"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Matthew 17:1-23 -- Eyewitness Accounts, Mustard Seed Faith

The other day when I introduced Matthew 17 and went on my field trip with Jesus up the mountaintop, I forgot a few things.  I forgot to speculate on what exactly Elijah, Moses and Jesus were talking about, but then I read in Luke that they were discussing Jesus' departure which would be brought to fulfillment in Jerusalem. (And how cute is it that Luke uses "departure" and "fulfillment" while my mind is on Moses and the exodus [departure] and Elijah being a prophet [fulfillment]?) 

Remember the disciples were terrified when the voice came from the cloud, and they fell to the ground. Next thing that happens though, Jesus is over there telling them not to be scared.  As they came down the mountain Jesus told them not to tell anyone of this experience until after his resurrection from the dead.

Some people say that John's gospel is the only one that makes Jesus out to be God because John's focus seems so different from Matthew, Mark and Luke's accounts.  Remember that John was one of the three disciples chosen to go on this trip up the mountain. He was an eyewitness to this transfiguration, this white and glowing Jesus.   Thus he could vouch - as one who saw this with his own eyes - to something few could.   (Despite how incredibly realistic my post was the other day, I truly didn't get to go. It was only James, John and Peter. Not Susanne.)

John 1 says,

 14The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

And John's gospel emphasizes "the deity of Christ and the glory of his person."  

Peter also speaks of this event on the mountain.

16We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." 18We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.  (II Peter 1)

Next in this chapter we see a man bringing his demon-possessed son to Jesus. Apparently he'd ask the disciples to heal his boy with no luck!  Were these the 9 disciples not chosen to go up the mountain with Jesus?  In his commentary, Warren Wiersbe speculates that maybe these guys were a bit disgruntled that they were left behind. Therefore they slacked off on their prayer and their faith weakened. Then when this father asked for them to heal his son, they tried not realizing their power had left them. Kind of like Samson who didn't realize his supernatural strength was gone until the Philistines were able to bind him and he was - for the first time in his life - unable to break what kept him in bondage.

Jesus heals the boy and when his disciples ask why they were not able to perform this miracle, Jesus said it was their lack of faith!  Then Jesus said if we have faith the size of a mustard seed, nothing would be impossible for us.  Wiersbe points out that using a mustard seed as an example shows two things. First God can use a small amount of faith, but at the same time a seed is living and growing.  Thus our faith - though it may start out small - is alive and it's growing bigger and bigger as we experience the faithfulness of God.  After all, He is the power behind our faith!  With faith the disciples could have healed this suffering son because the power behind the faith was from above.

I read a book recently and the main character mentioned how at times of suffering she would often forget God's faithfulness in the past. But remembering His goodness and the way He has helped us is often what keeps us going when troubles in life seem to overwhelm us.  So whatever struggles you are going through, take heart. As the old song goes, "count your many blessings, see what God has done."  I suspect as you start remembering the faithfulness of God, your heart will be cheered ... even if it's only a bit, like maybe the size of a mustard seed.

Hey, God can work with that!  :)

Monday, August 30, 2010

August Books

I guess I'll go ahead and record the books I finished reading this month.  Can't believe it's almost September!

Painted Dresses by Patricia Hickman -- Following the death of their father, sisters Gaylen and Delia head out on an unexpected road trip that brings them closer as they seek to untangle buried childhood memories and better understand their mysterious mother. This story takes place is NC, Texas and Louisiana.  I got it from my church friend, Cindy.

A Survey of Old Testament Introduction by Gleason L. Archer, Jr. -- borrowed from my dad -- see notes on Moses being the author of the Torah,  and  the reinterpretation of Jephthah's daughter being sacrificed.  , why suffering though doing good , does God allow Himself to look weak , King David and Jesus on the topic of enemies.

The Mending String by Cliff Coon -- book I borrowed from church friend, Cindy; I liked this book.  The main character Ellie reminded me of my blogging friend Amber because of her love of books and her stubborn, doesn't-take-junk from anyone ways. I enjoyed her character.  This book deals with Ellie and her pastor father, Clayton, and the way an incident with the law along with a a long-ago secret serves to bridge the gap between them.  A main theme in this book was truth -- telling the truth yet being compassionate.

Adelaide Piper by Beth Webb Hart -- this book follows the college life of Adelaide as she eagerly leaves the Low Country of SC for what she hopes will be a more enlightening time. It's not until she reaches college in the mountains of Virginia, meets people from the Northeast and has a horrible experience that she realizes how she really misses some things about home.  This book introduces characters with interesting names such as Jif, Dizzy, Juliabelle and Brother Benton.  One thing that stuck out to me was one character thought she wasn't bad enough to need a Savior while another thought she was so bad no one could save her.  I got this book from Cindy.

An Historical Survey of the Old Testament by Eugene H. Merrill -- The author reviews the Old Testament and shares some background on people and nations and events that shaped the Israelite nation among other things. I borrow this from my dad. --  see previous posts for more details

King David and Enemies Revisited

The Bible and those bats-as-birds things

Just Some Notes

"That's Just YOUR Interpretation" by Paul Copan  -- see previous posts; author dealt with some interesting topics such as reincarnation, who made God, why would God send people to hell, the Trinity, genocide and slavery in the Bible, supposed contradictions in the Bible and so forth.  Another of Cindy's books.

"Rather than embracing the view that God has picked out individuals for salvation and allowed (or destined) others to be damned, we can affirm that God has chosen a body of people in Christ, and they become part of the chosen people as they embrace Christ by faith. ... His election is corporate and general rather than individual and specific." (pg. 89)  The author said this would make more sense in a Middle Eastern context since they are more corporate than Westerners who are more individualistic.

And, yes, God did choose individuals to carry out His plans for a particular mission. Just as he chose Jacob over his twin Esau. This didn't mean Esau was unable to repent and come to personal salvation. God chose Judah for a mission bypassing his more righteous brother Joseph. (see note 4 on pg. 211)

Hadassah by Tommy Tenney -- this is the story of Queen Esther; yes, this seems to be the year to read books about her, but my friend had this at her house so I decided to read it

Two things that I remember -- Esther finding that it is GOD in whom she should delight and also how she would sometimes forget all that God had done for her while going through some scary situation.  She had to remind herself of God's past faithfulness instead of focusing on her problems.

Chasing Fireflies by Charles Martin -- this was a good book (from Cindy) that made me cry; it helped me understand foster children a bit better and gave me more of a heart for little ones who have been passed over and not adopted into forever families. This book was told from the point of view of a reporter, Chase, who grew up in a foster home.  The book seeks to solve the mystery of his beginnings, his foster parents and the little foster child, Sketch, who is unable to speak yet communicates by drawing and writing.  It also tells of Tommye and the things she does in order to die in peace.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Matthew 17 -- My 'field trip' with Jesus up the mountain

Often when I read your blog posts I visualize experiences as you talk about them.  I can read Amber's telling of her time with the old grandmas at the Greek Orthodox Church and picture her in the church, mingling with the people after the service. Or I can picture Sanil as she is preparing lessons for various church groups. She always seems so busy flitting from task to task. Or Wafa' as she enjoys a good movie. Niki as she shops.  Carmen as she swims with the kids. Or...well, you get the idea.  So I very much put myself in your lives at times as I read what you share. I find that fun as I can be "you" for a few minutes of my day.

Oddly though, I don't often do this when I read Bible stories. Occasionally I will make the effort, but usually - what? - am I in too much of a hurry?  Looking too hard for an application?  a teachable moment? something comforting or uplifting?  Perhaps.

But the other day as I started reading Matthew 17 I pretended to be there, and I read the first verses from that point of view instead of one from a person hundreds of years later sitting on a porch enjoying flitting butterflies, colorful flowers and trees softly blowing in the breeze.

As I read of Jesus taking just three of his followers with him on a high mountain, I pretended I was one of them. Instead of Peter, James and John, it was me, Peter and only one of the bar Zebedee brothers.  Oh goody, a special field trip with Jesus!  Can't you feel my excitement as I climb the mountain wondering what is in store?  Did Jesus want to tell us a secret?  Give us some special instructions?  Just experience a new view of the area down below?  Whatever!  Even if it's only the latter, I love me some awesome views from above!  Especially if there are valleys below where I can see houses and make out roads and the occasional cars or trucks -- oops!, I mean donkeys or people walking to buy needed food for dinner preparations.  There's just something about seeing it all from above that makes me want to keep looking. (Sorry for those who hate heights [Amber] and now have queasy stomachs as you visualize this with me!)

So there I am gingerly climbing the mountain. Watching my step so I don't startle a snake or walk over the edge or trip.  (I wouldn't want to fall down on a root and, ohhhh, have to get three stitches in my leg again.)

We arrive to the top.  Ahhhh, pretty view!  But then, oh my! What?! 

I turned to the guys to see if they were enjoying the view from the top of the mountain and caught a glimpse of ... Jesus?  His clothes and his skin just turned all white and...glowed!

Before I could contemplate what tricks my eyes were playing on me, I was startled to see Moses - huh?  Moses has been dead for centuries yet I knew somehow it was the Law giver himself talking with Jesus. And Elijah?  The very prophet whom God took to heaven in a chariot of fire?  Somehow I knew that was Elijah.  Moses representing the Law, Elijah representing the Prophets and Jesus ...

Before I could think of anything else, Peter found his tongue. He was nearly always the first among us to express himself. Such a bold fellow. I admired his spunk.  But I think even Peter didn't know what really to say for he started yammering about how good it was to be there (ya think?) and asking Jesus if perhaps we should build some sort of shelter for each of them.

He was still speaking when a bright cloud descended, enveloped the three of them and we heard a voice which sent us trembling and terrified, face down into the dirt!

That day I learned the reason for our jaunt up the mountain. It wasn't for exercise, it wasn't really to get a new teaching from Jesus or even to see the pretty view.  Instead it was to see where Jesus stood alongside the Law (Moses) and the Prophets (Elijah).

After all he'd already told us he did not come to destroy the law or the prophets but to bring about what they said (see Matthew 5:17).  So what did that voice from heaven tell us about Jesus?

"This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!"

When God tells you
1. This is His Son
2. Whom He loves
3. And With Whom He is well pleased,

we'd all be wise to heed God's advice and LISTEN to Jesus!

Here's just a sampling ...

 28"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."  (Matthew 11)

 6Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  (John 14)

 36"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" 37Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."  (Matthew 22)

 43"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 44But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.  (Matthew 5)

 34"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."   (John 13)

What is Jesus saying to you?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Saying Stuff All Wrong ... or is it 'wrongly'?

While at the beach we went to Applebee's to eat lunch one afternoon.  As we waited for our food, we were glancing around the restaurant and Michael called our attention to the fact that "they have a juice box" while nodding in the direction of the bar which was several feet away from our table.

This is a juice box - a box with juice, see?

I glanced over and smiled inwardly, but played innocent. 

"A juice box?", I questioned with interest.

"You know, an old-timey record player," he explained.  (First, how does an 8 year old know about record players?)

Andrew and I smiled.  And Michael learned the difference in a juice box and a jukebox!  

This reminds me of the time my way-younger-than-me brother was little and kept saying "valilla" for the flavoring.  I told him to watch my mouth as I emphasized each syllable "vuh-NIL-luh."  And he said vanilla right from then on. I kind of regretted that as I rather like when little kids mispronounce words on occasion.

Actually what am I talking about?! Some folks in this country would daresay I mispronounce some words because of my oh-so-charming southern accent.  For starters I say min, tin, pin, uh gin.  At least I don't type in my accent. See: men, ten, pen, again. You understood my written words, right?

What words do you tend to mispronounce or hear mispronounced by those close to you?

A foreign friend of mine who shall remain nameless laughs when I say "hamburger." Yes, he finds it so hilarious that I pronounce this word like an American!

Hellooooooooooo, Nameless Friend!

I am an American!

Photo of Susanne, Teresa and Denise - July 3, 2009

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Matthew 16:24-28 -- Deny Self, Take Up Your Cross, Follow Jesus

Finishing up Matthew 16 today.  Remember in our previous lesson Jesus told Peter that Peter had in mind the things of men rather than the things of God when Peter declared that Jesus would surely not suffer and die as Jesus had informed his followers.  Next Matthew records Jesus turning to his disciples with this warning,

"If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. 26What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 27For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. 28I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom."

Some thoughts ...

First notice that it's a choice. At least that's how I read "if." If you want to follow Jesus, then do these things. Not you must...unless of course you want to lose your soul!  Have you ever met someone who lost her soul due to pursuing material possessions or experiences?  Someone so bent on following her own way that she didn't have time for spiritual or godly, soulful issues.  Makes me wonder if that person is trying to find satisfaction in life or if she is finding fulfillment and excitement and what her heart craves in those pursuits. 

What does coming after Jesus mean?  Pursuing the things of God rather than human things?

Notice the three step process here:
1. Deny self -- that's a biggie since most people are naturally selfish.  And what does that mean exactly? Ordering a small hamburger when you really wanted the Whopper?  Skimping on the ice cream so you can give that money to a needy Haitian family?

2. Take up his cross  -- don't you know mentioning a cross had an impact in that day when crosses were typically used for condemned criminals, not for the general "good guy" population to voluntarily take upon themselves.  What do you think taking up your cross means?  We don't have literal crosses that we carry around on our backs and I doubt Jesus meant this anyway.  Does he mean we identify with him somehow?  If so, how?

3.  Follow Jesus -- In John 14:6 Jesus declares that he is the way to the Father so it seems following him would be a smart thing to do; notice even in this passage Jesus implies that he is the way to salvation (see vs. 25)

Verse 25 reminds us that pursuing godly things is how we find life.  My pastor often refers to God's upside down kingdom (then he corrects himself and said in reality, it is we who have things upside down).  In this "upside down kingdom," the greatest among us and the greatest in God's eyes are the ones who SERVE OTHERS!  It's not the person who takes the best seat at the table or has people waiting on him hand and foot.  My pastor reminds us that true, inner joy comes from serving others. It comes from meeting others' needs and demonstrating grace and mercy to people craving compassion and love.  I think this is what's lacking in the world today and why so many people are empty. Why so many are looking for things and adventures to find fulfillment.  Can you imagine a world where we all sought to meet others' needs? We would be tripping over each other trying to do good for others.   Sounds a bit like heaven. :) 

Jesus came and demonstrated how to be a servant. How to wash others' feet, how to meet needs and show compassion and love even to sinners.  Only to sinners since we all have sinned and fallen short of God's glorious standard.  Jesus didn't just come and give instructions. He lived this way.  He taught by example, not by exceptions even though he was one in whom God was well-pleased and beloved by God such as we will see in the next chapter. He never said God is well-pleased with me so please come take care of all my needs and serve me.  I love that Jesus lead by example. If he can wash dirty feet, so we can we. If he can love the outcasts of society, so can we. If he can touch the sick, so can we.  If he can heal diseases, well, I wish I could do that. But I can offer compassion and love to those ravaged by sickness and those with hurting hearts.

I didn't even touch on the last two verses there, but you can if you want.  What does Jesus mean that some would see Jesus coming in his kingdom and also about himself coming in the Father's glory and with the angels?

Thoughts, questions, comments? 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

On the Lighter Side

I found this on Wafa's blog and decided to do it for fun.  Join in if you wish.  Ask questions if you have any.  Happy Tuesday! 
Let's know more about each other :) 

If you like the following simply copy, paste and bold what's true :)

Bold if true:
I am a cuddler.
I am a morning person.
I am an only child.
I am currently in my pajamas.
I am currently pregnant.
I am currently single.
I am currently suffering from a broken heart.
I am left handed.
I am married.
I am addicted to my myspace.
I am online 24/7, even as an away message.
I am a little shy around the opposite gender at first.
I bite my nails.
I can be paranoid at times.
I don’t like anyone.
I enjoy country music.
I enjoy jazz music.
I enjoy smoothies.
I enjoy talking on the phone.
I have a car.
I have a cell phone.
I have/had a hard time paying attention at school.
I have a hidden talent
I have a lot to learn
I have a pet.
I have a tendency to fall for the “wrong” guy/girl
I have all my grandparents
I have at least one brother
I have been to another country 
I have been told that I am smart 
I have been told that I have an unusual sense of humor

I have OR HAD broken a bone 
I have Caller I.D. on my phone. 

I have changed a diaper
I have changed a lot over the past year. 
I have done something illegal. 
I have friends who have never seen my natural hair color 
I have had major/minor surgery.

I have killed another person
I have had my hair cut within the last week.
I have mood swings 
I have no idea what I want to do for the rest of my life
I have rejected someone before.
I have seen The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
I have seen the television show The O.C.
I like Shakespeare.
I like the taste of blood.
I love to cook.
I like to sing.
I love Michael Jackson
I love sleeping.
I love to play computer games.
I love to shop. 
I miss someone right now.

I own 100 CDs or more
I own and use a library card
I read books for pleasure in my spare time

I sleep a lot during the day.

I strongly dislike math
I watch soap operas on a regular basis.
I will try almost anything once.
I work at a job that I enjoy.
I would classify myself as ghetto.
I would get plastic surgery if it were 100% safe, free of cost, and scar-free.
I am currently wearing socks. 
I am tired.

I love to paint/draw/sketch/sculpt.
I have had/have a broken heart
Graduated High School. 
Smoked cigarettes.
Rode every ride at an amusement park.
Collected something really stupid.
Gone to a rock concert.
Helped someone

Gone fishing.
Watched four movies in one night.
Gone long periods of time with out sleep 
Lied to someone

Been dumped.
Failed a class.
Taken a college level course. 
Been in a car accident.
Been in a tornado.
Watched someone die.
Been to a funeral.
Burned yourself. (accidentally)
Ran a marathon.
Your parents got divorced.
Cried yourself to sleep.
Spent over $200 in one day. 
Flown on a plane.

 Cheated on someone.

Been cheated on.
Written a 10 page letter.
Gone skiing.
Been sailing.
Cut yourself. 
Had a best friend.
 Lost someone you loved.
Shoplifted something. 
Been to jail.

Had detention.
Skipped school.
Got in trouble for something you didn’t do. 
Stolen books from the library.
Gone to a different country.
Dropped out of school.
Been in a mental hospital.
Watched the “Harry Potter” movies. 
Had an online diary. 
Fired a gun.

Gambled in a casino.
Had a yard sale.
Been in a school play.

Been fired from a job.
Taken a lie detector test.
Swam with dolphins.
Gone to sea world.
Attempted suicide.
Voted for Pop Idol.(Arabic Super Star or Star Academy) 
Written poetry. 
Read more than 20 books a year.
Gone to Europe.

Loved someone you couldn’t have.
Had surgery.

Had stitches.
Taken a taxi.
Seen the Washington Monument. 
Had more than 5 IM’s/online conversations going at once.
Had a drug or alcohol problem.
Been in a fist fight.
Suffered any form of abuse.
Had a hamster.
Petted a wild animal.
Used a credit card.
Gone surfing in California. 
Dyed your hair.

Got a tattoo.
Had something pierced.
Got straight A’s.
Your parents sent you to a shrink. 
Been handcuffed.
Known someone with HIV or AIDS.
Taken pictures with a webcam. 
Started a fire.
Had a party while your parents weren’t home.
Gotten caught having a party while they were gone.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Back from the Beach & A Few Quotes

Michael - August 22, 2010

Greeeetings!  We just returned today from a weekend trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina with Michael.  It was really nice because we saw some dolphins, dive-bombing pelicans and sea gulls along with jumping fish.  I've seen dolphins in the ocean before, but it was later in the year when the ocean didn't have so many people in it. But this time Andrew and Michael were jumping over, getting smashed and tossed (Michael) and riding (Andrew) waves when we saw them.  Then yesterday we saw the jumping fish which was pretty neat. At one point about twenty of them jumped at once!  I was wondering if a shark spooked them. 

One night we walked along the beach and saw the moon reflecting off the ocean. I love that! Michael would run ahead and draw Sponge Bob cartoon characters in the sand.

It's good to be home and unpacked. I can now catch up a bit on reading some of the posts I missed while gone. 

Michael enjoyed the Lazy River

These are just a few quotes from Primal by Mark Batterson. I copied them a few weeks ago and had them saved in drafts.

"Lack of faith is not a failure of logic. It's a failure of imagination.  Lack of faith is the inability or unwillingness to entertain thoughts of a God who is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine."  (pg. 112)

I love how young children imagine!  They imagine themselves able to grow up to be superheroes, dog catchers, firefighters and doctors all at the same time.  Michael used to think the children of heaven were watching his life as if he were a character in a story or video game.  He would sometimes tell them Bible stories at night. I wish sometimes I could hold onto some of my ability to imagine. Maybe God meant for us to be more imaginative than we are. Maybe logic is from the enemy.  :)

What are some things you imagine or remember imagining when you were a child?  Or what things do your children imagine that make you smile?  Do you think some people's lack of faith is simply a lack of the ability to imagine Someone or some Thing is out there bigger than us?  Do you think imagination too childish whereas logic is more "adultish"?

"Nonconformity invites criticism, but that is the only option if you're following in the footsteps of the quintessential nonconformist, Jesus."  (pg. 114)

Do you tend to be a nonconformist or a rule-keeper?  Do you agree that Jesus was a nonconformist? In what ways? Can you think of examples of how he kept rules and/or didn't?  For the most part I think I keep rules pretty well, but in some aspects I think I'm more of a nonconformist than people would like me to be.  If for instance they had the ideal Susanne in mind, they would change a few things about me. But I guess that's true for all of us.

"Two thousand years ago, Jesus said, 'Go.' So why do we operate with a red-light mentality? It seems like many of us are waiting for the green light we've already been given.  As Christ followers we need to take a why not approach to life. It dares to dream. It's bent towards action.  And it's not looking for excuses not to do something."  (pg. 139)

I just liked this.

Any thoughts?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Tempting Jesus

Concerning Jesus, Hebrews 4:15 tells us,

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin.

And then there is that whole Satan-tempting-Jesus story in the gospels. Now for those who believe Jesus wasn't God this is no huge deal.  A man is tempted. Big deal. Happens every day.  He resisted all temptation?  Yes, bigger deal and hooray for his ability to do so!

But for we who believe Jesus is God, how do we make sense of it?  If Jesus knew he wouldn't fall for temptation because he is God and God is bigger than temptation then it really wasn't the same kind of struggle with temptation that we have.  So how could he sympathize with our weaknesses? Right?

 If I know I wouldn't be attracted to women because I prefer men, it's not a temptation to parade lovely ladies in front of me.  Sorry...only analogy I could think of. Or maybe I could have used coffee. Yes, if I know coffee wouldn't tempt me because I don't care for it, then offering coffee no matter how aromatic or delicious (to you), it wouldn't be a temptation for me.  Same with hazelnuts or pistachios...you get the idea.

I was reading a book today that said, "Christ in his human awareness voluntarily limited access to his divine knowledge so that he could suffer real temptation; Christ did not know that he could not sin. Christ freely chose by his human will to resist temptation; that is, his divine will did not overwhelm or impose itself upon his human will. ... Jesus lived his life in dependency on the empowering of the Spirit and, therefore, is an example for how we too can live victoriously over sin.  Just as Jesus was 'led by the Spirit' (Luke 4:1), we too as believers are to be 'led by the Spirit' (Rom. 8:14)."  With "moment-by-moment commitment to the will of his Father" Jesus did not yield to sin.

The author gave an analogy of our entering a room where the door closes and unknown to us the door is on a timed lock which means it will not open for two hours.  "You consider leaving once or twice, but in the end you freely choose to stay in the room for the full two hours. After you read a newspaper and some magazine articles, you decide to leave. By this time, the lock has automatically been released by the timer and you freely walk out the door.  Why did you stay in and not try to go out?  Because you freely decided to stay. Would you have been able to leave?  No."

Follow that?  :)

So all that to say, I wonder if when

Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."

Jesus was telling Peter that his offer was tempting Jesus and this was Jesus' way to yield to God's will and not man's desires.  No one wants to suffer and be rejected and killed.  Is this why Jesus told Peter he was a "stumbling block" to him?

Your thoughts on any of this are welcome.  I'd even like to know how YOU think of Jesus' temptations and whether or not this author makes any sense to you.  I actually like the part about Jesus being led by the Spirit as an example of how we are to live and be victorious over temptations in life. 

pgs. 141,142 -- That's Just YOUR Interpretation by Paul Copan

Unfulfilled Desires & Relationships

Can you relate to any of this?  Agree, disagree, have something to add?

Perhaps our deep unfulfilled desires can help show us that we were made for something no earthly thing can satisfy.  Just as children tire of their Christmas toys shortly after they've received them, so as adults our latest purchases or home renovations or business deals leave us looking for that elusive something. If we live in a fallen world, alienated from God, this is no wonder. God has "set eternity in the hearts" of us all (Eccles. 3:11) so that we will be satisfied with nothing less than God alone. In the psalmist's words:

Whom have I in heaven but you?
              And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
              but God is the strength of my heart
                 and my portion forever.

Psalm 73:25-26

Perhaps our deepest desires have been placed within us by God because we are meant for a loving relationship with him. The secular pursuit of the 'ulitmate experience' will disappoint us because all our desires are properly ordered when God is central in our lives.

pg. 18, "That's Just YOUR Interpretation" by Paul Copan

Can we quit acting as if we have God all figured out? You can know God, but to think that you can know God in the fullest sense of the word would be laughable if it weren't so detrimental. Because of the accumulation of and access to knowledge, our generation knows so much. Yet in the timeless scheme of things, we know so little.  What would happen if we had the intellectual courage to admit our ignorance?

Maybe it's time to admit that we don't know all the answers. But we know the One who does.  Maybe we've been offering the wrong thing.  We offer answers.  God offers a relationship through Jesus Christ.  His answers to our questions isn't knowledge. It's a relationship.

pg.106, Primal by Mark Batterson

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Matthew 16:21-23 -- Rebuking Jesus, Misunderstanding the Mission of the Christ

So last week in our Matthew 16 study we talked about the religious teachers asking Jesus for a sign and Peter declaring that Jesus was the Christ (Messiah) and the Son of the living God.  Today I want to continue with some thoughts on the next three verses:

 21From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
 22Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. "Never, Lord!" he said. "This shall never happen to you!"
 23Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."


Peter recognized Jesus as the Christ (vs. 16) yet failed to understand Jesus' mission.  Did he still have thoughts that this Messiah was going to be a political savior so this talk of Jesus' suffering and death provoked this heartfelt rebuke that these things would never happen to Jesus?

Peter rebuked Jesus and then Jesus addressed Peter as Satan, called him a stumbling block (why?) and declared Peter had human things in mind not what God wanted.

Did the disciples hear the suffer and kill parts and not the "be raised to life" part?  But doesn't bad news most always SPEAK LOUDER than good news?

I wonder how often we rebuke God (or holy men of God) for His will which seems harsh and/or distasteful.

I suppose the key is to remember God's ways are higher than our ways. His thoughts are higher than ours as Isaiah records. And if God is good then can we not trust Him even when our circumstances appear awful from our earthly perspectives?

What stands out to you from this passage or this post?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Reincarnation in the Bible, Sinning In Utero, Going Against Karma, Grace

Almost two weeks ago in my post "Why suffering though doing good," I mentioned the passage in John 9 where Jesus and his disciples came across a blind man.  His disciples - thinking the guy was blind due to sinfulness - asked whether this man or his parents were to blame.  Something that caught my attention then was that this man was blind since birth so I wondered out loud if people could sin while in their mothers' wombs.  I'd always assumed we were not capable of sinning in utero.

This topic wasn't the point of that post so I didn't dwell on it much.

But then yesterday I was reading a book* and one chapter dealt with reincarnation. A chapter note mentioned this story in John 9 as a passage some believe supports reincarnation.  If this man's blindness since birth could have - according to the disciples - been a result of his sin then this means he must have sinned in a former life and this blindness was punishment.  (If this were true, how nice was Jesus to go against karma by healing him of his blindness!)

The author stated, however, that rabbinical tradition believed people could sin though unborn!  He cited Genesis Rabbah 63:6 and the story of Jacob and Esau.  I saw this little blurb on Wikipedia pertaining to the twins struggling prior to their birth.

"Rebekah was uncomfortable during her double pregnancy and went to inquire of God why she was suffering. The Midrash says that whenever she would pass a house of Torah study, Jacob would struggle to come out; whenever she would pass a house of idolatry, Esau would agitate to come out."

So I guess Esau's sin prior to birth was his itching to come out when his mom walked past a place of idol worship.  I suppose this leads us to believe Esau had an inclination to worship idols rather than Yahweh.

Also here is something the author stated about reincarnation and the caste system and why people of higher castes look down so much on those of the lowest castes especially "the untouchables." He claims with their ideas of reincarnation, they believe those born into lower castes must have done something in their previous lives to deserve such poor, unprivileged stations in society. Therefore they in the upper castes could never do such as Mother Teresa did in helping those people as they felt this was going against karma. I can see this type of thinking justifying a lot of discrimination!  For religious reasons too!

This is why I made mention above of Jesus healing the blind man as going against karma.  Hey, if he can do it, we can too!   No excuse to not help underprivileged and poor people thinking they got what they deserved.  With that type of mentality we could say the Pakistanis deserved their land being flooded and possessions lost. Or we could refuse to help so many others who have suffered simply by dismissing it as their getting what they deserve.

By contrast, I believe we should look out for others and seek to meet their needs so we can to show how much our God influences us and enables us to love and serve others.  I've heard it said that we are the hands and feet of God meaning He often uses us as His agents on earth to do His will. And it's good to help others without desire for recognition or even good deed points.  We never know when the next man-made or natural disaster will affect us and our loved ones.  We will then be desperate for others to lend helping hands. Not sit back in judgment wondering what sinful things we did to deserve this calamity.

So be merciful, compassionate and serve others with love. Don't worry about who deserves this or that. Grace is about giving to people regardless of what they deserve. Just like God gives to us when He offers eternal life in spite of our sins.

Any thoughts?

* pg. 65 & 204,
"That's Just YOUR Interpretation" by Paul Copan

Monday, August 16, 2010

Weekend with Michael

Good news!  We survived our weekend with Michael!  Gave me greater appreciation of parents.  :-) He's such a sweet kid and we had lots of fun. It's just that I'm used to a bit less energy around the house...especially when I am ready for bed.  And he's going as fast as he can on the elliptical exercise machine because he figured 10:30 PM is a great time to get in a workout!

Friday, I'd just seen the four deer in my yard when Stephanie and Will dropped off Michael. He and I went on a walk through the neighborhood where we spent several minutes checking out a snake that had been squished. It was a small one and the ants were feeding off its guts.  Later we went to visit Mema and Pop and my parents for several hours.  Michael and I are the C&E Team at my grandparents' house. I clean and he entertains!  :)

On Saturday Michael went swimming with one of our neighbors and rode bikes with another (and Andrew) after dark.  That's the same night Andrew, Michael and I spent 45 minutes lying on towels watching the stars and talking.  Then yesterday after church he played with Scott, Abigail, Haleigh, Dustin and a couple other children in the neighborhood. In fact his parents got home around 4 and he played until 6:30 despite the fact he could have gone home earlier.  He enjoyed his time with the neighborhood children apparently!

He went with Andrew to run errands on Saturday and called to tell me they stopped by Andrew's parents' house and "stole a lot of goodies."  Andrew's mom keeps "goodies" there for family to "steal."  ;-)

Michael was excited about going to my church and hearing my pastor. He enjoys listening to his CDs in my car. Sometimes I'll change it to music thinking he won't want to hear preaching and he'll say, "Susie, you can turn it back to your preacher" and sometimes when I have music playing already he'll ask to hear the preacher.  

I wanted to keep the three Facebook status updates inspired by him so I'll just copy those here.

Friday night -- 

so Michael is brushing his teeth and he informed me that they have toothpaste similar to mine but "more spicy." It is mint plus it has "an extra spice which polishes your teeth extra, extra, extra!" We are off to bed. Did I mention Michael was spending the weekend with us? He is.

Saturday --

We were laying in the grass looking at the "five jillion, 3 infiniti and one stars" when Michael says, "Oh that star looks like a teddy bear with its eyes on its stomach." And "have you ever looked at a chair and imagined it was your best friend?" Interesting conversation. Now the guys are unwinding with the Sponge Bob video borrowed from our neighbors. Fun times! :)


Sunday --

So Michael wanted to go to church with me today (his parents were out of town) and he told his dad this evening the preacher asked if hitting that golf ball was more important than spending time with your family/kids. I see he was listening during the sermon. It's MUCH calmer here tonight without him here. I kind of miss lying on the grass looking at the stars though.


*The picture was from April 2010 when Michael had his school program.  Here he is saying his goodbyes to Tony and Stephen.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Just Some Notes, Saw Deer in the Yard, Mike's Here

An Historical Survey of the Old Testament by Eugene H. Merrill -- finished the book and wanted to post just a few notes.

On Job ...

After his questioning God about why he, a righteous man, should be afflicted, "Finally, God broke His silence and explained that the gulf which separates Deity and humanity is so great that Job not only should not question his suffering, but should not even try to understand it. (40:2).  ... The story ends with the basic question yet unanswered; yet the message of God that He is absolute and does as He will without regard to man's comprehension of His mysteries must constitute the real theme and provide the fullest measure of hope."  (pg. 234)

Honestly this did not fill me with hope when I first read it.  I've been a bit sad about someone in my family this week and am running a bit thin on the goodness-of-God category. 


I did read this as well about the theme of another book:  "'...sovereignty, wisdom, and goodness of God in all the circumstances of our lives.'  If the god we worship isn't possessed of these attributes, then the sin of discontent is sure to invade our hearts."  (Beacon Beam pg. 8, August 2010)

And I remembered that God is good. Is perfect love, in fact. He doesn't play games with us, does He?  Why do I sometimes find it hard to trust Him? 

On Ecclesiastes ...

"Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth" -- key to the book

"The Preacher exhorts that man should know God while he is young so that life will have a proper orientation and meaning.  If he fails to do this, life will be nothing but emptiness, an experience devoid of purpose and direction and satisfaction.  Far from being a pessimistic book, it is a stirring, almost evangelistic sermon which shows the way out of the morass of a godless life into the brilliant radiance of His presence."  (pg. 238)

Excellent advice!  I wish more people would follow God when they were young so they could find the joy and peace that God offers.

On Jonah ...

"There is the important idea here of internationalism. Contrary to the notion popularly propounded that Yahweh was, to the prophets of early times, a local Deity of Israel alone, we see in Jonah that Yahweh was God of Assyria as well, though Assyria might not recognize that fact.  She was not only God's 'rod' of chastisement, but the object of His tender love."  (pg. 270)

As a full-fledged non-Jewish person I am over-the-top thrilled with God loving all types of people!  :-)

On Isaiah ...

"In ancient Israel there was no distinction between the secular and sacred; a weakness in any part of the Theocratic body was a blight upon the whole corpus."  (pg. 282)

No separation of Temple and State for them, huh? 

On Ezra ...

"It is certainly overstating the matter to say that Ezra was the founder of Judaism, for Judaism is simply the post-exilic expression of the ancient Old Testament faith. But that it was a different expression greatly influenced by Ezra cannot be challenged.  The reemphasis on the Law and ceremony, the rise of the synagogue movement with its careful attention to the study of Torah, and the final shaping of the Old Testament canon -- all these were largely affected by Ezra and his spiritual heirs."  (pg. 322)

I just found that interesting. 

On Judges ...

A reminder what anarchy looks like as gross sins are reported especially in the last few chapters.  Key phrase: everyone did what was good in his own eyes.  That ain't good.

Leaving God out of our lives never is.


I actually got a few pictures of four deer that were in my yard this morning - two mothers and two babies. You can see them here if you want.  My sister and my brother in law are on a white-water rafting trip so Michael is staying with us this weekend. He and Andrew are in the living room watching a Sponge Bob movie now.  I think I'll go join them.  Nothing like watching adventures from under the sea to get you ready for bed, right?   :-)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Matthew 16:1-20 -- Who is Jesus? and some more stuff

 Matthew 16 begins with the Pharisees and Sadducees testing Jesus by asking for a sign from heaven.  Apparently the miracles they'd seen and heard of were not convincing enough.  Jesus replied that they could tell from the sky whether the day would be pleasant or stormy, but could not discern the signs of the times. (Does this mean it was time for the Messiah's arrival?)  He refused to do a miracle at their request and said the only sign would be that of the prophet Jonah which Matthew 12 told us was

40For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

basically a foretelling of Jesus' burial after his crucifixion and prior to the resurrection.

Next Jesus and the disciples were crossing the lake and Jesus made a statement about avoiding the yeast or leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.  The disciples had forgotten to bring bread so they asked themselves if Jesus were referring to the fact that there was not much food on board the boat.  As if Jesus who had recently fed thousands of people with a few fish and few loaves of bread would be troubled with this!  Jesus says as much and informs them that he is warning against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.  Just as a little yeast expands the whole loaf of bread, a little sin, a bit of false doctrine, a smidgen of error could grow and pollute greatly. 

Anyone else ever notice how Jesus would often be talking on a spiritual plane while those on the receiving end of his words were thinking of more literal, physical aspects?  Such as Jesus,
when he had been speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well about spiritual matters, telling his disciples "I have food that you don't know about" meaning spiritual food and being about his Father's business.  Yet they were questioning themselves to see if perhaps someone had brought bread or fish or a McDonald's Happy Meal to their teacher.

After this Jesus turned to his disciples with a question about who people said that he was. They answered that some said he was John the Baptist (Herod also thought John had been resurrected when he heard of Jesus' ministry and miracles) while others thought Jesus was Elijah, Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.  (Did the people truly believe one of their prophets from hundreds of years ago would come back in their time? Or do you think this means Jesus was like Elijah or Jeremiah or one of the now-deceased prophets in his teachings or mannerisms?)

Enough with what the people thought. What did Jesus' closest followers think? 
15"But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?"
 16Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

OK, that's quite a step up from Elijah, Jeremiah or even John the Baptist, isn't it?  "The Christ" is the Jewish Messiah. (Christ is from the Greek word translated Messiah - Anointed One - in Hebrew.)  The one many thought would come to deliver the Jews from the oppressive Roman nation that was occupying their land.  They had visions of a rising star - a warrior, a military man like their hero King David who lead many national victories during his lifetime.

 17Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. 18And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.19I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." 20Then he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ.


1. I like that Jesus affirmed that our recognizing him as "the Christ, the Son of the living God" was a result of God revealing it to our hearts. It's not something we can logically convince people to accept and believe. 

2.  Amber can probably better explain, but this passage about Jesus building his church on Peter is where the Catholic church's thoughts on Peter being the first pope come from.  Hopefully I didn't just totally mess all that up. I'll defer to my Catholic comrade for further explanation on that.

3.  I think this is the first mention of the church.  For you Muslims don't think of a local assembly like a mosque, but the ummah. The universal church which includes all who follow Jesus.

4.  I wonder why Jesus would not want his disciples to tell others that he is the Christ.  Well, I guess it's something God had to reveal to them.  At least the Messiah type that Jesus is.  Obviously he was no conquering military guy, but a savior of a different sort.  Kind of like Jesus thought and spoke and taught on a spiritual plane, he also saved on a spiritual level. No deliverance from political enemies for the Jews, but something far more eternal.  Peace with God and all that.  Much much better in the long run.

Now, what are YOUR thoughts,questions and comments? Please add whatever you like.

King David and Enemies Revisited

Not long ago I did a post on King David vs. Jesus on the Topic of Enemies touching on why one wrote poems practically begging God to send forth His wrath and judge his enemies while the other told us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.  Why the two vastly different messages? 

Then I was reading
An Historical Survey of the Old Testament by Eugene H. Merrill yesterday and came across some interesting discussion about Israel's second king.  If you know the biblical account of David, you recall how he refused to harm King Saul even though Saul was hunting down David with murderous intent.  David in no way wanted to hurt the one God had chosen as Israel's first king.  So he basically refused to kill his enemy even though he had the opportunity twice.   The author wrote:

"Joab, completely disgusted by this show of emotion, reproached David, reminding him that time after time he had mourned for his enemies when he should have rejoiced at their defeat and death.  First it was Saul, then Abner, then Ishbosheth, and now his own iniquitous son.  If David possessed one overriding fault, in Joab's sight that fault was an irresponsible love for all men including his enemies (II Sam. 19:6)."  (pg. 222)

And this last line is what made me take note and remember my own post from just last week where I thought David hated his enemies.  I looked up
  II Samuel 19 to read about Joab's disgust.  Remember that Absalom is one of David's sons who tried to overthrow his father and take over the kingdom.  In fact Absalom did manage to convince a sizable number of people to his side against his father.  But Absalom was killed by the chief military guy, Joab, and David was told the news.  His throne was saved, but ...

Joab was told, "The king is weeping and mourning for Absalom." 2 And for the whole army the victory that day was turned into mourning, because on that day the troops heard it said, "The king is grieving for his son." 3 The men stole into the city that day as men steal in who are ashamed when they flee from battle. 4 The king covered his face and cried aloud, "O my son Absalom! O Absalom, my son, my son!"
 5 Then Joab went into the house to the king and said, "Today you have humiliated all your men, who have just saved your life and the lives of your sons and daughters and the lives of your wives and concubines. 6 You love those who hate you and hate those who love you. You have made it clear today that the commanders and their men mean nothing to you. I see that you would be pleased if Absalom were alive today and all of us were dead. 7 Now go out and encourage your men. I swear by the LORD that if you don't go out, not a man will be left with you by nightfall. This will be worse for you than all the calamities that have come upon you from your youth till now."

Pretty harsh words towards the king, eh?

Now about those imprecatory Psalms where David calls down God's wrath on his enemies, the author writes this:

"It is important to remember on those that the poet is not expressing a desire for God's punishment of the wicked to satisfy his own feelings, but because he recognizes that the wicked have offended the honor of God ... [David] is looking forward to the day of the Lord when all unrepentant sinners must be dealt with according to their impiety toward God.   Though many scholars would attempt to demonstrate that the Old Testament is morally inferior to the New by referring to these 'barbarous' imprecations, the true explanation of the ethical incongruity lies in the mistaken ideas some men have concerning the Biblical doctrine of sin and punishment.  When we properly understand the nature of a holy and sinless God, we, with the psalmists, must cry out against the iniquity which so terribly offends Him. We must not mean that we hate men though they sin, for indeed we must love them, but we must hate their sin and unrepentance."  (pg. 235)

So now I have a better view of how David thought of and dealt with his enemies. I'm sure he did not weep over all or even most of them, but perhaps this post sheds a bit more balanced view of the great Israelite king.

When you pray for God to punish someone is it for your own satisfaction or because you know those people have offended a holy God? Do you think it's perfectly all right to find satisfaction when the wicked are eternally punished?  What - if anything - does God teach about this?  Any thoughts on Joab's words to David or David's reaction to his enemies such as Saul or his own son? 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Happy Ramadan, Syria, Matthew 15 -- Clean/Unclean Hearts; Woman of Great Faith

First things first: Happy Ramadan to all my sweet Muslim friends!  I hope you have a joyful month and that God blesses you by guiding you closer to Himself!

Secondly, I8 months ago right now, Andrew and I were on that loooooooong flight from Istanbul to Chicago after having not slept all night and leaving Damascus in the wee morning hours.  Some days it seems like our trip to Syria was only a dream! Did we really walk where Paul did? Did we really visit the ruins of a Crusader castle and see the shrine to John the Baptist in the Umayyad mosque? But then I look at all my pictures and see myself there and realize it did happen! Seems like a lifetime ago though. I miss it.

So yesterday I talked a bit about tradition and today I'll continue with what Jesus said about washing your hands before eating.  From Matthew 15,

 10Jesus called the crowd to him and said, "Listen and understand. 11What goes into a man's mouth does not make him 'unclean,' but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him 'unclean.' "
 12Then the disciples came to him and asked, "Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?"
 13He replied, "Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. 14Leave them; they are blind guides. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit."
 15Peter said, "Explain the parable to us."
 16"Are you still so dull?" Jesus asked them. 17"Don't you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man 'unclean.' 19For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20These are what make a man 'unclean'; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him 'unclean.' "

I think that's understandable enough.  What we say and do reveals the inner man or woman.  It reveals whether we have a pure heart or whether our hearts are vile. This is also a warning to make sure we don't have blind guides, huh? 

21Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession."
 23Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, "Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us."
 24He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel."
 25The woman came and knelt before him. "Lord, help me!" she said.
 26He replied, "It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs."
 27"Yes, Lord," she said, "but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table."
 28Then Jesus answered, "Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted." And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

Amber and I recently talked a bit about this on her blog.  In my comment I discussed why Jesus called her a dog.  I'll just repost most of it here.

I remember reading about this in Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes. The author wondered if Jesus were also teaching his disciples at the same time. Notice they wanted to send her away. Yes, Jesus was ignoring her, but they likely were irritated with her

1. She wasn't Jewish
2. She was a woman
3. She was yelling

The author of JTMEE reminded me of how sometimes when our racism is pointed out...like thrown back into our faces and "said out loud" (like Jesus was speaking of her people as dogs) then it has more of a shock value. It's one thing to have buried racism - thinking that blacks aren't as great as whites or calling blacks "monkeys", but when it's said out loud BY A HOLY MAN it seems much more shocking to realize "wow, I think this way?" *blush, blush*

So I don't know if that is part of it or not, but that book was helpful to me in explaining this.

I like that she recognized Jesus as someone who could help her...and persisted with faith. What a lesson.

What's also interesting to me is that Jesus commended her for her great faith.  I read that only twice is it recorded that Jesus said this and both times he said it to non-Jewish people who recognized that he was able to heal as they requested. The other was a Roman centurion. This story shows me that Jesus' mercy extends to all people. He didn't stay only in Jewish towns, but traveled places where Gentiles would be and he graciously met their needs - physical and spiritual ones (such as the woman at the well.)

 29Jesus left there and went along the Sea of Galilee. Then he went up on a mountainside and sat down. 30Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them. 31The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel.

Jesus recognized these people needed to eat so, moved by his compassion, he again fed them miraculously by making a few fish and loaves of bread into a meal for more than four thousand.