Tag Archives: bible study

before I wake (G)

What five things do I want to do before I die? My list when I was twenty-five is miraculously different then the list I might make today. I want to write about both lists.

I’ve done a lot of things off the first list. I am content, my cup runeth over. I wanted to go to Berkeley – I got to do that. I wanted a husband, I wanted a little girl. Check, check. But wait! There’s more!

I wanted to go on long backpacking trips, specifically I wanted to walk the John Muir trail (211 miles). The longest I’ve been on a backpacking trip was two nights, so I suppose that belongs on the list, although the charm of sleeping on a gritty floor waiting for the bears to go away has lessened as I grow older. I wanted to tackle Half Dome and I’ve done that, I even got to sleep up there the year before they closed it off to over-nighters. Things have changed, and I’m not entirely clear I want to do that anymore. Give me day hikes and youth hostels. Let me think about walking with John Muir.

I want to spend more time in Europe. I’ve been there once, to Frankfurt and I didn’t like that. I want to see Paris in the spring, Rome anytime, and Spain. I want to visit Saint Petersburg. Russia is one of the most beautiful places I’ve been, and I understand Saint Petersburg to be the most beautiful cities in Russia, maybe even anywhere. I do not want to ever go back to Germany, you can have that. I have a not very good friend in Switzerland, (who is the reason I hate Germany so much) so even though when I was younger I wanted to visit so badly, I do not want to see her. She has invited us to stay with her and I don’t want to see her philandering husband, either.

I also want to spend time in Africa, and more time in Asia. I could have gone to the Middle East after University, but there was a misunderstanding that made it not possible to go. When I think about this, it irks me.

(Weight Loss)
I want to be a reasonable weight. I was doing well, then I went to a wonderful wedding and ate three slices of cake. They were three different kinds of cake, but still, get a hold of yourself, Malakoa. I only gained .8 pounds, but they are .8 pound I do not want and now my belly is floppy again. My only real exercise is yoga. Although it is challenging, it may not be the right kind of exercise for me to drop this extra weight.

I was reading the other day from a self-proclaimed atheist about the God-fearing people’s response to 9-11. The part of his quotation that stuck out to me was that “people worship a God who couldn’t save us from these attacks.” It doesn’t really sound like atheism to me: It sounds like someone disappointed with God. If God does this, the writer reasoned, He can’t be a God. It seems like a misunderstanding. It is my experience that a lot of people who reject God do not understand who God is or what He has done. Simple questions like, “If Adam and Eve were white, how come all the people in the world are different colors?” are answered easily if you look to the Bible. (Answer: There are no colors assigned to Adam and Eve. The mark of the Canaanites is sometimes spoken of as dark skinned people, but there is no real proof anyone was white or black or purple. We can believe with some confidence Jesus looked like a ugly, hairy Middle Eastern guys.) I realize that believing that all agnostics or staunch atheists base their faith on figuring out the color of good ol’ mama Eve is potentially insulting. There are good and interesting arguments against the existence of God, but none truly convincing to me. I believe there are answers, and I believe I know a lot of the simple ones.

I would love to speak and write. I intend on working some of this blog to a book, and if it doesn’t I want to write another two or five. I go to conferences, etc, I think, “maybe someday I’ll be the one up there.” I’m only in my thirties. I don’t know if that’s young or old for that sort of work. I believe God has given me the gift the gift of prophecy. This doesn’t mean I can predict floods or locusts, but that I can explain difficult things clearly and am able to speak convicting truths where others are blind or just uncomfortable dealing with. These truths can be received harshly. I was warned that prophets can lack compassion and I try to be generous and compassionate. I’ve talked before about the bruised hand, and I am beaten up sometimes. Truth can be healing as well. It is a relief for people to see how they making things worse because of what they believe about themselves is not true, and what they are doing is destructive.

That’s more than five. Hope you didn’t give up on me. See you tomorrow.

Advertisements

So sings my soul

I have made every effort to write without cliches or catch phrases.  I know I haven’t ironed them all out, please forgive me, and please read until the end.

We started the morning with Carrie Underwood and Vince Gill’s rendition of “How Great Thou Art.” I’ve listened to it a dozen times.  I had seen the tears in the audience, it’s easy to cry listening to the songs that remind you of Grandma’s old radio or  sweet old time religion.  What came this time was the peace I saw in the faces of the celebrities.  It transcends the music hall, the awards, even Carrie’s magnificent voice.  It changed their hearts.  Music can do that.  God does that.

There was a time I was struggling greatly with my faith I came across this song, “I’ve Got Friends that Do.”

And I may not know what its like
To send my only son to save the world and watch him die
And I may not know how it feels
To hang there on the cross to prove that love is real
But I’ve got friends that do.

I don’t know why or how those words were so enlightening to me, but it genuinely convicted me that God doesn’t owe me or anybody else anything.  God sent His only son for us.  He watched Him die, for us.  I will never know the cost, but I  do know that what He has done is all I ever need him to do to worship and even love Him.  Jesus said, “it is finished”.  While God does bless me, give me good things and make me very happy sometimes, he’s not required to do so.  My heart for Him is only a response to His love for me.  When I felt totally unloved and unhappy, he has already concocted a plan in heaven to make me very happy.  Because I felt that way, didn’t mean it was true – He always loved me.  In between now and then things like the joy Small brings me, the security and love B brings me and all of the other things in life that are satisfying and fun are just a drop in the bucket compared with what is there for me there.

I am (making every effort to be) not ashamed of the gospel.  I believe in the power of God for salvation, and I believe He uses it.  I know that Jesus is real, is God, and is mine forever.  The fact, and I believe it to be a fact, that I am on my way to heaven, is exciting.  I get to see huge pearls and gold.  I get to see angels again.  I get to a real home, not one that will be taken away from me.  I don’t think I’ll have to clean it, either.  I really believe this is the point of Jesus’ words and the good news described in the Bible.

I don’t know where the peace in those country singer’s faces came from, other than being a gift from God.  I have that peace, sometimes, and I wish I had it all the time.  It’s a Fruit of the Spirit, which means it’s an extra special gift that God gives to His children.  According to Bible-knowledge.com, without peace, we can easily become “rattled, shaken, tormented” and “and knocked right off of your game in the Lord the first time any type of adversity should ever come your way.”  Who hasn’t been like that before?  Who wants that?

I think God has given me extra special gifts.  I’m not in the middle of a bipolar episode and I still believe that is true.  If I am elevated, I try to ignore any personal “messages” from God. I’ve said it before that I want to worship a real God, not one borne of mental illness.  I’ve was in a hospital with a schizophrenic woman who  talked the whole time about the Roman Catholic Church, Jehovah Witnesses and some other sect of the modern world.  Since I was pretty amped so I laughed and even though I made every attempt not to laugh at the poor, tormented soul.  I didn’t have success – I just couldn’t stop laughing, but it served as a message to me that I did not want to crazily create an object of worship:  I wanted something hard.  The image that comes to me is a sturdy Craftsman chair, made of strong wood and constructed by a skilled artisan.  I don’t know if that is because Jesus was a carpenter, or what.  I read once that the plows He made were used up to the third century.  I think his word and work in the Bible proves that is true of Jesus.  Jesus is supernatural though, so things sometimes don’t seem solidly grounding. There is more to Jesus than a carpenter’s chair.

I most frequently hear from God through the Bible.  It is that carpenter’s chair.  Yes, there are different versions and what I believe to be the occasionally translation error, but I feel there is no evidence that is strong enough for me to believe it to be anything but factual.  Still, things happen to me, I see prayers answered, I hear God’s voice, I’ve seen angels.  (If you feel like proving me wrong, go ahead and pm me with it.  I don’t want to mess with healing people getting upset if you leave guest book messages.)

One last story.  This is one of the most exciting things that ever happened to me.  I lived in a big, old fraternity in college.  It was a mansion at one point, Spanish style with a once stately great room.  I don’t think anything about the house was stately while I lived in it.  There was an old Steinway piano, and I was going through an extremely difficult time.  I had, what I understand now to be, a major depressive episode.   I was failing out of school, so I just dropped out for the semester.  I didn’t do a whole lot: I went to Bible Study, I ate and ate, slept for hours and hours and I played that piano.  Steinway pianos have heavy keys, so I had to pound to make any music out of it.  The piano was out of tune, which made it sound more like what was going on with me.  That piano probably kept me alive.

I hadn’t really played piano for years, but I played pretty much when I wasn’t sleeping or eating.  I played show tunes, Disney songs and worship songs.  I played for church and for Bible study.  It was the only productive thing I did then, but I have nothing to show for it but that night with the angels.

It was Saturday.  I was alone in the house, which is an impressive thing when the house has twenty-three residents.  I went to the piano and felt like I really could freely play and even sing as loudly and fully as possible.  I had a book of worship songs and I played from the beginning to the end.  While I was playing, I swear to you, the room filled with angels.  The were swirling and swooping around the room.  There were dozens of them.  They gushed peace and joy and I received it, completely amazed.  The angels were silent, but in joined my worship as a created being.  I was refreshed.  I was surrounded by so much beauty.  I wasn’t exhausted like I’d expect to be after encountering supernatural creations.  I wasn’t scared like people are in the Bible, because I knew from reading about angel visitations they probably aren’t bringing messengers of death.  I was able to laugh and play with flourishes and took chances with my voice.  Bliss, joy, peace were their gifts.  The angels left without taking away any of the blessings they brought with them I don’t know where they went next.


I will bless you

I have felt convicted that I need to bless my growth group. A growth group is a small group of people studying the Bible or Christian books, and I am a leader of one. It consists of five couples, including my husband and I. I thought I was to choose a different couple each week and pray for them, blessing them with encouragement and growth and prophecy. This thought came to me in the middle of the last group, but I felt unable to go through with it without making the couple feel uncomfortable. I kept praying about how to go about it. Should I take them aside? Should I pray over them with everyone there?

The group went something like that. We answered the ice breaker question: “Whose marriage do you admire and why?” and did the study. It was time to go and almost out of no where I lifted up my had, I said, “May God’s blessing go with you and may his face shine upon you, now and forever, AMEN”.

After I said those things, my heart felt better. It was like something was loosened in me. It was like I was the one missing out on this blessing all along. Sure, I believe I’ve been given teaching and prophesying gifts, and even healing gifts, but it was as if I was missing out on using them. I believe a blessing can be healing and I believe my words were so, for me, I felt healed. I don’t know if anyone else felt that way, I’d like to know but I will wait to hear from someone or from God as to the kind of blessing I am to give.

And with that, I pray the love of God will shine through you and that He will be pleased with all that you do.


Super Negative

I’ve been super negative lately.  I feel like I’ve been less than encouraging and I am sorry for that.  You don’t come here for me to rant about my extended family.  Or my buying sprees.  (To be fair, I took a lot of it back and am trying to be transparent about that.)

I may have an ulcer and that means another pill added to my regime.  I’ve been throwing up randomly and everyone from L to my parents to Mr. Malakoa have been urging me to go to the doctor.  When I added my symptoms together it was clear that I at least have something resembling an ulcer.  More tests next week and then they’ll have an official diagnosis.  Whatever.

Do I need another pill?  Do I need to throw up randomly?  Do I need acid reflux to burn through my esophagus?  An ulcer is no joke.  All the vomiting is annoying and painful and random I am sick of the reflux.  Aurgh.

I didn’t read my Bible for a few days.  I tell myself I  don’t want to become too “religious” or “ritualistic.”  Maybe it’s just an excuse and I’m lazy.  I think it’s okay, but I know that I miss out.  I have been praying, mostly asking for things like to find a bottle of medicine.  God likes to hear from me.  He wants me to pray without ceasing.  Interestingly enough he doesn’t ask us to read the Bible without ceasing.  But that is really no excuse.  Bible study is really important.  My old pastor told us more than once that the people who lose track of their relationship with God usually have given up on Bible study.  I do not want to give up.

I heard an awesome message from the same pastor.  He shared with us that in the Bible the “Word”, that is the Bible does everything that the Holy Spirit does.  The book of John begins, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was God and the Word was with God.”  Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”  If they both are true, and I believe they are, the Bible becomes even more important.  The beginning holds the Word and thousands of years later the act of creation is confirmed.

What does that have to do with us?  We have access to the Trinity as the Magis of old.  We have more blessed faith than even the disciples.  To grow, we need to read the Bible.  Not “I” need to read the Bible, “we” need to read the Bible.

This is taken from John Kankerburg’s website.  (I don’t know the guy but this looked pretty good.)

What are some of the activities of the Holy Spirit as “helper or comforter?” Let me suggest several to you and include Scriptural references for you to study. More certainly could be added, but these are the basics.

1. He guides us into all truth. John 16:13—”But when He, the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth for He will not speak on His own initiative but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” The role of the Holy Spirit is to show us that we are sinners and to point us to, and guide us to, a clear understanding of who Jesus Christ is, leading us to a commitment to Him. He also helps us to understand God’s Word and its application in our lives. Notice: He is the “Spirit of Truth” and will only reveal truth to us.

2. He assures us that we are God’s children.Romans 8:16—”The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” It’s like having an eternal, binding contract with God that the Holy Spirit seals, confirming that we are secure in our family relationship with the Father.

3. He gives us hope. Romans 15:13—”Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” The expression “the God of Hope” means the God who inspires hope and imparts it to His children. He can be counted on to fulfill what still remains to be accomplished in us. He is not finished with us!

4. He strengthens us. Ephesians 3:16—Paul tells us to be “strengthened with the power through the Spirit in the inner man.” The strengthening of the inner person comes when Christ takes up His permanent residence in us. So the secret of strength is the presence of Christ in our lives. Christ desires to bring us His strength if we will let Him. To be honest, there are times when I feel weak, and I ask the Lord to be strength through me and He has always provided that needed strength.

5. He equips us to serve others. Ephesians 4:11 & 12—”And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists and some as pastors and teachers for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.” The role of the Holy Spirit is to equip us for the work that we have been called to do in God’s Kingdom. For example: some can sing in the choir, or teach preschoolers, help keep the church clean, go out on visitation, participate in short-term mission trips, etc. I know that God has given each of us one or more gifts to be used in the work of the Kingdom. It is up to each one of us to discover our gifts then use them in “the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.”

If my old pastor’s ideas are correct, and I believe that they are, all of these things can be given to us by the Holy Spirit, through the Word of God.  I don’t think that is the only way that we have access to the Holy Spirit.  Prayer can draw His power to work in us.  When Jesus promises that “I will never leave you or forsake you” He is talking about the Holy Spirit.  That is why asking Him to “be with us” is a silly prayer.  He is already with us.  (Or she, if you’d rather, I think this is ambiguous, I can’t recall a time that the Holy Spirit was identified as a masculine deity – I have heard compelling arguments both ways.)

So, all that said, there is really no good reason we shouldn’t read the Bible if we expect God to work in us.  There are chapters in the Bible that command singing and dancing before the Lord, and that gives me great joy.  I ask Him to be pleased with me in all that I do.  I have said before that I don’t want to read the Bible when I’m cycling because I don’t want to worship a wacky substitution of God, I want to worship the “real” God.  As I consider this, I am not so sure it’s a good idea.  When I am sick, especially with mental illnesses or other chronic illnesses, I think it’s a good idea to be throwing myself at God’s feet and asking for blessings and wisdom.  There is nothing wrong with asking for healing, but that is just not on my heart right now.  I have other priorities and I believe that God has other priorities for my walk and life right now.  I also think it is extremely important to go to church or small groups, if you are able.  I’ve heard several couples, with marriages crumbling, that don’t go to church if unless things are perfect at home.  Unless it is clear that your church shoots their wounded, I would go anyway.  I was having a miscarriage and decided to go to church anyway.  I sat in the back row and cried silently through the service.  As  I went to pick up Small on the way out I had a great surprise.  An old friend who I hadn’t seen in years and years was there.  She looked at me and asked, directly, “Have you had a miscarriage?”  She told me about her three miscarriages.  She had such trouble she was admitted to the hospital.  It must have been horrible, much worse than what I was feeling or had experienced.  She wasn’t comparing our pain, though.  She ministered to me greatly.  If I had stayed home, I never would have been so blessed.

I also have an awful story about the time I went to Women’s Bible Study after my grandma died.  But that same study I had a friend speak words of healing to me.  It’s as crap shoot, but I think it’s awfully worth it.  We aren’t supposed to be alone in our troubles.

All that to say, I know that there are many folks here that consider themselves to be atheist or agnostics.  If you don’t already know, I welcome you here with joy.  I do love hearing from you and understand that you don’t get a whole lot from my explicitly Biblical posts.  That said, I hope you continue on to read and hope I encourage you and even teach you through all that has happened to me in my life and how I believe God has worked.



it’s all about me

A dear friend, who asked if she could lighten my load during this season by helping agreed it would be great if she could write a few of the devotions.  I thought that was wonderful of her and I was happy.

I’m still happy, but she said something to me that was really telling. She said she wasn’t sure about what to write because the blog is “all about (you).

I had a long think about that.  In some ways I am glad, as I am seeking truth and want to be truth.  In another way, I was a little ashamed that people tune in just to see what I am up to, or rather that they don’t tune in because of the self-promoting.

There is a reason that I share so much about my self, though.  I’ll tell it:

I was in high school ministry and we had a small group of kids who went of to Bible college who were coming back the day before I was going to teach a class.  I was pulling out my hair, literally.  I wanted to quote Tozer, I wanted to tell them what this really meant in Greek.  I cursed myself for not choosing a Christian school.  I was getting more and more frustrated.

The, God touched me.  He told me that I didn’t need to do what I didn’t know how to do, but rather what I, and only I, had.  That was my life, my experiences and my relationship with God. I didn’t need to be all those things I am not.  And there a whole lot of things I can’t do.

So they came back.  I gave my first lesson or teaching to the group.  Some people thanked me, others did not but I felt light.  It was like going from a fraud to a legitimate, I don’t know, a legitimate something.   In some ways it was like being born again.  The Bible talks a lot about spiritual gifts.  I believe the best way to find them is to work until you find yourself and your gifts.  It’s not a time to wait until it comes to you.  I had been teaching for years, but I believe the revelation changed me from a teacher, to one who prophesyed.

I’ve probably told you that story before;  I delight in it.  When we think, “God can’t use me,” we find he can use all of us, everything we’ve ever done, preparation for all the things we’d have to let go, all the things we get to keep and all the things we’ve loved.  And hated.  In the case of many things, all I’ve had was myself.  And God.  He wanted to use me in truth, and couldn’t do so once I hid from him because I was naked.  I think he wouldn’t mind so much if I really was naked, but unashamed to walk with Him, because I know He will clothe me.