30 September 2008
29 September 2008
28 September 2008
27 September 2008
26 September 2008
25 September 2008
24 September 2008
23 September 2008
22 September 2008
21 September 2008
This month (the last month I'll be able to teach Bible study to the ladies until after I return to Niger in January :-( ), we looked at another "rendez-vous" with the Lord. So far, we've considered the Lord's meetings with:
- His mother Mary and the servants at the wedding feast in Cana,
- and the Samaritan woman at the well.
So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judaea into Galilee, he went unto him, and besought him that he would come down, and heal his son: for he was at the point of death. Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe. The nobleman saith unto him, Sir, come down ere my child die. Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way. And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, Thy son liveth. Then inquired he of them the hour when he began to amend. And they said unto him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him. So the father knew that it was at the same hour, in the which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth: and himself believed, and his whole house. This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when he was come out of Judaea into Galilee. (John 4.46-54, KJV)
- Mary, Jesus' mother, knew that she could approach the Lord with whatever her need, big or small. So can we, for He is the same Lord now that He was then.
- Jesus responded to her, and will also respond to us. It is not always the response that we desire, for which we are looking, or what we want to hear. But, He does and will respond.
- We can have confidence in Him, just as Mary did, that whatever His response, whatever He chooses to do, it will be very good.
- Jesus performs extravagant miracles - things far and above what we could imagine or dream up on our own. He loves to bring pleasure to those He loves.
- The servants, those in the position of unquestioning and immediate obedience, where the first to see and recognize this miracle of Jesus. To see God working, we too must be found in the position of obedience.
- Nothing protects us from problems during this life. If we are alive, we can expect trouble and difficulties.
- It is often those troubles and difficulties that push us to seek and search for the Lord.
- Jesus is approachable, and longs to see our persistance as we seek Him.
- Jesus responds, not just as we expect or want, but often in a manner that is even more magnificent, extravagent and far beyond what we were actually asking Him to do.
- Faith and belief are best demonstrated by obedience.
- God's Word is infinitely powerful.
- Those in the position of a servant, those set on obeying the Lord, are the ones who first recognize His hand and His miracles.
Did you notice that several of these key points are repeated from the water into wine encounter earlier in John? The ladies at Bible study did!
There was one other thing that the Lord so impressed upon my heart as I prepared for this Bible study: the father's dedication and engagement in the life of his child. Most parents will tell you that they love their children and would do anything for them - but one priority that I need to make even more of a priority is to truly pray for my children, to spend time before the throne of grace truly interceding on their behalf. Do I pray? Of course. Could I pray more fervently. Definitely! And prayer according to the will of God is an investment into the lives of our children (or the children who the Lord has placed into our lives) is an investment with eternal dividends. Several years ago, just before Nadia was born, I attended a baby shower where I was given a bookmark titled: "16 Things to Pray for Your Children." I've carried that bookmark around in my Bible ever since - trying to frequently pray through that list for each individual child. I decided to translate that list and share it with the ladies at Bible Study. They loved it - and the ladies who can read asked me to make a bookmarks for them to carry around in their Bibles. They also committed to pray for their own children along these lines - several were ideas they had never considered before - as well as to pray for the youth and children who attend the church or who they have the potential to influence in their homes and neighborhoods. It is wonderful to see them get excited about an opportunity for ministry such as this!
20 September 2008
19 September 2008
18 September 2008
17 September 2008
16 September 2008
This last photo was one Rebekah took of her "pet."
15 September 2008
The flash didn't go off on this one - so we have the blurry, photo by firelight look... the wind was blowing just enough and the matches here are poor enough quality that Tim actually had to stick the candle into our bonfire to get it to light. Jonathan was worried he was going to burn up the candle before Elsie Mae got to blow it out.
Elsie Mae was all ready to blow her candle out - but Jonathan beat her to it! I think she liked the pink lemonade frosting on her cupcake - since she ate that and left the cake!
Nadia and one of Elsie Mae's friends who joined us for the picnic. You can also read about our evening from their perspective at their blog page.
Isn't she a cutie-pie? Not only were we glad for the opportunity for a family outing - we were delighted to be able to celebrate our Elsie Mae!
14 September 2008
13 September 2008
12 September 2008
11 September 2008
10 September 2008
My ideas about parenting are being challenged by the thought provoking and I believe biblical ideas presented in the book. God had already been directing our parenting much more in this way. The book discusses things like (from the back of the book):
- engagning your kids in conversations instead of issuing ultimatums;
- seeing your children's behaviors as windows into your won spiritual life;
- coaching your children instead of lecturing them;
- modeling the transparent, authentic lifestyle you want for your kids;
- demonstrating a life of thankfulness, creativity and service."
"We often approach the Bible with our children - and ourselves - trying to solve all its mysteries. when our children ask about God's Old testament wrath upon entire nations, we pull out slick theological arguments to that God won't appear mean to them. Or we'll share, 'That was the Old Testament. We are in a New Covenant relationship with Jesus now,' as if God has changed magically between the Testaments. We don't welcome the wrestling. It makes us uncomfortable. We'd rather have it all figured out and if we teach our children our own pet theologies, we think we have adequately completed the task of bringing them up in the Lord...We've lost the beauty of wrestling. We've forgotten how to welcome it into our homes....It's not an easy task. It's much easier to choose a set of beliefs and then defend them to the death, making sure our children mimic the proper tenets. We have a harder time saying, 'You know what? I don't know why God took out entire generations of people. I could give you some theological explanations if you're interested, but to be honest, it rubs me the wrong way. I don't understand how a loving God could do that. I know he's just and righteous and can see everything, but it's hard for me to reconcile all that killing with Jesus.' By saying that, we invite our children into our own wrestling, our own questions.Unfortunately, we have reduced God and His Word to that which is manageable, nice and agreeable. We've sanitized the Bible so that we don't have to grapple with its ambiguity. We don't want to be Jacob, wrestling hour upon hour with the living, breathing, wild God, only to walk the rest of our lives with a limp. It's messy. It doesn't perpetuate formulaic biblical interpretation...If we were really honest with ourselves, we'd admit that we do wrestle with the sticky issues of the Bible, but we don't often give ourselves permission to show that struggle. Instead of hiding what is inside or adopting everyone else's airtight explanations for the difficulties of the Bible, why not dialogue? Why not bring our concerns to the family table? Why not show our disappointment when God doesn't answer a prayer in the way we hoped? By doing this, we train children to recognize that asking questions is all right, that God's shoulders are big enough to hold our doubts. When our children leave home, they will leave knowing that the Bible is a difficult but life-filled book."
"We forget sometimes. We roll our eyes. We say 'bo-ring' under our breath. We treat life as if it were all about us. But the essence of life is gratitude. Thankfulness. How do we instill gratefulness in our children while the world around them is spinning on the axis of selfishness?...So much of what we try to teach our children is demonstrated, not preached. Perhaps our children are grateful because we are grateful. Or maybe they've seen other be selfish, and it rubs them the wrong way. Or maybe they've gotten to know the gentleness of Jesus a little more each day.Teaching kids that life is a gift isn't easy.... God is the one who elevates us. He lifts our heads above circumstances. In Psalm 3.3, the psalmist says, 'But you are a shield around me, O LORD; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head.' Why does He lift our heads? So we can see the vista beyond our belly buttons. Above us is heaven, where the Triune God reigns in glory....Gracious followers of Jesus will entice the world. Self-serving, prideful Pharisees merely shake their finger and push others away.What kind of faith do we want our children to bring to this postmodern world? A stoic, stuffy religion that beckons people to rules and regulations? Or a vibrant, life-giving, grace-abounding relationship with Jesus that infects and affects the people around them? What will attract a shifting culture to Jesus? It will be our invigorated, grateful hearts -- authentic, broken hearts that dare to thank God in the midst of life's mess. That's what this world hungers for: a unique expression of the reality of Jesus on the field of postmodernity. As we dare to love and challenge our children in this world, teaching them to follow the path of the scarred Carpenter, we will begin to see how Jesus can infuse culture through them. They are missionaries, sent out to a culture we may not understand. To prepare them is our duty and joy."
If you are definitely interested in a thought-provoking read, especially one that applies to parenting preteen/teen children, go ahead and give this book a try.