Latest

Giving Presence in the Present

presence

Christmas and gift-giving, standing among all the stuff, the noise and the chaos.  Christmas has become somewhat of a plummeting oneself into the art of either grab and go at the store or park yourself in front of the computer and let your fingers do the shopping, ‘Click‘.

Swirling inattentive, not really there, moments.

How often are we somewhere else when we are with people or in circumstances or perhaps even in church?  Our bodies may be present but by golly, our minds are full of grocery list writing or a prior situation or while someone is talking to us, we are busy formulating our response.  WHAT did we miss?

Be in the moment.

In Exodus (the theology of Exodus is Presence) Exodus 24, God called Moses up the mountain, “The LORD said to Moses, “”Come up to Me on the mountain and be there; and I will give you tablets of stone, and the law and commandments which I have written, that you may teach them.” (v12, emphasis mine, NKJV). For 40 days Moses was there, on the mountain, in God’s presence.  Eight chapters worth of divine instruction was given.  Moses was there.  Many translators interpret God telling Moses to ‘stay there’ or ‘wait there.’  Yet a 19th-century Rabbi wrote from a different perspective which I adore.  He explains that ‘there are times we go to a place and not actually being there, simply saying: we can exert ourselves getting to a destination, yet when we arrive, our thoughts remain at the original point of departure.  The Rabbi imagined God was telling Moses not only come up the mountain but – be fully there, with complete attention, concentration – leaving all behind.’* Can you imagine how the story would have played out if Moses was distracted, thinking he forgot to blow out the candle in his tent or was busy taking in the view from ‘way up here, OH WOW, Aaron and all are so small’ all the while God’s talking and has to say, “Moses, over here, eyes HERE, pay attention, you’re going to want to hear this, know this!”

May we too be there, this holiday season and every day – be in the moment. Giving folks or our situation complete attention and concentration.  It is a gift we give to others and ourselves when we are giving presence in the present, full-on presence.  And may we pay close attention and not allow our mind to wander (even when we read God’s word) we don’t want to miss anythingwe may need to hear this, know this!

Let’s look the bell-ringer in the eye, tell the cashier “Merry Christmas” while using their name and reciprocate a firm handshake or hug and pay close attention to the details of what others are telling us.

Presence.

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

*Lois Tverberg, Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus –  I had the privilege of being on the original launch team for this book, I highly recommend it.

Image credit: scottberglan.org

Forty

40 bday

Forty. Noah and crew got rained on for 40 days. Israel wandered for 40 years in the wilderness. Moses was on the Mt with God 40 days. Caleb was 40 when he spied out the land. Goliath taunted the Israelites for 40 days. King David reigned for 40 years. Jesus was in the wilderness for 40 days and later, among man 40 days after His resurrection.

Forty.

The year was 1979. Jimmy Carter was in office. Folks were glued to their foil-wrapped antenna TV sets watching M*A*S*H, Three’s Company, Brady Bunch and Dukes of Hazzard. We were listening to our 8-tracks of Billy Joel, the Bee Gees and yes, the Village People, (ok, maybe not the Village People). It’s been 40 years.

It was December 21, 1979, on a Friday evening, when I sat on the floor in the living room of my pastor’s house. His dear wife Brenda explaining the gospel so clear, so lovingly. At nearly seventeen, I wasn’t sure about life, but I knew my life needed Jesus. We prayed. I invited Jesus to be my Lord and the center of my life. Everything changed.

Forty years.

I went on to Bible college at God’s command (for me) it was there He confirmed His call on my life and birthed a love and PASSION for His Word. As I look over celebrating forty years, it’s been a wild ride of God’s faithfulness, His love and at times His (many) well-deserved disciplines. Forty years of on my face before Him in complete wonderment of His Word, with hours upon hours of ‘can’t get enough’. When God calls and then equips, like that evening when Jesus became my Lord, everything changes. I have the most amazing privilege of teaching the women at church, doing research for pastors and the blog Inspired Fountain is now being read in over 50 countries and soon to be put in book form. All at HIS direction, to HIS glory, in HIS name. Go God!

Thank you, Jesus.

Here’s to another forty years! (wink)

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

 

Reason for Thanksgiving

Give thanks

Turkey, cranberries, dinner rolls, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, salad.  Breathe.  Dinner plates, napkins, silverware, glasses, AND centerpiece.  THANKSGIVING!  I love this holiday; food, family, and football.    A set time to pause, consider and ponder what we are thankful for.

Thanksgiving.  There are seasons it may be difficult to pull forward on the shelf of our life something to be thankful for. We may have lost a job, or a loved one.  Or our bank account matches our emotional bucket of strength, ’empty’.  Yet there IS something to be thankful for. You have a REASON for thanksgiving.  The great Psalm of thanks opens with, “Give thanks to the LORD for He is good.” (Ps. 136)   The Hebrew language renders a beautiful word picture, “Give thanks…” offers the idea of a reverent acknowledgment and of worship – with extended hands.

His love endures forever.” The author found it needful to repeat this phrase 26 times throughout the rest of the Psalm.  This word love (in Hebrew) is ‘hesed’.  We know it biblically as mercy, goodness, loyalty and steadfast love and even … grace.  What a pivotal word.

This mercy-filled (undeserved) love is enveloped in personal involvement and commitment to relationship.  God is pleased when it is reciprocated “For I delight in loyalty (hesed) rather than sacrifice, and in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” (Hosea 6:6) Our Lord desires faithful love and covenantal commitment.  With this, His lovingkindness is precious (Ps. 36:7) marvelous (Ps. 17:7) undeserving (Ps. 103) abounding (Ps. 86:5) reviving (Ps.119:159) satisfying (Ps. 90:14) and everlasting (Ps. 103:17).  THAT is our God! Thankful yet?

David’s well known and beloved Psalm 23 (verse 6) “Surely goodness and MERCY will follow me all the days of my life” (mercy is hesed) This ‘follow’ is not a mere tag along behind, but … PURSUIT.  David knows the concept of pursuit.  God’s unending – steadfast love full of mercy pursued David. He pursues us!  He pursues YOU. He is unrelenting.  Aren’t you GLAD He does not let go!   Reason for thanksgiving indeed!  “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good.  His love endures forever.”

As we share around the table amongst the laughter and love, the blessings of health and family, may we too raise a hand “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, For His lovingkindness is everlasting.  Let the redeemed of the LORD say so…” (Ps. 107:1-2a)

Thankful.

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

 

Extol Him! (Wait… What?)

Lift Him up.jpg

I love the Psalms, the poetic sway of song and praise, thankfulness and yes even repentance. Some give heavy pen so emotional you can almost feel the author lean from the pages, grab you with fisted hand, look you in the eye and with a raspy voice: “Turn from evil and do good!” (37:27). Ok, perhaps not the raspy voice.

Yet of all the Psalms, what most resonates for me is the exalting of God.

King David wrote: “I will extol You, my God, O King, and I will bless Your name forever and ever.” (Psalm 145:1, ESV) This, the only Psalm titled ‘A Psalm of Praise, of David’, with twenty-one verses, he opens his praise with direct address ‘my God.’ Then as king himself, with surrendered heart ‘my God and King’ and his declaring is unending ‘forever and ever.’  Such humility and so much praise.

‘I will extol You’ – extol, the word is pretty much obsolete these days. It sounds so ‘Old English.’  When was the last time we used it in a sentence?  It isn’t active in our speech, prayers, or worship.  (Or should it?)

There are two main emphases when praising God in scripture: We worship God, (expressed in word AND deed) we are personally declaring Him as Superior: He is more, He is beyond, He is above … all.  He is! In the Hebrew ‘extol’ conveys movement, the act of raising. When extolling God, we are not only raising Him in high status, but we lift His attributes as well, (the whole God-package) we grab all we know about Him and raise it as high as we can, declaring HE IS and He is all THIS! David continues the psalm extolling God in His greatness, glorious splendor, majesty, His abundant goodness, righteousness and oh, (OH!) He is abounding in steadfast love!

When we worship and extol WHO God is, we are indeed in the act of raising. Raising Him high, higher – higher than the stuff, HIGHER than ourselves.

May our life, in word and deed, extol Him.

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

 

As the Deer

drinking-deer

As the deer pants for streams of water, so pants my soul for You, O God.” (Psalm 42:1). Lovely, poetic, so full of longing. Have you ever wondered why the Psalmist compared his thirst for God with a deer? Why not, say … a camel, there are camels in the region as well.

Yet taking a much closer look the reason is beautiful. Why NOT the camel: The camel is designed to be self-sustaining; they store all the water they need in fatty tissue, conserving the water by self-regulating their body temperature. With the self-sustaining, self-regulating they can last up to not only weeks but MONTHS without drinking water simply by eating green vegetation and without even that they can survive up to 2 weeks. Water is not a daily concern for them.

The Psalmist wrote as the deer. The deer. We would first think, well, the deer is young, they need leading to water, but the word used as deer, is a mature male, not a doe or even a fawn, this isn’t Bambi, this is his dad, the Great Prince of the Forest, the stag who knows where the water is, and if he doesn’t, he will find it!   According to ‘Realtree Hunting’ a 200-pound buck will typically drink 3 to 5 quarts of water per day and as observed, will go to water before going to food. Water is their prime desired source of survival – every day. The panting done by the deer is not likened to that of a dog panting – dogs don’t sweat, so panting is a form of regulating their body heat. The ‘panting’ of this deer is a passionate, life-threatening desperate plea for survival! (see also Joel 1:20)

Think about it, what are our survival patterns? Do we tend to be more like the camel at times; self-sustaining, self-regulating, thinking we can make it on last month’s water or longer? Or are we (should we) be more like the deer, in his maturity, seeking, longing-PANTING for daily water and go to the water before anything else.

So yes, my soul pants for You, O God just like the deer longs for life-sustaining water.

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

 

Untamed

Slide1

This week I again had the privilege of teaching the women at church as we passionately move through the book of Mark. We paused as we stepped into chapter 11, ‘The Triumphal Entry.’ So good, so powerful, so God speaking. We looked at the significance of the crowd laying down their cloaks and of palm branches. But what also spoke loudly to me was Jesus riding the untamed colt.

Jesus riding the King’s procession into Jerusalem was fulfilling Zechariah’s words: “Rejoice, O people of Zion! Shout in triumph, O people of Jerusalem! Look, your king is coming to you. He is righteous and victorious, yet he is humble, riding on a donkey— riding on a donkey’s colt.” (9:9 – NLT)   What leadership style!  Jesus is establishing everything He will do & say going forward.  Other leaders of the day would come into town bloodied from war on a warhorse, strutting in pride – Jesus comes in on a colt, humble in holy restrained power.  (Be assured that power will soon be un-restrained).

Fascinating, WHY an untamed animal?  Something to consider, just an observation -another incident of untamed animals (1 Samuel 5 & 6).

(Setting the scene) The Philistines seized the Ark of the Covenant and placed it in the temple of dagon, (not worthy of capitalizing as a proper noun) the next morning the statue of dagon was toppled over FACE DOWN before the ark of God (YAY!) they picked their idol up, but the next morning the same thing – face down, BUT this time, the statues head & hands were broken off (Go God!) and were laying in the doorway of the temple (let’s just say, ‘Don’t mess with the Presence of God!’) and soon the Philistines were breaking out with tumors, even when they sent the Ark to Gath and onto Ekron, still the people broke out and went into a great panic.

The Philistine people cried out to send the Ark back to the Israelites, calling for their idol-worshipping priests (just like Pharaoh & the King in Daniels day called for their magicians & sorcerers) they asked them to figure out how to handle and get rid of the Ark. (In short) they conceived the plan to build a cart and harness two nursing mama cows that had never been yoked AND take their calves away! (Boo! Not kind!) This was a test to see if the now mad nurturing mama cows went directly – staying on course back to the children of God, if so, then the whole fiasco was not coincidence, but the work of the God of Israel  (with the golden Ark going along for the ride – now THAT would have been a sight!). BUT the cows went straight to Beth Shemesh (the desired location). In the natural, a mother cow will go where the calf is and do anything to get to them, only God has the power over the natural order.  The narrative states the cows lowing the whole way, not detouring to the left or right.

God is powerful over the untamed. God controlled the cows who carried the Ark of God – just like the young colt carried the Son of God. Do you think he (the colt) KNEW Who was draped over his back? Definitely. The creation, fully-divinely aware of his Creator. Untamed is nothing – the Presence of God is everything.

As Isaiah said, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” (30:21) – God’s voice. And Jesus said the Father would send the Holy Spirit, teaching us all things and reminding us of ALL that Jesus said. (Jn 14:26 – Holy notepad!)  He also invites us to harness up with Him and take His yoke (Matt 11:28-30).  THAT is some great untamed holy yoked guidance!

If God can control two mama cows and a young colt to carry the Presence of God – He can do the same with me, (“… your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you… you are not your own.” – 1 Cor 6:19).   Even in my untamed moments – BUT – the Presence of God!   I surrender. 

You?

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

Sacred Spaces

 

sacred-spaces

Sacred Spaces. Those places and moments when you block out the world, the noise, the chaos and quietly bow your head, offering a moment for a spiritual breath, exhaling the exhaustion of the day and inhaling His glorious strength. A place and moment of divine recognition.

When God moves and speaks, revealing Himself to us, what is our response? Do we mark those moments on the timeline of our life, like we do when measuring the growth height of our children on the doorpost or do we just give a quick nod of the head and continue with our day? I have been studying those great names of old … Abe, Isaac, Jacob and Moses, I found all had many things in common, but one, in particular, stood out to me … they built altars.

He (Abe) built an altar there to the Lord…” (Genesis 12:7) “Isaac built an altar there and called on the name of the Lord.” (Genesis 26:25) “Jacob set up a stone pillar at the place where God had talked with him…” (Genesis 35:14)

And Moses, he’s found sitting on top of a hill, below him the battle wages on. Joshua leads the Israelites against the Amalekites, they were winning as long as Moses kept his hands raised. And when he grew tired? Aaron and Hur placed a stone under him to sit and then stood beside him, holding his arms up. They did win the battle miraculously with God ability, “Moses built an altar and called it ‘The Lord is my Banner.’” (Exodus 17:15) It doesn’t say it in the narrative, but I can imagine Moses taking rocks and placing them on top of the large stone he sat on during the battle, marking the fight, marking the victory.

An altar is a landmark of God’s presence. It declares a sacred space, sacred because the holy God of the universe was there. May we be like the Patriarchs of old, may we too be altar builders. Perhaps gratefully etching the doorpost of our heart or writing in our journal or like mine, the back of my Bible. And although culturally, we no longer gather various rocks and pile them in our backyard, yet maybe in the far corner – a stone marks the season where battles were fought, where battles were WON! Recognizing, remembering and declaring THIS is where God met with me.  Honoring and worshipping He Who is faithful, He Who is worthy.

Sacred spaces.

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