Saturday, January 23, 2016

A Little Bird Told Me

Did you hear the one about.....?  Did you hear what so and so said?  I heard she....No, I heard he....Have you heard anything?  What have you heard?  I heard they said....then I heard they said.....

Lots of hearing going on and talking about what is being heard, but who knows what's really being said that's true?  A lot of people can hear one person say something and a lot of people can hear what that one person said in a lot of different ways.

I find that is true in my own life.  I hear a snippet, either by voice or a quick glance at the newsfeed and my mouth is off and running about what I "heard."  It must be true if I heard it or read it online, right?  I certainly didn't hear it the wrong way.  Right?  I couldn't  hear things through my own filter, could I?  Might we all be hearing things through our own filters of circumstance, experience, age, and present moment?

In any case, sometimes what we hear is relative to what we want to hear.  Or don't want to hear.

Sometimes, and I'm only confessing my own guilt to this, but sometimes it's easier to hear what I want to hear rather than really hear what is being said.  It's hard to take time to really listen to all that's being said and listen objectively.  I have that problem, maybe you don't.  Maybe you can hear through an objective filter, but when I'm in need or passionate or prideful in my own ideals, I hear what I want to hear.

It's only later, when a little time has passed and the heat of the moment has fleeted away like they always do, like a vapor in the wind, that I can sit back and re"hear" what I didn't hear right the first time, through my clogged up filters.

Maturity helps me do that.  I don't get as spun up as quickly as I once did.  But when I do, I think, at least I hope I do anyway, I try to practice more objective hearing over filtered hearing.  It takes time to listen that way.  So much more time than I really want to give or have to invest.

But sometimes when we hear about something or someone, and depending on our need, we seek out what we heard about it.  We google the new sure fire diet promising to let you eat as much as you want whenever you want.  We fill in that browser search bar with the latest of whatever it is we "heard" so we can find out for ourselves if it's true.  And if it's on Facebook or Twitter, certainly it must be true!

Long before there was instant access to the latest discussion, the only way you heard about anything was by someone telling you via spoken words to actual physical ears.

Can you imagine?  The only way you would ever hear that someone had done something or said something was by playing the telephone game, before there were even telephones!  News traveled by word of mouth only. (Now there were written messages, but only those who could read would be able to decipher what was written, so that cut the population of "hearers" to small numbers quickly).

But there was this woman, and this is what happened to this woman who met Jesus.  This woman, "had been subject to bleeding for twelve years."  If this were you, that means since 2004 you would be dealing with a bleeding problem.  To bring the men in, let's just say whatever pain or issue you may be suffering right now, imagine that you have dealt with it every day since 2004.

Since 2004, we have elected two Presidents.  Since 2004, I personally, have watched all three of my children graduate high school, college, get married and have held two grandchildren.

In all this time, 12 years, these are the changes I have experienced.

So this woman, whom the Bible says "had been subject to bleeding for twelve years..had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse."

Twelve years, living her life as life changed around her, had this thing, this bleeding going on right along with her.  But what made it even more difficult for her was that she lived in a culture which made it even more painful and difficult. Because of her culture, because of the laws she lived under, she was banned from entering her place of worship.  She couldn't be touched.  She couldn't be hugged.  She couldn't hold her children, if she had any.  Anything she touched was considered unclean.  Anything that touched her, her clothes, or her bedding were considered unclean.

This is what the law said, "If a woman has a discharge of blood for many days at a time other than her monthly period or has a discharge that continues beyond her period, she will be unclean as long as she has the discharge, just as in the days of her period.  Any bed she lies on while her discharge continues will be unclean, as is her bed during her monthly period, and anything she sits on will be unclean, as during her period.  Whoever touches them will be unclean; he must wash his clothes and bathe with water, and he will be unclean till evening."  (Leviticus 15:27)

She had years of a discharge beyond her period, not just days.....years.

In her Jewish culture, the Jewish people were still living under those laws.  So if you can imagine, imagine what that meant for her in her home, with her family, her husband, children, parents, friends.

Take a minute and imagine what it would be like to be untouchable since 2004.











But then.....

"When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak...."

Now, this wasn't a private encounter.  It was crowded.  People pressed around Jesus, so there was a lot of touching going on.  A lot of people were being touched by an unclean woman and didn't realize it.

But this woman, "touched his cloak, because she thought, "If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed."

She knew the risk she was taking.  By touching the man she had heard about she was making him unclean.  But she touched him anyway, because "she had heard about Jesus."

She knew she was doing the opposite of what she was supposed to be doing.  She shouldn't have been out in that crowd so close to those who would be considered unclean if they knew who was touching them.

But she had heard about Jesus.

She didn't read about him on the internet or look him up in People magazine.  She heard about him.

I wonder, what did she hear that made her risk so much?

So, I ask you....

What have you heard about Jesus?  Have you heard about Him?  If someone were to be listening to you talk about Jesus, what would they hear about Jesus through what they heard you say?  Crickets?  Anger?  Hope?

I don't know how all this went down.  I don't know if anyone knew who she was or the suffering she had been enduring for twelve years.  All I know is that, "Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering."

She heard about Jesus.  She went to the source to find out if what she heard was true and she found out that whatever she had heard about him worked for her.

So what have you heard about Jesus?

Here is what I heard about him and found out for myself is true:

He heals.  He restores.  He comforts.  He renews.  He frees.  He loves.  He forgives.  He laughs.  He cries.  He hurts with me.  He is strong when I am weak.  He strengthens me when I'm too weak to walk.  He blesses me when I doubt.  He gives me hope when I feel hopeless.  He makes a way when the way is dark.

Those are just a few of things I've heard about him and found out for myself are true.

What have you heard about Jesus?  Isn't it time you found out for yourself if they're true.  Who knows, your twelve years may soon be a memory.

Go ahead, touch him.

Reach out and touch him, just use the tip of one finger if you're afraid, but reach out.

Touch him.



Peace,

Ronda

Mark 5:21-34








Thursday, January 21, 2016

2016 A to Z Blogging Challenge

Welcome to Living in the In-Between and the 2016 A to Z Blogging Challenge! My name is Ronda and I'm so glad you're here.  I hope you come back to visit often.   I'm looking forward to meeting you and reading your April posts. This is my fourth year and every year I enjoy it more and more.  If you're visiting for the first time, you will find that I am the queen of run on sentences and commas.  I try, really I try to listen to the voice of my high school Advanced Composition teacher, but I guess I like being queen!  I hope it doesn't distract you from reading.

My main aim from the very beginning of writing this blog was to spark a desire in the reader to read the Word of God.  If curiosity, pain, or even anger because of my words got you to open God's Word, my goal would be met.  Since 1994, when I started reading the Bible seriously, I have been blown away by how much I am like soooooo many of the people who reside in its pages.  Not the good guys either but the wicked, the evil, the proud, the arrogant, the fearful, the untrusting.

We can find our dopplegangers in God's Word.  But the only way you will find yours is to open it.  My purpose for this years blogging challenge is to help you find yours.  I really believe that is part of my purpose in writing a blog.  I believe God has given me that desire to pass along to you, dear Reader, a curiosity that breeds admiration, that breeds, eventually, I hope, a love for God and His word all through learning about a bunch of bucket head people. We know about them on the fringes, through the Sunday School stories growing up, but I'm telling you....what I have discovered is probably never going to be written in a children's curriculum!  

My prayer as I discover and share my discoveries here, is that I can give you a little bit more than the basic lesson of a Sunday School story.  I'm going to try, Lord willing, He'll make it happen. I pray that you see God in a way you hadn't seen him before.  I pray you see yourself as He sees you, because you came here and learned about some really messed up people trying to manipulate God's plan, but God still loved them and blessed them despite their best efforts to mess things up.

So let me tell you how God's been doing what I'm trying to describe.

It's been quiet in my brain for a couple months.  The words have been sleeping I guess.  I look at my computer, look up at Him, look in His Word... and there's nothing.

NOTHING!  The quiet has been deafening, but it's been a good quiet.  I like it when God quiets my mind and my soul.  Sometimes the words come so fast I can hardly rest, so when it is quiet, it's nice.

Side bar:  I used to get a little anxious about that quietness - thoughts like:  Oh no, is God mad at me?  Is something wrong?  Have I offended Him?  A funny thing happens when you dig in God's word seeking assurance, looking for comfort.....rest comes.

Permission to rest comes.  It's a very cool thing.

When I rest on the truth that there is nothing I can do to earn my salvation or keep my salvation, or mess up my salvation, a prison door opens and I can, as Wisconsin's son, Aaron, says, "R E L A X."  I highly recommend this practice.

Anyway, back to my story.

This year's A to Z Blogging Challenge will be my fourth year.  After last year's challenge produced a book, I wasn't sure what I would do in 2016 or even if I would participate in 2016.  Up until January 1st of this new year, I hadn't really given much thought to it, and certainly gave much less prayer to it.  By this time last year, I had nearly the whole challenge written, as I was making plans to getting it published, but this year...

This year?  Not so much.  And, to be honest, I was ok with that.  I was actually a little relieved.  But then I got a little anxious because I thought (silly thing to do, I know) well then, what will I do God?  What's next?  I'm sure I don't have to tell you where those thoughts tried to take me until I lassoed them in and told them to STOP and SHUT UP!

So....I went back to the basics.

I had done Bible reading plans in the past, but in the last few years whenever I attempted to start, because I have this issue with words taking over, I would get stuck on one word and before I knew it the snow would be melting and I was still stuck on the assignment for January 5th!  So, I gave up trying to stick to a "Read Your Bible in a Year Plan."  (Don't get me wrong, there were several years I stuck to the plans, but then I got a little too nosey for my own good and had to dig deeper.  So very thankful for all the vehicles God used as shovels - women's Bible studies, Bible Study Fellowship just to name a couple you might check into for yourself.  But I must warn you, you'll never look at the Bible the same once you dig below the surface of the Sunday School story).

But I digress.

This year, because there wasn't anything going on in my brain (be nice!), I started a Bible reading plan on January 1st.  I choose a 90 day plan.  It's a lot of reading, I know, but there wasn't anything else going on so I'm committed to finishing it in 90 days, well, maybe 100 days, or a year.  Because...

I have already come into a familiar problem.

The word juices started flowing.  And they aren't  just single words either, but phrases, sentences, paragraphs, and circumstances started jumping off the page as if I was reading them for the first time.

Even though the brain was starting to get back into gear, I still wasn't planning on participating in the challenge. (And God laughed and laughed and laughed).  But as I started chiseling away at my 90 day goal, questions started to enter my mind.  New questions.  New insights.  Things I had not seen before even though I had read and studied what I was reading on several occasions.

The word gears really started to turn while reading about the soap opera Jacob, Leah and Rachel found themselves in.  I heard myself say, "Let me get this straight," in regards to trying to sort out which Mom gave birth to which kid, which baby momma slept with baby daddy Jacob.

I had to pull out my notebook and start sorting out on paper what I was reading in the HOLY bible.  (The shenanigans these folks were participating in were far from HOLY, let me tell you).

So those first notes became more notes and pretty soon a picture was forming in my mind, words were coming to life, and before I knew it, as in the past three years, I was writing the alphabet down the side of a page from my journal and filling in the spaces.  It was easy for twelve of the letters (hint, hint), a little more challenging for some others, but God has already taken care of that and I even have my Q and X word!

So my theme for for the 2016 A to Z Blogging Challenge will be called (drum roll please):

The Testings and (dis)Trusting of the Twelve Tribes of Israel

It's going to be fun.  It's going to be heart wrenching.  It's going to be on the edge of your seat exciting.  (Well...maybe all those.  Who knows?  Oh wait, God knows.  He'll give you what He wants you to get out of what He's shown me that will somehow get translated to you in an entirely different way then I imagined but....whatever He wants.  I'm just the word wrestler).

So buckle your seat belts, come back each day in April, except Sundays, starting April 1st.  I hope we learn together how a Holy God uses unholy people and circumstances, and certainly unholy behaviors, to bring about His perfect plan of salvation while comforting you with the assurance that no matter what you've done or will do, you are His and He loves you.  I've found a whole group of bucket heads to compare yourself to.   If you think you've done some bad stuff, believe me, you ain't seen nothing yet!  You'll meet your new friends in April.

So fix your hair.  Or not.

Put on your Sunday best.  Or not.  Believe me, you'll see some straw stuck to some hair and some wrinkled clothes when you come here in April.

I'll be introducing you to some of the bucket heads of the Bible.  Those who are good, bad, selfish, generous, depressed, joyful.... all rolled into a bunch of people just like me and you.  The time period is certainly different, the culture definitely is foreign to most of us, but the humanness and hunger we all have is surprisingly similar.

Because the alphabet is alphabetized the posts may be confusing, so I'll have a brief cheat sheet of  who's who if you will, towards the end of March. Hopefully that will help you keep people and events straight and you can go back to it when you read posts that are in alphabetical order but not chronological order.   

See you in April!

Peace,

Ronda


Tuesday, January 5, 2016

When learning about someone doesn't rest the soul

It's been awhile since I've posted.  The longer time has drifted, the further the desire has been to write anymore.  Maybe it's just the holidays getting in the way, traveling, holding a new granddaughter, singing truck songs with a grandson who was just yesterday small enough to be held in one arm while the other looked at toes and fingers.

In any case, Happy New Year, 2016!

Two words have been bugging me, ever since I heard them in a sermon in this context:  learning from someone rather than just about someone.  The verse in the spotlight: 

 Come to me all 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.

Learn from.

Take my yoke upon you and learn about me....no....learn from me.

Learn from me - Jesus - for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

He didn't say, "learn about me."  It was pointed out in this teaching I heard, Jesus didn't say, "Learn about me."  Jesus said, "Learn from me."

Hmmmmmmm.

How do we learn "from" Jesus?

The Bible is definitely a good place to start, but if you're like me, you may have to readjust your goal while using the Bible.  I'll be honest, I read the bible to learn ABOUT God.  I read the Gospels to learn ABOUT Jesus, his works, his mission, his grace.

To turn it all upside down and now read it to learn FROM God, to learn FROM Jesus.....that's going to take some reorganizing in my brain and my thinking.

It's been easy to learn about God.  I know of the things He did starting in Genesis - Creation, the flood, the 10 commands, etc. etc.  Even more so do I know the things about Jesus, the things he did - the miracles, the sacrifice, the death, and the resurrection.  I know those things about Jesus and God.  But what is there to learn FROM the God who would do those things?

It's easy to memorize things about God.  Verses that speak of his mercy and love; his grace and truth. Those are easy.

But what is harder is to learn from those verses, not just the first step of memorizing, but then the deeper step of penetrating those same truths into my heart where they become embedded and part of my soul.

I can tell you about mercy.  I may have to take more time telling about what I have learned FROM his mercy.

I can tell you about grace, and even give you a good handful of verses to back me up, but it is harder to tell you what I have learned from his grace given to me, without choking up and bawling like a baby.

I can tell you about truth, that Jesus is truth, but to tell you the lies that truth has brought me from is much more personal.

How did Jesus show mercy when He had the absolute power to be unmerciful?

How did Jesus give grace when surely He must have been tempted to lay down the law instead?

How did Jesus continually walk in truth when it surely would have been easier to look the other way at the deceit that taunted him and those he came to save?

How?

I think we American Christians know a lot ABOUT Jesus.  We've got the church calendar down pat.  We know the order of service.  We know the Sundays that tell us the stories we're going to hear for the millionth time.  We know ABOUT Him.

What have we learned FROM him?

Isn't it time what we learn from him is equal and surpasses what we have learned about him?

Let's get started, shall we?  What do you know about Jesus that you next need to ask yourself, what can I learn from Him?  Take your favorite story from the bible.  The one you know the best without even having to look it up.  Whichever it is tell yourself the story about God.  If you know the story of the flood and all the days and details and time frame - great!  Now then, what can you learn FROM the story of the flood?

What can you learn from God in relation to the days, the details, the time frame?

What about the story we just celebrated?  The birth of Christ.  Born as a baby, to a virgin, in a barn.  What can we learn from Jesus in this rather than just about the details?  We all know the details don't we?  What have you learned from the details, from the miracle that the details keep hidden?

What about your favorite story you know can you learn from?  These are not just stories to memorize or enjoy hearing or reading or celebrate once a year when the calendar says it's time.  These are stories to cause you to learn from your Creator, from your Savior.  We would be blessed to not just read the Bible to read about God but to read the Bible to learn from God.

Take His yoke upon yourself and learn from him, for he is gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your soul.

You will find rest for your soul.

You will.



Peace,

Ronda

Matthew 11:28-30