Friday, September 30, 2011

A Tool to Unlock the Meaning of Scripture

Hi friend! This year I’ve gone back to school. Kind of crazy, I know - especially after all these years. Occasionally, on Fridays, I’ll be posting required assignments. The assignment today actually ties in with a post from earlier this week (At His Feet). At His Feet shares the extraordinary truth that Jesus invites each of us to personally sit at his feet and learn directly from him. That would be a tiny bit like Roger Federer offering to give us tennis lessons or Paula Deen calling to see if she can come over and cook with us!

Inductive Bible Study

Inductive Bible study is a tool that takes us to the “feet of Jesus” and helps us engage with His teachings in Scripture. It allows us to hear truth from God first as he intimately teaches us about His character, His purposes, and His ways in the Bible. To me, inductive study is a lot like a treasure hunt. It’s a constant adventure that results in exciting discoveries as God reveals facets of his character that I have never seen before.

Three major areas of Inductive Bible Study:

1)      Observation
2)      Interpretation
3)      Application

Observation

Observation is a process of surveying and gathering information about the text. It means looking for the obvious (people, places, and events) and identifying things like:

Who was the author?
Who was the author writing to? (if applicable)
Who are the characters in the writing?
What was the author writing about? Was he writing about history? Was it poetry? Was it a letter?
When in history did it take place?
Where does it take place? What locations are mentioned?
Why did he write it?
How?

Observation also involves pinpointing repeated words and phrases (key words) and making a list of what the text has to say about those words.

Key words are little jewels from the heart of God. They convey a critical point in the text He wants to make certain we hear. He helps us discover those little jewels by repeating Himself. If those words are removed, the text would lose its meaning. Recognizing those words and making lists about them leads to a clearer understanding of what He's saying.

Observation is kind of like taking a boat across the water to a place where you’re going to snorkel. You observe the surroundings as you approach your destination. You listen to the guide describe the area and the type of sea life you’ll be seeing.


Interpretation

Interpretation is discerning what the text means.

Studying the context of scripture is essential to understanding the intended meaning of the text. Context is the background, the setting, or frame of reference. It means looking at the big picture to see how a small passage of scripture fits into the surrounding text. You can start with immediate context and work out from there. Begin with how the scripture sits in the context of the paragraph, then how that paragraph is positioned in the chapter, then the book. Passages can also be compared with the author’s other writings and the whole of scripture.

Word studies, cross-referencing, and understanding doctrines of faith help us dig deeper and unlock the meaning of scripture.

Interpretation is putting the snorkel equipment on, jumping into the water, feeling the wetness, tasting the salt on your lips, and seeing the colors, shapes, and details of the fish and coral beneath you. You now understand what snorkeling is about.



Application

Application is applying the meaning of Scripture to personal life. It’s examining your life and determining what God is saying to you personally. Are there changes you need to make in your behavior or your thinking so that it lines up with what you’ve read? Does your belief system need to change? 

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” James 1:22 (New International Version)

Application is swimming through the water and feeling like you’re one with the sea life. It's making necessary adjustments to keep water out of your snorkel and mask. It's seeing the dropoff into blackness in the distance and choosing to follow the guide's instructions to stay in the more shallow area. It's being impacted by the experience in a way that changes you. 

 

I can tell you personally that I used to just read the Bible (and that in itself is extremely valuable), but everything changed when I began mining for truth through inductive study. There is a depth to this experience that has hooked me for life.

If you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts or experiences with inductive study, please leave a comment below. Here's a link to a website that offers fabulous inductive Bible study curriculum.

http://www.precept.org/site/PageServer

“The Bible is not an end in itself, but a means to bring men to an intimate and satisfying knowledge of God, that they may enter into Him, that they may delight in His Presence, may taste and know the inner sweetness of the very God Himself in the core and center of their hearts.” [A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Christian Publications, Inc., 1948) PP. 10]

Love you all! Have a great weekend . . .
Lisa ~



Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Are You Taking Credit?

On the Wooded Path - Impacting the World with Compassion

The principal at a private Christian school once asked a classroom of students, “How many people have you led to Christ?” This question came on the heels of a class debate.  The principal’s son had instigated this debate and was the lone soldier in his case against the rest of the class. The principal had observed the end of the debate and asked this question in an effort to exalt her son.

She pressed them with, “How many of you have led someone to Christ?” The fifth grade students became very quiet. Most of them looked away from the principal and visibly shrunk down in their seats. One of the girls started to cry. The principal then highlighted the fact that while none of them had led others to Christ, her son had - and wasn't he great. The rest of the students felt shamed.

In Christian circles, there is a tendency to make a big, big deal about leading people to Christ. I recently had a conversation with a woman who told me that her former church had fired and slandered their pastor because he didn’t have enough salvations “on the books”. Individually, Christians sometimes keep track of the number of people they have personally led to Christ. Each "saved soul" becomes a badge of honor to that person.

We know that people are rescued from separation from God only through a relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus himself instructed us to communicate his message to the world in the hope that people will place their trust in him as the means of their forgiveness.

But is it right for us to take credit for anyone’s salvation? Are we able to actually provide that salvation for them? Should we be keeping count?

In John 6:44 we read:

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him . . .”

According to this verse, who actually draws people to Christ?

1 Cor. 3:5-7 states "What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe - as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow."

In this passage, who is it that makes the seed of faith grow?



And in Matthew 9:37-38, "Then he said to his disciples, 'The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.'"

God is the Lord of the what?


In John 4:35-38, the sower and the reaper work together toward the same end. Neither one’s work is more important than the other’s. Yet in church life it often seems that the aim for many people is to "harvest." It appears to be the entire focus for some.

But there is no harvest without seed planting and sowing. Those little seeds not only need to be planted; they also need to be nurtured, tended, protected, and loved. In my life, I have watched God use me more often as a seed planter and a sower as I pour into the lives of other people.  For that, I am not ashamed.

My prayer is that the children in that 5th grade class will someday understand the high calling of being a seed planter and a sower, and that they will be willing to commit themselves to labor selflessly in the fields in order to make the fields ready for those who have the good fortune of reaping – whoever the reaper may be.

Warming the World Together . . .


Lisa ~

Monday, September 26, 2011

At His Feet

Mountain View - Stealing Your Breath with Views of the Heart of God


Many of you are familiar with the story of Mary and Martha - sisters who were personal friends of Jesus. One day when Jesus was visiting, Martha (a great hostess) was naturally busy in the kitchen “distracted with all the preparations that had to be made” while Mary lounged at Jesus’ feet listening to what he had to say. Martha became indignant. She went to Jesus and demanded that he do something about her sister. “Tell her to help me!” she said. Jesus patiently informed Martha that Mary had "chosen what was better."

For the most part, this story teaches us the importance of setting aside distractions and busyness to spend time with Jesus. I’d like to suggest that there may be something more.

The rabbis of that day believed it was inappropriate for women to learn. They interpreted Deuteronomy 11:19 to mean “and you shall teach them (words of God) to your sons and not your daughters.” Deuteronomy 11:19 actually says, “Teach them to your children . . .”



And “Rabbi Eleizer is quoted as saying, “They shall burn the teachings of Torah rather then convey them to women” (ySot 3.4, 19a). Rabbi Eliezer also stated, “A woman has no wisdom except in handling her spindle, for it is written, ‘And all the women that were wise-hearted did spin with their hands.'” (From the book Every Woman in the Bible by Sue and Larry Richards; copyright 1999 by Lawrence O. Richards)

So culturally, Mary’s actions were extraordinary and bold. She had stepped over the line, out of her comfort zone, and into unknown territory - but she didn’t care. While Martha was distracted and busy, Mary was focused on one thing - the heart of Jesus. She loved him and wanted nothing more than to drink in every word he said.

In Luke 10:41 Jesus noted that Martha was upset and worried about many things. Martha understood and embraced the traditional roles of women in Jewish society. Could it be that she was upset about more than just the fact that her sister wasn’t helping her? Is it possible that she was upset because Mary had stepped outside the culturally acceptable boundaries that had been established for women of that time? Was she frightened and embarrassed to see Mary act this way? Was Martha really asking Jesus to put Mary in her place?

In verse 42 Jesus replied, “Only one thing is needed” and “Mary has chosen what is better.” He also said, “and it will not be taken from her.” What do you think he meant?

" . . . for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you." John 15:15


“He (Jesus) replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” Luke 11:28

"Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away." Matthew 24:35

"For I am convinced that neither death nor life . . . nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38-39

 Martha saw a woman’s role (as defined by society) as being “better”. She most likely believed that she and Mary should stick to that role.

When Jesus said Mary had chosen what was better, he wasn’t denigrating a woman’s role in the home. We all know that a woman’s role in the home is crucial to the health and well-being of her family.
In this passage, Jesus was simply affirming women and inviting them to something new and wonderful – studying scriptures and learning directly from Him (i.e., sitting at his feet). His view was in direct opposition to the views of the religious leaders.

In this story it's important to recognize Jesus’ deep love for women. He values their company and wants them to know him personally. Their spiritual development is extremely important to him. He has a fervent desire to teach each of us individually. Bottom line: He's sweet on us girls!

What about you? Do you spend time “sitting at his feet” as you pray and study the Bible? Depending on the part of the world you live in . . . or the college you attend . . . or the culture around you . . . or the family you’re a part of . . . it may take courage. You may have to step across the line and out of your comfort zone. You might be ridiculed and it might even be dangerous. But the reward is more than worth it! You will encounter the very real, very safe, and very loving, Jesus Christ.   

With great confidence in the character of God . . .
Lisa ~

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

You are Not Forgotten

Mountain View - Stealing Your Breath with Views of the Heart of God






       On a mission trip to a Russian orphanage, I met a 17 year-old "orphan" named Roma Kholodkov. His father, an alcoholic, had passed away prematurely. His mother abandoned him at a young age with no word of explanation or even a “goodbye”. In Russian culture, parentless children are often discarded by society, viewed as second-class citizens, and automatically labeled as being mentally “slow” just by virtue of the fact that they are orphans. 

        Roma and I developed a close relationship. A Russian interpreter shared, “You and Roma are kindred spirits."




        On the last day of our trip, Roma walked with me to our bus. Before boarding, he lowered his head and said four simple words that broke over me with the force of a hurricane.  “Do not forget me.”

Each day I am reminded that there are a whole lot of people who suffer in the dark shadows of the world – the homeless man under the bridge, the exhausted single mother who feels completely alone, the orphans of Africa who have become “parents” to younger siblings, the unemployed father who feels like a failure, the battered woman in the house down the street, the young girls suffering the horrors of sexual slavery, the mother ripped in two by the death of her child, the couple who has been defrauded by a trusted friend, the spouse facing the crushing truth of betrayal, the mother in poverty helplessly watching her child slip further into the grip of starvation, the wealthy man struggling with the emptiness of his life, the captives held in the unrelenting claw of addiction, the man in prison drowning in guilt, and the ones ruined by unmerciful disease. Many of these people feel as though they’ve been completely forgotten. Their cries seem to go unheard and their pain is not noticed. You may know these feelings in your present situation right now. I know I have felt them in my life at times too.

          My adolescent years were filled with turmoil as my parents divorced and my mom had a nervous breakdown. Subsequent years held three additional marriages (before I was 18), a stepdad who had addictions to alcohol and gambling, another who physically abused my mother and acted on an unnatural attraction for me, a parental "kidnapping" incident, a child custody battle, and suicide attempts by my mother. After my mother's death in 2008, it was confirmed that she suffered from borderline personality disorder (something that had been suggested by many in her later years). 

       No one in our family ever talked to my brothers and I about the things that had happened in our family. No one ever asked how we felt or how we were dealing with the circumstances in our lives. (I don't fault them for this. I'm just stating facts.) As a result, I can remember feeling very alone. However, one summer my mother did a very good thing. She started taking us to church and forced me to attend youth group. There was a moment at a youth retreat when I experienced God’s presence around me in a very real way. Not sure how I knew it was God – but I knew. He made it very clear to me that he had seen everything that had been happening in my life. I felt his overwhelming sadness and compassion as he let me know that he cared about me and the pain I was suffering. This knowledge changed my life. I literally melted into his "embrace" and have been walking in that embrace ever since.


Friends, this is something I want you to plant way down deep in your soul:

God forgets no one. He sees what is happening in our lives, is aware of our individual needs, and is distressed over our personal pain. We see evidence of this awareness and concern in many passages of scripture. One of those places is in the book of Exodus.

        The Israelites had endured 400 years of oppression, hard labor, and persecution at the hands of the Egyptians and they pleaded with God to help them.

“The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God.” Exodus 2:23

       What was His response? Did He ignore them? Did He have better things to do? Had He forgotten them?

“The Lord said, I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering.” Exodus 3:7    

       God sees. He hears. His heart is moved with concern. In later passages, we also see him take action.

       When I left Russia, I left with the commitment to stay in touch with Roma and to communicate the message to him that he matters and neither God nor I would ever forget him. No matter what you’re going through today – no matter how insignificant this world has made you feel, I want you to know that the same is true for you. God cares about you deeply. He has not forgotten you! 


 With great confidence in the character of God,

Lisa~

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Homefires

Fireside - Conversations by the Fire about Nurturing Home and Family




Here at The Warming House the weather is crisp and cool, drizzly rain is falling, and gentle rumbles of thunder roll across the sky. It's the perfect day for this excerpt from Leaves of Gold written by its editors (copyright 1938; Brownlow Publishing Company).

"Civilization had its beginning around an open fire. Here at its warmth gathered the family group to find safety, comfort, and companionship. Trace the origin of our word fireplace and you will find it definitely related to the Latin word focus. There is the explanation of what home has always meant; for home is the center of life - no mere residence of the body but the axis of the heart; the place where affections develop themselves, where children love and learn, where two toil together to make life a blessing.

To picture in a word the depths of want, we say of a man that he is homeless. True, life is a journey, and we are all on a pilgrimage. But when distance has lost its enchantment and the ardor for adventure has cooled, when danger has been bravely faced and wonder satiated, hearts long for a resting place and find in the ruddy glows of the hearth-fire "the charm from the skies" that hallows life and gives refuge to man's tired soul."



We all need a place - a home - a refuge. One of my greatest desires is for the environment in my home to be a refuge or sanctuary for my family's (and guest's) tired souls. A home where family members find unconditional love, comfort, safety, encouragement, compassion, peace, community, and rest is also a place where families can learn, make mistakes, be challenged, and experience growth together. The world outside is tough and often hurts us. This place - my home - needs to be different. Sometimes that isn't easy to accomplish - and we don't always do it right. But sanctuary/refuge is what I yearn to give my family in this place. It is an ardent goal.

That desire and goal are also at the heart of The Warming House. I know that some of you don't have homes that are a refuge, and that knowledge hurts my heart. I want this to be a "home" and place of sanctuary for you - weary traveler. In this place, I want the environment to contain the same things - including the learning and growth we experience together. 

One of the cool things about blogging is that I get to see the nations my Warming House guests come from. I want you to know that I see you out there - those of you from Spain, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Mozambique, the U.S., India, Canada, Russia, the Philippines, Uganda, the Netherlands, Argentina, Brazil, Latvia, Serbia and more. You matter to me. When I see your presence at The Warming House, I thank God for each heart he entrusts to me for that moment - and I find myself wondering about you and what life is like in your home across the world. 

This blog is not meant to be about me. It's about the greatness of God and his ways. I do it for him and for you. My strong belief is that if this blog does not bring something positive to someone else's life, it isn't worth writing. I would love to hear from you. Let me know a little about you and what topics or issues you would like me to address here. You can contact me at thewarminghouse@gmail.com, in the comments section of this blog, or on my facebook page (see sidebar).

I think we'll build a fire in our fireplace today - the first one of the season. As I listen to it sizzle and crack, get lost in watching the dancing flames, and cozy up to its warmth, I'll be thinking of you . . . and I'll be thinking of my precious son and daughter who are many miles from home at college right now. It comforts me to know that even though we're apart, they carry the sweetness of "home" inside of them.

Friends, let's keep the homefires burning! Our families deserve it - and need it.




Because families are worth fighting for . . .
Lisa ~

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

What's Your Motivation?

On the Wooded Path - Impacting the World with Compassion

Walking onto a car lot – or even into a furniture store - is difficult for me. You know the feeling. When the salesperson approaches with a gleaming smile and extreme friendliness (too much friendliness) it's uncomfortable. Is their friendliness sincere? Are they in that friendly exchange with an ulterior motive? He’s looking for the sale – right? Can I trust his words? In this situation, I generally put up my guard.

Put yourself in the place of a non-Christian who is approached by a Christian wanting to “share the good news”. Do they view Christians the same way I view the salesperson? The truth is that many of them they do. They see our friendliness as fake. They put up their guard because they believe we have an ulterior motive. We’re looking for the sale – right? In a study by the Barna Group, “Young outsiders (those looking at the Christian faith from the outside) generally do not get the impression that Christians have good intentions when it comes to trying to ‘convert” them. Most reject the idea that Christians show true interest in them as individuals.” “Only one-third of young outsiders believe that Christians genuinely care about them.” “Rather than being genuinely interested in people for their friendship, we often seem like spiritual headhunters.” (Unchristian by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons; copyright 2007)

Here's a great example: I recently attended a training for an upcoming event at a local church. The trainer concluded with, "The whole purpose is for you to get people to receive Jesus Christ." 

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

Basically, if you have the best sales pitch, most eloquent speech, and can deliver a moving message, your words are empty if you do not present them from a place of love. If you know the Bible backwards and forwards, understand its truths, and can share those “features” with great skill, it is just annoying noise without love. If you feed the homeless, help the poor and sacrifice all for the kingdom of God, it is meaningless action if it is not done with compassion and love.

Love is patient. (1 Corinthians 13)
Love is kind. (1 Corinthians 13)
Love does not seek its own way. (1 Corinthians 13)
Love must be sincere. (Romans 12:9)

Christ’s love is sincere. When he physically walked the earth in ministry, he saw into the depths of a person's soul. He listened to people's stories. He ministered to their needs. He invested himself relationally in the lives of individuals. No conditions.  He proved the sincerity of his love when he gave his life to save you and me. Love for the Father and love for his creation drove everything he did - and drives everything he does in hearts today. Jesus taught that the most important commandments are about love. Love is meant to be the indentifying mark of his followers (John 13:34-35).

So here’s a question for you. As you approach people to present your sales pitch and win another soul to Jesus Christ, are you driven by love for God and love for people (Matthew 22:37-40) or are you driven by a love for the “sale”? Are you loving people for Christ or are you looking for a way to build your Christian resume? Will your witness repel people from Christ or give them a desire to move into His arms? How do you respond when someone rejects what you're offering? These are tough questions to ask, but they are very important ones. Consider how the world’s view of Christ and Christianity might change if we could be a clear reflection of his heart as we learn to purely love.

Warming the World Together,
Lisa~

Monday, September 12, 2011

In the Absence of God

Mountain View Mondays ~ Stealing Your Breath with Views of the Heart of God

My husband recently read a book called “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years” by Donald Miller (copyright 2009 by Donald Miller; Thomas Nelson Publishing). In the book, the author talks about his friend, Kathy. Her relationship with God had been seriously damaged by years of hardship. She hung out on the periphery of God for a while until she reached a point where she was ready to let him go altogether. Then she went to Rwanda where she toured the genocide museum in the capital city of Kigali. As she made her way through the exhibits and learned about the events leading up to the genocide she was emboldened in her belief that God only created us to let us “march around in our own misery.” She prayed, “You’re supposed to be good. What are you good for?”

She then visited a church where Tutsis had taken refuge during the massacre thinking they would be safe there. They were not. Men came in with machetes and slaughtered those hiding inside. The skulls of the victims were still piled against the wall, bloody clothes hung from the walls, and bones had been laid out as a memorial. In that moment, she was ready to hate God forever but instead of anger, something else happened. Kathy felt overwhelming tenderness and sorrow as God whispered to her heart,

“This is what happens when people walk away from me, Kathy. I have brought you to this place to show you something important. This is what happens when my compassion and love leave a place.”


This is so appropriate for us as we are reminded of the events of 9/11/2001 - a time of horrific suffering. I remember that day so clearly – where I was when I heard about it on my car radio; where I was sitting when the first tower fell and how I immediately left to bring our two older kids home from school; and how I found my oldest son (8-years-old) lying on the floor in our bedroom crying one evening. When I knelt down beside him and asked him what was wrong, I can remember him saying through his tears, “All those people . . . it’s just so sad.” His little heart was crushed by the stories of extreme suffering.

Our daughter called me from college yesterday to ask if I’d watched the 9/11 memorial service. Her voice cracked with emotion when she spoke of the reading of the victims' names - especially by the young kids (10-11 years old) who had never gotten to know and spend time with their parent.

The presence of evil has such a devastating impact on so many. It causes us to question God’s existence and ask him, "Why?"


Everyday God gives us the freedom to choose. He allows us to choose whether to believe he exists or not – to belong to him or not - to follow him or not – to live by his principles or not – to obey him or not – to let him live in and through us or not. When people choose their own way apart from God, there is a void. God is absent. Evil occurs where he is absent. However, when God is allowed to live in and through us, he is present and so are all of his beautiful qualities. His light dispels the darkness and good overcomes evil.


God is merciful.

"The Lord is gracious and merciful; slow to anger and great in lovingkindness. The Lord is good to all, and His mercies are over all His works.” Psalm 145:8-9


God is compassion and comfort.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion, and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

God is love.

How precious is your constant love, O God! All humanity takes refuge in the shadow of your wings." Psalm 36:7

God is forgiving.

"If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness . . ." Psalm 130:3-4

God is kind.

"But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy." Titus 3:4

God is good.

"For the Lord is always good. he is always loving and kind, and his faithfulness goes on and on to each succeeding generation." Psalm 100:5

 . . . and this is the short list!

Wherever God is, these qualities are present. How can God be present in this world through you?    

Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing your heart and your time with me here at The Warming House! I absolutely love having you here.

With great confidence in the character of God . . .

Lisa~

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Autumn's Party

Fireside ~ Conversations by the Fire about Nurturing Home and Family

Guest Blogger: Martha Carter

“FINALLY!” I say this time each year. The frost is on the pumpkin and the leaves are on the ground. Fall is upon us! It is my favorite time of the year. The colors change, the smells change, and the crispness of the air is a welcome change - especially this year. It’s as if a sharp snap can be heard and I’m suddenly awake after having drifted into lethargy in the damp summer heat. There is a comfort of nestling into fall that energizes as much as it is restful.



Another change around our home is the decor. Nature is the greatest provider. We utilize a lot of pumpkins - collecting as many as 40 in sizes ranging from a couple of pounds to a 70-pounder that squatted proudly at our front door one year. Pumpkins can be left unadorned or “blinged” out to the max. Kids love to decorate them. Turn them loose with markers, cans of paints, Mr. Potato Head parts, etc. This is one activity that has no limits. Leaves, berries, twigs, branches, pinecones and acorns can be found everywhere and in abundance. After all, it’s harvest time.


A Fall tree trimmed with all the goodies that accompany this celebratory time of year can bring the rufflings of season's change indoors. Centerpieces can be placed on coffee tables, dining tables and the hall entry sideboard.





Twinkling amber lights bring a soft brilliance everywhere you put them, inside and out. It’s the beginning of a long holiday season that brings family and friends together.


We culminate the autumn season with a pumpkin throwing contest. The person who throws/rolls the pumpkin down the hill the furthest is the winner.


Last year my daughter decided it would be a good idea for the adults to “shoot skeet” using the pumpkins. We certainly ended the season with a bang!

Here's one of my favorite poems by George Cooper.


OCTOBER GAVE A PARTY
by George Cooper


October gave a party;
The leaves by hundreds came-
The Chestnuts, Oaks, and Maples,
And leaves of every name.
The Sunshine spread a carpet,
And everything was grand,
Miss Weather led the dancing,
Professor Wind the band.


The Chestnuts came in yellow,
The Oaks in crimson dressed;
The lovely Misses Maple
In scarlet looked their best;
All balanced to their partners,
And gaily fluttered by;
The sight was like a rainbow
New fallen from the sky.


Then, in the rustic hollow,
At hide and seek they played,
The party closed at sundown,
And everybody stayed.
Professor Wind played louder’
They flew along the ground’
And then the party ended
In jolly “hands around.”

~Martha


The daughter of a pastor, Martha has found “home” in many places around the world including Arkansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas, Texas, Bolivia and Saudi Arabia. She’s a committed wife of 37 years, devoted mother/grandmother, cook extraordinaire, and hospitality queen. You will find many guests regularly going through her front door, and she has a way of making all of them feel very much at “home”.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

When Compassion Hurts

Welcome to the Wooded Path. Each week, I write a little something about compassion. Today I want to talk to you about radical compassion.

Radical compassion requires a steely commitment to follow Jesus Christ. Jesus taught that following him requires denying yourself. In the case of radical compassion (or living by God's values for that matter), this is true. It requires denying the desire to be liked, loved, to have the approval of others, and to be willing to let go of comfort, reputation, and standing in the community. Whoa! What? Isn’t compassion a good thing? Doesn’t compassion make you more likable, lovable, and respectable? The truth is – not always. There are times when compassion is entirely unpopular. Why? Because radical compassion goes against the grain of human nature.

When I say “radical compassion” I’m talking about divine compassion – the compassion of Christ. His compassion knocked his culture on its head. He demonstrated compassion for sinners, women, outcasts, and those who weren’t Jewish. The religious leaders didn’t get it. They had always believed that God’s favor was reserved for those who were “righteous” and met the requirements of the law. They persecuted Jesus for putting people above the law and healing a crippled woman on the Sabbath. They called him “Satan” for freeing a man who was incapacitated by demons. They were filled with jealousy when he raised Lazarus from the dead. They asked, “Don’t you know who this woman is?” when he forgave an adulterous woman. Jesus revealed God’s heart to the world. The religious leaders hated him for it, persecuted him for it, and loaded his compassionate acts into the arsenal they would use to bring him down.

"I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion." It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy. Romans 9:12

Again - there are times when being compassionate can be very unpopular. We experienced this truth when a close friend of ours was arrested for crimes that severely damaged numerous people – young and old. His crime was very public and surrounding communities rose up against him. Friends and peers abandoned him. God drew us to this man and compelled us to walk beside him as he dealt with his wrongdoings, his sinful nature, the legal process, and the consequences he had earned. We asked some tough questions and engaged in long conversations with him. As we did, we immediately saw what God saw – the intense agony of his regret – a regret that almost consumed him. 

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9

Our hearts also ached for the victims and for our friend's family. There was so much pain all around. When we had the opportunity to be in the presence of any of them, we loved on them as best we could. What we learned in the process is that compassion does not take sides and it does not condone another person's actions. 

"Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently." Galations 6:1

Unknown to us, our affiliation with our friend became a point of public gossip on internet blogs and in the community we live in. There were a lot of hurting people and our compassion was very unpopular. We were persecuted for it, hated for it, and shunned for it (by some). It was even said that we were on "Satan’s team" and deserved the same punishment our friend received.

To practice radical compassion, my husband and I had to:

      1)      Take courage
2)      Deny ourselves
3)      Depend on God
4)      Abandon ourselves completely to Christ so he could
      give us his heart and demonstrate his compassion  
      through us. 

Radical (divine) compassion can bring hurt to the person practicing it, but there's an aching world out there that desperately needs it to be practiced. Our job as Christians is to make God known and to prepare the world for the return of Christ. It's important for us to remember the compassion he has shown us, to be obedient to Him, and to reflect his heart as accurately as we can. He deserves it. 


Warming the World Together . . .

Lisa

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Finding Freedom in Forgiveness


Mountain View - Stealing Your Breath with Views of the Heart of God

Are you stuck in a place of bitterness? Have you been deeply wounded? Are you angry at those who have hurt you? If you are, I want to encourage you today with a message of "forgiveness" and the incredible transformation it can bring to our lives.

In 1983, Gary Skinner did what God asked him to do.  He moved his young family and started Kampala Pentecostal Church (“KPC”) in the capital city of Uganda.  The church is housed in the building that once served as Idi Amin’s military headquarters.  Idi Amin was one of the most vicious dictators in world history. His military headquarters frequently held detainees for interrogation.  Interrogation often included torture and death.  When KPC established residency in the building, the staff literally had to wash blood off the walls – a vivid reminder of the building’s ugly past.  Today Kampala Pentecostal Church flourishes in ministry to thousands of members.  Within the walls of that building, voices are lifted in the highest praise and people are experiencing the great love of God.  The church building itself is a radical picture of the transformation that occurs through Jesus Christ. 

God is still in the business of transforming lives today.  He wants to transform yours.  He doesn’t want to transform you because He is driven by rules or a desire to control you.  He is driven by a passionate love for you.  He wants you to be whole and healthy.  When you drop destructive behaviors, you will find freedom and wholeness. 


The inability to forgive is destructive.  You can’t fulfill your potential and live abundantly when you’re chained in bitterness.  It eats away at you.  Freedom comes when you move beyond anger to forgive those who have hurt you.  

During my teenage years, deep emotional pain filled my heart.  Our family seemed to move from one crisis to another with very little stability in between. My parents divorced, a stepfather was sexually attracted to me, another was an alcoholic, and my mother tried to commit suicide.  Reading the Bible in my early twenties, I was convicted to find forgiveness for those who had caused pain in my life.  At first, I offered forgiveness with my mind, but it did not live in my heart.  It took 3 years of prayer for God to get me to the place where I could truly release my pain and bitterness to forgive from the heart.  When I did, my soul found peace with the people whose actions had wounded me. 


It’s no wonder God instructs us to forgive others.  The healing that comes through forgiveness is truly one of His most magnificent miracles. But let’s face it.  Forgiving others (and ourselves) is tough.  We can say we forgive someone with our mouths, but we can only find peace when forgiveness is rooted in our hearts. 

Jesus Himself reminds us in Matthew 21:22 that God will give us whatever we ask in His name; however, He will only give us those things that are in harmony with His will for us.  He will never give us anything that is outside of His will.  God’s will for us is found in the Bible, and His words are clear about forgiveness and mercy.

Forgiveness is a command – and it’s reciprocal.

“Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
                                Colossians 3:13

“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
                                                        Luke 6:36


Here are some things to remember:
1) Reflect on your past mistakes. God has forgiven you. As you strive to find forgiveness for others, remember what God has done for you. God has convicted me personally about this. He has gently asked me how I can desire for him to bring punishment on someone who has hurt me when I have escaped eternal punishment because of what Jesus did for me (taking punishment for my sins).

2) Forgiveness is a character trait of God. He wants us to be like him. Ask yourself if there is someone you need to offer forgiveness to today.  Write their name(s) down now.

3) Look over the list of names you wrote down.  Pray for each person on that list everyday (and each time you feel anger toward them).  Use the following prayer if you’d like, inserting each person’s name into the blanks.

Merciful Father,

You have forgiven me for so many things. I recognize this and thank you for it. But my heart is so weary and broken these days. The journey lately has been so very difficult and I find myself wondering when I will be able to breathe again - to live again - to love again. My heart is hard and I don't like it. I want that to change. In my anguish God, I kneel before you and ask you to set me free. Release the chains around my bitter and unforgiving heart. Help me to see _______________ through your eyes. I pray that _______________ will begin to grasp the immensity of your love and that ____________________ will be comforted and changed by that knowledge. I pray that you will fill ______________ with knowledge of your will and that ______________ will prosper and be strengthened. Today I declare that ___________________ no longer owes me a thing for I have found everything I need in you. And I recognize the truth that I have been forgiven much. Because I have been forgiven much, I choose to forgive ________________ much.


4) Depend completely on Christ's strength and power. We are human. Forgiveness is painful and difficult for us. Christ is able to help us because he has "been there, done that." His friends abandoned Him.  Others mocked Him, mistreated Him, humiliated Him, tortured Him, and crucified Him.  Although they offered no apology and showed no remorse, Jesus offered mercy.  Even before they asked for forgiveness (and some never would), He showed them grace.  Even as He hung on the cross in agony, Jesus forgave them from His heart.    (Luke 23:23-34) He will give you the power to wash the stains off the walls of your heart and move into a bright new future free from bitterness and anger.

Know that I'm cheering you on from my place here at The Warming House. I believe in you and know that you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.

With Great Confidence in the Character of God,
Lisa

 
Be sure to check out my giveaway. See tab at top.