* Miscellanous Stuff

The Boat Ride

The Boat ride

After Jesus sends the disciples out ‘two by two’, sometime later they returned. Returning from teaching, healing and delivering the people.  They must have been extremely worn out and with people all around, Jesus tells them, “Come with Me by
yourself to a quiet place and get some rest
.” (Mark 6:31) This is much different from their last documented boat ride (Mark 4) in which the story includes a monstrous storm, frantic disciples and Jesus standing and commanding. (Read the story Here ). But not today.  There is no storm. There was no hesitation either – not even Peter saying with waved hands, “Um, well, the last time we did this ‘get in the boat thing’ – it wasn’t pretty!”  But both scenarios have one common factor – Jesus.

Notice Jesus was very specific. He didn’t say ‘Go away – take some time off – I’ll see you on the other side.’ He wasn’t offering options. He said, “Come with Me.” The narrative doesn’t say it, but picture with me – THIS boat ride: They, being exhausted, now all settled down, with no joking, no high energy retelling of events.  Quiet. Perhaps just quiet and the lapping of the water on the boat – and Jesus.
Presence.

When first reading this story, it can be interpreted that the destination was the place of rest – BUT, just as quickly as the authors pen lifts and presses down, that destination was flooded with thousands of folks, when the boat landed, the crowd was waiting. Jesus full of passion for His mission and compassion towards the people teaches them and soon hands the broken bread and fish to the disciples to feed them.

Granted, a place of solitude, with served comfort foods would be fabulous, but sometimes it is the boat ride.  Sometimes, it’s the car ride to the store.  Sometimes it’s the brief breather between meetings as we walk around the block to stretch our legs, sometimes it’s the shutting of the bathroom door while our lil tribe awaits just beyond and sometimes it’s standing at the kitchen window remembering to breathe – and Jesus.

Getting ready (for the next thing) means getting rest – in His Presence, (may be brief) and perhaps, on the way – rest.

Come with Me by yourself to a quiet place and get some rest.”

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


Suspicious Kindness

Act of Kindness

It was the summer of 1983, I was home between semesters of my bible college days, I was standing behind the counter of my father’s fast food restaurant, when a small boy reaching his arm up, releases a fist full of coins onto the counter.  His warm freckle-faced smile could light up a dark-paneled room.  Raising his eyes to mine, he simply stated, “A vanilla cone please.” Looking at the coins still rolling on the counter, I knew he didn’t have enough. Taking my index finger, I began counting the coins. When there was none left to be counted, the boy’s face grew very solemn. He too knew it wasn’t enough. I reached into my pocket and pulled out a couple more coins and placed them alongside his own.

His response shocked me. With a suspicious look, he again reached forward and began to pull his coins back. I sweetly told him, it was okay, he now had enough. With a slight pause as if struggling against his better judgment, his smile returned, and I quickly scooped the coins up and proceeded to make him the LARGEST ‘small’ cone I have ever made complete with a curly-Q top.  That moment impacted me and has never been forgotten.

Suspicious kindness, sad isn’t it.  Much of the time we are not used to receiving kindness; our first reaction is a pause – question the motive, and then oftentimes, refusal. Kindness disorients us, with instant worry there HAS to be something wrong, or “WAIT, what do you want in return?” Our society has become so ‘ME’ focused, to think on behalf of another with goodness takes great concentration, not to mention potential risk. For some, to be kind is a sign of weakness.

The Apostle Paul speaks directly to the qualities that do not (notice the NOT) come naturally to us, “Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” (Colossians 3:12, CSB, emphasis mine) we are not born with them; they are a CHOICE, day-to-day, moment-by-moment ‘putting on‘ choice.

Kindness is the softer side of mankind, the God in us peeking through with love and mercy. It is described by scholars that kindness is the inner heart attitude of gentleness, and then goodness takes over and acts on the heart attitude. I see it in the word picture of one walking by a blind man holding a charitable cup for money. The HEART sees the man, the heart feels the man, the heart responds with God to the man, filling his cup. Love, kindness, and goodness all go together.  Love sees, kindness feels, and goodness does.

Abraham Joshua Heschel, a leading Jewish Theologian had this to say about kindness, “When I was young, I used to admire intelligent people, as I grow old, I admire kind people.” Kindness does not require a return on our investment. It is self-less-ness. We see, we feel, we do (In Jesus’ name).

May we all be challenged to be kind beyond ourselves, remembering that WE have been bathed in God’s kindness and goodness.  We take an extra moment to listen, find more coins in our pocket, open more doors, whatever is needed at the moment, in the moment – nothing is worse than  ‘Should’ve‘ hind-sight.  Like the little boy with the ice cream, he now has ENOUGH! God uses US in the enough equation.

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


Be Still and Know God

Be still

 

Be still and know that I am God…” (Psalm 46:10) Yet if put alongside the reality of my life, most of the time my life reflects, “Be busy and know that I am tired!” Can I get an “AMEN!”   Psalm 46:10, one of the most quoted and beloved verses of the Bible, but do we really understand its context or meaning? Scholars propose it was written during the tense warfare between Judah and the Ammonites and Moabites. Jehoshaphat and crew were terrified of the reported impending war. In short, Jehoshaphat called the people to pray and fast, God’s response was “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.” (2 Chronicles 20:15) The next morning, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing and praise – LONG story short, in their worship, God intervened and Judah victorious, ‘for the LORD had given them cause to rejoice over their enemies.’ (v27)

Psalm 46. The Psalmist writing under the inspiration of God, writes 10 of the 11 verses of the psalm from the 3rd person perspective, talking about God. The wet ink encourages that even in natural disasters and national uproar, “Come and see the works of the LORDHe makes… He breaks…” (v8,9) Then in verse 10, the writing changes. It is now from the 1st person – I. It is as if God caused the writer to pause, whispering in his ear, tell them, “Rapah yada Elohim” (Hebrew) “Be still and know that I am God.” Powerful.

When studying the scriptures, looking at the original language and grammar gives us some great insight and some amazing principles to pull forward and apply for our own pending circumstances. Although originally there were no punctuation marks, but when added to the original usage and read in context – reading from a modern Jewish Bible, our verse reads: “Be still! Know! God.” This phrase holds two imperative verbs, meaning they are both commands, thus, Be still! Know!

God commands us to know Him. That means it is entirely possible, desirable and (wait for it) yes… expected. But not only this, but the 1st verb (be still) POINTS to the 2nd – KNOW! We are still IN ORDER to know God. In the Complete Jewish Bible, it reads: “Desist and learn that I am God.” And the NASB, ‘Cease striving.’ STOP! It isn’t a slowing down, or I’ll get to it when it is convenient. STOP. It is a priority! God is first! God loves full stop – it is here that He had Judah’s frantic ‘WE HAVE TO DO SOMETHING!’ attention. It is in the STOP He has our attention.

God is not asking us to be quiet (although that DOES help) Location is not a huge factor (however, a quiet place contributes) Nor is our physical posture the ‘make it or break it’ element (Yet, face down, does have “I can’t see the distractions” with my face on the carpet, benefits). But He does tell us, it’s not about our circumstance – it is all about HIM. “The fear of God came upon all the kingdoms of the countries when they heard how the LORD had fought against the enemies of Israel.” (2 Chronicles 20:29)

Be still and know that I am God.   “Be still – Know – God.”


Obedience

My Way

Obedience. Obedience can be defined as ‘having a clear understanding of the instructions and acting accordingly.’

God is very serious about His instructions; we see this in 1 Samuel 15. The narrative states, “The Lord of Hosts says…” He proceeds to tell King Saul (through Samuel) to ‘utterly destroy’ everything about the Amalekites – the people and property. A lil further in the story, “But Saul and the people…” Oh, they took care of most of the people and some of the property and livestock* – but most and some is not obedience. Did they have clear instructions? Yes. Did they obey? No.  God said, King Saul “turned away from Me and has not carried out My instructions.” (v11) Saul is told, “Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He has rejected you as King.” (v23)

God has a purpose for His instruction. Often when given our marching orders we tend to grab the envelope and run off with an “I got this!” and only pause down the road a bit and try to figure out a shortcut. We forget that God is Omniscient (All-knowing) and He is not limited by time or space, so He sees and knows all directions on our timeline. Meaning – what we don’t see NOW, He sees and He knows …ALL.

God had a purpose for the destruction of the Amalekites, COMPLETE – utter destruction. You see, some many-many years later, an ancestor of an Amalekite emerges. The book of Esther. Remember the bad guy Haman (Boo!) the guy who manipulated the King’s decree to annihilate the Jews? He was the ‘son of Hammedatha, the Agagite (Esther 3:1). Scholars believe the ‘Agagites’ are of King Agag – King of the Amalekites (1 Samuel 15:8). But there’s more: remember Mordecai (YAY!) the cousin of Esther, who raised her, he was of the tribe of Benjamin, a descendant of Kish – Saul was the son of Kish. So, here we are AGAIN, Haman (Amalekite) and Mordecai & Esther (Saul).

The principle stares us in the face – God says take care of it NOW, destroy it or you WILL see it again and seeing it again may destroy – YOU! How many of us have been broken-hearted because we did not obey thoroughly?  God desires complete obedience. Partial obedience is disobedience.  God doesn’t want most or some – He wants it ALL!  Just ask the folks who were taken captive by the Amalekites later in 1 Samuel 30 and the folks praying for Esther as she approaches the king to address the situation concerning their pending annihilation.

Obeying God with a half heart leads to a broken heart.

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

*Side note: Scholars are in agreement, they don’t know exactly where/when/how the Amalekites ancestry carried on – but they did.  We see in the story (1 Samuel 15) that Saul told the Kenites (folks in the region, v6) to leave before he went after the Amalekites, giving them the opportunity to flee the bloodshed. Could some Amalekites have snuck out among them? Also, it is said that Saul attacked the Amalekites within a certain regional parameter (v7). Were there more outside those parameters? We see later in 1 Samuel 27, David raided an Amalekite village (they had a village?) and again chapter 30, David encounters more Amalekites, “David fought them from dusk until the evening of the next day, and none of them got away, except four hundred young men who rode off on camels and fled.” (v17)  THOROUGH obedience is required.


But What I Do Have

hand offered

When Paul wrote his second letter to Timothy, he told him ‘all scripture is God-breathed’ – divinely inspired to teach, rebuke, correct and train. (2 Timothy 3:16) So when we read it – learn from it. In Acts 3, it tells the story: One day, Peter and John were walking on their way to the Temple for afternoon prayer. They come across a crippled man, who sat daily at the gate to beg for money (the narrative offers no name, we’ll call him Burt, Burt the beggar). As Burt asked them for money, Peter says something very profound, “Look at us.” Look us in the eye, not over there, or there, don’t be distracted – but here.   Knowing the context of the story, you can almost sense ‘you don’t want to miss this!’ Burt gave them his full attention, (expecting to get a few coins). Peter continues, “Silver and gold I don’t have, BUT what I do have, I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up and walk.” (v6)

Peter took Burt by the hand and helped him up. You have to love the detail of Doctor Luke (who’s writing this), ‘immediately his ankles and feet became strong.’ Burt jumped to his feet, began walking and praising God. This caused such a commotion, folks saw and recognized him – Burt the beggar was up and leaping and having a great time of worship. As the amazement grew, so did the crowd. Verse 12, “When Peter saw this…” the opportunity was to keep talking about Jesus, (and he did).

Amazing story.  What can we learn from this? I would offer some principles and applications. First, ‘One day Peter and John were on their way to the Temple…’ One day, YOU are on your way to work, in your routine, you are in the line at the grocery store, picking your kids up from school, having coffee with a friend. Every day – daily routine. Second, Peter and John, do NOT just walk on by (ouch!) they face Burt, make eye contact, engage him. Burt asks for something he wants, but the guys give him what he NEEDS – “In the name of Jesus Christ…” Whenever we speak or walk in the name of Jesus, we invoke the manifest Presence and the power of God! We are in a God moment! Third, follow-through! Peter took Burt by the hand (personally engaged) and helped him up (the ‘right hand’ specifically is noted. The right hand symbolizes strength). Peter is part of the process, a hand offered – help given. ‘YOU can do this Burt!  With the POWER of Jesus and me, I’m with you!’ Fourth and last, Peter saw and TOOK the opportunity to keep speaking Jesus!  Please note, when we help someone in the power of God, it’s not for them alone – it spreads… ‘all the people were astonished and came running…’ (v11)

As we stand only 11 days into 2020, may we commit to seeing those around us, aware of them, face them, make eye contact, engage them – and not just pass on by. Granted, we cannot stop at each and every person (we’ll be late for work, cause a traffic jam and our poor kids sitting and waiting for us). BUT we can be sensitive to Holy Spirit … who is HE emphasizing? Then act. We may not have what they are asking for, BUT like Peter and John, we can give what they need – Jesus! Invoking the Presence and power of God. May we be part of the process and see and SEIZE opportunities. Nothing is worse than within 2 minutes or less of a situation as we walk away, “O I should have__________!” we may have just missed an opportunity to help heal or free someone.

Silver or gold I do not have, BUT what I do have, I give you – in the name of Jesus Christ…”

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

I had the honor of teaching this at our Women’s Breakfast at church.


Revelation vs Resolution

Happy New Year 2019

Happy New Year! As the calendar takes on a new year, we flip through the pages, the empty pages 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 down and 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 for a new season in life. 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 make a New Year’s resolution of some sort, yet only about 75% of these folks stick to their goal … for at least … a week.

Have we considered that instead of a resolution to do better, get more, and perhaps be something other than we are, that we seek … revelation? As we stand at the door of 2020, may we truly position ourselves to seek a fresh revelation of our God. PRIORITIZING God and His word (we seem to neglect what we don’t prioritize). And as we read through our bible, may we see new qualities of God that cause us to take pause and be in awe of Him – see areas He wants growth in our lives …yield and surrender. May we seek 20/20 vision in clarity and sharpness in our view of God – with this revelation, 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, INVITE You, Lord, show us.

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

Revelation.

A hardy blessed Happy New Year to you!

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


Christmas Peace

Peace Ornament

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

Christmas peace, Luke 2:14, when the angels appear to the shepherds: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men...”  Peace had come to earth.

Biblical peace (in the Greek) is ‘to set at one again’ – think about the picture it paints. 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. Now Jesus came, setting things back in the right place, God and man in right relationship.  It may not be the Garden,  but God again walking with us. Emmanuel, oh the ‘with us’ of God!  Jesus, peace on earth. Peace is a Person. (Side note: Ever consider, it was in a garden, God’s will was addressed – Adam & Eve messed it up – Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane chose & walked out fulfilling God’s will).

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, full access to God, 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 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) Interestingly, this was written to CHRISTIANS, yup, you and me. 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.   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.

Isaiah 9:6, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders…” Now consider 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.” Does Christ take the rightful place on the throne of our life? Here’s a dandy thought: We will know peace to the degree that we bow to Jesus’ authority. It is NOT about peaceful circumstances, it’s about Jesus being the center of our life. Peace is a posture, a bowed, get OFF the throne, allow Jesus prime seating – posture. Ours is a guarded posture. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:6-7)

This Christmas as we sing and sway with the Hoo’s in Hooville, rip open the gifts under the tree, and read PEACE across our Christmas cards, may we pause and consider whole heartedly, the Person, position, process and posture of peace.  Yes, Peace had indeed come to earth, and He-is-KING.

Can I get an AMEN!

bowling

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

* For Jeff, who stepped into God’s loving arms this week, after his struggle with cancer, he is at peace.

 


Gifted Myrrh – NOT the White Elephant

The 3 Magi.jpg

Christmas, a time of sharing, loving and gift-giving.  We are in the season of gift-hunting, we may not have anything in mind, but there is hope of something jumping off the shelf and literally wrap itself with a glorious bow and going headlong in our cart.  (Ok, perhaps that’s MY form of hopeful shopping).

We often read the Christmas story and highlight the most spectacular parts: Singing angels, “Fear Not” statements, the Star of Bethlehem, and yes, the dingy manger. YET, there are some quiet and seem less significant items to be had in the excitement.  Gifts.  Consider if you will, (imagine with me) the Magi as they prepare for their trek out to find the child to whom the shiny Star belongs. They are packing, dividing the supplies list, then they come to the gift inventory; gold is given to the first, then frankincense handed to another, oh yeah, the myrrh is last. How would you like to be handed the myrrh and picture yourself bowing low, head to the floor while you offer to the King of Kings, M-Y-R-R-H (said with an Eeyore deep tone). You may think “Dude, why do I have to carry the white elephant gift?”   White elephant it is not. It is one among the triune gifts that are of great value.  Have we thought about these? Gold, we have that one down. Frankincense is ground dried up tree sap used as incense.  And myrrh, what is THAT?

The divine significance of myrrh: It too comes from the sap of a tree and used in the divinely prescribed anointing oil of the Tabernacle and the priests (Exodus 30:22-23).  It was the perfumed oil poured over Jesus’ feet (John 12:3, Matthew 26:12: The ointment or costly perfume is ‘myron’ which is myrrh-oil).  It was used also as one of the spices to prepare Jesus’ body for burial (John 19:39-40).

Picture now, the Christ child, perhaps two in age or younger (took the Magi some time to get there – no GPS), Jesus and curly dark hair, possibly pudgy cheeks. At His feet, the Magi place gold, frankincense, and MYRRH. The same anointing oil used to anoint temple priests, Jesus our High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-16).  The same perfumed oil poured on His feet as a grown man, those feet that would one day hang on a cross and be pierced. The oil added to the spices wrapped around His body following His death.  He now a child, will one day be the man fulfilling this gift.

Myrrh, HOW PROPHETIC.

Christmas gift-giving, following the Magi’s example: Regardless of how insignificant it may seem, we never know the impact and how far-reaching our giving may be. Today it’s not so much the item, but the heart of giving, the giving of self is a gift – an encouraged heart, a feed soul, a learned principle, a person no longer lonely – gifts given in Jesus name – the gift that keeps on giving.

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

Photo credit Jan Pashley http://www.janpashley.co.uk/ (Love her work)

 


Immanuel

Immanuel Pic

Immanuel.  This time of year, we sing with a resounding ‘O come, O come Immanuel…” and it is written in beautiful font lettering across our Christmas cards. Immanuel* meaning ‘God with us.’  Many who attempt to say God is uninterested and doesn’t turn His divine head our way do not understand Immanuel.  Whether it is walking in the Garden in the cool of the day (Genesis 3:8) the pillar of fire by night (Exodus 13:22) or sandaled feet in Galilee (Matthew 4:18) or gloriously residing within us (1 Corinthians 3:16) The God who dwells with us, among us and in us – God is Immanuel.

Immanuel is first mentioned in Isaiah (chapter 7) within a strong warning to King Ahaz to get his act together in the midst of political uprising and trust that God is with them – but the guy chose poorly. Isaiah prophecies: “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son and will be called Immanuel.” (v14)   As we know, God’s people were quite fickle in their love, trust, and obedience, causing them to do what was right AND evil in God’s eyes, they STILL didn’t fully comprehend God’s presence.  Fast forward to the New Testament, tucked in the story of the birth of Jesus – Matthew chapter 1:  Joseph is about to take Mary as his wife, (according to cultural tradition, the engagement was a done-deal).  BUT she is pregnant (Hm…) he, a good man plans to dissolve the marriage quietly as to not disgrace her.  Queue angelic messenger:  Joseph is told to take Mary as his wife, the baby she carries is of the Holy Spirit, she will have a Son and His name will be Jesus because He will save His people from their sins.  Matthew gives narrative: “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son and they will call him Emmanuel – which means, “God with us.” (vv 22-23)

God was and is with His people throughout history, but sending His Son, slipping Him into human flesh, all He was, all He did, could not be more unmistakably striking evidence of God’s presence. A sign indeed!  God keeps His promises.  The All-Powerful, All-Sufficient, Sovereign Creator of the universe does not NEED to be with us – He wants to!  This holiday season, as you consider Immanuel, step up, lean in, look to the far left, back to the beginning and then follow the timeline all the way to where YOU now stand and then continue to the right, following the thread into eternity as declared from the heavenly throne, Jesus reveals to John, “the dwelling place of God is with man.”  (Revelation 21:3)  Unhindered fellowship with God Himself, the thread of God’s reigning government isGod with us.’ So beautiful, so comforting – Immanuel.

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

*Why do we often see two spellings for Immanuel?  The different spellings ultimately are because of different vowels used in Hebrew (O.T. ‘Immanuel’) and Greek (N.T. ‘Emmanuel’) yet they are indeed the same God presence, just two different languages.

 


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)


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!

You made the list Pic.jpg

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)

 


Because You Say So

fuller nets

One day (Luke 5) Jesus was out in Peters’ boat teaching to the folks on the shore (no fog machines, no colorful backlighting, but great acoustics on the water). After Jesus finished teaching the crowd, He told Peter to put his nets out in the deeper water and there you will catch fish. Peter and crew had fished all night with no catch to show for it. Being professional fishermen, they knew the skill of the waters, the timing, and the fish patterns. Peter could have assumed he knew better than Jesus (not to mention, but I will… it being HIS boat and his men watching) he could have offered a lengthy debate and completely refused to obey. YET he responds with some of the most profound words in scripture, “Master … because You say so…” (v5). They did as Jesus said, the catch was SO full, they had to ask fellow fishermen in another boat to help, ‘soon both boats were filled with fish’ (v7). Peter teaches us, although we may not understand what/why Jesus tells us to do something, our obedience brings HUGE blessing and that blessing spills all over others as well (you may have to take a shower) but blessings all the more.

Peter, what a guy. You can’t but love him. He was the one who went on to ask Jesus, “So, how many times am I to forgive someone? What, say … 7 times?” Way to think BIG Pete! Jesus tells him, “No, seventy times seven (Matthew 18). In the upper room, humbly Jesus begins to wash the disciple’s feet, Peter was the one (the ONLY one) who insisted Jesus not wash his feet, (and well, then requests the whole bath package, John 13). And Peter’s also the one wielding a sword and cuts off the guys ear in the Garden attempting to protest and protect Jesus (ever wonder what he might have been aiming for?) Interesting also, Luke, the physician is the only one of the four Gospel writers who offer the follow up, that Jesus healed the man’s ear (Luke 22). No one speaks in the gospels as often as Peter and Jesus spoke more to Peter than anyone else.

Does THAT resonate with you? It does me! I too would’ve been the one with all the mistakes, all the outbursts, act before thinking, Jesus needed to heal others of my messes and yes even the outrageous denying. Yet, in Peters’ doing and Jesus’ divine responses – what lessons, what grace, what love!

Peter messed up (a bunch) but he was the “Master… because You say so” guy.

What a challenge – may we be also.

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


Routine Anchoring

routine coffee

When we think of back to school, what first comes to mind? Sack lunches, big yellow buses, school supplies (Oh I love school supplies) and what about routine? During the summer we tend to lighten up or throw out routine altogether. Spontaneity is exciting and good and at times a total hoot, yet routine gives aide to keeping our prone-to-wander ducks – in a row.

Routine helps anchor our season of life – our day – our moment. An anchor is used when a boat or ship needs to be centered in one location and not moved by the wind, waves or current. When we follow an established pattern, it gives us focus, a goal rather than a haphazard throw it to wind mindset. Routine is a time, a place and a purpose.

Daniel of the Bible followed a pattern of praying three times a day, regardless of what was going on around him. His time with his God solidified his assurance of God’s character, thus help shape his own stand-strong character. King David mentions multiple times his routine was ‘early in the morning’ (early & first) he sought God, read His law, setting everything aside to praise Him. Jesus, our ultimate example was often seen slipping away to pray to His Father. Routine is a time, a place and a purpose.

Nicholas Herman of the 1600s, known to us as ‘Brother Lawrence’ speaks of the development of acute awareness, in the beloved compiled letters ‘Practicing the Presence of God.’ Brother Lawrence spent years working in the kitchen, then working as a shoe repairman. If I may offer application; he speaks of routine as a tool for focus.

Each night as my husband and I crawl in bed, he reads over us. A portion of scripture or from an in-depth devotional. He does this even if he’s traveling for work, through the phone the established routine anchors us.

Greek philosopher and scientist Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do.” Oh. (OH!)

Perhaps we need to re-adjust some focus, smooth out our schedule, dotting our calendar with designed routine. A time, a place, a purpose: For prayer, praise, seeking HIM early and first. For family and relationship.

Routine.

I shared the above with our women at church over breakfast at our September gathering.

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

 


In The Early – In The First

Fred the Frog.jpg

This is Fred my aquatic frog, my husband named him, I wanted something more exquisite like ‘Sebastian Theodore III’, nope, Fred. He is just a lil guy, less than an inch from nose to frog rump. Most folks have a dog or a cat, but I have fish and a frog. Fred is often seen waiting… just waiting … still waiting. You see when I drop his food in the bowl, it is here (where he waits) that we meet. This morning when I saw him waiting yet again, I thought of his expectation, knowing it is our morning routine. The words of the Psalmist came to mind, “I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in His word I do hope.” (130:5) Waiting in routine is good, waiting with expectation is great.    “For He satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul He fills with good things.” (Ps 107:9).

King David wrote, “O God, you are my God; early will I seek You…” (Ps 63:1a) He is saying he not only seeks God early but FIRST.

Finding inspiration from the Psalms and Sebastian Theodore III (aka: Fred). May we too find routine in the early – in the first – in expectation of our God.

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


The Simple

Simple slide

Simple. We all seek the simple, the quick, and the ‘let’s get to it’ in life. But, when something is presented without difficulty, we pick it up, look behind it and wonder where’s the rest. We take this mentality into our Jesus walk as well, if it seems uncomplicated, effortless and even manageable, we begin to reach for stuff to fill in the cracks, make it heavier than designed and by all means, let’s OVER-THINK-IT!

Most of the basics are just that … simple.

This Jesus life is co-operative – His divine (instruction & empowerment) with our obedience, equates good God stuff! Example: John 9, the blind man, blind from birth encounters Jesus: (In short) Jesus puts spitty-mud on the guy’s eyes and instructs him to go and wash.   “So, I went and washed and then I could see.” (v11, NIV) To wash – so simple. Yet, there are others who hesitate due to the simple: Naaman, the commander of the Syrian army (2 Kings 5) he’s a mighty man of valor yet had leprosy. Through interesting circumstances, he was told to go dip seven times in the Jordan and he’d be healed. But the man thought he needed-deserved more! Bring out the parade, Elisha wave your hand over me, pray a glorious King James prayer (ok, I added that). In his refusal of the simple, fighting against God’s instruction, he didn’t do it. But finally, in response to his servants challenging him, he went, did the dunking and was healed – his healing, however, was delayed due to denial of simplicity. The blind man in John 9, obeyed immediately – healed immediately.

What is God instructing us? Are we holding out for more, before we respond? Perhaps, we’re making it more difficult than it is.

Simple.

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


Your Name

Name

We’ve heard the questioning phrase, “What’s in a name?” The answer: Biblically, a boatload, actually. When we begin reading John 11, we are introduced to a man named Lazarus. We find he is a brother, lives in Bethany and is ill. But beyond those three initial facts, before going any further so much gets lost in the translation – his name. Names given in ancient days helped define the person, gives a title and even their destiny. Lazarus is known to come from the Hebrew, meaning ‘God is my help.’ Continuing the story: Lazarus dies, he is buried, the sisters mourn, and after 4 days Jesus comes and calls him out with all Godly authority and out of the grave walks … Lazarus. THAT is indeed ‘God is my help.’

Names.  I am known by many names, legally I am ‘Diana’ and if called out by my dad, I am ‘Diana Rena’ (and better respond quickly) but to most I am DeDe. To my sons, ‘Mom’, my granddaughter, of recent ‘Grams’ and to my Beloved, I am ‘Sweetheart’. These names offer relationship, title and yes destiny. But my most cherished name and the honored title is ‘Child of God.’ It is SO defining. John writes, “Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God– children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (John 1:12-13, NIV) I am born of God, His child, His daughter.

The scriptures speak of the privileges that accompany the title (AND the responsibility) of being a child of God, one – inheritance (See: Ro 8:17; Tit 3:7; Eph 1:11,18; Acts 20:32; 1 Pet 1:3-12, Col 1:12-14, just to name a few). Folks, this alone is huge, when we are in Jesus, we get the full-meal-deal, the whole God package! Because of our relationship with Him, our name is more than DeDe, Lisa, Bob or Mary – it is CHILD OF GOD.  So, you too, like Lazarus, may be a brother/sister, live in ___________ and even sick (be healed in Jesus name) but because of your titled name, YOU get the privilege of walking out of an assured death sentence to … LIFE! As your story continues, don’t let your name get lost in the translation of the world, keep walking, remembering who and Whose you are – a Child of God.

What’s in a name? Everything.

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

*Photo credit: product of IdealPin


Happy Left-Handers Day (Left Handed in the Bible)

left-handed-facts

Happy ‘Left-hander Day.’ Yes, it’s an annual national day. Studies suggest that approximately 10% of the world’s population is left-handed.

Leftys …

  • Use the right side of the brain the most
  • Twice as likely to be a man
  • Better at multitasking
  • Of the eight most recent U.S Presidents, 4 have been left-handed
  • Less able to roll their tongue than a righty, (fun facts to share with your friends)

You may ask, “What does the Bible say about being left-handed?” ‘Left-handed’ in the Hebrew is itter and only mentioned 2 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, war broke out among the tribe of Benjamin and all the rest of the tribes of Israel. “Among all these were 700 chosen men who were left-handed…” (These leftys were in addition to 26,000 other men). ‘Chosen’ is a keyword. In essence, they went looking for left-handed men. WHY?

Back up to Judges 3, Israel had AGAIN gone 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, through warfare. Israel cried out to God and He sent ‘Ehud’ (of the tribe of Benjamin) who just happened to be left-handed, who 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 leftys – in hopes of having an ‘advantage.’ They were known for being able to “sling a stone at a hair and not miss.” (Jg 20:16). The Benjamites, however, did lose the battle – guess the left-handed missed. (Oops!)

What a lesson for us, we can’t always reach from our past in hopes that what worked ‘then’ 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 new angles with each battle. Left-handed or right-handed, new battle, new battle plan. God’s plan.

Left-handed.

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