Be Prepared

“Be on guard! Be alert!  You do not know when that time will come. It’s like a man going on a journey, he leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch. Therefore, keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone, watch!” -Mark 13:33-37

 

As I was driving into work this morning I noticed that the winter plow crew put up their snow stakes along the road and parking lot entrance. I remember when we first moved here, four short (or long depending on how I look at it) years ago and seeing the stakes along the road. We arrived to the North Country right at the beginning of winter, and apparently, according to all you local yocals, it was a pretty rough winter that year, 2014. We had LOTS of snow in the first part of November, keeping the kids out of school for, I think a week or more. I remembered looking at how tall those snow stakes were, with their orange spray painted tips. I wondered if the snow really got that high…it was just a few short weeks before I realized, yep, it sure did. What a winter wonderland we live in!

 

My family has lived in a lot of snowy, wintery places over the years, Alaska, Colorado, Germany…but until we got here, we were never forewarned to “be ready” like we were when we arrived that snowy November. Specifically, we were told no later than October 1st. “You better be ready by then or you may be sorry”. A laundry list of chores came with prepping for the approaching season, which is not news to any of you. I’d never seen so many well-seasoned professionals until we got here. We’d never had a wood stove before so having to buy wood, split it, stack it and eventually haul it to the basement was all new to us. I prided myself in being the newest frontier woman, the Laura Ingalls of the North Country. Hahaha! Yea, that excitement lasted a whole month, if that. The usual routine, as you know, every year is to tighten everything down, store all your equipment, put away the patio furniture and flower pots, pull out your A/C units, clean out the chimney, get the shovels and salt out and have them handy, winterize your vehicles and snow blower. I never knew winter would be so much work…until it was. As children, we looked forward to the joys of building snow men and sledding then coming in for hot chocolate in front of the fireplace. Now, winter doesn’t seem so fun and it seems much colder than I ever remember, and windy. Playing outside is a distant memory, now I do just as the bible verse suggests, I keep watch, wondering if we should believe the weathermen or not. It’s sad really, to think how the innocent and carefree attitude of our childhood passes away just as quickly as Old Man Winter moves in and steals away our gorgeous, yet short Spring, Summer and Fall.

 

We spend SOOO much time talking and thinking and prepping and planning to get ready for the coming season change. And we have a pretty good idea of a round about time when it’s coming. We set our clocks by the seasons, there’s never any question as to when winter is coming and usually we are always forewarned ahead of time by the cold breeze or rain that creeps in and takes all the beautiful leaves with it. It’s a pretty consistent timeframe (give or take a few weeks depending on the year I’ve learned) that you can drive down the road and see smoke bellowing from every chimney, imagining families warm and cozy inside, hunkered down as the first snow starts to fall. It becomes eerily quiet outside the heavier it falls and the deeper it gets. Boots, coats, gloves, hats all pulled from the closet and ready to put on at a moment’s notice. The first sign of a chill in the air we are locking windows and cranking the furnace.

 

What came to mind as I drove into work this morning was something we’ve probably all considered at some point in our lives. But what if we spent as much time prepping for the return of our Lord as we did to get ready for winter, or anything else that we invest much time and effort into for that matter? What would it look like if we stayed within the boundaries (like the plow trucks have with the stakes) that God has given us in His word to keep ourselves on the road less traveled. We have all the instructions we need for preparing right at our fingertips. We don’t have to go shopping for anything, He’s given us everything we need to “be ready”.

 

The Bible tells us that not one knows, not the angels in heaven, not even the Son knows when He will return, only the Father knows. We have a pretty exact time frame for winter’s approach every single year, it’s not typically a surprise. Even though the Bible tells us that we will begin to see certain things happening in the last days and lays out a list of things that will take place before His return, we still are unsure of the exact day and time. So we should be living expectantly towards our Savior’s return but not in a dreaded sense like most of us do (I won’t say all of us because I know there are many people who aren’t bothered or even look forward to it with joy filled hearts) with the gloom and doom approach of winter. No! We should have a joyous outlook for what’s to come when He arrives. I know I do not want to be left unprepared, but if I’m being honest, there are days that I live as though I am, taking the passing days for granted. Let’s not wallow in shame and pity, but instead put on the Armor, step into the race, and be on guard! Just as a child watches so diligently out the window for the first snowflake to fall so they can run outside to enjoy it, we too, child and adult alike should be ever so watchful and joy filled for His return. It’s certainly those who are ready that will find joy and excitement in that day, those who are not will remember the above verse and wish they’d prepared as well as they did for the coming winters. Will you be left out in the cold unprepared or will you be joined up in the clouds, warmed by the glory of His light and love?

 

If Jesus came back for us today…would you feel confident that you’ve forgiven those you need to forgive? Would you have done well investing more in people than in purchases or wasted idols? Would you have asked for forgiveness where you need to? Would you be caught on a slippery slope spiraling downward, possibly taking others with you who didn’t even know they should be preparing? Or would you have already shoveled and salted the walkway so you don’t fall as you step, ensuring others that walk with you don’t fall either?

 

Blessings as we prep for both winter and the much awaited sound of trumpets!

 

Leah Parkin

Oct 30, 2018

 



The Sweeper

The Sweeper

 

God gave me a vision as clear as day while I was sitting at my desk reading His word today. I think in sharing it, it will help you see too just how passionate He is for us to reach our ultimate glory goal, to meet The Mark. He brought to my mind, an Olympic curling team. “Odd”, I had thought, but He knows me best and it was an excellent visual to help me understand how much He truly cares that I do this life well. He has me in a season of preparation I believe. For what, I’m not sure just yet but…that shouldn’t matter. I’m choosing to trust Him through it and in the meantime allow Him to show me things in my simple minded ability to understand.

 

The interesting thing about the sport of curling is that if you read the description through spiritual lenses you can see just why God showed me this sport specifically. I had to do some research because, though I had a general idea of what curling was, I knew there must be a reason for the very specific sport He brought to mind. His amazing love for me/us is overwhelming!

 

The key components in the sport are the stone, the brush used by a sweeper, the delivery stick, a playing field called the sheet, and a goal called the house. The ultimate goal of the game is to get the stone down the sheet and to land in the house as accurately and as smoothly as possible. The sheet is covered with drops of water that cause the stones to deviate from a straight path. In curling, the universal rules are explained that an intentional push of the stone is made by the delivery stick and the desired direction the stone travels is to wherever the person holding the stick decides to push it. Silly us! Are we ever really in control? The brush is used by the Sweeper (or Jesus in my vision) to diligently sweep in front of the stone to smooth the traveling surface and this job is described as CRITICAL. Sweeping changes the path of the stone after it’s thrown down the sheet. As the sweeper works fervently to do his/her job, the ice warms and melts and friction is reduced, which hinders the stone from deviating from the desired path and in turn allows it to move straighter… towards the final mark…where it counts, where all the hard work performed ahead of arriving at the mark is finally justified and clear. The Sweeper needs to be skilled and have an accurate knowledge of whether or not it’s the right time to sweep as that intuitive action will lay the terrain of the foundation upon which the stone travels to it’s final destination.

 

Have you ever watched an Olympic curling game? The Sweeper is in a deadlocked, hyper focus, not on the mark at the end, but on the stone that he/she’s leading down the sheet. The face of the sweeper is so intense as you can see their only and immediate goal is to help that stone land on the mark, not just before the mark, not beyond the mark, but dead center. That’s where the most points come from. That’s how you win the game. The stone would never make it to the mark without the Sweeper. See, God doesn’t need to keep His eye on the mark, He’s already been there, He put it there and He knows how to get us there without even focusing on it. It’s not the mark that will move, stray, hide, or run away. The mark will always be where he set it from the very beginning. It’s immovable just as His love for us is. Instead, His focus stays on us and how to best get us to the goal.

 

If it’s left up to the stone to try and navigate the playing field without the Sweeper, it would keep getting stuck on the ice that formed in front of it. With intense sweeping, the ice is melted and those jagged edges are smoothed away. Our God is a mountain mover! He never stops working on our behalf! The stone would go too far left or too far right or it might completely stop and not be able to move again without the help of the Sweeper. Our God goes before us on our journey, confident of the mark and how to get us there, and as we keep our eyes on Him, He’s keeping His eyes ALWAYS on us. We may detour (we will at times), but He stays one step ahead of us, sweeping, sweeping, sweeping to make our paths straight, getting us to the House in His perfect timing. Now, that’s not to say that our Christian walks will be trouble free but it does mean that we can be confident that as long as the Sweeper is there and we are working together with Him as a team that we will always meet the mark, reach the House. The mark may seem far away right now, but none of us really know how far our marks are. It’s those daily choices that, if we stay on His team, eventually will have us dead center when we draw our last breath, even if we are struggling on a daily basis to get there right now. Isn’t that exciting? Reassuring? Hope filled stuff folks!

 

Team is a keyword here. We are a team with Jesus. It’s not just Him over there and us over here. No. We are wearing the same color, Crimson. We are striving for the same goal, we are not opponents unless we decide ourselves to stop being part of His team and go play against Him. What a perfect example of sportsman like behavior He is though, am I right? Because even when we do chose to leave His team, He is still willing to take us back when we realize the error of our ways, that we left the winning team. He never left. We did/do. He didn’t say, “eh, forget her! She did me wrong. I’m done”, and then stomp off the ice throwing his equipment. Nope. He just patiently waits, never dropping the brush (the most important piece of equipment in the game of curling). He’s still sweeping, working on the path to keep it clean for us. He is interceding to the Father for us on our behalf while we are out there acting a fool. Putting walls of grace and mercy up so we are bumping into Him everywhere we go. He is sending help and angels to go and protect us while we are making efforts to score for the other team. Why? Because He sees what we’d be missing out on and He hates the idea of not getting to celebrate the victory with us.

 

He wants so badly for us to reach the goal that’s set before us. So much so that He’s willing to go before us and prepare the way. It’s not a guessing game. He’s prepared a room for us in His House. The path has been set, the destination is there in the future and we have the instruction booklet, the GPS, the Sweeper and His Helper to guide us there. It’s not as if we have to be wandering around in the dark unsure if we will ever actually reach some uncertain place. NO! It’s certainly there. And the exciting part is there’s potential and blessing in pursuing His path. A goal to be achieved gives us purpose in the act of achieving it. If we didn’t know what we were working towards or weren’t even sure if there was anything out there to work towards then we’d feel hopeless, (imagining all those who don’t know Him, we have a lot of work to do brothers and sisters) but in God we are given an unmeasurable amount of hope because we already know that there is so much more out there than we could ever imagine on the other side of this earthly journey. God is not just waiting at the end for us, He’s also running right next to us, bringing us cups of water, walking with us when we can’t run, carrying us when we can’t walk, pushing us from behind as our rear guard and He’s even on the sidelines shouting, “You’ve got this!” “Keep going!” “Don’t give up!” “You’re almost there!” “I know you’re tired!” “I know it hurts!” “ I know you think you can’t go any further, endure anymore disappointment and pain, I know! You will overcome because I am IN you! All that I have is yours and there’s so much more you can’t even see or begin to imagine if you would just…keep…going!”

 

How about you? Would you allow God to come in and sweep you off your feet? Would you allow Jesus to invade your space and sweep away all the cobwebs?  It’s up to you, He won’t force himself upon you, but He’s always there waiting to guide you to your eternal Home, His house. Join His team, get off the bench and get in the game. Your sheet is full of faith building opportunities, let Him help you make the mark. We can’t do it without the Sweeper! 😉

 

Leah Parkin

Nov 9, 2018



Peace

“I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33.

 

Do you ever feel like you’re walking along in life, doing what you are supposed to be doing, or at least you think so anyway, and yet you wonder why you aren’t receiving any confirmation from God that you are on the right path? I’m reminded specifically of my Statistics class in college on test day. I was struggling on a particularly difficult problem on my midterm. I was pretty sure I knew how to start figuring out the answer but if only the teacher could just give me a nod, a wink, just pass by and give me an indiscrete thumbs up, you know, something to reassure me that I was at least on the right track. Boy, I’d sure have felt a lot better about the direction I was going. If I didn’t start this problem off on the right step, I could have went in a whole different direction and came up with an entirely different answer that wouldn’t have been accurate. It may have looked good, but sure wouldn’t have landed me where I was supposed to be. But, on test day the Professor was silent. No winks, nods or thumbs up. Just silence. Sitting behind his desk trusting we’d all make him proud as he’d been teaching us this stuff all semester. Darn! Why hadn’t I paid more attention? Why can’t we have more than just an index card for notes? I couldn’t even read my tiny handwriting as I tried to write the entire chapter on my 3×5 index card. I had to pass this test, it carried so much weight for my overall grade and it was a prereq for my next semester course. Talk about pressure. But…we were calmly reminded by Professor Randall before we began our exam that everything we needed to pass this test had already been given to us. He set the timer and said, “begin.” All the math nerds got right to work and were on page two while I was still biting my nails trying to figure if he wanted us to write first name, last name or last name, first name. I finally start and it isn’t so bad until I realize I forgot to write the rules for figuring out the margin of error for standard deviation on my index card at which point the only statistics I was sure about was that there’s 100% chance I’m not going to get this answer right. But…a week later, and after scanning over all the red marks, I found out I actually passed with a 92%. So I didn’t get every question right but…I still hit the mark.

 

Isn’t that just how life is? We enter into a season of testing from God and all of a sudden when we need Him to be clear for us, when we so badly want Him to speak, He’s silent and we can’t get the answers from other people. But, just like my math Professor, God hasn’t left the room. Infact, He’s watching us with much intent. He’s set a timer and in His perfect timing our test will end. It won’t last forever, He promises that to us! So, are we going to do well and pass the test, acting and relying on all He’s already taught us, reading His love notes to us to keep us on track when we feel like we don’t know the next step? Or…are we going to throw our pencils down and say we can’t do it and give up? The thing with that is…the timer can’t be reset. It’s still ticking and your test is either going to come again because you refused to take it and take it well, or your time is going to be up and you’ll have missed the opportunity to take it at all. There aren’t always redo’s in life. Sometimes, but not always.  I’m eternally grateful for those times when God has given me a second chance at my screw ups but it makes my heart very sad to think of all the time I’ve let pass where I just chose not to perform or I performed very badly. You see, it’s in the quiet moments of our relationship with God where we really get an opportunity to rely on Him in faith. As Christians we are called to walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). God doesn’t expect us to be perfect, He already knows we aren’t. All He asks is that we at least follow Him into the storm. Step out of your comfort zone. Maybe you can’t hear Him, maybe you can’t see Him but you know He goes before you. His hand reaches out behind Him, like a mother as she reaches back for her child to grab hold so she can be sure he’s there as they walk through a crowd. He’s prepared you for such a time as this. Be confident in Him. You can’t fail with Him on your side. You’ve been warned that a test will come, we all will have them but you will never miss the mark if you’ve been listening to your Teacher before the test even began.

 

Whatever you are facing right now, as you read this, know that you’ve been given a test because there is greatness to be revealed in you that will only come from your trials. You aren’t called mediocre, you aren’t called a failure, you are called a child of the Most High King. To Him, you are an A+.

 

Leah Parkin

October 17, 2018



World View Pt 2 – Meaning and Purpose

Worldview Conflicts: Question #2 – Does My Life Have Meaning?

    Question Number 2 is not just a fascinating discussion topic it is a very clarifying question for all those who would call themselves believers. To address the issue, we have to clarify what we mean by “meaning.” Are we talking about lasting value in the lives of others, significant contributions to society, or are we merely wondering how quickly we will be forgotten when our life comes to an end? 

    Now, if you think back to our last post I asked the question: can a random cosmic accident ever have true meaning or purpose? The answer to this is a bit more complicated than a simple no, but no is the correct answer. The slightly longer answer is that from an evolutionary viewpoint life can have no true, lasting, meaning outside of its permanent societal benefits. So, if you haven’t done anything significant, then you haven’t really done anything other than use up resources that could have probably been put to better use. This is the plainly stated view of many Atheists like Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, etc.  These are the same men who believe that unborn children who have genetic issues like Downs Syndrome should be aborted in order to maintain societal resources for the productive and useful. In their minds, meaning and purpose are directly tied to your ability to validate the number of resources you consume. This is a sad, but growing viewpoint in our world.

    Throughout my life, I have met many people from all walks of life, as most of us have. I have never met anyone who desires insignificant, meaningless, existence. I suppose that people like this do exist somewhere. My prayer for them is that they meet the risen savior and find their true purpose through Him. That being said, the vast majority of people want to know that their existence has some kind of meaning or purpose. The knowledge that their life has something more to it than existence, fear, pain, and death. 

    If we were to explore the conventional definitions of meaning and purpose we would find the following: 

Meaning: 

noun

– what is meant by a word, text, concept, or action

– implied or explicit significance

    – important or worthwhile quality; purpose

adjective [attributive]

– intended to communicate something that is not directly expressed

Purpose:

noun

– the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists

– a person’s sense of resolve or determination

– a particular requirement or consideration, typically one that is temporary or restricted in scope or extent

verb [with object] formal

– have as one’s intention or objective: God has allowed suffering, even purposed it.

I hope you will agree with me that these definitions are not much help when it comes to finding purpose and meaning in life. However, if we pay attention, they do direct us toward the answer. Notice some of their defining terms: meant, implied, intended – reason, created, requirement, objective. These are all terms that demand an external source from which true meaning and purpose in our existence are derived. This would imply an outside entity. This same entity is responsible for our existence. This entity would naturally be outside of our influence or control, and only through communion with this entity that the true meaning and purpose of our existence can be discovered. This is the foundational premise of Christianity. That is it only through a relationship with our creator that we find out why we are really here. More on that in another post. 

    Obviously, there will be those who deny this premise, and that is their prerogative. However, those who do will need to answer a few questions. The first is from which of the few remaining sources do they find meaning and purpose. If you are going to rest on the idea of life as a cosmic accident, then you only have two options. Do meaning and purpose come from societal approval or is it self-determination?

    If self-determination is the actual source of our meaning and purpose, then we have to deal with the standards, or morals, by which we judge a person’s actions. We will cover this in more detail in the next post. For now, consider what that would mean to history alone. If we go the route of self-determination then we have to acknowledge that men such as Hitler, Mao Tis Tung, Stalin, and Pol Pot, who together are responsible for the deaths of over 100 million people through the 20th century, were successful men who lived their life in full pursuit of self-determined meaning and purpose. Methods aside, they mostly accomplished what they set out to do, even though history chooses to remember them as cruel and horrible men. In a twisted way, you could also make the argument that they gave their lives for their causes. So, who are we to judge them so harshly. What about Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood. Today she is heralded as a hero of women reproductive rights. History has chosen to lift her up as an example of greatness and courage. However, if you look into her own past, her reasons for starting an organization that has ended the life of more unborn children than every casualty, of every war in recorded history combined, you find a disturbing and often overlooked truth. Her goal was to provide a place where the races she determined to be unwanted, undesired, and unworthy to reproduce could be sterilized or reduced in population to a point where they could be controlled through the science of eugenics. Should we view her life as one of significant and lasting value just because she was able to bring her self-determined purpose into reality? History judged those men as tyrants because of the deaths they caused, yet holds her up as a hero in spite of the deaths she caused. If we went by numbers alone, those tyrants don’t hold a candle to Margaret Sanger. So apparently the self-determination path is not a valid one.

    If we allow ourselves to find meaning and purpose in society, then we must also agree that society as a whole must agree with and value our contribution. If what we do, or provide, is not agreed with or valued by society than our life was nothing more than a sad string of failures, and then we died. If that was not depressing enough, fear not, it gets better. The efforts and contributions that one segment of society sees as valuable can be viewed as harmful by a different segment of society. So, you can spend your entire life in service to one group of people only to find out that all the other groups couldn’t care less that you are even alive. Not to mention that what is valued in one generation may be vilified in the next. You could be loved and hated in a single lifetime. Does that mean that your life can have meaning while being meaningless? So, which segment of society do we follow, and from which segment do we allow our meaning and purpose to come from? The reality is that we will always support the segment of society that we most closely align with. This means that we are back to self-determination, and we already know that it does not work.        

    True, lasting, meaning and purpose is found in only one place. In a relationship with our creator, and savior. If you came from nothing, then your life will never really mean anything. But, if we are the result of a loving creator, then that creator had a purpose in our creation. As we draw near to Him, learn about and follow His word, we will not only find our true meaning and purpose. We will find salvation for our souls, forgiveness for our sins, and eternal life. Why would I pursue anything else?



Worldview Conflicts

Part Four: Worldview Conflicts

    Okay, so maybe my last post was a bit of a rant, but… it was a good rant…:0) Today I want to take a look at the topic I was supposed to look at in the last post before my frustrated mind found to how to control my fingers. How many in the scientific community believe that censoring, shunning, and intimidating those who promote ID or special Creation and their work, is in the best interest of scientific development. Many even believe that it is the only way to protect children from being indoctrinated by the religious superstitions of their parents. Bill Nye has actually as far as to say that teaching anything other than Darwinian evolution was a form of child abuse. A bit harsh to say the least. 

    The question that I want to address, over the next few posts, is not a technical one. There would be no practical way to direct all of the various arguments between the two opposing views in all the areas of scientific study in a single blog post. At least not one that anyone would actually read. The question that I want to examine is one of worldview. Most people spend little to no time ever considering their worldview or the impact it has on their thinking. However, understanding our worldview is foundational to the process of Biblical Apologetics, and essential to the process of ministering the Gospel in our present world. A person’s worldview is derived from four, fundamental, questions. At some point, like it or not, everyone answers these four questions. The hard part is making sure that your answers do not contradict the others. Sadly, this is all too common, even within the church. The four questions are as follows: 1 – Where do I come from? The question of Origin. 2 – Does my life have meaning? The question of purpose. 3 – How do I know right from wrong? The question of morality. 4 – What happens when I die? The question of destiny. So, Origin, purpose, destiny, and morality. Four topics that shape our worldview, and inevitably shape our lives, both mentally and physically.

    They seem simple enough. Maybe even too simple. However, once you begin to examine your answers, the challenges start to arise. Let’s take a look at the first of the four, the question of origin.

    This question, in my opinion, is the most important of the four. When we are contemplating the question “where did I come from?” there are only two possible answers. On one side of the aisle is the claim that you are the result of a random, meaningless, purposeless, cosmic accident. On the other side of the aisle, you are the result of intentional, purposeful, design. You will find people on both the ID – Creation side, as well as the Darwinian side of this debate who try to marry the two together with concepts like theistic evolution, the gap theory, etc. These ideas may be interesting to some, but they quickly fall apart as they fail to answer the real question. Is our existence the result of an accident, or intent. 

    For some people, this is not an issue that they take seriously, and from many pulpits, it is taught as a non-issue. Something that Christian should just not worry about because it is not a “Salvation Issue.” To be clear, they are correct. Our salvation and the forgiveness of sin is not based on our view of creation or evolution. It is based solely on faith in Jesus as our Lord and Savior. That being said, where do we get the idea that Jesus is our Lord and Savior? We get it from the Bible, and we trust in the authority of scripture. That it is the true word of God. That it has been gifted to us by God, through the spirit of God working through the hands of His servants and prophets. The first five words of this great gift are “In The Beginning God Created.” We take our need for a savior seriously because the authority of scripture compels us to do so. How can we say on one side that the Bible should be believed and trusted in all things, for the eternal salvation of your soul, while simultaneously saying that the accounts in Genesis, as well as anytime anyone else the idea that God created, are wrong? How do we explain the need for a savior to restore the connection between creator and creation for a sin that, according to some, never really happened? In short, why would we trust our eternity to a book that starts out with a lie? 

    This is the main reason why the atheist community works so hard to keep ID – Creation science out of the classroom. It makes no difference to them if the science is sound or the quality of the research. Getting people to deny the authority of the Bible is the goal, not scientific advancement. When kids, plugin along in public school, are continually told one story of how life began; eventually they will start to question the authority of Gods word. That may seem oversimplified, but global statistics show it to be frighteningly accurate. 

    In the next post we will examine question 2 – Does my life have meaning? In the meantime I would ask you to consider this: Can a random, cosmic, accident ever have true meaning or purpose?



Come Alive

The Valley of Dry Bones- Ezekial 37:1

37 The hand of the Lord was on me, and He brought me out by His Spirit and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones.  2 He led me all around them. There were a great many of them on the surface of the valley, and they were very dry.  3 Then He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” I replied, “Lord God, only You know.”

4 He said to me, “Prophesy concerning these bones and say to them: Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!  5 This is what the Lord God says to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you will live.  6 I will put tendons on you, make flesh grow on you, and cover you with skin. I will put breath in you so that you come to life. Then you will know that I am Yahweh.”

7 So I prophesied as I had been commanded. While I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone.  8 As I looked, tendons appeared on them, flesh grew, and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.  9 He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath,[a] prophesy, son of man. Say to it: This is what the Lord God says: Breath, come from the four winds and breathe into these slain so that they may live!”  10 So I prophesied as He commanded me; the breath[b] entered them, and they came to life and stood on their feet, a vast army.

11 Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Look how they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope has perished; we are cut off.’  12 Therefore, prophesy and say to them: This is what the Lord God says: I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them, My people, and lead you into the land of Israel.  13 You will know that I am Yahweh, My people, when I open your graves and bring you up from them.  14 I will put My Spirit in you, and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I am Yahweh. I have spoken, and I will do it.” This is the declaration of the Lord.

I really couldn’t just share part of this passage. In my opinion, the entire passage is important. One that I know well but haven’t read in quite some time. I was flipping through the Bible looking for something…anything to encourage my soul as I have recently found myself in a “valley of dry bones”. After some studying on this passage I learned that this part of scripture not only represents God’s promise to bring Israel out of their wilderness and to the Promise Land but this vision of Ezekiel’s also represents God’s Spirit coming to live inside each one of His believers to bring us back to spiritual life. The reason I say “back to” is because God had already breathed life into Adam when he created him, but then he died spiritually through sin so he needed a new life, spiritual life. The valley of dry bones depicts war torn people. An Army after battle. Not able to bring themselves back to life but by the power of God’s Spirit or “breath” one can live again. It’s a foreshadowing to our spiritual resurrection.

Have you ever felt as though you’ve lost your spiritual breath? Maybe you are going through a season right now that has you trying to catch it but you can’t seem to because it’s one thing after another that keeps coming at you. Maybe you’re in a season where the struggle is behind you yet you’re still laying on the ground trying to catch your breath. 

Personally, I’ve been in need of a spiritual resurrection for awhile. I’m not saying Jesus’ death wasn’t enough for me or that I don’t believe that His dying and raising three days later wasn’t real. No. What I mean by this, and maybe you can relate, is that my spirit has been parched and needs new Life and Breath. Spiritually I’ve felt lifeless and honestly, I know it’s for no other reason than simply having allowed myself to get to a place of such comfort that I’ve become complacent in my walk with the Lord. Link by link I’ve allowed myself to become bound. 😉 There’s no rocky boat in a weathering storm, no dark places of uncertainty, not even a crisis, just pure laziness because life is just going along with no hiccups or road bumps. My uneventful, mundane routine has ensnared me into what I describe as being caught in a fish net. My own wilderness. I’ve left myself unprepared. No Sword to slice my way through. Oh, the Sword is there, it’s always there. Stored up in my heart and mind, next to my bedside, even on my phone that I chose to spend more time on. Yikes! Wonder why I’m feeling parched? So, I just lay lifeless in the net. My spirit has been whispering to me for awhile now. Wake UP. WAKE up. WAKE UP!!! I’m not naïve to think seasons of trials will never come and I know I’m certainly not exempt from trials, but if I don’t get up and DO something I will find myself unprepared to fight. I’ve needed some encouragement for my soul and anything I’ve tried to do on my own wasn’t working. Have you been there?

Maybe someone around you might need encouragement. Would you know it if they did? Maybe they are just “playing church” on Sunday’s like Pastor George said in his sermon. It’s hard to tell from the outside. The person sitting right next to you in the pew may need you to speak life into them because they have gotten beyond the point of being able to help themselves. Maybe it’s why they came to church, OUR church, because they’ve heard we have a body of encouragers and they thought maybe they’d get that when they came. We all need help at one time or another in our spiritual walks.

Could God have just as easily spoke the word, snapped his fingers, waved his hand or simply breathed into these dry bones himself to bring life to them? OF COURSE!  But He didn’t. He chose to command a mortal man, Ezekiel, to prophesy to them instead. An opportunity to obey. A work to do, that can’t be done right without Him. A glorification of God’s mighty work through an act of obedience. He uses us, His believers, to get to be part of the greater plan. That’s exciting! 

To me, the most important part of this passage is in verse 11 where it says, “this is what the Lord God says”. You see, faith comes by hearing and hearing the word of God. If we do not allow ourselves to soak in His word then how will we be brought back to life from this valley? No drug, no food, no drink, no entertainment, no person can bring us the lifeblood that our spirits need to truly LIVE. Nothing other than the word of God. This passage also portrays a beautiful picture of speaking life into situations or people where there is none. So let me encourage you friend, to speak life into others, especially if you feel dead yourself, it will pulsate through your own spirit and begin to awaken you.

I was encouraged at work this week by a verse a gentleman spoke while sitting in my office, Isaiah 45:2, “I will go before thee and make the crooked path straight.” I felt a heartbeat again. God sent him. There was no doubt in my mind as it’s not often in a secular workplace people walk in your office, sit down and start speaking the Word. Thank you Jesus! He loves us and knows our needs. He cares enough to keep breathing for us when we can’t breathe on our own.

If you find yourself living in a valley of dry bones right now, or know someone who is, whether it be self-inflicted or God ordained, whether it be smooth sailing or stormy seas, know and remember that we serve a mighty, LIFE breathing and giving God who wants to bring you up from the grave. If your hope has perished, if your strength is gone and you can’t even breath in anymore…it’s ok because He will breath into you, if you allow Him. Word by word, breath by breath soak His Life into your tired, weary, complacent, soul. He’s the strength in our weakness, the joy in our trials. None other than Him!

And maybe, just maybe that fishnet you feel trapped in is actually Him trying to pull you up into the boat so He can set you free. Your struggle may be your protection. He’s stronger than our enemy and will get us to the boat but we have to let Him. Otherwise, our adversary wants to cut us loose after we’ve lost all our air and leave us lifeless floating on the top. Be encouraged friend in these trials of life. There’s still life and purpose in you. Allow someone to speak life into you and rise to life again! You are not alone. 

By. Leah Parkin, Aug 2018



Part Three: A truth we often overlook

Part Three: A Truth We Often Overlook

    Over the last 22-ish years of working in a Christian ministry of some sort, I have seen and worked with some fantastic groups of people. Hundreds of amazing, God-fearing, dedicated people who just want to do the best they can in the service of the Gospel. It has been immensely rewarding, and a ton of fun. At the same time, I have been able to work with a wide variety of churches and denominations. While the foundational similarities are usually there, some of the worship styles and practices can be startlingly different, and that can be a good thing. It would be foolish for anyone to expect anything other than the diversity that we see within the various expressions of worship. Our churches are diverse because we are diverse. We are all drawn to different things, and have differing likes and dislikes. For me, a large brick building filled with stained glass, wooden pews, and a bell tower would never interest me. However, it may be the very thing that brings someone else in the door. Just because I like the blues melodies of an electric guitar during worship does not mean that the sound of a pipe organ is invalid. It’s not going to get my attention, but it may get yours. This is why we have our various churches, and worship styles and they are differences that should be appreciated, even valued.

    As believers, it is not necessarily the church you attend that is the problem. Most of our issues come from either our inability or unwillingness to think through our own beliefs. For many years I have encountered are Christians that have a great deal of understanding on specific theological, or denominational, topics. It might be “End Times” or “The Early Church,” and the list goes on. They may even have well thought out arguments to validate and defend their views. However, when they try to explain them within the broader context of scripture, they end up in theological conflict. For example: I was talking with a young man once about the authority of scripture and he mentioned the heresy of some translations, and how they are ignoring Revelation 22:19 where it says “And if anyone takes away from the words of this prophetic book, God will take away his share of the tree of life and the holy city , written about in this book.” So, anyone who does not use the KJV only is in danger of judgment. This is an unfortunately common view for many Christians. The problem is that it does not mean what they want it to mean. So, I asked the young man if that verse was intended to be applied to the Bible that we know of today. His answer was an emphatic yes. As I began to talk to him about the history of our Bible, where the source texts come from, the dates for the authorship of the various books, and how many times it has been compiled and re-compiled his eyes began to open. Within a few minutes, his entire understanding of the scriptures changed, and he realized that he was misapplying Rev 22:19, and unfairly judging other Christians because of his own ignorance. The worst part was that he began to realize that his ignorance was self-imposed. He was merely regurgitating the doctrinal views he heard from other Christians without looking into it for himself. How many times, and on how many topics, do you think we do the same thing on a daily basis?

    When I hear people like Joel Huston, Mark Gungor, or Andy Stanley talking about why they cannot believe the accounts of the Bible in light of modern science, I am always deeply saddened, but I am never surprised. I have heard the arguments for over two decades now, and they have never changed. 

    You know, I just realized that I am not even close to what I was planning on covering today. When I write, I tend to just sit down and go. I usually stay on topic, but today… not so much. Well, I will try to get back on track in the next post, but for now, let’s just keep going…;0)

    Where was I, oh yes, old tired arguments. It may sound like I am speaking poorly about these guys, but the truth is that I am not talking about them. I have no desire to personally attack them, their publicly declared positions, yes. When someone occupies a role that is very public and maintains the level of influence that they do, it essential that we all have the willingness to stand up and say “excuse me, but I don’t think that is correct.” When I hear leaders in the global church forwarding the views of people like Richard Dawkins, or Christopher Hitchens, etc., I just get sick to my stomach. Not because they have those views, but because so many people will just blindly agree because of who they are.

    When I hear someone like Joel Huston say that “God used the Big-Bang,” or Andy Stanley say that “our faith does not come from the Bible,” or those who claim that the Bible is not real history because it talks about things that are impossible, I get sick to my stomach. I cannot understand the willingness to dismiss the accounts of scripture so easily. For example, just think about the Big Bang: That in the beginning, there was nothing and nowhere. Then, suddenly, out of somewhere, enough something appeared into our nowhere… turning our nowhere into somewhere, and our nothing into something. Then, all of this something exploded out into what used to be nowhere, and created everywhere…!!! Then they throw out words like the Quantum Vacuum, which contains nothing other than theoretical science as its foundation. How can anyone say that this line of thinking is any more scientific than “In the Beginning God”? Think about this, on one side they speak about their faith in the Gospels. Which contain the genealogies of Christ, going all the way back to Adam, the virgin birth, which is scientifically impossible, a ministry that continually claims that the entire Old Testament is true, and horrible death as payment for sin, and the resurrection after three days, which is also a scientific impossibility. While at the same time making the claim that creation, the garden, the fall of man, the flood of Noah’s day, the tower of Babel, and the list goes on, are all just made up stories.

    How do those who have had their spirits united with the living God so willingly, and blindly, walk away from the very word that chronicles the journey leading up to their freedom and redemption?  Next post I will actually deal with the topic I meant to look into today… for now, I guess, rant over…;0)



A response to Joel Huston Pt 2, a few things to consider.

Part Two: Defining Evolution, looking at assumptions 

One of the big stumbling blocks in the evolutionary debate is that the term evolution has more than one definition. On one side it refers to “change that happens over time”. Anyone that denies that things change over time is ignoring the abundant evidence plainly visible throughout the natural world. Evolution in this sense is visible, trackable, and testable. We see it everyday in all aspects of life, culture, fashion, and technology just to name a few. On the other side it refers to “the common decent of all life on earth through a single common ancestor via undirected mutation and adaptation.” The problem here is that this process has no evidentiary support. The main underlying assumption is that non-living chemicals somehow managed to merge themselves together in perfect alignment to, accidentally, kickstart life’s basic building blocks, forming amino acids. Then, through an entirely separate accidental and undirected process, these amino acids combined to form proteins, molecules, cells, and so on. This can sound amazing, even poetic, but what is being left out are the multiple levels of complexity that exist within each of these steps. The difference between these two processes is so large that the terms needed to be additionally clarified. To aid in this the terms Micro and Macro were added to  keep the two processes separate. Macro-evolution references the Darwinian process of common decent, and undirected biochemical development leading to life as we know it. Micro-evolution is limited to observable processes involving things like genetic variability. It also includes the processes of natural selection, adaptation, and speciation. None of the Micro-evolutionary processes are debated by either the Creation or Intelligent Design movements. In fact, they are completely consistent with the Biblical account and the concept of design. The problem is that when you say design it naturally requires a designer. In our minds there is no other way to explain the levels of complex programming found within each successive contributing layer of life.

A simple example of this complexity can be found within the cell itself. If chemicals can come together on their own, by accident, to form amino acids, and amino acids can, on their own, by accident, form proteins, and so on up to the first living, self replicating cell. Then how complex could a cell be. Think about it like this: cells replicate by a process of division. They literally make a copy of themselves. The “plans” for making this happen are located within the cell in whats called the mitochondria. More specifically, the mitochondrial DNA. This is not the same DNA that builds people. Thats found in your 46 chromosomes, which are also located within the cell. This DNA is specifically programed with all the information needed to regulate its own operation, and make another cell. So, the “blue prints” for making a cell are in the cell. Written in a biochemical language that has only four letters. At the same time the reason that the cell knows how to read and understand the language of the DNA is because the DNA contains directions for building the very “biochemical machines” within the cell that read, understand, and implement the instructions within the DNA code. The question that the Creation and ID movements are asking is very simple. How do you go from random elements floating in a pond to immeasurably complex, multi layered, biochemical programming without the aid of intentional design, a mind? It has been said that the probability of this happening by accident is about as likely as a tornado blowing through a junk yard and accidentally assembling a fully functional Boeing 747.

This, along with a host of other questions are what fuel the Creation and ID movements. While various groups will make the claim that we are anti-science, in fact what we are pushing for is to have the science currently being blocked and censored brought into the classroom; placed on the table for open discussion and debate. The difficulty with making that happen in our current scientific climate is that those in power are unwilling to even consider it. They claim to be protecting the public from religious indoctrination of researchers who may deliberately put their religious views into their findings. A question that we need to answer is rather or not their view is valid. I will deal with that in the next post.  



A responce to Joel Huston

A while ago I was listening to a song, done by Hillsong, called “So Will I”. I’ve heard it a hundred times on the radio and even thought about adding it to our churches worship song database. But, something about it just didn’t sit right with me and I could not put my finger on it. It has a pretty good melody, but a tad wordy for my personal taste. I was trying to look past all that because so many people around the world were enjoying the song.  What I didn’t like was the phrasing in the second chorus that says the stars were “Evolving in pursuit of what you said”. I just found that to be a very weird choice of lyrics. Shortly after that I ran into an article interviewing Joel Huston, the writer of the song. In it he was asked about some of the lines, as well as a post he put up on his twitter feed. His twitter post stated “Evolution is undeniable – created by God as a reflective means of displaying natures pattern of renewal in pursuance of Gods word”. It was at this point that I began to understand my hesitation. I can honestly say that I was deeply saddened to hear another global voice so willing to capitulate the authority of scripture to the deified ideas of Darwin. 

You might remember that in 2012 & 2014 another music artist, Mark Gungor, came out in favor of Darwin over Genesis. In several, very public, statements he wrote “I no longer have the ability to believe”… in either Adam and Eve, or the genesis flood. Even the TV preacher Pat Robertson, on his own show, made the statement that “people who believe in creation are deaf, dumb, and blind.” I find it very interesting that so many on the church are so willing to walk away from Genesis 1-11. Check out what we find in 2 Peter 3:3-6 3 “3 First, be aware of this: Scoffers will come in the last days to scoff, living according to their own desires, 4 saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? Ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they have been since the beginning of creation.” 5 They willfully ignore this: Long ago the heavens and the earth were brought about from water and through water by the word of God. 6 Through these waters the world of that time perished when it was flooded”(HCSB). We are warned that in the end times people within the church will begin to deny the accounts of creation and the flood. That may not seem like a horrible thing to some as a belief in a literal Genesis is not a requirement for the salvation of souls, or the forgiveness of sin. That authority lies with Christ alone. What so many in the church seem to overlook is that by walking away from Genesis, they also walk away from the authority of scripture. In essence they fail to consider some important questions. Such as, how to you get to Jesus without Genesis? How do we explain the need to be forgiven for the original sin of Adam and Eve if they are nothing more than fictional characters? How do you explain the genealogies that lead up to the real person of Jesus if those people never existed? More importantly, why would anyone place their faith in a book that begins with a fairy tale? This is all very troubling, and without a doubt, it will cause lasting problems for the church. As our Christian leaders around the world continue to yield the authority of Gods word in favor of the word of man we should expect nothing less than dwindling congregations, crumbling buildings, and increasing hopelessness. All of which we see throughout the “enlightened” world.   

It should be known as we continue that I am, unashamedly, a long time young earth creationist. I believe in the complete inerrancy of scripture and I fully believe that the natural world supports the word of God in all of its detail. It should also be stated that I did not come to this by means of my faith. I began to doubt the Darwinian concept while taking earth science in the 7th grade. I can remember clearly reading two contradictory statements about the age of rocks and fossils in the same chapter of my textbook, and both claimed to be fact. I have always had a love for all areas of science and the understanding of the natural world. Throughout high school I was fortunate enough to have science teachers willing to teach Darwinian evolution as it should be; a widely accepted theory that contains a host of problems, unfounded assumptions, and some plain old guess work that few in the scientific community are willing to acknowledge. To better understand what I mean by this I recommend Ben Stein’s movie “Expelled, No Intelligence Allowed”. It will help you begin to understand the degree of silence within the scientific community surrounding this topic. Even while I was in middle school I could see the contradictory nature of the “evidence” given, and the mountains of unanswered questions that are simply ignored or suppressed.

The problem is not, as some in the church have suggested, stupidity on the side of the scientific community. These are well educated individuals, with advanced degrees, and we should give them the respect that they deserve. Having said that, there is a very large problem that most people, in and out of the church, are not aware of. The problem is within the organizations controlling the funding, and publication, of scientific research information. For many decades any research that contradicts the Darwinian concept has been suppressed or censored. At the same time many of the researchers are being ridiculed and harassed. One of the largest culprits being the National Academy of Science. This group has control over much of the information taught in our public schools and universities. They have stated in their own publications that they will not support, in any way, research or papers, peer reviewed or not, that contradict Darwinian evolution. I am talking about documented research, catalogued, and peer reviewed for accuracy. If it in any way contradicts the Darwinian concept it finds itself academically ignored, or worse publicly ridiculed. If you doubt this statement I recommend the book “Slaughter of the Dissidents” by Dr. Jerry Bergman. It is available at the creation.com bookstore and Amazon.com. The problem is not that the evidence refuting Darwin does not exist. The problem is the unified effort to keep it out of the public consciousness. This should cause us to question the reasoning. If the evidence is so clear and overwhelming it should not have the need to be protected against scrutiny. 

Over the last 20-30 years great strides have been made in the areas of Creation Science, and Intelligent Design. Although the two are very similar on a foundational level, it should be understood that they are by no means the same thing. Creation Science is strictly geared toward the special creation, and global flood narratives, outlined in Genesis. The Intelligent Design movement, more commonly known as ID, in simple terms is geared toward the view that life is the result of intelligent causation. That the massive complexity within the genetic programing of even the simplest form of life could not have happened through a random chance process. The concept of ID is where my journey, as well as many others, began. For me it did not begin in the world of Theology or Doctrine, but in the observations of the natural world. Especially those which stand in stark contrast to the “Goo – to -you” theories.

Today, with so may resources available, is hard for me to believe that any serious seeker could take the Darwinian concept seriously. And that is where I find the source of the problem. Most people do not seek to understand on their own. As a society we tend to believe whatever a so called ‘expert’ tells us. So, like Mark Gungor, Joel Huston and others, if someone in a lab coat says we evolved from goo… then from goo we came… Then to make ourselves feel better we say that “God uses evolution” or that God “guided” evolution. What so many fail to do is ask the more difficult question: “do I fully understand what evolution is, and what its claims are?” The prevailing answer to this question throughout the modern church is a resounding “NO”! It makes me wonder how so many, can be so willing to walk away without a fight? When someone says that our Bible, Gods word, is wrong, we just give up and walk away without asking them to prove it? Is that really what is happening? It is extremely difficult to see it happening so fast, and so willfully. Especially when around the world we find researchers who are not only Christian, but Agnostic, and even Atheist who are standing against those forwarding the Darwinian process as only viable explanation for the origin of life on earth. 

How is it that so many Christians are willing to dismiss the word of God for a theory that a growing number of scientists around the world are walking away from? In my next post I will begin to walk through some of the apologetic problems that come with removing the Genesis account from our Biblical thinking. For now I would encourage you to do some preliminary reading. A few titles I recommend in addition to the ones listed above, and below, are “Darwins Doubt” by Steven C. Meyer, “Gods Not Dead” by Dr Rice Broocks, and “Replacing Darwin” by Dr Nathaniel Jeanson.

Here are a few quotes from some great books I recommend to anyone serious about looking into this topic.. 

Michael J. Behe, Darwins Black Box: the Biochemical Challenge to Evolution. 

“The conclusion of intelligent design flows naturally from the data itself – not from the sacred books or sectarian beliefs. Inferring that biochemical systems were designed by an intelligent agent is a humdrum process that requires no new principles of logic or science. It comes simply from the the hard work that biochemistry has done over the past forty years, combined with the consideration of the way in which we reach conclusions of design every day” 

David Berlinski, The Devils Delusion: Atheism and its Scientific Pretensions 

Has anyone provided proof of Gods inexistence? Not even close. Has quantum cosmology explained the emergence of the universe or why it is here? Not even close. Have our sciences explained why our universe seems to be fine-tuned to allow for the existence of life? Not even close. Are physicists and biologists willing to believe anything so long as it is not religious thought? Close enough. Has rationalism and moral thought provided us with an understanding of what is good, what is right, and what is moral? Not close enough. Has secularism in the terrible 20th century been a force for good? Not even close, to being close. Is there a narrow and oppressive orthodoxy in the sciences? Close enough. Does anything in the sciences or their philosophy justify the claim that religious belief is irrational? Not even in the ball park. Is scientific atheism a frivolous exercise in intellectual contempt? Dead on.”  



Pick up your sword

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow, it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”- Hebrews 4:12.

 

My husband likes to watch the show Forged in Fire. Have you seen it? It’s a reality TV show where some of the finest bladesmith’s in the nation compete for a cash prize by hand making replicas of ancient style weapons such as swords and knives. Their weapons are judged in many areas such as sharpness and durability. The judges test each competitors weapon and the winner is the one who’s weapon proves to hold up the best while cutting, slicing, stabbing, throwing, and killing (on dummies of course). The process of forging is defined as heating and hammering, to beat into shape especially by concentrated effort. Dull, heavy, ragged sheets of metal are heated to extreme temperatures in order to form and shape into something that resembles a blade. After the forging process is complete the sharpening comes, metal against metal, iron against iron until the blade is so sharp it’s battle ready.

 

The above verse has been a pinnacle for me in the last week. After Andrew Eastmond spoke his word of knowledge (thank you Pastor George for the lesson on that) over me this past Sunday, it spurred me on so much that I have a new heightened sense of the time I’ve been wasting. I’ve been refreshed in the Spirit and encouraged to surrender myself to my Heavenly Father’s pruning in this concentrated area. In light of God’s word I’ve realized there are areas of my life that I’ve allowed to be stifled and have been dormant, overgrown and weeded in by things that do not glorify God. I need the double edged sword that His word is to come and remove the twines that bind so that light will shine in areas where it hasn’t in a long time and new growth can take root. I have a freshened desire to learn and be more like Him. I imagine most of us who received prayer from Andrew feel much the same way. I had become so complacent in many areas while still believing that how I was doing in other areas was good enough. Red flag…THAT’S A LIE!!! Even at our best we are NEVER good enough, not in comparison to the gleaming crown of glory, our Savior. He doesn’t want us to live in comparison with anything or anyone other than His word. We absolutely MUST allow ourselves to be in constant comparison to only His word because it is the one thing that will lead us and keep us on the path He has for us.

 

When we stop opening the Word, pruning stops, weeds creep in, light dims and the path becomes unclear and overgrown. If you find yourself discouraged because you didn’t go up for prayer or you had missed an opportunity to get a word of knowledge this past week the good news is, though it’s encouraging and a boost to our faith walk, we don’t need a word of knowledge from Andrew or someone else to move forward in the pruning and growth process. It’s a wonderful blessing to be encouraged by other believers who can speak into our lives, whether they be complete strangers or dear friends or family and we should always be looking for opportunities to do that for others, but that doesn’t mean if we don’t have that that we can’t grow because the basic truth of it is the only one we really need to hear from is God and all we really need for growth and reflection is the Bible.  

 

Maybe you’re like me and you want to be good about getting in the Word but you don’t know where to start. Start with a self-assessment. What’s the first thing that comes to mind that you know is not of God or needs work. Maybe you aren’t sure. Do you have an immediate pain or need and lack the faith that God will meet you there or provide? Maybe it’s a fear you have. Whatever it is, take that one word (fear, faith, guilt, forgiveness, suffering, grace, etc.) and begin doing a study on that area. God will show you amazing things as you begin to focus in on His word. You’ll know you are doing something right if it hurts at first. Like the verse says about God’s word, it’s alive, it’s a sword, it penetrates. Allow it to. We must surrender to the process, if we are resistant then change cannot take place. Don’t give up when the pain gets to be too much, let it penetrate even further and deeper to the marrow asHis word says. The deeper the sword gets, the closer God is. I have a visual of two soldiers fighting and as one penetrates the other with his sword, it’s physically impossible for him to stay an arm’s length away. If he wants it to penetrate to the marrow and cut through to serve its purpose, he absolutely must come closer. So close that their breath exchanges. God is not our enemy, He doesn’t want to kill us but He does want us to be willing to die to self. That can be a struggle but He sent His Spirit to remind us of His word when we struggle. We need to use the Word to slough off the old and put on the new. Dying to self can be a very painful process, but worth it. Be sharpened fellow followers because as a church family, we are no doubt at some point going to need one another for sharpening. Whether you believe it or not, YOU do have something to offer and what you have to offer, someone else just may need in a time of desperation or trouble someday. Let’s vow to fill ourselves with His word so that we can be a flowing vessel for others in their time of need.

 

Blessings,
Leah Parkin

June 1, 2018