22 April 2010

ciao bella!

Also, we are planning a trip to ITALY later this year!! Can't wait to go. Seriously. Grant and the two others going with us have never been to Europe, much less Italy, and this will be such a special time for me to show off all my very favorite places, and yet also get to experience some things anew with my Love--very exciting!

We're going to fly into Rome, hit up all my favorite cheap (and mostly free!) things to do, enjoy the city, and then head up to Florence (or Firenze in Italiano). You should know that a not-so-small piece of my heart lives in a little piazza in Firenze: nestled beneath the windows where Michalangelo first conceived "the David" and near the place where it's rumored that Shakespeare conceived the plots to some of his best works, the Piazza de Signoria will forever be a part of me; from the banks of the Arno, to the Ponte Vecchio, the Uffizi and Galleria d'Accademia, and of course! the Duomo, I embrace it all. Florence is quite lovely and is bursting at the seams with hidden wonders and local treasures. We will spend several days in Firenze, before spending our last day in Venice (Venezia)--what a city of l'amore--and finally flying back out of Roma.

More details to come! But we're thinking either around Labor Day in September, or over Thanksgiving Holiday--either way we will embark on a memorable 10-day journey with two very awesome friends. I'd rather be packing than planning... can't wait to go!

ciao!

little Giants

My beautiful friend, Pat, reminded me of something today of which we should remember and take note.

She was remembering in the Bible, when God brought Israel out of slavery in Egypt and showed them the land of Canaan (Numbers 13-14). Do you know this story? God told Moses to to send 12 spies into the land to check it out and report back. For 40 days these 12 went into Canaan, taking note of the people, the landscape, the economy, and the structure of the towns. The Canaanites living in the land were giants--physical giants--of great strength and stature; but God had already promised the victory to His people. When the 12 came back, 10 said "We cannot take it!" and turned back in fear because they had seen the giants...

and yet...

they could not see the giants among them--the men of giant faith--who trusted in the promises of the Lord; the type of giant that could conquer anything that God gave them in victory. These two giants among the tribe of Israel were Caleb and Joshua (of the tribes of Ephraim and Judah--later, two of the most powerful tribes in all of Israel (Ezekiel 37:15-23).

this is what Caleb and Joshua had to say about Canaan:

“The land we traveled through and explored is a wonderful land! And if the Lord is pleased with us, he will bring us safely into that land and give it to us. It is a rich land flowing with milk and honey. Do not rebel against the Lord, and don’t be afraid of the people of the land. They are only helpless prey to us! They have no protection, but the Lord is with us! Don’t be afraid of them!” (Numbers 13:7-9).

Let us not forget the faith-giants walking in our midst, and those who have gone before us. Let us not look at the world and our circumstances, and see only the physical giants seemingly blocking our way, but let us also see those of giant faith, to whom, holding on the promises of God expectantly, will be given the victory to God's glory. Let us have eyes to see and ears to hear all that the Lord is doing among us, and let us be some of the ones who enter the promised land trusting in the Lord. Amen.

20 April 2010

16 April 2010

Jeremiah's Prayer

Father.

"I know, Lord, that our lives are not our own.
We are not able to plan our own course.
So correct me, Lord, but please be gentle.
Do not correct me in anger, for I would die.
Pour our your wrath on the nations that refuse to acknowledge You--
on the peoples that do not call upon Your Name.
For they have devoured Your people Israel;
they have devoured and consumed them,
making the land a desolate wilderness."

Amen.

08 April 2010

Time Out

I swear I'm almost finished with this study on Revelation. It has been a long but beautiful process and I have certainly found joy in the journey (even if you, dear reader, have not. ha!)

Just a quick update on things, since I haven't written a "personal" post, per se, in a while.

1. I went to Huntsville last week and was supposed to stay Sun-Tues, come home, then travel back with Grant and Georgia for Easter. That didn't happen. I did have a great time celebrating Camille's engagement on Sunday and a "twin mom lunch" for a friend on Monday--though neither me or mama are mothers of twins, it was fun getting several such moms together and laughing at stories and sharing experiences for 3 or 4 solid hours of glorious girl time ;)

But I was all packed up to go home Tuesday and decided to get my oil changed before the long ride back to Atlanta. I found out that my car was leaking transmission fluid... LONG story short, they told me that with parts and labor it would total about $750 bucks, "give or take"!?!?! What does that even mean, btw, when a mechanic tells you that? Anyway. Since I bought my suv in Huntsville, I decided to drop by the dealership--PRAISE THE LORD!--they said it was a recently listed "recall" and they would handle ALL of it for free!! So ended up staying in Huntsville (with dirty socks and repeat outfits) all week. God is good.

2. Since I had no car and pretty much rode around with mama all day everyday, running errands and such, I bounced along for a random dermatologist appointment she had. As they were doing the basic annual check up on her, I said, "Hey, what about this?" about a spot on my chest, to which they said "Hmmmmm..."

They biopsied my mole on the spot and the test results came back indicating that my "atypical nevus" [aka: "funny looking mole"] had a mild case of pre-cancerous melanoma cells in it. As I told my family in an email earlier this week: "This is not a big deal. Focus on the words PRE and MILD."

God is so good that He orchestrated a bizarre set of circumstances to be sure we caught this thing when we did--I mean how ridiculous and awesome is His hand in this story???

I have a consult set up with a pro @ Emory April 26th when we'll hopefully schedule a quick surgery shortly thereafter. I am meanwhile praying for complete healing and that if surgery has to happen, that it would be a testimony to God's power and grace--revealing no more pre-cancerous anything on the final biopsy. Amen!

3. Grant and I had a WONDERFUL Easter with family and friends!! We had the BEST time hanging out with Gma, mama and daddy of course, Stahler, and cousin Alice. Lots of down time with plenty of love for the Lord and expecting and embracing resurrection in our lives. We also [FINALLY] got to meet and play with Noah Catherine--precious beyond words--and spend some much-needed QT with Chandler and Sarah... So much so that we hung out at the Overcashes till 3am! and got to bed around 4am the night before Easter Sunday. It was really great, though, and I was surprisingly not tired ;). We crawled back into Atlanta after 11:30pm Sunday night, unpacked, and repacked.

4. Grant and I went to the MASTERS!! We got practice round tickets for Tuesday, so we got to have a brief visit with his sister Kelly, b-i-l John, and our baby niece Noel, as well as his parents. It was short but sweet and we got to see several pro golfers! Very exciting--they interact so much more with the crowd than I expected! My new fave is Westwood--I'll be looking for him this weekend during the real deal championship. Tiger on the other hand--I hope he chokes. I know that's mean, and perhaps un-Christianly of me, but I hope his professional life suffers from his poor personal life; I hope he's not so entirely made of stone that he can simply harden himself to the stuff he's brought on himself personally to perform well professionally. whatever. who knows. I was never much of a Tiger fan anyway, being from Bama and all ;)

5. Coco and I are going to the LAKE this weekend! Grant is out of town on a Bachelor weekend for Matt Hayes Thursday-Sunday, so Coco and I are headed to the lake to meet up with mama and daddy Friday night (tmrw) as soon as she gets off work! woot! Can't wait! Anytime spent at the lake is precious time and having a bff there with me is icing on the cake! We'll probably stop by a friend's baby shower in Huntsville, then maybe skip up to TN on our way home to meet up with Nids Sunday night!!--we'll see. still working out the details.

That's about it for now.

Still kinda looking for a job, but I love my prayer groups on Wed and Thursday--like LOVELOVE them!--and my ladies' bible study Friday mornings, so life is good and I'm growing by leaps and bounds spiritually until God provides a j.o.b. I certainly can't complain.

It looks like we'll be in Atlanta for another year--signing our lease (hopefully) tmrw or Monday--and I'm slowly coming around to receiving that reality with open arms. Things are good and God is great! It will be nice when Grant and I are slowed down and bit and get to spend more time together at home--rather than being gone every weekend, sometimes apart during that time.

We are excitedly planning our 2 year anniversary (can you BELIEVE it???!!!) so if you have any fun ideas, vacation spots, or favorites, leave a comment!!!

Revelation: Part Four

Part Four: Plagues and Terrors

Basically, one thing flows into another, so it is difficult to topically sort these events out, so to speak, because as the 7th Seal on The Scroll is broken that brings the 7 Angels with 7 Trumpets which bring on the Plagues and Terrors (or “great woes”), which involve the Small Scroll and 2 Witnesses, which lead to the evil ‘trinity’ and great prostitute, which finally brings us to the Wedding Day and Feast of the Lamb, which explains the White Horse again and the 1000 years, then the new heaven and new earth, and a final description of the New Jerusalem—Hallelujah!

The purpose in breaking this up is to make reading this ridiculous opus easier for you, dear reader, not because it is logically possible to dissect this story—metaphorical or otherwise—into bite-size pieces. Forgive me.

Having said that, looking at Revelation 8-11, let’s see what the Lord has for us because we need understand the basics of WHAT is actually happening to then discern the underlying TRUTH and scriptural MEANING of the events described.

“When the Lamb broke the seventh seal on the scroll, there was silence throughout heaven for about half an hour.” (Rev 8:1)
—This should be significant to us, given the previous description of continual worship in heaven.
Then: altar of prayers, gold incense burner, fire from the altar thrown to the earth: thunder, lightning, earthquake

7 Angels with 7 Trumpets (Rev 8-9)
1) “hail and fire mixed with blood” thrown down onto the earth [remember (Exo 9:23-25)]
1/3 of the earth= set on fire
1/3 of the trees and everything green (Rev 8:7)
2) “mountain of fire thrown into the sea”
1/3 of the water => blood [remember (Exo 7:17-18)]
1/3 of all sea creatures= dead
1/3 of of all ships @ sea= destroyed (Rev 8:8-9)
3)”great star named ‘Bitterness’ fell from the sky, burning like a torch” [I think this is similar to the festering boils or great physical sickness experienced in Egypt (Exo 9:9)] also [remember the bitter water at Marah and the command of the Lord: obedience, healing, and then 12 springs of water at Elim (Exo 15:23-27)]
1/3 of the rivers and springs of fresh water
—made water bitter and many died from drinking the bitter water (Rev 8:10-11)
4) darkness [remember (Exo 10:21)]
1/3 of the sun
1/3 of the moon
1/3 of the stars
1/3 of the day= dark
1/3 of the night= dark (Rev 8:12)

[5th Trumpet brings 1st Terror]

5) fallen star= given the key to Hell and opens it (Rev 9:1)
From Hell:
Darkness again, this time from smoke of Hell’s furnace (Exo 10:21) (Rev 9: 2)
Locusts (Exo 10:12) (Rev 9: 3-11)
sting like scorpions
sting people without the Seal of God on their foreheads
not to kill the people but to torture them for 5 months
Appearance: “horses prepared for battle with gold crowns and faces like a human, hair like a woman’s and teeth like a lion. They wore armor made of iron and their wings roared like an army or chariots rushing into battle. They had tails that stung like scorpions” (Rev 9:7-10)
Authority: “Their king is [Satan] the angel from the bottomless pit; his name in Hebrew is “Abaddon,’ and in Greek ‘Apollyon’—The Destroyer.” (Rev 9:11)

[6th Trumpet brings 2nd Terror]

6) Release of the 4 Angels to the 4 Corners of the World (Rev 9:13-21)
“Then the four angels who had been prepared for this hour and day and month and year were turned loose to kill one-third of all the people on earth” (Rev 9:15)
—What perfect planning and preparation that, before the earth was created, these angels had an appointed time and a purposed assignment—
1/3 of human population= killed by 3 plagues: fire, smoke, and burning sulfur (Rev 9:15, 18)
4 Angels’ Army: 200 million+ horses and riders
Appearance: (horses and riders described)
Riders—“the riders wore armor of fiery red and dark blue and yellow”
Horses—“the horses had heads like lions and fire, smoke, and burning sulfur billowed from their mouths…their power was in their mouths and tails, for their tails had heads like snakes, with the power to injure people” (Rev 9:17-19)

[Interlude]
[Mighty Angel and Small Scroll (Rev 10)]
Stood with small scroll in hand with left foot on land and right foot on water on earth and roared like a lion—his cry was answered by 7 thunders that spoke, but what they said is kept secret [remember Deut 29:29]—this angel raises a hand towards heaven and says that with the 7th Trumpet “God’s mysterious plan will be fulfilled. It will happen just as He announced through His servants the prophets” (Rev 10:7)

[Eat your Daily Bread—a Word from the Lord for the People of the Lord]
“Yes, take and eat the small scroll,” said the angel, “It will be sweet as honey in your mouth, but it will turn sour in your stomach!” which came to pass [remember also Ezekiel being fed a scroll that was first sweet in his mouth but turned bitter (Ezek 3:1-7, 14)]; and of course (Deut 8:3, Job 23:12, Prov 30:8, Matt 4:4, 6:11, and Luke 4:4, 11:3) on God’s Word/ bread/ sustenance.

[Two Witnesses] (Rev 11:3-12)
Who: 2 Witnesses= 2 Olive Trees= 2 Lampstands: “that stand before the Lord of all the earth”
Olive Trees: symbol of life, growth, and development; 2 special trees (though not necessarily olive) in the Garden of Eden and same 2 in the New Jerusalem—Knowledge of Good and Evil and Life Everlasting (Gen 2:9, Rev 22:2); used for physical healing/ medicinal purposes; involved in atonement of sins (Lev 2:1) and breaking bread; listed by God as a “sacred offering” (Exo 25:6); used as both an anointing oil (Exo 30:25-31, Ps 133:2) and lamp oil (Exo 27:20-21)—tying the Olive Trees and the Lampstands together.
Lampstands: symbol of light, dispelling darkness, and restoring peace; used to represent the 7 churches earlier in Revelation; used in the Old Testament to atone for sin and provide continual and everlasting light to the inner curtain of the Tabernacle (Exo 27: 20-21); OT—precious and costly: made of one continuous piece of gold (Exo 25:31) and made to look like a living tree with branches, blowers, buds, and fruit (Exo 25:32-36)—tying the Olive Trees and the Lampstands together.

What: 2 “dressed in burlap” to prophesy to the nations and give testimony to the Truth; from the description that ties them to Olive Trees and Lampstands, they are to intercede, prophesy, heal, atone, testify to the truth, bring light, dispel darkness, restore certain things, and be pure, holy, precious, costly, and sacred—given the lists above
When: “1260 days” (or 3.5 years) with a death and resurrection 3.5 days later (a day for each year) and ascension into heaven like Jesus
Where: all the earth, death and resurrection in “Jerusalem” figuratively not literally (Rev 11:8)
Why: to turn the hearts of the people on earth—one last shot before the 7th trumpet to win back souls for Christ
How: Authority from God to do whatever it takes to bring rebellious people back:
“They have the power to shut the sky so that no rain will fall for as long as they prophesy. And they have the power to turn the rivers and oceans into blood, and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they wish.” Much like Moses and Aaron vs. Pharaoh in OT times—whatever it takes to free people from the slavery and bondage of this earth
—Satan will declare war on them and kill them in the street; people will celebrate, congratulating each other and satan for this ‘victory,’ but after 3.5 days God will speak life to them and they will live and rise up into heaven at His command

[2nd Terror comes to an end]
Terrible earthquake destroys 1/10 of the city—7,000 people die
People repent and glorify God

[7th Trumpet brings 3rd and Final Terror]

7) Loud Voices from Heaven:
“The world has now become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He will reign forever and ever!” (Rev 11:15)
24 Elders give thanks and praise/ lay out the itinerary: God’s taking back all His power/ any authority that He had allocated out; (just like the OT) God’s wrath on the nations has passed and the time for peace and reconciliation is coming (Wedding and Feast of the Lamb after all this other stuff) but first: justice and judgment; Time of Judgment—Book of Life (Sin and Atonement through Jesus: Life; Sin without atonement: Death); Time of Reward—Book of the Lamb/ Bema Judgment (Stewardship not sin); Final destruction of evil
Ark of the Covenant
Lightning
Earthquake
Hailstorm
Chaos

NOTE
If you remember the OT plagues that brought the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, 5 of the 10 plagues listed in Exodus are repeated here. Why? I think that God is calling to mind a remembrance of the power He’s already demonstrated, but is also revealing that He’s doing a new thing here and that many things happening in the End Times will be like nothing before. It’s also a melding of the Old and New Testaments in that exactly half of the apocalyptic plagues are Old Testament plagues and exactly half are completely new (perhaps representing an old and a new covenant) God is displaying a new wrathful vengeance for a new and different generation (not just Jew but Gentile as well) and renewed power and strength, having sent every other possible warning first.

In even this, He loves.
In even this, He redeems.
In even this, He is jealous for His Beloved, wanting only His Bride to come fully into His arms.
And certainly in even this, He lives!

[Quick Refresher]
Plagues of Egypt from Exodus:
1. Blood (7:17-18)
2. Frogs (8:2-4)
3. Gnats (8:16-17)
4. Flies (8:24)
5. Livestock (9:6)
6. Festering Boils/ Sickness (9:9)
7. Hail (9:23-25)
8. Locusts (10:12)
9. Darkness (10:21)
10. Death of Firstborn [man and animal alike] (11:5-6)

5 listed in Revelation:
Hail
Blood
Bitter Illness
Darkness
Locusts