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Godly Muttering

I am a people watcher. What a royal hoot to sit and just observe those around us. The mall is my favorite, so many folks going about their business. They carry bags, purses, pushing strollers and some are sitting on benches watching … ME!  Have you ever observed someone walking just beyond you and talking and there is no apparent person with them, they just… talk.  Strange yes, but we simply shrug it off.

Talking to oneself is extremely biblical, (within the context of sane reality) The Psalmist expresses in Psalm 119:15-16 “I meditate on Your precepts and consider Your ways. I delight in Your decrees; I will not neglect Your word.”  (Emphasis mine)  In the Hebrew, meditation means, ‘to rehearse in one’s mind, and to ponder.’ Yet it is more, it literally means to mutter, to converse with oneself. Those of ancient Israel would be found working in the fields, or atop a hill watching their herd all the while, they were muttering to themselves. This was a way of life. They would recite aloud to themselves the ways of God and His word. Reinforcing and strengthening his understanding by meditating on verses over and over. Speaking God’s word (out loud) reinforces it in our heart, allowing our heart to hear what our head is thinking.

Rick Warren profoundly, yet in simple terms wrote, “Meditation is focused thinking. It takes serious effort. You select a verse and reflect on it over and over again… if you know how to worry, you already know how to meditate.” (Purpose Driven Life)  He continues with “No other habit can do more to transform your life and make you more like Jesus than daily reflection on scripture.”   What we are doing is taking the Word, ingesting it and digesting it, allowing it to become a part of us. A really poor analogy is that of a cow chewing his cud. Throughout the day he works to gather, bite and chew the grass, then later as he relaxes he begins to re-chew the grass. He brings it up from his gut. I believe God wants us to have His word in our gut, pass our head, deep-deep down.  I’ve known folks who when they speak you can tell God’s word is so deep within them, their gut is FULL of God’s word.

Our society and our schedules give very little time to think or reflect. Let alone talk it out loud. We are conditioned by our culture to NOT think, (generally speaking) resulting in the inability to reason effectively. One of the biggest contributors to this is TV and movies. The average scene is 3 seconds (SECONDS!) We are conditioned to think and jump from one thing to another so quickly that in a sense we have to be stimulated and entertained to pay attention. Sadly we take this into our relationship with Jesus and His word.  Most things do NOT come in 3 seconds, they take time, time to ponder, muse and mutter over. This week, as we sit with God’s word, reading it methodically, may we take the time to THINK and SPEAK it, (again and again). Holy Spirit we invite You to rub it in our heart, effectively causing it to become a part of us.

So, YES… talk to yourself… keep on muttering!

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

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Rock Solid

I have often heard of Jesus’ name emphasis of Simon to Peter as a declaration of Peter being crowned as head of the church, due to Jesus calling him Peter and then give the reference to a rock, where many assume are the same. Period. Let’s go home.  Nope.  If we take a step forward, lean in and look at the language, the message is something so much deeper.  Matthew 16, Jesus asks the guys “Who do people say I am?”  They respond, “John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah and perhaps one of the Prophets.”  Alrighty then, “But who do YOU say I am?” Jesus asked.  The outspoken Peter replies, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”  To which Jesus says, “Blessed are you, Simon, there it is – right there! For you didn’t get this all on your own, your buddies didn’t tell you, but My Father told you, and you are Peter and on this rock I will build My church and the gates of hell won’t be able to conquer it.” (vv17-18, paraphrased, emphasis mine)

If we were to take a peek behind the word Peter (‘petros’) and rock (‘petra’) which is the foundation of the church, they are indeed two different words (or word forms) Petros (Peter) meaning a rock, a stone.  According to many scholars, this stone is a piece or fragment of a rock that might be thrown or easily moved.  Now petra (rock) is literally a mass of rock.  Two different pictures represented. (see photo above) One is easily moved, the other huge and strong enough to build a house on: “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock (petra). The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock (petra).” (Jesus, Matthew 7:24-25 NIV)

The foundation of the church is not the man Peter, it is the solid believing faith and testimony concerning Jesus, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”  Which is unchangeable, immovable and strong enough to hold against the stuff that hell would attempt to throw.  (Applause erupts!)

May we be like Peter, hear God, with heart acceptance and rock-solid confession of faith.

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

Word for 2018?

Words. Amazing things.  One word alone can alter your day, your moment.  At the rollover of each new year, I begin asking the Lord for a word.  One word that may describe His emphasis on me, perhaps His finger that points in a new direction or most assuredly a word to study. In the past, I have been given words like regardless and last year, believe.

As I sat quietly with bible in hand, I was taken to Psalm 119, a beautiful piece of poetry, yet full of divine direction. As I read I stopped short at verse 30, meaning there were 146 more verses to go, but here is where I stopped, here is where God points.  It is known to scholars that King David wrote these words, it is from his dipped quill, “I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I set Your rules before me.” Perhaps not for you, but for me, these words dance, yet one curiously stands boldly among the rest. “I have set Your rules before me.”

Quickly turning to other resources, it all exploded with imagery. I was taken to another of David’s writings, “I have set the LORD always before me, because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” (Psalm 16:8 NIV)  Set.  The word is shavah, (in the Hebrew) its meaning is to level, to equalize; figuratively it is to resemble; by implication, to adjust.  The picture it paints is placing God, and God’s word in front of me, like a permanent placemat at the table, with the goal to be found resembling Him and His word, does what I say and do measure ‘level’ with Him?   I can see from here, the bulk of my 2018 will indeed be ‘to adjust.’  This word is challenging and comforting at the same time.   I look forward to coming to the table, having it pre-determined and purposely set and ready.  I have set You and Your word before me. (Go God!)

Perhaps you too would ask God for a word. In doing so, Holy Spirit whisper that word to us continually over the course of 2018.  May we look for it, for YOU with anticipation and expectation.  We invite You Holy Spirit, come with grace and power enabling us to respond in devotional active obedience!

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

 

2018 Resolution or Revelation

As the calendar soon takes on a new year, we flip through the photos, whether it be of puppies, sunset images or as I just hung mine, photos of South Carolina (I have family there). The empty squares indicating days yet to be lived. Those 12 pages can either propel us or paralyze us.

The change of the New Year has traditionally become a re-setting if you will of our life compass. We evaluate the past and plan for the future. For some of us, this means sitting and down writing out our Resolutions. Money to be made, exercise routines, diet plans, buy that new house, get that promotion, clean out those closets, get organized and the list goes on. Don’t get me wrong, these are all a good plan of attack. A New Year’s Resolution can be defined as ‘a firm decision to do or not do something, a course of action designed with the intent to keep a vow.’  Statistics claim, one in three Americans makes a New Year’s resolution of some sort, yet only about 75% of these folks stick to their goal … for at least … a week.  Head hung, shoulders slumped.  Sigh.

Have we considered that instead of a resolution to do better, get more, and perhaps try to be something other than we are, that we seek … revelation? As we read through our bibles this year, may we see new qualities of God that cause us to be in awe of Him.  May we see areas He wants growth in our lives …we yield and surrender.

As we stand at the door of 2018, may we take pause and truly position ourselves to seek a fresh revelation of our God. That is my plan, that is my goal. Making a firm decision to take action to learn and accept more of His love, trust His hand and bow more in gratitude of His mercy and grace.

We ask – we INVITE You, Lord…

I pray over us as Paul did, “For this reason, I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,  may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,  and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” – Ephesians 3:14-21

From our home to yours, a hardy blessed Happy 2018 New Year.

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

Post Christmas

Christmas wrap, empty boxes and plates holding just cookie crumbs, oh and Kohls ‘After Christmas Sale’ screaming on the television. The day after. With all the prior busy bustling, we can be emotionally drained.  “Now what?”  With faint whispers of Away in the Manger, Christmas is now a LONG count away on the calendar.   May we calm our heart and see Him, still here, always.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given and the government shall be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

Isaiah prophetically describes Jesus with beautiful strong attributes.  He is Wonderful, Mighty and Everlasting. Everlasting, we all have this thing about time don’t we, I am not necessarily patient with time. Yet, time is a divine issue.  Solomon writes, “God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

God is everlasting, meaning He is not limited to the present. His everlasting faithfulness and goodness – to us – follows us – is here with us and precedes us. It is progressive. I see it like one of those funny long conveyor belt ‘walking spaces’ at the airport, where all you have to do is step on it and off you go. It is moving ahead of you, moving where you are, and moving behind you. In a sense the ‘everlasting’ walking space. THAT is our God, He is here, behind us, and ahead of us. Ever try to go back on that walk thingy? What a waste of energy, each step seems delayed and unproductive.  It is designed to help us and to go forward.

In this post-Christmas season and a new year fast approaching, may we truly see Him, as our Everlasting Father. The one who directs and decides our walking space, (all we have to do is step on) the One with us, here now, the ever-present Presence. He is, and will be – with His committed love, His promises, His extended grace, and mercy.  The author of Hebrews writes “… he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6) He is.  This season of our life – God is. Wisdom needed – God is. In our personal challenges – God is. Tomorrow’s concerns – God is.

We may not be able to see beginning to end, but we can trust and enjoy the ride!

God is.

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

Christmas Peace

Christmas. Just the word alone brings a soft glow to the soul. Warm crackling fire, hot chocolate and watching Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey yelling “Mary!” as he runs through the old drafty house. Peace.

Isaiah prophesied centuries before Luke penned his gospel saying: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. He will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”  (Isaiah 9:6) Fast forward to Luke 2:14, when the angels appear to the shepherds: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Peace had come to earth.

Biblical peace (in the Greek) is ‘to set at one again,’ – the picture is something that has once been erected has toppled over. Chaos, strife, irritation, unrest even war are the results. Once it is set back, PEACE is the result; all is in its rightful place. Remember Adam and Eve sinning in the garden?  (Thanks, guys!) The original design, ‘God and man’ had been ‘toppled over.’ Gone were the daily walks together in the garden. Jesus came, setting things back in the right place, God and man in right relationship.  “The Word became flesh (Jesus) and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, Who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14 (emphasis mine) It may not be the Garden, but God again walking with us. Emmanuel, oh the ‘with us’ of God!  Jesus, peace on earth, the Prince of Peace. Peace is a Person.

One of my favorite Christmas carols, “Hark the herald angels sing “Glory to the newborn King! Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled.” After 400 years, the angels break the silence with the spectacular news. Such theology dripping from this song: Jesus, Peace, God back on earth, setting things right again. God and sinners reconciled.

Peace is not only a Person, but a position. “But now in Christ Jesus, you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace …for through Him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:13-14) We are now back where we were originally designed to be, right-standing relationship with God, giving full access and able to come into His presence.  Paul declares this point, “Since we have been justified through faith we have PEACE with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1)   Peace is a God thing.  Man cannot create peace in his own soul, it is not part of the package deal, in the sense; it does not come attached to intelligence – fame – wealth.  It is the result of Jesus’ presence, Jesus’ Lordship, and Jesus being walked & lived.   Peace is position.

Because of our sinful nature and our perpetual continuing to do so, John strongly declares “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) This is written to the Christian, as we confess, we are saying the same thing about our situation that God does.  We are now in full agreement; we realign with what God says. To stop doing something we have to start doing something else.  I don’t stop standing until I START walking.   In this process, we are taking what was ‘toppled over’ returning to the original design and bringing Jesus back to His rightful peaceful place. We mess up, we get cleaned up. Peace restored.  Peace is a process.

The increase of peace accompanies the increase of Christ’s governing power over our lives. Colossians 3:15 “Let the peace of Christ RULE in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” If I want peace in my heart, I allow Jesus to RULE in my heart.  He is King, I bow to Him as King, giving Him the rightful place on the throne of my life. A continually challenge indeed! We will know peace to the degree that we bow to Jesus.   It is NOT about peaceful circumstances, it is obedience, His voice over our own, God doesn’t come to take sides, He comes to TAKE OVER. Peace is a posture, a bowed, get OFF the throne, posture.    (Head bowed)

This Christmas may we pause and consider wholeheartedly, the Person, position, process, and posture of peace.  Yes, Peace had indeed come to earth, Prince of Peace.

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

Selah, Pause & Praise

Fast. Busy. Our lives tend to ramble from one thing to another in quick motion. On the go, our pockets buzz with Twitter, Instagram, texting and of course Facebook, all the while #hashtagging each moment of each day. 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 (Yes, I sat in church and read every one of them – sorry Pastor, a bit distracted) the others are in the Prayer of Habakkuk, (3:3, 3:9, 3:13) The purest meaning of the word is unknown, one resource states it is so old, ancient rabbis were unsure of the precise meaning. I even read, due to its seemly random usage, Selah is the word used by David when he broke a string.  (HA!) Some commentaries totally crack me up!

A common thread that I found among the scholars is that ‘Selah’ is one of the most difficult Hebrew words to define. It is tucked among various circumstances of life and battle. I observed it is known as a musical or liturgical note indicating a transition – a suspension of music, Crescendo or musical interlude. One resource conveys Selah speaks to the musician as to ‘take a breath’- to pause. Another suggests ‘to lift up’ one can say, ‘to hang up the instrument.’  In summary, most scholars believe that it indicates either a rest or a pause of the voice or instrument, or to rest and reflect on the preceding words, meditating on the depth of insight. It is thought to be rendered from two Hebrew words: Salal, to extol and praise, and salah, to pause.

Oh, how WE need selah! How many of us need to gracefully transition from one circumstance to another. To ‘hang up our instrument’ of distraction (if you will) for just a bit: phone, computer, tablet. Selah.  When was the last time we paused and praised? We stood still and took a breather. A serious breather!  When was the last time we rested and truly became aware of Who God is, and what He is doing? Selah.

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 3: BUT YOU are my shield around me, O LORD, YOU bestow glory on me and lift up my head. To the LORD I cry aloud, and He answers me from His holy hill. Selah” (emphasis mine)

Selah, an amazingly beautiful word. Under the inspiration of God Himself, He ordained its use in the scriptures, may we too find among the poetry of our lives ‘Selah’, pause and praise and reflection on Him!

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