Monday, January 30, 2012

Fall and Rise.... I sit all snuggled up in my warm blanket with my "Atlanta" Starbucks coffee cup, filled to the brim with that morning wake me up warmth, I read my Bible. This year our church has chosen to go through the Bible in a different way. We are studying from Genesis to Revelations with the Bible called "The Story." Written by Randy Frazee this Bible is straight from the NIV, no chapter/verse, just novel form.

This way of studying the Bible has shown our church amazing things in the lives of our community of believers. In small groups all over our city people are opening up and seeing , some for the first time, their relationship of their lower story compared and how it connects to God's upper story.

Today I read Chapter 17 "The Kingdoms' Fall" The bio of all the kings who worshiped idols and their sons who (some) chose not to worship idols. The prophetic words of Ezekial and Jeremiah. The clear end to Jerusalem, the tears of Jeremiah and the rising up of the dry bones to complete an army to bring glory to God. It was a lot to absorb.  The weeping prophet had much to weep for, his beloved city Jerusalem was going to be seiged, people were going to die, they would not return to their God. After all their evil ways, in their desperation King Zedekiah begged Jeremiah "Inquire of the Lord for us, King Nebuchadnezzar is coming for us. Perhaps the Lord will perform wonders for us as in times past so that he will withdraw from us."  ..........REALLY?  After all the evil they did through all those years and years?  After they found themselves backed into a corner...NOW they want God to intervene?

God reveals His story, his plan to Jeremiah. (my paraphrase) Even though Judah had turned their backs from God for years and years, God was going to come in and save the day...NOT because of their pleas but because of His name sake, for His glory. He wanted to (once again...remember the Red Sea, burning bush, etc. etc.) prove His power and mighty hand. God went on to say that He was going to cleanse them from their sins, resettle their towns and their ruins would be rebuilt. God said, "I will put my Spirit in you  and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it."

My mind went to America...where are we in this story of God? Are we like Judah? Do we worship, respect, honor God with our lives until we see an attractive idol of our own making? We play with it for awhile, get tired, become broken, call out to God for rescue? God sweeps in like our hero and fills us with His Spirit again and we are free, whole and cleansed from our sin once more.  We recognize God for who He really is and all is good.  Maybe until the next time our eyes rove toward an attractive idol?

God's story is one of promise.  He promised that the Messiah would come from  Judah, so although Israel and the 10 lost tribes were and always would be in disarray, Judah would bring forth the coming God kept His promise to Judah...and He kept His promise to all mankind. Jesus!

Praying for my life, praying for America! God is our constant. Our source of strength, the one who loves us more than life itself.  Focusing on Jesus today, how about you?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Hippy beads and conversations....

.....Today I spent 1.5 hrs in a bead store. I had started this bead bracelet thing for each of the granddaughters birthdays back in July 2011. Needless to say, life got so busy that I forgot the December birthday bracelet. So off to town I go, to the Hippy Bead Shop. Inside you can smell incense burning, the Beatles softly playing in the background, the cuties little dog and a very nice employee. She was so warm and friendly on a very cold Ohio morning. I asked forgiveness for my public singing of these familiar tunes...b/c  I just had to sing along. We both went about doing our thing. I searched high and literally low for the right beads to emphasis the bracelet for our KK.

Then I sat down to start threading the (very curly) wire with the right mix of beads. I am not sure how our conversation got onto drugs and addictions but it did. I  confessed certain wrong judgments I made as a young 19-21 yr old. She confessed her own stupid decisions of life before 30. One thing she said she never did was get hooked on drugs or alcohol. I agreed with her on that subject as well.  She then proceeded to tell me that her parents were hippies in the early 70's and b/c of their years of addictions she made her mind up to not go that route in life. However she shared that her parents started going to church about 10 yrs ago and the addiction stopped. This employee emphasized that she believes that there is a God but she also believes that other gods of peoples choice is not wrong as well. The typical wordage of "Who am I to judge" mindset fell from her lips.

That is when God impressed upon me to say "The Bible says there is only One True God and that is God-creator." She nodded her head and said, "I think we can worship God anywhere, we don't have to be in a church to do so." I nodded. She doesn't like to be around those who worship on Sundays and act differently the rest of the week. I nodded again.

Then she spoke about religion. I had to speak.  I told her that my view is: I also hate religion! This statement shocked her b/c I told her my husband was a pastor. I continued. I hate religion but love a relationship!  Religion puts God in a box that only allows Him to comes out in worship...but a relationship makes God as big as He really is.  I explained that where her dad is in his walk as a believer is a different level than I am. It is relational to where we are in life and where God wants us to be. She nodded then said "wow, I have never heard it spoken like that before. I like that!" I continued sharing my testimony and began to checkout. She then invited me to come back anytime to just talk.  As I was leaving she said, "it is so refreshing to talk about God with a person who is not judging or combative."

I left the store praising God for sending me there today of all days...and for giving me the words to speak.  Ya'll this witnessing thing is NOT AS SCARY as you may think.  I invited her to church, she invited me back and we both left thinking about God!

ps...I wonder how many other people out there do not share their views b/c they feel they will be met with hostility and non-compassion?  What are we as believers showing the world, in which we live, about this "God-thing?" more thing, this morning I needed to confess to God a wrong doing (attitude) I had at another store. He is gracious to forgive and then gave me an opportunity to redeem myself at the Hippy Store.  WOW, God is awesome!

Decisions about time.....

....I had no idea my blog was so NOT updated.  I do however know that my time has been crazy wild, like a roller coaster since September 2011.  Lucky for anyone reading this, I am NOT going to recap the past 5 months.

It is now 2012! Yeah!  Life is different now b/c we are sharing space with our daughter, husband and 4 beautiful grands! No more quiet morning cups of coffee b/c now you can hear the patter of feet coming down the stairs every morning! Fridays use to be a nice long day but these days  you will hear Steve say, "Kitchen's Open" to which you can  hear the girls reply, "I want scrambled eggs please." Time use to find me reading a good book in the afternoons but now I am enjoying time with my daughter b/c I don't know how long I get to enjoy these days. God will be moving them one day into their own home so until God decides, we are going to enjoy every day He gives us with our family.

Steve and I also made a decision to move me to my mothers condo until! Just until! Her body is deteriorating, her mind is deteriorating, but her spirit continues to live day by day.  I live 5 of 7 days with her in another town and it seems to be doing her good. So as long as God decides I am enjoying every day He gives me with my mom.

So this is all the updating you will find of the last 5 months. Moving onto 2012.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Role Reversal....It does a soul good!

As you know, I spend time each week with my mother in another town.  She is up in age and suffering from a myriad of organ dysfunctions.   My momma will be 81 in just a few short months, and we have had the best times together.   As our church goes thru The Story (an NIV orderly version of the Bible) I am reminded that The Upper Story (God) placed us here in Ohio (the Lower Story) just for our parents. Getting the chance to spend time with Steve's dad before he passed away and enjoying Steve's mom as she continues good health was and is a blessing.  Being here for my momma is a personal blessing for me. Watching her go down hill these past 4 yrs has not been the blessing any child would wish upon another.

I just came back home after spending Wed/Thur with my momma and we had a ball, from watching TV court shows together to going out to get the perfect hair cut from her favorite hair stylist, we live each day together laughing and hugging.   

Last night we were watching TLC Extreme Couponing marathon when she had a spell of sickness that took the wind out of her sails. She felt best laying on the dinning room floor (close to the bathroom) so  realizing that this would be a loosing battle to get her into her bed I sat there. I started running my fingers thru her beautiful silver hair and prayed for Jesus to stop the sickness in her stomach. I realized that the role had reversed.  So many times she sat with my head on her lap and took care of me.  So many times she went without so I could have what I needed. So many times she loved me thru bad times so I could feel encouraged.  Now I am doing the same for her...WHAT A PRIVILEGE!  It is so worth time away from my husband or the countless gallons of expensive gas, or mileage on an already older model car to be there for her.

Above my relationship with God and my husbands, she is next in line for ALL  of my attention. My memory continues to fill with all sorts of funny things and fun times and jokes and patience as these prayerfully years with my momma  continue.   I watched her do the same with her parents and her in laws.  She is my example of a loving daughter. 

Today on the morning news they asked for people to Facebook, Tweet or email who they would love to have morning coffee with.. The top 2 answers were: President Obama and Bill Clinton.  I was shredding papers for my momma and thought answer would have to be my mom. And God has granted me that opportunity every  week! If having coffee with a famous historical person is good for you, then having one more cup of coffee with your parent has to be BEST.  So if you have parents still alive ...take them out for coffee...bring it to their home..add a donut to the date and just laugh! It does a soul good!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Leviticus Chap 3....PEACE....

...Peace offering background goes as follows:
*could be a male or female animal (except for birds)   *Offering from any herd had to be w/o defect  *animal was to be slain by laying the hand upon the head of said animal, in front of the doorway of the Tent of Meetings   * the blood was sprinkled around the altar by Aaron or one of his sons.   * the fat around the entrails (or inners) of animal was to be smoked by fire   *must include within the fire offering, 2 kidneys...lobe of liver and all the fat surrounding these organs  IF offerer used a lamb then the only exception was the lambs tail and all the fat around it was to be offered up as well. *IF a bird was to be offered, it had to be a male and a female w/o defect.

This offering was to be offered up in smoke for a "soothing aroma to the Lord."

V7 "It shall b e a perpetual statue (or law) that throughout all your generations, you shall not eat fat or blood."

This offering was the only offering that could be eaten by both the priests and the offerer.  The priest received the breasts and right thigh, the remaining meat went to the offerer.  BUT this had to be eaten by the 2nd day...if left to eat on the 3rd day, this offerer would be cut off by his people. Every time a person wanted to eat meat , they had to offer a Peace Offering.

Peace Offering was for one of three reasons....1-Thanksgiving  2-a special vow  3-freewill (you had to be specific with your animal sacrifice in order to participate in a Peace Offering. What was your motive for offering?
NOTE:  Before Moses, Israel was offering peace offerings as a form of heathen worship b/c before Moses came down from Mt Sinai w/God's instructions people were giving  this offering as a way to (simple stated) party! NOTHING WAS DONE OUT OF SACRIFICE. The meaning of peace is WHOLENESS. Israel became one  w/God and was complete. They became (thru this offering)  accepted by God. Unlike the Burnt and Grain Offerings, the Peace Offering brings the offerer closer to God and he receives something in return. (meat to eat) 

For ME? it's Christ.  He is my Peace Offering.  being born apart from God I needed my own peace offering so I could connect w/God. In 1974 I first committed myself to Christ for the forgiveness of my sins.  You could say that it was my Special Vow part of the Peace Offering. I then became complete, whole for the first time w/God and with myself.

Before Christ, I was no different that Israel waiting for Moses to come down from the mountain. I went thru the actions of "church" and really loved it, I tried to do the right thing (make wisdom decisions) I ate and I partied.
Since Christ I worship w/a true heart, I struggle with my old nature and I am complete thru the sacrifice of blood of Christ. Once and for all times. I don't have to "offer" anything again, it is done, on the cross. BUT I DON'T TAKE this cross offering for granted. I treasure it. I come to Him anew many times with a Peace Offering of Thanksgiving or a Freewill spirit.

Monday, July 11, 2011

more from God on offerings....

....I have moved onto chapter 2 of Leviticus today.  I prayed myself to a place where God would reveal how my relationship with Him can be seen through the list of laws that He sent forth for His chosen people.  After all, I am a child of  the King and therefore all parts of the Word are given for instruction and obedience. So I dived into "The Grain Offering."

* it must be a finely grained flour. It shall have oil and frankincense poured over it. A handful to be offered on the altar with the remainder given to Aaron and his sons, the priests.

(Frankincense is an oil from the Boswellia tree which has to mature from 8-10 years before you can harvest it's resin like oil. It is such a hardy tree that is has been found growing out of solid rock formations. It is  an edible perfumed oil that has also been used for medical usage.)

These are the verses and the instructions that were given:
V1-3...uncooked grain     V4-10....various cooked grains   V11-13...ingredients to be or not to be used: leaven (which was refused) and salt (which was required)     V14-16....early grain offerings

As with the Burnt Offering the Grain Offering also produced a "soothing aroma to the Lord"

These two offerings were most often performed together.  But since the Grain Offering did not require blood, it was not a part of atonement.  Grain was hard to come by in the middle of the desert so having  grain, oil and frankincense was a SACRIFICE for the offerer. 

What was it purpose?  WORSHIP. The act of this sacrificial offering praised God for His provisions daily.  (get it, daily)  It was a combined reminder of how the offerer needed to obey and please God out of his sacrifice not abundance.

As I read my Bible and gather biblical scholars views on these offerings I see where this takes me in 2011.  It takes me  to a simple list of  "must be's" worship must be:  authentic...pure...sacrificial...and  personal. (Note: this offering was to be done daily as the Burnt Offering was to be done)

Do I daily offer up to God my complete needs?
Do I sacrifice time , money and self so I can minister to others in their need?
Am I pure in my thoughts and motives?
AM I always reaching upward for that personal one on one time with God?

And since I have to answer honestly, I have to say, not always. But after today's study I realized I have to get better at this. Already The Book of Law is revealing to me my shortcomings and ways I can keep a "soothing aroma to the Lord" as a way to offer the best of ME to my God.

2Cor. 9:10 states " Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food, will supply and multiply your seed and increase your harvest of righteousness."

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Book of Law...

...after a question in small group the other night, my sweet husband challenged me to find the answer. It was brought up that the Talmud laws were ones that man made and they far out weighted the original laws that God gave to the Israelites.  The question?  How many laws are in the book of Leviticus? And so I decided to compare them to what we are doing today as believers, not Jews but Christ believers. This will be my record of each law.

Leviticus 1: The Burnt Offering (1 Astrix = the offerer  2 Astrix = priest)
*unblemished cattle, sheep, goats or turtledoves/pigeons---the very best of these were to be offered
**Priest would bleed out the animals and sprinkle blood upon the altar
**Skin animal, lay head and parts upon the altar of wood
* washes out the inners of animal then gives these as well to the priest for the burnt offering

As it burns  V9 states it is a "fire offering of a pleasing aroma to the Lord."
This Burnt Offering was a personal/private offering between man and God.
 It was: the first altar you saw as you entered the tabernacle,  the most common of offerings, to be observed daily (am /pm), purified the offerer, the only offering that was totally consumed. (other offerings helped to feed the priest), to help the offerer understand his need for atonement ( reconciliation of God and man) not so much for forgiveness (willingness to forgive) , to symbolize O.T. faithfulness in God and the intention to love God with his heart, soul, mind and strength.

So if I could take away anything from this first law it would be....
My need: to have a daily personal time with God especially when I wake up and fall to sleep, to remember I need to be pure and unblemished before Him b/c He is a Holy God, to be totally "sold out" to this relationship b/c of what God sacrificed on the cross in my behalf, to recognize my need for my Savior, to give my all to follow Christ with all my heart, soul, mind and strength, to keep this FIRST in my life (and all else will fall into place)

Sounds pretty hard to do, can it be done?  I am an imperfect soul who accepted Christ on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins.....past present and future sins. I am so glad that I do not have to work out my salvation in the sense of always trying to stay on Gods good side..I work out my salvation b/c I want others to know of His great love for them.. I am free in Christ!  I am no longer in bondage and I hope what I do daily is a pleasing aroma to the Lord!