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?