Thursday, April 24, 2014

U is for Understand

Understand - to know the meaning of something, such as words that someone is saying or a language; to know how something works or happens; to know how someone thinks, feel, or behaves

As I write these posts for this crazy challenge - and may I say, I wish I was on Z! - I'm learning as I go along.  I've been blown away by some of the words which have found their way into my brain and onto the keyboard.  It's like I'm learning about Jesus in a new way I never saw before even though I've known of him my whole life.

I say "I've known of him" because for a great portion of my life that's how I would describe it.  I've heard about him.  I've heard about the things he did, the stories he told, the people whose lives he touched.  I've heard about him.  But those things were sort of like a box of puzzle pieces dumped out on a table, a mish mash of cardboard with splashes of color pasted on them.

One piece may have the piece of the crucifixion on it that I've known about since I was a baby, yet couldn't comprehend until I was much older and my brain started to associate death with people who died.  People I knew.  Because I knew people who died, I was able to see Jesus as someone who died.

The other pieces of the puzzle were still scattered on the table but they started to become connected to each other and I could see how the death of Jesus mattered in regards to the death of others.  

One piece started to connect to another and so on and so forth.  Not much different than how we learn in life.  What caused us grief and despair as an adolescent seems ridiculous to a middle-aged adult, but the experiences of adolescence were laying the foundation of learning and living for my age now and my older age tomorrow.  Everything connects, yet not everything makes sense when it's being taught.

Yet, the puzzle pieces still come together.  Slowly sometimes, but other times, the light is good and the pieces are illuminated so clearly that much of life makes sense.  The puzzle pieces start connecting.   Much of the past makes sense in the present and the future looks less scary in the face of what is understood thus far.

That's a little bit how I see God's word working in the life of someone.  So much will never be understood and so much more is just waiting to be understood for when the time is exactly right and we can see the meaning based on how God has illuminated its truth to our minds and hearts.

I learn differently than my husband, but somehow, we've both come to the conclusion that Jesus is who He said He is.  There are times when I believe because of what the Bible says is true about Him and then there are times I believe simply because I can see how He is working in my life.  He can only teach me about Himself in the way that I can understand and He can only teach my husband and you about Himself in the way he and you are individually wired to understand.

Somehow the pieces still come together and connect, yet I don't have to worry that the edge pieces are not being put together first because he might put the inside pieces of someone else's life together first and work from the inside out and others he may work from the outside in.  You're not going to understand it all so give yourself permission to rest and enjoy what you do understand now.

Jesus had a take on understanding too.  He said there would be many who would be ever hearing but never understanding, ever seeing but never perceiving.  His word syniemi meant to "comprehend, understand, perceive.  When the word is confined to the sphere of mental perception, it means to hear, notice, perceive, understand.  Thus, it strictly denotes the collecting together of the individual features of an object into a whole, as collecting the pieces of a puzzle and putting them together."

That's the crossroads we're at every time we hear the word of God or sense his working in our heart.  We can be one who is ever hearing but never understanding.  Or we can be one who hears and turns and is forgiven.  

Our understanding is not one that can be relied on.  Only through the help of the Spirit of Jesus will we ever have the ability to understand all that he wants us to know about him, his work in our life, and his purpose for our life and the meaning of the pieces still being put together.  But surely, we are invited to ask for understanding, trusting in Him with all our heart.  

U is for Understand.


Things to chew on:
1.  What pieces of your youth have you connected to how your life is today?
2.  What pieces of your life today, which make no sense, can you set aside and wait for them to fit when more of the puzzle is put together? 
3.  What pieces of the Jesus puzzle have become more clear with age?

And if you're really adventurous, here are some of the passages from both Old and New Testaments which use the word syneimi in the Greek and Biyn and Biynah and Tebunah  in Hebrew and are translated in variations of the word understand.

13:14, 15, 19, 23, 51 





1 Chronicles 

28:20, 23, 28
32:8, 9

 119:34, 73, 100, 104, 130, 144, 169

1:2, 6
2:2,3, 5, 6, 9  



 9:2, 22
 10:1, 12



Wednesday, April 23, 2014

T is for Temple

naos - a sanctuary (divine dwelling-place); a temple (sacred abode), the place of divine manifestation

I'm sure it started out innocently enough.  No evil starts out with a bang, it just kind of builds from one minor thought to another and pretty soon there is a snowball of thoughts that have meshed together and gotten bigger and bigger as it rolls down the hill.

Maybe someone thought, "hey, these folks are traveling an awful long distance to come to Jerusalem and make their sacrifices.  It's a long journey, they're tired, they need a place to rest and then they have to find a place to buy a dove or a lamb and bring it all the way back to the temple.  Maybe we should try and set up a little booth, just a small one, outside the temple.  That way these weary travelers don't have to be inconvenienced with trying to find their way around town to buy their animals for sacrifice."

Maybe it went like that.  I don't know.  I wasn't there.  But I can kinda see how it could happen like that.  Human nature is human nature and it hasn't changed throughout the centuries.

However it happened, however long it took to get out of hand, it was a big business going on right in God's holy place.

And Jesus confronted it when he visited the temple one day.  And he got.....a little angry.  You can read about it in John 2:12-25.  He got so angry he tipped over tables and money went everywhere.  Along with birds and feathers and frightened lambs.  It had to have been a sight to see.  A calm, gentle man blowing a gasket.

It's interesting what angered him and who he spoke to about his anger.  It wasn't the crowds, it wasn't the farmers with the cows and sheep (he did chase those out too).   It wasn't those who were buying the animals for sacrifice.

What made him angry and who got the verbal whooping were the ones selling the doves - maybe a little bit of a physical whooping, there is a whip involved in the story.

You have to know the significance of doves when used for sacrificing to adhere to Jewish law.  The doves were what were used by the poorest of the poor to sacrifice and appease Yahweh.

I could be wrong but I imagine that there were a lot of dove sellers.  Many more dove sellers than sheep and cattle sellers.  Israel was being run by the Romans and Rome did not have the reputation for making the Jews wealthy.   There were a lot of poor Jewish people needing what their few shekels could buy.  And those were doves.  I imagine there may have been a good mark up on the doves too.

You know how it is in tourist spots or convenience stores.  The price is always a little bit higher just because the customer is willing to pay or has to pay for the convenience.  I don't think it was much different at the temple that day.

Someone, somewhere along the way, thought of a way to make some easy bucks and make it easier for travelers coming to the temple. I imagine when one entrepreneur saw someone set up a table with a few doves caged he may have thought to himself, "I could make a few extra shekels that way too."

I imagine it slowly took off and before anyone could really regulate what was going on, it was a marketplace inside a Holy place.  Any other place and Jesus may have just kept walking.  But this was in His place and He's not going to keep moving along.

So Jesus comes in and sees what's going on.  He sees the poorest of the poor being swindled by the smooth talking dove sellers.  I've seen enough American television and movies, I know how con artists work.  There was a big con going on.  On the grounds of God's holy temple.

I'll let you read what happened.  John 2 starting at verse 13.  It doesn't end well for the marketplace that day.  (Go ahead, pick up your Bible and read it.  Don't be lazy! You're too big to be spoon fed now).

And Jesus was right, both about the temple made out of stone and the temple that was His body.  His body was destroyed and three days later it was brought back to life.  The temple of stone was destroyed a generation later.

I got to walk around the temple stones that once stood where Jesus Himself walked.  I got to touch them and I wondered, as I walked around that area that has never been rebuilt, what these stones could say about that day if they could talk.

1 Corinthians 3:16-17
Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?  If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple.

T is for Temple.


Things to chew on:
1.  What about Jesus' display of anger surprises you most?
2.  Do you have any small snowballs that are rolling into bigger snowballs in  your temple?
3.  Jesus' sacrifice and resurrection has made you his temple.  Chew on that.  I'm chewing too.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

S is for See

See - to be or become aware of something

Blepo (Strong's 1063) - properly, to see, be observant (watchful).  Blepo suggests "to see something physical, with spiritual results (perception)."  That is, it carries what is seen into the non-physical (immaterial) realm so a person can take the needed action (respond, beware, be alert).

Then there's another word translated see - Horao (Strong's 3972)- which means "to see with the mind (i.e. spiritually see), i.e. perceive (with inward spiritual perception).

When the man who was born blind was healed by Jesus and received his sight, he said to the Pharisees, "one thing I do know.  I was blind but now I (blepo) see."

When doubting Thomas said that unless he saw (horao) the holes in Jesus' hands and put his finger where the nails were he would not believe that Jesus had come back from the dead.  He wasn't just looking for physical evidence, he was looking to make the physical evidence make sense on the spiritual plane.

We're like that too, aren't we?  Seeing is believing type?  Some of us more than others, but each of us in our various seasons of doubt versus belief, using logic to discourage our unseeing trust.

That's kind of why atheists like to mock Christians.  We believe in something we can't see with our eyes and that's kind of weird.  I admit it, it's weird to believe in something you can't physically see.

How many of us, raise your hand and be honest here, have said to the Lord, "It would be so much easier to have believed you THEN, back in Moses day or Abraham's day when people heard your voice, or saw the miracles of Jesus?"  Be honest, we THINK it would be easier to believe in the invisible if we could see more tangible evidence.

Maybe I'm the only one who thinks like that.

But maybe I'm not.

If you want to see, sometimes you have to believe first.  Sometimes if you want to believe, you have to see, not with your eyes, but with your inner eyes, your soul searching eyes.  The ones that can't see the physical form of Jesus but can see with soul eyes the manifestations of his presence.

Seeing is believing and believing is seeing.

You just have to believe.  That's it.

Than you'll see.

S is for See.


Monday, April 21, 2014

R is for Real Resurrection Rest

I had some operator error yesterday.  I was going to put my R word up yesterday, even though we're supposed to take Sunday's off and I guess I should have stuck to the Challenge guidelines and stick to the program.  If you're on Blogger or google plus you have seen my error, if not, this is a redo of what I originally posted, then deleted by accident (?).

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the story being celebrated around the world today.  It's the tie that binds Christians across denomination and divisions.  I couldn't write my R words on Easter Monday.  They had to be written and shared (oops) on Resurrection Sunday.  So here they are, two for the price of one:   rest and real.  Both of them can only make sense in the light of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Let's start with real first.  Can I get real with you?

Real:  not fake, false, artificial, fraudulent, or illusory; genuine.

One of the amazing things...

And that's all that posted.  Everything I wrote after that is gone.   Lost in cyberspace.

Then I had another post for R, one that I wrote a few days ago, when I was really frustrated with some things I was seeing.  It's not a real nice post.  It would offend probably a lot of people.  And as I struggle right now with what I should post - something entirely new or bring out the sassy one, or as a third option use a combo of both - my heart is beating faster, I have some anxiety running through my nervous system and I think to myself, I am being just the exact thing being real is not.

One of the many amazing things about the human body is that it doesn't lie.  No matter how much   we can tell ourselves we're fine, we don't hurt physically or emotionally, we don't suffer from the past, we are doing ok, the body tells the real story.

Our hips and stomachs tell the story when we eat emotionally and not for fuel.

Our hearts tell the story when the doctor tells us our blood pressure is too high, so is our cholesterol and we need to quit working round the clock.

Our liver tells the story when we drink too much.

Our stomachs tell the story when we have digestive issues and either poop all the time or can't poop at all or we can't eat this because of that ingredient.

We can give ourselves a false sense of comfort about the sicknesses and illnesses we have - it's genes, it's what my mother had and her mother before her, it's because I live in this part of the country, it's because I was abused when I was young, it's because I was vaccinated, no it's because I wasn't vaccinated -  but the bottom line is, our bodies won't lie for us.  Sin is in us and has tainted us.  Sometimes we are sick because it's simply sin living in us.  Sometimes we are sick because of choices we make and the sin genes living in our bodies latch on and manifest as bulimia or allergies or headaches or high blood pressure or cancer.  

The body is a tangible piece of evidence that tells the truth about us and our condition.  Our minds won't let us be real.  Our minds like to believe lies about our body too.  So, let's start being real like our bodies are trying to teach us.

We struggle with being real don't we?  We church folk do.  We believers do.  We supposed followers of Christ do.  We're worried that if the truth got out about who we really are and what we've really done we'd hinder the gospel of Jesus Christ.  We would hinder the good news of what He did to make us His own children, to walk with us, to live life with us, on top of the wonderful, wonderful news that we are forgiven.  Everything we've done is paid for in his one sacrifice.

But somehow our nature just wants to hide and pretend and be fake.

But the Resurrection really doesn't allow for fake-ness.  Sure we're good at calling our temptations and sins of lust and greed and pornography and addictions and gluttony and pride and arrogance as "sin," never using the real words that describe us.

If we call ourselves "sinners" instead of drunks and addicts and the gluttons and pharisees we are, it's a nicer word, it's the religiously correct word.

But the Resurrection of Jesus Christ gives us the freedom really to call our spades spades.

When we dress up and hide and rename the things we are - the ones that are struggling and dying and trying to be good, do good, not be bad - they see us and call us that great word.  You know it.  HYPOCRITE!

They know who we are, they see us trying to hide who we are and pretend we're better, or not as bad or simply fake - and the gospel, the good news, the Resurrection story is simply just a story.  It's not real in our life.  It's just something we do because the calendar says its time and then we put it away, tuck it back in the closet until next year when we bring out the Passion story of Christ.

Instead of living the passion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ every single day.

It's wonderful to have the day where Christians can boldly post on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram - "He's Risen" - and we get the pass from our unbelieving friends to do so, but then Easter Monday comes and the masks come back on.

When we're real, when we're not fake, not artificial, not fraudulent, not illusory, we can find real rest.

Real Resurrection rest.

The rest that Jesus gives and bids us to come and receive from Him.

When we're fake, when God's own children feel the need to be fake and hide and pretend, so does the world.

It takes a lot of energy to be fake, doesn't it.  Lots of money too.  Dressing up the outside, losing sleep over the inside.

But when God's children are honest with themselves and with God about who they are, not just "sinners" but children who have done____________(you fill in the sins that dog you), then those who call us hypocrites may, just may, find it a little less hindering to consider who Jesus really is.  And what He really did for them.

I don't know.  Maybe it is "their" problem.  But maybe it's "our" problem.

I'm ready to be real.  Maybe I'm just getting old but I'm tired of phony baloney.  I'm sassy(ier) the older I get.  Or the thug in me is really starting to come out.  I don't know.

I'm just tired of trying to give a defense to behaviors of the saved that the world sees.  I'm tired of hearing the unbelieving world accuse the believing world of being hypocrites and having no true defense to give to stand up for the hypocrisy and fraud that surrounds the American church.

The thing is though, it's tiring to be us.  It's tiring to be fake.  It zaps of energy and joy and peace and freedom.  It costs money to be fake.  Blood pressure pills, insulin shots, knee surgery, heart surgery - they all cost money.  It costs money when we're not honest about ourselves deep down under the surface of sinners saved by grace.

The unsaved are not worried about being fake.  They're not worried about being a poser.  They accept who they really are.

We blame their attitudes and behaviors on their sinfulness, their parents, the schools these days, the government, the justice system, the Supreme Court, false teaching, when all the while the Light in the established churches remains dim at best.

We blame our attitudes and behaviors on our sinful nature, our "little" sins, said with a wink and a chuckle - "ooo, I shouldn't have eaten that last piece of pie" when really we got snubbed by someone we really admire or we're trying to drown out the pain of memories that torture, so the pie tries to fill the hole in our hearts only God can fill.

We blame our heart condition on genetics and big fancy words for murmurs when in fact we drink  and smoke because we don't know how else to silence the thoughts that taunt our minds when it's quiet.

We blame our stomach problems on food, on vaccines, on ingredients, when in fact we just simply use food to fill the voids only God can fill.  We control our food because we can't control anything else around us.

We're a mess, you know that right?  The church is a mess.  The statistics for the world's ills run neck and neck with the church's ills.  Take a look sometime.  Google porn addiction in the church.  Google abortions in the church.  Google divorce in the church.  Google gays in the church.  We're a mess.  The statistics aren't pretty.  We're not fooling anyone, least of all God.

It's us who have the problem.  It's us who think we have to hide our struggles from them for fear that the gospel will be hindered.  I've got news for you:  The gospel is hindered when we hide our struggles.

No ones says you have to agree with their lifestyle or buy them their drugs or feed their addictions by looking the other way. I'm certainly not saying that.

What I am saying is this:  Be real about who you are first.  Not just the blanket word "sinner" either.  Call yourself the spade you are. Put a name to the sins you are trying to hide from.   You're only hurting yourself by pretending you're something you're really not.  If you have to pretend and hide and deny you're an addict or gay or a wife beater, you're really hindering the gospel.  If you're denying you have heart problems because you're simply eating too much, you're hindering the gospel.

Read that part again.  You're hindering the gospel.

You are.  I am.  Not them.  Not the lost.  Not the unsaved.  Not false teachers, not false churches.  You are.  I am. Every time we are fake and not real, the gospel is squashed.

Every time we deny and comfort our "little" sin, we hinder the gospel.

Every time we call ourselves a sinner and continue to live in sin without repentance, without turning away from it, we are hindering the gospel.

Every time.

Does this mean we blab our sins to everyone all the time?  Most certainly not!  But if we can't even blab them to ourselves and most importantly God, then really, what's the point of even calling ourselves a follower of Christ?  We're not following him.  We're  only a stumbling block for someone else wanting to reach out to him.

They - those watching us - they are looking for evidence that the gospel is real.

What personal evidence can you bring to the table to show and proclaim to a lost and dying world that Jesus is real?

I don't know what this will look like if we all started being real.  Maybe new groups will form.  Like PA - pharisee anonymous.  Or GA - gluttons anonymous or gossips anonymous.  (Smiles)  It's probably going to get messy.  It's probably going to turn the tables on normal and make some really uncomfortable.  But so what?

Is normal really working?  Really?

Let's be real.  Let's live a Real Resurrected life!  That's where the real rest comes from.  The ceasing of labor.


R is for Real Resurrection Rest.


Things to chew on:
1.  Do you agree the church needs to be real?  Do you think the church is ok where it's at?
2.  What dangers do you see in being real?
3.  What dangers do you see in keeping things the same?

1 Corinthians 3:10-15
By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it.  But each one should be careful how he builds.  For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.  If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light.  It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work.  If what he builds survives, he will receive his reward.  If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Q is for Qualified

hikanoo` - to make sufficient

Colossians 1:9-14  For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.  And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way:  bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.  For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Yesterday was Good Friday for Christians and those who aren't, some of you anyway, benefitted with a day off maybe.  It was Good Friday and tomorrow is Resurrection Sunday.  Those two days and the day in-between brought you, yes you, a gift.  You are now qualified to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.  You have been rescued from the dominion of darkness and you have been brought into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom you have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.  Whether you believes this or not, you have been qualified.

See, without the original Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday you and I were unqualified and stood insufficient  to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.

Without that Good Friday 2000 plus years ago, we were only allowed to share in the inheritance of the lost in the kingdom of darkness.

Now we are qualified - we have the necessary skill, experience, or knowledge to do a particular job or activity; we have the qualifications to do something - we are qualified.

The Resurrection has made us qualified to live as children of Light, not of darkness.  Before Good Friday we weren't qualified.

The Resurrection has qualified us to live in the kingdom of the Son God the Father loves.  Before Good Friday we were only qualified to live in the kingdom of the one who hates God.

The Resurrection has qualified us to live a life worthy of the Lord.  Before Good Friday our only qualifications were to live a life in opposition of the Lord and His goodness.

The Resurrection has qualified us to bear fruit in our good works.  Before Good Friday our good works did nothing to please God.

The Resurrection has qualified us to grow in the knowledge of God.  Before Good Friday our only knowledge was of what opposed God's knowledge.

The Resurrection has  qualified us to be strengthened with all power according to his glorious might.  Before Good Friday our power was used for our motives and purposes, not God's.

The Resurrection qualified us to have great endurance and patience.  Before Good Friday we could only give up and give in to the temptations of sin and defeat.

The Resurrection qualified us to joyfully give thanks to the Father.  Before Good Friday we could only complain and curse God.

We're qualified.  We got the job!  Do you want it?  Do you want the blessings and benefits and responsibility that comes with being qualified to live as a child of light?  Or would you rather stay working in your dead end job as a child of darkness?

Everything has been done for you to live as a child of the Light.  Everything.  You've got the promotion.  You're qualified.

Q is for Qualified.


Things to chew on tonight and on Resurrection Sunday:
1.  As a believer, what qualifications can you thank God for?
2.  As a believer, what qualifications do you need reminding of more often today?
3.  As an unbeliever, what keeps you from stepping out and taking the job you've been qualified for?