Wednesday, January 30, 2013

On Fire for Jesus by Jenna Vick Silliman

I believe the most powerful force on earth is the human soul on fire with love for Jesus as Lord. 

His love for us is like that--a more firey and passionate and all-out-love than we can even imagine! The most fierce mother-child or father-child bond or the most passionate love relationship are not enough to describe the love of God. When we receive His love, its like lighting a torch within us. In Song of Solomon we read that many waters cannot quench this kind of love.

In Revelations the passage that stands out to me is chapter 3, verses 13 to 15. "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches...I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth."

John the Baptist said that Jesus would baptize us with the Holy Spirit and with fire. (See Mat. 3:11-14.) “Our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:29.) To preach Christ is to preach what He is. Without fire, there is no Gospel, only cold dead words.  I’ve heard it said: “In His house, God wants a blazing altar, not a refrigerator. God is a fountain of flaming glory.”

Hebrews 1:7 states, "He makes His ministers a flame of fire."

Jesus said, “I have come to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!” (See Luke 12:49.)

The physical effect of God upon Moses was that his face shone with God’s radiant glory. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 3:7-11 that the glory on the face of Moses faded away, but the glory that God gives us now remains and is much more glorious. Are we, His ministers, on fire for Him?

Smith Wigglesworth said, “I believe God’s ministers are to be flames of fire--nothing less than mighty instruments, with burning messages, and hearts full of love. They must have a depth of consecration, so that God has taken full charge of the body, existing only to manifest the Glory of God. A Baptism into death in which the person is purified and energized…”  

I remind you to stir up (rekindle the embers of, fan the flame of, and keep burning) the gift of God [the inner fire] that is in you by means of the laying on of hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity--He has given us His POWER! (See 2 Timothy 1:6,7.)

Brian Simmons wrote, “Undistracted devotion to Jesus will brand the heart with burning passions. Nothing can be compared to this love. Intense, unyielding, like a million nuclear reactors of blazing fire....This is the seal He invites you to place over your heart! It is a seal that will brand you for life...God says: My love for you will be consuming as the very flashes of fire from My burning heart. Place this fierce, unrelenting fire over all your being until you are consumed! (See Song of Songs 8:6 The Passion Translation.)

 You never have to advertise a fire. 
Everyone comes running when there’s a fire.
--Leonard Ravenhill

May our hearts be ablaze in our loving devotion to You, Lord Jesus God. 
Wherever we go, let us leave revival fires in our wake!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Revelation: A Call to Worship

Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they were saying:
“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!”
Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be praise and honor and glory and power,
for ever and ever!”
The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped. Revelation 5:11-14.
I am a singer. You won’t find my face on an album cover, or my voice on your iPod, but I am a singer. A worshipper. I have been a leader or member of a worship team in churches, special events, and para church ministries. It’s not as easy as it may look: worship, like every other calling in the life of a Christian, demands preparation, prayer, and practice.
But nothing gives me greater joy than to participate in praising God, and to help lead God’s people in worshipping. Perhaps that is why the verses above from Revelation 5, have special significance for me. There will be a time when I and every believer will experience the scene described of the ongoing worship in heaven, by angels, elders and the living creatures.
Verse 12 contains one of the most powerful proclamations ever made, and is found in some of my favorite worship songs, like the “Revelation Song” we sang this past Sunday at Brighton Presbyterian Church. It is a little taste of heaven.
True worship draws us into God's presence in a particular way that cannot be created by man. And when it happens, we should be humbled and God exalted. Isaiah discovered this when God allowed him to see what centuries later the Apostle John would see and then write about in the Book of Revelation: 
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying.  And they were calling to one another:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”

At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.

“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” Isaiah 6:1-5.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Let's just cut to the chase of the Tony C

Happy Monday! I hope you had a blessed day in worship yesterday, but more importantly, I hope your worship was a blessing to our Father. This week your Kingdom Bloggers are going to write about a passage from the Book of Revelation and what impact that passage has had on each of us.

I have to be honest here. Of the books in the New Testament, Revelation is the one probably most unfamiliar to me. Sure, I've read through and from it a number of times, but the allegorical nature of John's writing really wreaks havoc on my right-brain dominant struggles of analogy.

That's not to mean I'm not versed in many of the passages though.
“You are worthy, O Lord,
To receive glory and honor and power;
For You created all things,
And by Your will they exist and were created.”
This one from 4:11 has come to be a 'go-to' verse in much of my teaching. John really puts things in perspective for that proverbial question that has plagued man since...well...throughout human history-
 Why do I exist?
The answer is quite simple for Christians. We exist because God wanted us to exist. Period. Not only did He create us from sheer will, but He also created a vastly complex dominion for us to dwell. Granted, we mucked that up, yet He decided to let His creation move on to yet another dominion. One that was much less glorious and far less personal than He desired, but a place nonetheless to receive the mercy of another chance.
I often wonder how the nonbeliever reconciles the fact of his/her existence. Such people are always to point out the naivety of blind faith and the empowerment found in enlightenment or knowledge. Really? Just exactly how cerebral are you to believe all that we see and know was the happening of random chance over billions of years?  
Let me joyfully stick with my belief that I exist because God wanted me to exist. After all...He created biology too.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Are You Going to Harvard Square? Parsley Sage Rosemary and Thyme. by Linda Maynard

…Remember me to the one who lives there

La – la – la – la—la—la—la—la

Oh, excuse me I got caught up in some old tunes.

My apologies to Simon and Garfunkel, for messing with the lyrics  of Scarborough Fair.

Why Harvard Square you ask?

 I was on a short term Missions Trip to the Boston area.

Oh boy, I felt like I jumped off a faith cliff, right into the seat of intellectualism. I remember the terror. Could my heart beat any faster? I was sure there was “Nowhere to Run to…No Where to Hide” (Thank you,Martha and the Vandellas)

Ok, enough with the songs Linda, gather in your thoughts.

One evening, began in the South End of Boston at an A of G Church. The Pastor was going to oversee this outreach. We gathered at his church for a strategic pep talk.

 I gleaned something from him that I have never forgotten.

He said, “Don’t be focused so on bringing these young people to the Lord, that you  miss what God is doing.”

He likened a person’s life and their exposure to the Gospel as being on a continuum, 1 through 10.

 “On one end is #1, representing the person who has never heard about the Lord.

Then going all the way over to #10, where a person receives salvation.

He said “Maybe you are going to bring a person from a 6 to 7. That person has had people and circumstances already happening to bring them closer to a decision.”

“Another could be stuck at a 2 and have some misgivings or fears. You might just bring them up a notch.”

“You could be the one to pray the prayer of salvation.

Trust the Lord”

This lesson changed the dreaded idea I had of evangelism. I thought anything less than 100% was a failure.

We left the church and walked down the street with Pastor Tony.  We stopped for C-rations at an Italian Bakery.

I chose a cannoli.

We sat with the owner.

She was a dear welcoming woman. She kept looking towards the Pastor and in her broken English, kept saying …father this and father that.

While walking away, I asked him about her father.

 He chuckled.“Oh, she’s talking about me. She calls me Father Tony all the time. I tell her that I am not a Catholic Priest. It just doesn’t seem to matter.”

 We continued on our way to Harvard Square, via the subway

We picked a partner to minister with. The plan was one sister would be talking to a person, the other would be praying silently.

The closer we got, the more nervous I became.

On previous days, I blew a shofar in front of City hall, as well as in the Old North Church. That probably would freak someone else out, but those acts came naturally.

This mission was loaded with fright for me.

Some know that I have had a struggled with not feeling smart enough. I didn’t go to college, except for a few courses. I know this is not a logical, but I felt ‘stupid”

Actually, we know from the Bible, words have great power, for good and for bad. I was affected by negative words spoken over me.

We arrived and I wasn’t feeling one bit more confident and said to my partner, “You go first!” She did. Then I said “You did so well, why don’t you do it again?” She obliged and all the while I am thinking “I can pray. I am an intercessor. Keep talking sister! Keep going! I am right there with you”

She didn’t know my struggle but she also was not going to be the only one to approach strangers either.

All and all, I talked to 2 young men and 1 young woman.

One of the first was not interested at all. He was with a group that kind of mocked us.

The second however, moved away from the group and asked questions. Maybe he moved from a 5 to a 6? Only heaven knows.

The girl was sitting, leaning up against a storefront drawing. She just seemed happy to have someone to talk to.


I didn’t die at Harvard Square.

My intelligence never came into question.

Even today, as I have talked with quite a few strangers, my heart still beats a million beats a minute…but for Jesus, I have determined to jump off the cliffs that He brings me to.

Is anyone ready to jump with me?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

My Appointment with Billy Graham by Jenna Vick Silliman

Millions came to know Jesus in the Jesus People Movement in the 1970’s and I was one of them. As a part of Young Life I enjoyed the weekly meetings, singing Jesus songs, the skits, the talks, and going to camp. When I was a senior in high school I applied for work crew at Malibu Camp, Young Life’s summer camp in Canada. I got accepted and began training. The Young Life staff required me to memorize ten key Bible verses. Here is one of them (still in my memory bank 37 years later).

Sanctify Christ as Lord in your heart,
always be ready to give an account
to anyone who asks you
about the hope that is within you and
answer with gentleness and respect.
(See 1 Peter 3:15.)

This has become my operating theology for living out my faith and for sharing my faith. I abide or live with Jesus 24/7. I am in a love relationship with Him and He is my Lord and King. I live in such a way that people ask me questions and I am ready to answer them about our awesome God.

However, when I was a senior in high school, even though I had officially “accepted Jesus into my heart” on March 23, 1974 (See my writing “How I Met Jesus” )I got swept up in the Jesus movement and didn’t know Him as Lord yet. I lived in Redwood City, California and attended Peninsula Covenant Church. I played volley ball with their youth group every Tuesday night. In December 1976 the youth leader, Doug, asked me if I would like to go to an Inter Varsity missionary conference called Urbana in Urbana, Illinois and he offered me a scholarship. It was exciting to go on such a trip! I love to fly and experience new places and meet people.

My roommate was the most serious Christian girl I had ever met. We had a prayer time together in the mornings and she obviously loved Jesus with all her heart and was on fire for Him. She planned to be a missionary in China and did not care if she was persecuted, imprisoned, or even died for her faith!

I met a charismatic young man from South Africa by the name of David Gammon. The Lord used him to set me up for success. He made sure I had a hymnal so I was ready to worship along with 16,000 Christians singing with all their hearts! Wow—that was a bit of heaven on earth to me. He told me about each of the speakers and a bit of their background. Elizabeth Elliot Leach shared her testimony of the South American natives killing her husband and how she forgave them and loved them and led them to Jesus, the God of all love. David told me about John Stott and told me if I only bought one book it should be his, called Knowing God (a life-changing book!).

David also told me about our keynote speaker for New Year’s Eve, December 1976—Billy Graham.

As Billy Graham spoke I felt powerfully affected by him. He spoke with such conviction, such boldness and passion. He knew Jesus and loved Him and communicated God’s tremendous love for us in such a way that I could receive it. It was like I was a starving person and he spread a sumptuous banquet before me and said, “It’s all yours and a whole lot more.”

I said, “WOW!” to my friend David with my eyebrows raised. He nodded at me as if to say, “I told you so!” I sat forward in my auditorium seat intently focused on Billy Graham’s face like he was talking right to me. I glanced several rows down and to my right where the church youth group all sat together and I noticed them chit-chatting and socializing. Later they giggled and teased me about my handsome friend with the English accent. They were obviously in a very different place than I was.

Billy Graham set before us the call to go into all the world and preach the good news about life with Jesus. He clearly explained the cost involved and that the Lord wants us to surrender our whole life--all or nothing--He is not just Lord on Sunday mornings. My memory verse came to mind, especially the command to sanctify Jesus as Lord in my heart.

Billy Graham gave an invitation to stand at midnight and give our whole lives to Jesus as Lord. It was not a light weight decision. Billy made it clear this commitment meant total obedience, submission, and availability—even to the point of death. The presence of God was heavy in the atmosphere. A quivering started up inside me and I had a choking feeling in my throat. I knew I had to stand up at midnight, but I was scared. There was an uncomfortably long silence and a hush fell over the coliseum. I was an awkward, shy, painfully self-conscious, senior in high school. It was way out of my comfort zone to stand up in plain view of 16,000 Christians, including my youth group. As the clock struck twelve a few hundred stood up and I was one of them. I looked over and not a one in our youth group stood up that I could see. I was shaking and crying, but I was standing and I was sincere. My whole life changed in this moment!

I love the Lord and I continue to sanctify Him as Lord in my heart. He is EVERYTHING to me. I am so grateful to feast at His banqueting table and enjoy His loving kindness that is better than life to me. His favor is on me and His life overflows abundantly. I love to tell anyone who asks about the hope that is within me. Jesus is Lord!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Trusting God Outside the Zone

When I say that there are many times when I have stepped out in faith into an uncomfortable area of inexperience and the unknown, I am not bragging. I recently celebrated 30 years in the faith, and how flat that faith would be if my Lord did not continually challenge me to grow over three decades. He knows I would rather be curled up on a couch, reading a book, than facing the giants.

The giants we face may be different. What is a leap of faith for me may just be a walk in the park for you. God has created us each uniquely, in unique family systems and cultures. As a teen in the late seventies and early eighties, marriage and family were not on my list of goals. My friends in high school were aghast that I was not interested in getting married and having kids.

But even as a teen, before I understood how much I needed a savior from myself, I knew I was a selfish human being. Why would I want to replicate and raise a mini-me? I certainly did not believe I had much ability in parenting, and feared marriage.

The first major challenge to my goals after coming to faith in Jesus was meeting my husband. Prior to that, even leafing through Bride magazine would have been embarrassing. But, God used our relationship to shape both of us, and to challenge us to give up preconceived notions about religion and family.

The second for me was even tougher. My husband had always wanted children, and had married me even though I professed the opposite. Risky? Yes. Maybe that was God asking Tim to take a risk. But when we married, we dedicated our lives to Christ and to following His leading. Within 18 months, the Lord directly asked me to trust Him in this area of having children. It was not something I expected or even thought I would desire.

Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalm 37:4.

Three children and 23 years later, the “comfort zone” has been breached often J. Psalm 37:4 is very real for me. God made me aware of gifts and desires I did not know I had or that I could actualize, and gave me delight in being a mom. Trust God in what He is asking of you today, even if it is something you have a lot of fear about. It may not be an easy journey, but He is trustworthy and faithful to bring you through, and to give you joy in it.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The first step is always the Tony C

Stepping out on faith can be a scary think for Christians. True? I mean...we truly bleieve what we say we believe, yet there are those moments when letting go to God seems like great advise for others but only them. This week your Kingdom Bloggers are sharing personal stories of stepping out on faith and how those situations turned out for each of us.

I don't think it's a secret I have a passion to minister to young people. To be honest, that's what really got me started into blogging a few years back. I felt God tugging at me to share my story with young people. After fooling around with a website call Stick with Jesus for about a year, I realized that I was technically in over my head and stepped back to focus on a smaller, more localized scale. I was thinking Charles Stanley scale and apparently God was looking more on the level of Bill Warden (who had been my spiritual mentor at church as an older teenager).

God put me where He needed me. For over two years, I've been teaching a college-aged Sunday School class at church. It's a group that extends past the 12 or so that attend regularly on Sunday mornings to a number around 25 that I maintain regular contact with each week. Perfect situation.

My passion for this group is born from a period of falling from the path at their very age in my own life. Sadly, that is the norm and not the exception. Statistic show that over 70% of young people will leave the church before the age of 23. That's an absolutely heartbreaking statistic for any Christian, but I know from personal experience just how devastating being in that statistic is for the young person who falls. Loneliness. Fear. Anxiety. Joylessness. It's all there. Worse yet...those states lead to depression, alcohol and drug use, promiscuity and denial.

I'm going to get real personal for just a minute. I cry for these 25 young people I feel God has charged me with...on a daily basis. I cry, pray, text, Facebook message, tweet, Heytell...then call and pray some more. Daily. I constantly walk a fine line between being available and being intrusive. Concerned and not condescending. Loving and not judgmental.

I have my own teenager entering the statistical danger zone in less than a year. She's a great kid with a lousy sense of choice-making from time to time. Just like I was at her age. God has charged me as a father to provide a pious example to my be a leader. But I know in my heart it will take more. My mother is a godly women who, without a doubt, spent countless hours praying for her black sheep. I'm very thankful for that fact, but I know it so often takes more.

Young people need mentors. Someone to take an active interest in their life for no other reason than the love of Jesus. Mom and dad love you because...well...they're mom and dad. But a person outside the family is a completely different component in helping keep up a young person's self-esteem and focus on the business of the Kingdom. The big picture stuff that truly matters on an eternal scale.

Naturally, I would love for my circle of influence to expand beyond a few dozen at a time, but that is not for me to decide. Maybe God has a single young person in His plan for me that through my efforts of shining His light...that young person comes to know Him much closer. To go on and make a difference for the Kingdom. The thought brings tears to my eyes and fills my heart with a great joy.

Until I hear otherwise from Him though, I'm going to treat each and every young person in my charge as potentially that one, single soul. Please remember our young people in your prayers today.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sew-What? by Linda Maynard

We are exploring what livelihood that we would have like to have practiced, if we lived in Biblical Times.

Immediately I thought, I would want to be an artisan. 

That said…we can have 2 jobs, right???

I remembered a quiet and noble occupation. It is being seamstress. A woman in Acts 9, by the name of Dorcas/Tabitha was one.( Dorcas was her Jewish name and Tabitha was her Greek name. They both meant gazelle.)

The fact that she is mentioned is monumental, because a woman living in those times, were not noted often.

Her occupation is one thing but an amazing miracle in her life is another.

We will look at both. 

Pondering the seamstress part, some fond memories of my own mother come to light.

My mom was a Seamstress. 

Assuredly, my mom would object to that title and say something like, “I just sew…I am not a seamstress.”

Au contraire…

Most of her working experience was doing the job of a seamstress.

As a young woman, she worked at a mattress factory. Her and my Aunt Jean came up with an ingenious way to use the leftover material in the factory. They made slippers. The boss allowed them to use the “scraps” and in that, it helped families during the Depression.

Next, when her children were older, she was as a seamstress in a Coat Factory. Once a season, we were allowed to go into the factory and choose a new coat, at a much reduced price. 
Having something brand new was awesome. I was so proud of her.

When I became a Girl Scout, she helped me with my first sewing project.  It was a beach bag, complete with grommets.

To further my instruction, I learned how to choose a clothing pattern, the suitable material and notions. She patiently showed me how to pin a pattern onto the cloth and cut it successfully. It was then ready to sew into a garment.

Most of her sewing included mending. It could seem mindless on the outside, but was useful in the economic times.

She took an Adult School class and made a slipcover for our sofa. I was pretty amazed.

One part of sewing that she also showed me is hand sewing. Whether it is sewing hems, doing repairs, sewing on buttons or even embroidery (which is really fancy hand sewn stitches)…it is not a chore for me, but it brings me relaxation and peace. I think of hand sewing as a Gentle Art.

So, Dorcas was one who sewed.

We can be sure she didn’t have a computerized sewing machine but did hand sewing. I even read about her being referred to as the “Queen of the Needle”.

 The other thing about Dorcas is that she reached out to others and was well loved because of her giving and loving nature.

My mom was the same.

When Dorcas actually dies, those who loved her, are grieving about losing her. They even send for Peter to come to Joppa.

I wonder.

Did they call him to pray over her body, as a benediction or ritual? Where they even expecting the miracle of her being raised from the dead? Or just a crying out seeped in hopelessness?.

Think one minute with me, about someone very dear to you who has died. You call your Pastor, thinking he/she will provide prayer and comfort. They come and send everyone out of the room and pray for your loved one. 

(In those days and even now in eastern countries, people are loud when they grieve. They are not hushed up. There is no “NO-LOUD GRIEVING POLICE” to stare or tsk-tsk at people.)

Her friends must have been making a lot of noise. So the fact that Peter sent them out may have been as simple as him saying to himself “I can’t think straight with all of this noise!!” 

A short time later, with a big smile on his face, he opens the door and says “Friends come in and see your Tabitha sitting up. Someone get her a glass of water. Your mourning has turned to joy.”

It doesn’t say it, but I don’t think it’s a stretch to think they yelled loud  and made a “joyful noise”.

I like that Dorcas is a seamstress. I like that she is a giver and a compassionate woman. Her occupation seems to go beyond making the buck.

AND…who knew? She would be raised from the dead!!! 

I’ll be in the front of the line if God wants to raise me from the dead because He has more for me to do. 

I also am right there and willing to pray for another to be raised up from the dead.


What about you? 

Are you up for praying for the dead?

Are you believing that you could be raised?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

If I Lived in Bible Days by Jenna Vick Silliman

What would my job be, if I lived in the Old Testament Bible days? As a woman, my choices are limited, but since I love to dance and sing, I would choose to be like Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron. As a little girl, she was such a genius at how she saved the life of Moses. I also like how later she inspired the women, put starch in their spines, and led them in praising and rejoicing in the Lord. To rejoice and make His praise glorious with flags and dancing are some of the greatest joys of my life. Three Scriptures come to mind…

(See Isaiah 62:10.)

Honor His name; Make His praise glorious!
Say to God, ‘How awesome are Your works!’
(See Psalm 66:2-3.)
Miriam the prophetess, Aaron's sister, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women followed her, with tambourines and dancing. Miriam sang…
Sing unto the Lord,
for He is highly exalted.
The horse and its rider 
He has hurled into the sea.
The Lord is my strength and my song;
He has become my salvation.
He is my God, and I will praise Him,
My father's God, and I will exalt Him!
(See Exodus 15:1-21.)
We see that Miriam is a leader of the women. They followed her. She has musical ability and she is a dancer. She takes her place of leadership, but her leadership directed them to the Lord--in praise to the Lord.

I want you to notice the word that is used to describe her. What was it? Prophetess! What’s a prophetess? A female prophet! What’s a prophet? A prophet is one to whom and through whom God speaks, revealing Himself and His will.

God gave us information on prophets in Deuteronomy 13. It says that if a person says he’s a prophet and he says something’s going to happen, and it happens, then you can say he is a prophet of the Lord. If it does not happen, he is not a prophet of the Lord, and the Lord didn’t send him. The test of a true prophet is that if what he says comes to pass; but the emphasis must not be on foretelling the future, although the prophets do that—a prophet practices forth-telling the Word of God. God uses people to speak His Word. When people, both men and women, communicate what God reveals to them to the people, they are being a prophet or, as in the case of Miriam, a prophetess.

If I’d lived in New Testament Bible days, I would choose to be one of the disciples. I can’t think of anything I’d like to do better than to have been one of the followers of Jesus. When they met Jesus, they dropped everything to be with Him. I like to think that’s what I would have done too—followed Him, hung on His every word, learned from Him first hand, and copied Him. Maybe I would have been one of the seventy disciples sent out by Jesus when He sent them out two by two. (See Luke 10:1.) Surely some of those seventy disciples were women?

As disciples of Jesus, who are sent to represent Him, ambassadors of the Kingdom of God, it is part of our function in the body of Christ to know what our gifts are and to use them, for His glory. In Romans 12:6-13 it says each of us has been given a gift--let us use them!

However, no matter what my particular gifts are, no matter what else I do in my life, no matter what day or age I live in, I consider it a priority to get closer to Jesus and to worship Him. Today I read a bit of the Passion Translation of the Bible from the Psalms and it was so powerful and beautiful and expressed my heart so well I thought I would share it with you.

Every evening I will explain my need to Him.
Every morning I will move my soul toward Him.
Every waking hour I will worship only Him,
And He will hear and respond to my cry!

(See Psalm 55:17.)
The Passion Translation by Brian Simmons www.passiontranslation.com

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Foreign Correspondent in Rome

This week, Kingdom Bloggers will share an occupation each of us would have worked back in biblical days.

It’s a bit different for a woman, to imagine herself in a chosen occupation in Biblical times.

What a woman did with her time was largely dependent on the socio-economic status of her family or husband. If a widow, whether Jew or gentile, poverty was her lot, unless her family took her in. Here is the reality: the Jewish community in general, out of deep respect for God and His law, treated women--those who were virtuous--better than the pagan crowd.

When Jesus arrived on the scene, however, his respect and treatment of women was radical. The women in his circle had never known such acceptance. To His disciples, when Jesus engaged the Samaritan woman at the well, it must given them a sudden rush of anxiety like the secret service suffers when the president jumps out of a limo against protocol to greet the people.

But I digress. If as a woman, I could be any occupation as a believing Christian in first century, I would want to be Luke’s associate editor and then foreign correspondent in Rome (interviewing Paul in prison; plus, I love Italian food :). Luke is a gifted writer and reporter--the Gospel of Luke, which tells of the life and teachings of Jesus, exudes with Jesus’ compassion, joy, miraculous works and powerful gift of storytelling; the Book of Acts records the beginnings of a movement that would grip the planet, and contains several examples of women being used by God to teach, pray, worship and provide hospitality and shelter to disciples.

How exciting--and dangerous--to be in the midst of watching and recording the lives of ordinary people being transformed and catapulted to the front lines of The Way. As a front-line believer, I could not be “objective” as reporters today claim they must be: I would be hopefully praying for and helping and learning about the faith as I spent time with Luke, other seasoned converts, and later Paul.

Just imagining that kind of life, makes me wonder if I am living with that kind of courage and gusto as I work in ministry now. May each of us live with full-force and faith in the occupation God has called us to now. For His glory.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Not Matthew, Mark or even Luke...I'd probably had been a Saul. by Tony C

Most people are identified by what they do to make a living. That fact is especially true for men because one of the very first questions someone will ask when meeting a male for the first time is 'What do you do?' People in the Bible were no different. We often closely associated what major figures in the Bible did for a living. This week, your Kingdom Bloggers will share which occupation we feel each of us would have worked back in biblical days.

My first inclination was an association with Matthew the tax collector (or Zacchaeus, I'm a short dude). I love Matthew and his role in Christ's ministry. I'm also a business-minded individual. But if I'm completely honest with the topic, I know in my heart yours truly would have most likely been a Pharisee during the days of Jesus' earthly ministry.

A Pharisee?!

Yes. That's what I said. The middle-classed members of the religious rule often worked their way into position by their dedication to education. Unlike their Sadducee counterparts, most of the Pharisees came to wealth through work...not inheritance. They were politicians and more closely related to common people. Many were in the priesthood, but often at lower levels in the hierarchy than the Sadducee.

Jesus didn't have kind words for either group as it were.

Saul of Tarsus is the most famous of the biblical least until he met his Maker on the road to Damascus. We often forget that Saul was going about in a very effective way doing what he thought was right and good. Jesus set him straight, and the rest is they say.

My love of politics, business and education all point to my conclusion that I would have, most likely, been a Pharisee (not to mention I dig those Jedi looking outfits). However, I do like to think that when confronted or exposed to the Truth that was/is Jesus Christ...I would have been smart enough to follow Him.

My real history bodes well that's the choice I would have made too.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Nobody Answered When I Called Your Name by Linda Maynard

I will never leave you or forsake you …Hebrews 13:5

I am not sure when I first heard about this, but someone asked me what my Life Scripture was. She explained that it was a personal “go to” scripture, which the Lord quickens to your spirit. She also said that throughout her life, her particular scripture was used, time after time to bring her comfort and reassurance from the Lord.

I wanted everything that God wanted to give me, so I prayed and asked the Lord for my Life Scripture.

The above Scripture was what came to mind. 30 plus years later, I can attest to the fact that the Lord did give me a Rhema Word that has been life giving, time after time after time.

So, this as we are talking this week, about what we had misunderstood about the Lord’s nature, it comes back to this scripture for me.

To tell you the truth, I thought it was a good one,when I got it, but not extraordinary. I could remember, early on seeking the Bible to see if I could find a better one. That was not a bad thing to do, per se, but that is not what the Lord gave me when I first asked.

Did you ever do that? The Lord answers a prayer or a request and you say “Lord, is that what you really meant?” and then proceed to look for something different? Probably most of us have.

I have to admit that there have been many times that I wondered, do I really worry that the Lord is going to leave me? Have I always been fearful about that? It surprised me a little.

We've so often based our perceptions on our Father God’s nature, not only on our earthy father’s nature but on our mother’s as well. Our parents have been joined as one.

That only makes sense, as Adam was created in God’s image. The totality of who God was fully resident in Adam. When Eve was fashioned by God, as she was taken out of Adam, they TOGETHER are the full image of God.

Over the years, I see just how much I needed to know that God would always be with me.

Without going into specific details, I believe I was led to believe that I would be “left behind” by important people in my life. It wasn’t a literal walking away, which sadly happens too often to some children, but it was a sense of love being withdrawn. I felt like, I would be loved and enjoy the presence of people who I looked up to…unless…I was not perfect or if I disappointed them. Then, I would be left alone.

We know words, positive and negative, have tremendous power. I can still feel the sting of being told, when I was very young, after I had done something wrong….” out of all of the children, I least expected this ( bad behavior) from you”

Ouch! That just about crushed me. As young as I was, I interpreted that as a departure. It also seemed so insurmountable to be this good little girl, that I was expected to be.  From that statement, I learned that somehow, I was held to a higher standard than others, at least in this person’s mind.

You know how we have the tendency to be told 999 plus times, we are doing a good job, but there can be that one negative remark that just does us in?

My heart, even now, almost faints at the thought of being left behind by the One I love so dearly

As I write this, I take comfort that God, unequivocally promises me, He is different. He will never ever leave me or forsake me, no matter what. I need to know that deep into the very core of my being. And not just once, but time and time again.

No, because the Lord says...

"Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between you and me and My love for you? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:"

"None of this fazes me because I LOVE YOU! So, be absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between My love for you because of the way that I embrace you and accept you and love you." The  Message …Romans 8:38-39 
( paraphrased)

And in this, the Lord answers my silent cries.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

How Close is God? by Jenna Vick Silliman

As a child I thought of God as seated on His golden throne far, far away in Heaven somewhere. He sat there like Abraham Lincoln in His giant monument in Washington D.C., far removed from my childhood in Redwood City, California.

I came to know the Lord Jesus and His awesome love when I was 16. I invited Him to take up residence in my heart. At first He was a good friend, then a best friend, then family, and now the love of my life. He is closer than a brother and closer than my husband.

In Ephesians 3:17–19, the apostle Paul prays for the people of God: “…That you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend…the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

The Bible says: “In Him we live and move and have our being.” (See Acts 17:28.) The Lord spoke this to me through that verse: "In Me you live and move and have your being. But this is also true: In YOU I live and move and have MY being as well. We are ONE Spirit. When you walk into a room, I walk into that room, too; within you. You cannot mark where My Spirit ends and your spirit begins. That is why you are seated with Me on My Throne in Heaven and walking on the earth at the same time. Where I AM you are, and where you are, I AM. "

The Lord wants us to know His love for us and for us to love Him in return. Jesus said, “Abide in Me.” (See John 15.) Abide means dwell or live. He wants us to live with Him and be in an intimate, love relationship with Him 24/7. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. (See James 4:8.)

How close is God? As close as our heartbeat!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

God Favors Us, but Plays No Favorites!

Before I knew that I knew that God was not dead, but alive, and that He was calling me out of the darkness of not knowing, into the light of His love, I held some misconceptions. Here are just a few examples of a “faulty understanding” (which is the definition of a misconception) of what it means to be a Christ-follower: that a dedicated life is a charmed life; that we can bargain with God; that we can interfere with God’s purposes by the things we do; that we can figure God out.

It can take time for our misconceptions--or myths--about God to be busted.

One that wreaks a devastating impact on faith, witness, love of self and others, and a trusting relationship in our Creator, is: “What we do, or how we do it reveals how God feels about us.”  Ouch. So much bad theology lies in that statement. It flies in the face of a Biblical understanding of a grace-based salvation, for one thing.

Yet, some of us--both Catholic and Protestant--are taught from a very young age (those of us who attended church and/or Sunday School) that how we live may affect God’s love for us. In some Christian circles, children and adults are instructed that makeup, short hair, tattoos, and certain styles of clothing are not allowed. In others, dancing, smoking and drinking alcohol are prohibited.

But perhaps more insidious is the subtle messages believers give one another about our standing as disciples based on our works. In my early days of faith, I was part of a ministry that had a wonderful impact on my growth as a believer. But this group also taught that if a member did not have certain spiritual gifts (see 1 Corinthians 12), they could not assume a leadership role. This misinterpretation of scripture caused some deep hurt among sincere, dedicated people. Those who did not demonstrate a certain spiritual gift felt less than in God’s eyes and in one another’s.

My husband was part of a incredible ministry that offered pastoral care in secular settings. It made a direct impact on the lives of many people who had never set foot inside a church. But every month, reports were to be submitted listing the number of “souls saved” and there was pressure--and maybe competition--to see those numbers rise. The level of success in ministry was based on a number, rather than the personal aspects of discipleship, which are far more difficult to measure. If one’s gifting is not evangelism, it would be easy in that context to think you are failing God.

Studying the Word and living out my faith, has helped in my own version of myth-busters. God is not listing my failures and successes as a measure of my worth ("Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death." Romans 8:1). 

Every gift is from God and does not indicate any special standing except His incredible forgiveness and grace extended to me and everyone else!

Peter fairly exploded with his good news: “It’s God’s own truth, nothing could be plainer: God plays no favorites! It makes no difference who you are or where you’re from—if you want God and are ready to do as he says, the door is open. The Message he sent to the children of Israel—that through Jesus Christ everything is being put together again—well, he’s doing it everywhere, among everyone. Acts 10:34, The Message.