Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

...and unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Savior who is Christ the Lord!

May Christmas be a time of remembering, a time of renewing, and a time of celebration!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Eve - Christmas in the Garden of Eden

Genesis 3:14-15 So the LORD God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this,"Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel."

I do not read Revelations - there, I've said it. I know that all scripture is important and we should be knowledgeable about it, but this book gives me anxiety. God promises that He will take care of His people - and I'm going to rest on that promise. As far as the rest of the Bible goes, how exciting to look at all that was prophesied and came true. J. Barton Payne’s, Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy (New York: Harper & Row, 1973) lists 1,239 prophecies in the Old Testament, and 578 prophecies in the New Testament, for a total of 1,817. Some already fulfilled, some yet to come.

God is giving us insight right here in the beginning of time. God begins to punish the serpent. Notice there is no object lesson here, no "why did you do this" - God lays right into the punishment for the serpent. Can you imagine the fear of Adam and Eve when they saw the serpent lose it's legs and crawl away on it's belly. Did they think that they too would lose their legs? Would they live the rest of their lives without limbs? It had to cross their minds.

Then, in all His power, in all His wisdom - He tells them (and us) the story of Christmas. Who knew we could find the story of Christmas in Genesis? The latter part of verse 15 tells us that woman will have an offspring and He will crush the head of Satan and Satan will strike His heel. Jesus - the offspring - came as a little baby and gave hope to a lost world. Satan did strike at His heel and Jesus was crucified. Why is the crucifixion only a strike at His heel? Because He rose again and conquered death and Satan, it wasn't even a setback-it was part of the plan. I believe only half of this verse in Genesis has been fulfilled. Jesus is coming back and we will all get to see Him crush the head of Satan - and if perchance I'm standing next to Eve when it happens - I might say "now that's what He was talking about".

Monday, December 22, 2008

Eve - Better than Santa Claus

Genesis 3:9-13 But the LORD God called to the man, "Where are you?" He answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid." And he said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?" The man said, "The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it."Then the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate."

Did you ever notice that when you are out of the will of God, you don't pray? I'm guilty of this. If I know there is something going on in my life that is against God's word, I stop talking to Him (exact opposite of what should be done). This has been going on since the beginning of time.

God came to spend time with Adam in the garden and called out to him - Where are you? Now, we all know that God knew exactly where Adam was and exactly what he had done - why ask? I think it was object lesson time. Adam told God that he was hiding from Him because he was naked. This is where God begins to break apart the lies, as He always does.

Notice when He asks both Adam and Eve what happened - they blame it on someone else. Adam blames Eve, Eve blames the serpent. Would things have been any different if they just would've said they were sorry?

In our daily lives, we don't say we're sorry because it means the blame is on us - guess what? It IS our fault. If we're tempted by someone else, it's still our fault for falling into that temptation. When we are living out of God's will - it's OUR fau
lt, no one else's. Our best option, what should be our ONLY option, is admitting guilt (we will never be perfect) apologize (sincerely mean it) and try to do better (don't keep doing the same thing). Jesus KNOWS when we're good or bad - more so than Santa Claus - that's why He made the sacrifice He did - so that even when we keep messing up, we don't have to spend eternity without Him. Thank God for His sacrifice that I will never be worthy of. . .

Friday, December 19, 2008

Eve - Did you sneak a peek?

Genesis 3:7-8 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

It's Christmas time and many of us have wrapped our presents or at least hidden them somewhere away from prying eyes - but as we all know, that doesn't always work. How many of us, growing up, have sneaked into the Christmas presents and unwrapped to take a peek? And in so doing, the guilt outweighed any joy of the actual gift.

Verse 8 makes it pretty clear of the type of relationship that God had with Adam and Eve. In the evening He came walking in the garden wanting to spend time with them. God had a relationship with Adam and Eve. He didn't just create them and leave them there - He spent time with them and they enjoyed His company. But now, just as when we open the present we know we're not supposed to open - they don't want to face their Father.

It is not unreasonable to think that at some point, God would've shared with them about that tree. That eventually, sooner or later, God would've let them eat some of that fruit. Maybe He was going to tell them about their nakedness later and present them with a nice white robe instead of those itchy fig leaves. Whatever it was that God had planned for them, was ruined because of their own selfish desires.

How many times have we ruined a great surprise for this same reason. Two thousand and eight years ago God sent us a gift - a fulfillment of a promise that would save us from this sin we can't seem to keep away from. Even in spite of ourselves - God is still desiring a relationship with us, to walk with us, and talk with us and I think there still might be a white robe, or maybe even a crown, waiting for us under His tree.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Eve - Apple? Pear? Apple? Pear?

Genesis 3:4-6 "You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

There have been many sermons pass many ears about the importance of prayer before any decision. Now, I'll admit, at first - this seemed a little silly to me. To pray before I decide what outfit to wear for the day - or pray to decide which fast food restaurant to hit on the way home from wherever the kids needed to be that day - seemed a little redundant to me. Not that it wasn't worth the time to talk to God, but that it wasn't important enough to bother Him with.

We are bombarded with thousands of decisions every day - so the blanket prayer of guidance is always good. But it was this verse that drove home the point of praying over the every day decisions. Eve was being tempted by Satan. We are tempted every day, in every way. The decision she had to make seemed fairly small. Should I eat an apple from this tree? Or a pear from this other tree? Now, we know that she was told to stay away from that one tree, so on a side note, why was she so close to it? The Bible doesn't say she made a three day journey to get to the tree, she was there next to it. Sometimes, when we know something is too tempting, we need to remove ourselves from it - or build a concrete wall around it.

If Eve would've stopped for just a moment and asked God whether or not she should've eaten that "apple" - our lives may be very different. Adam was no help, he just took the apple and ate it too. It's not enough to go to friends and family for advice - it has to be God. What we, and everyone else, may see is a choice between two different types of fruit - but what God sees is the future of His people. And while a decision that you make may not determine the outcome of a nation, it may impact your relationship with someone else - and the opportunity to witness to them. Perhaps you go to Wendy's instead of McDonald's and God had someone there who needed to hear about Him. Maybe your brown shoes would strike up a conversation with a co-worker who compliments those shoes and that gives you an opportunity to talk about Jesus that you might not have otherwise had. Perhaps choosing vegetables for lunch over french fries will give your immune system the boost it needs to fight that flu you were exposed to and allows you to continue your volunteer work.

We have no idea what God has in store for us or what He needs us to do - but if we 'ask' and let Him guide our decisions, we could make a world of difference for Him.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Eve - Standing firm even if you're wearing stilettos..

Genesis 3:1-3 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?" The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'

The Snake. How many B movies have been made about the morphed snake or the outerspace snake or the mass snake quantity. There are several websites out there right now that are boasting the top ten snake movies of all time. Why did Satan pick this animal? Obviously he got the job done - but what if he would've used a little puppy or bunny rabbit. (leave your comments about your opinion on this) At this point in the story, Satan - as the snake - is baiting Eve.

Eve stands strong at first - simply tells the serpent that God said 'no'. Shouldn't that be enough for us? Shouldn't we be able to look someone in the eyes and say - God doesn't agree with this, so neither do I. God is so clear on many things in the Bible and having the knowledge of what is in that Bible is priceless.

Here's the downside - we are not stronger than Satan. If Satan attacks us - in whatever form - we cannot defeat him. However; there is One who can. If ever asked or been in a situation where you feel as though Satan is trying to push you out of line - Jesus is the one to turn to. That is why every morning should be spent in His word, studying what He wants us to hear for the day and asking for His protection. Cause Satan is out there, he's sneaky, and he's trying to convince us that there is no hope. Will you be able to defeat him today - have you asked Jesus to guide you and to help you battle against him?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Eve - Define "Cellulite"...

Genesis 2:25 The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.

There were nearly 11.7 million surgical and nonsurgical cosmetic procedures performed in the United States in 2007, as reported by the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS). 11.7 million! The two most common types of surgery were liposuction and botox. So it's not like these statistics include someone who suffered a skin loss or disfigurement. We're not talking skin-graphs here.

The money brought in on these surgeries? Over $8 Billion dollars.

Why do people spend this type of money on unnecessary surgeries? Because they are unhappy with their bodies. Anorexia this year alone has affected Seven million women and One million men. All segments of society are affected: Men and women, young and old, rich and poor, all ethnicities, all socio-economic levels. (National Association of Anorexia Nervosa)

What does this have to do with Genesis 2:25? How much better would our intimate relationship be with our spouse if we were happy with our own bodies? This all changes when sin is entered into the relationship. When we let the sins of jealousy and greed and sloth and pride work its way into our relationship- it's no wonder we have problems reaching the original state of bliss that God intended in our marriage when we carry all this baggage of our own making.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Eve - Monster-in-Law

Genesis 2:24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

How many Christian wives have thrown this verse in their husbands face when their mother-in-law has gotten on their last nerve? When the concept of annoying mothers-in-law come up, my mind often wanders to Ray Barone and his poor wife on "Everybody loves Raymond". So many jokes are made about the mother-in-law that many comedians have set their career paths along that line.

This verse was written before Adam and Eve had kids and since they did not have earthly parents - why is this scripture right here? Not only does it foreshadow the questions that will be raised when children marry, but also how a marriage is to work and what the parents are to expect.

Marriage is a new journey - a new start in life. It is NOT an extension of living with mom and dad. The newlyweds must know that they have full responsibility for surviving with each other. House payments, car payments, job finding, house cleaning, lawncare, child-raising, cooking, health issues etc. etc. These are things that the two will need to figure out together how they are going to handle. What does this mean for mom and dad? It means mom and dad are no longer responsible for making sure junior is fed and bathed and clothed. It is a time where they should be able to see all their training actually show up in their child. That doesn't mean that the parents should not be there to help out or offer advice when needed or be a big part of the newly married couples life - it just means that they need to acknowledge that this is a new step in their childs life and God has set it up for them to do it with their spouse. God makes this guideline in the very beginning when marriage is first established - between one man and one woman.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Eve - Pregnant Man?

Genesis 2:22-23 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman,'for she was taken out of man."

"When a woman has a baby, bonding with that baby is probably one of the most pleasurable aspects. You can begin by cradling your baby and gently stroking him or her in different patterns. If you hold and touch your infant frequently, your little one will soon come to know the difference between your touches. You should also take the opportunity to be "skin to skin" with your newborn by holding him or her against your own skin when feeding or cradling." This was an excerpt from an article written through Nemours Foundation. It talks about the wonderful bond between a mother and baby and how to nurture that relationship.

It's natural to understand why mothers and their babies are so close, but husbands and wives? Here in the beginning, it happened the same way. Eve came FROM Adam. It tells us right here in scripture how attached he was to her right from the beginning. "Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh". I can imagine how their bonding experience went: Adam longed to touch her hair and be beside her and feel her skin. Eve must have hung on his every word and enjoyed the safety of his protection in his arms. They played in the garden and ate and swam. It was like a never-ending sleep-over. Do we think of our spouses in this manner? Do we look forward to playing with them and sleeping with them and talking to them? I am guilty of letting my relationship with my husband slide. With the pressures of work and family and the daily grind, that bond that God gave to us as husband and wife, isn't nearly as enjoyed as God meant it to be.

Satan is so sneaky - we'll talk about how sneaky he was in the garden, but even in our daily lives of not realizing the importance of our spouse. Not appreciating the partnership that God has made for us. God has so many things that He has created just for us - and marriage, God's way, is one of those special gifts.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Eve - Begins

Genesis 2:18-22The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

The strange solenodon is a mammal found primarily in Cuba and Hispanola. Sure, it looks cute and manageable enough - sort of like an over-sized hedgehog. Too bad the solenodon injects rattlesnake-like venom through its teeth, the only mammal to do so. Easily annoyed, the solenodon bites at the drop of a banana leaf. Where in the world did Adam come up with the name solenodon? I often wonder why many of the animals have the name they do. Some are understandable, like the sloth- very slow-moving, lazy animal - that I get. And when the animals were all named - which I'm sure took a very long time to do - not one was capable of being a helper to the man, not even man's best friend - the dog. Sure puts a dent in the whole evolution theory - as if it wasn't weak enough already.

On another note, Laparoscopic surgery is the best way in this day and age to have surgery. While the cost for this is around $12,000 - slightly more than other types of surgery, the healing time to get back to work has been decreased to under 3 weeks. If man has made this incredible medical breakthrough, how much more incredible is our God: well here's our example. God put Adam to sleep - no anesthesia, gas, nothing - and then He opened him up and took his rib. God made woman with this rib - which while incredible in itself, let's not forget the rest of the process. When Adam woke up, there was Eve waiting for him. No recovery time, no scars, no pain, no medical bill. The only thing awaiting Adam when he awoke was his brand new partner. Eve beat out all the other animals and, according to God, was the only one capable of being the kind of partner that Adam needed - notice that God didn't make Adam another man. So the next time a phish with legs and an equals (=) sign flash at you from someone's bumper, remember that God's plan is always the best, and He gave us this scripture as proof.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Samson - Death of an Engineer

Judges 16:25-30 While they were in high spirits, they shouted, "Bring out Samson to entertain us." So they called Samson out of the prison, and he performed for them. When they stood him among the pillars, Samson said to the servant who held his hand, "Put me where I can feel the pillars that support the temple, so that I may lean against them." Now the temple was crowded with men and women; all the rulers of the Philistines were there, and on the roof were about three thousand men and women watching Samson perform. Then Samson prayed to the LORD, "O Sovereign LORD, remember me. O God, please strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes." Then Samson reached toward the two central pillars on which the temple stood. Bracing himself against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other, Samson said, "Let me die with the Philistines!" Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived.

The average base salary for a structural engineer in Florida is between $50,000-$100,000 - based on how high of a level you are at. Not a bad option as far as career choices go. I don't think the primary goal of the structural engineer has changed much since it's beginning: Goal = Make building that won't fall down. I find it hard to believe - even in Bible times - that a building would be made that would completely collapse if two of its pillars became unstable.

That being said - let's look at what happens to Samson. We all know that this is where it happens, Samson asks God for strength one last time and pushes the pillars and the whole building comes down and everyone dies. Let's look at some statistics. The Bible states that there were about 3,000 men and women on the roof - ON THE ROOF - it doesn't even say how many were down below, but if the roof could hold that many. . . That building had to be pretty big to hold all those people. In a building this size - even in the center of the structure - is it logical to think that it would all come crashing down because two pillars were pushed?

Now, it is possible that when the pillars were pushed they came lose and knocked other pillars down and it was a domino effect - however, that's just conjecture. Why am I harping on engineering? Because the bottom line here is - God didn't need Samson. Samson was given an opportunity to be used by God because he asked. If God wanted that building to come down on those Philistines, He could've just blinked His eye or sent a strong wind or hopped a million frogs that way, but that's not what happened. Samson asked to be used by God and so he was used.

God doesn't need us to complete whatever purpose He has planned. God does not need our "help". He wants to bless us because we 'want' to help. Like the little girl who asks mommy if she can help cook dinner - Mommy doesn't NEED her help - but what a wonderful enthusiasm for cooking the daughter will walk away with. Will we ask God if we can help so that we can walk away with a renewed enthusiasm for Him?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Samson - Literary Guild Meets Here

Judges 16:23-24 Now the rulers of the Philistines assembled to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god and to celebrate, saying, "Our god has delivered Samson, our enemy, into our hands." When the people saw him, they praised their god, saying, "Our god has delivered our enemy into our hands, the one who laid waste our land and multiplied our slain."

Again, God is still a literary force to be reckoned with - His use of irony makes me chuckle. The Philistines are praising their god for giving Samson over to them - when we all know that God has Samson right where he needs to be. Makes me LOL. In all seriousness though, let's not forget that in going about these things the way Samson did, even though God put him where He needed him to be, it left the door wide open for those who do not worship the one true God to be led astray to worship false gods. How easy it was for them to believe that their god had brought victory to them.

Now that I've mentioned the irony - let's talk about this whole 'god' issue. The god they worshiped at this moment in time was called Dagon. Half-man, Half-fish. First of all, the Philistines ate fish. How are you going to eat something that your god is supposed to be half of, surely there had to be a rule about this somewhere. Secondly, Dagon was the god of fertility and crops. So, in essence, food and sex. Isn't it "ironic" how people will worship something that fits in line with their lifestyle. "It's not wrong to indulge in gluttony by filling up so full that no one else has any - Dagon is the god of crops and surely he would want this for me." "Infidelity can't be wrong, Dagon is the god of fertility, I should be able to spread my seed to as many women as possible".

As if that line of thinking isn't enough, Dagon isn't the only god. He is only god over those two things. There are other gods for other things. How would you keep them all straight and who decides which one is more important? I'm going to let you know the truth - there's only one God. These other gods . . . not real. Philistines had it wrong, so does everyone who's not worshiping the one true God. Why would you want to worship five different gods for all the different areas of your life? Isn't it comforting to know that our God is God over everything and all aspects of your life?! He isn't compartmentalized into one section of your life. He doesn't 'fit' into how you want to live - He shows you how to live for Him.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Samson - Torture 101

Judges 16:21-22 Then the Philistines seized him, gouged out his eyes and took him down to Gaza. Binding him with bronze shackles, they set him to grinding in the prison. But the hair on his head began to grow again after it had been shaved.

While I'm not a huge fan of Shakespeare, MacBeth is widely used in the literary field to study the use of foreshadowing. The entirety of the play is practically already told before it's over because of the use of foreshadowing. When our public school systems stopped using the Bible as a primary form of literature, they lost out on the ultimate Author who created all literary techniques beyond what any other author can even match.

Why did they poke his eyes out? We've seen so many spy movies and war documentaries - gouging eyes out really hasn't been the token torture method. I think God used the Philistines in this way to, once again, meet His purpose. The next use of foreshadowing in just these two verses alone certainly solidifies what will come next. Samson's hair grows back. Can you hear the ominous music start to play?

What possible purpose do you think Samson thought he could play for God at this stage of his life? He's disabled, weak, captured, tortured - what had he done, and how could it possibly be fixed. Many times it may be like this in our own lives. I know it was in mine. So far off the deep end - how could God ever use us again? Just like Samson - if we give it all over to God, He will use us.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Samson - Check Your Attitude

Judges 16:18-20 When Delilah saw that he had told her everything, she sent word to the rulers of the Philistines, "Come back once more; he has told me everything." So the rulers of the Philistines returned with the silver in their hands. Having put him to sleep on her lap, she called a man to shave off the seven braids of his hair, and so began to subdue him. And his strength left him. Then she called, "Samson, the Philistines are upon you!" He awoke from his sleep and thought, "I'll go out as before and shake myself free." But he did not know that the LORD had left him.

This has been a whirlwind week. We went out of town on Sunday to Orlando for my birthday. We visited the Holy Land and then went to the "ICE" exhibit and shopping at the outlet malls and seeing 'Bolt' the movie and then traveling back home on Wednesday evening only to clean house in anticipation of everyone coming over for Thanksgiving Day. Does it ever seem to you that you need a vacation after your vacation?

It got me to thinking about life in general. I teach Public Speaking two days a week to high school students, I work part-time for Weight Watchers - 4 meetings a week, I homeschool my four children - beyond the everyday housewife things. I volunteer in the 3rd-4th grade AWANA for girls and do the Bible Lesson once a month as well as small devotionals on Wednesday evenings for 6th grade girls. My mom always asks, "Dorothy, I don't know how you do it." The fact is, I know that there are a lot of us women (and men) out there who have at least this much on their plate, if not more. It's only by the grace of God that we get through each day without a melt down as it is.

Samson has done some miraculous things, things that - without God - would be impossible. Sometimes it's easy to start thinking that we have it all under control - like Samson did. Samson became full of himself and thought that he could do it on his own - that betraying the secret God entrusted to him would be of no consequence. This attitude cost him a great deal. How often do we start to take credit for the things God has helped us accomplish. We need to remember that each day we are given is a gift from God and if we make it through to the end of that day - there is only One who deserves that glory. Thank you God for the energy to make it through today, thank you that my children are tucked in bed happy and healthy. Thank you for my jobs and the opportunity to share You with other people - whether by words or example. Thank you for another day to serve You...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Samson - What's Your Kryptonite?

Judges 16:6-17 So Delilah said to Samson, "Tell me the secret of your great strength and how you can be tied up and subdued." Samson answered her, "If anyone ties me with seven fresh thongs that have not been dried, I'll become as weak as any other man." Then the rulers of the Philistines brought her seven fresh thongs that had not been dried, and she tied him with them. With men hidden in the room, she called to him, "Samson, the Philistines are upon you!" But he snapped the thongs as easily as a piece of string snaps when it comes close to a flame. So the secret of his strength was not discovered.Then Delilah said to Samson, "You have made a fool of me; you lied to me. Come now, tell me how you can be tied." He said, "If anyone ties me securely with new ropes that have never been used, I'll become as weak as any other man." So Delilah took new ropes and tied him with them. Then, with men hidden in the room, she called to him, "Samson, the Philistines are upon you!" But he snapped the ropes off his arms as if they were threads. Delilah then said to Samson, "Until now, you have been making a fool of me and lying to me. Tell me how you can be tied." He replied, "If you weave the seven braids of my head into the fabric on the loom and tighten it with the pin, I'll become as weak as any other man." So while he was sleeping, Delilah took the seven braids of his head, wove them into the fabric and tightened it with the pin. Again she called to him, "Samson, the Philistines are upon you!" He awoke from his sleep and pulled up the pin and the loom, with the fabric. Then she said to him, "How can you say, 'I love you,' when you won't confide in me? This is the third time you have made a fool of me and haven't told me the secret of your great strength." With such nagging she prodded him day after day until he was tired to death. So he told her everything. "No razor has ever been used on my head," he said, "because I have been a Nazirite set apart to God since birth. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as any other man."

This is the part of the story of Samson that we all know and that we've heard over and over again. Where Delilah pokes and prods and nags and begs until Samson finally gives up the secret of his strength. Out of all the things that Delilah does and the insane way that Samson falls for it - what intrigued me the most this time when I re-read these scriptures was- Samson was extremely talented=at lying.

Of all the traits that we pick out about Samson when asked: Strength, Chosen of God, Sacrificial - Liar never really makes it to the top of the list. But THREE times he lies and never once does Delilah say to him after he tells her, "Really, are you sure? Are you pulling my leg?" He is fully believed every time.

Sometimes, when we are with someone who has done wrong to us, or is doing wrong to us - it's easy for us to overlook where our own faults lie. Of course Delilah was just playing up to Samson in hopes to kill him - but I wonder what would've happened if Samson would have said the very first time - "God has entrusted me with a secret that I cannot share for fear you or your people may use it against me. Therefore I cannot tell you that secret - I hope you understand". Strength of character is just that - the endurance to hold true to what is right no matter the circumstance or how someone else is treating you. When we make our list of character traits - is strength one of them?

Speaking of things about our character, I was actually tagged by Mariel to list 6 random things about me, so I've segued from looking at your own character, to sharing a few about mine...

1) I wish I could travel to Paris or Australia one day - God's creation with an accent.

2) I never intended on having any children, let alone 4 and homeschooling all of them (yet wouldn't give any of it up for the world)

3) I would love to work in a lab and discover cures for diseases of which there is none (I have no medical background or chemist knowledge - just want a miracle here)

4) I recently saw "Twilight" because my teenage daughter HAD to see it. And Frankly, I really enjoyed it.

5) I miss my grandma. She died my first year of college. She taught me how to play the game of hopscotch.

6) My husband just took on a new youth pastorship, and I'm more proud of him than I probably tell him.

Ok, so there are 6 random things about me...what about YOU?

1) Link to the person who tagged you.
2) Post the rules on your blog (copy and paste 1-6).
3) Write 6 random things about yourself.
4) Tag 6 people at the end of your post and link to them.
5) Let each person know they have been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
6) Let the tagger know when your entry is up.
Newer Bloggy Friends I would love to know better are...
Beth at Power of your Love
Kay at Thrive Christians
Sharon at Prince of Peace,
Linda at 2nd Cup of Coffee
You are TAGGED! I look forward to reading your 'random things'

Friday, November 21, 2008

Samson - Danny Zuko outperformed.

Judges 16:2-5The people of Gaza were told, "Samson is here!" So they surrounded the place and lay in wait for him all night at the city gate. They made no move during the night, saying, "At dawn we'll kill him." But Samson lay there only until the middle of the night. Then he got up and took hold of the doors of the city gate, together with the two posts, and tore them loose, bar and all. He lifted them to his shoulders and carried them to the top of the hill that faces Hebron.The rulers of the Philistines went to her and said, "See if you can lure him into showing you the secret of his great strength and how we can overpower him so we may tie him up and subdue him. Each one of us will give you eleven hundred shekels of silver." Some time later, he fell in love with a woman in the Valley of Sorek whose name was Delilah.

There are not too many stories out there about a girl who gets pregnant her first time having sex. Not too many news reports about car accidents where the driver was drunk and it was their first time ever taking a drink. Not too many death row inmates saying it was the first time they had ever committed a crime.

I wondered why the Bible tells us that Samson went and slept with a prostitute - why mention it? We can already see that Samson is not the upstanding man of God that he should be - so why tell us about it? I think it is to let us know that Samson was weak in this area, that by the time he got to Delilah - he was immersed in
this type of sin.. That this was a tool that satan used to bring Samson down.

How do you think we fall to sin? If you are someone who's never used drugs - never been taken in by the lie that drugs are what you need to 'escape' to a better world, do you think that is going to be what Satan uses to lure you? No, he's going to use the things that he knows are your weakness. The bad traffic that causes you to lose your temper and your Christ-like example. The overwhelmed and unusually busy Saturday that makes you want to sleep in and skip church on Sunday. The higher bills that keep coming in that make you want to take advantage of a client by overchar
ging on your prices. Satan is not going to walk up to you and say - "Here, have some heroin and a hooker" - he is sneaky and manipulative and - patient. He can come after you day after day after day. How can we avoid his powerful temptation? Jesus. Again, the final answer is always. . . Jesus. If you get a powerful stain in your carpet - you have to get a more powerful stain remover. Satan is the stain - Jesus is the "Greased Lightening".

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Samson - "I Can't Get No Satisfaction"

Judges 15:19-20 and 16:1Then God opened up the hollow place in Lehi, and water came out of it. When Samson drank, his strength returned and he revived. So the spring was called En Hakkore, and it is still there in Lehi. Samson led Israel for twenty years in the days of the Philistines. 16:1 One day Samson went to Gaza, where he saw a prostitute. He went in to spend the night with her.

Even after the tacky way that Samson tells God he needs water - God provides. I think it might have been in this provision that God teaches Samson that he couldn't have destroyed those Philistines by himself just as much as he couldn't sustain life if it weren't for God. It is in these verses that we get a little foreshadowing - that's a literary term for: Here's what's going to happen...

These verses tell us that Samson will lead the Israelites for twenty years - we find out later that wasn't just the length left of his leading, that was the length left of his life. If you were reading a book and it told you how much longer you were going to be here on earth - would you start living life differently? Let's look back at Samson

After this battle, he heads into Gaza and sleeps with a prostitute - right after God gave him a victory over the Philistines!! I hate to parallel this with weight loss, but since that's my industry - it seems like a good tie-in. Many times members will lose all the weight that they desire while they are doing Weight Watchers, but as soon as they stop coming to the meetings - they start gaining it all back. Once they've gotten what they want - they forget the process and what got them there. They go right back to their old habits of choosing the wrong foods.

Samson doesn't spend any time alone with God, doesn't seek His guidance, doesn't call on Him for encouragement. This may be why he was seeking satisfaction through sex and we all know the devil is happy to provide that distraction for us. If you knew you only had 20 years left to fulfill God's purpose - how would you choose to live it? Like Samson, knowing that he was chosen by God so his place in heaven was secure and he could live life how he wanted? The funny thing is, as Christians, we ARE chosen by God and there IS a book written that says how much longer we'll have here on earth (God has it) - the question is - how will we make a difference for Him during our short time on earth and are we really seeking to serve Him or ourselves?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Samson - It's Not You, It's Me.

Judges 15:16-18 Then Samson said, "With a donkey's jawbone I have made donkeys of them. With a donkey's jawbone I have killed a thousand men."When he finished speaking, he threw away the jawbone; and the place was called Ramath Lehi. Because he was very thirsty, he cried out to the LORD, "You have given your servant this great victory. Must I now die of thirst and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised?"

I have a hard time empathizing with anyone who makes the statement, "I'm mad at God". Not that I don't sympathize with what they might be going through - whether a loved one has died or a serious illness has come over them - but to say they're mad at God seems a little bit . . . silly. The attitude that Samson has in these verses is the same as that person. God has given Samson victory over so many of the Philistines and now he has the nerve to tell God that He's not taking care of his physical need for water.

Who do we think we are? Beyond the fact the God has made it clear how much He loves each and every one of us, the promise that He will always provide for us and sent His only son to die so we don't have to spend an eternity without Him - how dare we ever think that God does not have our best interests at heart - let alone 'be mad at Him'. God is more than well aware of the tragedies that we face in our every day lives. The child who's health won't get better, the job we just got laid off of - but this is not His fault. In fact, it's OUR fault. God made it very clear what sin would cause - yet we spend our lives waving sin aside as if it was unimportant to pay any attention to it. The little white lie, the small rumor behind the desk, the small tweak on the income tax - all sin - all punishable.

Ellen DeGeneres made a comment that the church should have better things to do than fight the marriage amendment in California - like feed the hungry. Fighting sin is just one of the many things that Christians
need to do. Homosexuality - whether Ellen likes it or not - is sin - and just like all the other sins, it should not be tolerated. God loves all of us and doesn't want ANY sin to be committed. Since none of us are perfect, we know this is a struggle - but we need to remember that this is not what God intended for us. Jesus came down and died on a cross because we can't stop this sinning - it's time He gets credit - instead of blame.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Samson - Juicer?

Judges 15:9-15 The Philistines went up and camped in Judah, spreading out near Lehi. The men of Judah asked, "Why have you come to fight us?" "We have come to take Samson prisoner," they answered, "to do to him as he did to us." Then three thousand men from Judah went down to the cave in the rock of Etam and said to Samson, "Don't you realize that the Philistines are rulers over us? What have you done to us?"He answered, "I merely did to them what they did to me." They said to him, "We've come to tie you up and hand you over to the Philistines." Samson said, "Swear to me that you won't kill me yourselves." "Agreed," they answered. "We will only tie you up and hand you over to them. We will not kill you." So they bound him with two new ropes and led him up from the rock. As he approached Lehi, the Philistines came toward him shouting. The Spirit of the LORD came upon him in power. The ropes on his arms became like charred flax, and the bindings dropped from his hands. Finding a fresh jawbone of a donkey, he grabbed it and struck down a thousand men.

Why Samson hasn't been turned into a recent major motion movie is beyond me. This one man has already killed many of the enemy and when bound by his own people and ready to be handed over to the Philistines, he miraculously breaks free and kills - yet another - thousand men. Can we name a movie equal? Pierce Brosnan as James Bond? Bruce Willis in Die Hard? Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible? This is the stuff movies are made of!!

The difference? Samson was real. Not that any of these actors didn't work hard fulfilling the role of the character they played - but in their real life, not a one of them grabbed pieces of a carcass and plowed through some terrorists after the turn of the century.

Samson's own men wanted to hand him over to the enemy and he willingly agreed to go. How confident are we in God to be willing to do that? Are we willing to take a stand for Christ because we know He is more powerful than anything we can come across. Are we confident that our strength, in Him, can defeat even the worst of enemies? Are we willing to take the offensive and say boldly "Abortion is wrong", "The Act of Homosexuality is wrong", "Infidelity is wrong" - and not be afraid of the repercussion of society.

Samson was just a man. He didn't work out every day. Didn't eat raw eggs for breakfast and hit the gym in the afternoon. He didn't indulge in steroids or other mass muscle producing drugs. His source of strength came from the same place we need to get it today. God. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us - Samson knew it - when will we?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Samson - An eye for an eye just causes blindness.

Judges 15:6-8 When the Philistines asked, "Who did this?" they were told, "Samson, the Timnite's son-in-law, because his wife was given to his friend." So the Philistines went up and burned her and her father to death. Samson said to them, "Since you've acted like this, I won't stop until I get my revenge on you." He attacked them viciously and slaughtered many of them. Then he went down and stayed in a cave in the rock of Etam.

In 1992 in Los Angeles, the reports of the Rodney King incident raced over the airwaves and television stations. The seemingly senseless beatings by white police officers to the African American Mr. King rocked the attitudes of the community. The tension between the races in California remained strong.

The Philistines - unknowingly - have started their own war. Samson has burned their towns and they have retaliated by killing his 'ex'-wife and father. Samson in turn, slaughters many of them. This is now a vicious cycle.

While we know that God's purpose for Samson is to destroy the Philistines, there is a lesson inside of this. As true as we see it in the life of Samson - as true as it was in Los Angeles - it is true today. Violence begets violence. It only takes one to walk away. It can be as simple as a soft response to a spouses' rant. It's not always easy to ignore the person cursing at you from his car or the upset parent who's kid just got outrun by yours.
Jesus didn't yell at the men who pounded the nails in His hands and He didn't threaten the men who thrust the crown of thorns on His head. What an example to follow - what a testament of unconditional love - what a Savior.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Samson - Revenge is sweet, so is Antifreeze.

Judges 15:1-5 1 Later on, at the time of wheat harvest, Samson took a young goat and went to visit his wife. He said, "I'm going to my wife's room." But her father would not let him go in. "I was so sure you thoroughly hated her," he said, "that I gave her to your friend. Isn't her younger sister more attractive? Take her instead." Samson said to them, "This time I have a right to get even with the Philistines; I will really harm them." So he went out and caught three hundred foxes and tied them tail to tail in pairs. He then fastened a torch to every pair of tails, lit the torches and let the foxes loose in the standing grain of the Philistines. He burned up the shocks and standing grain, together with the vineyards and olive groves.

Remember in February of 2003 when a South Korean Subway system was set on fire? A homemade fire bomb in a milk carton was thrown into the subway system and was immediately set ablaze. The fire grew too quickly for many to escape and, because of technical malfunctions, the subway car doors sealed shut leaving many passengers to be burned to death. Almost 200 people died that day. What would cause someone to do this? The man who was arrested was 56 years old. He had been in an accident and partly paralyzed. He was treated with poor medical treatments and became violent and depressed. This was the result.

Samson has just come back from his journeys and now realizes his wife is with someone else. Off he goes again on the Philistines. Samson, again, is not answering some higher calling - he is angry and he is getting revenge. We can see the hurt Samson is going through - even though we know it is of his own making.

On September 11, 2001. Nineteen men went on a mission because they were told to give their life for a higher meaning - in doing so - nearly 3,000 American lives were lost. Should we be mad at those men? Should we be mad at the arsonist in South Korea? Should we be mad at Samson? We SHOULD be mad at Satan. These are all examples of people, just like us, who were brought into this world as sinners and needed the salvation of Jesus - but Satan took a hold of them and did whatever he could to stop God's plan. What are we doing to stop Satan? For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. - Those are God's words, not mine (Ephesians 6:12). One day, the devil will be done and everyone will see Jesus, but in the meantime - satan will take down everyone he can - how can we help these people? How can we let them see Jesus in us when it is so obvious that Satan has control of them?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Samson - Stop Being So Selfish!

Judges 14:18-20 Before sunset on the seventh day the men of the town said to him, "What is sweeter than honey? What is stronger than a lion?" Samson said to them, "If you had not plowed with my heifer, you would not have solved my riddle." Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon him in power. He went down to Ashkelon, struck down thirty of their men, stripped them of their belongings and gave their clothes to those who had explained the riddle. Burning with anger, he went up to his father's house. And Samson's wife was given to the friend who had attended him at his wedding.

In the movie "Ocean's Eleven", A group of thieves and con artists get together to steal from the owner of a large casino. While their actions were wrong - because stealing is wrong - It was nice to see the owner, a rich, pompous, arrogant jerk, get something that was coming to him.

This is what has happened in this episode of 'Samson'. The wife has given up the information to the Philistines and they have won the bet. Samson - who has lost his temper - heads down to Ashkelon and kills 30 men, steals their clothes, so that he can pay up on his bet. The questions is, why would the Lord give Samson power to pay on a gambling debt?

God's purpose is so much bigger than what's right in front of our face. It was never about the gambling debt - Samson's purpose is to deliver Israel from the Philistines, and he just killed 30 of them in his anger. Maybe Samson has forgotten what the angel of Lord told his parents before he was born - maybe Samson doesn't care anymore, he's just living for himself.

God has a purpose for each one of us. We may not know what it is, but He does. We can choose to live our own life, like Samson, and be humiliated because of our pride, left by a spouse who was a bad choice, or any of the other things we will read about in Samson's life - but regardless - God's purpose WILL be fulfilled. Are we willing to do it God's way and reap the benefits of the purpose He has set up for us? Or will we be stubborn and try it our way and suffer the consequences while God's plan still gets carried out.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Samson - Jury Duty That No One Gets Out Of

Judges 14:16-17 Then Samson's wife threw herself on him, sobbing, "You hate me! You don't really love me. You've given my people a riddle, but you haven't told me the answer."
"I haven't even explained it to my father or mother," he replied, "so why should I explain it to you?" She cried the whole seven days of the feast. So on the seventh day he finally told her, because she continued to press him. She in turn explained the riddle to her people.

I enjoy watching the shows that have court room based scenes: Matlock, Law and Order, Shark, Perry Mason, Walker, Texas Ranger. In all these shows, there's that scene when they have the eye witness on the stand - the innocent person who's going to blow the case wide open with their testimony - and when asked the one question that will put the defendant away for life, they answer, "I've never seen that man before". Well you know it's coming because there's still a half an hour left until the shows over, but nonetheless it's very frustrating that they would lie on the stand. What we usually find out, during the rest of the show, is that the witness has been paid off or threatened. Without truly getting to know their character, there's no way to determine why they chose to act the way they did and lie on the stand.

At first glance in these verses, Samson's wife looks like a whiny, weasely woman. Someone who's working at Samson over and over to get what she wants. She cries all week long, she keeps asking him for the answer until he finally breaks down. THEN she turns around and tells the men the answer that she finally got from Samson. Going by this, Samson's wife does not seem like a good person at all - probably someone we don't want to know. However, if you remember in the last post, these same men threatened to burn down her house along with her whole family. I'm not sure about you, but I might do whatever it took to save my family as well.

The human nature in us takes one look at the 'sin' and declares it bad. While sin is bad, it should not be enough for us to dismiss a person. If we could take the time to find out the reason behind someone that's sinning, we might be able to help them. Just like in the court room scene - the rest of the show is usually spent helping the eye-witness, who was once supposed to be the hero, out of whatever trouble they're in. Did someone cut in front of you in line at the grocery store? Sure, they may just be a rude person, OR they may have a sick child at home and they're trying to rush back to get them some medicine. Did someone cut you off while driving and then honk their horn at you? Maybe they have bad driving skills and need manners, OR maybe they just had a fight with their spouse over an affair and they can't see straight through their hurt.

Are we willing to look past the sin and see the person?

Friday, November 7, 2008

Samson - Disney Goes Religious?

Judges 14:10-15 Now his father went down to see the woman. And Samson made a feast there, as was customary for bridegrooms. When he appeared, he was given thirty companions."Let me tell you a riddle," Samson said to them. "If you can give me the answer within the seven days of the feast, I will give you thirty linen garments and thirty sets of clothes. If you can't tell me the answer, you must give me thirty linen garments and thirty sets of clothes.""Tell us your riddle," they said. "Let's hear it."He replied,"Out of the eater, something to eat;out of the strong, something sweet." For three days they could not give the answer.On the fourth day, they said to Samson's wife, "Coax your husband into explaining the riddle for us, or we will burn you and your father's household to death. Did you invite us here to rob us?"

Did you ever see the Disney movie "The Little Mermaid"? I just love that movie. The music is so good and I have so many good memories of watching it. Do you remember the part where she is in her cove looking at all her treasures and rehashing what her father said about never being allowed to go to the surface because it was not a good place. Ariel's reflection is this, "I just don't see how a world that makes such wonderful things, could be bad."

I think that this is how we like to look at our country. How can a nation like America, that does such wonderful things, be bad? We send men who give their lives to help downtrodden countries - we form organizations that collect food and send it to those who have none - we sponsor research endeavors to solve disease problems like HIV and AIDS - we offer miracles to young children who are dying of Leukemia. We sponsor telethons to collect for fighting MS - we walk millions of miles to spread awareness of breast cancer - we spend millions of dollars of our hard earned money to save the rain forest and the whales. Yet, in this same country, 90,427 women were raped last year, 16,929 people were murdered, and 1,210,000 million unborn babies were killed at the choice of their parent.

These are big numbers to look at, but it really comes down to one thing - the individual. Overall, we are wonderful - but it only takes one wrong choice to make us seem bad. Samson is making bad choices. He has broken his vow by eating from a carcass, and now he is mocking that fact by making a riddle out of it. Samson is a good guy - we know he is, because God chose him. But he's not sharing God with his actions - making it look like he's not a good guy.

Can people look at us and see the good? Or do they see the sin - the bad stuff - that is weighing us down because we won't turn it over to Jesus.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Samson - Where's the beef?

Judges 14:8-9 Some time later, when he went back to marry her, he turned aside to look at the lion's carcass. In it was a swarm of bees and some honey, which he scooped out with his hands and ate as he went along. When he rejoined his parents, he gave them some, and they too ate it. But he did not tell them that he had taken the honey from the lion's carcass.

Ever tell a lie? Maybe just a little white lie? Maybe a whopper? Either way - did you notice that for some reason, it never stopped there? You always think that will be the end of it, but it never is. If you were asked if you did your homework and you answered 'yes' and then your teacher sends a note to your mom when you didn't hand in the homework assignment. And sometimes, you think you've gotten away with it - but later on down the road it creeps back in again - and of course by this time you've forgotten what the whole story was to begin with...

I think Samson had different levels of strength. He obviously had physical strength, we see that every time the scripture reads, "and the Lord came upon him" he tears things apart. We also know that it was his hair that kept his physical strength going (according to the rules God had set forth). I believe he also had strength o
f character. but I think THAT strength was in his avoidance of unclean (dead) things (according to the rules God had set forth). It is in these verses that he breaks that vow. He eats from the dead lion - BIG No-No. But he doesn't lose his physical strength, we'll see in the next few verses how his strength of character seems to be completely gone.

Isn't that the way it is with sin in our life - like the little white lie. Samson had only broken one of the vows that were required of him, but it was slowly breaking down the whole of him. We may think it is just a 'small' sin - but it can eventually destroy us. That co-worker that you felt deserved to have a little gossip spread about them. The husband that will never find out. The 'one-time' and you'll never do it again. The little sip that won't hurt. The fudge on taxes that the government won't miss. The name-calling behind their back that they may never hear.

It may not affect you completely right away. It may not even be noticed by anyone at first. But be certain, it will clearly destroy you. The biggest problem in society today is not Bush, it's not Obama, it's not cancer and it's not AIDS - the biggest problem is sin. Jesus is the cure. It's time for a vaccination.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Samson - You Can't Always Get What You Want

Judges 14:4-7 (His parents did not know that this was from the LORD, who was seeking an occasion to confront the Philistines; for at that time they were ruling over Israel.) Samson went down to Timnah together with his father and mother. As they approached the vineyards of Timnah, suddenly a young lion came roaring toward him. The Spirit of the LORD came upon him in power so that he tore the lion apart with his bare hands as he might have torn a young goat. But he told neither his father nor his mother what he had done. Then he went down and talked with the woman, and he liked her.

We sometimes, as parents, do stupid things. Like taking your kids to the grocery store right before dinner time. Not smart. All of a sudden, they want everything in the grocery store. If we don't pay attention, we walk our child right down the street of temptation. You tell your children they can't have any of their Halloween candy, but you leave the bucket out on the counter and then go take a nap. This is what was happening with Samson.

Samson's parents took him down to the vineyards of Timnah - remember, Samson is not allowed wine, yet this was the product of Timnah in the vineyards. Why would they even head that way? While he is there, he is attacked by a lion and the Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit came upon him and he was able to tear the lion apart. But he didn't mention that to his parents.

Are we forgetting to mention the miracles that come from God? Are we moving on in life, doing what we want to do, and never acknowledging the awesome blessings that God has given us? We may not be acquiring enough physical strength to rip a lion apart, but do we realize what a blessing it is to be able to go to work every morning? The strength that He gives us to make it through each day. That we have food to put in our mouths. That we have a free country to vote in. . .

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Samson - Shut Up and Listen.

Judges 13:24-25;14:1-3 The woman gave birth to a boy and named him Samson. He grew and the LORD blessed him, and the Spirit of the LORD began to stir him while he was in Mahaneh Dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol. Samson went down to Timnah and saw there a young Philistine woman. When he returned, he said to his father and mother, "I have seen a Philistine woman in Timnah; now get her for me as my wife." His father and mother replied, "Isn't there an acceptable woman among your relatives or among all our people? Must you go to the uncircumcised Philistines to get a wife?" But Samson said to his father, "Get her for me. She's the right one for me."

So Samson was born. We get nothing of his growing up years. We can assume that his mother and father have followed the rules set by the Lord. Especially since it tells us that the spirit of the Lord is now beginning to move in him.

Wouldn't it be nice if we could get that sign for our children: "Now the Lord is really stirring in her - she should stop pouting whenever you say no".

As soon as the scripture mentions that the Lord is stirring in Samson, he does something against the advice of his parents - he wants a philistine woman. For those of us that know the story of Samson, this works out to glorify God, but for Samson's parents - this did not seem like the decision of someone who has the spirit of the Lord guiding him.

Why is it when we feel called of God to do something - immediately we are tempted by outside sources. It's not always a blatant thing. You may be feeling that God is calling you to spend each morning in quiet time with Him - but as soon as you make that commitment, the dog starts barking at 4:00 a.m. and you have to go take him for a walk. You feel God call you to give money to a needy family and your dishwasher breaks down - requiring you to spend more money that you had planned. You feel led to start participating in a woman's bible study group in the evening and then find out that your boss is going to need you to work overtime for the next month.

It comes down to this - God is not going to ask you how often you walked your dog. He's not going to ask you how much money you paid on appliances. He's not going to ask you how much overtime you worked. He will ask you - Did you listen and obey when I called you to serve?

Monday, November 3, 2008

Samson - The Party's Just Beginning

Judges 13:12-23 So Manoah asked him, "When your words are fulfilled, what is to be the rule for the boy's life and work?" The angel of the LORD answered, "Your wife must do all that I have told her. She must not eat anything that comes from the grapevine, nor drink any wine or other fermented drink nor eat anything unclean. She must do everything I have commanded her." Manoah said to the angel of the LORD, "We would like you to stay until we prepare a young goat for you."The angel of the LORD replied, "Even though you detain me, I will not eat any of your food. But if you prepare a burnt offering, offer it to the LORD." (Manoah did not realize that it was the angel of the LORD.)Then Manoah inquired of the angel of the LORD, "What is your name, so that we may honor you when your word comes true?"He replied, "Why do you ask my name? It is beyond understanding. " Then Manoah took a young goat, together with the grain offering, and sacrificed it on a rock to the LORD. And the LORD did an amazing thing while Manoah and his wife watched: As the flame blazed up from the altar toward heaven, the angel of the LORD ascended in the flame. Seeing this, Manoah and his wife fell with their faces to the ground. When the angel of the LORD did not show himself again to Manoah and his wife, Manoah realized that it was the angel of the LORD. "We are doomed to die!" he said to his wife. "We have seen God!"But his wife answered, "If the LORD had meant to kill us, he would not have accepted a burnt offering and grain offering from our hands, nor shown us all these things or now told us this."

The interaction between Samson's parents are just so amusing. The Lord has appeared again to the mom and she gets the husband and he asks the question, "What is our son supposed to do for a living?" That's a valid question. One we would all have. One we probably have today. What will my kids make of themselves? What does God want for them? How should I direct them? But the amazing thing is this: The Lord only repeats what He's already said to Samson's mom. The rest is up to God.

We are forever doubting the power of our God. He gives us His word with His guidelines and the rest is up to Him. We just have to listen along the way as He leads us. It is not up to us to determine what our kids will be, we can only pray that God will guide them to make the right choices. The same holds true for us - we cannot possibly foretell the outcome of our day - but we can ask God to make us aware of what He needs for us to do during that day.

Toward the end, when Manoah realized that it was, in fact, the Lord that they had been talking to, he immediately begins fretting and fearing for his life - thinking he would be destroyed. Now it's the wife who lends the voice of common sense: Why would He tell us we're going to raise a child for His calling and then kill us? Again, so applicable to our own lives. . .

God has a purpose for us. We don't have to know what it is to be usable by God. It could be as big as an urging to head to Africa to minister to those who have never heard the Word or as simple as voting at the election polls. We have an obligation as Christians to seek out God's purpose for us - a daily asking and wanting to be used of Him. His mission is great and I'm excited to be a part of it - I hope you are too.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Samson - A Spy Among Us

Judges 13:9-11 God heard Manoah, and the angel of God came again to the woman while she was out in the field; but her husband Manoah was not with her. The woman hurried to tell her husband, "He's here! The man who appeared to me the other day!" Manoah got up and followed his wife. When he came to the man, he said, "Are you the one who talked to my wife?" "I am," he said.

In a small town, a flood was coming and word was sent to evacuate. One farmer
sat on his porch and began to pray. Shortly afterward a rescue team came by and the farmer told the rescue team. "I'm waiting for God, He'll save me." Soon the water rose and the farmer was forced to the second story of his house. The rescue boat came but he told them. "I'm waiting for God He'll save me." Soon the farmer was forced to the top of his roof. The rescue helecopter came but he told them. "I'm waiting for God, He'll save me." The water rose and the farmer drowned. On his arrival in heaven he asked God, "Why didn't you save me? I waited for you but you never came." God replied. "I came three times, you wouldn't get in the boat."

I thought of this story when I read these verses of scripture. Why, when Manoah was the one to pray, did God send the Lord back to the wife? Why the middle man instead of directly through to us? I think sometimes God uses His people to send us a message. It's a blessing. Have you ever been touched by a sermon that convicted you right when you needed it? Or you got a bonus on your paycheck after you prayed for God to help you financially? A doctor giving you a prescription to take after you prayed for healing? Did you ever think that God is using this to answer your prayer?

What about us? Have you ever felt called to do something for someone and can't explain it? A call or email to someone you haven't thought of in awhile? A financial gift to someone for no reason? Isn't it exciting to think that we can be used of God? Almost more exciting than receiving an answer to prayer - to actually be used as an answer to prayer. How can we be that for Him?


Then listen.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Samson - Pre-Conceived Notions

Judges 13:6-8 Then the woman went to her husband and told him, "A man of God came to me. He looked like an angel of God, very awesome. I didn't ask him where he came from, and he didn't tell me his name. But he said to me, 'You will conceive and give birth to a son. Now then, drink no wine or other fermented drink and do not eat anything unclean, because the boy will be a Nazirite of God from birth until the day of his death.' " Then Manoah prayed to the LORD : "O LORD, I beg you, let the man of God you sent to us come again to teach us how to bring up the boy who is to be born."

My husband would be the first to tell you that I have problems with "submitting". I was independent for some time before I married my husband, so I was used to getting things done all on my own. Very slowly, I've tried to give way to his authority - and it does turn out for the best (most of the time). God has marriage set up a certain way - and when we don't follow that set-up, things tend to go awry. Does that mean Susie Q can't get a job - no, It just means that we are to fall under our husbands' authority and they are to fall under God's authority. That's a big responsibility for a husband to have - and that's the way God intended it.

This interaction between Samsons' mom and dad I found to be quite funny. As soon as the Lord leaves her, Samson's soon to be mom runs to her husband and tells him what had happened. What does Manoah do? He asks God to send Him again - he wants to make sure his wife got the story right! Maybe, just maybe, his wife was
okay with this because she was so flabbergasted the first time around that she really didn't pay close attention - or maybe she was livid because he didn't believe or trust her to tell him everything that happened.

Either way, it was a good idea to get some questions answered in preparation for their son - maybe questions that didn't come to mind at the first hearing of the news. How do we treat our husbands? Do we get angry because we think they've offended us - or do we see the wisdom behind their choices and put our feelings on the back burners.

I struggle with this on a daily basis. But, humility is the mark of a servant. Being a servant to Jesus is a far better calling than any here on this earth - I think I can use the practice, so I'll try a little harder with my husband.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Samson - Taking Down Al-Qaeda?

Judges 13: 2-5 A certain man of Zorah, named Manoah, from the clan of the Danites, had a wife who was sterile and remained childless. The angel of the LORD appeared to her and said, "You are sterile and childless, but you are going to conceive and have a son. Now see to it that you drink no wine or other fermented drink and that you do not eat anything unclean, because you will conceive and give birth to a son. No razor may be used on his head, because the boy is to be a Nazirite, set apart to God from birth, and he will begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines."

"Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause physical and mental birth defects. Each year, up to 40,000 babies are born with some degree of alcohol-related damage. Although many women are aware that heavy drinking during pregnancy can cause birth defects, many do not realize that moderate—or even light—drinking also may harm the fetus. In fact, no level of alcohol use during pregnancy has been proven safe."- Taken from the March of Dimes.

Is it surprising to realize that God already knew this information before we figured it out in the 21st century? Before Samson was even born, The Lord said to Samsons mom, "Don't drink". For some of us, that task may be fairly simple. Drink water for nine months, okay. Then she is told that he is to be a Nazirite - this is not the same as a Nazarene. Jesus was a Nazarene - which simply means he was from in or around Nazareth. A "Nazarite" is someone who is going to wholly work for God from birth. Now that's a whopper.

Can you imagine being told that your child needs to become a lawyer, you need to guide him and direct him so that he will become a lawyer and when your family gets in trouble and ends up in jail - he will be able to get them out. But your son doesn't even like to read? Samson is to be raised in preparation for delivering the Israelites from the Phillistines - that's a lot of pressure for a pregnant woman to take on.

These verses - just like alcohol and pregnancy - still speak volumes on a mothers role in her childrens' lives. Once the Lord told her the responsibility that lay ahead of her, it wasn't just for nine months. She would have to make sure he never cuts his hair, follow God's calling, don't touch dead stuff. Parenthood doesn't end when the child goes to school. It doesn't end when the child starts to drive. It doesn't end when the child graduates from high school. Parenthood is a lifelong commitment of a gift that God has entrusted to you. Sure, our responsibilities change as the child grows, but our level of commitment should not. We are raising Samsons in our own time. They may not save Americans from Al-Qaeda, but they can win people to Christ and make a difference for the King - which is what really matters, with a little support from mom and dad.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Samson begins - We Need a Hero!

Judges 13:1 Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, so the LORD delivered them into the hands of the Philistines for forty years.

Throughout Bible history, we see God accomplishing victory after victory for those that choose to follow Him. David against Goliath; Joshua at Jericho; Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego facing King Nebuchadnezzar; situations that were - at best - entirely impossible to come out victorious: yet, with God's intervention, each situation resulted in glorifying Him.

We can look at the founding of America the same way. The men who fought for our country in those early days were Christians. The American Revolution was won, even when all signs pointed towards Britain claiming America as their own. This was not a coincidence - it was God's hand providing for the men who had asked for It. The Battle of Trenton was a true example of a Christian man (Washington) leading his troops into a battle that could only be victorious with God at the hel

It's not surprising that America has suffered terrorist attacks. The bombing of U.S. Embassy's, the threats from the Libyans, American hostages and hijackings: we, as a country, are forgetting about God. This same country that relied on God for saving grace in 1776, now doesn't even want God with our children in the school systems. We no longer consider His promise of the rainbow anything more than an emblem for living a lifestyle that
God said was against His will. We kill innocent babies because they may be an inconvenience and recognize the flowers and earth as an 'accident' from a cosmic explosion. We've slapped God in the face and wonder why our government is in the shape it's in.

This is what is going on right before the time when Samson was to be born. A people who had once been faithful and focused on serving God had turned from His ways. Now God decided to remove His hand of protection from them and in turn, the Philistines would have their time. How scary for the Israelites who did not know what was to come
next - where would their saving grace come from?

America has a Savior - we've just forgotten who He is. We are scared and worried about the outcome of the leaders in our country - but know this: God is in control. Not McCain and not Obama (thank God). One day every knee will bow and everyone will say, "Jesus is the Son of God" and then all this talk of abortion and homosexuality will be finalized and God will have the last say. Until then, let's pray for our country and its members that we will remember God so that He will remember us.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Rachel - Ends

Genesis 30:22-24 Then God remembered Rachel; he listened to her and opened her womb. She became pregnant and gave birth to a son and said, "God has taken away my disgrace." She named him Joseph, and said, "May the LORD add to me another son."

Have you ever heard the ice cream truck coming down the street and in comes your child with excitement on their face begging for a treat. Knowing that dinner is only a short time away, you decide it's best not to let them get the ice cream. But the child continues to ask diligently - so you decide to go ahead and give them the money for the fudgesicle. It's wonderful to see how happy they are and thankful, but all that seems to fall by the wayside when they finish the ice cream and turn around and say, "Can I have some more?"

Rachel had finally been blessed with a son after diligent prayer and follows it up with a, "Can I have some more?" Sometimes we seem to forget what God has done for us, that as soon as we get it, we're on to the next thing. When does true appreciation actually appear? When do we get an answer to prayer and stop and truly thank God for hearing our cry and responding positively? Or have we already moved on to our next item on the wish list? Do you think that may be why God sometimes waits to give you what you pray for, to make sure you understand how truly blessed you are to have a God that supplies your every need.

I want God to know that without Him, my life would be in chaos, I would have no hope and that true joy and peace would be far out of reach. Rachel has helped me see and learn to be thankful for what we have and that beauty can come from the outside - but it's more important to see it come from the inside.

I hope you've enjoyed following Rachel through this time in her life. Post a response if there is someone you'd like me to do next, otherwise - we'll see what happens to pop in this crazy head of mine!