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Posts Tagged ‘Holy Spirit’

???????????????????????????????We recently returned from a week on the northern shore of Lake Superior with our sons, daughter-in-laws and grandchildren. Paul and I wanted to celebrate 40 years of marriage with the family that matters so much to us. Hundreds of photos testify to the fact that precious memories were made.

We hiked, biked and dove into the cold waters together. We bumped heads and dried tears. We sat at table together. Laughed together. Prayed together. We are three generations not randomly thrown together by chance but purposefully knit together by the God of design.

On Sunday morning, we gathered in the great room of the cabin to read God’s Word, sing, and encourage generational faithfulness. It seemed fitting for me as a grandmother to speak to the eldest of the grandchildren Jaden, Ethan, Andrew and Max because they will always have the privilege of setting examples for their younger brothers and sisters Kate, Leah, Sam and Lane.

To get their attention, I asked: “What do worms, mosquitos, bedbugs and flies have to do with being a Christian and following Jesus?” Then I shared with them the true story of Darlene Diebler.

Darlene was born in Boone, IA. She was raised in a Christian home and knew Jesus Christ as her Savior. Encouraged by parents and pastors, she memorized Scripture and words of hymns. As her love for the Lord grew, so did her desire to become a missionary. When Russell Diebler, an experienced missionary, asked her to marry him, she said “Yes!”

The newlyweds settled in New Guinea before their first anniversary. Darlene was excited by the possibilities of living among people who had never heard of Jesus Christ. But Darlene did not become the kind of missionary she had dreamed of. A world war broke out and, together with other missionaries, she was taken prisoner by the Japanese. Men were put in one camp; women and children in another.

Darlene spent her days caring for the sick, comforting the fearful, working in the gardens or pig house, and repeatedly shared the hope of God’s Word—even with the camp commander. On the day when he called her into his office to tell her that her husband had died, a strange thing happened. Instead of breaking down in despair, Darlene witnessed to her captor about why her faith in Jesus Christ would sustain her. Her confidence and uncommon behavior caused the man to leave the room, but not before Darlene saw his eyes glisten with tears.

The only personal item not taken from Darlene was her Bible. God’s Word was light in her darkness. When she got mad at God, she read. When she questioned His will, she read. When she felt sorry for herself, she read. We might wonder: Why didn’t she just give up? Why continue fighting for life when all seemed so hopeless? Darlene didn’t give up because God’s Word was life to her! In meditating upon the Word, the Holy Spirit overcame doubt and turned her eyes to the goodness, faithfulness and promise of God. She was reminded that God had already gone before her and yet, at the same time, was right beside her.

Fear rose up again when Darlene was accused of being a spy for the American army. She was taken away by angry men who had no respect for her as a human being. They placed her in solitary confinement and took away her Bible. Her meals consisted of rice infested with worms. There was no way to protect herself from the flies and mosquitos that carried diseases. Bedbugs bit her flesh all night. Soon, Darlene became very ill. Malaria, beriberi, and dysentery ravaged her body and drained her physical strength. At times, words of prayer failed her. But the Holy Spirit was interceding for her with “groanings too deep for words” (Romans 8:26). He brought to mind Words of the Lord she had committed to memory and verses of hymns sung as a child.

When Darlene was feverish and quite possibly near death, a man appeared with a little bit of medicine. She never saw that man again; in fact, no one else saw or knew of him. To this day, she is convinced he was an angel. Within a very short time—and without a doctor—Darlene regained her strength.

All the worms, flies, mosquitos, and bedbugs tortured her body, but they did not kill her. The Japanese soldiers treated her worse than an animal, but they could not remove her identity as a daughter of God or take from her the Holy Spirit who dwelled within her.

What does this story have to do with my grandchildren? I believe that the prince of this world, the devil, and the culture shaped by his deception will pester my grandsons and granddaughters like so many mosquitos and flies. God’s Word is their only defense. Jesus says,

Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you . . . your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:19-20).

I believe the names of my grandchildren are written in heaven. As baptized children of God in Jesus Christ, I believe they have power over the enemy. I also believe that when they live their faith, they will have an uncommon effect on the people around them.

Darlene’s faith in Christ had an effect on the Japanese prison commander. When he saw that she was not crushed under her load of suffering but had the strength to speak of Jesus even to him—her enemy, his attitude toward her changed. He became her advocate and, even though she was removed from under his authority into the hands of others, he did everything he could to keep her alive during her time in solitary confinement.

It won’t be easy for my grandchildren to live their faith; to “pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness” (1 Timothy 6:11). Even their friends may taunt them or abandon them for not “fitting in”. But God does not want His children to be common and malleable in the hands of just anybody. He wants them to be uncommon and malleable in His hands and for His purpose.

To help my grandsons and granddaughters, I want to be what my grandmother was to me. She was my encourager. My comfort. My example of faithfulness.

When I think of my grandmother, the words of one of her favorite Scripture passages speak to me. They are also words to a hymn. Because I pray my family will fight the good fight, I asked my husband, sons, daughters, grandsons and granddaughters to sing it with me:

Fight the good fight with all your might;
Christ is your strength and Christ your right.
Lay hold on life, and it shall be
Your joy and crown eternally.

Run the straight race through God’s good grace;
Lift up your eyes, and seek His face.
Life with its way before us lies,
Christ is the path, and Christ the prize.

Faint not nor fear, His arms are near;
He changes not who holds you dear;
Only believe, and you will see
That Christ is all eternally.

(LSB 664 “Fight the Good Fight” –
Text: John S.B. Monsell – 1 Timothy 6:12)
This post inspired by Darlene Deibler Rose
Evidence Not Seen:
A Woman’s Miraculous Faith in the Jungles of World War II
A Ruth Graham Dienert Book, 1988

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modest dressWelcome back!  Are you ready to…

#4 — Mentor a Changed Attitude

For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord (2 Corinthians 4:5).

Reflect Christ, not self.  It is natural to default to self.  We too easily focus on our needs and defend our behaviors.  But it’s not about me!  It’s about God our Creator and Redeemer!  It’s not about first loving “me”; it’s about first loving God.  Loving God first means that we will more easily love and serve others in His name and with His forgiveness, mercy and kindness.  God created the first man and woman in His image.  We have fallen from that perfect image, but because of what Jesus Christ has done for us, it is possible with the help of the Holy Spirit to reflect more of God and less of self.  In what ways can we point people to God and less to ourselves?  How does a woman who professes to worship God speak?  Dress?  Treat others?  What kind of choices does she make?  What does it mean to be free of the life that we thought would make us happy and to, instead, live life in a way that leads others to Christ?

Be a Vessel for Honorable Use.  God’s Word tells us, “Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work” (2 Timothy 2:21).  What is our house?  Who is the “master of the house”?  What is our “good work”?   What more do we learn about ourselves in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20?   What a difference it makes when we see ourselves as God sees us!  Recognizing that our Baptism makes us daughters of God through Christ, we can “flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness” (2:22).

Practice a Changed Attitude.  On brightly colored sticky notes, write: “It’s not about me”.  Place this reminder on a mirror, in a wallet, by the sink, on the refrigerator, in the car, and inside the cover of a well-worn Bible.  Jesus promised that He would send “another Helper” (John 14:16).  That “Helper”, the Holy Spirit, “will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (14:26).  That “Helper” is “the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.  And you also will bear witness” (15:26-27).  When we believe that Jesus is Truth, how will our attitude and witness change?

Adjust Focus.  Instead of fantasizing through the pages of romance novels (which, if played out in real life, should make us blush) or searching for our inner selves through “spiritual masters”, we can find our true identity and rightful behavior in Jesus Christ.  Rather than being tempted by the ideas of others or our own passions, we can turn our eyes away from “irreverent, silly myths” and, instead, “train [ourselves] for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:7-8).  Training in godliness begins at the foot of the Cross where, at the beginning and end of every day, we can leave our baggage of sin, disappointments, and wrong perspective.  There, at the Cross, we can focus on Jesus who says, “I am the Way, and the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).

Live a Holy, Not Sexy Life.  God calls us to be holy (1 Thessalonians 4:7; 1 Peter 1:14-16).  We can mentor others away from the self-focus of sensual dress by explaining our responsibility to help men avoid temptation.  A suggested Bible study for girls ages 13 and up is Dressing for Life: Secrets of the Great Cover-up (#LFLDFL) available from CPH.

Resist the Idolatry of Self-Worship.  Analyze words and phrases such as “self-worth”, “self-promotion”, “celebration of self”, and “self-esteem”.  In the last days, writes St. Paul to Timothy, people will be lovers of self (2 Timothy 3:2).  Spend a day with an “older” Christian woman whose life appears self-less.  Ask: Is it necessary to preserve self?  From where do we get our worth?  Is there benefit in promoting self?  Is there any reason to celebrate self?  What do we learn from Christ?  To “put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires” and to “be renewed in the spirit of your minds” and to “put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:21-24).

Rebel Against the Culture.    Help a younger generation turn from “me” to others.  Gather a small group of women together for an “It’s Not About Me” night.  Forget the pedicures and pampering.  Instead, discuss what women can do to bring out the best in men by way of dress, speech and behavior.  List the ways that women can help one another practice biblical womanhood and not be shamed in doing so.  Design postcards that proclaim “It’s Not About Me” with 2 Corinthians 4:5 printed on each card.  Finish off with stamping, calligraphy or artwork. Be of service through accountability by sending the cards to one another throughout the year.

What’s Next?  #5: Mentor Self-Control

Ezer’s Handbook is a resource developed by
Linda Bartlett and presented at Titus 2 Retreats.

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two women talkingReady for a second opportunity?   Here’s #2 from Ezer’s Handbook

#2 — MENTOR CONFIDENCE IN THE CREATED ORDER

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” (Genesis 2:18).

Find Hope in the Order of God’s Creation.  Woman was not created at the same time, in the same way, or for the same purpose as man (Genesis 2:7, 15-22).  But many women perceive the role of “helper” (2:18) as being inferior or second-best.  Encourage younger and older women in your circle of relationships to read John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7-8.  Who is “the Helper” of whom Jesus speaks?  “Helper” in Greek is parakletos which means “comforter” or “advocate”.  “Helper” might also mean “encourager” or “ally”.  The question for women is: how will we choose to help or encourage? Submission is another troublesome word for us as women, but a biblical perspective helps bring understanding.  God uses the order of His very nature—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—to bring hope to a sinful people.  The Trinity is equal, but with different and definitive roles.  Jesus Christ is God, yet He submitted Himself to the Father for the sake of our salvation.  To bring order out of chaos, God uses the headship of husband and father in marriage and family for the benefit and well-being of children and society.  God uses the submission of the Son, Jesus Christ, to save His Bride, the Church, and serve with humility.  What begins to change when we understand “helper” and “submission” in light of God’s Word rather than our own opinion?

Trust the identity bestowed in Baptism.  A woman’s identity is not dependent on a man’s love, her appearance or what she does.  God does not define a woman as “sexual,” but as “holy”.  In Baptism, a woman becomes a daughter of God in Jesus Christ.  Yes, she is still a sinner, but now God sees her covered in Jesus’ robe of righteousness.  From a biblical perspective, the word “holy” means “set apart by God”.  “Holy” is the opposite of common.  Something common can be used by anyone, but a holy woman is used by God for good and holy purpose.  In light of her Baptism, how can a woman view herself?  How does true identity affect our choices and behavior?

Believe That Male and Female Are More Than Sexual. Too often, we skip from Genesis 1:27 to Genesis 2:24.  In doing so, we miss something very important about the complementary purpose and vocation of male and female.  Before God brought Adam and Eve together as “one flesh” in His institution of marriage, He called man to be a steward of all that He had made, to remember God’s Word, and to choose life.  God called woman to help man in the stewardship of all creation and help him remember God’s Word and choose life.  Do men and women have to be married in order to serve God in these ways?  Although it has become commonplace during the last 50 years for men and women to be identified as “sexual beings,” we are more than that to God.  While it is true that God designed male and female in the faithfulness of marriage to procreate, it is just as true that unmarried men and women are “holy” in Christ Jesus and can work together as caretakers of God’s world and be people of His Word and advocates of human life.  We are not defined by our sexuality—in this life or the next—but by our holiness.  What do Jesus’ words about marriage in Matthew 22:30 tell us about our “sexual” identity?  To help yourself and others better understand true identity as male and female, google The Failure of Sex Education in the Church: Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity (publication release: May 2014 by Linda Bartlett).  We can help others understand that no matter our age, health or circumstance in life, every male and female has unquestionable identity and purpose as “holy ones”.

Stand Guard Against the Enemy of Life.  Satan despises God’s order of creation because he wants us to live in chaos.   His one question, “Did God really say . . .,” was all it took for Eve to doubt God’s Word for her life (Genesis 3:1).  In doubt, Eve loosened her grip on the Sword of Truth.  Did she believe that she was the privileged recipient of some new knowledge that God was keeping from her? Do you see how quickly she not only spoke for God but inserted words God never spoke (compare Genesis 3:2-3 with 2:16-17)?  Nothing has changed.  Satan continues to stir up doubt by asking women the same question.  “Did God really say . . .?”  Like Eve, do we respond by speaking what God does not about sexuality, marriage, abortion, headship and women’s ordination?  Do we try to establish our own standard of right and wrong?  Challenge yourself to help younger women fear, love and trust God above all things.  Help them to recognize what is counterfeit and of Satan by knowing Jesus Christ, the Word of Truth (John 1:1-5, 14).

What’s next?  #3: Mentor Biblical Womanhood

Ezer’s Handbook is a resource developed by
Linda Bartlett and presented at Titus 2 Retreats

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praying womanEzerwoman has sadly neglected her blog this year.  Two years ago, she began a project that had, in reality, been taking shape for twenty years or more.  Ezerwoman prays that the work will soon be completed.  If God so blesses the effort, then Ezerwoman will share the news with you.

An ezer is a helper.  This ezer strives to help and encourage men and women, but also the Church.  Would you please pray that this helper receives the help of the Holy Spirit?  Truly, the Holy Spirit is The Helper, Encourager, and Counselor.

As for all the rest of you ezerwomen — you helpers of husbands, children, parents, siblings, friends and neighbors — may God grant you wisdom, desire for holiness, and strength to shine light into the dark places of this world.  Sons and daughters of God in Jesus Christ anticipate His return for us but, while we wait, we affect the culture one life at a time.

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ (COLOSSIANS 2:8).

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