Finding the Key

I turned 46 this year. Most likely I am on life’s downhill slope. I don’t expect I will live into my 90’s, most people don’t live that long. One thing I know for sure, I want my last half of my life to be better than the first half. I don’t want to waste the rest of my life in vain pursuits, but instead to be focused and determined in The Lord. There are some things I want to accomplish in this season of life, one of which is scripture memorization. 
I remember years ago my husband and I were studying the book of James. He had taken a group of youth to Bible Camp. On the last night they had a talent show of sorts. During the show, a young man stood alone in front of the crowd and from memory began to quote The Book of James. Oh how I wish I could have been there! Completely from memory the young man quoted the entire book, all five chapters!
This was amazing to me, I guess mostly because I have always struggled to memorize. My earliest memory of scripture memorization is from Sunday School. We must have spent the entire year trying to memorize Psalms 23. I’m not sure I ever memorized it verbatim. Over the years I have continued to struggle with memorization.
Oh, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying I don’t know the Bible. I can paraphrase many verses, but being able to say them word for word with a reference to where they are found has just been something I have not been able to master. 
Until recently- 

“What made the difference?” you ask. Sometime last year I began praying that God would help me to memorize His Word. I wasn’t sure how that would happen but I trusted that this was a worthwhile persuit and that God would honor my request. Then one day, Miss Judy, our pastor’s wife, announced a 4 week study on how to memorize Scripture. I knew immediately that I needed to attend that class. 
In 4 short weeks, I have put to memory more Bible verses than I have been able to do in my entire life. 
The link below is a video of Pastor John Piper as he talks about the importance of scripture memorization. 

There are many techniques which can help with scripture memorization. The key is to find one that works for you. Then you will need to put in some time and effort, combined with prayer. 
After all, It is written, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13″

Training for Battle

In Ephesians chapter 6:10-17 there is a list referred to as The Armor of God. The list contains many weapons used for our protection: the belt of truth, breast plate of righteousness, shoes of peace, helmet of salvation and shield of faith. But in the list of armor there is only one offensive weapon mentioned that we have been given to defend ourselves against the devil. The weapon God has given us to take into battle is His Word, The Bible and it is referred to as our sword. 
Anyone who has watched fencing, or any movie where battles are fought with swords, knows that the sword is only useful 1) if you pick it up and 2) if the one using it is highly trained. Like any swordsman we must be highly trained if our weapon is to be effective in our hands. 
When Jesus was led into the wilderness he demonstrated how to expertly use the sword to combat our enemy the Devil. After fasting for 40 days and nights Satan attacked Christ. Three times he tempted Jesus and every time Jesus replied, “It is written…” Three times Jesus use his Sword to fight the battle. As a seasoned swordsman Jesus used the truth of scripture to combat the lies of Satan. (Matthew 4:1-11)
The Devil is still attacking and tempting God’s chosen ones. In order to stand in times of difficulty we MUST know The Word, believe The Word and apply The Word. Without advance training, we will be ineffective and unprepared to fight in battle. 
How is your training coming?

In this short video, Pastor Rick Warren explains the importance of using the sword. 

Learning to Eat

From the time we began feeding Trinity baby food, we had a battle on our hands. She yelled and screamed and flapped her arms every single time we tried to feed her. As a mom, I was at wits end. She needed to eat, it was my job to feed her and yet daily we experienced an epic battle. 
I will never forget the day we finally figured out what the problem was. It was sometime in November and we were traveling from Mexico to Tennessee. Along the trip we had stopped at a fast food restaurant for lunch. Trinity was about 8 months old and sitting in her high chair. I look away for a split second and when I look back, she had grabbed a french fry and was happily munching on it. That was the first time I had seen her eat without screaming. At that moment the light bulb finally went off in our minds, “This girl wants to feed herself!”
All babies are dependent on others for food. As they grow, children begin to feed themselves. They often begin as messy eaters but through practice they become proficient. 
The Writer of Hebrews refers to this concept to help describe our ability to read the Bible, understand it and put in practice Biblical principles. “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.” Hebrews 5:12-14
As believers we should mature in our ability to read, understand and put in practice the Scriptures. However many of us, like infants or toddlers have not mastered this skill. D.L. Moody explained it like this, “What we need as Christians is to be able to feed ourselves. How many there are who sit helpless and listless, with open mouths, hungry for spiritual things, and the minister has to try to feed them, while the Bible is a feast prepared, into which they never venture.”
God’s Word contains answers to life’s many difficulties, but often we fail to consult it. Then, when we do, we are often unable to benefit from God’s wisdom because, like children who haven’t mastered basic eating skills, we have not mastered the skill of understanding The Bible. 
Let us be as eager to devour God’s Word as a little girl happily nibbling on a French Fry. 

Have Your Cake and Eat it Too!

Prosperity gospel promises financial blessing and physical well-being in this life as the will of God for Christians. No wonder it is so very popular! It promises such desirable things, with no personal sacrifice. It’s the “have your cake and eat it too” gospel. 
Beware of being saduced by the name-it, claim-it gospel that promises that all that glitters is gold and that by following Christ we are somehow exempt from the hardships of life. Christ himself promised us that, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33
The New Testament is full of teaching that contradicts trying to make the gospel fit our own desires. 1 Peter 1:6 talks about believers being grieved by various trials in order that their genuineness of faith- be tested. 
1 Peter 4:19 states, “therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.” Romans 8:23 talks about the redemption of our bodies. 2 Corinthians 4:16-17 encourages us to, “…not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison..” If in fact the promises of Prosperity Gosple are true, then there is no need for the above encouragement. 
Regarding personal wealth, Jesus taught, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15).

Additional Christ teaches us, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19). 
Much of New Testament teaching warns us of the difficulties that life will bring, how is it that we can rightfully believe the exact opposite.
According to John Piper, Christians in prosperity churches are often profoundly unprepared for what life under God’s providence is going to deal them.” When difficulties of life unfold, followers of the Prosperty Gosple are often dismayed and turn their backs on Christ, because they are not prepared for life’s realities. 
Prosperity teaching should not come to us as a surprise, infact in 2 Timothy 4:3, Paul says there will come a time where people will gather themselves teachers that suit their own passions. The lust for health and wealth certainly fit that category. 
The Bible teaches us to understand that life will not always dish out what we want, but those who believe and follow Christ have hope in Christ as our defender and friend and in an eternal future, with non perishable bodies living surrounded by heaven’s riches in God’s glorious presence. And that is the true prosperity message of the gospel.

How Will You Respond?

I watched a movie recently. A little boy was trapped in a moving train. As the train rumbled past a station he looked through the bars and saw a little girl outside. He called desperately for help but she just stared at him. She stared, emotionless as he passed.
How often do we see the plight of others but do not respond? Even worse, how often do we just NOT see them? Like the little girl in the movie, we stare without seeing, without feeling, or we look past those in need. 
This story is not a new one, in fact Jesus told a similar story of a man who had been beaten and robbed. Those who you would expect to stop and help him, walked by without a second glance. But one man looked, saw, had compassion and then responded. He took care of the man in need. Not only did he physically tend to his wounds, he helped move the injured man to a safe place and financially provided for him as well. 
I was reminded of this parable yesterday when we met a crippled beggar in the street. I saw him from afar. Realizing that I was unprepared to give him anything and knowing that it would be imprudent to dig through my bag on the crowed street, I simply diverted my eyes as we passed. When we walked by him I heard him say, “You folks have a nice day.” And then I heard my daughter reply enthusiastically, “Oh thank you! You have a nice day too.” I was immediately convicted and realized that I have so much more to give than just a few coins. I have Jesus living inside of me and I should allow His light and love to shine forth from me at all times, to all people. It cost me very little to simply look at someone in the eye and wish them a blessed day.
 Is there someone in your life that needs help? Someone who is wounded, trapped or without hope? Are you ignoring their needs, thinking that surely someone else will come along to help them. Or like the little girl in the movie, do you stare right through them, but fail to see their cries for help? Or like me did you simply just look away?
The king will answer them, ‘I can guarantee this truth: Whatever you did for one of my brothers or sisters, no matter how unimportant [they seemed], you did for me. Matthew 25-40

God’s Word Translation
The Parable of the Good Samaritan

Luke 10:25–37

Things You Don’t See in the United States

Over the years of living in a foreign country we have experienced so many cultural differences. Sometimes we become numb to those differences and cease to even notice them. Here are a few things that we have experienced that still seem unusual to us….
A Christmas tree being carried home on the back of a motorcycle. 
Two men and a goat riding in the back of a pickup truck on a main highway at night. 
A baby seat strapped to the back of a four wheeler. 
A man walking down the street carrying a machete. 
A 4-5 person family using a motor scooter as their main form of transportation. 
Shaved ice and chopped fruit being sold out of the trunk of a car. 
A woman selling tamales or tacos carrying them in a large pot pushed through the street with a wheel borrow. 
A sign saying “no camping” posted in the median of a highway. 
Men riding down the highway perched on top of the dirt in the back of a dump truck. 
A store that sells 1- Tylenol, or 1-diaper, or 1- index card. 
A man sitting on a stump cooking over an open fire on the side of the toll road. 
Free range horses and donkeys. 
A public bathroom that only has one roll of toilet paper mounted to the wall near the entrance. (You must get your paper before entering the stall.)
Corn flavored ice cream

Reverse Culture Shock

The mountain is burning, more like smoldering, with a thick stream of smoke that billows to the heavens. And I lie awake. I’m reading and writing when I come across something I wrote a year or two ago,  although it is older, I could have easily written it last week. 
The Sound of Silence

“It is quiet, so quiet. I only hear a faint hum of the air coming out of the ducts in the floor and the ringing in my ears. Life is still. No noise, no breeze, no smoke from the neighbors burning, no smoke from wildfires. 
In March when the temperature begins to warm, all is dry in Ixtlahuacan and the towns people begin to burn. It is not uncommon for them to burn entire fields, yards, piles of sticks or leaves. They burn in the early morning hours and sometimes during the cover of night. It’s so hot that we must sleep with our windows open, but oh…the smoke. As strange as it may sound…today I woke, not because of the smoke, but because of the lack of smoke. 
There is no breeze in this climate controlled room. No birds chirping, dogs barking, air breaks rumbling as the big trucks come down the mountain. It’s still, quiet and unusual. 
When I first traveled as a missionary to Hong Kong and then again in Mexico, I remember being warned about the noise and the smells. I never thought I would need to be warned about the lack of odors and the silence. Oh how the tables turn.”