Monday, September 29, 2014

On our Speech | Ephesians Study

Ephesians 5:4
Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.

Added to fornication, uncleanness, and covetousness (which should never be named among us), are:

Filthiness - NT:151 (ahee-skhrot'-ace); from NT:150; shamefulness, i.e. obscenity:

Foolish talking - NT:3473 morologia (mo-rol-og-ee'-ah); from a compound of NT:3474 and NT:3004; silly talk, i.e. buffoonery:

Jesting -  NT:2160 eutrapelia (yoo-trap-el-ee'-ah); from a compound of NT:2095 and a derivative of the base of NT:5157 (meaning well-turned, i.e. ready at repartee, jocose); witticism, i.e. (in a vulgar sense) ribaldry:

These are all individual words, the Greek words not used again the New Testament. They all give the idea of what comes out of the mouth. Looking these words up in the Webster's 1828 dictionary, we find,
Filthiness - 1. The state of being filthy. 2. Foulness; dirtiness; filth; nastiness. 3. Corruption; pollution; defilement by sin; impurity.

Foolish - 1. Void of understanding or sound judgment; weak in intellect; applied to general character. 2. Unwise; imprudent; acting without judgment or discretion in particular things.3. Proceeding from folly, or marked with folly; silly; vain; trifling. 4. Ridiculous; despicable. 5. In scripture, wicked; sinful; acting without regard to the divine law and glory, or to one's own eternal happiness. 6. Proceeding from depravity; sinful; as foolish lusts. 1 Tim 6.

Jesting -
ppr. Joking; talking for diversion or merriment.
n. A joking; concise wit; wit that consists in a trope or verbal figure, in a metaphorical sense of words, or in a double sense of the same word, or in similitude of sound in different words.

Honestly, this is one verse I wrestle with - because I like to jest, tease, and be silly. Taken at face-value, it means that any conversation coming out of my mouth should not be filthy (that which is not pure), foolish (empty, silly), or in jest (which gives the sense of negative wit, dirty wit); the definitions given these words, however, make me wonder: does this mean all witticism? or just the witticism that degrades others and is dirty?

Some verses linked to this thought are:
"But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes." (2 Timothy 2:23)

"But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain." (Titus 3:9)

"Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man." (Colossians 4:6)
{if our speech is "alway with grace" then it should ever be something that is not "grace"}

I would do well if I evaluated my speech with questions based on these passages:
~Are my words pure in God's eyes?
~Are they silly, frivolous, and empty? or do they minister grace to the hearers?
~Are they funny . . . but not quite acceptable?
~Do they degrade someone else - even if it is "in sport"?
If so, I should probably cleanse my mouth from them.

"But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned." (Matthew 12:36-37)

Friday, September 26, 2014

Where Faith Grows

I shall be very bold today and share an exciting project that the Lord has allowed me to work on. As with most of the projects that God allows me to begin, I don't know where it will end up. I shared a few weeks ago about my teenage passion (obsession) of writing and how the Lord had to take it away for a few years. This year, He has allowed me to work on my first big writing project since I was probably fourteen. This project has taken the title of Where Faith Grows. I am grateful that the Lord allowed me to finish the first very, very, very rough draft in eight months and am now waiting for about six months (trying to follow the idea from my friend) before diving in to do some editing. Some SERIOUS editing!

But for the fun part: the cover!!! I played around with designing the cover a few months ago and this is what I came up with:

I originally liked it, but after a few months of setting, thought it was too dark for what I really wanted. So I attempted a revamp and this is what I currently have:

As always, I welcome your honest opinion! I have fun getting ideas from published covers (sh! but romance books have my favorite covers! [I don't endorse reading them]) but also realize that I'm still in the rough when it comes to learning layering, etc. So any tips are welcome!

Oh, and about the book . . .
One day, everything was going smoothly: Daddy at work, the rest enjoying their winter break. But the next day changed everything. Edith struggles to accept the adjustments she has to make, feeling the sacrifice of each day. She has to choose whether she will resist the struggles and suffer or allow God to use these struggles in her life to grow her faith in Him.

Excerpt from the rough draft:
"Yes, we must have faith the grain of a mustard seed," Levi continued, "But where does our faith lie? 'Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.'" Levi laughed lightly. "I guess in our case we could say, 'Some trust in potatoes, and others in good crops.'" He glanced at Edith but she only replied with a faint smile. After a moment of silence, Levi sighed again. "Well, I'd best get a hoe to the field." He thrust his hands in his pockets and sauntered off.

 It's not really that funny. She could not think of an argument or find fault with what Levi had said. Then, another Scripture verse came to mine: For we walk by faith, not by sight. By sight, she saw a potato crop that was not yet planted nor guaranteed to grow, her daddy who now did not know how long before he could return to work, doctor's bills which were undoubtedly piling up every day Daddy's hospital stay was lengthened, and certainty in nothing around her. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. By faith. What did she see by faith?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Not Named Among Us | Ephesians Study

Ephesians 5:3
But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;

Fornication - NT:4202 porneia (por-ni'-ah); from NT:4203; harlotry (including adultery and incest); figuratively, idolatry:

Uncleanness - NT:167 akatharsia (ak-ath-ar-see'-ah); from NT:169; impurity (the quality), physically or morally:

Covetousness -NT:4124 pleonexia (pleh-on-ex-ee'-ah); from NT:4123; avarice, i.e. (by implication) fraudulency, extortion:

For the saints (i.e. born-again believers), these three descriptions should never be tagged onto us, ("So-and-so is _____"). Our life-style should be so pure that it does not even fit that our names should be coupled with them.

It is interesting how each of these terms has a double-meaning.
Fornication - physically immoral or spiritual idolatry
Uncleanness - physical impurity or moral impurity
Covetousness - greed for the world or (according to Colossians 3:5) idolatry

Often, we disconnect the spiritual and physical, but here it seems that God clearly connects them. Our spiritual testimony can easily be destroyed by our physical lifestyle. If we say we are a Christian and yet our life is ruled by sin (e.g. fornication, uncleanness, covetousness), will others see a pure picture of Christ in our lives?

"Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." (2 Corinthians 6:16-7:1)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Word Wednesday #21

"Let me not, I pray you, accept any man's person, 
neither let me give flattering titles unto man. 
For I know not to give flattering titles; 
in so doing my maker would soon take me away." 
(Job 32:21-22)

Elihu was willing to speak the truth plainly, omitting any flattery that may have gained man's favor. Am I willing to do the same? Or am I so keen on keeping myself in "good standing" with others that I hide truth behind flattering speeches?

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Monday, September 22, 2014

Walk in Love | Ephesians study

Ephesians 5:2
And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.

Walk in Love
As a believer, we should also walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16, 25), in wisdom towards those who are without (Colossians 4:5), and in truth (3 John 1:4).

Walking in love is reiterated in 2 John 1:5-6, "And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it." 

John 15:8-12 helps us to understand the connection between walking in God's commandments and walking in love: "Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you." This passage seems to give a clear outline: Bear fruit by keeping Christ's commandments, which is love. 

Another clear example is Matthew 22:37-40, "Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." and again reiterated in Romans 13:8-10, "Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law."

Christ's offering
"This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:12-13)

"Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:  But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." (Philippians 2:4-8)

Jesus Christ proved His love for us by giving "Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour." (Ephesians 5:2) He provided the greatest example of love. As followers of God, we should be willing, in return, to love others. This love is not a self-love of "what can I gain from this?" but a love that is first rooted in God ("What can I give Him?") and secondly rooted in others ("What can I give them?").

"Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;" (Romans 12:10)

"For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another." (Galatians 5:13)

"And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints." (1 Thessalonians 3:12-13)

"Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth." (1 John 3:16-18)
{These verses just scratch the surface of loving others}

It is important to notice that we cannot make ourselves love someone - but we must surrender to God and follow Him; for He is the One to give us the strength to obey Him and love others.

- - -
What is something that God has shown you from His Word recently?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

His Way is Perfect

I enjoy playing around with photography and graphics designing, but don't make time for it near as often as I'd like. I finally sat down to play with some Scripture Photos. This time, I was trying to learn a few things by trial and error with Photoshop's {many} layers. Some of them gave a unique look that I've not used before. So, one picture, three styles (to see them full-sized, simply click on the picture).


Style 1

Style 2

Style 3

Now, I'd like your opinion. Which style is your favorite?

And then, as I'm totally experimenting here, please give your input (if you are or are not a photographer)! Does anything look awkward? Any suggestions? You can be critical - I don't mind. ;)

"As for God, His way is perfect: 
the Word of the LORD is tried: 
He is a buckler to all those that trust in Him." 
(Psalms 18:30)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Word Wednesday #20

"And they that know Thy Name will put their trust in thee: 
for Thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek Thee." 
(Psalm 9:10)

"The works of the Lord are great, 
sought out of all them that have pleasure therein." 
(Psalm 111:2)

Share a verse that God has given you today or copy the button if you'd like to join in Word Wednesdays with your blog!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Lovin' the Family Life!

I don't put much personal life on my blog, but here's a glimpse of my family - at least, us children. :) My oldest sister came to spend Labor Day weekend with us so we decided to snap some casual sibling pics.

Behind fence: Daniel, Rachel, Timothy, me, Samuel, Christopher, Ashlyn
In front of fence: Rebecca, Naomi, Elizabeth, Joanna, Jessica


{Photos courtesy of Daniel Tero -}

"Except the LORD build the house, 
they labour in vain that build it: 
except the LORD keep the city, 
the watchman waketh but in vain. 
It is vain for you to rise up early, 
to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: 
for so he giveth his beloved sleep. 
Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: 
and the fruit of the womb is his reward. 
As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; 
so are children of the youth. 
Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: 
they shall not be ashamed, 
but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate."
(Psalms 127:1-5)

Friday, September 12, 2014

I'll Always Enjoy Another Sunset

One of my friends sent me a picture of a sunset (she knows my weakness!) and the words to this post title came to my mind. I don't know why I love sunsets so much, but I do. I could be elaborate about the beauty God paints in the sky every evening, but I think that someone else has already penned amazing words:

"The heavens declare the glory of God; 
and the firmament sheweth his handywork.
Day unto day uttereth speech, 
and night unto night sheweth knowledge.
There is no speech nor language, 
where their voice is not heard."
Psalm 19:1-3

As I pondered it last night, I began to think of some special things for the end of the day.

~At the end of the day, 
I am assured that God's mercies are new tomorrow.

~At the end of the day, 
I can look back and see evidence of God's hand at work in my life.

~At the end of the day, 
I can pause and thank God for all He has done and will continue to do.

My photography skills do not capture the brilliance of God's handiwork

Why is the end of the day - the sunset - special to you?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Word Wednesday #19

"This is my comfort in my affliction: 
for Thy word hath quickened me." 
(Psalm 119:50)

"I remembered Thy judgments of old, O Lord; 
and have comforted myself." 
(Psalm 119:52)

God's Word is a comfort to those who walk by it and trust in it.

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Monday, September 8, 2014

A Vashti-type Christian

"On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, and Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas, the seven chamberlains that served in the presence of Ahasuerus the king, To bring Vashti the queen before the king with the crown royal, to shew the people and the princes her beauty: for she was fair to look on. But the queen Vashti refused to come at the king's commandment by his chamberlains: therefore was the king very wroth, and his anger burned in him." (Esther 1:10-12)

I've known the story of Esther very well all of my life. Esther, with her bravery and beauty, was made queen because of Queen Vashti's rebellion to the king. Often, though, I jump right into the story of Esther, skimming over the vital role of Vashti.

At Vashti's rebellion, King Ahasuerus was counseled, "Vashti the queen hath not done wrong to the king only, but also to all the princes, and to all the people that are in all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus. For this deed of the queen shall come abroad unto all women, so that they shall despise their husbands in their eyes, when it shall be reported, The king Ahasuerus commanded Vashti the queen to be brought in before him, but she came not. Likewise shall the ladies of Persia and Media say this day unto all the king's princes, which have heard of the deed of the queen. Thus shall there arise too much contempt and wrath." (Esther 1:16-18) These pagan rulers and wise men realized the powerful example of Queen Vashti and its dangerous consequences. To save the King from the shame that his wife could cause, she was banished from the kingdom and replaced.

As I read through this chapter, the Lord brought an interesting thought to my mind, "Am I ever a Vashti?" I am not queen to an earthly king - I am the child of the One True King! But how well does my life reflect it? When He gives a command, do I respond in humble obedience? or, like queen Vashti, do I sift His commands through my selfishness and reasoning? Like Vashti, I have others watching my life who, through my example, could be encouraged to obey or disobey. When I disobey God, I am not only sinning against Him, but also influencing others to rebel against Him as well. For this reason, God might punish me for my disobedience (Hebrews 12:6-10) - and justly so, for to disobey Him, I am bringing a reproach to His Holy Name.

Oh, may the Lord help me to put off the selfish tendencies of a Vashti!

"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 Timothy 4:12)

Friday, September 5, 2014

Followers of God

{So, I wasn't planning on sharing regularly from my Ephesians study, but God has blessed me so much through it! I pray that you will be blessed as well.}

Ephesians 5:1
Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;

Followers of God - merely by itself, this verse speaks volumes. If we are to follow God, then we are to seek Him; for how can we follow someone of Whom we know little? We must educate ourselves about God - and the more we educate ourselves about God, the more He will work in us His character.

Can I truly say, "I'm a follower of God?" What is a follower? Sure, someone can "follow" a leader from afar, but chances are, we will miss his guidance and get off track. The same principle is true in Christian life. If we try to follow God "from afar," we might see that He is over here on the other side of the valley, but neglect to see the bridge that He crossed over - and thus we envelope ourselves in miry trouble. If we try to mix "our own understanding" (Proverbs 3:5) with His leading, we will also find ourselves in trouble - for His ways are perfect (Psalm 18:30).

What are we to use to help us follow God?
"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." (Psalm 119:105)
"For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life:" (Proverbs 6:23)
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

God has given us instructions; He has given us a light for our path, He has shown us His way for us to follow - but it all counts for nothing if we do not read and study His Word and heed/apply it to our lives.

Following God never comes by happenchance. It is a decision to do or not to do - to obey or disobey. And if we fail to decide between the two, we have automatically decided in the negative.

- - -
Contextually, this verse also speaks volumes. Previously are given examples of God:

Subsequently is:

Following God means a lifestyle that is polished with kindness, tenderheartedness, forgiveness, love, and giving.

This list reminds me of Romans 12:9-18
9 Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.
10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;
12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;
13 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.
14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.
15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.
16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.
17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.

18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Word Wednesday #26

"Lead me, O Lord, in Thy righteousness because of mine enemies; make Thy way straight before my face." (Psalm 5:8)

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Word Wednesday #18

"Great peace have they which love Thy law: 
and nothing shall offend them." 
(Psalm 119:165)

When we love God's Word, we will not be offended. However, because we love God's Word, we will be grieved at those who do not follow it ("I beheld the transgressors, and was grieved; because they kept not Thy Word." Psalm 119:158) and zealous when It is forgotten ("My zeal hath consumed me, because mine enemies have forgotten Thy Words." Psalm 119:139)

Share a verse that God has given you today or copy the button if you'd like to join in Word Wednesdays with your blog!

Monday, September 1, 2014

And Then Comes Writing

This is an article I wrote for my sister's writing newsletter back in May. It is a little testimony of my writing journey and where God has led me in it thus far.

How much does a writer need to write to become well-equipped? If you research the question, you will find various opinions. But do we need these opinions to answer our question, as Christian writers?

My sister, Rachel, who is more of a writer than I
As a young teen, writing was more than my passion. I wrote every spare minute, thought about it, talked about it, and longed to do it. If a friend did not write, I had a difficult time talking with them and finding "common ground." Looking back, it is easy to see that writing had become my obsession. It was then that God graciously led me to lay down the pen so I could refocus my purpose in writing. Now, almost ten years and many silent writing days later, God has given me back the pen, but the place it takes in my life is drastically different than before.

Though writing is a part of my life, writing is not "my life." I am a Christian, daughter, music teacher and arranger, kitchen cleaner, and part of my family's musicministry. Because of this, I cannot just pick up and write whenever I feel the writing "mood" come along. Instead, there are several things I must check.

1) Have I spent time with God?
"My foot hath held His steps, His way have I kept, and not declined. Neither have I gone back from the commandment of His lips; I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food." (Job 23:11-12)
If God's Word is to be "more than my necessary food" then surely it must be more necessary than my writing time! Writing should never come before I have had adequate devotion/quiet time with God. If I neglect reading and studying God's Word, how can I expect to write solid, Christian books?

2) Am I actively seeking God?
"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matthew 6:33)
Added to reading and studying God's Word, I should be seeking God and His direction for my writing. "Blessed are they that keep His testimonies, and that seek Him with the whole heart." (Psalms 119:2) Whole-heartedly following after God means that I am daily surrendering my will to His. It means that I am sensitive to what He is convicting me to do -- if He says to toss out my "pet story," then I must toss it; if He says to change directions, I must change; if He says to stop writing, yes, I must stop. My all must be fully laid on His altar and I must trust that He knows best.

3) Have I neglected others?
"Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others." (Philippians 2:4)
As much as I would like to convince myself that writing is "looking out for the things of others," (after all, what about those who need to read this?) I know that when I write, I am tempted to ignore the needs of those closest to me.  If my family has a need, my writing should always be set aside. Better than that, I should be sure that I have fulfilled all of my responsibilities before I even begin to write. If I am "stealing time" from others so that I can write, I will not get the fulfillment and joy in writing that God would have me to receive.

4) Now can I write?
When should I fit writing into my schedule? If I follow the first three points, will I even have time in a day to write? There are many days when my brain is just reeling to write. However, if my devotions are unfinished, dishes unwashed, house a wreck, and my family needs me, my writing must be placed last. And many days, "last" means "not at all." Though this sounds like a pitiful schedule for a writer, it is a guilt-free schedule! I can sit down and write without the nagging thought of, "I really should be cooking but . . ." And on those days, when I actually do have time to write guilt-free, the Lord gives me such peace and productivity that I would not exchange for even the most rigid writing schedule.

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