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Writer of fiction that reflects the light of Jesus. Sometimes the grit mixes with beauty to make up a picture of this life. That's where my fiction lives.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Review of I Peter: Finding Encouragement in Troubling Times. Week Three

"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light."
~I Peter 2:9 (NIV)

In college my sister started calling me "Puppy". Just out of the blue. Apparently she saw it on "My Best Friend's Wedding" and she thought it was such a cute nickname that she wanted to use it on me. And it stuck. Truth? I hated it at first. But after a short time, I loved it. Why? Because that name came at just the right time. I was going through some personal struggles and dealing with the death of both my grandmothers. "Puppy" was just a way for my sister to acknowledge that our relationship is special. 

Nearly 15 years later, she still calls me "Puppy". 

God has called us "a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession." 

But isn't He the Creator of all things? Yes. And He has chosen me? Yes. And He has called me to a holy priesthood, a consecrated ministry? Yes. He calls me a part of a holy nation? Yes. And I am special? Yes.

I have to tell you, being called a "special possession" of God sinks deeply within me. It acknowledges the intimate relationship that God desires to have with me. Not a controlling, abusive relationship. Not a special, lovingly jealous one. We are His portion. We are the Bride that He desires to lift up and make holy.

Now that, THAT, is a great nickname.

*Note: I received a free copy of this Bible study in exchange for an honest review

Friday, January 20, 2012

Review of I Peter: Finding Encouragement in Troubling Times. Week Two.

"Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God." 
1 Peter 1:22 and 23

During this week's study, I was contemplating love. Love that is defined in the above verses. It made me think of something that happened almost 2 years ago. 

I was reading a book that detailed human evil. I read a particular story that disturbed me so greatly that I slapped the book closed and hid it under several other books. I couldn't even look at the book anymore. Anger, that I hope was righteous, and sorrow overtook me. 

Days later I was driving. A song about God's love played on the radio. 

"Thank You, God, for loving me," I prayed. 

"I love them, too," I felt Him say. I knew He meant the people in that book that did all of those terrible, evil things. 

"That isn't fair," I thought. "It isn't right and it isn't fair."

"But I do love them," I felt His words again. "And you need to, as well."

That was it. Well, until I heard that song again. And I realized that the evil, the pain that those people inflicted on others hurt the heart of God. Because of the victim and because of the perpetrator. 

As much as I didn't want to, I prayed that God would help me to love them. Not accept their deeds. No. Never that. But to love them. Sometimes being purified by obeying the truth is painful, laborious and all together unpleasant. 

But as I tried to obey, I realized something that broke my heart. I'd never worked that hard to love in all my life. Not even my brothers and sisters in Christ. There were some Christians that I just did not love deeply. Parts of the imperishable seed, the image of God made me angry or hurt me. And I didn't fight to maintain my love for them. 

This realization made me fall flat. I repented. Then God asked me to reconcile with specific people. It was terrifying. It made me physically ill from the anxiety of it. But the obedience was purifying. Some of the relationships were not restored. Forgiveness was reached. Then other relationships were saved. Renewed. Better than ever before. 

And that's the purifying. Sincere love brings us to a tiny bit better understanding of the incomprehensible love of our Heavenly Father. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Review of I Peter: Finding Encouragement in Troubling Times. Week One.

Each Friday I'll be reviewing a Bible study lesson from this Sue Edward study of I Peter. 

When a Bible study starts with "Do you ever wonder if you would deny Christ if faced with prison, poverty or pain?" (page 10), well, you know that you're in for a deep study. 

A Bible study that will delve into your heart and bring about great introspection. 

This is my kind of Bible study.

In the introduction, she brings up the possibility of persecution. She encourages us to be ready, because we never know if it will happen to us, our children or our grand children. And she reminds us that persecution is happening in nations around the world. 

This made me reflect. Have I ever been persecuted for my faith?

No. I haven't.

I've been called ignorant. Stupid. Weak. Naive.

But never persecuted. 

Nothing like the early Church faced in the arenas of Rome. Nothing like a woman who is honor killed by her family member in modern nations. 

I guess the word that really applies to what I've experienced is opposition. People who want to debate their views against mine. I've lost friends because of my faith. It hurts. Sure. It's awful. 

So many times I've seen Christians react in two ways to this kind of opposition. Some hold firm and get angry and argue and scream. Others fun from their beliefs, back peddling to avoid a fight.  Both are problematic for obvious reasons. And I've been guilty for both responses.

And I think that neither of those reactions are full of hope. "Hope for the heaven bound", as Sue Edwards says at the end of the introduction. Hope doesn't get angry and spout off arguments. Hope doesn't deny what it knows to be true. Hope is faithful. Hope is gentle. Hope is loving. And those reactions, when faced with opposition or even persecution, are full of the Fruit of the Spirit. And God will equip us to display these Fruits when faced with hard times. Or even horrible times.

This study is packed. It is a big beef steak of wisdom and instruction. And I am so excited that I get to go through this faith building study.

Check back next week for my review of Lesson 2.

Note: I received a copy of this study in exchange of an honest review.