Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Hung Up on Rules

In my early days of walking with the Lord I became very good at observing and following rules. I observed all of the Christian things to do and say and followed all of the rules. I learned them all and made sure that I didn’t break them. I was able to spout them off to others when needed. I never failed to notice just who was breaking certain rules. The whole problem with memorizing rules, following rules, and forcing others to obey rules before God has brought them to that place of obedience is that the heart isn’t in it. The problem was that I had gone from being an unbeliever straight to being a Pharisee.

First of all, none of us can match up to the law and be saved on our own which is why Christ died, and with Him the bondage of the law. Secondly, without a surrendered heart all of the Christian acts and service in the world are meaningless.

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

So basically, service, acts and deeds without love are worthless. Just going through the motions of following rules without true heart transformation is completely meaningless.

I recently listened to an online sermon from Greg Boyd discussing life principles and rules. Greg noted that Jesus was a rule breaker at times. That He would break rules in order to carry out life principles (such as love, mercy, justice and grace). The Pharisees were so hung up on the rules that they got mad when He broke them, and they couldn’t see the greater good of the life principle being carried out (people being saved) even through a rule was broken (someone was healed on a Sabbath).

Greg argued that the rules are there to apply life principles but there’s no life found in the rules themselves. Therefore when the rules inhibit a life principle being carried out we may need to break or bend them just as our Savior did. We need to focus on the life principles and not get caught up and tied up in the details of rules. He said we should be inflexible with life principles and flexible with rules.

I think at times it can be a tendency for me to get caught up in rules. My personality is naturally a rule follower. Jeremy and I laugh that I won't even open an umbrella in a house because somewhere, years ago, someone told me there was a rule against it. Fortunately my husband is somewhat of a rebel, and questions things and is teaching me to think for myself more and question the rules that I've always followed blindly. Whether you be a rebel or a rule follower, that not yielded to God and His glory will cause trouble either way. Either one of those traits in the flesh does not portray Christ, and either one of those surrendered to our King can and will bring glory to Him.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Available for God's Call

A couple of days ago I received an email from my mother in law responding to my blog I Surrender All. First of all let me say that mom Mangerchine doesn’t offer advice or opinions often, so when she does you know to shut up and listen and it is very valuable because she doesn’t just carelessly throw out words. She wouldn’t admit it, but her email was filled with wisdom. She wouldn’t take credit for it, or think of herself in this way, but her email was filled with encouragement. More importantly she answered God’s call to minister to someone in need. Thanks mom, I appreciate it!!!! (Have you rolled your eyes yet?). I’m not going to copy and paste her email for fear of getting her real annoyed at me, but I will reflect on a couple of points that I found insightful.

She pointed out that through the Bible God spends a lot of time preparing people, that He in fact spends more time preparing people than actually using them. This speaks to my heart right now because for a while Jeremy and I have felt that we have been in a season of preparation, and I have been wondering for what. We have so many great mentors, and have had such amazing opportunities that all seem to be growing us in the Lord and preparing us for something. I should stop looking ahead so much and really just relish in the moment of God’s work in us. She also pointed out that God can use anyone to accomplish His tasks, He’s more concerned about the work that He wants to do in us. I keep waiting for my tasks and assignments from the Lord and overlooking the stinking filthy areas of my heart. As a natural “doer” and more task oriented person it’s easy for me to look for things that I need to do for God and ways to serve Him and forget that all He wants is my heart fully devoted and surrendered to Him. Without that any works and service is in vain. One final tidbit of insight that she gave was that it’s not as much about being available to go to the exact right place and do the exact right thing as it is to be available where you find yourself. So often I hear people get caught up in needing their flashing sign or signal from God on exactly what they are supposed to do (and I do that also), or how they are to handle a given situation (and sometimes He does make it very clear in situations). But I like mom’s outlook on this. That it may not be so much about the specific situation, as it is about surrendering to God wherever you are. Isn’t that what’s most important anyway? She used the example that Joseph didn’t choose to be sold into slavery, but God was preparing him to save a nation, and Joseph was available to do God’s work. For me, my job has times where I really don’t enjoy it, and then times where I’m thriving and loving it and feeling fulfilled. The times when I’m the most fulfilled are always the times when I’m making myself available to God, being aware of opportunities to minister to others throughout my day, and being in communion with Him throughout my day. So whatever the circumstances, wherever you find yourself, just fully make yourself available to God in that and He will take care of the rest. That takes a lot of the pressure off of a lot of the other decisions if you don’t necessarily have the pressure of needing to go to the exact right place, at the exact right time and wait for your flashing sign, then it makes things so much easier. If you can use some of your will, talents, interest and gifts in your decisions and just make the ultimate decision to be available for God no matter where you end up then that should be a lot less stressful.

Relieved of much pressure,

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Altar of the Kitchen Sink

“We have meekly agreed that the kitchen sink is an obstacle instead of an altar, and we have obediently carried on our shoulders the chips these reductionists have told us to carry.” -Elisabeth Elliot

This line appeared in one of my daily devotionals written by Elisabeth Elliot several days ago and has been sticking with me ever since. Today we as women look at the chores that we do around the house as things that get in our way and hinder us from having fun and doing the things that we want to be doing. We look at laundry, dishes, cooking, grocery shopping, cleaning and so on and get bogged down thinking about all of the things that need to be done. We get overwhelmed. We get frustrated that so much of our time seems to be spent on things that seem so meaningless, and so repetitive, and end up needing to be done again so quickly anyway. We need to start looking at these things as opportunities to die to ourselves, to serve others, to pour out our love abundantly. We need to start looking at them as chances to worship the Lord, to represent the Kingdom and the love of Calvary to our husbands, children, families, and friends. This is a ministry, and a ministry that we as women have been called to. Read Proverbs 31 and take note of the many ways the woman cares for, works for, provides for, and lays herself down for her family. These things aren’t a hindrance to her, they don’t bother her, she delights in them. Follow the example of this woman, and that of Christ, imitate His love, service, and the laying down of His life for others.

“The routines of housework and of mothering may be seen as a kind of death, and it is appropriate that they should be, for they offer the chance, day after day, to lay down one's life for others. Then they are no longer routines.” -Elisabeth Elliot

Father please help this generation of women in seeing work in the home as service offered upon Your altar. Fill us with Your word and truth, and drown out the lies and message of the world that try to convince us that we as a gender are being held back. Give us hearts consumed with the desire to imitate Christ.


Sunday, May 18, 2008

Perspectives Week 5... Unleashing the Gospel

Perspectives Week 5…Unleashing the Gospel

Week 5 we had Dr. Ken Baker as our instructor. Dr. Baker and his family spent numerous years as missionaries to Muslims. Now Dr. Baker and his wife, Gwen, partner in ministry in the US reaching out to churches and partnering with those churches on how they can reach out cross culturally in their local communities. This passion and calling made Dr. Baker the perfect person (as God’s messengers always are) to present the material for lesson 5. Although the previous weeks of Perspectives had all been good, week 5 is when it really began to come alive for Jeremy and I, and God really spoke to our hearts through the lesson, speaker, and material (as you’ll probably notice by the way that I’ll ramble on this post).

Our lecture centered around the book of Acts, and how God’s people were transformed toward inclusion. They came from a mono-cultural Jewish establishment to an intercultural world movement in Christ.

Acts 1:6-8 So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, "Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?" He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

In Acts 1:6-8 above you can see that the disciples were still thinking that Jesus came solely to restore Israel, and their vision had not yet been expanded to the nations. Jesus so gently nudged them from exclusion of the gentiles. In Acts 2-5 Peter gives speeches to the people of Israel, reaching out to them (2:5, 3:12, 4:8 all show that he is addressing Jews/ Israel). In Acts 6 multi-cultural harmony was beginning to be established. Finally in Acts 10, with the conversion of Cornelius, Peter finally starts to understand… Acts 10:34-35 Opening his mouth, Peter said: "I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him.

Now the inclusion breakthrough was starting to happen! Unfortunately they had not broken through the social and cultural barriers yet. There were food laws and other cultural barriers observed as Jewish tradition that were not necessary for followers of Christ. 1 Corinthians 10:23-24 "Everything is permissible"—but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible"—but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others. The Jewish believers needed to understand that the gentiles could be accepted as they were, without having to conform to Jewish tradition. Much like them (the Jewish believers) it can also be easy for us to enter into other cultures and impose our culture upon them, when in reality that does more harm than good. When in reality we should let each culture keep its’ own traditions, not impose ours. We should benefit and learn from the beauty of our differences in culture and the way God created us. We need to strip the Gospel down to the simplest form and then unleash that, without all of the other junk (laws) that we package it up with (e.g. our worship style, written Word, way of dress, way of talking). The primary “changers” during this process were the Jewish people, not the Gentiles. The Jewish people had to accept new ways of thinking, let go of life long rules that they had been following, watch their sacred boundaries crumble, accept the Gentiles. Ephesians 3:6 to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Much like this when we enter a new culture (abroad, or in our own country) we should be prepared to be the “changers”, to lay down our current ways of thinking, rules, and to accept others as our brothers in Christ.

In Acts 11:18 you can see that others are starting to catch onto Christ’s call of inclusion. Acts 11:18 When they heard this, they quieted down and glorified God, saying, "Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life."

In Antioch believers were first given the title Christians, or acknowledged as followers of Christ and broke away from Judaism. Acts 11:25-26 And he left for Tarsus to look for Saul; and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch And for an entire year they met with the church and taught considerable numbers; and the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.

Acts 13:1 Now there were at Antioch, in the church that was there, prophets and teachers: Barnabas, and Simeon who was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. Just as the city was multicultural, the church leadership was diverse. It included a wealthy Jew (Barnabas), a former Pharisee (Saul), Simeon who was likely a black man, Lucius who was also from North Africa, and Manaen who was brought up with Herod, maybe a Jew, who might have had political influence and was well educated. What a beautiful picture of a diverse church!

In Acts 13 and 14 Paul and Barnabas set out on the first mission trip. In Acts 15 the Jerusalem Council met to discusses the culture issue at hand, not of Gentile salvation, but of how Gentiles fit into the Jewish community. Acts 15:7- 9 After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, "Brethren, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe. "And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith. Upon conclusion they decided to accept the Gentiles as Gentiles and not require them to assimilate into the Jewish culture.

Acts sets the precedent that cultural assimilation is not required, but that cultural sensitivity and accommodations are. This sets the precedent for the character of the Kingdom.

So how does this intercultural unity that was first displayed in Acts, and is a vision of every tongue, tribe, and nation kneeling at the throne of our King being lived out today?

Today many of our churches are structured after the homogeneous unit principle. This approach goes after a target audience by race, socio economic status, age and so forth. It involves marketing a church, or church service, to a specific demographic like “seeker churches”, “ethnic churches”, “college age ministry” and so on. This approach works in structure, it gets people into a body, that they are comfortable in, with people like themselves… but was this God’s intended purpose for His church? Was His purpose to keep people in their comfort zones, and in the inclusion principle with people like them?

If the Lord’s purpose in the first century of the church, and in Heaven is to have a diverse, unified body, then wouldn’t that be His purpose now? To have the Kingdom displayed in its’ fullest sense to the world. If that diverse, unified body is His intention for us then are we selling ourselves short by not allowing ourselves to experience that? By forming groups with others like ourselves and worshipping with them we are staying in our comfort zones, refusing to step outside of them into a more full experience of Christ and what He has for us. If we would tear down those walls and step outside of them we would be able to cross cultural barriers and experience the love of Christ and His presence in a whole new way. Not to mention that by worshipping in an incomplete body we are misrepresenting the Kingdom and Christ to the world. We are representing only a partial Gospel, of only partial acceptance when we refuse to cross all cultural lines. If we would surrender those lines and barriers to Him and truly live out a diverse unity then the Gospel would be glorified and so would His name.

“When we see mission from a Kingdom perspective, we find God is already at work among the nations. He invites us to come and join Him in His work. Instead of a “Go metaphor, this is a “Welcome” metaphor where Jesus is asking us to “follow Him” into the nations.” -Dr. David Zac Niringiye of Uganda


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I Surrender All

At the current point in time Jeremy and I have a lot of circumstances that are up in the air. In fact, this has to be the one point in my life where so much seems to be up in the air and up for negotiation. We feel like at any point in time we could be called from the Lord to give up our jobs, place we call home and friends that come with that, physical home, church body and more. Essentially the only thing in our lives that is secure is our relationship with the Lord, and our relationship with each other. Lately we have been discussing so many options for future careers, businesses, local moves, out of town moves, ministry/ outreach opportunities… the possibilities seem endless. At first I was wondering if this dialoging was a bad idea, and was us trying to dream up our future and make something happen for ourselves and plan it all out. The more we dialog the more apparent it has become that neither of us is particularly attached to any outcome or turn of events/ circumstances and more so than anything we both strongly just desire to seek the Lord’s will for our lives and stay within that. It has become apparent that slowly and surely we are surrendering all of the desires that each of us has had for the future to the Lord, that He is cleansing each of us from our will in order to allow us to hear Him.

This is a pretty great place to be. However on Friday night this was not a great place for me to be. In my flesh I have a strong desire to plan, to know the future, to be in control of situations and eliminate the unknown. In my flesh I am the epitome of a creature of habit and routine. I stay at the same job, residence, meal plan etc. forever, because it is my comfort zone. I am the opposite of spontaneity (probably much to my husband’s dismay). So anyway… Friday night I became so overwhelmed and consumed in details that I literally couldn’t sleep. We had decided that we were going to run an ad in the newspaper to try to sell our condo in addition to Craig’s list. I found myself awake all night anxious, thinking about how long it would take us to pack if our place sold, where we would live, how the closing process would work out, and all those type of details. After Jeremy waking up every couple hours and realizing that I was still awake and driving myself crazy he finally got up with me around 5:15 am to go watch the sun rise on the beach and talk things through with me. After a sun rise, breakfast and some great conversation with my honey I was back to feeling relaxed, trusting the Lord and waiting to see what He has in store each step along the way.

So often situations arise in my day that can make me anxious as I was on Friday night. So often I can get carried away in plans, details, and control that I fall out of my union with the Spirit. Phililipians 4:4-8 is great scripture reference for times like this;

Philippians 4:4-8 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

First of all, by starting out rejoicing in the Lord it gets the focus off of me and my problems, and onto God. It gets me doing what I was created to do… worship Him. It reminds me that the Lord is near, that He is right here with me in the middle of my circumstances if I would just stop being all freaked out on my own, and would slow down and just hold His hand and allow Him to guide me. “Be anxious for nothing…”… ugh… well I’m quite far off from that… but Paul goes on to give us the solution to surrendering our anxiety to the Lord, to lay it down in prayer (and with thanksgiving) before Him. Next he explains how this will guard our hearts and minds with Christ’s peace… ahhhhh.

There is always room for growth in Christ and in our personal walks with Him, but I do want to say that I have learned so much about this type of immediate surrendering prayer from our home church and the people in it. We are by no means perfect, or an example, but I love the way that we try to be aware of needs, hurts, anxiety, prayer requests, etc. that are surfacing during our conversation, dinner, Bible study, etc. and then we act on those immediately. We don’t just add those needs to our prayer list and say “okay we’ll be praying for you” (although we do that as well), but immediately in that moment we stop everything that we are doing to minister to the needs of others and allow the Spirit to guide us and pray. It is awesome, and as the Philippians verse above mentions it allows us to present our anxiety to the Lord and Him to fill us with His peace, and He does… every time. I’m trying to learn more of how I can do this in my daily life, and take every moment of my own anxiety, and that mentioned to me by others to immediately turn to the Lord in prayer. There are many opportunities that I miss, but God is growing me in this. I like the way that one Pastor (Tim Melton) from a church Jeremy and I attended put it, he said that Christians should be so involved in prayer and constant conversation with Christ that we should be walking around like schizophrenics constantly babbling to our Lord. Our prayer doesn’t always have to be audible, but you get the point.

Lord Jesus, please forgive me for my lack of trust in you. Please forgive me of my lack of surrender to you, for my constant wrestling with you. You are worthy of all my trust, all my surrender, all my praise, all my love, and so much more. Please cleanse me from the idols of control and planning. Thank you for your oh so gentle nudge to guide me back to your awaiting arms. I give all of my desires for the future and plans to your, I lay them at the foot of your throne and surrender them to your will, whatever that may be. I give it all to you, for your glory, to carry your message to the nations.


Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Perspectives Week 4... Mandate for the Nations

Perspectives Week 4…Mandate for the Nations

Let’s take a look at the mandate that Jesus left us with and our call to carry out His mission.

John 20:21 As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.

Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

-What were Jesus’ greatest commands here? Going, making disciples, baptizing, teaching
-What are the alls? Jesus has been given all authority, all peoples are to be reached, all that He commanded is to be taught and observed, He is with us all days (phrases vary depending on translation, but the point remains the same)
-It is not enough to just share the Gospel with others, Jesus commanded us to make disciples, to be willing to spend time investing and sharing lives with others which will require vulnerability and accountability.

Mark 16:15-16 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.

Luke 24:46-49 and He said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. "You are witnesses of these things. "And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high."

Acts 1:8 but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth."

Each Gospel, and the book of Acts all contain a version of the great commission… for us to go out and carry Christ’s message to the nations/ peoples and to make disciples of them.

Jesus spent the majority of His time with His twelve disciples, and even more of His time with His inner circle of three. He did this because although masses may be able to be reached through speaking to the crowds, He knew that the masses would not be able to carry on after He left without having leaders to follow. He knew the masses could quickly go astray, without leaders who clearly understood His teachings and could carry them on. Therefore Jesus spent His time building into His disciples, the leaders that would carry on His message and spread it to the nations. He was into quality, not quantity. He wanted to see the disciples lives truly transformed, and would then entrust His mission to them and His church. If this focus on a few, and quality, and discipleship was good enough for Jesus, and His preferred approach to ministry then I would say that’s the model that we should use. If each of us was discipled by a faithful steward of God’s Word and then turned around and entrusted what we had learned and faithfully invested in discipling others, it would produce a fruitful harvest. By just affecting the few around each of us it would produce more quality leaders to go out and yield more fruit. Most of these principles come from one of our assigned readings from Robert Coleman’s book The Master Plan of Evangelism which goes into much more detail on these methods (a great, brief read!).

One point that our speaker, Dr. Rich Strahm, made during our lecture was “to be a successful missionary you need to be a traitor to your own culture”. First, to understand this in terms of the Perspectives class, understand a missionary as one who communicates the Gospel cross-culturally. Perspectives would refer to communication within our own culture or nation as evangelism, not missions. I’m not saying this is the correct definition, or that agencies that don’t follow this definition are wrong, I’m just giving the context for which to digest Dr. Strahm’s idea. I really enjoyed “chewing” on this one, thinking about the necessity to give up any identity one may find in their own culture in order to truly assimilate into the culture of their mission field. In order to become one with the people, and not just enter into an “us” vs “them” situation. Holding onto aspects of one’s former culture could cause one to stand out among the nationals and either not be accepted, or not appear to be accepting. Worst of all it can take us to a point where we can feel justified in thinking that we are better, more civilized, have more figured out, don’t engaged in certain sins that X culture does etc… Basically in order for us to be at a point where we can accept that we are all broken, all need the Lord, and all desire to walk with Him together we need to give up any ties and allegiance to our former culture.

As our Perspectives study guide notes on page 33 “Completing the total task will require that in every single one of the people groups, at some point in history, there be a movement of baptized and obedient disciples capable of evangelizing their entire people.” Producing this type of leader in each people is not merely sharing the Gospel, but will take sharing life with those people, discipling them, and building up national leaders among them, just as Jesus did with the disciples.

Speaking of which, God has just given my obedient husband the privilege of discipling a wonderful guy that Jeremy has known for a couple of years. It has already been very encouraging for them both. I’m so excited for them and can’t wait to see what the Lord is going to do in both of their lives with this opportunity. Please be praying that their time will be fruitful, and pray against the attack of the enemy that comes whenever someone tries to do something good for the Kingdom.


Friday, May 2, 2008

My Take on the book of Esther

Tonight I’m teaching/ facilitating at church, and am covering the book of Esther. I have immensely enjoyed my research and preparation this week, but am a little nervous for this evening as I tend to dread any form of public speaking or me being the center of attention. Here’s the outline/ notes that I’ve prepared in case you’d like to join me on my reflections on the book.

Father thank you for the privilege of allowing you to work through me in our church this evening. Lord I ask that you take away all of my fear and anxiety and fill me with your peace. Guide my thoughts and words with your Spirit. Fill the Dorman’s home with your presence. Lord unite us as the church, your body, show us opportunities to minister to each other in your love. Make us aware of your presence and work as we gather to worship and glorify you. May you be the center of our attention. In Jesus’ name I pray.


Facts about the book of Esther
-It’s one of two books in the Bible named after a woman (the other is Ruth)
-It’s one of two books in the Bible that doesn’t refer to God (the other is Song of Solomon)

-Feasting: there were 10 recorded banquets in the book, and many of the events were planned, unfold, or exposed at these meals
-Feasting was done immediately upon the deliverance of the Jewish people to celebrate, starting the feast of Purim
-Take up your cross
-Esther was ready to give her life for her people (v. 4:16b “…if I perish I perish”) (went before king twice uninvited which could be punishable by death)
-In contrast, so often we can be hesitant to give our money, time, or lives to the Lord
-“All dangers are trifling compared with the danger of losing our souls” –Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary
-Obedience and God’s purpose
-(Read) 4:14 God is bigger than us. If we do not obey His call it is not going to mess up His plan, we will just miss out on our opportunity to participate in the action. He is still going to accomplish His purpose, He will just use someone else and we will miss out on the opportunity that He had placed us in.
-Reflect on why God has put each of us where we are, what are the appointments that He has made for us? Who did you meet/ see today? What purpose does He have for you in your work/ activities/ friendships etc?
-Mordecai’s words showed his faith, he knew the scriptures and knew that God would intervene and deliver His people
-The Jewish people are delivered from annihilation
-(Read) Deuteronomy 25: 17-19, (Read) Esther 9:16. After centuries of fighting Israel is given rest from it’s enemies.
-The choice we make to see God’s hand at work in our lives (and give Him praise), or merely see courses of events as coincidences
-ex/ king had a sleepless night, chose to relieve his boredom by
having the royal annals read to him, became aware of account of
Mordecai’s deed, Haman came in at the moment that the king
wanted to recognize Mordecai, this all happened the night before
Esther’s 2nd banquet
-How has our Lord been at work in your life this week that you may not have noticed, but He deserves praise for?

Although God’s name is not mentioned in the book, we see Him through Mordecai’s faith that Israel would be delivered (4:14), the people’s fasting (which would presumably include prayer and be used as a petition to God 4:3 & 4:16), and Esther’s willingness to give up her life for her people (4:16). Much like this our lives can be witnesses to others without having to overuse Christian words and phrases (Christianese) that may be a turn off or unfamiliar to unbelievers.