Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Dining with Diety

With The Early American Tradition of a Thanksgiving meal upon us, I thought taking a look at Eastern Customs might be a beautiful and thoughtful reminder of why we gather at table to give thanks. 
The following, unless otherwise noted, was taken from the book, Sitting at the feet of Rabbi Jesus. 1

Nowadays we tend to think of meals merely as times for refueling our bodies.  Breakfast is an Egg McMuffin behind the steering wheel...lunch a vending machine candy bar...dinner a lean cuisine. In our rush-rush world, many of us dine alone or while doing something else. 

However, in ancient eastern tradition this isn't so. The dinner table was considered the family altar.

The home itself is considered a little sanctuary where God can dwell.
Within the home, the mother and father function as priests, bearing witness of God's presence to their children.

Every Jewish meal is supposed to be a time for discussing the scriptures.
When three eat at one table and bring up words of [scripture], it is as if they ate from the table of God, blessed be He!

Perhaps that was why Jesus was invited to dinner so often--he could always be counted on for a fascinating discussion.

At one point in the evening, the father reads proverbs 31 to his wife, to extol her virtues and then prays for her and blesses her.

Joachim Jeremias notes an additional observation to the significance of the Shabat meal.
"In the east, even today, to invite someone to a meal was to extend an honor, an offering of peace, trust, and forgiveness. Jesus' meals with sinners weren't merely social events or just signs of his empathy for the lowly, though he was compassionate. 'The inclusion of sinners in the community of salvation, achieved in table-fellowship, is the most meaningful expression of the message of the redeeming love of God".  2

Each time Jesus ate with sinners, he was revealing the kingdom of God.

You prepare a table before me...
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup over flows.
Psalm 23:

Baruhk atah Adonai, Eloheinu, melekh ha-olam,
ha-motzi lechem min ha-aretz.

Blessed are you, LORD, our God
King of the universe,
who brings forth bread from the earth.
 Jewish Shabat prayer.

Food for thought:
* Jesus said, I was a stranger and you invited me in. 4
It isn't too late, ask God to show you who he might have placed before you, even at this very hour, that could be blessed by the sharing of your holiday gathering.
* During the meal, go around the table and take turns having everyone affirm each individual with an attribute they admire.
* Consider adding a Sulha 5 component to the meal.
* Read some of your favorite bible stories or verses.

1. SITTING AT THE FEET OF RABBI JESUS, How the Jewishness of Jesus can transform your faith,
Ann spangler, Lois Tverberg,  Chapter 10, At table with the Rabbi

2.  Joachim Jeremias, New Testament Theology (London:SCM, 1971), 115-16

3.  Shabat;  Hebrew for Sabbath, meaning to 'cease'. A time of ceasing from labor, according to the Bible. Jews observe Shabbat from Friday sunset until Saturday sunset.

4.  Matthew 25:35

5. Sulha, a meal of reconciliation. Take time to offer a long overdue apology before the meal. According to the tradition of a Sulha meal, once the first bite is taken, the offense can never be brought up again.

Sunday, November 24, 2013


I saw it out of the corner of my eye as I walked past.

The tiny package of holiday paper plates with their bright orange rim and proud colorful turkey captured my attention as it was slowly propelled along the conveyor belt. Trailed only by a few other sparse items, it made its journey towards the waiting bagger.

I never saw the person behind the products;

Recently abandoned?

Newly bereaved?

Relocated and alone?

Aged and forgotten?

Young and neglected?

Deeply depressed, swallowed in darkness?

Why only 6 small paper plates?

Party of one or table for four?

One thing was for sure, whoever they were--I never looked up to notice, they weren't celebrating on the same scale I was.

Oh, I suppose the scenario could be different than what I imagined;  the holiday table hosting a pair of ecstatically happy and newly married soul mates, or two peacefully settled empty nester's, or the recently re-employed father of 10, or a family of first time home owners all gathered to celebrate an evening of thanksgiving and blessing.

But my bent tends to lean towards the negative.

Which always makes me grateful for the positive.

It's just how God and I wrangle and roll.

And so, I refuse to grumble about-
the mess, and expense, and time and chaos and work,
And instead choose to be grateful for-
the large and healthy family that is worth the sacrifice and inconvenience.
And the reminder to pray--
for the less fortunate.

The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.
Psalm 16:6

I have a goodly inheritance, LORD. 
It is your generous gift  to me. 
I am blessed, and kneel before you with thanksgiving.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Assignment

The Parable of the Bags of Gold
Matthew 25:14-28

It will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them.
After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 

The man who had received five bags of gold said, 'Master, you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more....'Well done, thou good and faithful servant, said the Master.

The man with two bags of gold said, 'Master, you entrusted me with two bags of gold.
See, I have gained two more....'Well done, thou good and faithful servant, said the Master.

The man with one bag of gold said, 'Master, I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you. Then the master took the one bag of gold and gave it to the one who had ten bags.

"I wonder how God feels when we are not faithful with abilities He's given us. Honestly, He's our Boss and, in a way, He is on an out-of-town assignment. He has asked each of us to oversee something in His kingdom, according to abilities He's given us. Each ability comes with an assignment."  1

Two questions come to mind here,
ONE; what are my abilities
TWO; who is my assignment

One of my spiritual gifts is showing mercy.

The Gift of Mercy
Description: The ability to minister comfort and healing through acts of kindness to those who are suffering.
Characteristics :  Feelings oriented, patient, sensitive, empathetic, cheerful.
Cautions : Do not neglect your own family as you help others. Allow others to show mercy to you also. Do not be critical of others who do not help out with the needs of others.

My Mercy assignment?
*Quit indulging the selfish nature that insists my spouse was designed to complete me, he isn't. Only God can fulfill that role.
*Quit focusing on his negative character traits as a mistake in design or marriage material.
*Show him mercy through small acts of kindness, and affirm his unique bent intentionally created for God's perfect plan.
*Be intentional in pointing out his worth as I see the LORD at work in his life.
*Die to self. It's not about me. Reaching Samaria starts in the home. One soul at a time.


You are not your own, you were bought with a price.
 So glorify God with your body!
1 Corinthians 6:19-20

So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life--your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around-life and place it before God as an offering. 
Romans 12:1
The Message

Get the chalk!   You have an assignment. 

1  Renee Swope, A Confident Heart, pg. 146

Thursday, November 14, 2013

When She Falls

Though a righteous woman falls seven times, she rises again.

If God in His elation 
made me,
who am I
to challenge His creation.  1

We are not 'just clay blobs thrown randomly on God's pottery wheel to look like whatever we will. We are fashioned in the image of God, each person is the Master's own self-portrait in physical form'.  2

God see's beyond who we are to who we are becoming. 3

In the room of Grace...I am 'Christ in me' on my worst day, in my worst thought, during my worst temptation.  4
#iamnot...a failure

Sometimes it is hard to tell whether you are being killed or being saved by the hands that turn your life upside down.  5

For most of us, there are many seemingly adverse details of our lives that will not be changed regardless of our efforts or our prayers. They are simply part of God's plan for us.  6

And it will always be good because love knows no other way to be.  7
#Iamnot... condemned.

All things work together for good.
Romans 8:28

1  unknown
2  L. Tverberg, WALKING in the DUST of RABBI JESUS. pg. 184-185
3  Renee Swope, A Confident Heart, pg. 125
4  J. Lynch, B. McNicol B thrall, THE CURE pg. 61
5  M. Yaconelli,  Dangerous Wonder, pg 134
6  J. Bridges, TRUSTING GOD,pg. 179
7  N.  Nordeman, LOVE Story,  pg 7

Thursday, November 7, 2013


But as many as received Him, 
to them He gave the right to become children of God, 
even to those who believe in His name.
John 1:12

I made the call and found myself speaking with yet another woman requesting STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection) testing. 

My breath hitched as I prepared to ask the sensitive but necessary questions;
Has it been at least 2 weeks from your suspected exposure?
Are you experiencing any symptoms?

I scheduled the appointment for her and then offered my sympathy. I apologized for the pain HE had brought into the relationship and shared that while my heart broke for her, unfortunately, this particular situation was a common call for me to receive.

She paused, then.

Several seconds of awkward silence ensued followed by a heavy sigh...

"It wasn't him"

"It wasn't him?"

Her confession carried a heavy remorse that nearly brought me to my knees.
She emanated a shame so intense that the magnitude of it was palpable on my end.  It was clear she was struggling to find reconciliation for her now damaged character and her marriage.

Misery her master, her wounded worth was suffering from the after-math of seeking significance in misguided places. 

There has been much conversation on my P31 bible study lately regarding doubts and fears and failed attempts born of desperation that drive us to find fulfillment outside of God.
Almost  all of the chronicles focused on the innocent as victims--childhood abuse, dysfunctional upbringings, mental illnesses and various addictions.

I couldn't help but think, what about those who suffer because of deliberate choices?

What if suffering is self-induced, a consequence of a willful disobedience and wrong decision?

Would we still qualify for the same mercy--the same affirming salutations and encouragement?

Do those who have caved to the sinful nature deserve to ask, as did Gideon;
"Why has this happened to me"?

Paul would speak from a personal perspective;  I don't really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don't do it. Instead, I do what I hate. (Romans 7:15 NLT)

David, considered by God to be a man after God's own heart, knew the ache of sexual sin.

Eve had front row seats to the satanic scheme that causes us to question God's loving provisions--
"I bet Eve was content with what she had until Satan got her to compare herself to someone who had more." The tempter convinced her that something was missing in her life and that the forbidden fruit would make her 'like God'. A foolish comparison indeed, but all comparisons are." 1

Bottom line? We've been had. We have fallen for our enemies schemes!

I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's schemes, 
your minds may somehow be led astray 
from your sincere and pure devotions to Christ.
2 Corinthians 11:2-3


Schemes; translated in the Greek as methodeia". 
Method; "the following or pursuing of an orderly and technical procedure in the handling of a subject".
(Doesn't THAT just make the hair on the back of your neck bristle!) 
"Satan's scheme is to subtly transfer the deep devotion the believer has felt to Christ to a mortal instead." 2

 "There's been a conspiracy against God's plan since before the Garden of Eden."  3

"Up there, beyond the clouds, where no human eye could see, there was a scene enacted that heralded no good for [our] prosperity."
Satan watches and considers. 
The eye of malice is very quick to perceive a weakness.
He has lynx eyes." 4

Our enemy peers at us with those lynx eyes and hisses lies and doubts into our hearts and heads; You blew it, your not good enough, your weak. You have failed, you will never conquer this. Your testimony is tainted and God can't use you now.

When I am tempted to question God's acceptance of me in light of my bad behavior, I recall with gratitude the reassuring truth that God remembers our frame--Dust. 5
He gets who we are. He understands the forces at work against us and realizes we are prone to sin and quick to fall.
Still He loves us. Always loves us. He understands why we do what we do and yet lovingly pursues us in rescue.

Whether by volition or victimization, God's mercy and compassion are unconditional, unfailing and eternal. 6
His grace is offered without judgement or condemnation to ALL who have received Him and believe in His name.

"For the sake of His great name the LORD will not reject his people"  7
God's faithfulness is not based on what we have done, but on His GREAT name.
The same mind who knew in advance you would become one of His children also knew in advance you'd fall for a deceptive scheme of the evil one. Still, He says you were adopted with pleasure." 

"Forgive us, our father, for being attracted to the pleasures of sin, to what appears to be full of ecstasy and satisfaction but is, in fact, empty and stupid. Thank you for bringing conviction, for pointing out our rebellion. We need that reminder every day, so that we might invest ourselves in that which endures. Thank you for the relief that comes with being forgiven and the peace of mind that accompanies a clean heart. Finally, thank you for your mercies, new every morning, and Your grace, needed every day." 8
In Jesus name, Amen

Who AM I? 
 I AM who God says I am.

You will also be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. It will no longer be said to you, 'Forsaken,"...But you will be called "My delight is in her,"... For the LORD delights in you... "The holy people, the redeemed of the LORD;" And you will be called, "Sought out, a city not forsaken." 
Isaiah 62:3-4,12

1  Renee Swope, A Confident Heart, pg 105
3  Chuck Swindoll
4  Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon on PRAYER & SPIRITUAL WARFARE, pgs. 493, 501
5  Psalm 103:14
6  Psalm 51:1-2
7  Beth Moore, WHEN GODLY PEOPLE DO UNGODLY THINGS.  pg.121,1 Samuel 12:22
8  Charles R. Swindoll, Insight for Living, Forgive Our Trespasses, Nov. 5, 2013