disrespect you) Never compromise your excitement in the Lord (even in the company of those who don’t share your zeal) Serve the Lord (use the gifts that the Lord has blessed you with, even when it’s not on your agenda to do so) Be joyful (even in trying circumstances) Be patient (especially when you find yourself frustrated) Be faithful (especially in prayer, even when life threatens your prayer priority) Share with others (truly see the needs of those who need what you have) Show hospitality (extend yourself and know being hospitable will mess your house up and that it’s okay) Bless those who mistreat you (especially those who take advantage of you) Rejoice with others over their good fortune (stave off the ugly head of jealousy) Grieve with those who suffer (pray as to how you can walk with them in their grief) Live in harmony with others (when you do this, you will become part of the Lord’s orchestra) Do not be prideful (when you find yourself obedient, remember that your obedience is for Him and the rewards are His grace upon you. Pride lurks in the deepest corners and is ready to infiltrate)
It’s in obedience that our “Movement Towards Holiness” begins. I stand in awe of God’s greatness, as He took the time to “speak” to my friend to let her clearly know that her obedience was being noticed. Not necessarily by those around her, (in fact many thought she was crazy,) but her obedience was noticed by God. Noticed by God! Obedience isn’t something to dwell on or dismiss, but rather live.
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Living in obedience isn’t always easy nor will it likely make you the most popular gal on the block, but the rewards of obedience are greater than earthly matters. They are eternal. The peace that comes from obedience is a peace that truly transcends all understanding. It is a peace that the world cannot understand. After much practice and meditation, obedience penetrates the soul, and that obedience simply becomes who you are and how you live. To guide you this month, I’ve attached an “Overwhelming Obedience Journal.” I put it together as a guide for myself as I strive to become an obedient servant, and why not share? I encourage you to use it this month as you focus on obedience. Obedience was never intended to be overwhelming, but obedience will have overwhelming effects in your life. Using Romans 12 as a guide, journal your journey towards obedience this month and you’ll be overwhelmed in Him! “When we obey Him, every path He guides us on is fragrant with His loving kindness and His truth” Psalm 25:10 (TLB)
Click here to download your very own Obedience Journal!
faith applied column
If I Must Eat Locusts, Can They Be Chocolate Covered? Written by Jenifer Jernigan
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John the Baptist. The cousin of Jesus. Leapt in his mother’s womb when he was in the presence of the King as He grew in His own mother’s womb. The prophet Isaiah foretold that John would be the one to prepare the way of the Lord (Isaiah 40:3). And that He did. Prepared the way. Preaching a message of repentance while dressed in camel’s hair, John captured the attention of the people so that Jesus could capture their hearts. Quite an odd fellow to be the “preparer of the Way”; but then again, God does take those unlikelies and turns them into heroes, warriors, leaders in His army. As odd as John was, people were drawn to him. They came from all over the land to see this peculiar “preacher man who ate locusts” and listen to his foretelling of what was to come. Maybe it was his oddity that drew the crowds in. Maybe it was the timely message he preached. Maybe it was his out-of-the-box style. Or, maybe it was his boldness. Maybe it was his acceptance of all men and his intolerance of the religious leaders that turned the heads of the people his way. Maybe it was the Person behind his message that beckoned men and women to come to him. Whatever it was, or wasn’t, the people came and they came in droves. John the Baptist conveyed a message and he conveyed it well. John the Baptist created for a purpose; fleshed out his faith, or belief, in this purpose every day through the way he lived his life; and in the end, died because of a resolute dedication to his purpose in preparing the way of the Lord.
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Like John, you and I are created for a purpose, a purpose that involves a daily fleshing out of our faith in the Lord. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5, NKJV As warriors in God’s army, princesses belonging to THE royal palace, we are called to live out our faith in the King through our day-to-day activities. Is faith fleshed out through actions easy? Sometimes yes…often times no. Does fleshed out faith look the same for everyone? No, because God has placed each of us within a specific realm of influence for such a time as this. Our realms of influence may not be the same, but the Message we are to proclaim, the faith we are to flesh out, never changes; and that is the message of and belief in the only Truth that saves, heals, and restores the lost. What are some “realms of influence” you and I are a part of? Whether you are married with children living under your roof or out on their own, a single mom, a widow, a college student living in a dorm or an apartment, or a young person in middle or high school, God has given each and every one of us a people group to influence. For the longest time I lived with my eyes focused on the Masai people of Kenya, Africa thinking they were the ones I would dedicate my lifelong service to. God has since shown me that the people I am to serve are those with whom I come in contact with every single day. Within the realm of influence that God had positioned John the Baptist, he was purposeful in his day-to-day meetings and activities; he was bold, out-of-the-box, and compassionate; John was fearless and 100% devoted to the ministry he was given; he was extremely passionate and understood his purpose completely.
As we think over the life of John the Baptist, the ministry he was called to, and the way in which he fleshed out that calling, let’s ask ourselves some questions about how we are fleshing out God’s purpose for our lives. • What do I need to do, what can I do in my life and ministry to better get across the message of the Gospel? • Am I purposeful in everything that I do? • Am I bold? Compassionate? Fearless? • How is my deliverance of this very timely Message? • Am I devoted and passionate in my preparation and execution of the Message? • Do I really understand my calling and my purpose for where God has placed me? • Am I helping and/or leading others to prepare their hearts to hear from God? • Are my attitudes, actions, thoughts, and words holy and just? • Am I willing to die for the sake of the Message? John had a purpose, he knew what that purpose was, and he embraced that purpose with a passion. His purpose? To flesh out his faith in the One who was coming to take away the sins of His people. You have a purpose. I have a purpose. That purpose? To flesh out our faith in the One who is coming again to receive His bride, the church. Fleshing out one’s faith is not always easy, so you and I are going to walk this path together…encouraging, sharing, and spurring one another until our Lord returns. Do we have to wear camel’s hair and eat locusts in order to flesh out our faith? Most likely not, but let’s embrace our callings with a passion and boldness that will turn the heads of the people to the Savior. And, while we’re at it, how about a little chocolate to give us an extra boast of energy!
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“So let’s do it,full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:22-25, the Message
Embracing our call to grow the found.
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Why do you obey? Certainly it is right to do so. Throughout scripture God calls His people to obey, warns them to obey, begs them to obey. And as we walk out our Christian faith, somewhere, some place deep inside of us wants to obey Him. But why? Have you felt the discipline of the Lord? I have. I remember the day so clearly. Beautiful spring bursting forth from every crevice on the campus of Virginia Tech. I walked from class to class the last semester of my time there but the beauty was bittersweet to me, so deep was I feeling the discipline of the Lord.
What is Enough ?
Written by Brooke McGlothlin
So sweet a gift I had been given a few months before, but I used it in disobedience. And now I was losing it. A relationship. What had started as the personification of innocence had turned into an unholy ownership. It wasn’t the first time I had chosen disobedience in this area of my life. But it hurt so much more this time. There was so much more to lose. Something that could have been so special. Love lost for disobedience. Was it worth it? No. And so I determined in my heart never to disobey the Lord in this area again. “I’ve learned my lesson Lord! I’ve learned it the hard way!” Heels dug in I determined never to walk that path again. It hurt too much. Sometimes we obey to avoid the pain of disobedience. Has obedience brought you happiness? So sweet was the kiss at the altar that day in early June. We had waited almost four years for this moment.
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I was his and he was mine and for the first time we would be allowed to act on that love. So many fancy tricks to abstain that I look back and laugh. “Your marriage will be so much better if you wait!” they all said. And I believed them. He was my best friend in the whole world. No one knew the real me better than he. The me with big dreams for a beautiful career, a beautiful family and a beautiful marriage. One week into our marriage I looked at myself in the mirror and thought, “What have I done?” The realization of forever took me over body and soul that day, fresh from a new hurt…one of the first of many in this God-ordained union that is such a blessing to me. “But wait a minute,” I thought, “we waited…we obeyed…this shouldn’t be happening to us! He’s my best friend! He’s supposed to protect me, not hurt me…what have I done? “ The white dress symbolized something to me that day. And it still does. I remain convinced that our wait, hard and long, was the right thing to do. But the blessing I looked for…the result of obedience I was sure I would get…doesn’t look quite like I thought it would. Sometimes we obey to gain happiness. Has obedience brought you gain? Perhaps you’ve been told that choosing obedience will add something to your life. • Financial freedom • Material wealth • A change in difficult circumstances • Relief from hardship, suffering or disease
Sometimes we obey because we want God to give us something in return. Why do you obey? So often I think we choose obedience because of what we think God can do for us. Protect us from pain, provide us with happiness, bless us with things or give us what we think we need. God can do for us…provide for us…bless us… and give to us. In fact I believe that His heart is to do good for His children (Jeremiah 29:11). But ponder this with me: What do you need from God that He hasn’t already given? What could you possibly need that is any more important than your salvation? I know there are times when things seem more important. The relationship that is desperately in need of healing…the prodigal child who seems to be moving further and further from God… the loved one who hears the news that there won’t be as much time left as they wanted. There are times when we feel like we could give up our salvation to gain that which we desperately desire. But I submit to you this: Did Jesus not feel the pain of loss? Did He not watch His children turn away from the Truth? Did He not see His loved ones’ lives cut short? And yet, all of this, He counted worth suffering for the sake of saving you… and me. “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Romans 8:18 (ESV)
He has already provided for our greatest need. Salvation. Reconciliation with God. Security for eternity. Rather than obedience for the sake of what He can do for us, obedience should come from a heart grateful for what has already been done. How grateful are you for the Cross? How grateful are you for your place in the family of God? How grateful are you that your sins have been forgiven? If God never gives you anything else… will the Cross be enough? Your answers will reveal your heart…and then you’ll know the answer to another question…
Why do you obey?
The Keeping of the Word Written by Tara Rachel
Have you seen the movie Catch Me If You Can? It is the true story of Frank Abagnale, Jr., a one-time check forger who now works to design secure checks for banks and businesses. A memorable scene in the movie is when Carl Handratty, the FBI agent who is tracking Frank, bursts into Frank’s hotel room while Frank is in the restroom. Carl sees all the check printing paraphernalia and is certain he’s caught his man. Up until this point, Carl has never seen Frank; he’s only been able to track him by the fake checks he is cashing around the country. When Frank comes out of the bathroom, Carl holds him at gun point; Frank, realizing he better play it cool or get hauled off to jail, launches into a story about how he is a member of the Secret Service and “his men” have already caught the perpetrator and are putting him into a transport vehicle. Carl, still aiming his gun at Frank’s head, says to him, “Let me see some credentials.” Frank nervously tosses his wallet to Carl. The wallet has a button closure, and Carl is unable to open the wallet and hold the gun at the same time. Meanwhile, Frank distracts Carl into looking at something else, and Carl, feeling reassured, forgets to look in the wallet. It isn’t until Frank has gotten away that Carl looks into the wallet and realizes he’s been taken.
Credentials. In certain areas of life, they are critical. Doctors have diplomas from medical schools and licenses from medical association. Policemen have badges. Military personnel have uniforms and ID cards. For many of us, credentials are a big part in who we are, and more importantly, how we react to someone. Sometimes, though, we don’t ask for credentials. When we watch the evening news, we often don’t question if the news reports are true or made up. We take them as true, actual events. For Christians, we often do the same thing with the Bible. We read it and take it as Truth and don’t give a second thought to where it came from. Before we go any further, let me clarify something. There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking the Bible at face value. I myself am a very faith-based person. This tendency to believe without question has earned me the title “gullible” many times in my life. I read the Bible, I believe it, and there is no question in my mind that it is Truth. That’s enough for me. But to millions of nonbelievers around the world, that strategy is just not good enough. They want the credentials of the Bible. We can open any research work and find a bibliography, citations, forewards from other topical experts endorsing its validity. But what about the Bible? What are its credentials? How do we know it is really the truly inspired, inerrant Word of God? How do we know that over the years it has not been changed and altered by man? How do we know it’s even been around that long? In your opinion, why is it important to know the “background” of the Bible? These questions are critical as we move further and further into a post-modern world. It is more important now than ever to know why we believe what we believe.
42 magazine February 2010
As mentioned in the introduction, we are going to follow a linear model in discussing evidence for the truths of the Bible using a simple “point A to point B” method. Point A in this case is studying the evidence that the Bible is real and true. You cannot successfully discuss that Jesus was God and salvation to a nonbeliever without using the Bible, and you cannot use the Bible with a non-believer until you have given substantial evidence to them that it is Truth and unchanged. So without further delay, let’s look into the grand history of the Book that is the foundation of our faith. *
Let’s follow God’s example and begin our study at the beginning. Where did the Bible come from? The Languages It is important to note as we begin this section, that different languages have been used in each ancient copy of our Bible, and each will be discussed separately. The original languages of the Bible are Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Some translations, such as the Latin translations, while not an original Biblical language, offer great insight to the preservation of the Bible. The Old Testament (OT) The OT is comprised of several ancient manuscripts. We will begin with a study of the ancient codices (singular: codex). Codex is the Roman word for “writing tablet.” A codex is similar to what we know as a bound book today. Codices were scrolls cut into pages, papyri, and parchment bound into book form so that the pages could be turned (Lightfoot, 22).
1. The Aleppo Codex This is the most important of the ancient Hebrew codices. This codex is from Syria and was an entire copy of the Hebrew Bible (our OT). It dates to around 1,000 A. D. However, about one-quarter was destroyed in Arabian raids on the synagogues of Aleppo in December of 1947. The Aleppo Codex is now in Jerusalem undergoing study (Lightfoot, 129). 2. The Leningrad Codex This codex is named for the city of Leningrad, Russia. Since the burning of the Aleppo Codex, the Leningrad codex is now the oldest complete copy of the Hebrew Old Testament. It is dated at about 1010 A.D. and is located in the National Library of St. Petersburg, Russia (formerly Leningrad) (Lightfoot, 129). This is the point when a skeptic would ask why we should trust a manuscript of the OT that dates to 1,000 years after Christ. But please note a few things about the Masoretic Text. It is in Hebrew (the original language) and it is a complete text. These two distinctions are very important, especially to educated nonbelievers. True, the oldest complete Hebrew copies are 1,000 years after Christ, but from this point we can use other ancient manuscripts to build on the foundation of the OT texts. Let’s examine some non-Hebrew and incomplete manuscripts of the OT. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the connections.
The Septuagint is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament. Septuagint means “seventy” in The word “testament” comes form the Greek word diatheke, Latin, and was called that because of the seventy-two which literally translates to “covenant.” What significance elders who meticulously translated the Hebrew Bible can you see in this translation? into Greek. Historical records show that the translation of the Septuagint began around 300 B.C. with To begin, we will look at the Masoretic Text. “Masoretic” the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible), so it is derived from the Hebrew word Masorah, meaning “tradi- is reasonable (and historically acceptable) to believe tion.” Certain scribes known for their exemplary writing that the entire translation was done before the time of abilities were called Masoretes, and they were given the task Christ. of continually copying the Hebrew Scriptures in their exact form. The Masoretes are also credited with developing the Why, though, translate it to Greek? Why not leave vowels for the Hebrew alphabet, so that the original proit in the original Hebrew? The answer is a matter of nunciations of the words would not be lost as the language history. In the few hundred years before and after changed. Today Jewish scholars and elders still rely on the the life of Jesus, the Roman Empire was spreading Masoretic Text for the basis of the Tanakh, their Holy Scrip- across Europe, Western Asia, and Northern Africa. tures (Lightfoot, 131-132; DSSB, x-xi). The Masoretic text As the Roman Empire continued to spread, so did is comprised of many ancient manuscripts, the most importhe Greek language (the language of ancient Rome, tant being the following: according to The Oxford History of the Biblical World), and there was a need to have the Scriptures translated into Greek for the generations being born under Roman rule.
The Septuagint has often been treated as secondary to the original Hebrew manuscripts, simply because it is a translation. However, it has provided great insight into the type of Hebrew and Greek spoken around the time of Jesus, and has been instrumental in assisting in translations of the Old Testament to other languages. Today it is considered the greatest and most valuable translation of the ancient Hebrew Bible (Lightfoot, 145-150; DSSB, xixiii). The dating of the Septuagint is extremely significant when it comes to biblical testimony. Can you think of any reasons why? The Septuagint dating is significant because, since it was written before the time of Christ, we can use it to study the Masoretic Text. If the Masoretic Text matches up with the Septuagint translation, then we can trust the validity of the Masoretic Text (Hebrew copies) even though it is 1,000 after Christ. The continuity of the text from before to after Christ is extremely important to prove that the biblical texts have not been changed or altered. The Latin Vulgate is the other translation of the Hebrew Bible that has significantly impacted our Biblical history. In the year 384 A.D., the scholar Jerome translated the OT from Hebrew to Latin. His translation aroused some controversy.
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When he began his translation in Bethlehem, the works he was given were translated from the Septuagint. Instead of having a third-generation copy to Latin (meaning from Hebrew to Greek to Latin) Jerome decided to go straight to the Hebrew sources. The controversy came in when early Christians accused Jerome of arrogance, stating that they had been reading their Greek-translated Latin versions for years. Jerome’s work, however, proved to be beneficial because it was yet another second generation translation of the Hebrew Bible. There is also a Latin Vulgate copy of the New Testament, which we will discuss in next month’s column (Lightfoot, 144-150). Perhaps the greatest biblical archeological discovery came as recently as 1948. In March of 1948, only four months after the portion of the Aleppo Codex burned, the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. The scrolls were discovered in caves outside of Qumran on the Dead Sea, which is about 14 miles east of Jerusalem. The scrolls are believed to have been recorded by a Jewish sect called the Essenes. This belief is because some of the non-Scriptural writings found in the caves were regulations for their way of life.
The Essenes wanted to protect the sanctity of the Scriptures from the corruption they saw within the synagogues. The Dead Sea Scrolls discovery was unarguably the greatest archeological find of the twentieth century. Over 25,000 pieces have been collected to date, including an entire copy of Isaiah, as well as portions of every book of the Old Testament with the exception of Esther and Nehemiah. The Dead Sea Scrolls offer us yet another picture into the Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic spoken during the time of Jesus. The Scrolls range in date from 250 B.C. to 68 A.D., right before the destruction of Jerusalem. They are currently at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem for study and preservation; however sections of the Scrolls are often out on tours around the world (Lightfoot, 134-138; DSSB, xiv-xvii). Read Psalm 12:6-7a. Do you see any parallel with this verse and the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls? How awesome is our God? Only a few months after part of the ancient Hebrew copies of His Word is destroyed, He brings forth, perfectly preserved, even older Hebrew copies of His Word. Our God is truly a God of completeness and provision. He does, indeed, keep His Word.
An interesting tidbit: The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls yielded multiples copies of many books, the most being Psalms (37 manuscripts found), Deuteronomy (30 manuscripts found), and Isaiah (21 manuscripts found). If you look at the New Testament and what Jesus and the apostles quoted the most from the Old Testament, it is Psalms (68 times referenced), Isaiah (63 times referenced) and Deuteronomy (39 times referenced). This shows that the ancient Jews used these three books the most frequently in their studies, and history and archeology have provided significant evidence for this (DSSB, xvii). Next month we will look into the ancient manuscripts of the New Testament. I pray today’s study has encouraged you today and sparked a desire to learn as much about the history of our Bible as you can. For footnote information, please see the Apologetics Column in the February issue for works cited.
Have a question? Please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please put “Apologetics” in the subject line so they will be forwarded to the correct place.
feature: patty wysong
Mission Accomplished? Written by Patty Wysong
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As a mom, there is one question I hear more than all others. “Why?” And even though how they ask that question changes as they grow older, the gist of my answer often remains the same. “Because I said so.” Sure, I might go on and explain why or why not, depending on which child is asking, their age, and the situation, but sometimes it stills boils down to because I said so. At times I’ve told my teens, “Just trust me on this.” It’s something I hear whispered in my soul on many occasions. God’s often whispered, “Just trust Me, Patty, trust Me and obey.” Unfortunately, I have an auto responder set to say that I am trusting and obeying, regardless of what my actions are showing. And it’s even more unfortunate that many times I believe that automatic response, even when I’m not trusting God and when I’m disobeying. The trouble is that too often I’m running myself ragged doing things that I feel I need to do. Things I see that need doing and that I could do, or things I want to do. I just do them. Sure, those things are good and important, but unless God gives them to me to do, they aren’t my responsibility. God has told some of us to plant, some to water, and some to harvest. But all too often we’re so concerned about results, about the bottom line, that we choose to forget our responsibility. Our reasoning might be good, and our intentions might be even better, but if we think we’re doing a great work for God when He’s told us to do something different, then we’re in the same boat as King Saul was in 1 Samuel 15. Saul was told to utterly destroy the Amalekites—all the people and all their possessions. But Saul rationalized his orders. Instead he (and the people who followed his lead) spared the king “and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were not willing to destroy them utterly; but everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed.” (1 Samuel 15:9)
Can you see his rationalization in saving the things he could use for sacrifices? Good things. Things that would make God happy. Or so he thought. Saul rationalized his disobedience so much that when Samuel asked him why he hadn’t obeyed, he said, “I did obey the voice of the Lord, and went on the mission on which the Lord sent me.” (vs.20) Saul was doing the mission accomplished strut but the truth of the matter was that he had disobeyed God. God wanted Saul’s obedience more than He wanted the offerings Saul could have made with all that “good stuff” he saved from destruction. God said: “Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.” (1 Samuel 15:22) Many times we think “But look at all I’m doing for God! I’m doing this and that and the other thing, and it’s all for God!” We’re doing the mission accomplished strut with Saul, and God is telling us the same thing He told Saul. Obedience is the important thing, not the sacrifices. But God didn’t stop there! Here’s what He said at that same time: “For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has also rejected you from being king.” (1 Samuel 15:23) Disobedience is insubordination and rebellion, and look what those are equated with: divination and idolatry. Sin is sin. We may rationalize our level of obedience, but to God it’s no different than divination and idolatry.
Saul’s disobedience resulted in severe consequences. When he rationalized God’s orders and did things his own way, he rejected what God told him to do, and God rejected him from being king. What has God told you to do? Do you know? Are you listening to Him to know what those things are? Even when we don’t know His plans for us right then, we can still obey Him. Micah tells us how. “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)
Since Patty quit running from God’s call on her life, she’s been happy. Life is never dull for her as she juggles being a wife, a homeschooling mom of five, bookkeeper of their family business and her writing. As long as she’s obeying God’s leading, she figures that sanity is a novelty and not a necessity. Patty clings to the promise that God will enable her to do what He asks of her, otherwise you would find her living at the Funny Farm and not just occasionally visiting, like she does. In addition to drinking black cherry kool-aid from china tea cups, she loves weaving lessons that she’s learned into short stories and devotionals, most of which can be found on her blog Patterings. She’d love for you to stop by and share a cup of kool-aid with her.
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How can we walk humbly with the Lord if we’re always running around trying to do something? Especially when we’re trying to do things God doesn’t want us to do. You can’t walk humbly with God if you’re in a frenzy doing whatever you want to. It’s by focusing on God, and trusting and obeying Him that we walk humbly with God. Slip your hand in God’s hand and walk with Him. That’s when your mission is accomplished. *All Scripture quoted from the New American Standard Bible
Get to know Him through His Word.
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feature: melissa mashburn
For years I have prided myself on being a getit-done kind of girl. I’m strong, I can handle most situations, and can think on my feet pretty good, but the key word in all of that is “I”. I’ve grown up in an age where “Women can have it all” and for so many years that has been my motto as well. I mean, isn’t that what women of the 70’s and 80’s were told (I know, I just aged myself here)? I carried this philosophy throughout my life, from dating, to college, to careers: you name it and I was the go-to girl. It sounds all great and exciting, but in reality I was tired, worn out and probably even a little bitter about the fact that I was always the one making the decisions and getting things done. Thankfully I met the one person who would radically transform my independence to complete and utter dependence. I was twenty two years old, eight months pregnant, and practically a newlywed (we were married a month when I found out that I was pregnant), and completely overwhelmed with my new life as a wife and soon to be mom. I gave my life to Christ in the middle of the night, sought His refuge and started a journey that would take me on some pretty amazing adventures. This is the beginning of how He leads, I follow. I didn’t have a miraculous conversion but a relationship that started small and started to bloom over the next eight years. I felt the call to ministry and started to work at our local church as Preschool Ministry Director. Over the course of that time my husband also felt the call to ministry and left his corporate job (making great money I might add) to work at the church part time while he worked through the logistics of being in ministry. He then felt that he needed to get both feet out of the boat and go into full time ministry. Jesus said, “Come along with me.” Matthew stood up and followed him. ~ Matthew 9:9 TM
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He stepped out in faith and in doing so we adjusted our family life (financially) to support the decision for both of us to be in ministry. Yet again God was teaching me that He leads, I follow. We found our stride as a family with both of us in ministry. We both felt energized, passionate, and that we were fulfilling our purpose for serving Him. The excitement of being where God wants you to be can be unlike any other feeling in the world, but the get-it-done girl started to come back out again and I went into relying on myself to make my ministry better. I worked all the time; I felt like I had to, that there was no one else that could get it done like “I” could. When you are a workaholic and have perfectionist tendencies ministry can either make you stronger or make your unfinished business start to stand out even more so.
(This is an actual picture of us, my husband following the ambulance) In 2005 my oldest son (he was eleven at the time) suffered a major illness and in the course of one day’s time I went from this busy, fueled by adrenaline, stress, deadlines, and projects power girl to a helpless, scared, and completely broken mom who had to watch her son have grand mal seizures for thirty very long minutes and then be taken by ambulance to the nearest baseball field so he could then get airlifted out to the local children’s hospital. There is nothing, not.a.single.thing that can put your life back into perspective better than seeing your child being airlifted away from you. Not knowing what would happen, if he would be okay, what was going on, and a thousand other questions raced through my mind at that moment.
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feature: melissa mashburn
He spent the next fifty-one days in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) where we were able to find out that he had pancreatitis and would be insulin dependent for the rest of his life. One of the verses we clung to during this season of our life was John 16:32b NIV where it says, “Yet I am not alone for my Father is with me.” He leads, I follow. Our family readjusted to our “new” normal life with a diabetic son and tried to embrace the journey that God had called us to. After a few weeks we were able to get things back on track, but then I fell back into those same old patterns of “I” can do it on my own. You would think that I would have started to catch a glimpse of what God was trying to teach me, but I put my nose to the ground and started working (a lot), “doing” ministry instead of living ministry. I think that happens a lot for those of us who are “get it done” girls, don’t you? In the summer of 2007 my husband & I made one of the hardest decisions of our lives. We knew that God had been trying to tell us to step back from the ministry that we were in at a mega-church in our area, but we had been too stubborn to see that we weren’t listening to Him but of our own desire to stay and make a difference. We stepped down from our jobs, our titles, our friends, our paychecks, our insurance, and everything else that was our safety net and stepped out in faith that He was leading us to something else. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths.” ~ Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT He leads, I follow.
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I have to tell you that stepping away from that ministry was absolutely one of the hardest things I have ever done. Everything I have ever known or done in my Christian walk happened at that ministry and yet I knew deep down in my heart that God had been trying to tell us to walk away for some time now. The season after I walked away was one of the most intense, painful, and emotional times I have felt as a person. Yes, everything I walked through with my son was emotional and hard, but that was as a mama. This new season was for me as a person. I questioned my walk, my ministry, my call, my friends, and everything in between. It was also during this season that I would experience the most profound time away with my Lord. There it was. He wanted me to be obedient to His call. He wanted me to spend time with Him. He wanted to see what was more important: my job, title, friends, ministry, influence…or Him. The lights came on in my head and I felt it in my heart that this is what He has been wanting from me all along. Not the get-it-done girl that everyone looks to but the little girl who is helpless without the strength of her Father. He leads, I follow. That was it. Would I be obedient to what He was calling
me to do even if it hurt? Would I be obedient to go where He sent me? Would I try to do it my way, or submit my agenda for His? It’s now very clear to me…He leads, I follow. It really is that simple. PS…I’m not by any means “fixed.” I still struggle with trying to do things myself, but each and every day I get one step closer to being all He has created me to be.
Meet Melissa I’m a woman who is passionately pursuing God every day by taking my everyday, ordinary life and placing it as an offering to Him. I live by Romans 12:2 and consider it pure joy to be a daughter of the King, wife, mom, writer, speaker, and Pastor’s wife. I’m married to Matt, my best friend in the world, for 16 years and have two very handsome teenage sons, Nick & Bailey.
Written by Amy Bayliss
As women we have this insane desire to be all things to all people. We see a need and we want to fill it. Ministry is no exception. The problem with this is that we will burn ourselves out very fast this way and it is simply not the way God intended for it to be. His design consists of us each having a part in the body of Christ as a whole. We must embrace our particular role and fulfill the call God placed on our lives. Developing a mission statement will help us to stay focused on that role as well as let others know what our ministry has to offer them. A mission statement should be precise, to the point, and easy to remember. People today have very little time to spend reading or visiting websites so we are careful to only spend our time where we receive some sort of benefit. Studies also show that a person will decide within 7 seconds whether or not they are interested in your site and what it has to offer. One way they decide is by the look and feel of the blog; the other is typically from the mission statement. Mission statements are as different as each of the women who are behind them and they can change or evolve over time. Circumstances and times change and we must listen to the prompting of God to change along with them. When we do so we can adjust our mission statement accordingly. This helps us to always stay focused on our goals and it gives us a direction to walk in. It also gives us boundaries.
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Crafting a Mission Statement for Your Ministry
The first step to take in crafting your statement is to pray. Ask the Father what He would have you to do then wait for His reply. Write down what you discover and any scriptures that speak to you. Continue to pray and record your findings until you begin to see a pattern. Once you discover the pattern then you can focus it into your ministry’s mission statement. For me, I was constantly burdened by the confusion I saw women suffer through. I saw their hurt and I saw the fear that held them from being the person God truly wanted them to develop into. My notebook was littered with notes about the circumstances of women and how I felt God had given me a burden to help them. During this time one scripture was brought before me time and time again. It was Isaiah 57:14. “Rebuild the road! Clear away the rocks and stones so my people can turn away from captivity.” When I read Isaiah 57 in its entirety I knew without a doubt what God wanted me to do. This chapter is all about those who turned to false gods for fulfillment instead of to the Father. He wants us to trust Him. He wants us to pursue Him. He wants us to turn away from seeking vanity, approval, security from wealth, and the numerous other idols we chase. Those “stones” must be removed so that we can be free. Isaiah 57:14 is the foundation of my mission statement. Even as it changes and evolves it does not stray from that scripture. All things I do, pertaining to ministry, revolve around whether or not I would be accomplishing something within that statement. It gives me clarity. It gives me focus and direction and it gives me boundaries. Pray today and ask the Father to help you discover your mission statement. You might be pleasantly surprised at what you will discover!
Iâ€™m a convenant keeper.
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The Story of Rahab 56 magazine February 2010
My water jug falls and smashes into the floor. The floor shakes below my feet. The walls ripple with the thunderous shouts from below. Above the din, the ram’s horns blare. Again and again and again. For seven days we have listened to the war cry of the trumpets. It’s enough to make anyone go mad. I clutch my dress to my chest and meet the eyes of my family. I see so many emotions there. Resentment. Hostility. Fear. Confusion. Below us there is shouting. The walls pound again. Men scream as their lives are stabbed from their chest. The ram’s horns continue to wail. The red cloth is unnaturally still, as though it, like us, has been silenced by the battle. As though it is waiting to see what will happen. As though it is waiting to see if its promise will hold. * * * I stood and arched my back, working out the dull ache and enjoying the warmth of the sun on my face. I smiled at the panels of flax spread out on my rooftop. The ends curled up towards the sun, as though they too needed a burst of light and warmth into their lives. I heard a rapping at my door, and the warmth within vanished. “Not now,” I muttered under my breath. “It’s the middle of the day!” I made my way down the stairs, strode over to the door, and flung it open with unnecessary force. “May I help you?” I asked, not bothering to keep the chill out of my voice. Two men, looking worse for wear, stood on my doorstep. “Miss, may we come in?” Miss. These men were obviously not local. I stepped aside and they hurried over the threshold.
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The taller of the two turned and smiled warmly at me. Odd, there was no hint of carnal desire in his face. “The Lord bless you and keep you, my lady, for you have shown great kindness to His servants this day.” My throat closed up. When was the last time someone had called me a lady? The shorter drew out a seat at the table and beckoned me to sit. “Please, we have much to explain to you.” Cautiously, I sat. Who are these men? The tall man folded himself onto a seat and rested his elbows gently on the tabletop. “We are spies sent from the camp of Joshua son of Nun. The Lord has instructed us to scout the land. This is the land which will be delivered to the Israelites. This is the land that was promised back in Egypt.” I shifted warily in my seat. So what did that make me, a perk? “I’m sorry, I don’t understand what this has to do with me. Do you have any idea what kind of trouble I could get into having you here?” And as I said it, goosebumps broke out on my neck, and I could feel my blood pounding in my fingertips. These men have to go! The tall man lowered his head. “Yes, we understand what our coming here brings upon your own head. However we sensed the guards had noticed us, and we needed a quick place to hide.” My breath came in quick gasps. “Do the guards know you are here?” The shorter man shook his head. “No, we believe we lost them in the crowd. But I am afraid they will continue to look for us.” I slid my palms against the fabric clothing my hips, leaving streaky patches of sweat. “I’m going to be executed for treason,” I whispered. “How could you have done this to me?” I stood abruptly and pointed at the door. “You need to leave, and leave at once! I’ve done my service to you by harboring you for even a minute. Go now!” I tried to stop my finger from shaking.
The taller man stood, clutching his head covering in both hands. “My lady, if I may be blunt: our army will advance. We will surround Jericho and if your king resists, your people will starve and die of thirst. It will be most unpleasant for the people of Jericho.” He sighed and studied me with warm, compassionate eyes. “I say this not to scare you, but to warn you. The God of Israel – Jehovah – the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – is with us,” he finished softly. I sank back down into the chair. I knew of their God. Egypt might be far away, but word travels faster than feet. “So what are you saying? Should I leave? What about my family?” “That is your decision. You have shown us great kindness, so I am showing you kindness by warning you to give yourself time to spare yourself and your family.” I narrowed my eyes. “What if I turn you in? What if I march down right now and get the guards and bring them up to capture you? You’ll be executed in the center square. Then you cannot go running back to the mighty Joshua and report. Then what?” The taller one smiled weakly. “My dear, it doesn’t matter what you do to us. It is the Lord’s purpose that will prevail.” * * * We sat for what seemed like hours. The men, though second-generation, recounted to me the testimonies from Egypt. I poured tea and they talked. They spoke to me of Moses, of the Pharaoh, of the plagues and the pillars and the sea. They spoke of the ark and the Law. I was breathless with awe. My heart ached with longing as I listened to how the people continually turned away and made the wrong choices, yet God always welcomed them back. 58 magazine
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Suddenly I jumped up and ran to the window. The sun had drifted lazily to the ground, and was now half-immersed at the edge of the world. “No,” I whispered, biting my lip. I turned to face the men. “You’re trapped now. You cannot leave. They have closed the city gates.” The men eyed each other warily. Their eyes asked the unspoken question: What now? I felt a nudging in my spirit. I turned away from the men and looked back out the window. I have a choice. I knew I needed to hide them. Whatever fate awaited me for betraying my own government was nothing compared to the power that upheld these men and their advancing armies. But the reasonable voice in my head protested. Are you mad? Do you know what the king will do to you if he finds out you are harboring spies?
I shook my head, trying to clear my thoughts. It
Rahab. These men are not your fellow citizens. They are using you. You are nothing but a pawn to them. When the moment is right they will cut you down for their own profit. You are nothing more than a stopping point to them… just like you are with every other man. “No…” I whispered, the tears filling my eyes. Was this true? Were these men merely using me to protect them from harm’s way? Would they dispose of me carelessly when they had used all they needed of me? So maybe they weren’t demanding the same services my normal clients demanded, but were they honestly any different?
Yes, Rahab, they are. Listen to them. Protect them. They are My servants. My hands shook on the windowsill. I closed my eyes, and pictured the center square and the execution line in my mind. I pictured the many, many men who lined up to visit my bed standing by and watching, none speaking up on my behalf. But then I pictured another line, a line of beaten-down, bedraggled people, being led from an abusive country. Being delivered from men in power who used them for their labor and production and then cast them aside. Being redeemed even when they made all the wrong choices.
I cleared away the cups and the tea carafe, second-guessing myself at each turn. Hope dangled in front of me like an unreachable treasure. If these men protect me, I can be a citizen of God’s nation. I can start over. I can have a new life. Tears filled my eyes again, and I wiped them on the back of my sleeve. A fierce pounding at the door shook me out of my thoughts, and I dropped the cup I was clasping. I drew in a deep breath and wiped my eyes again, trying to appear calm as I carefully pulled the door open. Two guards stood on the steps, resplendent in their armor. They grinned at me, as though such leers would ease my nerves. “Well, hello, Rahab,” said the stockier of the two.
Delivered by a God who loved them. My heart filliped in my chest. I spun around and stared at the men. “I’m going to hide you. And whatever happens, happens. Come on.” I gathered some linens and headed up the stairs to the rooftop. The men followed me, stooping out of the low doorway. I picked up my flax, long since dried and now cool under the watchful eye of the moon. I spread out the blankets. “Lie down on these. I will hide you til morning. If the guards come, I will not tell them you are here.” The taller one came forward and clasped my hands. I jerked back, unfamiliar with such gestures of gentleness. “Thank you, sweet one,” he said softly. “The Lord will bless you for your kindness.” I nodded, trying to calm the spinning in my head and the pounding in my chest. They lowered themselves to the ground and I arranged the flax over them so that they were completely hidden. I am crazy, I thought to myself as I descended the stairs. I have completely lost my mind. 59 © exemplify magazine
I recognized him. I knew his face well from his many trips to my home. His gaze traveled up and down my body, and I felt the violation deep in my bones. The tall, lean guard stepped forward. “We have information that two men from the Israelite camp were here earlier. Bring them out now, because they are spies and they will be executed immediately.” It’s now or never. The stocky guard leered at me again. “Are they still here, Rahab?” He drew out my name, and it made me shudder to my core. Oh God, I want out! cried my heart. I could no longer stand the life Jericho allotted for me. I wanted out, whether by deliverance from the army of God, or death by the guardsmen of my city. I knew what I had to do. Jutting my hip out, I lowered my eyes so that my lashes covered my gaze. I stared up at the guards with coy air. “Well, they are not here now,” I purred. “They came and we transacted business and they left before the city gates closed.”
I stepped forward, leaning in towards the guards. “I bet if you gentlemen get some of your men and hurry, you’ll catch up to them quickly. Being as you are much stronger than they are…” I trailed off, winking at the guards.
My throat closed up as the intensity of the power of the God of the Israelites overcame me.
My effect worked. Their cheeks flushed under my praise. The stocky guard reached out and tweaked my cheek. “Thanks, sweetheart. Perhaps I’ll come see you once we take care of these scum. Of course, I am a little concerned knowing what kind of people you allow into your bed.” He returned the wink and they departed down the stairs.
I swallowed and continued, struggling to speak around the painful knot in my throat. “Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and that you will save us from death.” I let out my breath and waited.
I shut the door softly, and, leaning back against it, sank down to the floor, shaking. I could still feel the guard’s gaze on me, and it made me unclean, down to the very center of my bones. I wanted to cry. I wanted to curl up and sob and lament over my life. It was as though darkness surrounded me on all sides. And yet, there was a speck of light, a shimmering, almost indiscernible glimmer of hope in the distance. And that glimmer was hidden under some flax panels on my rooftop. At once I bounded to my feet and took the rooftop stairs two at a time, tears falling fresh onto my cheeks. I pushed open the door and dropped to my knees. “Hey,” I hissed. The flax shifted, and the tall Israeli sat up. My hands shook violently, and I twisted them in my lap. “I know that the Lord has given this land to you,” I confessed, and with the words I felt a release of pressure on my spirit. “I know that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. When we heard of it, our hearts melted and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.” © exemplify magazine
Go on, Rahab. Ask.
The men glanced at each other and then turned their gazes back to me. The taller one broke into a wide smile. “Our lives for your lives!” he declared vehemently. “If you don’t tell what we are doing, we will treat you kindly and faithfully when the Lord gives us the land.” I smiled, tears in my eyes again. “Of course. Now get some rest.” I paused, then added, “The Lord will keep you through the night.” *
I awoke the following morning before the sun rose and immediately ran up to the rooftop. The flax panels sat just as they had the night before. “Excuse me?” I whispered. The tall Israelite sat up. “Good morning,” he greeted, smiling. He got to his feet, followed by the shorter one. “I think it is time for you to go,” I urged. “I don’t think it’s wise for you to stay here any longer. The guards might get suspicious.”
I led them down the stairs back into the main room. Grabbing a thick rope from the floor, they helped me secure it to the windowsill. “The guards rotate every hour,” I said, tying up some bread in a small cloth. I pressed it into their hands. “Use this rope to lower yourselves to the ground. As soon as you get to the ground, run for the hills so the guards cannot find you. Stay there three days until it is safe for you to move out again.” They nodded, thanking me profusely again. As the shorter one moved toward the window, the taller one stopped and turned to face me. “I must warn you,” he said solemnly, “This oath you made us swear will not be binding on us unless, when we enter the land, you have tied a scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and unless you have brought your father and mother, your brothers and all your family into your house. If anyone goes outside your house into the street, his blood will be on his own head; we will not be responsible. As for anyone who is in the house with you, his blood will be on our head if a hand is laid on him. But if you tell what we are doing, we will be released from the oath you made us swear.” I nodded. “Agreed. Let it be as you say.” The men departed. As I watched them shimmy down the rope, I felt a sadness in my heart. For the first time, men had entered into my home and not expected a part of me while they were in it. I watched until they dropped to the ground, then quickly pulled the rope up. Sweating and panting, I turned around to set about my next task. And my heart sank.
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Where in the world am I going to find a red cord? Red dyes were extremely expensive. I could not calculate how much it would cost me to buy enough dye to color the amount of linen I would need to dye so it could be seen by the soldiers. And then it hit me. I walked slowly over to the small basket at the foot of my pallet. Lifting the lid, I pulled out my finest garment. All women of my occupation had nice clothes. Oh, we didn’t wear them to gather water or head to the market or air out our flax. But when we had visitors… I fingered the soft, brilliantly crimson fabric, forcing down the memories of acts committed while wearing it. Then, grabbing the hem, I began to tear. And as the gap in the fabric widened, the constriction on my heart loosened. I want no more of this, I pleaded silently as the fabric ripped to the edge. Lord, if You can hear me, if You would but answer me, I am finished. I want whatever it is You offer. Consider this my resignation from my old life. I want the new life You offer. The final lengths of the garment tore, and I held both pieces in my hands. As I pulled the corners together, preparing the garment for a different purpose, the peace settled over me. I couldn’t explain it, but it came. I moved back to the window and securely knotted the garment to the sill. I sat back, staring at the supposed madness of my actions. And the words of the spies came back to me.
“So when the Pharaoh would no longer listen, the Lord sent a plague on the firstborn sons. Every son would be struck down. But He showed mercy to His people. He sent His people instructions to slaughter a lamb and cover their doorposts with the blood of the lamb. When He came through in the night, wherever He saw the blood of the lamb, He would pass over, and death would not reign in those places. Those who were covered by the blood of the lamb lived. They were saved.” Oh Lord, let this cord be as the blood of the lamb over me. Deliver me and my family from battle and from death. I am so ready for life! I did not know when the Israelites would come back. All I knew was that when they came, I would be ready. * * * I stare as my family huddles together, wondering what kind of death I have led them into. The floor feels as though it will give way at any moment. “You have to believe,” I whisper to them. “The God of Israel will save us.” My father shakes his head forcefully. “I’ll believe it when I actually live to see it!” he cries. I glance at the scarlet cloth again. A breeze whips by, and it flutters out on the wind. The trumpets and horns grow quieter. The din below silences. We wait. Then, a soft pounding. The door creaks open. My father stands and moves forward. I reach out and catch his arm. A head peeks around the door. I see the familiar brown eyes and my knees melt in relief.
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“Rahab!” the familiar voice of the Israelite cries. I run to him, and, ignoring the rules of propriety, throw my arms around him. “You came!” I weep into his shirt. “I was so scared,” I confess. He sets me away from him, glancing at my father, blush creeping into his cheeks. “You knew the Lord would protect you. Why did you fear?” The tears stream down my cheeks. “Because I am new to this. Because I believed with nothing to show for it. I did what you said on the thread of a hope that God would come through for me. I stepped out in faith with no guarantee that God would show up.” The Israelite spy now helps my mother to her feet. “But Rahab, dear, that’s when God always shows up.” He smiles. We make our way down the stairs. Chaos reigns around us, yet there is no grief in my heart for Jericho. It is a tomb as far as I am concerned, and I am walking away from it in a newness of life. As we make our way outside the city towards the camp, I turn and look back to my window. The scarlet cloth stands out brilliantly against against the bland wall. “Thank you,” I whisper to the Lord, my heart full to bursting. “Thank you for delivering me from death.” The Israelite spy reaches over and cuffs my shoulder. “Welcome to the people of God, Rahab. He’s been waiting for you.”
Encouragement for the heart of the family:
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