Wednesday, February 29, 2012
My Eulogy (Some Day!) by Jenna Vick Silliman
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Monday, February 27, 2012
The Last Word
Sunday, February 26, 2012
God, what are you doing?
The following is a statement from the White House: February 24, 2012.
The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms reports that Iranian authorities’ reaffirmed a death sentence for Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani for the sole reason of his refusal to recant his Christian faith. This action is yet another shocking breach of Iran’s international obligations, its own constitution, and stated religious values. The United States stands in solidarity with Pastor Nadarkhani, his family, and all those who seek to practice their religion without fear of persecution—a fundamental and universal human right. The trial and sentencing process for Pastor Nadarkhani demonstrates the Iranian government’s total disregard for religious freedom, and further demonstrates Iran's continuing violation of the universal rights of its citizens. The United States calls upon the Iranian authorities to immediately lift the sentence, release Pastor Nadarkhani, and demonstrate a commitment to basic, universal human rights, including freedom of religion. The United States renews its calls for people of conscience and governments around the world to reach out to Iranian authorities and demand Pastor Nadarkhani's immediate release.
This man is on death row for his refusal to recant his Christian faith.
God what are you doing?
Through one venture alone: The Jesus film. Every eight seconds, somewhere in the world, another person indicates a decision to follow Christ after watching the "JESUS" film. Every eight seconds... that's 10,800 people per day, 324,000 per month and more than 3.8 million per year.
I’m supposed to write about: What’s God doing? But can I be honest here? It’s kinda overwhelming.
There was this guy, John, sitting in prison and his friends were telling him about all the stuff Jesus was doing. So, John told them to go ask Jesus if this was God’s doing—if He was the Messiah. Jesus told John’s disciples, “Go back to John and tell him what you have seen and heard—the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor. Luke 7:18-23
I ask God what He’s doing. He’s doing what He’s always done—hanging out with those that need Him. He’s near the hungry, the sick, the dying, the hurting, the lame, the poor, the brokenhearted…He said those who are well don’t need a doctor but those who are sick. He’s with those.
So, when we see suffering—rather than asking: Where’s God? What’s He doing?—we should see God sitting right in the midst of it, looking to us to offer our support, our hand, our help.
And ultimately…when I ask the question: God, what are you doing? His reply is: What are you doing?
The Son of Man Will Judge the Nations
31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’
41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; 43 I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’
44 “Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ 45 Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Saturday, February 25, 2012
Signs of the Times
In the Gospel of Matthew, the teachers of the Law and religious leaders asked Jesus for a sign to prove that he was from God. Jesus retorts that people like them make great weathermen, but terrible current event analysts:
“He replied, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” Jesus then left them and went away” (Matthew 16:2-4).
The sign of Jonah (Jonah was a runaway prophet who was in a whale’s belly for three days), refers to Jesus’ death and resurrection over three days, an event predicted in scripture for hundreds of years, and one that would change hearts and history. The very experts in scripture had failed to recognize that their Messiah stood before them. We can be blind to what is happening right in front of us, especially when things aren’t jibing with our assumptions and pre-conceived notions.
The reason Jonah ran away from God’s directive to warn the Ninevites to repent was because he hated those people and believed they did not deserve to be saved! When God does forgive the Ninevites, “To Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. He prayed to the LORD, “Isn’t this what I said, LORD, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity” (Jonah 4:1-2).
Chad Pecknold, a theologian, states that it seems the way Jesus reads the sign of Jonah is as a clarifying, transformative, directive and predictive sign. Where God is, there is always love and transformation occurring, even though we may not see the results right away.
The reason I write about Jonah is because I see God at work in the hearts and minds of His servants. Jonah’s heart needed to be changed--and yet he was God’s man of the hour! God is at work in the hearts of His people, because we have been called to love people so much that we would die for them, like Jesus did. To be transformed requires change, and change usually comes with a cost. Oswald Chambers once said, “You may often have to watch Jesus Christ wreck a life before He saves it." This "hard word" does not set well with us.
We see great pain, struggle, wars and rumors of wars all around us: failing marriages, struggles with addiction, adultery, church in-fighting, power struggles, racism, prejudice, hatred of women, disdain toward men--and these occur within the very people who claim to follow God.
Many of us point the finger at others to show how terrible things are in the world and proclaim that is how we know we are in the end times. That’s what Jonah did; that is what the Pharisees and Sadducees did. Next time we are tempted to do that, let’s step in front of a mirror. But then remember the sign of Jonah: God is in the business of transformation, redemption and hope--even in the belly of the whale.
Read the Book of Jonah here.
The image of Jonah is from a website that supports Ethiopian Jews.
My daughter sent me the Jesus face-palm image. Pretty sure He's done that over my foolishness, as well as his disciples, who were also slow learners :) : Matt 16:5-12; Mark 10:25-35.
Friday, February 24, 2012
"...I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
While that may not be the most of profound statements, there's a gravity to those words that no matter how hard one tries, you just can't escape.
Not since Adam and Eve were cast out of Eden has communication been more instantaneous in the world. Of course with a population of less than 10, Adam and Eve didn't need sophistication. Just a loud voice.
Today, news from anywhere in the world can be instantly shared with anyone who possesses a media access. Internet, fiber optic, 4G and good old broadcast waves all constantly stream information to a starved culture hungry for more of the very latest.
The church is always talking in metaphoric language about catching the next wave of ministry opportunity. Stuff about methods changing but the message staying the same. Okay. I'm all in with the concept of staying fresh and focused...but where's the rest of Christ's body?
There are some tremendous social media ministries in the name of Jesus that give me great inspiration and hope for our commission as Christians. Tell the world about Me. Unfortunately, those seem to be the exception and not the norm. Why?
I live in a relatively small town, in a small state that is chock full of churches. They're everywhere! Praise God for that fact. However, I fail to see the fruit of churches that open the doors on Sunday morning and night, again on Wednesday and call it all good. Did I miss something in the Bible?
Now don't get me wrong. Edification is an important role of the local church, and personally, I love fellowship with the congregation I chose to join. But, we are called to spread the Word and are blessed to live in an era where that has never been easier. We don't even have to leave our homes!
I blog (duh). Facebook. Twitter. YouTube. YouVersion. Digg. Stumble. All in His name. I post my home church worship services online. Tweet messages. Use Facebook and Twitter to encourage. Enlighten. Learn. I try to be the proverbial sponge in the sea of ever-flowing knowledge. I scour websites and share the ones I find creditable and warn against ones I don't.
Daily I communicate with Christians all over the world. Literally. I share their stories and exchange information. Recently, I've been asked to speak about my online experiences. Hallelujah! There's no hesitation because it's for His glory.
My profession (read job) puts me in contact with a global community. Sometimes I connect with people of like faith...sometimes not. Thank you Jesus! My prayers of opportunity are answered nearly every single day. I can be the light I'm called to be. Be my Facebook friend? That's where you will find out exactly how I feel about the greatest story ever told.
Want to hear about what Jesus can do for you? Just follow my Twitter, Facebook, Kingdom Bloggers...
Thursday, February 23, 2012
Sometimes We Just have to Admit that We Are Crackpots
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
GROWING IN INTIMACY WITH JESUS BY JENNA
God showed me how it pleases Him to walk habitually with Him. I had read this in my Amplified Bible, “Noah walked habitually with God.” Genesis 6:9 and “Enoch walked habitually with God.” Genesis 5:24. Their habits pleased God we read in Hebrews 11:5-7.
One of my favorite hymns is “In The Garden.” It tells of a love relationship with God and how He walks with us and He talks with us and we’re never alone because He is always with us. He is forever and always right with us—we don’t have to do a thing. We don’t have to earn the right to keep His company; we don’t have to be good enough. The Lord Jesus is Emmanuel—God with us.
Sometimes those little daily devotion books lead us astray because we are led to believe that once we do our devotions, or have our “Daily Quiet Time”, our “Fifteen Minutes Alone with God” or “Time in the Secret Place” that we are good to go—we’ve done our duty and spent an allotted time focusing on God so now we can go merrily on our way for the rest of the day.
Awareness of the presence 24/7 of my beloved Lord Jesus, and CONTINUALLY enjoying His favor, love, abundant life and everlasting joy, has been the most profound discovery of my life. My favorite verse of the Bible is found in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. “You show me the path of life; in Your Presence is the fullness of joy.” (Psalm 16:11, Acts 2:28) My favorite translation of the Bible is the Amplified which says, “You enrapture me, diffusing my soul with joy.”
Jesus told us the reason He came to earth was to bring us abundant life. He never said He bought us a ticket to heaven. Life with Him is abundant and it is NOW—eternity has already begun. There is no waiting line! Whoohooo!!!
Over the years I see a progression in my relationship with the Lord Jesus. At first I knew Him as Savior and Redeemer. About two years later I came to know Him as Lord and Master and I saw myself as His servant because I owed Him my life. At some point Jesus said, “No longer do I call you servant, I call you friend.” He became my closest and most loving friend to confide in and trust with my secrets. Next I learned that I had been adopted and He wanted to be more than friends—we’re family! We share the same bloodline—the same D.N.A. or Divine Nature of Abba. “We have received adoption in the Holy Spirit and our spirit testifies we are children of God in the bliss of which we cry, Abba! Father!” See Romans 8:15, 16.
The Lord has spoken to me through His Word that I am His treasure. He actually calls me, “Darling.” I am a part of His Bride preparing for the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. I am one of the pure virgins keeping my lamp burning for Him. My heart resonates with the Song of Solomon. My songs of worship are often love songs for my beloved Jesus, my Groom. His heart resonates with our love and gratitude and devotion. I believe His love language is consecration. He wants us to only have eyes for Him and to rejoice in Him always.
The Word tells us that He inhabits or dwells in the praises of His people. (Psalm 22:3) Have you experienced His presence so sweet and close as you worship Him and sing to Him with all your heart in love and gratitude? To taste and see and experience the Lord’s goodness changes us forever.
About four years ago I saw a woman dancing during worship. I asked her to teach me everything she knew. Christlyn taught me Israeli circle dancing, but more than that she taught me how King David danced with abandon before the Lord and didn’t care what people thought. (2Sam.6:14) David commanded the people to follow his example and “Praise Him with dance.” (Psalm 149:3,150:4) As I began to dance with my beloved Lord Jesus in worship, I experienced His presence and His pleasure like never before. To dance with the lover of my soul as a form of worship is one of my favorite things!
Sometimes I worship dance with colorful flags. Flagging before a congregation is a form of leading in worship. Sometimes I feel like Miriam leading in a victory dance (Exodus 15:20). Last fall I was privileged to dance and flag for a conference called The Healing Explosion in Canada with Georgian and Winnie Banov. Andrea York (one of our Kingdom Bloggers) and I flagged onstage while Georgian played his fiddle! I was front right and Andrea was front left. Wow! It was glorious and joyous! Winnie Banov had a most awesome and life-changing message about how she discovered there are some things missing in our modern translations of the Bible. There are supposed to be these two little letters “co” before certain words. We are co-crucified, co-buried, co-resurrected, co-enthroned and co-heirs with Jesus! To be seated IN the heavenlies with our Groom and to know ALL He has is ours, our rightful inheritance—these are truths that make you want to dance and celebrate with ecstatic joy!
I started this writing telling you about how I learned it pleases God to walk with Him habitually. Well, now I have learned to DANCE with Him habitually. Hahaha! Whether I am at Zumba, Folk Dance Class, Clogging, Swing Dance, Hula or Tap Dance—I’m dancing with Jesus!
I say, “Yes, Lord, Thank You, Lord.” all day long.
Walking with Jesus is where I belong!
And every time I get a chance,
I say to my Beloved, “Shall we dance?”
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Esse Quam Videri
|No, this isn't mine but you get the idea|
Monday, February 20, 2012
God Said It, and it Freaked Me Out!
What would you do if God showed up and gave you a list of things to do, then added to that a few statements about where you are in life, and how much He loves you?
I also received words from Joyce and another from Linda. Spot on ladies!
|Me and Dan Roberts from LIC in London, ON|
Our little meeting went on for 4 and half hours! After about an hour in, we asked people to leave whenever they needed to; they stayed. And they called friends and family to come and receive from God. The meeting got bigger!
God what are you doing!?! I thought I was going to do a little 20-30 minute teaching about the Apostolic Church. Their little worship team brought down the glory with this song by Robin Mark. The presence of Holy Spirit was so amazing, so sweet, so indescribable... one woman drove to the meeting and said that she saw demons at bay outside the house. I am glad she waited to tell us about it until a few days later!
Lord willing and the creek don't rise, I am going to be in London, ON in a few weeks - well after I get to Florida and meet up with some other folks that the Lord put me together with at Bethel. The little school is growing. We now have a bank account, a part-time bookkeeper, a part-time AV guy, a web site, and a growing list of teachers and guests. WOW!
With all the excitement and opportunities for larger venues, I still love doing the little home churches. That is how I got my start with the Brazilians 13 years ago. It gives me the chance to really flow, and to be close to the transformations in an intimate setting.
Ministry for me is not a vocation, not a job, not something I do, it is a way of life. I am always on duty.
Life in the Kingdom is never about offerings, or big names - in fact I love to promote others. There is nothing more exciting than taking a new convert, or a believer who is new to the things of the Spirit and letting them lay hands on others. God always does amazing things! Always.
The good news is that you can do what I do. If you need help learning, grab a couple of dozen friends and let's get together. I am never too busy to go where God is opening a door.
It's hard to end a blog like this. I am so excited about all that God is doing. I don't believe the climax of the story has come yet! It is more of an introduction to the things that lie ahead.
I guess for now, you can follow me on Twitter for the rest of the story. Love and blessings to my friends here at Kingdom Bloggers, and to the new additions my departure made room for!
Sunday, February 19, 2012
Saturday, February 18, 2012
I Kissed a Pastor and I Liked It
The ongoing joke between my pastor-husband and me is that I married a Philistine. When we were dating, Tim introduced me to all things Schwartzneggar and Brian De Palma. He regretted the De Palma incident (“Body Double”--yuck), but I did become a Terminator fan. Probably out of guilt, he agreed to see “Amadeus” with me, and the Philistine discovered that period films did not have to be sleep-inducing. I also introduced him to tea drinking in huge quantities. Or my mother did (see my blog post on Kate).
Admittedly, the Philistine married a snob. I’d rather read a book than watch a football game. I turn my nose up at TV re-runs that keep him laughing. He will watch “Kindergarten Cop” so many times the DVD is hot to the touch; my choice of repeats involves something British with clever and snarky quotes. I don’t like Walmart (not just for their questionable labor practices, but also because the store is so bland). When we were married, Tim was shocked by my need for new clothes or shoes. He wears things until they fall apart. A handsome guy, he is unconcerned about impressing others with his looks and clothes.
My husband has always reminded me of Nathaniel, who is mentioned in the Gospel of John (John 1:43-50). When Jesus sees Nathaniel, He exclaims, “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false,” and he then tells Nathaniel something about him that only a prophet could know. The young man immediately declares his belief in Jesus, that he knows He must be the Son of God and the King of Israel.
When my husband became a believer in Jesus, like Nathaniel he gave his life fully and openly, even though there was a cost to that belief. Tim has no falsehood about him, in him and around him. He loves deeply, truly and faithfully. He loves God first, then family, then those he is called to serve as pastor, shepherd and friend. He can apply quotes from Dickens, The Stones and Davy Crockett films aptly to our family life. He explains the Bible, yet appreciates some South Park (thanks to our son). He is our resident Dr. Doolittle and will lay on the floor and ask our cat or rabbit about their day. Our daughters know to “ask Dad” if they want a special treat from Wegmans or pizza for dinner. He will run right out and get it for them. He is also very funny, which not a lot of people know, because unlike his spouse, he doesn’t enjoy the stage (which is interesting, given that every Sunday the pastor is thrust into the pulpit).
Recently, our fifteen year-old was comparing us to people she called “narcissists” and she said, “You know how humble you and Dad are....Well, Dad is humble. You are...less humble.” I laughed. Yeah, it’s true. But, I’m glad she knows her father’s character, one who does not think more highly of himself than he ought (Romans 12:3). Or, when he struggles with pride, the temptation to be arrogant, or self-righteous, as we all do, he is like Nathaniel, who knows the God he serves and turns to him for strength, forgiveness and grace.
And Tim offers those things to me. Being “less humble,” I need a lot of forgiveness and grace and patience. I am grateful that my life-partner is who he is--my best friend, encourager, tea-maker and my own personal Philistine to continue civilizing. Every girl should have one.
Friday, February 17, 2012
It is well with my soul...
Not long ago while driving home from work, I experienced one of those emotions in a major way. You see, I was driving along in my own little private world of thoughts and images, where the sky is always Dodger blue and the mailbox is only filled with birthday cards. Yeah, and you always have ice cream in the freezer that has never been opened before…anyway…that's when Josh Groban's tenor voice filled my car with a very familiar song.
When I am down and oh my soul so weary
When troubles come and my heart burdens me
Then I am still and wait here in the silence
Until you come and sit a while with me
You raise me up so I can stand on mountains
You raise me to walk on stormy seas
I am strong when I am on your shoulders
You raise me up to more than I can be
My eyes filled with tears as I drove along heading directly for the person that embodies that very song for me. She will be waiting for me, glad to see me once again…wait a minute…she? That's a Christian song about Jesus isn't it?
There was a very difficult time in my life when that precise thought, about that very song, confused me. You see, I was separated from my wife Candice, but she...just like my Savior... stood by me and kept me strong, faithful and focused. I would hear Josh Groban and feel equally emotional about the lyrics that described what both meant to me. So much…so strong.
Guilt would then lead to prayer and study in God's word about why I was confusing the two, when one day in reading I came across Ephesians 5:25:
Husbands love your wives, just as Christ loved the church…
That's when I clearly came to the understanding that I'm supposed to love her, yes my beautiful wife and soul mate, just as strong as Jesus loves me…meaning only He comes before her in my heart and soul. A wonderful peace came over me. I felt that peace today again on the way home to be with her.
Marriage is an important bond to God. He gave us so much in His word about what He expects in our marriages. I'm so glad I have a marriage built on the foundation of God. I'm most appreciative He blessed me with a wonderful woman who is only second to Him. She lifts me up…just like Jesus.
My wish is that God blesses you, as He has me, with an amazing spouse….or maybe He has already. Amen.