Deacon Bill and the Children

happy children group in school

Many, many years ago I had the opportunity to serve under a wonderful man by the name of Deacon Bill. Some of you may be more familiar with his counterpart and equally wonderful man, Deacon Dave. In fact, many of you make the trek over the hill we call Vasco Road to go witness the spectacular light display that is Deacon Dave’s home, each year during the Christmas Season. What you may not know is that Deacon Bill and Deacon Dave compete with one another every year for the best display. And, every year they both claim to “have won”! Deacon Bill also treats his volunteer staff to a Christmas party at his house. If you think Deacon Dave’s is something to, “Ooo and ahh” about, you ought to see the inside of Deacon Bill’s home. A winter wonderland is an understatement and yet it is done so beautifully one doesn’t know where to look first!

At the time I served under Deacon Bill he was the one who oversaw all the youth ministries at St. Michael’s Church. I was the coordinator of the children’s Sunday preschool program ministering to three, four and five year olds. Every Sunday Deacon Bill would come in to see how things were going but mainly to see the children. He loved the children and they loved him! They would run up to him and he would lay his hand on their forehead and bless them. One particular Sunday one of our youngsters was catching a cold and she asked Deacon Bill to pray for her and bless her. He immediately obliged and laid his hand on her forehead and specifically asked Jesus to heal her. It has been over 16 years since this took place and I can still see the picture in my mind as if it happened yesterday and I am still in awe of what took place. Here was a child who trusts Jesus so much she asked for prayer for healing for a cold! And, here was an adult modeling to this child what practicing Biblical truth looks like!

Lately, James 5:14 keeps coming to mind.

Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.

There are some interesting things to point out about this verse. First, I believe we ought to take God at his word. If we are sick we should call the elders and ask them to pray over and anoint us with oil. I say we should take God at his word because I think a lot of times we might not look at God’s word as black and white meaning if God’s word says we ought to do something then we ought to do what He says in his word and not let his commands become convoluted with theology and doctrine.

The word pray in James 5:14 in its original context means to interact with the Lord by switching human wishes or ideas with God’s wishes as He communicates his divine persuasion, which is faith. The picture I see is God laying his heart over our heart and we begin to pray in tandem with the Holy Spirit for God’s will.

The word oil in James 5:14 in its original context is the word elaion (el’-ah-yon) and symbolizes the Holy Spirit and means the empowering of the Holy Spirit within each believer in Christ. I am struck by the similarity of elaion and one of the name’s of God-El Elyon (el-yone’), which means the Supreme, Most High God.

Putting this altogether in regards to James 5:14, when the elders pray and anoint someone for healing they are praying in faith by the power of the Holy Spirit to the Supreme, Most High God for his healing. I believe praying in faith for healing is a gift God gives to the elders of our faith families and a gift that may be under utilized in the modern day Church. While any believer can anoint and pray for the sick I believe there is something, by its very nature, special when the local Body of Christ operates in its gifts for the good of one or many of its own.

Precious One is any one of you sick? Like the sweet little one and Deacon Bill, call the elders of the church to pray over you and anoint you with oil in the name of the Lord.

Shalom!

Across the Generations

IMG_4579This morning I went to brunch at a friends house and on my way I stopped to buy her some flowers. As I was getting back into my car a strange thought occurred to me, “Did I remember to teach my children to always bring a gift to their hostess?” My mother taught me this and other valuable pieces of information that was meant for me to pass on to my children.

Interestingly, our brunch conversation turned to the different generations; how each generation has so much to offer and how do we bridge the unintentional gap between the generations of women in our faith family? Which would further equip us to take love into our community.

Today I came across Jeremiah 44:17:

 We will certainly do everything we said we would: We will burn incense to the Queen of Heaven and will pour out drink offerings to her just as we and our fathers, our kings and our officials did in the towns of Judah and in the street of Jerusalem. At that time we had plenty of food and were well off and suffered no harm.

‘The queen of heaven.’ My first thought was, “And how did that work out for you?” Then I realized here was an entire generation of God’s chosen children who did not know the God of their ancestors or at the very least didn’t know Him in the way their forefathers had. Here was a generation that defied God by worshipping, as some speculate, Venus or another goddess, because somewhere through their ancestral history there was a disconnect, whether intentional or not, between generations.

The account of King Josiah in 2 Chronicles 34:14, 19, 21 confirms this for us:

v.14 While they were bringing out the money that had been taken into the temple of the LORD, Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law of  the LORD that had been given through Moses.

v. 19 When the king heard the words of the Law, he tore his robes.

v. 21 Go and inquire of the LORD for me and for the remnant in Israel and Judah about what is written in this book that has been found.

The same Israelites that were burning incense to the queen of heaven in Jeremiah 44:17 were apart of the generation of King Josiah that didn’t know about what was written in the Book of the Law because their fathers before them hadn’t passed along the teachings. These were people living in the towns of Manasseh, Ephraim, Simeon and Naphtali – four of the patriarchal lands of the twelve tribes of Israel!

Precious One just as it is my responsibility to teach my children to bring their hostess a gift, it is our responsibility as the Body of Christ to teach one another the written word of God, share our experiences, teach lost arts in a modern world and learn about the modern world to the best of our ability so we don’t one day inquire of one another, “What is written in this book that has been found?” We are now that remnant and God chooses to work through us for the glory of His kingdom in the Name of his Son, Jesus Christ and for the sake of all generations.

Shalom!

 

Faithful Listener

MC-03292016-animals-Black-face-sheep-7.jpgAs our children have gotten older, especially our young adult children, it is nice to hear and watch them encourage others with the encouragement or advice my husband and I have inspired them with particularly in their earlier years. You may wonder, if you have children of your own, “Are they paying attention, do they hear what I’m saying?” I can tell you, that yes, all these years, they’ve been listening! As they have wandered, looking for their purpose in this world, it is such a blessing to watch them walk back and maintain the values of the foundation they’ve been raised on.

A few days ago I came across some verses in the OT that excited me. Yes, the OT, which I love as much as the NT, especially those verses and passages that make me wrestle and dig deep as to how they ought to be applied to my life in present time. If I believe, which I do, that God’s word is inerrant, then what was true then is also true now in the light of his marvelous love and amazing grace.

The nugget I found is found in Deuteronomy 28:2-7

 All these blessings will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the LORD your God:

You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country.

The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock – the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks.

Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed.

You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out.

The LORD will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven.

We read that when we obey God not only will his blessings come upon us they will accompany us! The word obey in its original context in this passage means to listen; listen closely, listen carefully, listen obediently. And, we know we hear God’s voice because he tells us in John 10:27 that we do, its part of our identity in Christ; to hear his voice. When we do we have a choice, we can listen and do what he asks of us or we can ignore his voice. Ignoring him is disobedience because we aren’t listening carefully or closely to what he is saying to us. I often say, “Our choice didn’t end when we first chose Jesus.” Everyday we make a choice to continue to follow him and listen to his voice and do what he asks.

Just as our children have been listening to us it is our responsibility to listen to God. To be faithful listeners to the One Who gave it all so we could hear His voice. When you do the seven blessings in Deuteronomy 28:2-7 will follow you wherever you go.

At this moment it isn’t too late. Start today to listen carefully and closely to the voice of God and be blessed.

Shalom!

Choose Your Words Wisely

File_000 (5)Sometimes, as believers in Christ, we say things offhandedly to others to encourage them and we truly believe we are speaking words of encouragement, but as the word offhanded implies, without prior thought or preparation.

Over the past year my family has gone through some heavy struggles as I’m sure you have experienced in your own family as well. As of late, whenever I have heard these words, “You must be doing something right or headed in the right direction because the enemy is pushing back,” I have butted up against them. Something about these words suddenly does not resonate with my soul. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have used this same encouragement numerous times.

However, and not long ago, Holy Spirit began speaking to me about where the truth of the encouraging words I speak are found in his word. That when I encourage others I ought to practice encouraging with His words, that resonate deep within our soul, and not offhandedly with the tongue of the world. I have been contemplating and asking Jesus where in his word does it say that when we struggle we must being doing something right because the enemy is pushing back?

This morning I came across this verses.

For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake. Philippians 1:29.

 

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you. 1 Peter 4:12.

 

“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:11,12.

It is for the sake of the name of Jesus that we find ourselves in the midst of struggles! Yes, even those struggles that don’t make sense, the ones that seem so very illogical. So many times I lose sight of this truth. When I became a believer in Christ my greatest joy and hope is eternal life with Him; the world didn’t stop spinning and life didn’t stop happening because I became born again! The testing we endure is of our integrity, virtue and constancy. It is our faithfulness to Christ that no matter the struggle we will keep our eyes on him and trust in him only. And we should rejoice and be glad because this is not our home, heaven is and that is where our reward awaits us!

Finally, we are encouraged to speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord. Ephesians 5:19.

Precious One God speaks to us in many ways but how are we to practice Ephesians 5:19 if we are not reading and studying his word consistently? How does Holy Spirit help us recall His words if we haven’t written them on our heart? (Psalm 119:11).

Speak life, speak truth, speak God’s word.

Shalom!