Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Names of God:

My current Bible Study topic is the names of God, using The Names of God Bible from Ann Spangler as my guide.


But he held his peace, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. - Mark 14:61-62

Mashiach is the Hebrew word for Messiah while Christos is the Greek word for Messiah or Anointed One.  The New Testament identifies Jesus as the Christ no fewer than 530 times, a title he avoided throughout his life until shortly before his death.

Related Verses

Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord, and against his anointed (Mashiach) saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. - Psalm 2:1-3

But as God is true, our word toward you was not yea and nay. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, even by me and Silvanus, and Timotheus, was not yea and nay but in him was yea. For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us. - 2 Corinthians 1:18-20

But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man called also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. - 1 Corinthians 15:20-22

Monday, March 16, 2015

Trust in Him

Source: Tumblr

This quote goes very well with what my Pastor was preaching on yesterday, and something I’ve been thinking on a lot lately.

So often, when we’re going through a difficult time, we have trouble understanding why we are where we are.  We question why God has put us there.  And we become frustrated when we can’t immediately understand why.  We are a culture that wants everything right away and that gets frustrated when things don’t happen on our timing.

But if we are putting our faith in Jesus Christ, we have to allow ourselves to live by his timing.  Easy to say, tough to put into practice.

My Pastor has been preaching on people in the Bible who were going through difficult times.  Whose difficulties weren’t so much about ministering to them, but ministering to those around us.  Sometimes our trials aren’t for us, but are a testimony to others.  When someone sees us going through them, and putting our faith in Jesus the whole way through, what do you think they will take away?  That life has dealt us a poor hand?  Or that despite the poor hand, we trusted in and praised Jesus the whole way through?  If we continue to look to Him through our troubles, others are going to wonder what amazing power there is for them in Him.  

Everything we go through in life, we go through for a purpose.  It may be for us or for others.  It may be brief or long.  It may be mildly difficult or it may be the toughest thing we’ve ever had to face.  And most of the time, it won’t make sense to us why it’s happening. But God knows exactly why.  And He will reveal it to us.  Trust in Him, and it will all make sense to you one day.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Movie Review: "God's Not Dead"

Recently, there has been an explosion of faith-based movies at the box office.  From blockbusters that are questionable in the eyes of some (Noah, Exodus: Gods and Kings) to smaller films that hit big at the theatres (Heaven is For Real), Christian stories and beliefs are being told to larger audiences.  One of the movies that has hit big in the past few years is God’s Not Dead.  It opened in under 800 theatres but brought in $9.2 million its opening weekend.  

Starring Kevin Sorbo, Shane Harper, Dean Cain, David A.R. White and a special appearance by Newsboys, the movie follows a young student in his first year at university who is challenged by his atheist philosophy professor.  In Professor Radisson’s class, the topic of religion is a no-go.  In fact, on the first day of class, he makes his students sign a piece of paper stating “God is dead.”  But Josh is a Christian and he can’t do it.

Professor Radisson tells Josh that if he wants a chance to pass the class, he must prove in a series of presentations that God exists.  While he recognizes that it would just be easier to drop the class, Josh knows that he must stand up for his beliefs.  And so, he sets off to prove to his Professor wrong and show others why God’s Not Dead.

I watch a lot of movies and I’m often disappointed in the way that Christians are portrayed in film (television as well.)  Often, we are portrayed as small-minded, unintelligent, and judgmental.  It’s fine, I get it.  There are some of us who are like that (as there are in every group.)  But often Christian films have never met the mark for me in terms of quality.  So when I saw the trailer for this movie, I was hopeful that it would be something new and refreshing.

The premise of this movie sounds great.  Apologetics is a topic that I feel like I am in way over my head with but am very interested in.  To see it on the screen sounded great to me.  Plus, I can remember what it was like being a Christian on a university campus.  In fact, I took a religion course in which the professor declared we needed to leave our faith at the door in order to fully understand what we were studying and that was something I just couldn’t do.

But a lot of this movie felt over the top.  The professor’s hatred for religion? I’m sure the university wouldn’t allow him to be so openly hostile toward the beliefs of his students.  And the side stories were a little too stereotypical.  I know people who have a wide range of beliefs, but I’ve never met people like this.  

The story with the Muslim girl disappointed me.  I’ve spent a lot of time in close connection with Muslims from all over the world.  There are a lot of Muslims who have a heart to know Jesus but have to keep it under wraps because of what those around them will do.  But not enough time is devoted to this story to keep it from just descending into stereotypes.  Plus, one thing that really irked me was that the girl had to cover her face as dictated by her father, but he was okay with her wearing short sleeves.  In my daily life, I come across a lot of women wearing face-coverings, but I’ve yet to see one who dresses like that at the same time.  It just felt like whoever was writing the characters didn’t take the time to understand why the culture is the way it is.  This is a storyline that had great promise but wasn’t given enough time to develop.

Here’s the thing about the movie - it’s a very promising movie.  It’s a Christian movie so I’m not shocked at what it is portraying.  As a follower of Jesus, I’m happy to see these movies being made and shown in theatres.  The acting wasn’t as bad as I was expecting, nor was the production.  Christian movies are finally getting decent budgets and that is a great thing.  If the thought of talking to unbelievers about God scares you, this movie will point you in the right direction (and then go read the book of the same title by Rice Broocks.)  This movie is a great reminder of the ways our faith is under attack and how we should stand up for what we believe in without any shame.  

I’m just disappointed in the fringe parts of the movie.  In the same way that I get upset at how Christians are portrayed as stereotypes in secular films, this happens to others in this movie.  I understand that these stories were needed for the film but I think there could have been a bit more understanding and compassion in writing them.  

This is a movie that I would recommend to my Christian friends, but to anyone I know who is exploring the faith or not a believer, I would bypass it.  

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Names of God: Bright and Morning Star

My current Bible Study topic is the names of God, using The Names of God Bible from Ann Spangler as my guide.

Bright and Morning Star

I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches.  I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. - Rev 22:16

The morning star is the herald of the new day.  A new day represents a new hope and joy.  How many of us pray when we first wake in the morning, “thank you Lord for a brand new day.”  That first light in the morning, the first few hours of sunrise are so bright and so full of hope.  Morning star translates to a word whose literal meaning is “light-bringer.”  Jesus is our light in the darkness.

Related Verses

If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee. - Psalm 139:11-12

And that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity darkness.  The meek shall also increase their joy in the Lord, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. - Isaiah 29:18-19

Monday, March 9, 2015

My Fringe Hours

On Friday, I reviewed the book The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You by Jessica N. Turner (read my review here.)  In the book, Turner writes about the importance of carving out little bits of time in the day that are just for you, not for taking care of anyone else.

This is something I greatly believe in.  A few years ago, I wasn't taking care of myself.  I had two young children and was giving everything I had to taking care of them.  I would fall asleep on the couch in front of the television each night and eating whatever I felt like whenever I felt like.  The only exercise I got was chasing after the kids.  In other words, I was like every other mother of children under 5.

But it got to me.  It caught up with me in dramatic ways.  I began having panic attacks, then I became ill with the flu and wasn't able to get out of bed afterward, having fallen into a deep depressive episode.

Once I was finally able to get help, to get on medication, I realized that the only way I could make sure I was the best mother, wife, and person I could be, was to practice self-care first.  If I'm not whole, how can I care for the others around me?

My doctor and I decided I would spend no more than a year on the medication and in that time I would work on the things that would contribute to good mental health.  I started practicing yoga.  I started monitoring what I ate to make sure that I was getting all of the essential nutrients out of my diet.  And I started carving out time where I could read, knit, write, exercise, and do other things that mattered only for me.  With a balanced life, I'm much more capable of tackling everything that is on my plate.

There still isn't enough time in the day to do everything I would like to for myself.  No one has that kind of time.  So we have to pay special attention to what we do with our time.  I realized that I could watch less television.  Rather than watch whatever was on at the time, I watch shows on Netflix or DVD now and I'm watching only what I want to watch.  I always carry a book with me so if I'm out and I find myself waiting for someone or something, I can spend that time reading what I want to read.  I used to wake up when everyone else woke up, now I'm up before them so I can have some quiet time with my tea and the newspaper in the morning.  And when I'm having trouble finding time to sit down and read the Bible, I listen to an Audio Bible on my phone when I'm out.

We may not think that we have enough time and that is probably true.  But we can do better with our time.  How do you use your fringe hours?

Friday, March 6, 2015

"The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You" by Jessica N. Turner

Life is busy.  Most women find that life is one giant to-do list.  And nowhere on that list does it say “take care of self.”

But what happens when life is consistently like this? Day in and day out, we care for other people and other things but never for ourselves.  We lose ourselves, we burn out.  We become convinced that we are just not that important. 

Popular lifestyle blogger Jessica N. Turner knows exactly what that feeling is like.  And she was written a book to share her experience and show other women that there is time in each and every day for taking care of yourself.  This time of the day is known as the fringe hours, bits and pieces of your day when you absolutely can take time for yourself.  The fringe hours look different for every woman in terms of when or what, but every woman has that time in her day.

The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You is a book that many women will want to read.  Whether you are having difficulty finding that time for yourself or just need a reminder of why this time is so important, there are more than enough golden nuggets of wisdom in this book for you.

Years ago I learned why these fringe hours are so important in a very dramatic way.  After months and months of putting everyone first and not taking care of myself, I found myself deep in a depressive episode and fighting off panic attacks.  This made me realize that unless I take care of myself first, I can’t take care of others.  I began to evaluate what I was doing with my time.  I first focused on getting enough sleep, then added in yoga for relaxation.  And I began to carve out time where I could do things that were just for me - reading, knitting, writing, reading.  Now that I have made this an important part of my to-do list, I’m a much better wife, mother, and friend.  I feel like a whole person.  And that is why I'm glad to see a book that is reaching to the woman that I once was.

The book is divided into four sections: Explore, Discover, Maximize, and Live Well.  Turner starts out by explaining why we need the fringe hours, looks at what they are, and then gives tips to for making the most of your me-time.  In preparation for her book, Turner posted a survey on her blog to find out how women feel about how they spend their time and how they care for their own well-being.  She ended up with over 2000 surveys completed by women from all over the world.  The inclusion of survey results, as well as interviews she did, are a great touch to show us that we are not alone in this.  

Fringe hours don’t have to be a lot of time from our days.  It can be a half hour early morning before the rest of the house wakes up, it can be a few minutes while you’re waiting at an appointment, or it can be an hour before bed.  Whatever time of day it is, however long it is, or whatever you are doing, it’s important that you find time in the fringe hours that is just for you.

When we think of making time for ourselves, it’s something that we think is so easy. One would wonder if this is a topic that needs an entire book.  Well, if it was so easy, why aren’t we doing it for ourselves?

I received a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher through NetGalley.  The opinions expressed above are my own.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Names of God: Bridegroom

My current Bible Study topic is the names of God, using The Names of God Bible from Ann Spangler as my guide.


And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bride chamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? as long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days. - Mark 2:19-20

And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give hour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.  - Revelation 19:6-9

In the Hebrew Scriptures, Yahweh is described as the husband of Israel, describing a very intimate nature to the relationship.  In the New Testament, not only do the writers present the church as the bride of Christ but Jesus refers to himself as the Bridegroom, linking him to Yahweh.

In Biblical times, the bride and groom were separated from each other before the wedding, just as the church is now separated from Christ.  But we remain faithful until the day of our wedding, when we are united forever.

Related Verses

For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall they sons marry thee: and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee. - Isaiah 62:5

And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the Lord. - Hosea 2:19-20

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. - Ephesians 5:25-27

For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. - 2 Corinthians 11:2