Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Shema

Shema Israel, Adonai elohenu, Adonai echad!
Ve'ahavta et Adonai elohekha
b'khol levavkha,
uv khol nafshekha,
uv khol me'odekha!

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our GOD, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your GOD with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Three bible passages that have been recited morning and evening by Jews over the centuries, since before Jesus' time, as a declaration of loyalty to God's Covenant. The Shema is a commitment to love God, keep Him in your thoughts at all times, be obedient to Him and teach them to your children. The three Shema verses include the following scriptures, the numbers passage is recited only in the morning, the other two are recited morning and evening;
Deuteronomy 6:4-9
Deuteronomy 11:13-21
Numbers 15:37-41

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Will You Believe?

The great battle of our spiritual lives is,  'Will you believe?'
It is not 'Will you try harder?' 
'Can you make yourself worthy?'
It is squarely a matter of believing that God will do what only He can do"

Jim Cymbala, Fresh Fatih: What Happens When Real Fatih Ignites God's People

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Come Out!

I don't know where you are in life right now, perhaps a battle with finances, relationship, illness, or just simply lost along the way, but I prayed for you. And this is what The Lord gave me--
(Insert your name in the blank, and feel His mighty hand that rocks the earth on your behalf.)
You are His beloved.


When ____ came out of Egypt,
the place of oppression  from a people
of  foreign tongue and tribe,
____ became God's Sanctuary,
____ His dominion.

The sea looked and fled,
the Jordan turned back;
the mountains skipped like rams,
the hills like lambs.

Why was it, O sea, that you fled,
O Jordan, that you turned back,
you mountains, that you skipped like rams,
you hills, like lambs?

Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the lord,
at the presence of the God of ____,
who turned  the rock into a pool,
the hard rock into springs of water.

The Lord your God, 
who is going before you, 
will fight for you!

Psalm 114, Deuteronomy 1:30

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Bad Choices in a Bottle


She was most likely a prostitute, and she apparently had a very profitable year.

One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, so he went into the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table. When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.   Luke 7:36-38

Perfumes and oils were widely used in the ancient world. Most of the oils were extracted from roots not indigenous to the area, had to be imported, and were inordinately expensive. (1)
The oil used to anoint Jesus was most likely spikenard, one of the costliest of perfumes. (2)

If it's true, if she really brought a years worth of wages in a bottle with her ($40,000-$50,000 in our day) as some sources say, to anoint Jesus' feet, well... that's a lot of perfume.

That's a lot of bad choices in a bottle.

That's a lot of cash. That's an outrageous amount of sin. That's a heap of guilt.

Simon is appalled;  "How did this whore get in my house? He doesn't know whom to yell at first, the woman or the servant who let her in. After all, this dinner is a formal affair. Invitation only. Upper crust. Creme de a creme. Who let the riffraff in?" (3)

Makes me wonder how many bottles of bad choices I could bring? After all, I haven't made the best of decisions this year.
I imagine some of us could even bring a life time of bad choices in a bottle to the feet of Christ.

 "She came thirsty from countless nights of making love and finding none.
(Imagine a a hooker in a tight dress showing up at the parsonage during the pastor's christmas party). Heads turn. Faces blush. Gasp!) 
But peoples opinions didn't stop her from coming. It's not for them she has come. It's for Him."  (3)

Would we let the amount of our sin and bad choices prevent us from kneeling at the feet of Jesus?
Will we hesitate to bring our sins to Him for fear of what people will say about us?
Is the promise true; He who comes to me I will never drive away?  (John 6:37)

A broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.
Psalms 51:17

You do realize hers is a story of outrageous love, don't you?
You can't bring enough bad choices in a bottle that could cause him to turn you away.

 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
Luke 5:32

Her story is recorded on Holy Writ just so you could know;

God wants you to come, just as you are, bringing your bottle of bad choices.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:28

(1) Archaeological Study Bible, NIV, Zondervan, Perfumes and Anointing oils, pg. 1746
(2) New Strong's Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Red-Letter Edition, The,  James Strong, LL.D., S.T.D. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament, Oil, #3464 pg. 168
(3) Max Lucado, Cast of Characters, Common People in the Hands of An Uncommon God,  pg. 21-23

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Scapegoat Stone

It was remarkably boisterous for a thing inanimate-pregnant as it was with the sin just confessed over it.

I curled my fingers tightly around the flat gray stone in my palm.
I Pondered it's significance, pitied it's purpose...scapegoat stone.

Its surface was smooth,edges serrated.
Like me--
Having an appearance of the common, but chipped, whittled and whipped by the chaos of choice.
Weather-beaten on the edges by the storms of sin.

I was supposed to return it to the pile as the object of sin confessed, forgiveness sought and received. But I didn't want to. I wanted to keep it.

Convincing myself it would be a reminder of how easily I had fallen, I kept it.

Persuading myself I needed a tangible token to guard my heart from relapse, I kept it.

I should have returned it to the pile, but I didn't. 

It's amazing, isn't it, how logical we can make ourselves sound when we're trying to justify our disobedience?  (1)

The Reality? I enjoyed my sin, and I had no real intent of letting it go.

Oh, I was sincere in wanting deliverance and seeking forgiveness, but I just couldn't release the thing that had somehow claimed me. Somehow become a part of me.

I pull that stone out from it's secret hiding place every now and again to run my fingers over it. Why can't I let it go? Why do I persist in letting the sediment of sin keep me at the bottom of the quarry?

What?  Think you aren't just as vulnerable?
I understand, I used to think that too.
Now I know that those who are quick to point the finger are those who are slow to understand--
We are ALL vulnerable. Don't kid yourself! Just ask Paul, he knows. (2)

I wish I could give you a victorious ending to my story, but I still have my stone, and it still screams Sinner!

Yet God has never once forsaken me.
He has never once stood on the other side of the quarry of my sin and looked over a pointed finger of condemnation at me.

Instead, He is standing shoulder to shoulder with me offering this invitation: Lets walk through this together.

Love does that, because repentance isn't a promise from me to Him, it's a gift from Him to me.

"Repentance. It's not something you can drum up, but the gifted ability to find yourself saying, God,I can't. You can. I trust you". (3)

When my Goliath taunts me, it's the God of Israel that delivers me. 

(1)  Bill Bright, Witnessing Without FEAR.

(2) Romans 7:15; I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.

(3) The Cure, John Lynch/Bruce McNicol/Bill Thrall

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Bible Study Girl

That's what I am. A bible study girl. I love to study the word.
I also love to share what The Lord has taught me, and while I may forget the specific geographical location of a passage, as did Paul on occasion (1), I will typically be able to locate it fairly quickly.

Sound vain?

I confess...it is!

Did God convict me?  Yes, He did.

He humbled me at a very epochal moment of my life...from the very lips of my dying mother.
He pruned my pride, revealed just how powerful the most simplest of truths could be, and taught me that His inspired word must be paired with compassion if it is to have any eternal value.

Spewing scripture is worthless without love.
And I needed a lesson on love.

If I speak the language of men and angels, but do not have love, I am only a clanging cymbal.(2)


A.W. Tozer had an opinion on speaking scripture without love:
"Here's the danger of taking things for granted: believing I'm preaching the word when I'm only preaching about the word."  (Italics mine)

I spent many years sharing God's word with my mother, hoping to sway her from the religiosity of her traditional background to the reality of a life-giving relationship as a true Christ follower. It was a rewarding day when she announced the discovery of a verse that finally helped her understand the scriptures.

With bated breath, I anticipated her to share some profound piece of scripture. Something really moving. Some theologically deep Hebrew interpretation from Jeremiah, perhaps. Or Isaiah.
Possibly a poetic masterpiece from King David.

Ready? Want to know what she said?

Jesus loves me!  

Gasp. Blink. Swallow.

(my humbling happened here).

But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. (3)

The simplicity in Christ. How I love that truth!

Personifying Christ really is as simple as loving others--in both word and deed.
Why do we make it so difficult?

Understanding God and his word isn't about the intellectual assimilation of historical facts.
It isn't about holding a degree in Divinity. It isn't even about having reference verses ready at your fingertips.

In the end, it's all about love.

It's about relationship.

Plain and simple.

And she got it.

In all the simple beauty.

Hebrews 2:6  But there is a place where someone has testified...
Hebrews 4:4 For somewhere he has spoken about the 7th day...  
Acts 13:35 So it is stated elsewhere....

(2) 1 Corinthians 13:1

(3) 2 Corinthians 11:3  KJV

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Tucker and Tod

I hear the methodical pecking of the computer keyboard behind me.
One key at a time.
Slow. Deliberate. Punctuated. Tedious. Laborious.
It's like a chicken at the trough.

It's her again.
My co-worker and friend.
I call her ODT, because that's what I do.
I re-name people. And emotions.
Often with acronyms. I'm quirky like that.

ODT is short for One Digit Tucker. That's how she types. With one finger at a time! arrrggghh.

Glory! Take a computer class why don't you !

Then I hear the pounding--fingers of fury attacking random keys at super human pace.
The whacking of computer mouse against the desk.
The slamming of keyboard repeatedly onto formica.
All done to imitate me and my 100 word per minute mode.

It's hilarious, actually.
The four of us explode with laughter.

Because my fingers also have their moments, for some insane reason, and want to land on T instead of G when I type GOD, I have likewise decided to rename God.
I have subsequently relented to the T and now refer to him as Tod.

I call her boo boo.
We bought her for our princess daughter who was born with a silver spoon in her mouth.
She pretty much got whatever she wanted.
And she absolutely wanted a lhasa.

We are now a family of lhasa lovers.
Good thing, because somehow when Abby left, Boo Boo stayed.

The Nixon's
They lived next door.

They had a kitchen full of caged pet monkey's. At one time we counted 15. Fifteen!!!
Six dogs, all allowed to roam free, one of which bit my ankle at midnight as we were rushing our 2 year old son to the E.R with croup.
A goat residing in the bathroom.
A mammoth size catfish swimming in the bathtub.
Half a dozen cats.
Several large birds that squawked at all hours of the day and night.
And a pony living in the back yard.

It was NOT a farm. It was a 1100 sq. ft. home on a 1/4 acre lot at most.
It was the suburbs. And they were blatantly in violation of every conceivable city ordinance.

They were the bane of our existence.


What does a technologically challenged co-worker, Tod, a dog named boo, and a family of 15+ the zoo have in common, you might ask?

It's simple;  give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:18

Holy, holy, holy
is the Lord God Almighty,
who was, and is, and is to come.

You are worthy oh Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
For you created all things and
by your will they were created
and have their being.
Revelation 4:8,11

And we know that
ALL things work together for good,
to those who love the Lord.
Romans 8:28

There's a purpose for everything under the sun.
Ecclesiastes 3:1

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Who's Your Donkey?

Who's your daddy, baby?  Who loves you?

He loves to throw this quip at me as we pass in the hallways at work. It always makes me chuckle.
It usually sets the tone for a fairly decent start to my day.
I laugh.
He laughs.
It's silly.
I reply;

You are baby, You're my daddy!

Being greeted by a smile and song is always a nicer start to any day.

Things that get in my way? Well, lets just say I have a low threshold for obstinance- things that either don't work, won't move, or aren't in alignment with my agenda.
It makes for a very bad day.

Balaam, an old testament Syrian prophet/diviner, had a very bad day once.
His donkey wouldn't  co-operate.

He had been summoned by Balak, king of Moab, to call a curse on the Israelite nation.

Then the Israelites traveled to the plains of Moab and camped along the Jordan across from Jericho. Now Balak..saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites, and Moab was terrified because there were so many people. Indeed, Moab was filled with dread because of the Israelites.   1

So Balak son of Zippor, who was king of Moab at that time, sent messengers to summon Balaam son of Beor... come and put a curse on them for me!

Balaam got up in the morning, saddled his donkey, and went with the princes of Moab. 
But God was very angry when he went, and the angel of the Lord stood in the road with a drawn sword in hand to oppose him. 2

Balaam didn't make it very far.

The donkey diverted off the road.
She crushed Balaam's foot in a hedge.
Ultimately, she laid down in the middle of the path.
That sent Balaam into a rage.

Balaam had an appointment.
Balaam was important.
Balaam had a reputation to keep
Balaam had places to go, people to curse and war parties to bust.
Who has time for a stubborn donkey?

Balaam, a man of prophetic talent, yet with a sinful desire to use the gifts of God to further his own agenda, was a bit agitated at the delay.

God wasn't too thrilled, either.
He opened the mouth of the donkey--
What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?
Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day?
Have I been in the habit of doing this to you? 3

Then God himself spoke to Balaam.
Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me. 4

Balaam had a veneer of vocation, a pious pride that needed to be bridled and blocked, and an agenda that needed to be altered. So God intercepted Balaam's journey.

With a donkey.

Thank Goodness for donkeys.

Have you considered the possibility that the person, object, or circumstance in your way could actually be a donkey with a message for you?

A message much like Joshua received when he looked up and also saw a man standing in the way with drawn sword in hand. A message that said stop, take off your sandals and pray for the path of righteousness, for you are on holy ground.  5


Are you on a path of recklessness? God still loves you anyway and wants to keep your heart on the right path. It doesn't matter how far down the road you are, it's never too late to turn around.
He's your daddy. He is in the habit of doing good. He still sends Donkeys. It's a good thing.

Who's your donkey?

Deliver us from a path of recklessness.
Let us walk the ancient path of righteousness, 
the way of everlasting,
the path of obedience and virtuousness,
 holiness and faith. 
Let us be sensitive to your spirits leading 
as you show us where the good way is.


1- Numbers 22:1-2
2- Numbers 22:21-23
3- Numbers 22:28-30
4- Numbers 22:32
5- Joshua 5:13,15

Concluding prayer:
Numbers 32:22, Jeremiah 6:16, Isaiah 30:21, Judges 2:17
 Proverbs 16:17 Psalms 23:3, 139:24

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Overwhelmed by waves

I noticed a young child at play on the large, whale-like barriers meant to keep the angry tides out, and the placid waters in.

The red flag on the beach should have been respected;  undertow, strong tides, caution!
It wasn't.
The boy breached the barrier in search of bigger, better waves, and suddenly a day of play took a dangerous turn for the worse.

With every wave, the child was washed over the barrier and out to sea.
A new wave returned him. Another threw him back.
Over and over the ocean tossed the child, as though it were enjoying a twisted game of keep away with itself. The boy the bullied, volleyed victim.

The watchful eye of the father was no match for the callous, cold-hearted sea. He and the boy were at the mercy of the waters and overwhelmed by waves.

Now turn the page back a few thousand years and you will find another story where some--Joshua and the children of Israel-- were overwhelmed by waves. Only this time it wasn't fear, it was awe.
"Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water's edge,  the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away...so the people crossed over on dry land." (1)

My head can't wrap around the glory.

Imagine all the threats a day at sea could hold; man-eaters, man-haters, debris, trash, suffocating waters of life, waves of worry,  floating sticks of sickness, relationship fissures--all contained by a frozen wall of water as if it were marine life on the other side of museum glass.

By the mighty hand of God, sea's of trouble will part, pile in a heap down stream, and  give us dry ground in the midst of it. The waves won't overwhelm us.

This isn't to say we will never bump into bad, but it does mean we have the hand of God restraining the ruin waiting to drown us. (2)
Provided we don't breech the barriers of his commands like a child oblivious to the deep waters of sin, that is. Then the undertow could grab our ankles and life could make a game of us.

The red flag of Jesus' blood waves high in mercy as we face the churning seas of life ; undertow, strong tides, caution!

We would do well to take notice of the direction the heavenly winds are blowing that red flag so you will know which way to go, since you have never been through the way of this new day before. (3)

It's never too late to return to shore.

We need not be overwhelmed by the waves of life.

Father, grant us dry ground to walk on, overwhelm us with your waves of mercy. 

(1)  Joshua 3:15-17
(2) 2 Thessalonians 2:7
(3) Joshua 3:4