Tag Archives: Bible

Traveling into the Past

As a child and even as an adult I have always hate studying history until I recently came across a book at my favorite store, Goodwill. The book is titled “Walking the Bible: A Journey by Land through the Five Books of Moses” by Bruce Feiler. Feiler literally travels the same land and approximately the same route that some of our favorite Biblical figures traveled, and as he is traveling he is reading the Bible. It blows me away how many connections are made between what was recorded in the Bible and what still holds true in the land today (or in the ~90’s when his trip took place). If only we each could journey the lands that we learn about in our history books; if our public schools had the resources to physically take us there. Perhaps it would have held my attention back then.

I spent the day today preparing for a trip of my own, not to Turkey or Egypt or Israel, but to the Philippines and Guam both of which are rich with history. I will visit Mt. Samat in the Philippines where there is a memorial dedicated to the Filipino and American soldiers who sacrificed their lives fighting the Imperial Japanese Army in World War II. I will also visit churches built in the 1600’s during the Spanish-era throughout the Philippines. This is especially exciting for me since I have been photographing churches. I’m sure I will visit many historical sites while I’m traveling the next few weeks.

I may not like to read the dry history text books we receive in school, but one historical book I can’t get enough of is the Bible. Like any piece of history there are lessons enclosed are lessons to learn, but these lessons were God-breathed which is probably what has heightened my interest. When you are reading God’s Word do you put yourself in that location, imagine the circumstances the characters were in, reflect on what you would have done? These are all things we should be doing. This is one of the most powerful ways God speaks to us. Through history He can reveal our shortcomings and help us correct them, He can romance us, inspire us, encourage us, and fill us. The Bible is not just a book, it is the diary of God written for your eyes for your response. Accept the challenge to dig deeper and travel to the past.

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A Walk to Remember

The thing about divine appointments is you don’t get a reminder call or a postcard in the mail like you do for dentist appointments. God just kind of springs them on you when you are seemingly unprepared and unsuspecting.

I was recently inducted into the all-exclusive Facebook page “30 Days of Hustle” created by the talented Jon Acuff. My friend nominated me to be a member, and after a short waiting period, in which I’m sure Mr. Acuff conducted a background check and office surveillance, I was approved. Since I tend to stick to a goal when there is some accountability, I decided to shoot for a goal that I have not been successful reaching on my own, photographing churches for a future project. I gave myself the lofty goal of photographing at least 25 churches within 30 days. On the same day (yesterday) my wellness exercise coach gave me the goal of walking after work for half an hour. I accepted reluctantly, but figured I could lump the two goals together and take photos while walking in the neighborhood.

Throwing on my sneakers I strutted out the door, proud of myself that I’m taking the leap on not just one goal, but two. As I photographed the second church I saw out of the corner of my eye a young woman hesitantly approaching the front door. I turned to her and asked, “Are you waiting on me?” “Uh, yeah,” she replied. “Do you know if it’s open?” I stood up from kneeling and pointed at the church across the street, “They are usually open on Wednesday. I’ll walk you over.”

As we approached we realized that the church front doors were not, in fact, open, so we went around back. Finally we sneaked in through a propped door after the choir director told us it was closed. The young woman told me she had never seen a Christian church sanctuary. I explained the cross and why Christian churches generally don’t have statues or images of God in them, and that the Bible tells us that a church is a group of people who share the same belief in Jesus. I told her that she and I would make up a “church” if we both believed. Church is not about the building.

This conversation led to many personal, deep topics that she was struggling with. We laughed and shared about personal experiences. Before I knew it an hour and a half had passed, and day was quickly turning into night. As she gathered her belongings I asked if I could pray for her. Surprisingly she asked if she could pray for me as well, and then shared that she had never prayed. I asked if I could put my hand on her shoulder and she agreed, and as I prayed I felt the connection we had made and the Holy Spirit there in that church courtyard we had moved to. When I finished she said she wanted to try praying aloud for me. She gently placed her hand on my shoulder and started, “Dear God…” As she finished with “thank you” in the place of “Amen” we giggled and hugged each other. She shared that she was more at peace, and was happy we met. I gave her my phone number, and we walked out the gate together, an unlikely pair now bonded by this walk to remember.

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Find What Frees You

My mom refills her feeder twice a day. Shouldn't we be slurping up the Spirit?

My mom refills her feeder twice a day. Shouldn’t we be slurping up the Spirit instead of chomping on worry?

In our everyday lives we experience ups and downs, but as we experience them we often don’t consider their root cause. I have recently reached a three-year goal of becoming debt-free, and now I am embarking on a new challenge of tackling a life long struggle with stress-management. Since my financial plan worked so well, I am going to use the same ideas from that curriculum to develop my own stress-free plan.

The first step in my financial plan was taking an inventory of my spending for one or two months to find out where my money was going. In the same way, I will take an inventory of my energy. Where am I spending my energy? To do this I have begun using green and pink index cards. I record particularly relaxing moments on the green index cards and particularly stressful moments on my pink cards. At the end of this first inventory period I should have encountered many of each experience. I will collect the pink cards and match them up with scriptures that bring truth, clarity, and perspective to that stressful moment. With these recorded in such a practical manner I will be able to refer to them as they come up again during daily life. Will I encounter new stressors in my life?  Of course I will, but God’s Word can be applied to any life circumstance.

I hope that this technique will inspire me to seek God’s truth in times of tension, and to live a life of complete spiritual freedom. I will keep you informed of my progress and any tweaks I apply to my technique.

And He said to His disciples, “For this reason I say to you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds! And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span? If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith! And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying. For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things. But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.”

Luke 12:22-32

In all circumstances I will not be afraid, I will not worry, but seek His kingdom, and all these things will be added to me. Join me on my journey to becoming stress-free.

“More Heart, Less Attack”
Needtobreathe

Be the light in the crack
Be the one that’s been there on a camel’s back
Slow to anger quick to laugh
Be more heart and less attackBe the wheels not the track
Be the wanderer that’s coming back
Leave the past right where it’s at
Be more heart and less attackThe more you take the less you have
Cuz it’s you in the mirror staring back
Quick to let go slow to react
Be more heart and less attackEver growing steadfast
And if need be the one that’s in the gap
Be the never turning back
Twice the heart any man could haveBe the wheels not the track
Be the wanderer that’s coming back
Leave the past right where it’s at
Be more heart and less attack
Be more heart and less attack
Be more heart and less attackI stuck my hat out I caught the rain drops
I drank the water I felt my veins block
I’m nearly sanctified I’m nearly broken
I’m down the river I’m near the openI stuck my hat out I caught the rain drops
I drank the water I felt my veins block
I’m near the sanctified I’m near broken
I’m down the river I’m near the open

I’m down the river to where I’m going

 

The Ultimate Search Engine

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Having lunch with a friend she suddenly breaks down in tears and reveals that her marriage is a sham, she’s in love with Mike in Accounting, and she’s going to ask for divorce. She asks you your opinion. Do you Google divorce lawyers, or do you look to God’s Word? Why is our culture more inclined to Google than to Bible?

I believe it was during an Alpha Course I heard Nicky Gumbel explain if you buy a luxury car with all the bells and whistles, but you never read the owner’s manual that is like going through life without reading and applying the Bible. The owner’s manual would tell you how to get the most out of your car, and give you instructions on how and when to perform maintenance and repairs. It is not simply a paper weight. If you never read the manual you would be operating at the bare minimum of what you could figure out through trial and error, hopefully without hurting someone. That actually sounds a lot like a life without God’s Word, fumbling through life trying things just to see if they work.

Actually the Bible has become just as convenient as Google now with websites like Bible Gateway. Yet even without going online, if we pray first and ask God to reveal the answer to our burning question often if we are persistent he will reveal the answer through scripture, vision, or words of wisdom from others. So next time you want to surf the web, try the Bible instead. You may be surprised what you find.

All scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, correcting, rebuking, and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

– 2 Timothy 3:16-17

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.                              – Joshua 1:8

Resolve to Resolve

This past Sunday my church continued it’s tradition of having a giving thanks service on the last Sunday of the year. Pastor Joseph sent out an email a day or two before prompting us to come prepared with what we wanted to share with the congregation. As I reflected I realized the thing I am most thankful for in 2013 is the breakthrough I had forgiving my dad. From the outside it might have appeared that my dad and I had a great relationship. My dad always hugs me, we go father-daughter dates, we tell inside jokes, but inside I held on to the times my dad hurt me. To be close to my dad meant the risk of reopening past wounds. In Spring 2013 I was home for a visit with my parents. What started out as a lovely day of kayaking ended in the reopening of my festering wound. Even though my dad had been calm and collected most of the day one little bout of frustration brought back thoughts of unforgiven arguments.

I’ve heard people say, and probably uttered the very words myself, “Why should I forgive someone who doesn’t deserve it?” The very definition of forgiveness implies that the pardon is undeserved. Through the gentle guidance and counsel of my pastor’s wife Marlin I was able to recognize that much of my physical and emotional pain stemmed from the grudges I held against my dad. Not only was I holding him in bondage but myself. To break the chains of unforgiveness would grant us both freedom, but I could not gain freedom without also granting him freedom. It is like a prison guard shackled to a prisoner. In order for him to be free he must also set the prisoner free. What a predicament!

In my pain and struggle to forgive, in my moment of desperation on that spring day, I went in my parents’ guest room, opened my Bible, and prayed. I don’t remember exactly what I prayed, but when I came out I slowly ate my dinner in silence and let the Holy Spirit stir within me. Afterward I knocked on my dad’s bedroom door, “Can I come in?” I sat next to him on the bed and tried pouring out my heart in my own heartfelt words, but it didn’t seem to sink in to him how hard this conversation was for me. Finally I looked him in the eyes, I had no words to speak and yet my lips spoke, “Dad, you know the Bible front to back. You know the men of the Bible are remembered not for being perfect, but for being changed. I don’t want you to be remembered as a man who wouldn’t change.” I’ve never seen a tear come to my dad’s eye before that day except maybe one other occasion, but I like to think I saw a tear that evening. After our conversation I had to leave to make the trek back to the Bay Area. It hurt to leave it like that, but as I drove home I heard the song “Changed” by Rascal Flatts. I knew God had already begun His work in my dad’s heart, but just as importantly He had begun His work in my heart. Not only has my dad been changed, but we have both been set free.

Due to privacy I didn’t want to reveal what exactly I forgave my dad for, but I do want to clarify it was typical father-daughter stuff, nothing major. However I do want to stress that God wants us to forgive even the harshest of hurts.

My Aunt Wanda told me to watch the video clip below. She was very moved and inspired by this man’s ability to forgive. I hope you are too.

Is there someone deserving or, more importantly, undeserving who you need to forgive? Take a moment to ask the Holy Spirit to help you start. It’s the best New Year’s resolution. I guarantee it.