Monday, August 21, 2017

If no one calls 911 does that mean we don't need help?

I came across a word the other day.  As it so often happens, my agenda to study a certain passage or word is set aside when I see a light shining in another doorway and the Lord is whispering, "Come check this out."  It's so annoying when he doesn't let me study what I think I should be studying.   So, I give a good eye roll and walk through the door that is opened down the hall, promising myself, "I'll only be gone a minute," as I look back at my tidy and organized thought processes written out and begging my attention.

I see this word on the door, and I nod my head and say so haughtily to the Lord, "So?  I get this word, I get its relevance in this passage.  I get this story.  I've heard this story, over and over and over again.  Yes, you have saved me.  Yes, you saved me by dying for me on a cross.  Yes, I get it, Lord, you've rescued me.

Do you know what rescue means?  We're not talking the romantic hollywood version of rescue where the damsel in distress is pushed out of the way of an oncoming car and she and her knight walk arm and arm into the sunset.  We're talking about rescue, rescue.  Like the Arnold Schwarzenagger kind of rescue or the Seal Team six kind of rescue.....sort of, but that's still not it.

What kind of rescue are we talking about then, Lord?

Remember when your daughter was lost in Sesame Place?  Remember when you searched and searched and searched for her, telling everyone what she was wearing, what color her hair was, begging everyone within shouting distance to LOOK FOR MY LITTLE GIRL!  I CAN'T FIND HER AND SHE WAS JUST HERE A SECOND AGO, I SWEAR!  SHE HAS BLOND HAIR AND IS WEARING A WHITE JACKET WITH TINY BLACK POLKA DOTS AND NEON PINK AND NEON GREEN STRIPES ON THE SHOULDER.  HAVE YOU SEEN HER?  HELP ME FIND HER, PLEASE!!! SOMEONE!  HELP ME FIND HER!

Yes, I remember.  I was very afraid she had been snatched by someone or hurt somewhere we couldn't see her.

Remember what you felt when you found her sitting in that theater, the lone child who just wanted to watch the play one more time?  Were you happy to see her sitting alone in that big theater?

Yes, and so relieved.  So very relieved.

Were you glad for her she wasn't hurt or more glad for yourself she wasn't hurt?

To be honest, I guess I was more glad for me.  She was having a good time and was mad at me when I made her get up and leave because the field trip bus was leaving.

So you were glad she was back with you, even if she had been hurt, you would have been glad she was back with you?  Even though she was crying you were taking her away?

Yes, I knew she was safe and I was so glad and mad and relieved and irritated and so very thankful.

Now you have an idea of what rescue really means when I put it in my word.  Take a look.

So I looked and this is what I found.

I was having a blast in Colossians 1:9-12, basking in the concordance and original Greek, finding new hope, being reminded of constant truths and when I was just ready to close my notebook another word jumped off the page, just a few words into verse 13.

The word I pooh poohed earlier and said to myself, "Yeah, I know what that's all about.  I'm done for the day."  I closed my notebook and my bible and pushed myself up from my desk and walked away.

Now, I meditated throughout the coming days on the passages I had studied, but "rescued" kept interfering with my thoughts, shining a light on the door yet to be opened wide if I would only press in.

So here I am today.

Rescued, in Jesus' way, by Jesus.

Not just a rescue that saved me in death, but a rescue that reached down and snatched me and pulled me away and dragged me away crying from what I was innocently enjoying, yet was not where the Master wanted me to be, away from Him.

He rescued me, he has rescued us.

To rescue, rhyomai in the Greek means, "from rhyo (Key word study Bible)
to draw, drag along the ground.  To draw or snatch from danger, rescue, deliver."

Biblehub.com says it this way:
"rhyomai - to draw or rescue a person to and for the deliverer.  In Matthew 6:13 (the Lord's Prayer) rhyomai is used in the closing sentence "deliver us from evil" - i.e. "Deliver me to Yourself and for Yourself."  That is "Lord deliver me out of my Personal pains and bring me to You and for You."

Here are the other places this word is used in forms of rescue or deliver:

Matthew 27:43
Luke 1:74
Romans 7:24
2 Timothy 4:18
2 Peter 2:9

Matthew 6:13
2 Corinthians 1:10

2 Thessalonians 3:2
2 Timothy 4:17
Romans 11:26

He didn't rescue us solely for our own good as I didn't search for my missing daughter solely for her own good.  He rescued us and I searched for my daughter because I needed her to be safe and to know she was safe.  He searched for us and rescued us because he needed us to be safe and to know we are safe.

He risked our tantrums and kicking and screaming and thinking we know best and ignored our threats to find a way to save ourselves and he reached down and snatched us from the dominion - (the authority, the physical capability to do something, the right and authority to carry out the action) of darkness - (spiritual darkness, implying ignorance or error; sin and misery).

Why?

Yes, for our sake, but as a parent, for His sake too.

No parent wants to lose a child.  No parent wants harm to come to their child.  God is certainly no different than us in that regard.  If we could, most of us who are parents would take every ache and pain and grief our children experience just so they don't have to suffer.  But also, if we're honest here,

so we don't have to watch them suffer.

He rescued you.  For many reasons, but only one that matters.  Because He loves His kids.  He broke through heaven's gates to come and rescue us in a way no other God or human being would ever do again.

You, my dear Reader, have been rescued by the God who wants no one to perish but for everyone to come to a knowledge of the truth.

That God rescued you, when you denied needing to be rescued, when you hated to know you had been rescued, he still pulled you out of darkness, for your sake and for His.  He's a good dad who hates to see his kids suffer.  He took the punishment we deserved, the suffering you would take for your own child if possible, and rescued us when we least wanted it or needed it or  believed we needed it.

Your God rhyomai you, for your sake yes, but for His sake too.

Peace,

Ronda







Tuesday, July 25, 2017

You're turning violet, Violet!

It's been a busy summer.

Four years ago we left our Tennessee home of fifteen years and moved to our home state of Wisconsin.  At the time our grown children were all married, but there were no grandchildren and no indication of any in the near future (that all changed on the day we handed over our keys to our daughter and son in law who informed us that we were indeed going to be grandparents).

What was done, was done.  The place of living was changed, boxes unpacked, pictures hung, a garage was built, and our new life in our old state began.

It was working well.  The driving between Wisconsin and our southern children was doable.  FaceTime was working fairly well for daily interactions with the newest member of our family.  It still was working when #2 grandchild was born in 2015.

Last summer, right around this time, we were anticipating the birth of #3 grandchild to be followed about a month later by #4 grandchild.  All was well, we were making it work.  I had scheduled time off from work so that I could be with both of our daughters after their babies were born.  We were managing.  We were making a tough situation doable.

Until.....

I had spent a good portion of August and September driving across the state of Tennessee helping out both of our daughters who lived on opposite sides of the state.  After #3 grandchild was born and my husband and I were on our way to assist the parents of #4 grandchild, I experienced at the time what I was sure just emotional grandmother blues.  My babies were having babies and I would have to leave them and be at least 700 miles away from them.  At least that's what I told myself it was and I told my husband too, because really, who in their right mind would move.....again.

I kept telling myself it was emotions and they would pass.  I'm always telling myself to not let my emotions rule my decisions.  As much as this "felt" emotional, it also "felt" different.  Like a pressing on my heart that something was up, much bigger and more detailed than planning 700 plus mile drives at Christmas and birthdays.

I told my husband this too.

He looked at me like I was crazy.

I felt crazy and emotional, and to be honest, a little out of control.

But in-between babies being born he made the call to our realtor and we decided that we would put our beautiful lake front Wisconsin home up for sale.  We would leave it in the Lord's hands that if we were meant to move, it would happen and if it was purely emotion, it wouldn't sell.  And, we would give it a year.

The contract was signed at the end of September.

Who buys lake front property in the winter, in Wisconsin no less?  This house wouldn't sell.  We'd be in Wisconsin through September and the house would go off the market and we would continue to make our long distance relationships work.

And then we got an offer on our house.

In February.

By March 31st we were moved out, our belongings in storage, and we had moved in with my parents.  In June we closed on our Tennessee home with a small acreage and here we are.

When we sat in the closing office the previous owner told us about a blueberry patch on the property.  She told us that there had been up to 100 gallons of blueberries in a season.  Being the non garden, non country girl, non any type of plant girl that I am, I had no concept of what that meant, nor did I care.  Blueberries were the least of my concern at that particular moment.

A few days after we closed my husband and I strolled out to see the blueberry "patch."  They looked like this.




About two weeks later, when the pages of the calendar flipped to July, those green balls suddenly became blue and this green in the garden city girl has been picking blueberries like her life depended on it.  We are quickly closing in on those 100 gallons.





What a difference a year makes.

It's been a bittersweet transition.  We said good-bye, again, to extended family and renewed friendships.  We said hello to little people who are just beginning to grow and learn and explore and hope and pray and believe.  We sit in a house, hubs and I, with a project list a mile long and just as wide, shaking our heads and marveling at how we got here.

Just like we were sling shotted up to Wisconsin four years ago is how this move seems too.  I quit using the word never four years ago, but I really hope this is our last move.  (Please, God).  And so I will pick my blueberries and relish the sunsets off my back deck.  I will watch the deer and the turkeys and enjoy today.  I will praise God for the wild ride He seems to think is good for me.







And I will pray that this is the last move.


Peace,

Ronda






Sunday, July 2, 2017

No exchanges or returns

One word.  One time in all of the New Testament.  Its context can be discussed by the theologians and those smarter and more learned than this gal but this word has been swimming around in my brain, not rattling, swimming.  Floating on its back, enjoying the sunshine on its face, every once in a while rolling over to tread water when it sees I've drifted a little too far from shore.

Irrevocable.

The English definition according to MW is

"not capable of being changed; impossible to revoke."

The Greek definition of the word ametameletos

".....about which no change of mind can take place, not affected by change of mind....without regret or remorse for an action because it was done from deep conviction (true concern)."

Would you like to know where that word sits among the flowers of God's word?

It's tucked in a verse that really has nothing to at all to do with my present day troubles or concerns and it speaks to me not as Paul intended its readers to understand in regards to his fellow Jews.  God's word is funny like that.  What is written for one, benefits many.

A verse or a word or a chapter or a book taken without full instruction on Hebrew or Greek, ancient practices and history, jumps across time and rests in the heart of a woman far removed from the original writer or intended Roman readers.

".......for God's gifts and his call are irrevocable."

The words and sentences surrounding these 8 words really are not very comforting for this Gentile as they are written for and about the Remnant of Israel.  The truth of these words, especially the longest word - irrevocable - make my heart sing praise to Him who has freed me from the bondage of sin and made my heart clean.

God doesn't take back his gifts.  Once he gives a gift, it's for keeps.  Once he gives a gift, even to a passive or ungrateful heart, he is bound to himself to never change his mind, never regret, never have remorse that he gave the gift.

Why?  Why God?  Aren't you ever sorry you made us?  Aren't you ever sorry you saved us?

I think his answer would be:

"No, because the gift was given out of true concern for my creation."

He saw us in our sin, and where you or I may leave us wallowing in it until we learned our lesson, God pulled us out, gave us a new heart and said, "It's yours to keep.  No returns or exchanges accepted."

He never regrets saving us or calling us out of our sin.

Never.

No matter how wicked and evil the times are, he never regrets saving us.  We would rather see some serious punishment for some of the evil we are living in and through, instead of the free gift of salvation still available to the most vile offenders. (Like I often, often forget I once was).

But God?  Nope.  He doesn't regret giving us the gift that will never be taken back.

So, tucked in Romans 11:29, out of complete context for this 21st century woman sitting at her computer with bed hair and great peace, is a singing hope -

for God's gifts and his call are irrevocable

I rest in knowing that his gifts that I so often misuse and abuse and not use, and the call on my life to be who I am, where I am, doing what I do - none of it's a mistake.  None of it was done on a whim.  The gift God bought for me was not an impulse buy.  He put great thought into just the right gift of salvation.  He put great thought into just the right place in history where he would put you and me.

And he made both of those irrevocable.

For from him and through him and to him are all things.  To him be the glory forever!


Peace,

Ronda

Sunday, May 7, 2017

A to Z reflections

This was the fifth A to Z challenge I have participated in and I wish I could claim I made a lot of new friends, visited a lot of new blogs, expanded my thinking and all such things one hopes to glean from this activity.

If I may be frank, up until the end of February I really hadn't put a lot of thought, let alone prayer, into what I may write about if I participated this year.  The days between the 2016 challenge and the days during the 2017 challenge were rough on many levels.  Blessings abounded, but the political atmosphere in 2016, the personal professional challenges, and the new changes my husband and I are once again finding ourselves in left little motivation to come up with a twenty six item list of things to write about, let alone find a theme for.

But, silly girl that I am, I forget what God can do.

I was challenged not only by my theme - a bunch of war ready boys - but I was challenged to put myself in David's shoes and Joab's sandals and even Benaiah's.  No, I wasn't facing what they faced, but the more I studied them, the more I gleaned for practical application personally.

I didn't hold an opinion as to the changes with the linky list vs. posting on Facebook, except I will say that is one of the reasons I didn't visit other blogs.  Since the election I have tried to limit my Facebook time, so I did not spend any time visiting blogs through that route.  This is not to say that I won't in the months ahead, but I did find the linky list convenient for getting to and seeing where I've been.  I never had expectations of visiting all of them, but I did like the layout of the previous method.

All that being said, I had one faithful visitor and commentator of my blog who gave me a personal shout out on her blog, so I will return the compliment.  Barbara was a great encourager this year.  Just when I thought I was going off into no man's land with my topics, she was there with an encouraging word to spur me on to keep plowing in unfamiliar territory.  Thank you, Barbara!

All this being said, I truly do find this writing challenge personally rewarding and encouraging.  I love, love, love to dig in God's word.  This becomes truer each year I have participated.  The answers to the problems of God's people lies in the ancient words.  Please search, please hunger and thirst, please dig.  This is our time.  This is your time.  No one is expecting you to have all the answers immediately or ever, but you won't have any answers if you don't ask!

Dig, Church, Dig!


Peace,

Ronda

p.s.  I do have my 2018 theme picked already!  Isn't God good?  :)






Sunday, April 30, 2017

Ziklag

Ziglag had been given to David by Achish, king of Gath (a Philistine city) while Saul was king. Ziglag was a place of refuge for David.

In the 1 Chronicles account of David and his mighty men, this is said about the place called Ziglag:

"These were the men who came to David at Ziklag, while he was banished from the presence of Saul son of Kish (they were among the warriors who helped him in battle; they were armed with bows and were able to shot arrows or to sling stones right-handed or left-handed; they were kinsmen of Saul from the tribe of Benjamin)."

Two significant events unfolded in Ziglag at the beginning of David's pre king and early kingship days.

The first being it was at Ziglag David heard Saul and his son Jonathon were dead.  (2 Samuel 2:1).

The second event, occurring before Saul died, was a a moment in David's life where the rubber met the road.  If there were going to be followers following his lead they would be tested right then and there.

And they were.

"When David and his men came to Ziklag, they found it destroyed by fire and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive.  So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep.  David's two wives had been captured - Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel.  David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters.  But David found strength in the LORD."

Ziglag was the place where the true and loyal followers of David rose to the top.  It was at Ziglag where those men becoming Mighty had to make a choice.  A hard choice.

While in bitter grief and despair.

They could blame David for the destruction and kidnapping of their wives and children.  Or they could fight the real enemy.

It was at Ziglag where the would be Mighty Men walked the tightrope line of resentment and character.

Young David, having been pursued and harassed by Saul over and over and over again, was in the beginning stages of forming a mighty army.  It could have all fallen apart right then and there at Ziglag.  But David.....

"found strength in the LORD his God."

While David went from hero to potential dead man walking, he "found strength in the LORD his God."

Not in his weapons or his logistical warfare abilities or his popularity.

No, he found his strength in the LORD his God.

When all those around him were battling grief and despair and living in the crisis of the moment, their thoughts not clear, their reasoning clouded by pain, David found a way to not take the pain of his men personally, but instead he found his strength in the LORD.

Another bite of humble pie the LORD needed to feed him was fed at Ziklag.  Those who were committed to David and his cause were sifted out, the cream rose to the top and in the end six hundred of those grieving and plotting mighty men, came back to David's side and fought next to him.  David "recovered everything the Amalekites had taken, including his two wives.  Nothing was missing; young or old, boy or girl, plunder or anything else they had taken, David brought everything back."

David would not be officially anointed as king of Judah in Ziglag (it would be Hebron where the physical anointing would take place (2 Samuel 2)), but I can't help but think that the invisible king clothes were put on David in Ziglag.  A city of the enemy may have been the invisible birthplace of the king after God's heart.

Z is for Ziglag.