Archive for August, 2011

My cousin died yesterday, and I’m feeling so sad.

Deanna’s dad and my dad were first cousins, and we grew up together as neighbors on the family farm. In the 60s and 70s doors weren’t locked … we freely walked into each others’ homes any time of the day or night. I remember the night I woke up to Deanna standing right next to my bed, excitedly telling me that Candy had her colt – Tracy had driven in and saw them in his headlights and sent her right over to let us know.

Our front yard playground was wide, flat, fertile Iowa farm ground. We literally had miles of field roads to walk, ride bikes or to ride horses without any concern for traffic. Our back yard was the beautiful Loess Hills where we could hike and play and believe we were in the wild west of long ago.

We rode the bus every morning and every night together – an hour each way. When we were a little older my grandma Dorothy and her sister, Hazel, treated us to “a girls’ week” at their place on Lake Okoboji – Deanna, my sister Stacy, our cousin Teresa, and me. We swam and jumped on trampolines and roller skated and went to the Fun House; an entire week of heaven on earth.

Birthdays and holidays were often spent at each others’ homes; we sledded and had bonfires and cook-outs.

It was a wonderful way to grow up, and Deanna was like a sister. We grew up and grew apart and had not seen each other in far too many years. She died suddenly and unexpectedly at the age of 48 like her dad and his mom had died. I guess it’s not a bad way to go; but it’s such a shock for everyone she leaves behind.

Rest in peace Deanna; I will always remember your quick smile and I am grateful for the many ways you blessed my life.

Eternal rest, grant unto them her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her

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I love in scripture how sometimes things are revealed gradually over a long period of time, even years. One piece is given to you today to ponder; another may be revealed unexpectedly much later when you aren’t even looking. And like a puzzle, it sometimes takes several pieces before you understand what the LORD is beginning to show you.

Today I had that experience. In Maccabees I read this passage:

11 We therefore at all times without ceasing, both in our festivals, and other days, wherein it is convenient, remember you in the sacrifices that we offer, and in our observances, as it is meet, and becoming to remember brethren.    
12 And we rejoice at your glory. (1 Maccabees 12)

This was a letter written from one people to another. I find it interesting that they offer sacrifices for one another. When I think of sacrifices, I think of them being offered to atone for one’s own sinfulness. To offer them for another? That almost seems like one person is apologizing or confessing or repenting for another. Can it really work that way?

This passage isn’t alone in its implication. Consider this passage that tells us Job regularly offered holocausts for his children in case they had sinned:

5 And when the days of their feasting were gone about, Job sent to them, and sanctified them: and rising up early offered holocausts for every one of them. For he said: Lest perhaps my sons have sinned, and have blessed God in their hearts. So did Job all days. (Job 1)

And in the new testament is this passage; this is the one that started this puzzle picture for me over 7 years ago:

14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the believing wife; and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the believing husband: otherwise your children should be unclean; but now they are holy …    
16 For how knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? Or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife? (1 Cor 7)

Can one “save” another? Can one atone for the sins of another?

I don’t think that’s exactly what it’s saying. But it reminds me of how intertwined we all are; of how praying for others is so very important and truly a ministry of love and service and sometimes sacrifice for others.

I don’t exactly understand how or why … I only know what the LORD is showing me and teaching me and asking of me. He is preparing me and using me as a person of prayer. It is a privilege  to be used in His service this way, and truly humbles me.

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It is so cool to study and to learn something, and then have scripture confirm what you have learned!

I have finished Derek Prince’s book, Secrets of a Prayer Warrior, and have been digesting all that I learned in it. I also started reading An Exorcist Tells His Story by Fr. Gabriele Amorth, chief exorcist of Rome, and it gives such unique insight into the world of angels and spirits and demons.

Both books are very much in agreement about the spiritual battle that is waging around us at all times – the angels who help us and the demons who desire to be gods and to take all things that rightly belong to God including our praise, worship and our very souls.

The book of Tobit has been wonderful to read again and it’s amazing how the things that the angel Raphael tell Tobias and his son, are in agreement with these books.

And isn’t it just a great “coincidence” that I would read this right now, with all of these lessons fresh on my mind and heart?

Both books are excellent, and I’m still pondering the lessons I am learning about prayer and its power. I know my prayer life has grown in leaps and bounds, and I’m excited to watch the path unfold before me as He leads me and uses me in His body.

I will end today’s blog post with a large passage from Tobit 14. I love all of the things we learn in this passage … how what Tobit had thought he was doing in secret, was well-known in the heavens; that the prayers Tobit had spoken were offered to the LORD by Raphael; that Raphael is “one of the seven” who stand before the LORD.

Fascinating … enjoy!

6 Then he said to them secretly: Bless ye the God of heaven, give glory to him in the sight of all that live, because he hath shewn his mercy to you.    
7 For it is good to hide the secret of a king: but honourable to reveal and confess the works of God.    
8 Prayer is good with fasting and alms more than to lay up treasures of gold:
9 For alms delivereth from death, and the same is that which purgeth away sins, and maketh to find mercy and life everlasting.    
10 But they that commit sin and iniquity, are enemies to their own soul.
11 I discover then the truth unto you, and I will not hide the secret from you.
12 When thou didst pray with tears, and didst bury the dead, and didst leave thy dinner, and hide the dead by day in thy house, and bury them by night, I offered thy prayer to the Lord.
13 And because thou wast acceptable to God, it was necessary that temptation should prove thee.
14 And now the Lord hath sent me to heal thee, and to deliver Sara thy son’s wife from the devil.
15 For I am the angel Raphael, one of the seven, who stand before the Lord.

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“If the US Government was a family, they would be making $58,000 a year, they spend $75,000 a year, & are $327,000 in credit card debt. They are currently proposing BIG spending cuts to reduce their spending to $72,000 a year. These are the actual proportions of the federal budget & debt, reduced to a level that we can understand.” – Dave Ramsey

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I am excited to be starting Tobit, and have encountered a mystery today that I want to research more.

First, I thought this passage was interesting, comparing the trial Tobit was about to face to Job’s:

12 Now this trial the Lord therefore permitted to happen to him, that an example might be given to posterity of his patience, as also of holy Job.
13 For whereas he had always feared God from his infancy, and kept his commandments, he repined not against God because the evil of blindness had befallen him,
14 But continued immoveable in the fear of God, giving thanks to God all the days of his life.
15 For as the kings insulted over holy Job: so his relations and kinsmen mocked at his life, saying:
16 Where is thy hope, for which thou gavest alms, and buriedst the dead?
17 But Tobias rebuked them, saying: Speak not so:
18 For we are the children of the saints, and look for that life which God will give to those that never change their faith from him.(Tobit 2)

I especially love the last line … for we do look for that life which God will give!

Second was this passage; it was presented as a beautiful prayer that I wanted to ponder more:

 21 But this every one is sure of that worshippeth thee, that his life, if it be under trial, shall be crowned: and if it be under tribulation, it shall be delivered: and if it be under correction, it shall be allowed to come to thy mercy.
22 For thou art not delighted in our being lost: because after a storm thou makest a calm, and after tears and weeping thou pourest in joyfulness.
23 Be thy name, O God of Israel, blessed for ever. (Tobit 3)

How true that after a storm comes calm, and after weeping joy! What a wonderful praise to our God.

The mystery is that I wanted to read this prayer in the NAB version. But I discovered that the NAB stops at verse 17 in chapter 3 of Tobit, and I can’t find an explanation for why that is. The Latin Vulgate also has this prayer, but none of the Bibles’ footnotes or introductions explain the discrepancy.

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And he said to them: Go, eat fat meats, and drink sweet wine, and send portions to them that have not prepared for themselves: because it is the holy day of the Lord, and be not sad: for the joy of the Lord is our strength. (Nehemiah 8:10)

What a blessing to read this today! I learned during my walk in the dark valley of depression that the joy of the Lord IS our strength. Not giddiness or “being happy,” but deep, profound, awe-filled  joy in Him. And in this passage we see also that the people were told to celebrate and to share what they had.

I really enjoyed this chapter of Nehemiah! The people have gathered for the first time after many years in captivity and Nehemiah reads the law to them. Today, we who are able to attend mass and celebrate the Eucharist daily probably cannot imagine the joy these people felt on that day, in that moment. Its description is so beautiful and so touching … I can picture it in my mind:

And all the assembly of them that were returned from the captivity, made tabernacles, and dwelt in tabernacles: for since the days of Josue the son of Nun the children of Israel had not done so, until that day: and there was exceeding great joy.  And he read in the book of the law of God day by day, from the first day till the last, and they kept the solemnity seven days, and in the eighth day a solemn assembly according to the manner. (Nehemiah 8:17-18)

Lord, bring all who are in captivity to this world into your presence; help all those who have turned away return to you and experience exceeding great joy.  In Jesus’ name I pray!

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