Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Z is for Zacchaeus



Z is for Zacchaeus

For the last and final A to Z challenge post I am pulling away from the theme of attributes of God and instead share with you a story of someone God brought into His fold.

The story of Zacchaeus is told in Luke 19:1-10.

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through.  A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy.  He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd.  So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, come down immediately.  I must stay at your house today."  So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

All the people saw this and began to mutter, "He has gone to be the guest of a 'sinner.'"

But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, "Look, Lord!  Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount."

Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.  For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost."

What's so special about Zacchaeus?  He was short, he was a tax collector, he was wealthy.

He had all those things and was still lost.

Jesus saw past those attributes, those character traits, those shortcomings, tee hee, and called him a son of Abraham.

Despite his reputation of being a "sinner" Jesus called Him a Son of Abraham.  That had to have irked the people watching, who you can be sure had their reputable Jewish lineage already on the scrolls of heaven.  They saw Jesus as conversing with a sinner, Jesus saw his host as lost.

He loved wealthy and powerful Zacchaeus.

He loved short Zacchaeus.

He loved tax collector Zacchaeus.

He didn't want to stay with him because he was any of those things.  He wanted to stay with him because he was lost.

Zacchaeus climbed a tree so he could get a better view of Jesus, but Jesus  had already picked Zacchaeus out of the crowd.  Zacchaeus didn't have to climb a tree for Jesus to see him.   Zacchaeus had to climb the tree for Zacchaeus to see Jesus.  He'd had enough of the empty life his wealth and job title brought him.  His heart must have been longing for something more.  And Something More was coming down the road and looking for a tax collector named Zacchaeus.

His heart wasn't getting filled by stuff or power.  His empty heart climbed that tree.  His empty heart was beating for Life to begin.  His name meant righteous one, pure one, but I'm guessing he and those who knew him looked at him as neither of those.

Jesus looks up in that tree and calls out his name, "Righteous one, Pure one.  Yea, you.  Come down out of that tree and take me to your house."

Can you imagine?

Zacchaeus, I would speculate, felt anything but righteous, anything but pure.  Maybe even those who knew him mocked him.

He comes up to your door, demanding money for taxes, and you  might whisper under your breath, "righteous one, my foot.  I'd like to spit on you."

I'm speculating he knew what his name meant, and underneath all the wealth and power, he felt like a hypocrite, a failure, a sorry excuse for a human being.

(Have you ever felt that way?  Maybe you have wealth and the world calls you greedy, without passion.  Maybe you are not all that handsome or pretty to look at and you get lost in the crowd of beautiful people, no one noticing you even exist.  Maybe....)

I don't know.  I wasn't there.  I'm not Jewish.  I don't study Roman history or know much of anything about being in a job where people hate you because of what you do.

But the thing is, Jesus looked beyond all that the world saw in Zacchaeus and saw potential.  Potential to be called a Son of Abraham.  In front of  perhaps the supposed sons and daughters of Abraham.

 They were the ones waiting for a personal invitation from Jesus to invite them into their homes.  They were the ones who felt worthy for such an invitation.  Zacchaeus, in their eyes, wasn't worthy.  But Jesus doesn't look at the heart with human eyes, Jesus looks at the heart with eternal eyes.  His eyes see the potential.  His eyes look through the filth and see the possibility of a heart set free.

Zacchaeus' wealth meant nothing to him.  His job meant nothing to him.  The power he had meant nothing to him.  In fact, instead of tithing the ten percent that most good Jewish people tithed, he was ready to give  fifty percent of his income to the poor and pay back four times the amount of what he stole!  Jesus transformed him and immediately the transformation could be seen.

He came down from that sycamore tree at once, speudo - he hurried, Luke tells us, and welcomed Jesus gladly.  When Jesus came around, nothing else mattered to him.  Zacchaeus welcomed him chairo - he rejoiced, he was glad, he was delighted.

The presence of Jesus in our lives made Zacchaeus and us glad and makes what we have, or are pursuing without Him yoked to us, meaningless.

Those watching saw a sinner.  But Jesus, He saw a Son.  And when the Son calls you a son, you are free.

Peace, and thanks for reading!

Ronda



Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!






Monday, April 29, 2013

Y is for (easy) Yoke

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

Matthew 11:28-30

I love this verse.  I love every word in this verse.  I love that Jesus told us to come to him, all the weary and the burdened.  I remember hearing this in the King James Version when I was a kid and it said "heavy laden" instead of burdened.  I remember not knowing what heavy laden meant, but that it sure sounded nice to hear Jesus tell those heavy laden folks to come to him.

I'm not going to tell you specifically about yokes, I'm going to tell you about Jesus' yoke.  He said it was an easy yoke.

What is a yoke that is easy?  

Easy in Greek is Chrestos - to furnish what is needed.  Profitable, fit, good for any use.  Of things figuratively, good, gentle, easy to use or bear.  

So if we take His yoke upon us, you know what a yoke is don't you?  A yoke is a wooden beam that is fitted between two animals, usually oxen, for working together.  When animals are attached side by side to a yoke to work together, one can't go its own way, they have to work as a team.

Jesus said his yoke was easy, fit, good for any use.  His yoke is gentle and easy to bear.  When we wear His yoke, when we watch and learn from him, our burdens lift and we find rest.  The burdens and problems and wearisome troubles may not disappear, but when we take his yoke upon us we find rest for our souls.  

Rest means rest. 

Being at rest means to be free of anxieties.  

Anapauo rest, the kind that Jesus gives is simply to rest, be refreshed, to give rest.

His rest comes not by trying to figure things out on our own or handling our challenging life situations alone, but He said to get rest, learn from Him.  Learning from Him means studying what He did in difficult and trying situations.

He suffered and was tempted in every way we suffer and our tempted.  He knows the troubles you face right now, the difficulties that keep you awake at night.  Go to Him and you will find rest for your soul. There doesn't seem to be any other way to find rest.  When you put on His yoke, He on one side, you on the other, the yoke doesn't chaff, it isn't too tight or too loose.  It's easy.  Walking with Him in your life's challenges makes your life's challenges easy to bear.  

His yoke is easy.

Y is for (easy) Yoke.

Peace,
Ronda

Yokes



Saturday, April 27, 2013

X is for Xylem

X is for Xylem.

I may be stretching this one a bit, and if you are a horticulturist or a botanist or anyone associated with plants or gardening, please forgive my small understanding of botany as I try to describe the God of the universe as Xylem.

First of all, what is Xylem?  Xylem, according to the biology4kids.com  (I told you, I have a very small understanding of botany) website:

 "The xylem of a plant is the system of tubes and transport cells that circulates water and dissolved minerals. As a plant, you have roots to help you absorb water. If your leaves need water and they are 100 feet above the ground, it is time to put the xylem into action! Xylem is made of vessels that are connected end to end for the maximum speed to move water around. They also have a secondary function of support. When someone cuts an old tree down, they reveal a set of rings. Those rings are the remains of old xylem tissue, one ring for every year the tree was alive."

Xylem is from the Greek word Xylon which means wood.

Ok, so, I already told you the other day that Jesus called himself a vine and he called his followers the vine's branches, so we can stay with the wood theme.  

If we are branches, and branches are wood, then picture Jesus being the xylem, the transportation system distributing water to all the places in the branch that need it.  A vine can't produce flowers or fruit if it doesn't have water.  Not only is Jesus the Vine but he is also the water system that provides the water to flow in the branches, the wood, to sustain the vine and produce fruit or flowers!!

It's a stretch, I know.  But give me a break, it's the letter X.

X is for Xylem.

Peace,
Ronda



Thursday, April 25, 2013

W is for Way

W is for Way

Derek - to tread, bend, guide.  Journey, way, path, road; mode, manner, course; way of life, lot in life.

Deuteronomy 8:6  says, "Observe the commands of the LORD your God, walking in his ways and revering him."

We couldn't walk God's way on our own.  Although we are created in His perfect image, because we are sinful and live in a sin-filled world, the only way we can walk is Away from God.  Jesus came to be the Way to God.  He called Himself the Way, the Truth and the Life.

Hodos - A road on which one travels, a way, a journey.  Christ calls Himself "the Way" because no one may come to the Father but through him.

That's the reason He came.  To be the way to the Creator of the Universe, the keeper of the stars, the Father who loves His creation, His children.  There's no other way to Him except through Jesus.

It doesn't make sense, it seems illogical that one person made a way for the whole world's population, from beginning to end, to be called a Child of God.  I don't understand how it works.  I don't know why it works. I don't why it is so.  I just believe that if Jesus says He is the Way, then He's the Way.

My understanding it or not doesn't make it less so.  I just believe that it is.  If it turns out that it all was just a feel good cult and we all end up just turning to ashes with no afterlife, than that's the way it will be.  But...I'm going to believe that He is the Way to a life beyond myself and beyond my grave.  It's the only thing that truly does make sense in this crazy, evil, terroristic world in which we live.

W is for Way.

Peace,
Ronda




V is Vine

   In 2004 we built an addition onto our house where our deck once stood and wanting to have shade in the hot, Tennessee August sun my husband built an arbor and a patio off our back step.  I planted a Carolina Jasmine, a beautiful deciduous vine that blooms very fragrant yellow flowers in February and March.  We've had a cold spring and this years flowers weren't nearly as plentiful nor were they as fragrant as years past.  But, my vine, which once just was climbing up the West side of the arbor has now reached all the way across the top of structure, forming a beautiful natural ceiling that keeps our back patio cool.



     Jesus called Himself the true vine.  Most likely he was looking at a grape vineyard when He called Himself the true vine.  No matter what kind of vine he was personifying, the vine plant is one whose stem requires support and which climbs by tendrils or twining or creeps along the ground.  My Carolina Jasmine, once it became established and trained to climb the lattice my husband built for it, went crazy with growth.  We have had to give it a "haircut" several times because it likes to grow back on itself towards the sun.


   It is easy to take care of and only requires some pruning in the spring.  I wish I could bottle the fragrance of its flowers.  It truly takes my breath away.




   I'm a branch on the Jesus vine.  I've been pruned, right down to the quick a few times, had a bad haircut or two also (wink, wink) but being part of the vine is part of something special and beautiful.  If you belong to Christ you too are a branch on the Jesus vine.  Sometimes the gardener has to trim some wild branches to hold them back, sometimes the gardener has to redirect a branch to climb up, not down.  
   Taking care of my Carolina Jasmine is a work in progress.  Some years the beauty and fragrance are breathtaking, and some years its branches struggle to bear flowers after a cold winter.  But the Vine remains.  

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.  You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.  Remain in me, and I will remain in you.  No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.  Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

"I am the vine; you are the branches.  If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."  John 15:1-5.

V is for Vine.

Peace,
Ronda





Wednesday, April 24, 2013

U is for Unchanging


U is for Unchanging.

Malachi 3:6 - "I the LORD do not change."

Change -  sanah - to repeat, do again; to change, alter; to pretend, to be changed.

 Please click on this video before you read further. (It is not me playing, I am strictly using this video as an audio analogy).  Listen to it for now as you read, then come back and watch it after, there are beautiful pictures in it.






Since I've been playing piano there is one piece of music that I've tried to conquer and have yet to do so.  The piece is Pachelbel's Canon in D.


 The difficulty I have had in trying to master this particular piece of music is not the notes or the timing, it's the rhythm I have trouble with.  It is a piece of music that is written to be played smoothly, connected with a moderate rhythm.  However, the notes are written so that at the beginning of the piece it sounds like it is a fairly slow song.  It starts out slowly and as more notes are added, even though it seems to be speeding up, the beat remains the same.


 That's where my problem is.  The more notes I add to the piece, the more my pace increases, so that my fingers can't keep up where my own beat is taking me.  Before I know it, I'm stumbling all over the place.  The notes aren't hard to play, the timing itself isn't hard to interpret, there are no triplets or trills in the piece I attempt to play. I just can't keep a steady beat.  I'm either going too fast or going too slow.


  I have such a hard time keeping with the beat of the piece.


 Think of our life with God in this way too.  We start out in our walk of faith kind of unsteady, unsure where we're supposed to go.  The beat keeper, He knows where He's taking us.  He has the beat, it's slowly beating in the background.  Not too fast, not too slow.  The notes we're playing are fairly easy to play.



   Then, when we get our footing, more notes are added to our faith life, more challenges added to our faith.  It's not as easy as we thought it would be, it appears to be speeding up at times, going faster than we can keep up, but behind the music of our lives, behind the notes, there's the Beat Keeper, the Metronome, keeping a steady beat.  It appears the writing of our life's music is difficult, faster than we can play, but the Beat Keeper is keeping perfect time.

   What appears to be going so fast or so slow, is, in reality, in perfect step with the beat He's laid out for us.  The beat of the music never changes and we may get a few extra notes thrown in from time to time, but the Metronome doesn't change the pace.  We are walking His tempo.  We can let the added notes of our life speed up our walk, going faster than the Metronome is keeping time and then have to wait for the Beat to pull us back into its rhythm.  Or, we can be a note or two or a whole measure behind the beat and we get lost in the music of our life and can't find the place to jump back in and keep in time with the Time.

   The music is so much more beautiful when it's played in the Time it was written to be played.  If we rush or if we lag behind, the music loses its beauty.  When we play our music in our own time we may hit every note perfectly, but if it's not played in keeping with the Beat, we miss the beauty and the connection and flowing grace the music sings.

   His beat is not to harm us or to keep us from having fun playing those sixteenth and thirty second notes faster than the beat wants them played.

   His beat keeps the notes from running off the page, keeping our fingers from getting tangled up in places it can't get back to without ruining the beauty of the piece.  He doesn't change His beat to wait for us or to catch up with us.  His beat remains the same, unchanging, flowing, connecting.  His beat strengthens, enables, and  makes beautiful, beautiful music to a world of hurting souls.




U is for Unchanging.

Peace,
Ronda






Tuesday, April 23, 2013

T is for Teacher

Teach - to cause to know something; to accustom to some action or attitude; to cause to know the disagreeable consequences of some action; to guide the studies of; to impart knowledge of; to instruct by precept, example, or experience; to make known and accepted; to conduct instruction regularly in school;

Synonym discussion:
Teach applies to any manner of imparting information or skill so that others may learn.

Instruct suggests methodical or formal teaching.

Educate implies development of the mind.

Train stresses instruction and drill with a specific end in view.

Discipline implies training in habits of order and precision.

School implies training or disciplining especially in what is hard to master.

Greek word for teach is Didasko - to learn, know, or teach.

Greek word for teacher is Didaskolos - to teach.  Teacher.  Used of Jesus, a title of respect indicating that He was a recognized authority in the interpretation of Scripture.

Teacher - one that teaches, especially one whose occupation is to instruct.

Hebrew word for  teach is yarah3 to teach, instruct, give guidance.

Hebrew word for teacher is lamad - to learn, train for; to be trained; to teach, instruct, cause to learn

   My favorite teacher of all time, Mrs. Faus, was my junior high choir teacher.  She was my teacher for three years, grades 7-9.  The reason that Mrs. Faus is in my hall of favorites is because she saw something in me early in the start of seventh grade that took me to a height I would not have reached if it hadn't been for her.

   Let me explain.  I grew up living next door to my grandparents.  When I was in the second or third grade, my grandmother bought herself a two keyboard electric organ.  Until that point I had no idea that my grandmother could play music and she told me that she could and that her mother had also played the organ in church.

   This organ was pretty fancy for the 1970's.  It had the ability to add instruments to the music, like the digital pianos have now, but back then, it was pretty fancy stuff.  You could add drums to your music, a waltz background and three or four other background choices.  It was awesome!!

   Well, what does a bored granddaughter do in the summer when there is an organ in the house?  Pound on it, right?  I started plunking around on it and began begging my mother to find a piano teacher so that I could learn how to play like Grandma played.

   It just so happened that our church organist, Mrs. Kremmer, was willing to teach me piano.  (I didn't know it at the time, but she had an ulterior motive - she was training me to play so that she could take a Sunday off now and then from her organ duties).  But I digress.
 
   For two years I walked to Mrs. Kremmer's house for my piano lesson, then in the evenings I would go to Grandma's house to practice on her organ.  Before too long, the music that I started learning to play exceeded the keys on Grandma's organ, so as I gradually started playing more difficult music, I couldn't practice (as well) on the organ.

   So I began begging for a piano. I had already been begging for a piano from the start of piano lessons, but my  mother, wise as she was, would not buy a piano because she felt that it was something I would get bored with quickly.  Her stipulation was that I had to take piano lessons for two years before she would consider buying a piano for our house.

   It was around this time, and two years of lessons in my review mirror that I started outgrowing the keyboard on Grandma's organ, so my mother found a used piano and I began practicing on that.

  Soon after buying the piano, around the summer before I started seventh grade, I started getting bored with playing and practicing, just as my mother had feared!  Mrs. Kremmer couldn't take me much farther in teaching, she had accomplished what she set out to do in teaching me, I could play hymns well enough for someone to follow and sing along, so she advised my mother to find another piano teacher.

   So I began going to a different teacher right around the time I started seventh grade.  I'm not sure how Mrs. Faus found out that I played piano, probably as obnoxious as I was she heard me bragging about it or something like that.  Anyway, one day, after choir she took me aside and asked me if I would like to learn how to accompany the choir.  I don't know if she formally asked me or if she just said I was going to do it, either way, she began grooming me to be a choral accompanist.

    With good coaching and lots of practice, I was able to accompany the choir and continued to accompany choirs through high school.  (All the while filling in for Mrs. Kremmer from time to time).

   Had Mrs. Faus not pulled me aside and plunked me down in front of that piano, I probably would have quit, the piano my mom bought would have set in our living room gathering dust.  But she, being a good teacher, taught me.  Not only how to play and accompany, but she instilled in me a LOVE of learning to play, a love to be challenged in more difficult pieces of music, but most important, she believed I could do it. She saw it in me.  I think the good teachers see the potential in their students and spur them on to challenge themselves to stretch and to try new things.

   Mrs. Kremmer started the ball rolling, she wanted me to be able to play hymns and that is one of my favorite things to play now.  Mrs. Faus taught me how to love to play and love to learn how to play better.

   So what does any of this have to do with Jesus and an attribute of His.  Well, many have said that He was a good teacher.  He taught well.  And they leave Him with that title alone, not recognizing His purpose, His power, His Sacrifice of saving the world.

   Jesus was and is a good teacher.  He teaches in many ways, always with His Word in hand, many things about life, challenges, eternity, relationships.  He sees the potential in us, His students, to teach and to challenge us to use our gifts in ways we hadn't imagined.  Ways we would never had guessed could be used.

   A good teacher doesn't give up on the student.  I believe that as long as a student wants to learn the good teacher will teach.  The good teacher teaches.  The good teacher sees the potential in the student.

   Jesus does.  He sees the potential in all of us.  He uses the challenges we face to grow us and make us better, like a good teacher does.  He doesn't coddle us, Mrs. Faus never once coddled me, nor did Mrs. Kremmer and my other good teachers.  Jesus inspires us to keep on, to push through, to practice that scale one more time.

T is for Teacher.

Peace,
Ronda

   I hope you take the time to look at the verses I've included at the bottom of this.  They are just a handful of the verses that use the above defined Hebrew and Greek words.  As you look them up, and please, look up at least ONE of them, think about who your favorite teacher was or is.  What did they teach you?  How has it made you who you are today?

Exodus 4:12, 15; 35:34; Deuteronomy 4:1, 9, 10, 14; 11:19; Judges 3:2;  13:8; Job 6:24; Psalm 25:4-5; 27:11; 32:8;  51:6; 86:11; 90:12; 119:66-68; Matthew 5:2; Luke 6:40; 11:1; 12:12; John 8:2; 14:26; Romans 2:21; 15:4; Titus 2:2-3; Hebrews 5:12; 1 John 2:27
 




Monday, April 22, 2013

S is for Strength

Strength - the quality or state of being strong; capacity for exertion or endurance.

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.
Psalm 28:7

   When I was a young mom with young children and following my husband's Navy career up and down the New England coast, I was frazzled to say the least.  I was out of the baby stage and heading into the talk back stage, the terrible 2's, 3's, and 4's stage, while trying to be the perfect picture of what the unknown perfect Navy wife looked like.  (I still have yet to know exactly what she looks like, only that she was a figment of many imaginings).

   Nevertheless, I tried.  The more I tried, the more I cried.  The more I tried to read the child training books and try to be a by the book mom, the more I tried and failed and you guessed it, cried.

   At some point in those years, when I had a 2, 3, and 5 year old,  I listened to the Focus on the Family radio broadcast regularly.  One day after feeling a greater dose of frustration than before, I heard a woman on the program talking about yelling at her kids and how she felt like she was always yelling at them.  My ears perked up, I stopped what I was doing (probably yelling at one of my monkeys) and listened to her tell the story how she found she was yelling all the time and somehow she finally got on her literal knees and prayed for God to help her.

   That program burned in my ears and my heart, and the next morning, after I got up, I immediately went to my knees on the side of my bed, for the very first time ever, and prayed to God to "give me strength."  I didn't know what else to pray for or about, and frankly, I didn't have time to make a long request, the only words I could say were, "Please God, give me strength."

   The simple prayer of "Give me strength," became the only prayer I prayed for about five years.  I didn't have any big, long listed prayers for anyone or anything but myself to have the strength to do the job He'd given me to do.  Be a Wife (a Navy one at that) and a Mom.

   I had know idea what I was doing, I just knew that I needed strength to do it.  That is the only secret I have for raising kids, asking God for strength to be the wife and Mom He created me to be.

   He taught me to rely on Him for strength.  We all survived - the kids turned out pretty good, despite those early years of constant yelling.  (They don't appear to be too scarred and in need of therapy for years).

   He is my Strength.

 S is for Strength.

Peace,
Ronda






Saturday, April 20, 2013

R is for Restorer

Restore - to give back, return, to put or bring back into existence or use; to bring back to or put back into a former or original state, renew, to make like new.  Restore - implies a return to an original state after depletion or loss.

Synonyms:
 Refresh implies the supplying of something necessary to restore lost strength, animation, or power.
 Renovate suggests a renewing by cleansing, repairing, or rebuilding.
 Rejuvenate suggests the restoration of youthful vigor, powers, or appearance.
 

We have a neighbor a few doors down who has been in the process of restoring an old pickup truck for several years now.  Sometimes when I walk by, the garage door is open and I can see it sitting there, looking like a piece of junk to the naked eye, but I know in my neighbor's eyes he is seeing a completely restored and finished truck, shiny and running like it was originally designed to run.

Yesterday I walked by and I saw not just one, but two "junkers" sitting in his driveway and I asked him if he is restoring both, and he told me that he was using the parts of one for the other.  Even though both look like junk just sitting there, one of them has parts that still work and are of value.  Hmmmmmmm.

God is in the restoration business too.  He is all about restoring someone to their original purpose and finish.  But when God restores He restores for greater purpose than simply turning on a key and revving our engine. He restores to take us back to His original intention.

When King David wrote the beautiful words of Psalm 23 he was using the Hebrew word Sub, which means to turn back, turn around, return.  Essentially it denotes movement back to the point of departure.

Basically, God is giving a do-over to David and those of us thousands of years later.

Do you need a few or a hundred do-overs?

God is in the Do-overs industry if you are.

We can go theologically deep on this, or, we can just start at the point where you last left believing God was in the restoration business.

At one time you may have believed God was Able, Brave, Compassionate, and all words of the A to Z challenge thus far, but you walked away, for some reason, from believing those words were true about Him.  He let you down.  He didn't do what you thought He was going to do when you needed Him to do it the most.

You once believed in the Power that is God.

Now, not so much.

But you haven't found the replacements much help either.  The drugs haven't helped.  The countless hours of self-help book reading has still left you with a hole in your heart.  The over achieving in your work or school or your church doesn't bring you the satisfaction you once believed it would when you left believing God and started believing in yourself.

You're not a junker... yet.

You're not sitting out in someone's driveway or salvage yard, letting your pieces be taken off one random piece at a time.  But you feel like it's coming.  The peace and security you thought you would get when your broken heart walked away from the God who you believed could do all, hasn't been found yet.

You're still waiting.

But it's not coming.

At least it's not coming from anything else but the One who has come to Restore.  You won't ever find your peace or true security in anything or anyone except the One who is in the  peace and security business.

Give God another chance.  He is also in the Restoration business.

Go back to where you stopped believing and tell that old you to keep believing.  Give the old you permission to believe again in the One who is a Deliverer, is Equal, is Faithful, is Good.  Believe that He can take your Harried life, because He is Impartial and Kind and a Living Light and longs to show Mercy just because of His Name.  He has Overseen your whole life, not just the part when you believed but the part when you walked away too.

He is the only one who can Restore your soul to its original purpose.

What have you got to lose?

R is for Restorer.

Peace,
Ronda

Psalm  23:3; 51:2; 60:1; 71:20; 80:3, 7, 19; 126:4-6; Jeremiah 15:19; Lamentations 5:21; Isaiah 58:11.

1 Peter 5:10 - Greek word is Katartizo - to adjust, fit, finish.  To set up, equip, arrange, prepare, mend. The two dominant themes of this word are to prepare, and to repair.
This word is also used in 1 Corinthians 1:10 for perfectly united.  I think the visible Church could use some restoring power too. Don't you, Church?

Another story on junk.




Friday, April 19, 2013

Q is for Quiet

Poor Quiet Q has nothing to do,
He just lays around, not making a sound
Q.  Q.  Q.

When my son was in Kindergarten, the school used a curriculum for reading called The Letter People.  To introduce a new letter of the alphabet the teacher would use a blow up letter with human features.  My son would come home from school so excited when they received a new letter person.  With a big smile on his face he would recite to me the jingle he learned for each new letter person .  At the end of the school year, the class put on a presentation of each of the letter people.  Each child was given a letter of the alphabet and they had to design a paper bag costume to wear onstage while they recited the letter's jingle.

My son was the letter Q.

 My kids holding a few of the Letter People.  

My son giving his best recitation of Quiet Q while the other Letter People listen.



You can rightly assume that as I helped my kindergartener learn his piece, this jingle is now embedded in my mind, twenty two years later.  It doesn't take much for hearing or thinking about the letter Q and my mind starts playing the old tape.  

So when I think of Q, I think of Quiet Q.  When I think of Quiet, I think calm, peace, silence. 

God promises to quiet us with his love.  He has promised to  hares2 us, to stop the loudness  echoing in our minds and hearts.  What God silences we become deaf to.  We no longer have to hear the noise of the past burdening us with regret.  We no longer have to be bullied by the memories that attack us.  We can rest in Him who takes great delight in us, who rejoices over us with singing.

We can rest knowing that He is the Quieter of storms.  The storms on the outside as well as within.  When Jesus orders a storm to be silent,  it is silent.  The storms in our hearts and minds as well.

He phimoos the storm, he muzzles it and he tells it to be silent.  Why?  Because He loves us.  Each and every one of us.  He will quiet the storms waging within.  Because He is a Quieter of storms.

Q is for Quiet.

Peace,
Ronda

Zephaniah 3:17; Mark 1:25; Luke 4:35;


P is for Perseverance

* For added encouragement, be sure you look up a verse or two I included at the end of this post.

P is for Perseverance.

P is for pushing through

E is endurance

R is for remaining 

S is for steadfastness

E is for enduring

V is for victorious

E is for endurance 

R is for remaining 

A is for attitude

N is for not giving up

C is for consistency

E is for enjoying

P is for Perseverance.  

I won't make this long, but I just wanted to share that there is only one Greek word with a second word of variation for our English word perseverance in the Bible.  And, there are no Hebrew words for the word.  (At least in the NIV). This is the time where I wish I knew some of both languages, more than a what a dictionary can tell me.

Anyway, Hypomone means to persevere.  To remain under.  A bearing up under, patience, endurance as to things or circumstances.  Hypomone is associated with hope and refers to that quality of character that does not allow one to surrender to circumstances or succumb under trial....Specifically, patience as a quality of mind, the bearing of evils and suffering with tranquil mind.

We know how the story went for the One who showed us what Perseverance looks like.  He endured.  He was patient.  He beared up and remained under.  He endured.

That One.

That Jesus.

He did it.

For you.

Now you can persevere too.

Hang in there.

Don't give up.

Victory is coming.

Release from your suffering is coming.

Persevere.

P is for Perseverance.

Peace,
Ronda

Romans 5:3-4; 2 Corinthians 12:12; 2 Thessalonians 1:4; 3:5; Hebrews 10:36; 12:1;
James 1:3,4, 12; 5:11; 2 Peter 1:6; Revelation 2:2, 19; Luke 8:15; 1 Corinthians 13:7;

One side note:  In Hebrews 11:27 the word used for persevered is kartereo - to be strong, steadfast, firm; to endure, hold out, bear the burden.  In this verse it signifies enduring severe circumstances with strength and courage.

In 1 Timothy 4:16 persevere translated is the word epimeno - to stay, remain; to continue in, keep on, persevere.  




Wednesday, April 17, 2013

O is for Overseer

The word Overseer is interesting.  It can mean to supervise or to be a superintendent in English.  In the Bible it's only used a handful of times to mean a watchman, superintendent, guardian.  It was used in the New Testament to describe church officials, those responsible for the spiritual welfare of the church and its governance.  It's similar to the terms used for elder, shepherd, and deacon.

1 Peter 2:25 uses the word Overseer, episkopos in the Greek, along with only four other verses:  1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:7; Acts 20:28; and Philippians 1:1.

It's a precious truth to me to know as Peter said, "For we were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls."

Jesus is our Pastor, our elder, our Overseer, overseeing our souls.

Sweet words.

O is for Overseer.

Peace,
Ronda

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

N is for Name

As I continue in the A to Z Blogging Challenge and look for attributes and descriptions of God that fit a specific letter of the alphabet, I am becoming more aware of how much more I have to learn about this God I call my Lord and my Savior.  I  made myself a calendar at the beginning of this challenge that had a possible word to explore for each day of April.  Some of them I've already changed.  The words I used for C, E, F, H, L, and M were not my first choice.  As each day came and I sat down to write, the words that I used in the blog were the words that embedded themselves in my mind and I couldn't seem to get away from them in my research.

Now I am on the letter N.  My first penciled in thought was noble.  But it wouldn't flow.  Then I thought, nourish.  Nice words, but neither of them got my fingers tapping.  My hands just rested on my keyboard like a dead man's.

But I kept hearing the word, Name.

Name.

Well, I knew there are many, many names for God.  But as I started digging for which one He wanted me to explore I found there were just too many to put into a blog post.  Which name, I asked Him?

Name.

I know.  Which one?

Name.

There is no other Name above His Name.  His Name is Name.

My name is Ronda.  God's name is Name.  He is the Namer of all Names.

Some call me mom, Ronda, daughter, sister, wife, cousin, aunt, nurse.  But God has names for every way in which He works.

He is named Provide - Jehovah-Jireh.

He is named Healer - Jehovah-Rapha.

He is named Peace - Jehovah-Shalom.

He is named Jealous - Qanna

He is named The Lord is There - Jehovah-Shammah.

On and on and on and on go His names.

He introduced His names in circumstances.  Hagar, Abraham's concubine who was used to conceive what Abraham thought was his promised son and then was mistreated by Sarah, Abraham's wife, so Hagar fled and ran into the desert alone.  But the Angel of the Lord found  Hagar alone and comforted her.  Hagar was so moved by this conversation and comfort, God allowed her to name Him the One Who Sees Me. (Genesis 16)

There's a name to introduce to your family.  Ya'll, I'd like you to meet One Who Sees Me.  Family, One Who Sees Me.

Can you imagine?!

But God's names are for us to find comfort in.  To be humbled by.  His Names are to remind us of how vast his power is.   They are not for us to worship separately.  He is not many gods.  No, He is God with many Names.  He is a God with vast abilities, specific and powerful.  His name is Provides, Peace, Light, Way, Truth, Banner, Shepherd, Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and on and on.

But there is one Name that is above all names.

The Name Jesus.  At this name, every knee will bow.

His Name.

Have you met Him?  Do you know Him?

N is for Name.

Peace,
Ronda

Just some names of God.  Call Him any of them, He'll answer.

P.S. - As I finished the typing the last word on this post yesterday, I turned on the news and saw the tragedy.  No other Name will get us through the tragedies that will fall on us.  He is as near as your breath.  He's not going to force Himself on you...He's a gentleman.  But when you call out to Him He will break through all hardness of heart to get to you.  Just call out to Name. I am praying that you find Him to be as wonderful as I have found Him.

Name, help us!  Have mercy on us!

The Extraordinary Ordinary







Monday, April 15, 2013

M is for Merciful

I've been looking forward to the letter M since this blogging challenge started.  Remember when E was for equal and I challenged you to think of God in the opposite way that you may normally think?  Today is one of those letters that I hope you come to understand how merciful God truly is.

Mercy -  compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one's power. Mercy implies compassion that forbears punishing even when justice demands it.  To be merciful means to be full of mercy, compassionate.

Both the Hebrew (rahum) and the Greek (oiktirmon) words describing God as a merciful God have simple meanings and similarly mean what the English word defines as mercy.

Mercy means mercy.

God is MerciFUL.  God is full of mercy. Just like He is full of anger, He is equally full of mercy.

Because of Jesus, because of His life, death, and resurrection, we are shown mercy by a merciFULL God.

When we get trapped into thinking we don't deserve to be forgiven for our wrongs, or someone who has wronged us doesn't deserve to be forgiven, we are being unmerciful to our own self and to others.  We are merci-empty.  God never gets empty on mercy.  We may.  He doesn't.

We may say we or someone else deserves to be punished for what we've/they've done, but God longs to lavish us/them with His mercy, because Jesus has already taken the punishment meant for us.  God shows mercy to us because He is a merciFUL God AND because Jesus made it possible for us to be shown mercy.

Without Jesus, we deserve punishment for the wrongs we've done.

Because of Jesus we are given mercy despite the wrongs we've done.

Every time you think that God is angry with you, remind yourself, He is merciful towards you.

Every time you think God hates you for what you've done in the past, remind yourself, He is full of mercy towards me despite my past.

Every time you think God is punishing you for your sins, remind yourself, the punishment I deserve was laid on Jesus and now I am living in God's mercy, not punishment.  (There may be consequences to your sins, but the punishment for your sins has already been given.  To Jesus.)

God is full of mercy towards you

You! 

Knuckleheaded, can't-get-it-through-your-thick-head, do the same stuff over and over, you'd think you'd get it right - YOU!  Yes, You! 

God is full of mercy towards you even though you did do and sometimes continue to do the terrible, awful things you did and do!

God is full of mercy towards you even though you may not want it or think you deserve it.  Your refusal to believe He can't be merciful towards you doesn't make Him less merciful.  He can't stop being who He is and says He is even though you don't believe He is who He says He is.

Quit telling God who and what He should forgive and not forgive.  Quit telling God who does and doesn't deserve mercy.

Open up your eyes and your hands, ask Him to open your heart to receive the mercy He has given you.  Let Him worry about who does and doesn't deserve forgiveness or mercy.

Take what He's given you.

Rest in it.

Marinate in it.

Believe it.

God is a merciful God.

Full of mercy.

Rest on that word.

M is for Merciful.

Deuteronomy 4:31; Luke 6:36; Nehemiah 9: 31

Peace,
Ronda

Questions to consider:
1.  In what area or areas of your life do you think God should not show mercy or you believe you don't  deserve mercy?

2.  Do you have a full assurance of God's mercy towards you?  I will be praying for you that you will come to know it, deep down to your bone marrow.




L is for Living Light

I bet you thought I was going to do L is for Love...

L is for Light.

L is for Living Light.

L is for a light that still shines in a dark world.

Recently a thought consumed my mind for a few days and I marveled its significance when the realization settled in my bones.  The thought was this:  

Less than three hundred years ago the world did not have electric light or electricity.  Three hundred seems like a lot, but in the grand scope of the earth's age, whether you are a creationist or an evolutionist, three hundred years is not a long time to have electricity.

The world existed, developed, and invented without the use of electricity or electric lights.

I don't know if we can even fathom what that was like.  Everything we use, including this computer I am typing on right now, to the light shining above my head and the phone at my side and the clothes dryer drying in the background, did not exist a few centuries ago.

So my thought process is this:  In the days of the Bible, a verse that spoke of a light shining in darkness, or the Lord being my light, or the Word being a light to my path, would have much greater application and meaning than say now.  Rarely are we in total physical darkness.  

But even though we live in a lit up world, we still need the Light of the World to shine on us.  Even though we are living in an electricity driven world, it is still a dark world without the Light shining down on and in it.  

Jesus is the Light.  He is also the Living Light.  He truly lives.  He wasn't just a good teacher that died an unjust death. 

He is a Living Savior who is shining His light on all people right now.  You may be living in a dark place, but your dark place is not dark to Him.  

We may be living in dark and evil times, but our Living Light is still shining and calling on all to turn to Him for Living Light.

His light can break through the darkest sin.

His light can shine where no electric light can reach.

His light doesn't need our light switches to shine.

His light is enough to open the most closed and hardened heart.

His light will shine on the darkness of this world and will expose it for what it is.

His light lives, because He lives.  

He is living because He is the light that cannot be turned out.

L is for Living Light.

Peace,
Ronda

Questions to get you thinking.

1.  Have you ever experienced total physical darkness?  What was that like?  Were you afraid?
2.  What possession do you now have that you miss using the most when the power is out?
3.  Are you living in a dark place where you don't think the Light of Jesus could ever shine?  If so, ask Him to shine His light on that dark place.  I will be praying for you to see His Light.

  

Friday, April 12, 2013

K is for Kindness


K is for Kindness.

I'm visiting with my kids this weekend.  Not much time for blogging.  Have a good weekend Everyone!

Peace,
Ronda

Thursday, April 11, 2013

J is for Jealousy

I have flip flopped on the J word for today.  When I outlined my words back 11 or so days ago, I was going to use J___.  But then today a different word popped into my mind, jealousy.  I went back to my original word and looked at my references and saw that it would take much more research into the word than I have time for so I think I'll use the original J word I had in mind another day, perhaps I can tie it in with a letter done the line.

But first I have to say, I can't believe we're already at letter J!  Ten letters done, sixteen to go.  Almost halfway there!

Ok, back to Jealousy.  Did you know that God is a jealous God?  Did you know that one of the many names for God is Jealous?

Can you imagine introducing someone to a friend or loved one whose name is Jealous?

 "I'd like you to meet my boyfriend y'all.  Family this is Jealous, Jealous this is my family!"

Ok, so what's Jealous about and why does God name Himself Jealous?

Definitions please....drumroll....

Jealous - intolerant of rivalry or unfaithfulness; disposed to suspect rivalry or unfaithfulness; hostile toward a rival or one believed to enjoy an advantage; vigilant in guarding a possession
            synonym - possessive
            antonym - unenvious

Hebrew - Qanna - jealousy.  Denotes one who is jealous.  Used particularly of God.  The Lord permits no rivals.  He is the only one worthy of human worship.  

The first time God called Himself Jealous was way back when He gave Moses the Ten Commands.  You can read that in Exodus 20.  Then, when He had to make new stone tablets because Moses broke the first two, He called Himself  Jealous, because He is a jealous God.  You can read that story in Exodus 34.

Ok, so why is God jealous?  Of what or whom is He jealous?

Anything that is worshiped or loved more than Him.

It's good to love our children. But not more than God.

It's good to love our spouse.  But not more than God.

It's good to love our parents and extended family.  But not more than God.

It's good to love our church family.  But not more than God.

It's good to love our spiritual heritage.  But not more than God.

It's good to love our hobbies.  But not more than God.

It's good to love our job.  But not more than God.

It's good to use the talents we have been created with, but it's not good to depend on our talents more than we depend on God.

It's good to enjoy what money can provide, but it's not good when we love money and what it can buy more than we love God.

It's good to be passionate about causes, politics, and anything else that we could talk all day about, but it's not good to be more passionate about those things than we are towards God.

It's good to be passionate about what God has led us to do, but it's not good to love what He's led us to do more than we love Him.

God is Good.  God is Jealous.  A Good God is Jealous for His child.  A Jealous God wants our heart. Undivided.  He is jealous for us to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and then enjoy the other gifts He's given us, like our children, our spouse, family, hobbies, etc.

He doesn't want the leftovers of our passions and love.

Scroll back up to the antonym of jealous - unenvious.  What would it be like if God were not a Jealous God but an unenvious one?  What would that look like?

There must be a reason God wants us to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength?  If He weren't jealous, would we even belong to Him?

If He was not Jealous, would He have sent His Son Jesus to live and die and rise from the dead for us?

If He was not Jealous, would He have let us sin without consequences?

If He was not Jealous, would we even know He exists?

Because He is a healthy jealous, we have been freed.

Because He is a healthy jealous, we have been freed to love Him with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strengths.

We have the ability because He lived, died, and rose from the dead to give us the ability.

Here on earth we will live and walk on a fine line.  Enjoying our stuff and our peeps and loving God, or Loving our stuff and our peeps and enjoying God.

He's not demanding anything.  He's not like a jealous spouse or boyfriend or girlfriend.  He doesn't demand that we not enjoy our family, our relationships, our stuff.  He doesn't keep us from enjoying those either.  His grace covers us when we enjoy Him and love the rest.  He forgives us when we get off track and love something or someone more than Him and He gives us the ability to confess it and get back on the track that Loves Him and enjoys everything else.

But if a God who is Jealous for us, who was so jealous for us that He gave His own life (what jealous boyfriend or girlfriend would ever do that?) why would we want to make Him jealous?

Loving a Jealous God more than stuff and peeps doesn't mean you can't enjoy your stuff and peeps.  (Remember, we're talking healthy jealousy). It only means that you Love Him more so that when there are bumps in relationships or stuff or people are taken away, you can handle it with a shrug of the shoulder and say, "I choose to love God more because He has given me the ability to love Him more than my stuff and my peeps."

And when you have an attitude like that, you enjoy the relationships and things you've been given and have peace.

And just think:   Jesus was tempted with the very same problem when He lived life on earth as a man in frail human flesh.  He struggled and was tempted with the very thing of loving his family, his life, his job, his stuff, more than He loved His Father. Remember, He begged God to let the cup pass....

He was tempted, in EVERY way, just as we are, but was without sin.  He didn't give into the temptation so that we could find strength from Him when we are tempted.  He showed us how to love God and enjoy the rest and gives us the ability, when we ask for it, to do the same.

J is for Jealous.

Peace,
Ronda

1 John 1:9; Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27; 11:42-43; 16:13; James 1:12; Colossians 1:21; 1 Thessalonians 4:7; 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17; 3:5; 1 Timothy 4:4; 6:17-19; 2 Timothy 1:7-12;
Titus 2:11-14; Hebrews 2:11, 14-18; 4:15; 5:2; 7:25; 1 Peter 2:24; 2 Peter 1:3-9; 2 John 5:3-5; Matthew 26:39, 42; Mark 14:36; Luke 22:42.

and there are so many more!  Dig!!  Dig while we can!!




Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I is for Impartial


Impartial - not partial or biased, treating or affecting all equally.

Adiakritos - no separation or distinction; lacking any distinct preference, order or characteristic

James 3:17 - But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

If someone asks for impartial wisdom, where else can one get it, but from the One who truly is impartial.  He sees all, knows all, understands all, and sees the roots of all motives and actions. 

If you need impartial wisdom today, ask for the wisdom that comes from heaven, given by Only One who can give it

I is for Impartial. 

Peace,
Ronda

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

H is for "hair"ied

This is probably more a characteristic of me than one that would describe the HOLY Lord God.  He is humble, He is a healer, He is my Helper.  And today's A to Z word was a toss up of all those, until.....

Until I worked last night, came home, showered and forced myself to stay up for a 10:45 hair appointment this morning.  After I got home I did something I have never done before.  Never!  Ever.  I continued to cut my hair after it wasn't cut short enough by my stylist!  And I like it too!

So I was harried and helpless, and extremely tired as I tried to explain to her that it just wasn't as short as I wanted it, but I was too tired to start over, and much too tired after I got home and tried to make it work, so I just started cutting.  It may be a chop job, but I'm happier with it now than I was when I left the salon.

It's times like this, these harried times and times so much more trying than a silly hairstyle, that I remind myself of one of the most important passages in all the Bible, in MY opinion anyway.

"We do not have a HIGH priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are, yet was without sin."

Jesus I'm sure never had haircut issues, but I'm sure He felt, at times, that someone just wasn't getting what he was trying to describe to them.  He might never have come home and cut his own hair, but I am sure because of this verse, that He was tempted a time or two to lash out, threaten to quit altogether on someone, or just simply felt the weakness we children of His have in us.

And now, I'm taking a nap.

H is for "hair"ied.

Peace,
Ronda

Just Writing

A to Z Blogging


Monday, April 8, 2013

G is for Good

How do you describe someone as good?  A good friend?  A good spouse?  A good job?  A good car?  A good marriage?  A good school?  A good church?  A good sermon? A good president?  How is good measured?

Merriam and Webster aren't much help with this and don't give a clear cut definition.  Here are some synonyms for good.

Commonsense, firm, hard, informed, just, justified, levelheaded, logical, rational, reasonable, reasoned, sensible, sober, solid, valid.

Oookaaaaaay.  In Christian circles we like to say, "God is good."  But what does that good mean?  How can one say God is good when one is burying a child, taken too soon?  How can one say God is good when losing their home and their job? How does one say with conviction God is good while battling depression or cancer?

But God is good.  I'm just not quite sure how to describe how good He is.

My Greek helps weren't much help either.  Good in the New Testament is translated from a handful of Greek words and all of them use "good" as a definition.

The English antonyms of good are these:

groundless, illogical, invalid, irrational, nonsensical, unfounded, uninformed, unjustified, unreasonable.

I can think of  several people I know who would say those words describe how they see God.

So I looked to see what God said was good.  When He created the world, after each day's work the Bible says He saw that "it was good."  So that good, in Hebrew is Tob.  It means to do well, be pleasing.  Good pleasant, beautiful, excellent, lovely, delightful, joyful, fruitful, precious, cheerful, kind, correct, righteous.

God is good and makes good things.

Somehow, even in the darkness of our broken lives, God is good.  God cannot be bad.

God cannot be illogical, even when there is no logic in our human understanding for the suffering in the world.

God cannot be irrational or nonsensical when we are living in circumstances that make no sense to us.

God is still good even when we see the unreasonable, the unjustified, the unfounded.

God is still good even when we think He's being mean or absent or uncaring.

God is still good even when all around us we see bad things happening.

God is still good even when all we can see is our pain and wonder, where is God?

God is still good.

If God is good, that means everything about God is good.

If God is good, that means everything I struggle with is for good.

If God is good that means God uses my struggles for good.

God can't use bad things for bad.  God can only use bad things for good.

God can sift through the layers and layers of bad and still find the good that lies there.

Even when we're at our worst,.  God still sees how good his creation of us is.

Even when bad things are happening directly to me or around me, God sees the good coming from the bad.

How do I know?  I don't know how I know is my answer.  I simply believe God is good even when it looks like He isn't.

Because I believe He is good I know good is around me in my "bad" circumstances.

We Christians like to quote a scripture that says All things work for good.  All means all.  It doesn't mean just the things I want to work for good or the things that should work for good.

All things work for good.

Good.

G is for good because God is good.

Peace,
Ronda

There are 601 verses in the Bible that use the word good.  These are just a few.

Genesis 1; Numbers 10:29; 2 Samuel 10:12; 1 Chronicles 17:26; Psalm 34:8; Psalm 119: 68; John 10:11; Romans 8:28; Romans 12:9; Ephesians 2:10.

And one more reflection...

   "Jesus gained the power to love harlots, bullies, and ruffians...he was able to do this only because he saw through the filth and crust of degeneration, because his eye caught the divine original which is hidden in every way - in every man!...First and foremost he gives us new eyes...
   "When Jesus loved a guilt-laden person and helped him, he saw in him an erring child of God.  He saw in him a human being whom his Father loved and grieved over because he was going wrong.  He saw him as God originally designed and meant him to be, and therefore he saw through the surface layer of grime and dirt to the real man underneath.  Jesus did not identify the person with this sin, but rather saw in this sin something alien, something that really did not belong to him, something that merely chained and mastered him and from which he would free him and bring him back to his real self.  Jesus was able to love men because he loved them right through the layer of mud."

Helmut Thielicke



Saturday, April 6, 2013

F is for Faithful

     God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is 
faithful.  

1 Corinthians 1:9


Faithful,  according to Merriam Webster, is:  

steadfast in affection or allegiance, loyal.  Faithful implies  unswerving adherence to a person or thing or to the oath or promise by which a tie was contracted.
   
Some synonyms of faithful are: dedicated, devoted, good, steadfast, steady, true

To be the opposite of faithful you may be:  

disloyal, faithless, false, fickle, inconstant, unfaithful, untrue
 
So by English definition a faithful God is steadfast in affection.

A faithful God is faithful in allegiance.

 A faithful God is loyal.  

A faithful God has unswerving adherence to those who belong to Him.

A faithful God is not disloyal.

A faithful God is not faithless.

A faithful God is not false,

A faithful God is not fickle.

A faithful God is not unfaithful.

By Greek definition, a God who is pistos is worthy of belief, trust, or confidence.  A pistos God is true, just, and trustworthy.

Even when we are unfaithful to Him He remains faithful to us.  He cannot not be faithful.  Even when people are unfaithful, God remains faithful to you.

He's worth it.

F is for Faithful.

Peace,
Ronda





 

Friday, April 5, 2013

E is for Equal

Equal - of the same measure, quantity, amount, or number as another

There's been a lot of talk about equality here in the United States the last few days, years really.  Lots of people demanding equal rights, for equality's sake rather than what's best, right, wrong, good, or bad in someone else's eyes.  Demanding equality, throughout the history of the United States Constitution has brought with it anger, pain, division, war, bad feelings, family splits, etc, etc.  That's not to say that because of those things that equality is wrong.  I am NOT saying that.  I'm saying that when equality is demanded, resistance follows.

But God, my God, my Jesus, he always deals in equality because He is always equal, even when it appears that He is not treating someone equally.  If we could see the beginning, middle, and ending of the world we would see that He is being equal to all.  But we can't, so it can appear that God is unbalanced in his characteristics and his actions.
  
In other words, the compassion that God has is no more or no less than the anger He has. 

The anger God has is no more and no less than the mercy He shows. 

The mercy He shows is no more and no less than the jealousy He has for His child.

The jealousy God has is no more and no less than the anger He shows.

The Anger God has is no more and no less than the Love He has for humanity.

The thing about God is  He is balanced in His characteristics whereas human beings....not so much.

It seems people are described by their personality traits.  Have you noticed that?  "He's so arrogant."  Or, "She's so nice."  Or, "he can be really fair, but get him on an off day and watch out!"  And when we describe someone by their personality trait we are not giving the full picture.  We only can
describe what we see about someone, not what is inside someone's heart.  The "really nice" person may be seen outwardly as kind  but you may not see him in private struggling with deep insecurity or shame or pain.

The same thing happens when people talk about God.  Those who feel guilty in so many things in their life, I would guess, and it's only a guess, they see God as a God who will punish.  It's hard to see God as compassionate when the main idea someone has about him is that he punishes unfairly.

Then there are those who just la, la, la through life singing and saying, "God is love.  We should love everybody."  True.  Very true.  But that is an unbalanced view also.  God is equally loving towards mankind, but as loving as he is, he is equally just.  God can't be more of one characteristic to be less of another.

We are the ones who are unequal.  We're either too angry, too nice, too arrogant, too meek, too compromising or too stubborn.  We don't have the ability on our own to be equal in our understanding of God or our understanding of others or ourselves. 

A Pastor I once knew said, "There will always be a part of us that doesn't love God."  God doesn't have the same problem towards us.  We can't say about God, "there will always be a part of God that doesn't love mankind."  He will always, always, always love His creation as equally as He mourns for the fallen world in which we live.

God is equal.  His ways are equal to His heart.  His heart is equal to His actions. His actions are equal to is love.   

Here's a challenge for you.  After you read this and before you get all heated about some of these things written here, take the word that you regularly use when you think about God.  Is it angry?  Is it Love?  Is it Bully?  Is it non-existent?  Whatever word you may frequently think when you talk about God or think about God, think of him in the opposite term.  If you think God is angry with you, think of him as pleased with you. If you can only think of God as love, think of what God might hate.  Is God a bully in your mind?  Than think of him as an advocate for the helpless. Do you think God doesn't exist, what if he really does exist?

Can't see him as the opposite of what you think of him?  Pray and ask Him to show you the opposite.  Here's the thing, he will show you.  But it won't be in the way you expect him to show you and it won't, most likely, be immediately after you pray.  Be willing to walk with God in His time on this topic.  

Think you might give it a try?  What do you have to lose? 

E is for Equal.  

Peace,
Ronda









Thursday, April 4, 2013

D is for Deliverer

Deliverer - one who delivers, one who sets free

Before I can think of a characteristic of God as a Deliverer I need to understand what it means to be delivered.  I don't think it's the Fed-Ex term or the way a mother delivers a baby in childbirth.

Remember the Lord's Prayer?  You know the one, Christians worldwide say it and know it from the time they are small and can lisp the words in their little voices.  It starts out, Our Father who art in heaven...

Today's letter, D, is based on the deliver that Jesus taught in that prayer, "Deliver us from evil."

I looked up first, as I always do, the English definition, which there were several, to define deliver.  Then I went to the Greek and found that the word deliver in this passage is rhyomai, which means to rescue, deliver.  But it doesn't stop there, it actually is more of a word picture that is amazingly accurate for some of the evil that He has rescued me from and perhaps you too.

Rhyomai means to draw, drag along the ground.  To draw or snatch from danger, rescue.

Now, when I read that, immediately a host of movies and tv shows that I've seen showing a rescue of any sort went flashing across my mind.  Rescues from fires, from floods, from bad guys shooting at someone, hanging onto a lifting helicopter - think Rambo, Aaahrnold, Forest Gump in Vietnam, Backdraft, do I need to go on or are you getting the picture?

See, when Jesus told his disciples how to pray, and they passed it on to us through the centuries, he wasn't talking about delivering us from opening that refrigerator door in the middle of the night by tapping us on the hand and say, "uh, do you realllly need that?"  No!  He is grabbing us, pulling us, rescuing us, dragging us away from the evil that we are constantly bombarded in and with.

When we ask for him to deliver us he is going Rambo on that request, not Barney Fife-ing it.  The evil we nonchalantly wink at and ask him to deliver us from is the evil that brings out his big weapons.  I dare say, and some may not like this, but I can see him dragging me (us) by our arm while we're kicking and screaming, "It's really not that bad of a sin...can't I please stay in it?"

He is a Deliverer, delivering us, rescuing us, snatching us, dragging us from the grips of evil.  He told us to pray it, and we do, or maybe our lips say it rote and our hearts are thinking about something else.......but I digress.

Does it feel sometimes like God has ripped something out of your hands that you thought was good or at the least okay, forever to be gone or not accessible again?  Maybe, just maybe he was dragging you away from the evil that seemingly was so innocent, to protect you from what really would have led you into the evil that could have brought you greater harm than good.

Maybe...

The Apostle Paul saw the walk of faith as a fight, a good fight.  He didn't just become a believer and walk along the way, whistling a hymn, he fought.  A good fight.  I have a quote written in the margin of my Bible near 2 Timothy 4:7 - "We run our race well not by refusing to wrestle but by keeping the faith.  We'll go into heaven with leaves in our hair and on our backs." Paul probably had a few leaves in his hair when he entered the gates of heaven and we may too.

Our Deliverer, Jesus Christ, is serious about delivering us from evil.  It's not just a phrase in a memorized prayer.  He delivers and continues to deliver us.  2 Corinthians 1:10 says, "He has delivered us from such a deadly peril and he will rhyomai us.  On him we have set our hope that he will continue to rhyomai us."

Luke 1:68, 74-75 - "Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and redeemed his people....to rescue (rhyomai) us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days."

D is for Deliverer.

Peace,
Ronda







Wednesday, April 3, 2013

C is for Creative

C is for Creative

    There's really never been a time in my life that I didn't believe in God.  But one of the biggest confirmations to me that there is a God is when I look at His creation.  We lived in the Monterey, CA area for a few years and if any of you have ever been there, you know how awesome and beautiful that part of the US is.  One of our favorite places to hang out was the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  The first time I ever went to the Aquarium and saw all the beautiful undersea creatures, I thought to myself, why would anyone ever create such unique creatures that only a small, small percentage of the world's population would ever see?
    I don't know the answer to that, I can only say, I'm glad He did and I'm glad that I got to see what is under the sea.
   The following pictures are mine.  Please enjoy, but don't take for your own.









 
   



Peace,
Ronda