Monday, December 16, 2013

Mary, You Did Know

I love the popular Christmas song, Mary, Did You Know by Mark Lowry and Buddy Greene, sung first by Hayley Westenra and since by others. The song speaks to my "mother-heart," that place in me that cherishes my children beyond human comprehension. That whole process of carrying them in my own body for nine months (ok 10 with one of my sons!), feeling them kick, watching them grow as my belly stretched out, the birth process (intense) and then nursing, gives moms something we ourselves cannot even comprehend. Many times, we are told that Mary "pondered things in her heart." I can relate.

Did Mary know? As she saw her pregnancy progress, did she comprehend the magnitude of the life growing inside her? Did she realize the full and eternal implications of that life? Did she know? The song asks.

The Scriptures tell us: Mary did know. Luke 1:46-56 tell us what Mary knew.

Mary knew the Lord. Verse 46 tell us she said, "My soul doth magnify the Lord." She knew His Lordship. She knew Who He was and she magnified Him with her soul. Her soul was lifted up to Him. She knew exactly Who she was magnifying. She magnified Him because He lifted her up to Himself.

Verse 47 tells us she knew she needed a Savior. She said, "My spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior." This is a clear acknowledgement of her own recognition for the need of salvation. She knew the coming Messiah was coming to deliver even her. She knew He was a personal Savior and she shows us that by using the pronoun "my."

She recognized her own low estate. She recognized that she was just an average Jewish girl to whom the world paid no attention, but she also recognized her position in Christ as she knew she could now count herself among the known. She went from an unknown girl to highly blessed woman and she knew it was He Who made her that way. She claimed that all, not just some, but all generations would call her blessed. Indeed. This shows us that Mary knew her theology. She may have been a humble Jewish girl, but that didn't stop her from knowing God's Word and proclaiming it.

In verse 49, she recognized His great Name and His holiness, while at the same announcing His personal relationship with her. "He has done great things to me." The use of that personal pronoun is not a small thing. It's personal; Mary knew it.

In verse 50, Mary talked about His mercy that was shown from generation to generation. She saw how He fulfilled His mercy toward man and brought them a Savior, as yet not born when she proclaimed this. She knew her conception was the fulfillment of the mercy that generations had looked forward to.

She shows her political prowess in verses 51 - 53 by realizing that the proud have been scattered and the mighty have been put down from their seats. This is a massive recognition. She did not say "they will be," she claimed "they have been!" This is huge. She knew He had already come...and was already growing within her and she knew the fulfillment of mercy this represented. Mary was very theologically strong. Realizing what she knew is literally breathtaking!

In verses 54 - 56, she acknowledges His mercy toward Israel and the fulfillment of that mercy. She spoke of the fathers of the faith and specifically of Abraham.

Indeed, Mary knew Messiah had come. Indeed, Mary knew the full implications of the Child she carried.

As you look at Mary in Scripture, you don't see a shy, withdrawn Jewish girl/woman with little to say. You see a bold woman who is not afraid to speak out, to stand up to naysayers and proclaim her own need for the Savior she carried in her womb.

Indeed. Mary knew. Sing the song with great understanding and turn that question on yourself.
Do you know Who He really is?

Merry Christmas!
~Tricia




Friday, December 13, 2013

They Heard He was Coming

They heard He was coming.

Picture it: Just outside Jericho, circa 33 A.D. Two men, blind beggars in the streets, are spending yet another day hoping for help and begging for mercy in their lives. There were no schools for the blind. There were no seeing-eye dogs. Blind men became beggars in that day and were likely not very nice looking or clean. They had it rough.

Then they heard He was coming.

Upon learning He was coming, these two blind men got out of character. They spoke up. Loudly. Repeatedly. Annoyingly. Whereas they had been off to the side, unseen, unheard, unnoticed before, that all changed because they heard He was coming.

When they yelled for Him, they recognized Who He was.....they called Him "Lord" and "Son of David." They knew His Lordship; His Kingship. They knew. And they were not about to be hushed.

And the multitude warned them that they should be quiet.

"Be quiet! Hold your peace!"

And they responded.

Yes, they responded........they got louder! All the more, they cried, "Have mercy on us, Oh, Lord, Son of David!" More loudly than before.

And this time, they got a different response. The crowd was quiet.

Jesus stopped in His tracks.
He stood still.
He called them to Himself.
He asked them what they wanted.

They addressed Him as Lord.
They said they wanted their sight.

Jesus had compassion on them.
He touched their eyes.
They received their sight immediately.
They followed Him.

All because they heard He was coming.

This post is based on observations from Matthew 20:29-34

Have you heard?
He's coming!
He will stop in His tracks - for you.
~Tricia


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Friday, December 6, 2013

Those Deacon's Wives!

As a pastor's wife for over 30 years, I've worked with a good number of deacon's wives in the churches we've served in. I want to tell you about four of them that stand out in my mind. These four women have had a huge impact on my life and they will never be forgotten. They strengthened my walk with Christ, ministered in honesty and genuineness to my children and walk with God sincerely.

First, there's Helen. Helen was the first deacon's wife I worked with in our very first church. She and I didn't always see eye-to-eye when it came to my kids, but that didn't stop a friendship from forging ahead. We were only in that church for three years, but I am in touch with Helen to this day. She and I write often, she and her husband have traveled to visit us at our various ministries, and we visit them if and when we are close enough. Helen has been there for me, not only as a ministering saint, but as a friend. If I would pick up the phone right now and call her, Helen would be there and it's such a joy to have her in my life.

Secondly, there's Mary Lou. Mary Lou and I served together for over 18 years and our relationship grew with the years. She helped me through some dark hours, stayed with us during ministry ups and downs and mostly, she ministered greatly to my kids. When her husband died just a few years ago, my kids were sad at that news and we all expressed our sorrow to her and told her what a great impact he'd had on our lives. Mary Lou is able to cut right through things and get to the core of an issue, making her ministry an invaluable asset in our lives. To this day, Mary Lou and I are in touch and my kids still ask about her. They have such fond memories of her being in their lives.

Third and fourth are two deacon's wives who served together with us for five years. Consepcion and Hermelinda were steady, humble women who love the Lord Jesus Christ and serve Him with all they have. They prayed with me, supported us in times of great trial and held us up in prayer like I've never experienced before. When we were being oppressed in ministry, these two women organized a prayer meeting for us. This was not a typical prayer meeting. They gathered a good number of women together, met outside our home at 5:30 AM at a firepit we had on the far side of our yard, built a fire to warm themselves, then they walked all around our property several times, praying for us while we slept. These are remarkable women of God, who continue to serve Him wholeheartedly and with whom we are still in touch. They have been very instrumental in the planting of four Hispanic churches, too!

These four women of God stand out, not only to me, but to my kids. That's something I can't thank them enough for. When we see people having such a positive impact on our kids, it's far greater than if it's just us they impact.

Praise be for Godly women.
Thank you, ladies, for the impact you had on me, my kids and our ministries over the years. Your rewards are eternal.
~Tricia

Thursday, December 5, 2013

All You Need Is......

It's a simple command to husbands. Ephesians 5:25, "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for it."

Just how is a man to love his wife as Christ has also loved the church? What does that mean on a day to day basis?

How Christ loves the church:

1. He gave himself for her. He didn't just give up a football game or stay up late to listen to her. He gave everything. He gave all. The pain. The discomfort. The humiliation. The indecency of it all. It was not taken from Him, He gave it. All. (John 3:16; Romans 5:8; I Thess 5:9&10)

2. He is her Rock. He is all about her. He placed her on His rock foundation, never to be shaken.  (Matthew 16:18)

3. He is the Chief Cornerstone, providing stability to her. (Ephesians 2:20; I Peter 2:6&7)

3. He is an Anchor, holding her as the tempest of life blows hard upon her. Anchors are not visible, but people know when you're anchored because you're unmovable. (Hebrews 6:19)

4. He gives her freedom. Besides the Lord's Supper and baptism, there are no other ordinances. Each independent local church is free to grow in the way she sees fit. A husband who loves his wife as Christ also loved the church gives her freedom to grow, he does not give her restrictions which hinder her growth. She can choose her methods of growth, just like a church can choose how many deacons, how many elders, what time their services are, etc. Freedom = choice.

5. He causes her to flourish. He does not require her to see to his success. He sees to her success! That's how Christ loved the church. She is not a means to his end goals. He gave all so that she could succeed, then he guaranteed that she would. And, He paves the way for her to succeed at every turn. That's quite a different picture than the one our western culture has drawn.

6. He adds to her, not to himself. As the gospel message goes out, He brings more and more into the church, increasing her abundance with every addition. (Acts 2:47)

7. He empowers her. Even the gates of Hell cannot stand against her, that's how powerful she is. (Matthew 16:18)

I'll stop there. When husbands love their wives like Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it, the patriarchal system that is destroying the church from the inside out will not stand a chance. Women will be able to use their gifts and serve their Lord without abuse and hindrance. And everyone will be better off.

~Tricia




Friday, November 29, 2013

Tradition and Gratitude

As I sit here in a hotel room in Raleigh, NC this Thanksgiving weekend, I am struck by my surroundings and how they are in stark contrast to what a "normal" Thanksgiving is to me. Normally, I cook for 2 or 3 days before Thanksgiving ever comes, spend the actual day cooking and baking, then watching my family consume all that goodness in what seems like the blink of an eye (although we do linger at the table, nibbling, long after the meal is finished). We generally spend the afternoon playing board games or hanging out around the TV watching football, sometimes going for a walk if the weather permits and just enjoying being home, and usually end the day with a movie together. And it feels "right" to me, like that's how Thanksgiving "should" be. And it seems that's how it "should" be because that's how it's been for 30 years in our family.

This year, instead of cooking and baking all morning, we were on the road, leaving at 6:30 AM to be in Raleigh with one of our sons and his wife for Thanksgiving. We spent the day with our son, his wife,  and his in-laws....and they did all the cooking.....so I visited with them, and took pictures, and reminisced with my kids, and, although I helped with dinner, I did not make dinner, did not plan the menu, was not responsible for making sure the potatoes did not get cold while the turkeys finished cooking, etc.

After a delightful dinner, we spent the afternoon visiting, eating pie, playing with their two new puppies and having a good time together. Instead of cleaning up one last time and filling the dishwasher for the 3rd time in a day, we left and went to a hotel, got checked in and settled for a quiet evening of hanging out together, making and receiving phone calls from all the other kids, texting back and forth with some of my kids and my sisters and catching up with our people via Facebook and email.

Not our traditional Thanksgiving by a long shot.

Traditionally, I spend the day after Thanksgiving putting up my Christmas village, covering my baby grand piano with "snow" and lighted houses and little businesses making up a town. This is a nearly all day event as it takes time to plan a village and put it together.

Today, we are spending the day going to museums with our son and daughter-in-law, then having dinner with them tonight in their apartment.

This is not our traditional day-after-Thanksgiving activity by a long shot.

But, it's oh, so sweet! And oh, so nice. And I'm thankful that while family traditions are nice, the holiday is no less special when tradition is thrown out the window and we get the opportunity to do something completely different and find that they are just as satisfying to our "traditional" sense.

The traditions of being together, of pausing in our busy lives to acknowledge the Source of all good and of giving to one another are traditions that can be carried out no matter our location. Whether I am in the kitchen or the front passenger seat, we are keeping our tradition of celebrating what we have to be thankful for. And we have a LOT to be thankful for. And we know that the Source is our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

And I am grateful, not just this weekend that's been set aside for gratitude, but always, always grateful for the great things my God has done in my life and in my family.

Praise be.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
~Tricia

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Content Overlap

This is one of those days when a couple of my blogs overlap in content. On my writer's blog, The Total Writer, I blogged briefly about writing truth and the importance of getting all the facts before we write. The story I blogged about was not originally given to much truth. The story was minimized, condensed and the facts grossly misrepresented. I remember the story when it happened and I never thought it added up. What I was hearing in the news didn't make sense. I simply didn't see why a court would award such a high payment if what we were hearing in the news was all there was to the story.

Have you ever been misrepresented? Have you ever been the victim of ugly gossip that portrayed you as a villian or liar and you had no avenue to defend yourself? I sure have and it's not easy. I've been ambushed by people who won't listen to my answers to their questions. I've had those same people spin every answer I gave. I've had people unwilling to listen to the truth about me.

Yeah. Not easy. Did you know that God, Himself, was misrepresented, lied about and no one would listen to the truth about Him, either? His birth was surrounded by controversy because everyone knew Mary had conceived Him before she and Joseph were married. The Pharisees, in John 8, held themselves up higher than Jesus declaring that they were not "born of fornication." They believed Jesus was.

In the book of Matthew, chapter 28, we read how the guards explained away Jesus' resurrection. They said that His disciples came by night and took Him away, stealing His body so as to fake His resurrection. And, without checking the facts, people believed them, as verse 15 points out, "this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day."

Jesus endured many, many lies, false reports, people telling Him they didn't want to listen to Him, etc. He did this for us.

So, when you endure gossip, lies, and people not listening to the truth about you, remember that you are not alone in those sufferings.

~Tricia

Monday, November 11, 2013

Don't Believe Everything You Think

Never has Proverbs 3:5&6 been so alive than when I think of it as I read John 11. No, these passages are not cross-referenced, nor do they have anything to do with each other - other than the fact that they are both the Word of God.

Proverbs 3:5&6 says, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart; lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your paths."

You may recall that John 11 records the account of Lazarus dying, then Jesus raising him from the dead. Most of us know the story....Lazarus died, Jesus came, grieved with the family, then raised him from the dead. I want to look more closely at the dialog which takes place during this event. I hope you'll see the connection I see with Proverbs 3:5&6.

Lazarus got sick when Jesus was out of town. Jesus, Himself, said, "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God..." (verse 4)

But, Lazarus did die. And they buried him. And that was that. What did Jesus mean, then?

When Jesus made his way to the family, days later, they were upset. Martha met Him on the way and told him, "Lord, if you have been here, my brother would not have died." (verse 21) Jesus had a discussion about the resurrection with her. Was she listening?

When Mary made her way to Jesus, she also said, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." (verse 32) Jesus saw her grief, and the grief of those around her and Martha and he was "troubled." He wept and grieved with the family.

People observing all this said, "Behold how he loved him!"

And some said, "Could not this man, having opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?" (verse 36 & 37)

The way we understand it, death is the end. Dead. Buried. A permanent condition that cannot be undone. It did not occur to anyone on this scene that death was not the end. Their understanding, based, no doubt, on past experience with other people, made it very clear that death was the very end. No more hope. Dead. Buried. Leaving us devastated.

Jesus didn't understand things that way. He raised Lazarus right up from the dead. He came forth still wrapped in grave clothes, his face still covered. (verse 44)

Death?  Oh, that. Yeah. A temporary condition to Jesus Christ.

This outcome had not occurred to anyone who was there that day. It simply seemed impossible from a human understanding. While they thought He could have prevented him from dying in the first place, no one even so much as thought that He could raise him from the dead.

That's how they understood things.

I'm so glad they were wrong!

We are all wrong much of the time. Our understanding is off; we don't get it.

Do not lean on your own understanding, no matter what you face.
You can't believe everything you think.
~Tricia

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Do You Love your Toothbrush?

"You own your spouse like you own your toothbrush." This is a quote from a sermon I once heard. This sermon was preached in a Regular Baptist Church by a pastor who serves on leading councils in his circles. His text was Ephesians 5:22, "Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as unto the Lord." Based on this verse alone, this pastor went on to preach a one-sided sermon filled with heresy and falsehoods. He claimed that this applies to both men and women in that they "own" their spouse like they own their toothbrush.

Another statement made in the sermon was, "The word 'own' is emphasized in the Greek, making it the focus of this verse. God wants us to know we own our spouses!"

Friends, this is heresy and I have found that people who teach heresy are getting away with it right and left. We do not own our spouse like we own our toothbrush!

Toothbrushes are disposable........People are not disposable.

Toothbrushes can be bought and sold.....People are not to be bought and sold. 

The word "own" in this verse is the Greek word "idios" which literally means "peculiar, individually, privately."  It is not emphasized in the Greek as was taught. In the context of Ephesians 5:22, it is used to show that a woman's husband is peculiar to her as a husband, not owned like a toothbrush. She does not "own" him in the sense of owning a possession.

Heresy creeps in a little at a time. A pastor misuses a passage like this, then a few weeks later misuses another passage, and that goes on for a while and before you know it, the church has gone down the slippery slope of false teaching. In another sermon, I heard this same pastor say, "The wife is just the husband in another body." Heresy. Clear as a bell.

God's Word, and the preaching thereof, is never a little thing. It is how God manifests His Word in our hearts. It's how He has chosen to make Himself known to man. I never take the preaching of the Word lightly and I will fight false teaching with all my might, no matter what the cost. Be vigilant. Search the Scriptures to see if what you are being taught is true and right.

~Tricia






Wednesday, September 18, 2013

"A Particular Set of Skills"

In the movie, Taken, Liam Neisen's character tells his daughter's kidnappers, "I have a particular set of skills..." This is one of my favorite lines from the movie. It may surprise you to learn that I can relate to Liam's character, as I, too, have a particular set of skills.

Growing up, I did not know I had a particular set of skills. I was never anything special, just a little girl trying to survive my dad's horrid violence and abuse; trying to get through the day while I tried to anticipate what the next day held and how I would get through it. I honestly credit my sisters; they were my rock. I could always count on them.

My particular set of skills was activated one beautiful day in February of 1982. The day I became a mom. Suddenly, without warning, I was thrust into the full-time job of keeping another human being alive. I realize the pregnancy, itself, was the same thing, but that was easy enough since he was thoroughly protected within the uterine walls. Once outside that confinement, I was awestruck with the responsibility of his utter helplessness. Without intervention from another human being, he would die, even though he was strong and healthy. There was one human being particularly suited for the job: His mom. Me.

I took this seriously. A particular set of skills, that I didn't even know I had, was activated. Suddenly, I found myself fiercely protective of my little baby boy. In some ways, I was unprepared for the intensity of this set of skills. Later, a few incidents taught me that the intensity of a mother's love is not to be feared or disregarded.

This fierce mother-love has been a thing to be reckoned with over the years. I've never agreed with the idea that it takes a village to raise a child. That's too broad for me. I prefer to say that it takes committed parents to raise a child. In the case of single parenthood, it takes a committed parent. Did certain mission boards have a village mentality when the sexual abuse of missionary kids took place by several of their leaders? The parents, trapped by misleading leaders, fell into the trap of allowing others to see to what is best for their kids. This is a mistake. This is the exact reason I would never have made the grade with any of those types of mission boards. My kids would have always remained under my authority, which trumps all other authority. This would have been in conflict with the overriding methods and I'm quite sure I would have been deemed uncooperative and unfit for their purposes. I'd rather be deemed unfit than have my kids suffer abuse.

Fierce mother-love is condoned by our great God of the Bible. He knows no one does it better. He is the One Who gave moms this particular set of skills. Just read Isaiah 66.

My particular set of skills has been actively working for 31 years now and I have practiced the skills on all eight of my kids. This has given them security, confidence and power.

* It gives them security by teaching them that no matter what, Mom has their back. Security goes a long way for a child. Secure kids don't seek security in things of this world; they have no need to seek what they already have.

* It gives them confidence because, safe in the security of my defense of them, they are confident to defend themselves if need be. One of my sons was being approached by someone he felt was too aggressive for his comfort level. He said, "Do not approach me!" The man kept approaching him. My son said, "Do not approach me!" The man kept coming. My son, standing his ground, said for a third time, "Do not approach me!" And the man stopped and no longer approached him. When I heard about this later, I was incredibly proud of my son.

He was secure in his thinking that he did not have to tolerate aggressive approaches by an adult.

He was confident enough to demand the man stop and this enabled him to retain control of his own situation.

This leads to my third point:

* It has given them power. My son exhibited power over his own body, over his own situation and over his own outcome; and even over this adult who approached him. He did not want that man approaching him because he perceived him as aggressive. Whether the man was aggressive or not is completely irrelevant. If my son perceived aggression, he was right to treat the situation that way.

Young moms, be confident in your particular set of skills. Know that they are of God. Do not fall into the world's pattern of "it takes a village." It does not take a village. It takes YOU. Let no one, not even the most experienced people, not even leaders in your church, decide what is best for your kids.

~Tricia

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Priscilla Principle

For a long time, I've been working on putting my system of Bible study into an organized format that is easy to share with others. I call my system The Priscilla Principle. Since I developed this system more than 30 years ago, I have not used another. I learned the basic principles of Bible study in a college class while under the teaching of a wonderful professor who had patience and wisdom in leading his students. Dr. Wayne Knife was always above and beyond expectation in his teaching methods and he strongly impacted my life with his simple, yet effective Bible study methods.

Another man who has been very influential in my Bible study life is Pastor Lowell Spencer, the man who led me to Christ. He preached the Gospel the very first time I heard it and I never got over it. He showed me how to look things up in the Bible and also gave me the greatest piece of advice I've ever received in my entire life - to never take anyone's word for what the Bible says, but to look it up for myself. I still practice that to this day.

If I had to name one thing that has prevented spiritual abuse in my life, this would be that thing. I don't care who is preaching, I look up what they are saying and test it to see if it is in line with the Bible. If not, I confront it. If I'm not in a position to confront it, I simply don't listen to them ever again. This has saved me from spiritual abuse. I have removed my children from under the teaching of various people for this reason. I simply do not tolerate false teaching and to determine false teaching, I must test every teacher/preacher every single time they teach/preach.

The Priscilla Principle is designed to help people do just that. Last week, I finally took the plunge and bought the domain name ThePriscillaPrinciple.com so that I could go forward with the project and take it to the next level. The website gives a brief look into The Priscilla Principle, explains why I chose that name and gives an example on how to make observations of Scripture. I will be adding more and more information to the website in short order.

Also, my book, The Priscilla Principle, will be published on Amazon in the coming months!

My system is not the usual method of:

Observation > Interpretation > Application

My system is:

READ  >  OBSERVE  >  INTERPRET  >  PRAY

This method eliminates the application process of Bible study altogether. Misapplication of Scripture has been the main cause of spiritual abuse in churches all over the world. The Holy Spirit applies His Word to our lives; He's more than capable. 

The main premise of The Priscilla Principle is:
if I am focused on my own behavior, 
or the behavior of others, 
I am not focused on Jesus Christ, 
therefore, my focus is not where it should be.

In Acts 17:10 & 11, the saints in the church at Berea were commended for searching the Scriptures daily to see if the things they were being taught were true. They were called "noble" for doing so! You can do the same. You can search the Scriptures to see if what you are being taught is true. 

Priscilla was a woman grounded in Scripture and not afraid to use it. She and her husband, Aquila, were used mightily in the life of a great preacher, Apollos, when they took him aside after hearing him preach an incomplete message. Priscilla did not tolerate false or incomplete teaching. She confronted it immediately and her confrontation produced wonderful results. Read Acts 18 for the full story. This principle is named after her!

~Tricia


Friday, August 23, 2013

Elephants Don't Believe in Abortion

Fact: Elephants don't believe in abortion.

The birth of a new baby elephant in Indonesia this month made me realize this fact. I'm not a gambler, but I'm willing to bet money that you've never met an elephant that is a proponent of abortion. One could argue that elephants can't reason. They live by instinct, not reason, so naturally they don't "believe" in abortion because they don't "believe" in anything.

Okay.

The new baby elephant born in Indonesia has been born into the "Flying Elephant Squad." This little girl will be raised to protect villages from wild elephants that come in from the forest and, looking for food, do harm to the village farms and the villagers. The Flying Elephant Squad keeps these wild elephants at bay because they are protecting their own.

We can learn a lot from the elephants. Even their human handlers know that they need more elephants in this elite squad so that not only can the villages be protected, but the wild elephants causing the issues can also be protected.

And everyone knows that you won't get more elephants unless more elephants are born.

So, even reasonable men do not perform abortions on elephants.

According to this article, written in January of 2012, the number of abortions in the USA since 1973 was estimated at 54,559,615.

Fifty four MILLION, five hundred fifty nine THOUSAND, six HUNDRED fifteen. I'm sure there's a more recent estimate.

We have shrunk our own military potential......the ability to protect our own with our own.
We have shrunk our own progressive potential......we might think we're doing ok, but that's only because we will never know what potential we destroyed and thus won't know how much better we could be doing.
We have shrunk our own hopes for the future.....because a great, great portion of our future was snuffed out, never to be known.

Fact: Elephants don't believe in abortion because they were created with an instinct to live.

So was man. Sin destroys that instinct, covering it so that it sounds unreasonable.

I'm very glad that elephants don't believe in abortion. I wish mankind would be as smart.
~Tricia

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Devil Quoted Scripture

So, the devil quoted Scripture
He did it very well.
He knew it all, had heard it all
Though his destination Hell.

He quoted it to God, Himself
Threw temptation wide.
He could not even bear the thought
Of Jesus crucified.

Not that he had sympathy,
Oh, my, no not he.
He had another plan, oh, yes
A plan for you and me.

If he could just prevent the thing
Which he hated most,
He would be the ruling one
He would hold that post.

The thing he wanted to prevent
He could not stand to see,
The Lamb of God be crucified?
For you and for me?

No way, thought the devil
I will stop Him on His way
He's hungry; He's thirsty,
Surely He'll see things my way.

And so, when Christ had fasted
Was hungry in need of bread,
That clever devil greeted Him
With Words He Himself had said.

If you are the Son of God
Like you so claim to be,
Make this rock a loaf of bread,
Eat! Be happy!

"Man shall not live by bread alone,
But by every Word...."
When the Son of God gave that response
The devil thought, "Absurd!"

He tried again, oh, yes he did
And, once again he failed.
He quoted Scripture perfectly,
Yet the Son of God prevailed.

One last try, I'll get Him now!
I'll have Him worship me!
The Son of God gave Scripture back..
The devil then did flee.

Based on Matthew 4:1-11

This little poem was written to remind us all that the deceivers ALL use the Scriptures in ALL of their deceitfulness. This makes them hard to spot, hard to argue with, hard to understand.

But, the Word of God is not hard to understand.

When people make you feel it's hard to understand God's Word, or that they have stumbled upon a Biblical principle that "no one else sees," you can be sure they are deceivers and you need to run as fast as you can out of their presence.

Or, better yet, tell them that's false teaching and I assure you, they will run from you. They will not tolerate being found out, whatever it takes.

~Tricia



Monday, August 12, 2013

First Response

My stove quit working one day many years ago. It quit at the most inopportune moment: when we had a house full of company and I needed to cook. Our company was a missionary family, participants of a missions conference at the church my husband was pastor of. The missionary wife's response to my stove dilemma was surprising to me. While I wrestled with the oven dials and tried to get the burners working, she said, "HA! You're just like a missionary, suffering for Jesus!" At the time, I laughed it off. Later, when I had time to think about her comment, I had to disagree. I was not suffering for Jesus.

Over the years, I have met a number of people with her same notion that certain things are to be considered suffering for Jesus. This presents a problem.

When we consider any hardship of others as "suffering for Jesus" we risk not seeing ourselves as part of the solution to their hardship. Even if someone really is suffering for Jesus, not one of us is in a position to know that for sure. Not one of us is in a position to judge whether or not someone's suffering is spiritually related or not. Our first response must be compassion. When we fail to have compassion for the suffering of others, we fail to be like Jesus. When we dismiss someone's suffering and turn our heads the other way, we are not reflecting Jesus.

Compassion leads us to action. Throughout the Scriptures we see that Jesus, time and time again, was "moved with compassion" for people at every turn. He was moved with compassion for crowds as well as individuals. His first response was always compassion for those who were hurting. He never dismissed their suffering as something to be accepted. He drew people in when his disciples were shooing them away. His compassion was remarkable.

We will have suffering. We will see our fellow Christians suffer. But, if our response is to dismiss their suffering and chalk it up to "suffering for Jesus," we will have failed to be like Jesus ourselves. Our goal can be to relieve the suffering of others. Many avoid this for fear of what it will cost them in time, effort and monetary resources.

Christianity is marked by compassion. The compassion of our living God sets us apart. Our ability to show compassion comes from Him. There is no price on compassion. We can't show compassion, then turn around and demand acknowledgement for that compassion and hold it over people. Compassion is a gift. No strings attached.

Compassion. So rare. So beautiful. So life changing. So desperately needed.
May we be driven by compassion for anyone we see suffering, no matter what it may take from us.
~Tricia

Friday, July 26, 2013

Oh, No! Don't Put Me in the Nursery!

I was helping a young woman in our church recruit nursery workers for our growing nursery. I had four kids already and #5 was well on the way, so I used our church nursery a lot, especially since my husband, the pastor, couldn't sit with me and help with the kids. So, I knew the value and importance of nursery workers. I went to *Stacy and asked her if she would be willing to take a turn in the nursery once every six weeks or so. Stacy was a mother herself, but her children were long out of the nursery stage and were all grown. I thought she'd love to help us out.

"Oh, no! Don't put me in the nursery. I've served my time in there. Sorry," was her response. I was a bit taken aback, but was too busy with my own family and other responsibilities to give it further thought that day.

But, later, I mentioned it to my husband. His response was, "Hmmm....okay, then, don't ask her again. Just let it go. She must have a reason."

I let it go and thought no more about it. Life continued in its busy way. My husband continued preaching his exclusively expository messages and the nursery, buzzing with babies, was not mentioned to Stacy again.

One day, several months later, Stacy came to me after church. She said, "Hey, I really want you to put me on the nursery schedule. Are you still looking for workers?  I see we have lots of new babies (and we had a set of twin baby boys, too!) and I'm very capable of helping out with that."

I said, "Sure. Would once every six weeks be okay?"

"No," she responded, "I'll just do it every week, during Sunday School. I'll be the nursery Sunday School worker. I mean, if that's okay with everyone."

Smiling, I said, "I do believe that will be okay with everyone involved! Thank you."

And Stacy joyfully served in that nursery during Sunday School for 12 years. Every single week. Without one complaint.

This, people, is grace at work.

If the idea of grace has to be demanded, begged for and hammered into people, it does not come. You may see behavior changes that people will make to avoid being hammered, but you will not see heart changes that transform people into humble, joyful servants.

Humble, joyful service comes only through grace. Grace comes only from the Lord Jesus Christ.

As King David said in Psalm 27:14, "Wait, I say, on the LORD."

Wait.

I can't even express the joy that comes through waiting on the LORD. It is unspeakable.

~Tricia

(*Not her real name)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Pastor, We Have a Problem.....

"Pastor, we have a problem," are not words my husband was thrilled to hear when his associate pastor said them to him. The church had been growing fast and that, alone, poses its own set of problems. When two pastors have to come together and solve another problem, it is not always easy.

As they sat down together to tackle this new problem, my husband was shocked to hear what Pastor Moises Rodriguez said. In his thick Mexican accent, in his broken English, he said, "Pastor, we have a problem. We meet on Thursday night for prayer and we found that we don't have enough time to study the Word and have prayer. We want to meet on Thursday for Bible study, then meet again on Friday for prayer. Can we do that?"

This type of "problem" was very common in their ministry together. "Yes. Yes. Meet on Friday for prayer. Yes," David responded to Pastor Moises. And they rejoiced together.

The church continued to grow, not only in number, but in grace among our new believers. As their faith was tested over the next few years, they stood firm. This congregation continues to grow and flourish, making time for prayer, Bible study, fellowship and meals together. Their young people are as involved as their older people. Their second generation is not going anywhere. The women are as involved as the men.

Praise be. Bring on more problems such as this one.
This all started with prayer. Simply prayer.
~Tricia

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A Friendly Atheist Teaches the Bible Well

Hemant Mehta, a self-proclaimed atheist, was recently a guest at a mega-church, Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, where Pastor Randy Frazee interviewed him about his atheism.

This entire interview is approximately 38 minutes long. It's worth every minute. I want to highlight a few of his statements as they stood out to me. These things stood out to me because they are things the Bible has already taught us, but are so often overlooked by modern preachers, teachers and churches. This atheist is teaching exactly what the Bible teaches!

 He stated that people, in their efforts to convert him to Christianity, often tell him he has to have faith to believe. He said that makes no sense to him.

A person without Christ cannot possibly understand or comprehend faith in Christ. Romans 10:17 tells us that "faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God." This statement is not random. This chapter in Romans is talking about Israel rejecting Christ; not believing He is the Messiah. Verse 16 shows that Isaiah felt this burden as he said, "Lord, who has believed our report?" Israel rejected Messiah as well as she rejected prophets who declared Him.  The cure for this is faith....which comes by hearing the Word of God. 

What this teaches us is that faith cannot be conjured up by human means. It comes through the Word of God. So, how could it possibly make sense to our atheist? It can't! That's a dead argument to a dead man. Dead men do not have faith.....that is, until it is gifted to them....by no means of their own or by human persuasion. It is a gift. Don't tell a dead man he has to have anything.

He stated that he's heard all the arguments before; tell him something new.

One might argue that there is nothing "new" in the argument to persuade one to become a Christian. I beg to differ:

Psalm 33:3 - Sing unto him a new song.
Psalm 40:3 - He has put a new song in my mouth.
Lamentaations 3:22, 23 - It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.

So, there is a lot of "new" within the Gospel of faith. We simply are not accessing this newness when we tell others of Christ. To overcome this, we must persuade men with God's Word, not with men's words. Sharing concepts, ideals, traditions and/or empty words that are not backed up by outward practice just won't cut it.

He stated that if were ever to convert, it would have to be a personal experience, a personal encounter of his own with Christ. 

Bingo! Not one person has come to Christ without a personal encounter with Him. Not one. Not you. Not me. When a group of Greeks came to Philip in the book of John (12:21), they said, "Sir, we would see Jesus." They, too, desired a personal encounter. 

In summary, these three statements by this friendly atheist taught me this:

1. He's astute enough to recognize that he does not understand faith, revealing his unregenerate state. He's right. How can one without faith understand faith?
2. He's heard all man's arguments; they aren't making an impact. How could they? Man's arguments don't hold water.
3. He identified the Source of the faith he lacks, unknowingly acknowledging that this is what he needs, that a personal encounter with Jesus would seal the deal for him.
4. We cannot preach/teach on behavior, traditions, concepts or ideals. We must preach Jesus and Him crucified.

It's only just a matter of time for the friendly atheist now.  
~Tricia






Monday, July 8, 2013

You Wanna See Grace at Work?

I grew up living in fear. Between threats of harm, guns being held to my mother's head right before my very eyes, beatings that left me black and blue and the screams of my mother and siblings, fear was a constant companion of mine from as far back as I remember. My dad ruled with alcohol and terror, losing control so quickly that I would never see it coming.

So, I knew fear. Fear was my friend. It helped me, protected me, made me aware of impending harm and was as natural to me as my hands. I wouldn't think of going without my fear any more than I would think of cutting off my hands.

Then, when I was 18 years old, I heard about this man, Jesus, Who died for my sin....and I heard that he rose up from the dead.....and I was enraptured with that very idea. How could it be? How could it not be? I became a believer.

My fear remained.

I got married - to a Baptist preacher no less.

My fear remained.

I started having kids.

My fear remained.

By age 26, I had two kids.

My fear remained.

What did I fear? You name it. I feared everything.

I feared being home alone because I knew a gunman would know I was home alone and would strike at that time.

I feared going places because I knew a car accident could happen at any moment, killing me and leaving my children motherless.

I feared medicine because someone could have tampered with it and it would kill me.

I feared. Everything.

One day, I heard a news story about a couple who was killed by their disgruntled repairman. He left their 7-month-old daughter to fend for herself until her parents' bodies were discovered two days later. A horrid story, I took it personally. In my irrationally fearful state, I thought sure that same man could do the same to us. I had a 7-month-old daughter at the time. I grew increasingly fearful to the point where fear completely took over my life. I could barely function for fear.

It never one time occurred to me to pray about my fear. It didn't enter my mind that my fear could be wrong, irrational, unnecessary or "unChristian-like." It just was. My fear was there as much as my hair was on my head; it was part of me. I didn't even feel the need or desire to rid myself of it.

Enter grace.

One night, my husband was sick and could not get up and check the house for whatever noise I'd heard. While I hid most of my fear from him, nightly rounds through the house because I'd heard a noise were common. This one night, he was too sick to wake up. It was left to me to check the house. It took me an hour to check on the kids in their rooms then make my way downstairs. I started this trek down the stairs at 2:00 AM and ended up in the kitchen at 3:00 AM. I checked every door, every lock, every window, turning on all the lights as I passed them by.

Then, it was 3:15 AM, I was wide awake and scared out of my mind. I had no choice but to sit up all night for fear that my dreaded gunman would come because my husband was too sick to defend us. I sat up on the couch till 5:00 AM, totally alert and rigid, ready to protect my children from this awful gunman who would kill parents of babies and leave the babies alone for days.

At 5:00 AM, I thought it was finally safe to go to bed. After all, gunmen do their bloody work in the night. 5:00 AM is a safe hour.  I crawled back into bed, expecting to get three hours of sleep before the kids would wake up.

But, sleep would not come. Instead, I had an extremely startling thought. "What if a gunman killed you; you'd be in Heaven with Jesus; what's so bad about that?"

Ack! No, no! I thought aloud, "I can't leave my children motherless!!"

My next thought, "What? God cannot care for your children? He is God, after all; they are His children."

My thought-conversation continued with, "But we are just human! How could my children endure this?"

Then this:

"I will now lay me down in peace and sleep, for, Thou, Lord, only makes me dwell in safety." Psalm 4:8

"Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither the desolation of the wicked, when it comes." Proverbs 3:25

My next thought, "I don't need my fear! This is totally unnecessary! Whoa!"

Grace.

I have never felt the fear since.

If someone had suggested to me that I needed to rid myself of that fear, I would not have listened nor taken them seriously.

If someone has told me that my fear was sin, I would have thought they were out of their mind.

If someone had told me I needed to pray about my fear, I would not have listened but would have thought they didn't know what they were talking about.

Only God can change a human heart.

No amount of persuasion would have taken my fear like grace did. In one fell swoop, with no fanfare, God, in His unthinkable, unstoppable grace, took my fear and I have lived free from it ever since.

This, my friends, is the living God we serve.

This, my friends, is what our God can do in your life, no matter what you are struggling against......or as it was with me, not struggling against anything at all. I didn't struggle with my fear. I just accepted it as part of me and had planned to live with it for the rest of my life.

God had better plans.

I had nothing whatsoever to do with it..

"It is God Who works in you to will and to do of His good pleasure."  Philippians 2:13.

Trust His grace.
No appointment necessary.
Read my full story here.
Praise be.
~Tricia









Monday, June 24, 2013

The Grace Path

Grace is a wonder. God is the Author of all grace.....I Peter 5:10. Grace is huge. At the end of nearly every letter written to the churches of the New Testament, the writers wrote of grace to the readers. "Grace be with you all," "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all," and my favorite, "But grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." (II Peter 3:18) 

But, how do we grow in grace? How do we access grace in our lives? How can we know we have grace?

There is a path to grace. For the sake of time and space limitations, I've summarized the path of grace into three steps. These are not steps you can take for a result, they are steps that God has already put in place and that He takes in your life. Grace is His. 

The steps of grace:

Learn > Desire > Action

First, we learn of grace.....meaning we learn of Him, our Savior Christ. In Matthew 11:29, Christ says, "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of (from) me..."  Step one: we learn from Him. Since He is the Author of grace, there is no better teacher of grace! 

Learning from Him and about Him has remarkable results. Just simply learning of Him changes our lives. This change can barely be defined as we go about our lives. We don't really see it happening, but one day, as we are going about our lives, we find old desires slowly being replaced by new ones. 

This is grace at work. 

This is God's work in your life. 

You did not create these changes by your strict obedience or anything else.

It is God. Even the very desire to learn of Him comes from Him. 

One day, you notice that your desires are filtered through God's Word, a system of thinking that you have never experienced before. You begin to change. 

This is grace at work.

It is God.

This change taking place in you has a mysterious focus. Suddenly, you want to tell others about your Jesus. You find yourself motivated to look for opportunities to share His love and grace with others. This leads to teaching, serving, prayer and a host of other actions

Service = a sign of grace at work in your life.

God's grace. Grace at work.

Philippians 2:13, "For it is God that works in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure."

God works IN you. 

My husband once said......"We are totally saved by grace, while totally depraved." I added, "In need of total grace."  

Totally saved while totally depraved in need of total grace.

It is God. 

Learn of Him.
Your desire to serve Him comes from that learning.
You will become driven to action by that desire.

Grace be to you.
~Tricia






Friday, June 21, 2013

A Simple Start

It started with a simple prayer. As we went about our business in our new town, we saw many who needed Christ, but we didn't speak their language, we didn't understand their culture, we didn't know how to reach them.

So, we prayed. It really wasn't anything special at all.

Often while out shopping, I saw many Hispanic people. I would smile and sometimes say, "Hola," but that was as far as I felt comfortable going.  So, I would pray, "Lord, look at these people. They need you. I don't know how to reach them, but You do. Show me." And then I would generally be interrupted by a phone call, a child needing me or something else pulling me out of that grocery store prayer.

At home, I shared my burden for these people with my husband. He agreed. We prayed, "Lord, we see these people who need You. Show us what to do; we can't reach them because we don't speak Spanish."

And this went on. I, personally, prayed daily for the opportunity to reach the Hispanics in our town. We prayed occasionally as a couple and as a family. My prayer often held Matthew 9:36-38 where Jesus tells his disciples that the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. He instructs them to pray, very specifically.

Prayer is not a flashy activity. It's a humble thing which we are told to do in private. For such a humble activity, it has great results.

Out of the blue, one Hispanic family came to our church. The next Sunday, they brought a few friends. They continued coming, even though they could not fully understand the preaching. More came. We worked through language and cultural barriers and saw people come to Christ. They were baptized. They were added to the church.

There is now a thriving, growing, bustling Hispanic church in that town.

Oh, and another grew out of that in another town in a neighboring state.

Oh, and another grew in Mexico because the original group became burdened for their home town there.

Simple prayer. No flashy gimmicks. No long planning sessions. Prayer.

"Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest." Matthew 9:38

Just pray.
~Tricia

Friday, June 7, 2013

Priscilla Power

In Acts 18, we read the story of Priscilla and Aquila's encounter with Apollos.

Before we look at that encounter, I want to look more closely at Priscilla. Married to Aquila, she was from Italy. (Acts 18:2) She had recently (at the time of the writing of Acts) come to Corinth with her husband due to persecution; Claudius had commanded that all Jews depart from Rome. Acts 16:19 tells us that Priscilla and Aquila had a church in their house. Paul stayed with them in their home because he had the same occupation; they were tent makers.

This brief glimpse into the Priscilla's life speaks volumes about this amazing woman. She was not a silent bystander while her husband did everything. She was not in the background simply cheering him on, praising him for what he was doing. She was hands-on. The Scripture says "they" were tent makers. She was a tent maker. She had suffered the same persecution as her husband. She was right in the thick of that church in her house. She and her husband traveled on a missions trip with Paul, first to Syria, then to Ephesus (Acts 18:18).

While in Ephesus, Paul left them there and went to various places. While in Ephesus, Priscilla and Aquila met Apollos, an eloquent man who spoke mightily in the Scriptures. Verse 25 says he was "instructed in the way of the Lord," was "fervent in spirit," spoke "diligently the things of the Lord," but that "he only knew the baptism of John." His information was incomplete, yet he "spoke boldly in the synagogue." Guess who was there and heard him? Priscilla and Aquila. As soon as they heard him, they pulled him aside and they "expounded" (explained) the Scriptures "more perfectly" (accurately) to him.

Priscilla and Aquila did this, together. The Scripture gives no indication whatsoever that Aquila did all the talking while Priscilla silently listened. They explained the Scripture to Apollos. They gave him the full, accurate story. They.

God treats men and women as equals.

I met a traveling evangelist once. I spoke to him, introduced myself and shook his hand. He did not look me in the eye one time. I was very frustrated about that and said, "Is there something wrong?"

His reply shocked me. He said, "I don't look women in the eye, and generally don't talk to them. My wife can't always travel with me, so looking at and talking to women can be a problem."

This man has a problem all right. If he can't so much as look at a woman and talk to a woman, his problem is severe and he is not qualified to be an evangelist or in any spiritual leadership position. Imagine! How would he take it if Priscilla confronted him? Would he listen? Apollos listened, took her and her husband's advice and went on to "convince the Jews, and publicly, that Jesus was Christ."

Priscilla was not afraid to be grounded in Scripture. She was not afraid to talk to anyone about doctrine and straighten them out if she needed to. Priscilla was  not a silent bystander who only listened while her husband did the work of the ministry. She was in the thick of it, boldly serving, speaking out about incomplete doctrine and serving and traveling right along with the men.

And God approved.

Ladies, don't let anyone ever minimize your role in the church, in the influence of those around you (male and female) and treat you like you are not allowed to be spoken to or listened to. That is spiritual abuse and you can rise up and demand it stop. Do not allow yourself to be minimized. You have a voice for Jesus Christ and you have every right, and even obligation, to use it.

~Tricia

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Term Of Convenience

Last night, there was a news special on the news show 20/20 and it piqued my interest. William and Kate are having a baby this summer and 20/20 decided to devote an hour to their story. It was interesting to learn a few things about the British and their babies. I learned they don't have baby showers because they think it's incredibly rude to invite people to give them gifts. I learned that a royal baby's nanny becomes proficient in Tae Kwon Do in order to property defend the baby. And they learn evasive driving techniques to avoid the paparazzi.


Kate is still pregnant. Yet not one time did they refer to her unborn child as a fetus. They called him or her "the baby." Every. Single. Time.

Fetus is a term of convenience. Abortionists know that using the term fetus for the unborn sounds medical and helps pregnant women come to terms with an abortion more easily.

What does it mean?

According to even a simple source like Wikipedia, the word fetus is from the Latin and literally means "offspring," "bringing forth," and "hatching of young."

So, an abortionist could say "I will abort your fetus," yes, but they could also say, "I will abort your offspring" or "I will abort your young."

Abort means simply to terminate some process. In pregnancy, that process is the development (growth) of the fetus. So, an abortionist could say, "I will terminate the growing process of your offspring now," or "I will terminate the growth of your young now."

What if abortionists actually talked like that?  It would be more humane. It would be more understandable to the young women in their clinics.

Wouldn't that be something?
~Tricia

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Eternal Rewards

Today, as my husband preached on multi-ethnic ministry from Acts 13:1-4, I was struck by the wonderful memories it evoked. Before the message, he showed a video of a bi-lingual baptism we'd had in the past and I was nearly overcome with joy at the knowledge of where those brothers and sisters are now.
They are serving. They are evangelizing. They are working for the Lord Jesus Christ in their local church and that church continues to grow. They practically need a building program already! God is so good. He has remained faithful to these brothers and sisters. I'm incredibly thankful that we are able to keep in touch with them and continue to see their obedience to the Lord and their work in His church.
Seeing our spiritual children grow in the Lord and in His work is one of the huge joys of ministry. (This is not only true of our spiritual children, but of our physical children, too, who are all our spiritual children, too!)


This growth did not come without hardship, obstacles and persecution. But, it was worth it all! Not one brother or sister was lost in all the hardship we suffered together. They remain faithful, true and close as we all now serve from different places. These are eternal rewards.

Praise be!
~Tricia

Monday, May 13, 2013

Guilty! Justice!

The jury said "Guilty" on three counts of first degree murder for Kermit Gosnell. Guilty of murder. Justice for these babies, slaughtered where he thought no one would notice or dare go against him.

Justice is served.
The death penalty would solidify this decision further.
~Tricia

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Do You Tell your Broccoli Where to Go?

What does broccoli have to do with Inductive Bible study? Read on.

I could write a whole boring post about why I love inductive Bible study, why I think it's the only way to truly study the Bible and why I think people who do not practice it do not grow as they could spiritually. I could make arguments for all that and more, but, instead, I'm going to make a list.



Inductive Bible study does the following:

******It protects you from false doctrine.
******It protects you from spiritual abuse.
******It keeps you from making presumptions about the Bible.
******It gives you discernment.
******It hones your ability to perceive God's will in your life.
******It empowers you to stand against oppression

One woman I know had never done inductive Bible study before and I taught her how. Years later, she said she's now able to understand the Bible better and that learning this "opened the Bible up like never before." Praise be. Mission accomplished.

I have met people who feel intimidated about doing inductive Bible study. It is not difficult. Our gracious Holy Spirit guides us to comprehend only what we are ready for. He wants us to understand the Bible. There is no mystery. You need two things:

Observation
Interpretation

Observation of Scripture means simply to observe what's written in the Bible. I highly recommend going through a book of the Bible systematically to avoid making assumptions. I have done a few studies that were not simply through a book from start to finish. I led a study on Christology and another on prayer. I'm always nervous to do that, however, for fear I will alter something. No one is immune from doing that. Observation leads to interpretation. We observe what the Bible says, dig deeper for word meanings and tenses. Pay attention to grammar and locations, history and traditions of the day, etc. It's a good idea to write your observations down.

I do not include application as one of the steps of Bible study, but many people do. That makes no sense to me. I have had people try to apply the Bible to my life and they have all missed the mark. We simply can't apply the Bible to another person's life, nor can we really apply it to our own lives. That's the job of the Holy Spirit....Who is perfectly capable of applying His Word to our lives as He sees fit. It will not return void...this is a promise....it's enough for us to read It, observe it and not take His matters into our own hands. Because It is alive, It will change your life without your help.

Trying to apply God's Word to your life, or to someone else's life, is like telling your food where to go in your body. If you are eating broccoli and chicken, do you tell that broccoli where to go? Do you say, "Now, broccoli, go to my legs, they are feeling weak today." Or do you say, "Meat, shine up my hair, it's rather dull." It simply doesn't work that way. You eat a steady, healthy diet and the food nourishes your body over time. A steady diet of inductive Bible study, coupled with expository preaching in your local church makes for spiritual health.  This is one reason my husband has been fully committed to expository preaching for 30 years.

Applying the Bible to someone's life is also fuel for legalism. Most people want to please other people and get the idea that if they change their behavior, they will be accepted. Changing outward behavior can never be a goal of true spiritual growth. If there's a heart change, the outward behavior will automatically follow. Many pastors push for behavior changes and many people comply. It's like saying, "Behave yourself as you go to Hell!"

Remember:

God wants us to understand His Word. (Colossians 1:9 & 10)
He wants us to know Him. (Philippians 3:10)
He has promised to help us. (Matthew 28:20)
He has promised us peace. (Philippians 4:9)
He has given us His Spirit forever. (John 14:16)

Read.
Observe.
Study.
Grow.

~Tricia



Thursday, April 25, 2013

About Listening

"Mommy, I am very angry with you!" said my then 5-year-old son.

A friend who was with us at the time was appalled and said, "You let him talk to you that way? I would never!"

My reply, "Talk to me what way? Telling me honestly how he feels? I see no disrespect in this. He's telling me how he feels and I'm glad." At that, I talked to my son, found out why he was angry with me, dealt with it and he moved on. I can't remember now why he was angry with me, but no doubt it had to do with some little-boy-thing which seemed very big to him at the time. 

I've made many mistakes in parenting my eight kids. I became a mom before I realized the full implications of becoming a mom - as most moms do - and was the mom of a basketball-team-sized family before I knew what hit me! I had no perfect answers for what being a mom meant and really no time to analyze my situation. If I had stopped to think about it, my thinking would have been quickly interrupted by someone needing a diaper change, or needing to be fed, or whatever they continued to need. Motherhood was upon me and I had work to do. Despite my imperfections as a mom, my kids have turned out to be wonderful, God-fearing people who have respect and compassion for all people. 

This is the grace of God. This is no small thing.

In all the hullabaloo I experienced as a mom, one thing was always important to me: my children needed to have a voice. For them to have a voice with me, it meant I had to listen to them. This is something I intentionally tried to do every day.

As a child reared in the home of a violent alcoholic, I had no voice. Having no voice is devastating to anyone, let alone a young girl being repeatedly abused. I was taught very early on that my voice had no merit, my thoughts did not matter, my opinions were not viable, my needs not worth mentioning, and that I was not worth listening to. Imagine the struggle to overcome such thinking.....thinking that had been reinforced time and time again by overbearing adults who were, in my life as a child, supposed to have authority. When those in authority abuse that privilege by downsizing any and all needs of those they have authority over, it produces a way of thinking that is far from what the Bible teaches.

So, because of this, my kids were always allowed to tell me if they were angry, frustrated, sad, lonely, etc. They were allowed to feel these things and they were, and still are, allowed to communicate these things to me. I still see no disrespect in them simply telling me how they feel, even if it's a negative feeling. Everyone gets angry, becomes sad, etc. These are not emotions to fear.

As a child, I did not speak out very often. Once, when my dad was yelling at the top of his lungs at one of my brothers for his bad grades, telling him how stupid he was, I tried to speak out on my brother's behalf. I told my dad that he should not call him stupid. At that, my dad turned on me and I thought he was going to kill me. I didn't speak out again. He was not listening. The only voice he wanted to hear was his own, and he didn't even listen to that one!

The Bible teaches that we all have a voice. Jesus listened to leaders and he listened to beggars. He listened to women. He listened to children. He listened to men. He healed. He fed. He taught. He treated all people the same. He did not get offended when people questioned Him. He simply told the Truth no matter what.

All people have a voice with the Savior.
He listened.
He really listened.
Listening to people gives them their voice. What a great gift!

Are you listening?
Do you know how to listen?
Today, practice listening. Just listen. You might be quite surprised at what you learn by simply listening.
~Tricia








Friday, April 19, 2013

While You Were.......


A few weeks ago, I wrote this poem and put it up on my Facebook wall. Today, I thought it was a good idea to share it here, on my blog. With all the tragedy our nation is facing and all the uncertainty we face as a nation, perhaps this will help us focus on what's really important.

While You Were.....

While you were fighting for your rights,
Your neighbor up and died.
He did not hear you tell him,
Of your Jesus crucified.

Instead he heard your latest call
For things you would not buy.
He didn't really have a clue
What price he'd pay for that lie.

The lie is very clear now,
As plain as it can be.
The lie is known to all who dwell
Without Christ for eternity.

The lie is simple to believe
And sounds so true and right.
The lie so sorely tempts us
To fight for a human plight.

But, alas, the lie is just that
A lie, no more, no less
The lie distracts us all
From His righteousness.

For what difference will it make
In your neighbor's eternity
If he enters it while living right,
While Hell remains his destiny?

He can wear a tie
And be straight as he can be
And still face the plight
Of a Christ-less eternity.

We're better off to fight
for the Gospel every day,
A fight that we are sure to win
For the price that Jesus paid

All man's pride, gay or straight
Will be brought down one day
By the One Who conquered sin
By the One Who lights the way.

So,  tell those neighbors yet today
The joy that waits for them,
When they put their faith in the Savior
Who can save them from their sin.

This Savior will save them
As only He can,
And create in them
A completely new man!

A man who does no longer need
To lean upon his sin:
A man who surely will not stay,
In the path of his own whim.

A changed man your neighbor can be
If he will trust Christ for his eternity.

The Gospel makes the difference
In the lives of all people today,
Not a boycott or a protest;
Not a petition about being gay.

The Gospel takes a man
And makes him new inside;
So his sin no longer rules his life
And he looks to the Crucified.

Even you, all taut with pride
Can find eternal rest with the crucified,
So, please do tell me,
Why do you protest?

He died for you, too
To light and show the way,
To His eternal peace and rest,
You can know Him today.

~Tricia

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

About Birthdays

Today, one of my sons turns 17 years old. Wow. He's a wonderful young man whom I love to spend time with.

There is something incredibly powerful about my children's birthdays. They touch me more deeply than my own birthdays. Seriously. When they were growing up, birthdays were special because everyone got a day off school, I was always in the kitchen making their birthday cake, which made the house smell wonderful, and we paused for just a moment in the chaos of life, to let the birthday boy or girl know that their birthday was worth pausing for...that they are special, wanted, loved and worth celebrating.



When I first became a mom, I had no idea I would end up being mom to eight kids. As each pregnancy came, I rejoiced with excitement as though it was my first. I followed the progress of my growing baby, taught the other kids that their new sibling couldn't wait to meet them (this avoided jealously altogether) and prepared for the birth of each baby with great anticipation.

I also quickly learned that not everyone shared my great anticipation. Not everyone was so happy about my babies. Not everyone shared my and my husband's joy. I found this incredibly confusing because the Bible tells me that "Children are an heritage of the Lord; blessed it he who has his quiver full of them." (Psalm 127:3) Yet, all my naysayers were Christian people. How can this be? They said things like:

"No way, another baby? How many are you gonna have?"

My response was always, "As many as we want."

"Well, I don't know what you're thinking, but all those babies are expensive and I don't see how you can afford another one!"

My thought in response to this was, "How can we afford NOT to have more?"

"I think you should stop and think about what you're doing here....so many babies can't be good for you."

My thought was, "My doctor says pregnancy is good for me. Since he's the medical professional, I'll go with his opinion."

"Seriously? Another baby already? When are you two going to stop?"

My response, "Seriously. Another baby. Relax, you don't have to pay for this baby or do anything for him or her."

"You have got to be kidding me! You already have two - a boy and a girl - what more do you want?"

"You have got to be kidding me! You already have three!"

"You have got to be kidding me! You already have four!"

"You have got to be kidding me! You already have five! Oh, for crying out loud."

"You two will never have any money."

To my utter confusion, no one in my "Christian" world seemed to be happy about what I thought was one of the greatest blessings of all time.

My response to all this? I didn't argue with my naysayers. What could I say? I was guilty of having "yet another baby." I had no defense.

But I DID have a response. I certainly did. My response?

Have "yet another" baby.

So very, very glad I did!

~Tricia


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

My Church and Me

This month marks 30 years that I have been a pastor's wife. To me, this is not an occupation, but rather a result of my husband's call to the ministry. If he's called to be a pastor, I'm going to be a pastor's wife. Pretty simple.

Kudos to him - 30 faithful years in pastoral ministry! He was pastor of  four different churches and planted three others.

Despite the confusion I always felt from the expectations of those around me as a pastor's wife, my role in all this has been to be his wife, the mother of his children and the person God wants me to be. The only expectations I perceive I need to fulfill are first God's, then my husband's.

I was not raised in a Christian home, far from it, so I never had a pastor in my life, let alone his wife. I did go to church as a teenager for a couple of years, but going to be with my sisters and friends, then laughing in the back row, hardly qualifies me as a church-goer. When I did hear and receive the Gospel, at 18 years of age, I joined a church shortly thereafter....and had a pastor. His wife was always sweet and kind to me, but I had no expectations of her. This is why people's expectations of me, as a pastor's wife, have been so confusing.

Last Friday, Kevin T. Bauder of Central Seminary, wrote a blog post on In The Nick of Time that I can't stop thinking about. It captured my whys; my reasons for going to church, for being so committed to church, for my service in the church, etc.

Because my position as a pastor's wife is not my motivation for anything I do in the church, this blog post really resonated with me. Let me highlight a few things he said that were especially meaningful to me:

"All church members submit themselves to the discipline of their church, which means that they submit themselves mutually to one another. They swear (for the covenant is an oath) that they will watch over one another, care for one another, and hold one another accountable for both private and corporate spirituality."

"A church is not a social club. It is a covenanted body. People should never join a church casually or with mental caveats about what they will do if things do not go their way in the church. Church membership should be viewed less like a date and more like a marriage in the respect that both marriage and church membership begin with a vow before God. There is something deeply immoral about church-hopping, just as there is something disturbing about those believers who wish to attend a church while refusing the commitments of membership."

"A church is a community. Church members cannot expect to fulfill their covenant obligations if they only meet each other during the public assemblies. The nature of their mutual duties requires that they develop relationships that go far beyond the gatherings of the church. They must experience a level of transparency and trust that comes only with knowing one another well."

"Churches pride themselves on attracting a number of attendees that would have been inconceivable in the past. Anonymity is endemic to the situation. We are beset with a sense that our personal lives are nobody else’s business, and that word nobody includes the fellow members of our churches.
Nothing could be more deadly to church life."
"A church has to do more than to foster special-interest groups (such as a youth group, a sportsmen’s group, a mothers-of-preschoolers group, a quilting circle, etc.). It also has to do more than assign members to small-group studies. While these activities may be a part of the solution, by themselves they cannot do more than to produce a congregation of cliques. In a large church filled with members who are unknown to one another, such activities are better than nothing, but they are not enough. They will not produce a body in which the members are genuinely fulfilling their covenant obligations to one another."
I urge you to read the entire blog post, and the follow-up which is to come this Friday. 

I, personally, do what I do in the church out of a deep love and debt to my Savior and out of obedience to Him.....not because I'm a pastor's wife. My love for the Savior and obedience to Him drives all that I do, in the church and outside the church. Who would want it to be different? This is the ultimate motivation. From this, we learn about His sovereignty, about how trusting Him is a show-piece of our faith, an opportunity for our faith to be seen, not just heard. When times are tough, this will shine through. It will be made manifest.

Praise be.
~Tricia