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Empty Handed

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I will praise You as long as I live and in Your name I will lift up my hands.” David, Psalm 63:4 Hands, literally means the ‘palm,’ emphasizing the EMPTY hand. “Be still and know I am God.” Ps 46:10 ‘Be still’ in the Hebrew conveys the imagery of ‘let it drop,’ cease striving with fisted hands. The hand that was once tight fisted, holding on to ‘stuff’ – we let it go! Giving God room to move, to fill and to use.

What’s in our hands? It could be a literal holding of something we need to give up to honor our love walk with Jesus, or metaphorically speaking those things we hold tight, whether a mindset, attitude or heart condition. What do we need to let go?

The empty palmed hand raised heavenward in prayer, symbolizing our longing to receive.  Our empty hands clapping together in joy and applause, we praise.

Empty handed we come Lord.

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love & good deeds.” – Heb. 10:24)

Just Breathe!

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Walking into church, a bit tattered from the week that led to this day, I take my seat (5 rows back, first seat in) Placing my bible next to me, the first thing that captures my attention is the quiet melody coming over the sound system, it is familiar and soothing, “As the deer panteth…” It was then, I felt the Lord impress on me, “Just breathe!” As the worship began, we all stood, I closed my eyes and did just that: Took a deep breath. Overwhelmed with His presence, I was reminded of … the breath of God.

How often do we find ourselves in survival mode? Barely making it, you feel your existence evaporating with each step forward. As the day goes on you find yourself unsuccessfully reaching and grabbing for anything solid. Thinking if I can just make it through this day… through this season… to the next paycheck… see that person… BE that person … get this done, that done … clean this … lose this, gain that. BREATHE! Just breathe.

In pondering this, (it may sound totally silly) I began looking our breath and the ramifications of the lack of oxygen that takes place physically, how it affects us and how long it takes for a body to die. Not to be morbid or anything, but I feel it has quite a few similarities to our spiritual man.

In all the medical hymhaw, I found this quote: “A lack of oxygen to the heart muscle can cause heart attacks, and even if the individual survives the anoxic event (complete depletion of oxygen), there may be damage to the heart that proves deadly.” This doesn’t even speak of the damage to the brain. There are also ‘quiet’ symptoms that are attributed to a lack of oxygen as well: Depression, irritability and irrational behavior. Sound like your week? Just breathe!breath_of_god-bible

Like that of our physical body, so it is with our spiritual man. We NEED to breathe. Without a constant intake of God, the ramifications can to prove damaging if not deadly. I believe we all have people in our lives that once were thriving active God-loving folks, but somehow, somewhere along their spiritual timeline, they stopped.  They stopped reading God’s word, fellowshipping with other believers, stopped believing God and stopped breathing God.  Now where are they?

Genesis 2:7 “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul.” Our bodies were made of the dust – earth – biological. The soul was not made of the earth. So… earthly things cannot quench the hunger of the soul, (regardless of how much kale we eat!) nor can the soul continue to survive. It is only the breath of God that feeds and nurtures the spiritual man! Read that again. “It is ONLY the breath of God that feeds and nurtures the spiritual man!” It is divinely birthed and divinely maintained.

How often do we seek things, people, position even ‘events’ to satisfy our deep longing, and cravings. Without God’s breath and presence in our life, we are an empty dusty vessel. God initiated this for mankind, now we by invitation in turn seek that breath. Just breathe!

Paul spoke to this in 2 Timothy, “Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.” (3:15-17 – The Message) And the one who penned Hebrews wrote, “For the word of God is alive and powerful. (sound like breath?) It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God.” (4:12, emphasis mine)

WorshipIf we are to survive, let alone THRIVE spiritually we need God’s presence and His word to do so. Have we found we can’t seem to catch our spiritual breath? Are we low in emotion, irritable and even find our self being irrational or treating others unkindly?  Are we apathetic about spiritual things?  Or how about walking to the ‘frig of life’ looking for something to satisfy us.  When was the last time we quietly spent time with our God? Prayed, invited His presence, and opened His word, pursued Him, His qualities? Just breathe.

In the garden just before Jesus’ betrayal, with the disciples, He instructs them to sit and wait. Taking Peter, James and John He goes further, leaving them also behind. He goes on alone further still. He falls to the ground face down and prays, “FATHER...” May we too go further still…fall before our God in complete honesty and surrender. (Matt. 26:36-46)

Just breathe.

May I offer, click on this link: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJfzzFeA5OQ)  Close your eyes, take a deep breath… allow this to sing over you, BE your prayer.

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Heb. 10:24)

 

New Study Coming

Welcome Septmber

Ladies, as the bright yellow school buses again travel our early morning roads, it is our tendency to begin to settle into routine.  Life gets busy and full.  May we take a brief moment to mark our calendars for time set aside for the Word, study, fellowship and yes, potentially CHOCOLATE! (HAVE to add that)

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We are launching a new season of bible study Tuesday nights (7pm) beginning September 20th, ‘Women of the Word’, meeting at East River Fellowship, here in Hillsboro Oregon. (East River Fellowship) We will be taking a deeper look at the qualities of God.  Often we see these qualities, dust them off and place them on a shelf to admire, but do we truly walk in them.  Love, humility, integrity, joy and yes PATIENCE (OH NO!)  Join us as Louisa and I tag team teach as we pursue and inspire deeper lives for Jesus.

For more information, feel free to contact me at dede4him@gmail.com

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another one towards love & good deeds.” – Heb. 10:24)

Entrusted

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Oh ladies as part of the ‘Entrusted Launch Team’, I’m so excited!  The new Beth Moore study ‘Entrusted’ (2 Timothy)  is soon to be (officially) released Sept 1st.  I have watched the first session and LOVE IT!   Take a brief look here  Brief look at Beth’s teaching  (click on link) to get a taste of what is ahead.  You can even watch each video session individually (available now for $4.99ea download to your computer)  Individual video session info .  At the same location you can purchase the workbook to go along with the study.  Her workbooks are rich with insight as well as having YOU dig in and take a look at the verses.  This is only a 6 week study, but will indeed make an impact!

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In Him, DeDe  (“Let us consider how we may spur one another towards love & good deeds.” – Heb. 10:24)

Understanding More Clearly the Words in Red

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Recently I was asked, “Why?” Why do I study Hebrew culture, language, customs and tradition and even the writings of ancient Rabbi’s, (this alongside in-depth study of the Old and New Testaments.) As I first began this pursuit I found it amazing how Jesus’ words come alive, His parables, His teaching, even His stern rebukes (Oh those Pharisees!) Jesus was Hebrew, spoke Hebrew, He was raised in the traditions and customs of Hebrew culture.

According to scholars on the topic, probably by the time Jesus was five years old He had begun learning to read and memorize the scriptures, after age ten He began to learn the Oral Torah (Rabbinic interpreting of the Written Torah, Torah is Hebrew for ‘teaching’ or instruction, primarily the first 5 books of the OT) Remember the story in Luke chapter 2, Mary & Joseph had gone to Jerusalem for the Passover, Jesus a young boy of twelve became separated from His parents, later they found Jesus in the Temple sitting among the teachers, listening and asking questions. They were amazed not at His age, but the depth of His wisdom. By age thirteen, by custom He would have concluded His formal study (from man) and began to learn a trade… a carpenter (Matt 13:55, Mk 6:3)

Customs and traditions: A fascinating one is found quietly tucked in Jesus telling the Pharisees Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” (Mk 12:17, Matt 22:21. Lk 20:25) The story is told of a few Pharisees, (Members of an ancient Jewish sect, priests known for strictly observing traditional and written law. Sadly, they considered themselves much holier than the common people) Doubting Jesus’ claim of Godly Sonship, they had a plan to trap Him into saying things that would either discredit Him or cause an uproar within the community.

They asked, “Teacher, we know You are a man of integrity… Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not, should we pay or shouldn’t we?” Jesus knowing their motive calls them HYPOCRITES! He then asks, if someone had a ‘denarius coin.’ One of them, possibly one of the temple priests, steps forward, hands Him the coin.

28932q00We should pay our taxes and give to the church is what we interpret from this story, and rightly so, but looking through the eyes of Hebrew culture this story takes on a whole new excitement. When Jesus calls the Jewish traditional leaders ‘Hypocrites’ – they are exactly that (Hypocrisy is pretending to be something you are not and have no intention of being, and paying more attention to reputation and appearances than to character.) You see, denarius (Roman coins) was strictly forbidden in the Temple, because it bore Caesars blasphemous claim to be divine, yet here one of the priests HAD a coin in his pocket. According to Jewish law the making of ‘images’ was forbidden, “You saw no form of any kind the day the LORD spoke to you at Horeb out of the fire. Therefore watch yourselves very carefully, so that you do not become corrupt and make for yourselves an idol, an image of any shape, whether formed like a man or a woman…” Deut 4:15-16

The coin now shining in the palm of Jesus’ hand, He asks the question, “Whose portrait is this…” I think at this moment, we may have been able to hear the slight snickers of the disciples, “DUDE, Busted!” Tradition states that temple priests would refuse the current money demanding the people priorly exchange it for the ‘half-shekel’ which was free from all pagan images, and they would not be defiled. Not in this case. Hm, a defiled hypocritical priest in possession of a forbidden coin attempting to entrap the Master!  Yet, Jesus (Go God!)

Jesus followed many Jewish customs, in Luke 4, we find Him in the Synagogue, torahstanding and reading from a portion of Isaiah (61:1,2) as was the custom of the day, Rabbis would read, then give commentary:  “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed.”   Rolling the scroll back up and handing it to the attendant and sat down, then adds, “By the way, that’s Me.”  (paraphrase of course)

There are times we read on through and over passages that speak directly to tradition and not really understand them. One great example is in Mark 7 (also Matt 15) Jesus says: “But you say that if a man says to his father or mother: ‘Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is Corban’ (that is, a gift devoted to God), Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.” Really now, WHAT is ‘Corban!’

First setting the context, again the Pharisees (troublesome folk) saw the disciples eating without first ‘performing the hand-washing ceremony’ (defined by Jewish tradition) approached Jesus and asked why they didn’t follow the traditions of their ancestors, Jesus responds, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!” Then proceeds to give ‘Corban’ as an example: The Jewish tradition allowing money originally dedicated to the care of parents could be declared Corban, ‘Dedicated to God’, the money would then be released to the Temple (if so desired, it was a move of prestige appearance) In doing so the person exempts himself from any inconvenient obligation to take care of their parents, disregarding and rejecting the Law of Moses. “Honor your father and mother, as the LORD your God commanded you.” (Ex. 20:12, Deut. 5:16)

“Jesus wasn’t against all tradition, but He was against those who made their traditions as important, if not MORE important than God’s Word. Good traditions shine a spotlight on God’s Word, move us to obedient service (with understanding) They explain and reinforce the teachings of God. God’s Word should ALWAYS be the focus, and tradition a means of bringing that Word alive.” – Life Application Study Bible, study notes. (Emphasis mine)

Knowing the culture, traditions, and beliefs help paint the picture that Jesus was born in, raised and lived and taught about, understanding more clearly the words in red.

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another toward love & good deeds.” – Heb. 10:24)

I encourage you to explore more for yourself. There are some great books explaining the customs and traditions of Jewish living. “Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus’ and ‘Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus’ by Lois Tverberg, ‘God in Search of Man’ by Abraham Heschel (are my favorite) Also there are numerous books on the ‘Manners & Customs’ of the Bible. Google & Amazon are your friend (with discernment)

Guarding the God in Me

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The year was 1984, a young woman of 20 in her 2nd year of bible college, kneels while the men of God lay their hands gently on her head.  Through prayer they speak words of promise, hope and declarations of spiritual potential in her life. With anointing, they install a teaching mantle* along with… a warning. “You will protect yourself…”

That 20-year-old is now 53, that was me 32 years ago, (Gasp!) A lot has transpired in the last 32 years. Hours and hours of study and not to mention (in detail) the stupid mistakes, which held hands with frequent lapses of judgment. I see the ever-increasing need to protect.  What am I protecting?  I am guarding the God in me.  Guarding what He entrusted to me, and in me.  Most importantly, my relationship with my God.

“You will protect yourself,” a note to us all.

Danger, in the spiritual realm, does not generally stand up and yell, while waving its arms, “Over here, yep, HERE! I am coming to get you!’ It is subtle, watching for an opportunity to ensnare. “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith.” 1 Pet. 5:8-9 Paul strongly urges, “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” Eph 6:11

Proverbs 22:3 “A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on and are punished.” “The prudent foresees…” this conveys the idea of watchman or guard, one who is prepared. In 2 Kings 11, it speaks of the guard, those who set themselves in a position to see the enemy approachingGathering in tight formation;Keep your weapons in hand, be armed and stay armed.”

Interesting, in the original Hebrew, hide is repeated, emphasizing the action, the “prudent… hides hides himself.” Using the context, a prudent man sees the evil and ‘in hiding, he will hide.’ Meaning it is active and progressive. You do, so you stay … doing. We keep on hiding. We are proactive in our stance to guard ourselves against evil. Way to go prudent guys and gals!

Taking precautions for many of us is defined differently due to the ever large number of entangling stuff, “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles…” Heb. 12:1   What hinders and causes me to be all entangled up with the wrong stuff may be different for you. We need to become aware of the things that entangle, snare and entice us. It is a good thing to identify the snake 30e65b22f3402e5d32339a95c81220fdcharmer from a distance then run and hide. Where do we hide? “The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” Pro 18:10  Our hiding ourselves is not a game of ‘peek-a-boo,’ thinking we are hid by merely covering our eyes and peeking out through our fingers. I’ve tried that, doesn’t work, we can still be enticed. It is a case of running AWAY (run FAST!) and hiding in God’s presence. “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High, shall abide in the shadow of the Almighty.” Ps 91:1   Protection. We do this by staying in His word, staying in fellowship with strong believers, staying under good biblical teaching. (You do, so you stay … doing)

Protecting and hiding.  Liken to a football game. Those who carry the prized possession … the ball, hold that puppy tucked up tight against them as humanly possible. While the other arm is strongly flexed, ready to push away with force. Why?  Because the opposing team wants the ball, they will do whatever it takes to get it, including (and not limited to) grabbing violently, pushing, pulling, shoving, knocking down, and hurting to steal it.  So it is with us, what is the most prized possession we have? Our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ!  And you can count on the opposing team to do whatever it takes to cause us to steelers5fumble, hurt us, and steal from us!  I am not talking about losing our salvation, or hording the God things, and not giving it out.  There is an enemy out there who wants to destroy us.  He (little ‘h’) is constantly reaching in (Foul!) and trying to grab our joy, our contentment in Christ, our peace, our strength, even our confidence.  Before we know it, we stutter step, get our feet all tangled up and … fall.

The word picture offered “A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on …” the simple, or naïve, is one who opens their arms wide willingly accepting what comes their way, and walks into the embrace. They don’t hold their convictions, their love of God in tight around them. He/she is naïve, lacking insight, wisdom, making them easily distracted, and easily seduced.  As if a tourist in a foreign country, walking through the dangerous part of town, with backpack freely slung over their shoulder, all pockets are unzipped, passport dangling out with all their traveling money visible for the taking. They are unwise, over-confident and almost inviting trouble.

Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life.” Pro 4:23 one resource explains it: ‘Guard the affections of your heart; the emotional attachments you make determine the course of your life.’ Those things, and people I attach myself to determine which way I go. May I just say “OUCH!” Oswald Chambers strongly adds: “Never become attached to anything that continues to hurt God. For you to be free of it, God must be allowed to hurt whatever it may be.” What is the prevention from the Guard your hearthurt? We ‘guard against’ it in the first place.

Precautions, positioning, boundaries and accountability, these are our defense (along with the armor of God, standing strong with the sword and behind the shield of faith)  We know our weaknesses; with the help of the Holy Spirit we set guidelines in place, we mark a perimeter against the evil stuff and hide and hide in Him.  The God-loving, God-living life is one of consecration, set apart for Him, we take careful notice of what we read, see and listen to. Doing whatever it takes to guard the God in us, the most prized possession we have.

Are we the wise prudent guard or the simple naive, wandering aimlessly into the mess? (Just hand them the football already!)

You will protect yourself.

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Heb. 10:24)

*In Bible days, a Mantle (as mentioned above in the first paragraph) was an outer cloak used for additional covering and warmth, especially at night, like that of a blanket.  From the idea of something that “covers” in the natural, a mantle represents spiritual covering as well.  It usually refers to spiritual authority and anointing, we can see this in the story of Elijah & Elisha found in 2 Kings 2.

A spiritual mantle can be wrapped as a scriptural metaphor (symbol) holding elements of: calling, gift, passion, ability, anointing, skill set, or level of authority that God has given a specific person.  God determines the mantle – we do not select it; it is established, destined and imparted by God.  It is more than gifting, it is an anointing, to serve God in the capacity of spiritual DNA, destiny and calling of God.  It always has a cost. It always demands great responsibility.

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An Unredacted Copy

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REDACTED: ‘To revise by editing or censoring, to select or adapt by obscuring or removing sensitive information.’ We do this don’t we? We do it in our life with scripture. We take ‘a lil here and a lil there’ and seem to remove the stuff (the sensitive information) we don’t agree with or think too hard to walk out. Or out of our laziness, we don’t even attempt to try or do it all on our own. We live our lives as if we redacted the Word, or try to add what is not there. I know I have, I had a ‘marked up, redacted copy’ and attempted to live according to that and have positive, God-blessed results. Didn’t happen!

Interesting, there is a marker (brand name, ‘Secure Marker’) you can purchase designed just for this. Black ink used to block out and obscure information. The advertising capturing with exciting motive: “Perfect for hiding personal information…”  May we not (metaphorically) pick one up, just in case we come across some ‘personal information’ we feel needs some blocking out.  God’s word to us IS personal!  Funny how we think if it is blotted out, it is not there. Taking away from the bible, so WE feel good about its instruction.

God’s word says: “The entirety of Your word is truth…” Ps 119:160 “Every word of God proves true. He is a shield to all who come to Him for protection. Do not add to His words, or He may rebuke you and expose you as a liar.” Pr 30:5-6 Jesus said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey Slider-A-1000x360it.” (Lk 11:28) He didn’t suggest it or offer alternatives, as if saying: “Well, if it seems a lil tough, I understand, just make what works for you, happen.” Jesus did say: “Walk with Me and work with Me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.” Matt.11:29 (MSG) His word is true. Leave it as is. Live it as is. Living it with the help of the Holy Spirit according to a unredacted copy of the sensitive information, personal information we are called to.

Unredacted.

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Heb. 10:24)