Parkland, Florida: What does the LORD require of us?

by Betsy Roy

Another mass school shooting happened in our nation this week. A high school in Parkland, Florida was the scene of 17 senseless deaths.

Vigil in Parkland, FL photo by Brian Anderson/AP

It seems like a bad nightmare is being replayed. For many of us it is almost too painful to watch; too painful to look at the pictures of the victims, never mind the videos of the event. Yet, we can’t just pretend that nothing is happening all around us. We’d like to. We’d like to forget and just move on. But the cycle continues: a mass shooting – outrage and lots of comments on social media – some tears and some prayers – little if any action – forget and move on – some time passes – another mass shooting.

Many have ideas of how to break the cycle and stop this insanity. Few do anything, expecting someone else to act and fix it. As Christians we must ask “What does the LORD require of us?” The Bible points us to many places one of which is Micah 6:8:

“O people, the LORD has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right (act justly), to love mercy (kindness), and to walk humbly with your God. “ (NLT) Read different versions here.

  1. Do what is right – act justly and live righteously, following God’s ways in relationship with him and with people. It means to live unselfishly by putting other’s needs before your own. Let your “talk” be known by your “walk”. Live authentically. Write letters to government officials expressing your views. Respond to hatred and evil with love as Jesus taught us.
  2. Love mercy and kindness – show your children the way of the Lord by how you live. Talk to them about how to be kind to others.Do not tolerate bullying. Reach out to the lonely and forgotten. Consider getting involved in your child’s or grandchild’s school. Pay attention to the other children in the classroom. Click here for one teacher’s strategy that speak volumes. 
  3. Walk humbly with your God – exemplify a life of prayer that earnestly seeks God in knowing what to do and how to live. Pray for others. Pray for your child’s or grandchild’s school, administrators, teachers and schoolmates. Do this regularly.

Our nation has lost its way. We have taken God out of the school. It’s more than time to stand up as Christians and say “enough”. We do this by how we live. We will pray. We will believe God and trust him for his protection. We will live lives that honor God and teach our children to do the same. We will reach out to others in Christ’s love and seek to bring his comfort and healing to those that are hurting. We will act in the school and within government. We will not sit idly by, forgetting the lives that have been lost. Right now we pray for Parkland, Florida and we will continue to do so, asking God to intervene in that community and bring his light into the darkness. We “weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15)

Don’t go it alone! Gather others to pray and act with you – even two or three can make an impact. A group of people can encourage each other and help keep one another focused and accountable. It’s too easy to start and then quit. Perseverance is key. Here are some suggestions on how to start a prayer watch written by Mike and Cindy Jacobs.

Women of the Word is committed to pray for our children and grandchildren and to teach them the ways of the LORD. We desire to raise up godly offspring and encourage the generations following us to live out Micah 6:8. 

Please join us at a WOW gathering soon! We welcome women of all denominations, cultures and generations.

Getting Beyond Me-O-Centric Bible Reading

by Lois Tverberg 

This blog is based on an excerpt from Lois Tverberg’s latest book “Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus”. You can read the first chapter free here

Did you know that you can now order a copy of a Bible translation called “Your Personalized Bible” which will insert your name in more than seven thousand verses? Here are a few verses from my copy:

Lois like a sheep has gone astray. Lois has turned to her own way; and the Lord has laid on Him Lois’s iniquity. (Isa. 53:6)

Lois is the light of the world. (Matt. 5:14)

You have made Lois a little lower than God,
And crowned Lois with glory and honor.
You make Lois a ruler over the works of Your hands.
You have put all things under Lois’ feet. (Ps. 8:5–6)

You might think I’d be a fan of this style of study. I’m single, never married. I’m self-employed. I work by myself out of my own home office. I have no boss, no husband, no children. I’m queen of my own pleasant little world.

I’ve heard the siren call of individualism and succumbed as much as anyone, so you’d think I’d want to read my Bible that way. The more I study the Bible, however, the more I’m realizing the many ways that a me-o-centric approach misunderstands the text.

Take, for instance, this Bible’s translation of 1 Corinthians 3:16, “Lois is a temple of God.” Often people read this line as saying, “Your body is a sacred ‘deity-shrine’ and you must pamper it accordingly.”

Paul, however, wasn’t trying to convince us to apply more UV-blocking moisturizer and eat more leafy green vegetables. Rather, he was telling the Corinthians that all together they were the temple of God, and that they were being built together into one dwelling place for his Spirit. Pagans had many temples, but the true God had only one. They were the “house,” the beit that God had promised to David—not just a structure but a lineage, a family. Paul’s focus was not on each person individually but rather on the body of believers as a whole.

Lois Tverberg

Lois Tverberg holds a Ph.D in biology and was a college professor. While in a Bible study class she became interested in studying the Bible in it’s cultural context. Discovering the answers to head-scratching questions and sharing the “ah-hah” moments with others became a passion. She began learning Hebrew and Greek, studying in the land of Israel, and exploring recent scholarship on Jesus’ first-century Jewish world. Ultimately, she left a life in academia to devote herself full-time to teaching and writing on the topic, and now has been at it for almost twenty years. She has authored five books and also directs the En-Gedi Resource Center, an educational ministry. 

Lois will be the speaker at “Through the Eyes of Jesus”, a Bible study seminar for men and women in Janesville, Wisconsin April 13 & 14, 2018. Early Bird deadling is March 19, 2018. Registration includes Saturday lunch. Our time together will include worship, teaching, and practical application via round-table discussion. You will receive materials to take home with you for ongoing study. Information here.

 

The Lord Stirs Up The Spirit

by Betsy Roy 

Click here to hear this message in its entirety on mp3

I have been spending a lot of time in the book of Haggai (ESV) over the last several weeks, reading it in several different versions of the Bible, studying some of the words in Hebrew and asking the Lord to bring revelation. What is HE saying? What does it mean for Women of the Word? Here are some things I gleaned:

  • It’s good to “Give careful thought to your ways” (Haggai 1:4 & 7 NIV). Am I changing more into the image of Jesus? Do I reflect His likeness to others more than I did a year ago? Is the fruit of the Spirit evident in my life? If not, I must sincerely take time before the Lord and ask Him to examine my heart and motives and be willing to make adjustments as He directs.
  • Obey the voice of the Lord and fear (reverence) the Lord (Haggai 1:12). Obedience results in blessing and peace. It also affects others because nothing happens in a vacuum. The Body of Christ is a community.
  • Know that God is with us (Haggai 1:13, Haggai 1:4 & 5). Jesus echoed this when He said “I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)
  • The Lord STIRRED (ESV) up the spirit of Zerubbabel (governor), Joshua (high priest), and all the remnant of the people (Haggai 1:14). In the NLT the word stirred is translated SPARKED! It means to arouse and awaken. Are you catching what God is doing? He is working on three levels: governmentally, in the Church, and among the people. HE is doing this in 2018!
  • Three times the Lord says “Be strong” (Haggai 2:4). He says it to Zerubbabel (governor of Judah), Joshua (the high priest), and the people. He’s not just saying it to the leaders! HELLO! Please hear me. He’s saying it to YOU and me! 
  • We tend to look back at the “former glory” or the “glory days.” The book of Haggai is about the Jewish people returning from exile in Babylon. They are attempting to rebuild the destroyed temple of Solomon. But they become disinterested, discouraged and dissastified. They were more interested in building their own houses rather than the house of the Lord. Once they did start building they became discouraged because it was taking a long time and they had to fight against enemy interference. The older generation who had seen the First Temple was dissastified with the Second Temple because it didn’t have the splendor of Solomon’s temple. For us this means we must stop looking at what “church” or “the ministry” looked like in the past. We judge by our eyes. God is interested in building a dwelling place for Himself within us (individually and corporately). Let’s stop looking at the “former glory” (Haggai 2:3). He promises that that the future glory will be greater than the past (Haggai 2:9). For baby-boomers, like me, that tells me I ought to be encouraging and mentoring the millenials and future generations to live authentically and passionately for God.
  • God is shaking the heavens and the earth (all nations), but He has all resources at His disposal to build His dwelling place among men (Haggai 2:6 – 9).
  • God has made an everlasting covenant of peace with us, His dwelling place, and He affirms it again (Haggai 2:9).
  • If I were to summarize these OT verses in NT terms, I would say “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33). Jesus tells us 6 times in this chapter “do not be anxious.” Anxiety is rampant in the world and in the church. We must actively live out “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6 ESV)  Then we can expect that the “peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7 ESV)

As a result of studying the book of Haggai (ESV) I’ve made some decisions. I will NOT be  disinterested, disfocused, discouraged, nor dissastified.  I will NOT give into anxiety. I will seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and I will get to work building the dwelling place of the Lord in myself, the church and in Women of the Word in whatever ways He shows me. Will you join me? 

Click here to hear this message in its entirety on mp3.