Saturday, May 2, 2015

The Changing of a Dream

Originally published on my private blog on January 15, 2015:

I worked in the Short-Term department at SEND International, a missions agency, for 2 years and this was my dream job. Because of a unhealthy emotional situation there, I needed to leave after 2 years and ended up at another job where I worked for almost 10 years before quitting to stay at home and work part-time. At the time I had to leave my dream job at SEND, I was devastated and didn't really understand what God was doing, just knew that I needed to leave and He was in control of it. Now, many years later, I realize that what I'm doing now is really a dream "job" and would not have been possible most likely if I had stayed at SEND. By my working at another job that paid more over the last several years, we were able to get out of debt and be in a financial position for me to cut back to part-time work instead of full-time. This has freed me up to be more involved at our church and in ministry opportunities. I am developing relationships and using my gifts in ways that never would have happened if I had stayed at SEND. God's dreams were bigger than any that I had.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

1 Peter

Originally published on my private blog on December 24, 2014:

Reading through 1 Peter multiple times in preparation for my study on it. Which in turn, is preparation for the teacher training workshop I will be going to in March where I will have to teach on two of the passages and critique others on their teaching. In my Bible study how-to, I harp on the importance of context and reading whole passages rather than picking verses out here and there. So reading an entire book in one sitting is helpful in getting the overall feel and theme of the book. So what has been my takeaway so far from 1 Peter?
Be sober and vigilant, be willing to suffer for doing what is right, our inheritance is secure. So often our focus is on what is going on currently in our lives and how we can best prevent trials and suffering. We forget that this world is merely temporary, a blip on the eternal future that we have waiting for us, secured by Christ. The trials now are part of our exile in a land that is not our own.
I'm not experiencing suffering currently. Though that could change in the blink of an eye. Feeling incredibly blessed these days in the life that I have. Yet this life is nothing compared to what awaits.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

From the Mouth of God by Sinclair Ferguson

From the Mouth of God: Trusting, Reading and Applying the BibleFrom the Mouth of God: Trusting, Reading and Applying the Bible by Sinclair B. Ferguson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Having read many "how to study the Bible" books, this one seems to approach it from a different angle. The first section of the book deals with why we can trust the Bible, how the Bible came about, and its inerrancy and authenticity. It then goes into how to read the Bible, and offers 5 keys for approaching the Bible correctly in our interpretation: context, Jesus, the unfolding drama, Biblical logic, and literary character of the book. Then some time is spent on the different literary genres of the Bible and understanding them according to their particular literature style. Finally, it goes into applying the Bible and looks at 2 Timothy 3:16 - profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness. The parable of the soils is examined in light of studying the Bible.
This book doesn't give a particular method for studying the Bible, but rather brings out why the Bible is important and how we are to approach it. In a day and age where everything is relative, the Bible remains authentic and inerrant, something we can trust. Knowing it is important because it is how God reveals Himself to us. At the end of the book it gives suggestions for study aids and tools, and for reading the Bible.
"When we are under such pressure (and we are all under it at times), mere knowledge of the Bible will not protect us - we need the God of the Book, not simply the Book about God. But without knowledge of the Book there will be no protection at all. Fail to use the Spirit's sword to unmask the deceitfulness of sin, and the battle to serve Christ will be lost without a blow being struck in our defence. But if we have learned from Scripture to be on our guard, and have grown in discernment through its teaching, we will be able to distinguish between true and false, right and wrong, good and evil, God and Satan. Then it will be possible for us to stand 'in the evil day', and at the end of it to 'stand firm'."

This book wasn't what I was expecting it to be, but it was good nonetheless.

Thanks to Banner of Truth for providing me a copy of this book free in exchange for my review.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

So Many Thoughts

Originally published on my private blog on November 12, 2014:

Sometimes it seems that I have so many thoughts and ideas running through my brain. That my brain doesn't really shut off but continues to percolate. Yesterday I found myself at work thinking about our church and some things I wanted to discuss with my husband Jono about it. I had to tell myself to stop thinking about it until I got home and could actually discuss it with him. Part of it was I didn't want to forget the questions I wanted to ask him. But I needed to stop thinking about it and concentrate more on what I was doing.
I think part of it may be related to my having OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder). The actual disorder, not the "oh I'm a neat freak, I must have OCD" type. The obsessive nature of thinking about the same things and re-hashing them in my brain is related to the disorder. Thankfully, I'm on medication that helps to keep the disorder under control for the most part. But it does rear its head now and then.
Sometimes I think this desire to get training for teaching better is just causing extra work in my life. Do I really want to pursue this? Is it really worth all this time and effort? But that's the lazy side of me talking. I think God has given me this gift and unless I'm told that no, you're a lousy teacher and shouldn't do it, I think I need to pursue this. The discipline alone is good for me. And regardless of the outcome, it is good learning experience and helpful just to grow me as a person.

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Meaning of Church

Originally published on my private blog on October 24, 2014:

While this blog allows me a place to chronicle my journey in teaching and leadership, it is also a place to write out other issues that come through my life. We are not isolated compartments but whole beings. While the struggles I face in one area might have nothing to do with teaching, they affect me which in turn affects how I respond to situations and perhaps to teaching issues that arise.
Struggling with church issues has been an off and on, up and down issue throughout my entire life. Having not grown up in one specific church, my childhood memories of church consist of sitting uncomfortably in a church where I didn't understand the language. As well as memories of the English "church" service that the missionaries held on Sunday nights, where different men would take turns speaking or a tape of a sermon would be played. For the years I lived in the US, I was part of a local church, attending youth group and Sunday School, and even being part of the choir. Church in Kenya was listening to sermons in 2 languages, which often caused a lack of paying attention, since the train of thought kept getting stopped to interpret. Again missionaries met for an English service, which I found a time of hanging out with my friends and the boy I liked.
In college church was required, which didn't make for a lasting bond. Often I had no choice in what church to go to, as I didn't have a car and there was a church in walking distance. If I couldn't get a ride elsewhere, I had to trek to the church in walking distance. There wasn't a strong tie to the church as so many that attended were part of the college. During my senior year I was able to attend the church of my choice as I had a regular ride there. Once graduated and living in the same area with my own car, I was able to be part of this church. And making friends and getting involved there was beginning to happen for me as a young adult. But then I moved out of state. And discovered that finding a church as part of a couple was no easy matter.
Jono and I struggled with finding a church in Michigan. My past issues with churches reared their ugly head from time to time and I would withdraw from church to lick my wounds. Eventually we found a church and have now been there for 9 years. But no church is perfect and sometimes issues will arise. Lately we have been struggling with concerns at our church. Others have actually left the church - long-time members. This is concerning. Yet for now we have chosen to stay. We are hoping to be a positive influence for change. Yet the struggle is real and the discouragement hits often. How long will this take? Are we really making a difference?
I want to look at what the Bible says is the purpose for church. What is a church supposed to be accomplishing? Is our church doing this? If not, what needs to change or happen for it to be fulfilling the God-given mandate? If it is accomplishing its purpose, why the apathy and malaise?
I believe church is a body of believers who are Christ's disciples, growing in likeness to Him and producing more disciples as commanded in Matthew 28. Using our gifts to edify each other and be effective disciples of Christ - this is what I see in the Bible. What does that look like in practical terms? These are questions I am looking at.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The More You Learn

Originally published on my private blog on October 19, 2014:

Sometimes ignorance can be bliss. But we are called as Christians to grow in our knowledge and maturity, to move from milk to meat. Part of spiritual growth is learning theology through study of God's Word. It's also learning discernment and comparing all teachings to Scripture to see if they line up. As I read and study, I learn that some books or authors that I previously thought were great, do not teach what lines up with the Bible. Discernment means being able to determine if someone is Biblical. Recently I learned some of the beliefs of one of my favorite Christian music groups-Phillips, Craig and Dean. Apparently they are part of the Oneness movement and do not believe in the Trinity. Rather they believe that God manifests himself either as God the Father, God the Son or the Holy Spirit. One of my favorite songs by them is You Are God Alone. Yet, when the one singing the song doesn't believe in the same God that is found in Scripture, what god are they really singing about? I found I was no longer comfortable listening to that song since the god they are singing about is not the God of the Bible. I'm no longer able to listen to their music now that I know what they profess to believe about God. It's a shame, but as part of our growth we must always compare with Scripture. Even the music we listen to, the lyrics of Christian songs, must be compared with what the Bible says to see if it is accurate teaching.

Monday, April 13, 2015

When Discouragement Hits

Originally published on private blog on Tuesday, October 14, 2014:

It seems that discouragement comes often when one seeks to follow after God. The state of the world, the state of America, the state of churches, the state of Christians (or seemingly so-called anyway), and on and on. Apathy, relativism, pluralism, intolerance, lack of discernment, Biblical illiteracy, emotionalism, materialism - so many issues that are part of the world today. New Age practices and mysticism have creeped into the church and become mixed with Christian terms. People seek emotional experiences rather than solid truth. How to break through seems impossible.
I don't have an answer for how to deal with the discouragement. Other than to keep plodding on and not use it as an excuse to give up. If I can influence just one person, is it worth it? I can't change the world but maybe I can make a difference in at least one person's life. And as long as I'm still on this earth, God can still use me. I need to be open, willing, and available.