Miriam: a woman of Position, Pride and Prejudice

bible, god, lessons, women

On Sunday mornings, I have the privilege to take my already-small youth group and break it down to where I teach an even smaller group for Sunday School.  I contemplated if I wanted to change the way I do Sunday School since the group is so small, but I like that I only have to teach the high school girls on Sunday morning.  And it’s enabling us to do the Women of the Bible right now!

So I planned on doing Women of the Bible, and I planned on doing Miriam yesterday…then Sunday Morning I found out the middle school boys’ teacher was gone, so they came in with me.  Oops!  But this lesson STILL spoke to them!  Awesome :)

Miriam was Moses’ sister.  I honestly knew very little about her, even though I’m taking a Pentateuch class, even though I’ve read through Exodus, even though I’ve heard the Moses story 3974421 times AND have taught on it before.  But no matter how many times I read a passage, I find that God still finds ways to teach me (just as when I taught Jonah!)

Miriam was a leader.  In fact, in Micah it says that Moses, Aaron, and Miriam were the ones who lead the Israelites.  God acknowledged her as important and essential.  She led the women in praise after they crossed the Red Sea.  She led the women to adorn the tabernacle.  Not only was she a leader, but the Bible names her a prophetess, meaning that God spoke to her.  This is a very special title for someone.  There is no doubt about it–God was using Miriam in special ways.

But we find in chapter 15 that Miriam and Aaron got a little jealous.  And I can just imagine this whole thing take place–I’m SURE that Miriam had to start this gossip, as I know how women are (and she was the one punished!).  They start talking about Moses’ wife, an Egyptian woman of who God had no problem with.  So why were they against this woman if God had not said Moses could not marry her?  Most likely had something to do with their own prejudices against darker skin.  Then one of them suggests, “Has not God spoken to us too?”

Uh oh.  Pride alert! WEEEEOOOOOOOWEEEEEOOOOOWEEEEEOOOOOO! (that’s a siren sound!)

I love this part:  God comes down in a pillar of smoke. Ha! Calls the three of them together into a meeting room.  Then God blocks the doorway with the smoke!  I can just IMAGINE being Miriam!  It’s like I just hit my sibling, and I turn around and Daddy’s at the door with the paddle!

And a spanking Miriam got!  She turned white with leprosy, an ironic punishment for two reasons: (1) Her prejudice against Moses’ wife had to do with her skin color, or the fact that she looked different from everyone else.  Now Miriam would look different from ALL of them!  (2) Miriam wanted power, she wanted to be recognized.  But having Leprosy means that she would be exiled.  She wouldn’t be able to be around people in order to lead them.

Aaron quickly humbled, as he turned to Moses and said, “My lord, do something!” Calling Moses “lord” showed his respect for him.  Then Moses talked to God, and asked him to do something.  And God stood his ground in his punishment, but compassionately let it only last 7 days.

You see, God knew what he was doing.  God knew that Miriam was usable, that’s why he chose her in the first place!  God could have just wiped her off the planet, struck her down, turned her to dust.  But he gave her a punishment that was fitting.  She needed to be humbled, and I think after this she was.  I can’t imagine the “Walk of Shame” that took place as she walked back to camp.  What’s amazing is, it was time for them to move on in their travels, but they waited for her.  They obviously respected her a lot.

This story shows us that even God’s greatest leaders can struggle with pride.  It also shows us that if a person has pride, God will knock it out of them!  The punishment will be devastating, but needed.

When I was little, I got some whoopins.  I grew up with boys, and they were constantly getting me in trouble.  But spankings didn’t change my attitude, so my mom came up with a new punishment:  essay writing.  Oh, how I hated this!  It lasted hours, it caused me to think about what I did, in many cases it was pretty ironic because I usually said dumb things and had to pay for them…and it was rewarding.  I changed my behavior.  It humbled me to think about the stupid things I did, and I learned.  Great job, mom!

Our Daddy is doing the same thing when he punishes us.  Encouraging, but scary.  Sometimes the spanking is quicker and “painless”. ;)

Jonah the Crybaby

bible, god

Well, I told myself I wasn’t going to post another blog until after I got back from Kentucky. But then I remembered a few things:

  1. When I get back from Kentucky, I’m going to want to post about Kentucky.
  2. I should talk about this while it’s fresh on my mind.
  3. I don’t feel like going to bed yet, even though I leave in 4 hours for a 9-hour drive to Kentucky.

So, onto Jonah.  I studied Jonah last week for my Sunday School lesson with the high schoolers.  We’ve been going through the minor prophets, which I have honestly loved.  It’s been very refreshing to read the MPs in a new way, because I’m trying hard to understand what’s going on in order to teach it.

Anywho, so Jonah one day was eating his cereal, when God tells him, “Go to Nineveh and preach destruction to them.”  Jonah drops his spoon and is all like, “Forget THAT!” and flees towards Tarshish.  He pays a fare and boards a boat.  So then a huge storm comes, and the sailors are automatically like, “Okay, whose god is ticked off?”  They then realize that Jonah is downstairs sleeping, still running away from his problems, and ignoring a huge storm outside the boat. The sailors realize that Jonah is running away from his god, the God.  Jonah’s just like, “Look, just throw me over.”  (This might seem brave to the reader, like he’s coming to the realization that he can’t run away from God anymore; but I think it’s just a part of his crybaby act).  I don’t understand why, but the sailors think it’s a good idea to just try to row back to land, but they realize that they have to do it–so they throw Jonah overboard.  Then a huge fish gulps Jonah right up, and Jonah begins crying and praying to God.  He repents, and God tells the fish to spit him up (after three days and three nights of course!).  So now Jonah finally goes to Nineveh, and preaches what God tells him.  And what do you know?  The whole city repents.  You’d think Jonah would be excited, right?  His preaching and prophesying worked!  Nope!  He gets mad and yells at God, “I knew it! I knew you would just have compassion on them!  That’s the kind of God you are!”  Kind of a funny prayer to me.  So he runs away and sits outside the city, waiting to see what will happen, as if God will change his mind about having compassion.  He takes shade under a tree, but God sends a worm to eat its leaves and Jonah starts feeling that sun.  He gets so angry that he wants to DIE.  He cries again to God, and God says, “You care for that tree right?”  Jonah replies, “So much, that without it I just want to die!”  God responds, “Well you sure care for that plant a lot.  But how much more do I care for a great city like Nineveh, with tons of animals and needy people?”

So what do we take from Jonah the big crybaby, anyway?

  1.  We can NOT run away from God.  No matter how hard we try. We can’t do it.  And if we try, God will find us! Oh yeah.  In all seriousness, if it is God’s will and God commands us to do something, we are eventually going to have to do it.  So save the trouble and the energy and just go do what he tells you to do.  Trust me; when God called me to work with youth, I ran away and got myself into a pickle myself.  And God got his way in the end :)
  2. God is going to have compassion on all sorts of sinners.  I thought about the parable of the vineyard, how each person was paid the same amount for varying amounts of work.  Seems unfair, right?  But we need to remember that no matter what you did, how much sin you committed, etc, the reward is the same under the grace of God.  God will have compassion for you when you repent, no matter what the sin is.  This is hard for me sometimes, when I think about someone like a child molester possibly getting into heaven.  I would classify this man as a pedophile or sex offender for the rest of his life; but the truth is that if he comes to Christ, he is redeemed and achieves sainthood just like me.  I can honestly see why Jonah was so cheesed.  It’s the flesh in me that wants justice in this situation, but luckily I am not the judge.
  3. God cares for us DEEPLY.  Jonah wanted to die, just because the plant giving him shade died.  In the same way, God desires to see us growing and cares for us immensely.  I think it’s funny that Jonah was like, “I knew it! I knew you’d have compassion on them! Oh God full of grace and compassion!”  It makes me laugh!  I think that it is our responsibility, as believers and followers, to exhibit this same kind of love to others.  Jonah cared for a PLANT.  What would happen if he cried over people the same way as he did a plant?

Well, I hope you enjoyed my post on Jonah, a huge cry-baby.  But you know what?  I’m just like him in many ways.

ps, I really like that Jonah is so fast-paced.  Very different from the other prophets so far ;)


bible, christianity

Confrontation. A dreaded word for most. It’s uncomfortable, it’s awkward, and most think it’s unneeded. Our culture makes it seem that if someone approaches you and expresses discontent with you, that makes them a “b-word” or rude. People get easily offended, and often lash out on the person who is “offending” them. So what do people do instead of confront problems with another? They talk about the person behind their back. They bottle up all of their anger. They physically harm the person, or get revenge in a social way. Ellie Wiesel, a famous Holocaust survivor, once said, “Violence is a language. When language fails, violence becomes the language.” This means that when people can’t find the words to express emotions, they turn to something else. So instead of confronting each other, we harm each other, whether it is emotionally, physically, or socially.

Is this healthy? No! Psychologists are constantly saying that we need to confront our issues and talk them out. In family/marital/premarital counseling, the hardest part is getting the people fighting to communicate their emotions and discontent in things that the other person is doing. People just don’t understand how to communicate anymore, and maybe that’s becuase of technologies like texting and social networking that make communication “easier” and less confrontational. One of my favorite quotes is, “The more means of communication we have, the less we communicate (what we mean).” It’s so much easier to confront someone on Facebook than to go to them in real life and express an issue in words.

What does the Bible say?

Before you come to God, make sure you are right with others.
· Leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5:24

Do not sin out of anger…pray about it. 

· Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger…Ephesians 4:26

Ask, what have I done in this situation? Have I sinned?  What is the problem here?
· What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this,that your passions are at war within you? James 4:1-6
· You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. Matthew 7:5

Confront in a calm and respectful tone…don’t get too emotional!
· A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1
· “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. Matthew 18:15
· Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. Ephesians 4:15-16 ESV

Forgive! You have been forgiven for much worse.
· Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Colossians 3:13
· Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:16
· Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32

If they don’t react well, then move on. Treat them like a brother.  
· “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Romans 12:20

· “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Matthew 5:9 

If it’s serious, get others involved.·
But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Matthew 18:16-17

I used to react terribly towards problems and confrontation.  I grew up in an environment where if you had beef with someone, you fought them.  But that is not correct.  Some people gossip about the person behind their back. Again, not right.  The Biblical method is talking with a person about your discontent and maturely resolving the issue together.  This is hard, I know!  Many people are not raised to do this!  I encourage everyone reading this to grow and learn how to approach problems in a healthy, Biblical way.  And remember, if someone is confronting you with an issue, they don’t hate you! They desire to mend the relationship with you.  And if you desire to mend the relationship with your brothers and sisters, you had better learn how to maturely and effectively confront.

Scripture in Sermons

bible, christianity, church
How much Scripture does a pastor need to use in a sermon?
I have been asking myself this question for a few months now, as I have been battling being spiritually fed by church. I would often be sitting in a church, listening to the pastor, and saying to myself, “This is nice and all, but how is this scripturally supported? What does the Bible have to say about this?” I always thought that the role of the pastor was to constantly bring the Word of God, not to present a feel-good speech once a week.
I have been a member of the same church for 15 years. I have gone since I was 5 by myself on the church van every Sunday. For me, church was my family, as they were my sources of spiritual advisement and were there for me throughout my life. I have seen three pastors there over the course. This last pastor came when I was a sophomore (?) in high school, and although he wasn’t my first pick for pastor, he was voted in. He was humorous, had funny sayings, and, like me, didn’t sugarcoat the truth. I became the first person from my church to graduate and enter ministry, and he seemed supportive, but not thrilled. I noticed by the time I had graduated that his sayings repeated, his euphemisms cycled, and his sermons has kind of fell flat. I couldn’t really explain why, but they just had. I noticed that the church was falling flat, and I couldn’t pinpoint the reasons, but I knew that it had to do with MANY different areas of the church and MANY different ministries. I was kind of glad, honestly, to be moving on to college and get away from the same old, generic stuff I was getting from my church. Two years into college, I am finally educated enough to understand why the church is declining, although I won’t get into that.
This semester, I had the opportunity to come back quite a few times over the few months for various reasons. I attended this church on Sundays, and began to discover a trend in the Pastor’s sermons…no Scripture. He would read a verse or so from the Bible, we would pray, we would sit, and then he would rant for the rest of the service. He would present points, but wouldn’t add much Scripture into those points. They were unsupported (Note: this is not ALL the time, but the majority of the time). At the end of each Sermon, I ask myself, “What is the Lord trying to tell me?” However, at the end of his sermons, I wasn’t able to answer the question, as he didn’t really talk about what the Lord said, according to Scripture.
The final straw was on Mother’s Day this year. I came home for the weekend, and the pastor’s message was about how we need to be treating our mothers—with adoration, affirmation, etc etc. However, he gave no Scripture. He mentioned one verse, then we prayed and nothing else about the Bible was said. Towards the end of the sermon, he told a story something like this (except a lot more poetic): “God and an angel were talking, and the angel was asking God how He was going to create mothers. And God said, ‘I’ll create them with 6 arms so they can do all the tasks around the house, 4 sets of eyes so they can keep their eyes on everyone at once, etc.’ The angel said, ‘And what is that running down her face? Did you create that too?’ And God replied, ‘That tear wasn’t created by me, it’s blah blah something beautiful.’” Okay, I’m not a good storyteller, but I think you get the gist. This story was completely made up and had nothing to do with Scripture, but the pastor made it sound as if it REALLY happened. He made the audience feel incredibly good, made a bunch of people say “awww”, and made MY JAW DROP. I had to be nudged to close my mouth. I felt extremely convicted to talk to him, and got up the courage to. I pulled him aside, alone, after church and tried to talk to him about the lack of Scripture in his messages. Instead of going, “Wow, I didn’t realize that. I need to investigate this and look at myself to see if this is really true. Thanks, sister.” He YELLED at me, called me arrogant, and claimed that my school was teaching me crazy things. He told me that if I needed more Scripture, to go find another church. He told me, “How dare you come into MY church so arrogantly and call ME out!” …and just many more ridiculous things… In 5 minutes I lost so much respect for this man. He pulled others from the church over and asked them if he used Scripture, and when they said no he just got furious. I talked to my youth pastor, who admitted to me that he knows the pastor uses no scripture, and told me that the reason nobody has called him out on it is because of his arrogance and temper. If you would like the whole story, I can tell you it in private, but he just made a fool out of himself. When I asked the pastor if I could call him and talk to him later that week, he told me no. When I mentioned that he could have used Proverbs 31 to back up all his points, he told me that wasn’t what the Lord led him to. So you’re telling me the Father told you to use no Scripture?
I have never been so upset with my church, and I have put up with a LOT from them. But it has made me think, how much Scripture is needed for a sermon? I need thoughts and opinions.
**As a side note, I want to point out that when I talked to my pastor, I was NOT arrogant. I told him that I was coming as his sister, and honestly if I was making the same mistake I would want people to come to me and let me know mine. There is an extreme lack of Scripture in many pastors and youth leaders, and I hoped that my pastor would strive to be above this. But apparently if you’re arrogant enough to not use Scripture, you’re too arrogant to examine yourself after criticism. Also, I am no longer attending that church. I need to be fed from the errorless Bible, not humans who error all the time. Pastors, let the Holy Spirit speak through you, not your own sinful self. And my prayer is that all Christians can do the same, especially when ministering.

Plant, Water, Watch :)

bible, christianity, god, youth ministry
Sent from my mobile. Enjoy.

I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. 1 Cor 3:6~7.
Theme off my summer :)
Ministers, being ALL Christians, are simply God’s workers. Some plant seeds, meaning they are initially working in a person’s life. Some water those seeds, meaning they are invested in discipleship. We are all Planters at some point, & Waterers at other points. You might be a Planter & Waterer for the same person. It is inevitable that it will take multiple Waterers for even just one person.
The task isn’t easy; that’s why there’s a great reward for it. Every person who calls on the name of the Lord for salvation is called to be a Planter & Waterer. But in the end, it is God who causes growth. When a person you’ve been ministering to comes to Christ, it’s not YOU who have saved them, but the irresistible grace of God that draws them to salvation. You are indeed essential, but glory is God’s.

Faith VS Apathy

bible, christianity, faith

I struggle a lot with apathy…or at least I thought it was apathy. I didn’t understand why so much was going on in my life, but I didn’t seem really effected by it. My heart hurt, but I wasn’t reacting the way that I used to, the way I thought I should. I was getting lazy towards the amount of time I spent with God, lazy getting into His Word. I thought I was a horrible Christian. When I asked God to break me, I was hoping that it would be a way for Him to break me out of my apathy. But, as you read in my last post, Him breaking me realized how much trust I had in Him! Which made me think, was I apathetic, or just completely trusting that He had my back? Was my apathy not apathy, but faith?

Hebrews says that faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of the things we do not see. Apathy can be defined as an absence of emotion or enthusiasm. They don’t really sound the same there. Faith is hopeful and very emotional, while Apathy is the feeling (or non-feeling) of uncertainty and carelessness.

Matthew 6:25-30:

25“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
28“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

This shows us that faith is when you trust in the Lord so much, that you don’t worry and don’t care about what is going on around you. It can be mistaken for apathy in that you aren’t overly emotional about your heartaches. You aren’t over-dramatizing things. You aren’t constantly thinking about hardships. Faith is when you give it up to God and believe that He can take care of you when you can’t see the end results of hurts and struggles…knowing that He is sovereign and understanding over your situation. Fully trusting in Him. Is that hard? Heck yes. Is it apathy? Heck no. Not worrying about something is not automatically apathy. I understand that now.
Apathy is not caring, but Faith is letting God take care.