Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace

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For a child has been born for us,

   a son given to us;

Government rests upon his shoulders;

   and he is named

Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,

   Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

His government shall grow continually,

   and there shall be endless peace

for the throne of David and his kingdom

He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness

   from this time onwards and for evermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. Isaiah 9:6-7

This week at work seems to be crazier than the week before Thanksgiving, so I slacked on yesterday’s Advent post. However, the readings in my study are absolutely wonderful. Yesterday’s reading was Micah 5:2-5, and today’s is Isaiah 9:6-7. Both scriptures bring forth the idea of peace through the reign of our everlasting king, Jesus Christ.

I love how the authors prophesy about the coming of Christ in, both, their time, as well as the future. With the rising tensions of political power today, the world, desperately, needs something to hold onto and hope for. Both of the above scriptures are a reminder that we are, still, in waiting for our Beloved King.

I can’t remember a time where I was allowed the luxury of feeling peaceful. I sought for it, but, never, had I truly understood what it would feel like to just be in the moment without some kind of anxiety for the future.

As I studied these two scriptures, I realized that, even if life on earth felt “easy” and peaceful, it would be a false sense of security. We are not given the right to eternity on earth. We gave that away in the very beginning. We do not own these homes, cars, and families like we think we do. These are earthly gifts that do not follow us at the end of our journey. So what, exactly, is the point?

The point is to learn how to love unconditionally in the meantime. The point is to learn how to rest in faith while we wait for our Father.. or as Isaiah says it, “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace,” to come rescue us from the mess we have gotten ourselves into through sin.

I am struggling with the idea of patience and unconditional love right now. As a mother of boys, adolescence can be somewhat brutal. My household has been in the midst of middle school madness for 2 years now and, boy, is this momma tired.

When it seems that life has finally settled down and I can finally enjoy that unfamiliar peace, my 12 year old decides to wreak havoc on our 7th grade year, as if 6th grade wasn’t difficult enough! He has gotten his self in quite the messes here lately and I can’t seem to catch a break from the phone calls from his teachers or emails from other parents.

After 9 days straight of working, and a heartbreaking phone call from my son’s teacher, all I could do was sink myself into bed, last night, and cry myself to sleep. I am a mom who exhausts the idea of teaching life lessons around every corner. I believe in consequences and discipline. I raise my son in church. I teach him about respect and manners… and, yet, he leaves my hands each day, goes out into his world, and turns into something so out of character in the way he is brought up. The dude is practically on house arrest with no contact to the outside world, at the moment, so I am running out of discipline options, here.

Then, I sit down and read the words of Isaiah this morning. I am reminded that I don’t have to live in fear for Grayson’s future. For whatever reason, his journey through middle school needs to be a hard one. I am not the author of his life. I am only fortunate enough to play a supporting role. I have got to stop battling with my own insecurities over the situation. You see, just because it feels like other’s cannot see how wonderful our children are, doesn’t mean they aren’t destined for a promising future. I mean, some people even thought Jesus was a troublemaker… right??

I don’t want to justify Grayson’s actions. I just want to learn how to love him through his bad decisions, even when they effect my own inner peace. Just as God does for me.

Through my advent study this morning, I was reminded that Jesus Christ is the only Prince of Peace and I need to rest in Him during these trying times with my son. It is only in His name that we find security and stability. Before He was ever born, His name was mighty. I have got to learn to trust God’s plan for my son and remain steadfast in the way I raise him, regardless how painful.

If only they came with instructions.

Lord, bless our future generations and all that they are exposed to. Let the evil in the world fall off of their shoulders and bring them closer to your protection. In your name, I pray. Amen.

Sweet child, live free.

Love, D

Advent: A Lesson in the Importance of Bible Study

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

 

Lately, I have been trying my hand at Bible interpretation. I read a verse from my Bible, then, compare my interpretation to multiple commentaries to examine its theological context in all its glory. Since the beginning of this practice, I have become more and more astounded at how I misinterpret the text, which inspires me to dig deeper with every verse of scripture I study. It’s a wonder why it takes so long to read..I say this with a happy spirit! It’s a plethora of knowledge. From the very first sip, my thirst has tripled!

I am beginning an Advent Bible study this week. I wanted to document the experience and share what I have learned on each day. It is intended to be my way of living the anticipation of Jesus’ birth just like the apostles did in The Old Testament. My biggest desire right now is to learn how to love with compassion, forgiveness, and humility, just like Jesus. So, I decided to take a walk with Him this Christmas season.

I started today off with the above scripture. I used a different study method this morning. Since I am using Love God Greatly’s 2016 Advent study, God With Us, I tried my hand at their acclaimed SOAP study method. The idea of this method is to write the scripture out, make your observation, discuss life application of that scripture, and, then, pray over that lesson. I must say, I really enjoyed it!

I got super excited, though, after comparing my observation to the commentary of my Women’s Evangelical Commentary of The Old Testament. So much so, that I ran into the kitchen to begin writing this blog post and found myself in a discussion about this scripture with my, bright, 12 year old son, Grayson, over breakfast. I read it to him and asked him to tell me his interpretation of the verse. Much to my surprise, he interpreted it similar to its commentary.

We had, recently, watched an incredible  interpretation of the Book of Genesis by Tim Mackie with The Bible Project. (If you have not experienced this caricature inspired commentary, I suggest running to your Bible app and doing so immediately!) It connects the dots in ways that I have never seen, and Grayson subconsciously matched this verse to the video interpretation, without the video stating the exact verse. I was so impressed!

My “aha!” moment came in verse 15, “I will put emnity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers.” I know this sounds so amateur, but I was, first, visualizing the hatching of a snakes egg. Then, it settled on my heart when I realized a modern distinction to this verse. Think of all the Biblical referencing that is being stripped from our society in this day and age. I thought, what if satan’s offspring could very well be a prophecy of the animosity between believers and nonbelievers?

I don’t know about you guys, but I notice the eye rolls and snickers when I passionately speak of my faith. Matter of fact, I have a friend who is nipping at the bit to sit down with me to discredit the Bible. Doesn’t that sound similar to what God predicted? I love him dearly and I would never put him down for his lack of faith, because I don’t have to. I can love him as is, just where he is. The reason is because I am so happily solid in my faith and in what I have found in the arms of God. I don’t want anyone taking that away from me, because, frankly, I choose to live in hope that the life I am working towards is so much greater than anything I have experienced here on earth. I live in hope and I genuinely want to be a living testimony to His grace and mercy.

The second lesson for me was when God issued Satan’s punishment, I couldn’t distinguish who He was talking about with the use of the pronouns, she, then he. My observation was simply that when a believer’s faith is weak, Satan will be “nipping at their heel.” When, in all actuality, God was speaking of Jesus’ coming.When He says, “he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel,”  He is actually pronouncing, as Tim Mackie puts it in his commentary, the prophecy of the wounded victor, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Guys.. this is why I am so on fire with studying the Bible! It is so much more than what we see when we sit down to read it for the first time! The Lord blessed my life the day I started attending women’s conferences and, then, again when I started seminary two months ago. The Word is not a topical book. It is a beautiful study of multiple genre’s of literature all wrapped up in one amazing book about the ultimate Creator of our lives. It is not to be read. It is to be lived.

I hope this study rests on your hearts and I encourage you all to share with me what you are reading during this season! You can go to my Facebook page (link at the bottom of the page) and start a discussion. I would be delighted to participate!!

Facebook Link: Advent: A Lesson in the Importance of Bible Study

Sweet child, live free

Love, D

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The Self in Cleansing

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There I was. Irritated. I had been working so hard on taming my words, yet here they were flying out of my mouth like I had never made an effort. This is, by far, my biggest flaw and, in that moment, it seemed as though I wasn’t equipped to conquer it any time soon.

The Sunday after I failed miserably, our pastor’s words hit home. That’s when I realized I am suspended in an uncomfortable space between my old self and the spiritually mature self. She is the self in cleansing. She is living in the divine space where the ashes of old are sifted through to polish and refine what’s buried beneath. It is in this place where she must truly be still and allow the purging of her surroundings draw to completion. The self in cleansing undergoes this purification process to be redressed in a more Christlike patience. She is to rest in an unfamiliar stillness and loosen her grip on unfulfilling dreams she desperately clung to for an identity that can only be found in Christ.  This is where God arms her with grace and understanding while relationships and things she invested time, love, money, and energy in dissolve. The self in cleansing is the stage where we are practicing the art of letting go with integrity. It is the stage of refinement.

 

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Once the beauty of these words settled on the screen of my computer, God revealed a similar process to me… the refinement of gold. In order for this valuable metal to be made pure, it must be extracted from the earth as ore, crushed, then processed depending on its nature. For example, higher grades of ore require a more extensive level of processing than lower grade. Then, according to providencemetals.com, the actual refinement process of gold happens when impurities are stripped through melting in high temperatures, treated with chloride, then passed through an electrolytic cell which results in 99.99% pure gold. In other words, it takes an extreme process to bring gold to its pure state to make it a metal of obscene value.

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Isn’t it amazing how similar that sounds to a person who is spiritually maturing in their relationship with the Lord? The ugly effects of sin, such as anger, has to be extracted from our heart. Old plans are crushed to reveal a bigger picture that leads to the spiritual maturing process. The extent of maturing needed is dependant on the nature of our brokenness. Then, refinement happens when we are suspended in extreme conditions, where we are required to sit still while God purifies our lives as new christians! I feel like my job right now is to sit still without saying a word, let nature take its course, whether good or bad, and let God remove all that doesn’t line up with the integrity of my life as a new Christian.  I believe so many people avoid taking those first steps because it seems like so much work. Truth is, it’s tons of work! But what is our other option?? Staying stuck in a ridiculously difficult, meaningless life that requires three times the effort to struggle through while sucking every bit of energy that we were meant to use to love others? Dramatic? Maybe. But we all must understand that the most valuable element of life can be found at the end of refinement and cleansing… a Christlike peace in trusting God is waiting for us! That is what true happiness is!

The more I learned about gold, the more intrigued I became. I wanted to understand where this precious metal was first found. So, I buried myself in an article from ZME Science where I was introduced to the theory of how gold got to Earth. It said that about 200 million years after the formation of a pretty important planet, meteorites loaded with incredible metals plunged onto its surface. Molten iron sank to its center to form the core of what we now call Earth… the only planet, that we know of, in the universe that is home to life29D2A57D-58CD-4E0F-9DCF-898D50D7AB0AWhile reading about this theory, I, also, found out an interesting fact! Gold can match the human body’s temperature when worn as jewelry! Think about this… the earth’s most valuable metal lives at the core of the only place God’s most valuable creation exists. Like people, gold becomes moldable under extreme conditions and, if worn, it can actually coordinate its temperature to become a physical part of us. 

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According to britannica.com, “Gold’s chemical stability is based on the relative instability of the compounds it forms with oxygen and water.”  As I dug deeper to understand why God would want me to dissect this process, I had a revelation. I began to think about how environmental and social elements throughout my life effected my emotional, mental, and spiritual stability. I began using my words to defend myself when I was very young. Taming my tongue is going to be my biggest battle and God is removing impurities from my life so I will be less tempted. Patience is required on my part, and, obviously, I was going to need a lot of it. I have known for quite some time that my life was undergoing some kind of major transition. Now that I understand that God was bringing me closer to His plan, I see the insability effect of gold happening in reverse in my life. I am witnessing the destruction of environmental and social elements of my life that do not align with scripture or His assignment on my life. Doing this research made me realized the self in cleansing is a necessary process of refinement that will eventually expose the most valuable trait that will be most useful for leading others closer to God’s mercy.

Lord, I ask that you watch over me during this season of purification. Give me the wisdom of discernment while you remove what’s necessary from my life. Help me to forgive others as quickly as you forgive me. In your name, I pray. Amen.

Sweet child, be free.

Love, D

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