Tuesday, March 24, 2020

God, Be Merciful ...

Image result for God's mercy memes

Well, friends, the weirdness continues, does it not?
I've had this post on my heart for several days, but a prolonged backache has sort of incapacitated me to the point I have not felt much like doing anything except "keeping quarantine".
Regardless, this morning I felt well enough and that today finally was the time to bring it to you.

This prolonged period of relative solitude and its causal factors have been stressful, not gonna lie.  I thought I was managing it well until these physical ailments popped up.
I have been very burdened about many things.  In all of this, though, I've been searching my own heart about some things.  What does God want to teach me through this situation?  How can He use me for His glory, as most of the world fights this virus together?

God led me to Luke 18.  In this chapter two parables have really been speaking to me.
Please go read 18:1-14, and then come back.

1.  The first story of Jesus, told in this chapter was told for the purpose of teaching us "always to pray and not lose heart" (18:1).
Now, what does that last part mean, (as the first admonition is obvious)?  To "lose heart" is variously translated as "give up" or "become discouraged".
Isn't that appropriate for us right now, when the temptation to be anxious, discouraged, and fearful is paramount?
Jesus went on to tell of a poor widow who was beseeching, begging a judge to favor her in a lawsuit.  Eventually, the judge found in her favor, exactly because she kept asking him to.
What is the lesson here?  That we, as believers in Jesus Christ, His followers, should pray earnestly to our God in all circumstances, but especially about the burdens He lays on our hearts.  And, there's no harm in praying for the same things over and over and over.
The apostle Paul echoed this in Philippians 4:6 (BSB).
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

2.  The second story of Jesus, told in this chapter was told for the purpose of teaching us to beware of self-righteousness and looking condescendingly on others.
The Pharisee was praying out loud (so others would hear about how "righteous" he was) and, worse, was telling God how righteous He was!
Now, to become a Christian, the first step is realizing exactly how UNrighteous you are, which is why you need Jesus to give you His righteousness, to become your Savior.  All true Christians recognize this and have confessed this and done this.  We realize that we are completely incapable of dealing with our own sin problem.  Well and good.  Jesus forgives us of ALL of our sins - - - past, present and future.  Hallelujah!  In the eyes of God, we are then declared righteous; this is sometimes called "positional righteousness" (thanks, Pastor George!).  The fancy theological term is "justified".
Here's the thing I've been convicted by, though.
SO many of us Christians (me included) go on to misappropriate that truth, and it gets in the way of our becoming more and more sanctified (another fancy theological term for "practical righteousness").
What does the gobbledegook of that last sentence mean?
It means that our initial justification/salvation is just the beginning of our walk with God, the rest of our life.  And, because all of our sins were forgiven at justification, we more or less tend to ignore confession in our daily walk.
"God, be merciful to me, a sinner" (18:13) applies to Christians, every day. 
Because although all of our sins are forgiven as described above, we.still.sin.  In order to keep pride and condescension from setting up a stronghold in our life, we need to confess those sins before our Lord, at least daily.
The longer I walk with the Lord, the more I am convinced of this truth.  Ask yourself how much or how often you do this; that's what's been on my mind.
Remember 2 Chronicles 7:14
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways...
Confession is a willful act of humbling yourself before God and admitting that daily you fall short of God's mark of holiness.  Further, true confession contains an element of repentance, which means "by the power of the Holy Spirit vowing to never do that sin again".  Repentance is the "turn from" mentioned in that verse.

Here's another good one:  1 John 1:9.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
If you have read that one and filed it under the category of "justification" verses, you might just be a redneck!  Kidding.  You might just be guilty of what I've been talking about. That verse is NOT only for the non-Christian!  It is for Christians too!  When the verse says the Holy Spirit will purify us from all unrighteousness, it is referring to that ongoing work of sanctification and purification the Holy Spirit longs to do in our lives.  So, our first object for confession is directly to our Lord and Savior. One-on-one.  As often as needed.   ASAP after we sin.

Ok, other confession verses:
James 5:16 (NLT) and Proverbs 28:13 (NIV)
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.
Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.
Now, notice the order here.  This command is to confess your sins to one another before you pray.  He is talking to Christians, the Body of Christ.  If you are a Christian and you fellowship with other Christians, you know that this rarely happens.  The sin of pride gets in the way.  I call it the Christian Facebook Syndrome (CFS).  You know how, on Facebook, we put all the shiny posts out there?
So, BEFORE we pray for one another, or in order to get our prayers for each other right, we should confess to one another and then pray with our fellow believer over those shortcomings.
Whoa.  We all need to chew on that one for a while.

Finally, Psalm 51 and Psalm 32 - - they are very similar.  But, 51 was written after David sinned with Bathsheba and 32 focuses on the goodness of God to forgive sin.  We read in that psalm that lack of confession is bad for one's physical health! ("rots the bones" - - isn't that a pleasant thought!)

Aren't you glad for the ongoing mercy of God in your life?  I am!  I surely need it.  "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me, yeah follow me, all the days of my life!"1  Ask for it!  Receive it! And, give Him the glory for it!

Mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.
Jude 1:2


1    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hlpui7Mxrlo

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

What Now?

Image by jungoangwon, from Pixabay
A lot has changed in this world since my last blog post.  So many times, over the last few days, I've been hit with a feeling of disconnect and shock.  How did we get to this point?  What do we do now?  Certainly, we are living in a "new reality".

For a long time, troubled by the "way the nation is going", I've been praying for a nationwide revival.  I realize, though, that revival always starts with the Church of Jesus Christ.  So, revival starts with examining my own heart, confessing my own sins, yielding to the Holy Spirit in my darkest areas.  In my revival prayers I've said to the Lord that surely it would take something cataclysmic to get this nation to turn to the Lord Jesus.  Perhaps that cataclysmic event is here, and is now.

In our local church, we have made plans to move to Sofa Service on Sunday mornings.  That means our pastor and music team will conduct the church service from the pastor's study, and it will be broadcast via Facebook Live on the church's Facebook page.  In addition to that, our church is taking additional steps to reach out to our community in different ways, ways we would not ordinarily have "done church".  In that respect, the Holy Spirit is using this crisis as an opportunity to witness and to serve.

Currently, my husband and I are in self-quarantine due to our ages, although neither of us have underlying health conditions that would make us susceptible to the virus.  Our age category is a health risk in and of itself.  Since last Friday, we have severely limited our leaving the house.  But, we just found out that a friend of ours, who was here for several hours on Sunday, was tested for CV-19, at her doctor's insistence.  So, we are in total quarantine until the results of her test come back, hopefully in two days.

What now?

You know, in our nation's prison system, total isolation for prisoners is an extreme punishment.  I'm not fond of all these limitations on my movements, because anyone who knows me knows I love to "go to and fro".  Isolation can be very depressing to many people.  I'm glad I'm not totally alone in my isolation, and I'm also very glad to be living through this health crisis with telephones and social media.

I talked to a friend this morning, a true prayer warrior, who said that yesterday she called friends she had not spoken to in a long time, people she worked with years ago, to pray with and to encourage them through this time.  What a great idea!

Let my blog post today, if nothing else, encourage you to reach out to those you love, either as family or friends, and encourage them.

Some of you, particularly my mother I'm sure, are fixated on my earlier announcement that my husband and I may have been directly exposed to this COVID-19.  But, listen to me.  I am not afraid.

I am unafraid because I am His, and He is mine.  Nothing can change that.
Every day I live, whether in peril or not, I am in His hands.
And, if I come down with this virus and am hospitalized and even if I leave this earthly realm ...
I am His and He is mine.

When I went to Israel the first time I knew my family was concerned for my safety, going abroad.  I told my older son then: "If I don't return, you know where to find me."

Safe in the arms of Jesus.

Do you want this supernatural peace, this true peace that transcends all earthly circumstances?
You can have it too.  Jesus came, lived a perfect life, became Father's perfect sacrifice, died, was buried, and rose again on Easter, the day of the First Fruits, so that all of us can have peace, not just with our circumstances, but eternal peace with God, eternal life with Him, forever.

If you don't have this peace, and want it, I wrote about how to get it here:

For those readers who have this peace because you know Him, and because you are known by Him, don't let the enemy steal it, no matter what your circumstances.  Peace is His gift to His own beloved, to His followers, His true Church.  Don't let the enemy steal your gift.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

Pray.  Read His word.  Encourage one another with His words.  Be at peace, my brothers and sisters!

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Who Do You Know?

Image by Seth0s, from Pixabay

Psalm 95 is attributed to King David, according to Hebrews 4:7.  In the chronological Bible I'm reading through this year, though, Psalm 95 is placed after Numbers 16, because the human subjects of the psalm are the wandering Hebrews.  The entire psalm is magnificent, but we are focusing today on verse 10.  It is the wooden stake through the heart.  God is speaking...

For forty years I was disgusted with that generation;
I said "They are a people whose hearts go astray,
and they do not know my ways"
Psalm 95:10 CSB

Taking the stories of the Hebrew people as a whole, they demonstrate the inability of man to follow God.  Remember, these people had God's favor, and God's Spirit interacted with many of their leaders.  But, their relationship with their God was vastly different from that of today's Christian.
God uses the Old Testament to show us that setting out a set of rules for people to follow does not produce holiness.  Over and over and over again, we see the Hebrew people failing God's tests.
The verse above refers to their repeated failures, the most egregious one being refusing to depend on God's power to bring them into the Promised Land.  This was the failure that earned them an additional 40 years of wandering in the wilderness.  God was so angry at their lack of faith and obedience that he refused to allow any adult male over 20 years of age to enter Canaan on that first approach.  Exceptions were Caleb and Joshua, two members of the scouting team who DID take God at His word, and who were highly vexed their fellow scouts were whimpering and cowering in fear.

It is easy to look at the Hebrew people and criticize.
For no other people group in human history had God "shown up and shown out" in so great a manner.
This was the generation that:
  • saw 10 horrific plagues on the Egyptian people, plagues the Israelites were delivered from
  • saw the parting of the Red Sea
  • saw God miraculously provide for them water and manna in the desert
  • saw God's holiness and might demonstrated at Mt. Sinai
  • saw the ground open up and swallow entire families of rebellious Levites
  • saw the pillar of fire by night, and the cloud of God's Shekinah glory by day.
Yet, God says, "they do not know my ways".  They had SEEN, but they did not KNOW.
And, because they did not truly know God, their hearts went astray.

Godly obedience flows from a heart that knows God, that has a real, personal relationship with God.
In this verse, the Hebrew word for "know" is יָדְע֥וּ yā-ḏə-‘ū
In the New Testament, the Greek word most closely approximating this is ἐπιγνώσει.
It is this knowing and this relationship Paul speaks of so eloquently in Ephesians 1:17-19.

16I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 

This is a prayer I pray over my sons frequently.  See, Paul says that if you truly know God, He can through that personal relationship - -
  • give true wisdom and reveal things the unsaved (the spiritually dead) cannot understand
  • enable the "eyes of our heart" to truly see
  • that by embracing our calling from Him, we can know hope (true assurance) for eternity
  • that we may realize how truly rich we are, having His glorious inheritance
  • that we may better understand the scope of His power, that same "immeasurable greatness" that raises the dead, Jesus Christ being the first to be raised in His new kingdom.
In this world of human interactions, a well-known saying is: "It's not what you know; it's who you know."  The meaning for this world is that you get where you are going through relationships with others who can help you.  Smart, savvy people build relationships and help others as they are seeking to advance themselves.  Then, when they need help too, they have resources.  While that adage often holds to be true, it merely describes human-to-human relationships.  A far greater, much deeper meaning exists.
I truly believe this is the most important aspect of being human.

Despite all that Almighty God had done for His people, their relationship with Him was totally "quid pro quo" - - I will worship you if you behave and perform for me and do things my way".

I thank God I live in the age of grace, the Church age, where how we can know God is centered in our belief in, and relationship with, His Son, the Savior, Jesus Christ.  How is your relationship with Jesus?  Do you truly know Him?

If not, I urge you to come to know Him today.  I've been writing this blog for nearly six years.  In the 6th post I ever wrote, (ironically, it was on Independence Day 2014), I shared about coming to know Jesus.  Knowing Him really IS the main thing.


Sunday, February 23, 2020

Smoking in the Tech Booth

Photo by Wunderela, from Pixabay
Confession: I often have anxiety dreams.  Or, at least, I remember them upon waking, whereas when younger I rarely remembered my dreams.  Last week, I had an anxiety dream about church.  Oddly, most of the people in this church dream were people I don't actually know, in real life.  The gist of the dream was that my "church" and I were somewhere, and I was somehow the hostess of the group.  That is, I was responsible for feeding everyone, specifically, feeding them breakfast.  There were approximately 25 people present, and I just kept running into roadblocks to get it done.  The church people kept exhibiting all kinds of unholy behavior!  Nothing lurid....well, let me give you an example.  The pastor had counseled a member, and the member had told the associate pastor the details of the session, and then the associate pastor had gotten up and shared the details with the entire group in a meeting.  See? Cray.  I woke up as the pastor was chiding the tech team for smoking at the back of the room during the worship service, around the sound board, whereupon several tech team members left the building, ciggies in hand.  SMH!

I'm not really into dream analysis, but in the books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy the overarching theme is the holiness of God.  That's what I've been reading about the past few days.  These books are chock-full of edicts God gave the Hebrew people, through Moses.  Some of the requirements make no sense to us.  That's because our temptation is to get God to conform to OUR standard of "holiness", whereas the truth is that He IS the standard.  I think my dream reinforced in my mind that the people of God are to be a holy people, because He is holy (Leviticus 20:7).

The other 11 tribes of the Hebrew people were to produce the soldiers that fought the physical battles for the nation.  The tribe of Levi, however, was not to be numbered among the soldiers.  Back in Egypt, when God instituted Passover, He declared that the firstborn male of every human and animal would be holy unto the Lord.  In the first chapters of Numbers, He declared that the tribe of Levi would represent by taking the place of that firstborn consecration.  (See Numbers 3:41.) The entire tribe of Levi would not fight; they would be holy unto the Lord and would perform the priestly tasks associated with the Tabernacle (later the Temple) and with worship.

Aaron, the first Levitical priest, was Moses' brother.  Aaron had four sons when God named him to this role.  He must have been so proud, thinking, "This is great!  I have four young adult sons, who can help me carry out these new duties!"  Unfortunately, in the learning process, two of his sons, the two older ones, mishandled the worship objects (some theologians theorize they were drunk) and abused the sacred ceremonies decreed by God.  And, as a horrific result, God struck them dead.  It is a fearsome story, recorded in Leviticus 10.  God is serious about His holiness.

What are the implications for us today?
The command in Leviticus 20:7 to be holy because He is holy still applies.

So set yourselves apart to be holy, for I am the LORD your God.
Leviticus 20:7 (NLT)

The temptation for the Christian is to overemphasize the grace of God, by which we are saved through the finished work of Jesus Christ.  Many use this truth to justify being "loose and lazy" in the way we live our lives.  Are we bound by the Levitical rules laid out in the Old Testament?  No.  Has Jesus' holiness paid the penalty for our sins, all of them?  Yes.
But, consider this Dietrich Bonhoeffer quote, concerning "cheap grace":

"Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate."

In other words, "cheap grace" is not true grace at all.
We ARE holy, because of the shed blood of Jesus, which covers every single one of our sins.  But, the apostles and writers of the New Testament repeatedly remind us to WALK in holiness, to live out that holy state which has been given to us through faith in Jesus, and by God's grace.  His standard of holiness has not changed, although Jesus paid the price for us.  The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are still thoroughly holy and perfect and pure.  We are to walk in that reality, by the power of the Holy Spirit who lives inside us.

13Therefore prepare your minds for action.d Be sober-minded. Set your hope fully on the grace to be given you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14As obedient children, do not conform to the passions of your former ignorance. 15But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do, 16for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
1 Peter 1:13-16
Did you catch that?  Peter quoted Leviticus 20:7!

I have found it fascinating (no, REALLY!) to read in Numbers about how God assigned the Levites different duties.  Moses and his brother Aaron were Levites.  It's no accident God appointed them born into this tribe.  Numbers 3 and 4 line out how the clans of the three sons of Levi (Gershon, Kohath and Merari) were to serve in their duties.  God was very specific, because He wanted to protect His people from His fearsome holiness.  Hebrews 12:21 tells us that the manifestation of God's holiness was so fearsome that even Moses was completely terrified!

In establishing Old Testament law, God essentially said "There's one right way to do things, and only one."  In the New Covenant, revealed and established by Yeshua Mashiach (Jesus Christ), there is STILL one and only one way to please God, and that is the Way revealed and provided by Messiah Jesus.
The gospel message is not a popular one.  It is a message that divides, especially in our modern-day culture where the message is "You are a bum if you don't approve of anything and everything." Totally slippery, slidey, "anything goes" approval.
It's hard to stand up and speak out, and even harder to LIVE OUT the holiness of the gospel in our everyday lives.
  • To be holy in the quiet, unseen disciplines of holiness - - prayer throughout the day and daily personal Bible study
  • To be holy in our conversations with others
  • To be holy in the many unselfish acts the Holy Spirit convicts us to do, for others
  • To be holy in our witnessing and sharing the gospel with those who worship other gods
  • To be holy in our service in our local congregations
  • To be holy in our civic duties, campaigning for and making time to vote for candidates whose positions line up with God's standard of holiness
  • To be holy in our forms of entertainment, and the amount of time we spend in those pursuits
You get the idea.

It's good to read the Old Testament, because it's easy to be lulled into the false belief that God is only a god of goo-ey love, a love devoid of truth (which really is not love at all).  When we read the Old Testament, we are reminded that our God is also a God of uncompromising holiness, deserving of reverence and awe...and obedience.
Yes, oh yes, Galatians 4:24-25 and Hebrews 8:13 tell us that we are no longer bound by the Old Testament law, and Temple regulations, and such.

But, don't be fooled.  God's holiness never fades.  It never goes out of style.



Friday, February 21, 2020

Good Roots, Good Fruits!

Image by Klimkin, from Pixabay
As most of you know I am reading through the Bible chronologically this year, using a Bible I received last year from a ministry close to my heart, Movieguide.  Yesterday, I finished the book of Leviticus.  But, in addition, I played a little Bible Bingo yesterday morning, because....Leviticus, right?  (This is what one of my friends, Lily, calls the process of just opening the Bible to "wherever" and seeing what treasures are revealed. In talking, we both realized we did this yesterday!)

At any rate, in my "bingoing", I landed in Isaiah 37, where a phrase caught my eye:  "take root downward and bear fruit upward" (vs. 31).  Just prior, I had been praying for my children and their girlfriends as always.  This verse spoke to me about a person's relationship with the Lord, something I talk with Him about often - - mine, and those of my loved ones too.  In order to flourish spiritually, we first must sink roots deep into our relationship with our Savior, by seeking His face in prayer, by studying His Word.  Only then can we "bear good fruit" in our lives with others.  The New Testament has a few passages1 which compare the evidence of salvation in Jesus Christ with the luscious fruit of a healthy tree.  The roots produce the fruits!  If you have loved ones spiritually far from God, this is a good passage to pray over them, and also over those who are not!  We can all pray to the Holy Spirit, that He will nurture our roots deeper into Him.

Now, let's briefly examine the passage in general. 

30“And this shall be the sign for you: this year you shall eat what grows of itself, and in the second year what springs from that. Then in the third year sow and reap, and plant vineyards, and eat their fruit. 31And the surviving remnant of the house of Judah shall again take root downward and bear fruit upward. 32For out of Jerusalem shall go a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.
33“Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the king of Assyria: He shall not come into this city or shoot an arrow there or come before it with a shield or cast up a siege mound against it. 34By the way that he came, by the same he shall return, and he shall not come into this city, declares the LORD35For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David.”
36And the angel of the LORD went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. And when people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies. 37Then Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and returned home and lived at Nineveh. 38And as he was worshiping in the house of Nisroch his god, Adrammelech and Sharezer, his sons, struck him down with the sword.

Isaiah 37 concerns the southern kingdom of Judah.  By this time, the nation of the Israelites had split into the northern kingdom, Israel, and the much smaller kingdom, Judah.  The northern kingdom had, through ungodly kings, veered off into apostasy years earlier.  Therefore, God had allowed the brutal Assyrian Empire to overwhelm and conquer them.   Now, the king of Assyria, Sennacherib, had his sights set on Judah, which was ruled at that time by the godly king, Hezekiah.  Sennacherib had offered Hezekiah a "deal with the devil", but the Judean king had wisely refused.  In response, around 700 B.C., the king of Assyria had brought 185,000 soldiers, the approximate population of the city of Ft. Lauderdale, FL2 and close to the population of Mobile, AL.  Imagine all those armed soldiers, surrounding the city of Jerusalem, ready to pounce and utterly ravage!

God did not execute His judgment on the land of Judah at that time, although the people were spiritually wandering, already headed in the direction of their brothers from the northern kingdom, Israel.  He gave them additional chances to repent.  In fact, He supernaturally destroyed those 185,000 Assyrians (verse36).  The Angel of the Lord struck them down during the night.  Verse 29 predicted this when God said, "I will put my hook in your nose and my bit in your mouth; I will make you go back {to Assyria} the way you came."
In utter shock and complete defeat, Sennacherib slunk back to Nineveh, the Assyrian capitol.  Shortly thereafter, he was murdered by his own sons' hands.3

Unfortunately, even these mighty acts of their almighty God did not change the spiritual direction of the people of Judah.  Although Hezekiah was a righteous ruler, his successors were not.  In 586 B.C., God's patience with His increasingly-wandering people of Judah became exhausted. He brought King Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians along to take many of the citizens of Judah away into captivity for 70 years.

Lord Jesus, thank you for nurturing our roots and tenderly calling us back to You when we wander.  Your "chesed", your lovingkindness, is better than life4!  Please continue to grow us up into You, no matter how long we have known You as our Savior, no matter how far away we have wandered.  Abundant life is found only in You.  Water our thirsty plants, who don't even know they thirst.  All glory belongs to You, Holy One of Israel!  Thank you for all You are going to do, in and through us today.  In the Name that is Above Every Name, the mighty name of Jesus, amen.


1.     Matthew 7, Matthew 12, Luke 6, John 15, to name a few.   http://biblehub.net/search.php?q=fruit



4.    Psalm 63:3

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

A Pustulence of Ignunce

Photo Credit: Fabio Rezende Fabinho, from Pixabay 

The funniest thing happened yesterday on the way to a funeral.  On such a sad occasion, you grab hold of all the humor you can find, I guess.  Maybe that's why people sometimes stand around funeral homes and share joyful stories of the "dearly departed".  That's not what this is about though.

I had volunteered to drive my mother (whose age shall not be mentioned) from her house to the funeral of one of her first cousins, in a town a good 90 miles away.  Then, our group got larger when my sister decided to tag along, and then my uncle (whose age shall not be mentioned either because some nosy souls would then closely peg my mother's age).  And, you know, I've got to stay in good standing with The Queen.

So, yesterday morning, my sister, who lives about 30 minutes from me, came over to the house, and away we went to pick up mother, followed by picking up my uncle, who lives "on the way".  

I have not traveled to the town in question before, I don't think.  If I have, there's no memory of it.  As we approached our destination, we blipped through this very small town called Oxford.  I had no idea there was a little town in my state called Oxford.  My mother says, "Oh, I remember _____ {the dearly departed} showing me around the college here, Emory at Oxford."  I nearly wrecked the car.  I legit thought I was being punked; but, I was cool.  I said, "There's a college here called Emory at Oxford?!"  "Oh yes, we may drive by it," she replied.  My uncle sagely agreed.

Now, "everybody knows" (natives of my state) that the esteemed Emory University of Atlanta GA, has satellite experiences in Oxford, England, at Oxford University.  If you get in to Emory University, well, that's like the Ivy League of the South.  And, if you can study at Oxford University in England, through Emory University, then, you have really done a prestigious thing.
The cognitive dissonance my mother innocently generated was real, Y'all.

In mere moments, here came this small college campus, appearing on our right.  "There it is!", exclaims mother.  I could not believe my eyes.  My uncle had been back-seat driving since we had picked him up; so, I was a little on-edge anyway.  I still "rode low on my shetland pony" and did not admit to my ignorance, since the proof was undeniable.  There in living glory was Oxford College, a two-year, private liberal arts college, named after the town in which it resides.  Oxford College is the birthplace, and one of the nine academic divisions, of Emory University.

When I got home, I scoped all this out.  (If Mrs. Catherine Bomar taught me this in 8th grade GA history, I must not have been paying attention!) Did I feel like an ignoramus?  Why yes!  Yes, I did!
By the same token, I learned something new and in the process thought the whole thing was hilarious.

Have you ever had an experience studying the Bible where, you think you know something?  And, THEN you read a previously undiscovered passage that makes you go...."Wait a minute!"  That has happened to me many times.  On the same day my "Oxford enlightenment" happened, I was reading in Leviticus before we left my house that morning. There's a lot I don't know about Leviticus.

For example, I did not know that the skin disease called leprosy was connected with mold and/or mildew.  Children raised in church have heard of "leprosy", a mysterious disease, for centuries incurable, that turned skin an unnatural scaly white and eventually "ate" entire digits, limbs, facial features, etc.  The disease was thought to be highly contagious and accordingly caused those who unfortunately contracted it to be exiled into "leper colonies", communes cut off from the rest of the community.  Greatly feared, leprosy was viewed as a curse on an individual.  Most Christians have heard of leprosy because Jesus healed some lepers in the New Testament.  Christians tend to not know what Leviticus says about leprosy because...Leviticus is a fearsome book, Y'all.

At any rate, reading in Leviticus 14 yesterday morning, I learned that sometimes mold and/or mildew (?) would appear on the interior walls of a house.  צָרַ֔עַת (ṣā·ra·‘aṯ)  is the Hebrew word translated variously as "contaminant", "mold", "mildew", "plague", "contagion", "plague of leprosy", "diseased infection".  Basically, it was believed this manifestation of cankerous crud inside a home rendered that house "unclean".  The ... stuff ... had to be abated, rooted out, gotten rid of - - or the occupants would not only be "unclean" themselves - - they would likely get leprosy.  Leviticus 14:33-53 gives instructions for how this situation was to be dealt with, so to keep the Israelites as healthy as possible.  (Southeastern Restoration was not around...)
I had no idea it was "a thing" to "make atonement for the house" in this manner.
SELAH!  (which means, "how about that!")

Isn't the Bible amazing!

P.S. - - Credit for the title of this post goes to my second cousin, David Nash, one of the funniest people I've ever known.  (And, no David, I did NOT make up the name of the photographer who took the picture at the top of this post!)
P.P.S.- -  Cousin Brent was pretty funny too.  One time I made a boo-boo and did a Facebook live make-up demo on my main page instead of my make-up business page, as planned.  He weighed in, toward the beginning, and said something like he wished he could "unsee" me without any make-up on.  HAHA!  He was a sweet, generous man, and we will miss him, until we see him again in Heaven.  So glad he was a follower of Jesus Christ!



Thursday, February 13, 2020


Image by Keith Johnston, from Pixabay
A couple of days ago I entered into a new initiative for Resplendent Daughter Ministries, and I'm very pumped about it.

About four months ago, a Christian brother invited me to work in his ministry, FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) as a Character Coach.  At first, I had the "Sarah reaction".  I laughed, (like Sarah did when she was told she would have her first child, at 90 years old!) There are so many reasons why jumping into this is "illogical': too little time for current projects; I'm not much of a sports person by nature; know nothing about lacrosse; etc., etc.  But, I figured he asked me for some reason; so, I prayed about it.

In our couples Bible study group, led by my husband, we've been working through this study called, "Experiencing God".  One of the things I've learned is that God does not call those who are fully equipped for the task.  Instead, He calls you and THEN He equips you, as you walk with Him in faith.  It's just the reverse of how the rest of the world operates.  (Sort of like how He gives eternal life.  But, I'll get to that later.)

So, feeling very ill-equipped, but trying to be faithful, I agreed to do this thing.  God, help me!

This past Tuesday, I got to meet around 45 lovely, lovely young lacrosse ladies, as they came off the field from practice.  So well-mannered and kind, they actually listened to my remarks and some of them hung around afterwards for more.
Here's how this character coaching thing works:  the FCA character coach gets to attend as many games and practices as his or her schedule will allow.  And, then, once a week, he/she spends time speaking with the team to help build character in the lives of the young people.  That little talk lasts 5-10 minutes, tops, and then you can invite the team to stay for an additional 5-10 minutes for an optional group conversation, where matters of the Christian faith are discussed.  Several choose to stay, hallelujah!  :)

There's this app that FCA uses where the team can opt in to the app and we can communicate back and forth in it.  I gave the girls the opportunity to scan themselves in via a QR code, and 19 took advantage of that.  I hope to hear from some of them before next week, when I'll see them again.

I shared with them that I'd post in the app bullet points from the remarks I make each time, and this blog post is my feeble attempt to do that.  I'll post the link from this blog post into the app.

Our first conversation in the mandatory meeting concerned what character is, and one of the girls gave the best answer: "what you are when no one is looking".  So true!  You can pretend to be one thing among other people, but God knows you inside and out, who you are when you don't think anyone else sees.  We also talked about the importance of character to a team.  I asked if a girl can have poor character and be a great lacrosse player, and again, one of those fabulous young ladies had a great answer:  "You might be a great lacrosse player, but not a good team member."  Wow.  They already amaze me, and we've only gotten together once.

In the optional session, I shared about the importance of relationship to the formation of character.
1.  The non-Christian world looks at eternal life (salvation, Heaven) and character-building the same: a person works and works and labors and strains and agonizes to earn the right to go to Heaven, and in so doing builds his or her own character.
2.  The Christian realizes there is nothing a person can do to earn eternal life, because God's standard for getting into Heaven is perfection, and who can achieve THAT?!  Answer: no one.  The Christian realizes the only way to Heaven is to accept what Jesus has already done: achieved salvation and freely given it to anyone who asks for it.  As one of the young ladies said, "Acceptance".  Our role is to believe, turn from our formerly sinful way of life and accept what Jesus has already done.  Period.  But, where does character development fit in?
3.  When we accept Jesus as our Savior, that begins a relationship with Him.  His Holy Spirit comes to live within us and begins to develop our character within us, to transform us through our circumstances, human relationships, life events.  The way we respond to those (our choices), impact and develop our character.  Again, totally opposite from how the non-Christian world does it.

Here was the key verse from our conversation this week, the verse my friend Donna shared with us in the huge Baptist Girls Sunday School class back in the last century (lol).  I can still see her up there, teaching us this truth.   These verses capture it all  - - - salvation (becoming a Christian) and character development (sanctification).  Words in { } are mine.

...that I may gain Christ 9and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness {work, work work!} from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ,a the righteousness from God on the basis of faith {believe, turn away from sin, accept}.
10I want to know Christ {relationship} and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to Him in His death, 11and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead {eternal life/salvation}.
Philippians 2:8b-11

6being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you {salvation} will carry it on to completion {sanctification} until the day of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 1:6

Looking forward to seeing the team next week!