It’s A New Year – 2015!!

I know it’s been a long time since I have posted. My one month off turned into the rest of 2014 off! Oh well…Nothing like a “New Year” to get back into blogging with a “New Post!” I know at the end of my “last” post I had teased about my next post being about submission, but I just couldn’t get my mind wrapped around that subject, so it will be one I will have to come back to some other time.

On Friday, January 2, 2015, my husband, son and I went to the Brookfield Zoo. Yes, it was cool, but I had a layer of fleece cuddle-duds under my jeans and the heaviest sweater I own (which was my mother’s who passed away in April 2001). I wore 2 pairs of socks, a crochet headband (hand-made), and my winter coat!

Me at the Brookfield Zoo, Brookfield, IL

Me at the Brookfield Zoo, Brookfield, IL

We are a family who really enjoy going to zoos and seeing the vast array of God’s creation in the animal kingdom! My husband, David, likes to look at zoos as the closest we can come to how things must have been like in the garden of Eden. All the animals together in peace and harmony with man. Of course, the difference is that the animals in the garden were not behind fences, cages or other kinds of enclosures! We get to see animals roam in habitats that they are naturally able to roam in in the wild. It is so amazing how different types of animals can be in the same enclosures and with no problems! We saw one display that had two different birds and echidnas! One of the little birds was so beautiful! It had about five different beautiful, vibrant colors on it’s little body! Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a good picture of it and all its colors!

January was fairly mild as midwest winters go, but February came in with a vengeance. We got it all…snow and cold. In one month I was ready for the end of winter! It finally did subside some come March, but I was so busy getting ready for a Ladies Day event at our church in which I was the song leader. Our theme was Let Your Light Shine and our guest speaker was Jocelyn Farber from Florida. She travelled up from Florida during her Spring break and my family and I got ready the day after our Ladies event to fly down to Florida for our Spring break!

We had a wonderful time in the “Happiest place on earth,” Disney World! Almost 20 years ago my husband, David, and I spent our honeymoon there which was my first time at Disney World. This time we had our almost 15 year old son, Josiah, with us and he had a great time!

 

I had to see Mickey while we were there, so…here’s proof!

Well…all this brings us up to April, 2015. I really had intended to have monthly posts to this blog, but life happened and I need more discipline to write with purpose and consistency, so I’m giving it another try. I don’t promise to post monthly, but I do still believe in living a eusebeian (godly or holy) life. This post is my way of apologizing for not being faithful to my blog and to you who have been waiting for posts from me. I will be posting again soon!

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Submission: Why Is It So Hard?

I believe one of the biggest issues for people resisting becoming Christians (the way the Bible says to) is: SUBMISSION. History has done quite a number on the perception of that word. From dictators to slave traders, to domineering husbands and parents, the word submission has come to mean breaking and tearing down the will of others so as to control and dominate them. That, however, is not the way the word “submission” is meant in the Bible. Biblical submission is much less harsh and violent, but seems to be very difficult to practice or even to accept. It is an attitude of voluntarily placing oneself under the control of another. Biblically speaking, that would be voluntarily placing yourself under the control of God.

So, why is that such a difficult task? Here we have an almighty, powerful, abundantly loving, merciful, compassionate God who created us in His own image and has, since before creation, had a plan for us to be with Him in His heavenly realm. This was accomplished through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus. 1 Peter 1:2o tells us Jesus “was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake (NIV).” Still many don’t want to accept Him! Why? I had an instructor who said something to the effect of, “I don’t want to follow a God who’s not smarter or more powerful than I am!” However, when people decide not to follow Him, they are saying, in essence, that they know better than God and don’t need Him. How foolish! Why go through life from a position of weakness when you can go through life from a position of strength?

What do you mean “go through life from a position of weakness?” What’s “weak” about taking care of yourself, making your own way in this world, and doing just what you want to do? These thoughts in and of themselves do not constitute “weakness,” but the underlying concept of them is the reliance on “self.” One person. No one else. King Solomon, in Ecclesiastes 4:12, tells us that “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” When there are more people around us to support us we are stronger. We have their help and encouragement, and they are available for us to bounce ideas off of. When we rely on ourselves there is no one else to help carry the load or maybe warn us that we’re heading down a blind alley. After a while the stress of managing everything on our own weighs heavy and the burdens of life can break us down. However, submitting our life to God and His plan provides us the most powerful stance we can ever find ourselves in – BUT…we have to be willing to submit to His plan for our lives and willingly surrender our control to Him. “For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Cor. 12:10, NIV).” This is from Paul after he had written the Corinthians about some thorn in his flesh given to him from Satan to torment him. He prayed three times for God to take it away, but was told by God, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness (2 Cor. 12:9, NIV).” Wow! Did you catch that?! God’s power is not perfected in us until we admit our weakness and submit to Him! There is strength in submission.

Virginia Lefler states in her book, “Pursuing Purity and Spiritual Beauty:”

“A widely accepted myth claims that a worldly woman is strong and secure, while a woman who pursues purity is naive and vulnerable (7).”

She goes on to say:

“However, if we closely examine this myth, we can see it is not true. A better way to describe a worldly woman is hardened, not strong. The Bible describes a hardening process that goes on in our hearts when we sin (Hebrews 3:7-13), and the more we sin, the harder our hearts become (7).”

Submitting to an all-powerful, all-knowing God who loves you more than anything in this world ever could, should humble and soften a hardened heart. Understanding the depth of His love should pierce our hearts and cause us to voluntarily turn to Him and say, “You are in control, God. What you say goes!”  Jesus summed it up in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life (NIV).” In Philippians 2:5-8, the Apostle Paul explained the love Jesus had for all in this world and how we should imitate Him in our attitude this way:

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!”

In each step of this progression – from Godliness to earthly death – Jesus showed an incredible amount of strength as He humbled himself more and more until He submitted to a death that only the worst of criminals were subjected to – crucifixion. Jesus was described as meek and gentle, yet, in todays terms again, He would be thought of as weak – not strong. However, the Greek word for meek used in the Bible is “praus” and gives a more accurate discription of Jesus’ character and attitude. Virginia Lefler, in her book “Pursuing Purity,” defines “praus” as “power under control, or power that is submitted or surrendered (20).”

Many of us can say we believe in God and that the Bible is His word, but are we willing to do what He says? We are told through Paul,

“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God (Ephesians 5:1-2, NIV).”

The Apostle Paul then goes on to describe certain attitudes and behaviors that must not be a part of a life that is imitating God which included sexual immorality, and greed, but he also gave a whole verse of what should not come out of our mouths. He stated:

“Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving (Ephesians 5:4, NIV).”

The consequence of living such a life is severe:

“No immoral, impure or greedy person…has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God (Ephesians 5:5, NIV).”

What then is the warning so that one does not lose their inheritance? Paul states:

“Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is (Ephesians 5:15-17, NIV).”

This blog is about living a life of godliness (eusebeia) and the Bible clearly explains what a godly life looks like, but godliness is unpopular in today’s society for many reasons that in the end are selfish. We live in a society where we want what we want when we want it and no one has the right to tell us we can’t have it. But who are the ones crying out the most? Those who want things “their” way! It’s all about them. Those who choose to submit to the will of God are able to control their urges and when they do cry out, they cry about what God wants. It’s not about them.

Next month’s post will focus on other forms of submission spoken of in the Bible. This month I wanted to start the discussion with the most important form of submission – to God! Please let me know what your thoughts on the topic are, but remember to be respectful! Thanks!

 

References:

The Holy Bible (New International Version), Broadman & Holman Publishers, Nashville, TN,  1996.

Lefler, Virginia, Pursuing Purity and Spiritual Beauty: A Beauty Treatment for the Soul, Silverday Press, Downers Grove, IL, 2010.

The Porphuropolis

This post is a little more on the light-side. I presented this biography in my public speaking class while a student at Sunset International Bible Institute in Lubbock, TX. I hope you enjoy it!

Lydia-The Porphuropolis

“The ‘What-opolis?'” You read it correctly…”Porphuropolis!” It is a Greek word meaning, “a female seller of purple or of fabrics dyed in purple.” I found this term on a website called “Colors in the Bible…and their meaning (www.biblebasics.info)” which gave explanations for the meaning of different colors mentioned in the Bible. I then sought to check out the definition of porphuropolis to be sure the article I was reading was accurate, and it was. The Greek Lexicon, in which I, also, found the definition, referenced the porphuropolis I will be speaking on – Lydia.

To begin with, what is so significant about being a porphuroplis? Anything dyed purple was considered to be expensive and only the elite or royalty could afford it. Purple is translated from the Hebrew word “argaman.” The purple color was derived from a species of shell-fish or mussel called porphura, which was a rare species so the dye was quite valuable. From Archeological findings of the area of Thyatira there were found Roman inscriptions from the first century referring to the guild of dyers, which Lydia would have been a member. Purple cloth was greatly prized in ancient times because it did not fade, especially Tyrian purple; rather it became brighter and more intense with weathering and sunlight. Purple dyed articles became symbols of status.

So, who was Lydia, the porphuropolis? She was a business woman from Thyatira, in the Roman province of Asia about 20 miles southeast of Pergamum. At first, Paul and his companions had intended to visit the area including Thyatira, but they were forbidden from going there by the Holy Spirit. Instead, Paul had a dream of a man from Macedonia pleading with him to come to them and speak. Macedonia would be what is now modern-day upper Greece. So instead of reaching Lydia in her home town of Thyatira, she heard and received the gospel in the town where she was living and conducting business in – Philippi. Philippi was also part of the Roman colony and originally named Crenides, meaning Fountains. It was renamed Philippi when it was over taken by Philip of Macedon. Lydia was quite successful in her chosen profession as demonstrated by the fact that she owned a spacious home and had household servants. We do not have any indication from the Bible that she was married, so our options are that she was either single – never married – or a widow.

We also know from the Bible that she was a devout woman. She may have been Jewish, but most Biblical scholars believe she was Gentile. Her name may mean either “bending” or “The Lydian,” since Thyatira was in the region of Lydia. However, if she was Gentile, she had or was being converted to Judaism because we are told in Acts 16:14 that she “was a worshiper of God.” Even though she was a successful business woman, she worshipped according to the Jewish faith, meeting daily by the riverside for prayer. This was done outside the city since there was not an established meeting place inside, and this was because there were not enough Jewish men of age in Philippi to warrant a synagogue; and they only needed 10.

At one of these prayer meetings that Lydia attended, with other devout women, something different happened. On this day, which was a Sabbath day, the ladies had a guest speaker – Paul. Paul and Silas had been traveling from Troas in Asia, to the Macedonia region when they stopped at Philippi where they stayed several days. The message Paul shared had a tremendous effect on Lydia. Although, Lydia was a worshipper of God, she was not a believer and follower of Christ; but on that day the Bible tells us, “The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.” In Dr. Herbert Lockyer’s book, “All the Women of the Bible,” he quotes John Chrysostom who lived from 347-407 A.D. He was Archbishop of Constantinople, known after his death as the “Golden Mouthed,” and well-known for his eloquence in preaching and public speaking. Chrysostom stated, “To open is the part of God, and to pay attention that of the woman.” Lydia was such a woman who paid attention and responded. She heard the truth of Jesus and believed. She was so convinced of the truth that she was able to convert her household as well. After they had all been baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, Lydia was successful in persuading Paul and his companions to stay at her home.

Lydia was Paul’s first European convert. Her faith was born through hearing the Word of God. She surrendered to the claims of Christ by her public confession and baptism, then immediately began telling others, starting with her own household. She was eager to show hospitality by having Paul and other missionaries in her home. It is believed that a church met in her home at Philippi, or at the very least, her home was a meeting place. We know this because sometime later, Paul and Silas were publicly beaten and jailed after exorcising a spirit from a slave girl. That night in jail after singing praises to God and after an earthquake flung all cell doors open, they converted the Philippian jailer. He and his household became believers and were baptized. The next day, the officials gave orders for Paul and Silas to be released, but then Paul pulled the citizenship card, and when the officials heard that he and Silas were Roman citizens they were alarmed and went to the jail and personally escorted them out. From there, guess where they went? Yep!  They went to the porphuropolis’ home – Lydia’s home! There Paul and Silas met with the brothers to encourage them. Lydia received Paul and Silas into her home after they had been discharged from prison – she was not ashamed of the Lord’s prisoners.

So what happened to our porphuropolis after she became a Christian? Did she give up her business and just live off the wealth she had accumulated? I don’t think so. I believe Lydia continued selling her cloth of purple. She was not lazy, but worked diligently. She now had a new motivation for her enterprising goals – to help God’s servants in their ministries. She sold her dyes and served her Savior. Lydia is a wonderful example to us women of today. She may have been the closest Biblical example of the Proverbs 31 Woman that we have. She was able to be industrious and manage a home faithfully. What we learn from Lydia is if we are diligent in our work, whether inside or outside of our homes, and if we faithfully honor God with our work, then God will honor our efforts and intentions and reward our lives with blessings and success.

(To read the complete story about Lydia, you can find it in Acts 16:11-40 of the Holy Bible.)

The Holiness of God

When we try to describe God there are many words that come to mind like God is loving, merciful, kind, righteous, patient, caring, faithful, everlasting, and many many others; but they all fall under the umbrella of “Holiness!” But, when we say God is holy…what do we mean? Also, are we able to be holy like God?

In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word for holy is quadosh, and means sacred, selected and pure. It appears 116 times. The equivalent Greek word in the New Testament is hagios. It is mentioned less often than the Hebrew word and means set apart, sanctified, or consecrated.

Isaiah 6:3 says: “Holy, holy, holy is The Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” The fact that the word “holy” is repeated in succession means that God is not merely holy – he is uniquely holy. When something is repeated in the Bible like the word “holy” is, it is meant for emphasis and should cause the reader to take special notice. Nowhere in the Bible do we read that God is love, love, love; mercy, mercy, mercy; or wrath, wrath, wrath. But, He is holy, holy, holy…a “cut above” the rest!

Moses provides another example in Exodus 15:11, in the midst of the song of Moses after he and all Israel crossed the Red Sea on dry ground, when her proclaimed, “Who among the gods is like you, O Lord? Who is like you – majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?” Moses announces that God’s holiness is majestic! Most references in the Bible of anything being “majestic” refers to some aspect of God. Examples include Exodus 15:6: “Your right hand, O Lord, was majestic in power.” Psalm 8:1: “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” Psalm 29:4: “The voice of The Lord is powerful; the voice of The Lord is majestic.” Finally, 2 Peter 1:17 states of Jesus: “For 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.”” The incident refered to above occurred on the Mount of Transfiguration. The Majestic Glory seems is a reference to Heaven where God dwells. Of the Christ, who is also God, Peter tells us through a quote from Isaiah that “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth. (1 Peter 2:22)” He was sinless. He preceded this statement in verse 21 by telling us that “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.” We are encouraged several times in the New Testament to become like Christ. He is sinless (blameless), so also should we.

The Hebrews writer states in chapter 7 verse 26, “Such a high priest meets our need – one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens.” This verse completely sums up all the definitions of God’s holiness in the person of the Christ, but what does God say about His holiness? “You shall have no other gods before me. (Exodus 20:3)” That is the very first command given to Moses when he was on top of Mount Sinai in the desert. God gave this plus 9 other commands in an attempt to begin to teach the Israelites to be obedient and follow Him and Him only. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to follow these 10 let alone the other 603 commands which were part of the Law of Moses. Throughout the history of the Israelite nation God’s commands became less and less important until finally God had enough and sent them off into exile. In Isaiah 45:5-6, God tells Isaiah to tell the people: “I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me, so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting men may know there is none besides me. I am the Lord, and there is no other.” God continues in chapter 46 verses 8-9: “Remember this, fix it in mind, take it to heart, you rebels. Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.” God emphasized the fact that He is the only living God. All other gods are useless. God doesn’t only comment on His separateness, but He tells us how He is blameless, perfect and spiritually pure, as well. In Psalm 89:34-35, God proclaims his holiness in regards to King David when He says, “I will not violate my covenant or alter what my lips have uttered. Once for all, I have sworn by my holiness – and I will not lie to David.” God stood by His promises to David. He states that He would not “violate,” “alter,” nor “lie.” He stands blameless in regards to His promise regarding the line of David, and the moon is witness of His faithfulness.

We have talked about what holiness is and the fact that God is holy, but what about us? Can we really be holy? As His children, God makes us holy by setting us apart for Himself. The Israelite people were given many instructions for purifying themselves. An example of one of these instructions dealt with clean and unclean food. In Leviticus 11:41-45, The Lord explains to the people that they are not to make themselves unclean by creatures that crawl on the ground. Verse 44 gives the directive for how they were to avoid this. He stated, “I am the Lord your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy.” Consecrating themselves purified and set them apart from people of the surrounding nations who were not considered God’s people.

Under the Old Covenant, consecration and purification was achieved by washing of the body and being pronounced clean by the High Priest. So how is this consecration and purification achieved under the New Covenant? Through a process called Sanctification. Part of this process includes putting sin to death. In Colossians 3:5 Paul tells the Believers in Colossae, “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolotry.” In other words, Paul is telling them to die to their old self. Then in just a few verses later, he gives them another step in the sanctification process which is to take off ungodliness. In verses 8-10, Paul states: “But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” We are to no longer live in sin. After taking off ungodliness, we must then put on godliness and live in righteousness. Still in Colossians 3, verses 12-14 tell us: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Die to self, no longer live in sin, but live in righteousness.

Sanctification makes one holy and pure. It also provides other blessings, as well. One of those blessings is joy which is a profound sense of excitement that results from knowing and serving God. Those who live holy lives experience true joy. They also receive wisdom, which comes from accumulated learning, discernment, or good sense. Biblical wisdom comes from God. Proverbs tells us the beginning of wisdom is fear of the Lord, which would make sense since God is omniscient or all-knowing. In other words – wise. James 3:13 says, “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in humility that comes from wisdom.” A believer’s holiness is a sign of wisdom. Freedom is another benefit and is the absence of bondage. We are no longer enslaved to sin but free in Christ. Paul stated in Romans 6:22, “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.” Understand that becoming enslaved to God ultimately means freedom from Satan, guilt and shame.

The holiness of God is a far-reaching goal for all of us, but one that He calls us to. God is set apart and perfect. Because of the love and sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, we are now set apart to God and made perfect in His sight. We are made holy as God is holy by Jesus’ cleansing blood. We need to let our holiness be seen by all through our joyful lives, the wisdom we display through our good deeds, and the freedom we have from the sin of this world. May we keep our eyes on our heavenly goal when we will get to see and hear the four living creatures proclaim: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come. (Rev. 4:8)”

Resources:
The NIV Study Bible, Zondervan Bible Publishers, 1985.
A Woman’s Guide to Personal Holiness: A Biblical Study for Developing a Holy Lifestyle, Rhonda H. Kelley, New Hope Publishers, 2000.
The Holiness of God, Study by Bob Deffinbaugh, http://www.bible.org.

Welcome to my Blog – Eusebeian Life!

Wow! I can hardly believe I’m doing this! This is my first attempt at writing a blog (and I really have no idea what I’m doing), but I’m really excited to be giving it a try! I can just imagine you might be thinking, “Ok…what is a Eusebeian Life?” Well, I’m glad you asked! Eusebeia is a Greek word meaning reverence, respect, piety towards God, godliness (Thayer and Smith. “Greek Lexicon enhtry for Eusebeia”. “The NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon”. 1999.) The phonetic pronunciation of eusebeia is yoo-seb-i-ah.

Over the past few years, I have become extremely interested in developing and living a eusebeian or godly lifestyle. Striving continuously to put God first in everything I say and do. As you can imagine that is a daunting task, but I have some important people in my life who depend on me to exemplify that kind of life – they include my husband, of 18 years, and our 13 (almost 14) year old son.

How did I come up with the name “Eusebeian Life” for my blog? Believe me it was not a simple task. Once I decided to begin a blog I found a website that I could put name possibilities in and check to see if they were taken already (Namechk.com). That was frustrating! Every name I entered as a blog name came up “taken” for WordPress. What could I do, but keep trying different names? Anyway, while studying for a Bible study I lead for a group of ladies in our congregation I came across 1 Timothy 3:16 which says, “Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great:” The study material stated the Greek word for godliness was “Eusebeia” and I thought, “That would be perfect for my blog name! It’s interesting, as well as, intriguing! How many people would know that word and use it for their blog name?” Guess what? Yep! It was taken! “Really?!” Then I had to change it to make it work and came up with “Eusebeian Life,” realizing that “eusebeian” may not be an actual word. Please forgive me…I had to do something to make it work! I then thought I could add a sub-title to help explain my title more: “Living a life of godliness.”

In my monthly blogs I hope to share Biblical truths about godliness to include God’s explanations and expectations. These may come in forms similar to Bible studies including multiple Biblical references, questions for thought and discussion; to stories about how I am (or am not) living up to those Biblical expectations. The Holy Bible (NIV unless otherwise stated) will be where my Bible references will come from. I intend to share my life experiences with you in the hope that there might be something that you – the reader – can relate to on your journey toward godliness. I welcome your comments and questions about my posts, but do ask that you keep them clean and respectful. I will never intentionally post anything meant to be hurtful or disrespectful, but I don’t intend to water down God’s Word either. All I ask is that I receive the same respect in return. Foul language will not be tolerated! If you don’t like or understand what I post – ask me about it or just don’t read it.

Now before you begin to think that all I do is study the Bible and have deep theological discussions, let me tell you that I do have other interests, as well. I enjoy crocheting, reading with my son, reading for myself (usually of a Christian nature), walking, watching my son play soccer, listening to my husband teach and preach the Word, and cooking and baking! I do FaceBook, but not Twitter (sorry), and enjoy spending time with family and friends.

I don’t claim to have the perfect godly life, but I do recognize the importance of living a godly life and hope you will enjoy my blog posts about “Living a life of godliness!” Godliness is a journey I am and will be on for the rest of my life. I pray you will find encouragement for your “Eusebeian Life,” as well! God Bless!