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Archive for April, 2012

Today is Good Shepherd Sunday. I love this image … I love this hymn.

The King Of Love My Shepherd Is

The king of love my shepherd is,
Whose goodness faileth never;
I nothing lack if I am his
And he is mine for ever.

Where streams of living water flow
My ransomed soul he leadeth,
And where the verdant pastures grow
With food celestial feedeth. 

Perverse and foolish oft I strayed,
But yet in love he sought me,
And on his shoulder gently laid,
And home rejoicing brought me.

In death’s dark vale I fear no ill
With thee, dear Lord, beside me;
Thy rod and staff my comfort still,
Thy cross before to guide me.

Thou spread’st a table in my sight;
Thy unction grace bestoweth;
And O what transport of delight
From thy pure chalice floweth!

And so through all the length of days
Thy goodness faileth never:
Good shepherd, may I sing thy praise
Within thy house for ever.

 

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My cousin’s son had this on his facebook page today and it touched me deeply.

Mike you are in my thoughts hardcore today. Got to hand out tooth brushes and toothpaste to little afghan kids. Made me think of how good you were to iraqi kids and how you constantly tried to make peoples lives better. Rest in peace brother.

If you think of it, please pray for Nicholas and all of our military.

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Genesis 14

21-24 “The king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the captives; the goods you may keep.” But Abram replied to the king of Sodom: “I have sworn to the LORD, God Most High, the creator of heaven and earth, that I would not take so much as a thread or a sandal strap from anything that is yours, so that you cannot say, ‘I made Abram rich.’ Nothing for me except what my servants have consumed and the share that is due to the men who went with me—Aner, Eshcol and Mamre; let them take their share.”

Abram is offered a really great deal; but Abram doesn’t want to take more than he was entitled to, and wanted to make sure that no resentment would fester between them and become a source of conflict later.

I find that amazing, and reveals great wisdom on Abram’s part. A similar event occurs in Genesis 23 when Abraham wants to purchase burial ground from the Hittites and they implore him to take whatever he wants at no cost. As in this passage, he insists on paying full price in the presence of others so there will be no dispute, no question later. What if we all were as diligent – how many occasions of resentment would be avoided?

On the other hand, as much as we see Abram avoiding conflict over possessions, we also know that he didn’t refuse conflict when it involved the good of other people.  Abram acquired these “goods and captives” after going into battle to free his nephew, Lot, who had been caught in the middle of turf wars. Abram didn’t hesitate to gather a small army and go to free his nephew.

Something else is going through my mind as well to which I don’t have an answer, only things to ponder:

We learned in Gen 13:13 that: “… the inhabitants of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the LORD.”

Yet where was Lot living when he was taken captive? Sodom. Why did he choose to live there? And is the fact that the inhabitants were so wicked, part of the reason Abram refused to take anything that might cause them to quarrel with him later?

There is certainly a balance in the choices we make – we are all sinners, we are called to go to sinners to be the hands and feet and body of Christ. But we also need to be wise and strive to be holy – literally “set apart.” I think that like Abram, we need to try to avoid situations that might cause us harm spiritually or that might create a stumbling block for others.

I recall a lecturer saying, “We are ‘in’ the world but not ‘of’ the world.”

Amen.

Dear God, please give me your Wisdom to recognize potential conflict and diffuse it before it can take root. And also give me your Wisdom to know when I should not be afraid to enter a conflict, even to go to battle to protect or to free others from the many forms of bondage and the wicked ways of this world. Women and children bought & sold … innocent babies shred to pieces and ripped from their mother’s wombs … people dying for lack of food and water as governments play politics and hold them in poverty.  We live in a wicked world; please protect us from becoming part of it in any measure but use us as Your hands and feet to reach the captives.  In Jesus’ name I pray.

 

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I am feeling so much joy this morning about using this blog as I originally intended it … a place to journal about what I am reading and pondering as I read through the Bible again. The words “filling” and “satisfying” come to mind as I think about the Bible. It amazes me that as I start through it again for the third time in three years, I daily see something new, or see something that strikes me in a new way.

This morning in Genesis 9:3-6:

Any living creature that moves about shall be yours to eat; I give them all to you as I did the green plants. Only meat with its lifeblood still in it you shall not eat. Indeed for your own lifeblood I will demand an accounting: from every animal I will demand it, and from a human being, each one for the blood of another, I will demand an accounting for human life.

Anyone who sheds the blood of a human being,
by a human being shall that one’s blood be shed;
For in the image of God
have human beings been made.

Christians often discuss which Old Testament laws are still binding to believers and which were for certain people at a certain time. My best friend follows the dietary laws that God gave Moses – no pork, no shellfish. She was never condemning toward others who didn’t and she was joyful about following it herself, and we talked about it sometimes.

This passage confirms what I had come to believe from my own studies on the topic – the dietary laws had their place and purpose for the Israelites for a time, but before that time God gave man “all” creatures to eat and I believe that after that time, the New Testament returns man to being free to eat “all.”

Another thing that stood out for me this morning was abortion; I can’t help but think of it in light of this passage – read it again:

Indeed for your own lifeblood I will demand an accounting: from every animal I will demand it, and from a human being, each one for the blood of another, I will demand an accounting for human life.

Won’t God demand an accounting for each of those lives that was being knit in its mother’s womb by God Himself, in His own image?  It breaks my heart for all of us.

Anyone who sheds the blood of a human being,
by a human being shall that one’s blood be shed;
For in the image of God
have human beings been made.

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A friend told me once that she graphed out the lifespans of Adam and his descendants to Noah. She said it was really interesting to see that Adam saw the birth of eight generations after himself. I thought that was amazing too!

So as I start through the Bible again, I paused at Genesis chapter 5, and also graphed a timeline of Adam and his descendents.

It got me thinking, because Noah’s father died about 5 years before the flood, but his grandfather appeared to die the same year. I went online to see if it was believed he died “in” the flood, and found this graph:

A few very interesting articles state that the name, Methusela, means “When he dies it shall be sent.”  Does this mean that it was at Methusela’s natural death that the flood was sent?

I don’t know, but the layers of the Bible are sure interesting. I learn something new every time I read!

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A friend wrote on her facebook page yesterday:

So I was talking to God about some desires I have for things lots of people already have, and acquired easily, and which I can’t make happen on my own. He can, though. And He hasn’t. “So what part of My goodness aren’t you trusting?” He said. And I said, “Um, the good part.” He laughed. And it sorta felt like a hug.

I love that … and I know exactly what she means. God has such a wonderful sense of humor!

I think sometimes we forget about that side of Him. Yesterday I was reading Genesis 2:19:

Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.

Picture that … God bringing all of the animals before Adam and letting him name them! Can’t you see them laughing and simply enjoying their time together, no care in the world other than the beauty around them and the love between them?

I know God loves spending time like that with each one of us. Imagine His joy when we set aside time just to be. with. Him.

Take time today to look for little blessings, to breathe a word of thanks, and to spend time alone, in the quiet. Maybe today isn’t a day to laugh … maybe it is to mourn or to rest or to petition or to surrender.

But laughter has its time too. There is no more beautiful sound than the laughter of loved ones; it is one of the things I miss most about my dad. I can’t wait to hear his laugh again, and to hear God’s laughter without the veil of this world between us … it is something I greatly anticipate.

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What do you struggle with?

Depression? Anger? Envy? Alcohol addition, or drug addiction? Same-sex attraction? Pornography?

We are human … we ALL struggle. Sometimes it can be so discouraging to try to see an end to our struggle; to imagine a day when we won’t have to wake up and face “that” battle again.

I do believe that sometimes, God helps us to completely overcome and delivers us from something we have struggled with.

But other times, I think it is like Paul who prayed for something to be removed but God allowed it to remain, like a thorn.

There are some very encouraging passages in the Bible that have helped me greatly to find balance; to not become too discouraged or to sink into despair.

The first is found in Exodus 16 where “manna” is the topic. God provided manna each morning – enough to feed all of the Israelites; all they had to do was to go gather it. They were warned not to try to store it up, however … it would spoil if they did. So each morning, fresh manna.

I think that is very sweet, and it’s easy to see how this would be a good way to teach people to wait on the Lord and not look too far ahead; what we need is provided each day.

Along with that is one of my favorite passages in the Bible; it is something I held tightly to through my darkest time of depression:

My soul is deprived of peace, I have forgotten what happiness is;
I tell myself my future is lost, all that I hoped for from the LORD.
The thought of my homeless poverty is wormwood and gall;
Remembering it over and over leaves my soul downcast within me.
But I will call this to mind, as my reason to have hope:
The favors of the LORD are not exhausted, his mercies are not spent;
They are renewed each morning, so great is his faithfulness.
My portion is the LORD, says my soul; therefore will I hope in him.
Good is the LORD to one who waits for him, to the soul that seeks him;
It is good to hope in silence for the saving help of the LORD.
Lamentations 3:17-26

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