Friday, July 9, 2010

Talking the Talk and Walking the Walk

Hello everyone!
It seems that I have been posting every-other day, so I may make that my norm. We shall see. This post will be less like the telling of a story, and more about general events. I don't do many of these, but I feel like this post should be structured like that. As you read, you will probably see why.
Now, I have some exciting news!
There are three young women from my church (Eagle Creek Community Church) that will be going to the Central Indiana Awakening, one of the most amazing weekends to grow closer to Christ and hear His voice. Their names are Abby, Lauren, and Faith. Please pray that they would come into this weekend with an open mind and a ready heart, and that God would impact them during the Awakening. There are two other possible attendees, McKenna and Ellie, and I would be grateful if you would pray that God would open the doors needed for them to go if it is in His will that they do so.

When you attend the Awakening, you are called a Sleeper. At the end, you are called to be "Awakened from your sleep" and into the arms of Christ. As one who has been "awakened", I am not supposed to talk about what all goes on during the weekend, at least in detail, so I will just say that you listen to testimonies and teachings, praise and worship the Lord, and spend  a lot of time in personal reflection and group growth. I was so rejuvenated and excited when my weekend was over, that I wanted to tackle the entire world and preach the gospel to them - it is that impacting. If you have a teen in your household, who is 15-19 and completed at least their first years of high school, then I would encourage you to look into this.

On another note, I am happy to say that I have gotten through 3 of the 48 or so chapters in Ezekiel *chuckle*. It will take me 34 more days to complete the study, based on how I parsed it out. I'm tackling small(ish) chunks at a time, so I can spend a fair amount of time drawing lessons from what I've read, and so far, I have been very happy with what I have gleaned from this amazing book. The following are just a few of the lessons I have learned:

1) Ezek. 3:3 - God often speaks harsh words, words that are sometimes "hard to swallow". But to those who heed His call and who thirst and hunger for the Word of God, even the bitterness tastes sweet, the Word sustaining them through life's trials. Such is the awesome power of the Gospel!

2) Ezek. 3:4-6 - (paraphrased) "Now go & speak to the house of Israel. You will not be challenged by their mannerisms or language, [for they are your people]. No, this will be harder, for people of obscure tongues would surely have listened to you." - The home front, especially where the people are 'familiar' with the basic message of Christ and fluent in your native tongue, is far more challenging to speak to and reach than a different culture and/or language.
I think we all have seen this when we try to evangelize to our neighbors, or "christians" who just go to church on Easter and Christmas, and don't live their lives according to the bible, or on college campuses, etc...
We face the challenge of dealing with a so-called "christian nation", where many of it's citizens have at least heard a mainstreamed, secularized version of the Gospel, and who have already formed opinions about the message that we so desperately want to convey to them. At least we know that God recognizes this challenge, and has helped his prophets to overcome them and gain the strength to stand up in the face of that culture's revulsion towards and persecution of them.

3) Ezek. 3:7 - A person will only be as open and willing as they have decided to be. If someone will not listen to your words, especially when you are preaching the gospel, do not take it personally. They are already hardened and angry towards God & the scriptures, not (just) you and your presentation of them. Because no matter how much you botch the word of God, or your encounter with someone when you are trying to help show them His light, if the words of the Gospel are preached, your part is done. Now it is up to God and them to work things out. (This one is hard for me to take at times. I don't like being rejected!!)

4) Ezek. 3:11 - We shouldn't back down from a challenge, or a situation where you KNOW they won't listen. You need to speak out anyway


5) Ezek. 3:15 - "He came to the exiles living at Tel Abib near the Kebar River. He sat among them for 7 days--overwhelmed" - Even God's chosen prophets in the Old Testament were mere humans, with fears, weaknesses, and the ability to be overwhelmed. It makes it easier to relate, and to learn from them and mirror their action when you realize that.

6) Ezek 3:18-21 - (paraphrased - God speaking) "When I say to a wicked man, "You will surely die", and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his evil ways in order to save his life, that wicked man will die in his sin, and I will HOLD YOU ACCOUNTABLE for his blood (shiver). If the man hears, but does not heed, he will die in his sins anyway, but you will be safe." - LESSON: Do not hesitate to tell someone of their sin and God's salvation, for they may die in their sins yet, but their blood will not be on your hands - it will have been their choice to refuse) "If a righteous man turns to evil, I will place a stumbling block in his path, and he will die. If you do not warn him, his blood will be on your hands. But if you speak, and he hears but does not heed, he will die in sin. But if you warn him, and he hears and obeys, and does not sin, he will live because of you and your warning."
      Wow. That passage is very sobering to me. I often weigh the embarrassment I could receive if I spoke out against the possibility that they would even listen to me...I don't always think "I speak, and they could live. I don't speak, and they will die".
It places a burden on my heart - one, because of all the times I have not spoken. And another, to reach those I run into without fear. This is one of my main prayers to God right now.

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As you can see, there are quite a few things that jumped out at me from just the first 20 or so verses of chapter 3. If you are needing a part of the bible to study this summer, Ezekiel is definitely a good one!

Now. On to the events of last night.
Happily, I was able to enjoy 2 and a half hours of McKenna and Ellie's company! I was very excited that they were coming over, and I had every right to be. They are amazing young women, whom I am blessed to know =D.
We talked about anything and everything, from debate foibles and pet peeves to things you don't say when your mike is on, to movies and books that we enjoy and recommended, to health nuts and health issues, and, of course, my little brother Michael.
He loves people. But he really took a shine to the Gloriosos, because he began doing "tricks" for them, calling them "The Ladies", and crying when Sarah took him upstairs so the three of us could just talk without his distraction... =(. Oh well. He got over it!

Our evening ended all too soon, but my sister and I will be joining their bible studies on Wednesdays, so I will get to see them at least once a week.

Today, Friday, was a normal day. Michael was mercurial...screaming and laughing, one after the other. Wanting to play games and then refusing to have anything to do with you....and the rest of us just trying to get our day to day tasks done with him finding ways to interfere and/or "help" *laugh*. The only new things for the next couple of days are that Matt is going to a friend's house tonight, so that he can leave at 3 or 4 in the morning tomorrow for Myrtle Beach and High School Leadership Training (HSLT), another amazing christian program that I have had the privilege of being involved with!

Secondly, I traded my week in the country with my sister Sarah...I felt like I needed to be here this coming week. So she will be leaving with my mum for the hour's drive to my Grandmother's farm in Crawfordsville on Saturday morning. Matt, Sarah and I each have a week that we spend with her every summer. It's been that way since I can remember, and is something I look forward to every year. She is going to have an wonderful time, I'm sure. My week will now be near the beginning of august. It makes me smile just to think about it!

And! Last but not least, my friend Jenn will be dropping by tomorrow evening to hang out and talk. It's been far too long since we've had just the two of us and a fair amount of time. First I had the Gloriosos, and now Jenn! =D
I am very happy.
Other than that, I will probably be resting, experimenting with the new diet restrictions my doctor has insisted I enact, and maybe writing some more in my novel. We shall just have to see how things pan out.
For now, I will just say...Be Happy! Because, when I'm happy, I can usually make other people at least smile. If you need someone to make you smile.....call me.
I will discuss purple cows that knock over mail boxes for all I care (Leah, It's been a while, but this was once a topic of conversation for us!).
I hope you all have had a wonderful day so far, and that your weekend turns out to be fun and/or restful. You all are in my prayers!

Be Well!
-Rae

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