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How Do We Bow?

A few years ago, (many actually) while on our way to a mid-week church service, glancing over at my then 11-year-old son, he was wearing his favorite ‘Ducks’ cap.  I asked him to make sure to take the cap off before going into church. Then explaining that it would show reverence to the Lord. His weird smirk gave evidence he didn’t quite understand.  I thought for a moment and proceeded to tell him, “You taking your favorite cap off, the one you wear everywhere.  I know it’s your favorite and kind of your trademark.  Taking it off can tell God He is TOTALLY COOL. He is worth it; He is bigger and better. Taking it off could be your way of thanking Him in such a way as to bow to His coolness.” His response, “Oh I get it.” 

Although that may be a silly mom thing, but it made for a great illustration. The cap was taken off and laid on the car seat.

How do we bow?

King David wrote, “But I, by Your great mercy, will come into Your house; in reverence will I bow down toward Your holy temple.” (Psalm 5:7) Reverence, not something commonly displayed these days. If a head is bowed, onlookers raise an eyebrow or two.  If effort is put forth in showing honor, others scoff.  If preference is offered, others may challenge.

The Pastor of Hebrews strongly declares: “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our “God is a consuming fire.” (12:28-29, NIV)

This godly reverence paints a most honoring picture. It isn’t a haphazard quick nod of the head as to casually acknowledge something or someone. Like we do when at the grocery store a few yards away from a friend, offering a brief wave of the hand.  It is a true awareness of self.  An accurate estimation of being humble in the presence of goodness. Biblical reverence is whole-hearted, full awareness – GOD IS GOOD!  Yes, we are commissioned to “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16). But may we not do so with lack of awe and wonder, in that we might dishonor.  Reverence is NOT about performance. It is an issue of the heart. An established mindset. Remembering, that He is BIGGER and BETTER.  He is the One Who sits on the throne – King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

How do we bow?

By the way, the picture above is the lovely Ducks gap.  A treasured token, a mom’s memory of honoring.

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

HIS Word

I have been asked as a Bible teacher, “What does the Word of God do for you, YOU personally?”  Oh my, where do I start.  Besides the Bible being a sturdy textbook in my hand.  A book that is true.  When I read God’s inspired Word, first it confirms.  Confirms that I too am a fallible person just as the characters in the Bible are – real broken people peppered throughout the story of God.  And when I read about Peter, I can so relate to his ambitious outbursts, his swinging the sword and getting the guys ear.  Yup, that would be me.  And with all good intention, ask Jesus if we can build forts for the visitors (See Mark 9).  Yes, God’s word confirms.

God’s Word also gives me courage. I read King David’s story; I see the longing of his heart.  His running at full speed toward his God. And I also see the stupid mistakes.   I so appreciate God did not cover up the faults of His heroes. Repeatedly, in each person’s experience, we see too the character of God. His serious response. His care.  THIS gives me courage. In the same breath, it encourages me.  Taking those experiences, observing, and learning from them, folding them into my own and giving me courage to walk in the same direction.

Confronts.  Oh, His Word confronts and thankfully so.  If when reading His Word and we feel no discomfort at times, then we are reading it wrong. We are guarded and unyielding.  Professor D.A. Carson* insightfully stated, “We read the Bible, not to be a master of it, but to be mastered by it.”    THAT is my desire. Do I heed and yield every time?  No.  Regretfully, painfully, remorsefully, no.  But I know the sweet moment of repentance followed by the glorious insertion of God’s forgiveness and grace.

And for me, God’s Word calls.  Not like some creepy native drumming sound coming from the corner of the room (Ok, I’ve seen Jumanji too many times). But knowing what God’s word contains – it beckons.  It beckons with the fullness of God – His promises, His guidance, His correction, His character wrapped in His love and yes, His comfort.  Life can be stressful and assuredly messy and overwhelming, but His Word waits for us to reach for it and when we do, His Spirit uses it to calm us.  “They (God’s commandments, words, and instruction) are more desirable than gold, even the finest gold. They are sweeter than honey, even honey dripping from the comb.” (Psalm 19:10, NLT, emphasis mine).

God’s word confirms, gives courage, confronts, calls and comforts, but most of all – it CAPTIVATES me.  I am fascinated with the stories; the triumphs, war cries, the bush a flame, mud in the eyes, violent storms and the unrestrained and abandoned “My Lord and my God!” declaration. (John 20:28).  And all those words in red: “It is writtenGet upTake courage it is IQuiet, be stillCome forthWho do you say I amThen neither do I condemn you” and “It is finished.”  (Just to highlight a few).

HIS word.

Now, I present the question to YOU.  “What does God’s Word do for you?”  If your response is a shrug of the shoulder, ask God to grow your passion. Ask Him to show you things unnoticed, to color the stories vibrantly, and challenge you beyond comfort – He will.

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

*Professor D.A. Carson is retired Professor of the New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

Used by God

Used by God.

Matthew (author of the Gospel of Matthew) was a detailed tax-collector, turned disciple of Jesus. He was a numbers and money man. He mentions gold and silver 28 times, but they’re only mentioned once in Mark and 4 times in Luke. Matthew uses an accounting term when quoting Jesus, “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matt 6:12).

In both the books of Luke and Acts, Dr Luke (as described in Col 4:14) uses specific medical terminology.  Luke gives a detailed description regarding the bent over woman, (Luke 13) the words he uses to describe her condition and Jesus’ healing are actual medical terms. 

And there is Peter, the one who was passionately outspoken, enthusiastic, and at times quite brash, he actually told Jesus “Never, Lord!”  And it was also him who aggressively swung his sword in the Garden.  Yet it was Peter who wrote with divine instruction “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8, NIV).

All biblical writers wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16) BUT they did not lose their individuality. God used each one to offer a different perspective, a unique expression only that person could bring.  

We too, do not lose our individuality being used by God. Our artistic creativity, He will use it.  Our love for words, He will use. Our love and gifting of hospitality, He will use that.  Even that rebellious, (or stupid) season in our past, He can and will use it – for His glory! Interestingly, we do not read Peter apologizing later, “Dear beloved church, in my early days I was impulsive, hasty and at times a bit reckless, sorry about that.” Instead we read, “Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ.”  (2 Peter 1:1).  Yes, yes he was.

Let us be open and available (and ever transforming to the image of Christ) to be used for a unique GODLY expression.   Wherever we are, whatever we are doing, whatever we are holding and saying – to the glory of God. Where the pages of our life (my life) also reads, “Dede, a servant and disciple of Jesus Christ.”

Used by God.

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

Photo Credit: Country Guide Magazine (My emphasis: “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” – Luke 10:2a)

Great … But

At our women’s bible study, we recently looked at the serpent in the Garden. Genesis chapters 2-3 are packed with descriptive information. We looked at him being made by God (3:1; See also Ezek. 28:15).  satan, as he is later known, is NOT God’s equal. Not equal (by far) in power, character or authority.  He is a created being – God’s creation, making GOD the Ruler over His creation.  Knowing THAT, does it change your perspective of the one who prowls, looking to devour and whose ONLY goal is to steal, kill and destroy? (1 Peter 5:8; John 10:10).

He is also crafty – skilled in achieving his objective by tricky manipulation. We see this in his scheme of using a question, “Did God actually say…?” (3:1, ESV).  He still uses this.  How often do we too fall prey to the same question, “Did God actually…” and we throw in an “Or…” (with a shrug of shoulder) then we continue to rationalize our behavior or decisions.

But what jumped out to me most is found in the over-all conversation between the serpent and Eve. In chapter 2 it explains the creation of man and woman.  Of those 21 verses, the narrative refers to God as “LORD God” (and v1 of chapter 3 and picks up again in v8).  BUT.  In the historic conversation (3:1b-5) we see Eve following the example of the serpent. There is a deliberate avoidance – the serpent does not, will not, cannot, call Him, (LORD) God.*  LORD, is YHWH, (Yahweh) the Self-Existent One, known as the covenant name of God. Eve also refers to Him only as God, Elohim, (which in itself is GREAT) but in this context, He is minimized. There is a shift in narrative, it changes (and changes back). 

What an example to us.  Minimizing our God – in simple conversation.  How often have we, at work, or other settings, shrug God off, perhaps laugh Him off?  With lack of boldness, we conform (like Eve) and make Him less than He is – change the narrative of God’s character.  (What a scheme, Eph 6:10).  “Ouch!”

May we be ever so mindful.  Being so profoundly aware of His sovereignty, His covenant with us, that we live our life under the authority of God – to the glory of God.

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

Please know, I do not capitalize the enemies name, although considered a proper noun, I will not give him the courtesy.

*“The serpent does not use the expression “Yahweh God” [LORD God] because there is no covenant relationship involved between God and the serpent. He only speaks of “God.” In the process the serpent draws the woman into his manner of speech so that she too only speaks of ‘God.’”  [New English Bible Commentary].  “It is noteworthy that the serpent also deliberately avoids using God’s personal name “Yahweh” (“LORD”) when he addresses the woman. Here is another hint that his presence in the garden presents a threat. Although his initial words appear deceptively innocent, his subsequent contradiction of God leaves no doubt about the serpent’s motive and purpose.” [English Standard Version Commentary].

God is Gracious

God is gracious. 

I begin in Genesis chapter one.  God created everything. Genesis two, the narrative slows down and zeros in on the detail of God forming Adam and putting him in the Garden. Giving him the garden tending instructions, He also tells him he can eat from any of the trees, but do not eat from “the Tree of the Knowledge of Good & Evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” (v17).  God then makes Eve. Both man and woman living in relationship and divine favor with their Creator.  Genesis three, the serpent meets up with Eve, there’s conversation. She ends up eating and sharing the fruit from the forbidden tree with Adam.  Instantly everything changes. Everything.  In their disobedience, sin rushes in. God and man(kind) are now in a broken relationship, the relationship that was intended to be eternal. 

God comes and finds the man (and woman). He addresses his position and condition.  He is hidden and ashamed. There is blame-shifting, Adam to Eve, Eve to the serpent. God curses the serpent and to the woman, He pronounces she will suffer pain.  He curses the very ground that Adam was formed, there will now be struggle and toil for man.

God then slaps His hands together and with a heavy sigh, “Good riddance and good luck out there” as He waves them off, sending them away.

No.  Not that last part.  Not like that.

The key is in verse 22 (chapter 3).  They, Adam and Eve hadn’t eaten from the Tree of Life (yet). They HAD to leave; He does send them away.  They were in a fallen state, broken relationship with their God.  If they had stayed, they would have eaten from the Tree of Life, they would then live FOREVER in broken relationship.  His sending them away and blocking the entrance to the way of the Garden was needed and merciful. He was gracious, still bestowing favor, in sending them away.  Looking at this story from our angle, our timeframe, (we the descendants of Adam) and knowing the rest of the story – you can almost hear the Holy whisper as He points, telling them to go, “It’s alright, I have a plan…” The rest of the written Word is the description and history of that loving, gracious – redemptive plan.

God is gracious.

Gracious. Being gracious depicts the heartfelt response by someone who has something to give to one who has a need – someone who does not deserve or can repay what is given.*  Man(kind) was in need!   The Hebrew word conveys stooping, stooping in kindness.

Fast forward:  Jesus.

Paul wrote to his son in the faith, Timothy:

For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was His plan from before the beginning of time—to show us His grace through Christ Jesus. And now He has made all of this plain to us by the appearing of Christ Jesus, our Savior. He broke the power of death and illuminated the way to life and immortality through the Good News.” (2 Timothy 1:9-10, NLT – emphasis mine)

Grace is the absolutely free expression of the lovingkindness of God to men.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Eph 2:8-9, ESV)

Not only was it a gracious act of God to send man out of the Garden, but He also sent His Son. Sent in our place, making amends to restore relationship.  Jesus, because of His life – death, blood atonement and powerful resurrection, was the appeasement needed for our sovereign pardon.  We once were out – far off from God’s presence, now we are brought near (again). What an amazing divine gift, a very precious gift.  Theologian, Arthur W Pink wrote, “Even though grace is unmerited favor, it must be exercised in a sovereign manner.” Planned by the Father, accomplished through His Son, accepted by mankind and applied by the Spirit.  (BRILLIANT!)

God is gracious.

I strongly urge us to always consider the plan, the loving, gracious – redemptive plan.  What God did to get us back.   May we never-ever belittle it, dismantle it, devalue or abuse it.

Head bowed.

God. Is. Gracious.

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

*Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament

 

Get in Line – Get in Step

I can’t think of a better documented example of Jesus’ faithfulness to an individual, than Peter. Peter was a disciple. A disciple is a learner, follower, an apprentice.  It is someone who seeks to know and gives full life attention to their Rabbi (Teacher/Mentor).  Within the Jewish culture in Jesus’ day, (and some aspects continue today) there was a whole process of life discipleship.  Discipleship (in general) was designed in such a way that the student (or disciple-wanna-be) would seek out the Teacher and make a formal request to be their disciple.  If the Teacher agreed to the request, (finding them worthy: family, status and education) they would then allow them to become their disciple. They were now chosen.  The words, “Follow me” were spoken.  The disciple was then required (it was not optional) to totally submit to the Rabbi’s authority in all areas of his life.  The Rabbi’s teaching was therefore binding.  Everything the disciple did or how he viewed things were all filtered through the Rabbi

THEN. Jesus comes on the scene, turning everything upside down.  There was no time for discipleship applications. The traditional format: Disciple sought out the Rabbi – but Jesus sought out the disciple. THE Rabbi, calling not the well-educated or those of high status – but fishermen (and the like). He said, “Follow Me.”  These two words were discipleship terminology, meaning they were CHOSEN.  Perhaps, this can be folded into the context of why Jesus said: “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit…”  (John 15:16a) What a most wonderful reality. Chosen. 

Jesus calls Peter against tradition, “Follow Me…” (Mk 1:17a). In the original language, literally, “Come in behind me.” Get in line, get in step and focus on me. Peter, a spunky guy, with a sliver of rebel in him.  He was the first to speak up (or out).  He was the only one out of the boat (to swim to Jesus or attempt walking to Him).  He was the sword swinging – in Jesus’ face guy.  And, who ultimately denied his Rabbi.

But.  Jesus knew.  Jesus was faithful to Peter.  He was the faithful Rabbi. He taught not only with words but lifestyle.  He taught Peter what it meant to be a disciple.  He taught him faithfulness.  He taught Peter; He was Lord.  Peter later wrote: “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you…” (1 Pet 3:15a, ESV).  Peter was taught hope.  Jesus also taught Peter how to die to self; describing himself, “Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ…” (2 Pet 1:1).  Peter was a servant (doulos), one with a permanent servitude – his life altogether consumed with Jesus.

The last chapter of John (21) after the death and resurrection of Jesus, He is with the disciples.  Singling out Peter, Jesus has the “Do you love Me?” conversation.  His personal closing words to Peter were “Follow Me” (v19).  Jesus started with “Follow Me and ended with “Follow Me.” 

Peter was a disciple.

Jesus, always the faithful Teacher – ALWAYS the faithful Lord. We too as His disciples are called to life learning. Our Great Rabbi’s teaching is binding. Everything we do or how we view things are all filtered through Jesus. His choosing is not only (but astonishing) for forgiveness of sins and eternal life, but also our lives are to be fruitful and productive in fulfilling God’s purposes. 

May we continue to get in line, get in step and focus on Jesus, our faithful Teacher and faithful Lord.

We are His disciples.

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

Speak to the Corners

Recently my husband and I traveled across parts of Oregon heading to a family wedding. There was plenty of time to watch the scenery pass on by. Observing the geographical change from plush green, to gorge, to dry, to waves of fields of wheat.  Quietly, I sensed the Lord whisper to me, “Speak to the Corners.”  Hm.  Speak to the corners?  Having no idea what He was referring to at first, I asked Him to SHOW me the corners.  Suddenly I was made aware of the circular irrigation systems of the fields just outside my window.  Studying those, I saw the corners. Green stalks of young corn, grown in a circular pattern – then there were the dry, intentionally forgotten corners of the fields.  Assuming the farmers “did the math” and determined it wasn’t cost-effective to plant there.  I sensed God say, “THIS is not what I intended for your heart – no unhealthy corners.”

Over the course of these last few days, I have prayed about, mediated and asked the Lord to show me the corners of MY life.  He is ever so faithful to gently point to things I have tucked back, WAAAAY back into the corners of my heart. The corners of waste land, of no profit in my life, where nothing healthy and good can grow there.  Concepts, perspectives, views of myself and unhealthy views of God.  And wrong doings, habits or hurts.  As I pursued this, I was drawn to 1 Samuel 24. 

King Saul is in hot pursuit of David. David and his men are hiding in a cave.  Far back, in the corner (if you will) they sat quietly.  Saul comes into the cave for some privacy, to relieve himself.  David’s men encourage him, “THIS is your chance!  Kill him!” (paraphrased). Can you imagine the split-second thoughts that may have run through David’s mind?  “Yes, you are right, I am called to be King, I end this NOW!  This man has lashed out at me!  What have I done to deserve this?  Now, I end this rivalry!”  But NO!  There in the dark corner of the cave, David instead, stealthily crept forward, cutting off a small corner of Saul’s cloak.  In this, David was quickly convicted of what he had done, (*cutting at the lineage of Saul’s family) telling the men he was wrong to do so and they too were not to harm Saul.  Taking it further, he stepped out into the light, he called out, and revealed his presence to the King.  In short, Saul is humbled by the “I chose not to” opportunity by David. Saul genuinely shares, “May the LORD reward you well for the way you treated me today.  I know you will surely be king…” (vv19, 20)

May we too be rewarded well for the choices we make in the corners.  Sure, there may be brief missteps here and there. Yet, may we consider our thoughts, motives and actions. Knowing God knows our corners – watches our responses, waits (and invites) healthy cultivation. 

God knows ALL.  Regardless of how well we become at compact packing and creatively stuffing.  We try to deny the reality of our corners and tuck it back.  Until one day and it will – it all spills out!

God boldly states, “Can anyone hide from Me in a secret place? Am I not everywhere in all the heavens and earth?” says the LORD.”  (Jer. 23:24, NLT). And the Pastor of Hebrews wrote: “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before His eyes, and He is the one to whom we are accountable.” (4:13).

May we speak to our corners, our intentionally forgotten corners.  May we echo the tender words of King David, “O Lord, You have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.”  (Ps. 139:1-2).  He closes with don’t stop THERE – “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” (vv 23,24).  

God wants ALL our heart, healthy and profitable, for His good pleasure.  Speak to the corners.

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

*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.  David was convicted because he CUT Saul’s lineage and symbolically cut 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, and after his “may the Lord reward you for not killing me today” he continues 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.” (1 Sam 24:20-21, ESV)

Don’t Wait!

Have you noticed how the art of handwritten letter writing is increasingly fading, or pretty much obsolete?  Our once, “Hi how are you”, or “thinking of you”, followed by a lengthier note of encouragement, has been replaced with a quick text or a cute smiley emoji.

Our words of encouragement to others hold TONS of weight. To see it in writing, or verbally said, that you are loved, appreciated, and supported is priceless. I strongly believe encouragement is universally lacking.

The book of Philippians is an amazing lil blueprint for encouragement.  Paul wrote this letter while in prison in Rome. This, his most personal of all letters to a church, has a main directive to thank them for their love and support.  So basically, the letter is a huge “thank you” note. Yet, he doesn’t stop there. He continues with instruction and wonderful encouragement: “I thank my God when I think of you … I have you in my heart …. stand fast… be of the same mind… rejoice in the Lord always… don’t be anxious … be thankful … let your request be made known… think on these things …”  (Just to mention a few). And he wraps it up with “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit…” That is some loving encouragement!

We need to pause for a moment to remember that Paul wrote this while in PRISON. He could have, in his humanity, turned the letter into a huge “whine.” Many excuses could have surfaced.  He could have withheld the encouragement until the conditions were better. He could have waited until he walked free in the streets, felt the warmth of rubbing shoulders with others, breathed in fresh air. But he didn’t. He spoke from his captivity. He had faith, he reached for his God and with the help of the Holy Spirit, he shared his faith and love of Jesus with others.

What an example to us all, that we not “WAIT.” Wait, until we have it all together and think the conditions are exactly right. Wait until our own pain, our own struggle has subsided. Sure, some of us are thinking, “But he was PAUL, the guy had a direct blinding link to Jesus!” Yes, yes he did. But so do we. We have the same Lord, the same Spirit dwelling in us.

Our words, whether they be verbal, written, texted, tweeted, or posted – should reach out. May we hug with our words. Don’t wait!  Someone out there needs us, needs YOU. The hurting, the lonely, the confused. Embrace them. They need our words of encouragement. They can’t wait for us to get it all together. (Or wait until all this Covid-19 is lifted).

Don’t wait.

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

*I honestly do not remember where I got the image above, I’ve had it in my files for years. But is speaks volumes.

At the River’s Edge

Ever been in a situation that seems just too big, too deep and basically moving way too fast that you feel it is impossible to cross or get through?  You begin to look for alternatives to get to the other side.  But frankly there aren’t any.  You just have to – go through.

Joshua chapter 3.  Brief building-up-to summary; Moses guides the Israelites out of Egypt and out of slavery.  They are heading to the Promised Land.  They wander for forty years.  Following Moses’ death, Joshua, who now holds the reins of leadership, prepares the people to cross the Jordon.  Their tents are pitched at the river’s edge. 

They could see it, after all those years, THERE it was! Only the river stands between them and their inherited land.  The river is at flood stage.  It is bigger, wider, faster and deeper than expected.  Joshua summons the people, “Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you.” (v.5).  Yes, God’s going to have to do something amazing to get them through!  Amazing.

As instructed by God, Joshua has the priests head out first, carrying the ark of the covenant, representing God’s very presence, on their shoulders. “When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s water, go and stand in the river.” (v.8). Just stand. As they did, upriver, the water backed up, the flow stopped.  They walked to the middle of the river.  Standing firm on dry ground the Israelites passed by, the priests stayed right there until all passed to the other side. Twelve men were chosen to gather a stone from the river and take it with them to the other side, building an altar. God solidly and very clearly getting them through troubled waters! Indeed proving that what lies on the other side, they would (with His help) be able to conquer, whatever and whoever.

Interesting, we can connect this to the story where God tells Abe and Sarah that in their old age, they will have a son and remember Sarah laughs? (Genesis 18:14). God responds, “Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son.” Too hard, it is the same Hebrew amazing word as in Joshua. Is anything too hard for God? No. THAT is our amazing God!

Like with Israel, the rivers edge is a meeting place with God. A place of dedication, devotion and purpose. Coming to the river is a place of decision. Our inheritance (joy, freedom, assurance, security, love…) awaits us on the other side. Our option? Cross or stay.  Stay, just watch the water go on by. Or turn back … into the desert, wander some more, go back into captivity.

We do as the twelve rock toting men did, we take something from the river as a reminder and build in our heart as an altar before God. Here and now YOU preserved me, YOU brought me through, YOUR presence stayed there in the middle of it all, delivering me to the other side!

Delivering waters need to be crossed. God with us, God in us, God delivering us from what we deem impossible – impassable.  THAT is our amazing God!

At the river’s edge.

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

Find Him Familiar

Familiarity. It can be comforting, with a sense of security. I am reminded of a tremendous moment I experienced while working as a caregiver at a local assistant living home. Most of the folks were self-sufficient, enjoying the social aspect of the facility. While others struggled with high moments of joy only to be overrun with the anger and fear found in Alzheimer’s. While checking on a resident, it was pointed out to me that “Preacher” (whom I lovingly nicknamed) was wandering the halls. I went and found him. The look on his face was complete lost-ness. His aged demeanor in the previous days was that of dignity, maturity, and strength, but not today.

We had shared many conversations in the past, he tenderly spoke sermons as we shuffled to the dining hall.  However today, there was no sermon. Alzheimer’s had again reached out and pulled him in. Finding him in the hall near his apartment, I suggested we go in and sit down for a little while. Taking the key, he held in his hand, I opened the door and lead the way. Preacher took a seat on his sofa, his eyes wandering about the room, as if looking for something ANYTHING that defined this place his, his home, which defined …him.

Looking at me with longing, he told me that his house, just across the river was a nice little place. Confusion taking over his continence, “But this morning when I woke up, I was here. All my furniture, my things, but this is not my little house.” Leaning forward, looking deep into my eyes, with bewilderment and agitation, he whispered, “What should I do?”

My eyes returning the intensity of his, I asked him, “Would you mind if we prayed, we’ll talk to God?” It was THEN, there it was, and there HE was. Something sparked familiarity. He may not have recognized me, or the place, or the time, but GOD he knew! His eyes began to well up. I reached for his hand, he in turn enveloped mine in his. And I prayed. I prayed for peace, for clarity of mind, and for God’s all-consuming calmness to come on him. As my words quieted, he too with confidence and strength that exceeds any I have known – prayed. When the final “Amen” was said, he grasped my hands a little tighter and generously thanked me.

As the Psalmist writes in Psalm 71, “In You, O LORD, I have taken refuge… Be my rock of refuge, to which I can go … for You have been my hope, O Sovereign LORD, my confidence since my youth…” (vv 1,3,5). Preacher conditioned himself over the years, to know his God, he KNOWS his God. He knows who and where he belongs. God is familiar. Familiarity prompts.  It prompts what has well-worn our thoughts, our actions, and become embedded in our mind and heart.

There WILL be times when life gets unfamiliar – even fearful.  When we too may wander the halls of this world. However, may we all be like Preacher, position and condition, and train to know our God.  When His name is spoken, His word recited, and heavenly conversations suggested – something sparks in us. 

Find Him familiar.

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

For Ted.

At His Feet


Jesus is in the home of the sisters, Mary & Martha. Mary sits at Jesus’ feet. Martha (being the Martha Stewart of the day) was in the kitchen working.  Luke (10:38-42) describes Martha; while hospitality was a cultural expectation, she was distracted by all the stuff, the preparations, and the work. Frustrated, she urges Jesus to encourage Mary to help her. Jesus tells Martha, “you are anxious and troubled about many things” (v41, ESV).  He continues that Mary is good right here – at His feet.

Mary was at Jesus’ feet.  What a beautiful place to be.  It is the place of learning.  The custom was as a disciple, you sit at the feet of your Rabbi, your teacher.  The one who you follow with your life.  The one you desire to emulate.  The common practice was for men not women to sit before a Rabbi. But here, here Mary boldly sits.  Jesus so accepting of her.

Later, (John 11) Lazarus, the sisters’ brother is dead. He’s been in the grave four days. Jesus comes to them. Mary is again at His feet, this time, heartbroken. “When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw Him, she fell at His feet…” (v32).

Looking at Mary’s example, I have much to learn. I desire to be at Jesus’ feet, in the good times and not distracted by the stuff, or anxious and troubled. Or by what others are demanding of me, or what society expects of me.  I want also to be at Jesus’ feet when my heart is overwhelmed, when tears stain the pages. 

At His feet – In the good and in the painfilled.

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

Behold

One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD. And to meditate in His temple.” King David, Psalm 27:4, NASB

Behold.

The word behold points to bygone days and may be considered archaic and obsolete. With the ever-growing society, some words tip and fall, deemed no longer useful or necessary and easily replaced.  

Webster’s defines behold, “to gaze upon or observe a remarkable or impressive thing or person.”

What do we behold?

The English Standard Version uses behold a total of 1,069 times.  In both the Old and New Testament, behold renders two uses.  First, in context to an unrestrained interjection of new or exciting elements into the story. Essentially, “See here!”  or “Look and take note!” In the Hebrew it is attached to hope, expectation, and certainty.  Isaiah declares, Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” (Isaiah 12:2, emphasis mine). 

John, expressing his revelation and interaction with Jesus, “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.”  (Revelation 1:17-18). God is our strength and salvation and Jesus alive forevermore and He has the keys – YES!  Exciting elements indeed!

Behold.

The second use for biblical beholding is the gazing Websters speaks of.  A steady gazing – do not look away.  It is calling to attention – THIS (a verbal pointing) is worth our time and there is value in our full stop. One resource stated, the gazing goes beyond sight, but to all our senses, not only physical but mental and spiritual.

John the Baptist, “The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).

Full stop. Full regard.

Behold.

In our current culture we tend to call attention to so much and so many, other …than Jesus.  We flock (or did) to stadiums, concert halls and think nothing of it to stand with arms waving in full unrestrained excitement. There are moments, among the crowd we too would quiet ourselves due to awe and wonder.

Behold.

Why aren’t we so excited about Jesus?  Where is our applause?  Where is the awe?   May we reclaim what it is to behold our God!

This song!  (see below) Oh!  That our hearts would behold Him so tenderly, so unrestrained. So full of awe and regard.  Listen to the words. He is worthy of our awe. Behold Him. (I am not exalting the worship, but the One we worship!)

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

*I do not know where I got the image of the lil boy above, it has always captivated me – challenged me.

But God

Have you ever stood on the edge of the pages of your life and just shake your head in complete bewilderment and think one simple word, “HOW!”   Then the rest of the frustration tumbles out, exclaiming, “But God, this … and …” continuing with a list of “can’t do’s – won’t work – not happening” statements – especially in this unprecedented (key word for 2020) day we live in.

Wait!  Keep turning the pages.  Believe it or not, “But God …” (or “But the Lord”) is mentioned 325+ times in the Bible, in GOD’S favor.  In this study, spending four hours looking at these verses, I was captivated. In the story, in the context, I saw God’s character being placed in the forefront.  There were loud moments of reassurance and yet quiet whispers of His love. This is what I found; this is what I learned.  In short, briefly stating, just a few from Genesis:

I begin with Genesis 3, Adam and Eve are in the garden, the presence of God so intimate that He literally takes walks with them.  They have just made some very poor choices (thanks, guys). God is heard walking through the garden and the couple hides. “But the LORD God called to the man, ‘Where are you?” (v9).  God calls. He knew very well where they were, the question was intended for Adam, to consider his location, his position and his condition before Him.  

Then there’s Noah and crew, out in the big boat, floating.  Floating.  More floating.  The waters were high and the large hand-built boat was tossed back and forth. A man and his family all alone among the precious cargo of every kind of animal created by God. Obedience led them to this completely unknown. Genesis 8:1 “But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded.” God remembers. He will send a wind to our circumstance, His wind and resolve the flood in our life.

Next, a man by the name of Jacob, he worked hard as requested and then was treated unfairly by his father-in-law. Genesis 31:42 “But God has seen my hardship and the toil of my hands…” God sees. He sees us where we are, how we are and how we are being treated.  He cares – He will act.

Joseph, the cocky favored son, who was thrown into a pit and sold as a slave by FAMILY MEMBERS! Genesis 50:20 “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done and the saving of many lives.” God accomplishes.  He redeems the bad and transforms for good to accomplish His plan.

Amazing, just amazing!  The Word is full of examples like these and more, many, many more: “… But the LORD was my support.” (2 Samuel 22:19) “But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever …” (Psalm 73:26) “But God promised…” (Acts 7:5) “But God had mercy on him…” (Philippines 2:27) “But God is the builder of everything…” (Hebrews 3:4) 

God is incredible! He is never late and never ignores and is extremely attentive to detail and He is concerned more for our welfare than our comfort and goes to extraordinary effort at times to make sure we hear Him.

If our circumstances seem frustrating, just keep turning the pages. God is calling, remembering, seeing and accomplishing and SO much more!

But God.

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

You can go to Bible Gateway (link below) and read for yourself, ‘But God.’

What Now?

Earless chocolate bunnies and leftover deviled eggs in the frig. Post-Easter. Now what?   Do we rummage through the calendar for another holiday or event to look forward to? What excites us about the future or even – daily?   May I be so bold in asking, what causes our insides to burn with excitement, what consumes our mind and emotions? What drives our behavior?

Post-Easter.

Jesus’ resurrection is AMAZING!  WONDERFUL!  DIVINE! All the adjectives worthy of the King of Kings! However, let’s not stop there. There is more!  Let’s unpack this in a brief summary.  Stay with me, this is good!

Luke 24, it speaks of the women going to the tomb, once there they find two angels who notify them that Jesus was no longer there, He’s risen from the dead! I cannot step any further without emphasizing the detail of God.  John’s account states “…and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.” (John 20:12). Remember God’s very specific instructions when building the Tabernacle in the wilderness – and the furniture? “Make the atonement cover (Also known as the Mercy Seat) of pure gold… Make two cherubims out of hammered gold at the ends of the cover. Make one cherub on one end and the second at the other end.” (Exodus 25:17-19, emphasis mine).  Two angels at either end, overseeing the atonement blood.  Coincidence? I think NOT!

The gals go back to tell the others. Peter, as energetic as he was, runs to go see and confirms Jesus wasn’t there.  Just following that, (v13) it says “That very day…” It proceeds to unfold the story of the two walking to Emmaus, who unknown to them at first, encounter Jesus. They are flabbergasted that this Stranger didn’t seem to know what had just transpired in Jerusalem.  Sharing their disappointment, “But we had hoped that He was the one to redeem Israel.” Going on, they explained how Jesus’ body was not found. Verse 27, “Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”  (NLT). WOW, I’d love a one on one instant Bible study from the lips of the Master!

It wasn’t until Jesus was seated at their table, in their home and they accepted the bread He offered, that their eyes were opened, and they knew WHO He was. It doesn’t say it in the narrative, but could it be that when Jesus served them, He pulled His sleeves up? THERE!  There were the wounds!  I love their response, “They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as He talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?”  (v32)

Their hearts burning within them. I want spiritual heartburn! I want my soul, mind, thoughts, passions, desires, and appetites to burn with Him and His Word! The word Luke chooses to use for ‘burning’ is very colorful. It doesn’t just mean to strike a match and light the kindling and watch it slowly give off a tender glow. No, it RAVISHES through the wood and consumes it!  Luke is emphasizing to be GREATLY moved of heart.

Burn Lord!

Notice Jesus didn’t lay hands on them or put mud on their eyes.  He didn’t even send them to the Priest for verification! He simply… walked with them. Walking and talking, divinely revealing Himself and they were transformed.  The narrative says they got up at once and went back to Jerusalem testifying that Jesus has indeed – RISEN.

For us? The next time we open the Bible for devotion time, or when the time comes, we find our seat at church, let’s not daydream off to another place, let’s do some focused walking and talking.  Jesus said, “The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things…” (John 14:26). We just need to show up for the lesson (Pay attention, take notes, ask questions).  THIS is the event, the daily event we will look forward to.

And burn Lord, BURN within us!

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

Palm Sunday

This weekend we celebrate Palm Sunday, may we pause and look at the scriptural events.

Six days before the Passover…” Mary took a pint of perfume and poured it on Jesus’ feet, the house filled with the fragrance.   This was one day prior to Jesus’ triumphal entry (Palm Sunday) found in John 12.  The narrative describes the triumphal entry, “The next day…” It is safe to say, Jesus still smelled quite fragrant from the oil.  This being of Jewish telling, in Jewish culture, whilst Jewish people stood on the street as Jesus passed by, they (potentially) smelling the fragrance, resonated the Kingly procession, as they shouted: “Hosanna!  Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!  Blessed is the King of Israel. (v13)

Anointing was a priestly and kingly custom: Moses pouring oil on Aaron’s head (Leviticus 8:12) and Samuel over Saul (1 Samuel 10:1) and the anointing of David (1 Samuel 16:13; 1 Chronicles 29:22).  Interesting, Mary anoints Jesus’ feet.  Could it be, (just an observation) yes, the custom was washing the visitor’s feet from the dusty paths but could the anointing of His feet, (not His head) display the declared Majesty of God on earth, His Kingly walk among man, “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.  We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14).

Hosanna. What an amazing prophetic word. Turning to Mark chapter 11, his telling vividly explains the events of the day.  Jesus and the disciples are preparing to come into Jerusalem.  Jesus sends two of them ahead to get a young donkey, “Go into that village over there.” He told them. “As soon as you enter it, you will see a young donkey tied there that no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here.” (v2). Further in the narrative, “When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, He sat on it.” (v7). Jesus steps up and sits down; I believe the colt knew, knew the King of Majesty now drapes his back.

As Jesus rides through the cobblestone streets, the crowd begins to yell “HosannaHosanna in the Highest” waving palm branches with enthusiasm.  It was common practice in the ancient world to welcome home a king or war hero by laying down branches in front of them, liken to our ticker tape celebrations today.

Hosanna is the Greek version of the Hebrew saying ‘yasha na’ (yaw-shaw naw) meaning ‘Save now we pray.’ This taken from what is known as the Hallel, (Jewish prayerful readings of Psalms 113-118) specifically here, “O LORD, save us; (HOSANNA!) O LORD, grant us success. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. From the house of the LORD we bless you.” (Psalm 118:25, 26, emphasis mine).  Can we grasp the impact of what they are saying? Jesus was fulfilling the prophetic words of Zechariah, “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (9:9)

However, just four chapters later, the crowd was again yelling, but this time; “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” (Mark 15:12-14). Little did they know they were basically yelling the same thing. Both times! For you see beloved, for Jesus to ‘save we pray’ they had to ‘Crucify Him!He allowed it. He laid down His life for YOU and for me. By this act and He resurrecting from the dead with all Kingly authority and power, He stood in the gap, reaching for your hand and placing it into the hand of the Father.  He is the Restorer of relationship, God, and mankind.

This weekend, may we not allow this moment to pass us by, as we whole-heartedly consider the impact and fulfillment of Hosanna.  JESUS!  Jesus riding an untamed colt in a King’s procession, “SAVE WE PRAY!”  THAT He did!

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