Friday, July 27, 2012

Bible Study: A Special Deliverance - A Study of Micah - Chapter 4


Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on the book of Micah, although they are a bit better formatted than former efforts. I felt a great sense of urgency to publish them rather than waiting until I had the time to pretty them up. Thank you and I pray that God blesses and encourages you through this material. I’m not sure of the condition of the world at the time of this publication. But at the time of its writing, spring 2009, things are looking pretty bleak with the economy and unemployment, natural disasters, and godly principles of living being disregarded. Are these the first stages of birth pains? The last? God only knows. And He is very busy these days. Stay strong. Encourage each other. Pray. Jesus is coming to deliver His people and judge the wicked…

Stacey


Take a few minutes to pray and savor chapter 4 of the Old Testament book of Micah. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…

4:1 – In the last days – at the end of the world, judgment and restoration for Israel.

See Hebrews 12:22-24 for a beautiful picture of the church coming together.

4:2 – mountain of the Lord – Zion.

House of the God of Jacob – Why Jacob? Why not Israel? Usually when a person’s name (not given by the Lord) is used, it is reminding us of our sinful nature. So, is this saying that the Lord is a God of sinners? What would that say about God? He is gracious and faithful and forgiving… What else does it tell you about the Lord?

How will the Lord teach His ways if these are the last days…the time of judgment? Israel will come back to the Lord during the tribulation!

4:3 – judgment

no more war – weapons are forged into farming tools. The tools are needed to reap the abundant crops mentioned in verse 4.

There is mention in Revelation, I believe, about a harvest with a sickle…

4:4 – every man will sit under his own vine…his own fig tree – agricultural wealth, plentiful produce, no starvation. What a blessing from God!

This picture depicts rest and peace and solitude for a time of worship.

4:5 – Israel will return to the Lord and walk in His ways.

4:6 – At this time, the Lord will gather His people together.

4:7 – The Lord will rule over the remnant and the exiles forever.

4:8 – watchtower of the flock – Jerusalem, city of David, the shepherd-king.

Stronghold of the Daughter of Zion – stronghold is an impenetrable structure, daughter is a humanizing picture of a city, Zion is the city.

Former dominion – the promised land? The kingdom of Israel.

Kingship will come – Jesus!

Daughter of Jerusalem – another humanizing picture. This time of the city of Jerusalem.

4:9 – Now?

Like a woman in labor – intense, but temporary pain.

4:10 – writhe…like a woman in labor – horrible, temporary pain.

Leave the city – exile? Assyrian? Assyria attacked the Northern Kingdom.

Camp in the open field?

Go to Babylon – Babylonian exile (took place 150 years after the Assyrians attacked the Northern kingdom.)

There you will be rescued – in Babylon? How did that happen? When, after 70 years of exile, the Israelites were permitted to leave?

4:11 – Israel’s enemies?

4:12 – Israel’s enemies don’t understand God’s plan.

How can we understand God’s plan? Read the Word, study it, pray.

4:13 – Israel will thresh her enemies. She will break them. I wonder if this is what the weapons that were forged into tools (see v. 3) are used for.



• The book of Micah teaches us that there is forgiveness and deliverance for those who belong to the Lord. What have you learned and applied to your life from today’s reading that will help you persevere in your relationship with Christ?
• What attributes of God do you see in this book?
• What verse of scripture seemed to be God speaking directly to you? What is He teaching you in these verses? How does He want you to respond?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Brave by Angela Thomas – Session 5

Homework: What a week! I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. This study gets better and better as the days go by. It seems that every week I approach the lesson with the attitude that this won’t be the lesson I need. And every week – without fail – the lesson has been exactly what I needed but I didn’t know it. Thankfully, this week, I am not currently experiencing a “trembling inside” moment. But I have been exactly where Angela taught about. Only I didn’t recognize the process that I went through. Next time, I will know.

Video: The teaching for session 5, “I Am Trembling Inside,” comes from 2 Corinthians 1. This incredible teaching assures the student that God is in the business of comforting us. But this isn’t a feel good, warm and fuzzy kind of comfort. It’s a deep comfort that brings stabilizing peace. It’s the sort of comfort that must be shared with others. Hallelujah!

I am thrilled that Angela wrote this part of the study while she was waiting for results of cancer testing. And I was glad to hear that, as of the time of the taping, those results were negative even though there would be follow-ups to make sure cancer didn’t show up. As one who went through similar testing, I can relate to that waiting, that growth of faith, and continued struggle and growth as I received positive results of my tests. This led to treatment, humbling and even more growth. God is sooooo good!

Who is God when you are trembling at the edge of good news or bad? He is the same. He is faithful. He is comforter. He is teacher. He is healer. He is love. And there is nothing that will change His love for you. (Romans 8:31-39)

Class Activity/Discussion: Our group discussions get better and better as the weeks progress. I suppose this is because we’ve spent several weeks with each other and have shared ourselves with each other and feel safe doing so. In this week’s discussion, we got to the nitty gritty of our trembling. Not the individual situations and circumstances that make us tremble necessarily, but the root of all the fear that makes us quake: lack of control. It helped us to realize that we might not be in control but our Heavenly Father is and He wants what is best for us, not what we are willing to settle for. Praise Jesus!

Upended by Jedd Medefind and Erik Lokkesmoe

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!




You never know when I might play a wild card on you!









Today's Wild Card authors are:







and the book:





Passio (May 1, 2012)




***Special thanks to Althea Thompson | Publicity Coordinator, Charisma House | Charisma Media for sending me a review copy.***





ABOUT THE AUTHORS:





Jedd Medefind serves as president of the Christian Alliance for Orphans. Prior to this role, he led the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives as a special assistant to President George W. Bush. He and his wife, Rachel, love the great outdoors and have four children. Hometown: Los Angeles, CA





Visit the author's website.






Erik Lokkesmoe is the founder and principal of Different Drummer, a LA/NYC-based audience and fan mobilization agency for top entertainment brands. Erik has a MA in public communications and a BA in political science. Erik and his wife, Monica, have three children. Hometown: New York, NY



Visit the author's website.





SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:







Christians follow a Man who upends our most basic assumptions and expectations at every turn. Yet for many of us who claim to follow Him, our lives are not peculiar at all. If anything, we are a rather predictable people. We follow an upside-down God yet live right-side-up lives.



Yes, we often hear calls to more radical living. Sometimes we yearn for it. But often “radical” ends up being just an idea. But apprenticeship to Jesus is often far more costly. That’s why this book isn’t about big choices that make us radical. It’s mostly about small choices that begin to mirror the life of One who was radical indeed.









Product Details:

List Price: $14.99

Paperback: 240 pages

Publisher: Passio (May 1, 2012)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1616386053

ISBN-13: 978-1616386054








AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:








C h ap t e r 1







Eternal Truth and the Daily Grind



Most of the genocides of the twentieth century—from Communist Russia to China to Cambodia—were led by avowedly atheist gov- ernments. Often, pastors and priests were among the first killed. But the story of Rwanda’s genocide is more complex. Yes, many faithful Christian leaders were targeted for immediate death. But in 1994, when the horrific events of one hundred days took an estimated eight hundred thousand

lives, roughly 90 percent of Rwandans claimed to be Christians.

Experiencing the pictures and stories of the genocide in the Kigali Memorial Centre today, a thoughtful Christian cannot help but question in anguish, “How is this possible in any nation, let alone one that was sup- posedly so Christian?”

Rwandan pastor Antoine Rutayisire has grappled with this question himself. He experienced the searing pain of the genocide firsthand. In both anger and grief he explored what enabled such a profound gulf between professed religion and what played out in practice.

At the heart of the matter Rutayisire has concluded that the Christianity of most Rwandans was totally divorced from their ordinary lives. It had to do with heaven, but not earth; abstract doctrines, but not daily choices. Rutayisire explains how traditional African religions always carried implications for virtually every task and interaction, from animal husbandry to cooking. The imported Christianity that took root in much of Rwanda, in contrast, was “a kind of catechism based on memory but not touching issues of daily life.”

The issue was not simply that many Rwandans did not take religion seriously or didn’t carry sincere religious beliefs. Most all Africans do. The issue was that their Christianity carried almost no consequence for the small choices they made every day. The missionaries had taught cate- chisms and rituals, but not how Jesus would want them to manage a busi-

ness or interact with their neighbors.



| 11 |







Rutayisire explains, “The consequence was that many people got bap- tized and integrated into churches, but every time when they ran into prob- lems, they fell back into traditional religion. . . . And in terms of conflict, they relied on what they had been taught by their fathers.”1

It is easy to view the savagery of Rwanda’s genocide and imagine it has nothing to do with us. But the simple truth is that the Christianity prac- ticed by many self-described Christians worldwide is not all that different from the religion practiced by the many Rwandans who failed to stop, or who even participated in, the genocide. It is a religion of great truths and noble ideas that remain largely disconnected from daily choices.

Even those of us who take our faith seriously can fall into the same trap, allowing gaps to form between Christian conviction and the activities of daily life. We study and explore doctrinal truths, but we often feel at a loss to explain how they affect the way we converse with friends, serve our boss, or invest retirement funds. We lack practical connection points between Christianity’s big ideas and what we do each day.

Like that of many Rwandans at the time of the genocide, our religion may feel real enough in the life of the mind. As Rutayisire would say, we have been baptized and integrated into churches. But we have not learned what it looks like to “walk as Jesus did.”2 So when practical decisions must be made, we fall back on habits and learning that really have little to do with the ways of Jesus. When tested, such religion disconnected from daily life is found profoundly lacking, whether in school or work, marriage or wider social engagement—just as it was in Rwanda.



the fataL spLit



Disconnecting Christian faith from daily experiences is not just unfortu- nate. It is deadly. We see its effects on a grand scale in the breathtaking evil of genocide, but just as surely in the withering of once-rich friendships, marriages grown cold, or children estranged.

Over a lifetime the disconnect becomes a trail of opportunities squan- dered. It is the possibility of living vibrantly, loving well, and leading in ways that leave lasting impact . . . lost forever.

At times even Christian teachers have encouraged this fatal split. They have elevated a higher realm of religious knowledge and activity above the lower realm of everyday life. But this view has no basis in Jesus or the apos- tles, nor the Old Testament either.3 Rather it was Greek philosophers and Gnostics who tried to divorce the spiritual from the physical. For them







abstract ideas were superior to the world around us. So spiritual progress required moving away from physical things. Their goal was to transcend the mess and muck of the ordinary.

In contrast, Christianity—like Judaism before it—affirmed that all God made was “very good.”4 Paul summed it up well to Timothy: “For every- thing God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.”5 This includes work and recreation, food and wine, sex and friendship.

Yes, sin has marred these things profoundly. But God’s response is not to abandon or transcend ordinary, physical things. Rather, His plan from the start was to enter His creation in order to repair, renew, and restore.6

That same pattern is God’s call to His people as well. We are to take His truth and vitality into each day’s activities and interactions, just as Jesus did. Learning how to do so from Jesus is the lifelong adventure of the apprentice.

Though exceptional, there were many in Rwanda in 1994 who’d embraced this vision too. One was Celestin Musekura. As a pastor he’d sought both to teach and to live a practical, daily apprenticeship to Jesus. When the 1994 genocide began in his home country, he was completing his graduate studies in Kenya. While most everyone who could was rushing pell-mell out of Rwanda, Celestin headed in, risking his life to try to turn his fellow Hutu tribesmen from murder and to exhort Tutsis to resist the urge for revenge.

There were others too. As evil surged around them, they refused to par- ticipate or look the other way. Some hid neighbors in their homes. Others stared down machete-wielding mobs. Many died for their efforts to pro- tect innocent life. But they’d learned long before how to weld together eternal truth and their daily choices—and they continued to do so, even at immense cost.

Today, with anguish from the genocide yet pungent in Rwanda, Celestin and others like him continue to live as apprentices to Jesus. Though still mourning profound loss, they forgive those who killed their dear friends, family members, and neighbors. Risking the hatred of their own tribes members, they build reconciliation in their communities and churches. Slowly they are reweaving the fabric of Rwanda.

Explains Celestin, “Amidst the bloody history of tribal hatred, Africa’s only hope lies in a Christianity that pervades our lives down to the smallest







things, when our identity in Christ supersedes our tribal identity. It is costly. But the alternative costs even more.”7



Can We reaLLy do it today?



Living two thousand years away from Jesus’s time on earth, it may seem overblown to speak of actually becoming an apprentice to Him. Looking closer, however, we realize that the experience of Jesus’s first apprentices is not as different from ours as we might think.

Paul, like us, never walked with Jesus. Yes, the twelve disciples did have the privilege of observing Jesus in person. But it was only for three short years. And truth be told, they didn’t do particularly well as apprentices while Jesus was still with them. It was only after Jesus’s departure, when they were in much the same situation we are now, that they really began to look like His apprentices in their attitudes and actions.

For them and all who’ve followed since, the core of apprenticeship has always been the same. Responding to God’s grace and empowered by His Spirit, the apprentice marks the words and ways of the Master—and then puts them into practice.

Follow Me, Jesus offers to us too. It is a summons to learn not just about

Him but also from Him.



Person a l Note s: Jedd

With college graduation nearing, law school seemed the next logical step for a guy who didn’t have the prerequisites for any other graduate studies. But talking with many who’d walked that road gave me pause. So few loved what they did. The grinding hours at big firms brought fat paychecks but seemed to snuff out enthusiasm and purpose.

Three close friends of mine were grappling with similar thoughts. We each wanted badly to engage the world fully and experience Christ’s life to the full. Just as much, we feared that the ladder of success might lead to far less than we hoped for out of life.

So, with a blend of hope and desperation, we put grad school and pay- checks on hold. Instead, we’d spend the year living with and learning from committed Christians around the globe—people who served God and neighbor faithfully in their own native lands. Most of all, we hoped to taste life at its fullest . . . and learn how to keep that going for five or six decades. The months ahead were indeed the adventure of a lifetime: from the Guatemalan highlands to Russia’s frozen north, Africa’s mountain kingdom

to the endless rice fields of Bangladesh.

But there was a sobering element too. No matter how thrilling a place was when we first arrived, we were struck by how quickly exciting wears off. Adrenaline ebbs. Exotic becomes commonplace. We saw with dismal







clarity that the life to the full we sought wouldn’t be found in relentless adventure alone.

Yet alongside this realization, hope glimmered. It wasn’t in the buzz of novelty or grand exploits but in a number of the local Christians we served alongside. Their work and relationships weren’t exotic to them. Many had done what they were doing for years. They delivered medical care to Guatemalan peasants; taught wrestling and Jesus in Russian orphanages; created simple business opportunities for the poor in Thailand; led secret house churches in Communist Vietnam. Their work and daily choices were mostly quiet, steady. Some weren’t in full-time ministry at all. Yet their days blazed with the kind of purpose and humble joy we hoped would fill ours to our last breath. With countless small choices to follow Jesus, they infused daily life with eternal life.

That journey taught us more than we could recount. But what I most pray will shape my choices is still that simple realization. Life to the full isn’t found out there —in far-off adventure, or a much-anticipated change, or the next stage in life. Rather, it’s found in ordinary places and daily choices to love and give and serve with abandon for Christ’s sake.





not MereLy a huMan pursuit



We must know from the start that apprenticeship is not merely a human pursuit. Its wellspring is always response to God’s grace. It is surrounded by faithful witnesses from every generation. It is engaged as part of a com- munity, both local and global, called the church. It is nourished continu- ally by God’s living Word. It is undertaken with a continual sense of gift, never earning or merit.

Perhaps most importantly, Jesus promised His apprentices a mighty Helper. The Holy Spirit works continually, both within and alongside the true apprentice. He encourages, convicts, provokes, guides, enlightens. Apart from the Spirit, our labors become wearisome toil. But as we wel- come His labor inside and around us, beauty and good fruit spring from even our most feeble efforts.

The fact that apprenticeship to Jesus is not merely a human pursuit, however, does not mean that it happens apart from the human choices that go into most any other form of apprenticeship. We would not imagine we could become an excellent chef or doctor or painter simply by waiting for it to happen to us. Nor can we if we desire to become like Jesus.

We must learn from Him how to do so via practical, daily, real-world decisions. Choice by choice we participate with the Holy Spirit in bringing our understanding, character, and daily actions into alignment with those of the Master.8







This book explores just one facet of this apprenticeship: how we commu- nicate. Yet there may be no better place to begin. For we are all communi- cators, and how we do so shapes both the quality and outcomes of virtually everything we do. If we can become a true apprentice of Jesus in this, it will touch every relationship and undertaking.

The approach we will take together is straightforward. Like Jesus’s apprentices in every age, we study the words and ways of the Master recorded in the Gospels and amplified in all of Scripture. We take special note of how He spoke and served through speech, how He listened and led, how He connected and conveyed. We consider carefully how what we see can be reflected in our daily choices. We learn from others too who have done the same before us.

All of this we offer frequently to God in prayer. We ask from Him more- than-human insight and perseverance. We invite the vivifying, guiding presence of the Holy Spirit. Then, ideally as part of a community that shares our commitment, we put what we see into practice.

If we are ever to connect the lofty convictions we claim with what we do day in and day out, this is where we must begin. Here we start to knit together eternal truth with our jobs and parenting, marriage and friendships. Over time every interaction increasingly reflects the heart

the Master.



graCe and effort



Person a l Note s: Jedd

My dad was twenty-one when he first donned the flat-brimmed hat of a Yosemite ranger. Never had he wanted anything more. But learning the ropes in 1969 was nothing like the myriad classes and certifications that novice rangers undergo today. Instead, Dad was paired with a veteran ranger and sent out to learn in action.

He hadn’t been on the force long when the old-timer he’d been paired

with, Ranger Utterback, slid from their parked patrol car into the night. “We’re seeing a lot of drugs used and sold in this camping area,” explained Utterback. He held up his hand as Dad began to follow. “Leave the hat in the car. Too obvious.”

Raucous laughter drew them through the darkness to a group gathered around a fire on the edge of camp. Dad followed as Utterback moved into a space shadowed by a large pine. Marijuana smoke hung dense in night air. In those days even possession of the drug was a felony.

As Utterback prepared to step into the firelight, Dad stopped him. “I’ve never made an arrest,” he warned.







“Just watch what I do and do what I do,” whispered Utterback.

That phrase became the theme of the summer, from serving arrest war- rants to chasing break-in bears out of cabins. Dad watched, then replicated. Looking back, he describes, “Rangers joining the force today have some advantages in all the formal training.” However, he observes, “when you learned by putting on the uniform and following a veteran, you saw how to do it. The things you can’t get from a book or a class. How to convince a hostile crowd to cooperate, calm down a hurt child, or scare off a bear with- out hurting it. If you have the desire, you absorb all of this from the veteran

in the field in a way you just can’t fully learn in a classroom.”

Riding horse patrol one morning with another veteran ranger, Don Pimontel, Dad encountered one of the most beautiful scenes he’d ever laid eyes on. As the two men crested a mountain pass, the snow-laden peaks of Yosemite’s vast north country rose ahead of them. Overhead, thunder- heads billowed heavenward, painted with every shade of dark and light. Immediately below opened a meadow, fragrant and glowing purple in a sea of lupine flowers.

Dad sat on his horse, awash in wonder. Unexpectedly, tears began to fill his eyes. He pushed them back and set his jaw as he imagined a ranger ought. But when he glanced over at Ranger Pimontel, that illusion was ban- ished forever. Pimontel’s leathered face glistened, wet with tears.

“I didn’t just learn from him there; I felt with him,” Dad shared with me decades later, “I knew it was OK to feel the beauty. God’s beauty.”

Dad learned that summer not just as a student but as an apprentice. Facts and information were certainly part of the training. But the most important elements went deeper. The veteran rangers like Utterback and Pimontel provided what no classroom teacher could. This included habits and skills Dad had not possessed before, which increasingly became second nature. Perhaps even more significant, they conveyed new perspectives, commit- ments, and even intuition. The veterans’ time-tested ways of protecting and serving could hardly be put into words; yet they were passed from one gen- eration of rangers to another as Dad carefully observed and then put them into practice.





The intentionality and effort suggested by the term apprentice may make some Christians uncomfortable. Sometimes this discomfort is little more than a slumbering spirit; we may not like the idea of putting serious disci- pline into changing behavior and beliefs that we feel are good enough. Or there may also be another, more legitimate discomfort. Does an emphasis on our role and our disciplines of apprenticeship undercut His grace? Might it lead toward pride and “work-your-way-to-heaven” righteousness? Could desire to grow more like Jesus in action change our focus from gratitude at what God has done into a self-consumed bravado in what we are doing?

History reveals that there is, in fact, danger in that direction. Whole movements have grown up around efforts to earn the favor of both God







and man by straining for spiritual attainment. Such quests can feed arro-

gance and self-centeredness as gasoline feeds a fire.





Grace is opposed to earning, not effort.

—Dallas Willard





So we would do well to proceed with care. To imagine we could somehow earn God’s favor is utter vanity. As Jesus portrays in story, it’d be like a household servant imagining he could pay off a debt equivalent to two hundred thousand years of wages.9 God’s grace alone is the wellspring of His favor and heaven’s only door. We must never forget that.

Yet . . .

Despite the hazards, Jesus never watered down His call to apprenticeship. Rather, He urges us to hold two counter-weighted truths at the same time. On one side, joyous gratitude at God’s unmerited forgiveness and love. On the other, a robust response to that gift expressed in obedient action.

As Dallas Willard puts it, “Grace is opposed to earning, not effort.”10

Jesus depicts this truth in story at the end of His Sermon on the Mount. Two builders are constructing homes. As the old Sunday school song describes, the wise man built his house upon the rock. The foolish man built his house upon the sand. The rains came down and the floods came up, and the house on the sand went splat.

What distinguished the two builders? Not abstract belief. Not iden- tity as a Christian. As Jesus bluntly explains, “Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house upon the rock. . . . But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.”11

This down-to-earth, put-it-into-practice vision was especially vivid on Jesus’s last night with His disciples. Although unequivocally the Master, He strips Himself of His status both literally and figuratively. Wearing little but a towel, He kneels and scrubs dirt from between their toes. Then, rising and redressing, He puts the Master-apprentice relationship into words: “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done.”12







a ChaMpion of gift and diLigenCe



Perhaps no living person has ever more fully celebrated the wonder of God’s unmerited favor than that great apprentice to Jesus, the apostle Paul. Paul viewed everything as a gift, including the very inclination to follow as Jesus’s apprentice. As he put it simply in 1 Corinthians, “What do you have that you did not receive?”13

Yet this same Paul described his own apprenticeship to Christ not only as receiving a gift but also as serious exertion. He knew better than any that grace saves us. Yet intense effort defined his pursuit of Christlikeness. “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. . . . Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize.”14

Every part of the Christian faith requires gripping two seemingly oppo- site realities at once.



> Justice and mercy

> Contrition and confidence

> Gentleness and bold truth

> A Savior who was fully God and fully man



In apprenticeship, we must do the same. We cling unyieldingly to the lavish, unmerited gift of grace. And we hold with equal passion to a vision for pursuing apprenticeship with abandon.

The outcome of holding this apparent contradiction together is a result worth longing for. Paul described himself as “the worst” of sin- ners.15 Nevertheless, as an apprentice to Jesus, he could declare without flinching, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”16

How could Paul claim that God’s peace would rest on those who prac- ticed not just what he taught, but what they saw him do? Not simply because he’d become a “good man.” Rather, Paul had come to mirror both the char- acter and behavior of the Master. So he could say, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”17

What a breathtaking thing it would be to meet a person today who could, in humility, say the same. Imagine it being said of you, “Follow the way she speaks and listens, for she mirrors the example of Jesus.” “Follow







the way he leads and loves, for he reflects the words and ways of Jesus.” Impossible? Not if we believe the Scriptures.

Yes, we will always struggle against sin. But we can have every reason for confidence that in five or ten years from now (even one!) we will look more like Jesus than we do today.

As we grow as Jesus’s apprentices, our small choices and daily habits increasingly reflect the Master’s. As explored in the chapters ahead, we become more fully present before others; the ideas we convey become more tangible; our manner is recognized as more authentic; our questions guide and inspire; we present not just facts, but set them in stories that give facts meaning; our words carry greater vision and weight.

Choice by choice, small act by small act, we “are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory.”18 Not just in theory, but also in the visible, tangible actions that meld eternal truth with daily life. Praise be to God that He never leaves us where we are.



Person a l Note s: Erik

Apprenticeship demands humility. The very act of apprenticing to a master is acknowledging your own inabilities. You know less. You need to learn. You don’t have what it takes yet. Maybe that is why so many of us are reluctant to be an apprentice: it’s hard to submit to others. That is my chal- lenge, at least.

Early on in my career I served as a deputy for a senior speechwriter. He would pass me the ceremonial events—the award ceremony for a top employee, a ribbon cutting at the factory—and on a good week, he might let me take a swing at a first draft of a major speech.

“Good start,” he would say, and then inevitably hack away until only a few of my original lines remained—and even then, he would take credit for everything.

It was not humbling—it was humiliating.

“I’m better than him,” I would think, especially after lunch when he would kick up his feet on the desk, lean back in his chair, and sleep for two hours. I had no interest in being his apprentice. Maybe that showed. Eventually, my job became nothing more than printing speeches on 4 x 6 cards for

delivery to our boss.

It was a difficult season, but an important one. Looking back, I wasn’t ready. I needed to study great speeches, listen to the tone and cadence of leaders, and perfect my craft.

I thought I had it all figured out, just as Simon did until Jesus approached his boat.

The fifth chapter of Luke tells the story of Jesus teaching on the shoreline of a lake. A crowd is pressing in, and Jesus pushes back in a boat to cre- ate space and to amplify His voice off the water. Professional fisherman are nearby, cleaning nets after a dismal day of fishing.







“When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch” (v. 4). Simon questions the Master, as all of us surely would and certainly do. I am the professional. I know what I am doing. This is not a good spot or time to fish. He relents, drops his nets. And the abundance of fish almost topples the boats and tears the nets. “They came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink” (v. 7).

Then Simon repents, Jesus calls him to a new life, and he leaves everything—even his boats and nets and crew—to follow the Master.

The simplicity of the story is beautiful. Jesus comes to you with an absurd request—Erik, leave the professional stuff to Me— and yet He is faithful and fulfilling, which leads to a humble repentance and a life renewed. Apprenticing Jesus isn’t a hollow echo of Jesus’s life and words. It’s not a self-awareness or self-preserving. Its about a real submission to living under the audacious authority of Jesus, the Master who will ask for everything we have so He can give us everything we need. We come empty. Ready. Humble. Only then can He begin.






First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Jedd Medefind and Erik Lokkesmoe and their publisher for sending me a copyof "Upended" to review for them. I am truly grateful for thisgenerosity. I really appreciate the time, effort and expense it takes to make areviewer copy available to me.
“Upended: How Following Jesus Remakes Your Words andWorld” by Jedd Medefind and Erik Lokkesmoe is 20 chapters on topsy-turvyChristian living! This engaging book isa fascinating look at the peculiarity of Christ and His followers. It is filled with personal experience storiesand heart-wrenching tales. This bookencourages the believer to step out in faith and be different from the rest ofthe world. It drives home the point thatwe, as Christians, were meant to stand out to glorify our Lord.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Love Finds You in Mackinac Island by Melanie Dobson


As the Gilded Age comes to a close, Elena Bissette's once-wealthy family has nearly lost its fortune. The Bissettes still own a home on fashionable Mackinac Island, where they will spend one last summer in the hope of introducing Elena to a wealthy suitor. But Elena is repulsed by the idea of marrying for money.

Quickly tiring of the extravagant balls, Elena spends most evenings escaping back into Mackinac's rugged forest. There she meets Chase, a handsome laborer who shares her love for the night sky. The two begin to meet in secret at an abandoned lighthouse, where they work together to solve a mystery buried in the pages of a tattered diary.

As Elena falls in love with Chase, her mother relentlessly contrives to introduce her to Chester Darrington, the island's most eligible bachelor. Marriage to the elusive millionaire would solve the Bissettes' financial woes, and Elena is torn between duty and love.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Melanie Dobson has written ten contemporary and historical novels including five releases in Summerside's Love Finds You series. In 2011, two of her releases won Carol Awards: Love Finds You in Homestead, Iowa (for historical romance) and The Silent Order (for romantic suspense).

Melanie received her undergraduate degree in journalism from Liberty University and her master's degree in communication from Regent University. Prior to her writing career, Melanie was the corporate publicity manager at Focus on the Family and a publicist for The Family Channel. She later launched her own public relations company and worked in the fields of publicity and journalism for more than fifteen years.

Melanie and her family enjoy their home in the Pacific Northwest. The entire Dobson family loves to travel and hike in both the mountains and along the cliffs above the Pacific.

When Melanie isn't writing or playing with her family, she enjoys exploring ghost towns and dusty back roads, line dancing, and reading inspirational fiction.

For more about Melanie Dobson and her books, visit www.melaniedobson.com.



First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Melanie Dobson and her publisher for sending me a copy of "Love Finds You in Mackinac Island, Michigan" to review for them. I am truly grateful for this generosity. I really appreciate the time, effort and expense it takes to make a reviewer copy available to me.

“Love Finds You in Mackinac Island, Michigan” by Melanie Dobson is a beautiful historical romance set in the late 1800s. Elena Bissette’s formerly wealthy family is spending one last summer on Mackinac Island in the hope that Elena will find a wealthy husband. But Elena is more interested in marrying for love than money. Her only escape from her mother’s matchmaking schemes is when she makes her way through the forest to the lighthouse where she can gaze at the stars. She would rather spend her time at the lighthouse honestly communing with God than wearing the society fa├žade to catch a wealthy husband. Eventually, it is at the lighthouse where she meets Chase, a mysterious man who enjoys gazing at the stars like she does. But her mother has chosen a wealthy suitor, Chester Darrington, to be the object of her marital pursuits.

“Love Finds You in Mackinac Island, Michigan” has it all! It’s solid historical fiction blended with a charming romance and a bit of mystery that will tantalize the reader. The education I received while reading the story centered on the difficulties encountered and ceremony involved with being rich and subsequently losing your wealth. Melanie Dobson’s characters are engaging and I found myself wanting to pull several of them aside to clue them into the narrative so they wouldn’t make bad decisions. In spite of the predictable conflict in the plot, I highly recommend this novel!

My husband has wanted to take me to Mackinac (pronounced Mackinaw) Island for as long as I can remember. But in our many travels across the United States, we’ve never been to Michigan together. This beautifully written novel makes me feel as if I have been there!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Bible Study: A Special Deliverance - A Study of Micah - Chapter 3


Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on the book of Micah, although they are a bit better formatted than former efforts. I felt a great sense of urgency to publish them rather than waiting until I had the time to pretty them up. Thank you and I pray that God blesses and encourages you through this material. I’m not sure of the condition of the world at the time of this publication. But at the time of its writing, spring 2009, things are looking pretty bleak with the economy and unemployment, natural disasters, and godly principles of living being disregarded. Are these the first stages of birth pains? The last? God only knows. And He is very busy these days. Stay strong. Encourage each other. Pray. Jesus is coming to deliver His people and judge the wicked…

Stacey


Take a few minutes to pray and savor chapter 3 of the Old Testament book of Micah. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…

3:1 – Is this Micah speaking, again? Yes.

Micah is speaking to the king and government leaders, here. He asks the leaders of Israel and Judah if they should be exempt from justice. Israel and Judah believed that they were above the law because they are God’s people. But they should have taken their position of privilege as a responsibility to guard the Lord’s reputation with their behavior. Do you guard the Lord’s reputation with your behavior?

Do you pray regularly for the leaders God’s placed over you? By the way, if they are over you, God has placed them there.

3:2-3 – hate good, love evil, skin God’s people, rip the flesh from their bones, eat flesh, break bones, chop them up like meat – Ouch! God is still talking about Israel and Judah. They are torturing their own brothers. Do you see behavior like this in the world today? Maybe within families…maybe within churches…maybe between Christian denominations? What can we do to make this stop? Start with prayer.

3:4 – When these things happen, they will cry out to God, but He will not respond because of their own wickedness.

3:5-7 – The prophets are leading God’s people astray. These men are like those in 2:11 who will prophesy for wine and beer. They base their prophesies on what the payment is. These prophets will be punished by not receiving visions from the Lord. They will be disgraced before the Lord and the people.

Micah is taking on the religious leaders, here. He is standing alone against all of the other prophets.

Have you ever had to stand against others for any reason? What would you do differently? What advice would you give to someone else who had to stand up on their own?

3:8 – But Micah declares his genuineness. He is filled with power, the Spirit of the Lord, justice and might to deliver this prophecy against Jacob. What has God filled you with?

3:9 – Micah declares that the leaders of Jacob and Israel have become completely corrupt. They despise justice, distort the truth, build cities with bloodshed and wickedness, and judge for bribes. Their priests teach for payment. Their prophets tell fortunes for money. But they still believe the Lord is among them. These people are depraved and have no integrity. Every part of their society has become poisoned – the executive government, the legislature, the military, the priesthood, the judicial system! What parallels do you see in the news? How can you pray for your leaders? Do you pray for your leaders? You should.

3:10 – Zion is where God’s temple was? It is where His throne of judgment will be.

3:11 – unethical behavior, bribes, paying for what you want to hear – not the truth! GOD’S WORD IS FREE!!!!!

3:12 – Micah predicts the fall of Jerusalem. Zion, the city that was built with bloodshed in verse 10, will be plowed like a field – completely uprooted. Jerusalem, the city built with wickedness in verse 10, will become a pile of rubble. The temple hill will be neglected to the point that it will be overgrown with thickets, destroying the “high place”. Jeremiah mentions this prophecy as he was observing its fulfillment in Jeremiah 26:18.



• The book of Micah teaches us that there is forgiveness and deliverance for those who belong to the Lord. What have you learned and applied to your life from today’s reading that will help you persevere in your relationship with Christ?
• What attributes of God do you see in this book?
• What verse of scripture seemed to be God speaking directly to you? What is He teaching you in these verses? How does He want you to respond?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Brave by Angela Thomas – Session 4

Homework: Wow! These subjects are way too deep to be studied in only one week. I think Angela Thomas could do a full length study on each topic! As I did my homework this week, it seemed that the topic got bigger and bigger as I chewed on it and it felt like I had to swallow it down way too fast. Sorry about the food metaphor, but I think most of us can relate to being undisciplined in the area of food.

This weeks’ homework definitely brought more to the surface than issues with food. Each question seemed to stir the pot of my life and make me think about things that I don’t normally pay attention to or maybe deliberately ignore. I didn’t realize the many areas where I am undisciplined. Thank you, Angela, for helping me to be more honest about myself.

Video: The teaching for session 4, “I Am Undisciplined,” comes from Romans 7:15. This video teaching contained beautiful stories that I could picture vividly in my mind because of my own experiences and because I have spent the last week dredging up the yucky, “sluggy” part of my life. The fill-in-the-blanks seemed more thoughtful than in other video sessions.

Angela reminded us that we are at war, and the battle is spiritual in nature, not physical, and must be fought in spiritual terms. This means training and lots of it. We must train ourselves to obey God. I know how difficult that can be. Even Paul said he had to beat his body (1 Corinthians 9:24-27). We must train ourselves to listen to God’s Spirit.

She also reminded us of Who God is when she said, “If you’ve been stuck in the same area of undiscipline for 72 years, God is powerful enough to change you in a moment.” If I remember nothing but that teaching from this week’s video, it would be enough. But she also made a comment that she wants to be the woman God dreamed of when He dreamed of her. I want to be that woman, too. Not the one God dreamed of when He dreamed of Angela, but the one He dreamed of when He dreamed of me. He’s that personal, that intimate, that deliberate and specific. What a beautiful God we belong to. Lord, don’t leave any area of my life untouched by Your hands.

Class Activity/Discussion: The further we get in this study, the deeper our conversation seems to go. I suppose that’s the way Bible study small groups should evolve, getting more comfortable with each other and sharing a little more each week. This week, we began by “boasting and delighting” in God as Angela taught in last week’s video.

As discussion of this week’s lesson began, many of the ladies in my group expressed the desire to live on fire for Jesus. We appreciated the prayers Angela included in the workbook, giving us an example of how we can speak to God in a frank and natural way.

To introduce an opportunity for greater discipline in the lives of these ladies, I issued an invitation to Bible Study Fellowship.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Sweeter Than Birdsong by Rosslyn Elliot

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Rosslyn Elloit and her publisher for sending me a copy of "Sweeter Than Birdsong" to review for them. I am truly grateful for this generosity. I really appreciate the time, effort and expense it takes to make a reviewer copy available to me.

Rosslyn Elliot’s second novel in the Saddler’s Legacy Series, “Sweeter than Birdsong,” is the engaging tale of Kate Winter, a woman who desires nothing more than to escape her dysfunctional home life. When she finds that her only path to freedom may lie in swallowing her fear of public speaking, she auditions to participate in a musicale being cast. Ben Hamby is also a student at Otterbein University. He is moved by Kate’s voice when she auditions for the musicale, and saddened by her situation at home. But his first concern is to help slaves on the Underground Railroad as his father did and to find the wife of the slave that died at his home when he was just a boy.

Although this is the second novel in this series about real-life people, it reads wonderfully as a standalone book. The characters are beautifully fleshed out, the details that paint the setting are richly crafted and entice the reader to learn more about 1855 Ohio or at least long for simpler times. But these times weren’t really simpler, were they? The theme of slavery is handled with great care, and seems to be a common thread appearing in much of my reading lately. Kate’s desire for independence also brings women’s liberation into the plot mix.

This book has it all: history, romance, action, suspense, drama. It is both entertaining and educational and has enticed this reader to add another favorite author to my ever-growing list. Not only will I be on the lookout for future novels by Rosslyn Elliot, but I plan to go back and read the first book in the Saddler’s Legacy Series: “Fairer Than Morning”.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Bible Study: A Special Deliverance - A Study of Micah - Chapter 2


Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on the book of Micah, although they are a bit better formatted than former efforts. I felt a great sense of urgency to publish them rather than waiting until I had the time to pretty them up. Thank you and I pray that God blesses and encourages you through this material. I’m not sure of the condition of the world at the time of this publication. But at the time of its writing, spring 2009, things are looking pretty bleak with the economy and unemployment, natural disasters, and godly principles of living being disregarded. Are these the first stages of birth pains? The last? God only knows. And He is very busy these days. Stay strong. Encourage each other. Pray. Jesus is coming to deliver His people and judge the wicked…

Stacey


Take a few minutes to pray and savor chapter 2 of the Old Testament book of Micah. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…

2:1 – Those who plot and execute evil will be punished.

What is the significance of “plot evil on their beds”? This is not an aggressive, militaristic strategizing. This posture implies relaxed, conniving oppression. It almost comes naturally.

2:2 – This passage reminds me of how Ahab coveted Naboth’s vineyard, but Naboth wouldn’t sell, so Jezebel had him killed and they stole the land in 1 Kings 21.

A warning to those who fraudulently take someone’s home. Would this apply to the lending institutions that should not have made loans to those who couldn’t purchase such expensive homes? Now these people are being foreclosed on.

A warning to those who fraudulently take someone’s inheritance.

2:3 – This is the Lord speaking. God is planning a disaster for these plotters from which you are powerless to save yourselves. Who will be caught up in the punishment of these wicked people? God’s people from Jerusalem and Samaria? God’s people will no longer strut around like peacocks because it will be a tragic time.

What have you done to safeguard yourself in uncertain times?

2:4 – God’s people will be ridiculed and taunted with a song that accuses them of what he wicked men have done in verse 2!

God’s people are taunted and ridiculed now, too! What advice would you give the persecuted?

2:5 – no one in the assembly of the Lord?

Divide the land by lot? Simply a fair way of distributing land?

2:6 – The prophets of Jerusalem and Samaria beg Micah not to prophesy about these things. What do you prefer from God? The truth – even if it means conviction? Or a warm fuzzy that won’t help you to grow in relationship to Him? Take a wild guess as to which God will actually give you!

2:7 – Good question. Do you think the Spirit of the Lord is angry? Does He do such things? In verse 3, He plainly says that He is planning disaster for the wicked and that His people are going to be caught up in it. The key to this is that God’s “anger” is very different from ours. When we are angry, we lash out to hurt others purposely. When God is angry, He orchestrates and allows events that will bring us back to Him!

God’s words encourage those whose hearts are right with Him. Is your heart right? Or do you feel condemned by what God says? Don’t run away from Him. Pray that He will align your heart with His so that you feel blessed by His correction rather than condemned by it.

2:8 – God’s people have become corrupt like their enemies. They will suffer the punishment of those described in verses 1-2 because they behave like them!

…without a care like men returning from battle – tired, contemplating what horrors they’ve seen, dreaming of home, relief and disbelief that they made it, mourning those they know who haven’t, not joyfully running to arms of loved ones – why? Because they have to bear bad news to the families of the dead? Why would the people passing by Jerusalem and Samaria behave this way?

2:9 – Why would they drive their own women from their homes? Is God still speaking to His people? Yes. Are they forcing their women to become shrine prostitutes as part of their idolatry? Why else would women be taken from their children?

God’s blessing to children are their mothers. If you have the opportunity to do so, call your mother right now.

2:10 – God’s people have defiled the land that they were given as part of the old covenant, so they are being removed from it – taken into exile! Are you honoring all that God has given you?

2:11 – God says that the perfect prophet for this people would be a liar who would do so for a payment of alcohol! WOW! How unethical would that be! What sort of prophesies do you think a person like that would give to the people?

2:12 – God’s grace and mercy is apparent in that He will gather all of His people back together again. He will protect a remnant of Israel and keep them together.

2:13 – Is this scene how the people of Israel will be given a way to come back together? 2 Kings 19:35-37 speaks of the death of King Sennacherib of Assyria and a significant number of his people, which would have cleared a bit of the path leading to Israel’s freedom.



• The book of Micah teaches us that there is forgiveness and deliverance for those who belong to the Lord. What have you learned and applied to your life from today’s reading that will help you persevere in your relationship with Christ?
• What attributes of God do you see in this book?
• What verse of scripture seemed to be God speaking directly to you? What is He teaching you in these verses? How does He want you to respond?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Brave by Angela Thomas – Session 3

Homework: This week’s homework was a bit of a let-down. I’m not sure what I was expecting from this weeks’ study, but I’m not one of those people who have absolutely “suffered a thorn”. In fact, this is one of those Christianese expressions that I don’t really understand. I suppose what I would have liked was a short explanation of what a thorn really is. By the end of the homework, I still struggled with the idea that a thorn can be a malady or a relationship or a hardship. I looked at 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 and Angela’s teaching on the barbs of a thorn to measure the characteristics of what I think might be thorns in my life.
The criteria of a thorn according to Angela and Paul is this: It cannot be removed by my own power. Its originator is Satan. It torments with pain and doubt. It weaves discouragement into my life. Its piercing produces weakness. God decides when to remove it. It kept Paul from becoming conceited.

What I determined is that my thorns are not what anyone looking at my life from the outside would imagine them to be. My cancer was a gift from God that shook up my life, changed my perspective on many things and has drawn me closer to Him than I’ve ever been. My challenging relationships have put me on my knees before the throne so often that they have helped me to develop my relationship with God. My financial messes are of my own making – I won’t blame the devil for making me buy this dress. My hardships have taught me to look for God’s activity in my life and have helped me to see how generously He blesses.

I started to develop the misconception of this being an illustration of a rose that has thorns. So, I looked up the Strong’s number and definition of this Greek word (skolops) which actually means a pointed piece of wood, pale (a stake or picket, as of a fence; an enclosing or confining barrier, enclosure; an enclosed area; limits, bounds), stake or splinter. That’s a far cry from a rose.

So now I have a picture in my head of Satan coming after me with a pointy stick. But I’m no closer to discovering what my thorn is – if I have one.

Video: The teaching for session 3, “I Am Suffering a Thorn,” comes from 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. Again, I was disappointed in the video guide being almost a direct copy of the homework lesson titles. But I did notice that, when I took my focus off of trying to fill in the blanks and just listened to the teaching, several nuggets of wisdom were presented. Such nuggets included: Contemplating what “all-sufficient grace” means. The thorn’s purpose is evil, to make us doubt. God allowing the thorn is not a punishment. I should boast in my weakness so Christ’s power will rest on me. God wants us to boast and delight. God uses humility to keep me grateful. Our thorns bond us and help us minister.

Angela Thomas has a genuinely compassionate and loving heart that appears on her sleeve when she teaches. And her warm disposition oozes Christ.

Class Activity/Discussion: We had another passionate class discussion as we identified what might be thorns in our lives as well as those we know without any shadow of doubt are thorns.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Bible Study: A Special Deliverance - A Study of Micah - Chapter 1


Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on the book of Micah, although they are a bit better formatted than former efforts. I felt a great sense of urgency to publish them rather than waiting until I had the time to pretty them up. Thank you and I pray that God blesses and encourages you through this material. I’m not sure of the condition of the world at the time of this publication. But at the time of its writing, spring 2009, things are looking pretty bleak with the economy and unemployment, natural disasters, and godly principles of living being disregarded. Are these the first stages of birth pains? The last? God only knows. And He is very busy these days. Stay strong. Encourage each other. Pray. Jesus is coming to deliver His people and judge the wicked…

Stacey


Take a few minutes to pray and savor chapter 1 of the Old Testament book of Micah. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…

Micah (his name means “who is like the Lord”) was from Moresheth-Gath (the name means “inheritance of Gath”). This city was located near Philistine-Gath. Micah was sensitive to society’s depravity. He prophesied during the reigns of Jotham (750-732 BC), Ahaz (735-715 BC) and Hezekiah (715-686 BC). He was a contemporary of Isaiah and Hosea. See Jeremiah 26:18. This book was probably written around 700 BC if Micah penned it, himself.

Micah was witty and may have loved language. He incorporated several plays on words to begin this text.

1:1-4 – Micah saw the Lord’s hand in the movement of the Assyrian army.

Think about your life, history or current events: How do you see the Lord’s hand in the movement of others?

1:1 – Micah received a vision from the Lord.

How does the Lord speak to you?

1:2 – God wants Samaria and Jerusalem to hear the judgment against them. These cities are the capitals of Israel and Judah. God is judging His people. All people will be judged.

Rebellion is a path to ruin.

Are you rebelling in any areas? Confess and repent. Just between you and God.

God is sovereign.

God resides in a holy place – heaven.

1:3 – God wants Samaria and Jerusalem to see Him coming down to the earth. Why? To intimidate? To make them repent? It is significant that God appears.

High places – mountains, shrines.

1:4 – Mountains melt? Heat? Fire? Judgment? Yes. God shows up to judge His people.

Valleys split? Power?

Like wax? The mountains? Probably. See Psalm 97:5.

Water rushes downhill.

1:5-7 – Micah predicts the fall of Samaria. This took place in 722-721 BC. 2 Kings 17:6 describes that in the ninth year of King Hoshea of Israel, Shalmamesar king of Assyria invaded and captured Samaria. He took the captives to Halah in Gozan on the Habor River and in the towns of the Medes.

1:5 – Jacob’s transgression? Israel’s sin? Samaria (Israel’s capital, remember)? Idolatry? Samaria was built on a hill, so it is naturally a “high place”.

Judah’s high place – Jerusalem. David chose this city as the capital for its height – that was good military strategy – defensible. No one could sneak up on them. But this sounds like it’s become an idol.

1:6-7 – Samaria will be destroyed because it is Jacob’s transgression? Samaria, built on a hill, became a “high place” – a shrine – a place of idolatry.

1:7 – prostitutes – shrine prostitutes? Prostitution is symbolic of idolatry and spiritual unfaithfulness.

1:8 – This destruction makes Micah weep? Because he loves God’s people.

Howl like a jackal? Moan like an owl? These are noises associated with mourning. Do you mourn over what is happening in the world today?

1:9-16 – Micah predicts the desolation of Judah.

1:9 – Her wound is incurable – who is “her”? Israel? Her wound has come to Judah. This horror is like a cancer that will spread until judgment day.

Judah is the gate of God’s people. This is evident in the layout of the tabernacle. If the wound comes to Judah, it gains access to God’s people.

1:10 – tell it not in Gath – a play on words. Gath sounds like the Hebrew word for “tell”.

Roll in dust in Beth Ophrah. The proper name of this city means “place of dust”. Rolling in dust expresses grief. This is another play on words.

1:11 – nakedness and shame in Shapir. The name means “beautiful town” or “pleasant”.

The inhabitants of Zaanan will not come out – another play on words. Zaanan sounds like the Hebrew for “come out”.

Beth Ezel mourns. They no longer protect Judah. Beth Ezel means “house of the leader” or “house at the side”. They no longer led the way or stood by Judah’s side.

1:12 – The people of Maroth are in pain because of disaster inflicted on them. Maroth means “bitter” or “bitter fountain”.

1:13 – Lachish was one of Judah’s largest towns and a crowning conquest for Sennacharib, King of Assyria.

1:14 – Israel will give parting gifts in Moresheth-Gath? Why? Because she is to be captured by Assyria.

The town of Aczib will deceive Israel’s kings. Aczib means “deception”.

1:15 – Who is the conqueror God will bring against them?

Those who live in Mareshah will be conquered. Mareshah sounds like the Hebrew for “conqueror”.

The glory of the Lord will come to Adullam? Either by God Himself or appointed leaders of Israel.

1:16 – Shave your heads in mourning. You are going into exile.


• The book of Micah teaches us that there is forgiveness and deliverance for those who belong to the Lord. What have you learned and applied to your life from today’s reading that will help you persevere in your relationship with Christ?
• What attributes of God do you see in this book?
• What verse of scripture seemed to be God speaking directly to you? What is He teaching you in these verses? How does He want you to respond?

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Brave by Angela Thomas – Session 2

Homework: Although “Brave” is like many other Bible studies regarding a five-day homework format, the homework is rather unique and challenging. First of all, the layout is like a scrapbook, which I wasn’t sure if it would be a good thing because it looks so busy. But one of the lovely ladies in my group shared that, when she sees the neat, single-column layout of most study guides, she answers the questions as if she’s taking a test. This seems to promote rote “Sunday School” responses rather than more thoughtful answers. She likes the scrapbook format because it lends itself to more creative thinking. I completely agree! And I’ve discovered that I’ve spent more time contemplating the questions in this study.

I also like that the scripture being studied is included in the workbook. But I do miss flipping back and forth in my own Bible. I suppose I could seek out the Scriptures in my Bible even though they’re included.

Video: The teaching for session 2, “I Am Worn Out,” comes from Isaiah 40:31. I thoroughly enjoy Angela’s charming manner and her warm and inviting personality. I am not crazy about how the “fill in the blanks” for her video teaching comes mostly from the headings of the workbook lessons. I will have to mentally mine the video content a bit more aggressively to get something out of it.

One nugget of truth that I want to remember from the video teaching is: when you wait in hope for the Lord, He comes! Praise Jesus!

Class Activity/Discussion: During our class discussion, we learned that we are all worn out to a certain extent. Some of us were worn out and didn’t realize it. Many of us loved the realization that Jesus didn’t heal everyone or go everywhere. This truth freed us from having to do everything we think we must and seek God’s best for us instead.

One of our ladies loves how God cleanses us when we ask Him to, and the immediate refreshment that follows our request for Him to make us clean. Several of us resolved to make a habit of confessing to God and asking for cleansing. This led us to talk about using ACTS (Adoration – Confession – Thanksgiving – Supplication) prayers to restore our focus on Jesus and refresh us.

Finally, we determined that we must fight for our faith even if it means having to get up a little earlier in the morning to spend time with God first thing so you’re prepared for whatever the day brings. You will absolutely get out of your relationship with Christ what you put into it because He always brings the ultimate of Himself to share with you.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

REVIEW: Veil of Pearls by MaryLu Tyndall

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to MaryLu Tyndall and her publisher for sending me a copy of "Veil of Pearls" to review for them. I am truly grateful for this generosity. I really appreciate the time, effort and expense it takes to make a reviewer copy available to me.

MaryLu Tyndall’s latest masterpiece, “Veil of Pearls” is not your typical Christian romantic adventure tale. It is the entertaining and thought-provoking story of Althea Claymore, a slave who has escaped from a plantation on the island of Barbados. Since her fair complexion allows her to pass for a white woman, she changes her name to Adalia Winston and finds herself working as an herbal healer in Charleston, South Carolina. Her vocation leads to a meeting with Morgan Rutledge, the seemingly spoiled son of a wealthy South Carolina plantation owner, and a love that she never thought she would ever know. But will that love be enough to sustain her if the secret of her race should be discovered or if Sir Walter, her owner, should ever find her.

Morgan has inner demons as well. He cannot fathom life without the affluence that the Rutledge name and money brings. He also feels a call from the sea. What will he have to give up to fulfill God’s plan for his life?

This beautifully written novel involved me so completely with its plot and themes that I frequently found myself wondering to what I might be enslaved. It also led me to ask myself what price I would be willing to pay to save someone I love. The characters in this novel are carefully and skillfully crafted. The detail with which Ms. Tyndall creates the inner struggle of each character as they work out their faith is inspiring and encouraging. The opulence of Charleston society is richly painted throughout the book. I was transported to the early 1800s south where slavery was an acceptable way of life and appearances meant everything to success. Wait. Doesn’t sound much different than today, does it? Thank you, MaryLu for another wonderful stand-alone novel that has already changed the way I think and pray.