Tuesday, January 31, 2012

We interrupt this regularly scheduled program...

Or should I say, God is interrupting this regularly scheduled program.

If you're receiving this blog post you probably represent my faithful followers, my dedicated blog readers. This post won't be mentioned on my Facebook page or on my wall. Even though others may stumble upon this post, I'm writing with you in mind -- those that receive my blogs via email, my faithful subscribers.

And for that, I truly thank you. I couldn't keep writing this blog week after week after week if I didn't know that you were reading and being blessed here. So again, I thank you.

A dear friend of mine recently took a sabbatical from her blog, Facebook and Twitter. She completely unplugged her mind from the world of social media to focus more intently on the voice of God. And He has spoken. Observing her from afar, I've been encouraged to do the same. I have decided to take a sabbatical of sorts as well.

For an undetermined time, I will only contribute to my blog for ministry wives, A Pastor's Wife's Garden. Since I only blog once a month there, while other ministry wives contribute the rest of the month, this affords me lots of time to be quiet and hear from God. And I can't think of a better time to listen, because He's saying so much these days. I'll fill you in on a few things:
  • He's continuing to lead me through the minor prophets -- again. I am amazed at the poetry and emotion of these messengers of God. Hosea alone has completely blown my mind. I'd love to teach the minor prophets to the ladies at my church, but I am waiting for God's timing on that.
  • I'm working to form a communications/marketing team for The CALL, the non-profit organization that I serve. The CALL (Children of Arkansas Loved for a Lifetime) feeds the yearning in my heart to serve orphans in my community. I'll be dedicating my talents and experience to raise awareness for this awesome ministry.
  • I have begun working on my first non-fiction book, with the goal of helping others discover their purpose in Christ. If you read any of my blogs from my 31 Days of Purpose last July, you've gotten a pretty good taste of my book already. My primary audience will be young and middle-aged moms, but I pray the Lord uses me to bless many.
While I enjoy this "sabbatical" I truly ask for your prayers. I only want to live the life that God wants for me, whatever His plan brings. I'm believing He has great things for me. They may or may not be great in my own eyes or the eyes of others, but they'll be great to Him -- simply because they're a part of His purpose for me.

Blessings to you. I'd love to end in a prayer for us all.

"Lord, I pray that You would speak to each of us clearly, and that we might be quiet enough to hear. I thank you for your voice of tenderness, love and forgiveness. I also thank You for Your voice of discipline, conviction and chastening. Please use me to Your glory. Please use my brother or sister to Your glory. May we seek Your fame, Your glory and Your praise alone in all we do and say. In Jesus' name. Amen."

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

New Life, New Self

In TLC's Say Yes to the Dress, employees of Kleinfeld Bridal, the world's premier bridal salon in Manhattan, work overtime to match each bride-to-be that crosses their threshold with the wedding dress of her dreams. These specialists far exceed the typical requirements of a salesperson, taking on the roles of counselor, family therapist and life coach. After a stressful, but thorough process of selection, fitting, altering and delivering the dress before the impending wedding day, Kleinfeld guarantees full satisfaction for every bride.

Imagine attending a beautiful wedding, complete with exotic fresh flowers, beautiful decorations and a wedding party dressed impeccably in the wedding theme colors. The guests have smiled, greeted one another and snapped dozens of photos, and everyone's waiting for the big moment. It has finally come.

Two male attendants swing open huge wooden sanctuary doors, and everyone peeks, trying to snatch a glimpse. And then you see her -- the star of the show. She's wearing a beautiful white gown that cascades to the floor. She's carrying a perfect bouquet of flowers. And every strand on her head falls right in place. Her entire ensemble of dress, bouquet and headpiece all work together to write this chapter in the bride's fairy tale.

She's absolutely stunning. Here comes the bride...

Now imagine if the attendants opened the door to reveal a young women dressed in a tight hot pink mini-dress. Instead of flowers or pearls decorating her locks, she's got pink and purple glitter matted throughout. And beautiful white slippers are replaced by a pair of hot pink patent leather platform stilettos. As guests of this wedding, we'd be baffled and disenchanted over this wedding. We'd wonder why this bride came dressed to work the red-light district of the city. And we'd wonder why she didn't say yes to the dress!

In his letter to the church at Ephesus, the Apostle Paul tells the believers there to say yes to the dress. Not a wedding dress, however. He tells them to put on the outward appearance of a person in love with Christ, one who belongs to Him. He encourages them to represent on the outside what they've professed to be true on the inside.

He tells them in Ephesians 4:17, "...you must no longer live as the Gentiles do... Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more."

Pretty self-explanatory, huh?

Paul reminds them that "You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness." Verses 22-24

So what are some manifestations of the "new self"? So glad you asked. Paul gives a list in Verses 25-32.
  • Speaking truthfully, honesty
  • Not allowing anger to lead to sin
  • Not using ones hands for stealing, but for useful work and giving to those in need
  • Speaking words that build others up, instead of tearing them down
  • Getting rid of bitterness, rage, anger, fighting and slander (gossip?), and malice
  • Being kind and compassionate to one another
  • Forgiving others as Christ has forgiven us
Let us, as God's children say yes to the dress -- the appropriate outward appearance and actions of those who belong to Him. May our speech, our behavior and our countenances reflect not our former worldly lives, but our new lives in Christ.

Let's put off the Old Self, and put on the New. Will you say yes?


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

New Heaven, New Earth

Thanks for joining me again for my bible word study of the word "new." In my last post Tiana from Disney's Princess and the Frog led us to our discussion of being a new creation. Today the Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. will guide us to our next "new" scripture.

Yesterday the nation paused to remember Dr. King. My family attended two celebrations in our city of Conway, Arkansas. The first included my hubby, Anthony as the keynote speaker. It was amazing.

Anthony's theme: Dr. King's dream didn't originate in his own heart, but in the heart of God. God has always desired unity amongst different races, colors and nationalities. However, total peace will never exist as long as sinful men and women walk the face of the earth. Unfortunately, evil and discord and discrimination will always exist on some level.

Yet we can do more.

We must examine our own hearts and ask the hard questions. What have I done to foster unity in my community, my workplace, my church? Am I as open to relationships with people of different races, backgrounds or social economic groups as I am to people more like me? If a person of a different race walked into my church, would he/she feel comfortable there? Would people of different races find others that resemble them in my church?

We should do more.

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere," said Dr. King. Therefore injustice in the 'hood is injustice in the 'burbs. Injustice in Kenya, East Africa is injustice in the United States. Injustice in Cambodia is injustice right here at home.

We must do more.

When Jesus taught His disciples to pray, he included the line, "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."

If we're going to experience a bit of heaven on earth, we should examine what heaven will be like. The book of Revelations gives us a glimpse.

"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself with be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." Revelation 21:1-4
 And what will the people of this new heaven and new earth look like? Let's take a closer glimpse...
"And they sang a new song: You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation." Revelation 5:9
Now I ask, why should we wait for heaven to live and work and worship with people from every tribe and language and people and nation?

I say today is the day. Let us live the dream...



Saturday, January 14, 2012

New Year, New Creation

Thanks for joining me for my new series in January. To start off the New Year, I've decided to do a word study of the word new through the bible. It's been good so far.

Today, we're stepping over into the New Testament book of 2 Corinthians, originally a letter penned by the Apostle Paul for the church he founded in the city of Corinth. In 2nd Corinthians, Paul reveals himself as a real man with real struggles. He speaks of intense hardships (chs. 4 and 6) and intense trial and weakness (ch. 12).

In 2 Corinthians we see Paul as a mere man, yet a man called by an amazing God to do amazing things for Him. I pray that you and I would see ourselves in the same light. Mere women and men called by an amazing God to do amazing things for Him.

And with that backdrop, let's dive into our "new" scripture today, found in 2 Corinthians 5:17.
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"
I'll break this scripture down in a minute, but for now let's see what Tiana from Disney's The Princess and the Frog teaches us.

Tiana, a hardworking waitress in New Orleans, has her life all together. Or so she thinks. She's making good money, saving up for the classy restaurant she and her father dreamed about opening for years. She doesn't need a man, she doesn't need to hang out with her friends, she doesn't need to have fun. All she needs are her dreams.

Tiana's on her way to realizing her dreams until a very strange occurrence takes place. After kissing a talking frog (actually a prince under the spell of an evil witchdoctor), she turns into a frog too!

A huge obstacle blocking her life goals, she must find a Plan B. She and her new frog-prince friend travel through the Bayou to find Mama Odie, whose magical powers can transform them back into humans. Along the way, Tiana makes new friends, learns to laugh, and finds her dancing feet (webbed though they may be). And Mama Odie tells Tiana the secret to happiness in life. Dig deeper into her own heart to find fulfillment and joy in life.

By the end of the film, Tiana realizes every dream she's ever had. She becomes the beautiful princess that had laid dormant deep inside her heart. She opens her new restaurant, yet with a transformed perspective. Through her friendship and budding love with the frog-prince, she's discovered treasures in life she didn't know existed. Life is full of hard work and commitment, but it's also full of fun and new adventures just waiting to be enjoyed.

And the same is true for us.

Except our budding love begins with not a mere man, but the God-Man. In Him we become beautiful princesses (or handsome princes). We discover treasures in life that we didn't know existed. We commit the hard work that our careers, our families and our community service require, while enjoying new adventures that He creates for us.

In Christ, we are "a new creation; the old has gone..." The life of sin and condemnation we once knew is gone, over, dead. Thank you Jesus.

In Christ, "the new has come!" We have a new heart, a new mind, a new nature. We want to please Him. We want to live for Him. We want to enjoy life with Him. We can approach our new life with joy and pleasure, not drudgery or a sense of duty.

Like Tiana, we live our dreams with Him by our sides. We minister to our fellow church members, serve our communities and love our families with responsibility and joy. We sit in our offices, cubicles, classrooms, work sites or in front of our laptops with a sense of purpose and pleasure. We do all this because He, our Bridegroom, lives inside our hearts, empowering us on even our worst days.

Like the Apostle Paul, we are mere humans. Yet we are humans called by an amazing God to do amazing things for Him.

Let's leave the old things in the past. They are gone. We are new creations in Him. The new has come. Let's shed the scaly old skin of the past and live the lives of royalty that we were created for!



Tuesday, January 10, 2012

New Year, New Song

I begin this post with a confession. Today, for the first time, I forgot to blog.

Now, to give myself a little grace, I've always said that if I can post by 11:59 pm Tuesday or Saturday, then I've hit my mark. But I usually wake up in the morning excited to spend an hour or two in "blogworld." Not so today. Nope, today it hit me at about 10 am that it was a blogging day.

I guess you can say that I'm a little preoccupied these days. "Preoccupied with what?" you're wondering. So glad you asked...

Continuing with our word study of the word "new" in the Bible, let's take a walk through Psalms today. It'll be a short walk, I promise. But I think you'll be glad you came along. Take my hand and go with me to Psalms.

I love the Psalms. They are so beautiful, so artistic, so poetic. And rightly so. The Psalms were originally songs set to music. When you read them, just imagine the music of a harp in the background, giving melody and rhythm to the words.

Sculpture of King David, Mount Zion in Jerusalem

I especially love the Psalms of David. They are pure and rich. They are honest and raw. And they take us through David's mountains and valleys of life. They express his love for God. They expose his struggle with sin. They reveal his fear of his enemies that sought to take his life. And they express the inner turmoil we all feel at times. Those times when we're our worst enemy. Which brings us to Psalm 40:1-3.
"I waited patiently for the LORD, he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD."
David rejoices over God's answer to his prayers to lift him out of the pit of his own mind. Can you relate? I sure can.

His response to the LORD lifting Him out? Praise! And not just any kind of praise, but singing. "A hymn of praise."

Earlier I alluded to being a bit preoccupied. Well, it's time to spill the beans. No, I'm not pregnant! Well, then again, I am pregnant -- pregnant with a dream, a burden, a mission.

This year, the Lord has revealed His desire for me to write a Bible study on the minor prophets of the Old Testament. In my last post I shared about my love affair with the minor prophets. I'm hoping to spur a love in others for the minor prophets too. For months I've been thirsty for the water of the Word. I'm hoping to create a thirst in others too.

I don't know how it will all pan out. I certainly can't do anything in others' hearts that God's not doing. But I sure hope He chooses to use me in the process. He's given me a new song. It's a song of grace, of love, of redemption. It's a song of His love for His people. It's a song of His jealousy for His people. It's a song that urges us to release the idols of our day: money, the media and fame at any cost.

It's the same song that Hosea and Micah and Zechariah sang about 2700 years ago.

Will you pray for me as I pen the lyrics of my new song?


Saturday, January 7, 2012

New Year, New Thing

I've been caught up in a love affair since this past summer.

Now get your mind out of the gutter of reality television and back into the real world. Not a love affair with a man. (Although, I really do love you Anthony! Really, I do!)

Well, maybe the love affair is with a man -- or men. One small detail: these men died many, many years ago.

My love affair has been with the Old Testament prophets of the bible.

It all began when my bible study leader suggested the women of the church team up in groups of two or three to study one of the minor prophets over the summer. I thought it was a good idea since we weren't offering any formal bible studies during the summer break. I even named the study, "Two-by-Two," writing catchy little ads for it in our church announcements.

I had no idea what awaited me.

I, along with two church sisters (Mwah Karen and Julie!), chose Malachi. And he did not disappoint. I loved the urgency with which Malachi spoke, insisting the people repent from their sinful ways. My personal study times were deep, our regular discussions vibrant.

But studying Malachi fanned a flame that continues to grow today. That short study has begun a love affair in my heart that has taken me by surprise, quite frankly. I've developed a passion for the prophetic books of the bible. And I absolutely adore the minor prophets. But more about that in another blog post...

So it is with great joy that I present our next verses in our word study of the word "new" -- Isaiah 43:18-19:

"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See I am doing a new thing!"

Isaiah, whose name means "The LORD is salvation," definitely left his mark on the world. Born to a family of influence, he served as prophet to God's southern kingdom of Judah through the reigns of four kings. His last twenty-seven chapters foreshadow the coming of Jesus Christ, our Messiah, and his powerful words are repeated in the New Testament sixty-six times. 

Makes me wonder how people can read his words and still miss Him. 

By the time we reach Chapter 43, our prophet has foreshadowed Judah's future captivity by the Babylonians. He has warned them of their sins of idolatry and empty ritualism, sins that would propel them towards the upcoming captivity.

But now we see a softer side of Isaiah. He now offers words of comfort that they will need to cling to while in captivity.
"I am the LORD, your Holy One, Israel's Creator, your King. This is what the LORD says -- he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, who drew out the chariots and horses, the army and reinforcements together, and they lay there, never to rise again, extinguished, snuffed out like a wick..." (vs. 15-17)
Through Isaiah, the Lord reminds the people that He is the Lord, their Creator, their true King. He reminds them of their ancestors' salvation from Egyptian slavery. He reminds them of the parting of the Red Sea, "he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters." And He recounts the demise of their enemies who, "lay there, never to rise again, extinguished, snuffed out like a wick."

With this backdrop he tells them to "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past." Now let me be clear. Isaiah's not encouraging them to forget about the salvation of their forefathers. Far be it from him to suggest such a thing. Actually, a modern interpretation might read something like this: "So you think the parting of the Red Sea was something? Man, you ain't seen nothing yet!"

He encourages the children of God further, saying, "See I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland... I provide water in the desert and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise." (vs. 19, 20b-21)

The same God that transformed the floor of the Red Sea into dry ground would make the parched desert wet with nourishing water. God would protect and provide for His children during their exodus from Babylonian captivity, just as He had during their forefathers' exodus from Egypt. The Father has always been and always would be their Sustenance, their Source, their Salvation.

And He still is. He is our Sustenance, our Source, our Salvation. In Him we move and have our being. In Him we find new life, new meaning.

In Him we discover the promise of a new thing.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Wine, New Wineskins

It's 2012 and I am ready for CHANGE! I'm starting here at my blog site.

First of all, you may have noticed a change in my blog title. It is no longer Sojourner of Truth, but Deep Waters. This name came to me months ago as I've spent a lot of time reading other blogs. I love the variety of blogs out there. Folks are sharing great recipes, DIY projects and funny anecdotes. Now while I love food, beautiful home decor and funny stories, I'm not that kind of blogger.

I love sharing the deeper truths of God's Word through my blog. I love giving my readers a peek into what God's teaching me from His Word. I love taking everyday issues and shining the light of God's Word on them. And I love presenting the Word through stories that make the bible come alive. After all, that's what Jesus did throughout the gospels.

So that's what Deep Waters is about. (Note the change in address too: www.carlaadairhendricks.blogspot.com.) Every Tuesday and Saturday we'll go deep into God's Word, illuminating those truths that apply to our lives in this millennium. The Word of God doesn't change, but our lives and the culture certainly do.

I hope you'll go along with me for the ride in 2012. I promise, you'll be glad you did.

And now for my new series for January 2012: A bible word study of the word "New"...

The scene was one of great paradox.

The Pharisees, the uber-religious ones, mandated fasting twice a week, evidence of their followers' devotion and piety. Even the followers of John the Baptist were fasting.

In the home of Levi, the former tax-collector turned Jesus-follower, Jesus and his other followers enjoyed a feast together.

A group of inquisitive folks questioned Jesus about the inconsistency.

Jesus, never one to miss an opportunity to teach a greater truth, replied, "How can the guest of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? ... But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast." Mark 2:19, 20

Foreshadowing His death on the cross, Jesus, the "bridegroom" warns them of the day when they will mourn and weep for him. The day that He would hang on a rugged cross, bleeding and marred beyond recognition.

But He reminds them to rejoice while He is near.

And He warns them against mixing the Old Judaic Covenant with the New Covenant. He uses two stories to illuminate this truth. 

"No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse." Mark 2:21

If they continued to tack the New Covenant (grace, through faith in Christ) onto the Old Covenant (the Law), their efforts would prove futile. When they washed the new piece of fabric, it would pull away from the old, creating a hole. Likewise, their spiritual lives were doomed to fall apart.

"And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined." Mark 2:22

If the people continued to pour new, not fully-fermented wine into old wineskins, they would experience disastrous results. As the new wine fermented -- or expanded -- the wineskins would burst, ruining the wine and the wineskins.

Likewise, as modern-day believers, we've got to let go of the ideologies of yesterday. We've got to throw away the old garments of legalism and pride. We've got to discard the old wineskins of worldliness and self-centeredness.

In 2012 I need to throw away disbelief, and embrace faith in God and His promises. I need to throw away self-reliance and embrace surrender and dependence on God.

Fill in the blanks for yourself. In 2012 I need to throw away the ___________ of the past, and embrace the newness of ____________.

This year, let's pour new wine into new wineskins. I can just smell the savory aroma of that wine. Can't you?

Pouring New Wine,