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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Aquilla and Priscilla: Everything is Better When Working Together

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Don’t you ladies hate when you get home from work to see that your husband didnt go to the grocery store like you asked? When asked why, his response, “I thought I would wait for you.” I immediately kick back with, “REALLY?!?!? I have been working all day! You couldn’t do this one thing??? SERIOUSLY??”  Now, let me say this, I don’t want to sound like I am complaining about my husband nor do I want to sound boastful, but I am very fortunate to have a husband who cooks, cleans, and keeps me organized. I have actually admired him from around the corner while he sets my sons clothes out for school the next day. I, like most women, get caught up in those selfish moments when I forget that maybe my husband just wants to run a household errand with me. Why is it so easy to jump to a negative assumption about their intentions when we have no idea what they are thinking? I don’t know about you ladies, but it’s hard enough trying to examine what my own emotional female brain is thinking, much less his male brain.

Over Thanksgiving break, while my husband was at work and my son was visiting family, I hosted a “home retreat” for myself. I wanted to start doing an in depth study of the book of Romans and get some writing done without distractions. So, I brought all of my electronics, especially my phone, to my friend across town, and left them with her for 3 days. During my study, I learned about a couple, Aquilla and Priscilla, who worked with Paul. The more I learned about them in their character profiles through my study bible, I had so many “Aha!” moments regarding my own relationship and how appreciative I need be!

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Isn’t it horrible how quick we can stop appreciating the things that we once begged for?? 

My Life Application Study Bible (you can find the information below) mentions how Aquilla and Priscilla were never mentioned seperately from each otherThis couple apparently did everything together, especially in reference to the pursuit of spiritual education. To me, they sounded like the biblical example of the perfect couple! My flawed envious spirit momentarily wanted exactly what they had. Then, all of a sudden, I couldn’t help but snicker, because I had forgotten to appreciate the gift in something as simple as a grocery run with my husband. The sad part….as I thought about how selfish I can be sometimes, I was reminded of a lonely time in my life where I cried myself to sleep and prayed that God would send someone to me to do things, like grocery shop, with. Isn’t it horrible how quick we can stop appreciating the things that we once begged for?? 

There have been times where I have gotten caught up in complaining because my husband and I are SO different. I am a free spirited social butterfly and he is a calculated and logical introvert. I love to hike and camp in the wilderness, and he likes the idea of resorts and fine dining. His ideas of a perfect vacation include walking and shopping while mine include making mango salsa in a jungalow without makeup and clothes. I remember how boring life felt when we were a year into our relationship. It hit me that we, seriously, had nothing in common. At the time, it was easy to forget what had attracted me to him in the first place, which was his level of responsibility, not his likeness to go tent camping for a week. Granted, if I were to ask God which of these qualities are more important in a significant other, I would bet He’d say, “Girl, my standards for you is a man of responsibility and character.” 

The part about Aquilla and Priscilla that I loved the most is that they used their own home for evangelism. They didn’t set out to eagerly build an empire like modern day couples do. They made their income as tentmakers but built their lives around ministry together. They didn’t need lavish lifestyles to prove the competency of their ministry. How amazing and peaceful does this sound? 

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I lost track of my family, my self and God along the way….all in the name of “success.” 

When the idea of their simple, Christ led life sat on my heart, I sighed. 3 years ago, I opened a hair salon with the hopes that business would explode and I would, finally, be successful in my industry. I named it, L’eau De Vie Salone, which means “Water of life.” Not long after I came up with its name, I attended a women’s conference, where I was, first, saved. It was there that I read John 4:14, “but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”  From that moment on, I said that my busines will be a place where we will work with a servant’s heart. My water, I thought, would be serving others in His name.

My business grew faster than I could keep up with as a one person business owner. I got so overwhelmed that it bacame impossible to stay grounded. I stopped going to church. I lost the meaning of the word, “no.” I put my family, especially my son, on the backburner to slave over the approval of the public so that people would want to return. It didn’t feel like success. It felt selfish and vain. And with the rise of the term, “selfie,” I began to feel less like a person who enjoyed serving others and more like a disposable means to shallow. The more people demanded perfection from me, the more resentful I became, and the less energy and love I had available to work with a servants heart. I lost my family, my self and God along the way.. all in the name of “success.” Have you ever met a person like that? They aren’t fun to be around. The interesting thing about being saved, is that now I can look back on my life and pinpoint every single time God has brought me back to His reach. Just like a shephard does when one sheep out of the 100  strays…. He leaves the 99 to retrieve it!

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I was completely unaware that I would find myself and God in that dirt.

As I sit here thinking about the ministry work done through Aquilla and Priscilla’s home, I look out the bay window of my dining room into my back yard where I see the garden that saved my soul. It is the place where I spent months, barefooted, tilling and preparing soil for seeds that would eventually blossom into the most beautiful variety of flowers and colors. I was completely unaware that I would find myself and God in that dirt. Yet, here we are, almost 2 years later, and every plant planted, with the exception of one stubborn spot, has bloomed. Today, sitting a few yards away from that garden, is a canary yellow shed with white trim and a soft blue door, and windows on every wall that will soon be the Secret Garden Bungalow where I can finally lay my worries to rest and devote my life to a more Christ centered work with an unwavering servant’s heart.

The moral of this story is that we can learn a lot from Aquilla and Priscilla. As my bible reminded me, “God does not want us to focus on what is happening between a husband and wife, but what is being achieved through them.” He does not want us to put focus on the material contents of our homes together, as much as how we use our home to glorify Him. He does not expect every couple to become church leaders, but to grow in their spiritual education together, which will result in a deeper level of intimacy. So, ladies, maybe it begins with late night grocery store runs after work. Let’s use that time to build a very important part of God’s kingdom, instead of beating our husband’s up over it. Let’s invest in our lives, at home first, with our husband’s to become living testimonies of God’s power in us! 

Dear Heavenly Father,

I thank you for trusting Jacques as the leader of our home. I am forever grateful for his kind heart and willingness to follow in Your example. I thank you for our home, which I will now use to serve Your name. I ask that you remove all my selfish tendencies so that I have ample opportunity to grow in my faith with my husband by serving on Your behalf.

In your name I pray. Amen.

***P.S. The study bible that I use regularly is the New Living Translation Life Application Sudy Bible by Tyndale House Publishers. It is absolutely amazing!

Sweet child, live free.

Love, D

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