Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Why aren't Christians Jews, if Jesus was a Jew?

Fresh from a home Bible study group last night, I take my eldest daughter to her gymnastics class. It's a great place to chat with the moms. A topic comes up.

"Hey, you're a pastor right? Maybe you could answer a question of mine. Why aren't Christians Jews, if Jesus was a Jew?"

Great question!

I felt a bit on the spot, trying to put my pastor hat on while appreciating my spunking little girl as she flipped and flopped across the floor. But Christ didn't ask me to be comfortable, just to share. You got it God....OK

Had to go into a bit of church history with the attacks on Christians within the Roman empire, not wanting to be attacked for even more than they already were, Jews kept their distance. Essensially saying, "Hey, we don't agree with them."

The sect which was originally part of Judaism, began to seperate itself. Of course there were other seperation factors too. I will talk about those a bit later.

But the think which caught my eye in this whole experience is that just this morning I was asking God how I could begin to share the gospel with this very Jewish woman I know whose daughter goes to gymnastics with mine.

Wow! Isn't God amazing!

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Butterflies in the air

Yesterday, I pulled into our local library parking lot. Due to lack of adequate parking, my daughters and I sat waiting for a space to open for several minutes. As we waited, I glanced at the trees and what seemed like several leaves floating through the windy sky. Upon closer examination, I saw these were not leaves at all, but hundreds, maybe thousands of butterflies. Very purposefully they flew through the air, occasionally one would stop and we could see the orange, black and white colorations on these small flying wonders. According to the Autobond society, they are called Painted Ladies and they were beautiful.

Southern California is bursting with color as spring has definitely arrived. Poppies are flourishing along with other yellow, purple and white wild flowers. They are everywhere. Allergies aside, this is a time of year I wouldn't miss for anything.

As the news shows us the tragedy of Terri Schiavo's death and the pain of Indonesians hit by yet another earthquake. I look at God's creation in it's intimate detail and I know He cares. He is faithful. He is present and He is strong enough to deal with anything.

I think of a hymn I enjoy....

"For the beauty of the earth, for the beauty of the sky, for the love which from our birth, over and around us lies. Lord of all, to thee we raise, this our joyful hymn of praise."

Monday, March 07, 2005

Thirsty? Get Water!

Are you thirsty?

As I was driving home from church one Sunday, I glanced up at the hills surrounding the freeway. We had just experienced a couple days of rain, I could already see bright green blades of grass popping up everywhere. How powerfully the land responds to just a little bit of water!
Jesus referred to himself as “the living water” when He met a Samaritan woman at the well. This must have been a strange illustration, yet we need to long for Him in the same way the earth longs for even the smallest bit of water. The results would be just as amazing as changes in the earth. What would it mean for us to quench our thirst with “the living water”? How does one begin?
Water is the most important element in our lives. Without it, all life would cease. It is the one element which all living things have in common. Human beings have the ability to live for many days without food, maybe even months, but we can only live a few, short days without water.
Water provokes many images in our minds from peaceful to powerful and even destructive. Imagine the beautiful flow of a mountain stream, a cool and refreshing rain, or the quiet trickle of a garden fountain. Then, think of the incredible power of the Indian Ocean tsunami and the harnessed energy found in waters at the Hoover Dam. All diverse, yet all true of water.
Throughout the Old and New Testaments, we see stories where water bursts through the pages. The variety is amazing.
In the Old Testament, we envision Noah’s flood, the parting of the Red Sea, the parting of the Jordan River, and the story of Elijah (with no rain and then a torrent). In the New Testament, we see Jesus’ baptism, the calming of the storm, walking on water, and the woman at the well. And those are only a few examples.
With so much water flowing through scripture, one begins to think that maybe God has a deeper purpose than it first seems. A deep longing for God in our lives is also equated with panting for water.

“As a deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O Lord.”
Psalm 42:1

“O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” Psalm 63:1

Have you known this kind of desire for water?

I knew what it meant to long for water when I was pregnant with my daughter. Between my body’s need for moisture and her need for fluids, I was told to drink extra amounts of water. I was warned to beware of dehydration, the first sign of which was chapped lips. So I guzzled as much as I could daily. Wherever I went, a two liter bottle of water was at my side. Yet, my lips stung from being chapped for seven months straight. I now have a very real idea of what it means to “pant for streams of water”.
Imagine what a relationship with the Lord could be like if I longed for Him that way? His would be the first voice I would desire to hear in the morning and the last to settle my weary soul at night. Emptiness would be my only sensation if I did not have my daily fill of His Word. I would converse with Him continuously. His opinion would be the first sought on my decisions. Without His input in my life, I would feel as parched as Death Valley in the middle of summer.
I long to learn how, so I research what scripture contains and I discovered in the book of
Jeremiah, God let us know what our lives are like when we don’t long for the water He alone can provide. He knows that we try to fill ourselves with poor substitutions.

“My people have committed two sins: they have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” Jeremiah 2:13

Here, God also calls Himself the “living water”. No matter how many studies tell us that thirst can only truly be quenched by water, we still try to substitute other things. We drink coffee, soda, or other beverages, all in the name of satisfying our thirst. All we require is water.
I do enjoy the taste of water, but I confess I sometimes seek other tastes. I get tired of the same ol’, same ol’.
I wonder if I do the same with God. Even though only He can truly satisfy me, do I try to fill our lives with other things: busyness, possessions, work, relationships. All those things are “broken cisterns” that can’t hold water.
But Jesus gift is hope. He leads me to the Water, which is God himself.

“Whoever believes in me, as the scripture has said, streams of living water will flow within him. By this he meant the Spirit, who those who believed in Him were later to receive.” John 7:38-39

Remembering that woman at the well, Jesus asked her “will you give me a drink” (4:7), He verbally lifted the bucket for her and assisted her in seeing the true value of water to Him and to her. Shocked that a Jewish man should address her, she says, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (4:9).

Often we miss the depth of His answer, not knowing the history that water has had throughout the scriptures. He is offers her salvation, but He is offering it with a depth that takes time to reveal.

“Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” John 4:10

This is the same water that flows from the throne of God in Revelation 22:1. I love the image presented in Revelation 21:5-7.

“He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new?’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ He said to me: ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son.” (emphasis mine)

What a wonderful image to present whenever we are spiritually thirsty! We need to long for Him, no substitutions allowed.
Survival requires water. If we are going to survive and thrive, spiritually speaking, we need that which only God can provide. Water gives life. But “Living Water” is life in God through Jesus Christ. It is here we must begin and here we receive our fill.

Monday, February 28, 2005

Why "Lost and Blind"?

I think it's time I shared why I came up with the name Lost and Blind. I have been a good church going girl since I was born. I loved going to church from practically the same time. I loved the people, the singing, the teaching, but most of all, I loved spending concentrated time with the Lord. As silly as that may sound to some, I really did. (by the way, that doesn't mean I was a perfect kid)

When I thought I might be pulling away from God, I accepted(no one forced or even encouraged this choice) a $200 scholarship from a Christian College instead of a full-ride scholarship to a local community college. I thought it would help me to stay close to God. It did.

In my lifetime, I have barely cussed, never smoked (OK, once--but it almost made me puke), never done drugs and I have been drunk only one time in my life (apart from that I hard drink any alcohol at all). A friend of mine in college called me Pollyanna.

After graduating, I felt God calling me to ministry and knew that as a woman, the only way to be taken seriously was to go to seminary. So, I did. I earned my Master's of Divinity (a title too lofty for one person to have).

When I was able to find a fantastic guy to marry and did so, I was even a virgin the day we married. And I was 28 years old at the time.

As far as clean living and example giving go, I have pretty much followed "the rules". I have also been around many people who have seemingly done the same. It is so easy to get caught up in the "I am a good person" mantra as life continues. But I know that isn't true. I may be a kind person, or a good rule follower. But I don't have it all figured out. I need guidance. I need help.

The reality is that I know NONE of the things I listed would have been possible were it not for the guidance of my Lord and Savior in my life on a regular basis.

Jesus told a story about someone like me, which I didn't like very much. It's called the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Such a great teaching story! Why didn't I like it?

In it He tells of two sons. One stays home and is faithful to the father. The other asks for his inheritance and leaves only to lose the money on absurd expenses and wild living. He finally returns penniless, seeking work. The father is ecstatic to see his wayward one return and exclaims to the consistent older son that "he was lost and is found". A party is thrown for the returning prodigal to welcome him back, but the trustworthy, faithful eldest is no where to be found. So caught in his own self righteousness, he could not appreciate the joy in his family.

This story shows the love of God the father toward all who turn toward Him. It is also a warning and awareness for those who seemingly haven't turned that they are much like the oldest son and missing out on the joy of the journey. This has often been the interpretation of this passage of scripture. But I would add my piece of insight for what it's worth.

I think, based on the attitude of the oldest, he too is lost and needs to be found. He just doesn't know it.

When I realized that I could be and probably sometimes am like the oldest son, I didn't want to be lost or blind anymore. But the best way I could think to avoid such a predicament, was to remind myself of my own inabilities on a regular basis. Without Jesus in my life daily, I am Lost and Blind. I want to keep perspective.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Game time

I like to write about serious things here quite a lot. But recently, I came across a little game which had a strong and serious purpose. A blog called Buried Treasure Books was trying to get some attention for a blog-a-thon which happened this past Monday. So, I'm a bit late.

Anyway, I came across it at Amy's Humble Musings. Again, too late. So, I followed the path to Chasing the Wind this time I was right on time. The purpose is to draw attention to Carmon's blog Buried Treasure Books. He is trying to raise money for a boy in Ethiopia named Azanou so that he can have eye surgery. The details are found in an article he called "Party of Azanou". So far he has raised approximately $1200. Good going.

Well, now for the game. If you want to participate the details are below.

1. Who is your favorite musical artist, and your favorite song they sing?
Tough to answer, I love different types of music and various artists. My favorite is always changing. Right now, hmmm, I'm leaning toward Twila Paris and "God is in control".

2. What’s your favorite childhood memory?
Learning to ride my first bike. It was too big for me to reach the pedals and my parents didn't have the tools to fix it on the moment. It was my fifth birthday present. So, to keep me happy and let me use my bike they traded off walking me around the block while holding me up as I attempted to pedal.

3. Show us your favorite recipe.
1 med. onion
1 Tbsp. butter
2 large frozen or unfrozen chicken breasts
2 Large containers of chicken broth (low sodium)
3 large carrots
3 stems of celery
1 cup rice
handful of frozen green beans
2 tbsp. lime juice
couple dashes of salt to taste
1 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. rosemary
1/2 tsp. thyme
2 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf

Combine diced garlic, carrots, celery, and onion at the bottom of a soup pot. Add butter and saute until onions can be seen through. Add broth and seasonings minus parsley and lime juice.
Add rice. Boil for 20 minutes. Add cubes of chicken breast. Lower heat and continue to simmer for 20 more minutes. Add frozen green beans. Cook for 10 more minutes. Turn off heat. Stir in parsley and lime juice. (remove the bay leaf)

Enjoy. MMMMM....great on rainy days.

4. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?
Right here right now. I like where God has us and I trust him for the rest.
I would visit....Japan, Korea, more Mexico, Israel, many places in Africa and so much more...

5. What’s your favorite book in the Bible?
Jeremiah. Being a prophet wasn't easy and full of glory. Serving God is not for scardy cats.

If you want to play, make a "comment" and say "interview me".
I will respond by asking you five questions (not the same as you see here).
You post your answers on your own blog and you offer to interview someone else in the same post. Please let me know when you have your answers posted. It'll be fun.

Monday, February 21, 2005

How does one love the Lord, if they don't love their neighbors?

Recently I wrote that love is not simply a word or a feeling but an action and an attitude. If you know that, then "Love your neighbor as yourself" takes new meaning.

How do we "love" our neighbors? What do we do? Kindness is part of love, but it isn't the whole package. Tolerance isn't love, though it's better than intolerance.

My neighbors need prayer and I'm going to keep my eye out for what I can do to be loving.

Please pray for Californians during this hard rain. Mountains are moving. But it isn't an earthquake.

Friday, February 18, 2005

But what about the good people

I have recently had a conversation with a family member about those who don't know or actively follow God, but they are "good" and "kind" people. I feel like I can talk about this topic, in a certain sense, like the apostle Paul could talk to Pharisees. I wasn't like a lot of teenagers. I never stayed out extra late, I never drank alcohol or did drugs. I can honestly say I was a virgin until I was married at the age of 28 (not because others didn't try to change that stat). I never cheated on a test, never robbed a store. I never cussed out people or used extra crude language in general. Yet, I'll tell you the truth (as Jesus often said), I AM NOT GOOD.

I know my inner thoughts. I know my inner struggles. Perfection is something I am extraordinarily far from. I know my motivations.

On the surface, if I didn't know Jesus and His extraordinary goodness, I would possibly think of myself as "good". But in comparison to God, to Jesus, I am nothing. My goodness doesn't even come close.

So, about the question. What about "good" and "kind" people? God wouldn't keep them from heaven would He?

You can't con God. I can't con God. He knows the inside, not just what we present to others. Scripture really says it all....

Isaiah 64:6
" All of us have become, like one who is unclean and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags..."

No matter how clean and good I think myself to be, it is as filth compared to the clean, goodness of God.