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Christy Catherine Marshall

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October 31, 2007

This week at our Bible study I was reminded more than ever how much I appreciate the friendships God has blessed me with. You know, when you’re surrounded by children all the time, you sometimes feel like a castle, with a moat all around you. It can be hard to reach outside the moat — yet we need friendships with other women just as much as any time in our lives. Maybe even more than ever.

It’s hard to write about this now, since I’m still in the midst of it, but someday I want to make a special effort to reach out to women with young children. People look at me and think I’m busy and happy raising my little family, and I’m very thankful for this time of life. But my soul is thirsty. In person, I find it very hard to move beyond “small talk.” Yet I crave depth in my friendships.

That’s what I really enjoy about this Bible study. The workbook and DVDs are tools that give us women a reason to get together and cut through the small talk — as soon as our workbooks are open, we’re digging deep, plowing through the jewels of scripture, and sharing our treasures with each other.

Our discussion this week focused on how our culture has changed through the years. In the homework, Beth asked us to write the names of the presidents who have served during our lifetime. (With a little help from Wikipedia), I wrote down:

Richard Nixon (1969-1974)
Gerald Ford (1974-1977)
Jimmy Carter (1977-1981)
Ronald Reagan (1981-1989)
George Bush, Sr. (1989-1993)
Bill Clinton (1993-2001)
George W. Bush (2001-present)

Beth asked, “In your opinion, has American culture and its mores risen and fallen dramatically under the direct influence of each president?”

This question led to a lively discussion. We tried to steer clear of politics, but we could all definitely see a shift in our culture under certain presidents. But mainly, it’s the little things that change, bit by bit, until suddenly you see a big shift.

Beth explains, “Cultures are stronger than human leaders because they are dictated by masses and cultivated by time” and “they are influenced by unseen powers. Invisible principalities.” As we moved into discussing Babylon as portrayed in Revelation 17, I began to grasp how the powers of evil move behind the scenes — yet our God is going to win the last battle!

One girl in our group talked about how every day she is seeing little things she can do to take a stand for her faith. She mentioned how she was in a Wal-Mart recently and saw a display for a horrible, gruesome movie right next to the kids’ movies! She said, “Before this Bible study, I probably would have just turned away from that image, but instead I decided this was something I didn’t want to let go.” She went and talked to a manager about it! Who knows — if all of us can do something like this, we can take back our culture for good. [Edit: The Wal-Mart manager responded to her request and MOVED that disgusting poster! Victory!]

I shared how a few years ago, a friend of mine was complaining to her husband how graphic the magazine covers are at the checkout counter — especially the tabloids. So her husband talked to the manager of a grocery store in our area (Publix — YEA!), and they now cover these magazines up, so only the top of the magazine shows.

I was surprised to learn that “with the exception of Jerusalem, no other city is mentioned more than Babylon in the Bible.” Babylon is mentioned 290 times! It’s so interesting how the visions of Daniel compare to John’s visions in Revelation. I would never have made those comparisons on my own.

In the video this week, we studied Daniel 7, focusing on how God is called “The Ancient of Days.” Isn’t this scripture incredible:

As I looked, thrones were set in place,
and the Ancient of Days took his seat.
His clothing was as white as snow;
the hair of his head was white like wool.
His throne was flaming with fire,
and its wheels were all ablaze. A river of fire was flowing,
coming out from before him.
Thousands upon thousands attended him;
ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.
The court was seated,
and the books were opened.

(Daniel 7:9-10 New International Version)

I love these verses! They give me a concrete image I can share with my children when they ask me questions about God.

Do you know how many questions a 4-year-old can ask about God in a single day? Now when my son asks, “What does God look like?” I can say, “I don’t know for sure, but let me read to you what Daniel saw in a dream about God. Here’s what He looked like to Daniel.”


As a mom, I need my faith to be built so that I know what I believe, and I can pass this along to my children. It’s truly a privilege to be entrusted with the care of raising up children in my faith. There is no greater joy on earth!

October 29, 2007

I woke up early this morning to plan out my calendar for the week, and I felt a degree of sadness that we’ll soon be saying goodbye to the glorious month of October.

I’ve finally realized this is my favorite month of the year.

Our weather has been crisp but not cold. Today was the first day I sent all my children off to school in sweaters — and we’ve finally pulled their long-sleeve uniform shirts off the shelf.

We’ve spent the past few weeks doing so many fun things as a family — going on hayrides, visiting pumpkin patches, and attending fall carnivals.

Over the weekend, I helped out at a couple of booths at the fall festival at my children’s school. I had signed up to help with the second-grade ring toss, but when I arrived, the game had been changed to “bean spitting.” I’ve never participated in such an activity before!

We had a large plastic container of uncooked lima beans, and the bean spitter had to spit across a certain mark, according to age, in order to win one of our fabulous prizes — which included stuffed animals, silly string, rhinestone jewelry, and foam swords. Several of the dads enjoyed this game, and one told me that he used to be good at spitting tobacco juice between his teeth onto a brick wall in high school. He also told me his mama raised five boys and wouldn’t take a lick of nonsense from any of them.

Have you ever spit an uncooked lima bean any distance before? I tried it because I had my eye on winning a stuffed poodle for my daughter, but it’s harder than it looks! I could only spit as far as the seven-year-old mark — so perhaps I should go out in our backyard and practice. Who knows? Maybe we’ll have a nice crop of lima beans next spring.

We’ve somehow managed to keep our kids’ focus away from Halloween this month. I’ve hung an autumn wreath on our front door, and we’ve got pumpkins all over the house, but no spooky stuff. Our children’s schools have been wonderful this year about celebrating autumn and not Halloween. The halls and classrooms are decorated in pumpkins, colorful leaves, squirrels, owls, corn, and scarecrows. We do have a preschool costume parade this week, but the school doesn’t allow scary costumes — so the kids just have fun dressing up as heroes or princesses.

We took several trips this month as a family — taking advantage of the weather. We attended our state’s agricultural fair for the first time, where some friends of ours were showing their lambs. The weekend before last, my husband and I helped chaperone a school field trip to Charleston, and my daughter and I enjoyed an absolute thrilling ride in a horse and buggy. I think I’ve left part of my heart in Charleston, South Carolina.

The older I get, the more I enjoy taking historic tours and learning all the intimate details of a place. I even took notes during our horse and buggy tour, thinking of stories I’d like to write taking place in Charleston.

We also visited Ft. Sumter, where the first shot was fired that began the War Between the States (not to be called the Civil War, I was told, as “there was nothing civil about that war!”) We enjoyed a fascinating self-tour of the Yorktown aircraft carrier, which was used during WWII in the Pacific. My mind was on complete overload, scribbling notes and asking questions to the retired veterans who I met there.

Now, with November just around the corner, we begin sliding into the holidays. My calendar is already too full — and I’m beginning to wonder how we’ll juggle everything, while still trying to teach our children to be thankful for the simple gifts God has given us.

I hope you’re doing well. I know some of you aren’t so interested in my journey through Beth Moore’s Daniel study, but it’s all I can keep up with for now. I can’t wait to write my next post about it!

Thanks for continuing to read here — I wish you a wonderful November ahead!

By: Heather Ivester in: Family,Travel | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (5)

October 23, 2007

This session wrapped up the first half of our Daniel study. I’ve already learned so much!

I don’t really know what to expect in the second half, except that I know we’ll be focusing more on eschatology, a new word to my vocabulary. Eschatology is defined as “a branch of theology that deals with the final events in history, beliefs concerning death, the end of the world, and the ultimate destiny of mankind” (from p. 114 of the Daniel workbook).

What blew us all away in this session is that we learned Daniel was an old man, in his 80s, when he was sent to the lion’s den. Doesn’t this go against the image you have in your mind of a young, brown-haired Daniel sitting among a few gentle lions?

Beth made it very clear to us that the story of Daniel in the Lion’s Den is NOT some sweet little Sunday school story. These were hungry, vicious lions — and Daniel probably had white hair. How utterly cruel! I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a picture of a white-haired Daniel in the lion’s den.

Before we started the video, we discussed the homework from week 5, and several things stuck out to me. As we talked about being holy vessels, one lady made the point that it helps her to think of the Trinity when she’s thinking about us as being holy. She said, “God the Father created me, Jesus the Son saved me, and the Holy Spirit lives in me. The Trinity is what makes me holy.” Wow — I really liked that insight.

We also talked about how Caleb (Numbers 14:24) and Daniel both stuck out like sore thumbs in the cultures around them. We need to be the same way. Interestingly, in day four of the homework (p. 104), Beth asks, “As you’ve considered becoming Daniel-like in your own Babylon-world, in all honesty, whose opinions or attitudes have you dreaded most?

–Worldly individuals who might think you’ve lost your mind
–Mediocre Christians who might think you’ve gone too far”

We discussed how it’s sometimes a real struggle to be around other Christians, who think you’re sort of out there, a zealot. If you don’t watch the TV shows or see the movies your peers see (even those who sit right next to you at church), they might feel like you’re judgmental, boring, or too critical.

I admire those Christians who are strong enough to keep their eyes, ears, and minds away from destructive images. If you want a modern-day example, read Sallie’s wonderful post here about why she and her husband avoid watching TV. This is so inspiring!

A good portion of the video teaching in this session focused on prayer in the face of a crisis, as Daniel found himself in a somewhat URGENT situation! How do you respond when you go through something scary? Beth says we respond in one of three ways:

We PANIC (and make bad decisons).
We become PARALYZED (afraid to do anything).
We PRAY (ask God for divine strength).

I have repeated this so much in my head the past week — because I so often do the first two, instead of immediately seeking God for help. For example, just yesterday, I found myself terribly lost while driving to watch my daughter cheer for a football game. She had already gone on ahead in the school bus, and I somehow got majorly confused trying to read the hand-drawn map we’d been given.

It was raining, foggy, and I had two preschoolers asleep in my car. The minutes ticked by, and I couldn’t find the street I was supposed to turn on! The game was halfway over, and I was in the midst of panic when I finally called my husband for help. I didn’t know if I should give up completely and try to find my way back home — or keep driving. It turns out I was only about 15 minutes from the game — but when you’re lost, stuck in traffic in pouring down rain, and worried your little girl thinks you’re not going to show up, everything seems miserable.

I eventually made it to the game — five minutes before it ended. Then we had to turn right back around and drive home. So I spent a solid 3 and 1/2 hours in the car yesterday! But the words, “PANIC, BE PARALYZED, or PRAY” did shoot through my head. So this is a lesson I’ve taken to heart.

We repeated out loud one of my favorite verses:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7

May God bless you with a prayer-ful week!

October 18, 2007

I occasionally skim through my website visitor statistics to see who’s reading here and why they came.

It never ceases to amaze me that God may have sent a particular person my way to speak to them through my meager attempts to write what’s on my heart.

Sometimes, the search phrases are hilarious, and other times they make me cry.

Here’s a sampling of what moms out there are searching for online, ending up here, during the month of October 2007:

• verses to comfort and give hope to a mom of an alcoholic son
• mother writing letters from the heart to their teen daughters
• essay love between mom and daughter
• frustrated moms
• where can i find an article on a mothers love no matter how her child treats her
• is it ok to eat poppy seed dressing when youre pregnant
• blog neverending housework mom
• what to put in an october newsletter for moms of preschoolers
• how does a 14 year old girl make new friends
• snobby homeschool moms
• becoming a guest on the joyce meyer show
• who said youre only as happy as your unhappiest child?
• frazzled mom organization
• how does the mother in i stand here ironing try to make it right again
• is avonlea a real place?
• online mother teen daughter devotional

I know people probably end up here and go, “huh?” I’m not really a one-stop shop with all the answers, and there are millions of other sites full of more information than mine. All I really have to offer is what I’ve learned through my daily experiences of being a mother of five kids under 12. Maybe this is how I show my hard-earned gray hair — since in real-life, I try to hide it under highlights!

My favorite search here is “blog neverending housework mom.” HA! That’s me! My housework never ends — it’s like a treadmill I run every day. I would be in the pits of discouragement if it weren’t for FlyLady — so if you’re a “neverending housework mom,” maybe you can find some relief from FlyLady’s organizational methods. They’ve sure helped me!

It is truly a privilege to be able to take the journey that I’m on, attending my weekly Beth Moore Bible Study, and if I’m opening a small window for some soul out there stifled in a culture or a season of life with no opportunity like this, I pray my journey offers you a breath of fresh air. Attending Bible Study is the highlight of my week, and my joy is magnified just thinking that I get to come home and share all that I’ve learned with my family — and with you.

This fifth session taught me about an event I really haven’t thought much about. The banquet, hosted by Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson, Belshazzar. You’ve heard the expression, “the writing on the wall.” Well, now I know the night this took place was October 12, 539 BC.

On this night, Belshazzar hosted a huge banquet, “for a thousand of his nobles,” as well as his wives and concubines. At one point, he asked his servants to bring in the gold and silver goblets that had been stolen from the temple of God in Jerusalem. Then they all drank wine from them. Scripture says, “As they drank the wine, they praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone” (Daniel 5:4).

This was horrible what they did! They took that which was holy and used it for unholy purposes. Beth took us back to the scripture where Moses anointed these very goblets in Leviticus 8:10-11. They were consecrated to the Lord, set aside for holy purposes!

What happens next is truly awe-inspiring. Daniel 5:5-6 says, “Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall, near the lampstand in the royal palace. The king watched the hand as it wrote. His face turned pale and he was so frightened that his knees knocked together and his legs gave way.”

No one could interpret what God’s hand had written, except Daniel, who was brought in by the Queen Mother, possibly the wife of Nebuchadnezzar, who had not forgotten Daniel’s God. The hand had written: “MENE MENE TEKEL PARSIN,” which Daniel interpreted to mean that God had numbered the days of Belshazzar’s reign, he’d been weighed on the scales and found wanting, and his kingdom would be divided and given to the Medes and Persians.

And that very night, Belshazzar was assassinated, just like Daniel said! Darius the Mede rose to power in Babylon.

Beth talked to us about how our physical bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. We are holy! We’ve been bought at a price, the blood of Jesus Christ, and we are to treat ourselves as holy. She shared specifically about how we women are to dress ourselves modestly. We can still wear cute clothes! But we should choose items that present a modest image that honors God.

I was so happy to hear someone saying this. This is a GREAT study for teen girls. If you’re looking for scriptures for teens to remind them that they are consecrated and set apart from the culture, show them what happened when Belshazzar used the holy golden goblets of Israel for unholy purposes!

P.S. Aloha and Konnichiwa to my new Beth Moore Bible Study friends in Hawaii! 🙂

October 16, 2007

A very dear friend of mine adopted two little boys from Russia, and she is constantly keeping me up to date on ministries that are actively involved with Russian orphanages.

Before she adopted her sons, she made several trips to Russia, walking the halls of the overcrowded orphanages and seeing the beautiful children in desperate need of “forever families.”

She recently sent me a letter from the director of TEAR, which stands for The Evangelistic Association of Russia. I was shocked to learn that there are over 2,000 orphanages in Russia, accommodating over 1.5 million children! “Sadly, current statistics suggest that 97% of all Russian orphans have no place to go upon graduation from the orphanage. Despite their efforts to avoid it, many orphans are recruited by the Russian mafia and enslaved in prostitution and drug trafficking.”

Why are there so many orphans? According to TEAR, the population in Russia is “declining at an alarming rate because working age adults are dying from alcoholism and a failed health care system.”

What TEAR hopes to do is to find 2,000 churches who would be willing to “adopt” an entire orphanage. The arm of this ministry is called ROCK, which stands for Reaching Orphan Children for the Kingdom. What will this require?

“The partnering church or (TEAR’s ROCK Partner), will then send short-term mission teams into the orphanage to minister to the children and adults that so desperately need God’s love and our help. The TEAR ministry will enable these teams by providing governmental approval, translation resources, visas, and logistics support.”

I went to Moscow on a short-term mission trip with my church in the early 90s. It was in January, and the weather was frigid, but the warmth of the people was unlike anything I have ever experienced.

We ate dinner one night in the home of a Russian family, who were so generous, they gave me a hardback poetry book right off their bookshelf. Even now, I still own that book, and it reminds me to pray for the Russians. When my mother visited Russia several years ago, she had a similar experience. A family gave her a painting right off their wall, which now hangs in her kitchen!

I don’t use my blog as a place to make general public service announcements, but I feel compelled to share this with you all, since I’ve seen first-hand TEAR at work through my personal, real-life friend. God even allowed our family the privilege of watching her eldest Russian son be baptized, after he shared that he wanted to invite Jesus to live in his heart.

Here is my question for you today: what are you doing to build up God’s kingdom that will last into the next generation? If you’re not directly influencing the life of a child, what are you DOING with your time that is of lasting importance?

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14).

October 11, 2007

I’m still finding excuses to write about Japan!

It has been 15 years this month since I moved to Japan to teach English — yet not a day has gone by since I’ve returned that I haven’t thought of my experiences there.

If you’ve come here via the Japan category in my blog, you may like to check out my last two posts for Writer Interrupted.

In September, I wrote about the kanji for “busy,” which is composed of the radicals that mean “death” and “heart.” My post is geared for parents who are torn between the demands of family and God’s call on the heart to write.

Slowing Down the Writer’s Heart

My October post focuses on Siri Mitchell’s book, Moon Over Tokyo. If you’re looking for a fun romantic novel that will whisk you away to the heart of Japan, I highly recommend this book. It was fantastic armchair traveling for this mama on a shoestring budget.

Inspired by the Great Outdoors

What about Japanese culture or language inspires you most? I’m thinking that October might be a good month to encourage my kids to write some haiku poetry.

P.S. If you’re interested in going overseas to teach in an international school, I’ve discovered Kelly Blackwell’s blog, All You Need to Know About Teaching Overseas, to be a rich source of helpful information! This type of advice wasn’t around when I was looking into teaching overseas — I had to look in books and go to the Japanese consulate in my hometown to nose around for ideas. If the timing seems right in your life, you should go for it!

By: Heather Ivester in: Japan | Permalink | Comments Off on Writing About Japan

October 9, 2007

I didn’t get all my homework done before this last session. This always happens to me — I start out with a bang, then I get distracted by family life, and it gets harder to stay motivated.

Thank you so much for your comments — they mean a lot! Particularly, this from Tina, who wrote:

As I had my quiet time with the Lord this morning, He is placing on my heart the need for a Beth Moore Bible Study in our church. I have both Believing God and Daniel as I have continued them on my own.

I just googled “Beth Moore Bible Study” and it led me to your site! Praise God, I am ENCOURAGED as I read your blog and the comments from others!!

I truly feel like I am so NOT the one to do this, but I can’t get away from it! LOL! Please pray the Lord will show me … I have tried this before and was very discouraged because of lack of commitment from the ladies. They feel it is too much homework and they don’t have time for once a week meetings. God Bless You!

Tina, and anyone else who feels this way, if God is nudging your heart to start some kind of study like this, please go for it! Even if you have a VERY small group, or you have women who come once or twice but can’t commit, you just never know what a difference that one time might make in their lives. And the word will spread. (or I should say THE WORD will spread!)

It also helps to have a convenient meeting place that provides childcare (like our church does). And food! Hey, we gotta eat breakfast — why not eat with friends, free for an hour or two from childcare responsibilities?

You could also hold the group meeting in the evening and hire a teenager to watch everyone’s kids in a playroom or other area. I was in a group once that met from 8-10 pm! These were mostly homeschooling moms who couldn’t get out during the day — yet our husbands could babysit at night.

Our group’s discussion leaders always tell us please don’t let the homework commitment hold us back from showing up — we really just need to get together. I’m sure there are many of us in the room who come to the group with blank homework pages — but that’s OK! In a different season of life, we may have more time to commit to learning.

I am praying for you!!

OK — back to our group…

Our discussion this week focused on how we could raise children who don’t get caught up in our materialistic culture. There is one woman in our group who I absolutely admire. She is a mentor to me because she is just a little bit older and MUCH wiser, as her daughters are now college age, and they’re both wonderful godly young women.

She said she and her husband started taking their girls on mission trips (overseas) when they were as young as ten! Her husband has a medical ministry in a certain third-world country, and their whole family has participated in his work over the past decade. She said nothing has impacted her children more than seeing how impoverished people really live.

When our children complain about how they wish they had this or that, one woman says she tells her kids, “There will ALWAYS be some people who have more than you do and some who have less than you do. Just be thankful for what you have.”

In the video, Beth focused on the 4th chapter of Daniel. This is when Nebuchadnezzar has this dream about a tree, and he’s once again so disturbed by it, only Daniel can interpret it for him. We learned about the absolute splendor of ancient Babylon, and how Nebuchadnezzar’s prosperity kept him from acknowledging the one true God (even though just the chapter before he was amazed at the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego).

After the dream is interpreted, a year passes, and the king becomes insane for a period of seven years. You can read about all this in Daniel 4:28-37. During this time, he lived like an animal out in the wild, eating grass, and “his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird” (v. 33).

Beth opened up about the difficulties she went through in her personal life during a dark time in her early 30s. I would really like to read her book, Get Out of That Pit, to know more specifically what she’s talking about. I think many of us could relate — being a mom with young kids can be a struggle mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Yet God is working in our lives during those years to make us more dependent on Him to meet our every need.

At one point, Beth reminded us what a privilege it is that we have enough money to be able to buy a book, and enough education to know how to read it. Wow. How often I forget what a privilege it is to be able to read! One of my favorite quotes is attributed to Horace Mann, who said, “A house without books is like a room without windows.”

I think each of us in the group left with a sense of awe, wondering how we might be able to be used by God to help those who live in poverty.

Lord, please make us aware of ways we can reach out to help others in need. You have a unique purpose for each of us. Help us to become more aware of our gifts and our passions — so that we can follow the calling you have placed on our hearts. Put people in our path who remind us what a big world we live in and what we (and our children!) can do to make a difference. Amen.

October 4, 2007

Oh, this Bible Study keeps getting better every week. I’m absolutely amazed at how much we’re learning together. If anyone reading this knows Beth Moore personally, please give her a big hug from all of us preschool moms here in west Georgia.

I made it ON TIME this week to the study — actually, I was 15 minutes early! It was my turn to bring breakfast and help get the food table set up — hey, that works for getting me out the door earlier. I brought fruit, cheese, and cinnamon rolls — along with ruby red grapefruit juice. And of course I got the coffee brewing for us sleepyheads!

Our discussion focused on prayer this week, since we talked about what it was like for Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to pray together, hoping they wouldn’t be cut to pieces by Nebuchadnezzar, who was freaking out in a big way about his nightmares. He got so angry he wanted to kill all the wise men in the kingdom.

I’d never thought about how the other three felt when Daniel woke up saying God had answered their prayers through his dream. Why did God choose the mind of Daniel instead of the others? We went around the room sharing experiences where we felt like God spoke through someone else with a message for us.

I was sitting next to this sweet lady who taught 2nd grade for 26 years before retiring, and she shared a story that blew me away. She said when she was in college, she was dating a boy who wasn’t a Christian. One night, she started to feel convicted about it, and she prayed about what to do. She said, “I REALLY liked this boy. I mean REALLY. I didn’t want to stop dating him. So I prayed to God about it. I asked God to show me in ‘black and white’ if He didn’t want me to date this boy anymore.”

The next morning, she walked to the lobby of the boys’ dormitory to see this guy, and while she was waiting she saw a newspaper sitting on a side table. The paper was flipped open to Billy Graham’s question-answer column. A girl had written in, “I’m dating a guy who’s not a Christian. What do you think I should do?” Billy Graham answered with great power and conviction!

Isn’t that timing incredible? This lady said it was just like God was speaking to her directly, through Billy Graham, and it was in BLACK AND WHITE. I love this story. How different her life would have been if she hadn’t prayed that prayer and been perceptive to God’s answers. They truly are all around us.

The video lesson focused on Daniel chapter 3. King Nebuchadnezzar had built a 90-foot golden statue and wanted everyone in the kingdom to bow down to it. This was as tall as an 8-story building. How weird! We can’t even imagine that in our culture.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Rack, Shack, and Benny for all you Veggie Tales parents) refused to bow to the statue, and they were thrown into the flaming furnace. The heat was so intense, the guards who threw them in were killed.

Now here is the really amazing part — Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did not burn when they were thrown into the hot furnace. They walked around unharmed, and there was a fourth “person” inside the furnace walking with them. Beth said the Hebrew translation implies this was a preincarnate appearance of Jesus Christ, though some scholars believe it could have been the angel Gabriel.

At any rate, all that burned was the rope that tied up their hands. When the three emerged back out of the fire, not a hair on their heads was singed, and they didn’t even smell like smoke.

Beth taught the bulk of the study on how we go through all kinds of fiery trials. Referring to Daniel 3:3-18, there are three different scenarios that can happen when Christians face fiery trials:

1) We’ll be delivered from the fire, and our faith will be built.
Beth compared this to finding out a suspicious lump turned out to be benign, or after prayer, it was miraculously GONE.

2) We can be delivered through the fire, and our faith is refined.
Using the cancer analogy, Beth says this may be like the patient finding out the cancer needs treatment, such as chemotherapy. God brings many people safely through this fiery trial.

3) We can be delivered by the fire into His arms, and our faith is perfected.
What would have happened if Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had burned to ashes? They would immediately have entered heaven, into the arms of Christ. This is what happens when a patient succumbs to disease; their faith becomes sight.

If we come through the fiery trial alive, will we smell like smoke? We will, if we insist on clinging to the past instead of moving forward and embracing the freedom that comes from Christ. Beth made the point that sometimes God will allow us to go through fiery trials so that our bonds can be burned — so that we’re set free.

The teaching was so powerful, yet several times during the video, we all laughed when Beth told a funny story. It feels great to laugh — most of us in the room live under so much stress with small children in the house! We love learning together — but it’s also great to just enjoy BEING together.

After the video, we prayed for each other. Always, I’m reminded of how much I have to be thankful for. There are so many people struggling through major illnesses, job changes, trouble with children … we really need the fellowship to pray for each other and build each other up.

I was thinking today about how this Bible study is kind of like a gym. You go to the gym to build up your muscles and increase your physical stamina. When you do this, endorphins are released that make you feel good — and your health is better.

With our Bible study, we’re coming together to build up our spirits, increase our knowledge of God’s Word, and increase our perseverance to head back out into the world as women of faith. It feels wonderful to get together — and we can’t be spiritual wimps if we’re going to survive in our modern-day cultural Babylon.

Each of us has our own sphere of influence. Most of us still have young children in the house, but some of the women in our group are grandmothers and are directly influencing two generations. Will we be wise women and use our toned-up spiritual muscles to help spread the Gospel? Because of this Daniel study, I know at least the women in THIS group will.

Thank you, Lord, for giving us women opportunities to get together to grow spiritually and learn more about your Word. Thank you for the legacy of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. You saved them from the fire, and we know you’ll also refine us from whatever fiery trial we’re going through. Give us wisdom, Lord! Sometimes we feel so spent, as if we’ve given everything away. Only you can refresh our spirits. We praise you for your Word that knows no boundaries. Amen.

October 2, 2007

I just realized that today is my two-year Blogging Anniversary. Happy Blogiversary to me!

I was scared when I published my first post, October 2, 2005. It was titled Come on In. I thought I might blog two or three times a week, but it became a daily addiction habit.

On my first blogiversary, I interviewed myself, highlighting some of the bright spots of blogging. Man, I had a lot going on here a year ago. I was writing columns, hosting blog tours, interviewing people, and I was super active in visiting other bloggers out there.

This year, God has put it on my heart to take a step back. I don’t really know how long this will last, but I’ve learned I need to discipline myself to only blog once a week. As I’m typing right now, my two-year-old is standing next to me, singing and asking me questions. So I type a word. Stop. Type another word. Stop. Again. Stop. I need to go put supper in the oven. I try to stay off the computer when my husband gets home from work — and I’m too tired to write anyway after we get our five kids to bed.

October is a glorious month here in Georgia, with cooler weather refreshing my spirit and inspiring me to do new things. This month, my “new thing” is learning to be diligent in saying “no” to everything that pulls my focus away from my home and family. I can justify going to my Beth Moore Bible Study and blogging weekly about this because it’s like stopping in to recharge my batteries. Then I’m back out into the world.

I miss you, bloggy friends. I’m sorry I haven’t been around lately to read and comment on your blogs. Another season, perhaps? Thanks for keeping up with me here. Oh, how I wish I had more time to write…

By: Heather Ivester in: Blogging | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (8)