Monday, December 26, 2011

(link) Good pre-christmas reads.

Happy Holidays
I have spent the last 8 days in bed....mostly in bed. It has been a long time since I was this sick. YUCK. I did not do any writing (or shopping or visiting) but I got a little bit of reading in. I am just happy that school is out so that I did not have to keep up with my students.
Deb's favorites at Music of the Rain

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Foggy Walk on the Snohomish River Dike

December 9, 2011 Walking the Snohomish River Dike Jason and Ray
The thing that seemed so odd this cold December morning was that we drove away from a home bright with sunshine into the thick fog of the river valley to go for a walk. You might think that since you cannot see very far in the fog that there would be nothing to see. The truth is, when the vista is just off the end of your nose you see what you have missed on sunny days.
It seemed like good duck hunting weather. The season is open. We did see three river boats with hunters as well as a father and son out for duck. The fog was so thick I think most hunters decided to just go to work.
Wet Web overlooking the ponds
More wet webs on weeds

Yet more wet webs. Beyond the winter grass is the river

Ray and Jason

The Path on the River Dike

Chilly mist muffles sound

Pack Leader
Cat tails
River grasses mark the waterway in the fog

Golden Kinglet ???
We had a great time. We laughed (we missed Chris) and watched the dogs romp along. The boys revisited old geo-caches without adding to their total. Geo cashers like to keep track of how many finds they have the way bird watchers like to track birds they find. By the way, we did see a few more birds than the kinglet. Mallards few over us in pairs, apparently unaware of hunting season. A flicker teased the dogs. We could actually hear more birds than we could see. What we did see is the beauty of a foggy winter afternoon....right in front of our noses.
Find what you are looking for?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Deb's favorite reads around the web, December 8, 2011

Web favorites for the first week of December are posted on Music of the Rain. Most of them are about getting out and getting dirty now that the garden has been put to rest for winter. Humm. There is a good recipe for a cookie of a candy (or maybe a candy like cookie?). Click on "Web Favorites"

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Keep the Faith; Matthew 24: 3-8

Glacier National Park 2007, the beginning of a steep and narrow path
Something just happened. The Son of YHVH/God pronounced misery upon the upper-crust religious folk in the Temple. The Temple was the center of Jewish life. At least that was where Jewish life was supposed to be centered. Not just on a beautiful building but on the Elohim, God Almighty whose throne, the mercy seat, was said to rest in the inner-most room of the temple. Never mind that His Spirit, the Glory of YHVH, had left years ago. His Son, Y'shua ha Machiach (Jesus who is the Christ) He once again stood in the Temple as a common man among common men. If only those arrogant men realized just how common they truly were and how majestic He is.
He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not.  He came to his own home, and his own people received him not.   John 1: 10-11  RSV
In a dramatic moment, Y'shua pronounce misery upon the religious men with whom he had been extremely patient. The worst of the misery would be that they would face the full force of the seven woes without the national comfort or aid of their Elohim and Messiah ......until they acknowledged him with the words, "BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF YHVH" (Psalm 118:26.)
"And Y'shua/Jesus came out from the Temple and was going away.... Matthew 24:1a
What just happened? In my mind I imagine the disciples running through the scripture files in their heads, the many readings and lessons they had sat through over the years, trying to mentally catch up, to even know what question to ask. Their comments about the central building in all of Israel did not bring a reaction that most Pilgrims in Israel would have expected. As a point of fact, Y'shua foretold doom for even the building. The boys finally started putting the facts together and began asking their questions directly to the man they just followed out of the Temple of Israel.
As he (Y'shua) sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?"   Matthew 24:3  
It looks like they asked three questions, when will this be (the destruction of their temple), what sign, and when is the close of the age. Greek does not work like English. The last two questions are really just one question that does not translate well. ....what is the sign of your coming (the Parousia) which closes this (that) era?

Of the commentators that I have reviewed, they are firmly divided. One speaks of everything that follows in Matthew 24 and 25 as Temple destruction. The other sees Y'shua fully focused on the return of Messiah and the End Times. Both make good arguments. Either way, the disciples have just been handed a bombshell. What responsibility do they have? How much time do they have to get ready? (...when will this be?) How long will the coming trouble last? (...what is the sign that you are coming to end this era?)

The answer?
And Jesus answered them, "Take heed that no one leads you astray.   Matthew 24:4  
The question is not "when" or "how long," as a matter of fact, a question of time is not appropriate. We who believe in Y'shua, have an answer for all our questions. Faith. You must prepare yourself to "see" with eyes of faith (word study link: blepo- on Be Careful What You See). Our Elohim has assured us that he will not leave us (though he just left the religious at the doomed Temple) nor will he ever forsake us
".... I am with you always, to the close of the age."   Matthew 28:20b  RSV
Look with eyes of faith. The Word (Y'shua IS the Word made flesh) is the substance of our faith, Hebrews 11:1. This is the only way to not fall to the primary problem of false Messiahs and their seductive lies while we wait for Y'shua to return.
For many will come in my name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and they will lead many astray.    Matthew 24:5  
The Greek transliteration of "I am the Christ" is egoo eimi ho christos. The Hellenist way of communicating the name of Elohim's anointed Messiah. Instead of YHVH, the Hellenist Greek would say, "egoo eimi" (I AM). The apostle John uses this very phrase as a name of Y'shua to the Hellenistic believers he wrote to. "ho Christos" is just the Greek translation of "ha Machiach" or The Messiah. A much stronger deception than how it reads in English.

If the believer can stand firm on the Word of YHVH, written on the hearts of us who are indwelt by the very Spirit of YHVH, the Spirit that deserted the Temple of Israel, if by our faith, we see Y'shua and trust that when things are at their worst, he has not forgot us. He has not left us on our own, than the rest is just details of glorious living. We are not alone. The Apostle Paul said it well...
What then shall we say to this? If God is for us, who is against us?  He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, will he not also give us all things with him?  Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies;  who is to condemn? Is it Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us?  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  As it is written,

"For thy sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered."

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:31-39  
Isn't that what faith is about? It is not about freedom from persecution. Y'shua actually promises we will be persecuted. It surly is not about wealth. We are to live as beggars in the Spiritual realm, meaning that prayer is to define us. This life we have chosen, this difficult path, so steep and narrow, The Way that few will find, is about becoming like our Y'shua/Jesus, about knowing the One who so loved us that he paid the blood penalty that we were unable to pay. He asks nothing in return except that you give up your perception of yourself and live the life he gave up, let Him live through you. Galatians 2:20.
And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not alarmed; for this must take place, but the end is not yet.  For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places:  all this is but the beginning of the birth-pangs.   Matthew 24:6-8  
How than shall we live? Can we be sure of anything? When I ask that question, I realize something about myself. There is more I need to learn and practice about faith. Death cannot separate me from the love of YHVH. The thing is, Y'shua/Jesus did not come so that I would worry about death. He came to give me LIFE, abundant, glorious LIFE. Is it easy? Some days it is fantastic, but that is not always my experience, This life is compared to a steep narrow path. Is it carefree? I am sure it is not, I am to be a spiritual beggar, to show mercy, to cry with those who cry. But with Paul I again say, In all these things, we are more than conquers through Y'shua who loves us!

While the walking is still easy, learn to walk by faith. Deb at Glacier National Park 2007
Mrs. Hagerty, December 11, 2011
Updated January 3, 2016 by MsH

Robert H Gundry, MATTHEW-A Commentary on His Handbook for a Mixed Church under Persecution, Wm B Eerdmans Publishing Co. Grand Rapids 1982, 1994

RT France, The Gospel of Matthew, Wm B Eerdmans Publishing Co, Grand Rapids / Cambridge, UK 2007

Commentary on the New Testament use of the Old Testament (Matthew section by Craig L Blomberg), Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, Michigan 2007

Monday, December 5, 2011

Be Careful What You See

A word study on the Greek word, blepo (blep'-o) as used in Matthew chapter 24; see, take heed.

Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple.  But he answered them, "You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another, that will not be thrown down."

As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?" And Jesus answered them, "Take heed that no one leads you astray.
Matthew 24:1-5  RSV
At the basic level, blepo (Strong's #991) means more than just look at something. It communicates the idea of understanding what it is that I see. Matthew 24:4, "understand what you see" so that no one can trick you or lead you astray.

Other places Matthew has used blepo: Y'shua/Jesus has used blepo to describe why people do what they do based on their understanding as well as their lack of understanding.
But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Matthew 5:28  RSV

"Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Matthew 6:2-4, 6, 17-18   RSV
YHVH knows how his beloved creation looks at things. The natural man is strongly affected by the image of a person instead of the heart of a person. I personally believe that this is a reason we must "see with eyes of faith". YHVH's servant Samuel had to be reminded of looking at a person the way YHVH/LORD look at them.

 But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the LORD sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart."
1 Samuel 16:7  RSV
The only thing the natural man can see is the outward appearance. YHVH alone can see the heart. Without faith it is impossible to see as YHVH sees.

Look at how Y'shua/Jesus spoke to different groups of religious people. The first group is of faith, the 2nd is simply religious.
Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, "Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?" And Jesus answered them, "Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is he who takes no offense at me."
Matthew 11:2-6  RSV

Then the disciples came and said to him, "Why do you speak to them in parables?" And he answered them, "To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to him who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away.  This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.
Matthew 13:10-14  RSV
It takes faith in the Word of YHVH (and Y'shua is the Word of YHVH) to understand what we see in this world.

There are many frightening events taking place in Matthew chapter 24. The chapter begins with the disciples focused on the shadow of the heavenly reality, the Temple. Y'shua directs the boys to "have a good look, understand what you are seeing" An empty building, beautiful on the outside, but empty.The Spirit of YHVH left long ago. Now Y'shua has also walked away.

 Rather like King Saul and David. Saul was beautiful on the outside but full of rage, insecurity and death on the inside. David was thought to be part of a band of traitors, robbers, vag-a-bonds, but he was the chosen of YHVH. David was not chosen for "looking presidential" but for his heart. Men of faith would look at these two kings and see who YHVH had chosen. Men who looked but did not really see, blepo, would respond to Saul the way the disciples first responded to the temple, "See how beautiful, how impressive!"

To see as YHVH sees, to blepo, cannot be learned. It has to be accepted by faith.
And without faith it is impossible to please him. For whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
Hebrews 11:6  RSV
If you are a believer in Y'shua the Messiah (Jesus who is the Christ), ask YHVH to open your eyes to see as you read through Matthew 24 that you may "stand firm" (to take your stand on Torah) in the days to come. If you are religious, and feel somewhat afraid as you read through the things to come, perhaps you will accept the prompt of YHVH/God to believe in Y'shua, to die to yourself and let him live through you to eternal glory. In the days to come everyone will go through the events foretold in Matthew 24. Only we who believe will press forward to eternal life. Won't you take the hand of love offered to you and follow on the hard narrow path?

Open your eyes, see with your heart, where Y'shua takes the throne of life.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Deb's picks for best posts of Thanksgiving Week

Sunrise, December 1, 2011
Deb's favorite reads for this last week of November On Music of the Rain

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Desolate! Matthew 23:38 - 24:2

Misery. Seven charges of hypocrisy, seven woes, leveled against the scribes who have appointed themselves the guardians of Torah and the Pharisees who claim to live life by the standard of Torah. The actors (for that is what a hypocrite is) are suddenly swept into drama that they did not foresee. Though YHVH himself longed to gather them under his wings*(1) as a hen gathers chicks, to protect them from the cold world and from themselves, they arrogantly refused. They made a choice to resist truth and lovingkindness*(2) offered at the Mercy Seat.

Behold, your house is forsaken and desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'"

Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple.  But he answered them, "You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another, that will not be thrown down."

Matthew 23:38--24:2 RSV
Drama. The Mercy Seat was a place to experience the lovingkindness of YHVH when a soul is deserving judgement. Jerusalem is guilty of sin, guilt worthy of death. But Jerusalem is Beloved of YHVH who longs to shower them in lovingkindness. Within the walls of the Temple, the children of Israel were close to their Elohim-God. Being close is not enough. They needed to go all the way into the heart of the Sanctuary. To confess their arrogant sin and come humbly before their Elohim for Mercy. But they refused.

Behold. This house, this precious temple of YHVH, the one piece of real-estate in The Beloved Land that made the Hebrews uniquely Jewish is pronounced desolate, empty. Was this a snap decision on Y'shua-Jesus part?
"Behold, you (Jerusalem) trust in deceptive words to no avail. Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense to Ba'al, and go after other gods that you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, 'We are delivered!' - only to go on doing all these abominations? Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, I myself have seen it, says the LORD. Go now to my place that was in Shiloh, where I made my name dwell at first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel. And now, because you have done all these things, says the LORD, and when I spoke to you persistently you did not listen, and when I called you, you did not answer, therefore I will do to the house which is called by my name, and in which you trust, and to the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I did to Shiloh. Jeremiah 7:8-15 RSV
"I have forsaken my house, I have abandoned my heritage;
I have given the beloved of my soul into the hands of her enemies.
My heritage has become to me like a lion in the forest,
she has lifted up her voice against me; therefore I hate her.
Jeremiah 12: 7-8 RSV

Thus says the LORD: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place. For if you will indeed obey this word, then there shall enter the gates of this house kings who sit on the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they, and their servants, and their people. But if you will not heed these words, I swear by myself, says the LORD, that this house shall become a desolation. Jeremiah 22:3-5 RSV
YHVH (the LORD) has warned His beloved again and again. He sent men who hear Him. Men who speak warning from YHVH, begging the people to repent, but it fell upon stone hearts. The children of Israel continued in the way of hypocrisy. Even when Y'shua, the Son of YHVH came they would not "shemah" (listen with an intention to obey) The story of misery and arrogance, of people who honer themselves above all else is well documented in the gospels. BEHOLD, your house (not My house) is being left to you..........DESOLATE!
For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Matthew 23:39
Israel has a choice to make. One sentence, spoken in sincerity will bring YHVH, the Elohim-God of love, back to the object of His delight. "Blessed is he who comes in the name (HaShem) of YHVH. Have the ears of YHVH heard the longed for sentence? From the beloved nation, no. From individual Hebrews, yes.
And the crowds that went before him and that followed him shouted, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!" Matthew 21:9  RSV
But from the people as a whole, especially those who "sat in Moses seat" (Matthew 23: 2-3) there was a stubborn heart, false dignity born of arrogance and self-love." With open ears and heavy heart, Y'shua walks away from The House of YHVH. He knew all that was about to come (Matthew 24 and 25 for instance). He knew that if they did not gather "under His wings" they did not stand a chance of surviving the coming tempest.  The Glory had departed. Not even the splendid building would stand without its primary occupant, YAVH of Y'srial. It will not stand as a museam to the formar glory of Israel. It will be flattened. Even today, only a wall that once encircled the Temple of YHVH stands in memorial. But the foundation of the house itself supports a building whose people are opposed to those who call upon the name of YHVH.

Are we a people without hope? Is there no place in creation to meet with our Elohim? We do have hope, and we who believe have become the Temple of YHVH. The mercy seat, the throne of YHVH, is the hearts of believers. When we come together, Y'shua, the Word of YHVH is in our midst (Matthew 18:20). It will not always be this way. The Temple will be built again and YHVH will again take His throne in Jerusalem. But until that day we who believe have an amazing privilege.
For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For it is the God who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us.

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.  2 Corthians 4:4-11  RSV
Just like the Children of Israel, Believers in Y'shua will face the tempest. But it will not crush the soul that trusts in Y'shua. There is a way to live, not to ourselves as the Scribes and Pharisees did. Not seeking honor for ourselves. but for our God and His Son. We can live Torah observant as unto YHVH. Stand by your faith (life on the foundation of Torah, the Word of God). Do not be conceited, but fear...
But if some of the branches (Children of Israel) were broken off, and you, a wild olive shoot, were grafted in their place to share the richness of the olive tree, do not boast over the branches. If you do boast, remember it is not you that support the root, but the root that supports you. You will say, "Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in."  That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast only through faith. So do not become proud, but stand in awe.  For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you.  Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God's kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you too will be cut off. And even the others, if they do not persist in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. For if you have been cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these natural branches be grafted back into their own olive tree.

Lest you be wise in your own conceits, I want you to understand this mystery, brethren: a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles come in, and so all Israel will be saved; as it is written...
Romans 11:17-26  RSV
"Stand fast through faith" and you need not fear desolation. Y'shua has promised we who believe that when we choose Him, He will stand with us.
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age."   Matthew 28: 16-20  RSV
*(1)Wings of cherubim overshadow The Mercy Seat. Exodus 25:20 (for instance)
*(2) Lovingkindness is what Hellenized Christians refere to as Grace

Robert H. Gundry, "Matthew: A commentary on His Handbook for a Mixed Church Under Persecution". William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Black Friday on Whidbey Island

The Beach at Oak Harbor on a beautiful Black Friday
Every year, since Chris and Jason were young enough to need a reward for being "good at grandma's house," Ray and I have built a tradition of getting out to have fun with our family on what we used to call Black Friday. I say used to call it black friday because the meaning has changed. Back in the day, black friday meant that we did not shop or indulge in materialism the day after giving thanks to YHVH-God for all he has provided for us. It was also our reward for our restless sons who had abandoned their overalls and barn boots to dress nice and use the table manners we practiced at home, at grandma's table. They would rather have been out with the wild things. Now Black Friday just means that merchants are in the black on the Friday after Thanksgiving (if they are willing to wait that long) because of America's need to camp in a parking lot so that they can be the first of the crowd to fight for one of five discounted TV's.

Deb and Rudy Valentine at Fort Casey
 I digress; we made a picnic of turkey sandwiches and pie, grabbed our cameras, GPS's, dogs and winter jackets for a trip to Whidbey Island to go geo-caching and birding.

Bomber and Rudy
Please do not get me wrong. I am not against Christmas. Jason and Ray have promised to put up lights for me this weekend. Chris has been shopping. As I keyboard I am sipping my morning joe from one of my Christmas mugs. What I am against is the wild materialism that never brings lasting joy.
Christmas cookies are fun to make and give away. Dressing up in reds, greens and bright blues, accessorised with goofy socks, santa hats and gaudy flashing light jewelry is fun for me. That is a lot for someone who does not officially celebrate Christmas. I love my children and family and participate with them on a day that has deep meaning and precious memories. But do I think the Messiah was born in a manger on December 25? Not even!
The Olympics from Fort Casey
What is Black Friday to me? It is a day to spend with people we love, doing what we love. A day to extend our attitude of Thanksgiving, not just for our health, what we have, or what we have survived in the past year. It has become a day to show our love to each other. We bring our imperfect love with our sandwiches and spend a day outside of the house, away from our screens. We are far from being a perfect family. Ray and I parented by the seat of our pants. Our poor boys have had to struggle and adjust to our dysfunction. But we love each other. We are all for one, one for all even though each of us needs our space on occasion. Black Friday reminds us to come out of our corner (maybe more accurately, to come out from behind our screens), without TV, without gifts, to simply share a meal, listen, and play.

Ray tucks Rudy into his jacket to give him relief from the cold wind

Black Friday seems to make the upcoming holiday season all the more precious. Ray and I celebrate Channakua. Chris has a child like delight in the "magic" he can make for Christmas. He loves being Santa at events. As a fireman-EMT and a emergency room worker, he sees enough horror to permanently mess up his attitude toward humanity. But he still loves to spread joy to those around him. Jason does not really love or hate Christmas. He indulges friends and family with gifts whenever he is able but would rather not get up early to go visit extended family or even open gifts. All Ray and I know for sure is we love our Y'shua-Jesus and are grateful for these boys YHVH has loaned to us.

One of the tiny little Whidbey Island Black Tails
We talked, we laughed, we saw things we have seen so many times before. We walked trails we have walked before. We marveled at the change and took comfort at everything being the same. We loved. We renewed our hearts and stretched our legs. We felt the wind on our faces and watched children fly their kites in the same wind, on the same grass that we have flown kites on, the very place my parents took me and my brothers to fly kites. Maybe for their Christmas and Ray's Hanukkah I will buy everyone a kite. Maybe I'll just print pictures. No one can go back in time, even with a kite on a windy day.
Rudy and Bomber after a long day.

As long as YHVH gives me the strength I will spend Black Friday in the car, going someplace where we only have to buy gas, to eat turkey sandwiches, to remember a fresh how much I love my boys and my man. Life has been known to throw some stones at us. We have come close to breaking again and again. But always we find that under it all are the everlasting, loving hands of YHVH. No one knows what a day will bring. Buying gifts, wrapping them in pretty paper to be ripped open by a loved one brings a moment of happiness. Nothing wrong in that. But joy comes from hearts connecting. And maybe, at the end of the day, sitting quietly together, tired but satisfied, taking the same ferry ride back home that we have taken hundreds of times before. Remembering that contentment is an inside job, not something that I can buy for someone else.

Happy Holidays (said the old woman who doesn't celebrate Christmas but who does celebrate)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Gathering Leaves at Lake Conner

I have been moaning and groaning about not having any maple trees, or any other type of tree that drops leaves, for my garden.. There was joy on Sunday when Ray took me for a ride to Lake Conner, one of our favorite birding spots. He brought along a couple of yard waste bags and a rake just so I could have maple leaves in my garden.

Four squares of garlic, 2 soft-neck and two hard-neck. There is also a square of Shallots under the leaves in Box 2. About Shallots, I'm told by those who claim to know, that shallots should be planted on the shortest day of the year and harvested on the longest day of the year. I cannot imagine that would be enough time. Still, I plan to pick some up from the health food store in December just to see if this is true. By the way, the same "they" assure me that garlic goes in on the last day of October. Something about vampires? Never seen a blood sucker (not counting misquotes) in my life, only politicians.
The sweet smell of fresh cilantro. This is one weed that I let live.

Though it doesn't look like I got very much done, and it is true that I still have a lot more to do, I feel like I accomplished something!

In these two boxes there is Chard, parsley, cilantro, and leeks. Under the leaves of box 2 there are 4 squares of garlic and one of shallots. If the weather hold (and this time of year it probably will not), I'll clean up boxes 3 and 4 (a double box) and work on cleaning up the fence side of the box so that my pictures do not look so ratty.

Just for you, a bonus! A short film of the birds and mushrooms I spotted at the edge of Lake Conner.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Another Great Preparedness Post

I wonder how they are doing in Japan? She isn't in the news much these days.

The disaster in Japan threw me for an emotional loop. I was heartsick for the people whose homes were destroyed by the Tsunami. For months afterward I found it difficult to write about the small details of my life, things that used to be fun to post about. Time and prayer has begun to heal that wound. Today I look at my life and wonder how far have I come in an effort to know how to live if a disaster strikes my land. The Dervaes, who just happen to write one of my favorite blogs, have posted their effort to date.

Their post includes a series of questions to consider.

Weather: Could you tell / forecast the weather without the weatherman?

Medicine: Can you take care of your family without pharmaceutical drugs?

Water: Can you store water or do you know of a water source nearby? Could you filter the natural water source for safety, to make it palatable?

Security: Interesting subject, of course, and makes for very heated discussions.

Fuel/Energy: Could you function without it? Cook, clean, wash without modern appliances?

Food: Having a stockpile is good but think about long term - after the food runs out, could you grow or be able to get local foods?

Currency: Focus on alternative currency options... think beyond gold, can you barter goods or services?

Communications: You are cut off. No cell phones, no computers, now what?

Sanitation: What to do with trash and human waste?
Glancing at this list I can see that I have spent most of my preparedness time on my garden and hen house. Even so I am still not saving a lot of my own seed. Most of my vegetable seed is grown somewhere else. My 2nd food issue is that I have not put up any food this year because of the glass top stove we bought. This is a huge issue that we did not really think about when we were seduced by the pretty new stove. I am also uncertain how I would keep my chickens well fed so that they could feed us.

My guys have firearms, we have small dogs, otherwise security is something we depend upon YHVH for. He did not stop my car from being stolen but he has shown me how to live happily without it. The guys also take care of communication to some degree. Both trucks have C.B. radios. We do not have one at home. In addition, Chris has a shortwave. I have made a decision to not raise carrier pigeons. On a more serious note, we used to talk about where we would meet if communication was cut off if we were separated but that conversation was nearly a year ago.

This could get real boring real fast. I know about herbal medicine, where to find wild herbs, how to grow many other herbs. I do not know what to do with trash if the garbage is not being picked up or the toilet will not flush. If there is no fuel for the burb, I don't know how to get about. I have a small bike but I'm not very strong on hills. We used to think that we could keep toilet paper and cigarettes for barter, but that was before our son became a chain smoker. We cannot keep halloween candy in the house, how would we keep cigarettes?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

1 Thessalonians 1 5b-7

Pass it forward. We were an example to you, you became an example to others. That, in a nutshell, is the basic message of 1 Thessalonians 1:5b-7.

....You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit; so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedo'nia and in Acha'ia.   1 Thess 1:5-7 RSV

When Messiah chooses us, when we know that we have been purchased by his blood, we are wrong to say, "I have my ticket to heaven." Heaven is not a destination, it is new life from the moment you are born from on high. You will find that you are on a journey along a steep and narrow path but you are not alone. There are others who stepped on the path before you, and still more who will come after you.

Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:1 RSV The way of righteousness is how we are to live. A. Roth in his "Aramaic English New Testament" teaches that "turning to YHVH" is a very Jewish idea. In the English speaking world we would call this action "repentance". When we turn to YHVH or repent of sin, we find the path of righteousness. The path is a way to live. A life of righteousness is a very specific way to live. I find that it does not come natural or easily on this difficult path. Y'shua/Jesus came to show us the way. Those who followed Y'shua gave the pattern for those of us who would follow them on the path. We in turn are to be an example for those who come after us.

The beauty of this walk of faith is that we do not need to become Pharisees, judging one another, practicing ritual fasting or other pious acts to stay on the path. Make no mistake, judgement (that starts from within), fasting and pious acts all have a place upon this path we walk but they are not the path. I personally believe that the Pharisees did what they did because they wanted to be righteous before God. I think that they wanted to be worthy of being imitated. But I know that we have an element that they did not have which keeps the Way from being added to or watered down by those who go before us. We have the breath of YHVH, the Holy Spirit who gives us life in addition to his Word which gives us the way.

The Gospel comes to all of us in Word, but for the chosen it also comes with the power of the Holy Spirit, the life breath of God. You can have religion with the Word but unless you have life, religion is all you get. With the Life of the Spirit you gain a relationship with YHVH. The power to live.

Why than is it so important to be tested, proofed, and to live as an example? For me, I know my YHVH but I cannot see Him. He constantly puts before me people who are walking on the path, who show me that even when it seems difficult, we have power to overcome the difficulty and to continue on. There are those who come after me, who watch how I walk, how you walk, on this steep, narrow path. They are encouraged by our walk. There are even many on the wide path of destruction, who have slid from the path or have not yet come to faith, who watch us walk in righteousness and they are encouraged to turn to YHVH, to repent. It is important that we follow Messiah so that those who follow us can give the glory, not to us, but to Y'shua!

Press on fellow Pilgrims.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Cedar Wax Wings

Photo by Ray, Pure delight came from God

Just in case you did not know, a Cedar Wax Wing is a small bird. They were abundant at Silver Lake where we had family camp again this year. The following video was shot on day 2 of camp. Usually Silver Lake is all about Canada Geese and what they leave behind. This year it seemed as if the beautiful Cedar Wax Wing was begging for attention..... with far less to NOT step in.

By the way, the great shot above is from Ray. Great job!

Friday, July 22, 2011

1 Thessalonians 1:4-5

For we know, brethren beloved by God, that he has chosen you;  for our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.   1 Thessalonians 1:4-5 RSV
YHVH has chosen you. Have you ever thought of that before? Do you believe it? He chose Paul who was busy killing and persecuting men and women of faith. If ever you have any doubt that you were good enough for God, then read Paul's testimony in the book of Acts, No one is good enough for God. It is the reason you needed Y'shua/Jesus (but that is the subject of another post). How do you  know if you were chosen? First He will make sure that the gospel comes to you. But it will not come  just with sound or words on a page. It will come with the full power of the breath of YHWH, the Holy Spirit. There is conviction of sin and finally, there is someone to disciple you.

but he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens; the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.  John 10:2-4 rsv
Chosen: Y'shua said to an assembly of Pharisees, "many are called but few are chosen" Matthew 22:14. At that time he was speaking to the un-chosen, those who insisted that their religious choice and education were more to them than the Messiah in front of them. They saw the splendor of tradition and self-righteousness as far more precious than faith even though, as scholars of the Tanack (old testament) they must have known that righteous deeds, done in our own power, are like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6, see end note). Here in 1 Thessalonians, Paul, Silvanus and Timothy are speaking to the chosen who have already shown that they are people of faith, love and hope (verse 3). Of the many who are called in Thessolin'ca, these were the chosen.

The Word: Paul, Silvanus and Timothy brought the Word, the logos (dabar in Hebrew) to the Synagogue in Thessolini'ca. They were not on a book tour, they had nothing to sell, nothing to promote but The Way, the gait, into the kingdom of light. They were here to invite the many in order for the few chosen to discover the gait that leads to life. Y'shua/Jesus is the Word of God, he is also the gait. All who would believe must come through him. Too many look at the Bible as a book of wisdom or a collection of myth with some insight for living scattered in. If this is your opinion of the Word of God, may I humbly suggest that you are not among the chosen? Ask God to show you for sure. The Word of God is alive and speaks to us. But you only know that when you are "born again", when your spirit is made alive.

The Holy Spirit: The chosen have the Spirit of God, his breath, living in them. I do not know how to explain this, I only know that it is true. Even Y'shua experienced a time of being filled with the Spirit of God.
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens opened and the Spirit descending upon him like a dove;  Mark 1:9-10  RSV
When the breath of God, the Holy Spirit, lives in a believer than the Word of God becomes far more than a book. The Word becomes alive and speaks to us. Maybe it is better to say that we become alive in the Spirit and can now hear and understand the Word.

I remember the moment I became born from above at 21 years of age. No matter where I turned in the Bible, I gleaned fresh  understanding. I struggled to understand the Bible before my salvation. It is almost amusing to read my study notes from that time.

With full conviction: Full conviction comes before you are born again. Those who are chosen feel the weight of sin and despite the shame of it, long for freedom in Messiah. The whole world watched as Casey Anthony stood and listened to the charges against her. There was such tension on her young face. A new look washed over her as she listened to the verdict. Not guilty, not guilty, not guilty. I do not want you to get caught up with how you feel about Ms Anthony, but with your own sin. It is no different than hers in the eyes of God. We are condemned but for the mercy of God. We cannot lie our way out, we are unable to have time off for "good behavior" (good works). We are guilty and we know it if we have been chosen. Unlike Ms Anthony, we have not been pronounced "not guilty" but "guilty". But Y'shua/Jesus stepped up and paid the penalty of our sin.

Conviction will also comes after we are born again. It is one of the tools that guides us on the path of life. It will convict us of sin if need be, but it is more likely to speak to us about living instead of why we are in need of a Savior.

God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten Son. Why isn't the world at peace? I believe that it is because His love only rests on the chosen. If at this moment you do not believe, it is not because you are not chosen. God still sent his Son for you. Before you will experience the love of God you must come to Him. For those who believe, there is joy, evidence of God's love when it seems that there should only be despair in living. Keep reading Thessalonians. Joy in life becomes evident. Do we who believe cry? If my own pool of tears means anything, than yes, we cry, we feel the pain of life. But we have hope. And more than hope, we have the compassion of the hand of God that allows us to keep walking in hope.

Before Heaven:
Revelation 7:17  For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water; and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."
And in heaven, where I wonder if I will cry for what was and those who refused to believe:
Revelation 21:3-4  and I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them;  he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away."

note: filthy rags absorb menstrual flow. The self-righteous are like a woman longing to present a child to her husband  but without his power to produce a child, all she has to offer is the evidence of her fruitless life. No life (baby) just menstrual rags (pads).

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

1 Thessalonians 1:3-4

remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.  For we know, brethren beloved by God, that he has chosen you;  1 Thessalonians 1:3-4 RSV

Last night (July 10, 2011) I watered the garden by the light of a beautiful sunset. This morning, the summer day is overcast and rather dreary. It occurred to me that the clouds that made the evening sky so glorious were the very clouds now making the new day seem dull and dreary. Maybe ministry is like those clouds. When I first embrace ministry it is glorious, but the daily grind can wear me down and leave me wondering if I have bit off more than I can chew. How do I continue on?
Your work of faith: The word translated work is ergon (er'-gon) and is a noun. It gives a name to what we do. The ministry you are called to is your work of faith. The men who wrote this letter assured the believers of Thessalonians that they are, "...constantly remembering you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith..."
When the assembly of Thessaloni'ca first received the Gospel they experienced three weeks of jaw-dropping excitement. Even those who did not go on to believe must have felt some joy of discovery as they dove into the Scriptures to argue their answer. Even so, it is important to remember that they were not given the commendation of being noble for searching the Scripture to see if what Paul was saying was true (Acts 17:10-12).
Now when they had passed through Amphip'olis and Apollo'nia, they came to Thessaloni'ca, where there was a synagogue of the Jews.  And Paul went in, as was his custom, and for three weeks he argued with them from the scriptures,  explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, "This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ."  And some of them were persuaded, and joined Paul and Silas; as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women.  Acts 17:1-4 RSV
With a "great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women," SOME of the Jews in the assembly believed that Y'shua/Jesus was the Messiah they had been waiting for. Why do I say that they have been waiting for the Messiah? Because God had entrusted them with the oracles of YHVH/God. (Romans 3:2). When YHVH spoke, it was the Hebrews he spoke to. They were the people whom YHVH instructed with his word, they were responsible to memorialize and obey it. I do not want to be too harsh on the Hebrews, I know the church of today has been instructed to watch for his soon return and to walk before him in faith, Too often we concern our selves with issues that are so petty that we forget to watch in faith. It happens. Those who believe receive the Word with joy. They accept not only the call to salvation, but the ministry, the work of faith, work that will define their earthly life.

Labor of love: When I first read this passage I wondered to myself, what is the difference between "work" and "labor"? Here in Thessalonians work is your ministry. I expected labor to be what I did to accomplish that ministry, but it is more than that. kopos (#2873 kop'-os) is toil, but this toil saps our strength and leaves us weary (Zodhiates' NT Word Study). At the end of the day, it leaves us unable to rest (No rest for the weary). The "work" embraced by faith results in "labor" sustained by love. Even if the bright clouds that prompted the work seem to become dull and heavy, we carry on because of love knowing that rest will one day come.
And I heard a voice from heaven saying, "Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord henceforth." "Blessed indeed," says the Spirit, "that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!"  Revelation 14:13 RSV
Steadfastness of hope: hupomone (#5281 hoop-om-on-ay') this is not talking about people, it is about our endurance in the work we have been given to do. What keeps us going when someone else seems to have more interesting work or when we just want a break, a vacation to refresh our self? Steadfastness, remembering the faith and love that did not run from the cross. Y'shua knew times when the crowd made him weary. He knew times of temptation to be discouraged because they did not understand him. He must have felt tempted to slide out from under the yoke given to him by his Father. But he chose to endure, to be steadfast.

...let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.   Hebrews 12:1b-2 RSV
Jesus is my example. He remained "steadfast" for the joy, the "hope" that was before him. He asked God to show him if there was any other way to accomplish this work. There was no other way or the Father who loves him, who loves us, would have opened the way to an easier path. "...for the joy that was set before him endured ....despising the shame..."

Remember to pray, remember that others are praying for you, and you pray for them. There is work that is a privilege, glorious work embraced by faith, laborious work that must be continued in love, steadfast because of hope, the joy to come. I am in a dreary time but there are those who pray as I must also pray for them, for the love that keeps us going. One day there will be rest, on the other side of those clouds.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us,  Hebrews 12:1  RSV

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood. So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:12-13 RSV

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Bushwhacking on the Mountain Loop

I have had the WORST time putting this video up. It has sound for a while, than it goes mute on both facebook and on you tube. Gurrr! I ended up redoing it from scratch.

This was the first day of Rays Vacation. Ray's nephew Dennis joined us for what was supposed to be a day of easy geo caching but it turned out to be some tough hiking on an overgrown trail. Loved it! At one place we had to step over a HUGE pile of bear poop. That is always a little unsetteling, but the poo was not fresh so most of us did not worry too much. That was actually where my little dog, Rudy Valentine, started to worry when he could not keep Ray and I next to each other. He isn't usually whinny out hiking like he is in this video.

BTW, Dennis tells me that he was not hurt. PRAISE GOD!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Summer Reading; 1 Thessalonians

Years ago, while working at a local Christian school, I had two Greek students. Their home was Thessaloni'ca and they grew up speaking the language that I struggle to understand through books and commentaries. Talking with Dimitri about the meaning of words was joy. His sister Anthea was shy but charming. I think of them as I try to mentally enter the world of the Thessalonians, a place I have never seen.
Paul, Silvanus and Timothy to the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace.
Who are Paul, Silvanus and Timothy?
Paul and Silvanus are Jewish men who are also citizens of Rome.
But Paul said to them (the Phillipan jailer), "They (the big wigs of Philippi) have beaten us in public without trial, Men who are Romans, and have thrown us (Paul and Silvanus) into prison; and now are they sending us away secretly? No indeed! But let them come themselves and bring us out." And the policemen reported these words to the chief magistrates. And they were afraid when they heard that they were Romans,   Acts 16:37-38
Both of these men have a Roman name as well as a Jewish name. Saul/Paul and Silas/Silvanus.

Timothy is half Greek, half Jewish. He was raised by his Jewish mother and grandmother in the land of his Father. When Paul met him and realized what a quality young believer he was, he invited him to come with him on his journey.

How did they become acquainted with Thessaloni'ca?
Originally, everyone who was a believer in Y'shua (Jesus) were in Jerusalem. In the beginning believers were Jewish or had become worshippers of YHVH in the Synagogue. The Lord gave the Apostle Peter a vision that he would include gentiles in the kingdom of heaven, a difficult concept for life-long Jews. Peter was the first to witness the Spirit of God filling Gentile men in the same way that he had experienced. Paul was also called to bring the Word of Life to everyone, the Jew first and then to the Gentile. (a gentile is any person who is not a Jew). He and Barnabas set out to fulfil that mission. Other men felt the same call to spread the gospel. The problem was that Paul and Barnabas rightly understood that while we still enter into a covenant with YHVH, that covenant had a different administration than it did under Moses. Among the many changes in administration, such as a new high priest and a new, perfect sacrifice, the sign of the covenant, which is circumcision, was now of the heart, not done by the hands of men in the flesh. Jewish men came from Jerusalem to share the good news of the gospel with the world. Hallelujah! But they misunderstood that under the new administration of this covenant, men who believe no longer need to be circumcised in the flesh. Because these men were known as Judisers I assume that they believed that under Y'shua, all the world would become Jewish and live under the old administration of Moses. To solve this dilemma they all went back to Jerusalem where it all began, to discuss with the apostles and elders how to have unity. The result was the famous letter of Acts 15:23-29. Silas (Silvanus) and a man named Judas went with Paul and Barnabas back to their home church of Antioch where the letter was received with joy for the encouragement it gave to a unified body of believers.

To make a long story short, Paul and his new partner, Silas, set off on a journey to encourage the churches that Paul and Barnabas had established with the letter from Jerusalem. Along the way they brought the good news of Y'shua  for all men to Phillippi. While there they were beaten and imprisoned. Instead of moaning about their circumstances, they praised God in the dark. God set them free from prison by knocking down the prison. Salvation came to the house of the Warden (the jailer) but the city asked them to leave. Thus bruised and cut but strengthened in Y'shua, they came to Thessaloni'ca where they got right to the mission of sharing the good news in the local synagogue. People of all sorts responded. There is no evidence that they told the assembly about the drama in Phillippi and what God had done for them, only what the Scriptures said God would do for all who believe.

Jealousy is an ugly attribute. It slips up on a soul and does not introduce itself, everyone but the jealous person sees it for what it is. After three weeks of speaking in the Synagogue of Thessaloni'ca where a few Jews and even more God fearing men became believers in the Way, believers in Y'shua/Jesus  (according to FF Bruce, God-fearers are gentiles who worship YHVH by doing everything according to Torah EXCEPT being circumcised in the flesh). Acts 17:5 says that the Jews became jealous. The rest of Acts 17 tells the result of their jealousy ending with forcing Paul to leave the infant church. Apparently Silas and Timothy stayed behind for a short while to establish the church in Thessaloni'ca. Would the breath of YHVH, whom we call the Holy Spirit, be enough to sustain this infant assembly of believers in the midst of so much opposition? Could the church stand under the weight of jealousy? Would they still respect Paul and his companions?

The first letter to the Thessalonians will give the happy answer.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Ellensburg has gone green. My mind has a picture of Ellensburg that is dry and yellow except for the cottonwoods that grow along the river banks. Maybe I've just not been to Ellensburg in the spring. The hay fields were green, lawns were green, everywhere I looked the dominant color was green. Oddly enough the town itself has gone Al Gore-Obama green. Coming into the city from Blewett Pass we were greeted by giant white windmills. Driving out of the city we saw bank upon bank of solar panels. That was kind of kewl. At first I thought, "What an eyesore" but I quickly pictured what a dam would do to the landscape and decided that green electricity isn't nearly as bad.

Like it does with everyone else, the economy is not smiling upon us. We are still finding opportunities get out camping. However we try to have a duel purpose to our trips. No more long, exciting trips to Yellowstone and beyond. This trip was about scouting for a deer camp this fall. Too often we go cold, settling in a spot hoping that there will be an animal to harvest.

Last time we got out to camp for a few days we dug clams. They were expensive clams but never mind. The good thing for us is that we love our home state of Washington. As much as we love to travel, as much as we hate what politics have done to our wild places, we still love Washington.

Chris and Bomber came on this trip. Chris just finished his second Tear Drop Trailer and was trying it out. He was pleased with the work. People were sure interested in it.

We loved the signage on this tree. The humor of people who live off the grid cracks us up. The truck was moving when I snapped this, normally I would not post a picture this fuzzy but the picture describes what I saw better than anything I could write. The top sign is a neighborhood watch sign. The next one says, "No Light Beer" and the last one says "No Video Games". Sounds like good rules for life. I wonder what caliber the neighborhood watch is?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

"I do not accept that."

What a powerful phrase, "I do not accept that."

I know who Oprah is. I have seen many of her shows in the 25 years that she has been on American TV. I know some hate her, some love her. To me it was just TV. A place to land or skip if nothing else interested me. I have been enjoying is her show about the making of the Oprah show on the OWN network. Watching the making of shows for the final season has peeked my interest in watching her last season. One of these final season shows had a powerful effect on me. There was a guest who apparently was a regular for a while. There seems to have been a tiff between Oprah and the guest whose name starts with an L (she wrote a book, "Peace From Broken Pieces") She came to the show to clear the air between herself and Oprah. They had a heated (though not hateful) exchange. Ms L said something to which Oprah responded, "I do not accept that". I was stunned.

"I do not accept that."

I wish I had said that phrase to so many people I love. Women who have come to me, to tell me how I have destroyed life as they know it. These relationships have always started out positive. One woman told me that I was more of a soul-mate to her than anyone she had ever known in her life. Everyone knows that if they get put on a pedestal the only place to go is down. As a Believer in YHVH (a Christian) I do not believe in the Hindu concept of soul mates. I realize that is not what she was telling me, but it still seems like an ugly term to me. Latter, I was told that she was one of two powerful women who wanted to take me before the Church for sin, though I was never accused of any sin. If I had been accused I would have faced it, but all I ever got was silence. When it comes to being a soul mate, "I do not accept that."

There were two other woman friends, both of them powerful members of my churches, both of them married to important men in the church. I worked shoulder to shoulder with both of them. Prayer for the ministry was an important part of my life with them. Supporting their leadership roll in the ministry was a key element of our relationship. Both of them started treating me with disdain and gave me no reason to doubt that I was the object of gossip. Both of them are strong Christian women whose relationship with their God I respect. Both of them shocked me in the way they handled the "root of bitterness" they perceived had come between us.

I need to say something about sin at this point. Specifically, about conviction of sin. There is a concept that I learned early in my walk of faith. First, I sin. I try not to, but I still do it, I sin. I sinned and contributed to the break down of the relationships I have mentioned. Second, both the devil and Elohim/God convict me of my sin. Isn't that shocking. The devil as well as God convict me of my sin. How does one tell the difference? That is an important question because there is only slavery with the devil but there is forgiveness with God, the father of our Lord Y'shua/Jesus.

If we confess our sins, he (the God of Light and Father of Jesus) is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 RSV

How do you know the difference? I think it was a speaker whose name was Elton Gilliam who cleared this up for me. He taught that when God convicts me of sin, he convicts me of a specific incidence of sin. But when the devil convicts of sin he uses a broad brush (compared to God's fine point pen). In other words, God convicts of specific sin. The devil attacks your character. For instance, God may convict me of stealing a pen from work but the devil will simply call me a thief, which is a character attack. Because I am a blood bought child of God whose "sin" was 100% paid for on the cross (the wage of sin is death, Romans 6:23) I have been given the character of my Lord. When I sin it is between me and God, first and foremost, but my sin will cause bitterness between people and needs to be made right. The family of God has no room for bitterness. It must be cleansed and removed so that harmony under the head of Y'shua/Jesus can reign in the Kingdom of YHVH. Therefore God convicts of specific sin that can be confessed, forgiven and made right to the best of my ability. When the devil attacks my character I might be tempted to say, God made me this way, there is nothing I can do about this.

Two dear friends have come to me in days past, rightly wanting to make things right between us. The first brought me a 3x5 card detailing my sin that God had convicted her of (what?). At the end of the list she said that I speak in half truths and lie. When I asked her to be specific she refused, it was up to me to come up with the specific lies, not her. How does a girl agree with that? I have spent years anguishing over that moment. Because I love her I desperately wanted to make things right between us. Instead I found myself shunned by the ladies of my church. I suspect gossip. I SO wish I had loved her enough to say, "I do not accept that." If I could turn back time I would have been bold enough to stand up to the enemy who would plant bitter seed between the children of God but the time was not right, I had lessons to learn. Instead I went into shock that a fellow believer would be the source of an enemy attack.

A second beloved friend came to me and said that after a night of prayer and fasting she knew that she had to tell me that I do nothing but make her job harder than it needs to be and am the reason she is so miserable. How I wish I had said, "I do not accept that." She had some crazy stress going on in her life at that time. My whole ministry under God was to make her work as smooth as possible. Obviously I failed at that and instead I let her tell me that I make her miserable. She could not or would not give me any examples, she expected that if it was clear to her what was wrong with me, it must be equally as clear to me because she prayed about it. Heartbreak. Her and another woman in the ministry often had their heads together, treating me with disdain. What if I had just been strong enough to say, "I don't accept that." What if I had loved her enough to talk about what I have observed instead of panicking about letting down yet another dear friend?

The devil is good at what he does, he goes for bruised nerves. A family member has told me that if not for me her life would be perfect, up until now I have let a number of people say that to me, knowing that no one can make another person miserable or unhappy, that is a response to lessons that God is teaching us through other people. I choose how I respond, so do they. God gets the glory for the positive things that happen in life. When things go bad and we choose to see some person as a thorn in our flesh, how can we not instead give thanks to Elohim/God for that circumstance, that person, and learn to walk as Y'shua/Jesus walked, He who was despised and forsaken of who thought they were doing God a favor by persecuting him (Isaiah 53:3-7). He is my example to follow, so it is short sighted to think that I will not come under persecution from within the religious community, even from believers in Y'shua/Jesus. It is, as Amy Carmichael was fond of saying, a chance to die to self and live for him who died for me.

By the end of the Oprah show, Oprah and Ms L were able to talk about what really happened. They came to an understanding that their assumptions about their own actions were misinterpreted by the other person. Both thought the other intended ill, both believed they had done everything right. Ms L was a religious woman that Oprah respected, Ms L loved Oprah deeply. Yet a root of bitterness had grown between them. It was gone by the end of the show. I imagine there was still wounds that needed to heal but at least the cancer was ripped out. It is never too late, at least as long as we still draw air, bitterness can be removed and healing can begin. That IS something I accept.

June 18, 2011