Latest

Selah, Pause & Praise

Our lives tend to ramble from one crazy thing to another in quick motion. Our pockets buzz with Twitter, Instagram, texting and of course Facebook. All the while #hashtagging each moment of each day. Our lives—on the go.

Fast.

Busy.

Tired.

I have one word, Selah.

“But Thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory and the lifter up of mine head.
I cried unto the LORD with my voice and He heard me out of His holy hill.
Selah
” – King David, Psalm 3:3-4

Selah is used seventy-four times in the Bible. All but three are in the Psalms, the others are in the Prayer of Habakkuk (3:3,9,13). The purest meaning of the word really is uncertain. A common thread however conveys Selah to be rendered from two Hebrew words: salah to pause. The other, salal, meaning to praise

Scholars creatively speculate:  Selah, due to its poetic usage in the Psalms can refer to a musical or worshipful note indicating a transition. “Here, take a breath, here” (before moving on). It can be a crescendo (the high point in the gradual increase of intensity). Or it can be a musical interlude; a pause designed to disrupt or to draw attention (may I offer) draw attention in the pause.   Pause leading to rest and reflect on the preceding words. Meditating on the depth of insight.

The Psalm above was written when David was being pursued by his “seeking the throne for his own” son, Absalom. He opens the Psalm with, “O LORD, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me! Many are saying, “God will not deliver him.” Selah.” Can you hear the earnest tone, the anguish of heart? Verse 3BUT YOU are my shield around me, O LORDYOU bestow glory on me and lift up my head. To the LORD I cry aloud, and He answers me from His holy hillSelah” (emphasis mine). 

How many of us need to gracefully transition from one circumstance to another? Selah. Perhaps take note and appreciate the high point. Selah.  When was the last time we stood still and took a breather, a serious breather —we paused and praised? Selah.  When was the last time we rested and truly became aware of Who God is and what He is doing? 

But You, O LORD.  Selah.

An amazingly beautiful word. May we too find selah among the poetry of our lives. Pause and praise.

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

A Day I Can Forgo

It’s here, THAT season. It’s already in stores. Halloween.  Stores have freshly stocked shelves with 30% off ticket items by the rows. There are black cats, witch hats, spiders, eerie tombstones and yes, the ever-dreaded skulls.   I LOVE the fall; it is my favorite season. The colors so rich. I decorate seasonally my home with the warm orange, burgundy and brown tones. But Halloween does not roll this gals socks.

I am often asked why I have chosen not to celebrate Halloween. Why I don’t find it “all in fun.”  What is fun about it?  If you narrow it down, take a step back, the basic theme is of fear, death, and darkness—regardless of how we attempt to cutesy it or slap a smile on it.  No, not for me. Before I get all kinds of comments, emails, texts, and smoke signals, please let me explain why (for me) I choose not to.   My family used to do the Halloween thing when I was little. Sure, I wore the thin fabric climb in costumes with the sweaty plastic masks.  But, after I came to understand and was adopted as a daughter of the Most High God and learning of His Majesty and His glorious light—I do not participate in the day of darkness. Yes, you would say “darkness and light struggle 365 days a year, why be bothered by one day?” One-singled-out-day. 

Regardless. A day I can forgo.

I have seen (you can’t un-see or un-know) and experienced too much from the dark side to play with it like a child’s toy or pretend in dress up.  While the parties take place, the candy bowls filled and children run from door to door, unbeknownst to us in the background, far in the dark corners, there are cultic activities taking place.  Those deeply into the occult take this holiday very seriously and yes, the dark forces they are dealing with are very real!  (*See the history of Halloween below). And by the way, (standing a lil taller on my soapbox) there is no such thing as a “Good Witch” regardless of how Hallmark wants to title it. 

We must remember, “our great enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).  Darkness always has an agenda.  ALWAYS.  It will come again and again for any crack—any opportunity to subtly peek in with the ugly and the demonic. Anything to oppose the gracious love and beauty of our God.

Alrighty. Gently climbing down off my soapbox (as not to hurt myself) and dragging it back to the corner.  No condemnation, just offering insight. You are loved.

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

*History of Halloween: “Halloween’s customs are thought to have been influenced and dated back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in) the celebration of their New Year on November 1. They believed the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred (Oct 31) and the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities, this done in attempts to appease them. During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other’s fortunes.” [History.com] In addition, according to Wiccans, Halloween is the time when the veil between the living and the dead is considered to be the thinnest. They celebrate and take advantage of such status. I used to work with an openly devout Wiccan (we sat next to each other). I was so distracted by her dark atmosphere. It was creepy. As I began to pray for her and over her, within a week, she was gone. I came in one day and her desk was cleaned out.

Intentional

Being intentional is defined as being committed to giving our attention to what is important to us.  What we prioritize we are eager and ready to address.                                                                  

King David was intentional when bringing the ark of God back to Jerusalem – the second time.  The first attempt didn’t go so well. Things went terribly wrong.   They loaded it up on a cart and headed out (2 Samuel 6).  The oxen stumbled, Uzzah reached out to stabilize it, but “the LORD’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act” – Uzzah died. He was not authorized to touch it (see Numbers 4/see also Leviticus 10:1-2, regarding “unauthorized”).  The narrative states that David was not only angry but was also afraid – and now not willing to proceed.  So much went wrong in that first attempt.  Yes, David was zealous (ready & eager) but zeal alone, zeal without knowledge and what doesn’t have God’s approval makes for a terrible mess. (Anyone? Or is it just me?)

David soon finds out that where he left the ark (with Obed-Edom) he and his whole family is being greatly blessed. David realizes perhaps the ark is not the problem.  The problem was his transporting method.  There was God-given instruction to be followed (Exodus 25:12-15, leave the poles in the rings, so that there would be no mistake on HOW to carry it – see also Joshua 3:3, the Levites carry the ark).  David prioritized the ark of God and again committed to bringing it to Jerusalem, but this time he did it the right way.  He was intentional.  “It was because you, the Levites, did not bring it up the first time that the LORD our God broke out in anger against us. We did not inquire of Him about how to do it in the prescribed way” (1 Chronicles 15:13). The prescribed way. There was consecration, sacrifices and worship. They brought the ark to Jerusalem. The story goes on to say after all this, “The LORD had given him (David) rest from all his enemies around him” (2 Samuel 7:1).

David was also intentional about God’s presence, “I have set the LORD always before me. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken” (Psalm 16:8). He was intentional about God’s word, “I seek You with all my heart; do not let me stray from Your commands. I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against You. Praise be to You, O LORD; teach me Your decrees” (Psalm 119:10-12).

Being intentional is prioritizing with a plan and putting that plan into practice.

One of the greatest enemies of the heart is regret. Disappointed over something that has happened or a missed opportunity. Regret what we did.   Regret what we “didn’t.”  May we all like King David, be intentional about the things of God. Our relationship with Him and with others. If needed, make some adjustments.  Stay focused. Don’t get distracted.  Do it His way. Be purposeful of His presence –His word.  What a heartache if we heard the whispered “If only I had…”  escape from our lips because we were not –intentional.

Intentional is the word for the year at our church.  I love it. I have embraced it. 

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

Ishmael Issues

Have you ever had a goal and then do a course alteration? But in doing so, you find there were huge ramifications with the change?

So it was with Abraham* of the bible. “The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:1-3, NIV).

So off he goes. Through some trekking and delays, he and his wife, Sarah* and Lot, his nephew, end up in Canaan. It was here God said, “To your offspring I will give THIS land” (v7, emphasis mine). He was home. Abraham built altars to the Lord and pitched his tent in many places within Canaan.  Soon a famine comes. Abraham loads everyone up and leaves and goes to Egypt in hope of finding provision. He goes without God telling him to.  You can almost hear God say, “Wait, where are you going?”  

Once in Egypt, Abraham prompts Sarah to say she is Abraham’s sister (a half truth, she is his half-sister). Due to Sarah’s beauty, Abraham was safer as her brother, than her husband (as husband, he’d likely be killed). Sarah was taken into Pharaoh’s palace. Pharaoh at first treated Abraham well, because of Sarah. He gave Abraham sheep, oxen and donkeys. He also gave him male and female servants (Genesis 12:16). Personally, a gift certificate would have worked (just kidding).

This is where it gets interesting. Pharaoh finds out Sarah was Abrahams’ wife. Just in time.  God protected Sarah (and her future offspring to be only from Abraham).  They were sent out of Egypt with all Abe had acquired while there.  Abraham acquired “female servants” – one was named Hagar (Genesis 16:1).  To make a long story short: God had promised Abraham descendants, (Genesis 15:1-6) yet he and Sarah had no children.  So, Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham to bear her a child (as was the custom of the day).  Ishmael was born.

But Ishmael was not the true heir. Isaac – Abraham and Sarah’s birth son was the true promised heir of God (Genesis 17:15-21; 21:1-7).  Ishmael and Hagar are later sent away and the Ishmaelites grow into the Arab countrymen we know today, which the majority (not all) make claim to follow Allah (which is NOT Yahweh) within the Muslim religion. Since then, there has been friction between the Jewish nation (and Christians) and a large community of Arab Muslim practicing people. The Muslims claim that their ancestor Ishmael was the heir to the promise (but the holy scriptures of the Bible state otherwise).

Course alteration.

If Abraham had stayed put in Canaan and trusted that God would take care of him, provide and protect him and not flee to Egypt – where he tried to fix things on his own, he would not have brought back Hagar.  There would not have been an “Ishmael Issue.” 

I find it fascinating that when Abe and crew were in Canaan, Abraham built altars to God (symbolic of worship) but while in Egypt there is no mention of altar building.  Shouldn’t THAT have been a red flag for Abe? His situation, his location, his heart motive didn’t constitute worship for his God.  He wasn’t where he was supposed to be – worship didn’t flow from it.  If we can’t worship God where we are – we are in the wrong place.  Abraham did go back to Canaan, where he again built an altar to the Lord (Genesis 13:12,18).

How many times do we try to fix things ourselves? Go where we are not directed to go. Even if the detour is meant to be temporary, anything away from God’s will, can prove disastrous. Endanger others. Perhaps go and bring back what was not intended for us.  When we do, we too have Ishmael Issues.  Consequences. Hardships. Even birth friction where not needed. True obedience is doing what God says, when He says, and how He says to do it. Any course altering is ultimately, disastrously, sadly – disobedience.

Course alteration.

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

*Abram’s name wasn’t changed until chapter 17, for familiarity’s sake I used Abraham.  The same for Sarai, changed to Sarah.

Note: Canaan was the Promised Land – we see the history of the Israelites took quite a few detours and delays to get back home.

Know Your Weeds

Weeds. A weed is defined as a plant growing where it is not wanted or intentionally sown.  A plant that competes or interferes with the activity of deliberately placed plants.

Weeds.  God has been speaking to me about the weeds in our life.

Jesus speaks directly to the thorny weeds in the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13, Mark 4, and Luke 8).  A parable is a simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson.  The narrative states Jesus was teaching a large group of folks.  His story telling of these four different scenarios would most definitely encompass them all. In this story, although mightily important, the Sower is not the focal point, he goes about sowing, scattering the seed at will. The seed, although powerfully essential, it too is not the prominent point.  The point is the receiving ground. 

Four Seeding Scenarios: First, the seed fell on the path, where it was trampled and became bird food.  The second, the seed fell on rocky ground, where it sat in shallow dirt, exposed, receiving no nutrients or moisture, and dried up.  The third, the seed was among the thorny weeds, the thorns choked out the seeded plants.  The fourth, the seed fell on good ground, matured, producing fruit.

Notice the first two seedings don’t really hit the soil, they are on the path and rocks (external).  The second two are “soiled” (internal).  The seed, which Jesus explains is the Word of God, it is taken in – into the heart.

Yet. Weeds.

In that area, Palestinian weeds like these thorns can grow up to six feet in height and have a major root system.  Regardless of the Godzilla size, the weeds compete for nutrients. This competing-choking literally means to suffocate.  To suffocate is to halt the ability to thrive, to breathe, to live.  Fascinating.  The Word of God is “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16).

Jesus goes on to explain, “The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those who hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity” (emphasis mine, Luke 8:14, NLT).

Cares, riches and pleasures AND the word of God.  Yep.  Sounds crowded.  Our worries, cares easily bleed into anxiety, which brings disruption to the mind, the heart and yes, the soul. Riches can be defined as seeking hard after “having the wants.” And pleasures, those distractions that pull our look elsewhere for gratification.  Individually they are not bad.  But.  When they take time, effort and attention away from the Word, we end up having no time for it – no time for God. 

Yes, weeds. “But all too quickly” they suck the ever-loving God stuff right out of our life.  Our receiving ground starts strong – but the distractions come, the concern for spiritual things are crowded out by material things.  The potential of fruit has just shriveled and never matured.

Weeds.  What worries suffocate you?  What are you seeking hard after?  God, His word, or stuff?  What distractions have you looking – what has your attention?

Know YOUR weeds. 

How are weeds established?  Literally, they are poop droppings (eewwWW) or they are blown in by the winds.  They are brought in with fill dirt. How are they destroyed? They are pulled.  They are dug deep and pulled, making sure you get the whole root, if not, the remains will continue to grow.  They are pulled out before they have a chance to flower and reseed – multiply.

Weeds. Competing or interfering with the activity of the deliberately placed Word of God.  Watch your dirt.  Protect the seed. Do some weed pulling.

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

*Thank you to my Master Gardener friend Kathy B for your insightful advice on tending to weeds. 

Left Handed

Happy “International Left-handers Day.” Yes, it’s an annual celebrated day, established in 1976.  Studies suggest that approximately 10% of the world’s population is left-handed. 

Lefties…

• Use the right side of the brain the most.

• Twice as likely to be a man.

• Better at multi-tasking.

• Of the eight most recent U.S. Presidents, four have been left-handed.

• Less able to roll their tongue than a righty (fun facts to share with your friends).

What does the Bible say about being left-handed?  In the Hebrew “left-handed” is itter and only mentioned two times in scripture (Judges 3 & 20) and literally means “not of the right hand”- thus, left-handed.

Judges 20:  In short: There was a very icky situation and due to it, war broke out between the tribe of Benjamin and all the rest of the tribes of Israel.  “Among all these were 700 chosen men who were left-handed…” (v16).  These lefties were in addition to 26,000 gathered men of the tribe of Benjamin. “Chosen” is a key word. The Benjamites went looking for left-handed men.

WHY?

Back up to Judges 3. Israel had again went about doing “evil in the eyes of the Lord” (Boooo!) God allowed the bad king Eglon of Moab to help teach the Israelites a lesson. A lesson through warfare.  Israel cried out to God and He sent Ehud (of the tribe of Benjamin) who just happened to be left-handed. Left-handed Ehud goes on to defeat the bad king. (YAY!) Moab became subject to Israel and there was peace in the kingdom for 80 years. (Ahh!) All of Israel knew the story of the left-handed Benjamite – Ehud! 

THAT is why the Benjamites went looking for lefties – in hope of having a military advantage.  They were known for being able to “sling a stone at a hair and not miss” (Judges 20:16). But the Benjamites, however, did lose the battle – guess the lefties missed. (Oops!)

Although interesting left-handed facts, what a lesson for us, a true principle to help guide us. We can’t always reach from our past in hope that what worked before will work now.  God used the left-handed man to show the Israelites that when they are in fellowship with Him, He takes the least (one man) and makes the MOST.  His lessons take on a new angle with each battle. Left-handed or right-handed, new battle, new battle plan. God’s plan.

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

Side note: Throwing in Jewish custom/culture: Right opposed to left: When offering a blessing, the right hand is extended (I.e. Genesis 48, Jacob blessing Joseph’s sons, he crossed his arms). Also, the “right” parts of the body play an important role in sacrifices (see Leviticus) such as the right thigh, right ear, right thumb. The “right” generally expressed strength such as the “right hand of God” (Ex. 15:6, 12; Isa. 62:8; Ps. 17:7) and which was worthy of the Psalmists’ praises (Ps. 98:1; 118:15, 16).

If the left is considered weak (as opposed to the right/strength) it is quite ironic that after the Israelites turned back to God, He chose the weak handed man Ehud to deliver them. Please know, being left or right-handed does not determine value!  Left-handed vs right is more symbolic than anything.

You Thrill Me

Thrill seekers, they go, they do. They do again.  Just for the sake of experiencing something out of the ordinary.  They fly high. Jump as to free fall. There are those who desire speed.  Much is spent to seek this out and usually at a high price, which is only for a fleeting, temporary, high adrenaline – moment. 

Life alone can be like a roller coaster ride. The ups and downs and hairpin turns.  The un-expectancy of it all.  No one needs to throw me out of a plane!  I have, however, been on a wild ride.   It doesn’t require a ticket or weeks of planning.  BUT it does cost something. Me. All of me.   This journey with God is a dandy.  It offers excitement where not expected. Views I would not normally see and experiences only He can give.

One of my favorite bible verses is found in Psalm 92:4 “You thrill me, LORD, with all you have done for me!  I sing for joy because of what You have done” (NLT).  “You thrill me, LORD” pause and think on this for a moment, even say it out loud!  It is the result of the past, the present and a request for more.  When was the last time we got excited about God and knowing Him?

Peter writes “Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord” (2 Peter 1:2, NIV). This knowledge, this knowing Jesus is not only to recognize Him, as if to point and declare. This goes beyond what is more commonly (biblically) rendered knowing as to see, to discern. Peter is stating we find favor and experience peace when we become fully acquainted with Him. He exhorts us to heart knowledge. To literally experience Jesus

This generation seems to think that just because they have seen it done (Thank you YouTube) or read about it or talked about it or know someone who has, they too have experienced it. There is a big difference between watching, reading, and talking about flying a B52 Bomber Jet and actually crawling up into the cockpit and strap yourself in and pilot it. 

Experience.

How are we with our knowing Jesus?  Are we still just talking and reading about Him? Or watching others enjoy Him?  I for one, want Jesus to go beyond my head and captivate my heart!

Join me. YOU seek Him.   YOU strap yourself in for the ride of your life!

Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord” – Let Him THRILL you!

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

*The picture of the lil guy above, I have no clue who he is or who took it. He has challenged me for years. He is thrilled.

Lovingly Intentional

In my quiet time, I have been reading through the book of Galatians. I am fascinated by Paul explaining his encounter with Jesus. He, zealous in the traditions of his forefathers, advancing ahead of his colleagues, and once a persecutor of the Christians – “But when God…” (Galatians 1:15, see key verses below).  Don’t you just love it!  We all need us a “but when God” in our life!  Paul goes on to say God called him by His grace and revealed His Son in him.

The word Paul chooses to use for reveal is thought provoking. There are two uses for this Greek word. One is used to describe something given to the mind; God reveals to the intellect of man.  However, here Paul uses the other usage. Within the context this revealing is done to the senses. To sight, hearing, feeling, touching, and smelling.  Meaning, when Jesus presented Himself to Paul (remember the bright blinding light) He knocked Paul on his backside and was appealing to his senses NOT his intellect.  Paul was a highly educated man, a thinking man. Perhaps God was getting past his head, so he could NOT attempt to rationalize the encounter, (thus three days of blindness, see Acts 9).  The verse goes on to say, all this was done “so that” he might preach Him.

I appreciate the word of God is so practical. The phrase “so that” not only gives us insight, but also is powerful – “this is why.”  Good godly cause and effect.  Not that God needs a reason, but graciously inspired the writers to include it.  “Walk in the ways of the LORD your God so that you may live and prosper” (Deut. 5:33).  “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16,17). Paul prays “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better” (Ephesians 1:17). Boldly Paul declares, dress appropriately, “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” (Ephesians 6:11).

I too have experienced a strong “so that.”  In all my growing up years, I was challenged (an understatement) with reading.  I suffered from Comprehension Deficit Disorder. I could (s-l-o-w-l-y) read the words but had really no clue what I just read. It all got lost somewhere. I graduated High School with a 4th grade reading level.  Stepping into my plans of being a graphic artist, God called me out.  When He did, in all honesty, I laughed. I did a Sarah. He was calling me (the gal who couldn’t read) to a book – THE Book!  Long story short.  I ended up at Bible College.  It was there He healed my mind. I know beyond any doubt, He graciously healed me “so that” I would teach His word. In my lacking all those years, God was training me.  He trained me to listen for the details. Paying attention to detail is important.  The who, what, where, how and why. It isn’t me.  It is Him through me (to the glory of God).   My life response is dedicated to His calling, to His word, to Him.  To the One Who opened my mind.   

May we spot the so that’s in scripture. Knowing there is a reason, and the reason is intended to be known. May we also spot the “But when God… so that…” in our own life.  Perhaps He addresses us intellectually or He does a Paul, getting our attention and puts us on our backside.

He is in the detail.  He is lovingly intentional. He is faithful.

So that.

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

Key Verses: “I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man” (Galatians 1:11-16 NIV).

Positioning for Passion

Passion.  When you read that word what first comes to mind? That passion or zeal we have that compels us – makes us –forces us to places of the heart that we HAVE to have more!   Does our desire for more include more of … GOD?   More of His word.  More time spent in His presence.  Passion is our response to being completely, utterly, astonishingly captivated by Him.

A while back, I had a gal express that she was amazed at my passion for God and His word and compared it to (I will summarize what I heard) her lack of desire, discipline and delight in her relationship with God.  Instead of those three, she found herself basically surviving in the doldrums found in duty of relationship.  I’ve been there – done THAT! (Still do at times).

I would offer, if we lack passion – ASK FOR IT!   God will “give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). Then we seek discipline.  We are putting feet to our desire.  We want more, so now we are going to position ourselves for just that.  If we want more of His word, then we set aside time to read His word, study it and think on it, most importantly, have the word–study us. It is “living and active” (Hebrews 4:12).  God’s word is designed to be engaged.  This takes discipline.   This is the practical side of positioning.

We may need to address our alarm clock issue, so we can get up just a few minutes earlier.   Or remove the other books on the nightstand and place only one Book there.   Ask the Lord to show us creative ways to make way, make room for reading, talking and listening.

When Jesus says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength (Mark 12:30). He is saying our all is with completeness – no holding out!   There is no dividing up our love, like a pie graph. We draw out a slice for this and for that and what is left is God stuff –God’s slice. No, He gets the whole pie.

Desire, discipline and delight for me, it paints a picture of getting in line, like that at the store. Our desire takes us to the line.   We want the prize that is offered at the head of the line.  Discipline keeps us in the line.  We may be distracted by those walking by with other stuff, but we REALLY want what this line has to offer – so we stay.   Delight is getting to the head of the line and so overwhelmed with the prize (JESUS!) that we RUN and again get back in line for MORE.  THAT, to me is PASSION!  The progression of passion: Desire, discipline, delight. May we find ourselves always in the line and always running back for more–of GOD!

It is up to US to take our relationship with the Lord seriously.    Any relationship must be cultivated.  Bible scholar and good godly guy, Charles Spurgeon said “To delight in God is as much a privilege as a duty.”  Both delight and duty (a task or action required for responsibility) are part of knowing, loving and serving God.

Passion.

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

Be Still

Have you ever stood in the woods – just stood. Didn’t move. You listened. Quiet. Leaving the noise of the city for this contrasting quiet. It can be captivating can’t it? “Be still” conveys not only to “let drop” what is in your fisted hand, and stop striving, but too formulates a forsaking, an abandoning. May we abandon the chaos around us, the crazy wild noises that can forge our perspectives and let us settle in with the knowledge that HE IS GOD. 

Quiet.

I Was Bold

Recently I had the honor to speak to our young adult women at our church, their ages ranging from 18 to 28(ish).   I was given an hour to share my heart, a blueprint on practical ways of being a Godly gal in this generation. As I looked into the eyes of each young woman, I truly knew the privilege and opportunity before me. I was honest.  I was real.  I was bold.  I shared from God’s word and my personal experiences. 

(In short) First, “Have a pre-determined answer.”  How often do circumstances arise and demand a response from us and we tend to flounder – grasping for the right answer, the right behavioral response.  When we do, we usually grab the closest and easiest and often comes in the form of compromise.  We looked at Genesis 14, where Abram stood before the King of Sodom, refusing his offer of the spoils of war, “I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, and have taken an oath that I will accept nothing from you. So that you can say “I” made Abram rich” (vv22-23).   Immediately after this, God comes and tells Abe “I am your shield, your very great reward” (15:1).  Abram had a pre-determined oath.  He had his God answer.  We too need to be prepared.  Now is the time for preparation – don’t wait until you’re in the midst of the stuff.

Second, “Don’t get distracted.”  Solomon, the wise guy wrote: “Look straight ahead and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path” (Proverbs 4:25-26, NLT). We discussed “what is it that distracts you most – the quickest?”  Be aware of this and apply the first element – have a pre-determined answer for your distraction.  Stay the course. Follow Jesus. NEVER waiver.

This flowed right into the third element: “Position Yourself.”   King David wrote: “I have set the LORD always before me, because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken” (Psalm 16:8). You desire good God stuff? What – who have you set before you?  Be intentional about placement.  Where are you and what are you thinking and doing?   Are you in church?  Your friends, have you chosen wisely?  Do you have some folks that will lovingly address your stuff?  Are you reading God’s instruction manual?  Also, has God told you something specific? What are you doing about it?  Intentional positioning.

With the fourth point, we camped out there most of our time together.  We discussed what it is to “Be a good family member.”  When I was growing up, my dad was a businessman.  He owned two grocery stores, one convenience store and two restaurants. We (myself and the sibs) heard dad often say. “Remember you’re a DeBus.” Meaning, we were expected to speak and behave in a manner that represented the family well.  So it is with our God family.  Not only be a good witness to Jesus’ name, but a good member to each other. Kind and forgiving.

Jesus said we are to love God with our all and love our neighbor (Matthew 22:36-40). Paul too wrote: “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves” (Romans 12:10). Loving our neighbor, our brother (in particular) means we help protect them.  We talked about our personal expression, about – modesty (in detail, I don’t think we forgot a thing). Our brothers have a responsibility for their own eyes, their own heart, their own disciplines and decisions – but why not help them out!

We closed the evening (being a good family member) with brainstorming how they (the younger folks) can connect with the older folks. There is a boatload of wisdom wrapped up in our older saints.  Prior to this evening, I polled six women, (ranging in age from 30’s to 70’s).  I asked them to please tell me, if they could reach back and speak to their younger (20 something) self – what advice would they offer.  I read the list to the gals. It was impacting.

A great reminder for us all (myself included).  Practical ways for good God stuff in this generation: Have a pre-determined answer.  Don’t get distracted. Position Yourself.  Be a good family member.

All for His glory. (In Jesus name).

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

Don’t Get Distracted

Recently I heard a most profound statement. While out blueberry picking, the farmer handed me a bucket and waved me off down the trail, pointing out beyond where I stood. He told me where the best picking was. He closed with “And don’t get distracted on the way.” Meaning, you’ll see berries, but if you want the BEST, and lots of them–keep going–stay focused!

It was true.  As I walked the dusty aisles between the mounded rows of bushes, yes, there were beautiful blueberries scattered here and there. But as I took a closer look, they had been picked over.  I could tell other folks stopped here, at the very beginning of the field and picked.  So did the next picker and the next.  They didn’t journey out, they stopped at the first sight of berries.  I would venture to say, some may have grown frustrated, thinking, the berries weren’t ripe yet (since primarily only green berries were left where they stood) and not going forth caused their perspective of the field to be lacking.

As I picked handfuls of plump berries (at the other end of the field) I thought about how true his statement was, “And don’t get distracted on the way.”  We can apply this in our daily lives.  How often are we venturing along and “Oh, looky there – ‘shiny.’” 

Distracted. 

Before we know it, we have dropped our (metaphorical) roadmap and we are all over the place. Distraction keeps us swerving and from the best!

King Solomon, the wisest biblical guy wrote: “Look straight ahead and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path” (Proverbs 4:25-26, NLT). What wonderful imagery. The idea being conveyed is someone who studies what is ahead. It isn’t a quick glance; it is a taking pause and looking intently as to squint (“fix your eyes”).  Once understanding what is ahead, the plan is weighed out and the best route is calculated (“mark out a straight path”).  Solomon goes on to say, “Don’t get sidetracked” (swerve to the right or to the left) – distracted.

The Pastor of the book of Hebrews wrote: “…let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith” (12:1b-2, NLT).  THIS is our specifically designed “fix your eyes – mark out a straight path” plan.

Peter too adds with strong encouragement, “Discipline yourselves, keep alert” (1 Peter 5:8a).  Folks there is a “roaring lion” out there ready, waiting to destroy your “everything.”

Don’t get distracted.

What is it that distracts us most?  What distracts us the quickest?  Do we too stop and begin picking and attempting to fill our bucket, all the while there is abundance further out in the field?

Point to ponder.

Look straight ahead, fix your eyes, mark out the straight path.  Jesus.

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

Peace or Pit

Life. Life happens. Have you ever come out of a foggy situation, tattered, a little bruised, (metaphorically speaking)? Your heart aches with that familiar ache of disappointment in someone’s behavior?  (Or is the behavior yours?)

Their pain, jealousy, hatred, and insecurity causing them to act out in anger. Pain and anger are very intricately linked, that the dividing line fades when actions are applied. If these words resonate even with some small hint of recognition, then you too can relate to Joseph of the Bible.

Joseph, an incredible story–the events that groomed him, the people that mocked him, and the God Who delivered him. One verse dances off the page as it defines his circumstance. Genesis 37:4 “When the brothers saw that their father loved him (Joseph) more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.”

The word used, they “could not speak a kind word to him” seems to get lost in many of our bible translations. In the Hebrew, the word (kind) is shalom. The brothers due to their jealousy and hatred could not speak peace to Joseph. Peace, meaning health, prosperity, blessing and amazingly so, it can be rendered–safe.

Noticing on in the story of the brothers (turn tormentors) they see Joseph from afar.  Their deceitful plan is forever etched in history. First, they plan to kill him. Nope too harsh, (don’t we ALL rationalize). Then they found what was convenient. A deep well. When in haste convenience seems to always trump wisdom!

It says they stripped him of his robe, one of many things that ticked them off, let’s start with the robe, the outward sign of our jealousy.  They attempted to remove the evidence of his favored relationship–the gift from their father. I believe this was not done in silence. I bet there was a lot of taunting going on. Rude comments, jesting, a jab here and shove there. Then the final shove, leading to pit dwelling. Then their brother was sold into slavery.

Jealousy and hatred withhold peace. May we think of our own lives: Are we speaking peace to and over others, (regardless of how brief our time is with them). Are we allowing them a safe place in our life? Are we doing our part to help them prosper, stay healthy? Or not?  Is there someone who has what we want? Oh, it may not be the enduring love of a father, but perhaps our jealousy stems elsewhere.  At what cost does our lack of peace affect others? Is it worth it?  Are we giving them the gift of peace or throwing them in a pit?   (Ouch!)

I have heard it said, “Bitterness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” It actually hurts us in the long run. The story goes on that Joseph becomes highly successful while the brothers and family live in feminine. They ultimately end up going to Joseph for their very survival.  So, who was it that ended up in the pit?  The brothers or Joseph?

The Pastor of Hebrews exhorts, “Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life ” (Hebrews 12:14a, NLT). Yes, work it WILL be. It won’t be easy and not pretty at times. Yet peace is what we are called to.  Paul states in Galatians that the fruit of the Spirit–the qualities of having Jesus in our life are “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control” (5:22,23).  

Oh Jesus, we invite You, we need You, live in and through us! May it begin with us. May we be Your ambassadors of peace. 

Peace or a pit?  For us and them.

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

Anticipation of Him

In the final days and moments before Christ’s death, Jesus instructs Peter and John “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover” (Luke 22:8).  Jesus goes on to explain the plan, and the disciples go and do as He says.  This, the beginning of an incredible time between the disciples and the Lord. 

Preparation.

Joshua too gave preparation plans.  They were at the edge of the Jordan River, ready to cross over into the Promised Land.  Men were sent to each encampment telling the Israelites that when they saw the priests with the ark, they were to move out and follow it, (but keep your distance) “then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before” (3:2-4).  Joshua tells the people, “Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you” (v5).  The priests and the Ark (God’s presence) were to stand in the Jordan and eventually remained standing in the middle until everyone was on the other side. God parted the river, allowing His people to cross over to the much awaited, highly anticipated, it’s finally yours–Promised Land.

Preparation and positioning.

Other instances when folks prepared?   Noah (enough said).  David, bringing the Ark back (Take 2) he prepared and implemented the instructions (Ex 25:13-15; Nu 4:15; 1 Chron 15:15; 2 Samuel 6). And “the LORD gave him rest from all his enemies” (2 Samuel 7:1b).  Jesus, He told the disciples to stay put and wait for the Presence and the power (Acts 1-2).

This preparing for God, has the Hebrew picture of adjusting.  Picture if you will– straightening your shirt.  Brushing the hair out of your eyes. Patting the dust off your pants. Standing ready. Head bowed. Possibly even taking your shoes off–for this is holy ground.  Jesus and the disciples, their preparation carries the same exact meaning, to make ready, to adjust. The disciples, through obedience, adjusted their plan, their direction, their focus. The opposite of prepare?  Neglect.  It even goes to the extreme as to overlook, NOT by accident, but intentionally ignoring.

WOW! If we too had such anticipation–excitement for God to move in our midst! What would we do to prepare?  Would we intentionally obey or ignore it? The people were called to consecrate themselves, simply put, step aside.  Step aside, withdraw from (worldly things) and step to (God). It often meant to clean up and abstain from certain behaviors. Out of obedience, perhaps we too need to adjust our plan, our direction and focus. For some of us, just showing up is a clear starter. Listen. Listen for His instruction. *

Preparation and positioning – anticipation of Him.

*Many years ago, while in a very dry place spiritually. I asked the Lord what I needed to do to prepare for Him to move in my life.  He was faithful and gave me precise instructions.  I was to get up early (O dark hundred early) and read ONLY from a certain Bible that didn’t have any (not a one) note in it. No study notes, no handwritten notes.  Just His word. Out of obedience, and anticipation, I prepared and positioned myself. I read and read and prayed. Just me and Him and His word.  After a couple of months doing this, I ended up on the floor, face down – He moved.  It was finally after six months I felt released to study again. One half of a year. One hundred and eighty-one days. Prepared and positioned in obedience.

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

Find us at Inspired Fountain

Obedience

Moses. He led the people in the wilderness for forty years. Forty long dusty dry years.  The time was full of murmuring and complaining among the people.  Multiple times the narrative states Moses (and Aaron) went to their faces before God. Could it possibly be that they were ducking?  Ducking the wrath of God?  Just a silly (putting myself in the story – thought). I can’t imagine the frustration Moses may have experienced. On one occasion, they need, want–DEMAND water.  Moses goes to God. God told Moses to strike the rock and water gushed forth (Exodus 17). God miraculously provided in the wilderness.

Further in the story; another place and time in the wilderness; they needed, wanted–DEMANDED water (Numbers 20). The same exact scenario.  But was it?  Moses was given a different set of instructions. Take the staff, gather the people – speak to the rock.  Moses summoned and spoke to the people (not the rock) “Must we bring you water out of this rock?” He raised his staff and struck the rock not once–but twice.  Water did gush out. All the people, including the animals got their fill. 

God tells Moses because of this; he wasn’t going into the Promised Land. Not only did Moses take credit for the miracle water, but it is painfully interesting that God says his disobedience was “breaking faith” (ESV) and he did not esteem God holy (Numbers 20:12 & Deuteronomy 32:51-52). Moses’ behavior conveyed he was not satisfied with what God instructed and his altered actions were more forceful and terrifying, thus not giving a proper representation of God.

You shall not go.”

How harsh was that!  We all make mistakes.  Poor choices.  Stupid behavior.  But.  God gives specific instructions for–a purpose.  Often, it is detailed.  Sometimes, a general point. But it is His purpose.  We may not or cannot see it and may never know–why.

When we read throughout the bible, we see God’s redemptive story from the moment God asks the man in the Garden, “Where are you?” all the way through to last “Amen” of scripture. So much foreshadowing of Jesus.  Jesus, Himself declares the scriptures speak of Him (Luke 24:26-27).

Moses’ disobedience messed with God foretelling of Jesus.* Do not mess with the message! You see, Jesus is our living water (John 7:38) and Paul spoke about when the ancients were in the wilderness and God provided food and water (speaking both in the natural and the spirit) they “drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:4, BSB). Jesus, our Rock was only struck once–at Calvary. If we want the living water, we need only to “speak” to Him in prayer. 

How often do we truly consider our (dis)obedience?  Do we too alter our response by behaving differently, our choices, thinking we know better? Does it only affect us?  Our family?  Our church?  Our community?  Or perhaps delay a work of God?  Do we, like Moses, offer an improper representation of the Lord?  Do WE mess with the message!  Regardless of our frustration we are to obey.

Point to ponder.

We can’t leave Moses there.  This failure did not break his relationship with God.  He continued to lead the people forward.  He did make it. He made it to the Promised land. Fast forward, Mark 9:2-8: Mt of Transfiguration: Jesus, Peter, James and John with an appearance of Elijah and Moses. Moses initially asked to see God’s glory (Exodus 33) God said, “You can’t handle it” not here, not yet (paraphrased) but here on the Mt he saw His glory – Jesus. (John 1:14).

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

*Many things in the OT were what is known as typology.  A symbol, a representation of something yet future.