Girls With Swords, Week 7

“Then Eleazar the priest said to the soldiers who had gone into battle, ‘This is the requirement of the law that the LORD gave Moses: Gold, silver, bronze, iron, tin, lead and anything else that can withstand fire must be put through fire, and then it will be clean. But it must also be purified with the water of cleansing.  And whatever cannot withstand fire must be put through that water.” Numbers 31:21-24, NIV

The Israelites had just gained victory over the Midianites, and they brought back the spoils of battle.   Since the Israelites were God’s holy people, they were required to follow strict rules to not defile themselves or the rest of their camp.  To protect themselves from defilement, God gave them this command: purify all the spoils with water and fire.

The Bible uses the example of the refinement of gold and silver many times in the Bible.  Job used the idea first, in Job 23:10.  “…he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.

This act of refinement is compared to God’s testing of our hearts.  Daniel received a vision in which he was told of the testing: “Those who are wise will instruct many, though for a time they will fall by the sword or be burned or captured or plundered. When they fall, they will receive a little help, and many who are not sincere will join them. Some of the wise will stumble, so that they may be refined, purified and made spotless until the time of the end, for it will still come at the appointed time.” (Daniel 11:33-35. NIV)

Some of the wise will stumble so that they may be refined… God allows his people to make mistakes so that they can grow in character and learn from the mistakes.

“For my own name’s sake I delay my wrath; for the sake of my praise I hold it back from you, so as not to cut you off.  See, I have refined you, though not as silver. I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this. How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another.” (Isaiah 48:9-10, NIV)

We are tested in the furnace of affliction.  To refine gold and silver, a smithy melts it down it a very hot fire, and the fire burns away any impurities in it.  This causes the precious metal to become more pure.

But according to Isaiah, God tests us in the furnace of affliction.  We are made pure by passing through the fires, surviving the trials that God tests us with.

“Therefore this is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘See, I will refine and test them, for what else can I do because of the sin of my people?  Their tongue is a deadly arrow; it speaks with deceit, with his mouth each speaks cordially to his neighbor, but in his heart he sets a trap for him. Should I not punish them for this?’ declares the LORD. ‘Should I not avenge myself on such a nation as this?’” (Jeremiah 9:7-9, NIV)

God must refine and test His people to reveal their intentions.  If they are true to Him and striving to be good, then they will become pure from the affliction; but if they are with evil plans, then God will surely punish them like He did with Israel once Israel and Judah split into 2 nations, and Israel grew corrupt.

“Son of man, the house of Israel had become dross to me; all of them are the copper, tin, iron, and lead left inside a furnace. They are but the dross of silver. Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘Because you have all become dross, I will gather you into Jerusalem. As men gather silver, copper, iron, lead and tin into a furnace to melt it with a fiery blast, so will I gather you in my anger and my wrath, and put you inside the city and melt you. I will gather you and I will blow on you with my fiery wrath, and you will be melted inside her. As silver is melted in a furnace, so you will be melted inside her, and you will know that I the Lord have poured out my wrath upon you.” (Ezekiel 22:18-22, NIV)

“Praise our God, O peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard; he has preserved our lives and kept our feet from slipping. For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver. You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs. You let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance.” Psalm 66:8-12 (NIV)

God judged his people in the old testament, but where do we fit in?  We, God’s chosen people, can read some wonderful news in the book of Malachi.  (2:17-3:5) “You have wearied the Lord with your words. “How have we wearied him?” You ask.  By saying, “All who do evil are good in the eyes of the Lord, and he is pleased with them,” or “Where is the God of justice?”  “See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple: the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the LORD Almighty. But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years. So I will come near to you for judgment. I will be quick to testify against sorcerer, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive aliens of justice, but do not fear me,” says the LORD Almighty.”

Jesus is the Master Refiner.  We are made pure through Him!  1 Peter 1:3-9 explains it like this: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade – kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed at the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of  your souls.”

As all impurities are burned away from gold in the refinement process, our imperfect deeds will be burned away to reveal our pure intentions.  I Corinthians 3:11-18 says “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light.  It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work.  If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.  Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.”

When we do our works according to God’s wishes and dedicate our lives for Him, then we will surely receive the inheritance which Jesus is preparing for us.

“In the whole land,” declares the Lord, “two-thirds will be struck down and perish; yet one-third will be left in it. This third I will bring into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, “They are my people,” and they will say, “The Lord is our God.”  (Zechariah 13:8-9, NIV)

(Example of a time you “traveled through flames”) “Not literally, but that time Kathryn got sick with the [ovarian] cyst and had surgery, I was pretty afraid for her. I didn’t eat for days and lost 20 pounds during that time. I thought death was around the corner…” -quote from Lacy’s fencing manual

(Example of a time you “traveled through water”) “We had just gone to Germany. I was still new. We had barely been there a week.  That Sunday (our first Sunday at GK) all the youth were going to camp. I was in new territory. I only knew Kristina from letter writing once or twice.  And yet, I was swept up to join the youth group, to go to Camp Gemunden.  I didn’t want to go to camp [because I was a shy girl], but it was good for me. It was fun, and it strengthened my friendships while I was in Germany.” -quote from Kat’s fencing manual

(Lacy is also doing an activity video for this week, but it’s not quite finished. Please come back again in a couple days!)

Girls With Swords, Week 6

“Good men must not obey the laws too well.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

In this week’s study, we were given this quote and asked to explain what we thought it meant.  I really had no clue what to imagine the quote meant, but finally came up with this answer to the challenge:

“It needs context. I went and tried to read a little bit of the essay that the quote is from, and it’s generally about government.  In more entirety, the quote actually says ‘Every actual State is corrupt. Good men must not obey the laws too well.’ The essay also argues the ‘government’ between Laban and Jacob; how Laban and Isaac are the keepers of the land, [and are in charge of making decisions on matters concerning their land, and though Jacob lives there too, he must simply earn his keep.  He has no power over what happens to the land.]  So from the little that I read, maybe it means that there is no HUMAN state that is flawless.  Only God’s state is really Good.” 

Later, my dad shared a new thought with us, a sermon that he had heard spoken, and it cleared my understanding of Mr. Emerson’s quote. It dealt with the story in John 5:1-18. In the story, Jesus was healing a man who couldn’t walk.

When Jesus saw the man and knew that he had been sick for such a long time, Jesus asked him, “Do you want to be well?” The sick man answered, “Sir, there is no one to help me get into the pool when the water starts moving. While I am coming to the water, someone else always gets in before me.” Then Jesus said, “Stand up. Pick up your mat and walk.” And immediately the man was well; he picked up his mat and began to walk.” (verses 6-9, NCV)

According to the laws of love, Jesus did a wonderful thing.  He healed a man who had been trying to reach an angel’s healing touch for 38 years.  Who could have possibly been against such a good act of kindness?

“Because Jesus was doing this on the Sabbath day, some evil people began to persecute him.” (Verse 16, NCV)

As wonderful as was the kindness that Jesus showed to the cripple, the Jews weren’t happy with his work because it was on the Sabbath, which was their holy day of rest.  According to the Jewish laws, no one was allowed to work on the Sabbath.  Jesus, however, never allowed the laws of the Sabbath to stop Him from doing a good deed.

“But Jesus said to them, “My Father never stops working, and so I keep working, too.” This made them try still harder to kill him. They said, “First Jesus was breaking the law about the Sabbath day. Now he says that God is his own Father, making himself equal with God!” (verses 17-18, NCV)

There are many stories where Jesus healed people on the Sabbath (Mark 1:21-31, 3:1-6; Luke 13:10-17, 14:1-6; John 9:1-16).  Jesus was hated for His work.

“Every actual State is corrupt.  Good men must not obey the laws too well.”  Jesus matched the quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson perfectly in this story: He is a good man, the only good man on earth, but He didn’t follow the Jewish laws perfectly.  Instead He followed God’s flawless law: love and mercy.

 “Jesus answered, “Why do you call me good? Only God is good.” Mark 10:18 (NCV)

Amen, Lord Jesus!

“Our Warrior-King is beautiful. His very image is beyond compare. The wondrous span of creation captures a mere fragment of his beauty. The mighty ocean, soaring skies, and majestic mountains declare the powerful, immeasurable, enduring beauty of his strength.  Each and every living thing-from plants to animals- is an irresistible revelation of the fact that our God is gorgeous! He lovingly formed his sons and daughters to carry more of his majesty, glory, and beauty than any other creation.  We are his masterpiece.” –Quote from Lisa Bevere, Girls with Swords

“Being kind to people who see no kindness, or little of it anyway, [moves me].  Also being reliable. I am moved by quality, whether it’s quality of life, writing, behavior- perhaps I have high expectations, but…”    -quote from Lacy’s fencing manual

“Read the Psalms.  All over the place, [the scriptures can bring you perspective when you’re anxious or afraid], it calls God “a fortress”, “a shield”, “my strength”.  I never really understood the concept of the Psalms until we came up with Belaedria, and Escaping the Lair.  Taliesan [our fictional character] is always impressed by the Psalms.  He convinced me that God really is our shield!” -quote from Kat’s fencing manual  

Girls With Swords, Week 5

The chapter this week focused on the cross, and how Satan thought he was victorious as Jesus drew his final breath on the cross and said “It is finished.”  Satan didn’t realize that it was man’s fate of being covered in sin with no hope of redemption that was finished; not God’s wonderful plan of salvation!  Through Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection, we are forgiven! There is no condemnation for us; all that is expected is that we boast in the cross and believe (and proclaim) Jesus Christ is Lord!

“…Aaron will take the two goats and bring them before the Lord at the entrance to the Meeting Tent. He will throw lots for the two goats—one will be for the Lord and the other for the goat that removes sin. Then Aaron will take the goat that was chosen for the Lord by throwing the lot, and he will offer it as a sin offering. The other goat, which was chosen by lot to remove the sin, must be brought alive before the Lord. The priest will use it to perform the acts that remove Israel’s sin so they will belong to the Lord. Then this goat will be sent out into the desert as a goat that removes sin. … He will put both his hands on the head of the living goat, and he will confess over it all the sins and crimes of Israel. In this way Aaron will put the people’s sins on the goat’s head. Then he will send the goat away into the desert, and a man who has been appointed will lead the goat away. So the goat will carry on itself all the people’s sins to a lonely place in the desert. The man who leads the goat will let it loose there.” Leviticus 16:7-10, 21-22

In the Old Testament the Israelites were commanded to use the blood of a lamb for the forgiveness of their sins.  They were also commanded to send out a scapegoat to carry their sins into the wilderness.  Once gone, the sins would be forgotten.

Looking into the future, the prophet Isaiah told how one day a Savior would come to the nation of Israel and save God’s people from the judgment that awaits those who do not respect and obey God.  In Isaiah 49:6, the prophecy even tells how people who are not part of Israel will also be saved by this wonderful Savior. “The Lord told me, ‘You are an important servant to me. You will bring back the tribes of Jacob. You will bring back the people of Israel who are left alive. But, more importantly, I will make you a light for all nations. You will show people all over the world the way to be saved.’(ICB)  God wanted us ALL to be brought into righteousness.

Isaiah 53 is a direct prophecy of Jesus Christ, telling how He would be treated unfairly, killed, and become the sin offering for all who believe in Him. “We all have wandered away like sheep; each of us has gone his own way. But the Lord has put on him the punishment for all the evil we have done.” (verse 6, NCV)

Jesus is not only the Lamb of God which is sacrificed to wash away sins, but He is also the scapegoat which carries the sins of all the people away, no longer to be thought of.

Isaiah also prophecies Jesus’ victory in his resurrection. Isaiah 53:11 says that After his soul suffers many things, he will see life and be satisfied. My good servant will make many people right with God; he will carry away their sins.” (NCV)  Jesus did gain the victory over death, and He offers the same to us.

“He willingly gave his life and was treated like a criminal. But he carried away the sins of many people and asked forgiveness for those who sinned.” (verse 12, NCV)

Praise the Lord!  Thank you, Jesus.

“The cross addresses our raw human tendency that not one of us can escape. Before the cross, we were victims of destiny, our own fate hung over our heads like doom, but after the cross, we had another option: eternal life with Jesus.” –quote from Lacy’s fencing manual

“It’s the blood of lambs that would wash away the sins of the Israelites. A purely good life must be given – its blood spilt, for the sanctification of our own sinful lives.  And so what other way could Christ have saved us?  He is our lamb of God; a sinless, perfect life. He had to fulfill all the prophesies.”  –quote from Kat’s fencing manual

The Lion and the Lamb, by Lacy Andrews

Slain, on a cross, crucified,

Treated like a lamb, sacrificed,

By the very people who should exalt Him,

He was spit upon, punished.

 

Born to die, pure and true,

He was treated so badly, so cruel:

The Way, the Truth, and the Life,

But they didn’t listen, and He was sentenced to die.

 

They thought they were rid of Him, relieved,

But three days later He had victory,

A Lion transformed from a Lamb,

And Satan lost to God’s glorious plan.

 

Jesus, the Lion and the Lamb,

Our very Savior, the very hope of every man.

Now we can stand our ground against evil,

And never have to face that eternal destiny of Hell.

Girls With Swords, Week 4

“Now by the laws of war, better than defeating a country by fire and the sword, is to take it without strife.” Sun Tzu, The Art of War

As Christians, we are not called to fight a war with earthly weapons; the battles that are fought are actually in the spiritual realm.  Instead, we are called to show kindness to all people.

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 4:10-11 (NIV)

My Task, hymn lyrics by Maude Louise Ray

“To love someone more dearly every day, to help a wandering child to find his way, to ponder o’er a noble thought and pray, and smile when evening falls: This is my task.

“To follow truth as blind men long for light, to do my best from dawn of day til night, to keep my heart fit for His holy sight, and answer when He calls: This is my task.”

Being equipped with the armor of the Lord and the Sword of the Spirit, we are a part of the army of the Lord.  Take heart, you are not alone!  There are Christians all over the world, and they are going through similar battles.  That’s why we need to encourage one another and help strengthen them.  I liked a quote that I read in the Art of War, which says “Skillful soldiers make defeat impossible, and further render the enemy incapable of victory.”

Let’s be skillful in our task, and help others become skillful in their tasks too, so that we may render Satan incapable of victory.

“Division weakens the Church. As long as people are focused on their squabbles and disagreements, they cannot further the kingdom of God.” -quote from Kat’s fencing manual

“The Unity Creed: To create peace and unity, I must work hard. I must observe the world around me. I must minister in time of need. I must listen actively all the time. I must remember all that I can. Then when I need help, if no one gives it, I must pray to God, giver of all things.” -quote from Lacy’s fencing manual

 

Girls with Swords, Week 3

For my birthday earlier this month, Lacy bought me a book that I’ve been wanting: The Art of War.  It’s said to be a great book, used by successful entrepreneurs  to improve their skill.  But as I read it during this time while I’m also studying Girls with Swords, I find we can apply it to Christian living, too.

“To all nations war is a great matter.  Upon the army death or life depend: it is the means of the existence or destruction of the State.” Sun Tzu in The Art of War

The existence of God’s Holy nation – Christians from every part of the world – depends on how well each of us prepares for our spiritual battle.   If we stand ready to fight against the spiritual enemies who wage war against us, we will be able to persevere and protect our people from the enemy’s attacks; but if we stay ignorant and in denial of the war around us, Satan will easily overpower us and cause the people of God to stumble and fall away.  War is a great matter, whether we stand in the offense or in the defense; we have to be ready for the battles ahead.

If the world hateth you, ye know that it hath hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love its own: but because ye are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, A servant is not greater than his lord. If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.” John 15:18-21  (ASV)

This week, the Girls with Swords chapter focused on how we might be heroes just like the men and women spoken of in Hebrews 11.  Through faith, we can face the enemy and stand bravely for Christ.  With God as our power, we can be superhuman.

It sounds unbelievable; but don’t be fooled by Satan’s lies against this concept- you really are the hero of your own story.  The moment you chose to be baptized, you became an enemy of Satan, and all the angels in heaven rejoiced (Luke 15:3-10).  If you haven’t chosen baptism yet, then Satan’s legion of demons fight every day to keep you from making the decision of accepting salvation through Christ’s resurrection.  While God wants no man to perish but all to have eternal life through Jesus Christ (John 3:16, 1 Timothy 2:1-6, 2 Peter 3:9), Satan wants quite the opposite. “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” (John 3:16), but Satan wishes that all people shall perish and none have eternal life.

Once you accept your role as hero, whether you perform amazing miracles like the hero Captain Sullinberger of the US Airways flight 1549 or you’re just a forgotten survivor, victim of life’s worst events the way that Chuck Noland was in the movie Castaway, you are a hero in your own story and Satan is trying to bring you – as a Christian – to ruin.

“Reacting does not equal choosing. Fear will drive you to react, but as you become more skillful with the sword, you will choose your response with the intent of honoring your Father – rather than protecting yourself.” -Lisa Bevere, from the Girls with Swords Fencing Manual

The best way to choose your response with an intent of honoring God instead of fearing the enemy is to prepare for the attack and be ready for whatever will happen.  To be ready, we must put on the proper armor so that we will have the protection that God provides us.

“He who does not know the evils of war will not reap advantage thereby. He who is skillful in war does not make a second levy, does not load his supply wagon thrice.”  Sun Tzu, The Art of War

If you don’t spend your time preparing, then the enemy will have an advantage over you and you won’t have enough “supply” -strength, knowledge, and will- to fight back.  On the other hand, if you prepare for war and grow skillful with the provisions that God gives you through Scriptures, then the enemy cannot surprise you with an attack that you didn’t expect.

Ephesians 6:10-18 tells us six articles of protection that we should wear in our fights against Satan.  We should never be found without them, unprepared.  Our enemy is always on the prowl (1 Peter 5:8), and will pounce the moment we set our armor aside for a moment of rest.

Heroes may feel afraid of something, but they trust in their power, whether its the power of their sword, or their own [superhuman] abilities, or something else. In [Christians’] case, God is our power.  -quote from Kat’s fencing manual

God is permitted to do what he wants with me, because I have no idea who I am anymore. I mean, if my ideas have to “be scrapped” before God can place me in his own, then let it be so, because my plans are void almost like a money check when it’s VOID. So Lord, I permit you. -quote from Lacy’s fencing manual

 

Puppet Skit: “Finding the Characterprints of Jesus” Part 3

COCOA: Detective Snowy, Detective Snowy, where are you?  (sniff, sniff) I smell trouble.  (sniff, sniff) Something is wrong.

(HAPPY and FABLE enter)

COCOA: Has anyone seen Detective Snowy? We need to make tracks and find the last clue. I can’t find my detective.

HAPPY: No, Cocoa. I haven’t seen her anywhere.  It’s not like Snowball to be late for VBS. Something must have happened.

FABLE: She was going to the mouse alley earlier this morning to visit her friends.  But she should be back by now.

COCOA: Detective Snowy is not here. I’ve sniffed everywhere. I’ve got to get busy and find her.

HAPPY: I’ll help you find Snowball. She might need some help.

FABLE: Yes. Let’s go to the mouse alley and find her.

(SNOWBALL enters “mewing”, without her spy glass and hat.)

COCOA: Detective Snowy. There you are! But, what happened to you? You look like you’ve been in a cat fight!

SNOWBALL: Cocoa, don’t call me Detective Snowy. I’m just plain old Snowball.

COCOA: Snowball, what happened?

SNOWBALL: I went to the mouse alley this morning. I was with my friends Stuart and Fival, telling them about VBS, when the mean cats showed up.  The cats started chasing all the mice in the alley.

FABLE: It’s not nice to bother the little guys.

SNOWBALL: Those mean cats hurt Stuart and Fival. I got really mad. I tried to hold on to my temper like Jesus would, but I got so mad.  I started yelling at those other cats.  They had no reason to be mean to my friends. And I got madder because they wouldn’t stop it when I told them to. They started calling me names and THAT did it! I started throwing things around. I scared all the ugly old cats away, and I don’t think they’ll be coming back; but I broke my spyglass and lost my cap.

COCOA: Wow, you’ve had a rough time!

HAPPY: We should have been there to help you defend the mice.

FABLE: Are you okay, Snowball?

AllFour

SNOWBALL: I’m okay, Fable.  You all are such great friends.  You are loving and caring, and so faithful. You’ve got the characterprints of Jesus. I wish I had found the last characterprint before I got so angry. I don’t feel like I’m very much like Jesus. I didn’t find anybody who was brave and courageous.

COCOA: Snowball, Jesus did act like that in the temple. You missed our Bible story today. The Bible says that Jesus got angry with the ones who were being mean to others.  God doesn’t like it when someone hurts others. Jesus showed us how mad God gets.  He threw the table down and ran the mean people out of the temple.

HAPPY: That’s right. God gets very angry at evil.

SNOWBALL: Yeah. But I still didn’t find the last character print. I’m not good enough to be a detective.  I needed to find someone who is brave and courageous.

FABLE: Snowball, I think we know who is brave and courageous.

SNOWBALL: Really? Who? Please tell me. Who is it?

HAPPY: It’s you, Snowball. You defended those poor little mice from the mean old cats, even when they insulted you.

FABLE: Jesus did the same thing.

COCOA: You are very brave, Snowball. Just like Jesus.

SNOWBALL: You guys can’t be serious! I can’t believe this. I have a characterprint like Jesus? Are you guys playing a joke on me?

HAPPY: No, Snowball. We really mean it.

SNOWBALL: Wow! I never thought I’d find any characterprints in me. I was surprised to find Cocoa was humble and loving, but me!? This is more than I ever expected! Are you guys positive I’m like Jesus?

FABLE: Yes, Snowball. We’re positive.

COCOA: So, Snowball. How do you feel now that you’ve found all the characterprints of Jesus? Are you proud of yourself?

SNOWBALL: Well, yeah. But not as much as I thought I would be. You all get the credit, too. A little. I did do most of it myself.

COCOA: What!?

SNOWBALL: Let’s review the character prints we found. Cocoa, you were humble when you took a flea bath, and you were loving when you let me change your name. Okay, it was ridiculous to change our names.

FABLE: Happy was faithful. He didn’t stop liking you when  you changed your names. He didn’t make fun of you either.

HAPPY: Fable was forgiving. He forgave Cocoa for what Cocoa said to him.

COCOA: You don’t have to  bring that up, do you?

FABLE: Don’t worry, Cocoa. I forgive you.

SNOWBALL: And I was brave and courageous. I saved the poor lSnowball-ENDittle mice from the mean cats.

COCOA: Yeah! You’re not Detective Snowy – you’re Catgirl, champion of mice!

SNOWBALL: Catgirl?

COCOA: Yes, you can be a super hero….and….I’ll be your dog!

SNOWBALL: No, Cocoa. Let’s just be friends.  Let’s help each other be like Jesus. He’s the real super hero. Jesus Christ is the champion of the whole world.

COCOA: That’s right! Jesus loves everyone!

FABLE: And Jesus is forgiving.

HAPPY: Jesus is faithful.

SNOWBALL: Jesus is brave and courageous! He helps everyone who needs his help. He saves us all!

HAPPY: I hope everyone enjoyed VBS.

FABLE: I sure did.

SNOWBALL: So did I. I learned a lot and I hope I can come back next summer!

HAPPY: Well, bye everyone!

SNOWBALL: Yeah, bye everyone!

FABLE: I hope you continue to have the character prints of Jesus all your life.

SNOWBALL: Cocoa, why aren’t you saying goodbye to everyone?

COCOA: I’m thinking about changing my name to Champion.

SNOWBALL: Cocoa, say good-bye to the audience.

COCOA: Good-bye to the audience. Oh! Bye everyone. I hope you will go into all the world and make tracks for Jesus!

SNOWBALL: Hey, Cocoa, Fable, Happy, let’s go eat! I’m starving!

COCOA: Yeah! Let’s make tracks to my house! I’ve got some mice in the freezer!

SNOWBALL: Cocoa! Don’t make me mad!

COCOA: I’m just kidding, Snowball.

(All puppets leave stage.)

(Behind curtain) COCOA: Ow! I’m just kidding Snowball.

THE END

VBS & Puppet Skit Fun

As a kid, I loved playing with puppets.  I would always write my own puppet plays and play them out for Lacy or for my stuffed animals or parents (depending on if Lacy wanted to play puppets with me or if she wanted to just watch.)  In 6th grade my best friend and I were the puppeteers for the school counselor, although that wasn’t much fun because the voices were pre-taped and we just moved the puppets’ arms around and their mouths according to the voices talking.

In Sunday school, I was a puppeteer when my parents taught the children’s Bible hour.  It was loads of fun, and I loved helping my mom write the plays that would speak to the younger kids each Sunday.  I would have even more fun playing the voice of one or two of the puppets.

In the summer of 2000, my church was holding a 3 day VBS, “Finding the Characterprints of Jesus”.  There were 5 lessons:

Lesson 1 – Jesus was humble.

Lesson 2 – Jesus was forgiving.

Lesson 3 – Jesus was faithful.

Lesson 4 – Jesus was loving.

Lesson 5 – Jesus was brave.

The point of the VBS was to encourage the kids to be detectives and find out ways to be like Jesus Christ.  I remember, the instigator of the VBS was trying to come up with a fun way to close out each day’s activities, and so my mom offered us to make a puppet skit and put it on for the rest of the kids (and adults, too).  I had so much fun with VBS that year.  Mom played the cheery Happy the bear, Lacy played the lighthearted Cocoa the dog, I played the sassy Snowball the cat, and we got another gentle-voiced woman from church to play the amiable Fable the panda.  Needless to say, our skits were a hit.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Girls With Swords, Week 2

Imagine yourself with a sword newly polished, ready to be brandished in battle, zealous to fight against the demonic enemy.  Your blade fits your skill, compliments your strength and body structure, and is never too weak or causes you weariness. When the enemy sees you coming, he sinks back in dread, because with your quality as a warrior, you stand victor in every campaign. He doesn’t stand a chance.

That’s how you are, when you’ve got the Holy Spirit equipped.

Your warrior quality, your preparedness for battle, is explained more deeply through the Bible. In Matthew 3, we read about John the Baptist, a prophet who was also the cousin of Jesus Christ, put on earth to declare Christ’s entrance into the world; John speaks words of judgment to a group of alleged holy men, priests, saying,

“Even now the ax is on the root of the trees. Every tree that does not give good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. For sure, I baptize with water those who are sorry for their sins and turn from them. The One Who comes after me will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. He is greater than I. I am not good enough to take off His shoes. He comes ready to clean the grain. He will gather the grain in and clean it all. The clean grain He will put into a building. He will burn that which is no good with a fire that cannot be put out.” —–Matthew 3:10-12 (NLV, boldness added)

These priests that came to be baptized by John the Baptist came because it was a phenomenal trend to witness and be part of the prophet’s iconic show, but their hearts were not ready for the Messiah’s coming. Some of these priests may have even aided in the murder of Jesus – I wouldn’t doubt it for a minute. So John warned them judgment was coming. Blade would separate and fire would destroy.

The “One Who comes after me” is Jesus Christ, and Christ has vested us, Christians, with the sacred power of the Holy Spirit, to have, hold, brandish, clash, conquer, defend, rescue, and unite with, in truth.

The truth is given to us by many authors of the Bible. (We use the Bible as our authority because, even after academic study and countless critiques, it has proven to be without error. History backs it up, it backs itself up with eye-witnessing accounts, and no account contradicts the other one.) Jesus gave his disciples the understanding that when the Holy Spirit came, which happened on the Day of Pentecost written about in Acts 2,  the Spirit would teach them, tell them about Jesus, and give them a full understanding of the events that took place in their lives, both past, present, and future. Before the Holy Spirit came to them, they were all very confused and lacking in motivation, but after He came, their lives were transformed. In John 14:15-17, Jesus says,

“If you love me, obey my commands.  I will ask the Father. And he will give you another friend to help you and to be with you forever. That friend is the Spirit of truth. The world can’t accept him. That’s because the world does not see him or know him. But you know him. He lives with you, and he will be in you.” (NIRV)

When one of his apostles asked how he got to be so lucky, Jesus clarified that a person receives the Spirit by loving Jesus, obeying his teachings, and living for him. If he or she does that, the Spirit will come and dwell therein, giving that person wisdom and insight to help prepare for battle, which ultimately, is a battle leading us to eternal life.

Jesus left his followers with one mission, which we (21st century Christians) see from present day they prevailed in doing:

“Go and make followers of all the nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” —- Matthew 28:19 (NLV)

If we believe, are baptized, and follow Jesus Christ, we can experience the same Spirit of Truth the 1st century disciples had. Sure, we can’t tell others we were eyewitnesses of his life, wounds, death, and resurrection like the apostles did, but you can tell others how he changed your life.

And if you feel he has not changed your life, maybe you were baptized in the wrong name, like those innocent believers in Acts 19. There were a few disciples living in Ephesus (modern day Turkey) who heard John the Baptist’s teachings and got baptized because of him, and later Paul arrived and asked them if they had the Holy Spirit. Their response was like “Huh? What are you talking about?” and he inquired,

 “Then what beliefs did you acknowledge at your baptism?”

They answered,

“What John the Baptist taught.”

Oh! That answers the problem, Paul might’ve thought. He helped them realize John’s baptism was only temporary; it was meant to lead them to Jesus Christ, the one who had the ability to give us the Holy Spirit, the Life Sword. So they were baptized again, this time in the name of Jesus Christ, and received the gift of the Spirit.

My prayer for you is that you receive the Holy Spirit and obey Jesus Christ, being able to understand his plan for your life and why you were placed here at this time and place, to serve him in power and truth, delegated to fulfill your piece in salvation’s puzzle.

Since this is ultimately part of the Girls With Swords study, I have continued my video evaluation, and my video activity, which I will share with you here in case you are studying with me. I outline Lisa Bevere’s 3 points from Chapter 2, A Sword is Born.

“We buy our swords when we prepare for war, and that’s why Jesus got his disciples ready. Get the sword ready, ‘cuz we will literally face life and death. I disagree [with Ms. Bevere] that the sword of truth isn’t seen in a duel of death… for some it is [especially in the Middle East, North Korea, and Africa], and Jesus said lose your life and follow me. ‘Take up the cross’.” -quote from Lacy’s Fencing Manual

“Not everyone can be privileged to stand out and do something big enough to make history; I don’t think we’re all called to do something great. Some of us are just meant to be stepping stones, paving the way to someone else’s greatness. But in God’s book, the first shall be last, and the Master washes the feet of his disciples, so it’s ok to just pave the way.” —quote from Kat’s Fencing Manual 

Chivalry, Vileness, and Death

An armored Knight galloped on a horse so fine,

A white horse: that milky, pale mare,

And the Knight, pure and refined,

He portrayed heroism, indeed.

~ ~

Dark eyes watched enemies at abroad horizons,

Surveyed lands: lush, green grasslands,

Emitting a bright sword, so pious,

Its appearance was crimson-free.

~ ~

His cape draped over the back of his mare,

A strong shield: a firm, polished helmet,

Those were all attributes he handled with care.

He had a character that was careful and clean.

~ ~

His heart was saddened, though,

From an attempt, an awful, fatal attempt,

That a Princess had sworn by, she chose

To be bound by a deadly creed.

~ ~

Dragon was fierce; he cared for no one,

Angry feelings: angry, livid rage,

He had a personality feared by everyone.

This Princess was a prisoner of his greed.

~ ~

She had what he wanted: she had what he needed,

Her beautiful heart: a kind and gentle heart,

Yet timidity, her one weakness,

She was Dragon’s key.

~ ~

The door to life, everlasting riches,

Promised to those who contained kind hearts,

He planned on killing her, hence,

To obtain what he needed.

~ ~

Dragon had forced the Princess to surrender

Her life: Her precious and wholesome life.

So that he could be the one to live on forever.

He didn’t once take heed.

~ ~

The Knight on the horse, that milky, pale mare,

Was going to tell Dragon what he should hear.

So he galloped on his horse, that milky, pale mare,

Day by day, battling both cold and heat.

~ ~

He raced across plains, dashed through valleys,

The horse was always weary, but he was always brave,

Night after night for strength he prayed,

Dear Father, I don’t want to be too late.

~ ~

As the Knight arrived closer, every step at a time,

Dragon pined for that lovely immortality.

He laughed and mocked, but the Princess never whined;

She tried holding onto her faith.

~ ~

Dragon hated waiting, so he would linger no more!

Her heart he would take, that precious, pure heart,

From her, so he could live forevermore.

There would be no more wait.

~ ~

The Knight galloped on, so fast and never stalling,

When envisioning death, of his beautiful Princess,

How could he even think about stalling?

No, it couldn’t be too late!

~ ~

Dragon leered; he moved his claw across her skin.

The cackle was there, that crude, blunt cackling.

He began by pinning his claw to her chin,

And he knew then, that her skin soon wouldn’t be crimson-free.

~ ~

As he neared her chest with his sharp weapon,

A noise, an approaching, tedious noise,

Like the prancing of hooves, it startled Dragon,

And he turned to look and see.

~ ~

“Who is he?” Dragon sneered.

As he saw a bright and shining Knight.

He was mounted on horse, a milky, pale mare,

It was like this Knight was cloud sailing.

~ ~

“I am a knight,” he replied, “and this is my bride.”

“You think you can take her away?”

“Snatch her from my side?”

His hands were bruised, from much laboring.

~ ~

Even so, his bravery increased,

And he unsheathed a sword, so pious,

He dismounted his horse, and neared

The Dragon, who was glaring.

~ ~

“You can’t take what’s mine away,”

“You’re fate still remains the same, Dragon.”

“Even if you take my bride away,”

“You are still dying.”

~ ~

“Steal a heart, but you’ll remain in death,”

“Even if that heart’s full of kindness.”

“Change your own heart, and you’ll be free,”

“Life will be yours, and immortality.”

~ ~

Dragon refused to listen, and the Knight shook his head.

The Princess would be set free, but Dragon’s fate was death.

The Knight cast his sword forward, a tear slipping, and falling,

He was hoping Dragon would change his mind.

~ ~

But because of his stubbornness,

His foolish, stupid stubbornness,

Dragon would reap what he sowed.

His own vileness would heap and teem.

~ ~

It would become millions of times worse,

Than it was before: all the evil he had boasted,

Would bounce back, and be his curse,

Dragon would gnash his teeth.

~ ~

So it was done, the Knight pierced him:

Dragon cried in pain, a loud and mournful cry,

And he knew then, there would be no one to save him.

The knight blade was not crimson-free.

~ ~

The burning fire he had treated others to,

That seething, potent pain they felt,

Was now engulfing Dragon, who,

Had the choice to surrender and yield.

~ ~

The Knight bent down, and checked his bride,

To see if she was still humble.

He had saved her from death, and the Dragon’s pride,

Her heart, he had tried to steal.

~ ~