Prayer Requests for Week of April 14th, 2014

Hey all,

April is half-gone.  Can you believe it?!

Post your requests below or email me at atozmom.wordpress@gmail.com

I’d love to be privileged to pray for you all.

Mine:  Prayer for my husband’s job as he is going through a trial with a fellow worker on a power trip.

God bless you all and have a very blessed and special Holy Week!

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I Am TIRED of Irresponsible Pet Owners…

It Doesn't Get Any Cuter!

It Doesn’t Get Any Cuter!

We are in the market for a new pet again.  My pup needs a friend to play with.  My son wants a cat.  So we head to the local humane society to look at kitties.  One we are interested in is 8 years old and cute as can be.  Very people-oriented.  Loved on all of us when we held her.

She was surrendered by her owner who had owned her since she was a kitten for one reason only:  she meows too much.  According to him, she meows so much he can’t sleep and the neighbors were putting notes on his door due to the noise.  I was disgusted.  A member of the family FOR EIGHT YEARS given up because it was an inconvenience to the owner.

One dog we saw on craigslist that was up for “rehoming” (which is such bull.  Rehoming should be “don’t want anymore”) because it wouldn’t walk on a leash without pulling and lunging for other dogs and the owner wanted a “nice” dog he could take to the dog park and not have to worry about.  They had owned this dog for two years.  Beautiful, full-blooded mastiff.  I was sickened as well.  And they want money!  They want to be rewarded for their ineptitude!

Pets are just like people–they come with individual personalities and problems.  One of our cats we got from the humane society likes people food and roams the counters all the time.  She is also our lap cat.  Our other cat does not like to be picked up but loves to sit in the bathroom with you and sleep next to you at night.  He lays in windows and purrs constantly.

Our puppy, like most puppies, has a chew problem.  She chews stuff left out.  She chewed our $3000 couch!  She also cries every time I leave the house.  But are we getting rid of her because of it?  Emphatically no!  She is a part of our family and I will love her and care for her till the end.  So are the older cats we adopted.

We are renters.  Our pets go with us.  I’m tired of posts on craigslist saying “I moved into an apartment and can’t keep my dog anymore.  She needs a yard to roam around in.”  Then you shouldn’t have gotten a dog in the first place!  Our dogs go with us (and, yes, even to apartments we have rented) no matter what.  I would never give them up.  Despite the sometimes outrageous pet deposits and the limited places to rent with pets.  Yes, I have had landlords hang up on me once they found out we owned mastiffs.  I don’t want to rent from them anyways!

The United States does not have a pet population problem–it has an owner problem.  Irresponsible owners who want pets only when it is convenient for them but give them up as soon as it becomes “inconvenient”.  As soon as a needy cat decides to meow because it’s left alone all day.  As soon as a dog is not a “trophy” dog and pulls too much.  As soon as the idea of work is involved and dog training is something “I don’t have time for”, the dog is gone and probably forgotten.

I am also tired of people thinking the rules don’t apply to them.  At soccer yesterday, no dogs are allowed at the soccer complex.  Yet here’s a lady, walking her boxer right by the sign that says “no dogs allowed”.  The scary thing is she has her 4 year old daughter with her.  What is she teaching her?  She’s just lucky we were too far away and I wasn’t dressed officially or I would have had to say something.

Whoever Said Cats and Dogs Don't Get Along?

Whoever Said Cats and Dogs Don’t Get Along?

Pets and dogs especially aren’t “show animals” that get you attention or make you feel better about yourself…

I’m just so saddened really.  And these are just two stories.  There are hundreds and probably thousands more.  My heart bleeds.  I want to rescue all of them and upbraid their owners but I can’t.  And the upbraiding I’m sure wouldn’t do any good.

Sigh…

Not for sure why I am sharing.  Venting really (and thanks for listening!) as I have no solution.  I wish I did…

I pray for these people that they’d have a change of heart.  I also pray they don’t get any more pets until they do.  I pray some day I’ll sell a book and can donate more money to unwanted pet organizations who rescue these animals and find them a forever home where they will be loved and cherished, idiosyncrasies and all.

For now, I do my part.  Trying to convince my husband we should adopt another cat (which would make three).  And get another dog (that would be three as well).  My husband is against the idea because we are renters and it’s not our home.

And I post my thoughts and my heart-ache to you all.  Which helps me.  And maybe encourages you to help where you can (either adopting or donating).  For collectively we can make a difference much more than individually…

For God gave Adam domain over all animals (Genesis 1:26).  And we need to honor that responsibility and care for God’s creatures.

Every living creature is precious in God’s eyes.  So should they be in ours as well.

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 30: Review Questions for Book of Matthew

As always, the last lesson in BSF is a review lesson and a reflection on what you have learned throughout the year at BSF.  I will not be posting my answers as they are all personal questions, but I will leave you with some of my final thoughts for the year.

I learned Jesus had to rise from the grave so that we could.  I learned how everything Jesus did was for us.  The connection between the Old and New Testaments was strengthened in my mind as I gained a deeper understanding of prophecy and especially how it relates to Jesus.

I learned how God briefly turned His back on Jesus at the cross but Jesus never turned his back on God.  Important for us to do as well when we think God has abandoned us.

I gained a much deeper understanding of the disciples.  Before, I thought little of them to be quite honest and what I did think of them was idealized.  Now, I know they were just like you and me–common folk who were flawed but with a good heart–who yearned to understand and follow Jesus even when they failed.  But they never gave up.  And in the end, they fulfilled God’s purpose for their lives here on Earth.

I learned the key to healing is having faith.  Those who had faith in Jesus were healed.  Those who didn’t, were not.  Unseen faith is the key to heaven.

I learned everything Jesus did had a purpose.  He wasn’t just indiscriminately walking here on Earth.  Every footfall was planned from the beginning of time.

Jesus himself became more real to me.  I saw him more as a human who had the same emotions and problems as we do here on earth.  He had to be God and man at the same time–I would imagine not easy to do.  He formed close connections with those close to him and felt pain when they failed him or betrayed him.  He had expectations that were let down.  He had burdens to carry that we could never imagine.  Yet his courage gives me strength.  For if Jesus could bear the sins of the world, then I can bear whatever little problem is going on in my life.

My favorite story/lesson was John the Baptist’s beheading for I saw just how easy it is to sway young people to do horrible acts because of their ignorance.  This is important for me to remember as I raise my kids in this Fallen world where at every turn they are bombarded with images of how they should be or how they should act and messages of how premarital sex is okay and smoking marijuana is healthy.

You can never fail when you study the Bible for God is with you and He never fails.  He speaks to you right where you are even if you’ve heard these very familiar tales a hundred times.  Overall, I loved the study of Matthew.  I’ve never really had the opportunity to study Jesus in depth and now I feel confident in speaking about his time here on earth with others.  Studying the Bible makes it more accessible and real and the life lessons are ones we need to hear over and over again in order to live them out.

I am, however, looking forward to the break where I have much writing planned (2 re-writes and a non-fiction book to begin), which I believe is my calling here on Earth.  Naturally, I am excited to begin!

I thank all of you for joining me in this study.  You have enriched it infinite-fold with your comments and presence.  I look forward to next year with Moses (or Revelation for some of you). God bless and have a rejuvenating break!

Seven at One Blow Revisited

Seven at One Blow by the Brothers Grimm is one of my all-time favorite fairy tales.  This is the story of a common tailor who one day kills seven flies with one swat of a towel.  Thinking this quite the accomplishment, the tailor makes himself a belt that reads “Seven at One Blow” and then he sets off to seek his fortune.

He first meets a not-all-that-smart giant who assumes seven at one blow means the tailor has killed seven giants at one blow.  The tailor is able to trick the giant into thinking he is very strong and gain all of his treasure.

Next, the tailor meets a king who has an ogre problem–they are ravishing his kingdom.  Again, through trickery, the tailor manages to kill both ogres.  The king however does not want to reward the tailor (which is his daughter in marriage and his kingdom upon death) so he sets him about taming a unicorn and capturing a wild boar, hoping the tailor won’t return.  Of course, the tailor does return.

Finally, the king plans to just kill the tailor while he sleeps at night.  Learning of the plan, the tailor once again defeats the king who runs off along with his daughter to never be heard from again.  The tailor is left with the kingdom to rule.

Seven at One Blow

Seven at One Blow

There are many, many adaptations of this story.  This one is retold by Eric Kimmel, a favorite children’s author of ours who specializes in re-telling tales from around the world.

My kids and I love this story.  It’s such a feel-good tale of how even the not-too-bright succeed in this world with determination, self-confidence, and a little bit of luck, fortune, or God.  These tales are what kids need to hear in this world full of hate–tales of where the good guy succeeds in the face of not-so-good guys who are out for themselves.  Very enriching and inspiring tale that all (even parents) should read.  Guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

I wrote on this tale almost 4 years ago and it’s amazing how a story can speak to you in different ways no matter where you are at in your life.  It’s the same with the Bible.  Yeah, they are the same stories over and over again.  But every time you read God’s Word, He speaks.  He speaks to you right where you are at and you are guaranteed to be enriched.  Original Post HERE

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 29, Day 5: Matthew 28:16-20

Summary of passage:  The disciples go to Galilee where Jesus told them to meet him.  They worshiped him when they saw him but some doubted.  Jesus said he had been given all authority in heaven and earth and to go and baptize all in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Teach them to obey all the commands and I will be with you always to the end of time.

Questions:

11)  According to Webster’s authority means “power to influence or command thought, opinion, or behavior; persons in command; a conclusive statement; testimony; a citation used in defense or support; convincing force or weight.”

12a)  Jesus commanded his disciples to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey all the commands.  Jesus promises to be with you always to the very end of the age.

b)  The word “all” is repeated (more times in other translations than here).  All authority, all nations, all things, all days.  Jesus is speaking to every person on this planet with eternal power.  Everyone is to know him from now (1st century AD) until the present moment and the future.  The idea of authority and command is also repeated.  Jesus has the right to tell us what to do, and therefore we must obey unconditionally.  That is the scope:  it applies to all of us without question and for all time.

c)  Baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and teach them to obey all he has commanded.

d)  Personal Question.  My answer:  My kids just got baptized!  It was awesome!  Talk about Jesus to others everywhere I go.

e)  As our Lord, he has the right to command us.  He tells us to do something we should do it like we expect our kids to do what we tell them to do.  And he promises to be with us as we do it.  With Jesus by our side, we cannot fail.  Nothing is impossible.  Only with him and through him will we be all we were created to be.

13)  Personal Question.  My answer:

Romans 5:10:  Jesus’ resurrection gives us a new life with God.  Live as such.

2 Corinthians 4:10-18:  Fix your eyes on eternity and not the troubles of the here and now.  We carry around Jesus’ life within us and we should overflow with gratitude. Do not focus on life’s circumstances but on the greater picture to come.  Reflect Jesus to others in your daily walk.

Galatians 2:20:  Die to self; live for Christ through faith in him.  Do God’s will and not your own.

Philippians 3:10:  We share in Christ’s sufferings.  Our sufferings grow and change us, making us more like Jesus and better able to spread the Good News to others.

Colossians 3:1-4:  Set your heart and mind on heaven and not on earthly things.  For you have died and only Christ is alive in you.  Remember things here on earth are only temporary and not important.  God’s work is what matters and nothing else.

Conclusions:  The emphasis here is on the importance of doing God’s work and following His will for your life and not yours.  Also, the importance of sharing the gospel with others.  As Jesus’ last words spoken to his disciples while in physical form here on earth, don’t you think they are the most important?  So they should be to us also.

What a comfort Jesus’ last recorded words:  “I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  Can you imagine how your life would change if at every moment of every day you knew Jesus was walking with you and present in every situation (good and bad) in your life?

God was there.  I was just blind.

End Notes:  Jesus’ authority is what sends us, guides us, and empowers us to do his commission and nothing else.

Disciples are not converts.  They are students, scholars, and learners and they are made, not born instantly.  It is a life-long process to become a disciple of Christ for it takes that long to get to know him and be like him.

Note the absence of circumcision here.  This new covenant does not require an outward sign anymore, only inward is what matters.  Yes, baptism is an outward sign to the world, but it affects the internal more than the external.

“In” is also translated “into” so into the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Note also the singular “name”, meaning the Son, Father, and Holy Spirit are one, not three separate deities.

Note the teaching of “all things” and not just some things in the Bible as is popular today.

We work for and with Jesus as he is with us in every moment of every day.  He protects us, powers us, gives us peace in our daily lives.  Each footfall is next to his but more so is behind his as well as he guides us on his path to righteousness and salvation.  We cannot fail with Jesus.

Suggestion:  Read the other versions of the commission.  Mark focuses on Jesus’ chastisement of the disciples’ unbelief.  He includes what happens if people do not believe and signs of belief.  He just says to go and preach, not to make disciples.

Luke focuses as well on the disciples’ doubt.  He ate in their presence probably to help alleviate some of this.  He just mentions preaching and being sent out to the world.

John merely records Jesus interacting with Peter but here we see the commission as well:  feed and care for Jesus’ sheep and follow him.  Here, we see teach and turn to followers (disciples) of Christ.

My favorite?  Matthew’s by far.  The focus is on learning about Christ, sharing Christ, and him always being with us–in my opinion, three of the most important things about Jesus.  We need to learn about him.  We need to share him.  And he is there always.  We are never alone.

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 29, Day 4: Matthew 28:1-15; Acts 1:3-11

Summary of passages:  Matthew 28:1-15:  Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to Jesus’ tomb after the Sabbath at dawn. An angel of the Lord came down from heaven and rolled the stone back. He appeared like lightning in all white. The guards were afraid of him and fainted.

The angel told the women to not be afraid and that Jesus has risen. Come and see and then go and tell the disciples that Jesus is in Galilee. The women did as told and on the way Jesus met them. They worshipped him and Jesus told the women the same message as the angels said.

The guards went into Jerusalem and told the chief priests what had happened. The chief priests and elders bribed the guards to say that the disciples had come and stolen Jesus’ body and they would keep the soldiers from getting into trouble because of it. The soldiers agreed.

Acts 1:3-11:  Luke picks up the story right after the resurrection.  Jesus gave many proofs that he was alive.  He appeared to the disciples over a a period of 40 days and spoke about the kingdom of God.  Jesus told them to stay in Jerusalem until they received the Holy Spirit.

The disciples asked Jesus if he was going to restore the kingdom of Israel.  Jesus said that is not for you to know.  You will receive power with the Holy Spirit and be his witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the world. Then Jesus was taken up to heaven and as the disciples watched two men told them Jesus would return in the same way he was taken.

Questions:

9a) 1 Corinthians argues that if Christ didn’t rise from the dead, then our faith is useless and we are all false witnesses. Our faith is futile and we are still unsaved sinners and there is no afterlife with God in heaven.  I think the number of witnesses who saw Jesus alive and touched him is proof.  Mary clung to Jesus when she met him after his death (John 20:17).  Thomas touched Jesus’ wounds (John 20:27).

All the disciples witnessed Jesus in the flesh when he appeared to them.  1 Corinthians 15:6 says 500 people witnesses Jesus walk on the earth after his death.  Furthermore, as the Bible is God’s breathed word, we are to have faith in what it says.  The Bible says his body rose from the dead and Jesus walked the earth once more.  Hence, we are to believe it.

b)  Our faith is useless and we are still in our sin.  There will be no eternal life with God in heaven. For if Jesus did not rise from the dead, then neither can we.

10)  John 10:17-18:  Jesus laid down his life and took it up again.  This is how it shall be with us.

Acts 2:31 with Psalm 16:10:  Jesus would not be abandoned to the grave nor his body decay.

Acts 17:30-31:  God will judge the world and His proof is raising men from the dead.

1 Corinthians 15:45-58:  Physical death is the penalty for sin so when we die, our sins die with us.  When we are raised, we are raised anew–imperishable and immortal–and we are now righteous with God.

Ephesians 1:18-20; Romans 6:4:  We can live a new life through the glory of the Father.  God has power over the dead to give life.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-14:  With Jesus’ death and resurrection, he gave the ability and power for all believers to rise from the dead with him to be with God.

Hebrews 7:16, 23-28:  Jesus’ resurrection allows us to live forever and our sins are forgiven forever with his blood.  We can all be near to God because of Jesus.

1 Peter 1:3-5:  Jesus’ death and resurrection gives us a new life and inheritance in heaven.

Christ’s resurrection must take place physically or we cannot rise from the grave and come to new life in him and live eternally with God.

Conclusions:  Great lesson!  I had never really connected how it’s the fact Jesus rose from the dead that allows us to rise and be with God.  I had always just thought Jesus died for our sins and now we get to be with God.  Nope.  If Jesus hadn’t risen from the grave, Jesus could have died for our sins but we’d have no eternal life.  We’d just be cleansed forever but not live forever.

Hence, Jesus’ physical death on the cross paid for our sins.  His resurrection is our resurrection as well:  into a new life with God always.  Great passages explaining this!

End Notes: Acts 1 records the last time Jesus is seen by his disciples in his physical body.  You can only be a witness for Jesus if you have the Holy Spirit within.

Jesus’ commission of Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and the rest of the Earth is the outline of the rest of Acts–in that order.

Jesus’ ascension into heaven is for the disciples:  so they would know for a fact he was gone.  With his departure, the Holy Spirit could now come (John 16:7).

Presumably two angels appear and tell the disciples to get to work.

I love the phrase “same Jesus.”  Jesus never changes as God never changes.

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 29, Day 3: John 20:1-18; Luke 24:12-32

Summary of passages:  John 20:1-18:  Mary Magdalene returns to Jesus’ tomb early on the first day of the week and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.  She ran to Simon Peter and the other disciple (John) that Jesus had loved and told them that Jesus’ body had been taken.

Peter and the other disciple run to Jesus’ tomb to investigate and saw strips of linen lying in the tomb and the burial cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head.  The disciples returned home but Mary stood outside the tomb crying.  She looked in the tomb and saw two angels in white seater where Jesus’ body had been.  They asked her why she was crying and she answered because Jesus’ body was stolen and she doesn’t know where it is.

Jesus appeared at that moment.  He asked her the same thing and she does not recognize him until he utters her name.  He told her to go and tell his brothers that he will be returning to his Father and she did.

Luke 24:12-32:  Being told by the women that Jesus had arisen, Peter ran to the tomb to see for himself since he didn’t believe them.  He saw the strips of linen in Jesus’ tomb but still wondered what had happened.

On the road to Emmaus that same day, two of Jesus’ followers were wondering what was going on.  Jesus appeared to them but they did not recognize him.  He asked them what they were speaking about.  Cleopas said he must be a stranger if he doesn’t know recent events.  They recounted the story of how Jesus had been crucified and how his body was now missing and how the women had said he is risen from the dead.

Jesus called them foolish not to understand the prophets so he began with Moses and explained all the Scriptures concerning himself.  They invited him to stay with them overnight.  He blessed the bread and then they recognized him and Jesus disappeared.

Questions:

6)  “The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen.”  The fact that the strips of linen and cloth were neatly arranged discounted the grave robbery theory as robbers have no concern for neatness and would have hurriedly stripped off the linen to get to what lay beneath.

7a)  As intimate as sheep who know their master’s voice like Mary who instantly recognized him when he spoke her name.  The caregiver for all of their needs and whom they implicitly trust, obey, and follow.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  This whole study has impressed upon me the importance of doing His calling for my life on this earth.  How not to give up on that in the face of adversity.

8a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  The importance of understanding the Scriptures and the prophecies of the Old Testament.  The importance of listening to Jesus when he does explain them to you.  And the importance of sharing those lessons learned with others as Jesus himself did.  How we should pray to see Jesus in our midst.  How we should pray for our hearts to be set aflame by him.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I try to explain to my kids the meanings and the intricacies of the Bible in terms they will understand.  And I try to explain to you all as well what I understand.  I pray to see Jesus and have him guide my heart and I pray this for others and my kids as well.  I teach them he is there and we can see him with grace and love.

Conclusions:  Don’t like reading John in the middle of the chapter.  Read more for further understanding.  Who amongst us wouldn’t have wanted to have been on that road to Emmaus to hear Jesus explain the Old Testament?  Wow!  What a gift!  Can you imagine the power of Jesus uttering your name and you instantly recognize him?  I want to hear my name spoken from his lips!

Overall, filler lesson since Matthew was not mentioned at all with a lot of personal questions.  Important?  Yes.  For we all must learn to recognize Jesus’ voice in our lives and understand the connections of the Old and New Testaments.

End Notes:  Cleopas could very well be the husband of “Mary the wife of Clopas” who stood faithfully by Jesus’ cross as he died (John 19:25).

John and Peter do not understand what they see because they have forgotten Jesus’ words.  They only know something amazing has happened.

Note Mary is NOT afraid when the angels appear to her here.  This is one of the few places in the Bible when someone is not afraid when angels appear to man.  Her grief is such that their presence does not affect her.

Mary plans to carry Jesus away when she finds him.  How she would accomplish this remains a mystery but her devotion is such she only is focused on finding Jesus.

Mary is already clinging to Jesus when he tells her to not hold onto him.  This tells us he definitely has a tangible, physical body.

Note Jesus’ distinction between “my father” and “your father”.  He is differentiating himself from us as he should since he is our lord as well.

If someone had fabricated this story, would they make a woman the first to see Jesus?  No. Women were nothing in first century AD.  This speaks to the Truth of God’s Word.

Jesus knew the 2 men on the road to Emmaus were sad when they shouldn’t be.  Hence, he wanted them to understand what had truly happened.  Amazing God’s care for the lost!

Jesus encourages them to tell him things even though he already knows them.  As God wants us to do always.

Jesus called them foolish for not believing the testimony of others.  It was a heart problem as so often it is with us.

We should pray that Jesus opens our eyes to see him who walks by our side every day.  Then, as these two men did, we will see him and understand.  Their hearts were set aflame by Jesus’ words. What our prayer should be every day:  to be on fire for Jesus!

Map of Emmaus with great re-telling and famous accompanying artwork:  http://www.jesus-story.net/emmaus.htm

Cleopas:  What we know is basically what the Bible tells us of him.  He is never mentioned again outside of this story.  More information HERE if interested.