Tag Archives: Bible

Called To Prayer ~ being a good student, I turned it into study.

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The Lord has been nudging me for quite a while to pray. It started about three years ago with making a Blessing Jar every January into which I would deposit written prayers during the entire year. The call has become more intense and I’ve been going to my church’s intercessory prayer group.

I felt I was supposed to get a notebook and study the different forms of prayer, which I did. I became very industrious in this endeavor. I looked in the Bible for the first record of prayer…the ‘man calling out to God’ type of prayer.

I found that in Genesis 4:26 [NASB] ~ To Seth, to him also a son was born and he called his name Enosh. Then men began to call upon the name of the Lord.

Background: Seth is a later son of Adam and Eve, thought to be their third son. In Genesis 4:25 [NASB], Eve said, “God has appointed me another offspring in place of Abel, for Cain killed him.” That led me to wonder if Seth, himself, might have been an answer to Eve’s deepest heart’s desire.

So, the earliest record of a human prayer that could fall under worship, supplication, intercessory prayer, petition is in Genesis 4:26 when men began calling out the name of the Lord.

Seeing this led me to want to review in the earlier chapters of Genesis how they called the name of God. Adam talks to God, while Eve talks about God. All this effort in study was not a bad thing, not at all. Still, the Holy Spirit arrested me and I felt Him asking me, “What do you call God?”

I put my Bible down and began to meditate that.

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“Thou Shalt Not” ~ don’t be misled

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I’ve moved to the northeast coast of Florida and am starting a new life. So, when browsing in the local discount Christian book store (there are many of them in north Florida), I purchased a new Bible, a detective story by an author I’d never heard of before (a review is coming), and another silver ring (inscribed with, Phil 4:13). As if I don’t wear enough silver rings.

My old Bible was the Comparative Study Bible with four translations (KJV, NASB, AMP, NIV). I loved that Bible, marked it up, and eventually had to tape it to keep the hard cover binding from falling off. So, it was definitely time for a new Bible. I looked at four translation study Bibles, but like the one I had, they were all very heavy which made it cumbersome taking them to church or growth groups or whatever. I finally decided to get a Parallel Bible with NASB and Amplified translations and I love it.

So, I’m reading through it and have gotten up to Leviticus, the book of laws that seems to go on and on. I joked with God the other day, “Didn’t you know this is my favorite book of the Bible?” Yes, I joke with God. I talk to Him, share with Him, and sometimes cry to Him.

Here I am reading page after page of Leviticus and I can’t wait to get through with it. Yes, I know there are Bible scholars who relish a good day delving into Leviticus, but I’m not one of them.

When I came to Leviticus 20, which the NASB heads, “On Human Sacrifice and Immoralities” I well knew the Old Testament prohibited the sacrifice of Israelite babies and children, which was common among the natives in Canaan at that time. Many “child jar cemeteries” were found near ancient Canaanite altars.

Then I got to the part about who’s nakedness thou shalt not uncover, translated into modern speak, that means who you shall  not marry and/or have sexual relations with. This sets out what have become modern laws of incest, and beyond those laws to what are still mores, or generally held morality. So, the Lord clearly states a man shall not uncover the nakedness of his mother, his sister, or any of his father’s wives. In those days a man cold have as many wives as he could afford. They each had their own tent and households which each wife ran and of course the husband had to pay for.

The text goes on to say a man shall not lay with his father’s wife’s mother. That a man shall not take two sisters as wives, so the sisters will not become rivals…and on and on. As I read all of this, I had the profound realization much of this has become the underpinning of civilized society wherever Judaeo-Christian teaching became the norm. Who wouldda thunk the Lord would stop me cold in the middle of Leviticus, Leviticus to give me this moment of deep discernment. These writings were also the very beginning of the notion of the protection of women and children within a society. The modern feminist cries out, “This is not nearly enough.” Remember this was written between 1440 and 1400 BC and was revolutionary then.

In Exodus, God continually calls the Israelites an obstinate people who turn from His ways at a drop of the hat and always thereby get themselves into some sort of trouble. He calls the pagan practices (child sacrifice, selling ones daughters into sexual slavery as temple prostitutes, and all types of fornication) as being evil. It seems today, society is all too ready to push aside rules that have stabilized society for generations in favor of doing whatever they please. Let the good times roll…

Am I advocating strict biblical law for this modern age. No, I believe the church is now under “grace” not under “the law”. I’m suggesting a return to the spirit of the law, as taught by Jesus. We will and are finding that the loosening of many of these age-old rules has and will put women and children at risk, not to mention the elderly as well. Ultimately, it puts all of society at risk.

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Oy, Another Trial ~ and I’ve been acting like an over-tired baby

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I took a step outside my front door this morning with my trusty gal-pal Sophie, and these words sounded loud and clear inside my head: The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. I’m facing a particular trial at this time to which these words apply. Let’s see, it’s Thursday, and I’ve got Thursday’s trial. It seems to go that way, doesn’t it.

Anyway, I began to say those words of Scripture from Psalm 23 aloud as Sophie and I walked along, so she could do her business. I must’ve repeated them aloud 35 or so times. You see, I believe the Word of the Lord is powerful and does not return void. These were the “words” He gave me this morning and I wanted to verbally release them into the atmosphere of my life.

When Sophie and I returned to the house, I felt like maybe the Holy Spirit was suggesting I read Psalm 23. Then I did that funny thing Christians do. “What if it wasn’t the Spirit? What if it was just me?” And I had to laugh at how we are. In this case, even if I “missed it,” reading the psalm was a good thing. So, I opened my Bible.

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And the next line hit me as something fresh. It was the Spirit prompting me to read it. He makes me lie down in green pastures. I’ve always seen that line as wonderful poetry emanating from the mind of God through David, lyrical in its beauty, bucolic.

This time I saw the strong arm of God. I’d never seen that before in this line. I had to take another look, and another. It actually says, he makes me lie down, makes me do it. I checked several translations and they all say, makes me. Has a parent or a highly respected dear friend ever said in a tone that brokered no argument, “Go lay down and rest!”? That’s the kind of makes me I saw in this line for the first time today. The Lord can spiritually hit believers right between the eyes and say, “Rest!”.

The Lord’s mind is so all encompassing it’s amazing (in the true sense of the word ‘amazing’), and he can be a bit sneaky too in His intimate relationship with his children, marvelously sneaky. Want to know what I’ve been studying this week? Well, I’ll tell you.

Resting in the finished work of Jesus. ~ The battle is the Lord’s, so let Him fight it.

Of course that implies I’ve been doing all the things God’s been leading me to do in the natural world. Having done all that, I’m to give the battle over to Him. He’s got a much longer arm than I’ve got.


I Don’t Dream ~ and I don’t cry

Emil Navor, WWII

Emil Michael Navor,  WWII, US Army, Pacific Arena

Yet, this morning I woke up dreaming about my dad’s memorial service, eighteen years ago, when I couldn’t stop crying. I don’t usually do either of those things: dream in my sleep that I can recall, or often cry.

That morning, the tears seemed to come up from my toes. I dremt an exact recall of how my BFF childhood girlfriend Christine Sloat White comforted me on the way out of the sanctuary. Christine died way too early of ovarian cancer, and as was her own personal style, carried herself with extreme dignity, right tot he end thinking of others.

 

Christine Sloat White

Christine Sloat White, Titusville, Fl

 

 

 

 

I only have one digital photo of my dad. So, I dragged out the two boxes of photos I have in my house in NYC, thinking I’d try to take a digital shot of an old snapshot. However, I couldn’t find any. Most of my photos (copious amounts of them) were shipped to Florida, as I’m in transition for a retirement move south. Likewise I only have one digital shot of Christine stored in my computer.

 

As I got out of bed this morning, I flashed to my father’s hospital bedside after the stroke that left him speechless in 1997. My dad had spent a lifetime angry at God over the very early death of his own father, which thrust his mother, sister, and himself into years of hardship. Using the GI Bill, he turned to education and philosophy for answers and obtained a college degree. Much later in life he added two masters degrees. He spoke three languages. None of this made him less angry with God. He spent the overwhelming portion of his adult life as a highly vocal agnostic. Honesty was his strong suit, and he freely admitted thinking about death made him very uneasy.

I visited my dad in the Catholic hospital in upstate New York, following his stroke. He couldn’t speak, but he had full use of his hands. A retired English high school teacher, speech teacher, debate coach, and high school senior play director, he had no trouble using words. He described on paper how he had been drawn to a particular statue of a baby, actually what appeared to be a Middle Eastern mother, father, and infant. He’d ask the nurses or aides to push his wheelchair into the waiting room where the wooden statue was displayed. He’d sit there gazing at it, he said, in a total peace he had never felt before. He wrote on his notepad, “Why do you think that is?”

I asked my dad, “Do you know who is depicted in that statue?” He didn’t know. So, I told him it was the Holy Family. The baby he was so drawn to, the one where gazing upon the infant carved in wood gave him such peace, was in fact, the baby Jesus. He was nonplussed. A shy smile crossed his face.

He also told me in writing how a particular nun who worked in the hospital would come to see him every day and something happened. She lit up the room. He couldn’t wait to see her. I later sought this nun out in her office to thank her for such kindness to my father. I was overwhelmed. I explained to her he’d been an agnostic most of his life and somehow he’d seen light in her. I told her how he had been drawn to the statue of the baby Jesus, and how I believed he’d had a profound experience of the Savior. For the first time in his life, he had experienced the peace of God, which passeth all understanding.

That little visit didn’t go well. She was shocked and horrified. I came to believe, she saw  a man who was going to hell if he didn’t get baptized, make his First Communion and get confirmed. Born again Christians might say she had a religious spirit. That’s a spirit of man-made religious stuff that’s not in the Bible. I’m not being antiCatholic. Christians have in the past, and some still do, make up all kinds of stuff that’s not in the Bible, such as you can’t dance or drink alcohol.

My Bible says Jesus turned water into wine for his first miracle at the wedding in Cana. I’ll bet there was plenty of dancing at that wedding. Jews always dance at weddings. I lived next to a religious Jewish family in Brooklyn for over 13 years. It would be quite usual on Friday evenings and on Saturday for friends to come over to celebrate the Sabbath. I’d often hear them laughing, singing, and feet-stompin’ dancing. And let’s not forget Jesus changed water into wine. That was after the guests at the wedding at Cana had consumed all the wine the host provided. The Bible says wine enough to fill six, large, stone purification water jars. These jars usually held 20 – 30 gallons. That’s a lot of wine. Some Christians insist the ‘wine’ they drank was really grape juice. I take my Bible literally. If it says wine, it means wine. It also says, the headwaiter told the bridegroom this last wine was the best. I’ve never been at any kind of social occasion where anyone has said, “This last grape juice was the best.” However, there have been endless hours spent talking about the merits of one particular wine vs. another.

But I digress. I believe, this precious nun was dismayed because she saw in my dad, a man going to hell. I was so grateful to her for being a representative of Jesus, walking into his room. I was grateful to the nurses and aides who pushed my dad’s wheelchair into the waiting room where he could spend time with the Holy Spirit who obviously did a work in him. I saw a man who had had an encounter with the living God who loved him, offered him peace, and extended an invitation to one day go to heaven.

 


Joy To The World ~ The Lord Is Come!

gilr in light

Joy isn’t a mere feeling or a fleeting emotion. It’s a spiritual force. I didn’t always know that and that’s why my joy was constantly being robbed. Crabby, angry people robbed my joy. Difficult situations robbed it, hurtful or shameful memories from the past of failure and painful trials robbed it. I’ll be honest. these past 18 months have been some of the most difficult I’ve ever encountered. And at times I’ve been a whiney, blithering nincompoop. But, by clinging to the Lord moment-by-moment (quite literally) I have come through the worst of it, and I still have my joy.

Galatians 5:22 [King James Version] ~ But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness.The Living Bible translates it ~ But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness.

While some of these might have an emotional component, they are so much more. Love is not an ooey-gooey romantic feeling. God is love. Faith can move mountains. Peace isn’t a slogan to be used in political protests. We have watered these words down over the years. Peace translates from the Hebrew as shalom and means “whole, nothing missing, nothing broken.” These are fruit of the Holy Spirit. I had always looked at these words as something I should strive for…and there’s nothing wrong with the desire to have these traits. Actually, in the fullness of their meaning they emanate from the most powerful Being operating in the earth, the Holy Spirit. I’m beginning to see them as spiritual gifts offered to me, but I have to receive them. I have to chose them.

Xmas horse in hatThe Amplified Bible, in Galatians 5:22, further defines joy as “gladness”. And Psalm 118:24 [KJV] ~ This is the day the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. It says “we will rejoice”. Not maybe, or if everything goes right. So, because it’s put that way, this is something believers can do. Something I can do. We can laugh more and cry less if we put our minds to it. The battlefield where we engage the enemy is between the ears. I’ve learned I should never let the enemy see me down in the tooth. I’m getting better at chosing to be in a state of joy. I’ve discovered the good feelings, the laughter comes after making the choice.red bowIt might interest you to know the lyrics to that favorite Christmas carol, “Joy To The World,” was written by Isaac Watts in 1719. The music was written by George Frederick Handel. Handel also wrote the “Messiah,” the marvelous English language oratorio.red bow

Wishing you a blessed and merry pre-Christmas holiday season filled with joy, from a recovering whiney, blithering nincompoop who is on the road to greater joy, gladness, laughter


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