Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Gracey's Vision

We found out some bad news yesterday...Gracey's vision is declining. We think we fixed the problem though. I hope Mr. Potato Head doesn't need them back for a while.



Saturday, June 21, 2008

So You Think You Can Dance

I love expression of emotions. Dancing is definitely one way to do this. I watched last years session of So You Think You Can Dance and will never forget several dances. I still remember watching them for the first time and being touched deeply by the beauty represented in them. Here are some of my favorites.

The Hummingbird Routine


The Table Routine


Mia Micheal's Time Routine

Americanized Missionaries vs. Biblical Sharers of the Word

This blog is merely an expression of question. It doesn't represent arrogance on the subject. I simply write as a sounding board to "talk" through this thought. I don't mind comments to help me acknowledge aspects I haven't thought about, but it will not be a matter of argument.

I often wonder about our 21st century American approach to sharing the gospel. (All of the following is only from an American perspective). There are so many contrasts between biblical missionaries and those of today. In fact, could our venue be more of a distraction than something that really helps? Could we be creating organized situations rather than letting the Lord teach and guide us? Are we deciding it is more a matter of us than God?

My concern initially arrived as I consider organizations that help missionaries. There are specific places dedicated to equipping believers to share the gospel in countries all over the world. As I pressed deeper into this question, I understand more and more why these places really are not only worthy, but valuable in today's world.

In biblical history I believe it was easier to share the gospel because life was different. Not in a sense that there was less risk, but by the way and proximity of people. The progression of distractions (both in life and in the spiritual world) are intensifying with each generation. It is not custom to travel like they did back then and visist homes and people in the city or at the market. The world was populated, but nothing like it is now. We know what our world looks like and many different people are scattered all over it. There needs to be a different approach to how we handle it today. But what is it?

I believe and trust the desires of these organizations are to learn of places that need the gospel and help scatter missionaries there. There are different codes and rules in other places that we would learn of as well. Such places are useful to people here in the 21st century as they help teach languages and expectations of different cultures.

I am certain the challenge becomes the responsibility of the leadership in the organization. I am sure it can become easy to get caught up in the logistics of running an organization of such. It has to be about Jesus and sharing His word, NOT about money or even how many people they have wherever. I believe, for this and for anything else in life, as soon as the focus is off of Jesus so many things become about selfishness rather than for the Lord.

Another aspect of my questioning is about universities and colleges that offer mission's degree's. Should we charge people to learn how to be a missionary? Should the knowledge believers have about how to share God's words be something of charge? I honestly don't think so. I couldn't see Jesus or Paul at someones house saying "OK, make sure you have the exact shekel amount before you are allowed to hear my teachings."

When I re-read what I have written there are many things I want to argue with myself about. But when I think basic Christianity that's when these questions seem valid. That is when I wonder if we have complicated it too much and eliminated God's imparted of knowledge and wisdom. But maybe that is what the world today requires.

I wish I saw the days when believers learned from each other. It was by example they were taught. It is rare to even see anyone that is an example today. This is why we need to learn how to be one for the next generation. Maybe this is what I feel that lacks in this situations, there is a loss of relationship. Is learning through relationship being replaced by organizations?

I just wonder.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Friendship Bread

A little over a week ago I desperately waited for an overnight arrival mailed from my friend Casja. I didn't know what to expect. She told me it couldn't be left outside, that I could wait to open it unless it was puffy and if it was puffy than I had to open it immediately. This was very confusing but intriguing.

That night it finally made it to my door and I ripped open the package like a little kid at Christmas, but it was nothing like I expected. It was a baggie with mixed ingredients. I read about it and it was the Amish friendship bread starter. I had so much fun waiting and reading what to do next on each day.

I finally made mine and it was very yummy. Thanks Casja!!!


Monday, June 16, 2008

Gracey's Portrait

A sweet little boy I watch drew this picture of Gracey. He held the markers very seriously and drew and drew and drew and finally I got to see the end product. It was SO funny. I asked him to explain it to me and he said it was a Texan Gracey. After, he described that she was mad and angry because she was attacking armadillos. Look at the detail with her teeth!! I was told to bring it home and show Bryan and I just couldn't get rid of it before I posted it here. I really think he captured Gracey's extreme personality, don't you? It's like looking at two identical photos of her?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Hope


"But as for me, I will always have hope."
Psalm 71:14

Saturday, June 07, 2008

I Fought With My Covers and They Won

I fought with my covers and they won
“I have good chance,” I thought to myself
Upon the initial brawl
They looked lazy enough
Besides how much
Could covers really fight at all?
In moments I’d see
The extent of their plan
To toss me out upon the cold floor
They twisted and turned
My frustration burned
But wait! There is still more
I reached for my pillow
In hopes of some help
But it was compromised all the same
I understood now
This was somehow
Way more than just a game
The last moments are hazy
I’m sure I was there
But somehow I don’t remember a thing
Before I knew it I was hit
And to the floor I fell with a SLING!
So what did I learn?
I asked, as on the floor I did hover
The one most important thing
Is to never underestimate your covers

© 2008 Inspired by Grace
All rights reserved Olivia M. Brigham

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Video of Golgotha



Matthew 27
Judas Hangs Himself
Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people came to the decision to put Jesus to death. They bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate, the governor.
When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders. "I have sinned," he said, "for I have betrayed innocent blood." "What is that to us?" they replied. "That's your responsibility."
So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.
The chief priests picked up the coins and said, "It is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money." So they decided to use the money to buy the potter's field as a burial place for foreigners. That is why it has been called the Field of Blood to this day. Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: "They took the thirty silver coins, the price set on him by the people of Israel, and they used them to buy the potter's field, as the Lord commanded me."
Jesus Before Pilate
Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, "Are you the king of the Jews?" "Yes, it is as you say," Jesus replied.
When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. Then Pilate asked him, "Don't you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?" But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge—to the great amazement of the governor.
Now it was the governor's custom at the Feast to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Barabbas. So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, "Which one do you want me to release to you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?" For he knew it was out of envy that they had handed Jesus over to him.
While Pilate was sitting on the judge's seat, his wife sent him this message: "Don't have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him."
But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.
"Which of the two do you want me to release to you?" asked the governor. "Barabbas," they answered.
"What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?" Pilate asked. They all answered, "Crucify him!"
"Why? What crime has he committed?" asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, "Crucify him!"
When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. "I am innocent of this man's blood," he said. "It is your responsibility!"
All the people answered, "Let his blood be on us and on our children!"
Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.
The Soldiers Mock Jesus
Then the governor's soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand and knelt in front of him and mocked him. "Hail, king of the Jews!" they said. They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.
The Crucifixion
As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. They came to a place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull). There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS. Two robbers were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, "You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!"
In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. "He saved others," they said, "but he can't save himself! He's the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, 'I am the Son of God.' " In the same way the robbers who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.
The Death of Jesus
From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"—which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
When some of those standing there heard this, they said, "He's calling Elijah."
Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. The rest said, "Now leave him alone. Let's see if Elijah comes to save him."
And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus' resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.
When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, "Surely he was the Son of God!"
Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's sons.
The Burial of Jesus
As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus' body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb.
The Guard at the Tomb
The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. "Sir," they said, "we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, 'After three days I will rise again.' So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first."
"Take a guard," Pilate answered. "Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how." So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.


Matthew 28
The Resurrection
After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: 'He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.' Now I have told you."
So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. "Greetings," he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me."
The Guards' Report
While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, "You are to say, 'His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.' If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble." So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.
The Great Commission
Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." *

____

The atmosphere was solemn. Pilgrimages led here to where Jesus was buried and rose from the dead. There never was or never will be another miracle that provides the beauty this place witnessed.

What would I have done if I lived back then, Lord? Would I have heard of You and traveled days to see You? Would my faith have been noticed or corrected? When I saw the place You were buried for 3 days, I was not sad. I was astounded and amazed, but also very happy. Maybe that is why I felt so out of place at this site. Lots of people were sincere and reverent. I too had these feelings, but more than that, Jesus, I felt so much joy and happiness! I read what You went through and many times I have come to tears. There have been many movies made to show what You did. And although they capture a mere reflection, they must show a glimpse of what You went through. But when I was there I smiled because without what You did there, I would not be. In no way could I ever personally witness Your Crucifixion and feel joy, so maybe the beauty and the uniqueness of not living back then is that I can see how much you have done and rejoice that You offered Your life for us. When I went into the smaller room that held the stone to touch I waited in line for a while. I prayed as I knelt down and as I touched the stone, in a moment of solitude beneath the table, I told You that You truly are and awesome God and I believe and cherish Your sacrifice.

* All the photos above where the scripture is, coincides with the areas that Jesus was during that moment in the Bible.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

What's the Big Deal?

Just when you thought you knew something about God and His wonders, He takes that little speck you possibly thought you knew and shows you how small it is in comparison to His magnificence. It may sound like I am complaining, but the truth couldn’t be further away from this. I love and ask for the Lord to astound me. I believe we don’t allow God to do this as much as we should. There is so much more to God than even the wisest person grasps. It is like an everlastingly adventure!

Being back in the US for almost 3 weeks seems so weird to me. The farther away the trip becomes, I find myself feeling sad. I can honestly say that we took advantage of every opportunity we had while we were there. I just loved being out of my comfort zone and experiencing things that I had to make an effort to understand. I must have asked over 1.25 million questions!

When I met Bryan I immediately recognized his passion for Israel and for the Jewish culture. When we married I believed God had a special plan for us to be a part of this country and we struggled many days and nights with how this was going to be possible. At one point I could see the sadness in Bryan’s face. When would we ever know what it would be? I spoke with Melissa W. about Israel one afternoon when she was here in Abilene and I remember she asked me when we thought we would be able to take our vision trip there. I really had no answer. It seemed impossible to try and organize a trip before the summer, which was our time frame we had to work with. Little did I know that her encouragement that day would begin the process of lining up everything for the trip we took with only 2 months until we desired to leave. We spoke with Pastor David and with OM and then got our passports ready and raised enough money to support us while we were gone from our yard sale. As I look back, I can really say the whole thing went very smoothly. God gave us the opportunity to go and as we left it in His hands, He provided. Jehovah Jireh!!!

I left to Israel wanting to be blown away by God’s power. I was going to where Jesus was! But something even deeper happened within me when we were there. Yes, I stood where Jesus was, I prayed where Jesus prayed, and felt the water of the Jordan River beneath my feet, but my heart was changed because the Lord showed me why Israel is so important. I can honestly tell you that I desired to understand but didn’t. I’ve asked questions and struggled so much with why Israel is always spoken about.

I never heard about Israel growing up. I knew it existed, but the importance of this country and the beauty of its place in God’s story wasn’t explained. Not even in college did I hear the significance Israel has as we explore God’s love.

I wondered, if God loved Israel, did He love me? I wasn’t from Israel or a Jew. At first, as I struggled with all of this, I began to feel like I wasn’t as important as they are. I couldn’t help that I wasn’t born Jewish. I wanted a blessing like God shows in His Word about His chosen people! I wanted to be significant too. So I searched and not only did I do this, but I was able to do this IN ISRAEL.

I learned through God and through people that Israel is God’s “first born” nation. Jut like Adam and Eve, God created this nation foremost. He loved the people and desired them to love Him. But they gave up their God and God has been desiring them back ever since. It is not that Israel is necessarily more important, but Israel shows us an amazing love story. And this love story has to do with you and me as well. His love for us is exemplified in His desire for His people, all of His people. The Bible only grasps such a little perspective of His love for us.

Just like the son who went astray and his father waits for him, (Luke 15:1-32) God awaits for His nation to stop denying His son Jesus and return to Him once again. In Genesis 12:2,3 as God creates this nation He says, “I will bless those who bless you [Israel], and whoever curses you [Israel], I will curse.” Blessing Israel can mean many things, but the investment we make into this place will bring blessings on us. By helping this nation recognize Jesus pleases God. And our lives are about bringing honor to God.

Only after I began to notice these jewels of wisdom about Israel, was I able to actually see the longing He has for her. In God’s Word over and over He calls for Israel to come home. It is not that I am not as important, but it is that He is faithful to His promises. He promised to hold Israel in His hands and continue His relationship with her. John W. Ritenbaugh says it well; “God has a commitment to Israel—and thus us—because of the obedience of one man, Abraham. We are reaping the benefits of the good Abraham sowed almost four thousand years ago because God is faithful to His promises!” (Romans 11:26-29) I can’t wait to see what happens as this story continues.

I went on this trip questioning, and came back excited that there is so much more I don’t know. A blessed contradiction. God answered my prayers that I would be blown away by Him. I hope the Lord continues teaching me, and that I will allow Him to do so.