Archive for May, 2011

Depression is such a wicked, evil place to be. It sucks away all light, energy, and hope.

I suffered a long bout in my life. For me, I know it was not a chemical/physical depression, but a time of spiritual warfare. I knew it at the time, I know it now looking back.

But my mom has always suffered depression – perhaps manic depression – and for her it is very much physical. Two of my brothers as well have been in its clutches and felt its despair.

I hate it. It is a helpless feeling to watch someone suffer so deeply.

Today I read this psalm and it spoke to me about the battle with depression. I am going to send it to my brother who is suffering so much right now.

Psalm 143
A psalm of David.

1 LORD, hear my prayer,
   listen to my cry for mercy;
in your faithfulness and righteousness
   come to my relief.
2 Do not bring your servant into judgment,
   for no one living is righteous before you.
3 The enemy pursues me,
   he crushes me to the ground;
he makes me dwell in the darkness
   like those long dead.
4 So my spirit grows faint within me;
   my heart within me is dismayed.
5 I remember the days of long ago;
   I meditate on all your works
   and consider what your hands have done.
6 I spread out my hands to you;
   I thirst for you like a parched land.

7 Answer me quickly, LORD;
   my spirit fails.
Do not hide your face from me
   or I will be like those who go down to the pit.
8 Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
   for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
   for to you I entrust my life.
9 Rescue me from my enemies, LORD,
   for I hide myself in you.
10 Teach me to do your will,
   for you are my God;
may your good Spirit
   lead me on level ground.

11 For your name’s sake, LORD, preserve my life;
   in your righteousness, bring me out of trouble.
12 In your unfailing love, silence my enemies;
   destroy all my foes,
   for I am your servant.

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But of that day or hour no man knoweth, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father. Take ye heed, watch and pray. For ye know not when the time is.

Last weekend, according to Harold Camping, God’s people were supposed to be raptured on May 21 and those remaining on the earth would suffer a slow death until the earth was destroyed October 21, 2011.

Camping has a radio station and many listeners. For several months we’ve heard news stories of people who have sold everything they have, cashed in their retirement savings, and have spent all of their money on billboards to warn people.

They have suffered a great deal of derision and have been the butt of many jokes.

Part of me is happy that not too many people were deceived. Part of me thinks that if they really believed that was going to happen, they did the right thing with a right heart – they sincerely tried to warn everyone else.

But mostly, I’m sad that not many stopped to think about, “what if?” People were very quick to joke about others being  raptured, but proclaim that they themselves would stay and party with the sinners.

That makes me sad. I think about Jonah and his reluctance to warn the people of Ninevah – no doubt he worried that he would be ridiculed as Camping and his people were. But the people of Ninevah repented.

What if Camping had been right? Obviously he wasn’t … we know from scripture that man won’t know the day nor the hour so by trying to proclaim it, Camping revealed himself to be a false prophet, a false teacher.

But something else is revealed in this world by its reaction as well, and it troubles my heart.

Some day, the world will end; some day, Jesus will come again. It could be today … who is ready?

I pray constantly for the people God has placed in my life to love, that they be saved on that day. I pray for all mankind, for God’s great mercy to be outpoured even on this world of stubborn and stiff-necked people.

Watch ye therefore, (for you know not when the lord of the house cometh: at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning,)
Lest coming on a sudden, he find you sleeping.    
And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch.
(Mark 13:35-37)

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Just a small thing stood out to me this morning.

And David sent messengers to Isboseth the son of Saul, saying: Restore my wife Michol, whom I espoused to me for a hundred foreskins of the Philistines.    
And Isboseth sent, and took her from her husband Phaltiel, the son of Lais.    
And her husband followed her, weeping as far as Bahurim: and Abner said to him: Go and return. And he returned. (2 Sam 3:14-16)

I don’t know why that weighs on my heart so … but it makes me sad to think of her husband following her and weeping.

I know David was probably “in the right” according to law and custom; she had been promised to him by Saul but later given in marriage to another. We know from 1 Samuel 18:20 that “Saul’s daughter Michal was in love with David .”

I wonder if she also had grown to love her husband. I wonder if he had other wives, as David already had several. I wonder if David’s actions were out of pride, or out of love.

I think about how messy and painful divorce is for everyone involved; I think about the divorce messageboard April posted on and all of the people who were blindsided by a spouse leaving. Even though it had been a long time coming for the one who left, it often is a surprise to the one left behind and by then it’s too late. The grief and wounds run deep. I’ve seen both sides of this in my mom and dad’s marriage; I’ve pondered it for myself for a time and am so grateful now that the LORD stayed my heart and feet and is rebuilding my marriage, even stronger than it was before.

I guess that passage just made me sad for all involved. My dear friend still mourns his marriage and has followed his wife many miles and many years weeping and it breaks my heart for him. This world can be a painful and sorrowful place.

I just pray for us all; we are messy people. I guess the Psalm that was part of my reading today, 133, is kind of fitting:

1 Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell in unity.
2 Like the precious ointment on the head, that ran down upon the beard, the beard of Aaron, Which ran down to the skirt of his garment:
3 As the dew of Hermon, which descendeth upon mount Sion. For there the Lord hath commandeth blessing, and life for evermore.

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A song of ascents. Of David. LORD, my heart is not proud; nor are my eyes haughty. I do not busy myself with great matters, with things too sublime for me.
Rather, I have stilled my soul, hushed it like a weaned child. Like a weaned child on its mother’s lap, so is my soul within me.
Israel, hope in the LORD, now and forever. (Psalm 131)

The LORD brought this Psalm before me two times yesterday in two different Bibles, so it was already on my mind when it was my scheduled reading this morning!

It made me think of a passage in Sirach that the LORD used to humble and quiet my heart. I thought I may have blogged about it last fall so I searched this morning and had to laugh …

You see, one of my frequent prayers is that the LORD make things very plain for me. I know I second-guess myself to a ridiculous degree. And here, He answers that prayer.

The very thing that this Psalm spoke to me these last two days, it spoke to me last fall. Here is a post I had made in Dec 2010 titled Mysteries, and I couldn’t have said it better myself!


One of today’s readings was Psalm 131:

1 My heart is not proud, LORD,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.
2 But I have calmed and quieted myself,
I am like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child I am content.

I hadn’t really noticed this Psalm before, and I really loved reading it today.  Earlier this month, in this post, I wrote about how God had brought me to a passage in Sirach, Chapter 3.  I see an echo of one from another:

20 What is too sublime for you, seek not, into things beyond your strength search not.
21 What is committed to you, attend to; for what is hidden is not your concern.
22 With what is too much for you meddle not, when shown things beyond human understanding.
23 Their own opinion has misled many, and false reasoning unbalanced their judgment.

I love that. I have been guilty of being obsessive about knowing Truth about various topics – searching and studying.

But sometimes, as in these passages, God lets me know it’s ok for some things to remain a mystery. He quiets my spirit, and redirects me to attend to the works He has entrusted to me.

I think it’s good to simply appreciate the mysteries. There is a peace in simply trusting God.

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And Jesus saith to him: If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.   And immediately the father of the boy crying out, with tears said: I do believe, Lord: help my unbelief. (Mark 9:22-23)

I love that passage and repeat it often in my prayers. There is so much we desire to know and to really believe to the depth of our being … but doubts and questions can invade and leave us unsure.

Prayer changes things. I know I can pray for Wisdom, for understanding, for strength, for comfort. His answers come in surprising ways! I love it that I can also pray for Him to help my unbelief; to search me and to help me overcome my”self.”

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And looking up to heaven, he groaned, and said to him: Ephpheta, which is, Be thou opened. (Mark 7:34)

And thus Jesus opened the ears and freed the tongue of the man who was deaf and mute.

I keep thinking of this; what a wonderful prayer to speak for my children and for those who are lukewarm or who have walked away from God. I pray every day that He opens their eyes and ears and minds and hearts to Himself. And here is a simple prayer in the words of Jesus … Ephpheta … be thou opened.

My greatest desire for any person is that they love God. Once we have utterly fallen in love with Him, everything else will follow. Love grows with time … time spent together in intimate ways through good times and bad.

Heavenly Father, for each of my children; for my brothers and sisters and all of the people you have given to me for whom to pray and to love … Ephpheta. For those who have been deceived … Ephpheta.

Be thou opened, ears and eyes and minds and hearts, to you.      amen.

**Quick update … I wasn’t certain how to prounce “ephpheta” so I wrote Father Secora. His reply was not one of the many ways I had considered: eph-fa-tha     I like that 🙂

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In 1 Samuel 5 & 6, the Philistines capture the ark of the covenant and immediately suffer plagues of mice and “emerods” in their private parts.  I remember from reading this before that some sources believe these were “hemorrhoids.” The ark is housed with the Philistine’s god, Dagon, and two mornings in a row entered to find Dagon face-down in front of the ark, the second time with its hands lopped off.

When they discussed how to deal with the plagues, the Philistines remembered the Egyptians and all that God had done there; they remembered how the Egyptians had hardened their hearts; they remembered that when the Israelites were released, the plagues left Egypt; they knew that making an offering to God of small gold mice and emerods would be helpful.

How can they know all this, and see their god Dagon cast down, and not see and worship the One God?!! I find that amazing, that they would choose to continue to follow “lesser gods” instead.

In the same day’s readings of Mark 5 is the story of Legion that Jesus cast out of the man who lived among the tombs. When the local people saw that the man had been freed … BUT their swine were dead … they begged Jesus to take leave of them. How can that be? How can you witness such a thing and be upset that a man is now free? How do you witness a miraculous work and think of yourself?

Maybe that is simply human nature, I don’t know. But it’s something to PONder … and pray about. I sure don’t want to see and to know, but then ignore & reject.

A few notes on other passages …

I love this; the woman has been suffering for years and only touches the hem of Jesus’ garment. Other versions say He “felt the power go out.” I find it fascinating. I think of all the times He withdrew alone to pray; it’s as if sometimes He was drained and spent time in prayer and through prayer He was literally “recharged” to go back out and minister.

Mark 5:29-30
And forthwith the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of the evil.    
And immediately Jesus knowing in himself the virtue that had proceeded from him, turning to the multitude, said: Who hath touched my garments?

Also from chapter 5, verses 41-43, is this story where Jesus restores life to the girl who was dead.

And taking the damsel by the hand, he saith to her: Talitha cumi, which is, being interpreted: Damsel (I say to thee) arise.    
And immediately the damsel rose up, and walked: and she was twelve years old: and they were astonished with a great astonishment.    
And he charged them strictly that no man should know it: and commanded that something should be given her to eat.

This painting by Morgan Weistling portrays that story … I love, love love it! He wrote about wanting to show the gratitude the girl must have felt, and the love and tenderness she had toward Jesus. I often wondered how she felt a few years later when she heard Jesus had been crucified. Did she “know” He wasn’t really gone? Or was she crushed to hear the news?

The Promise by Morgan Weistling

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I love the book of Ruth and would just like to add a few notes here from reading it these last two days, along with thoughts from other times I’ve read it.

From yesterday’s reading:

15 And Noemi said to her: Behold thy kinswoman is returned to her people, and to her gods, go thou with her.    
16 She answered: Be not against me, to desire that I should leave thee and depart: for whithersoever thou shalt go, I will go: and where thou shalt dwell, I also will dwell. Thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God. (Ruth 1)

First, note that Naomi knew that by sending her daughters-in-law back to their mothers’ homes, they would be going back to serve other gods. I think that’s a little odd. I know she is grieving the loss of her husband and sons, but that seems unloving to me.

But second is Ruth’s reply – I wish I had been familiar with that passage to use as a wedding vow when Mark & I were married. It is such a tender and loving pledge: … For whithersoever thou shalt go, I will go: and where thou shalt dwell, I also will dwell. Thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.

I’m unsure why Naomi instructed Ruth to lay at Boaz’s feet as he slept. Was it as simple as keeping him comfortable – keeping his feet warm? But the “spread thy coverlet over thy servant, for thou art a near kinsman” may have some significance in that culture, like removing a shoe to signify a deal made later in the story.

I loved how Boaz negotiated with the “nearer kinsman.” He wanted to marry Ruth, but he didn’t approach it in that manner. He first talked about the property, the land. Of course the kinsman was happy at the opportunity to “buy the field” until Boaz said to him:

When thou shalt buy the field at the woman’s hand, thou must take also Ruth the Moabitess, who was the wife of the deceased: to raise up the name of thy kinsman in his inheritance. (Ruth 4:5)

Suddenly the land became a burden with dependents attached to it! The kinsman was happy to hand it all over to Boaz. I thought this was very clever of Boaz to recognize human nature and negotiate wisely. He didn’t hide anything and wasn’t dishonest; but he was shrewd.

I love that Naomi realized how blessed she was by Ruth; I love that she was able to be a caretaker for her grandson.

I wrote yesterday how Boaz had a favorable view or Ruth before he met her because of the kind words of another. But I think God also prepared him to be favorable toward her in another way. In Matthew chapter 1 we see the genealogy of Jesus and learn that Rahab was the mother of Boaz. Rahab had also been a “foreigner” who joined the Israelites. I’m certain Boaz was a little more sensitive to the trials of being a foreigner and also had unique insight into the fact that people are people and not so different from one another as we sometimes make it out to be.

5 And Salmon begot Booz of Rahab. And Booz begot Obed of Ruth. And Obed begot Jesse.    
6 And Jesse begot David the king. (Matthew 1)

I just think that’s cool, how God is working long before we see it ourselves.

Thank you, LORD, for this time with you and for the wonderful lessons you teach, large and small. Thank you for preparing us in so many ways that we don’t even see nor realize.

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People sometimes ask who your favorite person is in the Bible, or who you’d like to meet. There are many who are fascinating, but there is one I’d especially like to meet whose name isn’t even recorded.

In the book of Ruth, chapter 2, Ruth beings to glean in the fields of Boaz. He is very kind to her, offering her protection in his fields. She asks him how she had found favor with him.

11 And he answered her: All hath been told me, that thou hast done to thy mother in law after the death of thy husband: and how thou hast left thy parents, and the land wherein thou wast born, and art come to a people which thou knewest not heretofore.

I love this! I have lived in small towns most of my life. Gossip can be ruthless (no pun intended … but I kind of like it there now that I see it). Here, Ruth was obviously a foreigner. She’d accompanied Naomi, who the people once knew as a wife and mother … only now her husband and sons are dead. Tell me that isn’t rumor-worthy filled with juicy conjecture?! I’m sure people could have come up with some pretty wild speculation.

But someone … we don’t know who, or what this person’s name was … spoke very kindly about Ruth to Boaz. No wild tales, no gossip nor malignment; no speculation. This person simply relayed what had happened. This person didn’t know Boaz would ever meet Ruth; didn’t know that his/her words would have much impact one way or another … he/she maybe forgot even mentioning it.

But words do have power …. if we hear something the slightest bit negative OR positive about someone before we meet them – even if we are determined to make up our own mind – there is a natural inclination to already think well of someone, or to be cautious. It’s human nature.

James 3:10 tells us that from the same mouth come blessing and cursing. We don’t always realize we are blessing or cursing someone … we have no idea what affect our words have on others. The Holy Spirit gave me this lesson in Ruth about 10 years ago and I’ve sure taken it to heart; I try to be extra careful about gossip; I try to speak well of others because I do not want to be part of cursing someone either intentionally or unintentionally.

LORD, guard my mouth, my heart, my mind. Help me to be Your hands and feet; use me to be a blessing.

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So say the headlines this morning. I heard the news last night when Joe came running downstairs, telling us to turn on the news. The first reports were that he had been killed a week ago but the news wasn’t released until DNA tests could confirm his identity. Geraldo Rivera was reporting and was positively giddy with joy at the news. The report this morning was a little different … a raid on a compound just yesterday had ended with his death; he has already been buried at sea to prevent a martyr’s shrine.

I’m feeling very mixed emotions. It simply is not in me to rejoice at the death of anyone. It’s always been this way for me – no matter who, no matter how evil; I take no joy in the death of another.

And it hurts my heart to hear brothers and sisters in Christ rejoice and celebrate at the idea of anyone “rotting in hell.”

Ezekiel 33:11 I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live

Proverbs 24:17 Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth

I understand feeling patriotic, though. Being glad “one of the bad guys” is gone, especially one who was the mastermind behind a great act of evil.

It’s a little surreal, reflecting on nearly 10 years of the aftermath of 9/11. The world has changed so much … daily life has changed. I wonder how things would be different if those events had never happened; or if the U.S. had responded differently; or if …   ? And I wonder what will change now, with his death.

Mostly my thoughts are with the people who lost loved ones on that day; the people who lived while others died; the responders who were heros in the aftermath of the tragedy.

I’m glad it’s all in God’s hands. He will judge rightly; I cannot. I simply leave it with Him and pray for all of us. What a world we live in; forgive us because we really don’t know what we do. Holy Spirit please pray for us.

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