Thursday, May 31, 2012

Scripture & A Snapshot

© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

This is a great verse.  The first time I heard it, I was in a Bible Class in college.  The Professor was going around the room having us introduce ourselves.  When he got to me, he said this verse.  Just to me...  So I blushed and introduced myself.  But the words stood out in my mind.  I don't need to be timid or shy.  His Spirit is powerful, full of love and self-control.  I wrote it down and it's given me courage in a lot of circumstances.

Maybe this verse came to mind today, because tonight is my first choir rehearsal.  I should take it on a card with me.  I love to sing to the Lord.  Another leap of faith.

Challenge sponsored by Katie Lloyd Photography.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Pushed aside

"Walk," would be the most wonderful word in the world for a paralytic.
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.
Adobe Illustrator

Sometimes it seems like everything falls into place.  Life is easy.  I put the key in my car and it starts.  The traffic lights are all green.  I go about my business and find the exact item I went shopping for.  But then, there's days when traffic is stop and go.  It seems like millions of people are blocking me from what I need.

For the paralytic, he spent years waiting to get into the Bethesda pool so he could get healed.  He must've had great faith and patience to not give up.  Maybe that's what Jesus saw.  He really cares about those who are cast aside, seemingly forgotten.

John 5 

1 After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches. 3 In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. 4 For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had. 5 Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?
I remember sharing with a girl who was in deep trouble in street ministry.  I explained how Jesus could fix everything.  I knew He could, He fixed mine.  She really wanted to accept Him.  But, she was too afraid of what might happen to her if she became a Christian. So I told her to pray when she was ready.  Jesus asked the man if he wanted to get well.  He didn't force him or push him.  The guy was ready.

7 The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.”
I can imagine people rushing to the pool elbowing and pushing to get in first.  Sometimes we can get a little self-absorbed.  But Jesus had another plan for this man.

8 Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” 9 And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked.
He saw this man's dilemma.  He didn't forget after 38 years.  What a great day for the man!

And that day was the Sabbath. 10 The Jews therefore said to him who was cured, “It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your bed.”
Oy!  There was a time when legalism was more important than love.  We still have this struggle today.  But the Scribes and Pharisees used it as the only guideline in life.

11 He answered them, “He who made me well said to me, ‘Take up your bed and walk.’”
This is pretty bold, saying these things would put the man in a bad position with the leaders.  He didn't care, he could walk!  It's interesting none of the leaders helped these guys into the pool.

12 Then they asked him, “Who is the Man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” 13 But the one who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, a multitude being in that place. 
I forget to get names too.  Ok I forget names really bad.

14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.”
Jesus wanted the leaders to know it was Him.  I'm sure seeking the man out was part of His plan.

15 The man departed and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.

What I get from this passage is to remember to watch out for those in need around me, not just focus on what I need.  Also, it's good to wait for God's promises.  Don't give up.  His timing is perfect.

Here's a great song I used to sing a lot in the car on my way to work.  I long to see through Jesus' eyes, to help when I can, like He does.  Give me Your eyes (link)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Scripture & A Snapshot

© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

Sometimes the words come out before I realize what I'm saying...  I didn't mean it that way, but it sounded so bad.  Then there's times when me and my husband just aren't in a happy mood.  We sound like a couple of hens bantering at each other.  I'm usually the first one to step away and say a prayer, while he zones into the TV.

Then there's other times when everyone else seems to have a harsh word.  People I don't even know.  I went to the doctor and a woman asked, "Why don't you get a job?"

I told her what I do.  And she replied, "You need to get a job."
After I explained my accomplishments, she replied, "Oh!  You go girl!"

Critics come from everywhere.  To be honest, I'm my own worst critic.  Who am I to mock the God who created me?

There's one place I can go to find the encouragement I need.  That's the Bible.  It's like a refuge for me.  God has so much to tell me, guide me with, and lift my spirits.  His Word is steady in a world where things seem upside down and backwards.  His Word humbles me when I really really need it.

It's always good.

Challenge sponsored by Katie Lloyd Photography.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Signs and wonders

We can see His work in creation.

© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

When I see katydids I can't deny there's a God.  And that He has a sense of humor.  These harmless critters camouflage themselves, by pretending to be leaves.  He's given us lots of signs and wonders.  We just need to notice.

I'm not sure if you've ever asked, "God if you're real show me a sign."

I have.  Sometimes He does and sometimes He doesn't.  Before I went to Grand Canyon College, I asked God for a sign.  Then I got a brochure in the mail saying that they were offering full financial aid packages.  My eyes popped and my heart started pounding.  I had to go to Phoenix.  I've asked for other signs along the way too.  

But, Jesus isn't a magician or show off.  He works out of compassion and love.  While He was on His journeys in Israel, He performed many miracles.  Soon the people were expecting it.

Maybe they murmured, "I wonder if He'll turn a loaf of bread into food for us all."

"Maybe He'll disappear or heal a blind man."

His message is about faith.  He longed for people to believe in Him and trust Him.  He still does.  It wasn't about what He could do.  It was how He loved.  Although sometimes my requests out list my praises and thanks even today.  Perhaps we're all a little guilty.

Here's a great song that fits with this story Your Name (link) .

John 4:46-54

46 So Jesus came again to Cana of Galilee where He had made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman whose son was sick at Capernaum. 47 When he heard that Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to Him and implored Him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. 48 Then Jesus said to him, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe.
I'm not sure if these words were meant just for the nobleman or those who doubted Him.  I'm thinking maybe for all in earshot.  Because Jesus didn't travel to Capernaum, He spoke.

49 The nobleman said to Him, “Sir, come down before my child dies!
The nobleman really wasn't looking for signs or wonders.  His focus was on his son.  Jesus wasn't a magician sent to do tricks, He is the Son of God sent to save the world.  If they had depended on what they saw alone, there would be no Church today.  Jesus was sent to bring faith, hope, and life.

50 Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your son lives.” So the man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he went his way. 51 And as he was now going down, his servants met him and told him, saying, “Your son lives!

52 Then he inquired of them the hour when he got better. And they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” 53 So the father knew that it was at the same hour in which Jesus said to him, “Your son lives.” And he himself believed, and his whole household.

54 This again is the second sign Jesus did when He had come out of Judea into Galilee.

His Word still speaks to us today.  When I pray, I know Jesus hears and says the word to heal and help.  Sometimes not as I plan, He is the Son of God.  He knows how things should go.

Jesus told Thomas,
Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." 
John 20:29
We haven't seen what the disciples saw,  yet we believe.  I see His hand at work almost everyday, especially when I'm shooting.

Feel free to comment if something comes to mind : )

Friday, May 18, 2012

Talking about it

After my first year at Grand Canyon College, an opportunity came up to become a Summer Missionary through the Southern Baptist Convention.  I got excited about it.  Thinking I'd be able to go out and suffer for Jesus in a foreign country, I applied for the job.  I impatiently waited to hear if they would accept me.  The letter finally came.  I ripped it open dreaming of Africa or India.  I was sent to California...

I'd lived in Southern California for several years.  Then I started thinking about it and realized I don't know any foreign languages.  I'm really bad with bugs.  If there's fleas in a house, they all look at me and say, "Dinner!  Oh boy!"  I'm really scared of spiders.  Once again God's logic and wisdom seemed to surpass my fantasies.  So I headed out to California.

My first assignment was teaching Backyard Bible Clubs.  We'd get the kids together, do crafts and talk about Jesus and the Bible.  We stayed in a house with a built-in swimming pool in the backyard.  A familiar setting for me.  I did get an ear infection from the pool, so there was some suffering : )  At one of the clubs I asked the children to raise their hands if they wanted to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior.  They all did.  So I'm thinking maybe they didn't understand me.  So I asked again and then asked, "Are you sure?"

They all did.  Later I asked my partner if that was real.  She laughed and said, "Yes."  Her parents were missionaries so I felt like she was an expert on this.  Even the director asked if the numbers were correct.  It wasn't until a few years later, I realized that I can't save a soul.  Only Jesus can.  It was His work that took place that day not mine.  He just let me be part of the experience.

The next adventure came when the Director told me I had to stand up and give my testimony in front of a Church of about 2000 people.  If I didn't, I would have to go home.  I usually act first and think later but not this time.  I stood up behind the pulpit and forgot my name.  Did you know your knees really do knock when you're scared?  They do!  I'm fairly certain my brilliant red complexion frightened some of the folks.  Then this verse came to mind,
"... the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say." Luke 12:12

So I silently asked the Holy Spirit to give me words to say for the first time.  I felt relaxed and the words flowed out.  I knew my testimony but it came out so simply and easily.  It really sounded good : )  I repeated it over and over in my head afterward so I'd remember.  Then a guy I'd never met, came up and asked if I would be speaking again.  I looked behind me to see who he was talking to. There wasn't anyone there.  So I speechlessly nodded.

I'm really not a great speaker or anything.  It was the Lord's doing.  I am very grateful He let me be part of it.  After the Summer, I continued to tell my testimony in Churches.  They were always asking me to get up and tell it.  Then for some reason the requests stopped.  I'm sure that's a part of God's plan for me too, maybe He wants me to do more writing.  I will always have a deep love for the Southern Baptists, they led me to Jesus.  Taught me to have faith, and share.

When we moved to the Northwest, the Church wasn't the same.  So I tried other denominations.  Ok, so I had a lot of boyfriends while I was in college.  After we broke up, it was so awkward- I'd go to another Church. By the time I met my husband the only one left was Presbyterian.  We were married there.  It turned out to be a great Church.  So there it is, I'm not a super-saint, just me.

Remembering all this, gave me lots of giggles.  

Maybe that's one of the reasons I love the story of the woman at the well so much, she had many husbands.  Thankfully I only married one.

You can see in the Bible how Jesus sometimes chooses people who keep silent to do His work.  Like when Mary "treasured things in her heart" after Jesus was born.  And John was quick to listen after the "send down a lightening bolt" comment.  He also chooses people who can't keep their mouths shut, like our favorite Apostle, "Peter."  After Jesus and the woman at the well finished talking, the woman went and told everyone she knew what she'd experienced.  I'm sure this was what Jesus wanted.  He has plans for us all, and knows all about us.  

John 4

39 And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all that I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of His own word.
She said just enough to lead others to seek Jesus.  She shared her testimony.

42 Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.
Knowing Jesus personally is what being a Christian is all about. All of our lives and experiences are different. He is always the same.  It's great to hear other people's testimonies.

You can read my testimony by clicking the link "About my faith" on the right side of my blog if you like.  Through all my Church hopping, I continued to read the Bible and pray in a quiet time almost every day.  It's so important to keep reading His Word that's where our personal relationship with Him begins.  He's not looking for eloquence or perfection. Just honesty and a desire to know Him.  I'm living proof, He'll take anyone : )

Feel free to comment if you think of something.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Scripture & A Snapshot

© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

Sometimes people can really get on my nerves.  Today I got a phone call from our prescription company.  It was voice activated...  I have no desire to talk to a recording, nor do I need to be called to find out if I have questions.  But, this verse says that I'm being sharpened.  I'm sure their intent is to provide great customer service.  Is it really that big of a deal?  No.

We'll be married for 20 years this August.  It was sooo rough at first.  If you're newly married- the first 2 years are the hardest for sure!  We've bent and groaned.  Even wondered what we were thinking of at times.  Now we're more comfortable and by God's grace have lasted this long.  That's how God designed us- to sharpen each other.  To keep us from drifting into complacency.  Boredom is one of my biggest fears.

I was thinking of all the denominations I've attended.  The many differences stand out.  Southern Baptists excel in local evangelism and Bible Study.  Presbyterians have a nice formal worship service and focus on people's needs, like sending water purifiers overseas.  Love the organ and bells : )  Christian & Missionary Alliance (CAMA) is always spoken of highly for their work in helping people overseas.  At the Methodist University, I graduated from, I met all sorts of famous Christian authors:  Tony Campolo, Calvin Miller, JI Packer...  (Wonder if God's trying to prod me on that).  Some Churches speak in tongues.  There's even a non-denominational denomination.  Guess I'd be cross-denominational...

We are very different, but Jesus only has one body.  I'm sure this is all part of His plan.  

I wonder if the Churches grow when they open up to other denominations.  I know in our town several Pastors meet and discuss things from all sorts of backgrounds.  I'm sure some sharpening's going on.  My husband and I still sharpen each other now and then : )

Feel free to comment, if something comes to mind.

Challenge sponsored by Katie Lloyd Photography.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

She's different

"Ok, not THAT different..."
Although we can be confusing at times.
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

When I was in Utah, I made a best friend.  She is a Mormon, but she is different.  We had a lot of fun.  We never worried about our differences.  Monty rode horses and motorbikes.  I'd only ridden in Southern California, in a ring, English style.  She tried to get me to ride motorbikes with her. It only took an hour for us to realize, it wasn't a good idea.  Takes some coordination to do that, which I lack.  Horses?  We get along great.

I taught Monty the joy of blowing soap bubbles on Main Street.  There was only one traffic light and a stop sign in town.  It took all of 5 minutes to drag Main in our cars.  And that's only if you waved at the other kids.

For Halloween in High School, we dressed up like pregnant ladies and went trick-or-treating.  We put curlers in our hair, wore bathrobes and stuffed pillows in our front.  Everyone got a good laugh out of it.  She became a waitress in another town 40 miles away.  So I went with her during the summer, and became a waitress too.

We went to keggers, where kids got beer kegs and drank at night in the Utah desert.  There was something unsettling about my Mom and Step-Father leading Alcoholics Anonymous while I was at these parties.  God was changing my heart, from the inside.  Not just my words.

I'd been missing quite a bit of Church.  So I started praying, "God if you want me in Church, please wake me up in time to get there."

And He did.  So I went.

Monty fell in love with the manager at the restaurant, and he fell for her.  They got married out of High School.  I fell for a really cute pig farmer, but it didn't work out.  So glad when God says, "No" to my prayers.   God sent me off to Grand Canyon College in Phoenix, AZ instead.  Grand Canyon is a Southern Baptist school that's now a University.  It took 5 years for my 4 year education, but I graduated from a Methodist school in Seattle.  Monty and I had a hard time leaving each other behind.  But, we are still best friends.  I knew leaving was my only hope for a future.  God has a way of making His will the only option.

It's good to make friends with people who are different.  Jesus did.  There was a Samaritan woman by a  well that Jesus met on one of His journeys.  Not only was she a Samaritan, which Jews despised.  She was a woman!  The disciples were taken back by this.

John 4:4-26

5 ... He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. 6 Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour.
It's cool how Jesus visited the spot where Jacob had given land to Joseph.  God used Joseph in some mighty ways.  Kind of shows how God doesn't forget; how His love never ends.

7 A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” 8 For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.
It's interesting, Jesus could've gotten the water Himself.  But, instead He wanted to have a conversation with this woman.  She probably had a clay jar in her hand.  What's in my hand?  A mouse and keyboard.  Maybe He can use it.

9 Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.
Her response is very honest.  Jesus likes that- He already knows anyway.  Nothing to hide.

10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”

11 The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? 12 Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?”
If He had answered, "Well, actually, I'm way greater than Jacob."
The woman would've shook her head and questioned His sanity.  Sometimes the direct approach isn't the best.

13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”

15 The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.”

I looked up the verses from the Old Testament on this:
Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.
Isaiah 12:3

10 For as the rain comes down and the snow from heaven,
And do not return there,
But water the earth,
And make it bring forth and bud,
That it may give seed to the sower
And bread to the eater,

11 So shall My word that goes forth from my mouth;
It shall not return to me void,
But it will accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
Isaiah 55:10-11
16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.”

17 The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.”

Jesus said to her, “You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’ 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.”
Jesus already knew about the woman's life.  I thought about why she would say she didn't have a husband.  Perhaps she had been married so many times, she gave up on marriage.  Jesus had opened her eyes to a greater truth.  Marriage isn't the meaning of our lives, it can't completely satisfy us.  Only Jesus can.  This seems so real to us today.  Don't know what I'd do with my husband if I didn't have the Lord's help : )  I'm sure he's grateful I don't completely lean on him too.

19 The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.”

21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Now the time has come when we do worship in spirit and truth.  From our cars, our homes, prison cells, and Church buildings.  I am so grateful we don't have to travel to Jerusalem : )

25 The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will tell us all things.”

26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”
Can you imagine?  The Son of God, spoke to a woman who had sinned and failed.  I've sinned and failed too.  She was probably an outcast to Jews and her own people.  But not to Jesus.  He'll never cast us out, once we are His.

New King James Version (NKJV)