29 November 2011

BSF 2011-2012: Hebrews 4:14-6:20

This section of Hebrews focuses on how Jesus is superior to the Jewish priesthood. There also is a brief change of topic when the writer warns the readers against laziness by not moving past basic Christian doctrines into "meatier" teachings (5:11-6:3). Apparently the Hebrews were not applying what they were learning. So true for many of us today!

This weekend, I was trying to determine what to write about from this week's Scripture. I couldn't really land on anything specific until I heard last night's lecture. Read Hebrews 4:14-16:

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Because Jesus is our Great High Priest, we can confidently approach God's throne of grace. Do I realize what a great privilege this is? In the Old Testament, the Israelites didn't have direct access to God. They could only approach Him through a priest. And the high priest could enter God's presence in the Holy of Holies just once a year. Now we can enter His presence at any time, from anywhere. What a privilege!

In what manner do I approach God's throne? How often to I approach His throne? Do I do it boldly? Reverently? I'm still working on my prayer life this year, so this was a good reminder about how I should approach God's throne. I want to picture myself in God's presence as I come before Him in worship, thanksgiving and petition.

22 November 2011

BSF 2011-2012: Hebrews 2:5-4:13

What a challenging Scripture! This portion of Hebrews emphasizes that Jesus is superior to mankind. These verses also warn against hardening our hearts by disobeying God, just like the Israelites did while wandering in the desert (Numbers 13-14).

My favorite verse in this section is 3:1: "Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest." Some synonyms for "fix" include "make stable," "hold steady" and "remain strong." According to one principle from last night's lecture, fixing our minds on Jesus gives us the courage to live the day in Him.

How do we fix our thoughts on Jesus daily? There are countless ways. Some include filling our minds, hearts and ears with God's Word; praying continually; serving others; memorizing Scripture; and choosing an accountability partner.

I know sometimes this is easier said than done. But our attitude and outlook on life are so much better when we choose to think about Jesus instead of anything that causes us stress!

21 November 2011

New toys at Grandma and Grandpa's house

Recently my parents have freshened up Avery's toy choices at their house by giving her some new-to-her toys.

This huge pile of Barbies used to belong to me and my sister, Karen. A few years ago, Karen and I went through our Barbie collection and pared it down to the dolls with all their legs, arms and heads. It's fun to see Avery playing with these Barbies. A lot of memories come flooding back when I see these dolls.

Avery loves to line up her toys and books. So Grandma helped her position the Barbies here.

While looking at a Christmas toy catalog, Avery saw a trampoline made just for kids. She has played on one before. So when she got excited and shouted, "Trampoline!" Grandpa knew she'd love to use his old exercise trampoline.

I think Avery is getting more use out of it than Grandpa ever did!

20 November 2011

Avery's new cousin

We are so excited to announce that Avery has a new cousin, and we have a new nephew!

Caden (or Cayden, we're not sure which spelling!) Michael Clark
7 lbs., 2 oz.
20 inches
3:45 a.m.
Nov. 20, 2011

Elvie scared all of us with some severe complications a few hours after the birth. But everything is fine now, and Mommy and Caden are doing well. We wish Casey and his family didn't live halfway across the world. But until we're all together again and we can hold precious Caden, we know they'll share lots of pictures, videos and stories.

Casey, Elvie and Shin-ya: Enjoy this special time as a family because it will go very quickly. And try to get some sleep! :o)

16 November 2011

Booty shop

I've mentioned before how much Avery loves going to the beauty shop (or "booty shop," as she says). It didn't take too many visits before she started playing beauty shop at home.

While at the beauty shop with Mommaw Clark last week, Mommaw's stylist generously gave Avery a bag full of hair styling goodies. And that's just about the only thing Avery played with all weekend!

She had so much fun working on her babies' hair. But it's much more fun to have a real customer, right?

Luckily, her grandpas were willing to step in.

You'll notice that she has created her own style for wearing headbands. It doesn't do much for keeping her hair out of her eyes, but that's the only way she'll wear headbands.

After working on her customers' hair, then it's Avery's turn.

I have a feeling that "hair stylist" may be on her list of possible future occupations!

15 November 2011

BSF 2011-2012: Hebrews 1:1-2:4

For the next few weeks, we'll be in Hebrews. Although we don't know the author of Hebrews, we do know that this book was written to Jewish believers during the last 10 years of the time mentioned in Acts. Often Hebrews is called the Book of Encouragement. It is filled with many encouraging and uplifting verses that reconfirm our faith in Christ. This book goes back to the basics and reminds Christians why we believe in Christ.

I love this illustration from lecture last night: We don't need the blueprint after a building is complete. In the same way, we don't need the Old Testament sacrifices after Christ arrived. This first section of Hebrews emphasizes that because Jesus is God, He is superior to everyone and everything. So we don't need to rely on anyone but Him.

The lesson I learned this week came from Hebrews 2:1: "We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away." We drift away from God when we ignore Christ and His message. Spiritual drifting can happen to both Christians and non-Christians. Christians will drift daily when we ignore God's truth and turn to our own ways. Non-Christians will drift for all eternity when they reject the truth of the gospel: Salvation comes through faith in Christ alone.

The only way not to drift is to be tied to Christ. Just like a boat that isn't tied to a dock will drift in the currents, we also will drift in the currents of the world when we ignore Christ and choose to live our lives for ourselves and not for Him. Are you tied tightly to Him for all eternity?

08 November 2011

BSF 2011-2012: Acts 15:1-35 and Galatians 2

The great influx of Gentile believers was causing some rifts in the new church. Most notably, some Jewish Christians wanted the Gentile Christians to follow the Jewish laws and customs, including be circumcised. But Paul and Barnabas told these men that salvation is based only on faith in Christ and His work on the cross, not the Law or works. As you can guess, an argument ensued.

The Jewish Christians didn't want to lose their traditions or their special standing with God. But He clearly said that salvation is in Christ alone. The bottom line of this issue is that the Jewish Christians were trying to compromise the truth of God's Word. They wanted to add works to salvation. It's a good thing Paul and Barnabas stepped in!

Even today, Satan uses internal controversies to try to destroy Christ's church. As believers, we must watch out for Satan dividing the church with false doctrines. We will recognize false doctrines and know how to dispel them when we stand firm on the truth of the Scripture.

How do I handle church divisions? Am I a part of the problem or a part of the solution? Do I pray for unity in the church? Do I know the truth of the Scripture?

The early church worked through this divisive issue to bring unity to believers and to show that they are God's children (John 13:35). Will we commit to doing the same today?

02 November 2011

Fun with a microphone

As you saw in a recent post, Grandma and Grandpa Hromada gave Avery an electronic microphone. We mistakenly thought that it would stay at their house, but Grandpa quickly rushed it out the door and put it in our car.

It's really quite funny to watch Avery play with this toy. She must have received some performance genes from Chris because I certainly didn't have anything to do with her stage presence!

A good performer tries to get the audience to participate.

You have to be sure the audience can see you as you perform on stage.

Besides singing songs, Avery also likes to do her impression of a fire truck siren. (Yes, Daddy taught her this one!)

01 November 2011

BSF 2011-2012: Acts 14

For Paul and Barnabas, the city of Derbe brought rest and comfort. While traveling, healing people and sharing the gospel, these brave men faced many trials. They were threatened with death in Iconium (Acts 14:1-7). And Paul was brutally stoned in Lystra before receiving a miraculous healing from God (Acts 14:8-20a). Through it all, they never were discouraged.

But God knew it was time for some rest and refreshment. So He sent them to Derbe. After surviving a torturous stoning, the next day Paul with Barnabas walked 18 miles from Lystra to Derbe. After overcoming a trial, he just got up and kept going!

While in Derbe, Paul and Barnabas continued to preach. Many people believed, and there was no opposition, unlike the countless attacks from Satan before this time. God knew that these men needed an "easy" task to recover from all they had already been through. Derbe was God's chance to give Paul and Barnabas rest and strength before he sent them back to the battlefield.

I'd like to think I have a pretty good life. But just like everyone else, I have struggles, too. My biggest challenge right now is being a good mommy and living out Jesus to a sweet 2-year-old girl. Sometimes, my impatience gets the best of me and I lose my temper with her. Sometimes, I feel overwhelmed with parenting duties and need a vacation from being a mommy. Sometimes, I just want to drive in the car alone without a tiny voice in the backseat requesting a certain song or asking it to be "louder" or telling me not to sing along with said song!

But in all of this, God gives me Derbe moments. I have an amazing family, including a wonderful husband, the best sister I could ever ask for and caring parents and in-laws. I work at a part-time job I love and with co-workers I love, including my best friend. I spend most Tuesday evenings eating dinner and relaxing with my parents and Avery, followed by some alone time before Chris gets home from class. I get to serve God alongside an amazing team of godly women every Saturday morning and Monday night. Through these blessings, God provides rest and strength before I face the battlefield again.

Even when the stresses of life take over, I need to be like Paul and keep on keeping on. And I need to enjoy Derbe but not linger there...because God is preparing me for battle!