"Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD...He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths." Micah 4:2

Monday, April 28, 2014

READING a little deeper...

This weekend, in order to fight JET LAG from my recent Malaysian trip, I entertained my mind by creating BUTTONS for a list of book reviews found on the internet about Mesu Andrew's latest book, In the Shadow of Jezebel.

Fifty-seven reviews were posted about this biblical fiction book, in the Mesu Andrew's BFF group. I read many of their posts and hunted for a specific quote that revealed a little snippet about the story and also summarized their review. Then, I took that quote and matched it up to my understanding of lifestyle Christianity in our modern age of Grace. Some of the quotes were best used to characterize the author, Mesu. I think she revels in God's attributes and His Truth as she prepares and researches the treasures hidden in the true stories of Old Testament characters.
I enjoyed reading this novel and doing my own review about it on my blog, but these other reviews refreshed my mind on many of the scenes and characters that impacted my own thoughts during my reading. Many biblical passages came to my mind which re-enforced the truth God offers us through faith in Jesus Christ. 

These caused my meditations to reflect on the Grace of God which placed me securely in Christ for all eternity. 
My heart was full of gratitude as I re-read Romans 3:21-24 and heard again God's declaration 
              "Not Guilty"...

Nothing but thanksgiving and praise can I give to such a loving God. I am overwhelmed that on top of all His Grace and Mercy, he chooses to use His justified children as Ambassadors in this world. He makes His appeal through us as we implore others to be reconciled to our holy and loving God.  

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter on the Island

My week 6 of island living ends with the joy of Easter shown on the grandchildren's faces! Their exuberance for celebration always makes planning the event so much fun. 
I enjoyed conspiring the treats for this special event with my daughter for her little ones. 
She is so clever and always looking for ways to teach spiritual truths. 
This weekend was no exceptions.

Throughout most of my visit, we've been having devotionals with the little ones using object lessons to teach LENT through the life of Jesus Christ. 
Each evening has been so good as we stopped and contemplated some event that led up to Jesus dying on the cross. This week, we focused on Jesus' last week and his arrival in Jerusalem.

Finally, on Friday evening, we celebrated a Passover meal of remembrance. We tasted bitter herbs to remind us of how bitter slavery was for God's people. We tasted salty water to remind us of the tears shed during those bitter years and sugar water of God's goodness. We tasted several more items, culminating the progression with a delicious supper of lamb and culminating with the remembrance of the Last Supper.
It was a big deal to even have our shoes on - something seldom done in Asian homes - but even this was a reminder of God's people prepared for travel on that fateful day when the angel of death passed over and God gave the command to "GO".

To prepare for Easter, their mom gave each of the girls a dirty bucket and they collected 5 rocks each for their bucket. During devotions, she talked about SIN and how our hearts are like stone with no love for anyone but ourselves. On each stone, they wrote a sin they considered a struggle in their lives. The little girls were so honest and precise, surprising me with their understanding of what doesn't please God in their daily interactions.

Then we read how God promises to take our old stony hearts and give us new hearts that love Him. He promised to make us 'new creations'. We put the old dirty buckets in the center of the table with the white candle which represents the Lord Jesus as "the LIGHT of the world". 

Saturday night, his light was out because He had died for those sins and taken our stony hearts to the cross. We covered the old dirty baskets of stones with red fabric - and the little girls went to bed understanding that Jesus' blood covered all those sins listed on their rocks. 
As they walked away, my daughter explained that just like they hoped those dirty buckets would not still be there in the morning, so the disciples of Jesus had hoped for a miracle as they walked away from the cross and tomb.

That HOPE is the RESURRECTION of Jesus Christ...and new life promised in Christ to those who believe that God has raised Him from the dead.

Under the RED fabric this morning, each girl will find a beautiful decorated bucket with fun gifts inside. We removed the stones and placed them in a bucket labeled for Jesus and filled their new buckets with 'peeps', tootsie pops, toys and a sweet piece of jewelry. 

We will talk about how Christ's resurrection brings new life to our hearts. God has promised those who believe will receive a new heart and be securely placed "in Christ".  
Old things like stones should be "put away" because God took them. We should never reclaim them.

Later when tensions flared and the little one was getting angry, I asked her if she was taking one of her stones back from Jesus. With a precious expression, she exclaimed, "! He can carry it this time!" and ran off to play happily.

I was really challenged by this devotional and hope to carry it through the year with me. Just like the little one, I can decide to have my own way and take back a stone that I've already given to Jesus to remove as "far as the east is from the west". 
OR I can remember my Jesus promised a NEW HEART and took on himself my whole dirty bucket of stones. If in child-like faith I believe Him, I will run off JOYFULLY to live with so much gratitude for His burden-lifting GIFT. 

THANK YOU, Jesus...for Easter!
Romans 3:24 "Yet now God in his gracious kindness declares us not guilty
He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins." NLT
THANK YOU for the message so simple that even a child can grasp all YOU accomplished in your death on the cross and the GIFT of a new heart through your RESURRECTION!

                         "He is risen, indeed."
And from this island and 13 hours time zone difference....Happy Easter, dear loved ones!!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Reading A Book of a Thousand Days

Coming to a tropical island while my mid-western home is surrounded by snow has so many benefits, especially when each morning I'm greeted by the happiest 4 children I've ever met in the early hours of dawn!
They begin their day before the sun peeks over the mountains and only drop when the mid-day schedule requires their little bodies to rest on their beds or it's night time again.

There is hardly time for leisure, personal reading, and never a quiet moment to just stare at the ocean, but I've enjoyed the laughter and play a wonderful beach and sunny days offer children.

I'm so busy with these 4 all day or else, I'm trying to be helpful to one very busy set of parents who are not only running a household, but schooling their kids, holding contacts as a priority and beginning a business that requires hours of reading and computer. I think I've fallen into bed each night very exhausted while their lights still burned over a desk or two, but I also feel exhilarated and happy to have so much time just to love my family.

Once bedtime arrives,  I've tried to set aside time to just read for pleasure. Although you may be surprised by this statement - I'm thrilled to find so many English printed books available for the family! The reason for my thrill is because a former home didn't have such wonderful benefits and resources.
I browsed the bookcases and found several books to add to my summer reading list, but this one was handed to me as a good read when returned by a co-worker. My daughter's shelves have become a "lending library" but this one looked too good to just put back on the shelf. I read it in 3 days!
Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale is written as a journal by a servant girl who took an oath to serve her genteel "lady"completely and wholeheartedly. She begins her journal scared and huddled in a totally bricked-in tower, imprisoned with her "lady", with not even a window to show her blue sky to her. She took in her surroundings and situation, evaluated the blessings she was given, took stock of supplies on hand to serve her "lady" and then, planned how to get through the banishment hoisted upon her by the choices of others.

Her journal keeping allowed me to see into the depths of her thoughts, struggles and personal victories, but most of all, see the real young servant's heart. I was so impressed at how natural her thoughts of servitude flowed, even when circumstances threatened to squeeze the very life from her. I was amazed at her unquestioning submission and obedience to those who were to be served, but I also chuckled when she realized how simplistic and normal gentry really were in their private lives. Her gentle and fore-bearing spirit forgave their flaws so quickly which to me made her the genteel lady of grace.
I liked how she thought through the commands, clarifying right or wrong, and made choices of right for her own personal life.

Photo snapped of page 289 
In all her trials, she never lost her own personal heart integrity. She struggled when 'gentry' forced her to lie for them, yet did so because she lived under their command. When commands made her cross her own boundaries of rightness, she endeavored to make her actions right in some little way, without hurting or displaying the faults of
the ones that had crossed the lines by their commands.

I'm glad she was loved but even more so, I was relieved to read that she realized how much she was loved and appreciated for her loyalty, sacrificial giving and her love of others.

It was a pleasure to peek into this precious young life's journal.