Monday, August 5, 2013

Philippians Bible Study (part 1)

Our pastor has been leading our church through the Book of Philippians for a few months. We are in chapter 4 now. My youngest son got to study Philippians at Bible camp in July. And now my friend started a Bible Study on Facebook. Which book are we doing first? Philippians!

I have insecurity issues. I know that most people have some sort of insecurity, but mine just seems to be extra bad. Especially at church. It's pitiful! I am so blessed to have a friend with similar insecurities. We talk about it from time to time, mostly trying to figure out how to just knock it off already! We haven't come up with a solution, other than Jesus, because of course we ALL need Jesus. But how do we fix our issues specifically?

Two weeks ago I went on a retreat with other women from our church. We went to a monastery. I was quite apprehensive about going because I grew up in the Catholic Church and have been away from it for about 12 years. Another reason I was nervous is complicated. Basically I have been a sort of self-proclaimed watchdog, feeling a need to protect our church from teachings such as mysticism and lectio divina. I was a little afraid that we would be taught meditation techniques at the monastery.

Our pastor went with us to open our time with a short devotion and prayer. He prayed that we would be protected from evil forces. I immediately felt more relaxed and re-remembered that God was bigger than everything I've been afraid of. Later in the day I found out that I was not the only woman who was concerned about our chosen retreat location. But it was not longer a huge issue for me. What a relief! I can still be watchful. I believe we all need to protect our faith. Jude urged his audience to contend for the faith. (Jude 1:3) But I should not be afraid.

Another blessing from the retreat was that my heart changed toward church. Specifically the women in our church. You know, the ones I keep finding myself insecure around. (I attend church with wonderful women. None of them have done anything hurtful. The insecurity is all me.)  Two ladies in a small group discussion admitted they have feelings of insecurity... even at church. Comparing ourselves to others is so harmful. Why do we do it? Anyway, it was a nice reminder that we all have those moments.

And because of reading Philippians again, I have a scriptural way of dealing with those moments when they happen to me. I have been reminded that they (other Christian women) "are all partakers with me of grace" and I should "hold /them/ in my heart." We need to pray for each other. We need to pray that our "love may abound more and more."
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace,[d] both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness,how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.    Philippians 1:3-11 
I love our church, God's church.

Sunday, January 27, 2013


I am learning how to quilt and I am totally addicted! My mom started quilting in 2003, or close to then, and it looked fun then, but I had a brand new baby, was teaching full time, and didn't know how to sew. Several years later we were without internet for a summer and I had a three year old girl in need of a home-made summer dress, or so I thought. I borrowed my mom's old sewing machine, bought a simple pattern, and re-taught myself how to sew. I bought patterns for other projects, but they were way too challenging, and we got internet again, so I put the patterns in the basement and the idea of sewing in the back of my mind. During that Sewing Summer I had spent some time in our local fabric shops. I loved all the colors, textures, and patterns and I knew that I would enjoy quilting... someday. 
One of the major things that was keeping me from quilting was the cost. My mom is an avid quilter. She and my father (up til a couple years ago) work full time, they have no kids living at home, they have money that she can spend on quilting. So she spends money on quilting. Boy, does she spend money on quilting! I, on the other hand, have no job, four kids living at home, a VERY frugally-minded husband, and have no intention of spending lots of money on quilting. I just figured quilting = spending lots of money
Earlier this month I went to a friend's house to help her pin a quilt. I had never pinned a quilt before and I was not entirely sure what to expect. She had a couple long tables pulled together in the middle of her living room and draped over those was a quilt sandwich; the backing, the batting, and the quilt top. I got to help her safety-pin the three layers of the sandwich together. It wasn't too hard once I got the hang of it. We spent a few hours pinning and chatting, and chatting, and chatting, and eating, and pinning. It was so much fun! 
I honestly have no idea how much money my friend spends on quilting. I do know that she does not have a room dedicated to the craft. She has four young children. She has no job. I realized that day that quilting is something I could totally do at this stage in my life. I don't have to spend oodles of time and money to enjoy quilting.
Driving home from her house, I decided I would learn to quilt. The more I thought about it, the more excited I became. I talked to my mom, and she, with memories of my 8th grade Home-Ec sewing fiasco still fresh in her mind, suggested I take a beginning quilting class from our local quilt store. I was registered, and two weeks later, I took my first quilting class. This next Tuesday I begin my 2nd quilting class. I am already registered for my 3rd quilting class in February. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

SO not worthy

My husband and my youngest son play a game. They tell each other how much they love one another in a creative way. My husband started this with me years ago and when Daniel was old enough to understand, he started playing with him. Bob starts with, "I love you."
"I love you, too." Daniel tells him.
"I love you more."
"I love you more."
"I love you more than an ant." See, this is where the game gets a little Bob-ish. "I love you more than a squished ant."
For years Bob alone would come up with these. But a few years ago Daniel started using his imagination and joined in with his own comparisons. Things like, "I love you more than dirt."
Usually the progression is from bad to worse. "I love you more than a worm." "I love you more than a stinky worm."  "I love you more than a tiny worm." The other night I heard Bob ask Daniel, "Do you remember how when it rains the night before and then the next day there are worms on the sidewalk? And they get all dried up and wrinkly? And then they get stepped on? I love you more than that."
Our poor children are going to grow up weird.
I have YouVersion on one of our i-pads. It's a Bible app that you can use on the computer, i-phones, i-pads, tablets, etc. One of the great things about it is that you can pick a reading plan. You open up the app and it has your day's reading schedule. One of my plans is "Read the Bible in a Year" in chronological order. If you skip a day or two, all you have to do is push the "catch up" button and it adjusts your calendar so that you are never behind.
This morning I read Revelation chapter four about the 24 elders bowing before God on His throne and worshiping him, declaring,
“Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
    to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
    and by your will they existed and were created.”

I was reminded of just how UNworthy I am. The fact that I am even blessed with being able to read God's Word, is astounding to me. I am like the dried up, stinky worm on the bottom of someone's shoe in my husband and son's "love you more" game. Yet God loves me so much that He sent His Son to die in my place.
When I was a Catholic, just before communion, we would recite together, "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you. But only say the word, and I shall be healed." Jesus did say the word. He wrote The Word. He is the Word. And with His last words while he died on the cross, he said, "It is finished." He paid the price for my sin. He paid the price for your sin, too. Will you accept that?

Romans 10:13 says, "For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Christmas is just a week away. While you shop, eat goodies, wrap presents, sing songs, enjoy family and friends, etc., will you consider what Jesus' birth means to you? Will you consider just how much He loves you?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Humming for Jesus

     "Mmmmmm  mmmmmmm mmmmmmmm....." My 5 year old daughter is dancing around the living room humming, even while I am writing this. Then she started singing, "Jesus....   Jesus.... I love you, Jesus!..... mmmmmm mmmm mmmm ... I love you, too, Jesus! Mmmmmm mmm mmmm... Jesus..."
     I was just reading a news article about a young mom who was recently killed in a hit and run in our city. She has two young children. Last night I read an article about the little girl in Denver who went missing last week. They are pretty sure they found her body. I was sitting here at the computer praying and feeling so sad. Then I hear this sweet little hum in a made up tune. Her lyrics made me smile!
     Within five minutes, of course, she was being snotty to her brothers!  But that little glimpse of Jesus was beautiful.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Why I Am No Longer A Catholic (part 2)

Easter 2001: My brother-in-law, his wife, and my other sister-in-law were talking about how they would no longer watch one of their favorite television shows because one of the main characters "came out of the closet." I was so disappointed that they would feel that way. I was arguing for equal rights, tolerance, and compassion. Dan, my brother-in-law, opened his mom's Bible to a verse showing that homosexuality is a sin and how because God does not like it neither should we. I do not know which verse, but it might have been Leviticus 18:22. "You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination." I took the Bible and looked up Ephesians 5:22-23, "Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church..." I can still picture poor Dan with the what-does-that-have-to-do-with-anything look on his face. I assured him that both of those verses were just a couple of many that were in the Bible that I did not agree with. I left a little huffily and determinedly spent the next few weeks looking up verses to show him to prove my point. I had all these examples of women being treated badly (Lot offering his daughters to strangers was one I remember.) and Bob was not a happy camper to find I had written "contradiction?" in his Bible. I was ready for our next discussion. I found out later that Dan also went home with the intent to look up verses to prove his point. But we never had another discussion. Dan was killed in a motorcycle accident on June 1st. A month and a half after we last talked. 

June 7, 2001: During Dan's funeral, we sang "The Old Rugged Cross." The words scrolled across two large screens in the huge church that was filled to overflowing with family, friends, community members, and, because his accident happened when he was on duty as Acting Chief with his police department, police officers from all over Colorado. Dan's pastor, friends, and family spoke about Dan's faith. There was no talk of "hope" that he would be in Heaven. Dan knew where he was going to go when he died. Therefore everyone who knew Dan also knew where he was going when he died. He was in Heaven. He is in Heaven. This was a foreign concept to me. How can someone know they were going to go to Heaven?

Summer 2001: I began reading the Bible in earnest. I was reading two books during the same time period: Genesis and Romans. I would read 2 or 3 chapters in Genesis, then 2 or 3 chapters in Romans. Somewhere along the way it occurred to me that those two books, written thousands of years apart and penned by different men, were saying the exact same thing. Different men physically wrote the words but they were written by the same Author. I knew at that moment that everything, every single word, in the entire Bible was from God and was therefore true. I don't remember the date but I remember where I was sitting. It was within about five feet of where I am sitting right now, actually. I don't remember the verse or verses, but I am almost positive the commonality was sin. The fact that we are consumed with sin is a common theme in Genesis and Romans. And because we sin, we need a Savior. Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, beginning the perpetual relationship between humans and sin. In the garden on that very day, God promised them He would send a Savior. (Genesis 3:15) That Savior is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I had always known that Jesus died for the sins of the world, it wasn't until that summer that I knew he died for me

Here are a couple of verses that talk about that blessed assurance that I will see Jesus in Heaven.
“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”  Romans 10:9-10 

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. Romans 8:15-17

When I die, I will go to Heaven. Will you? This is something far too important, critical even, to leave to chance. You can have that assurance. But when you die it is too late. There is no purgatory. Purgatory, the word or the concept, does not exist in the Bible. Purgatory does not exist. When Jesus died on that cross 2,000 years ago, His last words were, "It is finished." That was it. He won't do it again. It is your choice whether or not to believe. Believe that when he suffered, it was in your place. When he took the wrath of God, it was the wrath intended for you. When he felt utterly abandoned by God, that was because God did look away. He cannot abide sin. Remember? He is Holy. He was rejecting your sin when Jesus felt rejected by Him.

Sometime later that summer:  My mom and I went to the new Catholic church in our town. It was a beautiful building with grey bricks, unusual architecture, stained glass behind the altar and light throughout. After Mass we were sitting in Mom's car and we agreed that this was not the church for us. I think we might have discussed how warm the building looked but how it left us cold, figuratively speaking. Mom meant that she liked our downtown Catholic church better, but I meant Catholicism altogether. I told her then, "I don't think I'm a Catholic anymore." I know it made her sad. And in many ways it still makes me sad. I liked being a Catholic. I liked the cathedrals. I like the way the priest would chant. I liked the pomp and circumstance. I miss the incense. I miss Midnight Mass. I miss the culture. But I choose Jesus. I realize that He alone is my salvation. I choose the Bible. I realize that it alone contains the words of God.  

When I die, I am, obviously, most looking forward to worshiping God. I am looking forward to asking Him questions and expressing to Him, however feebly and certainly unworthily, how incredibly grateful I am that 1)He gave me life, and 2)He gave His Son's life to save me. Something else I am looking forward to, though, is continuing the discussion with my brother-in-law that we started eleven years ago on Easter. I can't help but smile when I think of how differently it will go this next time around.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Why I Am No Longer A Catholic (part 1)

This song made me cry this week. My husband's friend came to our church for the first time. He was raised Catholic. He has been studying the Bible and talking to Bob a lot during the past couple of years and is realizing that Christianity is not about sacraments and rules and what ifs, but about how Christ died for us.
I became choked up when we got to the words, "O death, where is your sting? O hell, where is your victory?" I thought of purgatory. I remembered praying for souls who were not yet quite good enough to get to heaven.
Purgatory = Hell's victory  

But Jesus conquered death when He died on that cross, in our place, and rose three days later. 
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  1 Corinthians 15:56-57 
It doesn't matter if we are "good enough," because no one is.
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Romans 3:23-24
 There is absolutely nothing, NOTHING, not a thing, we can do to save ourselves from God's wrath.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
When you are in a religion that teaches that you can go to heaven when you have earned your way, it is called works-based. You do the work and then you get the reward of Heaven. There is guilt involved. You can only hope that one day you might be looked upon with pity by a loving God who says, "Okay, I guess you were pretty good most of the time." 
When you are a Christian, it is faith-based. You realize that Jesus already did the work. Yes, God is loving. But He is Holy. He is perfect. And because He is perfect and Holy, He cannot allow sin to be near Him. And we ALL sin. Have you ever lied? Even a little white lie to make someone feel good about their bad hairdo is still a lie. It is still a sin. Have you ever committed adultery? Jesus said,"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery;' but I say to you, that everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart."  Adultery is a sin. This is why Jesus died. He took God's wrath on Himself. He made a way for us to be close to God. He made it so that we can be Holy. Not because of anything that we have done, but in spite of it.
Let no one caught in sin remain
Inside the lie of inward shame
But fix our eyes upon the cross
And run to Him who showed great love
And bled for us

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Answers to Prayer

I wanted to share a few experiences I have had with prayer. Take from them what you will. I am not an expert.

My husband is attending an anti-terrorism class this week. Usually his police training is all about how to make an arrest without killing the suspect. This class is just on how to "take out" the bad guy. 

Yesterday the officers trained with their duty weapons and live ammo, aka real bullets. Why would they do that? Well, because they were going to be shooting. The instructors strive to make the training as realistic as possible so if the officers are ever in that situation, they will have had experience in how to respond.  Years ago officers were being killed because they were shooting in real-life situations the way they had been shooting in training. Something about picking up shells as they were shooting or standing in the same spot so as to easily pick up the shells when they were done. I can't remember it, Google can't find it, and hubby is currently unavailable as a reference because he is "playing" with BB guns today. 

In yesterday's training session the students had to select a partner. Hubby was with two coworkers he had trained a couple of years ago. Two of them could partner up, but the third one would have to partner with another officer that my husband knows as being less than reliable. He let his coworkers partner up and selected for himself this other guy so he could keep a better eye on him. This is one of those situations where when you are first falling in love with your husband you really like that he is selfless. But when you are married to him and raising his four children, you really wish he would be a little less self-sacrificing. 

Last night hubby admitted to me that he knew of a few times that this partner had pointed a loaded weapon at his face, chest, etc. Then after the session, others watching told him there were several times that this other guy had been pointing his gun at hubby's back. Not on purpose, just in lacking weapon safety or common sense. 

Knowing they would be using live ammo, I prayed off and on throughout the day. I love that I felt nudged to pray and then found out that he was in harm's way several times. I prayed and my husband did not get shot. Who knows how much cause and effect was involved in it all.

A few years ago I woke up in the middle of the night, at about one a.m., and could not fall asleep again. Hubby was working that night and I felt the urge to pray for him. I prayed that God would send extra angels to go before him and follow him. The next day I found out that hubby's trainee was driving. They were responding to a call where they had to drive through a canyon. The trainee (who is no longer a police officer - at least not with hubby's department) was driving really, really fast. Like 90 miles-per-hour fast in a 50 miles-per-hour canyon with hairy turns. When was this occurring? At about one a.m. 

Here is what I know about prayer:

  • God tells us to pray. 
    • "Pray without ceasing."  1 Thessalonians 5:17 
    • "Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up."  Luke 18:1
  • God answers prayer.
    • "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him." 
      1 John 5:14-15 
    • "If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer." Matthew 21:22
    • "And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you." John 16:23
I love it when God answers my prayers. I know He does so often and I am just not aware of it. I am confused about prayers that seem to go un-answered or are answered in a way that I did not anticipate. I know there are wonderful things that He does all the time without my asking for them. I know there are cops' wives who are right now praying for their husbands to return home safely and some won't. I don't know why. I do know that I trust Him. I know that He is sovereign.  

The Bible tells us that "God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28) We don't always know what that looks like, but sometimes we get little glimpses.