Thursday, August 30, 2012

Imagine That

I have a great imagination! When I was a kid the 2 little girls I played with in my neighborhood were Karen Tagner and Frances Elvington. As you know it's always hard to have three girls, one is usually left out. This was the case for me. Mrs. Tagner and Mrs Elvington were not very fond of my mother so they would take their feelings out on me. Mrs. Elvington bought Frances a beautiful doll house. One of those that you can stand up to play with. It was three stories high complete with furniture in every room. There was a little family a pet and a car in the garage.
I was so excited when Frances told me about it and couldn't wait to get home from school to play at her house with her and Karen. To my horror Mrs. Elvington decided I was not allowed in the yard where the new awesome doll house was placed. I was not nearly as cool as this doll house so Karen and Frances would play for hours together with me sitting across the street watching. In comes my imagination.
My father owned a nursery when I was growing up so there were rows and rows and rows did I mention rows of trees in our very big yard. I would play for hours in the nursery pretending I was a school teacher and the rows of trees were my students. I would talk to them and tell them to get in line or do their homework, you know all the things one would say to a shrub I mean student. I remember one day overhearing my father say to my mother “what the hell is wrong with that kid? She's out there talking to the trees again!” This explains a lot doesn't it :)
I could turn an ordinary couch into a ship on an ocean filled with sharks. I would to jump from one piece of furniture to the next so I wouldn't be eaten alive!!!
I had lots of brothers and sisters in my imaginary world and it goes without saying I was the favorite child. I also gave myself a different name. If your going to be imaginary you need to go all the way. My name was Sandy.
I wondered as I was writing this why I named myself that. I didn't even know a
Sandy. I decided to look up the meaning of that name on Google and this what I found.
Gender: Female
Origin: Greek
Meaning: Defender Of Mankind
That's a bit prophetic.
On different occasions I imagined I was a ballerina or singer. If you have ever seen me dance or sing you know what a stretch that is.
Watch any group of kids and they can be anything from a super hero to a ninja in minutes. They can be an animal, a truck, a doctor even a Snuffleupagus. Little kids have such great imaginations I think that's probably one of the reasons God loves child like faith. Children have no limits to their possibilities when they are imagining. What freedom.
Something I found when I googled. I like to Google.
When children develop fantasy they play at two levels: first, they use role playing to act out what they have developed with their imagination, and at the second level they play again with their make-believe situation by acting as if what they have developed is an actual reality that already exists in narrative.
They act out what they developed like it's real.
Warning: this can be a good or bad thing depending on what you imagine. I imagined it would be a great idea to drive a car through this huge mound of snow the snow plows made. In my mind I saw the fluffy white snow softly falling all around us, kind of dancing little snowflakes one by one. NOT! We hit the gas slammed into the pile of snow and it completely covered the windshield. We could see nothing! With wipers going full speed and no visibility we almost hit a tree. Not quite what I imagined.
I still have a very active imagination although I try to think things through a little more. I think it's part of why I'm so visual and can find a jewel in just about anything.
Our imagination is from God. He obviously had a great imagination just look at some of the things He's created.
The problem is we get older and we use this powerful part of our brain less and less and sadly some people stop using it all together. When we stop imagining we stop dreaming and when we don't have dreams we become stagnant and I believe this affects our faith. We stop asking God for things we can't give ourselves. We stop believing Him for things He gave us the imagination to posses. We don't act out what we developed believing it will ever be real.
What do you imagine? What dreams are you believing God for?
For me, I imagine every generation in my family from now til Jesus returns to be serving the Lord. To one day have books that are shipped all over the world. I dream of Gena's Jewels classes being led nationwide. I see “Gem Homes” for women who are abused or rescued from human trafficking or just a place for a hurting person to rest. I want to help orphans find families.
I want to take my children to the Grand Canyon. I want my future husband to take me to Italy. I want to teleport to Africa. I want to fly and speak different languages, heck I want to cook without burning anything, imagine that!
I don't want to be like the horse on the carousel that just goes round and round never experiencing new things. I want to jump off and explore new possibilities.
I could look back on the day I was banned from the yard and be sad but I gotta tell ya every time I think of that day it still makes me giggle hearing my father say “what the hell is wrong with that kid?” I'll tell ya what's wrong with this kid I don't care what the world taught me. I want to imagine things unseen as if they were real so they will become my reality. Gena's Jewels would still be a dream if I didn't start writing.
Gems I never want to stop using my imagination. Thank you Jesus for creating such a beautiful place in our minds.
Ephesians 3:20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

And by the way now that I'm back to using my own name (most of the time) I looked up the meaning of it:

Gender: Female
Origin: French
Meaning: Queen

Imagine that...... 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

It's Greek To Me

I'm dong a study by Ken Ham called Foundations and it's pretty eye opening. You know when I'm learning things I like to share them with you so here goes.
Gena translation of what I studied so far.
The issue we are having today in reaching the lost is we are trying to change our culture. We are supposed to preach the gospel and make disciples not change the culture.
Mark16:15 And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.

We are spending time, money and effort on trying to change the symptoms of our culture instead of preaching the gospel. We want to talk about abortion, gay marriage, and religious teachings that don't honor God. What we need to be learning is what is the root of these issues. What is the foundation?
It's no different than when we talk about an individual who is addicted to drugs or alcohol, we say that's the outward symptom but what is the root of the problem.
We spend tons of money going to counselors and psychologist trying to get to the bottom of things. I know I had my own counselor bills.
I am restudying the book of Acts. I'm not going to give you all the verses but I do want to point out parts a few key ones. As always I strongly suggest you read the chapters for yourself.
Acts 2
5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven.
14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem,
21And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’
22“Fellow Israelite, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.
36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”
37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

Peter preached the gospel. He didn't talk about the social issues that were going on in the culture at the time, he didn't have to introduce who God was and the Bible says that 3000 were saved!!!
When was the last time you went to a church service and only the gospel was preached and a large number of people accepted Christ as their Savior?
Why is that?
Probably because you were in a service with a bunch of other “Greeks” who don't know anything about the Old Testament teaching of who God is and how we all got here.
Let's move on to Acts 17 where we will find Paul teaching.

While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to debate with him. Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we would like to know what they mean.” (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)
Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship —and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.
The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’
Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”
When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.” At that, Paul left the Council. Some of the people became followers of Paul and believed.
Notice in this account Paul doesn't just preach the good news, he goes all the way back to explaining who God is. He had to teach the Greeks His Jewish background.
He could have preached that same sermon today as we too are a people with many god's. We leave services every week with people sneering and asking what we're babbling about. And just like that day, thousands aren't saved. Just some of the people become followers.
The interesting thing I learned was Peter was talking to Jews who had the same foundation. They knew the one true God so he only had to share the part of Jesus and refer to the Old Testament to back up his facts.
Today, we like Paul are teaching the Gentiles. You and me. We don't have a foundation of one true God.
Our President said in a speech he gave, “we are no longer "just" a Christian nation, but a nation of many other faiths as well.” Whether you like him or not what he said is true.
We have many faiths just like the Greeks Paul met. We can't begin the gospel at the same starting point as Peter did with the God fearing Jews. We have to go back to Genesis like Paul did when sharing with the Greeks.
Our churches are starting with Jesus and there is no foundation of who Jesus is or why we should believe in Him. We water down the word of God and make church more entertaining to attract the culture instead of teaching the culture, ourselves included, why we serve the one true God. Why is there sin? Why do we need to be saved from it? What are the facts of what your teaching? All of this in found in Genesis and knitted together throughout scripture.
We have no foundation.
Psalm 11:3 When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?”
I am so guilty of saying to my older kids, it doesn't matter how old the world is or how the earth was populated, but that's not true. It is important and that's why our kids think we have Bible stories and the world teaches “real” history. We talk about Bible characters instead of Historical figures. We read them bedtime stories then send them to school to learn World History.
Gems as always I am at the top of the guilty list in this jewel.
Bottom line is we have to learn our own history. We have to stop trying to make converts and fix social issues and start making disciples.
Matthew 28:19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit

Gems we can't walk around saying it's Greek to me, we have to reach a culture that has no foundation so they can understand the gospel and let the Holy Spirit do the rest.
I believe once we accomplish this the culture, just like me, will begin to change .

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Don’t Ask Again

Have you ever had someone say that to you? Have you ever said it? When my kids were little and they would ask for something like “can I have ice-cream” and I say yes, but they ask a few minutes later. ”Can I have ice-cream” and I say yes, than a little later “can I have ice-cream” and I yell, “I said yes but if you ask me again the answer is no!”
Have you ever heard God tell you to stop asking for something?
I had it happen to me. It’s a strange phenomenon. You know you’re supposed to pray without ceasing and bring all your request before the Lord so when He told me to pretty much “shut it” I was caught off guard.
My request was for very dear friends of mine that were trying to have a second child. Gems it was so weird because I prayed faithfully, fervently, tenaciously as if I were praying for myself or one of my children. Why did I want this prayer answered so badly? Yes I was and am a good friend and do pray faithfully for my friends but I was a praying machine over this one.
I called my friend and told her what God said. I laughed when I told her she got me in trouble with our Father. I explained that I was not going to stop believing for her son but I was going to stop asking :)
The truth is I had a prayer request of my own that I desired as much as I believed they desired a child. I totally understood their plight. I went before the Lord almost daily and I knew the answer was yes. I knew beyond a shadow of doubt they would have a baby and it would be a boy. The part I was having trouble with was the waiting on God.
I remember clearly the day I went to the King again to ask for this little boy and He said “I already told you yes quit asking.”
Why was I still asking? Like I said the problem was, it wasn’t in the time frame I thought it was going to be. As if God does anything based on our agenda. When we pray an unselfish prayer for our brothers or sisters with clean motives I believe it touches our Father's heart but the bottom line is it will still be answered when He decides it's best for His kids.
It made me think of David. The Prophet Samuel comes to his house and announces he would be the next king. I don't know how old he was I'm thinking a teenager. So try and imagine this day. Picture yourself as David the night of the big announcement. He must have been like, oh yea call me king baby. He must have had trouble sleeping that night thinking he's moving to the big house tomorrow. Thoughts of finally getting out of the pasture and taking care of smelly sheep. No more harassment from his older brothers.
Can you imagine how he felt when he woke up the next day and Samuel was gone and his dad said “get back out to the pasture and take care of the sheep.” WHAT? Where's my chariot? My Castle? My servants? It was years before David became King, but the Bible doesn't say he spent that time asking over and over, can I be king? He knew the answer was yes he just had to wait on God's timing.
I was so sure this baby prayer was answered and it was specifically a boy just like we believed for. I even bought him an outfit for his mom to hang in his one day closet.
I remember every time I heard someone was pregnant at our church I would think, “Lord why isn’t it my friend?” I was happy for the person with child but sad for my prayer waiting friend.
I'm sure there were days David asked, is this the day Lord?
Part of me subconsciously felt like if this prayer wasn’t answered for my friend mine wouldn’t be either. I have no idea why I felt that way. One thing had nothing to do with the other I’m just telling you what went on in my irrational head. It was that desires of the heart verse that kept swirling in my mind.
Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Did He mean it? Did He mean it for me?
I have concluded that God didn't always answer prayers quickly in Bible times and He doesn't always answer quickly now. It's good to watch other people waiting on a promise from God because it encourages us when our prayer is taking a while. It's good to see people struggle through so they can encourage us when their on the other side of their answer and we are still waiting.
I remember the day I found out my friend was pregnant, I literally burst into tears. I was so excited for both her and her sweet husband. I praised the Lord that His answer had arrived. The one He gave about 5 years prior, that they would indeed have a son.
Gems he was so worth the wait. He is such a cute little boy and I know the Lord has an amazing plan for him as he does all his babies. For me, every time I see his picture posted on Face Book it encourages me. When I look at pictures of him and his family (and there's a lot of them, you know who you are :) I can't help but be filled with joy.
The bottom line on this lesson was “don’t ask me again” meant believe now. Believe when others seem to be getting their answer and you aren’t. Believe when others are telling you not to. Believe when you are telling yourself desires are for others not for you. Believe and quit asking when you know the answer is yes and start preparing for your request.
Unlike me in the above example, God would not change His answer just because I was driving him crazy asking for ice-cream and wanting it now!!!!
Thank you Lord for answered prayer and perfect timing.