Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Want a Great Adventure?





Life with God is a "sick" adventure (as my son would say). What I mean is that life lived in relationship with God - and in obedience to God - offers benefits this world can't even come close to. This past year God has taken my husband and I on an adventure that has been one of the highlights of my life. He opened the door for us to attend the Kanakuk Institute. The Institute is a strategic program for recent college graduates focused on equipping men and women with Biblical skills for a lifetime of ministry. It provides internal and external context for Christian faith through instruction in church history, archaeology, world religions, current issues, apologetics, situational ethics, Messianic prophecy, character, conflict resolution, overview of the Bible, and precepts inductive Bible study. KI partners with Dallas Theological Seminary, John Brown University, and Kanakuk Ministries to bring in the highest quality teaching professors and speakers from around the world.




We're way seasoned (older) than the students who traditionally attend the Institute. When we approached the man who started this school to see if he would allow us to come, he graciously said, "Yes. That would be awesome!" 


This year has been the sweetest kiss from God. What a refreshing, healthy change from some of the incredible hardships we experienced the three years prior. It feels very much like God's reward as He planted us right in the middle of some of the most promising young people I have ever met. We became family as we loved one another, prayed and worshipped together before class, played together, laughed together, hurt together, held each other accountable, built each other up, pushed each other forward, and encouraged one another daily.


During the year God gave us new insight and understanding, and stretched us way beyond our comfort zones as we developed and presented an overview of the entire Bible, presented and defended belief statements on 10 doctrines of the Bible before a panel of ministry leaders and pastors, gave two presentations to our peers and ministry leaders, and completed many, many assignments. The days were filled with hours in class learning from the highest quality teachers from around the world then going home to study and complete homework until it was time to go to bed. But through it all, God was in it - walking with us, giving us strength, courage, and perseverance. This year, God has equipped us further for ministry and for life - and that is a very good feeling. 


Some of you might ask why we would attend a school like this at this point in life. Here's my simple answer. God is BIG. We can never, ever know everything there is to know about Him. Life with Him is a continuous journey of intriguing discovery that has captivated my heart and my mind. 


In the book of Jeremiah, God says to us:


"Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness on earth." Jeremiah 9:23-24


And God wants us to know Him. He goes to great lengths to show Himself to us.


1) God reveals Himself to us through the life of His Son, Jesus Christ. When we study Christ, we see God. 


"The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word." Hebrews 1:3


"Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work." John 14:9-10


2) God displays His creativity, love, beauty, greatness, and power all around us in creation (nature).


"For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." Romans 1:20


"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world." Psalm 19:1-4  


3) God shows His sweet and wonderful self to us through His Word which I love very much and am so deeply grateful for. How gracious of Him to go to the effort of communicating those words to men making sure they wrote everything down just as He wanted them to for our benefit.


"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness . . ." 
2 Timothy 3:16


"For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope." Romans 15:4


"They are not just idle words for you-they are your life." Deuteronomy 32:47

The knowledge we received this year is not the end in and of itself.

From A. W. Tozer (The Pursuit of God-Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Christian Publications, Inc., 1948):

"Sound Bible exposition is an imperative must in the Church of the Living God. Without it no church can be a New Testament church in any strict meaning of that term. But exposition may be carried on in such a way as to leave the hearers devoid of any true spiritual nourishment whatever. For it is not mere words that nourish the soul, but God Himself, and unless and until hearers find God in personal experience they are not the better for having heard the truth. 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."


This year God has nourished and watered my soul. He has given me knowledge of Himself that satisfies the way nothing else can. He has delighted me with His Presence and I have tasted the sweetness of God Himself in the very core of my heart. In this, there is freedom, life, and tremendous joy.


For me, the journey of discovery continues . . . 


So back to my original question. Want a great adventure? If so, would love for you to join me in the adventure of pursuing knowledge and understanding of our immense and wonderful God - and living for Him - if you aren't already. It's truly a "ride" like no other.

With great confidence in the beautiful character of God,

Lisa~

Monday, April 23, 2012

Texas Hospitality




Texas is a very big state. Texas hospitality is even bigger. Every time I go to Texas, I fall in love with it even more. It isn't about the geography and climate. It gets suffocatingly hot there. It's really all about the people. Texans have a way of making you feel right at home - like you're part of their family. About a month ago, we traveled to Texas and stayed at the Hunters Creek Bed & Breakfast. The decor was beautiful, cozy, and comfortable. Rustic elegance at its finest - my favorite! The owners, Doug and Brenda, welcomed us with typical Texas hospitality - friendly, gracious, kind, and down-to-earth. We got to boot-scoot our way out to the barn and corral to see the horses, and enjoyed some warm and genuine conversation. Here are some pictures of this charming B&B.


Just inside the door - a comfy chair to curl up in . . .



Love the little details - like the leather tie holding back these lace curtains on the door


Sumptuous rustic grapevine bed




It's the little details in the pockets of a room that make it special




A cozy corner desk


Another view of this luscious room


Ambience is all about the lighting. This sanctuary was filled with surprising and beautiful points of light.


Another place of comfort . . . seriously? I'm ready to move in permanently!


On to the bathroom. Love the lantern!! It was on a dimmer so it cast a soft glow. Cute towel rack too!


Creative antique "towel rack" on the other side of the room


Cute corner shelving in the shower area


More sweet lighting!


Adorable window dressing in shower area


Our room opened onto a private covered back patio surrounded by woods.


A welcoming outdoor setting (just outside our private entrance) for early morning Bible study


Table for two

I was enraptured with the Hunters Creek Bed & Breakfast - and its owners. It's an inviting and peaceful respite for the weary soul.

Lisa~


Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Drifter

"Tex"

Every Thursday my husband, Mike, takes our son to Bible study at the local McDonald’s. It’s a great weekly ritual of Micky D’s breakfast with friends and a dedicated teacher who helps them unravel the meaning of scripture and apply it to their lives. This is something I love about our community. Throughout the week, you'll see groups of people gathering for Bible studies at many local restaurants.

Leaving McDonald’s last week, Mike noticed a homeless man sitting on the curb at the corner of the building.  This man was having his own private and personal Bible study. Mike thought about stopping to talk to him, but he wasn’t sure what to say. That thought was twisting in his conscience as he pulled out of the parking lot. At that moment, his phone rang. He answered to hear our 12-year-old son say, “Dad, did you see that homeless guy reading his Bible? You need to go give him some money.” Josh had noticed him too as he had gotten in the car with his Bible study leader to head to school. Well it hardly took a second for my husband to turn his car around. He parked his car, squatted down on the curb next to “Tex Squires”, and began a conversation that lasted 30 minutes. That’s a good long time for a man who wasn’t sure what he was going to say! Actually, Tex did most of the talking. As Mike listened, he observed that Tex was sober, smart, and articulate. Not your stereotypical homeless man.

During their exchange, people streamed in and out of the restaurant. Mike sure got some weird looks and second-glances sitting there on the ground with this weathered drifter.

So why is he a drifter? Well – he has a back-story just like every other person on this planet. In his own words, he articulated that he has a “messed up family.” Growing up, his daddy always told him he was worthless. The precise words Tex heard repeatedly throughout his childhood were: “You are a worthless bastard.” Can you imagine hearing that day-in and day-out? In addition to the verbal garbage about being worthless, Tex’s Dad constantly threatened to kill him. His most recent exchange with his dad included the words, “I’ve got a bullet waiting for you.”

Tex’s mom wasn’t much better. When she actually wore clothes at home, she dressed provocatively – wearing Daisy Dukes when his friends came over. She was an embarrassment to Tex and eventually had an extra-marital affair.

Tex loves Jesus and believes strongly in obedience to God “like the Bible says”. But he’s seen too many Christians act one way on Sunday morning, then turn into different people outside of church. So Tex doesn’t trust anyone – only his dogs. He declared to my husband that he has willingly and intentionally checked out of society. Hearing his back-story, I can’t say that I blame him.

God has established a tender spot in my heart for those our society views as “outcasts” and “undesirables”. Truth is, everyone has a back-story. Everyone has value. And everyone needs someone who believes in them – beginning with our own children then working its way outward.

There are lots of people like Tex on the byways of this world. Problem is, how often do we "see" them? How often do we sit down on the curb or start a conversation with them? You know what I love? I love the fact that our son actually noticed this guy. An overwhelming majority of society would just walk on by without even seeing him there. If they did notice him, many would judge him or turn their heads the other way without a second thought. But Josh saw him and called his dad. That’s a whole lot like Jesus who noticed the beggars, the lepers, the blind, and so on. When they crossed His path, He loved on them (and listened to them) because that’s what His Dad wanted him to do. Christ followers – there are people who cross our path each day that we never "see". They all have back-stories and struggles. They all have value. What would it take for us to open our eyes and see those people through God’s eyes. He made them in His image after all - even the "outcasts".


And God calls us to love them.  


"In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another . . . if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us." 1 John 4:10-12

Oh yeah. Tex says he’s going to write an e-book about his life and call it “Worthless Bastard.” If you ever see that title out there you’ll know where it came from.

And if you're one of those people whose back-story is a little like Tex's, hear the truth from me now. God loves you deeply. You are extremely valuable to Him - and to me.

Thanks for stopping by . . .


Lisa~

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Call Me Maybe

Could you use a good laugh today? Watch this video. If you're anything like me, you'll laugh until you feel tears creeping out the corners of your eyes. This is one of the cheesiest, funniest you-tube videos I have seen in a long time - and it was put together by my son and his buddies when they went camping over spring break. Little did we know what they were up to! This was his creative way of asking a girl to his college formal. One of the other guys adapted the ending to ask another girl to his formal. So fun!! Yes - I am shamelessly promoting my son's video - but I'm doing it because I know it will bring a little bit of joy into your day. Enjoy! Oh yeah . . . be sure to mute the sound on my playlist at the bottom of this post so you can hear the video.


 


Just sitting here smiling . . .
Lisa~

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Alive!

(Be sure to turn the sound off on my playlist at the bottom of this blog before you watch this video.)



I ADORE MY JESUS!!!!!!! I can't imagine where my life would be without him. To me, He is:


Savior 

                                         Beautiful

                    Rescuer 

                                                                     "Glue"

Healer

                                   Comforter

                Defender

                                             Protector

                                                   Loyal Friend

Lord of My Life

              King Above All Kings

                                                                          Great Love
All the Strength I Need
                                              

                                                         Faithful

            Power to Endure


                                            Unending Hope

Eternal Joy


            Purpose for living

Sweetness

                   Honesty

                                                                                   Life

                                     Mercy-giver

                                                                         Grace

           Compassion

                                   Forgiveness

Perfect Righteousness

                                                                   Teacher

              Leader

                                                          All Good All the Time

Lover of the Outcast
                                    
                              EVERYTHING!

Who is Jesus to you? Leave a one-word (or few-word) description in comment section below.

Through Jesus, God kept the promise He made in the Garden of Eden when sin and its consequences entered the world. (Genesis 3:15)

He made good on His covenant with Abraham. (Jesus is a descendant of Abraham.)

"I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." Genesis 12:2-3

". . . for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you." Genesis 17:5-7

He fulfilled the prophecies He spoke through Old Testament prophets many years before Christ was born. (Isaiah 53 and more)

"But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed." Isaiah 53:5

God had a plan to rescue and save mankind. He accomplished it through His Son, Jesus and He isn't finished yet. The time is coming when He will keep His promise to come back and take us to be with Him.

"They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other." Matthew 24:30-31

Praise God for His goodness and mercy to all of us! 

Happy Easter friends!

Lisa~





Sunday, April 1, 2012

Did Jesus Really Rise From the Dead?

The Garden Tomb - Israel by Lisa@The Warming House
Did Jesus really rise from the dead? Great question. It’s a hotly debated topic. His resurrection is illogical and difficult to comprehend – or is it?

As you consider the resurrection of Christ, here are some things to think about:

  • The gospel writers in the Bible all record Jesus death by crucifixion. 
  • The Talmud (a record of rabbinic discussions on Jewish Law, ethics, philosophy, customs, and history) records a historical account of the death of Jesus by Roman crucifixion. As you contemplate that, keep in mind that the Jewish religious leaders were enemies of Jesus yet their historical writings confirm his death just as it is told in the Bible.
  • Josephus, a famous secular historian who lived Bible times, confirms that Jesus died at the hand of the Romans by means of crucifixion.
  • Thallus, as well as a noted Roman historian named Tacitus, both confirm his crucifixion. 
  • Current day scholars such as John Crossan and Bart Ehrman, confirm his death by crucifixion on orders of the Roman prefect in Judea – Pontius Pilate. They even go so far as to say that this is “a certain fact.”


Three days after his death and burial in a tomb, Jesus’ female followers went to his tomb and discovered it was empty. They were afraid someone had taken his body. An angel informed them that he had risen.

The Garden Tomb (Burial Chamber)
By Lisa@The Warming House
Here’s what we know about his resurrection:

1) The location of the tomb site was known and it was empty.

2) Jesus appeared to hundreds of witnesses after his resurrection providing proof of his resurrection.

3) There was a radical transformation in his disciples. To realize the significance of this transformation, you need to understand that the environment in Jerusalem was hostile. The Jewish leaders hated Jesus and had demanded his crucifixion so who’s to say they wouldn’t do the same to Jesus’ followers? Only the women and one disciple (John) stayed near the cross as Jesus suffered and breathed his last breath. Everyone else had scurried into hiding. When these terrified disciples learned that Jesus had come back to life, they boldly reentered public life – and not just in a quiet, submissive way. They publicly proclaimed Christ’s resurrection, claimed him to be the Messiah, and called people to acknowledge him as Lord. As they did this, they were well aware that they were putting their lives at risk.

4) After his resurrection, many Jews abandoned their deeply embedded Jewish faith and customs to follow Christ and his teachings.

5) The Christian church was begun in Jerusalem. This was obviously the worst place to start. Opponents were still in Jerusalem and still in positions of power.

There are some interesting theories about his resurrection. Here are a few:

1)   The disciples stole his body. Really? The Jewish leaders remembered how Jesus said he would arise again in three days. They were totally freaked out about the possibility that his disciples would steal his body then tell everyone he had risen from the dead. They wanted to prevent some sort of “legendary story” to begin circulating about Jesus so they went to Pilate and urged him to make the tomb secure. Pilate posted a guard and permitted them to seal the stone and make the tomb as secure as they possibly could. The Roman soldiers exercised extra vigilance outside his tomb. They would never have let anyone get past them to steal the body. It’s also important to remember that all of the disciples endured severe persecution, and all but one was murdered because of his Christian faith. It is a well-known fact that no one will ever die for something they know is a lie. Would you? 

2)   Disciples hallucinated the resurrection. Again – really?! The Roman soldiers could have simply gone into the tomb and produced the body.

3)   The Swoon Theory claims that Christ didn’t really die on the cross. He just lost consciousness. The cool, moist air of the tomb revived him. First of allno one survives a crucifixion. The details of a crucifixion are brutal. Second, after suffering the extreme torture of a flogging and crucifixion, how many of you would be able to walk around town without medical attention as though you had endured nothing? Not one of us could do that I’m sure. Yet Jesus did just that. In addition, the Romans went to his cross and pierced him in the side with a spear to make certain he was dead. Blood and water flowed out affirming that he was.

4)   The women were emotionally distraught, made a mistake, and went to the wrong tomb.  Seriously?! Would you forget where you buried someone you loved? I don’t think so!

After hearing about his resurrection from the women, the male disciples went to the tomb. They would have had to go to the wrong tomb too – in their emotional distress. The fact is, this tomb belonged to a well-known religious leader. When the news got out, people would have specifically gone to that tomb to check out the validity of the story.

5)   Jesus body was thrown into a shallow grave and dogs ate his body. Those who loved him deeply would not allow him to be thrown into a shallow grave. Again – there was too much at stake for anyone to just throw his body aside casually. See answer to #1. The religious leaders wanted his body and burial site guarded closely. The tomb belonged to Joseph of Arimathea – a religious leader on the Jewish ruling council.  Allowing Jesus’ body to be buried in his personal tomb would have invited persecution. If the stories of his burial there weren’t true, he would certainly have denied the truth of those claims. But he didn’t.

6)   Substitution theory offered by Islam. Their claim is that it wasn’t really Jesus who died on the cross. Someone else’s body was substituted for his. Good grief! His own Mama and others who knew him well had watched his trial before Pilate and his flogging. They had followed him as he carried his cross to the execution site. They were near the foot of the cross grieving desperately for him. After his death, they held him, touched him, and dressed his body for burial.  Scripture shows that his disciples were clearly befuddled by what had happened. Their mourning was sincere. They certainly did not expect him to rise from the dead. Besides – who would have raised their hand to volunteer to serve as his substitute? Really?!

Exiting the Tomb by Lisa@The WarmingHouse
Through the resurrection, Jesus fulfilled his own prophecies about himself and proved he is who he says he is – the perfect Son of God who came to pay the ransom to free us from the control of sin and its consequences.


His resurrection was God's "yes" approving and accepting Christ's sacrifice for the sins of mankind. 

His resurrection marked the successful completion of his mission on earth and validated all his claims.

Since Jesus is the divine Son of God, what he taught was true.

Jesus’ resurrection proves the truth of Christianity!

By Lisa@The Warming House





With complete confidence in the reality of His resurrection,


Lisa~