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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

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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)


Respecting the Hem

 

His Hem.jpg

Have you ever wondered why the gal with the bleeding issue (in Mk. 5; Matt. 9) reached for and touched (in the Greek she literally grabbed it, not a mere swipe) Jesus’ hem? Not His sandals, or even His hand? Granted the folks were packed in tight, but why the hem, why so deliberate? Others too desired to touch His hem (Matt. 14:36; Mk 6:56). They went for His authority, His priesthood. In doing so, HE being God in the flesh were healed.

The hem: It goes way back to ancient(er) days, God instructs the Israelites to wear garments with specifically designed borders, hems or fringes also known as tassels. (Nu. 15; Deut. 22; Ex 28). These fringes came to represent authority, personality, their place in society and even lineages were sewn into the hem. Noblemen of the day would sign their name, authenticating, by lifting their robe and pressing the hem into wet clay tablets – specific stitching indicating family and function. Today, we would wear our badge (if you will) on our chest ‘General Manager’ or in the military on the shoulder and sleeve, ‘Captain’. Or a laminated nametag around our neck. The ancients wore it on the fringe.

Remember in 1 Samuel 24, David was running from Saul. David and his men were hiding in the cave and Saul came in to relieve himself? The men urging David on, “Come on, this is your chance!” he snuck up behind Saul and cut off the corner, the hem of his robe. A moment later, David was (as the narrative states) conscience-stricken, he goes out to Saul and humbly shows him the piece of the hem – he could have killed Saul, he didn’t – BUT – David was convicted because he CUT Saul’s lineage and symbolically took away the identity and authority of the Lord’s anointed. It was not God’s instruction; it was not God’s timing. Saul understood what had just taken place, saying: “And now, behold, I know that you shall surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in your hand. Swear to me therefore by the LORD that you will not cut off my offspring after me, and that you will not destroy my name out of my father’s house.” (vv20-21, ESV)

Oh, we may not (although some do) wear traditional stitched hems with customary respect, BUT how often do we too ‘cut’ others? How often have I, cut off another’s personality, authority in an attempt to make ME feel better, cut their fringe, yes under peer pressure trim away so my own badge glows brighter?   (OUCH! THIS is painful).   May we too (with the wooing of Holy Spirit) be conscience-stricken when we begin to bring out the scissors of the tongue or reach for behavioral shears.

Respecting the hem (symbolically) of others.

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

*Numbers 15:37-41: The fringes were originally designed as a reminder (a visual reminder, for those around and those wearing them) as a mark of their status as the chosen people of God.  If YOU are in Jesus, you are marked with His blood, you are ‘a chosen people, a royal priesthood and a holy nation, God’s very own possession.‘ (1 Pet 2:9) May we treat each other with such respect.   For more on the fringes:  Consider these articles: Jesus’ Clothes and Our Rabbi Jesus.

Blessings to you my royally fringed family member of God!

 

 


YOU Made the List!

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Remember back and for some of us WAAAAY back, when we were in the 4th or 5th grade, out on the playground we would divide up in teams for a ball game? That had to be some of the most frustrating moments of childhood. Nervous thoughts of “Will I be picked?” Or remember when the list was posted for those making the team following tryouts? We stood a slight distance away, just close enough to see if our name was there, but not too close to be faced with rejection by our name’s absence.

Making the list. Go ahead admit it, we all want to be wanted, picked and deemed valuable! We all have areas of our life that we fall short, lack the skill or just can’t seem to get it right. In these, we begin to see ourselves as less valuable than others. Perhaps even become resentful, envious of those who do seem to have it all together. (They really don’t by the way).

Ever notice that we may take these perspectives, or may I say insecurities into our relationship with God?   Often, we may find our head bowed, not necessarily in reverence, but out of frustration.  Words painfully escape our whispering lips, “Will You, can You … use … ME!”  Then continue to list all our shortcomings, these becoming our excuses and before we know it, we are telling God why He shouldn’t want us.

In short Beloved, have we ever considered the ‘list’ that God compiled? The list of Biblical proportion. These folks did stupid things, (STUPID) made BIG mistakes, when told to do something God’s way, they chose the DIY and ran.  Some were too small, too old, too ugly and too worrisome.

Eve listened to the Devil *Rahab was a prostitute *Adam blame shifted *Jeremiah and Timothy were too young *David had an affair and was a murderer *Abraham was too old *Elijah was suicidal *Isaac was a daydreamer *Isaiah preached naked (oops) *Jacob was a liar *Jonah ran from God *Leah was ugly *Naomi was a widow *Joseph was abused *Job went bankrupt *Moses stuttered *John the Baptist ate bugs *Aaron watched the idol-making *Peter denied Christ *Gideon was afraid *The Disciples fell asleep while praying *Sampson had long hair and was a womanizer *Martha worried about everything *The Samaritan woman was divorced, (more than once) *Zacchaeus was too small *Paul was too religious AND Lazarus was dead!  DEAD I tell you!

Here it comes … (Wait for it) … HOWEVER. God used ALL these people! They were part of His plan. They all had weaknesses of some sort. Do you find yourself among this list?  Do you worry, then beat yourself up for lack of faith? Do you fall asleep when you pray, then believe the lie you don’t love God enough?

God moved in and through these people’s lives. Aren’t you glad God didn’t hide or remove the background history from these folks?  God is the Redeemer of our soul, life and YES mistakes, failures, and shortcomings. Have you been divorced, afraid, abused, bankrupted or drunk or eat weird things?  Or let’s face it, said things before your brain was engaged? (YAY Peter!) God is God.  He compiles the list.  YOU made the list, the list of redeemed mankind.  (Group hug!)

YOU my friends are sons & daughters of the Most High God! YOU are valuable! YOU are loved! YOU made the List!  HIS list!  Regardless.

Big plans for YOU!

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