As long as I live there will be something worth fighting for, worth writing for, and worth dying for.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

kata prothesis

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

kata prothesis: according to His purpose.

I read over this passage this morning as I chew on Romans.

For those of you new to this concept, in college I learned a form of Bible study which literally tears every verse apart. I have nicknamed it 'chewing.' We had to diagram the entire book of Philemon. Since then, I have a newfound appreciation for reading portions of Scripture 1 or 2 verses at a time and really studying it as opposed to speed-reading through 6 chapters and walking away thinking, "Uh, what did I just read?"

At any rate, I was looking through the Greek words in this text and found something highly interesting. The word for purpose in Romans 8:28 is prothesis (not to be confused with prosthesis- a medical term). The definition threw me. Prothesis, in Greek, is the word for the shewbread used in the Levitical temple.

That threw a wrench in my morning. Can you imagine reading that verse, " them that are the called according to His shewbread?" I was inclined to believe that there was a bigger meaning or something I was missing. So, a study in Romans, led to a study on shewbread.

In Sunday school, we are studying Leviticus. The teacher encouraged us to find Christ on every page. This could apply to any part of the Old Testament that addresses the Tabernacle or the sacrificial system.

The shewbread is put on display before the Lord. The loaves set on a table before od. It was continually there. Now you may think, "What on earth is the purpose of placing bread on a table?" It represents Christ's sacrifice. The loaves are continually before the Holy One, as is Christ. On the Sabbath, the loaves are replaced, a portion is sprinkled with frankincense and offered to God. As was Christ (but only once, mind you).

So what does that have to do with 'purpose.' Well, simply put, the 'purpose' in Romand 8:28 is salvation. Sometimes we like to put our own meaning on that purpose. We like to tweek the interpretation to make us feel warm and fuzzy. But His purpose is salvation, plain and simple. It is not to give a nice, cozy, cushy life, it is to work in your life, salvation. That may mean some hard times, but you can rest assured that those hard time will work for your benefit (for good) kata prothesis.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Battling the Electronic Princes

The common question is:

What impact are video games having on young people (men in particular)?

Entertain this line of thought with me for a moment.

What impact are other people having on young people (men in particular) that pushes them toward video games?

A thought burst into my mind this weekend. I was sitting in my grandparents' living room playing Halo with my youngest brother. It is how he and I bond. I figure it more plausible for me to play video games with him than it is for him to start cooking with me. I will confess, I am more the damsel in distress than I am a sidekick. He is constantly barraged with "Jonathan, where did you go?" "JJ, what kind of gun is this?" "What button do I pull to shoot again?" "Wait a did I get here?" or the classic "Jonathan, HELP ME! He's beating me up! HELP!" It is certain that he spends more time telling me to, "Stay back; it might get messy in here" than he does playing.

I realized something this weekend.

He is protecting me.

In one of the only ways he knows how, he is protecting me.

I take very seriously my role as an oldest sister with two younger brothers. Those two will someday, Lord willing, be husbands, fathers. My part in their lives right now is to prepare them for that. I have the privilege and responsibility to 'grow men.' I get to stand there and offer a polite clearing of the throat if the door in front of me is not opened.

I am training them to be warrior-princes. To be poets. To be the best husbands and fathers that they can be by making them the best brothers they can be. I have Jonthan trained to offer his arm if we are crossing a street or if we are in a crowd. This past weekend, there was a very large, very strong, very scary questionnable character following me around the library. Justin has become observant enough that he realized my plight and quickly placed his 5'11" 200 pound frame between myself and the threat.

So, how does this all tie in?

For years, I have heard it told that men like being the warriors. The heros that rush in and save the day. That's how they are wired; that is who they are. But the modern-day woman is attempting to be a little heroin all her own. I have witnessed incidents where a poor unsuspecting gentleman has nearly lost his head for opening a lady's door. (The nerve!)

Is it any wonder that some men are just drawn to video games, then? Games where they get to save the damsel in distress from all the big ugly, four-headed, alien things. Games where they can die and come back to life immediately and just give it another go. After this weekend, it doesn't suprise me. Not in the least.

Not all video games encourage unnecessary violence. I don't think video games are all wrong. In fact, I do enjoy them, as stupid as they make me feel sometimes. There is just so much concern about the pull they have on our young people, especially when it comes to young men. It should be of no suprise. Men are drawn to video games like girls are drawn to fairy tales. Inside that world of make-believe lies everything that our hearts were designed to be: warriors and princesses.

You want to get a young man you know away from the gaming system? Take on the responsibility of allowing him to be a hero in your own life. He doesn't have to be your blood brother. At this moment I have many many brothers in Christ. Men whose lives I strive to make better by just being a lady. Men who have made my life better by being heros, 'big brothers' to me.

It stands as a challenge: to take the heroics of the video game and allow them to be lived out in real life.

Maybe I am totally off-base, but it is certainly food for thought.

You never know for sure how your actions affect the lives of those around you.

Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. 1 Tim 4:12


A Video game Fun Fact:

A friend just shared this with me (one of my 'big brothers'). The opening theme for Civilization IV is actually The Lord's Prayer in Swahili! To hear the music, visit the composer's site.

Now, next time you have a friend playing this, use it as an opportunity to witness!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Let me be wasted

People ask me why I chose to do 'this.' Whatever 'this' may be.

My five year high school reunion is this summer. People I haven't spoken with in years are suddenly taking interest in where I am, what I'm doing, what I have been up to. See, I graduated high school with big dreams. I was the one who was 'going places.' People, I'm sure, expect me to be a doctor or something impressive by now, but I'm not. Even members of my family expect me to be something 'more.' Those I love dearest are disappointed at my lack of 'success.' Opposition comes from every side.

But I am grateful for the people that God puts in my life. People who encourage me and remind me of why I do 'this.' Why I do not pursue a climb up the corporate ladder. Why I serve here, right where I stand. Why I spend all day working at a job that is much less than enjoyable and nearly all of my free time writing or working with teenagers. Someone told me I have no life. On the contrary, I have an abundant life.

I think I needed to be reminded of that today. I stood and talked for nearly 20 minutes with a dear family from my church. They have been such a blessing to me. Today I probably shared more with them than I ever have with anybody. Had it not been during church, there might have tears. It is not easy being transparent with people. It is not easy reliving the disappointment that others express in me. It is not easy reliving the disappointment that, at times, I know I have been. But they, this family, are a beautiful picture of grace. Embracing and understanding that what I am doing now is what I believe God would have me to do, even if it does seem 'reckless' or a 'waste of a perfectly good life' as some would say.

Let me be wasted.

After that discussion, and a moving message about mothers, a woman at my church pulled me aside and reminded me of a song. She asked me if I had ever heard it and asked me to put it on my site for people to listen to. Yes, I have heard, though I dare say I may have never actually listened to it.

The words are touching, real and so true of my own life. I love the chorus:
"I've come to pour my praise on Him, like oil, from Mary's alabaster box. Don't be angry if I wash His feet with my tears and dry them with my hair. You weren't there the night He found me, when He wrapped His loving arms around me. And you don't know the cost of the oil from my alabaster box."

How quick are we to judge the worth of another's service? Or the worth of another's worship? The worth of another's life?

You were not there when Jesus found me. No one knows the change He has made in my life. I do not fully understand the change He has made in yours. If He calls me to serve, I will serve. If He calls you to be a lawyer, than be a lawyer. If He calls to be a missionary, be a missionary. It is a life of abandon, a life of continual, sacrificial worship that brings an abundant life. I don't care how many trophies you have. I don't care how many friends you have. Neither does He. He cares about how much of you He has.

When this woman brought in her box and broke it at His feet, half the people couldn't believe she had even dared come to Jesus, the other half couldn't believe she had wasted her precious oil on Jesus. Funny the extremes we go to. On one hand, we are esteemed unworthy of grace, on the other grace is esteemed unworthy of us. Yet, God, in an act of unprecedented love, provided a sacrifice in Himself that His holiness and justice demanded.

I am unworthy of grace, yet I possess it. For that I rejoice. For that I owe Him every last bit of my being. For that I owe Him my every breath, my every movement, my every word. I owe Him my alabaster box and more. Call it a waste if you must, but if it be for the glory and honor of my Saviour,

Let me be wasted.

Thursday, May 8, 2008



How many times do we use that word, in a day? Working with teens, I hear it all the time. A guy flips a trick on a skateboard and a chorus of "Dude! That was wicked awesome!"s comes from his friends. Someone serves an ace in volleyball and you hear, "Awesome serve!"

We use that word alot. In doing so, we have destroyed it. Why does it matter? Because 'awesome' is a word used to describe God. No, you won't find the word 'awesome' in the Bible. But you will find 'awe' and every time it is used, it is used in reference to God. Look it up:

Ps 4:4
But know that the LORD hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the LORD will hear when I call unto him. Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.

Ps 33:8
Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.

Ps 119:161
Princes have persecuted me without a cause: but my heart standeth in awe of thy word.

Dictionary definition of 'awesome': an adjective, expressive of awe.
Dictionary definition of 'awe': totally cool, amazing, radical....wrong

The real dictionary definition of awe is: an emotion variously combining dread, veneration, and wonder that is inspired by authority or by the sacred or sublime

Yeah, we don't use it like that- at all.

In November of last year, I devoted seven weeks to intense study. It wasn't as intense as I had intended, but God did teach me so much. During that time, I began a book, "Gripped by the Greatness of God." Attractive title...amazing book.

In one of the chapters, the author addresses this concept of standing in awe in front of God.

First, let me point out, that if you are standing, you are not moving. In every one of the verses cited above and in even just the definition of the word 'awe' one develops a mental picture of being stopped speechless. (That, unfortunately, is how we came about to misuse the word). We are standing...still...enthralled by whatever it is that has caught our attention. Standing still.

How many times do we approach God with an agenda? A spiritual to-do list. We walk up to Him, say our 'Thank You for this day, Thank You for this and such. Bless the missionaries. Keep my family safe. And now, I want this this this this this this and this and yeah, that's it. Amen.' We walk into our prayer closet, impatiently tapping our foot and checking our watch like we're waiting for an oncoming train. Let me start by encouraging you, that the largest and strongest of any plant has deep roots. Deep roots that were developed by holding still. Approach God with no agenda and with time and see what happends.

Now, on to 'awe.' In previous chapters of this book, the author has shared an amazing study in the holiness of God. He leads the reader through Isaiah 6. We read it and think, 'Ug, Old Testament, who cares?' You should. The Old Testament paints the picture of God that allows the New Testament to show us our need for Christ.

When you have a second, read through Isaiah 6, and get a glimpse of the holiness of God. For now, I'm going to direct your attention to Psalm 33: 6-9.

By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap: he layeth up the depth in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.

That, folks, is a big God. That is something to stand in awe of.

If you follow the Jewish faith, they regard the name of God very very highly. There are certain names for God that they won't even mention and when they write 'God' they write it 'G-d' so that they are certain that they are not taking His name in vain. Then here we are using it all the time, right along with 'awesome.' Just not the way it was supposed to be used.

The author of "Gripped" leveled a challenge at his readers. He said that, in his house, his children are not allowed to use the word awesome unless they are talking about God. He encourages his readers to do the same. I encourage you to do this as well.

As I stopped using 'awesome' to describe plays in a game or someone's cooking, my relationship with God changed. 'Awesome' became, what I call, a sacred word. It is a word 'sanctified' (set-apart) for something. Awesome became a sacred word for me to describe God and usually in my prayer to Him.

As I began to use it solely for Him, I noticed something. It began to carry the meaning it was intended to have. When I pray, 'God, You are an awesome God' I get caught on the word and have to think about it. As I do, I realize how awesome of a God He truly is.

Still aren't convinced? Read the final chapters of Job. Job has had a string of 'bad luck' and gets advice from three close friends. In my honest opinion, his friends were idiots, but I am sure that there was a time when I would have given the same advice. They are convinced that Job has somehow screwed up. Their basic emotion is: "Wow! Job. What did you do? You must have done something real bad for God to be doing this to you. You need to get your heart right and do whatever it is He told you."

Unlike Jonah, Job's problems were not caused by disobedience. On the contrary, they were caused by obedience! And after chapter upon chapter of tolerating this poor advice, God finally steps onto the scene and pretty much tells Job, "Step up and face me like a man." God spends the remainder of this book showing His majesty. In essence, He is telling Job: "Do you understand who I am? Where you there when I made the world? Where you there when I created the laws of science? Answer Me! Where you there?" Read those chapters. Pay attention to the words. Pause. Reflect. And stand in awe of your Creator, the Calmer of the Seas, the Judger of the Nations, the Master of the Tides, the King of Kings, the Jealous one, the Sacrifice, the Kinsman Redeemer, the Spotless Lamb, your Shield and Buckler, your Fortress forever, your Messiah, your Saviour.

Stand in awe.