Author Archives: Beth Ann

About Beth Ann

I'm into Christian Music and play acoustic guitar, sing on the choir and I am active in our local Via de Cristo movement.

That Little Blessing

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The Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;

the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. Numbers 6:24-26

On Sunday mornings, if you’re in church, you may hear this blessing right before you leave. If you’re waiting impatiently, wanting to get on with your life, then you may not give this the importance that it deserves.

It’s just that thing that the pastor says before we go, right? WRONG. So what is the big deal? This blessing from the Old Testament was given to Aaron, so the Blessing is called The Aaronic Blessing. Let me expand the scripture and change the translation. The above is just three verses in the New International Version so it sounds like what you hear in church. Below is from The Message by Eugene Peterson and I’ve started the verses at verse 22:

22-23 God spoke to Moses: “Tell Aaron and his sons, This is how you are to bless the People of Israel. Say to them,

24 God bless you and keep you,

25 God smile on you and gift you,

26 God look you full in the face and make you prosper.

27 In so doing, they will place my name on the People of Israel—

I will confirm it by blessing them.”

So this blessing is not just coming from your pastor, it’s coming from God!! God told Aaron to bless the people of Israel and to bless them with God’s name. If you put Aaronic Blessing in a search engine on the internet you’ll find so many teachings and studies just on these six verses.

When the pastor says this blessing in our church, I bow my head and thank the Lord for His Blessing and I accept it. It seems like such a small thing at the end of the service, but it has big meaning in our lives.

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Blessings

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We all think of Blessings as being the good in our life.  Nice house, newer car, nice clothes, good job and on and on.  We really need to look back at the “bad” things that have happened in our life and see whether those experiences were blessings.

I’ve written about some of my experiences here.  Sixteen years of caregiving for my husband taught me patience.  I learned to wait on the Lord.  I also learned to trust the Lord, that he had everything under control.  My faith grew.  Yes, I had times when I would say, “When, Lord, when?”.  Just wondering when my life would change.  Sometimes I felt stuck.  I couldn’t just walk away from my husband, but there were many things that I wanted to do and couldn’t because I had to take care of him.  I learned to not let the bitterness overcome me, to give it to the Lord.

So, you would hardly think that having a husband diagnosed with a brain tumor and then having to take care of him, watching him slowly (very slowly) deteriorate and then eventually die would be a blessing.  Romans 8:28 says it all:

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

I’ve put this song up on the blog before.  Laura Story’s husband also had a brain tumor.  He is still doing well from what I have been able to hear.  She wrote this song after he was diagnosed.

 

Being a Christian: How Jesus Redeems All of Life – Book Review

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Being a Christian, by Jason K. Allen, is a good book to read if you are a new Christian or just wanting to know what Christianity is all about. He will take you through all the different areas in life and will show how the Gospel impacts every part.  He starts with the personal and then moves on to Marriage, Family, Time, Money and Work.  It’s a very easy read and has scripture throughout.

This would be a good book to have handy when helping new Christians in their walk, so even if you’ve been a Christian for awhile, this book would be a good one to add to your library.

Mr. Allen is the President of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and is one of the youngest presidents in all of American higher education.  He has written several other books and has a website, jasonkallen.com,  with a blog and podcasts.

For more information or to purchase this book, go to the following link:

http://www.bhpublishinggroup.com/products/being-a-christian

Piety and Direction

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On a Via de Cristo weekend, one of the talks is called Piety. I didn’t think very much of this word when I first heard it because, probably like you, I thought of a Bible thumping, scripture quoting person that gets on your nerves really fast. You really don’t want to be around this person who always has a scripture answer to every question that you ask. You might just shake your head and wonder what is wrong with this person because they always seem angry. Then there is the opposite of that person, you know, the one that just smiles, goes to church a lot and doesn’t interact with the world around them. They should have a permanent halo over their heads. For both of these “types” you think, “They’re so Heavenly minded they’re no earthly good”. And so you should.

True, or Authentic Piety, is neither of these things. Authentic Piety is an intimate, revitalizing, deepening relationship with God. If you’re not actively working on your relationship with God, to deepen it, make it better, then you are not “Pious”. The examples that I give above are examples of False Piety. False Piety is a superficial, inaccurate or deceptive practice that appears to be Christian. It’s all on the outside, nothing on the inside.

We’ve all done the false piety thing, even in little stuff. Acting a different way in church than you do at home or just going to church because that’s what you’ve always done because that’s the way you were raised. Just going to church doesn’t make you a Christian.

With true Piety, you want to get closer to God and start to do things in your life to make that happen. Going to church regularly is a good start, but when you sing that hymn or praise song, listen to the words. If you go to a traditional church like me, when you go through the Liturgy, really mean the words when you say them. Pay attention to the sermon or even take notes!!

Start small with that and then build to reading the Bible, going to a Bible study or prayer group. Listen to Christian Music on the radio. Build small actions around you that grow your knowledge. As your knowledge of God increases, so will your true piety.

Do I have this this Piety thing down? I don’t. But everyday I try a little harder; try to do a bit more. I’m working on my piety everyday. This is a journey, not something that just comes to you and you have it. Working on getting closer with God does give me a direction in my life. By reading Scripture I hear the voice of the Lord, directing me everyday and that gives me peace.

Love Yourself?

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Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.  Matthew 22:37-39

As I’ve been thinking about the theme for this month my brain keeps coming back to the thought of loving yourself.  I have a really hard time with this concept as a Christian.  I know that God loves me and created me (and God don’t make no junk!) but my brain gets scrambled with the worlds’ concept of loving ourselves.

We are bombarded everyday with advertisements about making ourselves better.  If we do this or buy that we’ll be so much better, so much prettier, so much more desirable as a person.  Beauty products, hair products, vitamins, gym equipment, clothes, shoes; the list goes on and on.  Go to this spa, this gym, this hairdresser and they will make you look wonderful.  Maybe we don’t love ourselves if we are constantly trying to fix something or maybe we love ourselves too much because we spend so much time and money, and we’re worth it?  Then there are the self-esteem and self-image problems and I, truly, don’t even want to go there. There are so many self-help books, just pick a problem and then pick up a book to fix it.

What does loving myself look like?  I look at myself and I see a corrupt, sinful being.  How can I love that?  I know that Jesus loves me and that he died for me.  I was created for a purpose.  That makes me think that, perhaps, I might be worth saving.  Jesus certainly thinks so.

Then I’m to take this new found love for myself and turn it on my neighbor.  Oh boy.  What a task!!  Although, I think that sometimes it’s easier to love our neighbor then it is to love ourselves.  I have no problem taking care of others; I’ve proved that with my care-giving roles.  I have a tough time taking care of myself and I think that is where my problem is.  I need to stop looking at the world for the answer to my dilemma.

As a child of God I should respect and take care of myself so that I’m ready to do God’s will.  I don’t need to go overboard and try to be a fashion or makeup model.  I have to be me, the person God created.  I know, that’s easier said than done.  But in the future, I will try to love myself more as the Lord loves me.  Then it will be easier to love my neighbor and I’m sure that the quality of that love will be much better.

 

 

Blessings

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Michele challenged us a while back to blog about a song that really spoke to our hearts.  I know, I’m just now getting around to this, but I do have many songs that speak to me in so many different ways.  But one song stands out from the rest, “Blessings” by Laura Story.

All of us have times when we wonder if God’s left us.  Life takes a nasty turn and we feel that the Lord has turned his back. When I first heard this song I was struggling to trust the Lord in my situation.  My husband was disabled from a brain tumor and his health was getting worse.  I was still supporting my son and his family, which included two autistic sons.  Sometimes the tension around the house would be thick since my husband and son didn’t always get along and other various things that happen when you mesh two families together.  It was during this time that I first heard the song “Blessings”.  The words struck my heart and found a home there.

After I had heard the song several times I looked up Laura Story and found out that her husband had also had a brain tumor and that was the situation that brought this song about.  That had to be a God thing; her husband had a brain tumor, too?

Here is a quote from Laura Story regarding “Blessings”:

The song shows that we still have more questions than answers. But there’s a decision that I find God is asking us to make. Are we going to judge God based on our circumstances, or are we going to choose to interpret our circumstances based on what we hold to be true about God?

Our circumstances have magnified the blessing of marriage. As high school sweethearts, we faced the strong chance that our long-awaited marriage bond might last just two years. Once you’ve rallied through a life-threatening illness together, the rest of it is like a surprise; every day is a new gift that might not have been there. It’s not as big a deal now if he leaves his socks on the floor.

The words of James 1:2–“Consider it a great joy … whenever you experience various trials”–ring especially true and duly influence the joyful, wisdom-loving tone throughout “Blessings.”

Don’t get the wrong idea. It hasn’t been easy. Everyone wants to be a mature and equipped follower, but would I have signed up had I known what it would take? God has grown us up, deepened our faith, our awareness of our great need for Him as a Savior, daily. We knew it before, but we didn’t see it.

I hope you are as blessed by this song as I continue to be.  Here are the lyrics:

We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love is way too much to give us lesser things

Chorus:
‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not our home

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise

 

The Case for Christ – Book Review

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I just finished reading the book “The Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel and I felt I should mention this book to others.  I love reading articles and books that confirm the Bible in history, and Lee Strobel’s book fits that description perfectly.

A movie has been made from this book and I have to tell you that I haven’t seen the movie, yet.  I’m more a book person and will read the book, if available, before I see the movie.  I’m always asked how the movie compared to the book and usually I have to say that there is always more details in the book.

Now, this book is wonderful for anyone who is wanting to include historic facts to their evangelism.  Lee Strobel, who was once an atheist, goes on a quest to prove Jesus didn’t exist.  His wife came home one day and told him she was now a Christian and he had to prove how wrong she was.   Lee, who is a well known investigative reporter, starts interviewing the experts from all over the country, bringing all the questions and doubts that he and others have raised.  At the end of each chapter there is a list of questions for deliberation or for group study.  Lee gives a full list of citations and a topical index at the end for further study.

The book is in three parts: Examining the Record, Analyzing Jesus and Researching the Resurrection.  In each part is the transcripts of his conversations with each expert.  It’s not what I would call an easy read.  While you are reading you need to pay attention to what is being said.  However, the book flows and pulls you into Lee’s quest up to the part where he makes his own decision to follow Christ.

For any skeptics that are reading this I would encourage you to pick up the book or, at least, see the movie.  For the Christians reading this, I would encourage you to read the book so that you can add some of the references to expand your knowledge of Biblical history.

“Ancient Words” a song by Michael W. Smith kept playing in my head once I got about halfway through this book.  Here are the lyrics and a link to hear the song.

“Ancient Words”
Holy words long preserved, For our walk in this world
They resound with God’s own heart, Oh, let the ancient words impart

Words of Life, words of Hope, Give us strength, help us cope
In this world, where e’er we roam, Ancient words will guide us home

[Chorus:]
Ancient words ever true
Changing me and changing you
We have come with open hearts
Oh, let the ancient words impart

Holy words of our Faith, Handed down to this age
Came to us through sacrifice, Oh heed the faithful words of Christ

Holy words long preserved, For our walk in this world
They resound with God’s own heart, Oh let the ancient words impart

[Chorus:]
Ancient words ever true
Changing me and changing you
We have come with open hearts
Oh, let the ancient words impart

Here is a youtube video of the  song.  I apologize if there are ads; you can’t get away from them these days:

 

A Moment To Breathe – Book Review

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A Moment to Breathe

 

 

During this time of year we all need just a moment to breathe.  I think this devotional book would be good for that reason.  The full title is: A Moment To Breathe; 365 Devotions that Meet You In Your Everyday Mess.  This book is from the (in)courage community.

The days are numbered so you can start anywhere; starts with Day 1 and goes through to Day 365.  Each page is a page of encouragement for everyday living. The stories are true to life and show examples of how we, as women, can live our lives helping and encouraging others.  Each start with a bible verse (indexed in the back of the book) and ends with a thought to take with you during the day or for meditation.

I think it would be a great addition to any woman’s library.

 

http://www.lifeway.com/Product/a-moment-to-breathe-P005796426

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Today is the day that we all sit down with family and eat and eat and eat.  While we’re doing that I have a few things that I’d like all of us to think about.  Part of this month’s theme has gluttony in it.  Gluttony is usually associated with food, but let’s take it to the next level.

Thanksgiving is all about being thankful for what we have.  Gluttony is the opposite of that.  Webster defines is as “greedy or excessive indulgence”.  So why talk about this on Thanksgiving?  We, as a people, need to learn to be thankful for what we have and be content.  The marketing companies in this country are always about having more, or better.  We find ourselves wanting more.

I’ve been there.  We were pretty poor, on Food Stamps and Assistance.  One year the local church came with a box of food, a turkey with all the trimmings.  Needless to say, I cried, and I felt so humble.  Here I was feeling bitter because we couldn’t afford the whole meal and the Lord stepped in and had these wonderful people bring it to me.  Yes, I was very thankful that year.

But I still wanted more out of life.  I wanted the house, the car, the job…  all the things that this world tells us we must have.  Didn’t matter that we had a roof over our heads, food to eat and a vehicle to drive.  I wanted better.  I won’t go into how the Lord brought me to where I am today, but let’s just say that life has never been easy for me.

Through all these years I’ve learned to be content.  Content with what I have, which is more than what many others have.  I have a wonderful family, a roof over my head, food to eat and a loving church family.  What more could I want?

Taking Care of God’s Stuff, pt 2

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Micah 3-10Yesterday I wrote about taking care of God’s stuff in a really simplistic manner.  I even said that I didn’t want to get into a discussion about original sin, free will and the evil in this world.  After I slept on it I thought, why not?  Why not go into the reasons we have so much trouble with this subject?

Our free will got us in trouble from the start.  It’s the Adam and Eve thing.  God wanted us to be with him but to also be free in our decision.  To freely love Him without any problems.  So God created the evil (serpent) and the Tree of Life.  We were to choose Him over the Tree.  But that free will thing got in the way and Adam and Eve got curious…

When I was writing the blog yesterday I could almost hear everyone going “But…”  I agree, this is a really hard thing to do.  We need to take care of everything and everybody.  Do we do that?  No.  And now more challenges have come our way; Puerto Rico, Houston, Florida and the evil that happened out in Las Vegas.  These are large things that are happening.  Many people are there, right now, to help.  If I jumped on a plane to go help I don’t think I would have much to offer, but I would if I had the means to do it.

So we give money to the church or to an organization like Samaritan’s Purse to help.  I’m not knocking that, I wouldn’t be able to go to the corners of the earth to help and they do.  Do we give that magical ten percent? Some do and some don’t.  It really doesn’t matter as long as we give.

But then, what about your neighbors? They weren’t effected by flood.  But they have other needs.  We need to be actively looking around at the needs that surround us.  We need to be asking “Lord, what can I do?”.

In the Old Testament God made it a law that ten percent of the first-fruits should be tithed to Him.  I have one of the scriptures up in the meme at the head of this blog.  God wants us to test him.  But I don’t think that he only means our income.  Yes, we can give of our income and support our church, organizations like Samaritan’s Purse, the local christian radio station, the homeless shelter down the street; the list is endless.  We also need to give of ourselves.  Help our neighbors, friends and others through the needy times.  Be there for them.  Give them hope and encouragement.  Pray for them and for all these other organizations that are the hands and feet of Jesus.  Then we need to get up to join them.