A Bible Classic
What is your favorite movie? Well, my favorite movie is Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves starring Kevin Costner. It may sound like an odd movie to like as one’s favorite considering there are so many “great classic” movies that have stood the test of time. Although I have enjoyed such classics as: Titanic, Star Wars (all of them), Avatar (the blue Aliens-not the Airbender), The Wizard of Oz, Forest Gump, and It’s a Wonderful Life (cannot make it through a Christmas season without watching this one), I find the elements of a fantastic film have a way of touching my heart; inspiring me to want to take a stand against evil; striking my funny bone with laughter; and allowing me to walk away with a smile on my face from a happy ending.
In the same manner that I have a favorite movie, I also have a favorite Biblical story. The story of Queen Esther. Even though there are so many wonderful stories of the Bible such as, Ruth and Naomi, Moses and the Israelites exodus from Egypt, Christ’s Birth (cannot make it through a Christmas season without this one either) and of course, Christ’s Crucifixion and Resurrection, for me, The Book of Esther just stands a bit above the rest. To explain, below are a few reasons why this story makes it to the top of my list.
Now, I know many of you are focused on Christmas, and with “Jesus as the Reason for the Season”, take a moment and read the book of Esther. As we reflect on Jesus’ birth, it is important to follow the timeline to see the events that occurred prior. Esther played a vital role in God’s wonderful plan for salvation. Due to her courage, she saved her nation and sustained Christ’s bloodline; then, 400 years later, a baby was born in a manger who saved mankind.
***NOTE: After you read the book of Esther, you may be interested in the movie version, “One Night with the King”. (Director:Michael O. Sajbel- Rated- PG)
If you are a parent, you know what it is like to love your child from the moon and back or like Buzz Lightyear (from the movie, Toy Story) would say, "To infinity and beyond". From the time our children are born, we care for them, protect them, and love them. No greater love exists than the love that comes from sacrifice (John 15:13) Therefore, as parents we sacrifice our time, our money, and our sleep! No doubt, our love for our children is strong; yet, the Bible says God's love for us is even stronger.
To illustrate, I recently realized the connection between my love for my sons and God's love for me because every time I told my boys that I loved them, they often responded, "I Love you too". Then, in my infinite wisdom, I would try and outdo them with the comeback, "I love you more". This became such a routine in our lives that I decided to purchase two throw pillows for Corey and Spencer who are away at college. Embedded on these pillows are four simple words, "I love you more". Thus, every time they go to sleep and awake in the morning, they will be reminded of my love for them.
Likewise, I can imagine God when He created Adam and Eve, saying, "I love you" as He provided a spectacular paradise within the Garden of Eden. Thus, it would only seem practical that Adam and Eve probably both responded with, "I love you too". Unfortunately, although they loved God, they sinned, and at that moment all of mankind was separated from our Creator for all eternity. Yet, in His perfect love, He responded, "I Love You More" when He sent His One and Only Son to die on the cross for our sins (John 3:16).
Even more exciting, God's love story does not end there, since just like my son, Spencer who often replies to my words, "I love you more" with his own reply, "I love you most", God also gave us the Holy Ghost who illustrates daily that His love for us is far beyond the MOST!
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you (John 14:26, KJV).
Below are Three Reminders to help you to never doubt His Triune love for you!
Just as a parent, our love for our children reflects God's love for us: love you, love you more, and love you most. He Created us, He Sacrificed for us, and He lives within us---To Infinity and Beyond!
God's creation screams His existence!
The emission of light from living organisms (such as fireflies, dinoflagellates, and bacteria) as the result of internal, typically oxidative chemical reactions;
**also: the light so produced.
Starting off with a definition can be tricky for a writer because my goal is to not allow you to think you have stumbled onto someone's science report or even worse, bore you with a mundane fact. However, I have been on this Jesus is our Light track, thus, when I recently substituted for a group of 5th graders, we studied the interesting phenomenon of what is known as Bioluminescence. As I read the science curriculum about these wonderful God-created creatures to these fascinated young students, I realized He made us to be Bioluminescence too.
Bio: of or relating to life. (We are living breathing beings-full of life.)
Luminescence - the emission of light by a substance that has not been heated. (As Christians, we have the ability to emit Christ's light without the use of heat.)
In my last post, I challenged my readers to be a light not only to non-believers, but also to the believers who may be struggling with their faith or stuck in their growth. Notice how the definition above "as a result of internal . . . reactions", wholeheartedly applies to followers of Christ because (as a result) of the Holy Spirit dwelling internally in us, we too are a Light so produced!
Matthew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
We glorify God when we use our Spiritual Bioluminescence to point nonbelievers to Christ, and when we help other believers grow in their faith.
Note: For those who do not know what a dinoflagellate is (this included me), I posted a picture on one.
It is obvious to see headlights on a car during the evening hours; however, I would like to see headlights required for daytime use too. To explain, with so many varied colored cars, most of them can blend in with their surroundings. For instance, I have a pretty, soft lime-green van. I loved the color of my van when I purchased it; however, I did not realize that my vehicle blends in with grass until I barely saw its cloaked twin drive past me due to a vibrant fully-grown corn field in the background.
With the Fall season around the corner, it does not matter what color car you have because I'm sure there is a tree with foliaged leaves to match it. Even if you have a white car, you must be careful when snow hits the ground because your car looks like a moving igloo. Even black and grey cars blend in with the pavement depending on whether newly finished or faded from wear and tear over the years. Even more scary is a dark, shaded grey vehicle that could be mistaken for a funnel cloud in a stormy sky.
Although with a tad of an exaggeration, my camouflaged car-theory is similar to the principle of how Christians are to use the "Light" of Christ that lives in them. Now, before you stop reading because you think I have totally lost my colored marbles, Christians often hear that they should have their "Christ Light" on so that they will be a seen in a dark world. This seems pretty obvious; yet, I want to challenge my readers to go one step further and also be a "Light" in the "Light".
What? How can a light - light something already lit up? (Say that fast 10 times.) Well, although already spottable during the day, a car's headlights help the other drivers see him even better, and it can even encourage them to put their lights on too. Thus, a Christian needs to shine his "Light" for the darkness and shine his "Light" for the other "Lights" around.
First, being a "Light" in a dark world is walking the talk with non-believers. Specifically, mow the lawn for your neighbor who is a single mom with young kids; buy breakfast for the military personal sitting at the table next to you; or generously tip a waitress while addressing her by her name. In addition, remember those who work in your world to keep your life flowing easier. For example, extend little thank-you notes, yummy treats, or gift cards to your postman, waste removal employees, or dry-cleaners. Let them know how much you appreciate their hard work and they will see the Love of Christ in you.
Second, a Christian's "Light" can be an illustration to encourage other believers to grow their own "Light". Indeed, all believers have the "Light" living inside them (John 8:12); however, some find themselves stuck and spiritual growth has alluded them because they do not know how to fuel their own flame. Life's circumstances have knocked them down; Satan tries to blow it out with frustrations, anger, jealousy, or discontentment. He is the father of all lies who deceives a believer into thinking he has to hide it under a bushel; which only increases isolation, low self-esteem, condemnation, and negativity. The extra oil needed to keep that "Light" burning brightly can be seen through a Bible study, a prayer meeting, accountability/warrior partner, or a community group. We are to do more than just greet each other on Sunday mornings, we are to connect, be transparent, and ignite our fires!
When we come together in Christ, we feed our "Light" while helping to fan another's. May our daily "Christ Light" be a burning blaze for ALL to see God every night and every day.
***Note: Lines taken from "This Little Light of Mine".
Think back to when you were a little tyke. If you are in my age bracket, it may take you a few minutes to think that far back; so, I will pause and give you a moment . . .
OK, now tell me what was your favorite fairytale? If you are a boy, was it Jack in the Bean Stalk or maybe Aladdin? For the many girls reading this post, did you wish you were Cinderella or could you relate more to Snow White? We all remember the excitement of watching fairytales as we wished upon a star in hopes that our own fairy godmother would appear and make all our dreams come true.
Even the fairytales of today have the same message as they did years ago. There is always a pure and/or honorable main character who everyone loves, and who is usually mistreated in some way by a malicious, jealous, power-hungry villain. In the end, the hero/heroine overcomes the cunningly evil plot and victoriously lives happily ever after!
Interestingly, REAL life is not so far-fetched from the story line of a fairytale. As Christians, we are called to live honorable lives that are full of integrity (Philippians 4:8). Plus, we have a real enemy, a sinister thief who is on a mission to destroy us (John 10:10). Regardless of our circumstances, the best way to overcome evil (the father of all lies' plots) is with good (the Love of Christ). In today's world with all the scary events from terrorist attacks to violent riots in our own homeland, it is difficult to comprehend that God instructs us to respond in love. Yet, that is exactly how we are to respond:
Repay no one for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord. To the contrary, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:17-21).
****(If you have not seen Frozen, stop reading, watch the movie, and then come back to finish reading this post)
Keeping with my child-like mindfulness, the best example that illustrates this type of love, is in the fairytale Frozen. In this story, Anna's heart is accidently struck with her sister, Elsa's ice powers. Anna's only chance of melting her frozen heart is an act of true love. At first, the viewer typically believes it will be the dashing and handsome Kristoff's true-love's romantic kiss that will save Anna; however, it is her ultimate sacrifice that shows the true meaning of love. To explain, while desperately struggling to reach Kristoff, she turns away from "the hero's kiss" that she thinks will save her and chooses to stand in front of the evil Hans' sword to save Elsa's life. Amazingly, instead of dying of a frozen, cold heart, Anna's unselfish act saves her, her sister, and her town.
Even more exciting than that Biblical correlation, is the Troll's song in the movie. With these powerful lyrics, "People make bad choices if they're mad, or scared, or stressed. Throw a little love their way and you'll bring out their best. True love brings out their best!", we can see that even little acts of kindness come with a powerful love-punch that can touch the soul (Proverbs 10:12). Thus, when we choose to respond to evil with good acts that show the love of Christ for anyone who make bad choices, we can save ourselves, our family, our friends, and our country!
I have a recurring dream that I am flying. Although the dream varies in characters or scenery, the main concept of personal flight remains the same. Now before you close your eyes and envision me soaring through the air, arms stretched out wide, I must warn you, my dreams are not normal (and for those who personally know me, you are not surprised). Anyways, in my dream, I start to run (again for those who know me, still no big surprise there), and as I continue to run, my body begins to weightlessly rise-up. As long as my legs are moving, I am able to stay airborne. If I wish to fly over a tree or house, I run faster, and if I need to land, I slow down my pace and lightly float effortlessly towards the ground.
It occurred to me that many people love to fly in their dreams and, of course, in real life too. My husband, Paul is one of those people for he even chose a career that keeps him flying the Friendly Skies (wink). Interestingly, Paul and I met while working for two different airlines, and it was our mutual interest in flying that created a bond that has lasted over 30 years.
So, why the interest in flying? Although I cannot say with a 100% certainty, I believe God has an extra bit of adoration towards His creation of flight. To explain, there are several accounts in the Bible that lead to this hypothesis. First, there are at least 10 bible verses about flying and 58 verses about wings. Not to mention, He designed numerous varieties of real life animals with the ability to fly. Plus, we must not forget about the spiritual beings mentioned in the Bible such as: Seraphs, Cherubs, Angels, and the six-winged Four Living Creatures (ex: Isiah, Ezekiel, Genesis, and Revelation).
More importantly than God's creation of wings and the physics that allows flight to take place, one cannot mistake His poetic use of wings and how they illustrate His love, His protection, His strength, and His power. Foremost, He will cover you with His pinions, and UNDER His wings you may seek refuge (Psalms 91:4). This verse shows He is our protector and under each feather layered on His Holy wings, we can take shelter. Next, we find His strength and His power when we soar ON eagle's wings (Isaiah 40:31). This verse helps us visualize the rising hope we have when we trust Him to renew our strength as we fly through the troubles of this world.
In spite of the fact that I cannot fly (other than when I run in my dreams), I know that when I feel weary, I can rely on the promise of soaring in His strength; or when I feel scared, I can seek protection under His mighty wings. Although . . . the Bible does reveal that we will receive a new (Heavenly) body when Christ returns, I am just hoping mine comes with a set of wings (1 Thessalonians 4:16, 2 Corinthians 5:1).
During the 70’s, a famous television program called, The Brady Bunch found its way into the homes and into the hearts of Americans. The Brady’s were one of the first TV blended families. Carol was a lovely lady who was bringing up three very lovely girls while a man named Brady was busy with three boys of his own. As the song continues, . . . and yes, I can hear the lyrics echoing in my head, “Till the one day when the lady met this fellow and they knew it was much more than a hunch”. Hence, they formed a family and became the Brady Bunch.
Admittedly, I could probably recite every episode, and while I have many that I consider to be my favorites, there is one episode that always flashes back to my mind when I read a certain story in the Bible. It is the story of Jesus and two sisters named, Mary and Martha. Jesus was in their home and Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet intently listening while Martha was distracted with serving. It is amusing how a sound or word can trigger a memory. Therefore, whenever I hear the verse, “Martha, Martha”, the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things but few things are needed-or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." (Luke 10:41-42), I think of the episode where Jan the middle daughter is jealous of her older sister Marcia. Interestingly, the episode is entitled, “Her Sister’s Shadow” and has been more recognized by Jan’s grumbling, “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia” because of all the attention her sister had been getting at school.
Although Jesus was correcting Martha for complaining about Mary not doing any work, and Jan was whining about how everything came so easily for Marcia, we can take lessons from both these women. First, Martha was so occupied with hosting that she forgot about the value of fellowship, and Jan was so fixated on comparing herself to Marcia that she neglected to see the things that made her special.
Honestly, I have seen both a Jan and a Martha attitude inside myself. For example, I delayed a walk with my sons the other night to clean up the dinner dishes. Sadly, I chose duties over quality time, and when we finally got outside, our walk was shortened due to a storm on the horizon. Plus, turning 50 years-old and receiving that dreaded AARP membership enrollment has amplified my insecurity about getting older. Thus, I negatively comparing myself to other women instead of appreciating my laugh-lines and wisdom spots.
So, how do we avoid the “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia” comparisons or the “Martha, Martha” mixed priorities? Simply, spend quality time in Christ’s presence. When we take the time to read, pray, sing, and praise, we find that our true value emanates from “HIM, HIM, HIM”.
***Brandy Bunch http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0531099/
SPOT THE CROSS- PART II
(Previous: Spirit of Truth, Spirit of Grace, Spirit of Love)
Several weeks ago, I posted three sure ways to help people Spot the Cross in you! How did you do? Were you able to speak the truth even when a little white lie would have been easier; did you forgive a hurt that you have held inside your heart for years; or were you able to find ways to show the love of Christ through deeds that helped someone in need?
As you continue to allow the Holy Spirit to guide you on these three attributes, I wanted to offer three more qualities that will indeed show other’s to Spot The Cross in you.
1. Spirit of Holiness – Although we will not reach perfection in this life, we do have the ability to choose Holiness. Choosing Holiness begins when we obey The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3-17). These laws are more than guidelines to help the believer live a life that is honoring to God, they are actually a type defense that helps us avoid a life of pain caused by poor choices. Moreover, God is our All-knowing Guide, thus when we follow His laws, we demonstration to others that a life of obedience is truly more freeing than it is demanding; not to mention, definitely more rewarding.
2. Spirit of Comfort/Affirmation – Comforting those who are hurting when others turn a blind’s eye or speaking words of encouragement when the rest of the world chooses to criticize are ways that a Christian reflects the love of Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 1:4 & 1 Thessalonians 5:11). In addition, Christ told the disciples that He would send a Comforter who would be with them as they conveyed the Gospel to all the earth (John 14:16). Today, we have the same Spirit living inside us, enabling us to be an inspiration that eases the wounded soul.
3. Spirit of Wisdom – Having a Biblical knowledge in one's head is only useful when a person allows the Spirit of Wisdom to speak into his mind. To explain, a person who is able recite the Ten Commandments because he was once taught to memorize them as a child is not the same as having the wisdom to apply them to his life. Thus, when we believers hear the Holy Spirit’s promptings and choose to follow them, we are making wise choices for ourselves and for those in our lives. Furthermore, the book of Proverbs has 40 verses that illustrate the difference between the foolish man and wise man (The Proverbs Project, example: Proverbs 10:8). Yet, above all, let us not forget the wisest thing to do when we lack wisdom is to just ask God (James 1:5)!
Reflecting the Spirit of Holiness, the Spirit of Comfort, and the Spirit of Wisdom are three more ways that a believer can advertise his connection to Christ. The impact of the Spirit indwelling inside of you is brighter than an enormous bonfire after a high school, championship football game for this Light is an eternal blaze burning the words, “SPOT THE CROSS” for everyone to see.
**The Proverbs Project, Compare & Contrast – stronginfaith.org.
How does one “Spot The Cross”? Should he spot the wooden cross that is at the front of the sanctuary in a church displaying the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ, or is it a shiny golden necklace dangling around a lady’s neck? Moreover, is it a huge bumper sticker easily visible on the car in front of you at the traffic light, or is it on the muscular arm of the man sitting next to you on the airplane intertwined with other colorful tattoos? While it is quite common to optically SPOT THE CROSS with one’s eyes, it is my hope that this post will help people SPOT THE CROSS inside of you.
Although The Holy Spirit can be seen in many ways, this post will focus on three characteristics that will illuminate the bright, imaginary, neon arrow-shaped light in you that points to our Savior.
1. Spirit of Truth – When we speak the truth, people will see the cross. “Honestly is the best policy” may be a secular saying; however, the Bible is quite clear why the truth is so important. (ex: Proverbs 19:5, Psalms 101:7). Specifically, a lie destroys relationships and creates a path of deception where more lies are needed to hide the first one. Thankfully, “the truth will set you free” (John 8:32) is more than Biblical words on paper, it is a promise that when obeyed creates a lifestyle of Christ-honoring integrity. A believer who is reliable and trustworthy reflects their Savior. A person will sense that if he can rely on you, then he can rely on the God whom you worship. Hence, encouraging him to SPOT THE CROSS!
2. Spirit of Grace – This may be the toughest area for Christians to display the cross. We want God’s grace for ourselves; yet, we have a difficult time extending it to people who upset us, aggravate us, test our patience, or even intentionally hurt us. Once again, Biblical truths can be found throughout His word (ex: Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 11:6). Justly, God requires us to extend grace to others regardless of the infraction. Since, He is our example, true unmerited grace becomes a bright beacon on a foggy night by the beach that ultimately dissipates evil and creates a moon-glowing path to SPOT THE CROSS!
3. Spirit of Love – Love never fails. . . Never gives up. . . Never runs out. . . (Song: “One thing Remains” by Passion). When we show Christ love, we are reflecting His image (1 John 4:8). This type of love is not just done with words, but it is displayed in action. Be the person who helps the neighbor with her three young boys when she needs to run to the store; sit and have coffee with someone who is struggling with personal issues and just listen; buy a meal for the military personal who sitting in the same restaurant; or be the person who gives up his seat on the bus for women, children or the elderly. Remember, although words are valuable, it is our actions that are a priceless way to SPOT THE CROSS!
As the Holy Spirit dwells in you, the Spirit of Truth, the Spirit of Grace, and the Spirit of Love are ALL available and make it possible for people to SPOT THE CROSS in you!
Look for three more characteristics of the Holy Spirit in my next post.
To Be Continued. . .