Monday, December 2, 2013

The Older I Get

The older I get, the more important family and friends become. I can feel my priorities shifting from things and tasks to people and relationships. I really missed my brother and his family at Thanksgiving. For years they lived in our neighborhood and came to our house for Thanksgiving dinner. I used to joke that I had a double oven -- the second one was at his house. A few years ago they moved to Texas -- Thanksgiving is not the same now. I miss my brother, and he sent this picture to let me know he misses me too.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Gideon

I'm just beginning a new Bible study -- Gideon, by Priscilla Shirer. It's just what I need to reignite my passion for prayer. You see, I've grown a bit weary lately in praying for the same thing over and over. I haven't given up hope, but that hope has been dormant for awhile. Priscilla has challenged me to reengage in the fight -- through being on my knees in prayer.

Now, I'm a practical girl, so I know that any battle needs a plan. I know that if I'm going to be consistent in praying for my need, I should start small and work up to full fight mode. So, I've found a quiet place to spend a few minutes talking with God about my issue. That's all I'm doing right now. But I'm watching and waiting to see what God will do and what He wants me to do next. Watching and waiting -- on my knees. I think that's a good battle plan.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Sacred Secrets


I'm in the middle of Beth Moore's new study called "Sacred Secrets" and I'm loving it. The key concept is that secrets manifest. Secrets Manifest. SECRETS MANIFEST.

I looked up the word "manifest" and it means "able to be seen, clearly shown or visible." But I was struck by its origin -- it comes from a Latin word meaning "caught in the act." Isn't that ironic? The one thing we dread most is being caught in the act, but we end up being caught by our secrets. 

Oh, how I used to think I could keep secrets hidden. And I did a pretty good job for awhile. I thought my past couldn't hurt me if it was hidden. But I was wrong. My secrets manifest themselves in lots of ways: in my thoughts, my guilt, my shame... What I had been so careful to hide, didn't stay hidden. 

Now that I think about it, I know it was a good thing that my secrets didn't stay secret. God helped me manifest my secrets in a healthy and appropriate way, and I found relief and freedom.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Rabbis Tunnel - Jerusalem


After we visited the Western Wall, we descended below ground to walk the Rabbi's Tunnel. Excavation on the tunnel began after the Six Day War, but was steeped in controversy for political reasons. The work exposed more of the Western Wall and allowed Jews closer access to the location of the Holy of Holies that stood within Herod’s temple. 



It's a fascinating walk underground which exposes stones supporting the temple mount. Notice the largest stone which is over 14 yards long and dates from the time of Herod. What an amazing feat to have moved it into position.



This last picture is a model of the temple mount with Herod's temple. The small lights running along the length of the wall indicate the Rabbi's Tunnel which is now underground. We walked these ancient paths from the time of Herod -- the time of Christ.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Western Wall

 The first morning in Jerusalem we visited the Western Wall, also called the Wailing Wall. It's divided into men's and women's sections (the men's section is much larger.) Anyone may pray at the wall, but men must have a head covering -- even a baseball cap will do.

I was prepared. I'd written out a list of family and friends I would pray for by name at the Western Wall. Then after I prayed, I rolled up the paper and stuffed it into a crack in the wall. Can you see all the bits of paper between the stones in the pictures below?


 The Western Wall is traditionally believed to be the closest place a praying Jew can come to the Holy of Holies. Do you see the phylactery (small box containing scripture) on the man's forehead? Jesus mentions phylacteries in Matt 23:5. Jesus was always more concerned with the state of the heart than customs or traditions. There is no Jewish temple standing today; it was destroyed in AD 70.






Thursday, May 2, 2013

Jerusalem

Jerusalem -- what more can I say?
The road climbs up and up until you get  your first glimpse of the old city. The city where Jesus came as a young boy and got so enthralled speaking with the teachers in His Father's House that He forgot to start the journey home with His earthly parents. The city of the temple -- where all males were to offer sacrifices three times each year. The city that received and embraced Jesus, only to turn on Him and demand His death. Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem. It's still a city of contrasts. Modern and ancient. Arab and Jewish. Secular and religious. Even today Jerusalem isn't sure what to do with Jesus.

Today, the first thing that catches your eye is the soft golden color of all the buildings. Only native limestone can be used to build in Jerusalem, giving the city a soothing golden glow. It's breathtaking. I don't know how else to describe it. You wait your whole life to catch a glimpse, and then it's right there before you with all its history, tears, wars, conflict, promise and glory. Oh Jerusalem.

The prominent feature of the old city is the famous golden topped Dome of the Rock. It's a Muslim site built in the 7th century, and it's actually a shrine, not a mosque. It is thought to be built on the famous rock where Jews and Christians claim Abraham was willing to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac. Muslims believe it to be the rock where Muhammad ascended into heaven. Many people believe the Dome of the Rock is built on the site of the Jewish temple that was destroyed in 70AD. Tensions can run high just talking about such things. That's Jerusalem. You don't visit and remain indifferent to its beauty or its history.



Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Monastery of St. George

We stopped at a beautiful 5th century monastery on the steep slopes of Wadi Kelt. A wadi is a dry river bed, and the monastery seems to hang on the slopes as if carved into the rock -- I can't adequately describe the natural beauty of this secluded spot. It was a tough walk down and a tougher walk back up, but so worth the effort. There were some friendly donkeys available for anyone too tired to make it back to the tour bus. They just added to the charm of this awesome site. The monastery is located along the old Roman route between Jericho and Jerusalem, a dangerous journey because of wild animals, including the most dangerous threat -- man. Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan farther up the route closer to Jerusalem.

Our next stop is the holy city -- Jerusalem. It is sure to be an incredible experience. The anticipation builds -- we can hardly wait.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Traditional Site of Jesus' Baptism

We made a brief stop at the traditional site of the baptism of Jesus. There is a small area for people to be baptized today, but the river here is quite small and muddy. There is an alternative baptism site more popular with tourists farther north near the Sea of Galilee. That's where we were baptized in the Jordan on our last trip to Israel -- an experience I'll never forget.

This site is near the city of Jericho and also a few miles away from where the Jordan River empties into the Dead Sea. It is in a stark, dry area in what we would call a demilitarized zone. There are fences keeping people from straying into an area with land mines. We did not stray! Directly across the Jordan River is the country of Jordan. You could throw a stone across the river and hit another country. But I wouldn't advise it -- there was a Jordanian guard on the other side who might not be so happy.

The Jordan River feeds the Sea of Galilee from the north, and then the river continues south to the Dead Sea.  The Sea of Galilee is used as the major source of drinking water for all of Israel, as well as for irrigation. As we noted when we visited the ruins of Bethsaida in the north, the Sea of Galilee has receded from its old banks. As a result, the Jordan River to the south of the Sea of Galilee is not as mighty as it used to be.



Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Bethsaida

This was a new archaeological site in northern Israel discovered in the 1990's. Not much work has been done here yet, but it will be interesting to watch the progress in the years to come. The name Bethsaida means house of fishing. The Sea of Galilee has been receding over the years, so the ruins of the town are not on the water's edge today. Peter, Andrew and Philip were from Bethsaida. Jesus performed many miracles there, including healing a blind man and feeding the 5000.

According to Matt 11:21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes."

The people of Bethsaida saw so many miracles of Jesus that they trivialized God. It's easy to condemn them, but what about us? We see God do incredible things in our lives and in our churches. Do we triviliaize God? Do we trivialize sin? 


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Belvoir

Belvoir means beautiful view. It's the name of a crusader fort built in the 12th century. Belvoir is perched on a high hill overlooking the Jordan River valley. Its strategic location allowed the defenders of the fort to see any enemy approach. It also allowed us spectacular views on a sunny day in the Galilee region of Israel. Can you see the fertile land in the valley that uses water from the Jordan for irrigation?


The crusaders behaved brutally in the name of Christ. The damage from the crusades can still be felt today. The crusaders started with a noble cause, but had terrible behavior. The lesson for us today is that we can damage the reputation of Christ by our behavior even if we have a noble purpose. We need a noble purpose AND noble behavior. The 2nd chapter of 1 Peter has a lot to say about our behavior. Verse 12 says to "Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us." That's great wisdom for today.

Joke: Why do the people in the Holy Land sleep at night? Because
 of the Israelites.

I know, I know, that was a terrible joke.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Gideon's Spring

This is the site where God had Gideon thin out his army before going into battle. Judges 7 contains the account. God did not let Gideon take his entire army or they would boast that their own strength saved them. God separated the men by the way they drank water from this spring. The Lord left Gideon with only 300 men to defeat the enemy. God used a few ordinary men to accomplish an extraordinary feat.

God still uses ordinary people in extraordinary ways today. He delights in using the unlikely to do what seems impossible. That's God's way. Otherwise we would be prone to boast in ourselves, when God alone deserves the glory and honor and praise. God alone.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Nain

Still Day 1. We visited the small town of Nain, with a population of about 3000 today. This is where Jesus raised the widow's son from the dead. We were reminded that Jesus knows us by name and sees everything we face. Luke put it this way in his gospel -- "When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her..." (Lk 7:13). Not only does Jesus care for us, but He also has the power to help us in our time of need. What a wonderful reminder for all of us.


Saturday, April 20, 2013

Mount Tabor

Day 1 in Israel. We start out at the top -- the top of Mount Tabor -- the traditional site of the transfiguration of Jesus (Matt 17:1-13). We know this is the site because of Queen Helena, mother of Emperor Constantine. Both were Christians, so when Helena wanted to visit the Holy Land, Constantine supplied her with a legion of Roman soldiers. On her visit, Helena located significant sites from the life of Jesus and left Roman soldiers there to build a church. Because of her efforts, we know where many of the Biblical accounts took place. Helena built over 80 churches in the Holy Land. The church in the picture is built over the foundation of one of Helena's churches.


Mount Tabor is the site where Jesus peeled back His humanity so Peter, James and John caught a glimpse of His glory. His glory was seen as brilliant,white light.

I come away knowing I haven't a clue of the wonder, and the brilliance of God's glory. But, one day . . . I will know . . . when I see Him face to face.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Israel 2013

We had the privilege of participating in Lon Solomon's Advanced Israel Tour. This was my third trip to Israel. Each trip has been unique, and this one did not disappoint.

The flight is long -- over 10 hours from New York to Tel Aviv and then a few hours bus ride to our hotel in Tiberius on the Sea of Galilee. But the long hours are worth it. Here's a view of the Sea of Galilee from our hotel room.

Watching the wooden boats sail by, you can almost imagine Jesus sailing the same waters with his disciples, several of whom were fishermen. Galilee is beautiful. I love that Jesus was a "country" boy, who walked and sailed all over the area. His footsteps are everywhere, and I had the privilege of walking in them.

The Bible comes alive when you visit the Holy Land. Place names have significance like never before. Capernaum, Nazareth, Bethsaida aren't just names anymore -- they are places I've visited -- in the footsteps of Jesus.


The land is diverse. I hope to show you some of it through pictures on this blog. But I'd encourage you to save if you can and visit the Holy Land yourself one day. The experience will change your life.

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Church

Here's a great quote on the church from Bill Hybel's book Courageous Leadership.

"There is nothing like the local church when it’s working right. 
Its beauty is indescribable. 
Its power is breathtaking. 
Its potential is unlimited. 
It comforts the grieving and heals the broken in the context of community. 
It builds bridges to seekers and offers truth to the confused. 
It provides resources for those in need and opens its arms to the forgotten, the downtrodden, the disillusioned. 
It breaks the chains of addictions, frees the oppressed, and offers belonging to the marginalized of this world. 
Whatever the capacity for human suffering, the church has a greater capacity for healing and wholeness."

Wow! I know that no church is perfect. But, how is something like this even possible? It's possible because the church is the body of Christ and with Him, all things are possible (Matt 19:26). I'm glad I'm part of the church.

Monday, March 18, 2013

How to Write a Great Blog Post

I just read a "how-to" article that I'm saving. Mary DeMuth included some great tips to consider when writing a blog post. It's going to help me, and I thought it might help you too. Take a look at "How to Write a Great Blog Post."

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

What True Community Looks Like

You won't want to miss this great message "What True Community Looks Like" from Lane Sebring, our Next Generation Pastor. Lane really explains why we need each other to do life. I'm already using some of his material for a Bible study lesson on the gospel of John. Thanks Lane.

Visit our church website to listen: www.cbcva.org

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Thankful

Last week I was reminded how much I have to be thankful for. A family within our church experienced a tragedy -- their precious teenage son took his own life. Our hearts are broken as we can't begin to imagine the pain they are going through. This event has made me take stock of my life and put things in perspective. My complaints and annoyances no longer seem so important.

I've made a list of things for which I am thankful. Things like:
breathing children
a providing husband
a peaceful home
the privilege of ministry
a class of women who wants to study the Bible with me

Don't get me wrong; I have problems. Some of my problems are huge and ongoing. But last week they appeared small. And so I give thanks to God for life and love and family and His faithfulness -- no matter what we face.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

My All in All



I'm reading a daily devotional book "My All in All" by Robert Morgan. I love his writing style. The book focuses on Scripture containing the word "all" and there are lots of them. Morgan notes that often that word "all" could have been left out, and the verse would have made sense. But God included it. Why? Just read some of these verses as written, and then read them again omitting the word "all" --- I think you'll understand why God is an "all" kind of God.


"All things work together for the good of those who love God" Rom 8:28

"You have thrown all my sins behind Your back" Is 38:17

"Even the hairs of your head have all been counted" Matt 10:30

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart" Matt 22:37

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart" Prov 3:5-6

"Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" 
Matt 11:28

"Goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life" Ps 23:6


God is the Lord of ALL, our ALL-in-ALL, our ALmighty God, our ALL-Sufficient Savior from whom ALL blessings flow. He is ALL we need.


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Back to Work

In January I began to work in Women's Ministry again at my church - Centreville Baptist. It feels strangely familiar since I previously served as WM Director, but that was a few years ago. Wow, it was more than a few years ago -- I left that role in 2007. Now I'm assisting Kelly Scheuring, our current WM Director, who also happens to be young and hip and smart and funny and my friend.

How do I feel about that? I'm happy and delighted and free. I think I can better use my giftedness to support Kelly in hers. She's gifted as a leader. I'm gifted as a teacher and encourager. I love pouring into women. I can do that within the Women's Ministry as I interact with women of all ages and stages. I delight in watching young women like Kelly grow and serve. I'm able to speak to women's groups and teach Bible study without all the responsibility that comes from being in charge of WM. So, I'm free to do what God has designed me to do. And that feels wonderful.

What has God designed YOU to do? Are you doing it?

Friday, January 4, 2013

Books

I love books. You'd know it if you came to my house. Books are everywhere -- on my IPad, on my bookshelves, on tables, by my bed -- books are everywhere. Sometimes it drives my husband crazy, but I'll write about that another day. Today, I'm talking books.

Here's what I'm currently reading.
  • I just finished Andy Stanley's newest book "Deep & Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend." Reading it made me more passionate about church and all the possibilities before us.
  • I'm also reading "A Hole in Our Gospel" by Richard Stearns which is making me examine my life in relation to the hurting world.
  • "Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die" by Chip and Dan Heath is causing me to reexamine my teaching and speaking. Are my messages "sticky"?

Here are some books I'm anxious to read:
  • "My One Word: Change Your Life With Just OneWord" by Mike Ashcraft and Rachel Olsen (Rachel is a Proverbs 31 Ministries speaker, and I love to support that ministry.)
  • "20,000 Days and Counting: The Crash Course for Mastering Your Life Right Now" by Robert D. Smith
  • "Weird: Because Normal Isn't Working" by Craig Groeschel. He's a great pastor and speaker, and I love the title -- it fits me.
What are YOU reading and why?