My Fitness

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

thoughts on God as father


For D-Group last week we started reading Delighting in the Trinity by Michael Reeves. Even the introduction was great. In the first chapter there was a bit about Arius being a dummy. Do you remember Arius? He's the same man that jolly ol' St. Nicholas slapped (punched?) for being heretical at the Council of Nicaea. Hashtag Fun Fact.

But the real fun facts I thought during the reading was the following section about God as The Loving Father. God refers to himself as Father since forever. What was he the Father of though? Israel is the Lord's firstborn son. So then is God dependent on Israel? That seems like God needs Israel to be a Father. Unless he was Father before Israel. Maybe Isaac? So God is dependent on Isaac? Abraham? Noah? Adam? Did God create Adam because he wanted to be a dad? Does God need us?

We know that God does not need us. God must have another child that is not one of us. Those of us in the A.D. know that our time is even named after him. Jesus is the Son of God. Begotten, not made. He is part of the mystery of God. God is the Father and Jesus is the Son. Before time began there they were.

I wonder how Jews reconcile this idea. I will probably look into it. But I imagine if they take "Elohim" (plural) from Genesis 1:26 and "Father" from Deuteronomy 32:6 with the revelation that God chose them because he is awesome and not them, they would eventually realize their Messiah has come.

One other thought I had was how we use nature to help us understand God. Like fatherhood: we think that God is trying to explain how he feels about us and thinks, "oh they have fathers, I'll tell them I'm like a father to them." When really what happened is that God is the Father and thought, "I will create fatherhood in them to mirror what I am." He created us in his image. He didn't create himself in our image.

Realizing that God is first will help a lot of our attempts at understanding him. Realizing that we will always be tempted to put ourselves first will help us realize how selfish and depraved we are. Even as saints we still have sin that we must overcome with fear and trembling. #FunFact

Thursday, January 11, 2018

ambassadors movement

Have you ever considered how as Christians we are called to be ambassadors for Christ? Have you ever wondered what it means that this Earth is not our home? That we belong to a Godly Kingdom and we don't have a president? or a constitution? We have a King and we are supposed to represent him while we sojourn through this world. 

Recently this idea of being His ambassador has implanted itself inside me. Since I am a Christian, I am an ambassador. Once I started addressing myself that way I noticed a difference inside me. 

I am an ambassador of Christ. I know that that means I represent him. I've started thinking, "Is this action representative of Christ?" and, "Is this thought representative of Christ?" I've put myself under a microscope. I'm not ashamed of what I've found, although it's been quite shameful, because Christ's already forgiven me of all those thoughts and motives and actions that were not representative of him. I no longer represent me. I am a foreigner in a foreign land representing him. 
representing Christ in dance

So the first thing one must do in order to be God's representative is to find out who they are representing and how his representatives have succeeded and failed in the past. ie, read and study the Bible.

Second, for me specifically, I've found a bit of a discipline test that I've shared here before that builds up godly character. It starts with worship (which I accidentally just spelt "warship" and sometimes worship is like a battle, so that's interesting) and includes prayer, accountability, and service. (and more)


That last bit is my main focus actually today. How can I serve as an ambassador?


There's the normal moral aspects. And there's the whole, "whatever you do, do it for Christ." As well as the, "Whatever you do, do it well." For me that would mean like motherhood or wife-ing. You don't do it for your own glory, but rather that others would look at you and glorify the Father. 


I started to think, "What if there was a huge movement where Christians started thinking of their salvation as an initiation into ambassadorship?"


For me, this started a couple of years ago. This past year the dream has felt like a fire in my mind and soul. I had this idea that I'm not representing God enough. I need to go out of my way to make sure others know there's another option than these Earthly countries. We don't need to align our allegiance to flags and what countries they represent. We can choose a better way - a way whose only banner is Love. I want to pledge my allegiance to the flag of love and the Kingdom that it represents and the King who rules it.


Then it happened-
Ambassadors Movement - is a group of people dedicated to advancing the cause of Christ through artistic talents. It made sense to me since I am an ambassador for my King.
I first started AM in 2015 through dance with the hopes that others would eventually join me. (Maybe that day will be in 20 years; that’s fine. I will wait on the King’s timing.) The group remained nameless until November of 2017 (when I was listening to #RendCollective 's newly released Nailed to the Cross). As I was listening and worshipping, the name came to me and it stuck. 


How do I represent Him? How is he representable?

First, I think you need to get to know him. I once had a girl tell me she doesn't read the Bible because she's not a reader. But at the same time she thinks she has a closer, somehow "more", relationship with God. She's wrong. If reading about God and what he has done, kills your love for Him, then I postulate that it's not really him you're loving. If you don't desire to read more about him and what he's done, then I wonder how you can love someone and trust someone who you do not know. I'm not saying it's not possible just that it doesn't make sense to me. 

I developed a logo for us this past December using an A over an M and to my surprise it came out looking like an incomplete Star of David which is quite pleasant to me since I love Israel. And then another happy happenstance, I noticed that the image flipped looks like a person “en pointe” (on the tips of her toes) with a tutu (a dress) and her arms raised as if in worship.

And then(!) I thought, “She’s headless.” And the perfect head for this not-quite-star-of-David is the Arabic letter N that has been used to label Christians in the Middle East by ISIS for death. N as in the Nazarene, Jesus Christ (from whom Christians get their name). That N makes the perfect ballerina head for my logo. 
I especially love that its initials are “AM” - which often denotes morning. When studying Joshua recently, it was noted that Joshua would rise early to do what God commanded. He was eager and excited to do what God wanted. That’s how I want to be. Thus, AM’s verse motto became Psalm 59:16, “I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning.” My troupe visits the dead and dying in hopes to share the gospel message with them: Christ came to bridge the gap between man and God. (*spiritually dead and *physically dying)

I have 4 points to this vision that are incomplete:
1- more Christian adults of any talent to come along side of me
2- have street evangelism by using those talents to engage pedestrians 
3- visit a women's prison with a show
4- have after school classes at a local impoverished high school

I do not have a timeline nor do I have much else as far as a plan. There are so many missing pieces. But I'm excited to see what develops. If you want to join me, let me know. Maybe you "only" have your testimony and no "talent" - I can still use you. And more importantly, God wants to still use you. If you have something that you want to donate, you should know that I have no official 501c3 status and have no idea how (even after reading how) to set that up. This is very long term vision and I won't be surprised if the next step isn't for another decade. If you want to contribute something now, that's fine; I'll accept anything. I've already accepted things and have (obviously) donated plenty of my own items and money. 


Things we might need one day would include:
funds for a babysitter
a babysitter
sound mixing software/equipment or service 
electronic piano/keyboard and equipment
portable dance floor
ballet barres (diy options are inexpensive)
ballet outfits for the high schoolers -tights, leotards, shoes, sweatpants/jackets. skirts, bags, water bottles (it'd be cool if they had the logo on them)
weekly healthy dinners if we held classes after school at an impoverished high school
and snack to send home with the girls (and guys?)
devotional journals and pens
Bibles

Maybe it's all a dream. Maybe I'm dreaming too big. I'm trying to be faithful to my King whose throne is established on righteousness and justice. I'm trying to represent him by being righteous (through Christ) and doing justice (through AM). I love God and I love his creation. I've not been called to be successful, only faithful. Everything else is up to the Spirit to accomplish (thank God). 

I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. Psalm 59:16

Sunday, December 10, 2017

does god give up on people

Recently I was asked about Romans 1:24, 26, 28 where Paul writes, "God gave them up." The asker said that they see how, "God gives them over to their own idolatry and wickedness. The longer they are without Him, the worse their heart condition gets. Without the Holy Spirit this heart condition will lead to spiritual death." Their question was, "is this a complete abandonment? Is He forever done with them or is there still a chance for mercy?"

I was thrilled to answer this for them. I told my husband via text that searching the Scriptures is fun for me and that more than anything in life I feel the most alive when searching the Scriptures. I feel like I hear the voice of the Holy Spirit.

My response:
I agree with what you have found and the natural question that stems from that, “Can they ever be saved if God has abandoned them?”


The Bible Project guys hint at the idea that is shared by Albert Mohler that these verses are speaking to humanity as a whole when sin entered the world in Genesis 3. If this is Paul’s intention, then certainly yes, we can be saved post fall since all sin happened post-fall.


On a slight side-note and desire for clarity, our sins do not lead us to spiritual death. We are all already spiritually dead. Ephesians 2:5 says that we were all dead in our sins. Adam’s sin lead to spiritual death that we all now begin physical life as spiritually dead. Without the Holy Spirit we are still spiritually dead. The act of salvation includes the indwelling of the Spirit and once he is with you he will not leave you (Romans 8:35). If a person appears to be saved and then appears to be unregenerate, he was either never saved and only had the appearance of holiness or he will be brought again to repentance. Therefore I would revise, if I may be permitted by the reader, that the final conclusion of, “Without the Holy Spirit this heart condition will lead to spiritual death,” to “Without the Holy Spirit’s intervention this heart condition will lead to a continued and irrevocable spiritual death,” which is what I suspect was the intended meaning of the question.


I see a couple of concerns behind the question though. Without knowing the heart of the one asking, I say usually the reason for asking is either because they know someone who seems too far gone for saving grace or they themselves have some desire and want to know, “how far is too far? Will God completely abandon me or can I go have fun and come back?” And a final common reason is the concern that one is currently too far gone despite a desire to repent.


For the first instance, I refer to the many gospel passages where Jesus says, “WHOEVER believes” will be saved (Mark 16:16, John 3:15, 16, 18, John 6:47 and more). In Romans 6:23, we see that confession and belief are needed and that no amount of sin is too much to be covered. For by grace we have been saved through faith (Ephesians 2:8) even if by human accounts that sin is great. The sermon on the mount (Matthew 5) lists many sins that start in the heart and the intention of that sermon is to show that from great to little all sin separates us from God. Further into Romans, in chapter 3, Paul addresses people’s faithlessness by asking if that nullifies the faithfulness of God, “By no means!” he says in verse 4. There is still hope that these faithless people will be saved. God is not condemning them, as John 3:17 says, they are already condemned, but through Jesus whoever believes will not perish.


This includes even you if you think you’ve gone too far. There is no amount of sin that the blood of Jesus cannot wash clean. You are included in “whoever” and the fact that you desire to return to God indicates his Spirit is at work within you.


For the people being addressed in the original question, they were given over to their desires but for what purpose?  If such acts are done within the Body of Believers, 1 Corinthians 5:5, says that by the destruction of the flesh his spirit might be saved. This is encouraging, then, that when we see people willfully turning from God and God allows them to fall, it is for the hope of repentance. We should pray for them and attempt to draw them back to God as the Spirit directs.


For the second concern, if you or someone you know is desiring to walk the line and make a deathbed confession, or foolishly think that “once saved always saved” means you can now behave anyway you wish, maybe they want to “see what the world has to offer”, I’d refer them to John 7:38, that says those who believe “out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” and in no way can a desire to turn from God and follow sin willfully be considered “living water”. John 12:46 says he will not remain in darkness, and all sin is in darkness. First John 4:16, says that he will abide in love; God is love and in Him is no sin. Second Peter 2:20f speaks to people who have heard and known the word and turned from it. It says it would be better for him to never have known the gospel in the first place. Matthew 24:12-13 speaks to people whose love grows cold but the one who endures to the end will be saved. The desire to sin and forsake God reveals a reprobate mind, not a sanctified one.


It is important to note that this willfully leaving the gospel and embracing their sinful flesh is different from making mistakes or having a moment of weakness or stumbling that leads to contrition.


I want to emphasize that God never turns anyone away who desires a relationship with him. As said previously, WHOEVER desires to come to the Father will be received. There is no sin too dirty for God. From the beginning all sin was too unholy to allow us near him. His cure for us was sending Jesus who died for all sinners and all their sin. Every sin that you commit has been committed after the penalty had been paid. God wants a faithful heart, a contrite heart, a repentant heart, and a humble heart. Christ came to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15) and it is the tactic of the enemy to deceive God’s chosen into thinking otherwise. Those who are well have no need of a physician, Jesus said. (Matthew 9:12) If you are a sinner, Christ came for you.


And finally, check out these quotes from some of my favorites on sanctification that may be helpful.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

let the little children come gospel tracts

I don't know where to start. In a nutshell, this stuff is so cool. If you know me, you know I love evangelism despite not being very gifted. These are awesome tools to help even me present the gospel. Below are various Christian tracts that are included in the sampler pack that was sent to me to review. And I love it.

For by grace they will be saved by faith. Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. And these tracks help provide the presenter an easy memory tool to present the words of Christ as well as engage the listener in a way that will capture their attention long enough to hear the words of Christ. These are great for sharing the gospel with children. These are also great for teaching children to share the gospel with others. High schoolers can even benefit from these.

My favorite is the wordless bracelets. It's an oldie but I love them. (I love the wordless evangelism books et al and have written about them before HERE.) The silicone bracelets come 20 in a pack for $16 with discounts for more than 10 packs. What's nice about the silicone bracelets is that they do not require any assembly and each one comes with a gospel presentation. They are easy to hand out as gifts at Christmas or Halloween or as party favors or "just because".

The other bracelet is beaded. I've seen varying descriptions for the beads, and this is just as good as any. The point is to present the gospel and this does that. You could have a Sunday School teacher read the presentation as the students assemble the bracelets. The downside is that I couldn't get the knots to stay knotted until I used a dot of school glue. Then it was perfect. I am still wearing my bracelets. Both of them. I always wanted a wordless bracelet. I hope that it will spark some discussion.

My next favorite tract is called Gospel Buttons FlipAbout.
The paper is folded in such a way that as the gospel is being presented the speaker folds the pages in a mesmerizing manner. I'm going to go try it on my kids...um, ok, maybe practice first. It was still cool.

The next style of tract has a plastic piece in it that allows an optical illusion to take place on each page; that's pretty cool.

The wordless book is pretty nice. It fits in a wallet or pocket or could be used as a bookmark at school to talk with a fellow student.

The last style of tract is pop-up as pictured below.

You can find all these fun items at www.LetTheLittleChildrenCome.com

The sampler pack is HERE.

From the company:
Let The Little Children Come aims to provide effective gospel tracts and evangelism tools and resources for children.
It is the hope that these tools and resources will help you in conveying the powerful gospel message to children.
the gospel tracts are all specially designed to capture and hold the attention of children, while not distracting them from the core message of salvation through Jesus Christ.











Wednesday, November 1, 2017

thankful leaves

I didn't know what this would look like before today otherwise I would have written about it before now. I don't have much to say about it. I drew trees with white crayon (did you know white crayons could be useful?). I printed and cut out leaves. I chose Oak Leaves because we are supposed to be Oaks of Righteousness (Isaiah 61:3). I printed my kids heads and drew bodies of them next to the trees. I used sandwich bags to hold all the leaves and made it look like the kids were playing in a pile of leaves. Each day leading to Thanksgiving we will read a Bible verse and think of something we are grateful for. Today we read Colossians 3:17 and we were grateful for iPads, snails, hugs, and kisses. I'm curious how this will turn out. tbd....

I let the kids help me cut the leaves. They did a terrible job and took forever but we had fun anyway. 

Before our November 1 leaves...


jesse tree 2017

( I feel like this is an appropriate day to start writing this entry. It's October as I write this and we are finally having some snow/hail. I'm not sure what to call it. Hailflakes maybe?)

We've never done a Jesse Tree. Do you know who Jesse is?

Ruth married Boaz and they had a son named Obed. Obed's son is Jesse. Jesse is Ruth's grandson.

Why is he important?

Meanwhile, Eli was a priest with two worthless men for sons. He saw a gal named Hannah praying for a son. She had Samuel and gave him to Eli to raise as a priest in service to God. Samuel was godly.

Samuel went to Jesse's house as God told him to do. Jesse had eight sons. Samuel thought one of the older seven might be the next king. But God does not look at the outward appearance as even a mighty prophet of God might do and as Samuel did, God looks at the heart. And God had chosen a man after his own heart, Jesse's 8th son, David. Read the story in 1 Samuel 16:7.

Jesse and David are used to prophesy the coming Messiah:
There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, Isaiah 11:1
Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, Jeremiah 23:5
And we see their names in Jesus's lineage:

Since Jesse is supposed to have a branch come out of him, I'm guessing that someone decided a tree was appropriate. Jesse's branch leads to Jesus and advent leads to Christmas, and thus someone came up with the advent calendar known as a Jesse Tree. (I'm guessing here. I've never done a history of the Jesse Tree.)

Last year after Christmas I found some clearance items and got everything for my Jesse Tree for like less than $5. My raw materials are a light-up "tree", some advent ornaments, and Jesus storybook Bible printables. I downloaded my printables a long time ago from THIS site.

If I hadn't found this tree, I might have used a piece of green construction paper cut in a triangle and taped to the wall. How "pinterest" a thing doesn't matter. I like this tree that I found because it reminds me of Charlie Brown. Cheapest is best in my mind. 


Here is at least the reading plan via FaithGateway:

My ornaments from Target are 3" circles. Whatever you get can be altered to work. Let me see what you come up with! You could very easily print or write the corresponding date on the back of each picture. Or glue it to card stock, or old Christmas cards, or laminate them. Here's one I did previously...it was fun!

I printed my Jesus Storybook Bible pictures at FedEx because I only have a black and white printer. It cost $3.25 to print 4 colored pages. I glued the advent numbers to the back of each corresponding advent picture and then attached each to the true with the included mini clothespins. 

Starting December 1, we will read the corresponding story out of Jesus Storybook Bible and put the ornament on the tree. Christmas Eve, our tree should look something like this:
Final Tree



Tuesday, October 31, 2017

why "noah"

I started reading a Bible plan that I believe is the entire Bible in a year in chronological order. I think timeline is important and much of the Bible is dependent on the reader knowing what's going on at the time of the writing and what the culture of that day is and other time-relevant issues. I started reading The Amplified Bible because I thought it would be nice to hear the same stories in a different tone. And it's been amazing.

This morning I read Genesis 4, 5, 6, and 7. That's about Seth to Noah. In 5:29 it says, "He [Lamech] named him Noah, saying, This one shall bring us relief and comfort from our work and the (grievous) toil of our hands due to the ground being cursed by the Lord." It sounds like Lamech thinks the Noah is the promised relief from Genesis 3, "He will bruise and tread your head underfoot..." and note the smilier language about the earth: "the ground is under a curse because of you; in sorrow and toil shall you eat of it all the days of your life." When I read Lamech's words I was thinking perhaps he thinks Noah is the promised savior. Why would he think that? How would he have known what was said to Adam so many years ago?

Naturally I decided to write up a timeline. Maybe there's one already drawn somewhere but I decided that I should do one myself. What I discovered was that Adam died over 50 years after Lamech was born. That means Lamech heard the story of God cursing the ground first-hand from Adam. It wasn't passed down generation-to-generation-to-generation-wait-for-it-to-generation-etc. In fact Adam's son Seth died 5 years before Noah was born. It's 10 generations from Adam to Noah but Noah's father knew the original Man.

The name Noah means "comfort" or "rest". And this whole discussion reminds me of another post I wrote once about the Gospel in the Old Testament. So Lamech knew the whole Gospel and looked to the future for that rest. He thought the ultimate rest from the curse he heard about from Adam would be finished with Noah. In one regard Noah was a savior. Noah was a type (as in a picture) of Christ.

What else did I discover from the timeline (especially the death line)? Noah's grandfather, Methuselah, died the same year as the flood and maybe in it. Noah's father, Lamech, died right before the flood and certainly after the ark had been built.

Genealogies are interesting.

It doesn't have to be pretty to share info.