My Fitness

Friday, August 28, 2015

seven feasts

I just bought a bunch of Zola Levitt booklets so be prepared for several posts from The Nerd Side!

For those of you unfamiliar with the Old Testament, like me, in Leviticus 23 God outlines the Hebrew calendar and includes seven feasts that should be observed. ZL explains in his booklet titled The Seven Feasts of Israel these feasts and further explains how Christ was the fulfillment of each of these feasts. It's a fascinating and very short read - the first section is only 20 pages long and the second section is just another 10.

I'm not sure how I could possibly make this any shorter than ZL already has, but I'm just so excited about it all that I'm still going to try! Any Christian will find a nice encouragement in this (the book, not necessarily this post) brief read. In fact much of the New Testament even is lost on its readers due to its strange language which would have been very clear to those first century believers who primarily came from a Jewish heritage. Zola Levitt, the author, comes from just such a Jewish heritage, as his name might suggest!

The seven feasts are as follows: Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, Harvest, Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles.

I encourage you to go purchase this $3 booklet for yourself so you can get the real deal and not just my summation. I get no commission. Here's my summation:

The festival year begins with the Passover feast. Remember in Exodus 12 Moses was trying to free the slaves out of Egypt. Incidentally, there was a full moon. God always plans his feasts around the lunar cycle. I wonder if this is where so many superstitions about the full moon being scary come from - because all the oldest sons in Egypt died that night while the Israelites painted their doors with literal blood from a lamb and had this plague Pass Over them.

In the New Testament, Christ is hailed as the lamb that was slain. Jesus' blood delivered us from the slavery of sin. Jesus celebrated the Passover feast right before he was slaughtered. He said, "This is my body" when he took the bread of the Passover meal, the middle piece to symbolize the Son, which the Jews would realize he was equating himself to the lamb from their historic exodus from Egypt. He said, "this is my blood" when sharing the Passover wine. As Christians when we follow his command to "do this in remembrance of me" during Communion we are meant to more than remember that Christ died to save us from our sins but to remember the original Passover and see that God has always had a plan for salvation. When we as Messianic Jews or Hebraic Christians celebrate the Passover meal, we were commanded in the Old Testament to explain when asked, "This is the sacrifice of the Lord's Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses." In the New Testament WE are the temple of God and WE are those houses. So Jesus renews this command with the Spiritual lesson that we tell the story of the Lamb being slain and we remember that the Lamb is Jesus.

Passover is the feast of Salvation.

Unleavened Bread
On the very following night after Passover, the feast of Unleavened Bread is celebrated. It lasts for seven days. There's a certain numerology within Judaism and the number 7 is called the number of completion. Leaven is symbolic of sin, and thus unleavened bread is a sinless life. Just as the Israelites were called to eat unleavened bread for a complete week, so Christians are called to live a complete, sinless life and not eat any evil.

When Paul wrote 1 Corinthians 5:7-8 he address the knowledgeable Jewish congregation, that is they knew all about the ancient festivals, and outright called Christ "Our Passover Lamb"and to celebrate the festival with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

The fulfillment of each festival by Christ was not lost on Paul.

It is interesting to note that Jesus was born in Bethlehem which literally translates to "House of Bread" and Jesus was the Bread of Life (John 6:35).

First Fruits
This third feast is held on the Sunday following the previous. In today's weird culture we have come to call this holiday Easter after a pagan deity. I've never enjoyed Easter because rabbits and eggs seemed so weird. Reading ZL's booklet I wish as Christians we'd call this holiday First Fruits. It carries such a bigger meaning.

Christ IS the first fruit from the grave. He was resurrected. He lives and offers us eternal life as well. And that is why Christ is the first because you and I can be the second and third and fourth. Old Israelites were to celebrate the first fruits of their smaller harvest by offering a sheaf of grain and sacrifice of a lamb, male without blemish. And so the Christian has already had the lamb slain and the first fruit sheaf of salvation offered.

Exactly 50 days after first fruits mini harvest is the summer's big Feast of Harvest. Coincidentally (what's that saying about coincidences? That it takes a lot of planning to have a coincidence? Something like that.) in the New Testament 50 days after the Resurrection of Christ is the day of Pentecost.

In Leviticus, God instructs the Israelites to offer two loaves here. It seems God is foretelling that his Church will be comprised of both Jews and Gentiles, which I am eternally grateful in words I can't describe.

This summer harvest is a much greater harvest than that of First Fruits, exactly 3000 souls.

Christ was crucified on Passover.
He was buried on Unleavened Bread.
He was raised on First Fruits.
He sent the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.

And this is where we remain in history. We remain with the order to harvest the crops. The harvest is plentiful but the laborers few as Christ said in Matthew 9:37. We are to go and make disciples in every nation, baptizing them, and teaching them as Christ commanded in Matthew 28:19. We have this baptism on the Spirit just as the original disciples did and we are thus empowered to continue to harvest what belongs to God.

The feast of Trumpets is held on the first day of the seventh month. Having six months filled, the beginning of the seventh ushers in this feast. Perhaps that is why the book of John records the first miracle of Jesus as the first sign: he filled six water jars and turned it into good wine that people would get drunk on. ZL doesn't mention this passage, it just popped into my head.

The trumpet was the signal for the Israelite field workers to come into the Temple. And Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15: 52 that the trump shall sound and we will be changed. This is known as the Rapture of the Church. He writes in the last verse of this chapter for us to continue to labor knowing that we do not labor in vain. Christ is coming again. In a letter to the Thessalonians, he writes for us to be encouraged because Christ will descend with a sound of the trumpet.

In Exodus ZL explains there's a parallel for the Christian walk. God's people saw the Promised Land and that marked the end of their journey of death through the desert. Similarly The Rapture represents the end of our earthly journey of wilderness. Passover is salvation. The march through the Red Sea is baptism. Wandering in the desert is our life on earth. And Jericho, remember was the first city in the Promised Land that the Israelites conquered under Joshua's leadership; remember still that they marched around for six day and on the seventh day the marched around it seven times and then blew a great trumpet; and so Jericho is the rapture. See even our leaders have the same name. Joshua is the Hebrew name Yeshua just as the Greek transliteration (there are no Js in Greek, but English does weird things and thus we have Joshua and Jesus although they are the same name) Jesus is actually the Hebrew name Yeshua, meaning God is Salvation.

Eight days after Trumpets (that is on the ninth day) is the Day of Atonement. This is considered the highest of Holy Days and was spent reflecting on all the sins of the previous year for each individual. God took this day so seriously that he would kill anyone who did not observe this feast correctly.

This feast is not correlated to any day for Christian. This is wonderful because our atonement has already been bought. We will not experience Christ fulfilling this feast. This feast is the Second Coming of the Lord which occurs after the Rapture.

The prophet Zechariah records how mournful Israel will be when they reflect on their sin of rejecting their own Messiah:
And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep butterfly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.
On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness.
And if one asks him, "What are these wounds on your back?" he will say, "The wounds I received in the house of my friends."
The seventh feast is six days later on the fifteenth and lasts seven days, this is on the seventh full moon of the year. In the wanderings of Israel through the desert for forty years, God protected them and even made their clothing last supernaturally and provided manna from heaven supernaturally. And so all Israel build little tents and shelters in their front yards and spend the week worshipping God for his protection and provision.

modern feast of Tabernacles
ZL says the feast of Tabernacles represents the Lord's shelter in the life to come, His great Tabernacle to exist in Jerusalem during the Kingdom Age. And so ends the Jewish festivals, with a great week of worshipping the Almighty.

ZL Conclusions:
The Seven Feast of Israel forecasts the entire career of the Messiah, the Jews, the Church, and even the other nations. He laid out the feasts in the calendar year in a manner that reflects in proportion the history of the Church.

I've always wondered why the festivals were so strangely clumped. If I were to set up a holiday schedule it would look pretty even and symmetric throughout the year, but God clumped several together and made them last different amounts of time. And he did so in a fashion that reflects his Plan that he had in mind since the beginning of time. This is how we can know and trust the Bible: it has told the future. If the Jews were willing to see at the time of Christ that he was the Christ, they would have recognized the pattern. Jesus said he fulfilled everything that was written not just in the Prophets but also the Law and the Psalms must be fulfilled (Luke 24:44). Let's see a single other religion accurately predict the future. Often people see Christianity as separate from Judaism, but it is my opinion that this is faulty since the New Testament records that we are grafted onto the Vine. We don't replace the Vine. For a long time in that first century Christians just belonged to "The Way" which was a sect of Judaism. And when we see our Salvation outlined without the feasts of the Jews it is hard to think we are not the same. If you find this offensive, my apologies. I don't mean it to be.

ZL goes on to point out that if we follow the feasts of Israel, then we must conclude a pre-tribulation rapture. And also his six working feasts and one of rest which has been a theme since the Creation account, and the fourth Commandment to honor the Sabbath day and keep it Holy. Now we can see why this is so important. We reflect on the amazing power of the Almighty in all his Creation and now we can see his outline of festivals and the foreshadowing of the Christ. If we honor the Sabbath by simply not doing work, we miss so much. I'm not legalistic and do not think there is one magical way to honor the Sabbath; I'm simply stating that you can do more than simply not doing anything.

Six thousand years, just like Jesus' six filled water jars, have passed since the history of man has started. Some have speculated that this means we should expect the next feast to be fulfilled this coming year. That would be great and exciting. Knowing or not knowing makes no difference though. You're either ready or you're not. If you're not ready and you die tomorrow, your fate is sealed. If you're ready and that day comes and goes, then you're still ready and you will still continue to live a life worthy of the calling.

Listen to these sermons by Jimmy Evans on the end times for his thoughts. But remember that it doesn't matter when the Rapture will be because you should live as if it will be today. Continue to make plans and live your life but be ready. How sad you will be if you die without Christ or if you are left behind during the tribulation.

ps- the second part of the book will also blow your mind and I'll write about that at a later date.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

letter from the editor

Becca passing the torch to me.
IOur meeting was very much like this.
I'm now a board member of DCHSA and in charge of the newsletter. I am taking over for Becca who, as far as I can tell, has been doing more than excellently on the newsletter. While I've never written a newsletter before, I am confident that I will be able to relay the group's events and advertisements in a timely fashion.

Why me? I'm not really sure why. It's all a bit of a blur. I was emailing Jackie and Charylcie and I believe they conspired to get me to come to an info meeting. I was only looking for fellow homeschoolers but by the time I got home from that meeting I realized I had signed up to be a board member. I told my husband, "Felipe, you know that info meeting I went to today? I think I may have signed up to be on the board." And he laughed. That's the funny version. In all seriousness I thought I was the only homeschooler in all of Denton county that was not "pagan" so when I found a Christian group I was relieved to find the ground work done and that I wasn't going to have to do everything. I gladly signed up for anywhere there was a need. It just so happens that doing a newsletter requires skills that come very easily to me that may be frustrating to others. So that's why me.

If you want to get to know me, find me on Facebook, The City, or read more on this blog. I can't guarantee that anything you read will be very interesting, but every now and again I seem to write something encouraging or helpful.

A short bio: I enjoy fitness including ballet (of which I was formerly a professional), other dance styles too, gymnastics, Pilates, yoga, P90X, PiYo, running 5Ks, leisure cycling, swimming, and napping. I have a biology degree from UTA. I’ve taught High School algebra but decided to quit once I started having babies. I was homeschooled as a kid and now homeschool my own kids. I married my Bible study co-leader from UTA BSM in June 2009. I’m a bit of a theology nerd and was signed up for a degree track at Southwestern Theological Seminary when my then best friend asked if we could get married instead. I said yes and didn’t go to a single class. I work out of the home now doing some pretty mind-numbingly boring data entry that I feel should be done by a computer program. 

Other than that I really like hiking but there doesn't seem to be any mountains in Denton, TX. I just volunteered to lead a group of Awana at Denton Bible Church, which is great and I'm super excited about that. I'd really like to teach a dance class so if you're interested, let me know!

Monday, August 24, 2015

christianmomthoughts questions on theology - for parents and non-parents

I found these questions at ChristianMomThoughts. While I disagree with a few of her answers, I think it is a good idea for parents and Christian non-parents to find the Biblical answers themselves. Whether to see if your child is borrowing your faith or to see if you are perhaps borrowing someone's faith, finding the answers to these questions will help further your faith.

Did you know that you don't have to agree with everything in the Bible? There are numerous things in the Bible that I do not like. I would have liked more clarity in some areas. God did things that seemed like a bad move in other areas. But one truth I hold onto is that God is greater than I am. So while I don't agree with everything, I trust God completely. I'm not afraid of the answers that I will find. God has a greater understanding and he has never once consulted with me before doing something. My son does not like everything I do. But he still loves and trusts me. I don't consult him before making school plans. He might not like what he's learning, but he's still going to do it. I don't consult him before deciding if I will take a shower. It might seem like a bad idea to him and he would certainly never do it, but he respects me enough to not try to stop me or argue (too much) with me about it. Wouldn't that seem ridiculous?

For as the heavens are higher than the earth so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:9

So while you and I may not like or agree with everything in the Bible, stand firm in your faith that God is good and far above us. God is not here to make us happy and cater to our desires. He is here to show us how to love him more and better and deeper. We are here for him. Can you imagine a bunch of kindergarteners trying to correct a PhD on his spelling? They don't like it and they disagree with it, but the PhD is right.

Don't be afraid of what the answers to these questions are. When you answer try to stay away from feelings such as "I just don't think God would ever do that even though this verse says otherwise." I actually left a church where the PASTOR said this very concept from the pulpit in a sermon. That was very lazy of him. If not lazy, then he is simply a false pastor and in "Christianese" would be called a wolf in sheep's clothing. I know many deceived individuals who continue to attend his church despite many factors that should have eliminated him from eligibility.

Did you know the Bible lists what makes a person eligible for pastoring? It does. If your pastor is not aligned with this list, then he is a hypocrite and should not be allowed to pastor. Knowing the answers to many of these questions will help you differentiate between "Christian" and "Southern American Christian Culture" which many people confuse. You'll have a better background and be able to stay away from power-hungry individuals like the pastor I just mentioned. He is actively deceiving many people and if those people knew their Bibles or were encouraged to read for themselves, he would not be able to manipulate so easily.

So go through the questions on her site and find the answers you're looking for. You should feel free to ask your pastor his opinion but don't think he's irrefutable or incapable of error.

Friday, August 21, 2015


Right now I'm reading through the book of Nehemiah found in the Old Testament of the Bible. I love this story. It's one of my favorites and not just because I'm a Christian and it's in the Bible. It's just such a great story. It reads well, is exciting, and has a good ending.

Something stuck out to me this time though. Found in Nehemiah 4:17, "each labored on the work with one hand and held his weapon with the other."

This reminds me of how we as Christians need to lead our lives: with one hand on our weapon, namely the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God, the Bible.

We each are called to build the kingdom with our talents and strength and stand guard against the enemy. In the new covenant we build the kingdom by reaching out to our families and neighbors and coworkers and present the gospel and then disciple those who choose to follow. We each have different talents and abilities and can do certain steps better than others. There's no shame: one plants, another waters, but it is God who gives the growth. We are God's building. 

We are to stand guard against the enemy. And how can we do that except by putting on the full armor of God? How can we expect to win a fight against a supernatural spiritual enemy at all anyway? Our God will fight for us!

I want to emphasize how important, then, it is to read and know your Bible. Not everyone is nerdy or enjoys studying God's word. I am not good at evangelism. I still evangelize though. You can still study even though you may only be as successful at studying as I am at evangelism. That's okay. It is God who gives the growth.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

who is my enemy

Do you remember when someone in Luke 10 asked Jesus what he should do to inherit eternal life? The answer was to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself. But the following question was who can I get away with not loving and still be counted as a good person? Okay, the actual question was, "And who is my neighbor?" So Jesus tells the story of these good people doing bad things and a bad person doing a good thing. And he said, "Who was this man's neighbor?" And the answer was, "The man who showed mercy." Read the whole story for yourself.

So while Jewish people didn't exactly see Samaritans as "the enemy" they weren't exactly friends either. The point of the story is that Jesus wants us to go and show mercy to even people who think they're better than us, and to people who we think we're better than, and to people who are doing things wrong, and to everyone. Isn't that amazing? Even people who look down on us for not living up to their false standards.

This got me thinking about who my enemies are. Some people think of their spouse as the enemy and constantly have a power struggle between them. Some people think of their parents or in-laws as enemies. Some people see Democrats or Republicans as the enemy. Some people think very distinctly that the kid from high school who did something once is their enemy. I don't know; these are just ideas.

I can't think of anyone that I am enemies with. Sure, there's some Muslim group in the middle east who would love to kill me, but they don't even really know I exist. My death will go unnoticed by them. But while I sit here in Rural City, USA, I don't hold a target over my head and no one notices me, and I really like that. Felipe and I have joked about how our goal in life is to live below the radar. Just be boring. Well, as long as God will want that for us, we want to be boring.

I even have family on instagram who follow me and refuse to "like" pictures that I am in. They just like the pictures of my kids. They claim to love me but can't be bothered to "like" my face. lol. But even these hypocrites are not my enemies. They certainly aren't persecuting me. If not loving me the way Christ wants them to love me is the sign of an enemy, then I'm pretty sure everyone on earth would be my enemy.

My husband is certainly not my enemy, nor my children. I have plenty of friends who think I'm an idiot, and that's fine, we're mostly Americans and therefore free to have an opinion. Just because these gals think I'm dumb, doesn't make them my enemy. Sometimes I think Suddenlink is my only enemy. Other times I think my own inner monologue is my only enemy.

So often we hear, "You are your own worst enemy." which may be true for those of us sitting in our comfy sofas fighting insomnia. These verses come to mind: Love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. And with these verses I take my sword and use it against my enemy.

It looks like this, "Lord, I pray for me. I pray that you will renew my mind. I pray that you will take these fiery darts of pride that I throw at myself for not measuring up to the standards I've set for myself and melt them away. Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me. Send me your helper who will grow love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control in me and kill those shackles of pride and despair. Help me to humble myself and tell my husband that he was right and I was wrong. Help me to apologize to my children for not being better for them. Strengthen me so that I can do what you've called me to do and show me where that calling is. If I am wife and mother then enable me to those tasks through your strength. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength."

It means giving myself grace and mercy and realizing that while I've been a bad parent and spouse in the past that that doesn't define me. Those sins are washed away. God's mercy is new every day, and if he forgives me, then I can forgive me too.

You can forgive you.

I hope that will encourage you.

Monday, August 17, 2015

pregnancy update

tl/dr: I've been having a lot of contractions but everything's fine.

As of this coming Wednesday I am 35 weeks. With modern technology, it'll be fine if baby Zoë makes an appearance, although I'd prefer a couple more weeks. And in reality she'll probably follow her siblings' examples and show up a week or two after her due date.

We aren't completely sure how far along I am because we didn't have the regular initial clues, but the sonogram claims my due date to be September 23. I'll believe it when I see it.

So yesterday day after church I started to feel a bit odd. I usually drive but had to pull over at a gas station to switch places with Felipe. After awhile I felt a bit better and we eventually made our way to the lake...which was closed. Again. Because of flooding. Again. So we went to a splash pad in our area. I felt fine the entire time we were there as far as I can remember. There was one little girl who kept trying to take my kids' toys away from them, and I wasn't able to eat much; but other than that I felt fine.

Not being able to eat much should have been a big clue though. When we got home I just could not get comfortable. It seemed that every few minutes I felt queasy and crampy and dizzy. At one point Felipe sat next to me on our big Family Chair (reclining chair and a half) and I lost it. I started crying. I was in so much pain. It felt like my entire core was cramping.

Felipe asked what was wrong. And I replied, "I just want to die!" rather dramatically. And he said, "Are you in labor? The last time you said that you gave birth to Holly." And then all the little pieces of the day came together. I was in labor.

But not real labor. I could tell that I was in a dehydration-triggered labor and I just need to drink water and Gatorade and to cool off. I've been so easily over-heated. Pregnancy in the summer is the worst.

So after drinking water and gatorade and even a couple ounces of wine which allegedly helps labor to stop and having nothing help, I decided that we should start driving to the hospital just in case things don't get better. At 35 weeks, I'm pretty sure, I can't use the birthing center. The wine actually took the edge off the pain of the contractions and the long drive was soothing.

Contractions continued but I didn't think we'd actually need to go to the hospital because this same tease has happened at 35-38 weeks with each of my previous pregnancies. My idea was to take a long drive and end up at a Seven-11 and get a treat for the kids and a Gatorade for me. That's actually exactly what happened. Actually, we got lost at one point, which is completely silly since both Felipe and I have smart phones.

Last night's moon was lovely. There will only be one more waxing moon before Zoë is scheduled to come.

Anyway, I went to sleep last night uncomfortable but woke up fine this morning. Yesterday was a nice reminder to get bags together. So that is today's task: get to-go bags together for me and each kid.

I've had contractions every night for an entire week a couple weeks ago. It was nothing exciting, just annoying and painful. In fact, this whole pregnancy has been painful. I was uncomfortable with the other babies, but this one has had so much pain. Every time Zoë moves it's like stabbing.

Last night's moon from a few degrees south.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

caleb's prayer about angry birds -so funny

Every night before we go to sleep we say our prayers. We don't make it anything grandiose or religious; just simple conversation with God. We say what we're grateful for from the day and ask for good rest and a good day tomorrow.

Some of my newer friends don't know that my oldest, Caleb, 5, has been speech delayed for the past few years. There's no reason as to why; he was just too lazy and too busy to bother to learn. haha! But we got him help at Texas Women's University with three different graduate students over the course of a year and he's all caught-up. We may continue with something this fall but haven't decided yet.

Caleb was born shortly after Angry Birds was released and has been fascinated by them the entire time. He really likes the plush toys and he makes-believe stories with them. It's actually been helping him with his speech because he changes his voice for each character, which is hilarious to hear. I try to not buy toys new because that gets expensive. So recently when I found the ultimate Angry Birds collection at a garage sale, I bought them all. This box was hundreds of dollars worth of Angry Birds plushes for just a few dollars and in really great condition! Caleb was ecstatic!

He has a great imagination and would just pretend different balls and legos were pigs and birds. But when I showed him the actual birds and pigs, he was so happy. I had already bought (new, after much searching for used) giant brick blocks that he's been using to recreate Angry Birds scenes.

This leads to this week's reoccurring prayer. When Caleb gets excited or upset he's hard to understand. Thus, I'm not sure of his exact words, but the general idea was, "Thank you God for Jesus and for Angry Birds, and red bird, and black bird, and yellow bird, and Transformer bird (yes, there's a new Transformer's Angry Birds game...), and helmet pig, and king pig, and bruised pig, and..." And he continued to list every bird and pig he has or pretends to have and the games that they're associated with. Felipe and I were laughing so hard that we were wheezing. It was so genuine and adorable. Angry Birds is a very big and real part of Caleb's life. And I'm glad that he feels he should thank God that he's able to play with them. He then finished with a big "AMEN!" and told me that Jesus is in his heart.

With homeschooling I'm trying to work into our day Compassion International children. We haven't sponsored one yet but play to get one "for Caleb". The idea is that along with helping a foreign child, we'll also learn about his culture, write letters, and learn compassion and generosity. Since Caleb had just prayed how grateful he was for Angry Birds I thought this might be a "teachable moment". So I said, "You know, Caleb, some kids are so poor that they aren't able to play with Angry Birds." And the smile left his face. He said, "huh?" And Felipe and I explained that some little kids are just struggling to eat and that we are very fortunate to live in the richest nation and that both Dada and Mama have average jobs that allow us to buy fun things but that not everyone is as fortunate.

He was quiet for awhile and I thought he had fallen asleep. Felipe and I start conversing and I eventually hear Caleb crying. I ask him what's wrong and he can't tell me. So I start guessing. Once I asked if he was sad that not everyone was able to play with Angry Birds he said yes. Aw! I suggested we could share with those children, but he didn't like that idea. I suggested we could buy them their own, and he didn't like that idea either. I suggested maybe those kids' own parents could buy them, and he did like that idea. Oh you poor little selfish boy. It was amusing. And Caleb kept crying. I asked if he was still upset about the poor kids and he said yes but that he would feel better if I bought him a new Angry Birds Star Wars II toy...typical American. He feels bad for poor people and wants to buy himself something to make him feel better. lol! Um, no. We're not going to do that. He'll probably end up getting whatever toy he's talking about anyway eventually, if it even exists. Who knows. Sometimes I think he imagines toys exist that don't yet.
I don't think Jesus looked like this btw.

I spoke to the kids about heaven the other day. I told them that they didn't need to worry about not bringing their toys with them because whatever is in heaven is going to be so much better than what they have here. I told them that I didn't know if there'll be Angry Birds in heaven but not to worry because Jesus will more than fill that gap. And so yesterday Caleb told me he really wants to go to heaven. This kid's heart is so genuine. And I think that's what God meant when he said that we need to become like little children (Mark 10:15). We don't need to understand or believe certain eschatology or creationism or any dogma other than Christ died to save us and we should follow after him. We just need to desire Jesus more than our earthly idols in whatever form they take.

I love my son, Caleb, because he draws me closer to God.

This is a random cake we found on youtube. 

Sunday, August 9, 2015

forgive without apology

I guess this all started with a recent sermon series from Jimmy Evans (found here search for the series called Tipping Point). He was speaking on eschatology and specifically the Rapture. It really lit a fire in me and I felt like the Bible was more real than I ever had in the past, which was weird because I can't remember a time when I didn't think of the Bible as real as water and air. Somehow now it was ever more real than reality though.

Anyway, I started thinking of entering Eternity and having my Advocate speak on my behalf and entering paradise. I started thinking of everyone I know entering those same circumstances and some of you know where you will go and some of you do not. I can't speak for you and I won't pretend to do so; besides that's not the point of this post.

Specifically I thought of a couple of people who are professing Christians (professing means they claim to believe in Christ and I do not know if they are genuine or not as I do not hold the keys to the kingdom). These people are special because while they claim to be Christian they have deeply wronged me and hurt me and have never apologized for it despite having opportunity and means.

I thought that maybe they're apologetic but are perhaps too prideful to actually apologize to me. For a moment that made me feel better that perhaps they felt bad but just weren't willing to let me know. But then that just made it worse. These people who hurt me over and over could possibly know that they hurt me and would rather save their pride than to simply admit that they sinned. One of these gals even said she was no hypocrite but it seems like a professing Christian wouldn't listen to gossip from a known liar, falsely accuse me, twist Scripture to suit their unjust accusation, condescendingly offer to help me, all without even simply asking what happened. And then when the truth was revealed, no apology was offered. But she's no hypocrite.

It made me angry.

I wish I were one of those people who could just magically "let things go". But when things pile up one offense after another it gets hard. I know I'm not the only one like this. I know there are lots of people, like my husband, who just don't remember offenses.

I don't want you to think that I believe that I've never injured someone. In fact, some of you may have been on the receiving end of an apology about a decade late. Sometimes I just don't know that I've offended someone but once I find out, I apologize. I apologize because what if they're like me and think they should have done something different or that somehow this was their fault. I don't want someone staying up at night over something I did to them, even if I was not aware of the offense. So yes, I've searched for long lost associates who I have no business or contact currently to apologize. Not once has it gone poorly.

What does go poorly is when I approach someone who has accidentally or purposefully offended me and sinned against me. They get indignant and huffy and how dare I say anything to them and then they deflect with false accusations against me and say I need to get the log out of my eye before correcting this speck in theirs. Which just further shows how little they think of their own sin and how little they think of me. They don't think I deserve an apology. Obviously I have no influence over these people. Obviously they do not care about me. Obviously I am beneath them. Obviously the only One who will be able to reach them is the Holy Spirit.

So I say nothing.

I try to let it go.

I can't let it go.

It still haunts me. People will look down on me now because of my honesty here. People might say, "Well, Lauren, now that's just your problem now isn't it? You need to let it go." Well, thanks. The guilt you're piling on at my known and admitted shortcoming is not making anything easier or less hurtful. Now I'm mad at those offenders and I feel guilty that I'm still struggling with something and not perfect.

Okay, that was a long set up but something happened today. I've shared this story before about my pastor realizing that if the Spirit wasn't going to point out that someone shouldn't smoke then maybe it wasn't his place to point it out either. And that combined with the idea that we will enter eternity soon led to this thought, those who have wronged me might get away with out ever apologizing: "What if those who have wronged me die without apologizing to me? What if they have asked Christ to forgive them their sins and he doesn't hold those wrongs against them? If God isn't going to hold those wrongs against them, then I should probably not hold those sins against them either. Surely, the pain they have caused me is insignificant compared to the pain felt by Christ." And so the many verses about forgiveness flooded my memory. Colossians 3:13 stood out to me.

forgiving each other as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must forgive
I used this picture with permission but I don't remember from who. 
So if you have wronged me, you should repent. You should ask my forgiveness. You already have it though. And your sins will not be bothering me any more. I am free from you.

Colossians 3 is a very interesting and contextually appropriate chapter for this post. It is not my job to go around and point out everyone's flaws and sins. That is, in fact, no one's job (well, actually, it is certain people's jobs toward certain other people, but not YOUR job to do to everyone you contact. That lacks wisdom.) If you think that is your job you are probably also the type of person that likes to medically diagnose people that you have no contact with from another country while you're not even a doctor. Perhaps you're also the type of person who thinks God tells them to go say stuff to other people and you start sentences with, "God wanted me to tell you...." or "I felt led by the Spirit to say..." You'd be stoned in Old Testament days.

(I write that last paragraph so that when you read Colossians 3 and possibly think that the ungodly traits are describing the sinful people in my story you will know that this has not escaped my attention but that I am choosing to forgive anyway. Yes, these gals should not be so hypocritical. But since I am not appointed to a place where they can hear anything I say, it's just wasted words anyway. It is my hope that someone else in a similar circumstance will be able to come to the same conclusion: forgive even though they aren't sorry. That is also why I shared the story in the first place: perhaps by reading a few details someone might be able to relate and eventually also forgive.)

Colossians 3 starts with an admonition to seek things that are above and to forget the things of this earth. Paul then encourages us that if we are in Christ we will appear with him in glory. He says we should put to death all these sinful desires including anger. Instead we should actively put on as if like clothing those traits that are godly: compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. He says to forgive, and more importantly to LOVE. And this is what I've been praying since Jimmy Evans' sermons: that I would be able to love these people. That prayer has lead to me forgiving them and that forgiveness has led to me loving them. Or perhaps praying has led to loving them which has led to forgiving them? Either way this is how I now share with Paul in that peace of Christ that rules in my heart. I wish the same for those who have hurt me and I wish the same for you.

We love because Christ first loved us (I John 4:19). And they will know us by our love (John 13:35). It is that love that compelled me to pray for these people who are so hurtful to me. It took time but now I can leave the worries or the world behind me. One of those worries is justice for those who wronged me. I hope I will not receive justice for my wrongs. I have asked forgiveness from people and God and have received it. I look forward to eternity.

PS - forgiveness does not mean full restoration. My former pastor, Robert Furrow, has the analogy that if someone approaches you with a 2x4 and smacks you in the head, you can forgive them, but if you see them coming toward you with a 2x4 again, you will be on guard. So forgive, but don't be foolish. Forgiving means you forget the hurt, not the action. You can forgive a liar for lying but don't forget this person is a liar the next time they tell you something. If this is bad doctrine, let me know.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

speak softly

When your child speaks to you “with attitude” you have options. You can decide to “teach her a lesson” and speak harshly with attitude back. Or you can use this opportunity to love and serve her and speak back with grace and humility. Harsh words will only escalate tension and strife. You can choose instead to win your child’s heart by speaking softly. You can choose instead to be an adult. You can choose instead to see that she is still learning tone and inflection and respect for others. Or you can choose to see the worst and lose your child’s heart one sarcastic or biting response at a time. Demonstrate those character traits you wish to see develop in your child. Mirroring their behavior teaches that this is acceptable behavior. Mirroring Christ’s behavior teaches that his is acceptable behavior. The choice is harder if these traits weren’t demonstrated to you as you developed but you can do it through the strength of Christ. 

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. 

I can do all things through him who strengthens me. 
Train up a child in the way he should go; 
even when he is old he will not depart from it.