“Father, make of me a crisis man. Bring those I contact to decision. Let me not be a milepost on a single road;
make me a fork
, that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.” - Jim Elliot

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

As Simple As A Bar Of Chocolate...


Not a surprise to most of you... I am a thinker. Analytical. It's quite frustrating actually. Can't just let things go, can I?

And yet... I am a relater, too. And have this horrible habit of wanting everyone to like me.

Mush these two things together... and I am told that I can be intimidating. Or as another friend told me... "Intense, but I don't mean that in a bad way."

Intense? Me? What did she mean? I wondered all evening. Of course, not taking it personally. (Who me?) Another friend who had been part of our conversation called me the next morning and told me perhaps it was more defined by "thorough" or "in-depth"...

And then I had an epiphany. I happened to look down at a bar of chocolate that I had purchased for Anthony to enjoy after his recent marathon (which had been sadly forgotten)... and I saw the words "INTENSE DARK"... and I thought... that's it!

I don't like dark chocolate!
Whew, what a relief!

Here's the thing... dark chocolate can be intense in flavor, but I don't prefer it. I am much more so drawn to milk chocolate. It doesn't make dark chocolate bad... or any less... in my opinion. Because some people... my husband included... like dark chocolate.

Anyway, it just really set in my mind that I need to give other people a break... especially when they can't handle my level of intensity. I guess I had thought something was wrong with me... and I shouldn't be so intense... that it was bad. But something as simple as a bar of chocolate made feel a little better about myself.

God made me intense. For a reason. I guess... take it or leave it.

But next time you buy me chocolate just remember it is one time that I don't like intense... and I wouldn't mind if it had nuts in it, too!

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Secret to Peace

May 9th, 1999 Christopher's Dedication

Don't fret or worry.

Instead of worrying, pray.

Let petitions and praises shape your worries
into prayers, letting God know your concerns.

Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness,
everything coming together for good,
will come and settle you down.

It's wonderful what happens
when Christ displaces worry
at the center of your life.

Philippians 4:6-7 MSG



June 1999

Talk about peaceful. Ever had times in your life when you thought... "Wonder if that thing would work for me?" A pacifier. It would almost always do the trick. Taking Christopher from tears and frustration to immediate peace. Settle him down. It would pacify him. Relieve stress. Soothe. Calm.

Wouldn't it be great? Instant peace?

In reviewing my current memory verses, Jeremiah 29:10-13, we've talked about how
our future is tied to our past
we have to wait on God's perfect timing
God has plans to prosper us
God's prosperity is entwined with peace
God's peace can mean completeness, soundness, welfare.
And we can know all of these things... and still not feel at peace. Sometimes when I am not a peace I end up realizing that I don't really want peace. I want satisfaction. I want it done my way. I will have peace when things are going my way. Or so I think.

But the kind of peace that God promises is not tied to my satisfaction. It's not tied to the completion of an event or thing or relationship. It's tied to God.

But they that wait upon the LORD
shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings as eagles;
they shall run, and not be weary;
and they shall walk, and not faint.
Isaiah 40:31 KJV

Waiting on the Lord renews our strength. Waiting on an event or thing or relationship depletes our strength. And in waiting... we learn... sometimes over and over again... how faithful God is. If we look back over lessons learned in our life we will see that God was faithful.

"I know what it is to be in need,
and I know what it is to have plenty.
I have learned the secret
of being content in any and every situation,
whether well fed or hungry,
whether living in plenty or in want.
I can do everything
through him who gives me strength."
Philippians 4:12-13

So, here's the secret to peace:

Then you will call upon me and
come and pray to me,
and I will listen to you.
You will seek me and find me
when you seek me with all your heart.
Jeremiah 29:12-13

And Gideon built an altar to the Lord there and named it
Yahweh-Shalom
(which means “the Lord is peace”). Judges 6:24a NLT

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Prosperity of Peace


"For I know the plans I have for you,”
declares the Lord,
“plans to prosper you and
not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future."
Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

"Plans to prosper you..." We all want to prosper, don't we? We think of prosperity... wouldn't everything just be perfect? If we just had enough... and maybe a little to spare... And if we stop here, and think... God wants me to prosper. So, where's it all at?

Definition of Prosper:
to rush
to advance, prosper, make progress, succeed, be profitable
to make prosperous, bring to successful issue, cause to prosper
to show or experience prosperity, prosper
In a previous post, we looked at different versions of Jeremiah 29:11 where the word "prosper" is also translated as peace, good, wholeness, welfare, care... and shalom.

Shalom meaning: completeness, soundness, welfare, peace
completeness (in number)
safety, soundness (in body)
welfare, health, prosperity
peace, quiet, tranquillity, contentment
peace (from war)
peace, friendship
~of human relationships
~with God especially in covenant relationship
So, today... consider this... where do you need to prosper? What kind of peace are you lacking?

Because God has plans for you. To prosper you. He wants you to experience the Prosperity of Peace.

Wouldn't everything just be perfect? If we just had enough... and maybe a little to spare... And if we stop here, and think... God wants me to prosper in peace... So, where's it all at?



*part of a series on Jeremiah 29:10-13

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I Prayed For You Today


I prayed for you today.

I prayed for God to change you.

And I realized that I was praying for Him to change you to be... more like me.

And that didn't seem like the right prayer, so
I prayed for God to reveal your weaknesses to you.

But that didn't seem right either, so
I prayed for God to draw you closer to Christ.

Which was good, but then
I prayed for God to do what He thought was best.

And I realized perhaps God has you exactly where He wants you to be.

And I prayed for God to forgive me... for thinking that I knew better than He did.

And I prayed for God to change me. For Him to change me to be... more like Him.

And I prayed for God to reveal my weaknesses to me... which He did.

And I prayed for God to draw me closer to Christ.

And then I prayed for God to do what He thought was best.

And I realized that now perhaps God has me exactly where He wants me to be.


*Inspired by Esther: It's Tough Being a Woman, Week 5, Day 4

Friday, October 16, 2009

Jeremiah 29:11



"For I know the plans I have for you,”
declares the Lord,
“plans to prosper you and
not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future." ~ NIV


For I know the thoughts that I think toward you,
saith the LORD,
thoughts of peace, and
not of evil,
to give you an expected end. ~ KJV


"For I know the plans I have for you,"
says the LORD.
"They are plans for good and
not for disaster,
to give you a future and a hope." ~ NLT


“For I know the plans I have for you,
declares the Lord,
plans for wholeness and
not for evil,
to give you a future and a hope. ~ ESV


'For I know the plans that I have for you,'
declares the LORD,
'plans for welfare and
not for calamity
to give you a future and a hope'. ~ NASB


For I have known the thoughts that I am thinking towards you
-- an affirmation of Jehovah;
thoughts of peace, and
not of evil,
to give to you posterity and hope. ~ YNG


For I know the thoughts that I think toward you,
saith Jehovah,
thoughts of peace, and
not of evil,
to give you in your latter end a hope. ~ DBY


For I know the thoughts that I think toward you,
says the LORD,
thoughts of shalom, and
not of evil,
to give you hope in your latter end. ~ HNVpd


I know what I'm doing.
I have it all planned out—
plans to take care of you,
not abandon you,
plans to give you the future
you hope for. ~ MSG

Thursday, October 15, 2009

It Is All Greek (or Hebrew) to Me!

I am so excited about a post I am working on to share with you! As preparation for it, I wanted to share a previous post as an introduction to it. Focusing on different translations of the Bible... and the tools that we have now to assist us with studying the Bible.

Originally aired on 09/02/08 during a series I wrote on the 23rd Psalm.
All Scripture is God-breathed...


All Scripture is God-breathed and
is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and
training in righteousness,

so that the man of God
may be thoroughly equipped
for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV)

Why are there so many different translations of the Bible?

There are many answers to this question and I'm not a scholar on translations, but I'll give it a try. There are some who translate the Bible word for word from the original language into English. However, some words do not translate well and sometimes the thought or content of the meaning is lost. Others translate the Bible thought for thought. They read the passage in the original language and try to convey the thought of the section they are interpreting. Some use contemporary terminology as opposed to the King James Version which is just majestic, isn't it! And there are versions that are adapted for almost any reading level.

As to the question of which translation to use...

First of all, I would encourage you to have the translation that your pastor uses the most. If you do not know which version it is, just call the church office. I think it is important to have your own Bible when you are being taught. I know the words are on the screen for some of us... but I challenge you with this... when you're at home crying your eyes out and you want to know where that verse was at about Peace that the pastor just spoke about yesterday... it's helpful to have a sense of what page it was on in your own Bible.... and to see verses in their entire context.

And that brings me to online Bibles which are amazing and phenomenal! But I caution you that when you look up a particular verse to make sure you pull up either the whole chapter or at least a section of verses. It is so important to read the Bible in context. It's how God intended us to use it... and it keeps us from twisting scriptures and claiming things that were never promised.

The online Bibles I use the most are BibleGateway and Blue Letter Bible. BibleGateway is great for searching by topic or phrase or verse in numerous versions of the Bible. Blue Letter Bible is awesome especially when you want to compare the same verse in different versions at the same time. It is also helpful when you want to see the original language.

Oh, there is so much more to share! Sisters, all I know is that when you read the words of the Author... you come to know the Author... and even more so... the Author's love for you.


Psalm 23 (New International Reader's Version)

1 The Lord is my shepherd.
He gives me everything I need.
2 He lets me lie down in fields of green grass.
He leads me beside quiet waters.
3 He gives me new strength.
He guides me in the right paths for the honor of his name.
4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid.
You are with me.
Your shepherd's rod and staff comfort me.
5 You prepare a feast for me right in front of my enemies.
You pour oil on my head.
My cup runs over
I am sure that your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life.
And I will live in the house of the Lord forever.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

How Long Do I Have to Wait?


Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days...
A woman in a crowd who had suffered for twelve years...
A woman appeared with a spirit that crippled her for 18 years...
A man who was blind from birth...

"For I know the plans I have for you,"
declares the LORD,
"plans to prosper you and
not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future."
Jeremiah 29:11

We often wonder... "How long do I have to wait?"
Until my child is healed of leukemia?
Until I get a job?
Until my marriage is healed?
Until my child learns self-control?
Until I no longer suffer with depression?
Until I get over my heart break?
Until my husband is healed of his addiction?
Indeed. How long? Let's look at the verse that precedes Jeremiah 29:11...

This is what the LORD says:
"When seventy years are completed for Babylon,
I will come to you and
fulfill my gracious promise
to bring you back to this place."
Jeremiah 29:10

When seventy years are completed? Huh? Do I have to wait 70 years?

Honestly, I don't know how long you will have to wait for God to fulfill a promise that He has made to you. In the New Testament we see that Jesus performed miracles for people who waited four days... twelve years... eighteen years... or their whole life.

So, I ask you... can you wait? Can you wait for God's timing? And what will you do if you choose to wait? And if you don't want to wait... what other options are there?

Waiting...
It's painful.
It's exhausting.
It's not easy.

But there is...
Hope.
Confidence.
Peace.
...and a Future.



"While I'm Waiting" lyrics by John Waller

I'm waiting
I'm waiting on You, Lord
And I am hopeful
I'm waiting on You, Lord

Though it is painful
But patiently, I will wait

I will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience


While I'm waiting

I will serve You

While I'm waiting
I will worship
While I'm waiting
I will not faint
I'll be running the race
Even while I wait

I'm waiting

I'm waiting on You, Lord

And I am peaceful

I'm waiting on You, Lord

Though it's not easy

But faithfully, I will wait

Yes, I will wait

I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting

I will serve You while I'm waiting

I will worship while I'm waiting

I will serve you while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting on You, Lord



John Waller - While I'm Waiting (Official Music Video) from Provident Label Group on Vimeo.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

We Meet, Again

You stopped by the Friendship Card Desk today. I wasn't supposed to be there. I was supposed to be helping with the Church Directory photo sign-ups and the Information Desk. But Pastor Tom had called and asked... and I agreed.

So, I was there. When you turned in your Membership Update. That normally would have been turned in at the Information Desk. But no, you were supposed to stop by... weren't you? So that Anthony and I would look at each other and say... Wasn't he the one we met last year? The one who made me think... who are you? And what a privilege it is... to see you, again... and to remember how precious you are to the Lord... and me, too.

originally posted March 09, 2008
And I thought... who are you?

I met you today. I might've passed by you, but I noticed that you were filling out a "Friendship Card" before church which made me think that you might be a visitor.

I casually stopped by and said hello and introduced myself. You mentioned that you used to attend church here about a decade ago... but so much had happened... Then I noticed you were shaking and you mentioned that your wife had recently committed suicide.

My husband joined us and we found out that you knew a former pastor who still attends church here. Anthony thought if you knew the former pastor you might also remember Sam and you said you did. We prayed with you and asked if you would join us in Sunday School. You weren't sure, but we looked in and saw that Sam was there... we asked Sam if he would come out and speak with you... and he did.

Anthony and Sam caught you before you exited the church. They took you over to our new little cafe area... and spoke with you... and ministered to you. I thought to myself... who are you that God would providence that we would meet... Anthony would ask if you knew Sam... and Sam would be here today... and you would be ministered to?

I went to Sunday School and then church service not knowing how it all worked out... the choir sang "I'm Amazed"... and I thought I hoped you were in service because I knew that song would minister to you.

And then the former pastor that you knew got up on the platform to pray... and my heart jumped... and I wondered... who are you that God would work all these things together for you? This former pastor had not gotten up on the platform in a long time... I knew God had planned this for you.

And then... the former pastor mentioned that he had run into someone he hadn't seen in a while whose family member had committed suicide... and my heart jumped again, because I knew you had hooked up with him.

And as I wondered who you were that God would love you so much to bless and minister to you this morning... I realized I knew you. You are a precious child of God.

And then I realized how much God must love me to show His Handiwork in progress... that He would give me such a glimpse into how He cares for you... made me realize how much He cares for me, too.

I'm Amazed
No one knew how alone I was feeling,
And the emptiness I tried so hard to hide.
Though I laugh and said my life was fine without you.
I was covering up the secret tears I cried.
Then one day someone told me of your mercies,
And the love you showed on a Hill called Calvary.
There you died and purchased my redemption,
When you broke in spite and set my spirit free.

Chorus
I'm amazed that you love me I'm amazed how you care
Through Your precious blood I've found pardon
And my sins are washed they're all washed away
All my sins are washed away

Yes there've been days when I've failed you.
Lord you know the many times I've gone astray.
Lord I've learned your love is stronger than my weakness,
And your ear is open every time I pray.
No one else has ever cared for me like you Lord.
Other friends could never be as close to me.
I'm not afraid to face the problems of tomorrow,
Knowing you are everything I'll ever need.



Friday, October 9, 2009

The denouement.

On the Sidelines since 2004

Tears began to fill my eyes. The pressure was too much to bear. The anticipation. The excitement. The denouement!

I was waiting at the finish line. Waiting. Looking. Hoping.

I found myself actually trying to will Anthony across the finish line on Sunday. Trying to will him to finish the Portland Marathon. But what could I do at this point? With .2 miles to go? There was nothing I could do. But wait. And it was frustrating me. There was nothing I could do.

Throughout the marathon I could meet Anthony and give him encouragement... or a bottle of Vitamin Water... or his sunglasses... or a granola bar. During his training I could listen as he talks through his strategies for running the marathon. I could support him at races of varying length throughout the year. I could drive him to the marathon. I could go to Red Robin to pick up a burger that he craves after a marathon.

But I can't run with him. (He's too fast for me!) And I can't run the marathon for him. And I can't even will him to finish.

As I struggled through my emotions, I recognized a familiar sensation. It reminded me of those sisters (and brothers) I pray for... especially those going through life-changing crisis... which are taking a long time to work through.

Sometimes when I am praying for someone especially for a long season, I want to run the race for them. "Here's what you should do" or "Let me do that for you" or "Keep trying"... are words that swirl in my head. I feel like I am standing on the sidelines... cheering them on... and wanting to will them to the finish as quickly as possible... so that we can celebrate. But sometimes there is nothing else I can do. I have to let that person run the race. Run their race. At their pace.

And as their support crew, I pray and I wait and I look and I hope.

And as I am waiting... I can offer encouragement via Facebook . I can give a cold glass of water (or a nice hot latte with pumpkin spice). I can listen as they talk through words they want to pen. I can suggest books. I can drive them to work or Bible Study. I can go with them to the doctor and listen to the diagnosis. And I can even go to Red Robin to get them a burger.

But what I can't do... is run the race for them. Which in reality is what I need to remind myself. So that I don't try to fix the problem. Not that I would ever try that, right?

I have a friend who has to remind me... "You don't need to say anything, Sheri." So, I don't.

But I pray.

(And if I feel so led... send her* a book.)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Lima Beans and
The Relevance of the Old Testament

Who Knew?

For 41 years. I had waited 41 years to find out the truth. This summer I had a big revelation. I could have continued on. Not knowing. Being oblivious. Thinking I knew the answer. The truth be known, I grew up in the suburbs... not a farm. So... how was I supposed to know... that lima beans grow in pods? That the little beans did not just grow on a vine? I mean really... how was I supposed to know?

Admittedly, I am a student at heart. A thinker. A fact gatherer. And true to my heart, I study the Bible. I study the Word of God. Sometimes devouring it.

As I contemplated my current memory verse selection -- Jeremiah 29:10-13-- I thought... there are some who will say, "Sheri, this is my life verse!" but then I knew there are others who would say, "Sheri, I just read the New Testament. I don't think the promises of the Old Testament are meant for today."

And so, I think of those who may not find the Old Testament to be relevant to today. Or conflicting to the New Testament. And then I thought about a couple quotes from Esther: It's Tough Being a Woman.
Your future is tied to your past.

You cannot amputate your history from your destiny.

And I thought of Jesus. The Old Testament IS Jesus' past. It is Jesus' history.

Jesus over and over again refers to the Scriptures (aka Old Testament):

“Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say,‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’" Matthew 4:10 NLT

Jesus replied, "Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?" Matthew 12:24

Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the Scriptures: " 'The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone ; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes'?" Matthew 21:42

So, it may not really matter in the scheme of things where lima beans come from... about their past or their history... I mean they taste just the same to this city-girl.

But if you truly want to know more about Jesus or the God that you pray to... then you do need to know their history... their character... and then I think the relevance question will take care of itself.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Esther: Week 3, Day 3
"A Certain People"


Then Haman said to King Xerxes, "There is a certain people dispersed and scattered among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom whose customs are different from those of all other people and who do not obey the king's laws; it is not in the king's best interest to tolerate them." Esther 3:8 NIV



As soon I read the words on Page 68 of the workbook Esther: It's Tough Being a Woman, I was reminded of the two Holocaust Museums I have visited. One in Washington, DC and the other in Israel.

In 1993 Anthony and I visited the
US Holocaust Memorial Museum. And all I can remember is... shoes. A room of shoes. Covered in dirt and dust. One upon the other. Difficult to distinguish one from the other. My brain tried to wrap itself around the number. The number of shoes. There were too many. So many had died. Had been killed. Had been left "anonymous, indefinite, and depersonalized."

Fast forward to 2008. A visit to Israel. A visit to Yad Vashem. The Holocaust Museum. Where you would not focus on a pile of shoes, but one shoe. Where each artifact is directly linked to the victim. The baby shoe of Hinda Cohen (1942-1944).

"And to them will I give in my house
and within my walls
a memorial and a name (a "yad vashem")...
that shall not be cut off. Isaiah 56:5



I found this excerpt from the Yad Vashem Museum... and thought you might find it of interest and value as you work on the study. I have highlighted words that contradict "anonymous, indefinite, depersonalized."

...Yad Vashem focuses on the human story of people in the heart of western civilization... Our aim is to present Jewish people as human beings with discernable identities which the Germans planned to destroy in the name of their murderous racist ideology. From the dust and loss, we are obliged to retrieve the humanity of the victims and uncover families and communities as well as their culture that was annihilated during the Holocaust.

Our aim is twofold: First, to return to the victims their names and faces and thus to thwart the stated Nazi intention of murdering them and wiping out their memory; second, to learn about the victims so that we can remember them.

Jewish history is handed down from generation to generation and strengthens the sense of belonging to the Jewish people...

Our educational approach also aspires to instill in the pupils a feeling of hope. Studying the Holocaust can generate a feeling of helplessness, but we aim to create a dialogue with the past for a better future.

Pages of Testimony serve as symbolic tombstones and commemorate the identities and life stories of each victim that the Nazis murdered.

Millions of victims are still nameless. The generation of Holocaust survivors is naturally diminishing as they pass on and the collection of the missing names has become a major priority in an effort to preserve the memory of Holocaust victims. This race against the clock involves engaging the only people that knew and remember the victims who can still provide the information to preserve their identities.


Inscription on Monument as you exit Yad Vashem

"I will put my breath into you
and you shall live again,
and I will set you upon your own soil..."
Ezekiel 37:14

I hope this gives you another perspective on Haman's objective in Esther 3:8.

PROMISE HOPE FUTURE SEEK FIND


My selection of Memory Verses for the next two months are from Jeremiah 29:10-13. These verses are showing up in too many places for me to ignore them.

Maybe you are interested in some words like:

PROMISE
HOPE
FUTURE
SEEK
FIND

I'm excited about memorizing these verses and posting my thoughts about them. If you are new to my blog, stop by here to see what I am up to... 24 Memory Verses in 12 months. Instead of trying to memorize all four verses at once (like that is going to happen!) I've decided to go slow and easy... intentional and deliberate. And of other interest to me is that I'll be finishing up these verses at the end of the Beth Moore study I am doing on Esther... which is one of the places that the verses popped up.

Siesta Scripture Memory Verses 19 & 20 & 21 & 22


10 This is what the LORD says:
"When seventy years are completed for Babylon,
I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise
to bring you back to this place.


11
For I know the plans I have for you,"
declares the LORD,
"plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future.


12
Then you will call upon me and
come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.


13
You will seek me and find me
when you seek me with all your heart.

Jeremiah 29: 10 & 11 & 12 & 13 NIV

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Have You Ever Wanted to Run Away?


Have you ever wanted to run away... from your past?

Wish all your failures... all your mistakes... foolish choices... would just disappear?

Wouldn't life be better? Easier? Simpler? If we could forget. If those around us would forget.

What would be left, if your past had been perfect? Who would you be?

How would your world be different?

In my current Bible Study, we are being introduced to the significance of Esther's past. Or perhaps her insignificance. Her name. Her position in life. Her family. Her ethnicity.

She was not born to be a queen.

And despite her past, she became one.
And because of her past, she became one.

Her past had shaped her into the one who would be favored.

In the study, we are told that "you cannot amputate your history from your destiny" and that "your future is tied to your past."

And for some that may be hard to hear. Hard to believe. Because you think nothing good can come from the damage that has been done.

But "there is a treasure in your past that God wants to redeem."

Never think it is too late. Never think you will never be enough.

Never think that your past will interfere with what your future could have been... but that God will take your past and use it to shape you into a life of purpose.

"For I know the plans I have for you,"
declares the LORD,
"plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future.

Then you will call upon me
and come and pray to me,
and I will listen to you.

You will seek me and find me
when you seek me with all your heart."

Jeremiah 29:11-13


*Inspired by Esther: It's Tough Being a Woman, Session One