Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Body and It's Gifts

1 Corinthians 12 King James Version (KJV)

12 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. 2 Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led. 3 Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.

4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. 6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.

7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. 8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; 9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; 10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: 11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. 14 For the body is not one member, but many. 15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? 18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. 19 And if they were all one member, where were the body? 20 But now are they many members, yet but one body.

21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. 22 Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: 23 And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. 24 For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked. 25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. 26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.

27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. 28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? 30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? 31 But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.

Think about this. We all have a body. We have ears, eyes, and toes. When was the last time that you heard someone talk with your toes? Have you ever walked on your eyes? As humans, we rather prefer to walk on our feet and hear with our ears. We like to write with our hands and eat with our mouths. So what makes one part of our body more important than the others? I mean, really. Is the toe more important than the eye? There are some people who lose a physical part of themselves, only to be okay with it. But ask them to lose a different part, and they would be devastated. 

While the church, as a body of believers, is the body of God, sometimes it loses a part of itself. Sometimes, it seems as if the heart is missing. Other times, it seems as if the church is walking blindly into oblivion. I feel like that is the way that the secular world views Christianity. It takes an encounter with the individual parts of the body to realize that the parts may not really be missing; the role they play has just been so minimized that the individuals that comprise the parts have become invisible. 

To quote the song that just popped up on my iPod "There is no good reason I should have to be so alone. I'm smothered by this emptiness. Lord, I wish I was made of stone." (The song is "Am I the Only One [Who's Ever Felt This Way]" by The Dixie Chicks.) 

As many spiritual gifts as I have rather suddenly become aware of (or acknowledged for the first time) recently, I do feel kind of alone. While I know people who have the same giftings, I don't know anyone else who has experienced them quite like this. It's like a gift of the week thing. One day, I'm suddenly writing prophetic things. The next week, I'm praying "differently." Just a couple of weeks later, I'm doing intercessory prayer like there is no tomorrow. I don't even have words or names to explain some of the other "weird" things that are happening. 

I've been christened "Momma Liz" recently, and I'm not sure that I'm ready for that. Ben says that I am. There doesn't seem to be a doubt in his mind about that. He even teases me about being the Pied Piper of children. I walk into a room and nearly every kid in there finds their way to me eventually. It seems that kids look up to me, even when I don't want to deal with them. But then again, just last night, I commented that I feel like I'm with family when I'm in The Asylum, but when I'm cooking in Momma Linda's kitchen, I feel like I'm home. Now explain to me how "home" means feeding hundreds of people in just a few hours, knowing that it is going to happen again later and tomorrow...

Liturgical Season - Searching For More?

In my search for a deeper faith, I have been exploring following the liturgical seasons. This is something new for me, even though I grew up in the church. Yeah, sure, we had Christmas and Easter. I even remember the Advent candles, but I can't tell you what color they are supposed to be. In the last handful of years, I've even began observing Ash Wednesday and Lent. But liturgical seasons? I'd never really heard of such a thing.

As it turns out, we are currently in Ordinary Time. No, it isn't named that because it is ordinary, but because the weeks are counted using ordinal numbers.

I would like to learn how the liturgical calendar dates occur, and overlay it with the way that the Jewish calendar runs. I feel like somewhere in that combining there is a true blending of faith experiences.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Three Little Girls

While in high school and college, I wasn't the person that I am today. In the process of "finding myself," I became pregnant. Three times. By two different guys. All three pregnancies ended in miscarriages. For a long time, I was in denial. I didn't want to accept what had happened or to acknowledge the circumstances that surrounded the events. I had gone so far as to even deny to myself that it mattered that I had lost children. Something in my heart tells me that they are all little girls. A few weeks ago, at the encouragement of my husband, I finally named them. My three little girls, Sarah Elizabeth, Anna Naomi, and Hannah Grace.

Since I like to study names and their meanings, I'm doing a post on my daughters' names. And yes, I intended them to all be Biblical names, or of Biblical reference. 

Sarah - Hebrew. "Princess." In the Old Testament, the wife of the patriarch Abraham. Came into vogue with other Biblical names in the 16th century and was enough of a staple for 400 years to have spawned a variety of nicknames. 

Elizabeth - Hebrew. "Pledged to God." One of the 30 most popular girls' names in the U.S.;  in the top 5 in Australia, Canada, and Great Britain. Used in full, it has a pleasant, old-fashioned ring, though some research attaches a "seductive" connotation to it. It is a source of endless diminutives and nicknames. 

Anna - var. Ann, Anglicization of Hannah. Hebrew. "Grace." One of the most frequently used names for girls until the mid-19th century, when it became less popular. When Elizabeth II of England named her daughter Anne in 1950, it became more prominent, but is still more common as a middle name. Though Ann may seem plain to many, its numerous derivatives offer plenty of variety. (I chose Anna after the prophetess Anna in Scripture.)

Naomi - Hebrew. "Pleasant." Old Testament name; the mother-in-law of Ruth, who, after her sons died, said  "Do not call me Naomi, call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me." Naomi came into English-speaking use not with the Puritan revival of Biblical names, but in the 18th century.

Hannah - Hebrew. "Grace." In the Old Testament, Hannah is the mother of the prophet Samuel. The name was steadily popular from around 1600 through the 19th century, peaking around 1800. It is now emerging from disuse, though the European forms of the name -- Ann, Anne, Anna, etc. -- remain far more common.

Grace - Latin. "Grace." Originally had nothing to do with physical grace, but rather with divine favor and mercy. Used in that sense by the Puritans, and taken to America, where it was very fashionable at the turn of the century. Periods of popularity followed in England (in the twenties) and Scotland ( through the fifties). Little used now, but ripe for revival. 

God Still Speaks - Part 2

You are being trained to rise up and fill the places that are being emptied. This is your destiny. You are to be the strength for many. You will be the heart of the cause. Many have poured into you. Now it is time to raise the next generation into a God-fearing people.

You will be mother to the lost, a guide for the weary. You will teach the innocent and foster the abandoned. Your home will overflow with children. There are many who will be blessed by your spirit and your strength.

The big white house is yours. I will make a way. Do not fear your debts. They will be cleared. It is time to clear the house, two and no more.

There is a God. His heart beats for you still. There are words left unspoken. I AM is the plan. It is Ha-Shem who guides your heart. Look not to the right nor to the left, but only straight ahead. For it is in that path that your needs will be found. Follow the course laid in front of you and you will find healing all of your days.

You seek my conviction? It is in these ways that you will be lost. You know that which is not yet surrendered and the havoc which it will bring.

It is not yet time for you to unleash the demons. There are others who first must be made ready. You do not fight, nor provoke, and that is the way it must remain for a season.

I am training you to be a wife and a mother, for it is not only your children that you will raise. There are many who will be blessed to call you Mother, even in the throes of their rebellion. You will be a lover to your husband and a source of his strength. It is he who will be blessed to know you, in an intimacy greater than you have ever known.

It is through you that those you know will come to know Me. It is through your teaching that hearts will be won. Teach with the same fire and vigor with which you worship Me, and the hearts in your care will be mine.

So, follow too, the Spirit and the longings which guide the heart, the heart which seeks to know all of Me. Use the wisdom of the ages which is imparted to you, and let your wisdom stay the course.

In all things, fall into Me. For I am your hope and stay.

Seek ye now the wisdom of the Lord. Find thy heart in Me. Know that your prayers are heard.

Your impatience, may it be tempered with grace and molded with love, for it is not to be denied. When  you seek, you will find. Though your heart may be broken, it beats in time with Mine.

Seek now the whole knowledge of God, for it is time. Prepare thyself in the ways of the Lord, for the time to fight is nigh. Pour thyself into all you do, and abandon conventional wisdom for it is lies.

Speak now, through your fears. It is faith that conquers death. Hear this, and speak your plea. Plead for those who do not know Me.

It is in your pain that they see your strength. Do not be afraid, know that I am near. It is love that will show them the way. It is the hearts of the broken that I give you this day.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

God Still Speaks - Part 1

There is going to be a spiritual battle of great magnitude. Thousands of lives will hang in the balance. The devil himself will come close to you and try to kiss your lips. You must resist. It is only by the power of prayer that this darkness will be defeated.
I am training you to be a warrior. You are stronger than you know and that is why you must be on the front lines. Because I am in your heart, you are unshatterable. As long as I am in you, you will remain unbroken. But if my name departs from your lips, you will be among the destroyed.
Keep thy faith eternally. It is by faith that you are redeemed. Your time is at hand. Do not abandon your post, young warrior, for it is through you that many are to be saved.
It is through your heart that the faith of nations will be saved. Speak of MY WORD and how it blesses you. Know that you will fight the good fight. Always remain on the side of righteousness, even when you doubt.
You are dreaming hte dreams of your fathers. Hearing the voices of your mothers. Fighting alongside your sisters and your brothers. This is a battle of the ages.
This is a fight you were born to know.
You fight with words you do not yet know. You speak with a heart that overflows. Your mind, it knows that which has not been revealed. It is you who knows the taste on my lips; it is the kiss I gave you on the day you were born.
This is your fight. There are others. Have them pray for you. They are not ready to fight. Though you feel alone, there are others who also stand alone. They are your comrades in arms. Do not let them fall.
There is a war which your soul still sees. The storm, it rages tumultuously within your spirit. When the storm clouds clear, rise into the light. There is a fire within you. It burns brightly, holding back the darkness from the day.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

40(ish) Days of Devotion - Day 39

I'm sitting here this morning wondering a more than a few things. Some are simple, like should I go upstairs and get a cup of coffee? Others are more complex, like wanting to understand the reasons for making the sign of the cross. The third category that I'm thinking about is more practical, like when I'll be able to change my laundry over so that I have dry clothes before I leave. I'm sure that you don't care about most of that, so I'll go get myself some coffee and write more about what I'm learning about crossing yourself.

Since I didn't grow up Catholic, or in any other Christian tradition that does the sign of the cross, it is a new thing to me. I learned how to make it several years ago from secular movies, using less than holy rhymes to remember the order. But as I've been (less than perfectly) reading and praying through A Seasonal Book of Hours, I've started to find myself less troubled by the gesture. There are times where I find myself using it when I am praying, even without the book. I'm still not comfortable with using it in public, but that may just take time.

So, what is the sign of the cross?

According to Wikipedia: Sign of the Cross: The sign of the cross (Latinsignum crucis), or blessing oneself or crossing oneself, is a ritual blessing made by members of many branches of Christianity. This blessing is made by the tracing of an upright cross or + across the body with the right hand, often accompanied by spoken or mental recitation of the trinitarian formula.

The motion is the tracing of the shape of a cross in the air or on one's own body, echoing the traditional shape of the cross of the Christian Crucifixion narrative. There are two principal forms: the one—three fingers, right to left—is exclusively used in the Eastern Orthodox churches and the Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church of the Byzantine and Chaldean Tradition; the other—left to right, other than three fingers—is the one used in the Latin Rite of the Catholic ChurchAnglicanismMethodismLutheranism and Oriental Orthodoxy (see below). The ritual is rare within other Christian traditions.

This can lead to another question. What is the trinitarian formula? It is a simple phrase. "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." These words appear in the Bible in Matthew 28:19. (Again referencing Wikipedia: Trinitarian Formula.)

If this sign is so common, and has a Biblical basis for the words that accompany it, then why aren't we more familiar with it?

Thoughts to be continued in another post...

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

40(ish) Days of Devotion - Day 21

Once again this year, my intention of blogging almost daily has been seriously derailed. I hate how busy life is, even when I try to make the effort to quiet the busyness. I know that one of Satan's tactics is that if he can't lead you away, he can at least keep you busy. This doesn't mean that I've been trying to inch away from God, but there can be too much of a good thing. Between bell choir practice, teaching Sunday school, working, grading work outside of school, searching for a summer job, errands, spending time with family and friends, I've again let my God time become neglected. I honestly struggle with overcommitment. If you ask me if I'm available for yet another "good thing," I'll say "yes." It doesn't matter that I'm severely overbooked, I'll cut into my sleep and crank the stress level a little higher to help you out.

Now, I'm not blaming everyone else in the universe for my lack of time with God. I realize that while I can't just decide that I'm not working for the rest of Lent, I can try to simplify my schedule. It is possible for me to say the dreaded "no" when someone asks me to participate in another activity. Saying no doesn't make me a bad person, it just makes me a person who is working within reasonable boundaries. Boundaries that I'm going to have to find a way to put into place.

If I don't develop a sense of boundaries sometime soon, I'm going to find myself completely burned out. I can feel myself moving in that direction now. The struggle to wake up in the morning because I'm so exhausted, the lack of caring about what food I'm eating because I just need enough energy to push me to the next meal, the zombie-like interactions with others - when I interact at all... these are all warning signs that I'm starting to take notice of. It's when I'm in full burnout that I tend to see some of my worst habits starting to return... things like smoking and alcohol begin to become almost obsessive thoughts and cravings. For me, that last step after burnout is self destruct. That mode of operation isn't just scary for me, because I feel so out of control, but it is scary for those who care about me as well, because there isn't any guarantee as to what point is officially "off limits" as the line I won't cross.

I think that my next step forward is to declare myself off limits for the rest of the night. As I finish typing this, I'm contemplating the comfort of my bed and the sleep that I hope to enjoy. Yet, I feel like I still have about 500 things to do before I can crawl between the sheets and rest. Now, to go and make sure that I have everything laid out for the morning.