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Sacred Spaces

Where is your God place? I mean those moments when you block out the world, the noise, the chaos and quietly bow your head, offering a moment for a spiritual breath. Is it the comfy chair sitting under the light in the living room, or for you it may be a walk on the beach, while brushing your toes in the sand. Or do you wait until bible in hand and you slip into the pew at church. For me, it is a spot on the back porch as I sip coffee.

When God moves and speaks, showing Himself BIG, what is our response? Do we mark those moments on the time line of our life? Or do we just give a quick nod of the head and continue on with our day – our life. 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)

This one is one of my favorites; Moses sits 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 win the battle, Moses built an altar and called it ‘The Lord is my Banner.’ He said, “For hands were lifted up to the throne of the Lord.” (Exodus 17:15,16a)  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 and the victory.

An altar is a landmark of God’s presence. It declares a sacred space, sacred because the faithful God of the universe was there. Oh, we may no longer need to gather various rocks and pile them in our back yard, but we can make a spiritual marker. I made a very clear altar of the heart a few years ago. If I could literally see the altar it would be down in a cattle field, at the river’s edge, under a large old tree. It was there I cried out to the Lord, wanting … NEEDING His presence – He never disappoints.

Like the Patriarchs of old, may we too be altar builders. Marking places, seasons where battles were fought, where battles were WON!  Recognizing and declaring THIS is where God met with me. Here is where I will remember. I will remember … HIM.  If we could see as God sees, I am confident we would see sacred spaces scattered across our past journeys.

Sacred spaces.

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

 

ONLY

 

The thief comes ONLY to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (Jesus, John 10:10 emphasis mine) Say it with me ‘Ou ei me’ (Greek: ‘oo-a-may’) ONLY. The ick out there, no matter how dressed up, how beautifully displayed, or having easy access – don’t reach for it! The thief’s ONLY motive is to steal from you, kill & destroy.
Lookin at something (disguised) all shined up and pretty?   May our raised hand not be to reach and grab, but in declaration to … STOP!  “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7)
ONLY.  Choose Life.
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)

Remember

The ‘Law of First Mention’ is a theological term that basically means ‘WAIT, what was THAT?’ (While your finger tip retraces the prior reading) Or technically, taking notice of the importance of the first time a name, attribute, declaration or regulation takes place in scripture (not when you first notice it however.)

The first mention of ‘remember’ is in reference to Noah in Genesis chapters 8-9. AMAZING word picture, God tells Noah He will remember the covenant He is making with him and all living creatures, this in reference to – not destroying all life again with flooded water. He places the rainbow in the clouds as a reminder, NOT to man, but to Himself. “Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on earth.” (v16) This doesn’t mean God is forgetful and needs a slew of colored string tied to His divine finger, it means when man acts up (and by golly we ACT UP!) His remembrance (in the Hebrew) means ‘When I remember, I act differently.’ What a merciful binding element!

Carrying the same theme, “I remember Your ancient laws, O LORD, and I find comfort in them.” (Psalm 119:52) The psalmist purposefully remembering, this is his way of properly marking a mental note, (which in the Hebrew) ‘indicates an inward act accompanied by appropriate outward action.’* The Psalmist is saying that in his remembrance of God’s word, it causes him to act differently. Scripture, what loving-comforting guideline.

Paul declares in Ephesians 6, “Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (v17, emphasis mine) the picture continues …the Greek for ‘word’ is rhema, which quite literally is “Scripture which the Spirit brings to our remembrance for use in time of need, a prerequisite being the regular storing of the mind with Scripture.” [Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old Testament and New Testament Words] It is up to us to ‘take’ God’s word, build up the inventory (if you will) let’s be honest, it would indeed be a true shame to be in a particular situation, Holy Spirit goes to our mindful inventory and finding the shelves bare, having nothing to pull and use.

Remembering; God’s way of bringing to the forefront; Covenant, God stuff, promises and the call to particular lifestyle.

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

 

* Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament

For more on the Law of First Mention:[ https://www.gotquestions.org/law-of-first-mention.html%5D

Is THAT in the Bible?

Recently, while perusing through Facebook, I came across a picture that looked to be taken from the pages of the Bible. The one who posted it thought it pretty, eloquent and held promise: “Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land who is Jesus Christ…” (v12)  WAIT!  Not being a scholar by any means, but I don’t remember reading this.  Sounds a bit Old Testament(ish) doesn’t it?  After a lil research I found the verse to be from the book of Ether (2:12) and yes I spelled that right ‘Ether’ – it is from the book of Mormon. It’s the story of the Jaredites who were led by God to the Americas shortly after the Tower of Babel scenario (um…) pretty but not biblical.

How often do we refer to, strongly consider, even quote what is NOT in the bible, like “Pride comes before a fall…” although close, pride ends in destruction, “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18)  And, “The eye is the window to the soul.”  The eye is not the window, not even a door, but the lamp; “The eye is the lamp of the body, so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light.” (- Jesus, Matthew 6:22, Luke 11:34) How often do we hear; “Money is the root of all evil!”  Head hung, shoulders slumped, condemnation felt.  NO, it’s the “LOVE of money that is the root of all sorts of evil.” (1 Timothy 6:10, emphasis mine) My favorite, “This, too, shall pass.”  Nope, not there either. Although misquoted, it is from a poem, ‘The Lament of Doer.’ “That passed away, so may this.”

Another, “The lion shall lay down with the lamb.” There is no mention of this in scripture, many would say, oh sure it is, in Revelations. Nope.  However in Isaiah 11:6 (see also 65:25) it speaks of the wolf and the lamb will dwell and graze together, but no lamb and lion snuggling.

I’ve heard folks quote the ‘proverb’ – “Spare the rod, spoil the child.” It does paint a somewhat accurate picture, but the actual wording is even more potent, “He who withholds his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently.” (Proverbs 13:24)  Hate literally means to ‘be unwilling – to refuse.’ To refuse to correct is a refusal to love.

The next time something questionable is seen or quoted to us, sounding ‘good’ or perhaps giving reference to Hezekiah 4:12 or Proverbs 32, let’s take a moment to explore. May we not be easily swept away by pretty, eloquent or what sounds promising.  Our very spiritual life may depend on it.  The Psalmist did say, “I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against You.” (Psalm 119:11) Getting His word in us, so we can tell the difference between truth and …other.

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

Got Faith?

Faith that moves mountains! Well for me at times, my faith would have a hard time tipping over a bucket full of sand, let alone moving a mountain.  I tend to drive up, look the mountain over and find myself turning around in an attempt for a different route rather than ‘move it.’

Faith.

In Hebrews 11 the author poetically describes the Hall of Faith, as those who ‘By faith…’ offered, built, left, blessed, kept, marched and protected. But how many of us would say our faith would indeed use different terminology, perhaps wimpy, shy even stealthily.   Sadly many feel that their ‘faith’ is a private thing. No, No it isn’t. Nowhere in the bible does it say or imply or even etched quietly in code that we are to tuck God in our back pocket, or leave Him as a bookmark in our bibles sitting on our night stand. We are called, commissioned and commanded to live and tell. Live our life in such a way, clearly declaring a firm assurance, God is Who He said He is and will DO what He says He will do. Faith.

There are some amazing stories of faith in the bible, common folks like us, faced with some mountains of their own. First, there is great faith: (Matthew 8) Jesus is in Capernaum, a Centurion (a captain over 100 or so men) came up to Him, stating, his servant is at home paralyzed and suffering. Jesus says, “I will go and heal him.” The captain says, “No need, just say the word and he will be healed.” Jesus responds that He had not found anyone with such great faith. He tells the captain, ‘GO! It will be done just as you believed it would.” The servant was healed! Great faith!   “Just say the word!” 

Next, gutsy faith: (Mark 5) this is the story of the gal with a bleeding issue, she had suffered for twelve years, having seen doctors with no results. With the bleeding issue, according to Jewish custom she was ‘unclean’ and should have stayed on the outskirts of the crowd.  If anyone came towards her or close to her, she was supposed to declare, by yelling ‘UNCLEAN!’ – but she didn’t,  not this time, she let her faith be bigger than her fear!  She had heard about Jesus, she not only goes into the crowd, she reaches out and touches the hem of Jesus’ robe.   The word used to describe, ‘touched’ (in the Greek) refers to such handling of the material as to ‘modify’ it. Meaning it wasn’t a flippant swipe of her hand, she GRABBED that hem so tight, she may have left her hand print on it. (vs 28) Grabbing His hem, she thought “IF I just touch His clothes I will be healed.   Jesus declares “Daughter, your faith has healed you…” Gutsy, reach out and GRAB faith!

Next, honest faith: (Matthew 8) Jesus had taught all day, as the crowd closes in, He steps into a boat, we pick up later in the evening – with the disciples, He tells them “Let us go to the other side.” Out on the water, without warning a storm came up; the waves were coming up over and into the boat. Jesus asleep, the disciples cry out to Him, “HELP! Lord save us, we’re going to drown.” Jesus responds, “You of little faith, why are you afraid!” He got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and they obeyed.

The same event is told in Mark chapter 4, “Leaving the crowd behind, they took Him along, just as He was in the boat. There were also other boats with Him.’ A furious squall came up…” (v36) They weren’t alone. These disciples had just a “LITTLE bit” of faith, but just enough to know to CRY OUT to Jesus! Yes, our faith should be big and strong, but let’s be honest; sometimes we may only have enough to squeak out “HELP LORD!” Be assured that even our little-honest cry for help – it DOES affect others!

Lastly, struggling faith: (Mark 9) the story of the father with the possessed son.  In Jesus’ presence the demonic throws the boy into convulsions. The dad says, “If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” “If you can?” said Jesus, and continues; “Everything is possible for him who believes.” (v24) the father then saying, “I do believe; helps me overcome my unbelief!” (How many of us have said this!)  At this point there was no VERBAL response from Jesus, He didn’t take him aside and tell the father, “There is a really good book you should read, ‘5 Easy Steps to Increase Your Faith’’”   Nope, but you can almost hear the divine whisper, “WATCH ME!”  He delivers and heals the boy.

Faith is living out our perception of God. We may have great faith, like the Centurion, “Just say the word Lord!” Awesome, use it, make it contagious. Faith doesn’t make sense, it makes room for miracles!   Or we may need some gusty/risky faith, like the gal to come forward from the outskirts, be desperate enough to reach out and GRAB! Or we may have ‘lil’ faith, honestly just enough to cry out for Jesus’ help. Perhaps our faith needs more, ‘I believe, but help my unbelief.’ On an honest note, perhaps we experience ALL of these in one day!   True?

I challenge us to push our faith forward, getting a really good look, examining and ask God for more. God not only is faithful to us, but faith FILLING. He continually pours into us. He offers opportunities, opportunities that stretch our faith, stretch our response. Living our life in such a way, clearly declaring a firm assurance, God is Who He said He is and will DO what He says He will do.

Faith.

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

 

What is ‘Delighting in God?’

 

Psalm 37 4

I asked God “Show me.”

Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (David, Psalm 37:4) Sadly many interpret this on a whim that if we get our act together with God, He will start granting what we ask for. This mindset seems to hold God captive like a genie; we call Him forth only when we want something. Perhaps liken also to; “Dear Santa, I’ve been good, here’s my list, I want…” Or some use the rabbit-foot theology approach, keeping God around just long enough, close enough, after all He is the Big Guy in the Sky, keeping on His good side seems to be the best plan.

We are called to and for more.

According to verse 25, King David was aged when he penned this “I was young and now I am old…” Throughout the Psalm he peppers his words with, “Don’t fret or be envious, trust in the LORD, commit your ways to the LORD, be still before the LORD, refrain from anger, turn from evil and do good, wait for the LORD and keep His ways. You can almost hear the longing in his voice as he pulls the reader forward by the shoulders, “Listen to this old man, HEAR THIS!”

Delight yourself in the LORD. It isn’t what we think. We often associate delight with our feelings of joy, our pleasures fulfilled. Yes, true, but there’s more. The word David uses (‘anag’) seems out of place when read in the Hebrew, however being the poet that he was, (under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) the word picture he is painting is beautiful. The word here for ‘delight’ is one that describes being sensitive, delicate and soft. It carries the idea of being pliable. Interesting also, grammatically anag (delight) is an imperative verb, meaning this is a command. David is not leaving room for question or discussion, we ARE to live our life delicately before the Lord, and we are to keep pliable and sensitive to Him. In doing so, in our pliable state, He molds into us His desires, ‘He will give you the desires of your heart.’ God places the desires within you. Have you experienced this?  What you once wanted has/is changing.  It’s Him!   Isaiah’s words continue the imagery: “Yet You, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, You are the potter; we are all the work of Your hand.” (64:8) He presses into us, molds us.

David is conveying that in our delighting in HIM, we express both the craving and satisfaction. He was a man after Gods own heart – his heart was satisfied by God. He doesn’t say we are to delight in the things God can do for us, but God Himself, we are to crave God, and He will satisfy.

As he writes this I am sure he remembers; he was a passionate man, yes, he went and took what he wanted at times (we all know how that turned out) yet he knew also unmet desires. He desired to build a temple for the Lord. However God did not give David this desire of his heart, David was a man of war; God wanted his son Solomon, a man of peace to build the temple. (1 Chronicles 17 & 22)

Glancing over my shoulder, I am very glad God has not given me some of the desires of my heart over the years. That indeed was great mercy on His part. Delighting in the Lord does not mean I cease having wants, having dreams and asking for them, it means as I seek after God, my goal is to become subordinate; I forego all – for HIS desires. “If the greatest and supreme of all our delights is in being and in doing what God wills, nothing can frustrate His purpose to give us our heart’s desire.” (Rev. Charles Voysey – January,1885) When we delight in the Lord, our desire is not so much to have as to be and do.

What would it take for God to captivate us, (captivate YOU) to lay aside all wants, wishes and dreams for Him. What would it take to become soft and pliable?

‘Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.’

 

 

I leave us with David Crowders song:

“Take my heart, I lay it down
At the feet of You whose crowned
Take my life, I’m letting go
I lift it up to You who’s throned

Take my fret, take my fear
All I have, I’m leaving here
Be all my hopes, be all my dreams
Be all my delights, be my everything.”

Such theology, such grace – great delight.

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

Banished from the Garden – PURE MERCY!

Have you ever read something, or heard something, that as you begin to ponder it, the truth of it completely breaks you? I have begun an online seminary class on the book of Genesis, it is my all time favorite book.  I am to read it, study it.  It has taken me a couple of weeks to process just a few verses in chapter 3.

Genesis 3. What a tangled conversation, Eve and the serpent.  He asks Eve, (I paraphrase) “Did God really say, you can’t eat from any tree?(v1) She responds, we can eat, ‘But God said we can’t eat from the tree in the middle, we can’t even touch it or we will die. (v3) Serpent responds, “You won’t DIE! (Can you hear the sarcasm?) God knows if you do eat from it, you will become like Him, knowing all the good and evil stuff.” (v5) Often we think of the Garden story as a huge snake lie.  But did he lie?

First, did they physically die that day? No. They lived 900+ years longer. Their relationship with God however died through their disobedience.  Sin. When they ate were their eyes opened and like God knowing good and evil? Yes. “The man has now become like one of Us, knowing good & evil.” (v22)

You see we ARE to become like God, but NOT like this! It was too much, they couldn’t handle it. God was protecting them with the command not to eat, not to know. But in God’s way, God’s timing: “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)

The serpent folded truth in the deceitful conversation. In his ‘craftiness’, he got Eve to restate God’s word falsely. Interesting, Eve mentions the tree in the ‘middle’- there were two particular trees in the ‘middle’ (Tree of Life & Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil – Gen. 2:9) they were to tend the garden and care for it, (2:15) they HAD to touch – to tend, God said don’t eat, not don’t touch. “It’s not how much truth is in the lie, its how much lie is in the truth.” – Dr James Allman (Dallas Theological Seminary) The best lie is the one that has the most truth in it.  Twisting, doubting, restating, God’s word (I’d have to say the 1st bible study was not so successful)  Eve lacked discernment, Theologian C.H Spurgeon said, “Discernment is not knowing the difference between right & wrong, it is knowing the difference between right and almost right.” (Ouch!)

Reading on, I ran head on into God’s banishment. God’s banishment from the garden was not punishment or out of anger it was full of mercy, PURE mercy. God didn’t KICK them out; He graciously forced them to leave, before – before they could eat from the Tree of Life. God said, “He (man) must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the Tree of Life and eat and live forever. So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden…” (vss 22,23)  Man had not eaten from the Tree of Life yet, he wasn’t in an eternal state, if he had eaten in his broken relationship with God, he (they) would be eternally out of relationship. They would be stuck in THAT condition, that spiritual position with God – FOREVER! God sent them out and what does He do?  He places an angel with a flaming sword to guard against them going back to what, paradise?  No, He guards against them going back to the Tree of Life.  (see v24) Um, according to Eve, ‘Somewhere over there, in the middle I think.’ (HA!) Seriously, pretty serious stuff!  They were sent away, out to the eventually ‘redeemed’ relationship.  In THAT relationship, mankind is offered eternal life.  Jesus.  God loved man so much He wouldn’t leave them in the mess they got themselves in to.  GOD IS GRACIOUS.  We take pause and state God is the same yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8) He is still in the business of redeeming back our messes! Can I get an AMEN!

While contemplating all this, (while folding clothes) I felt the Lord tell me, “It may have all started in Genesis, even in the first 3 chapters – but I AM A FINISHING GOD.”

Oh YES!

Paul may have penned it, but right now, right here God is saying “Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6)

God is Gracious.   Pondering and broken.

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