Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christ-mess or Christ-mass?


 
 After six years of the study of the Hebraic heritage of our faith and these last nine months studying early church history; I honestly have felt some confusion! It seems God likes to get me good and lost before He finds me! God’s feasts and holy law. . .verses the traditional church calendar and what many call the “new law of Christ”.  If God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, then what of all this mess?  That in itself would be a book to write, so I will stick with the current Holiday-Season and go with one theme. 

 I feel like for the first 27 years of my life a celebrated a Christ-mess!  Several years ago the Lord asked us to lay all of that down.  It was a little difficult but I honestly didn’t see what all the holiday mess really had to do with His incarnation anyway!  Study of history showed that the Church more than likely took a pagan holiday and just put a big “Jesus” sticker on it to justify all the parties and revelry that was going on among pagans (and some Christians) during the Winter Solstice.  So letting go of this didn’t really seem like a very big deal to us. Overeating, overspending, watching football and the Macy’s parade didn’t really seem too heretical to give up each December.   We saw banners that read “Keep Christ in Christmas”. . . . So television shows like “Desperate Housewives” do a special Christmas episode and I am suppose to be happy that they have called it ‘Christmas’ and not ‘Holiday’!  That’s what this big Christ-mess is.  How did God’s holy named get dragged into the mud of celebrity albums, inappropriate holiday movies, and drunken parties?  I asked myself why in the world and early church Christian would have mixed God in with the pagan revelry going on at the time.  After MUCH study (and time) the mess is beginning to clear up a little.  As it turns out, the early believers didn’t try to stick God’s name in the middle of the pagan festivities.  They instead held a special MASS to honor Christ in the attempt to turn the pagans away from idolatry and to the Lord Jesus.  If you are a Protestant you may have no idea what a MASS is. Well, that is part of what I researched this year.  Mass comes from 'Missio' meaning:  ‘to be sent forth’ of which is also derived the word 'Mission'.  (Scripturally derived; see Mathew 28:19 -' go therefore and make disciples of all nations' Or again: Mark 16:15: 'go into all the world and proclaim the good news'.) If you have ever attended a Catholic Mass then you know the entire service is a proclaiming of the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord.  At the end of each Mass are the words: "Ite, Missa est”. . . or “Go, you are sent forth”.  As in. . . now you are to go and proclaim the good news!

So in a pagan world the early believers held a special Christ-Mass to proclaim the good news to those who were worshiping the sun god.  Come out and away from your partying, gluttony, selfish ambition, and idolatry and come and meet the One who brings light to the Nations! 

Isaiah 9: 2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, Upon them a light has shined.

If you are not Jewish, this verse is about you!  (Remember before the birth of Christ, Israel is the only people group that knew the one true God.)

Now I must ask, what has happened?  Through the years we may have kept Christ’s name involved but many of the practices of the heathen have been adopted in.  The Christ-Mass was meant to draw people out of darkness and to the Light.  It was meant to bring the nations to worship the one true God of Israel.  How has this great Mass (telling) turned back into a mess over the centuries?  That is not a question I can answer for anyone but myself.  I had personally allowed Christ’s-Mass to become just a fun time to eat, drink, and be merry.  A time for me to get stuff.  A time for me to get time off of work.  A time for me to; me to; me to. . . . (ME–ME- ME -ME! It’s all about ME!)  Instead of letting the Light shine into my darkness, I had chosen to take on the ways of the nations and put Jesus as my ‘side dish’ each holiday season.

For six years my family has celebrated the nativity of our Lord in the fall during the Feast of Tabernacles.  History gives a good argument for this being the accurate time and after all the scripture tells that:

The Word became flesh, and did tabernacle among us, and we beheld his glory, glory as of an only begotten of a father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

This has been a great time of cleansing out all the dross in our life. (Okay, I guess it’s not all out yet, but we are working with the Lord on that!)  It caused us to get rid of the mess we had allowed in.  And though we will continue the celebration of His birth at Tabernacle, we have now had the Christ-mess cleared up and are able to see the original intention of the Christ-Mass.

This year we participated in Advent for the first time.  Our family lit the advent candles while reciting the liturgy, prayers and scripture each week.  We experienced a Chrismon service.  Our children opened the Advent calendar and read the daily devotions that go with it.  We really felt that time of “preparation”.

As for Christmas:  We attended the actual Christ-Mass at St. Anne’s this morning.  Then we took our children to the local nursing home to sing worship songs and give out gingerbread cookies to the residents. We talked with a sweet gentleman who was a little down as he no longer has any family. Perhaps, in a small way, we were able to bring Christ to him today.  No gifts for us; for the gift of Immanuel has come to the gentiles!  If you feel like you are stuck in the middle of all the mess that culture has created, don’t be afraid to take a time out, and bring the Light back into focus!  How the Lord has you and your family bring this about will be different than my families journey.  Just be open to His voice and allow Him to clean any mess that may have come in over the years.

May God’s peace rest on you, people of good will!
 
 
Fun at the Nursing Home!

 

 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord!


On December 9th, 2012 my oldest son, Josiah Samuel Asbill, was born again from above as he entered the covenant of faith through water baptism.  My husband and I had spoken with him about it two years ago as we began to see faith becoming real to him.  At the time he said he wasn’t ready but would tell us when he was.  We didn’t push him as we wanted it to be 100% his decision.  Two months ago he came to us and said, “God told me it’s time, and He wants me to be baptized during Advent”.  To be honest my husband and I were a little surprised as this would be our very first time to celebrate Advent (see my article on Advent for that story), but we knew he had heard the Lord.  As we began to study we realized that Advent is a spiritual time of preparation.  A time to prepare your heart with repentance as well as renewing your expectation for the second coming of our Lord.  Each Sunday has different liturgies and scriptures read.  This year the reading for the 2nd Sunday of Advent (the day of my sons baptism) covered John the Baptist!  John calling on people to repent, and prepare the way of the Lord by being baptized. . .

December 9th also happened to be the first day of the Feast of Dedication (aka Hanukkah).  The Feast of Dedication is about the cleansing and rededicating of the temple in Jerusalem after it had been destroyed with idols and pagan sacrifice by Antiochus Epiphany.  It may be a Jewish Feast, but that Jewish Feast was celebrated by our Jewish Messiah (see John 10:22-23) as well as his Jewish disciples who encouraged us with these words:

1 Corinthians 6:19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.

During Hanukkah each year our family remembers to rededicate our lives and temples to the Lord with prayer and repentance. So take all of this in and realize that in a time of year that the world is over-eating, maxing out credit cards, and attending elephant gift exchanges, my ten year old stopped to listen to the voice of the Lord calling him to repentance, cleansing, and dedicating his temple! 

Before the baptism our Pastor spoke a word over him; the Josiah of the Hebrew Scriptures being called as a prophet that called his people to repentance and back to God’s Law.  Our pastor confirmed this as the call on our son’s life (and if you don’t know our Josiah, Pastor Rick hit the nail on the head!).  Josiah was then dressed in a white robe as a symbol of the purity and cleansing of baptism.  Our Pastor took him through a series of questions asked before the entire church about his commitments to serve God, repent of his sins, and walk in the way of the Lord.  As I watched my son go through the “second-birth” I have to say that as a mother it was even more powerful than the experience of his human birth (and less painful!).  When he came up as the new creation the scripture promises our Pastor anointed his head with oil in the form of the cross and then allowed our entire family to place hands on him and bless him.  What I forgot to mention is that not only Roman, myself and our other children were there, so were his Grandparents and Great-Grandmother.  Four generations of those who are called to the House of our God!  Now my grandmother has witnessed the baptism of her children; her children’s children; and her children’s, children’s, children!  Wow!

Psalm 145:4 One generation shall praise Your works to another, And shall declare Your mighty acts.

I share the joy of this day with all of you to present a challenge.  Don’t wait for the New Year to “resolve” to be different.  Follow the example of a ten year old little boy, who opened his heart to hear the Fathers voice and answered.  Take this time to quiet yourselves before your King and ask what ways you need to prepare your temple for His coming!

Matthew 3:3 "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight.' "

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

My First Advent


This year my husband came on staff at a Methodist Church so for the very first time we are part of a congregation that celebrates the season of Advent.  For many of you this may seem as no big deal, but for others you may find it just as new and intriguing as I do!  If you are one who, like me, has been kept in the dark about Advent then let me explain. . .

Advent is a season of preparation.  A time to prepare for the coming of a King.  It reminds us of the first time earth prepared to “receive her King”, but it also speaks of a present day preparation for the return of our King.  Advent typically involves a season of prayer, fasting and repentance, followed by anticipation, hope and joy.  How many of us start the holiday season off with a time of  prayer and fasting?  Quite the opposite; most of us start a season of holiday binging just before Thanksgiving and don't let up until January 1st!

To be very honest with you I am not a fan of what Christmas has come to look like in the world.  It seems very self-serving and commercial driven.  In-fact, Americans spent $228.4 BILLION dollars on Christmas last year. As much as we don’t want to admit it, as believers we are just as guilty of giving into all of the bedlam.  Think of how much time and money are spent on trees, gifts, food, parties, and other indulgences.  If we are honest most of us would say that Christmas Day is spent in a frenzy of gifts, rich foods and football.  What about that King we were preparing for?  You know, the One who was born in an animal’s feeding trough.  The One who is completely Divine yet laid down His crown to put on flesh and dwell among sinners.  How much of our time and money is spent on Him in comparison? 

So enter the Advent season.  What if we spent our time and energy preparing ourselves for the coming of our King?  What if we sent $228.4 BILLION dollars to third world countries to put a stop to world hunger?  What if we got up each morning and asked the Lord what we could give HIM, how we could serve HIM.  Think about this for me.  If you knew that KING JESUS was going to show up IN THE FLESH again at the end of this month, how would you prepare for that?  Would you rush to every office “elephant-gift” party you could cram in?  Would you make sure your son had the newest Nintendo DS?  Would you spend the entire day watching 24 hours of Ralphe and his red-rider bb gun?  Or . . .would you take your children to volunteer in a soup kitchen?  How about taking that DS money and giving it to “Operation Christmas Child”?  Instead of 24 hours of Ralphe, how about a 24 hour prayer vigil?   

As I am entering my very first Advent season I leave you with the same question that I am asking myself:

Is my life truly saying: “O’ Come, O’ Come Emmanuel”?

 

Monday, November 19, 2012

A “Thankful” Point of View


 

My personal theme or catch phrase is to live a "Wholly-Holy" life.  My book touches on how we take care of our physical body, but being a wholly-holy person obviously goes far beyond that.  So as Thanksgiving approaches this week, I want to tell you how becoming more whole in my Christian journey is what I am thankful for this year. 

Both my husband and I were raised in Non-Denominational Churches.  We grew up in what would be considered contemporary worship settings.  When we got married we continued the “Non-Denom” world where he was on staff as both a worship leader and associate pastor for a few different churches.  (Not at the same time).  Our experience as believers was a pretty laid back atmosphere with the kind of worship music we hear on K-Love radio.  This is a great atmosphere for many young people as it seems to mesh well with the mood of younger generations.  We felt comfortable in this setting and looked at the traditional “Orthodox” Churches as out of touch and certainly missing the new thing God was trying to do. (Yes, I know, I am telling on myself a lot here).  Then about six years ago the Lord began to shift our vantage point.  He began to take us back to the Hebrew Roots of our faith.  We began and incredible journey of learning about the Jewishness of our Rabbi, Yeshua Ha-Mashiach ; Jesus the Messiah.  We studied the bible from a Hebrew mindset and learned about the Temple service, the Feasts of the Lord, the Sabbath and so on.  We developed a love for Israel and the Lord put it on our heart to start a teaching and support ministry called Word Made Flesh.  Now He had given us a whole new view of the Bible and the God of Abraham.  We began to enjoy hearing liturgical prayers and the rituals of our Judeo/Christian Faith drew us closer and closer to the Jesus we love!  I am so thankful for the relationships God has given us with Orthodox Jews in the Land of Israel who have helped us see God from a whole different view but God wasn’t finished taking us on our vantage-point-tour yet. 

Just a little over a year ago the Lord brought a few key people into our life.  For Roman it was the Pastor of the First United Methodist Church.  For me it was a Catholic friend.  These relationships brought up new topics of conversation for us about God’s Word and about worship.  I had never been to a Catholic service and so my friend invited us to come on Palm Sunday.  . . .my husband and I both cried through the whole service!  From the priest circling the altar with burning incense, to the holy water, to the cantering of the Psalms; the service made perfect sense to us.  Six years ago we would have considered it odd, but God had prepared us with Hebrew study so that the worship made sense! 

Romans friendship with the Methodist Pastor had grown as well so we decided to visit the traditional service at his church.  Once again it was a fountain of tears.  The acolytes, candles, and hymns all brought out a feeling of reverence for the presence of our Holy God that we had longed to find.  It didn’t take long for us to realize we are most comfortable in an Orthodox Christian setting.  It didn’t take much longer to realize this was also a ministry fit for us and Roman was asked to come on staff this past September.  Now we are learning the Doxology, and the Apostles Creed.  The congregation says the prayer of confession before communion and the Lord’s Prayer just after the offering.  I am learning all about the Church Calendar which includes things like Advent and Lent.  We sat at dinner one evening with our new Pastor and his wife.  I told them I had been a Christian my whole life and now felt brand new to so much of it.  She is the one who first said God had given us the gift of seeing Him from different vantage points.  Kind of like sitting in a new spot at the family dinner table.  If you keep the same chair your whole life the scenery never changes.  When you move to a different spot, you see things you were not able to see before.  God is so BIG that we must be willing to move out of our comfort zones to view Him outside of one little box.  I love walking into my church in the middle of a Monday morning and hearing the organ playing,  or knowing that the first Sunday of each month we will hear a performance of worship hymns played on the hand bells.  The Lord has blessed us with many vantage points of Him and we personally fit in a more Orthodox setting; however; I can still go to a contemporary worship service and feel the breath of the Spirit!   I encourage all of you to; at some point, visit a church that may not do things that are within your comfort zone.  Go with a friend who attends that church and ask them about why they follow, or don’t follow, certain traditions.  You may be and Orthodox who needs to see the Contemporary point of view (or vice-versa).  Like me, I know it will help you grow more whole (and holy) as you are on your journey of faith.

I am so thankful that God has allowed me to see Him from more than one point of view!

 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Healthy Holidays!



Monday night was the annual “Have a Healthy Holiday” party that I share with my clients.  We get together and make a game plan for the holidays.  I don’t have unrealistic expectations for them.  I don’t expect to see weight loss from November until January (but it does make me happy)!  I just work with them on NOT GAINING the extra 5-10 holiday pounds.  Each person brings a healthy holiday dish plus copies of the recipe to share.  Below is a list of traditional foods and then the healthy version we came up with. 

3oz dark meat turkey with gravy:  200 calories
3 oz White Meat Turkey:  120 calories

 
Candied Sweet Potato’s:  ½ cup 250 calories

Roast Sweet Potato’s: ½ cup 75 calories

 

Green Bean Casserole:  ½ cup 150 calories
Spinach Salad:  70 calories (light dressing)

 

Stuffing Traditional:  ½ cup 200 calories
Stuffing Light:  ½ cup  100  calories

 

Pecan Pie:  500 calories
Light Pumpkin Brownies:  90 calories

 

1 small piece of fudge: 150 calories
Chex Almond Mix:  ½ cup 150 calories

 

Total for Traditional Meal = 1,300 calories
Total for Healhty Meal= 600 calories
 
Note that in the traditional meal this does not include the egg-nog, wine, cheese log, mashed potato's, hot rolls or cranberry sauce.  If the extras are part of the meal you are looking at 2,200 calories or more!  If you do this just 10 times between Thanksgiving and New Years you will gain at least 5 pounds.  Think of all the office parties, church meals, family gatherings, and so on; but I can offer a  little hope and holiday advice. 
Be sure to eat a healthy balanced breakfast before any holiday meal; that will keep you from going into the "war zone" starving.  Don't skip your workout today!  Infact, this should be the day for a little extra activity.  Try getting exercise before your meal.  When it is meal time, choose to fill your plate with 1/3 white meat turkey.  Have a small taste of the rich stuff but be sure your plate has plenty of light options to fill up the main part.  After dinner go take a walk or play a game of family football.  Save your dessert of choice until a few hours later.  That keeps your body from taking on such a big calorie load all at once.  (And it keeps you from having two desserts!)
All of my ladies had the same comments after the party:  the food was good; I feel satisfied; I had fun; and I don't feel sick (or guilty).
 
Healthy Holidays to you all!
 
Angela
 
 
 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Resistance Brings Strength


 

Does anyone out there know how muscle is built?  Weightlifting; right!  But what is weightlifting?

It’s resistance; tearing down muscle fibers.  It hurts.  The body doesn’t like it. You might experience muscle trembling, naseau and even vomiting during a hard workout.  It’s your body getting rid of toxins and breaking down in order to re-build.  It takes discipline and determination.  If you push through the pain your reward is a strong core, a good heart, and the resilience to handle daily life.

Last night our country had a presidential election.  Most Christians are not pleased with the outcome.  May I offer some optimistic insight?  As Believers I believe we have grown “over-weight” and “soft”.  We now have a choice to make.  Resistance has come our way.  We can either push through or give up.  If we give up we continue down the road of spiritual obesity and laziness.   I have clients who do both.  I have some that push through the pain and finish the process.  I have others who tell me “I can’t do that, it hurts” and they give up.  Just as we allow ourselves to get physically out of shape, I believe we as a Church have also allowed ourselves to become soft.  If we eat donuts and cheetos and sit on our butt most of the day we will be unhealthy.  If we allow prayer to be taken out of school, for public television to air filth, for marriage to be redefined, and we sit on our butt and do nothing about it our nation will stay unhealthy. 

The first thing all of my successful clients do is to “repent” to me of all the unhealthy habits and addictions they have.  Perhaps that is the first thing we as believers should do.  (This is a public confession from the United Methodist Hymnal.)

Merciful God, we confess that we have not loved you with our whole heart. We have failed to be an obedient church. We have not done your will, we have broken your law, we have rebelled against your love, we have not loved our neighbors, and we have not heard the cry of the needy. Forgive us, we pray. Free us for joyful obedience, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen"

After we as a people confess all of our “unhealthy” ways, it is time to roll up our sleeves and get busy re-building The Body.  This is an effort on behalf of EVERY MEMBER of the body.  We can’t have the legs getting a good workout if the core doesn’t want to chip in.  We are to be ONE BODY working together.  Too many times I confess to bringing division and not unity.  How about if we all work in unison to bring our nation back to being ONE NATION, UNDER GOD!  It’s not the governments job.  It’s our job.  Protestant, Catholic, Baptist, Methodist.  Let’s take the resistance we have been handed and work together with our ONE GOD to be a healthy thriving body again!  The resistance will either crush us or make us stronger.  Which will it be?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

What Can You Do?


If you are considering participating in the Isaiah Challenge, but don’t need to lose weight or stop smoking, I still want you to ask yourself what you can do.  Those who are participating for a weight loss challenge are giving up extra’s such as soda and chips and giving the funds they would have spent at say, Sonic, and helping the needy.  But many of you who have read about the Challenge don’t really have those little “addictions” that you need to give up.  So, what can you do?

I had a mom tell me that she has switched her baby over to cloth diapers in order to save for her Isaiah Fund.  Think of how much money a family spends on paper diapers.  When my children were young it was about $12 per week . . .so on average about $50-60 a month.  Perhaps that $50 can now buy a coat for a little boy who’s family cannot afford to buy one this winter.  (May I also say that cloth diapers are a MAJOR hassle; so this is truly a sacrificial gift). Again I ask, what can you do?

Do you spend money out at the movies?  For a family of five that’s about $30, not including snacks.  What if you spent $5 at Hastings to rent a flick for home-viewing and then made some microwave pop-corn?  Perhaps the $25 could help a single mom purchase milk, eggs, peanut-butter, banana’s, bread, etc; ensuring her children don’t go to bed hungry tonight.

My family usually does rent a few movies for the weekend.  What if we went to the library to check out some freebies instead and then gave that weekly $5 to our Isaiah Fund?  Could the $40 saved in the 60 day challenge pay to keep water on for an injured worker who can’t make bills for his family this month?

Matthew 25:34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.' 37 Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' 40 And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.'

 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Bazaar Pumpkin Cake

My last few blogs have been rather "intense" so I thought I would take a break from the heavy stuff and keep this one on the light side. . .pun intended.   Here comes the holiday season and I, like everyone else, am faced with two months full of parties and family meals full of sugar, fat, and a whole lot of carbs!  All wonderful for the palate but not so good for the waist line.  Believe it or not I LOVE THE FLAVOR OF THE HOLIDAYS . . .and no,  I don't eat tofu turkey or carob candy.  Having said that, I am also not willing to add the proverbial 5 to 10 holiday pounds each year.  So how the heck can you stick to healthy eating and enjoy your holidays?  Learn to alter your cooking . . .

This year my first "holiday" gathering is for the First United Methodist Church Bazaar.  I volunteered to help with the baking and was given the task of Pumpkin Spice Cake.  Apparently everyone follows the same recipe.  After looking over the official recipe (which contains 3 CUPS OF SUGAR!!!!) I have decided to go against the flow and make my own healthier version.  (Imagine that).  Instead of calling this "Sugar-Free Pumpkin Cake", because then no one would eat it, I present you with:

Bazaar Pumpkin Cake
 

½ cup plain or vanilla soy milk
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup applesauce
1 cup Baking Stevia
2 teaspoon molasses
1 can (15-oz.) solid-pack pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup spelt flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Prepare a Bunt pan and set it aside.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the soy milk and vinegar and set aside (this will start to solidify weirdly, it’s all good).
  3. In a large bowl, cream together the applesauce, stevia, and molasses until well blended.
  4. Add the pumpkin and vanilla and mix well or beat until incorporated, then stir in the milk & cider vinegar mixture and mix/blend until smooth.
  5. In a medium bowl, whisk together the AP/Spelt flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and all four spices.
  6. Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin batter about one-third at a time, incorporating after each addition.
  7. Scrape the batter into the greased Bunt pan and bake for about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan on a wire rack. Then invert and remove the cake from the pan. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Whoever said you can't have your cake and eat it too?  Just remember MODERATION!

Happy Holidays. . .more recipes to come!



Friday, October 26, 2012

Well. . .a deep subject


Well. . .as my husband always says: “well is a DEEP subject”!  Today I was reading in John 4 about Jesus and His encounter with the woman at the well.

John 4: 6 Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour. 7 A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give Me a drink." 8 For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. 9 Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, "How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?" For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. 10 Jesus answered and said to her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water." 11 The woman said to Him, "Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? 12 Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?" 13 Jesus answered and said to her, "Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life." 15 The woman said to Him, "Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw." 16 Jesus said to her, "Go, call your husband, and come here." 17 The woman answered and said, "I have no husband." Jesus said to her, "You have well said, 'I have no husband,' 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly." 19 The woman said to Him, "Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship."
Most of you have read this story many times and I know it holds many vantage points.  Today I am going to use it to discuss the deep well of our own “issues”.  In this story we see Jesus make an offer.  “Come to Me and I will give you a wellspring of life”.  (Angela’s paraphrase).  The woman is interested and asks where to get this water.  Jesus now does something interesting; He digs deep into her “well” by asking a personal question.  He knows this woman has an ongoing issue with the men in her life.  He knows she is not married.  He knows there is an empty well here that needs to be filled with Him. . .the Life Giving Spirit.  The woman responds as most of us would when confronted with one of our deepest issues.  She changes the subject.  She shifts from the question He asked and the offer He presented to a discussion on worship.  He has jut offered her a well of ETERNAL LIFE but she can’t deal with the conflict, exposure, pain, etc, surrounding her empty well. 

Aren’t we all the same way?  We all want the good stuff.  We want life everlasting and world without end, amen. . . But are we willing to allow the Lord to expose our weak areas, our addictions, our pain, our emptiness?  When He brings these things to our attention, do we change the subject? 

I work with clients all the time who have food addictions they want to cover up with the next diet trend.  They don’t want to “deal” with whatever has caused the addiction in the first place.  (Subject change please, let’s put a band-aid on that gaping wound and move on to something else.)  Nothing in our life can change unless we answer the hard questions the Lord asks us, whether our empty well is a food addiction, anger, lust, adultery, etc.

I have the honor of speaking at First Baptist Canyon on November 8th at 6:30pm in the ministry center.  The topic will be “Overcoming Food Addiction” but the principle applies across the board.  Hope to see some of you there.

John 4:10 Jesus answered and said to her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water."

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Poverty to Greatness


 
 
Have you ever felt like you were on a swinging pendulum?  That’s the kind of weekend I had.  Yesterday I was able to share with several groups about the Isaiah Challenge during some Navigator Poverty Training seminars.  I got to listen to a new friend of mine speak with earth shaking passion about the needs in my local community.  I heard about families that don’t have soap to bathe with, much less running water for a hot shower.  I heard about a “lazy” father who gets up at 2am to catch a 3am bus to drive him to his 5a.m job so that he can provide for his family.

So the pendulum then swings to Sunday morning church.  My pastor is doing a financial series.   “Earn all you can; Save all you can; Give all you can.”  It is a great series.  He is speaking to a room filled with middle to upper class people.  We all ate a hot breakfast.  We all took a hot shower.  No one caught a 2a.m bus.  We all have on our “Sunday Best”.  Our Pastor challenges us in our giving.  He says that God would not have us save all we can to hold it in our “First National Trust Fund” forever. . .we might as well be throwing it into the sea.  God gave us HIS finances to steward for HIS KINGDOM.  Our Pastor challenges us to give God our very best.  My mind wandered to our local food and clothing outreaches.  How many times have I gone through my closet and donated the things that I never wear.  You know, the old stuff that’s out of fashion.  Of course I then pat myself on the back for giving it instead of selling it in a garage sale.  What if I gave my best?  What if I decided to “clothe the naked” with my brand new pair of designer jeans instead of my old faded throw-aways?

Pendulum swings again.  Now I am teaching a Sunday school class.  Not just any class, but the Crusaders.  The Crusaders are all between 70-90 years old.  This group of people is called “The Greatest Generation”.  I talked to them about Noah who was called a “righteous man”.  I talked to them about his descendants.  One of which is named NIMROD meaning rebelliousness.  NIMRODS domain is Babel.  A city of people who wanted to build for themselves; they wanted a kingdom; they wanted a lofty tower.  I likened the “Greatest Generation” to Noah; and NIMROD to my generation.  We are filled with self.  We have ipads, iphones, fancy cars, closets filled with clothes, and rich indulgent foods, we sit in houses with re-fridgerated air!   When we are depressed we take medicine.  When we want something we charge it!  So I asked our “Greatest Generation” to pray for us.  When the Great Depression came they pulled together.  They ate beans and moldy potatoes for months.  Some of them walked miles to get food for their children.  When neighbors were in need, they shared what they had.  This is the point when I saw the pendulum move back to center.  God gave me an “ah-ha” moment.  The weekend all ties together right here in the center of the pendulum.

“The Greatest Generation” was named so for a reason.  Most all of them understand what it means to be in poverty.  They lived it!  What brought them from poverty to greatness?  They understood the message my Pastor wanted to get across today.  Give to those in need!  Give out of a generous heart.  Don’t hoard things here on earth.  Store your treasures in heaven.  That attitude brought my grandparents generation out of the Depression and into Greatness.  Can that happen for us?  If you are participating in the ISAIAH CHALLENGE I want you to consider if you are sacrificially giving your best.  Have you been giving up your sodas so that a child can have running water again?  Have you taken a meal to that family whose daddy heads to work at 2a.m?  The ISAIAH CHALLENGE is about much more than physical weight loss; it’s about becoming spiritually healthy.  Moving our mindset from NIMROD into NOAH.  I challenge all of you to give out of your best and not out of your leftovers.  That is what will move us from spiritual poverty into spiritual greatness!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Sit With The Rabbi



Today in my bible reading I came to the story of Mary and Martha.  This is one that seems to stump many people.

Luke 10: 38 Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus' feet and heard His word. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me." 41 And Jesus answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. 42 But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her."

We see Martha diligently serving; doesn’t the scripture teach us that, “the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven is the servant of all” ( Matthew 9:35)?   So what is going on in this story?  I certainly can’t claim to solve all theological questions on this passage, but this is what the Spirit spoke to me on this subject.

  Let’s start with one of my classic “health” metaphors. 

At the gym I see all sorts of crazy exercise going on.  I see women who are barley lifting more than a feather worth of weight (totally ineffective).  I see men who are lifting so much that they are out of alignment and in serious danger of injury (such as a back injury or torn rotator cuff).  I see people working muscle groups in random order without an ounce of method to the madness.  These are all people who have great INTENTION but will get very little results and very likely do more harm than good.  Why?  They need to take the time to have someone instruct them!  (Might I recommend a TRAINER!!!)  Listening to and following the instructions of a good trainer will get the results you are after.  How much weight can you handle?  Are you set up in proper form to prevent injury?  Have you arranged your workout in a way that it is effective? 

Okay so let’s put that into our story of Mary and Martha.  Martha is the person in the gym who is trying to do things on her own.  Her motivation to “work-out”, AKA serve; is correct.  BUT Martha has not taken the time to first listen to a good trainer (aka Rabbi, aka JESUS).  Mary has remembered what comes first.  Sitting at the feet of her Rabbi.  He knows how much weight she can handle.  Have you ever felt overwhelmed and bogged down?  Perhaps you are carrying weight you were never intended lift on your own.

Matthew 11: 28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

A trainer is there to give you a “spot” when the weight get’s too heavy.  Isn’t that also what our Great Rabbi does for us? Perhaps your life is out of alignment.  How will you get things back on track if you don’t first take the time to sit with your Rabbi and listen for His instructions.

Proverbs 3:6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.

 Perhaps if life feels out of order and chaotic then you need Him to bring order so that what you are doing is effective.  When the earth was without form and void, the Spirit of God began to bring order to the chaos. 

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

The same way a trainer brings “order” to an ineffective workout, the Lord brings order to ineffective things in our life.  If life feels too heavy, out of alignment or ineffective, learn to sit at the feet of your Rabbi.  THEN you can serve and be effective in life.

 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Two Paths



Last night I watched the first of the presidential debates.  I will be risky here and go ahead and say I am a supporter of Mr. Romney.  My personal convictions are that he holds the principles our great nation was founded on, and his path leads to restoring that.  I saw passion in his eyes and the spirit of the Lord resting upon him last night.

Isaiah 61:1 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, Because the Lord has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;

While I am very encouraged about last night’s “victory” I am also concerned.  We as a people cannot put our trust in any man to save us.  (The only Man who can, already did!).  We must not grow prideful or arrogant.  It is not a time to fall asleep but more than ever this should be the time to be sober, prayerful, and repentant. 

As a health trainer I have many people who come to me to “fix” there health problems.  Many of them think that just hiring a trainer will magically make them healthy.  “I have a trainer so I should be losing weight. . .even though I am still eating garbage and only giving “half -*$$” efforts at the gym”.  Hiring a trainer won’t make you healthy or fit if YOU are not willing to do the work.  NEITHER CAN electing a conservative president restore our nation to godliness if “we the people” don’t repent and return!

When I take a new client I pretty much set the path before them and call on them to choose.  I believe that is what God is calling us to do in this day and hour.  How will we answer that call?

Deut 30:19 I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live;

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Isaiah Challenge





The Isaiah Challenge!

I have a life challenge to present to all of you that falls way outside the box of what’s normal. IF you are committed to it, it guarantees success. Here goes!
Last week I was at a meeting for the United Methodist Women. I heard about an outreach called Navigators designed to meet the needs of those in poverty and help provide people in harsh circumstances with a chance to change things. The outreach meets the immediate need AND has a program designed to educate people living in poverty with seminars and one on one mentoring in order to help them "climb out" of harsh circumstances.
 
 Example 1: A mother of four needs help with a home deposit. She lives in an old trailer with no heat and broken windows. Her husband has abandoned her and she works full time at a fast food restaurant to try and keep her children fed. She needs help with a deposit to get the family into an apartment.
Example 2: Family of four has been struggling with rent for the past 8 months, due to lack of income. Everything is back on track now except for rent. They are in need of $450 to get them caught up.
 
In our early marriage my husband worked three jobs so that I could stay home and raise our children. I remember MANY times of having to "pray in" the bills. It was a stressful and scary time in life. Perhaps that is why this outreach touches my heart so much!  What does all of this have to do with a New Years Challenge? Well, here are my thoughts. . . I am going to ask you to participate in the Isaiah Challenge! 
Isaiah 58: 5  Is it a fast that I have chosen, A day for a man to afflict his soul? Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush, And to spread out sackcloth and ashes? Would you call this a fast, And an acceptable day to the Lord? 6 "Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, To undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, And that you break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him, And not hide yourself from your own flesh? 8 Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily, And your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
 
When the New Year rolls around, most people make the proverbial New Year’s resolution.  Some of the most popular are health related.  Here are four of last year’s top ten.
 
#1- Lose Weight
#2- Stop Smoking
#3- Quit Drinking
#4- Help Others
 
What if I offered you a way to obtain success in all four categories?  Most resolutions are dropped between the first and fourth week of January.  How can you beat the odds and achieve life change, and at anytime during the year (not just New Years!).  I am teaming up with the Cal Farley’s Neighborhood Navigator Program to present the ISAIAH CHALLENGE.  For ninety days I challenge you to “fast” all the extra junk.  You will take the money you save and place it into your ISAIAH FUND.  For example: if your goal is weight loss then instead of purchasing a soda at Sonic, take the $0.99 and put it into your ISAIAH FUND. Instead of taking a family of four out to dinner ($20 for fast food, $40 for restaurants), I want you to eat at home and put the money you saved in your ISAIAH FUND. Leave the ice-cream and potato chip's off of your grocery list and put it in your. . .well you get the idea! The same thing applies if you want to quit smoking or drinking.  Each time you don’t purchase that pack of cigarettes or bottle of alcohol, you place the money in your ISAIAH FUND.
 
When God spoke through the prophet Isaiah, He made it clear that He didn't just want a time of not eating. He wanted them to reach out to the hungry, poor, down cast, etc. So if you are blessed with the abundance to spend money on soda, fast food, candy and such;  instead of going on another diet to ride your middle of its "abundance", why not offer it as a fast unto the Lord? When you have that nicotine craving, deny yourself and use your abundance to help those in need. If you are willing to take this challenge you can log onto my web-site at angelaasbill.com for more information on how to sign up. Please count the cost before you make the commitment! God takes our words very seriously; be sure you are willing to see this through before you sign on! It's not just another resolution, it's unto the Lord! At the end of the 90 days you will send in your ISAIAH FUND as an offering to the Lord.  When you send in that offering, I want you to truly thank and praise God for all of His abundance!  The 90 days is not meant to end your journey, it’s meant to begin it!  Can you change your community by changing yourself?  Keep your eye out for more information.  The Challenge will be kicking off in the Panhandle area soon.  Watch local media sources for how your business, church, school, outreach can participate!
 
Blessings!
 
Angela Asbill
 
P.S If this has struck a chord with you. . .please spread the challenge on to your friends, family, churches, etc!