Monday, April 30, 2012

Song of Solomon

The Life Project: The Song of Solomon
Paul Pope

Have you ever wondered what God thinks of love, romance, and sex? Does it seem like God is opposed to these things? The Song of Solomon communicates the importance of romantic love and sex in the context of marriage. God designed these things for us to enjoy, to satisfy deep desires of our hearts, and to meet our needs. When we follow His plan for fulfilling our desires for romantic love and sex it is absolutely beautiful. The problem, as with everything, is that that when we decide to make our own rules, there is pain and sorrow waiting for us. Unfortunately, some of our deepest hurt and pain comes as a result of disobedience in this area.

The Song of Solomon is a love story between Solomon and his wife. It follows their courtship (1:1-3:5), their wedding (3:6-5:1), and the marriage (5:2-8:14). We find a clear example of what Christian romance should look like.
Marriage is often lifted up as the preeminent goal in life. Even believers can be guilty of seeing marital intimacy — emotional, physical, and spiritual — as the source of life’s meaning. Such pressure can cause many problems. Dating couples may grow close too quickly and become physically intimate or have a break-up that is harder than it would have been had things not proceeded so rapidly. Singles may despair of their self-worth or rush into unwise relationships. Married people might commit adultery or get a “no-fault” divorce when they learn, much to their chagrin, that their spouse is imperfect and cannot possibly meet all of their needs.

One of the clear themes of this book is sex in the context marriage. (Song of Solomon 4:10–16; 5:2–5, 10–16; 7:1–10). Unfortunately, many Christians treat sex as if it is a taboo topic. When we are unwilling to let God’s Word define something for us, the world will be quick to do so for us. Sex is a great example of this as we have allowed the world to warp and pervert what it means to have sex rather than allow God to define it for us. He does so in the Song of Solomon. This book talks about the profound opportunity we have for intimacy through sex when practiced between a man and wife who are connected through the covenant of marriage.

Another clear theme of this Book of the Bible is to wait for God’s timing rather than rushing into or forcing things to happen in our timing. “Do not awaken love until it pleases” appears several times (2:7; 3:5; 8:4). In other words, both men and women must let love arise on its own and not rush into it or force it to happen. When it is time, self-sacrificial love will arise naturally. Pornography is an example of not waiting for God’s timing and instead choosing a cheap substitute that meets none of the needs it promises to. Sex outside of marriage between a husband and a wife is another example and there is great pain when the intense intimacy experienced is combined with a lack of commitment.

In all things, God wants us to wait on Him and romantic relationships seemingly are the most difficult to give to him. Not awakening love before it pleases does not mean we wait around for it to happen; men and women can pursue each other. It does mean that we dare not rush into love until we are ready to handle it responsibly, under God’s direction.
Great theological minds have spent much of their time debating whether or not this book is literally about a husband and wife, thus providing an example for us, or if it is allegorical with the husband representing Christ and the wife representing us. Rather than disagree with either side, it is entirely possible that this book is to be translated both literally and allegorically.

Ephesians 5, while defining the marriage relationship between man and woman, also declares that the marriage covenant is a proper way to understand the relationship between Christ and His bride, the church. In 1859 the great
Presbyterian preacher James Henley Thornwell had the opportunity to announce the wedding of his daughter, Nancy.
In the weeks leading up to this event, the hundreds traveling would end up at a funeral, not a wedding as she took ill
from cholera typhoid and began a rapid demise. Thornwell, overcome, came to his daughter’s bedside in her waning
moments and said, “Oh my dear daughter, such tragedy!” She replied, “Father, do not weep. I know my Savior.” He
said, “But this was to be your wedding, your whole life now before you.” She, the youth, yet with greater maturity
said, “Father, but I now go to a greater Groom that I am prepared to meet.” Nancy Witherspoon Thornwell was laid
to rest in a wedding gown, and the tombstone reads: “As a bride prepared for her Groom.”

Life Group Questions
1. Do you believe that God created romantic thoughts and feelings in us? For what purpose?
Before marriage to draw us to our spouse and after marriage to create excitement , fun, and intimacy
2. How does God’s design for sex and marriage compare that of our culture’s view?
Open ended
3. Sex has become a taboo topic amongst Christians. How has this worked against God’s plan?
Open ended
4. Often times it seems as though the purpose of our existence is to get married. What does God say our purpose
is? Glorify Him.
5. What are the implications of misunderstanding or confusing our purpose in life?
As with anything, when we become unclear on the goal, we become unable to achieve the true goal.
If God’s plan for us is to bring glory to Him and we do not to so, we end up bringing glory to something else

Friday, April 27, 2012

Time To Confess


I Confess... that I posted already this morning and it disappeared. Dang it!

I Confess... that I am at my goal weight. I am in the healthy range of the BMI. 3.5 months of eating right and going to the gym have worked out. I feel better, I look better, clothes are fitting better. Yay!

I Confess... I have 2 wks until Guatemala. Still just excited, not really nervous. We'll see what the next 2 wks bring. I may be a mess before its time to leave.

I Confess... That my Drewby is doing a PowerPoint Presentation on the Packers today at school. He is so excited about it, has his jersey on, and I am taking off this afternoon to go watch him.

I Confess... The Whiskey 12 motorcycle ride was amazing. Hundreds of bikes showed up to honor our fallen officer. Check out the pictures I posted earlier this week.

I Confess... I dont remember what else I posted this morning but I think something is missing.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

I Don't Like...

I don't like sad news.

I don't like hearing that my high school friend may have breast cancer.

I don't like hearing that another dear friend may have a debilitating disease.

I don't like hearing that my friend's mom's lung cancer has spread and she has 20 tumors in her brain.

But more than all that... I don't like that none of these people are Believers. All of their situations prove how valuable and short life is, yet they live like people with no hope.

The bible says to cast your worry on the Lord. Easier said than done, even for me, but somehow that gets me through the stressful times of my life. The times I have worry, I ask God to take that worry and anxiety from me. Worry is a thief. Worry doesn't fix anything. But I know the effects of worry when you are going through a medical situation.

I just pray for all three of these situations. I ask that God bless them. That He uses these situations to put people in their path who can show them His love and goodness. I pray that God guides these doctors and nurses as they have procedures done. I pray that God heals them, if that his His will. Lord, I hurt for these people. Please help me to share Your love in a way that is eye opening to them, let me have the words and the actions to help them. Let me help lead them to You so that regardless of what happens in this life, no matter what pains and struggles they go through, that one day we can all be together in eternity dancing with no more tears. Lord, I say these things in Your mighty name. Amen.

I want an "Ah Ha" moment

I was looking up some information on Cruz Blanca, Guatemala yesterday... weather, customs, etc. I want to have as much information as I can about where we are going to be and I came across an article that a photographer wrote about his experiences in the very same village I am going to. I copied it for you to see below. Be sure to check out the link b/c there are pictures of the kids and village. Maybe I'll even get to meet some of them!!

The "Aha" Moment

Feb 20, 2012

By Christian Begeman

Sometimes in life we are blessed with “aha” moments. These moments become, for lack of better words, mental photographs of a specific time that changed your life. It may be a small change or it may be huge. In either case, these “moments” soon become part of who you are. Such moments have been few and far between for me. You see, like most people, I don’t like change all that much. I’m pretty content living here in South Dakota where I have family close by, a good job and good friends.

A couple years ago, I was asked by a good friend to consider helping an orphanage he was involved with to make a video presentation for their supporters. This orphanage was in Tanzania, Africa. Long story short, I went. I experienced at least two “aha” moments on that trip. One was confirming my love of travel and the wonder of creation as I reveled in the sights and sounds of Serengeti National Park. The other more important moment came when a handful of four-year-old orphans stole my heart on the shores of Lake Victoria. I wasn’t the same after that.

Fast forward to this February. I find myself in the small yard of VisionTrust Guatemala’s Learning Center in a poor, indigenous village of Guatemala when God blesses me with another “aha” moment. I’m there to assist a friend of mine learn how our church can become involved in helping the less fortunate and orphans of the world. I’m busy doing my “get the award-winning photo” thing so we can tell the story of VisionTrust to our church. As usual, I am loving every minute of the photographic experience. The kids were great subjects, full of life and happiness. Then class breaks and this little guy makes a beeline for me and proceeds to clamp onto my leg in what for him must have been a massive bear hug. That was when the “aha” moment started to happen. I kneel down and try to interact as best I can. I don’t know Spanish, but he doesn’t care. He is giggling and smiling. I pick him up like I do my nephew and hold him above my head and he laughs harder as he soars in the air.

That was the moment. This kiddo was teaching me the lesson I needed for the trip. The fact is I need him as much as he needs me. Yeah, he might be short on food and clean clothes. He probably hasn’t seen his daddy in weeks…if at all. But he’s not short on love. He’s not short on gratitude and hospitality. He may experience poverty materially but he’s showing me by example that I experience poverty relationally. This American rugged individualism that has shaped me has left something important out. The fact that I don’t “need” anyone’s help to live comfortably has made me selfish and even a bit arrogant without even realizing it. Volunteering in poor countries continues to teach me that truly helping the needy means more than just handing out food and saying a prayer. Getting to know people and loving them is what matters. It is how Jesus ministered 2,000 years ago.

I realize this column is supposed to be about photography, but I guess I wanted to point out how a hobby or passion like photography can be a means to change in your life. Going on vacations or mission trips are a great reason to take your camera and document where you’ve been and what you’ve seen. However, don’t get so caught up in “getting the photo” that you never really meet the people or learn about the culture you visit. You might miss your “aha” moment. If it wasn’t for a little Mayan boy full of excitement and love, I would have.

I pray that God uses me in ways that will blow my mind. I ask to go in with an open heart, open mind, and open eyes. I ask that God move big inside of me. This trip isnt just about the Mayan people we are serving; it is about deeping my relationship with Him. Use me, Lord!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Yippee!!! Favorite Color Swap!

I am joining in again on this Favorite Color Swap hosted by Mamarazzi. I am super excited! Interested? Go to to find out more about it.

Books of Wisdom

The Life Project: Proverbs and Ecclesiastes
Candice Roberts

This week we are talking about wisdom literature of the Bible, Proverbs and
Ecclesiastes. It got me thinking about the absolute lack of wisdom in our world and
the overabundance of emotion. Emotions are from God, we learned this through the
book of Psalms last week. And though God delights in the expression of our emotions,
we were never meant to be a people ruled by our emotions. How many times have
you heard someone say, “it just feels right, I am following my heart,” or the Christian
version “I have a peace about it”. I know I have heard it. In fact, I have said this on
many occasions. And what I really mean is that my emotions are telling me “its okay”.
But we are not designed to be ruled by our emotions. Instead we were meant to be
ruled by the wisdom that comes from God. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the LORD
with all your heart , and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit
to him, and he will direct your paths.” If we want God to direct us, and I am sure that
sounds good to all of us, maybe we should unpack this proverb.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart …… If we are trusting in God, then we are not
trusting in ourselves. Proverbs 28:26 says, “He who trusts in himself is a fool, but he
who walks in wisdom is kept safe.” But how many times, have we trusted ourselves
instead of God? We trust ourselves when we cheat on our taxes, because we are sure
God won’t provide for us. We trust in ourselves when we argue with our spouse,
because we are sure God cannot restore our relationship. We trust in ourselves when
we use substances, because we are sure God cannot fill our emptiness the way
substances can. There are really countless ways that we as emotional human beings
decide to trust ourselves instead of our God. If we want God to lead us, if we want for
Him to make our paths straight, we must first acknowledge that we don’t have a clue.
Lean not on your own understanding….. In Job28:12 and 13, God’s word says, “But
where shall wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding? Man does not
know its worth, and it is not found in the land of the living.” Our understanding is a
cheap imitation of God’s wisdom. It is a counterfeit, and like counterfeit money, it
might look good, but ultimately it is worthless. Our understanding is worthless. The
wisdom of God is priceless. Proverbs 8:10-11 says, “Choose my instruction instead of
silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies,
and nothing you desire can compare with her.” We should choose the instruction of
God, His Word. God’ word is the benchmark for decision making. If a decision we are
making goes against what God says in His word, we are not using wisdom.

What does your wisdom come from? Does it come from emotions gone wild, your own
understanding of things? Or does it come from our Lord? James 3: 13-17 says, “Who
is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds
done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish
ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does
not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have
envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the
wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate,
submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”

In all your ways, submit to Him…… When the Bible uses the word submission, the
word used is the Greek word "hupotasso" which means to line up under. It is a military
term meaning “to get in line.” James 4:7 says “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist
the devil, and he will flee from you.” You see God is our commander; He has a way of
doing things. His way is pure, peace-loving, considerate, full of mercy and good fruit,
impartial and sincere. His way is for us to “line up” under Him. And as this verse
shows us, submission to God is a key component in resisting the devil. Are you tired
of the devil having a hold on your life? Submit to our Lord. Submit to His ways. Lean
on His wisdom.

And He will direct your paths..…. How does God do this? Even if we are trusting in
God; even if we acknowledge that our understanding is useless, even if we are
submitting to God’s marching orders; there is still a chance that we will miss what God
wants us to do. There is still that possibility that we will realize we don’t have the
answers, but we don’t know what the answers are. We NEED God to direct our paths.
I am going to bring you back to your childhood Sunday School class. How does God
give us His wisdom? Through prayer and, as referenced earlier, Bible Study; THE
BASICS!! James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives
generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” That’s prayer.
Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” That’s bible
study. You can’t leave out either one. And by the way, God doesn’t change His mind.
If you hear something in your prayer life, that doesn’t measure up to God’s Word, it
was probably the pizza talking.

Life Project Reading Plan
Monday- Proverbs 1-7
Tuesday- Proverbs 7-15
Wednesday- Proverbs 16-23
Thursday- Proverbs 24- 31
Friday- Ecclesiastes 1-5
Saturday- Ecclesiastes 6-12

Whiskey 12 Ride

On Saturday we went over to Golden Spike Harley Davidson to get ready for the Whiskey 12 Ride. This ride is honoring the police officer who died in the line of duty in January. His birthday is this week so a fundraiser motorcycle ride was planned in his honor.

When we pulled up to HD around 11am, I was amazed at the amount of bikes that were there. Up and down the street, filling their parking lot and nearby parking lots… There were a lot of police officers in their uniforms standing around as well as some others who were in plain clothes that I recognized. What a turn out! They had lunch… music… vendors, etc.

Bryan and I decided to leave before the group b/c I wanted to get pictures of them all coming in at the first stop… which was up the canyon at the ski resort, SnowBasin. I am so glad we did b/c it was amazing. You could hear the bikes come up the canyon before you saw them… the police officers were leading the pack. It was so cool.

The next stop was the cemetery for a little tribute where Office Francom is buried. I can’t even put into words the feeling I had there. To see HUNDREDS of bikes come in and line the paths of the cemetery… it was breath taking. His dad spoke for a bit, thanked everyone, etc.

There was an after party at Brewski’s so we dropped our bike off at home and went over for dinner. Pizza, couple beers, and won some raffles. It was a fun night.

Ogden really showed the love for this police officer. It was an awesome thing to be part of.

Police Officers leading the bikes into the cemetary

Standing around Jared's Grave

Officer Francom's final resting place. RIP

Friday, April 20, 2012

Time to Confess


I Confess... Ty's biopsy came back begnin and her incision mark is healing nicely.

I Confess... She had 4 boys out front of our house visiting with her when I got home from work yesterday. Kinda freaked me out.

I Confess... I taught the Stars class on Wednesday night, by myself. Was a little nervous but we all survived.

I Confess... I am going on a motorcycle ride tomorrow. It's to benefit the police officer we lost in January. The ride is called "Whiskey 12", which was his radio name. It will go from our HD dealership, up through the canyon, stopping at SnowBasin, and then down the other side of the mountain, ending at the cemetary where he is buried for a ceremony. After that we will take the bike home and go to Brewski's for the afterparty for drinks, raffles, and music.

I Confess... I have 3 weeks until Guatemala. I am not nervous for the trip, I am nervous about packing. I am sure I am going to forget something and its not like I can run to Wal-mart while I am there to pick it up. That's going to be strange.

I Confess... I am in a video that is going to be aired on Sunday at church promoting our trip. I HATE seeing myself on things like that. I thought I was going to puke while we were taping it. Ugh!

What are you confessing?

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Book of Psalms

The Life Project: Psalms
Candice Roberts

Complaining…. Can I just say I hear a lot of it? I have four boys and a husband and I work as a psychiatric nurse. So believe me when I say, that my ears sometimes literally close up when I hear complaining. One of the funnier complaints I had heard in a while came from my 6 year
old, Owen. He told me that his brother Cael was downstairs in the basement hurt. Well, I had
JUST heard Cael playing his drums in the basement. Plus, I know Cael, if he was hurt, I would
have heard a lot of screaming. But to appease Owen, I just said, “Oh yeah?” “Yes, he is hurt.”
Big Pause…. I did not have the energy for this…… “Well aren’t you going to go down and
check on him? That’s what a real mom would do.” So I am not a real mom. That little fact may
come in handy one day, I am holding onto it.

Truthfully, if I think I hear a lot of complaining, I just need to consider our God. How much
complaining do you think He hears? How many times have I complained to Him? I have lost
count. I do know that I am in good company with many of the men and women of the Bible. In
fact over one third of the book of Psalms are psalms of lament, or complaining.

We can learn some valuable lessons from the book of Psalms. The first of which is that God is
not afraid of our complaining. Unlike me, His ears do not close up when we bring our
complaints before Him. And He always has the energy for us. Psalm 6:9 says, “The LORD has
heard my cry for mercy; the LORD accepts my prayer. “ Psalm 34:17 “The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them;he delivers them from all their troubles.” Psalm 116:1 “I love the LORD, for he heard my voice;he heard my cry for mercy.”

The second lesson we can learn is that there is no true worship without the wilderness. In
Exodus chapter 7 the Lord tells Pharaoh, “Let my people go so they can worship me in the
wilderness.” God intends for us to worship in the wilderness of our life. In many of the psalms we see that it is the wilderness, those seasons in our lives that are full of complaints, which bring us to a place of worship before God.

Psalm 63 says,You, God, are my God,earnestly I seek you;I thirst for you,my whole being longs for you,in a dry and parched land where there is no water.

It is in the wilderness that we become desperately aware of our need for God. It is here that we learn our only hope is in the Lord. This brings us to the third and probably most important lesson that can be learned in the book of Psalms- the power of God’s presence. There is one thing that God wants most from us;relationship, intimacy. And this thing that God wants most is the thing that we need most. We need God’s presence. I heard someone say once that we need God’s presence more that we need His provision. In the book of Psalms, the people of God are constantly facing difficult circumstances. War, famine, murder, enemies of all kinds; when the people cry out with various laments, they are always answered with God’s presence. God does provide. He does heal. He does deliver. To be sure. But the real answer to our complaints is not what God can do for us, but who God is to us.

It is interesting to me that God almost never answers our prayers in the way we think or wish He would. But He always answers prayers with His presence. And in the end, His presence is
enough. If we had nothing else, His presence is enough.

In Your presence is fullness of joy; Psalm 16:11 Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Psalm 51:11 Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? Psalm 139: 7 The mountains melt like wax at the presence of the LORD, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth trembles. Psalm 97: 5 When my enemies turn back, they shall fall and perish at Your presence. Psalm 9: 3 Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob. Psalm 114:7 Surely the righteous shall give thanks to Your name; the upright shall dwell in Your presence.Psalm 140: 13

So bring your complaints before God- He is big enough. And be prepared to be met with His
presence as He walks with you through your wilderness. “Yea, though I walk through the valley
of the shadow of death,I will fear no evil: For thou art with me” Psalms 23:4

Psalms Reading Plan
Monday -Psalms 1-25
Tuesday -Psalms 26-50
Wednesday -Psalms 51-75
Thursday- Psalms 76-100
Friday -Psalms 101-125
Saturday-Psalms 126-150

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Destination: Guatemala

One month from now I will be loving on the people of Guatemala.

I am excited... And little nervous... And happy... And blessed. I was able to earn more than my amount to go. I had some wonderful people donate to my cause. I was surprised by a few, which goes to show how God played into this all.

Now it's time to start packing... Got my lice-prevention shampoo (yikes!), got my hat and hiking shoes. Gotta borrow a big suitcase b/c I'm not sure mine is big enough. Time to stock up on batteries for the camera. I pray God not only works in me to serve these Mayan people, but uses me to photograph his creation. I want to be able to show people at home what Guatemala looks like.

I am asking for prayer... Safe travels, life changing experiences, safety in this forgien country, for my family that I leave behind, for the people we're ministering to, for the people I'm serving with... The list goes on and on. I feel that God has called me to this mission, to serve his people, so I'm not really worried or scared (as a lot of people ask me, I'm just really excited :)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Song On My Heart

I Lift My Hands lyrics
Songwriters: Christopher Tomlin;Matt Maher;Louie Giglio

Be still, there is a healer
His love is deeper than the sea
His mercy, it is unfailing
His arms are fortress for the weak

Let faith arise
Let faith arise

I lift my hands to believe again
You are my refuge, You are my strength
As I pour out my heart
These things, I remember
You are faithful, God, forever

Be still, there is a river
That flows from Calvary's tree
A fountain for the thirsty
Pure grace that washes over me

Let faith arise
Let faith arise

I lift my hands to believe again
You are my refuge, You are my strength
As I pour out my heart
These things, I remember
You are faithful, God, forever

I lift my hands to believe again
You are my refuge, You are my strength
As I pour out my heart
These things, I remember
You are faithful, God, forever

Let faith arise, let faith arise
Open my eyes, open my eyes
Let faith arise, let faith arise
Open my eyes, open my eyes

I lift my hands to believe again
You are my refuge, You are my strength
As I pour out my heart
These things, I remember
You are faithful, God, forever

And I lift my hands to believe again
You are my refuge, You are my strength
As I pour out my heart
These things, I remember
You are faithful, God
You are faithful, God, forever

Let faith arise
Let faith arise

Monday, April 9, 2012

Book of Job

The Life Project: Job
Matt Roberts

I am not a fan of cemeteries. In fact I might think it a little strange for those of you that are! It's not that I am afraid or even weirded out by them. To me it is just sad. Each tombstone represents a grieving family. A mom and dad wishing they had a chance to know their baby daughter. A lost widow whose life will never be the same again. Horrific tragedies, terrible diseases and unexplainable accidents. You will find simple tombstones that represent all a family could afford. Sad. Or maybe ornate memorials fit for a king. Just as sad. All those tears, all of that time and effort and in the end the story that is told is a story of death. There is nothing exciting about death for us who are still living. There is no glory in the grave. Nope, I am not a fan of cemeteries at all.

In the 18th Book of the Bible we read of the story of Job. Job had a great life! He had an adoring family whom he had the privilege of working beside every day; joyous dinner tables overflowing with life, a full house and a full heart. Job was also a healthy man. Even in his later years in life he was able to do the things he was passionate about doing, go where he desired to go. Isn't it funny the everyday things we take for granted? From the outside looking in Job had it made. Money, influence and power made him someone that everyone else looked up to. How great life would be if you could be like Job!!

Oh how fast things can change. Satan took notice of Job's charmed life and unleashed the fury of hell upon him. In what must have seemed like mere moments the tombstones began to pile up around Job. First catastrophe struck his livelihood. When our identity is caught up in our stuff it is an easy target, and in a moment Jobs foundation began to crumble. Next Job received word that his kids were all killed in a horrific accident. Is there anything that hits closer to home than our children? And finally Job’s health was stricken. In a second he became powerless against even his own body.

On every side Job was surrounded by death. I imagine this is much how the disciples felt on the day of our Lord’s death. Their friend, their leader, their Savior was ripped from their sides. He was mocked, beaten, humiliated and ultimately crucified. When Christ died, the disciples probably lost hope. I am sure they lost the confidence that they once had in God. Jesus was supposed to be the Messiah, and now he was dead. They were faced with a tombstone.

Imagine too what it was like for the disciples on Easter morning. Imagine going to the grave and being told by an angel, no less, that Jesus was not there, that he had risen. What would you feel? Disbelief, hope, joy? I think above all I might feel a sense of victory. Where there had been death, there was now life. Never before in history had there been victory over death.

We do see a glimpse of this victory in the book of Job. Job 42:12-13 says, “The LORD blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. And he also had seven sons and three daughters.” We see that God restored Job. But the death was still there. The children that Job lost did not come back. The grief and heartache he felt were still with him. There was restoration, but not victory. The good news of Jesus is that God wants to give us both. The death and resurrection of our Savior allows us both restoration and victory.

There are three dictionary definitions of victory
1. Defeat of an enemy or opponent. Isaiah 54:17 says, “No weapon that has been made to be used
against you will succeed. You will have an answer for anyone who accuses you. This is the inheritance of
the LORD's servants. Their victory comes from me," declares the LORD.
2. Success in a struggle against difficulties or an obstacle. Romans 8:37-39 says, “No, in all these things
we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life,
neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor
depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ
Jesus our Lord.”
3. The state of having triumphed. Colossians 2:15 says, “And having disarmed the powers and
authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”
Victory over Satan, victory even when you face hardships and struggles, a victorious attitude because
you know that Christ has already triumphed by the cross; God intends for you to have all of these today!

Reading Plan for Job
Monday- Job 1-7
Tuesday- Job 8-14
Wednesday- Job 15-21
Thursday- Job 22-28
Friday- Job 29-35
Saturday- Job 36-42

Friday, April 6, 2012

Friday Confessions


I Confess... that I totally suprised my husband last week when we were at Harley-Davidson. He had no idea why we were there and when we walked past Parts, I said "How about going to order your pipes since we are here?". He about fell over. It was so worth it.

I Confess... I just booked hotel rooms for Vegas in September. It's my husband's 40th birthday. We are going to celebrate :)

I Confess... My girl had a growth removed from her head this week. I'm a little nervous and praying it's not cancerous. I wont find out until next week what the biopsy says.

I Confess... my son moved up a rank in Royal Rangers. He was the only one in his class. He also got all the badges from this quarter. Way to go Drew. So proud of you!

I Confess... I am heartbroken over this kid from church. He bought a motorcycle last Friday and hours later was going to get a helmet and ended up being hit by a car. The medical staff said he needs a miracle to survive. Well, our God is still in the business of miracles b/c the latest update I've heard is that he's responding to people now. I know he's still got a long way to go but Praise God!!

Everyone have a wonderful Easter weekend.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Book of Esther

The Life Project: Esther
Candice Roberts

A lot of my friends have been going through a hard time lately. They have been facing things that are difficult, seemingly insurmountable obstacles. They have faced tragedies, difficulties, circumstances beyond their control. And I know that many of them are wondering, “Where is God?” I know they are wondering this, because I have wondered this when I have faced my own difficulties.

Four years ago last December, I drug Matt to the emergency room. He had been feeling sick for months, but that weekend, he didn’t even have the strength to lift his head off the pillow. The ER doc told us the news, Matt was in kidney failure; he had only about 5% function left. I remember at the moment thinking that God would work a miracle. But as my husband continued to suffer and the doctors continued to be baffled by his decline, I wondered if God had forgotten about us. Here we were struggling church planters with 3 little boys. We were on God’s team, doing His work, so why hadn’t He come through? Why hadn’t He rescued us? What could possibly be taking Him so long? Was God absent?

The book of Esther, I believe, is a book about a seemingly absent God. Do you know Esther is the only book of the Bible where the name of God isn’t mentioned? Read it, God is NOT in there. Now believing that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, infallible, we must believe the author of Esther left God out on purpose. Many scholars believe it was a literary tool that was used to accentuate the point of the book. The point being, when God is unseen, He is still at work providing for His people.

Think of the ways God provided for His people in the book of Esther. First of all He gave Esther favor in the eyes of the King when Xerxes was looking for a new wife. God put His gal in the game. Then when Mordecai saved the King, customarily he would have received a reward. But God caused the King to forget Mordecai’s reward so that it could be issued later when it would be most needed. Next God allowed Esther favor when she went before Xerxes unrequested. Esther should have been put to death for her requests, but instead she was honored. Then when Mordecai was set to be murdered, God caused the King to remember that he had yet to honor him. When the Jews were on the verge of annihilation, God provided a way of salvation. When you know the end of the story, it is easy to see the ways that God has provided.
But let’s not forget that the characters in Esther were people like you and I, and they did not know how the story would end. Esther was ripped from her home and given as a wife to a violent and vile man. Her uncle’s murder was being plotted and her loved ones were being persecuted. She was taking risks that might end in her death and she was given no assurances. It seemed a very bleak situation. Esther probably asked herself once or twice if God was absent. Mordecai probably wondered if God had abandoned them.

So how do we deal with our stories when we don’t know how they will end? How do we deal with the unpleasant, unexpected and unwelcome events of our lives? What do we do when God seems absent? First we must be honest with God, with others and with ourselves about the doubts we are facing.

Psalm 22:1-2 says
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest.
These are words penned by King David when he was facing persecution and attempts on his life. It is interesting that these are also the words of Jesus as he is hanging on the cross. It seems not even our Savior escaped the feeling of being forsaken by God. It is natural to feel abandoned when we are going through our darkest trials. It is honest and human to express our doubt. I believe this is why the Bible includes passages of scripture like this Psalm.

Once we have been honest and cried out to God, we must be willing to accept God’s perspective. We have to remember that the end of the story, which is unseen, is still within God’s control. The apostle Paul after facing great persecution and attempts on his life says this in 2 Corinthians 4:16 -18; “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

And finally, when we are facing trials, we must rest in Jesus and lean on God’s word. The following scriptures are good reminders about the grace and strength that Christ offers us. When we feel like God is absent, let us remind ourselves that He is near.
"The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18 "Fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand." Isaiah 41:10
"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me." Psalm 23:4

If you are facing darkness today, facing unimaginable trials, remember that you are in good company. Esther, Mordecai, David, Paul, even Jesus faced trials and loads that seemed too difficult to bear. Remember also that you are living in the middle of a story. And what seems impossible to you now, God will somehow work for good in the end.

Suggested Reading For The Book Of Esther
Monday- Esther 1 and 2
Tuesday- Esther 3 and 4
Wednesday- Esther 5 and 6
Thursday- Esther 7 and 8
Friday-Esther 9 and 10