Here are the themes that jumped out at me as I read this chapter of our study.
(yes, yes, I know...I skipped Delilah on the blog. SORRY! I got behind and figured it was best to pick up where we are right now)
Honesty with ourselves & God
Giving without strings brings the biggest blessing to our lives
Lying is a waste of time
God can handle all your questions...so ASK, SEEK & KNOCK!
In the book of Acts we meet a couple named Ananias & Sapphira. They were a part of the early church led by Paul and some of the other major apostles. It was customary for those who owned land or property to sell it from time to time & donate the profits to the church to provide for those who were in need. I imagine that those who gave were thanked most graciously by everyone. Sapphira & her hubby would have taken note of this. They decided to sell a piece of land that they owned outright. But instead of giving the entire profit to the church, the held back a portion for themselves. They both lied about their intentions to Paul (at separate times) and they both fell dead on the spot.
Because I'm' short for time, I'll just hit you with the biggest points from Sunday's class:
We are called to be observant to the people around us.
We are called to manage our resources well...budgeting, investing & a lifestyle of integrity.
When it comes to tithing, the Lord lets us keep 90% & only requires 10% to support the work of His house. Cool. But for some reason, when we hear the weekly reminder/appeal for the tithe, muscles clench and wallets tighten. Hmm...
During class, the Lord gave me this illustration:
When you visit a store & see an item you've been watching for a few weeks, do you get excited when you see that it's 10% off? No. Usually you're almost insulted that so little would be taken off the top.
Well in church, why does 10% always sound like it's going to bankrupt your pockets??
Truth is, it doesn't bankrupt anything. When you give that blessed amount, the Lord not only returns it to you, He multiplies it in your life in more ways than money. I'm a living witness to that.
In our class, we learned that those who give freely, without strings or expectation ALWAYS receive the biggest blessing. Why? Because they trust God to meet their needs as they help others. That is not to say that we hand out our rent money to strangers...what that means is we are supposed to budget well so that we know just how much "extra" we have to give in a charitable way. Easy.
But, if you're convinced that you never have enough, then you will always feel as if you can't afford to tithe or give any sort of offering or charitable gift. This is a trick of the Enemy to keep your money all tied up in the wrong places.
Oh my online sisters...I wish that you could join us in class. I know that my writing here does not cover even half of the discussions, but I try to share the best points at least.
If you're in the Boston area, consider getting up a little early and joining us for an hour. We meet from 10:00a to 11:00a and you will always leave feeling fulfilled.
I'm signing off now...100% exhausted from this long snowy day.
I love you all & will write more soon!
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Here are the themes that jumped out at me as I read this chapter of our study.
I've been dealing with a sick baby, a sick husband, then a sick baby again. And this week we are in our District Conference for the Church of God in Christ. PHEW!
So that I don't leave you totally hanging, here are some fun things to do during next week's school vacation. I hope you enjoy them. Thanks to everyone who sent them to me to share!
Neponset Greenway Event: February Break Snowshoe or Winter Walk - FREE Thursday, February 18, 1:00 p.m. Ryan Playground, River St., Mattapan Ryan Playground Directions The riverside trail just behind Ryan Playground is a lovely place to walk and view the winter landscape of the Neponset. We'll look for signs of wildlife that have left tracks or other evidence. We will snowshoe if there is a good layer of snow on the ground, otherwise, we'll go for a walk. Snowshoes to borrow are limited, registration required. Contact BNAN at 617-542-7696 or email@example.com
February 13 - 20 - All free with Zoo Admission
Get in the “love groove” at Franklin Park Zoo during February Vacation Week! Bring a valentine or make one for your favorite animal. The animal who receives the most will be crowned “Zoo Sweetheart 2010.”
One lucky winner will be chosen to receive a Behind-the-Scenes Tour of the Zoo for the whole family. Throughout the week, there will be zookeeper encounters and other activities!
Don’t miss a special performance by wildly-popular children’s entertainer Su Eaton! Su will perform in the Hippo Theater inside the Tropical Forest on Sunday, February 14 from 10:30 - 11:15 a.m.
10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. - Make a valentine for your favorite animal! Daily, Tropical Forest
11:00 a.m. - Learn more about the birds that call Bird’s World home and speak with a zookeeper! Daily, meet at the Scrublands exhibit inside the Bird’s World building
11:30 a.m. - Don’t miss storytime! Daily, Hippo Theater (Tropical Forest)
1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. - Learn more about wildlife and conservation by visiting our special biofacts table! Daily, near the ring-tailed lemur exhibit inside the Tropical Forest
2:00 p.m. - Learn more about gorillas and speak with a zookeeper! Daily at the gorilla exhibit, Tropical Forest
3:00 p.m. - Learn more about the animals that call Franklin Farm home and speak with a zookeeper! Daily at Franklin Farm
On Saturday, February 13 and Saturday, February 20, Catching Joy will host a special craft table for kids to make valentines. This table will be located inside the Tropical Forest. Catching Joy is a 501c3 non-profit that organizes hands-on community service for young children and their families to let them feel the joy of volunteering and giving. Catching Joy channels kids' energy, enthusiasm, care, creativity and idealism to help different causes.
Boston Nature Center - February Vacation Week Program: Winter Works!
Tuesday, February 16 - Friday, February 19, 2010 from 8:30 am - 5:30 pm
The largest snowflake was fifteen inches across. One inch of rain is equal to ten inches of snow. Learn about the amazing science behind winter. How does the water in trees keep from freezing? How do animals survive buried underneath a foot of snow? Children will explore winter nature through hands-on investigations, art projects, games, and more.
Fee is based on a sliding scale. Mass Audubon Members $50-$250, per week, Nonmembers $90-$290, per week. Registration: Visit our website to read the camp and vacation week information and policies, and print out the registration forms: Boston Nature Center.
How goes it??
If your life is anything like mine, you are probably juggling 3 to 9 different family and personal projects at one time. You may or may not have finished the most recent chapter, but you probably really, really want to.
Lucky for you, if you don't have much time, you can just read the Bible's direct version of the story.
Phew! That was fast...
Hmm...we're gonna have to go by the Honesty Policy here, I guess...
Well, here were find a woman who was clearly avoiding a lot of people. So much that she decided to run out for some water in the blazing sun (most women waited until the cool of the day). But most women hadn't been married to 5 previous men...and thus been related to just about everyone in town at one point or another. I imagine that most of these folks had given her wedding presents too...maybe more than once?
So our girl is there doing her thing and Jesus (who had been walking for some time & was really thirsty) asked if she'd give him a drink. Technically because they were of different "classes", they shouldn't have been talking. But hey, after 5 husbands, our woman at the well was no shrinking violet.
The two of them dished a little bit and Jesus is back to work. He sees right into her -- through her -- into her past and present. And instantly her thirst became more important than his own. Her true thirst - emotional, physical and spiritual -- was laid bare before him. And worldly as she was, this woman was smart enough to recognize the Messiah and call others to hear him speak. A lot of people in town came to listen to Christ because of her testimony. THEN they ended up believing because the Gospel alone was strong enough to save them.
To be honest, I had a difficult time getting through this chapter in the book. For some reason it just wouldn't hold my interest. Usually when that happens, I know that there is something deeper that I need to find. I decided to go back to the original story. PERFECT!
Once I did this and read the study verses, the lesson themes became clear:
Shame & unforgiveness can keep us bound. They can keep us repeating unhealthy patterns as a form of self-punishment. Those emotions leave us hungry and thirsty for something that seems to go nameless for so long. But it's actually a thirst for righteousness and the peace it can bring. Whether we are conscious of it our not, our soul knows it's Creator. And it will always try to find Him and His peace.
If when the Lord presents Himself to us, and we accept His forgiveness, we can be freed from the shame of our past. That freedom frees us to become a living walking witness for His peace -- for His Great Gospel. And then more people are set free as a result of our own freedom. We are able to walk in grace and mercy.
You haven't done anything that surprises Him. But He's got some incredible surprises waiting for YOU.
I hope this blesses you wherever you are today.
You deserve forgiveness...from yourself. From whatever binds your heart.
And there is a living water that never disappoints -- waiting for you in Christ. Check out Psalm 1: 1-6 to see exactly what I mean.
Living in Him and His word brings and abundance of life and strength. Fill my cup Lord!
It's been too long....I know, I know...
The good news is that although this post is late (due to a sick baby, followed by another sick baby..oops, I mean sick husband) you haven't missed much!
Two weeks ago we read and dished about Lot's Wife (another unnamed woman). And this PAST Sunday, we took a break from Bad Girls and had a personal Goal Setting Workshop for an hour. If you'd like a copy of the worksheet, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know you'd like a copy! It was an hour well spent, trust me.
Okay, so without further delay (i.e. before my husband and baby wake up), away we go!
FYI: As soon as I typed that sentence, they both woke up - sigh -
The bulk of this story is found in Genesis 19.
There was a man named Lot who was the nephew of a great man of God, Abraham. But Lot wasn't necessarily that great of a Godly man himself. He was a successful business man in the city of Sodom & Gomorrah. Many evil things happened there and God sent 2 angels to check it out and destroy it if it were that bad. It was. But because Abraham had prayed for his nephew & his nephews family, the angels were instructed to get them all out safely BEFORE the WMDs came crashing down. The entire family was rescued (Lot, his wife & 2 daughters) but on the way out, Lot's wife disobeyed a simple order: RUN & DON'T LOOK BACK. Well folks, she looked back. And I think the sheer horror of what she saw gave enough time for her to be consumed and she was turned to a pillar of salt. Lot and the girls kept it moving though.
For the sake of time/space I had to leave out a few details here. But if you read the story and the chapter, you know I left out the juiciest parts.
These are the points our class focused on:
1. Lot's wife was silent. The whole time her husband was offering their virginity to a malicious city of men.
Uhhh...yah. I said "city". The Bad Girls in our class believed that maybe Lot's wife was more concerned with maintaining the status quo in a town where she was comfortable. They also said that maybe this wasn't the first time something like this had happened in their town. But one thing NONE of our Bad Girls could reconcile was how any mother could allow her children to be offered up for abuse. Especially to maintian her own comfort. Ugggh.
Terrible as it sounds, women do it every day. They know their little ones are in harms way, but to keep a man, they turn a blind eye & deaf ear. Others are sold out to drugs and alcohol and offer their innocent babies to the highest bidder to secure their own next high. It's a sad place to be in...for both parties.
2. Lot didn't strike us as the "super spiritual" type. He seemed like the kind of guy who was raised in church and grows up saying things like, "I don't need a church to be spiritual. I have God in my heart. I probably have more of Him here than I would in there!" So when Liz Curtis Higgs presented the question: WHY WOULD GOD GO THROUGH THE TROUBLE OF RESCUING LOT AND HIS FAMILY? (Especially after they hesitated MANY times after they'd been warned of the pending disaster!
The answer is found in 2 places:
Romans 6:23 & 2 Peter 3:9
God doesn't treat us as our sins deserve. WE do a fine job of that alone, don't we? Sometimes TOO fine of a job. But the verse that resonated with all of us was found in 1 Timothy 1:16 (NIV):
"But for that very reason I was shown mercy, so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his UNLIMITED patience as an example for those who would believe on Him and receive eternal life."
Ladies: you might think that what you've done or experienced is worse than anyone else. And you may think that those things disqualify you from a life of peace and power in Christ. But the opposite is true. YOU (with alll you Badness) were allowed to experience things to show God's UNLIMITED patience to those who watch you life in Christ unfold. YOU and all your pain and issues have been designed to be a walking, talking example of what God's redemption looks like.
The free gift of God is salvation. Receive it where you are and let him have His way!
You've got work to to, Bad Girl!!
This week has been so strange for me!
I have not been able to post anything because my 11 month old has been very, very sick :(.
Saturday & Sunday I probably slept about 4 hours total? It's a blur now. But after a trip to the E.R., pediatrician and drugstore...and two days (so far) home from work, the baby has a double ear infection & virus (thank you, Daycare).
I am not complaining - just explaining!
If I get a few minutes tomorrow, then I shall post the notes for those of you following along with us remotely.
Thanks for your love & patience with me.
I haven't been able to post the usual 3 times a week. We are very busy at RFC developing family programming and it takes a lot of time and energy. So, until things slow down a little for me, I'll be blogging about once a week to post the notes from the Sunday Morning Book Club at Rhema Fellowship, mmkay??
In our time together on Sunday mornings, we get a chance to really dig in to the stories in the Bible and our own lives. It's become such an introspective time -- and a big blessing to us all.
This week, I also thought it would be fun to share the thoughts of one of our Resident Bad Girls. I asked if I could share her thoughts anonymously and she graciously agreed. I don't want anyone to feel like they don't know enough to participate and have fun. If you're open to learn, then you're open to grow with us.
I'll give you a brief synopsis of the story and then we'll move!
So! Joseph was the youngest child of a man named Jacob. He was the baby and the favorite and his brothers hated him & his confidence. Their hatred caused them to sell him as a slave to get rid of him (ouch). But the Lord was with Joseph and favored him wherever he was. He was bought by the head security guard of the king. While working for this guy, Potiphar, Joseph was the MAN! And the lonely, bored, desperate housewife of Potiphar started to notice -- Joseph. She invited him to sleep with her, but he refused (but this lady liked a challenge). She finally set him up with no one around and when he rejected her, she lied and claimed rape. Joseph was thrown in jail and we hear of Potiphar's wife no more.
HOTTEST POINTS FOR YOU
Yes...Mrs. P. was quite trifling. Some of the ladies on Sunday called her a hot mess, desperate, etc.! In the class we talked about idle time and how it can lead to fantasies about illicit sex and even fantasies about having arguments and being angry (for those of us whom are rage-a-holics).
Some fantasies can jack up the relationship you already have in reality. 'Cause no regular man/woman can live up to the images/acts in films and romance novels. They get your head & expectations all twisted. And then you end up mad because hubby can't do it like what you saw on...or get you excited like...and you don't know how to relay/communicate, so it gets all tangled up & can hinder the connection you have with your spouse (or future spouse). We discussed having realistic expectations for the men in our lives. So it might be time to get rid of the romance novels, ladies!!
Oooh we also talked about "souveniers" from old relationships that need to be thrown away. When Potiphar's wife ripped Joseph's coat, she kept it next to her all day...as a souvenier. And those things not only stay in our homes, but they stay in our hearts -- until we break free and get rid of them. Jewelry, CD's, pictures, clothes from old relationships....whew!!
We learned that hurt is the root of quick tempers. And we can fight them by learning to be slow to speak, quick to listen & avoid giving the devil any foothold in our hearts. Give him an inch and he'll take a mile!!
The anger/bitterness in Potiphar's wife was really a symptom of her real sickness: hurt. rejection. And how those things in US cause us to lash out at people, cussing and swearing. Fantasizing about revenge. And if someone pulls the right trigger to that old wound, it sets off a rage that seems to come out of nowhere. But it's from "somewhere" alright!
PRAYER & PEACE
So we discussed how to start surrendering yourself in prayer, asking God to take you to the hurt for Healing in His presence --- so that you can be free. So the triggers don't work anymore. And the devil has NO foothold in your life. But the spirit of God can come in -- the Bible says that where the spirit of the Lord is, there is LIBERTY. Freedom.
Our Homework this Week:
Using a Post-It or Index Card, write down the verse found in Ephesians 4:26-27. Put it at your desk and look at this week. A lot. And ask the Lord to develop those qualities in you. No Bible on hand? No problem...online, go to http://www.biblegateway.com/. You can view ANY Bible verse in just about ANY translation or language. Yah.
COMMENTS ABOUT THIS CLASS FROM ONE BAD GIRL...
"I did finish the chapter on Potiphar's wife one word for her NASTY.....I also started the new chapter.
What I'm getting out of this class already is not only am I learning about the women in the Bible, but I'm really looking at the events in the scripture and cross referencing them to my life. AND getting to know the other people in the stories.
Example: I have read and heard the story of Adam and Eve many times before..But reading the book, re-reading the scripture and having the discussion in class. I just realized that Adam & Eve were married and having sex long before they ate from the forbidden tree. I always thought God made Eve as a best friend/sisterly companion. And that AFTER they ate the fruit, they saw each other as more than sister/brother relationship. DUH!!
I don't see Eve as a Bad girl (not like Potiphar's wife). I do have a new view as to how we as women are supposed to call on our husbands for support and guidance. And I saw how the serpent really snaked all in Eve's mind. I learned more about how he works on me and how to run.....
Thank you for having this class I am truly learning new things about me and my walk. I will be there this Sunday."
Reader, if YOU are free on Sundays at 10:00 a.m., you should join us too. Even if you don't have the book. It's worth it. And we're done by 11:00 a.m.!
Maybe you're bored or maybe you just have a bit of "Cabin Fever".
Whatever the case, http://www.boston.com/ just published an amazing list of running things to do that are F.R.E.E.!!
Check out the master list by clicking here and go try something out of the norm! It won't cost you anything & you might find a new hobby or interest.
I love BOSTON & I love learning new things...and FREE never hurts...so maybe we'll bump into each other at something? :)
Classical music, food, games, movies...it's all there. Stuff for singles, people with kids, couples and anyone looking for fun!